Damon Lindelof had A WHOLE LOT to say about ‘Watchmen,’ and I’m even more excited about it than I was before. (And I was pretty excited.)

The Television Critics Association summer press tour is underway, and HBO and HBO’s head of programming,  Casey Bloys, were the guests of honor yesterday, breaking a bunch of HBO news and releasing their fall schedule. 

Let’s start with Watchmen, Damon Lindelof’s new project. Watchmen, as Lindelof and HBO have said over and over again, is not an adaptation of the classic comic series, but rather what the Watchmen world from the 1980s would look like in 2019. And Lindelof understands that this is appropriation — in fact, that’s what the series is about: appropriation.

There’s also a white supremacist group that calls themselves “The Seventh Calvary” running around in Rorschach masks. Lindelof said that gets at the one of the main themes of his series: Appropriation.

“We understand that we’re appropriating the original ‘Watchmen.’ Characters in this show are appropriating iconic ideas like the Rorschach mask,” he continued. “The idea that the Seventh Cavalry, who seem to be presenting a white supremacist ideology in the pilot, have appropriated Rorschach based on his writings, as a white supremacist. Rorschach is dead, he’s not around to basically say, ‘You got it all wrong.’”

Apparently, the series is inspired also by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 2014 essay “The Case for Reparations,” in which he told the story of the 1921 Tulsa race riots:

“That was the first time I’d heard about Black Wall Street and what happened in Tulsa in 1921. I was ashamed and confused and embarrassed that I had never heard about it before. That was the beginning of my education,” Lindelof said.

From there, that throughline also represented a way to capture the same spirit of timeliness that followed the original release of the “Watchmen” comic back in 1986.

“In the original source material, the book was highly political. It was about what was happening in the American culture at the time, even though it was being presented by two British artists. What in 2019 is the equivalent of nuclear standoff between the Russians and the United States? It just felt like it was undeniably race and policing in America. That idea started to graft itself in the ‘Watchmen’ universe and needed to be presented in a responsible way,” Lindelof said.

Writing a new series with this strong thematic vein also gave the show the chance to subvert superhero genre expectations in its own way and ground the series in firm, recognizable human issues.

“In a traditional superhero movie, the bad guys are fighting the aliens and when they beat the aliens, the aliens go back to their planet and everybody wins. There’s no defeating white supremacy. It’s not going anywhere, but it felt like it was a pretty formidable foe,” Lindelof said.

As for the creator of the graphic novel The Watchmen, Alan Moore, he wants nothing to do with the series (and has long disavowed any attempt to adapt the original work). Lindelof says he tried to reach out to Moore to try to make peace, but Moore remains completely opposed to having his name on the series. Lindelof thinks that if back in the day Moore were told he couldn’t do something, “he would say, ‘F–k you. I’m doing it anyway… so I’m channeling the spirit of Alan Moore to tell Alan Moore, ‘F–k you. I’m doing it anyway.’”

And Lindelof is prepared for the fans of The Watchmen to not be happy with this new series or not recognize the original work in this version, to which Lindelof shrugs. OH WELL, he’s not here to do fan service. Personally, I can’t wait. This sounds AMAZING. It’s set to debut in October.

Onto the Game of Thrones prequel: all Bloys would say is that they finished filming the pilot in mid-July and that it is currently being edited. As for when it will debut if it is picked up to series, Bloys wouldn’t say, but it sounds like sometime in 2020 might be overly optimistic. It will be on HBO, not exclusively on HBO Max, so that’s positive. Additionally, the other spinoffs are still being developed. HBO doesn’t want to overdo it, but they also don’t want to shut any potential doors, so that’s positive.

As for the star of the prequel, Naomi Watts, she’s not talking (about the 2:45 mark):

On the topic of the original Game of Thrones, Bloys says they never took the petition to reshoot season 8 seriously but spun it in the most positive way he possibly could: “There are very few downsides to having a hugely popular show. One of them is that people have big opinions about how the show should end. The petition shows a lot of enthusiasm and passion for the show but it’s not something we’ve seriously considered.” He also discussed the fact that HBO didn’t submit Alfie Allen, Carice van Houten, and Gwendoline Christie for Emmy consideration, and how it all came down to strategy. No duh.

In terms of HBO’s relationship with Benioff and Weiss: they are shopping around a deal to other places, and once that lands somewhere, Confederate will officially be dead dead dead. As for where they are shopping themselves, it’s narrowed down to Netflix, Disney, and Amazon.

Over in Westworld, Bloys and creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy revealed that they have deals for seasons four and five. (This despite the fact that Nolan and Joy have set a massive deal over at Amazon.)

As for all that Big Little Lies drama, according to Bloys, director Andrea Arnold was never promised creative control of the season, and she knew that. (I mean, the fact that this became an issue suggests otherwise, but OK.) Also, despite that cliffhanger ending, there are no plans for a third season. Also, Meryl Streep apparently pushed back on directorial notes about her character. “Meryl wouldn’t entertain any comments that insinuated she was the villain,” according to castmate Poorna Jagannathan.

Regarding Silicon Valley: the sixth season is its final season and T.J. Miller will not be returning.

The people behind The Righteous Gemstones and His Dark Materials would like you to know they are NOT attacking religion. HBO DOES NOT HATE RELIGION, Y’ALL.

A Black Lady Sketch Show is written by an entirely black female writing staff and intends to avoid familiar black comedy tropes. Also, they went out of their way to “include a variety of skin tones and body types and to assemble a cast featuring Afro Latino women, Afro Caribbean women, and more.” And they’re taking care to create plenty of gif-able moments, God bless them.

As for Insecure, season four will begin shooting in September and it will have 10 episodes.

Will there be a season four of True Detective? If Nic Pizzolatto comes up with an idea. Of course, I thought he already had some ideas bouncing around which he described as “THE MOST EXCITING THING” but alright.

Bloys was also asked about some sort of Sopranos reboot or maybe a series based on the upcoming Sopranos sequel, The Many Saints of Newark, and he’s not shutting the door on it.

J.J. Abrams’ HBO series Demimonde, an epic and intimate sci-fi fantasy drama, and his first solely created by him, is looking for a new showrunner.

As for the future of Cinemax?

In news that has nothing to do with HBO:

Comcast is aiming to launch the NBCUniversal streaming service in April.

Who would have thought pranking your friends by creating a Breaking Bad-esque meth lab in your basement could go wrong?

So what is the difference between series and limited series anymore?

The Leno and Rosemary LaBianca house where the Manson family murdered the couple one day after the Sharon Tate murders has been sold to Zac Bagans of Ghost Adventures. Expect a special to be shot there any second now.

All hail Soledad O’Brien, Queen of Media Criticism. (If you don’t follow her on Twitter, you should change that immediately.)

Oh! Get well soon, Michael Palin!

Sex Monster News

Jeffrey Epstein has been taken to the hospital after he was found injured and semi-conscious in his jail cell. Speculation is that he might have tried to kill himself, or he was possibly attacked by another inmate, or maybe he is trying to get himself transferred to another prison or cell.  In any event, crazies on the internet are preeeeety certain the Clintons put a hit out on him, obviously.

Roman Polanski’s movie J’Accuse is going to the Venice Film Festival. It’s about the Dreyfus Affair and a not-so-subtle commentary on the #MeToo movement. That child rapist can go fuck himself. Infuriating.

Aubrey O’Day has some things to say about working for Diddy that aren’t great. She also says that Dummy Jr. is her “soul mate,” so you know.

Renewals

  • Los Espookys has been renewed for a second season at HBO, hooray!
  • Younger has been renewed for a seventh season at TV Land.
  • Animal Kingdom has been renewed for a fifth season at TNT.

Cancellation

In Development

Casting News

Mark Your Calendars

  • Why Women Kill will debut on CBS All Access on August 12.

HBO released dates for their documentary programming:

R.I.P.

Rutger Hauer, Legendary actor in Blade Runner, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Hitcher among many others

WATCH THIS

Another Life: Katee Sackhoff stars in this new sci-fi series as an astronaut on a mission to figure out where the hell a mysterious alien artifact that suddenly showed up on Earth came from. Series premiere. Netflix

Workin’ Moms: Season two.  Netflix

The Wrong Mommy: I don’t know — something about a personal assistant who takes the job for REVENGE! or something — but what I found interesting is that this is apparently one in a series of “The Wrong X” movies, including The Wrong Man, The Wrong Nanny, The Wrong Neighbor, The Wrong Crush, The Wrong Girl, The Wrong Bed, The Wrong Cruise, and The Wrong Car. And believe it or not, I have not listed all of “The Wrong X” movies out there. Anyway. 7 p.m., Lifetime

Late Night:

  • Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Kevin Delaney, Zachary Quinto, Betty Gilpin, Mike Vecchione
  • Late Night with Seth Meyers: Michael Moore, Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Lanegan
  • The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Jeff Goldblum, Aisha Tyler
  • The Late Late Show with James Corden: Keegan-Michael Key, Terry Crews, Joshua Jay
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live: Sen. Bernie Sanders, Eugenio Derbez, the Raconteurs
  • The Daily Show: Andrew Yang
  • Watch What Happens Live: Michael Rapaport, Dorinda Medley

 

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