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Space Race TV Series 'The Right Stuff' Coming to Disney+

"The Right Stuff," Tom Wolfe's epic history of NASA's early days, inspired a great 1983 movie, but even a three-hour-plus running time left out a lot of great stories from the book.

Disney+ and National Geographic thought it was time to revisit the story and have announced an eight-episode series that will take another shot at telling it. We're guessing that eight episodes equals eight hours of TV, so the show will have about 2½ times as much room to tell the story.  Wolfe's book does a great job of balancing the technical research and dangerous training with the Mercury space program's marketing of the astronauts and their families as American heroes, even as the men themselves and their colleagues in the test pilot community realized just how little piloting an astronaut was being asked to do.  The culture has changed since the 1983 movie, so a new series seems likely to recognize the "reality show" culture that the original space program fostered. There were marketing men, an exclusive deal with Life magazine and incredible perks from car dealers and real estate developers.  The Americans were playing catch-up with the USSR's space program, and the scientists' projected timelines just didn't fit with the political necessities, a theme that should resonate with viewers in 2020.

The series stars Patrick J. Adams ("Suits") as Maj. John Glenn and Jake McDorman ("What We Do in the Shadows," "Lady Bird") as Lt. Cmdr. Alan Shepard.  The rest of the Mercury Seven includes Colin O'Donoghue ("Once Upon a Time") as Lt. Gordon Cooper, Aaron Staton ("Mad Men") as Wally Schirra, James Lafferty ("The Haunting of Hill House") as Scott Carpenter, Micah Stock ("Brittany Runs a Marathon") as Deke Slayton and Michael Trotter ("Underground") as Gus Grissom.  The wives will be just as important as the astronauts in an expanded telling of the history. The series features Nora Zehetner ("Brick") as Annie Glenn, Eloise Mumford ("Fifty Shades of Grey") as Trudy Cooper and Shannon Lucio ("Prison Break") as Louise Shepard.

Appian Way's Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are executive producers. Mark Lafferty ("Castle Rock," "Halt and Catch Fire") is showrunner.  Lafferty says,"'The Right Stuff' evokes the wonder and awe of the moment we first escaped the bounds of our only home and ventured into the unknown. But the show is as much about who we are today as it is about our historic achievements. At a time when the world is confronted with significant challenges, this story reminds us that what seems impossible today can become the triumph of tomorrow."  There's not yet an exact premiere date and "fall" seems like it's a long time away, especially when most of us can't remember what March 2020 was like. We'll have more news about "The Right Stuff" as the release approaches.


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Local Movie Connection: ‘Masters of the Air’ series set to begin production

Lafayette professor and Easton resident Donald L. Miller remembers exactly where he was six years ago when he got the call from Tom Hanks telling him that Hanks and producing partner Steven Spielberg were planning on turning Miller’s World War II book "Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought The Air War Against NSDAP Germany” into a $200 million mini-series.  "I was pulling out of the Bethlehem Library when my phone rang,” recalls Miller. "I was pretty happy about the news.”  But the best-selling author didn’t have too much time to revel in his good fortune. "I had three of my grandchildren with me and I said, ‘You guys have to be quiet I have someone important on the phone.’ And my granddaughter said, ‘I’m important too!’ And she is.”  Now, after a few years and a number of speedbumps, including a move from HBO to AppleTV, "Masters of the Air” is finally beginning production outside London.  "We’re in the casting process right now,” says Miller. "The scripts are done and we’re hiring actors, directors and producers.”

The project, which will be produced by Spielberg’s Amblin Television, and Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, is set to focus on the 100th Bombardment Group of the Eighth Air Force. The series, like the book, will chronicle the stories of the airmen who helped to make D-Day possible, among other achievements.  Expected to run eight or 10 hours, the series will also depict life in wartime England, where the 100th Group was stationed, as well as in German prison camps, where thousands of fliers were incarcerated during the war.  

Miller says the goal of the creative team behind "Masters of the Air” is to turn out an accurate yet personal mini-series that promises to do for the Air Force what Spielberg and Hanks’ acclaimed "Band of Brothers” and "The Pacific” did for the Army and the Marines, respectively.  "Tom said he wanted a film – and he calls it a film – that has fidelity and is completely without clichés,” notes Miller of the actor, who has recently been in the hospital in Australia, where he was diagnosed with coronavirus. "We want to change people’s conceptions and misconceptions of the air war.”  One of those misconceptions is that bombing is impersonal. "It is, in fact, intensely personal,” says Miller whose father fought in the Eighth Air Force. "You’ve got 10 guys in a [airplane]. Even more so than on the ground, there was a solidarity among those guys.  "Very few GIs or Marines saw the enemy killed but up high, the airman often were looking right into the eyes of the enemy pilots.”

A native of Reading, Miller joined the Lafayette College faculty in 1978. He is currently promoting a new book called "Vicksburg” about a key Civil War battle.  He’s also written a handful of books about World War II and served as a writer and historical consultant for "WWII in HD,” which aired on the History Channel in 2009, two "American Experience” docs "Victory In The Pacific” (2005) and "The Bombing of Germany” (2010) and "The Pacific” (2010).  “(Ernest) Hemingway was right,” says Miller. "He said, ‘There’s nothing in human history that has more drama than war.’”


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I didn't know there was another TV series in the works too

‘Dune’: Eleven Things to Know About the 2020 Film and TV Series

IndieWire has rounded up all the details about upcoming "Dune" adaptations on screens both big and small.

One of the most highly-anticipated movies of 2020 is Academy Award-nominated director Denis Villeneuve’s big-screen adaptation of the beloved — and seemingly very difficult to get right, if David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s notorious attempts are any indication — science-fiction novel "Dune.” Especially with the added companion TV series coming to HBO Max.  Naturally, Warner Bros. has kept news about both the movie and companion series relatively secretive, but IndieWire has compiled a list of the eight must-know details about them. From its previous adaptations to its A-list cast, below is everything you need to know about all things "Dune” 2020.

Denis Villeneuve Knew "Dune” Had to be a Two-Parter

Denis Villeneuve recently discussed the upcoming project and noted that the world of "Dune” was too complex for a single film, which is why he’s splitting the book into a two-part film. He also noted that he wouldn’t have signed on for the film if Warner Bros. hadn’t agreed to making the film a two-parter.

It’s Based on a Novel

The original "Dune” is a 1965 science-fiction novel written by author Frank Herbert and is often cited as one of George Lucas’ original inspirations for "Star Wars.” The story was first published as two separate serials in the science-fiction magazine "Analog Science Fiction and Fact,” one in 1963 and then the other in 1965. And since its publication, there have been five "Dune” sequels: "Dune Messiah,” "Children of Dune,” "God Emperor of Dune,” "Heretics of Dune,” and "Chapterhouse: Dune.”  Here’s the synopsis for the original novel: "Dune is set far in the future, amidst a sprawling feudal intergalactic empire, where planetary fiefdoms are controlled by noble Houses that owe allegiance to the Imperial House Corrino. The novel tells the story of young Paul Atreides, heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and scion of House Atreides, as he and his family relocate to the planet Arrakis, the universe’s only source of the spice melange.”

It’s Been Adapted to Film Before…

The first "Dune” adaptation was David Lynch’s 1984 film version, based on the original "Dune” novel. Lynch fave Kyle MacLachlan (in his feature film debut) starred as Paul Atreides, leading a cast that included Alicia Witt, Brad Dourif, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Stewart, Dean Stockwell, Sean Young, and musician Sting. (Lynch also made an uncredited appearance in the movie.)  While Lynch’s "Dune” has become somewhat of a cult classic, reception at the time was negative, from fans of the novel, fans of Lynch’s work, and critics. Roger Ebert called the movie "a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.” "Dune” was also seen as a box-office failure, grossing nearly $31 million from an estimated $40 million budget.

…and Also For Television…

In the early aughts, the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy) made two miniseries adaptations of Herbert’s "Dune” saga: 2000’s "Frank Herbert’s Dune” and 2003’s "Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune.” The latter served as a combination of the novels "Dune Messiah” and "Children of Dune.” Both starred Scottish actor Alec Newman (“The **** Executioner,” "Strike Back”) as Paul Atreides, with the second also including Susan Sarandon (as Princess Wensicia) and James McAvoy (as Leto II Atreides).  While still considered notably flawed adaptations of the source material — criticized for lacking subtlety and being soapier than the novels — both miniseries were better received by critics than Lynch’s 1984 film, with "Frank Herbert’s Dune” winning two Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie, Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special) and "Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune” winning one (Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special).

…and, Of Course, Will Be Adapted to Both Film & TV Once More

Between 2008 and 2011, Paramount attempted and failed to adapt "Dune” to film, first with Peter Berg (“Deepwater Horizon”) attached as director and then Pierre Morel (“Peppermint”). Then in late 2016, it was announced that Legendary Entertainment (at the time under the umbrella of Universal Studios but now under Warner Bros.) had acquired both the film and TV rights to "Dune” and later confirmed that Oscar nominee Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival,” "Blade Runner 2049”) was attached to direct the film. Soon, screenwriter Eric Roth (“A Star Is Born”) came on to write the film, while co-writers include Roth and Villeneuve. Although Jon Spaihts (“Prometheus”) was brought on to co-write the project, he reportedly left the series to focus on the sequel to the upcoming "Dune” film. Spaihts will reportedly remain as an executive producer on the series.  Hans Zimmer is also set to score the film, having worked with Villeneuve previously on "Blade Runner 2049.”  In March 2018, Villeneuve made clear that he planned to adapt the novel into a two-part film series, and a little over a year later, Legendary CEO Joshua Grode confirmed that they would be following through on that plan. As Grode told The Hollywood Reporter, "That’s the plan. There’s a backstory that was hinted at in some of the books [that we expanded]. Also, when you read the book there’s a logical place to stop the movie before the book is over.”  Then in June 2019, it was announced that Legendary would also be putting the "Dune” TV rights to use, too, with spin-off series "Dune: The Sisterhood,” exclusively for WarnerMedia’s impending streaming service, HBO Max. "Dune: The Sisterhood” will focus on the Bene Gesserit — a powerful, ancient order of women with mysterious origins — and also function as a prequel to the 2020 film. The pilot for "Dune: The Sisterhood” is set to also be directed by Villeneuve, who will serve as executive producer alongside Brian Herbert.  Here’s the synopsis for the series, "told through the eyes of a mysterious order of women known as the Bene Gesserit. Given extraordinary abilities by their mastery of the body and the mind, the Bene Gesserit expertly weave through the feudal politics and intrigue of The Imperium, pursuing plans of their own that will ultimately lead them to the enigmatic planet Arrakis, known to its inhabitants as Dune.”

The Cast

As far as casting goes for "Dune: The Sisterhood,” that remains to be seen. But the "Dune” movie cast is star-studded, led by Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, with Oscar Isaac filling the role of Duke Leto Atreides, Paul’s father, and Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica, Paul’s Bene Gesserit mother.  Other cast members include Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, Zendaya as Chani, Javier Bardem as Stilgar, Charlotte Rampling as Gaius Helen Mohiam, Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban, David Dastmalchian as Piter De Vries, Chang Chen as Dr. Wellington Yueh, Stellan Skarsgård as the villainous Baron Harkonnen, and Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck.

When asked at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival — while promoting his role in Michael Almereyda’s period drama "Tesla” — if he’ll be making a cameo in Villeneuve’s new film, Kyle MacLachlan told IndieWire, "no.”  However, he also made clear that he’s "very excited” to see the film.  "There will be another one, there will be a couple of us out there, running around, there’s plenty of room I think, and Timothée I think will do a fantastic job,” he said. "I’m very much looking forward to the vision Denis has. David Lynch, of course, it’s a very specific vision, so this will be something completely different, I’m sure. Why not have both stand on their own merits?”

Past adaptations of "Dune” have been criticized by hardcore fans of Frank Herbert’s science-fiction saga. So the question remains if disappointment will continue with Villeneuve’s "Dune.” As details have been tight-lipped about both the movie and the spin-off series, look to those directly involved with the project. Villeneuve himself has already promised that his adaption will be nothing like Lynch’s 1984 movie.  "David Lynch did an adaptation in the ’80s that has some very strong qualities. I mean, David Lynch is one of the best filmmakers alive, I have massive respect for him,” Villeneuve said. "But when I saw his adaptation, I was impressed, but it was not what I had dreamed of, so I’m trying to make the adaptation of my dreams. It will not have any link with the David Lynch movie. I’m going back to the book and going to the images that came out when I read it.”

David Dastmalchian, one of the stars of "Dune” as well as a frequent Villeneuve collaborator, has brought up the concept of staying "true to the spirit” of the novel when talking about the film. According to Dastmalchian, "in the way Denis has talked about the film and what I’ve seen, it’s absolutely true to and in honor of everything that Frank put into the novel…[Denis is] just so fearless, man. He makes choices and then he goes into the places that we need right now as audiences.”  "Dune” star Stellan Skarsgård has also chimed in about this aspect of the adaptation, promising fans that Villeneuve has full creative control of the movie. "It’s fun when you get one of those big sci-fi movies and you know it’s going to be directed by a true filmmaker,” said Skarsgård. "It’s not going to be directed by the studio. It seemed like they were giving him pretty free hands. And you have to, because his personal stamp on the film is paramount for the success of it.”


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I've been following the new Dune movies for years...I just can't wait for that.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, recently changed his Twitter header into a painted panorama filled with some of his entertainment empire’s most beloved characters, from Mickey to Mulan, Elsa to Ariel, and Donald to…Deadpool?

That’s right, the Merc With a Mouth – soon to be made an official member of the MCU – can be found grinning in the bottom right corner of the image, and his inclusion is sure to come as blow to the face of the character’s creator, Rob Liefeld, who has spent the past week or so adamantly maintaining that Disney are not planning to move forward with Deadpool 3.

If you didn’t know any better, Liefeld’s claim would seem almost believable. After all, the studio has always been obsessed with maintaining a family friendly brand identity, one which the potty-mouthed, fourth wall-obliterating antihero contradicts with every fiber in his cancerous, constantly regenerating body.

But if you do know better, you’d know that Disney officials, including Iger himself, have been promoting their commitment to continuing Wade Wilson’s story ever since they acquired full rights to the property from their competitors.

Should you trust Deadpool’s creator more than his owner, though, there’s still plenty of evidence indicating that new projects concerning the Merc are indeed in the works behind closed doors. These include, among others, a production grid listing Marvel boss Kevin Feige and lead actor Ryan Reynolds as producers of an upcoming film, as well as an interview that Reynolds did for Live With Kelly and Ryan where he teased said film.

Why Liefeld is so set on contradicting Iger is not clear. However, many suspect it may be due to the fact that Disney execs are not giving the comic book artist as much of a say on the project as he had at Fox, which is frankly a little concerning for diehard Deadpool fans.

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On 5/23/2020 at 3:55 PM, Mlodj said:




Just because it's Disney doesn't mean they want family friendly. Technically Pulp Fiction is a Disney movie. 

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  • 2 years later...



Elsewhere, Playtone executive and producer Kirk Saduski revealed in a video interview that the upcoming WW2 mini-series "Masters of the Air” will begin streaming "mid-Spring 2023”.  The nine-episode project, currently in post-production, will star Austin Butler, Barry Keoghan & Callum Turner as it chronicles the actions of the Eighth Air Force of the United States Army Air Forces.  Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, Cary Joji Funaga and Gary Goetzman executive produce the $200-250 million budgeted mini-series, which serves as the third Playtone WW2 mini-series of this type following HBO’s "Band of Brothers” and "The Pacific”.


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