Season six of Downton Abbey marks the end of the popular series. It begins airing in the UK on September 20, 2015 and will hit US airwaves on January 3, 2016.
Writing for Deadline Nancy Tartaglione, who caught the first episode of the final run at a press screening in London, reports “While I’m sworn to secrecy, I can reiterate that it’s pretty much everything a Downton fan would hope. There’s drama and emotion packed into the launch and enough intrigue to indicate how things may move forward as the seminal show draws to a conclusion after six years.”
A trailer, released yesterday, tugs at fans’ heartstrings, as it says goodbye in multiple ways.
That requires an antidote, “The Dowager Countess of Grantham’s 27 Tips on Etiquette”:
In advance of the U.S. premiere comes Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion to all Six Seasons by Jessica Fellowes (St. Martin’s Press; Nov. 20, 2015). It includes interviews with the cast and crew, an episode guide, and plenty of lush photos.
Jessica Fellowes, who is the niece of Downton’s creator Julian Fellowes, has written three other books that will likely see renewed demand: A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, and The World of Downton Abbey.
The HBO series, Lewis And Clark, based on the book Undaunted Courageby Stephen Ambrose, (S&S, 1996) has faced some challenges, including wildfires on location and the firing of both the director and director of photography over creative differences three weeks into the production.
But HBO is still “undaunted,” declaring that filming will resume in the spring, according to Deadline, starring Casey Affleck as Meriwether Lewis and Matthias Schoenaerts as William Clark. The series is being produced by Tom Hanks’s company, Playtone, along with Brad Pitt’s Plan B. Entertainment.
Playing author Alex Haley in the series is Laurence Fishburne. In the original, James Earl Jones played Haley, appearing in the first episode of the series.
Set to begin shooting next month in South Africa and New Orleans, it is expected to air some time next year.
Kirby is known in the U.K. for his role in the TV series East Enders. He also starred as the younger brother in the 2013 British film Gone Too Far. The trailer, below, includes an eerie foreshadowing of his future role.
Showtime has optioned Mat Johnson’s novel Loving Day (RH/ Spiegel & Grau; OverDrive Sample) as a potential comedy series. According to Deadline talks are “underway with high-end writers to collaborate with the author on penning the adaptation.”
About a mixed race man and the daughter he never knew he had, the novel has received a fair amount of critical attention:
NPR’s reviewer, Michael Schaub, heaped praise on it, calling it a “beautiful, triumphant miracle of a book.”
Jim Ruland’s review in the Los Angeles Times was equally strong, “To say that Loving Day is a book about race is like saying Moby-Dick is a book about whales. Indeed, the subtitle to Mat Johnson’s exceptional novel could read “the whiteness of the mixed male.” [His] riff on racial identity starts as a scene, turns into an episode and morphs into a motif that never lets up. His unrelenting examination of blackness, whiteness and everything in between is handled with ruthless candor and riotous humor.”
Writing for The New York Times, Baz Dreisinger calls it a “ribald, incisive the novel … [that] ultimately triumphs because it is razor-sharp, sci-fi-flavored satire in the vein of George Schuyler, playfully evocative of black folklore à la Joel Chandler Harris — yet it never feels like a cold theoretical exercise. Loving Day is that rare mélange: cerebral comedy with pathos.”
It’s no surprise that the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones is spawning a whole new appreciation for the genre in the TV world. Variety trumpets that “Game of Thrones Leads Fantasy TV’s Transformation from Geek to Chic” noting, “On tap for the 2015-16 season are no fewer than five series based on literary works that deal with magic, monsters, mythical realms or heroic quests.”
Those five series listed below:
MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles — ten episode series to begin January, 2016. Based on Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, the first in the book series is Sword Of Shannara, but the first in the TV series will be based on the second book Elfstones Of Shannara. Tie-in — see our movie and TV tie-ins.
Syfy’s The Magicians — twelve episode series to begin January, 2016. Based on Lev Grossman’s The Magicians fantasy trilogy (The Magicians, 2009; The Magician King, and The Magician’s Land). No tie-ins have been announced.
Philip K. Dick is having something of a moment … yet again.
Long beloved in the SF world, his novels and short stories have also long been adapted into movies including Total Recall,The Adjustment Bureau, Minority Report, Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly.
Now Dick is poised to make a splash on the small screen with a TV version of Minority Report(actually a sequel to the movie starring Tom Cruise, which was in turn based on the 2002 short story by Dick). airing on FOX beginning Sept. 21 and an adaption of The Man in the High Castle streaming via Amazon Prime starting Nov. 20 (poster at left, above and the cover of the most recent reissue of the book, HMH, 2012. No tie-in has been announced).
The Man in the High Castle, an alternative history in which the Axis powers won WWII and are ruling America, is getting a lot of attention. We wrote about its premier at Comic-Con, Entertainment Weekly is on board with frequent coverage, and the series is getting play in both mainstream media and specialized blogs.
Jeff Jensen writing forEntertainment Weekly reviewed the entire Amazon line up under the headline “Amazon pilot reviews: The Man in the High Castle is king” and said of the opener “this well-cast, well-acted, swell-looking pilot is by far the most polished of the group. It’s engrossing despite its stately pace, and a triumph of world building. [It] could be Amazon’s first successful attempt at big saga TV.”
Amazon says it is their most-watched pilot to date, reports Newsweek, also quoting executive producer Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) “[the story] raises all kinds of questions about reality and what it means to be human in an inhuman world … The chance to dramatize it was just irresistible.”
Den of Geek has posted an interview with several of the executive producers, including Dick’s daughter Isa Dick-Hackett, David W. Zucker (The Good Wife), and Spotnitz. When asked just what it was about Dick’s writing that makes it so perennially popular his daughter replied:
He would be astounded that we’re sitting here talking about titles of 50-60 years past. Maybe people have caught up to his work. I think with every film adaptation the following grows and hopefully it brings people back to the written work. When he talked about technology it wasn’t just about the technology itself. It was about the how it impacted human beings and what it means to be human. What is reality? Those are universal questions and I think it is part of the draw.
Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör (Quirk; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) is now a “put pilot’ for Fox (translation: “one that will definitely air”) with plans to create an hour long series inspired by the quirky book.
Horrorstör, with a cover resembling an IKEA catalog and a nifty layout replete with furniture ads, was a September 2014 LibraryReads pick. It follows the fate of several workers of a big box home store who discover the company warehouse was built on top of a prison and is now haunted.
The TV show tweeks the haunted house plot to create an ongoing story. Deadline Hollywoodreports that “the store actually preys upon its customers’ desires to a supernatural degree, selling products that make their wishes and fantasies come true in unexpected and insidious ways.”
The O.C. and Gossip Girl creator Josh Schwartz is part of the production team, which also includes Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind). An air date has yet to be set.
Two of HBO’s most successful series feature cities in crisis, The Wire, about the drug wars in West Baltimore and Treme about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The creator of both, David Simon, next turns his attention to Yonkers, New York in the 1980’s when the racially divided city was further torn apart by a court-ordered public housing project.
In his final week hosting the Daily Show, Jon Stewart uncharacteristically did not interview any authors, but he did a shout out to a book coming in October, Do Unto Animals, (Workman, Artisan), by an author he knows well, Tracey Stewart.
As a result the book has been rising on Amazon’s sales rankings and is currently
In the on-going battle between the big screen and the small screen, Netflix made a splash by buying the rights to a major new movie, directed by Cary Fugunaka and starring Idris Elba. Beasts of No Nation. It is based on the 2005 novel by Uzodinma Iweala about child soldiers in West Africa.
There’s one problem. To be eligible for Oscar consideration, the movie has to open in theaters. While many theaters refuse to book movies that will be released simultaneously on cable, Netflix has managed to make a deal with Landmark Theatres to premier the movie in 19 cities on the same day it begins streaming on Netflix, October 16.
Britain’s Carnival Films, the production company behind hits such as Downton Abbey and Agatha Christie’s Poirot is gearing up for a second season of Grantchester, to air on PBS Masterpiece in 2016, according to Deadline Hollywood.
If you missed the first season, Grantchester features a dishy village vicar who solves crimes around his tiny hamlet outside of Cambridge, England and ventures further afield as well. Full of jazz music, anguished flashbacks to WWII, and frustrated romance, the sprightly paced 1950s set whodunits showcase well-drawn characters, a fabulous setting, and a not quite cozy tone.
Reviews were generally positive on both sides of the ocean when season one debuted. The Telegraph wrote “Stop it, I’m hooked. Sign me up. I’ll give you my cat and house to see what happens next.”
The LA Timescalled the show “guilelessly entertaining” and said that while it “lulls more than it grabs [like a] good sermon, you may think you’re only barely listening until you realize you’re fully immersed.”
The New York Times had a different view, however, claiming that Grantchester will be “breezy fun for fans of the form, though the more discerning will be put off by how rudimentary the actual murder mysteries are after being squeezed into 50 minutes (half the norm for this type of show). Others are liable to find it faintly ridiculous, more of a haiku than an actual drama.”
The show created demand for the book and holds spiked at some locations beyond a 3:1 ratio.
Continuing his somewhat incongruous attention to books, Seth Meyers featured graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel on yesterday’s Late Night show, devoting the entire second half to her book Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2006) and its Tony-winning Broadway musical adaptation.
Meyers asked Bechdel to share the impetus behind Fun Home. Although it’s covered in the book, Bechdel’s recounting added emotional depth to the story of her coming out while in college and how that ultimately revealed her father’s hidden homosexual infidelity. He died shortly after in an accident that may have actually been a suicide.
That sad moment was balanced against a scene from the play, staged on Meyers set, in which the Broadway cast performed “Changing My Major.”
Holds are spiking in some libraries beyond ratios of 6:1 while a few libraries we checked had copies on the shelf.
Tonight, he goes another step further, featuring graphic novelist Alison Bechdel as well as a scene ftrom the Tony Award winning play based on her book Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2006). According to TheatreMania, this will be the first time a Broadway show has been performed on Late Night.