HBO News: Leonardo DiCaprio Sets Up Series BEAT THE REAPER; Jane Fonda Will Recur on NEWSROOM

     December 14, 2011


Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way has hung onto the rights to adapt Josh Bazell’s suspense novel Beat the Reaper for a few years now.  We last heard about development on the project in February, when D.J. Caruso was on board to direct a feature film version and DiCaprio was looking for a space in his schedule to star.  Much has changed since February.  THR reports Beat the Reaper is set up at HBO as an ongoing drama series.  DiCaprio will executive produce, but is out of the equation as an actor.  And Caruso’s name is not mentioned.  Brian Koppleman and David Levieen (Ocean’s Thirteen) will write and executive produce the series about “a young ER doctor whose life is upended when a patient comes through his ward that recognizes the internist from his old life—when he used to work for a notorious crime family.”  HBO: where even the medical dramas are about the mafia!  I kid, because I am intrigued.  Last Sunday’s Boardwalk Empire finale/Luck sneak peak reiterated that HBO has returned to their creative heights.  Beat the Reaper joins a promising crop of HBO shows in development including Da Brick, The Corrections, Hobgoblin, and Newsroom.

Speaking of that last show—Jane Fonda has joined the cast.  Hit the jump for details.

jane-fonda-imageNewsroom is the third series in Aaron Sorkin’s Behind the Scenes trilogy, following Sports Night and Studio 60.  The one-hour drama is set at a 24-hour cable news network.  The story revolves around an anchor (Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), his newsroom staff (Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski) and their boss (Sam Waterston).  According to TV Line, Fonda will recur as Leona Lansing, the CEO of the network’s parent company: “She’s a titan and her corporate concerns often conflict with the reporting of the news outlet she owns.”  TV Line likens the character to Ted Turner, the CNN founder whom Fonda was married to from 1991-2001.  The character’s name is a tribute to two powerful women: the late Leona Helmsley and Sherry Lansing, the first female studio head.

Fonda makes a great cast that much better.  As one of those viewers who liked Studio 60 until the end of its one-season run, I am pretty certain I will love this show.