Netflix dominated the week with several big reveals, starting with the news that a Witcher prequel is in the works. Plus, get the low-down on Ratched, the Ryan Murphy origin-story series about a psychiatric-hospital nurse with her own issues. The streamer also reportedly has a Splinter Cell anime adaptation in the works, picked up seven classic Black comedies, and more in the week’s top TV and streaming news.
Netflix has ordered a six-episode prequel limited series for The Witcher, called The Witcher: Blood Origin, and set 1,200 years before the events of the original series.
Logline: “Set in an Elven world 1200 years before the world of The Witcher, Blood Origin will tell a story lost to time — the origin of the very first Witcher, and the events that lead to the pivotal ‘conjunction of the spheres,’ when the worlds of monsters, men, and elves merged to become one.”
The Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich will serve as executive producer, with The Witcher writer Declan de Barra as executive producer and showrunner, and The Witcher author Andrzej Sapkowski as a consultant.
“As a lifelong fan of fantasy, I am beyond excited to tell the story The Witcher: Blood Origin,” De Barra said in a statement. “A question has been burning in my mind ever since I first read The Witcher books: What was the Elven world really like before the cataclysmic arrival of the humans? I’ve always been fascinated by the rise and fall of civilizations, how science, discovery, and culture flourish right before that fall. How vast swathes of knowledge are lost forever in such a short time, often compounded by colonization and a rewriting of history. Leaving only fragments of a civilization’s true story behind. The Witcher: Blood Origin will tell the tale of the Elven civilization before its fall, and most importantly reveal the forgotten history of the very first Witcher.”
Ryan Murphy’s latest collaboration with Sarah Paulson (pictured), Ratched, will debut on Netflix on Sept. 18. The eight-episode season features an all-star cast that includes actors from other Murphy projects, like the American Horror Story and American Crime Story series.
Paulson, an Emmy winner for her collaboration with Murphy on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and a multiple Emmy nominee for five seasons of Murphy’s AHS, will play the titular role of Mildred Ratched, the psychiatric hospital nurse who “presents herself as the perfect image of what a dedicated nurse should be … (but) Mildred’s stylish exterior belies a growing darkness that has long been smoldering within, revealing that true monsters are made, not born.”
The suspenseful prequel to Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and its 1975 film adaptation, for which Louise Fletcher won an Oscar for her portrayal of Nurse Ratched, also stars AHS and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story alum Jon Jon Briones as controversial Dr. Richard Hanover; Finn Wittrock (AHS, The Normal Heart, The Assassination of Gianni Versace) as serial killer Edmund Tolleson; Sharon Stone (pictured) as eccentric heiress Lenore Osgood; Judy Davis (Feud: Bette and Joan) as tough Nurse Betsy Bucket; Corey Stoll (The Normal Heart) as private detective Charles Wainwright; Cynthia Nixon as Gwendolyn Briggs, a political campaign manager; Alice Englert as hospital staffer Dolly; Vincent D’Onofrio as creepy Governor George Wilburn; Charlie Carver as hospital staffer Huck; Sophie Okonedo as Charlotte Wells; and Amanda Plummer as motel owner Louise.
Don Cheadle, Rosanna Arquette, Brandon Flynn, Hunter Parrish, and Harriet Sansom Harris (AHS and Hollywood) are also among the cast.
Paulson is also as executive producer on the series, which was given a two-season order from Netflix, as is Michael Douglas, who won his first Oscar as one of the producers of the 1975 Best Picture-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest movie.
John Wick film franchise writer Derek Kolstad will act as writer and executive producer on an anime series based on Ubisoft video game Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Variety reports.
Netflix has ordered two seasons and 16 episodes, according to Variety sources.
The game’s product description describes the story: “You are Sam Fisher, a highly trained secret operative of the NSA’s secret arm: Third Echelon. The world balance is in your hands, as cyber terrorism and international tensions are about to explode into WWIII … Infiltrate terrorists’ positions, acquire critical intelligence by any means necessary, execute with extreme prejudice, and exit without a trace!”
The Moesha theme song is already stuck in our heads once again: the Brandy Norwood sitcom, which aired on UPN from 1996-2001, is one of seven beloved comedies featuring Black casts that are coming to Netflix in the next few months.
Moesha will launch on Aug. 1, followed by the first three seasons of The Game on Aug. 15. The Girlfriends spin-off, which starred Tia Mowry and Pooch Hall, aired on The CW for three seasons before being canceled and picked up by BET.
Sister, Sister, starring Tia Mowry and her twin Tamera, debuts on Sept. 1, and Girlfriends, starring Tracee Ellis Ross, follows on Sept. 11, the series’ 20th anniversary.
The Parkers, the Moesha spin-off starring Countess Vaughn and Mo’Nique, debuts on Netflix on Oct. 1, followed by Half & Half, starring Rachel True and Essence Atkins, and One on One, starring Flex Alexander and Kyla Pratt, on Oct. 15.
The series’ addition to the Netflix catalog is part of the streaming service’s Strong Black Lead campaign. “The goal of Strong Black Lead is to celebrate and lift up Black Hollywood,” said Bradley Edwards, Manager, Content Acquisition, and Jasmyn Lawson, Manager, Strong Black Lead. “These trailblazing shows are a huge part of that story. From the classic clown funeral episode of The Parkers to Moesha’s mind-tripping meet-up with Brandy, we’re thrilled that our members can now enjoy these amazing classics.”
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced the timetable for the 78th annual Golden Globe awards: nominations will be announced on Feb. 3, 2021, with the live ceremony airing on NBC on Feb. 28, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The eligibility period for movie nominees has been extended to Feb. 28, 2021, because of the impact of the pandemic, though the end of the television nominee eligibility period remains Dec. 30, 2020.
The first-ever virtual PaleyFest will include panels with the cast of Schitt’s Creek, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mrs. America, One Day at a Time, Outlander, Ozark, Justin Bieber: Seasons, and Queer Eye. Panels will stream on YouTube, and tickets are available on Aug. 7.
Comic-Con@Home saw the release of new trailers and videos by some of the most exciting genre titles coming soon to screens. Rotten Tomatoes rounded up some of the top videos that premiered at the virtual festival. You can see them all — movies and TV — here.
For all the latest TV and streaming trailers, subscribe to the Rotten Tomatoes TV YouTube channel.
Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown will star in and produce a Netflix film adaptation of Tess Sharpe’s novel The Girls I’ve Been, about a con artist who has to use her persuasive ways to save herself and her friends during a bank robbery. Brown’s fellow Netflix-er, Ozark star Jason Bateman, will also be a producer on the project.
Elisabeth Moss has added another pair of projects to her already busy schedule. As part of her first-look deal with Hulu, she will star in the anthology series Black Match, a “psychosexual neo-noir thriller set in modern-day Los Angeles.” She will also star in Apple TV+’s Shining Girls, a metaphysical thriller adapted from Lauren Beukes’ bestselling novel of the same name, and executive produced by Moss and Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Devil Wears Prada star Stanley Tucci will star in AMC’s six-part thriller La Fortuna. Inspired by the popular Spanish graphic novel El Tesoro del Cisne Negro (The Treasure of the Black Swan), the series will feature Tucci playing a treasure hunter named Frank Wild. La Fortunapremieres in 2021.
Billy on the Street star Billy Eichner will play legendary comedian and Hollywood Squares star Paul Lynde in Man in the Box, a biopic about the late actor’s career – he also starred as Uncle Arthur on Bewitched – and Lynde’s “barely-closeted,” flamboyant public persona. The movie is not set up at a network yet, but Eichner and producer Tom McNulty (Night at the Museum) have optioned a script for the story by Edwin Cannistraci. (Deadline)
Kate Winslet will provide the voice of the titular horse in Disney+’s live-action remake of the movie Black Beauty. Mackenzie Foy will play Jo Green, the orphaned teen Beauty bonds with, while Game of Thrones alum Iain Glen and Claire Forlani also star.
Emmy-winning Sopranos writer and Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter is teaming with Goodfellas, Wiseguy, and Casino writer – and frequent mob chronicler – Nicholas Pileggi, and producer Brian Grazer for an untitled Showtime series about the history of corruption and organized crime in America, told through the history of a mob family. (Deadline)
HBO is adapting Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2015 National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Between the World and Me as a special event this fall, with Coates and This Is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson executive producing. The cable network is making a donation to Howard University and the Apollo Theater as part of the project surrounding the bestselling book.
PBS will debut the two-part, four-hour documentary The Black Church: This Is Our Story on Feb. 16 and 23, 2021. Executive producer, host, and writer Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will trace the 400-year-old story of the Black church in America, revealing how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World. The docuseries will feature interviews with Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Bishop Michael Curry, gospel legends Yolanda Adams, and BeBe Winans; civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, and scholar Cornel West.
Taraji P. Henson has signed a two-year, first-look deal with Fox that will include her reprising her role as Cookie Lyon in an Empire spin-off. (THR)
Succession executive producer Adam McKay is teaming with HBO for a limited series about the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. McKay will adapt The First Shot, an upcoming book from The Atlantic and New York Times writer Brendan Borrell for the untitled series. (Deadline)