Disney announce 10 original European series

Disney has announced ten shows that soon enter production for its two streaming services: Disney+ and Star. In most territories, new service Star will function as part of Disney+ when it launches on Feb 23 next week.

It’s worth noting that the majority of these commissions will be for Star. I would imagine that they will likely also be licensed to Hulu in the US.

What is surprising to me is that the first European commissions for Disney+ aren’t based on Hans Christian Anderson fables or anything similar.

The new series are:

Parallels — Disney+
Marianne creator Quoc Dang Tran and Anastasia Heinzl write this six-part fantasy adventure series, which follows four teenagers whose lives are turned upside down when a mysterious event propels them into parallel dimensions. Produced by Empreinte Digitale and Dang Trang’s Daïmôn Films, filming is underway on the series, which is billed as a witty romp for a family audience.

Oussekine — Star
This four-part limited series explores the terrible true events of December 5, 1986, which led to the death of a young student, Malik Oussekine. The show is anchored by his family’s fight for justice and the impact his death had on French society. Oussekine is created and directed by Antoine Chevrollier (Baron Noir) and co-written by Faïza Guène, Julien Lilti, and Cédric Ido. It is housed at Itinéraire Productions.

Weekend Family — Disney+
Created by Baptiste Filleul (La Foret), this eight-part comedy chronicles the life of a new stepfamily that meets up every weekend. But when the father gets into a relationship with a new partner, the weekends take on a whole different turn. Elephant Groupe produces, while the writers include Nour Bensalem, Géraldine de Margerie, Julie-Anna Grignon, Marion Carnel, and Paul Madillo.

Soprano: Sing or Die — Star
Access documentary on French rapper, singer, and songwriter, Soprano. The six-part series follows him as he prepares for a 2022 stadium tour, as well as tracing his story from humble beginnings in Marseilles to present-day success. Breath Films is the producer.


The Good Mothers — Star (click for full story)
House Productions and Fremantle-owned Wildside produce this six-part series, which tells the true story of how three courageous women inside the notorious Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta mafia worked with newly-minted female prosecutor, Alessandra Cerreti, to bring down down the criminal empire. Based on a book of the same name by Alex Perry, the series is written by BAFTA-winning Baghdad Central and The Last Kingdom scribe Stephen Butchard. Executive producers are Juliette Howell and Tessa Ross for House Productions, and Mario Gianani and Lorenzo Gangarossa for Wildside.

The Ignorant Angels — Star
An eight-part romantic drama inspired by the 2001 Italian box office hit Le Fate Ignoranti. Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek’s revisits his feature for the series, which follows Antonia, who discovers that her husband had a same-sex affair before he was killed in a car accident. She’s devastated at the news, but the straightlaced Antonia finds herself building an unexpected and moving friendship with her husband’s former lover, Michele, and his circle of misfit eccentrics. R&C Productions is producing.

Boris — Star
A new season of Fox Networks Group’s show-within-a-show series, Boris. Produced by Fremantle-backed The Apartment, the original show followed the behind-the-scenes world of a low-budget medical drama series. In the new six-part season for Star, the hapless crew will reunite to produce a show for a global streaming platform. Boris previously ran for three seasons and a film.

Sam – A Saxon — Star (click for full story)
Created by Deutschland 83 creator Jörg Winger, the eight-part series tells the real-life story of Samuel Meffire, East Germany’s first black police officer. The series shows how Meffire became a media sensation and a symbol of modern society in the post-reunification 1990s. But just a few years later, he ended up behind bars himself. It is made through Winger’s new production company Big Window Productions.

Sultan City — Star
A dark comedy thriller from up-and-coming producers Ayla Gottschlich and Aysel Yilmaz, and head writer Ipek Zübert. It centers on the respectable matriarch of a German-Turkish family who accidentally becomes the head of a criminal underworld, and discovers she and her daughters have a talent for the business. Two Moons Pictures produces.

Feyenoord Rotterdam — Star
Eight-part series going behind the scenes of Dutch soccer club Feyenoord Rotterdam. Produced by Lusus Media, the series also follows Feyenoord’s fanbase, reflecting on the team’s history, which is filled with both melancholy and pride. It is the first time a TV series has captured the inner workings of a Dutch soccer club.

Source: Deadline

Former Buffy actor Nicholas Brendon has had his own problems over the years. Compared to series showrunner Joss Whedon, Brendon is a far bigger blight on humanity. So, all eyes were on Brendon when he finally commented on the accusations levelled at Whedon by his former co-star Charisma Carpenter. No one expected this:

I’m not speaking on Joss yet. It’s very personal for me, so I’ll speak on that when I’m ready to speak on that. Because he and I had a relationship.

He followed it up with:

My anus is kinda paralysed and so is my penis, which is weird. I gotta sit down to p**s because I don’t know if I’m s***ting or pissing.

Apparently the actor slipped on some ice recently and is awaiting spinal surgery.

Source: Metro

Nicholas Brendon and Joss Whedon

Hollywood productions are heading down under to COVID-minimised Australia

Despite occasional flare-ups and a weak Federal govt response, we’ve had it very lucky when it came to COVID-19 here in Australia. The Always Be Watching head office is in Sydney where we are now coming up on a month without community transmission. It’s incredible.

Because of this success, Australia has become a destination for a large number of Hollywood productions. Deadline today has an extensive feature looking at the large number of US films shooting here, along with the increasing population of US actors in  the country for these films (not to mention the community of stars loitering around places like Byron Bay where they’re hiding out in Australia from COVID - but not working).

Nine major international projects have set up camp in Oz, spending more than $378M (A$490M) in the territory. Marvel’s Thor Love and Thunder, which was always planning an Australian shoot like its predecessor, is currently filming in New South Wales (Chris Hemsworth posted a start of shoot image to his instagram which you can see above) while George Miller’s anticipated fantasy-romance-drama Three Thousand Years Of Longing, starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, began shooting in Sydney before Christmas. Ron Howard’s upcoming drama Thirteen Lives from MGM is set to shoot in Queensland’s Gold Coast in March. Additionally, Netflix’s Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller sci-fi Escape From Spiderhead wrapped filming in Queensland last month and the streamer’s thriller series Pieces of Her is currently filming in NSW.

Read: Deadline

Was 60 Minutes (US) TV’s most toxic environment?

Ira Rosen started working at 60 Minutes in 1980. He’s now retiring at the age of 65 and has written a book about his time working on the show. And what he has to say is far from favorable.

In Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at ‘60 Minutes, Rosen writes about respected journalist Mile Wallace:

Wallace, who died in 2012, had other attributes — a tobacco-cured baritone and a virtuoso actor’s talent for making an instant bond with audiences — and Rosen describes him as a touchy, insecure creature who reveled in attention from strangers back when muckraking reporters were widely admired.

He also writes that Wallace regularly peppered colleagues with questions about their sex lives; lashed out at them for no good reason; grabbed the bottoms and breasts of women who worked in the office; pulled them onto his lap; and snapped bra straps.

“The verbal harassment I experienced from Mike Wallace and other TV big shots was, in a word, criminal,” Rosen writes. He says he stuck it out for so long “in part out of fear, but mostly out of ambition.”

But the book isn’t all about not enjoying working with Wallace. Rosen also rips into Steve Kroft, Katie Couric, Lesley Stahl, and Bill Whitaker.

The book sounds wild.

Read: NYT

TeeVee Snacks

  • Bad news for the cast and crew of Snowpiercer (if rumors are to be believed) - Archie Panjabi will join the cast of season 3. Source: Deadline
  • Expect making-of specials for WandaVision and the upcoming Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Source: Dark Horizons
  • Anne Robinson is the new host of iconic UK game show Countdown. She’s best known for hosting the UK version of The Weakest Link back in the day. Read: BBC
  • Nothing new in this feature about Murdoch’s launch of a streaming news talk channel in the UK this April, but it gives a good overview. Read: NYT
  • If you’re looking to start a campaign to bring Gina Carano back to the Star Wars universe, know that the war is already lost with the real power base of Star Wars erasing Carano’s involvement: Hasbro have cancelled any and all action figures based on her character. Read: Indiewire
  • BritBox will launch in South Africa. Read: C21

Christopher Reeves and Michael Keaton are back as Superman & Batman

Brand new comics released from DC Comics starting in July will see comic book continuations of the versions of Superman and Batman portrayed by Reeves and Keaton.

Batman ’89 will see original Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm team up with artist Joe Quinones (Dial H for Hero) to “pull on a number of threads left dangling.” The book, starring Michael Keaton’s Batman, promises to reintroduce Selina Kyle/Catwoman, portrayed in Batman Returns by Michelle Pfeiffer, and introduce that first Burton-esque Robin. Harvey Dent (played by Billy Dee Williams in Batman) will also appear in full Two-Face form, a twist that was expected to happen in Batman Returns, but was cut after extensive rewrites.

DC also announced that Rob Venditti (Hawkman) and Wilfredo Torres (Batman ’66) will work together on Superman ’78 to tell stories with Christopher Reeves’ Superman. In Superman ’78, “bystanders are surprised and delighted by Superman’s abilities, and Lois Lane doesn’t (yet!) know that Clark Kent is secretly Superman. The sheer thrill of seeing a man fly, leap, or stop a bullet will be reflected in this environment where Superman has just been introduced,” DC said in the announcement.

The books will be out digitally at first, but collected into hardcover editions for me to spend money on at Christmas.

Batman 89 comics cover of Keaton’s batman swooping down in front of skyscrapers from DC Comics
A comic version of Christopher Reeves’ Superman flies at screen in Superman 78 from DC Comics

Trailer Park

Wait… what is this? Abla Fahita: Drama Queen debuts on Netflix soon. (Read about the series HERE.)

An innocent fugitive, Abla Fahita gets separated from her children. The illustrious diva will stop at nothing to clear her name and reunite with them.

Word Party returns for a fifth season on Netflix March 2.

What’s next? Tomorrow.