I apologize once again for the lack of updates, especially on such a busy weekend as San Diego Comic Con. As it turns out I was pretty busy on the weekend, some of it unexpected, and was not able to keep up with all the news coming out – and shocked at some of it. However I did do a lot of behind-the-scenes work to improve the response of the web site, and I hope it is noticeable.
So please forgive me while I try to get on track again. In the meantime, here is just some of the news that came out of Comic Con and since…
One of the big news items was that shortly before he was to appear at a panel for one of his other movies, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired from the franchise by Disney over tweets he made nearly 10 years ago that were, frankly offensive. Gunn stated in a release afterwards that the tweets were made as “totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative,” and has regretted them ever since. He accepted the decision and responsibility for his actions then, but also said he has changed in the years since. Many of his colleagues and actors have shown great support for him and expressed shock at his firing and asked Disney to reconsider, as have much of the fan base.
That might not be so far fetched, given today’s announcement that AMC has investigated the sexual assault claims against TV personality and The Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick by his former girlfriend Chloe Dykstra last month, and decided to reinstate him.” Hardwick has been suspended after Dykstra’s claims in an article, and the network had Yvette Nicole Brown take over his SDCC panels as well as host the Season 9 preview of The Walking Dead and act as interim The Talking Dead host. She will still handle the preview special.
Speaking of The Walking Dead, the shocking announcement was that star Andrew Lincoln, the central character of the show for its entire run, will be leaving the show to spend more time back home in the UK and taking time off. He added that “No one is bigger than the story,” and the show still has a lot of life in it.
In other casting news, Supergirl added transgender actress Nicole Maines as Nia Nal, a new CatCo reporter who also is superhero Dreamer. April Parker Jones also joins as a regular playing Colonel Haley, a hardline military commander, and David Ajala will recur as Manchester Black, a ruthless vigilante-type character. Previously announced regulars were Jesse Rath returning as Braniac-5 (a.k.a Brainy), and Sam Witwer joining as Agent Liberty. Over at Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jeff Ward (Deke Shaw) was upped to a series regular.
Syfy announced that Wynonna Earp would be renewed for a fourth season, while Freeform renewed Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger for a second season. USA however canceled Colony after its third.
AMC announced during their TCA presentation this week that they have ordered six one-hour episodes of a documentary series on the history of science fiction from James Cameron, to air sometimes in 2018.
James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction will have each episode asking one of the “Big Questions” that humanity faced all through history, and looks at how science fiction has attempted to answer those questions and steer humanity into the future.
“When I was a kid, I basically read any book with a spaceship on the cover and I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey many, many times,” Cameron said. “The movie inspired me to become a filmmaker. I liked the special effects, but I really loved the ideas and the questions behind them: How will the world end? Will technology destroy us? What does it mean to be human?”
The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle will consult on the series.
James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction will be produced by Left/Right, and executive produced by Cameron, Maria Wilhelm, Ken Druckerman and Banks Tarver.
Wasting no time as usual, AMC during a Television Critics Association panel confirmed that they’ve already ordered up a second season of spinoff series Fear The Walking Dead, with 15 episodes. The first season of six episodes starts August 23rd.
FTWD is set in Los Angeles and deals with the outbreak of the virus and will address the collapse of civilization and the response of the government and the military.
AMC has held to their pattern of early pickups and ordered a sixth season of its record breaking series The Walking Dead just ahead of the 5th season debut this Sunday.
The Walking Dead has been riding a high, topping the TV charts for adults 18-49 for two straight years and finished off its fourth season with a 15.7 million viewer finale – 3.3 million higher than the previous season finale. It averaged 13.3 million viewers over the whole fourth season.
Almost a year after it gave a pilot order for Line of Sight, a science fiction drama that was to star The Walking Dead‘s Governor David Morrissey, the network decided to pass on making it a series, according to Deadline.
We’re still not sure what made the show science fiction exactly – presumably it would be unveiled as they story went, but we’d watch Morrissey again. I might also add that he played eponymous “Next Doctor” in the 2008 Christmas episode of Doctor Who.
AMC plans to create a spin-off series of hit show The Walking Dead, and is working with executive producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert to launch the series in 2015.
Not much more is known about the series at this time, other than according to AMC president/GM Charlie Collier, “It’s a big world and we can’t wait to give fans another unforgettable view of the zombie apocalypse.”
Kirkman, who wrote the original comic book on which the show is based, added, “After 10 years of writing the comic book series and being so close to the debut of our fourth, and in my opinion, best season of the TV series, I couldn’t be more thrilled about getting the chance to create a new corner of The Walking Dead universe. The opportunity to make a show that isn’t tethered by the events of the comic book, and is truly a blank page, has set my creativity racing.”
The Walking Dead returns October 13th for its fourth season.
ABC has given a pilot order for the SF drama Line of Sight from Blake Masters (Brotherhood), to be co-produced by Fox TV Studios and AMC Studios.
Line of Sight is the story of Lewis Bernt, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator who survives a mysterious plane crash, bringing him on an emotionally disorienting quest to discover the accident’s cause. It isn’t clear what the science fiction element is, but I have a feeling this may play out a bit like Lost. Joel Stillerman, AMC’s executive VP of original programming, said, “Blake Masters has created a world and set of characters that defies the traditional boundaries of drama and sci-fi. It’s got great elements of both genres while also having that unique blend of a conspiracy thriller. It is genuinely unexpected and unconventional.”
AMC is working with Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion) to develop Ballistic City, a futuristic series described as the “story of a former cop thrust into the criminal underworld of a city housed in a generational space ship destined for an unknown world.”
AMC looks to be expanding into genre programming after the success of The Walking Dead, as they’ve just purchased a new one-hour drama project called Thunderstruck, from the writing/directing team of Paul Boardman and Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) and producer David Eick (Battlestar Galactica). The show is described as “about powerful and enigmatic entities that begin appearing all over the world. After one shows up in the town of Great Falls, Montana, the local citizens must grapple with the dramatic effects and growing mystery of repeated visitations.”
It seems that the abrupt departure of Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont is still shrouded in mystery, and if the reports are correct, rather disturbing on the part of network AMC. According to The Hollywood Reporter, AMC may be strong-arming the cast and crew to not speak at all about the departure.
Everyone was surprised by the announcement of his departure, when the cast and crew were brief in separate meetings by Ben Davis, AMC’s vice president of scripted series, but without explanation as to why. Now sources from the inside explain the lack of anyone from the cast talking to the press as AMC “terrorizing” them, given that “They’re on a zombie show. They are all really easy to kill off.”
There is still much to be learned about the situation, but it may be a long way off before we really know the story. But it seems that AMC, relatively new to original scripted programming, is having trouble grasping how to handle that programming.