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Better Call Saul Renewed for Sixth, and Final, Season

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(Photo by Nicole Wilder/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

Thursday afternoon’s portion of the winter Television Critics Association press tour was largely devoted to channels that are part of the AMC Networks, including AMC and BBC America. This brought news of favorite returning series like Killing Eve and Better Call Saul and anticipated new ones like The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Other TV news comes courtesy of HBO’s Watchmen, Netflix’s Mindhunter, and Peacock, the new streaming service from NBCUniversal.


TOP STORY

BETTER SAY GOODBYE TO SAUL

Better Call Saul  co-creator Peter Gould told journalists during the show’s TCA panel that his and Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad prequel has been renewed for a 13-episode season 6, which will also be the show’s last.

But before we get to that, AMC still has to air its 10-episode season 5 of Saul, which has a two-night premiere on February 23 and 24 and stars Bob Odenkirk as the increasingly corrupt lawyer. Gould told journalists that he “would say this season is more kinetic” — to which co-star Jonathan Banks piped up to say “violent is the word you’re looking for.” And while Breaking Bad stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul will not be in the fifth season of Saul, Gould did confirm that Dean Norris and Steven Michael Quezada will be in episodes three and four this season, reprising their Breaking Bad characters of DEA agents Hank Schrader and Steven Gomez.

So will Cranston and Paul ever appear on the show? After all, Paul’s Jesse Pinkman did introduce Cranston’s Walter White to criminal attorney Saul Goodman.

Gould gave the traditional cagey answer that he would love to work with Cranston and Paul again.


TIME TO FEAST ON MORE THE WALKING DEAD

THE WALKING DEAD THE WORLD BEYOND

(Photo by AMC)

The brains at AMC have confirmed that the latest series in The Walking Dead franchise, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, will premiere April 12 after the season 10 finale of the original TWD. The new series stars Aliyah Royale, Alexa Mansour, Annet Mahendru, Nicolas Cantu, Hal Cumpston, Nico Tortorella, and Julia Ormond and includes the following logline:

Two sisters along with two friends leave a place of safety and comfort to brave dangers, known and unknown, living and undead on an important quest. Pursued by those who wish to protect them and those who wish to harm them, a tale of growing up and transformation unfurls across dangerous terrain, challenging everything they know about the world, themselves and each other. Some will become heroes.

Other series and special premieres include IFC variety show Sherman’s Showcase hour-long “Black History Month Spectacular,” which will air this summer, and a promise that the third season of BBC America and AMC’s Killing Eve will be back in April. The fourth season of IFC’s Brockmire will premiere March 18, and the second season of SundanceTV’s Liar starts April 8. AMC’s three-part cheating scandal miniseries Quiz, which stars Michael Sheen, Matthew Macfadyen, and Sian Clifford, premieres May 25.

Outside of TCA, CourtTV announced that it will air OJ25, a 37-week primetime series that chronologically follows all courtroom drama from the the O.J. Simpson murder case from start to verdict. The original true-crime series will begin airing on January 23, a day before the 25th anniversary of the trial’s start in 1995.


BAD NEWS FOR WATCHMEN FANS?

WATCHMEN SEASON 2 NO GO

(Photo by HBO)

On Wednesday at TCA, HBO programming head Casey Bloys stated that he’d be happy to do another season of cult hit Watchmen if creator Damon Lindelof was interested.

It appears that he is not.

Lindelof told USA Today that he’s done telling the story he wants to tell, but he’s “given my blessing” to HBO if someone else were to take on another chapter. Bloys, however, tweeted another report that argues that Lindelof has all the time in the world to come up with a season 2 idea.


ET TU, MINDHUNTER?

Holt McCallany as Bill Tench, Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford, Joe Tuttle as Gregg Smith, and Anna Torv as Dr. Wendy Carr in Mindhunter season 2 trailer screencap (Netflix)

(Photo by Netflix)

A third season of Netflix’s Mindhunter is also uncertain, as the cast has been released from its contracts and executive producer David Fincher seems preoccupied at the moment.

“David is focused on directing his first Netflix film Mank and on producing the second season of Love, Death and Robots,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “He may revisit Mindhunter again in the future, but in the meantime felt it wasn’t fair to the actors to hold them from seeking other work while he was exploring new work of his own.”

Fincher’s film Mank tells the story of screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz’s work on 1941 Orson Welles film Citizen Kane.


PEACOCK SHAKES ITS TAIL FEATHER

PEACOCK EVENTS -- "Peacock Investor Day" at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York, NY on Thursday, January 16, 2020 -- Pictured: Bonnie Hammer, Chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/Peacock)

(Photo by AMC)

Outside of the TCA ballroom, details were released about NBCUniversal’s soon-to-launch streaming service, Peacock. See all the details, including news of a new Punky Brewster series, in “Everything We Know About Peacock.”


COURTNEY B. VANCE JOINS AMC’S 61ST STREET

Courtney B Vance 61st Street

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for SAG-AFTRA Foundation)

American Crime Story’s Courtney B. Vance is going back to the courtroom. The Emmy winner will star in 61st Street, which is described as a “propulsive courtroom drama” about a black teenager who gets swept up in Chicago’s infamously corrupt criminal justice system. Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo of Outlier Society are executive producing with a script from The Night Of’s Peter Moffat.

Other casting news announced Thursday include that Charlie Heaton, Malin Akerman, Betsy Brandt, and JJ Feild have joined the cast of AMC’s Soulmates, a drama set in the near future that explore the concept of true love. The six-part anthology story is created by Will Bridges and premieres this summer.

Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh will narrate the documentary She Walks With Apes about Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Biruté Galdikas. It will air April 22 on BBC America as part of the channel’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.


AMC DEVELOPING SERIES WITH ILANA AND ELIOT GLAZER AND MORE

ILANA AND ELIOT GLAZER AMC SHOW

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images for Hilarity for Charity)

AMC Networks and AMC Studios also released a partial, but long, list of projects currently in development. They’re listed below.

AMC Networks Entertainment Group Development

More As This Story Develops
Producers are Katie Couric and Wendy Walker.
Logline: Inspired by the friendship between Katie Couric and Wendy Walker, two young women begin their careers in broadcast news in the ‘80s, charting the incredible moments in history that they were able to be a part of.

National Anthem
Written by Scott Z. Burns and executive produced by Mark Johnson. Music and lyrics are by Craig Finn and the music is produced by T-Bone Burnett.
Logline: A musical dramedy following the Nordstrom Family who, after falling down the ladder of American life, need to figure out what actually makes life worth living.

Sleeping Beauty
Written by Owen King, based on the novel by Owen and Stephen King. Executive producers are Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta for Sugar23 and the Kings.
Logline: In a small Appalachian town, there’s a strange mystical occurrence that causes all the women to fall asleep, leaving the men to try and rescue them. But do the women want to be rescued?

Bunny
Megan Mostyn Brown is writing based on the novel by Mona Awad.
Logline: A lonely student is drawn into a mysterious clique of girls called The Bunnies and begins to partake in their strange off-campus ritual — conjuring boys from rabbits, where the good ones stay as romantic partners and the bad ones are mercilessly axed.

Pantheon
A one-hour animated drama series written by Craig Silverstein based on short stories by Ken Liu, award-winning sci-fi writer. Silverstein is an executive producer. Titmouse will serve as the animation production company and is also producing a 10-minute animated short.
Logline: In this animated drama set in a world where uploaded consciousness is not just science fiction, a young woman begins receiving messages from an unknown number that claims to be her deceased father. Trying to uncover the truth, she stumbles upon a larger conspiracy involving the singularity.

Nigeria 2099
Ahmadu Garba will serve as writer. Mo Abudu and Heidi Uys of Nigeria’s EbonyLife TV will executive produce.
Logline: Set in a futuristic world, NIGERIA 2099 tells the story of Sgt. Charles Opkara, a local police officer in a poor district of Lagos. Assigned to protect a visiting American businessman staking out his district, Sgt. Charles begins to unravel a global conspiracy over depleting resources.

Silverbird
Award-winning journalist and screenwriter Scott Gold will serve as writer and executive producer. Harriet Gavshon and Tim Greene of South Africa’s Quizzical Pictures will executive produce.
Logline: An Army veteran who needs to disappear in a hurry falls in with a ragtag collective of mercenaries on their way to Africa with a dangerous and unusual mission: to protect the most iconic animals on earth by entering into armed conflict with poachers. This provocative, fast-paced, one-hour drama follows the superhighways of wildlife trafficking, a $10 billion-per-year, global enterprise of kingpins, corrupt governments and criminal syndicates, all of them determined to cling to power and money at any cost.

AMC Studios Development for Potential Sale to Content Companies

The Sparrow
Based on the science-fiction novel by Mary Doria Russell, executive produced by Mark Johnson with Johan Renck as director and executive producer.
Logline: In the near future, humans on Earth receive their first evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life when a radio telescope picks up a strange signal, sounding like exquisite  music, from a distant planet that will come to be known as Rakhat. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible expedition, the Jesuit leadership quietly organizes an eight-person scientific mission of its own, comprised of a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. What they find is a world so far beyond comprehension that it will lead them to challenge the very notions of humanity and faith itself.

Fates and Furies
Based on the novel by Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies is written and produced by Eliza Clark and Zack Whedon.
Logline: An examination of a marriage and creative partnership, Fates and Furies explores two perspectives of a marriage, from the husband and the wife, and the truths and secrets that evolve over 24 years.

I Run Hot
Eliot Glazer is the executive producer/writer and is attached to star. Ilana Glazer will executive produce and direct.
Logline: I Run Hot follows the unlikely friendship between Eliot, a gay curmudgeon who never quite fit in with the community, and Colton, a famous #instagay who can’t help but exemplify it.

Work It Out
Becca Gleason to executive produce and write. Anna Camp will executive produce and star. Michael Showalter and Jordana Mollick of Semi-Formal Productions will executive produce with Showalter directing.
Logline: It’s 1994 in Myrtle Beach, and Kayla Tate — a long-time Jane Fonda devotee and aspiring aerobics superstar — will do whatever it takes to establish her workout empire in this darkly comedic half-hour.


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WarnerMedia Begins Massive Round of Layoffs

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The entertainment giant handed out hundreds of pink slips as Hollywood continues to reel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

WarnerMedia has begun a round of layoffs with the entertainment giant letting go hundreds of staffers amid the coronavirus crisis that has crippled Hollywood with shelved tentpoles and production shutdowns. Sources say the first wave of layoffs is expected to be around 600 staffers, with a heavy focus at Warner Bros. 

The laid off employees include Warner Bros. CFO Kim Williams, Warner Bros. Worldwide Television Distribution president Jeff Schlesinger and Ron Sanders, Warner Bros. president, Worldwide Theatrical Distribution & Home Entertainment and Executive Vice President, International Business Operations.

The pink slips were handed out in departments encompassing film and TV and come in the aftermath of a major restructuring at the company that saw WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct to consumer chairman Bob Greenblatt and content chief and TBS, TNT and TruTV president Kevin Reilly ousted last week. The cuts also follow a series of Hollywood layoffs and furloughs that have affected agencies like CAA and Endeavor and such studios as Universal, Disney and Lionsgate.

“Jeff, Ron and Kim are all highly valued members of my senior leadership team, and we will be forever grateful for the many meaningful and lasting contributions each of them has made to Warner Bros.,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of Warner Bros. and newly announced head of WarnerMedia’s Studio and Networks Group. “I thank them all for their dedication and years of service, and wish them the very best in their next chapters.”

Added Sanders: “Warner Bros. is known for being the most celebrated studio in history for good reason. The talent is unmatched, both on the creative and business sides, and I’m honored to have been entrusted to oversee a great portfolio of businesses around the world for the last 30 years.”

Sources say Warners’ Atlanta base, which features scores of staff in cable TV operations and marketing divisions, was especially impacted. Like other media conglomerates, redundancies with other similar departments from other divisions are among the first to go.

On the film front, Warner Bros. has not been immune to the challenges that have rocked the industry. The studio moved its highly anticipated summer film Tenet multiple times (it is opening internationally on Aug. 26, followed by a U.S. release in select cities over Labor Day weekend). The studio also bumped the Wonder Woman sequel off its original summer release date as well as the John Chu-helmed and Lin Manuel Miranda-penned musical In the Heights (the former is scheduled to open Oct. 2, and the latter moved to summer 2021).

The changes arrive as WarnerMedia, under new CEO Jason Kilar, is putting its newly launched streamer HBO Max front and center. The service, which launched May 27, was hoping to convert many of linear cable network HBO’s 30 million-plus subscribers, which costs the same amount. But HBO Max only added 1.1 million HBO customers and 3 million retail customers in its first month. The rollout was hampered by the company’s ongoing negotiations with Amazon and Roku about bringing the app to their connected TV devices. More than two months after launch, HBO Max still isn’t available on either platform.

“It’s been a great 37 year run, with 26 as president of International Television Distribution, spanning six mergers, millions of miles traveled, thousands of programs sold and billions of dollars generated,” Schlesinger said. “In the end, it took a global pandemic and a complete reorganization of the company for me to trip over the last hurdle. I hope to always be remembered as the only studio executive to ride into an International Screenings party at the studio on the back of an elephant in the ‘good old days.’”

Added Williams: “Warner Bros. has a unique and wonderful history; heralded and iconic, it is one that I am proud to have been part of. It is also filled to the brim with the best and brightest. I will cherish my time at this great company.”

The restructuring comes as legacy media companies continue to make major executive suite changes amid a landscape that increasingly places streaming as the top priority. Last week, NBCUniversal outlined a similar strategy and folded all business operations under Frances Berwick, while a search continues for an exec to oversee entertainment programming across streamer Peacock as well as NBC and the company’s suite of cable networks. ViacomCBS, for its part, has also consolidated its executive ranks in the past year-plus, with Chris McCarthy adding a growing number of networks to his purview. The novel coronavirus has forced many legacy media companies to tighten costs amid declining profits, with many insiders noting the restructurings should have taken place well before the pandemic created an economic reason to do so.

The global pandemic has shuttered movie theaters from Beijing to New York as social distancing becomes the new normal across the globe. Studios including Warners have been forced to shutter production on major tentpoles like the most recent outing of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

A number of studio parent companies had addressed the fallout from the virus crisis including WarnerMedia owner AT&T and signaled cut-cutting measures to come. On March 20, as the pandemic’s fallout became more clear, the telecom giant said it was canceling planned stock buybacks, including an accelerated share repurchase agreement with Morgan Stanley to buy back $4 billion of its stock, in order to maintain financial flexibility. “The impacts of the pandemic could be material, but due to the evolving nature of this situation, we are not able at this time to estimate the impact on our financial or operational results,” AT&T said.

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Kyle Richards: Here’s How I KNOW Denise Richards is a Liar!

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On last week’s The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Denise Richards tried to deflect by spreading lies about Lisa Rinna.


Kyle Richards is explaining why she doesn’t believe a word that came out of Denise’s mouth.


“I swear to god, if I can’t go to dinner with these girls and not talk about sex, I don’t think I can go to dinner with them ever,” Sutton Stracke comments.


In fact, she has thought of a way that she might have diffused the entire conversation.


“I should have just said, ‘it was me,’ to make it go away,” Sutton remarks, before acknowledging that she might not be believed.

Sutton Stracke on the aftershow (on lockdown)


Speaking of things that are unlikely to be believed, Sutton adds of Denise’s accusation: “It was a little … off.”


Sutton was not alone in not believing Denise’s claim that Brandi had made these wild claims about every woman, or about Lisa.


And Kyle was less inclined to mince words about it.

Kyle Richards Used Simple Reasoning


“I looked around the table,” Kyle describes, “and I was like … let me do the math, here.”


“She barely knows Teddi,” she notes. “She doesn’t know Sutton.”


Ultimately, Kyle says that she narrowed it down to: “Lisa Rinna … or me. Which is hilarious.”

Kyle Richards math edit


“And I was like, ‘Just say it’s none of our business,'” Kyle recalls.


“Or say that it’s not true, believe who you want, who cares,” her list of suggestions continues.


“Whatever,” Kyle continues, clearly annoyed with how over the top Denise’s deflection ended up being.

Denise Richards Claims That She's Not Lying


“But to say that,” Kyle laments.


She recalls her internal reaction: “I was just like, ‘that didn’t happen.'”


“You just came up with that last night in your hotel room,” Kyle accuses.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Dine Out in Rome


Sutton very graciously — yet shadily — suggests that maybe, just maybe, Denise is telling the truth.


Not about Brandi’s alleged statements about boning every woman she’s met, of course. No one believes Denise there.


But Sutton is willing to accept that it’s possible that Denise never boned Brandi.

Kyle Richards Knows Whom to Believe


Kyle, like many fans, cannot get past the absurd degree to which Denise protested too much.


“She went in so hard with the ‘I don’t even know her, this is not true, it’s not true, it’s not true,'” Kyle points out.


We are then reminded that Denise claimed that she never said anything negative about anyone, a difficult claim to swallow.

Denise Richards Glowers While Garcelle Beauvais Worries


“And then,” Kyle continues, Denise “came back 24 hours later, and sits down.”


She narrates “And said ‘well, actually, she said that she slept with one of you guys at the table, too.'”


Teddi laughs at the absurdity of that.

Kyle Richards Eyes Her Classmate


Many Housewives have claimed to have known all along things that they clearly did not know at the time.


To her credit, Kyle said, to Denise’s face, “I don’t believe that she said that” right there at the time at that table.


“After 24 hours?!” Kyle continues. “Just say it’s none of our business. Don’t do that.”

Lisa Rinna Tells Her Friend to STFU


“It’s just so obviously made up and invented on the spot,” Kyle describes.


“Then,” she expresses, “I didn’t feel like we were dealing with anybody who wanted to be honest or speak the truth.”


In other words, this is why Kyle believes Brandi.

Denise Richards Smiles and Plans to Sue


Denise has hinted at her intentions to sue Brandi in order to silence her.


Not only was this way too little, way too late, but it’s not exactly going to convince anyone that she’s telling the truth.


This isn’t Joanna Krupa’s lawsuit, where she just had to drag in some exes to declare that her vagina smells nice.

Denise Richards Starts a Rumor


Garcelle Beauvais said it best.


Denise does not owe anyone (aside from, perhaps, her husband and also Brandi) any explanations about her sex life.


But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t interested. When you’re a public figure, you know that people will have questions.

Denise Richards in Beverly Hills


Perhaps if Denise had done any of the things that her castmates have suggested, it would not have been a huge issue.


The tears, the “Bravo, Bravo, Bravo,” and then this incredible (as in literally, not credible) claim about Lisa are not cutting it.


They look like the actions of a desperate woman who is trying to hide the truth. So even if Denise is telling the truth, she’s making herself look like a liar.

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Lindsey Buckingham Sings Live For The First Time Since Heart Surgery: Watch

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Lindsey Buckingham had open heart surgery last year, which resulted in vocal cord damage. He’s been recovering, though — a couple months after surgery, he appeared at his daughter’s graduation to play “Landslide,” though he didn’t sing. Buckingham was scheduled to go on a solo tour in the spring, presumably where he would sing, but that tour was of course cancelled due to the pandemic.

So Buckingham’s first singing performance in over a year ended up happening on a Zoom call for the cloud computing company Nutanix, as Rolling Stone reports. He did four songs, two Fleetwood Mac ones (“Never Going Back Again” and “Big Love”) and two solo tracks (“Trouble” and “Shut Us Down”).

“This [pandemic] has been like a couple of years previous in which things occurred that I did not see coming,” Buckingham said during the interview portion of the Zoom call. “One was my split from Fleetwood Mac. Another one was having a bypass operation, which I did not expect to happen. You could say that this makes it a trifecta of events that were completely off the charts.”

Buckingham also talked about an upcoming solo record: “I do have an album coming out. We’re waiting to see where this is all going. We don’t have a release date. I was meant to be out on the road now promoting it. It should be out in the spring sometime. It’s just self-titled: Lindsey Buckingham. We’ll see where that goes.”

The performance is below. Buckingham’s songs are at 8m23s, 20m02s, 32m50s, and 44m54s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1xGUkc19JQ

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