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Changes to The Boys’ Stormfront Creates Insecure Homelander's 'Worst Nightmare,' Says Creator Eric Kripke

The Boys showrunner on that gender swap, Lovecraft Country battles demons, first-look photos of Discworld universe–based The Watch and Netflix film Rebecca, and more.

by | August 7, 2020 | Comments

The all-virtual summer Television Critics Association press tour is in week 2, and in addition to catching glimpses inside the homes of celebrities promoting returning and new shows, we’ve rounded out some of the best quotes, top news, and trailers from the event and other releases from the week’s biggest news in streaming and TV.


TOP STORY

Showrunner Eric Kripke Explains Making a Woman Out of The Boys Comic Book Character

Not everything about Amazon’s adaptation of the comic book series The Boys is a direct translation. Case in point: You’re the Worst star Aya Cash joins the second season as Stormfront, a character who in the comics is described as a male neo-Nazi.

Executive producer and showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) told journalists that this change was two-fold: The first, he said is because they wanted to create an antagonist to Anthony Starr’s villain, Homelander, and that “his worst nightmare would be a strong woman who wasn’t afraid of him and proceeded to steal his spotlight. I think that would hurt him way more than if it were a male character, because he has a gaping hole of insecurity.”

The second was more of a commentary on modern society.

“Stormfront … has certain hateful ideologies,” Kripke said. “And the truth is there’s a lot of hate and negative thought these days, if you look online, that is packaged in really slick social media, attractive ways. And, you know, it’s not like old dudes with crewcuts in the 1960s news reels anymore. It’s a very real and slick and charming people that are trying to — young people who are trying to hook in a new generation, and we sort of wanted to reflect how insidious that is.”

Cash said she trained for two months for the part.

The Boys returns to Amazon Prime Video on September 4.

More from Amazon this week:

  • Amazon Prime Video debuted the official trailer for Mangrove, one of five films featured in Small Axe, the anthology series from Academy Award–, BAFTA-, and Golden Globe–winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (Hunger, 12 Years A Slave).
  • Amazon Studios announced that it has ordered a pickup of the new hour-long series A League of Their Own, from Sony Pictures Television, with executive producers and co-creators Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), who also stars, and Will Graham (Mozart in the Jungle).

Lovecraft Country Tackles Supernatural Demons and Real-World Evil

Lovecraft Country, creator Misha Green’s upcoming adaptation of the Matt Ruff horror novel, has plenty to show in the way of blood-thirsty demons and sci-fi beings. Out August 16, it also shows evil that is all too real.

“I think that the monsters are a metaphor for the racism that’s kind of always been through America and even globally,” Green told journalists of her series that’s set during the Jim Crow era. “And I think that, for me, genre works best when it is the metaphor on top of the real-life emotions that you explore in the real-life problems. And I think that that was one of the things that was exciting to me about Matt Ruff’s book, is that he blended that very well, and we wanted to really honor that as we did the TV series.”

Jurnee Smollett, who plays female lead Leti Dandridge in the show, added that “the story is so ancestral.”

“Our heroes essentially are going on a quest to bring down white supremacy,” she said. “And we are still on that quest today in 2020 as Black Americans. Because racism is such a demonic spirit, you know, it’s something that we are still fighting off.”

Like Green’s previous series, WGN’s Underground, the show also makes use of popular music and culture, be it a Cardi B song or the theme song to The Jeffersons. Green says she likes to use “modern music to bridge time; to take kind of a period piece off the wall [so that] it’s not a portrait anymore that you’re stepping into.”

In other WarnerMedia news:

  • The first trailer for Ridley Scott’s U.S. TV directing debut Raised By Wolves also premiered this week. The series centers on two androids tasked with raising human children on a mysterious virgin planet.
  • Trailers for The Third Day limited series starring Jude Law and Emily Watson, and socially-distanced food program Selena + Chef, hosted by Selena Gomez, and a new teaser for The Undoing, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, were also released.
  • WarnerMedia is bringing the British game show reboot of The Cube stateside with a series order, executive produced and hosted by NBA legend Dwyane Wade.
  • Ava DuVernay will executive produce and narrate One Perfect Shot, an HBO Max documentary series that will chronicle the most memorable cinematic moments of film auteurs. In the series, inspired by a popular Twitter account of the same name, each episode spotlights one acclaimed director, who will use visual tools to pull back the curtain on their most iconic shots. Using state-of-the-art technology, the directors will literally enter each shot, walking through the scene in 360 moments that allow viewers to join an immersive exploration of moviemaking.

Gritty Gangs Of London Takes a Cue from the Greats

Coming to AMC+, the streaming service associated with AMC Networks, is the bloody, violent (or is it bloody violent?) British crime drama Gangs Of London. Co-created by Gareth Evans — who is best known for The Raid action movies — and Matt Flannery, it tells the story of feuding international crime families. And if that makes you think of a certain group of New Jersey hustlers, you’re not alone.

“I think all crime television and film will have had something of a sort of influence on us,” Evans told journalists. “I tend to take more from Asian cinema, quite honest … But for sure, I mean like you know, we’re all fans of The Sopranos, we’re all fans of Peaky Blinders, we’re all fans of the workspace of Scorsese or Coppola. We consume crime films, we consume everything that comes our way. So naturally, I think, when you make it something that fits within this genre, within this world, there will be influences.”

On October 1, the first three episodes of Gangs of London will hit AMC+, the company’s new premium subscription bundle available on Comcast and Dish Network/Sling, with additional episodes dropping weekly after that. The show will air on AMC next year.

More AMC Networks news and info:

  • Fall 2020 and winter 2021 premiere dates
    • Soulmates, AMC’s episodic anthology series, premieres Monday, October 5 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT and has been renewed for a second season
    • the four-part limited series The Salisbury Poisonings, which will initially premiere on AMC+, the company’s new premium subscription bundle available on Comcast and Dish Network/Sling on Thursday, October 1 (debuts on AMC early next year)
The Watch _ Season 1
(Photo by Alex Telfer/BBC STUDIOS/BBCA)
  • premiering in January 2021 on BBC America, the all-new original series The Watch (pictured) inspired by many of Sir Terry Pratchett’s famous “Discworld” creations, including the captain of The City Watch, Sam Vimes, played by Game Of Thrones’ Richard Dormer; “The comedic yet thrilling series pits trolls, werewolves, wizards and other improbable heroes against an evil plot to resurrect a great dragon which would lead to the destruction of life as they know it.”
  • animated special Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones uses archived audio and new animation to reconstruct the fourth season of Doctor Who, which starred Patrick Troughton and was missing four episodes in the BBC film archives; premieres Wednesday, October 7 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT and Thursday, October 8 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT

(For more announced dates visit Rotten Tomatoes’ “TV Premiere Dates” calendar.)

  • AMC Networks has inked true crime development deals with Mona Chalabi (The Fix, Vagina Dispatches), Naomi Ekperigin (Broad City, Couples Therapy), Cameron Esposito (Queery, Take My Wife), and Jena Friedman (The Daily Show, Soft Focus).
  • Casting for AMC’s new series Pantheon, a first-ever animated primetime drama; Daniel Dae Kim, Katie Chang, Paul Dano, Rosemarie DeWitt, Aaron Eckhart, Taylor Schilling, Ron Livingston, Chris Diamantopoulos, Raza Jaffrey, and Scoot McNairy lead the cast.

Ratched Star Says Series Tells a Noir Tale in Technicolor

Ratched, the flashy Ryan Murphy-produced prequel to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, premieres September 18 on Netflix. It stars Sarah Paulson as the infamous castrating nurse made famous by Louise Fletcher in the Milos Forman movie.

“I thought about Louise Fletcher every day that we were shooting it,” Paulson said during the Ratched panel, “and I hope that in the coming season there will be some Louise Fletcher.”

Whether that’s a tease to some stunt casting (and Murphy does love to stunt cast), audiences should know that there are other differences between this production and the 1975 movie (or Ken Kesey’s novel). Filming took place in Big Sur instead of Oregon, and the series is set in 1947 in Lucia, California. It also pays a good deal of homage to Alfred Hitchcock films.

“I think there is something about the moment; just immediately after World War II [when] so much economic hope and horizons being so wide for America at that point,” said Cynthia Nixon, who co-stars in the series as the politically savvy Gwendolyn Briggs. “I watched the series with my 17-year-old son, and he said one of the things that he loved the most about it was it was so frightening and creepy, but … it was sort of the antithesis of film noir. It wasn’t shadows. It wasn’t black and white. It was Technicolor.”

More from Netflix this week: 

Armie Hammer and Lily James in a first-look photo from Rebecca
(Photo by Kerry Brown/Netflix)
  • The streamer released a first-look at Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier’s beloved 1938 gothic novel and starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Keeley Hawes, Ann Dowd, Sam Riley, Tom Goodman-Hill, Mark Lewis Jones, John Hollingworth, and Bill Paterson. In it, “a young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.”
  • Netflix also dropped trailers from animated series Hoops; reality show DeMarcus Family Rules, featuring the family of Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus; and a tease announcing the 2021 premiere of director Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans, the final installment in Tales of Arcadia animated film trilogy.

Woke Gives a Voice to Black Nerds

Hulu’s new dramedy Woke is based loosely on the life of cartoonist Keith Knight, who co-created the series. Premiering September 9, it stars New Girl’s Lamorne Morris as a rising artist in San Francisco who, after a traumatizing event, begins to see the injustice of the world.

To hear Knight tell it, the show might also give a voice to Black people who may have trouble fitting in the white male–dominated geek culture.

“The idea that alternative culture is white culture, I think that is just a mirage,” Knight tells journalists. “I think the true punk culture, the true rock culture, the true — American culture is Black culture … And if you even scrape the surface of the history of this country, you will see that Black people have had a part in everything, not just music.”

An example? Knight, who is a hockey fan, says “I just found out that like, modern hockey was like — hockey transformed by the grandkids of slaves that emigrated up to Canada.”

More Hulu news:

  • The company also released a trailer for the upcoming season of Pen15.
  • Hulu announced season 2 renewals for Love, Victor and Taste The Nation with Padma Lakshmi (see Rotten Tomatoes’ “Renewed and Cancelled”).
  • Girl From Plainville, starring Elle Fanning (who also stars in Hulu’s The Great), and docuseries The Next Thing You Eat from James Beard Award–winning chef David Chang and Academy Award–winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville received straight-to-series orders.
  • Selena Gomez has joined as star and executive producer of the upcoming Hulu Original comedy Only Murders in the Building alongside Steve Martin and Martin Short.
  • Hulu also announced fall premiere dates for Steven Spielberg–executive produced Animaniacs, upcoming drama series No Man’s Land, Hulu Original documentary I AM GRETA, food series Eater’s Guide to the World, and horror anthology series Monsterland (see Rotten Tomatoes’ “Premiere Dates” calendar).

Vindication for Pepe the Frog?

Documentary Feels Good Man looks at the how cartoonist Matt Furie’s drawing of a smiling green frog unintentionally became a symbol for hate on the Internet.

“This is something that has never happened before,” director Arthur Jones told journalists. “The Anti-Defamation League never has declared a meme a hate symbol before. It has never declared a copyrighted character a hate symbol before.”

He says it was “a process” for Furie, who participated in the film, “to figure out how to handle this. He tried to handle that via his artistic community first. Then he tried to find a set of lawyers to collaborate with to enforce the copyright in a way that he felt was right for him. While he’s doing this, he’s an artist; he’s starting a family — there’s a lot of stuff going on.”

Feels Good Man will air on October 19 as part of PBS’ Independent Lens series.


Coming to You from the Bat Cave …

Virus Hunters
(Photo by National Geographic)

Journalists caught glimpses of lots of celebrities’ houses through this all-virtual press tour. But only one panel streamed from inside a bat cave: bat scientist Kendra Phelps and epidemiologist Chris Golden introduced us to some new friends while speaking on the panel for National Geographic’s upcoming documentary, Virus Hunters.

Airing November 1 to be a companion piece to that month’s issue of the magazine, the special will tell “the stories of those heroic experts on the frontlines who are racing to identify the chain of events that could cause the next global pandemic,” said Nat Geo Senior Vice President of Communications Chris Albert, who introduced the panel.

Virus Hunters will aim to offer solutions, and some of those could include the work that Kendra and Jim [Desmond, a fellow panelist and a wildlife veterinarian] are doing where there is monitoring and surveillance of what is actually unfolding naturally within ecosystems,” Golden said. “I think it will beg the question of further policy- and decision-making that would lean on us to really view conservation as an important tool for public-health interventions.”

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