Friday s portion of the Television Critics Association press day got political, thanks to projects like a Hillary Clinton documentary coming to Hulu and National Geographic s powerful film The Cave. Other news out of the day included the iffy future of Hulu projects Veronica Mars and Castle Rock, as well as Zoë Kravitz dishing on her new Hulu show High Fidelity.TOP STORYHIGH FIDELITY GENDER-FLIPS 2000 MOVIE WITH STAR ZOË KRAVITZHulu s High Fidelity hits just in time for Valentine s Day, serving up a gender-flipped rom-com re-do of the 2000 film starring John Cusack and Lisa Bonet, who happens to be the mother of series star Kravitz.Kravitz is having an excellent year so far, between celebrating a Golden Globe nomination for season 2 of Big Little Lies, her recently announced role as DC Universe s new Catwoman in Matt Reeves’ 2021 film The Batman, and this promising Hulu series from executive producers Sarah Kucserka, Veronica West, Scott Rosenberg, and Kravitz herself. The show, which tackles lead character Rob s love life and a theme of gentrification, relocates from England (in Nick Hornby’s book) and Chicago (in the movie) to the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. We watch a lot of romantic comedies with female leads, West told the TCA gathering, and the problem always seems to be you can t find the right man, or you re desperate to get married, or you re self-destructive in some way. And like, when a man gets to be the lead, the problems are internal and it s just like — it was interesting for us to put that in a woman s point of view and let her issues with romance really just be about learning how to figure out herself and not finding Mr. Right. You know, there s lots of Mr. Rights in the show, which is part of what makes it so much fun. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)For Kravitz s part, the actress pulled some strings as executive producer to make the comedy happen. We had Colleen Atwood do the costumes, who is a legend. I had worked with her on Fantastic Beasts, and we were having a really hard time finding someone to do the costumes and that was a really important element to the story and the show to me. And I had called Colleen asking her if she knew someone that would do it because I knew she wouldn’t do it because she’s — she did f ing Silence of the Lambs. Like, you know, it’s not happening. And I called her and said, Do you know someone? and that we need someone and it was starting really soon. And she said, I love High Fidelity. I love you. I’ll do it. And we were all in shock I called [executive producer Scott Rosenberg], and I said, I think I found someone that you’ll be happy with — because he wasn’t happy with anybody — and he said, Who? And I said, Colleen Atwood. She wants to do it. And it got really quiet. And then he went, Why?' Kravitz said she and Atwood found costumes for her character at vintage stores. I stole a lot of s . I have a lot of the clothes from High Fidelity,” she confessed. I’m really into the Hawaiian shirts. We did a lot of really cool Hawaiian shirts, and Colleen designed this really great leather jacket that was kind of an homage to the jacket that Cusack wears in the film. We did a Hawaiian shirt with a leather jacket with a kind of pleated school skirt, and that was really cool. Music posed a different kind of challenge for the rom-com TV reboot. We spent a lot of money on music, Kravitz said. Every song that we really wanted, we got. And every song we couldn’t get that was replaced, the song that it was replaced with ended up being the perfect song. We were really lucky. And we had amazing support from ABC and Hulu in terms of everyone knew how important the music — music is a character on the show. So she needs like a trailer and a makeup office – A reporter couldn t help noticing that Kravitz s short pixie cut was a much different look than the long braids her character wears in the series. I cut my hair for Batman, so it’s short now, Kravitz explained, insisting that her hair in the series was definitely not a wig.Earlier in the week, Kravitz appeared on Ellen DeGeneres show, where she talked about training for her Batman role and meeting with a famous former Catwoman while sitting with the Big Little Lies talent at the Golden Globes earlier this month. I was sitting at the Globes with David Kelley — because he writes our show — and [his wife] Michelle Pfeiffer. And I was bowing to the queen. I m nervous to be in her presence now, she told DeGeneres, who asked her about costume fittings. We ve had many. It s going really well. It s very exciting. And I ve been training a ton, too, which has been great and hard I come home just limping every day. It s actually kind of pathetic. THE FATHER OF STAR WARS MEETS THE CHILDThe Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau shared a photo of Star Wars creator George Lucas holding series phenomenon The Child, and the internet shed tears of Baby Yoda joy pic.twitter.com/y121exIBtZ Jon Favreau (@Jon_Favreau) January 17, 2020HULU AND VERONICA MARS USED TO BE FRIENDS?(Photo by Warner Bros. Television. Courtesy: Everett Collection)Hulu s summer release of a fourth season of Veronica Mars five years after the Kristen Bell drama got a film version and even longer after the series left The CW caused a strong fan reaction — both because of a shocking ending and the decision to drop the episodes several days before its intended release date, thus screwing up rewatch plans for fans were binging old episodes on Hulu. Nevertheless, there was almost immediate talk as to whether there would be another season.Hulu senior v.p. of scripted originals Craig Erwich had a non-answer to this question when asked during his TCA executive session. I think for fans of the show, who have been lifelong fans, the opportunity to check back in with Veronica Mars and see where she is in her life was really exciting [and] it generated a lot of social conversation, he said. You know, what’s interesting is that collection, that kind of journey of Veronica Mars in terms of the television episodes and in terms of her life as a character, exists on Hulu now and will exist for a long time. So there’s still a lot of Veronica Mars for people to check out. We’re encouraging people to continue to watch it. People are continuing to discover it and and right now, we think that’s a really satisfying, narrative experience for them. CASTLE ROCK ALSO IN QUESTIONErwich was similarly vague about the future of Castle Rock, Hulu s original series based on characters and themes in author Stephen King’s work. We have not made any further decisions on Castle Rock. Again, that show recently launched. People are still continuing to discover it, he said, adding that I thought that Lizzy Caplan [who joined the show in season 2] was revelatory in her portrayal of Annie Wilkes. It was a whole new take on that character, and I thought very brave of her given what Kathy Bates had done [in the movie Misery]. You know, Lizzy was really able to find her own way into that. HULU PROMISES PATTON OSWALT’S M.O.D.O.K. PUTS HILARIOUS SPIN ON MARVEL SUPERVILLAIN(Photo by Marvel.com)Click image to see full comic coverIn more positive news, Erwich said that he s really excited after having seen quite a few episodes of animated series Marvel s M.O.D.O.K., which stands for Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. The character is described by Marvel as a massive-headed being possessing superhuman intelligence and extraordinary psionic powers. He s an egomaniacal supervillain trying to retain control over both his evil organization and his demanding family.Erwich added that star, executive producer, and co-writer Patton Oswalt is a lifelong Marvel fan and was obsessed with the character of M.O.D.O.K., so for him to finally get his hands on that character and for he and [co-writer and fellow executive producer] Jordan Blum to do what they’ve always wanted to do with it, has been great to see. They are taking a whole new perspective, and a very funny one, on what it means to be a comic book villain, which is really special. At last winter s press tour, Hulu announced that M.O.D.O.K. would be part of an animated lineup that also includes Marvel’s Hit-Monkey, Marvel’s Tigra Dazzler Show, and Marvel’s Howard The Duck. The four originals will culminate in a special, Marvel’s The Offenders.Erwich also said he s seen the first four hours of upcoming Marvel series Helstrom and, I’m really excited about it. It is a definitely a different corner of the Marvel universe in terms of its horror. HILLARY CLINTON S ADVICE FOR VIEWERS OF HER DOCUMENTARY(Photo by Erik Voake/Getty Images for Hulu)Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also at Hulu s TCA press day, joining filmmaker Nanette Burstein to promote their four-part documentary, Hillary. The former presidential hopeful was unflinching when asked what she hopes voters will take away from her documentary when it premieres March 6 — which, she noted, was after Super Tuesday and may mean we ll have a clearer vision of who will be the Democratic nominee for president in November. I think the most important message is, we are — and I say we, because that’s the side that I’m on I am on the side of an inclusive, generous, open-hearted country that faces up to the future, tries to bring people together to make difficult choices, of which we have many facing us, and that we’re in a real struggle with a form of politics that is incredibly negative, exclusive, mean-spirited. It’s going to be up to every voter, not only people who vote in Democratic primaries, to recognize this is no ordinary time, she said. This is an election that will have such profound impact. So take your vote seriously, and for the Democratic voters, try to vote for the person you think is most likely to win because at the end of the day, that is what will matter. And not just the popular vote, but the Electoral College, as we’ve learned. STEVE MARTIN, MARTIN SHORT MAKING NEW HULU COMEDY AND MORE DEVELOPMENT NEWS(Photo by Andrew Lipovsky/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)An untitled comedy starring Steve Martin and Martin Short. has gotten a straight-to-series order from Hulu. The series is co-created by Martin and John Hoffman. They both will executive produce along with This is Us creator Dan Fogelman, Jess Rosenthal, and Short.National Geographic announced partnerships with superhero superstars Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) for a six-part series called #impact, featuring global stories of extraordinary young women, and with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) for Limitless, a series that will explore the frontiers of the human body. Freeform has given a green light to Last Summer, which is described as an unconventional thriller that takes place over three summers in the mid- 90s. Executive producers are Bert V. Royal, Jessica Biel and Michelle Purple. The pilot is executive produced and directed by Max Winkler.Apple TV+ has ordered the docu-series Dear… from The September Issue s R.J. Cutler. It will premiere this spring and, according to the logline, it s inspired by Apple’s Dear Apple spots and promises to take an inventive and cinematic approach to biographies of the most iconic figures in society today by using letters written by those whose lives have been changed through their work. Hulu has also renewed Wu-Tang: An American Saga and Dollface. Freeform has renewed Grown-ish and Good Trouble and Disney+ has given a second season to The World According to Jeff Goldblum.PREMIERE DATES FOR RAMY, SOLAR OPPOSITES, GENIUS: ARETHA, MORE(Photo by Matthias Clamer/Hulu)Hulu has announced that its Golden Globe-winning Ramy will premiere its second season on May 29 with Mahershala Ali joining as a guest star. New series The Great and Solar Opposites will premiere May 15 and May 8 respectively.Genius: Aretha, starring 2020 Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), will launch on National Geographic as a four-night event series beginning Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. It is the third season of the networks anthology series. The network also announced the March 9 premiere date for COSMOS: Possible Worlds, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.New Freeform show Motherland: Fort Salem starts March 18 while Siren starts Season 3 on April 2.THE CAVE DIRECTOR S ABSENCE A HARSH REMINDER OF DOC S IMPORTANCE(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)National Geographic hosted a panel for The Cave, a powerful Syrian-Danish documentary film that focuses on Amani Ballour, a female doctor working out of a makeshift hospital in an actual cave during the Syrian Civil War. The film airs on the network on January 25, and director Feras Fayyad was scheduled to attend, but was unable to, according to a statement provided by the film s producer Sigrid Dyekjær. We were hoping that Feras Fayyad could be here with us today, Dyekjær wrote. As has been widely reported, in December Feras was denied an extended U.S. visa by the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen and has missed several industry events, including the IDA Awards and Cinema Eye Awards. While he has waited to meet with the embassy, Fayyad found out that his aunt’s house was bombed and his parents’ and childhood home was in the line of fire in Syria. The director traveled to Turkey to be near his family, but was arrested by immigration police in Copenhagen when he attempted to return, Dyekjær wrote. Feras is a filmmaker, but first and foremost he’s a Syrian. The Cave is a very personal film. It is dedicated to his seven sisters. To his daughter. To the unnamed women he witnessed being jailed and tortured in Syrian prisons because they’re women, Dyekjær wrote. His voice is important and it deserves to be heard, now more than ever. After all, we are talking about a brilliant filmmaker who is now a two-time Academy Award nominee — and my dear friend. DEALS: JULIA LOUIS-DREYFUS AND APPLE(Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images; Justin M. Lubin/HBO)Multi-Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus has signed a multi-year overall deal with Apple where she will develop new projects exclusively for Apple TV+ — both an executive producer and star.“I am thrilled about this new partnership with my friends at Apple,” Louis-Dreyfus said in a statement. Also, many thanks and kudos to my representatives for structuring the deal in such a way that I am paid in AirPods.”Hulu has also signed a multi-year streaming deal with DreamWorks Animation. Hulu announced the first three premieres to be Hulu Originals in 2020: Madagascar: A Little Wild based on the film franchise, TrollsTopia from the Trolls universe, and The Mighty Ones, featuring a twig, a pebble, a leaf, and a strawberry that live in an unkempt backyard where the humans are gods.Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
Premiering during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ted Lasso became the feel-good sports comedy we didn t know we needed. The series from Jason Sudeikis, Bill Laurence, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly slowly found its way into our hearts, garnering multiple accolades and a Peabody Award along the way.The gist of the program follows U.S. Football Coach Ted Lasso (Sudeikis) as he travels from America to the U.K. to coach a struggling soccer team. Season 1 put underdog team AFC Richmond on competitive ground, even though they faced a loss and were relegated. Now Lasso and his crew — Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), Coach Beard (Hunt), Keeley Jones (Juno Temple), Higgins (Jeremy Swift), Nathan (Nick Mohammed) — must maintain the team s relevancy in the professional sports world while dealing with personal challenges along the way.With new episodes launching on AppleTV+ on Friday, July 23, and a third season in development, does the show still hit the mark? Here s what critics are saying about Ted Lasso season 2:HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO SEASON 1?(Photo by AppleTV+)The premiere does get off to a bumpy start with a clunky plot point that’s out of character for a normally grounded series, but it leads to the introduction of Season 2’s big addition: sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, played by Sarah Niles (I May Destroy You). She’s brought in to help get the players’ heads on straight, and she quickly lets Ted know she’s not a fan of juvenile horseplay… or cookies. The players love her, but she’s seemingly immune to Ted’s charms — and her arrival triggers a fresh wave of anxiety in the old ball coach. Dave Nemetz, TVLineLuckily, after a less-than-successful start to the season, Ted Lasso quickly regains its footing, and the writers reveal they haven’t completely forgotten how to make good TV. Kaitlin Thomas, Paste MagazineIn the opening minutes of the new season’s first episode (“Goodbye Earl”), Ted eloquently espouses on how life and death can make us better people, evoking the heightened dramedy of Lawrence’s Scrubs. The episode also carries a reminder to avoid blanket assumptions as “all people are different people” as well as the insight that “intimacy is leaving yourself open to being attacked.” Pearls of wisdom deployed as easily digestible sitcom bites. Brandon Katz, ObserverWHAT ARE THE BIG THEMES THIS SEASON? (Photo by Apple TV+)If Season 1 was a fish-out-of-water story about a man who succeeds through kindness and positivity and baking really great biscuits, then Season 2 is all about the health and success of the team and expanding the narrative beyond Ted’s immediate influence on those around him. Kaitlin Thomas, Paste MagazineHopefully, the addition of stern sports psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles) will help correct that balance. Her presence alone is evidence enough that – contrary to how this show often positions him – Lasso doesn’t have the answers to all of life’s questions. In the season premiere, Sharon is deliberately written as distant and enigmatic, which doesn’t give Niles a huge amount of room to play, but the character’s potential is already clear to see. David Craig, Radio TimesTed Lasso embraces the fact that life is sometimes very hard; it s just also committed to the idea that we can still make it easier for each other. Liz Shannon Miller, ColliderDOES IS STILL HIT THE FEEL-GOOD MARK?The emotional intelligence of Ted Lasso remains remarkably high. It’s what continues to elevate the series above common feel-good stories, which are often given a pass by audiences to exist as middle-of-the-road creations that opt for simplicity over nuance. But Ted Lasso is a more aspirational entry in this specific lane of storytelling. Brandon Katz, ObserverSo much of its appeal lies in its essential good-naturedness — that belief that good people model goodness for each other, and that selflessness and community thinking can make everyone feel, work, and live better. Clint Worthington, ConsequenceThe laughter quotient remains high for me; the more things change, the funnier things get, in large measure because the characters are better defined and the actors have a better handle on what makes their personalities distinctive, and different from everyone else. Peter Martin, ScreenAnarchyThe show’s success would be meaningless without the eloquent, witty, and refreshing writing, which only grows more powerful as it progresses. In some ways, the new season of Ted Lasso changes right in front of our eyes. Previously a baby, the story is now reaching its full potential, with the characters maturing and learning new things about life. Zofia Wijaszka, AwardsWatchHOW IS JASON SUDEIKIS PERFORMANCE?(Photo by Apple TV+)Sudeikis slides back into the mustache and button-down/sweater combo of Ted with as much bright-eyed joy and unexpected vulnerability as last season, even as we see season 2 starting to throw up some more roadblocks for him. Clint Worthington, ConsequenceIn reaching for a criticism of this relentlessly upbeat season so far, it’s the over-reliance on Ted’s folksy witticisms. There’s a conversation early on in the season in which he uses three similes and metaphors back-to-back-back. It’s smirk-worthy when Ted responds to a cocktail invitation by saying the “same thing I’d say to Diane Sawyer if she ever asked me on a date: yes please.” The show has never been about traditional setup-punchline jokes and this personality tic substituted for that humor in Season 1. But after the umpteenth usage in Season 2, it begins to feel a tad cloying. Still, that’s far from a fatal flaw. Brandon Katz, ObserverNot only does Sudeikis take his performance to new levels in season 2, he ventures into new territory with the character, and the show built around him is better for it. Rick Marshall, Digital TrendsWHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE CAST?(Photo by Apple TV+)In particular, Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) and Danny Rojas take more central roles in the narrative. Jimoh is a revelation, charming with every smile or grimace. Fernández propels Danny past the one-joke punchline of his original appearance ( football is life! ) and shows superb comedic skills. Kelly Lawler, USA TodayLike his titular character, executive producer Sudeikis doesn t lead with his ego, and the best material in the new episodes goes to his fellow writer-performer Goldstein. Roy Kent is a blisteringly funny bastard with a fierce heart, and Goldstein deepens his character s emotional core every week — including, if you can believe it, as the key player in a rom-com tribute episode. Kristen Baldwin, EWHannah Waddingham and Juno Temple continue their strong on-screen chemistry as club owner Rebecca and model-turned-publicist Keeley, who became unlikely besties over the course of season one. David Craig, Radio TimesThe series has doubled down on what works—Ted’s ability to lead, Rebecca’s (Hannah Waddingham) strength, Keeley’s (Juno Temple) PR acumen, and Nate’s (Nick Mohammed) keen insight into the team—while also finding new and fun ways to explore characters like Roy (Brett Goldstein) and Jamie (Phil Dunster). Kaitlin Thomas, Paste MagazineANY FINAL THOUGHTS?(Photo by Apple TV+)“Ted Lasso” hasn’t succumbed to any easy temptations; it still embodies its coach in being sweeter than it should be able to get away with and smarter than you’d expect, given its unassuming nature. “Ted Lasso” hasn’t been changed by its success, aside from a few guilt-free indulgences. Ben Travers, IndiewireThis time out, Lasso comes out of the locker room ready to play from the first whistle. The jokes land correctly from the start, the characters seem as rich or richer than when we last saw them. Happily, Ted Lasso looks poised to dodge any sort of sophomore slump. Tim Stevens, The SpoolSeason 2 of Ted Lasso loses none of the show’s momentum heading into its next story arc, and builds on the successes of its first season in all the right ways. It continues to be one of the smartest, most entertaining, and most rewarding shows running right now, thanks to a talented cast that remains as invested in the series and its messages as their characters are in the optimistic outlook of the show’s titular coach. Rick Marshall, Digital TrendsTed Lasso Season 2 is premiering at a very different time, comparatively, but that doesn t make it any less important or valuable or necessary. It s hard to imagine a world where we wouldn t need a show like this. Liz Shannon Miller, ColliderTed Lasso season 2 premieres on Friday, July 23 on AppleTV+.Thumbnail: Apple TV+
After enduring setbacks as large as a studio merger and a worldwide pandemic, Free Guy is finally here, and according to the reviews, it s absolutely worth the wait. Ryan Reynolds stars in this meta action-comedy as Guy, an everyman bank teller in a video game called Free City who is content to respawn every day as an NPC (non-player character). Unbeknownst to him, a couple of rogue programmers (Jodie Comer, Joe Keery) in the real world are in open rebellion against the game s new corporate owner (Taika Waititi), and the extra code they implement in the game makes Guy self-aware; thus begins his journey from regular dude to world-saving hero. It s probably safe to say that few people expected this film to be anything more than a mild diversion, but Free Guy has become the surprise of the summer, with critics calling it a relentlessly optimistic, laugh-out-loud funny comedy that lovingly pokes fun at gamer culture but offers enough entertainment value for video game agnostics. It may not hit all of its targets, but it s goofy, earnest, action-packed, and hilarious, which feels pretty spot-on for a summer movie success.