Newsies: August 6, 2021 Edition

Welcome to Newsies, a twice-a-week column dedicated to entertainment & pop culture news, retrospectives, and discoveries. In this edition, Joel Ethan may retire from film, South Park makes bank, and Y: The Last Man finally hits screens.

Ethan Coen Retires From Film?

On Score: The Podcast, Coen Brothers composer Carter Burwell let slip on the subject of Joel Coen’s forthcoming The Tragedy of Macbeth that Ethan Coen may be done with movies. “Ethan seems to be very happy doing what he’s doing, and I’m not sure what Joel will do after this,” Burwell said.

In an interview with Collider last year, Burwell previously commented on the strangeness of working with just one Coen:

“It’s a little different, even just the conversations I’ve had,” Burwell said. “Yeah, it’s a little different to have one of the brothers there. And I know Ethan, I saw him towards the end of last year and Joel was out prepping the shoot in LA, he said it felt strange that Joel is out there getting ready to make a movie. But Ethan didn’t want to do it. He wants to do other things. So it’s going to be a little bit different for all of us, I think it’s safe to say, but I think it’s still going to be a very recognizable voice that you’re familiar with, a look that you’re familiar with, I think. I think you’ll find that.”

Joel Coen, back in 2019 discussed the process of producing his most recent work A Play Is a Poem:

“Look, this is not, you know, some version of reality. It’s a desk and two chairs,” he said, pointing to the props left onstage after the afternoon preview’s final scene, set in an executive suite in Hollywood. “I mean, look at it. It’s a different exercise making a story out of that than out of everything you have to work with on a movie, where there’s so much that can pass as reality. That’s not a challenge for me.”

He then pointed to the stage. “That’s interesting,” he said with a smile. “Yeah, I’m interested in that. People think it’s about, like, self-expression or something, and it’s not about that. You do it because it’s involving and stimulating and you like the process of doing it. And damn, there’s something fantastic about it when it works.”

Admittedly, I look forward to what Joel Coen brings to the table when riding solo, how the thematic and aesthetic choices shift during this phase of his career. And if Joel is thrilled by the medium of the stage, I wish him all the best of hope to catch one of his plays soon.

Streaming Wars: South Park, Overlook and Fresh Prince reboot (plus Gomez Addams)

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker continue to rake in an ungodly amount of money with their franchise. A new deal with MTV Studios has emerged with the duo making 14 South Park movies for streamer Paramount Plus and a five year-extension of the mothership show taking it to its 30th season.

“Comedy Central has been our home for 25 years and we’re really happy that they’ve made a commitment to us for the next 75 years,” said Parker and Stone. “When we came to ViacomCBS with a different way to produce the show during the pandemic, Chris (McCarthy), Nina (Diaz), Keyes (Hill-Edgar) and Tanya (Giles) were immediately supportive and enabled us to try something new that turned out to be really well received. We can’t wait to get back to doing traditional South Park episodes but now we can also try out new formats.  It’s great to have partners who will always take a chance with us.”

This comes after a near $500 million dollar deal two years ago for the rights to stream the show. I guess it’s a safer bet for these streamers to lure in subscribers with existing IP than figure out how to sell something fresher and edgier.

Comparatively, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air has experienced turbulence in launching a reimagining of its premise. NBC streaming service Peacock’s drama has lost its 2nd showrunner during its development phase. Writing team J. Brady and Rasheed Newson replace Diane Houston (Empire) who left when the show shifted its creative direction. Huston herself replaced original showrunner Chris Collins.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Sources note that Peacock is looking for a broad-skewing network-style show, while [original showrunner] Collins wanted to deliver an edgy, premium series. It’s unclear what Houston’s vision was for the series, which has undergone some rewrites.”

The reboot, which landed a two-season greenlight after a taking inspiration from the Morgan Cooper viral video is expected to bow in 2022. It sounds like corporate wants their own Empire rather than Power. Good luck to the creatives running this project.

Last on today’s streaming IP docket: JJ Abrams’s Overlook hotel drama is in search of a new streaming home. THR’s report suggests that this restless spirit may find a home at Netflix instead of original show developer HBO Max. Given the financial disappointment of Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep and the shuttering of Mark Romanek’s filmic take on The Overlook, it isn’t too surprising.

Here’s what Romanek had to say on his vision for the Overlook film prequel:

“It’s a great script I think, it was based on a prologue to the novel that Stephen King wrote and then that prologue was cut for length. And so it’s based on Stephen King. It’s not just some thing somebody made up, and it’s more of an origin story on the, almost like a Western or a wilderness story, going back to the construction and the desecration of the Indian burial grounds, and the construction of the Overlook Hotel and to its meaning to its opening night.

Actually we wrote the script, it’s a really great script. The problem is it’s really expensive, it kind of reads like The Revenant or Heaven’s Gate or something and I think they wanted to try Doctor Sleep to see if—my impression is they wanted to see if there was this sort of Shining universe that would have financial life through them, or artistic life with the audience. And I think Doctor Sleep did just sort of okay, and given that our script is so costly, it’s a little dead in the water right now. But you never know, it’s a weird business. It’s a very good script. I’m proud of the script.”

If Netflix is in talks, then I’d love to see Overlook paired with fellow Gothic pop horror-inspired Wednesday. The latter recently cast actor Luis Guzmán as Addams Family patriarch, Gomez. The project, which stars Jenna Ortega as the titular character, is a “supernaturally infused mystery charting Wednesday Addams’ years as a student at Nevermore Academy. Wednesday’s attempts to master her emerging psychic ability, thwart a monstrous killing spree that has terrorized the local town, and solve the supernatural mystery that embroiled her parents 25 years ago — all while navigating her new and very tangled relationships at Nevermore.”

Y: The Last Man finally hits screens

Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man has made its way after more than a decade of development hell… With The Walking Dead on its final legs and The Last of Us revving up its production, it seems the post-apocalyptic market is ready for this comic book adaptation.

The most newsworthy developments I remember happen to be when Shia LaBeouf was attached as protagonist Yorick Brown with then-collaborator D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye) helming a trilogy of films. After that, all went dark on my radar until showrunners Aida Croal and Michael Green parted ways from the television show. Time will tell if the adaptation was worth the wait…

The show’s synopsis follows:

“A drama based on DC Comics’ acclaimed series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, Y: The Last Man traverses a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event decimates every mammal with a Y chromosome but for one cisgender man and his pet monkey. The series follows the survivors in this new world as they struggle with their efforts to restore what was lost and the opportunity to build something better.”