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Riot television
17th Aug

IF – Damon Herriman will lead the cast of ‘Riot’ as gay rights activist Lance Gowland.

A swag of expat Australian actors will topline the new ABC telemovie, Riot.

Justified’s Damon Herriman, The Twilight Saga’s Xavier Samuel and Arrow’s Jessica de Gouw join Utopia’s Kate Box as leads of the drama focused upon the 1970s Gay Rights Movement.

Herriman plays activist Lance Gowland and the telemovie will screen next year, the tenth anniversary of his passing.

Jeffrey Walker, whose romantic comedy feature Ali’s Wedding opens August 31, directs the telemovie that will shoot in Sydney over the next four weeks. It is written by Carolyn Anderson and Greg Waters and produced by Werner Film Productions’s Joanna Werner and Louise Smith, in association with ABC Television, Screen Australia and Screen NSW.

Werner Film Productions recently released Dance Academy, which earned more than $2 million at the Australian box office after the success of the Dance Academy series for the ABC and international broadcasters.

“It could never be more relevant than now to tell this story of identity, courage and love as a marginalised community finds its voice and rises up to fight oppression and injustice,” ABC head of scripted production Sally Riley said in a statement.

“With a cast as extraordinary as this, Riot promises to be a stirring, landmark television event in time for the 40th anniversary of the birth of Mardi Gras.”

On behalf of Werner Film Productions, writer Greg Waters added, “At a time when the struggle for LGBTQ rights is far from over, it was a privilege to explore the lives of pioneering activists who sacrificed so much to drag Australia towards equality.”

television Underground
08th Jun

We sure didn’t see that one coming. After two successful seasons, it is heartbreaking to see it go now. But there’s still hope another network will pick it up, and we must do everything we can to help by making noise on social media! #RenewUnderground

TV LINE – Plans for a third season of Underground have been derailed.
WGN American has cancelled the period drama after two seasons and 20 episodes, Tribune Media announced on Tuesday. Sony Pictures Television — the studio behind Underground — will attempt to find a new home for the series.

“Despite Underground being a terrific and important series, it no longer fits with our new direction and we have reached the difficult decision not to renew it for a third season,” said Tribune CEO Peter Kern in a statement. “We are tremendously proud of this landmark series that captured the zeitgeist and made an impact on television in a way never before seen on the medium… It is our hope that this remarkable show finds another home and continues its stories of courage, determination and freedom.”

The cancellation follows the demise of fellow WGN drama Outsiders and ahead of Tribune’s acquisition by Sinclair. “As WGN America evolves and broadens the scope and scale of its portfolio of series, we recently announced that resources will be reallocated to a new strategy to increase our relevance within the rapidly changing television landscape,” Kern explained. “This move is designed to deliver additional value for our advertising and distribution partners and offer viewers more original content across our air.”

Underground‘s second and final season concluded earlier this month.

television Underground Videos
13th Jan

The new season of ‘Underground’ will premiere Wednesday March 8, 10/9c on WGN America.

Season two of the 10-episode, hour-long series follows an unremitting struggle for freedom within a divided America on the brink of civil war, each side vying to enact their own justice. Set in the aftermath of the Macon 7’s daring attempt to stage the greatest escape in history, this group of American heroes continues on their harrowing journey to freedom, with legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

television Underground Videos
14th Dec

DEADLINE – WGN America has set 10 PM Wednesday, March 8, for the second-season premiere of its hit original drama series Underground. The network also unveiled a first-look teaser trailer from its sophomore season, featuring Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Rosalee), Aldis Hodge (Noah), Jessica de Gouw (Elizabeth Hawkes), Alano Miller‎ (Cato), Amirah Vann (Ernestine) and Aisha Hinds (Harriet Tubman).

The 10-episode Season 2 of Underground follows the struggle for freedom within a divided America on the brink of civil war, each side vying to enact their own justice. Set in the aftermath of the Macon 7’s daring attempt to stage the greatest escape in history, this group of American heroes continues on their harrowing journey to freedom, with legendary abolitionist Tubman blazing the trail. The series-regular cast also includes Christopher Meloni and Marc Blucas. Recurring guest stars are Hinds, Jasika Nicole, DeWanda Wise, Michael Trotter, Jesse Luken, Sadie Stratton and John Legend.

television The Last Tycoon
27th Jul

DEADLINE – With a well-known title and formidable lead cast, Amazon’s The Last Tycoon pilot has been a strong contender for a series pickup. Now the project, toplined by Matt Bomer, Kelsey Grammer and Rosemarie DeWitt, has been ordered to series by the streaming service, I have learned. It comes from Sony TV’s TriStar Television. I hear Amazon’s other drama pilot from the batch, The Interestings, is not going forward.

Written and directed by Billy Ray based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s final unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon was inspired by the life of film mogul Irving Thalberg, on whom the book’s protagonist Monroe Stahr was based. The project centers on Stahr (Bomer), Hollywood’s first wunderkind studio executive in the 1930s as he climbs to the height of power pitting him against his mentor and current head of the studio, the brawny, imposing, charming and vain Pat Brady (Grammer), a character based on Louis B. Mayer. Having come from the streets, Brady has no intention of returning to his misfortune, and is determined to make sure his studio is successful, no matter what personal morals he compromises. Dewitt plays Pat Brady’s wife, Rose Brady, who may be involved with Stahr.

In The Last Tycoon‘s 1976 big-screen adaptation directed by Elia Kazan and written by Harold Pinter, the roles of Stahr and Brady were played by Robert De Niro and Robert Mitchum, respectively.

Bomer, Grammer and DeWitt all have toplined TV series before, USA’s White Collar (Bomer), Frasier and Boss, among others (Grammer) and Standoff (DeWitt). This marks Emmy winner Grammer’s return to drama series following his Golden Globe-winning turn on Boss. Bomer also won a Golden Globe, for HBO’s The Normal Heart, and recently co-starred on American Horror Story: Hotel. DeWitt has been focused on movies for the past few years, recently starring in Poltergeist.

Ray executive produces The Last Tycoon alongside Chris Keyser, who serve as showrunners, as well as Josh Maurer, David Stern and Alix Witlin. Pulitzer-winning author and F.Scott Fitzgerald scholar A. Scott Berg served as consulting producer on the pilotThis marks TriStar TV’s second series at Amazon, joining Good Girls Revolt.

television Underground Videos
18th Jun

GOLDDERBY“The beauty of the show is that it’s such a fast paced, on-the-move narrative,” says Jessica De Gouw as we chat via webcam (watch above) about her acclaimed new series “Underground.” In this WGN America drama about the underground railroad, she plays Elizabeth Hawkes who, along with her husband, abolitionist lawyer John (Marc Blucas), turns their Ohio home into a refuge for escaped slaves. “The stakes are always so much higher with every episode.”

When we first meet Elizabeth, she is “at a point of aimlessness,” having learned she is unable to conceive. “I think she’s a woman who has so much to give, and so much energy, and a lot of love,” explains the Australian actress. “I think the lack of her ability to give that to a child, to make a home for a child, made way for something else, and she really throws herself in wholeheartedly to helping other people escape.”

Though hesitant at first, after making the trip down South to meet John’s brother, slave-owner Tom Macon (Reed Diamond), she is quickly convinced. “You can’t un-see something like that,” De Gouw explains. “That sets up her spiral into anything and everything that comes her way, which is quite the adventure.”

Unique among period dramas, “Underground” tells its story with energy and verve, modernizing the past. “You don’t want to just force a history lesson on people every week,” she says. “You want it to be entertaining, you want it to be historically accurate, but I think it has to be a delicate balance.”

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