While the networks have been announcing their new series over the past few days at the upfronts, HBO is making a couple of announcements of its own. The pay cable channel has order two pilots to series: a comedy from Mike Judge and a dramedy series centering on a group of gay men in San Francisco starring Jonathan Groff (Glee). Judge’s dark comedy is a single-camera project that takes place “in the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success.” The series stars T.J. Miller (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) and Thomas Middleditch (The Campaign).
Per THR, Judge wrote and directed the pilot and will executive produce the series with John Altschuler, Dave Krinsky, and Scott Rudin. Judge previously created and ran King of the Hill on Fox and Beavis and Butthead on MTV, and I look forward to seeing his sharp wit soar outside the confines of network TV. Hit the jump for news regarding another new HBO series from Weekend director Andrew Haigh.
We only recently just saw a full trailer for the upcoming sixth season of the HBO series True Blood, and now the network has unveiled a large batch of high-resolution images previewing the drama to come. In addition to giving us looks at fan favorites like Sookie (Anna Paquin), Eric (Alexander Skarsgard), Bill (Stephen Moyer), and of course Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten), these images also introduce us to a host of new characters played by the likes of Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Arliss Howard (Full Metal Jacket), and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Friday Night Lights).
Hit the jump to peruse the gallery of images. The series also stars Ryan Kwanten, Joe Manganiello, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston, Todd Lowe, Nelsan Ellis, Michael McMillian, Lucy Griffiths, Lauren Bowles, Chris Bauer, Kelly Overton, Rob Kazinsky, and Amelia Rose Blaire. Season six of True Blood premieres on HBO Sunday June 16th at 9pm/8c.
Fresh off the release of an extended 12-minute featurette, a new UK trailer and a batch of new images from director Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming Liberace film Behind the Candelaba have landed online. The plot centers on the tempestuous relationship between the musician (Michael Douglas) and his lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) throughout their secretive five-year love affair that began in 1977. This UK trailer goes deeper into the film’s story, as we see the beginnings of the relationship and start to see some of the great interplay between Douglas and Damon. You can go ahead and wrap up Douglas’ Emmy right about now.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer and to see the new images. The film also stars Rob Lowe, Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Dan Aykroyd, Cheyenne Jackson, Paul Reiser, and Boyd Holbrook. Behind the Candelabra will premiere on HBO on May 26th at 9pm/8c.
HBO has released a new extended featurette for director Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming Liberace film Behind the Candelabra. The 12-minute video takes us behind-the-scenes of Soderbergh’s possibly final feature film, as we get an intimate look into how the filmmaker crafted his chronicle of the tempestuous relationship between Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) throughout their secretive five-year love affair that began in 1977. Much of the featurette’s focus is on the insane costume and production design of the film, but we also get some footage of Sodbergh operating the camera himself and of a nearly unrecognizable Rob Lowe as Liberace’s plastic surgeon.
Hit the jump to watch the featurette. The film also stars Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Dan Aykroyd, Cheyenne Jackson, Paul Reiser, and Boyd Holbrook. Behind the Candelabra will premiere on HBO on May 26th at 9pm/8c.
HBO has released a full 90-second trailer for the upcoming sixth season of True Blood, revealing a bounty of footage from the new episodes. The soapy series has had quite a bit of trouble balancing its expanding ensemble in the past few seasons, and it appears that the show’s focus remains as large as ever in season six. With this new trailer, we see a bit of how the show will deal with the events of last season’s finale, particularly with regards to Stephen Moyer’s Vampire Bill, as it appears that the season six premiere picks up immediately after the season five finale. There also looks to be plenty of the show’s hallmark “love scenes” to go around.
Hit the jump to watch the new trailer. Season six of True Blood premieres on HBO Sunday, June 16th at 9pm/8c.
Another Pain & Gain reunion is already in the works. Deadline reports that Dwayne Johnson is set to star in and executive produce a half-hour dramedy pilot for HBO about the lives of athletes, with his Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg also onboard to executive produce alongside Steve Levinson. The project takes place in Miami and “chronicles the lives of athletes—some retired, some still active.” Johnson will play one of the athletes, but at this time it sounds like Wahlberg is only producing. Levinson—who wrote many episodes of the Wahlberg-produced HBO series Entourage—wrote the pilot, which will be directed by Friday Night Lights helmer Peter Berg. Production is slated to begin this fall.
This marks another move for the very busy Johnson, who is next set to shoot his starring role in Brett Ratner’s Hercules. The actor is also in talks to return for Fast & Furious 7 should his schedule allow. This also marks the second HBO pilot that Berg is helming this season, as he will also direct the pilot for Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof’s potential series The Leftovers.
Actress Frances McDormand has been trying to get an adaptation of author Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge off the ground for years, and it looks like things are now finally moving forward. Deadline reports that The Kids Are All Right director Lisa Cholodenko will helm a miniseries adaptation of the novel for HBO in which McDormand and Richard Jenkins will star. The story focuses on a retired schoolteacher and the characters that surround her, as the various tales of affairs, suicide, and emotional problems in her small Maine town are told through her eyes. McDormand will star as the schoolteacher, Olive Kitteridge, while Jenkins will play her husband.
Cholodenko had previously been attached to direct an adaptation of the childrens book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but she recently dropped out. Jane Anderson wrote the screenplay for the four-hour miniseries. Hit the jump to read a synopsis of Strout’s book.
Good news Selina Meyer fans — HBO’s excellent, biting political satire Veep has been renewed for a third season. The show has had steady ratings thanks to a big lead-in from Game of Thrones (last year it was paired in a programming bloc with Girls), and the premium network is showing its support three episodes into the series’ second season by going ahead and electing Selina for another term (maybe the President will call?)
Veep, created by Armando Iannucci (In The Loop), stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the hapless Vice-President, along with Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Reid Scott, Matt Walsh and Sufe Bradshaw as her staff. Veep airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney is looking to tackle a markedly less controversial subject matter his next venture. The director behind Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is set to helm and produce an untitled four-hour miniseries documentary about the life and music of Frank Sinatra for Alcon Entertainment and HBO. The documentary is described as “an up close and personal examination of Sinatra, his life, his music and the legendary career that stands alone as unquestionably the most celebrated of the century.” The doc will feature never before seen footage, including home movies and professional and private performances by Sinatra.
Frank Marshall is onboard to executive produce the documentary alongside Nancy Sinatra, and it will premiere on HBO once it’s completed. Gibney recently helmed the disturbing Catholic church scandal doc Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God for HBO and the Julian Assange documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which hits theaters later next month. Hit the jump to read the full press release regarding the Sinatra documentary.
Because both HBO and AMC are stingy with screeners, this episode of Game of Thrones has been filtered in my mind through Mad Men. I’m pretty sure Sally is destined for the Iron Throne. Back in actual Westeros though, we ignored Bran and three-eyed crows again and bounced all over the realm and beyond with almost everyone else, in an episode that was mostly about setup and a little bit about friendship. Also a wee bit about pickled babies, but that’s another matter. Everyone is growing restless in the calm after Stannis’ failed attempt on the capitol late last season, and are back to scheming about relationships and marrying people off, with mixed results. You know what never gives mixed results? Figs. Hit the jump for more.
Two new promos for HBO’s gory vampire drama True Blood focus on Sookie’s brother Jason and the werewolf Alcide, giving viewers a little hint of what might be coming up in the show’s sixth season. Some fans were relieved that Alan Ball was relinquishing his showrunner duties this year (moving on to create the fantastic Banshee on Cinemax), but with the news that new showrunner Mark Hudis left shooting halfway through this new season and was replaced with series writer Brian Buckner, well, to quote one of my favorite films, “alarm bells are ringing, Willie!” Still True Blood always has a way of pulling us back into its chaos, and I’m sure this season will be no exception. Hit the jump for the new teaser videos.
After an episode of Game of Thrones last week that was so visually exceptional, this week went on to match it in terms of action, although with lots and lots of talking (not necessarily a bad thing, though). The bar has been set really high this season, and so far I think the show has risen to the occasion, being a lot clearer than last season’s sometimes chaotic storytelling. It’s helped too that we didn’t see everyone in every episode — this week left out Robb, Jon, Stannis and Davos, four very important characters — because with eleven other stories to tell in an hour, there was simply no room. What I really liked about “And Now His Watch Has Ended” though was reflected in the title — this episode was all about the ladies (nearly), and it was very well wrought. Hit the jump for why it burns, burns, burns, the Ring of Fire, the Ring of Fire.
Fresh off the news that True Blood will return this June, HBO has announced a firm premiere date for the second season of The Newsroom. Season two of creator/executive producer Aaron Sorkin’s drama series will kick off on Sunday, July 14th at 10pm ET/PT. The show centers around the goings-on at a fictional cable news network, and we know that the new season will focus heavily on the 2012 presidential election with recurring appearances set for Patton Oswalt, Marcia Gay Harden, and Constance Zimmer. HBO has an additional plot synopsis that, while vague, hints at a larger arc that may or may not play out over the course of the season: “the staff of ‘News Night’ chases a mysterious tip, which leads to a story that ultimately spins out of control.”
Though the show’s first season wasn’t near as strong as Sorkin’s previous series The West Wing and Sports Night (or even the first few episodes of Studio 60), I still found a significant amount of things to like about the show (Alison Pill, for one) and I’m looking forward to seeing how/if Sorkin “course corrects” with the upcoming season. The series also stars Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, John Gallagher, Jr., Thomas Sadoski, Olivia Munn, and Dev Patel.
Prolific television writer/producer/director Ryan Murphy is adding yet another potential series to his plate. Murphy co-created and serves as executive producer on three shows at the moment—Fox’s Glee, FX’s American Horror Story, and NBC’s The New Normal—and now he’s setting up a new pilot at HBO. Per THR, the pay cable network has ordered the relationship drama Open to pilot, which Murphy penned alongside Dexter’s Lauren Gussis. The potential series is described as “a multi-character exploration of the complex, ever-evolving landscape of sexuality, monogamy and intimacy in relationships.”
Given the sexually-charged nature of Murphy’s previous shows (most notably the borderline-softcore porn series Nip/Tuck), one can only imagine how far he’ll go on the boundary-pushing HBO. Murphy is also executive producing the pilot, but it’s unknown if he’ll also serve as showrunner should HBO pick Open up to series. He is currently gearing up to direct the stage play adaptation The Normal Heart for HBO as well, and filming on the Open pilot is expected to get underway this fall.
Last summer, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof talked about his collaboration with Tom Perrotta (Election) in adapting Perrotta’s 2011 post-Rapture novel The Leftovers for HBO, which the premium network picked up in February. It was announced today (via Production Weekly) that Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, Hancock, Battleship) is now on board to direct the pilot, continuing a trend of movie directors making a move to the small screen. Filming will take place in New York and should start in mid-June, so expect a 2014 premiere date should HBO pick the pilot up to series.
The Leftovers marks Lindelof’s first return to television since the end of Lost (however you feel about that), but as has been pointed out, him being so in demand for big-screen projects may see him reduce his involvement with the series a tad, although he did co-write the Leftovers pilot with Perrotta and appears to be on-track to serve as showrunner. Hit the jump for more on The Leftovers.