HULU’s Summer 2021 TCA Press Tour by Suzanne 8/6/21
Last week, HULU hosted their TCA Press Tour for three new shows, and one returning show.
First was “Dopesick,” a new drama about the opioid crisis. Based on a book by Beth Macy, the story follows a few different groups involved in the crisis. Legendary actor Michael Keaton is a small town Virginia doctor, Dr. Finnix, who is told by a young drug sales man, Billy (Will Poulter), that this new opioid Oxycontin is not addictive, so he starts prescribing it to his patients (and eventually to himself). Many of his patients are miners, including young Betsy (Kaitlyn Dever). Rosario Dawson (“The Mandalorian”) plays a tough DEA agent who starts noticing how many people are addicted to opioids and committing crimes in towns where there previously was no crime. Billy and the other salespeople are lied to by the company, PurduePharma, that the drug isn’t addictive, and they’re given many strategies with which to win over the doctors, as well as pitted against each other to make more sales and be more aggressive. PurduePharma, run by the Sackler Family (especially ambitious Richard Sackler, played by Michael Stuhlbarg), uses everything they can to get sales up, thinking that this drug is going to cure pain (and lying about it in the process). Meanwhile, local law enforcement try to investigate and build a case against PurduePharma. It’s a gripping and sad story but also educational
The story was developed by Danny Strong (“Empire”). Strong and Keaton are executive producers on the show. The panel we saw had Strong and many of the cast: Keaton, Poulter, Dawson, Dever, Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard and John Hoogenakker. Many of the cast members knew people affected by the opioid crisis. Hoogenakker grew up in North Carolina – one of the places hit hard. Keaton grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania.
Dawson read the original book as well as several others to get a feel for the crisis and how it worked. Strong talked about how the story had so much information, particular with regards to the “lying, manipulation and influence peddling,” and as Hoogenakker added, “the lengths that the company went to to stigmatize the people dealing with the addiction that they created.”
Everyone connected to the production clearly took the subject matter and the story seriously and felt a great responsibility to do by it. Having watched a few of the episodes, I believe they did.
One thing I really loved, being a fan of Michael Keaton in “Batman” (and his many other movies, of course), was when Rosario Dawson referred to him as “my forever Batman!” That was great – especially since she’s been in so many Marvel and DC movies and shows. Make sure you check out this 8-part miniseries when it premieres October 13, 2021. I watched the first half of it and it’s really compelling.
This is a weird drama with some comedy in it. Of course, with cast members like Melissa McCarthy and Bobby Cannavale, it’s hardly going to be completely serious. The show is about a group of messed-up people that go to an exclusive resort called Tranquillum. They soon learn that the resort’s hostess/owner, Masha (Nicole Kidman), has picked each of them carefully to fit in with her ideas for the resort.
I don’t want to give too much away about the show or its characters. Masha, has her own dark past that sometimes haunts her. Melissa McCarthy’s Francis is a romance novelist whose latest book has been rejected. Tony (Cannavale) abuses pain killers because of a knee injury. Lars (Luke Evans) is a gay journalist who wants to investigate the resort. One character is recovering from a divorce; another one from a breakup; a family is recovering from a teen death. A couple no longer has sex and wonders if they should stay together.
Masha gives them special diets and therapy, but she also does other things without telling them, which is what makes the show interesting. Each of them has a secret that we learn as the show progresses. Some shocking things happen. It’s very interesting. Some may find it self-indulgent because it involves mostly rich people with problems. I think it’s compelling. It’s never boring.
Our panel boasted Kidman, McCarthy, Connavale, Regina Hall, writer/creator David E. Kelley, and executive producers Bruna Papandrea, Per Saari and Jonathan Levine. Various press members asked them questions about the characters and this “wellness” retreat. The actors related that even though they were acting, the questions they were asked in the show and the therapies they went through did make them think a little bit more about their places in the world – particularly one where they all had to lie down in a shallow “grave.”
Kidman and McCarthy were asked about their experiences doing both movies and TV shows. Neither actress felt that they were all that different. TV is just longer and gives you more opportunity to develop the character. There was a lot of joking around between the actors and producers.
When filming the show, the actors all flew out to Australia and were quarantined there last year. They filmed at a beautiful place called Byron Bay for six months. They said that nature frequently interfered with filming, such as ants, birds and koalas. Hall shared that many Australian koalas have chlamydia (this is true).
Nicole Kidman kept talking about how the show is “trippy and crazy” and it’s hard to define exactly what it is. Well, It is a bit trippy, but I’ve seen much stranger shows. The show is a drama, for sure, but the characters do some unexpected things. It has elements of a thriller. She was asked about creating her character, who is German and American (and speaks seven languages). Her accent in the show is very different from her native Australian accent.
If you like a good drama that’s also fun, weird, and has unexpected surprises, check this one out.
“The Great” is returning for season 2 Friday, November 19. I haven’t watched it yet, but it looks funny. It’s apparently a comedy-drama loosely based on the life of Empress Catherine II (AKA “Catherine The Great”), played by Elle Fanning, who wed Emperor Peter III (played by Nicholas Hoult). Season One was where we learned about them and how they got married. He had a mistress, and Catherine tried to kill him, but that didn’t work out. In Season Two, Peter and Catherine get more deeply involved, and she gets pregnant. More Info
Fanning, Hoult and executive producers Tony McNamara and Marian Macgowan were in attendance at our panel. McNamara created the show. When asked about how the show is created with historical characters, MacGowan replied that they really have three aspects of the show: “a bit of history, a bit of what’s fun to do and a bit of the characters themselves and the stories.” However, they did see humor in the characters because Catherine (the real person) was funny and had a lot of fun at parties.
Another reporter asked McNamara how many seasons he thinks the show should last, but he doesn’t really think about it that way. He just takes it from one season to the next. Fanning and Hoult revealed that they do a lot of laughing on the show while filming because it’s so funny. They were asked about costuming. Fanning’s character is pregnant for a lot of this season, so she discussed her fake “baby bump, ” which was “hot at times.” Both actors love the costumes and find them very fun to wear. Hoult said, “I found that costume-wise … very liberating in many ways and what Sharon designed were really fun costumes, my favorite being what Peter has designed for the baby shower that he throws, kind of a surprise baby shower party, which you mentioned earlier is all kind of shades of baby pink, and blue, and yellow with plumes of feathers and a nice little dress. So that’s something to look forward to this season.”
They were also asked about how they use the F word so much (mostly for humor) and whether COVID stopped them from doing intimated scenes. They do a lot of testing, so that wasn’t a factor. I enjoyed the press call. I will watch the show one day. I tried to watch the screener they had set up for us, but unfortunately, I had trouble understanding it because of their accents. There’s no closed-captioning on the screeners. I’m not deaf, but sometimes I have trouble hearing the words through accents.
Hulu Presents Upcoming Original Series ‘Dopesick,’ ‘The Great’ Season Two, ‘Only Murders In The Building’ And ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ At The 2021 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour
August 6, 2021
Company Greenlights Comedy Series ‘This Fool’ Created By and Starring Comedian Chris Estrada and Expands Unscripted True Crime Collection With New Documentary ‘Dead Asleep’ and Docuseries ‘Captive Audience’
Premiere Dates Revealed for ‘Dopesick,’ Second Seasons of ‘The Great’ and ‘Animaniacs,’ as well as the Fall Foodie Lineup of Unscripted Series—Including ‘Baker’s Dozen,’ ‘The Next Thing You Eat’ and a Special Holiday Edition of the Award-Winning ‘Taste The Nation,’ Debuting Thursdays
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Aug. 6, 2021) — Today, during the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, Hulu presented the company’s lineup of upcoming original programming, including the highly anticipated new drama series “Dopesick,” starring Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg and Rosario Dawson; the second season of acclaimed, Emmy®-nominated comedy series “The Great,” starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult; new comedy series “Only Murders in the Building,” starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez; and “Nine Perfect Strangers,” the latest limited series from executive producer David E. Kelley and starring and executive produced by Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy—all of which join the company’s collection of premium original content.
The company also announced a series order for the new Hulu Original comedy series “This Fool,” inspired by the life of up-and-coming comedian Chris Estrada, in which he will also write, star and executive produce. Additionally, the highly successful Hulu Originals true-crime collection expands with two new titles announced today—documentary “Dead Asleep” from award-winning director Skye Borgman and “Captive Audience,” a docuseries which explores the evolution of true-crime storytelling through the lens of one family’s journey.
“Breaking out new and distinct voices continues to be a hallmark of Hulu Original programming, and we are incredibly excited to add Chris Estrada to our roster of multihyphenate creators and to bring ‘This Fool’ to our viewers,” said Craig Erwich, president Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment.
Adding, “Looking ahead, we could not be more proud of the lineup of event series coming to Hulu through the end of the year and beyond. Led by the debut of ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ from the brilliant David E. Kelley and a truly all-star cast, and ‘Only Murders in the Building,’ which marks a return to television for Selena Gomez and two comedic giants—Steve Martin and Martin Short—as well as the incredibly timely ‘Dopesick,’ the return of acclaimed comedy series ‘The Great,’ and a rapidly expanding slate of conversation-worthy unscripted series and documentaries, Hulu viewers will have access to many of the best shows coming to television this fall.”
With 41.6 million total subscribers across live and SVOD as of April 3, 2021, Hulu has gained remarkable momentum over the past year, with the streamer recently earning 25 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Comedy Series, 10 Golden Globe® nominations across five titles, four SAG Award nominations, six WGA Award nominations and seven NAACP Image Award nominations.
Hulu Greenlights Comedy Series “This Fool”
“This Fool” centers on Julio Lopez, a self-described “punk-ass bitch” who still lives at home and goes out of his way to help everyone but himself. Inspired by the life and stand-up comedy of star and co-creator Chris Estrada, this cinematic half-hour comedy explores Julio’s work at a gang-rehabilitation non-profit and his quest to overcome his codependency issues with his family as he navigates working-class life in South Central Los Angeles.
“This Fool” is written and executive produced by Chris Estrada, Pat Bishop, Jake Weisman and Matt Ingebretson. Jonathan Groff and Fred Armisen also serve as executive producers on the series. The series is produced by ABC Signature.
Hulu Expands Unscripted True Crime Collection With New Documentary “Dead Asleep” and Docuseries “Captive Audience”
In a ground-breaking new spin on the true-crime genre, the documentary film “Dead Asleep,” produced in association with Sky Crime, flips the traditional thriller narrative to explore a deeper and more troubling mystery: Did a remorseful Randy Herman Jr. really commit a brutal murder in his sleep, or was it a convenient cover story? Pulse Films has secured exclusive access to Herman and his family, the defense and prosecution attorneys, journalists who covered the case, forensic psychiatrists and world experts in violent parasomnia (sleep-walking) to give viewers an inside look at the shocking twists and turns of the controversial crime.
A Pulse Films production, “Dead Asleep” is directed by award-winner Skye Borgman, who is also behind the critically acclaimed documentary “Abducted In Plain Sight” and recently worked with Pulse Films on their Oxygen special “The Case Died With Her.” For Pulse Films, executive producers include Marisa Clifford, Nelesh Dhand and Sunshine Jackson. For Sky U.K., Jack Oliver and Poppy Dixon will also serve as executive producers.
In 1972, 7-year-old Steven Stayner mysteriously vanished on his way home from school. Nearly a decade later, his dramatic return to his family sparked ‘80s-era “stranger danger” warnings, legal reforms and one iconic Made-For-TV-Movie2, in which the family’s ordeal was transformed into a prime-time miniseries watched by 70 million Americans. When the credits rolled and the movie ended, it closed one tragic chapter of the family’s life but opened another.
This limited documentary series explores the evolution of true-crime storytelling through the lens of one family’s 50-year journey and two brothers; one deemed a villain and the other a hero. It’s about how truth becomes story and story becomes truth—on TV, in the justice system and in our minds.
“Captive Audience” is directed by Jessica Dimmock (Netflix’s “Flint Town” and “Unsolved Mysteries”) and produced by Wonderburst and High Five Content. It is executive produced by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Jen Casey and Andrew Jacobs, along with Mike Larocca, Todd Makurath, Nick Gilhool and Peter Rieveschl.
Hulu Reveals Premiere Dates for “Dopesick,” Second Seasons of “The Great” and “Animaniacs,” and a Collection of New Series Fare For Foodies—“Baker’s Dozen,” “The Next Thing You Eat” and “Taste The Nation: Holiday Edition”—to Debut Thursdays This Fall
“Dopesick” – Series Premiere, Wednesday, Oct. 13
From executive producer Danny Strong and starring and executive produced by Michael Keaton, “Dopesick” examines how one company triggered the worst drug epidemic in American history. The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction, from the boardrooms of Big Pharma to a distressed Virginia mining community to the hallways of the DEA. Defying all the odds, heroes will emerge in an intense and thrilling ride to take down the craven corporate forces behind this national crisis and their allies. The limited series is inspired by the New York Times bestselling book by Beth Macy.
The eight-episode series stars Michael Keaton, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Will Poulter, John Hoogenakker, with Kaitlyn Dever and Rosario Dawson. Guest stars include Phillipa Soo and Jake McDorman.
“Dopesick” is written by Emmy-winner Danny Strong (“Empire,” “Recount,” “Game Change”) and directed by Oscar®-winner Barry Levinson (“Paterno,” “Rain Man”). Executive producers for “Dopesick” include Strong, John Goldwyn (“Dexter”), Keaton, Levinson, Warren Littlefield (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Fargo,” “The Old Man”), Beth Macy (“Dopesick”) and Karen Rosenfelt (“Twilight”).
“The Great” – Season Two Premiere, Friday, Nov. 19
In season two of “The Great,” Catherine finally takes the Russian throne for her own—but if she thought coup-ing her husband was difficult, it’s nothing compared to the realities of liberating a country that doesn’t want to be. She’ll battle her court, her team, even her own mother (played by guest star Gillian Anderson) in a bid to bring the Enlightenment to Russia. Meanwhile, she’ll also battle her heart as Peter slowly transitions from a much-hated husband to a prisoner? Ally? Lover? Ultimately, Catherine will learn that to change a country, you must let it change you, that there is a fine line between idealism and delusion, and that becoming “Great” will ask more of her than she could have imagined.
The series stars Elle Fanning as Catherine, Nicholas Hoult, Phoebe Fox, Adam Godley, Gwilym Lee, Charity Wakefield, Douglas Hodge, Sacha Dhawan, Bayo Gbadamosi and Belinda Bromilow.
“The Great” is created, written and executive produced by Tony McNamara and executive produced by Marian Macgowan, Mark Winemaker, Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult, Echo Lake’s Brittany Kahan Ward, Doug Mankoff and Andrew Spaulding, Thruline’s Josh Kesselman and Ron West, and Matt Shakman. The project is produced by Civic Center Media in association with MRC Television.
“Animaniacs” – Season Two Premiere, Friday, Nov. 5
Hellloooo, season two! Hulu, Amblin Television and Warner Bros. Animation have joined forces once again to bring you “Animaniacs.” This Emmy Award-winning animated series—and one of Hulu’s all-time most talked-about shows on social media—returns with 13 brand new episodes on Friday, Nov. 5.
Yakko, Wakko and Dot return for an all-new season of this iconic, family-friendly series with something for everyone: pop culture parodies, musical showstoppers, takedowns of historical baddies and even some important safety tips. Join the Warners and Pinky and the Brain as they wreak havoc everywhere they go, from the Warner Bros. lot to an international beauty pageant, even all the way into outer space. Keep an eye out for season one favorites Starbox and Cindy, as well as some rejected Animaniacs characters that were left on the cutting room floor.
Steven Spielberg returns as executive producer of the series, with Sam Register, president, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios. Amblin Television co-presidents, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, also serve as executive producers. Wellesley Wild serves as showrunner and executive producer. Gabe Swarr serves as co-executive producer. “Animaniacs” is produced by Amblin Television in association with Warner Bros. Animation.
“Baker’s Dozen” – Series Premiere, Thursday, Oct. 7
Passionate amateur bakers will go head-to-head with seasoned professionals in each episode of “Baker’s Dozen.” Join hosts Tamera Mowry-Housley (Emmy-award winning host of “The Real,” FOX’s “The Masked Singer” and Hallmark’s “Christmas Comes Twice”) and Bill Yosses (author and former White House Pastry Chef) for this fast-paced competition series that will determine the best baker of all! Which of the 13 bakers has what it takes to create the next viral baking sensation, win the golden rolling pin and take home the cash prize?
“Baker’s Dozen” is executive produced by Sandy Varo Jarrell, Suzanne Rauscher, Justin Rae Barnes, Tara Seiner and Scott Mlodzinski for Bright Spot Content, an All3Media America company.
“The Next Thing You Eat” – Series Premiere, Thursday, Oct. 21
From chef David Chang and Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville, “The Next Thing You Eat” is a six-episode docuseries that explores the seismic changes happening all around us and what they mean for the way we’ll eat in the future. Chang and a diverse cast of characters dive headfirst into what lies ahead, including everything from robots, to lab-grown fish, to insect farms, to artificial intelligence calling all the shots.
Executive produced by the creators of the Emmy®-nominated “Ugly Delicious,” with showrunner Dominic Musacchio
“Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition” – Season Premiere, Thursday, Nov. 4
In “Taste the Nation,” award-winning host, executive producer and cookbook author Padma Lakshmi, who recently received her third Emmy nomination, takes audiences on a journey across America, exploring the rich and diverse food culture of various immigrant groups and seeking out the people who have so heavily shaped what American food is today. From indigenous communities to recent immigrant arrivals, Padma breaks bread with Americans across the nation to uncover the roots and relationship between our food, our humanity and our history—ultimately revealing stories that challenge notions of identity, belonging, and what it means to be American.
“Taste the Nation” returns this fall for a special four-part “Holiday Edition,” where each episode will highlight unique traditions through the lens of different immigrant cultures and cities, like Korean New Year in Los Angeles and Cuban Christmas in Miami.
“Taste the Nation: Holiday Edition” is executive produced by Padma Lakshmi along with Part2 Pictures’ David Shadrack Smith.
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Proofread and Edited by Brenda