Ghost Hunters

In this edition of TV Bits:

  • Ghost Hunters has been revived for a new season
  • The Penny Dreadful spin-off adds some cast members
  • David Ayer is working on a new series for Showtime
  • Get a first look at the new War of the Worlds TV series
  • Find out what the hell Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters is
  • All that and more!

First up, The Hollywood Reporter has word that A&E is bringing back Ghost Hunters for a new season that will begin airing on August 21. It’s part of a big push to increase their amount of paranormal inspired programming on the cable channel. A&E Network executive VP and head of programming Elaine Frontain Bryant says:

“Paranormal worked really well for us in the past. It feels like it’s a time in the country where there’s a trend for people to be spiritual without being overly religious. I think paranormal programming can feed that, while being entertainment-forward.”

Grant Wilson is back in front of the camera for the new Ghost Hunters, but he has a new team who will be joining him as they talk to forensic experts, look through historical records, and use new technology.

Other paranormal programming includes reviving A&E’s previous shows such as Psychic Kids and Celebrity Ghost Stories, each getting all-new episodes. But they’re also bringing in a new show called Trey the Texas Medium (for now), following a man who both creates custom caskets as a master carpenter and claims to bring messages from the dead to loved ones looking for closure.

Finally, the channel also has a two-hour special called The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt, which came about after two weeks of filming inside Pennsylvania’s allegedly haunted Pennhurst Asylum with five paranormal investigators. Spooky!

Penny Dreadful - City of Angels

Next, the Penny Dreadful spin-off series City of Angels has added even more names to the already impressive series cast.

Showtime has revealed that Adam Rodriguez (Criminal Minds), Thomas Kretschmann (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Lorenza Izzo (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Michael Gladis (Mad Men), Dominic Sherwood (Shadowhunters), and Ethan Peck (Star Trek Discovery) have all joined the cast.

City of Angels is set in 1938 Los Angeles, a time and place deeply infused with Mexican-American folklore and social tension. Rooted in the conflict between characters connected to the deity Santa Muerte and others allied with the Devil, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will explore an exciting mix of the supernatural and the combustible reality of that period, creating new occult myths and moral dilemmas within a genuine historical backdrop

Gladis will play the series regular role of Councilman Charlton Townsend, the ambitious head of the L.A. City Council’s Transportation Committee; a man of killer instincts and ruthless political wiles. Izzo will play the recurring role of Santa Muerte, the Angel of Holy Death and sister of the charismatic demoness, Magda (Natalie Dormer). Rodriguez will play recurring character Raul Vega, the eldest son of the Vega family and a righteous union leader and advocate for his people. Wise to the ways of the world, Raul tries to be a father-figure to his brother Tiago (Daniel Zovatto).

Kretschmann will play Richard Goss, an aristocratic and mysterious German architect with grand plans for the future of Los Angeles: a manipulative master builder with unsettling connections to City Hall. Sherwood will guest star as Kurt, the chauffer and bodyguard for Richard Goss. There’s more to Kurt than meets the eye: an unexpected depth and surprising background. Peck will play Herman Ackermann, the charismatic second-in-command at the German-American Bund. His aggressive politics, heated rhetoric, and personal magnetism inevitably create tension within the group and for the Bund’s leader, Peter Craft (Rory Kinnear).

The show also has Kerry Bishé (Halt and Catch Fire), Amy Madigan (Gone Baby Gone), Brent Spiner (Outcast), Lin Shaye (Insidious), and Nathan Lane (The Birdcage) on board.

The Lincoln Lawyer

David E. Kelley, executive producer behind Boston Legal, The Practice and Ally McBeal is returning to law on television again, this time with an adaptation of Michael Connelly’s best-selling novel The Lincoln Lawyer. The book was already turned into a movie starring Matthew McConaughey (seen above), but the series will be a complete reboot crafted for television.

For those who don’t know, The Lincoln Lawyer follows Mickey Haller, an iconoclastic idealist who runs his law practice out of the back of his Lincoln town car as he takes on cases big and small across Los Angeles.

The Hollywood Reporter says the drama has been picked up by CBS with a series production commitment attached to the deal. So if CBS doesn’t order the series, they have to pay a sizeable penalty fee to the producers.

Lately, Kelley has been busy with Mr. Mercedes and Big Little Lies, but this brings him back to CBS after working on the Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar comedy The Crazy Ones.

Letitia Wright and John Boyega got a big boost in their careers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars franchise respectively, and now the two are teaming up for a new TV show from Steve McQueen (above), the Oscar-winning director of 12 Years a Slave and Widows.

Small Axe will have the two British actors starring in a series that has already been picked up by Amazon for streaming in the United States and by the BBC for airing in the United Kingdom.

Variety says the  title is derived from a Jamaican proverb with resonance throughout the Caribbean that says, “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe.” Though specifics on the series aren’t available, it’s said to be split into six parts that tell five different stories. They will all unfold in London’s West Indian community, starting in the late 1960s and running until the early 1980s. McQueen said of the project:

“I felt these stories needed to be shared. I wanted to relive, reevaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a black British person. What’s important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global.

I think audiences will identify with the trials, tribulations and joy of our characters as well as reflecting on the present environment in which we find ourselves. The dynamic nature of the series allows us to confront injustice in the face of adversity.”

Also joining Boyega and Wright will be Malachi Kirby (Black Mirror), Shaun Parkes (Lost in Space), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), Alex Jennings (Victoria) and Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots).

Production is happening right now in London, though it’s not clear when the series is meant to debut yet.

castle rock anthology

Castle Rock is gaining some new talent for the second season of the Stephen King mash-up series from J.J. Abrams.

Robin Weigert (Deadwood), Sarah Gadon (Alias Grace), Alison Wright (The Americans) and Greg Grunberg (Heroes) have all landed guest starring roles in the second season of the Hulu series.

The second season of Castle Rock follows a feud between warring clans that comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan), Stephen King’s nurse from hell from Misery, gets waylaid in Castle Rock. Paul Sparks, Yusra Warsama, Barkhad Abdi, Elsie Fisher and Matthew Alan also have roles this season.

Deadline reports Weigert will play Annie’s mother Crysilda while Gadon plays Rita Green, a vengeful woman from Annie’s past. Meanwhile, Wright has the role of Valerie, a kind-hearted local who explores the town’s evil history and Grunberg has been enlisted as the local sheriff who faces off against a brewing, dark force in Castle Rock.

Next up, Variety has word that Showtime is working with End of Watch director David Ayer on a new military contractor series called The Company.

The series is described as an “anti-procedural” that will take n irreverent look at the military contracting industry during its Wild West heyday post 9/11. That sounds a little too dark for my tastes, especially since Ayer isn’t exactly known for tackling subject matter like this in an irreverent way. But the series is meant to “take the larger than life personalities that fight our wars out of the shadows and put them on display.”

Ayer will be writing and directing, as well as executive producing the series with Chris Long from Cedar Park Entertainment. Jimmy Fox from Main Event Media will also be executive producing with Jeremy Scahill.

War of the Worlds Series

Did you forget there was a series adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel War of the Worlds in the works? Well, Variety has the first photos from the series by Studio Canal.

The eight part adaptation of the book is set in modern day Europe and follows the pockets of humanity left on earth following an apocalyptic extra-terrestrial strike. So it doesn’t sound like we’ll see much of the actual attack itself, unlike the Steven Spielberg film from 2005. Instead, the series will focus more on the human element of the story and how we might deal with an event like this. Series star Gabriel Byrne says:

“In literature, dystopian novels and science fiction has been a safe place for us to deal with collective terror. But what Wells also understood is that the greatest threat is not from out there, but from inside ourselves, and we see in this new telling of the story; a warning that it is only our own humanity that will save us.”

The series features an ensemble cast that also includes Elizabeth McGovern, Léa Drucker, Natasha Little, Daisy Edgar Jones, Stéphane Caillard, Adel Bencherif, and Guillaume Gouix. Gilles Coulier (The Natives) and Richard Clark (Versailles) are each directing four episodes apiece, and the series is created by Howard Overman (Misfits)

Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini

Finally, Netflix has quite the interesting series in the works from Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan and Kathleen Jordan. It’s called Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters, which can easily be sung to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song melody.

The series will star Maddie Phillips and Anjelica Bette Fellini as the titular teens, fraternal twin sisters Sterling and Blair Wesley. The duo join forces with a veteran bounty hunter (Kadeem Hardison) and dive into the world of bail skipping baddies while still navigating the high stakes of teenage love and sex. Sounds like a pretty good time.

Kohan and Jordan will executive produce the series along with Blake McCormick, but Robert Sudduth will act as showrunner in addition to also executive producing. Jordan and Sudduth released a joint statement to Variety:

“We’re not here to judge, y’all. We’re here to embrace the nuance. This show is really about two young women trying to live their lives by their own rules, haters be damned. We can’t wait for the world to meet Sterling and Blair. And as for the title, ‘Sex Positive Teenage Bounty Hunters’ didn’t have the same ring.”

I’m not sure how much nuance a show called Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters has, but I’ll be happy to find out.

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