A roundup of news Monday from the Television Critics Association summer meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
Give ‘charmed’ a chance, creators say
The cast and producer of CW’s new “Charmed” are defending the reboot as a story for its time. The drama series about three young half-sisters who are witches will confront modern issues including the #MeToo movement, executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman told a TV critics’ meeting Monday. The varied ethnicity of the sisterly trio – white, Latina and African-American – also gives the reboot more currency, Urman said. The women have the same mother but different fathers.
Most people she’s talked to are in favor of the switch to characters of color, said Urman. She also produces CW’s Latino family comedy “Jane The Virgin,” which will end after its upcoming fifth season. “We’ve had the chance to see three white witches. And obviously coming off ‘Jane,’ I know so much more about what it means to be on screen, to see yourself represented, to see yourself being the hero of the story,” Urman said.
The varied backgrounds of the witches played by Sarah Jeffrey, Melonie Diaz and Madeleine Mantock also allows the show to explore witchcraft as it exists in different cultures, she said. Urman acknowledged there’s been fan unhappiness with the fact “Charmed” is a reboot and not a revival of the original series. The drama debuted in 1998 with Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty as the three Halliwell witch-sisters. Rose McGowan joined the series in 2006. Combs has expressed annoyance as well, posting tweets in which she derides the series remake as “capitalizing on our hard work.”
“Charmed belongs to the 4 of us, our vast amount of writers, crews and predominantly the fans,” she wrote on Twitter last January. “FYI you will not fool them by owning” a title. Those involved with the reboot understand that “Charmed” is a “sacred thing” to the original cast and its fans, Jeffrey said.
“Of course, we can’t help but be a little disappointed because I think the script is fantastic,” Mantock said. She added that she hopes Combs watches the show and likes it, but understands she is protective of the drama and “entitled to feel however she wants.” At its core, the show is a love story of the three sisters, Urman said, making it true to the original despite changes.
Lebron goes Hollywood
LeBron James has yet to play a minute for the Los Angeles Lakers, yet the NBA superstar is already busy in Hollywood. James is behind the three-part documentary series, “Shut Up and Dribble,” announced Monday by Showtime. Set to debut in October, the same month James suits up for his new team, the series looks at the changing role of athletes in the current political and cultural climate against the backdrop of the NBA.
Its title comes from a comment Fox News host Laura Ingraham made to James in February when she sought to rebuke him for talking politics during an interview. James is the executive producer of the series along with his business partner Maverick Carter and his agent Rich Paul. Gotham Chopra, who directed Showtime’s “Kobe Bryant’s Muse” in 2015, helmed the project.
The series traces the modern history of the league and its players starting with the 1976 merger of the freewheeling American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association, how the top players have expanded their notoriety off the court in fields such as business and fashion while becoming icons in the process. James has another show, “The Shop” debuting Aug. 28 on HBO in which he leads conversation and debate among his guests in barbershops around the country.
James found himself drawn into politics last week when President Donald Trump unleashed a withering attack on him in a tweet after an interview aired with CNN anchor Don Lemon in which he deemed Trump divisive. Although James has long been a Trump critic, calling the president “U bum” in a 2017 tweet, the tweet was Trump’s first attack on the player, who just opened up a school for underprivileged children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon,” Trump posted. “He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do.”
It’s a wrap for ‘Homeland’
Showtime says that its acclaimed series “Homeland” will end in 2019 with its eighth season. The show’s conclusion was announced Monday by Showtime Networks chief David Nevins, who called the Emmy-winning “Homeland” a game-changer for the premium cable channel. Nevins told a TV critics’ meeting that creator-producer Alex Gansa will bring the national security drama to what he called its “proper conclusion.”
In a statement, Gansa said he was sad to see the series end but said that it’s time. Claire Danes stars in “Homeland,” which has taken her bipolar, now former CIA agent Carrie through dangerous conflicts that sometimes mirrored real-world events. Last season, Carrie struggled to uncover an international conspiracy trying to harm America’s democratic institutions. The final season of “Homeland” will debut in June 2019.
Former NFL player Spencer Paysinger is drawing on his high school days living between two worlds for his first major Hollywood project. Paysinger grew up in economically depressed South Los Angeles, but he attended Beverly Hills High School, where he captained the football team in the wealthy enclave. The culture shock he experienced is the basis for “All American,” debuting Oct 10 on the CW.
“I definitely had a gang influence with friends and family growing up in South Central, and people might think that Beverly Hills definitely shielded me from some problems. But in actuality, it only opened up a whole new can of worms,” Paysinger told a TV critics’ meeting on Monday.
“Just dealing with kids with affluence, kids with drug problems and having their parents not be there for weeks on end because they’re vacationing or they’re doing big business. Just dealing with that contrast was probably the biggest thing that I had to go through.” Paysinger commuted daily to high school as part of a program that brought students from other areas to Beverly Hills, where he had two uncles and an aunt who coached and taught there.
Spencer eventually attended the University of Oregon and won a Super Bowl title with the New York Giants, one of four NFL teams he played for before achieving his goal of retiring from the league no later than age 30.
The series shoots in some of Paysinger’s old haunts in South LA, like a local park and the barbershop he has patronized since he was a kid. “South Central’s been portrayed so many different ways in the media for however long,” Paysinger said. “But with this show, I definitely want to implant that family aspect of the community.” Producers hired a consulting firm that designs all of the football plays in the show, and consulting producer Paysinger wants to make sure the action is authentic.
“I don’t want friends, I don’t want family texting, emailing me saying, ‘That’s not it. They couldn’t have converted on that,’ ” he said. Paysinger isn’t the only one with pro sports ties involved in the show. One of the writers is Jon Alston, who played five years in the NFL, and retired Major League Soccer player Robbie Rogers is a producer.
Presidency vs The FBI
Showtime will air a new documentary series from award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney examining the history of clashes between US presidents and the FBI. The four-part series inspired by the book “Enemies: A History of the FBI” by Tim Weiner will debut Nov 18, Showtime Networks chief David Nevins told TV critics on Monday. The program, with the working title “Enemies: The President, Justice & the FBI,” will explore what Showtime called “epic confrontations” between presidents and FBI directors from J Edgar Hoover to James Comey.
In a tongue-in-cheek reference, Nevins referred to the documentary as “mildly timely.” The series’ analysis of the past will be used to gauge what may come of the federal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, Showtime said.-AP