The final day of the winter Television Critics Association press day was devoted to new streaming service Apple TV+, where critics got an premiere date and official first-look image of the revamped Amazing Stories, as well as details about new shows like animated musical series Central Park, featuring the voices of Josh Gad and Kristen Bell.
Apple TV+ has announced that its eagerly-anticipated reimagining of Steven Spielberg anthology series Amazing Stories will premiere March 6 on the streaming platform. The news series, from showrunners Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, will premiere with five episodes, starting with “The Rift” (pictured), which is directed by Mark Mylod and stars Kerry Lynn Bishe, Whitney Coleman, Trisha Mashburn, Austin Stowell, Edward Burns, and Juliana Canfield.
Episode directors include Chris Long (The Americans), Mark Mylod (Succession), Michael Dinner (Unbelievable), Susanna Fogel (Utopia), and Sylvain White (Stomp The Yard).
Apple TV+ also announced dates for comedy Trying, which launches May 1, dramedy “Dear…,” out June 5, and crime drama Defending Jacob, which stars Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery and premieres April 24.
On Saturday, Epix announced that period drama Belgravia from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes will premiere April 12, while Oxygen announced docu-series Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project will premiere April 5.
Bob’s Burgers creator Loren Bouchard’s new Apple TV+ show Central Park, due this summer, is animated musical TV series that follows the Tillerman family. Dad Owen is the park’s manager and mom Paige is his journalist wife, who is not respected at work. Meanwhile, the villainess heiress Bitsy Brandenham, along with her put-upon assistant Helen, wants to destroy the park and turn it into condos. The cast includes Josh Gad — who executive produces along with Bouchard and Nora Smith — Leslie Odom Jr., Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs and Stanley Tucci.
During the show’s panel, journalists noted that Diggs and Tucci voice female characters. Bouchard, who has dealt with this issue before as John Roberts and Dan Mintz play female characters on Bob’s Burgers, attempted to address the topic at TCA.
“Animation just makes you want to take this voice and have it come out of this face. It’s so delicious that I just can’t stop myself,” Bouchard told journalists. “Daveed playing Helen, we knew it early on it was gonna be so fun to do it. So we couldn’t look away once we imagined that. And the same for Stanley Tucci, playing this tiny lady with white hair. It’s like Margaret Thatcher glued onto a little dog. It’s this strange character that with his voice came together for us. Once you think of that, it is impossible not to get excited about it. Here I am, yet again taking away two roles from women. It’s something that I have on my mind all the time, trying to keep balancing things out.”
There’s also the fact that Bell plays Owen and Paige’s biracial daughter, Molly.
“We’re always trying to both honor the urge to fool around and have fun with animation and also just balance that s— out,” Bouchard added. “Get women of color in the cast, in the writers room, so that you feel at least that you’re always giving into the urge because you think there’s something there, some spark. She’s gonna honor that character. Kristen needed to be Molly. We couldn’t not make her Molly. But then we couldn’t make Molly white, and we couldn’t make Kristen mixed race, so we just had to go forward. So then you arrive there and say, ‘Well, we gotta just keep doing as best we can to balance, to turn around and give somebody an opportunity who wasn’t getting it.’”
Outside of this discussion, the panel also offered the revelation that Bell’s love of musicals started early — in part thanks to the musical Cats. The Good Place star confessed she hasn’t seen the movie version yet, but she says she plans to see it twice, once with her kids and once, she informed the audience as she mimed smoking a joint, “with my adult friends.”
In related news, actor Hank Azaria confirmed Friday that will no longer voice the The Simpsons character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon after years of accusations that the depiction of Homer Simpson’s confidant at the neighborhood Kwik-E-Mart is racist — particularly as it’s voiced by a white actor.
“All we know there is I won’t be doing the voice anymore, unless there’s some way to transition it or something,” Azaria told Slashfilm on Friday at TCA, while he was there to promote his IFC series Brockmire.
When asked about the film and the character at the winter 2018 TCA panel for Brockmire, Azaria said “the idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing. And especially in post-9/11 America, the idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally.
“As far as what is going to happen with the character going forward,” he added, “it’s really not just up to me. I think it’s really important when people express themselves about racial issues, what they feel is unfair or upsetting or distressing or makes them angry, upset, hurt, the most important thing to do is listen, try to understand, try to sympathize, which is what I’m doing. I know that The Simpsons guys are doing that too.”
The Simpsons’ official response to the film seemed to come with the April 2018 episode, “No Good Read Goes Unpunished.” The episode involves Marge Simpson re-exploring a classic novel from her childhood with her daughter, Lisa, and realizing that it’s subject now reads as problematic. “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive, is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” Lisa responded.
Apple TV+ has given an early second-season renewal to Home Before Dark, a series based on a child journalist who uncovers a cover up in her small town and stars The Florida Project’s Brooklynn Prince and premieres April 3. The streaming network has also released a first-look image of the show, which is featured above.
Apple TV+ has also renewed Little America and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet. (Although Mythic Quest star and co-creator Rob McElhenney did have this to say in regards to his long-running FXX comedy, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: “We’ll keep doing it forever.”)