This date means the film will first play one or more stateside festivals: Telluride, Toronto, or New York, where American buyers will first check out the film. FilmNation is handling international rights, with UTA co-repping the U.S. sale.
Iannucci’s witty dialogue and the detailed Victorian setting should be catnip for BAFTA and Academy voters, along with a starry cast including Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw, Paul Whitehouse, Gwendoline Christie, and Aneurin Barnard. Shot on location in the UK, the film is produced by Kevin Loader and Iannucci; Suzie Harman and Robert Worley designed the costumes; Cristina Casali is the production designer; cinematographer Zac Nicholson shot it; Karen Hartley-Thomas styled the hair and make-up; and Christopher Willis composed the score.
Iannucci, the writer-director of “The Thick of It,” “In the Loop,” “Veep,” and “The Death of Stalin,” adapted the Dickens classic with frequent collaborator Simon Blackwell. The film follows the good-hearted Copperfield from birth to infancy, adolescence to adulthood, poverty to wealth. “‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ is a film about compassion, humour, generosity and friendship,” said Iannucci.
“The Personal History of David Copperfield” is the eighth Film4 production in ten years to be selected either as Opening or Closing Night Gala of the BFI London Film Festival. “Scotland’s Armando Iannucci is one of the most prodigiously talented and original filmmakers hailing from the UK,” said BFI London Film Festival Director Tricia Tuttle in an official statement. “‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ shows his trademark wit and a joyous sense of style — it’s a delight from start to finish, with Dev Patel and co-stars delivering performances of megawatt charm and comic flair. I’m so excited to be opening the 63rd BFI London Film Festival with this film which is not only wildly entertaining but also a timely celebration of the power of generosity and compassion.”
The full Festival program for the 63rd London Film Festival will be announced on August 29.
[Editor’s Note: The following article contains light spoilers for “Legion” Season 3, Episode 4, “Chapter 23,” as well as “Avengers: Endgame.”]
When Noah Hawley decided to infuse time travel into “Legion,” he knew he didn’t want it to be like other time travel stories — starting with the impediment to traveling whenever you want.
“On some level, if you think about the early days of exploring the world with maps […] there were huge parts [where] you just wrote the word ‘dragon’ or ‘sea monsters’ — we just didn’t know what was out there,” Hawley said in an interview with IndieWire. “So I liked the idea that time, as an explorer, is similarly dangerous — a vast unknown. Like any ecosystem, it has its own flora and fauna at some level.”
“Legion’s” imposing flowers are the Time Demons. Yes, Time Demons: creatures that safeguard the temporal state of the universe and spring up whenever a time traveler goes back too far or travels to the same place too often. David Haller (Dan Stevens) tempts the blue-eyed, white-haired, goggle-wearing creatures whenever he asks Switch (Lauren Tsai) to take him back to his infancy, among other journeys to reset things to a happier, more peaceful timeline. Soon (as in “Chapter 23”), David gets trapped in another state, permanently walking toward the Time Demons, as more of the little buggers plague Division III, going in and out of sight as they stalk their prey.
They are, to be clear, incredibly strange.
“You always want to feel like there should be consequences for time travel. I just didn’t want them to be the consequences that you’re used to,” Hawley said.
Consequences are arguably the most important facet when integrating time travel. Whether it’s “Back to the Future” or “The Butterfly Effect,” consequences tell the audience what’s at stake: They could be personal, like if travelers can’t get back to the present day, or they could be wide-ranging, like when time travel forever alters the course of history. If there are no consequences, then there are no stakes, and no stakes means very little drama.
Similarly, how these consequences are explained and implemented can be the difference between viewers enjoying the story or getting hung up on questions, like “Why didn’t the time travelers just go back and try again whenever they failed? If time travel can fix any problem, why can’t it fix every problem?”
Just a few months back, another Marvel property tackled the time travel challenge, and while “Avengers: Endgame” earned massive approval at the box office, the consequences were handled rather casually (some might say clumsily). Once the surviving superheroes from “Avengers: Infinity War” discovered they could travel through time to save the world they failed to save before, the film struggled to explain why some deaths suffered on the second try couldn’t be altered on a third or fourth attempt. Usually, someone in the film simply said, “No, we can’t go back this time,” which is an easy stopgap for audiences to comprehend, but less than satisfying when you realize future films could always just say the opposite, go time traveling again, and bring back “dead” characters.
“Legion,” meanwhile, introduces the stakes early on: The opening episode of Season 3 is dedicated to Switch, her abilities, and the parameters within they can be used. The Time Demons are the greatest deterrent, but she’s also a key figure herself. If she doesn’t want to go back, then David doesn’t get to go either. Furthermore, David’s purported good intentions are clouded by his villainous leanings — “Should Switch help him go back?” becomes as important a question as, “What happens when they do?” These choices help keep the focus on the characters, which is something Hawley wanted from the get go.
“It’s not that I wanted to play with time travel. It’s that I wanted to solve David Haller,” Hawley said of his decision to implement time travel this season. “If the central dilemma of your character’s life is what happened to him as a baby, and you’re in a genre show, there is a gravitational pull. If you’re David, and your love story has ended and Division III is hunting you down, you think, ‘I just need to change it. My life was ruined when I was a baby, and I’ll never get a break unless I can change that.’ So there was a really strong story pull and character pull [toward time travel].”
In “Legion,” Hawley asks whether David should be time traveling in the first place, while “Avengers” uses time travel as a purely benevolent fix-all for a previous mistake. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but the approaches are different — as so many are across film and television.
“I didn’t overthink it, but there were a lot of tropes of time travel I wasn’t interested in,” Hawley said. “I never really entertained the idea of playing with [the temporal] paradox that much, or playing with the tropes of, ‘if he changes something and comes back to the present, it’s all different.’ That wasn’t something I was interested in.”
And this leads us to perhaps the most important time travel lesson of all: The “Looper” Rule. “I don’t want to talk about time travel, because if we start talking about it, then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.” So perhaps it’s best to leave it there: “Legion” has its way of handling time travel, “Avengers” has another, and plenty more depictions are sure come. It’s just nice to see one working so well — especially one with demons.
Filmmaker Duncan Jones is moving forward with the final movie in his “Moon” film trilogy, just not in the way many fans are probably expecting. The trilogy, which includes Jones’ 2009 indie favorite “Moon” and his 2018 Netflix misfire “Mute,” will end with a final entry that will make its debut as a graphic novel. The director recently told Polygon he’s unsure whether or not he’ll be able to acquire the necessary budget to make a third film, so he’s going the graphic novel route to ensure the story gets out there.
“Yeah, that one’s been done for a while,” Jones said when asked about the third and final film in the trilogy. “I’m working on a graphic novel of it right now. It’s a bigger film. It’s going to be a tricky one to finance in this era where original material on a bigger budget is difficult to get made, so I definitely want to do the graphic novel so at least it will exist in some form. Then, hopefully, if people read the graphic novel and get really excited about it, I’m gonna try and use that as a way to leverage getting the movie made.”
While the films make up a single film trilogy, the entries are only loosely connected. “Mute” tied into “Moon” by featuring Sam Rockwell’s character from the latter in a brief news telecast cameo. The stories in both films were individual to their respective films. For this reason, Jones said fans can expect for the final “Moon” film to be vastly different than the entries that have already been released.
“I think they’re different genres, in a way, even though they’re all science fiction,” Jones said. “I think ‘Moon’ is a human drama. ‘Mute’ is a noir thriller. The third film is basically an action road movie. They’re three very different things, but at the same time, I think the science fiction and those underlying themes is what really connects them. I think they’re an anthology in a very European, like ‘Three Colours.’ It’s more like that.”
As for when “Moon” fans might be able to read the next entry in graphic novel form, Jones provided no updates. “Mute” is now streaming on Netflix.
Following the anniversary of the nastiest tweet ever written about someone’s life partner, Kevin Smith took to Twitter to announce another exciting event: A live reading of the “Clerks III” script, a never-produced second sequel to Smith’s 1994 debut film which made him one of the most influential indie filmmakers of the ’90s. The reading will be a benefit for The First Avenue Playhouse, a self-described dessert theater in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey – Smith’s home state.
“This August – in the great state of New Jersey!,” the filmmaker tweeted by way of an announcement. “Come hear what might have been, when we read the unmade CLERKS III script! There are only 80 seats at a pricey $100 apiece, but all the money goes to The First Avenue Playhouse (it’s a Benefit for them)!”
Clearly there’s a high demand for the undiscovered project, as the 80 available tickets quickly sold out, prompting Smith to add a second performance.
“Even at $100 a ticket, the CLERKS III script reading to benefit the First Avenue Playhouse sold out so fast, we have ADDED A SECOND SHOW to accommodate the demand!,” he wrote.
A sardonic slacker buddy comedy shot in black and white and set in a video store, “Clerks” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 to great acclaim before becoming an undisputed cult classic. “Clerks” featured the introduction of many recurring characters in the Smith oeuvre, namely Jay and Silent Bob, the latter of which is the filmmaker’s mute alter ego. Jy and Silent Bob would go on to appear in Smith follow-ups “Mallrats” (1995), “Chasing Amy” (1997), “Dogma” (1999), and “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” (2001), all of which take place in the same continuity as “Clerks,” otherwise known as the View Askewniverse.
In 2006, Smith made “Clerks II,” which picked up with the same characters 10 years following the events of the first film. The film premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival and was considered a critical and commercial success, grossing $27 million worldwide from a $5 million budget.
The existence of a “Clerks III” script is not news to Kevin Smith fans. The filmmaker has been floating the idea for years, even once hinting that it might live as a Broadway play. This benefit reading may be the first step toward Smith’s theatrical dreams becoming a reality.
Interested parties can attempt to buy tickets here.
After cycling through a number of different iterations over the years, including attached and rumored stars like Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway and filmmakers like Alethea Jones, the long-gestasting “Barbie” movie is going in a decidedly different direction. Variety reports that Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach have signed on to co-write the film, indicating that the feature film about the world’s most famous doll will likely have plenty in common with their previous features like “Mistress America” and “Frances Ha.”
Gerwig, who is currently editing her much-anticipated “Little Women” adaptation for a Christmas release, is also being “eyed” to direct the film for Warner Bros. Baumbach is also preparing for his next release, an untitled marital drama starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson that Netflix will release in the fall.
The duo’s screenwriting deal is apparently done, though Gerwig’s directing attachment has “not yet closed.”
The film will star Margot Robbie, who will also produce through her production banner LuckyChap, with Tom Ackerley of LuckyChap Entertainment and Robbie Brenner of Mattel also producing. Josey McNamara and Ynon Kreiz are also producers.
Before Warners landed the rights to the iconic doll, Sony attempted to make a Barbie-centric feature for years, first tapping Jenny Bicks to script the feature in 2014 before adding Diablo Cody for rewrites in 2015, followed by a studio-wide call for scripts that ended with Hilary Winston landing the scripting gig. By 2016, Schumer had come on board to star in the film, which was also due for a rewrite from the comedian and her sister Kim Caramele. The duo ultimately left because of scheduling conflicts.
In the months that followed, buzz about the film swirled with Anne Hathaway rumored to be taking on the leading role and director Alethea Jones reportedly tapped to direct the film. Sony eventually lost out on the film, and Mattel closed a deal with Warner Bros. in January to distribute the film.
While it’s unclear what this version of the film will be about, the Schumer-starring version reportedly followed a Barbie “after she gets kicked out of Barbieland for not being perfect enough and fitting the mold. She then lands in the real world and goes on a life-changing adventure.”
Actor and filmmaker Chris Evans labeled Donald Trump a racist following a viral tweet in which the president slammed “progressive Democratic congresswomen” for coming from nations where the governments are “complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.” Trump’s July 14 tweet earned widespread backlash over the weekend (read The Daily Beast’s “Trump Is a Racist. If You Still Support Him, So Are You”) and had Evans calling him out publicly to his 12.6 million followers.
“This is racist, Biff,” Evans wrote on Twitter. “The only thing worse than actually being hateful and racist, is casually wielding hate and racism to activate your base in an unrelenting, painfully transparent, and crushingly on-brand effort to soothe your only true devotion: feeding your insatiable ego.”
Evans has long used social media to criticize Trump and speak his mind on a wide array of political issues. The actor went viral in June for bashing a homophobic organization that was planning a straight pride parade in his hometown of Boston. “Wow! Cool initiative, fellas!!” Evans wrote. “Just a thought, instead of ‘Straight Pride’ parade, how about this: The ‘desperately trying to bury our own gay thoughts by being homophobic because no one taught us how to access our emotions as children’ parade? Whatta ya think? Too on the nose??”
Evans most recently starred as Captain America/Steve Rogers in the record-breaking “Avengers: Endgame,” which as of this writing trails James Cameron’s “Avatar” by less than $8 million to become the highest-grossing film ever released worldwide (unadjusted for inflation, of course). “Endgame” marked Evans’ goodbye from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although his character remains alive and could reappear should the actor ever want to reprise the role.
Next up for Evans is a supporting turn in Rian Johnson’s murder mystery “Knives Out.” Lionsgate is releasing the film in theaters November 27. Read Evans’ fiery response to Trump in the post below.
This is racist, Biff.
The only thing worse than actually being hateful and racist, is casually wielding hate and racism to activate your base in an unrelenting, painfully transparent, and crushingly on-brand effort to soothe your only true devotion: feeding your insatiable ego. https://t.co/WfU1uUp9Ya
Olivia Munn worked with Bryan Singer on 20th Century Fox’s 2016 superhero tentpole “X-Men: Apocalypse,” in which she starred as the villainous mutant Psylocke. The movie was a bomb with film critics and fans, and apparently making the film wasn’t exactly pleasant for Munn. During a recent video interview with GQ (via The Playlist), Munn said that it was frustrating working with Singer and “Apocalypse” screenwriter Simon Kinberg because they knew next to nothing about her mutant character.
“When I was doing ‘X-Men,’ I was actually surprised that the director and the writer didn’t even know that Psylocke had a twin brother,” Munn said. “And I had to talk to them about a lot of different things about Psylocke and some other parts of the world that they didn’t even know, and that, as a fan, was very frustrating.”
Munn isn’t the only “X-Men” cast member with gripes about working on “Apocalypse” with Singer begin the director’s. Speaking to Rolling Stone last year, Sophie Turner said her experience with Singer was not a positive one. While the Jean Grey actress did not get into specifics, she did say, “Our time together was unpleasant.”
Singer was accused of sexual misconduct by five men in a report published by The Atlantic in January. The allegations were the latest development in Singer’s timeline of being accused of sexual harassment and abuse. Allegations against Singer date back to at least 1997, when the director was sued during the making of “Apt Pupil” for allegedly filming minors naked without permission.
Munn has been one of the most outspoken actresses when it comes to sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood. The actress was one of several women who accused Brett Ratner of sexual misconduct in a November 2017 report from the Los Angeles Times and in September 2018 she revealed she got a scene removed from “The Predator” after she discovered one of her co-stars was a registered sex offender. Earlier this month, Munn made headlines for calling out Quentin Tarantino and Casey Affleck for “pushing past” their abuse allegations without “earning it.”
Munn currently stars on the Starz drama series “The Rook,” airing Sundays at 8pm ET.
George R.R. Martin isn’t letting fan outrage over the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” change his long-in-the-works plans for his literary franchise. While the HBO series ended its eight-season run in May, Martin still has two “Game of Thrones” books left to finish: “The Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring.” Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Martin said the extreme backlash over the HBO series’ ending won’t affect his books despite some of the storyline being the same.
“The internet affects all this to a degree it was never affected before,” Martin said. “Like Jon Snow’s parentage. There were early hints about [who Snow’s parents were] in the books, but only one reader in 100 put it together. And before the internet that was fine — for 99 readers out of 100 when Jon Snow’s parentage gets revealed it would be, ‘Oh, that’s a great twist!’ But in the age of the internet, even if only one person in 100 figures it out then that one person posts it online and the other 99 people read it and go, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ Suddenly the twist you’re building towards is out there.”
Martin continued, “And there is a temptation to then change it [in the upcoming books] — ‘Oh my god, it’s screwed up, I have to come up with something different.’ But that’s wrong. Because you’ve been planning for a certain ending and if you suddenly change direction just because somebody figured it out, or because they don’t like it, then it screws up the whole structure. So no, I don’t read the fan sites. I want to write the book I’ve always intended to write all along. And when it comes out they can like it or they can not like it.”
In a post published on his blog after the “Thrones” series finale aired, Martin assured fans that not everything that went down on the HBO series would be similar to what he’s planning for his unreleased next two “Thrones” novels. “How will it all end? I hear people asking,” the author wrote. “The same ending as the show? Different? Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. I am working in a very different medium than David and Dan, never forget.”
Martin reiterated this stance to Entertainment Weekly, saying, “Yes, I told [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] a number of things years ago. And some of them they did do. But at the same time, it’s different. I have very fixed ideas in my head as I’m writing ‘The Winds of Winter’ and beyond that in terms of where things are going. It’s like two alternate realities existing side by side. I have to double down and do my version of it which is what I’ve been doing.”
“Thrones” fans have been waiting for years for Martin to release the next chapter. The author offered up no release plans for “The Winds of Winter” beyond a simple, “I’m writing the book. It will be done when it’s done.”
When “From the Earth to the Moon” premiered in April 1998, it was a big deal for HBO. Still two months away from debuting “Sex and the City” and eight months out from “The Sopranos,” what was then still known as the Home Box Office network was making a big prestige play, with a miniseries about NASA’s Apollo missions, in a genre dominated by broadcast. After all, broadcast networks reached more people, and only cable providers willing to pay a little extra could check out HBO’s biggest event to date.
Of course, that made it a pretty big deal for TV itself, as the shows dominating cultural conversations and the awards circuit started to shift away from the Big Four networks and into the cable space. There was no way of knowing this 21 years ago, but “From the Earth to the Moon” was an event nonetheless — costing $65 million, shooting on more than 100 locations, and taking up two sound stages for an entire year at MGM Studios in Orlando, Fla. Led by Tom Hanks (who executive produced and hosted every episode, writing three more and directing one) and producers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Michael Bostick, NASA even allowed the production to shoot in the Kennedy Space Center.
Now, the miniseries is making its way back to HBO, with all 12 episodes digitally remastered and brand-new CG effects added, based on models provided by NASA. The July 15 release on HBO NOW, as well as July 20’s marathon airing on HBO2, are timed to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s historical moon landing, but its re-promotion may as well be timed to another shift in the TV landscape. With Disney+, Apple+, and HBO Max looming, and Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu already making their mark, television is moving again — beyond broadcast, beyond cable, and into the streaming space.
“From the Earth to the Moon” provides a perfect example of how things have changed over the past two decades. Elements of the 12-hour event series show how the production and rollout of premium television has been forever altered, and remind those who’ve lived through the changes of what’s been lost. But it’s also a pressing reminder of why stories like this helped shape the golden age of television and build HBO into an entertainment juggernaut. After revisiting the magnificent story, here’s how HBO’s first mega miniseries would change if it were remade today, and what those changes mean for TV’s future.
It would’ve been shorter.
Unless you’re an indie director hellbent on making a 13-hour movie, limited series longer than eight hours are rare in modern television. If anything, the format is skewing shorter and shorter, with hits like the five-hour “Chernobyl” and seven-hour entries like “Big Little Lies” and “Sharp Objects” showing an appetite for quick bites of entertainment. Those take up less nights of airtime, but they’re easier to binge online, and the latter is becoming far more important than the former these days.
“From the Earth to the Moon,” however, treated each new release like a feature film — like “Roots,” “Lonesome Dove,” and plenty other miniseries before it, HBO released two hours at a time, giving audiences the feeling of settling in for a new movie each night. Since HBO was primarily in the business of bringing studio movies into the home, this made sense.
Ted Levine in “From the Earth to the Moon”
And yet each episode told a standalone story. Though they all tie together to shape a thorough narrative around the Apollo space program, the first episode focuses on the politics motivating America’s decision to go to the moon — and, as the title “Can We Do This?” implies, if John F. Kennedy’s declaration to reach the lunar surface by the end of the decade is even possible. Episode 2 introduces a few new characters, but more importantly, makes a dramatic pivot in point of view: Written by future “Justified” and “Sneaky Pete” creator Graham Yost, “Apollo One” tracks the investigation into an earthbound accident that cost three astronauts their lives. Joe Shea (Kevin Pollack) and Harrison “Stormy” Storms (James Rebhorn), play two managers for NASA and North American Aviation, respectively, who may be at fault, and they’re much more prominent figures than the astronauts themselves.
That’s… a pretty big gamble to make this early in a space series, but it’s absolutely vital to set expectations for what’s to come. With 12 hours to fill, “From the Earth to the Moon” switches perspectives often, brining in new cast members and various behind-the-scenes talent to tell the best story of that moment in history. There’s an episode dedicated to the lunar module engineers, another to the newscasters trying to hold America’s attention, and an hour directed by Sally Field that’s dedicated to the astronauts’ wives, almost all of whom end up divorced from their husbands after their grueling experience going to space.
If made today, some of these episodes would’ve been cut down and others cut entirely. It would be OK to lose Episode 7, “That’s All There Is,” given how the goofy pseudo-comedy of Alan Bean’s trip to the moon never really comes together, and Episode 10, “Galileo Was Right” feels more like a geology lecture than a piece of entertainment. Other entries drag a big or are more redundant in message and execution than anyone needs. (They gotta hit that 60-minute mark!)
But shortening the miniseries overall would mean sacrificing someone’s story, and if there’s one thing all Apollo movies have in common, it’s emphasizing how many people went into making each mission a success. “From the Earth to the Moon” sees that big picture and does an incredible job honoring the many scientists, engineers, and other citizens needed to get those astronauts to the moon and back again, safely. Sometimes, you just need time — hours and hours of time — to get that message across. TV has that time, and even in the era of Netflix bloat, some limited series need to maximize their opportunity.
Tom Hanks and his production team at the 1999 Golden Globe Awards
Mark J Terrill/AP/Shutterstock
Tom Hanks would be the lead character, tying the whole series together.
To kick off 11 of the 12 episodes, Tom Hanks comes walking out from behind a giant stone carving, reciting a heartfelt introduction as, well, Tom Hanks — star of “Apollo 13” and beloved human being. But Hanks doesn’t appear in the series until the final episode, first donning heavy old age makeup and a French accent to play Jean-Luc Despont, the right-hand man to director Georges Méliès, who made the landmark 1902 motion picture, “A Trip to the Moon.” Yes, the final episode of “From the Earth to the Moon” is a faux-documentary bouncing between the early 1900s where Méliès is trying to make his movie, and the Apollo 17 mission, which remains the last manned mission to the moon, but there’s simply no way the miniseries would be made today with Hanks’ popping in during the last hour — not without a different movie star anchoring the other 11 episodes.
When “From the Earth to the Moon” was made, Hanks saw the miniseries format as a chance to properly tell the Apollo stories, sure, but also as a chance for the actor to craft his writing and directing skills. While these things still happen today — see Hulu’s “Catch-22,” where George Clooney pops in at the beginning and the end, but otherwise works behind-the-scenes as an executive producer and director — they don’t happen the same way. Movie stars can move into television without it being seen as slumming it, and limited series are often sold on the movie star’s rare venture into an extended narrative. Hulu definitely wasn’t shouting from the rooftops that Clooney only appears in a handful of scenes across “Catch-22,” while HBO was certainly pushing Amy Adams’ constant presence in “Sharp Objects” as well as Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, and Meryl Streep in every episode of “Big Little Lies.” Where else can you see that talent come together, and where else can you see so much of it?
But in order to attract said talent, you need meatier roles, and here’s where the big switch would’ve come in — one that Mr. Hanks, in all his wisdom, may have opposed to point of backing out. Since “From the Earth to the Moon” is built on various perspectives, it needs a massive, ever-changing ensemble, rather than a central character guiding the whole story. That would probably change if made today. While plenty of limited series are still driven by TV stars or big casts of previously unknown actors, plenty more — especially of the “prestige” variety — are driven by big names. And if they’re going to cut down the episode count to a more 2019-friendly eight or six, than why not make sure there’s a spot for ol’ Tom in each hour?
The easiest way to accomplish this would be to give him the role of Deke Slayton, the director of flight crew operations at NASA and a character who showed up in 10 of the 12 episodes already. Played well by Nick Searcy, Hanks would even be better-suited for the role now, with more experience built into each line of his face. Still, Hanks doesn’t exactly scream for vanity projects (remember when he showed up on “30 Rock” as a presiding member of the “A-list actor list”?), so it seems like he’d use whatever power he had to push through more stories from more perspectives, no matter what the trend. Good on you, Tom. Good on you.
Viewers would’ve seen the dark side of the moon.
Call it a hunch, given how literally and figuratively dark prestige TV has gotten, but in an age when even Archie Comics gets a dark and gritty TV adaptation, I don’t imagine a version of “From the Earth to the Moon” that’s as consistently uplifting as the one we got in 1998. Heck, the last time we saw Neil Armstrong on screen, he spent the entire movie trying to recover from the death of his daughter. Was “First Man” the best movie of 2018? You bet! Was it a huge downer? That, too!
“From the Earth to the Moon” is so positive it often crosses over into schmaltz. A 2019 version could easily frame the Apollo missions as what’s missing from today’s America as opposed to what fulfilled the country at the time, prioritizing its call to action over its pride in the past and the people who inspired generations to come. That’s not to say current citizens should be satisfied with our government’s scientific pursuits, but the implicit nature of “From the Earth to the Moon” would likely be far more explicit if magnified for modern audiences.
But it wouldn’t have been an event.
What better time to be an old man shouting at the moon than when writing about the moon missions? Yes, “From the Earth to the Moon” represents the kind of appointment TV many feel has gone extinct. But it didn’t just feel like an event in the sense that it was released every week with great fanfare, before the age of anytime streaming; it was made to be an event in every moment.
From the standalone construction of the episodes, to the real-life locations recreated for the shoot; from the massive scale of the sets, to the immersive special effects; from the movie star introducing each episode to the historical figures honored within them, “From the Earth to the Moon” felt big, big, big. It knew it had to earn its audience’s attention every week, and treated the audience accordingly. There wasn’t a big twist at the end of each episode to keep you coming back. There wasn’t an option to plow through at your own pace, skip to the next story, or even watch each new entry whenever you felt like it. This miniseries was an event, both because of how it was released and how it was created.
As access becomes the top priority for groundbreaking series, it’s important to remember that HBO felt that same pressure in 1998: Unlike the broadcast networks, not everyone could watch — you had to pay to see premium programming, and the network knew it had to earn those dollars with quality, not quantity. The opposite seems to be true in the streaming era, and while we may never see something like “From the Earth to the Moon” again, it may also be exactly what these new services need to earn those coveted subscribers. Disney, Netflix, and Apple may not need a nightly event series, but they do need shows that merit the monthly charge. Sure, some streamers can fall back on their massive libraries to keep viewers on the hook, but the past will only take you so far. People are always looking for what’s next.
After an “extensive search,” filmmaker Baz Luhrmann has found his Elvis Presley: Austin Butler. The rising actor will star in Luhrmann’s much-anticipated new feature film, which charts the seminal singer’s rise, with a special emphasis on his life-changing relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker (the already-cast Tom Hanks). Butler reportedly beat out other contenders for the party, including Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, and Harry Styles.
Per the film’s official synopsis, the still-untitled feature “will explore the life and music of Presley, through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played in the film by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks. The story will delve into their complex dynamic spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America.”
“I knew I couldn’t make this film if the casting wasn’t absolutely right, and we searched thoroughly for an actor with the ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this peerless star, but also the inner vulnerability of the artist,” Luhrmann said in an official statement. “Throughout the casting process, it was an honor for me to encounter such a vast array of talent. I had heard about Austin Butler from his stand-out role opposite Denzel Washington in ‘The Iceman Cometh’ on Broadway, and through a journey of extensive screen testing and music and performance workshops, I knew unequivocally that I had found someone who could embody the spirit of one of the world’s most iconic musical figures.”
Butler, well known for his television work on series like “Switched at Birth” and “The Carrie Diaries,” recently made his Broadway debut in 2018 opposite Washington in Eugene O’Neill’s “The Iceman Cometh,” directed by George C. Wolfe. He will next be seen opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” coming out later this month.
Luhrmann will direct from the current screenplay written by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce. Luhrmann will also produce, alongside multiple-Oscar winner Catherine Martin (“The Great Gatsby,” “Moulin Rouge!”), who will once again serve as production designer and costume designer on the film. Gail Berman, Patrick McCormick, Schuyler Weiss, and Andrew Mittman will executive produce.
Principal photography on the feature will begin early next year, with filming taking place in Queensland, Australia.