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Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
Julia Roberts & Sen Penn film Watergate drama down under
ALSO: Star launches today. AND: Paramount+ sale regret
Julia Roberts & Sean Penn fly down under for Watergate series
Hollywood titans Julia Roberts and Sean Penn will star in the first season of Gaslit, an anthology series based on the podcast Slow Burn. The series has been picked up by US network Starz and tells the story of Martha Mitchell - a socialite who first raised the alarm about Nixon’s involvement with the Watergate scandal.
The show was to star Armie Hammer, who has dropped out for culinary concerns. Also gone from the show are Joel Edgerton, who was set to appear as G. Gordon Liddy, and his brother Nash Edgerton.
The series will be filmed in Sydney. Australia. Now free of COVID community transmission for a month.
Each season of Gaslit will focus on a different element of Watergate:
Gaslit focuses on the untold stories and forgotten characters of the scandal – from Nixon’s bumbling, opportunistic subordinates to the deranged zealots aiding and abetting their crimes to the tragic whistleblowers who eventually would bring the whole rotten enterprise crashing down.
Just a reminder that streaming service Star launches later today in Australia on Disney+. If you’re looking for the new service, it is only available to existing Disney+ subscribers and comes at no extra charge to watch Star content, but know that the price of Disney+ is going up by a few bucks a month. (It’ll now be $11.99 per month, or $119.99 annually).
The service officially launches at 7pm Sydney-time. It will also launch on Feb 23 in the UK with very similar library.
Oh, and just a side note - Futurama will not be included in with Star in Australia because the show has already been added to the regular Disney+ platform. Incredible to know Micky and Minnie Mouse are now on the same platform with the infamous Kegelcizer.
ViacomCBS has sale regret ahead of Paramount+ launch
Later this week on Feb 24, ViacomCBS is staging an event to launch new streaming service Paramount+. It’s ultimately just rebadging its existing CBS All Access service, but at the launch event it is expected that the company will announce a number of new originals that will launch on the service. Paramount+ officially goes live on March 5 in the US (in Australia, we’ll get the service mid-year).
When Paramount+ launches in the US, however, it will be without some of its biggest shows. Smash hit Yellowstone was licensed to NBCUniversal where it now drives the Peacock streaming service. South Park was licensed to WarnerMedia for HBO Max. And then there were other older library titles that were either on-sold or are no longer exclusive to ViacomCBS for streaming.
The company has commissioned a slate of dozens of original series, including shows inspired by movies “Flashdance,” “Grease” and “The Godfather,” as well as new versions of past hits “The Real World” and “Behind the Music.” ViacomCBS has tried to buy back the streaming rights to “Yellowstone” from Comcast. Rebuffed, the company has settled for a prequel to the show, ensuring fans will at least get a little bit of the frontier magic on Paramount+.
SEAL Team actor Justin Melnick is best known for playing Brock Reynolds on the show. In real life he’s also a dog handler - it was through his dog handling work on the show that led to his recurring role on the series. He appears on the show alongside his own real-life dog Cerberus.
On the weekend Melnick was engaged in a private commercial shoot that involved a helicopter. He’s now recovering at home after falling from the helicopter. He had been performing with a dog actor who is also now okay and recovering at home.
Holey Moley has been picked up for two more seasons in the US. One assumes 2-season pick-ups for shows like this are likely in the next few months as shows navigate COVID production restrictions. No word on if this is filming on the US Holey Moley set or if they will use the Australian Holey Moley set. Read: Deadline
Netflix are trialing a function that will automatically download shows to your device. Source: The Verge
24/7 cooking channel Gusto TV will start streaming in Australia on the 7Plus platform. 7Plus needs to be signing up more and more channels like this ahead of the inevitable Pluto TV launch in Australia. Read: TV Blackbox
Mayor Pete, the doco from Boys State co-director Jesse Moss, has been acquired by Amazon Prime Video. And yes, this is about Pete Buttigieg. Read: Variety
Earlier this week, ABW mentioned a new BBC-owned streaming service BBC Select that launched in the US. Interesting to note: It has no app. The SVOD is only available through third-party aggregator platforms like Apple TV and Amazon Channels. Read: nScreenMedia
Spotify has announced more detail about its plans to feature DC Comics characters in exclusive podcasts. They will involve the characters Wonder Woman, Batman, Lois Lane, Catwoman, Riddler and Batgirl. Read: THR
Yes, The Muppet Show is now streaming on Disney+, but not all of it. Some episodes are missing, while others have been edited. Why? Music rights. (Also, there’s the missing Chris Langham issue which has more to do with the guest star being busted for possessing child pornography than music rights). Read: EW
From ‘Iron Lady’ to ‘First Lady of The World’
Fresh off her bonkers performance as Margaret Thatcher (bonkers in the best sense of the term), Gillian Anderson will play Eleanor Roosevelt in the upcoming Showtime anthology show The First Lady. Each episode examines the life of a different first lady with other episodes featuring Viola Davis as Michelle Obama and Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford.