Woody Harrelson Explains Why He Won’t Return For More ‘True Detective’

The third season of “True Detective” is slowly coming together, with Mahershala Ali slated to star, and Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin,” “Green Room“) lined up to direct. However, fans have been wishing for a reunion of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey from season, with the latter even saying he “wouldn’t hesitate” to reprise his role as Rust Cohle (if the script was good). However, if the that happens, he’ll have to do it without his partner.

Harrelson has ruled out playing Marty Hart, and his reason is pretty straightfoward — he doesn’t want to face the endless comparisons to the perfect first season, particularly if it misses the mark.

“I don’t see doing that [again], because it went very well the first time and come back around to it, what else are you going to hear but, ‘Not as good! Just wasn’t as good. Boy, you guys were good before, but this time…’ I don’t want to even hear that,” he told Yahoo.

Given the wild dip in quality from season one to season two of “True Detective,” Harrelson’s hesitation is understandable, and let’s be real — how could a reunion between Cohle and Hart be anything but lesser than the lightning in a bottle magic of their first collaboration? Let them both go on and do other things, and let’s hope that Nic Pizzolatto and co. rebound with the upcoming new season. [via ScreenCrush]

Shawn Levy Explains Why ‘Stranger Things 2’ Epilogue Scenes Were Cut

**Spoilers ahead**

The final shot of “Stranger Things 2” is a terrific cliffhanger. As the gang gets a minute to relax, and enjoy a school dance, The Duffer Brothers take audiences outside, flip the screen, and dive into the Upside Down, where the shadow monster still looms large. It’s a great piece of tissue that will undoubtedly tie into whatever season three becomes, but the siblings intially had more on the table.

Speaking with Collider, “Stranger Things” producer and director Shawn Levy reveals that more scenes were conceived to build a link to the next season, but they were ultimately axed.

“There were epilogue scenes that were considered for after that [final] shot that would have hinted more at Season 3. But there was a decision made by all of us where we said let’s not back in to any promises again…,” he explained. “We always felt after Season 1 that we had to payoff that slug that Will coughs up in the sink, or whose black car Hopper was getting into, and had to — and wanted to — follow-up on Hopper putting the Eggos out in a wooden lockbox in the woods. This time the [Duffer Brothers] very consciously wanted to promise less, so that their freedom is more.”

It’s a wise move, and one that allows the Duffers to free themselves up narratively and move in a few more directions. “Stranger Things 2” was very much tied to the events in the first season, but things this time around are a bit more open-ended, the world of the expanded a bit more, and hopefully the Duffers will find new places to explore.

‘The Girlfriend Experience’: Reinvented Season 2 Is Exquisitely Captivating [Review]

The sex in season two of “The Girlfriend Experience” is even less sexy than the sex in its first, if you can believe it. It’s not supposed to be sexy, of course, or titillating. It’s provocative, as graphically staged sex scenes should be, but showrunners Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan put up a barrier between the audience and its steamier sequences. We aren’t participants. We’re observers on the sidelines. Qualifying the viewer as a voyeur would be false. Voyeurism implies a level of sexual gratification that “The Girlfriend Experience” denies us. Here, sex is multifaceted, sometimes an implement of control, others a cathartic release, others still an act of desperation. If you describe the series as “dirty,” you wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s dirty for reasons beyond the obvious.

All the same, “The Girlfriend Experience” remains one of the most exciting shows on television. Credit for that goes to Seimetz and Kerrigan, naturally, who decided to follow up their bravura work from last season by giving their creative Etch-a-Sketch a vigorous shake; season two starts off from scratch with separate dual narratives, one about political skulduggery, the other about a woman on the run from her frankly terrifying ex. Displaced from the Chicago backdrop that gave the first season texture, we alternate between Washington D.C., where Eric Myles (Anna Friel), a finance director for a scummy Republican super PAC, pulls strings and blackmails dark money fundraiser scumbags, and New Mexico, where Bria (Carmen Ejogo) hides out from her former hubbie along with her step daughter (Morgana Davies).

READ MORE: ‘Girlfriend Experience’ Directors Lodge Kerrigan & Amy Seimetz Won’t Return For Season 3

Seimetz and Kerrigan are in a contest of a sort, it seems; she is both writer and director on Bria’s episodes, while he performs the same duties for Erica’s. Maybe not incidentally, Kerrigan’s story hews closest to what we expect from “The Girlfriend Experience,” as Erica connects with an escort, Anna Greenwald (Louisa Krause), who she employs first to secure leverage against her piggish opponent, and later for sexual services; as their storyline progresses, they fall in what may pass as love in the high-end escort world. Anna, for her part, reads as sincerely smitten by Erica, who is herself still infatuated with her monstrous ex, Darya (Narges Rashidi).

Theirs is a story peppered with some of the most explicit sex you’ll see on screens either large or small this year, and as such it feels the most familiar, even conventional. Of course, the segment that strongly mirrors the content of season one would also be the segment that contains the bulk of season two’s sexual encounters; that’s just logical. By contrast, Bria’s segment sees her adrift, having loosed her moorings to her wealthy but obviously criminal beau, fearing for both her life and the life of her teenage charge (who, unsurprisingly, hates Bria’s guts and doesn’t hesitate to remind her). A former escort herself, Bria is forbidden from any kind of activity that might draw unwanted attention to her, including taking clients; she’s so bored by her new life that she can’t help but return to the escort biz and getting close to Paul (Harmony Korine), a man of means and an unattractive ego.

Both threads of “The Girlfriend Experience” touch on similar themes whether in writing or via their shared aesthetic. Distance and dead space are key: They help maintain the impersonality of the show’s sex, even when sex is front and center. The more the camera keeps us at arm’s length from the characters when they’re wearing clothes, the more emotionally remote we grow from them. A sequence where Anna makes a sex tape with her client as an aphrodisiac for Erica in the bedroom puts us right in the client’s perspective, and yet we still see the act performed primarily through the screen on his camcorder. Kerrigan wants us to acknowledge carnality, but he wants to keep us from getting involved.

His episodes are about power as a noose. Erica’s efforts at manipulating midterm elections (yes, those midterm elections) edge her closer to the gallows as her world slowly collapses around her. Seimetz’s episodes, on the other hand, are about power as a means of securing self-agency. Bria is dogged by her discontent; though free from her husband, she finds herself prisoner of the U.S. Marshal assigned to protect her, Ian (Tunde Adebimpe). She defies his orders and breaks his rules, constantly searching for an avenue to tip the scales in her favor and reclaim her dominion of her own existence back from men who insist on what’s best for her, condescend to her, take advantage of her, or, maybe worst of all, refuse to listen to her. Neither Seimetz nor Kerrigan try to sanctify their protagonists, each of them being guilty of various misdeeds and moral lapses, but “The Girlfriend Experience” positions them in power structures that demand their unfailing subservience to manhood.

This is as true of Anna and Bria, the show’s two GFE providers, as it is of Erica, who operates at the whim of her male peers. It’s a good thing, then, that Seimetz and Kerrigan landed on a trio of dynamic, self-possessed actresses capable of projecting cool confidence even when they’re under the heel of misogyny. Erica’s rival attacks her, viciously, suddenly, after she extorts him, choking her without a thought to the glass walls of the boardroom they’re convened in; any passerby can see the assault plain as day (including those of us at home in the cheap seats). But Erica doesn’t falter. She gets her breath back. She composes herself. She reminds the son of a bitch that she’s holding the cards, not him. It’s as satisfying a beat as we’re likely to get from a series that hinges on detachment.

Friel and Krause have fewer lifelines to lean on than Ejogo; good as they are, as sovereign and as gripping as they are, she’s spellbinding. We can’t take our eyes off of her. Maybe that’s partly the effect of Seimetz’s approach to her side of “The Girlfriend Experience,” which differs so radically from Riley Keough’s plot in season one that at times we feel like we’re watching another show. This might not sound complimentary, but in fact the ways in which Kerrigan and Seimetz have not only expanded on but reinvented “The Girlfriend Experience” are what make this season so exquisitely captivating. It’s the same show on a molecular level, right down to its escorts, but its bones have changed and its surface is altogether new. [A]

‘Lord Of The Rings’ TV Series In The Works At Amazon

Forgive the pun, but “The Lord Of The Rings” is one of the most precious properties in the Warner Bros. catalog. The works of J.R.R. Tolkien has been a cultural touchstone and commercial hit for the studio, starting with Peter Jackson‘s treasured “The Lord Of The Rings” trilogy, and including his less successful “The Hobbit” flicks. That said, the relationship between Warners and the Tolkien hasn’t always been rosy. Back in 2013, Christopher Tolkien said Jackson’s movies “eviscerated the book,” removing all “the beauty and seriousness of the work.” That said, Tolkiens have been happy to take the piles of money, but maybe they’ll be more pleased with the plans that are brewing for a new adaptation.

Amazon is teaming up with Warner Bros. Television for a TV series take on “The Lord Of The Rings.” It’s still very early in the going, but CEO Jeff Bezos is making the rare step of personally involving himself in the negotiations. It’s been no secret that Amazon has been looking for their own “Game Of Thrones” style sensation, and this could be the ticket. And while the movies are already out there, plenty of material from the books didn’t make into Jackson’s features, even in those super extended cuts (though apparently there is even more footage sitting in a vault in Arizona).

It’s not a big shock that Warner Bros. wants to turn on “The Lord Of The Rings” faucet again — it’s just too lucrative to pass up. The studio is already going down a similar path with “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them,” their prequel to the “Harry Potter” franchise. And with a world as huge as “The Lord Of The Rings,” bringing it to the small screen allows them to go deep, and hopefully keep the Tolkien estate happy, who just settled a long-running lawsuit with Warner Bros. over the summer. Having Amazon on board, and presumably help co-finance, lessens the risk, and maybe keeps all the Tolkiens at ease too.

So, get ready, we’ll all be returning to Middle Earth in the not-so-distant future. [Variety]

‘House Of Cards’ Collapsing: Netflix Says It Will Cancel Show If Kevin Spacey Involved

Forget impeachment and censure, Netflix already went there, this is more like invoking the 25th Amendment. Following allegations of rape, sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior towards a minor, Netflix has permanently severed ties with Kevin Spacey, essentially firing President Frank Underwood from the streaming services flagship show “House Of Cards.”

READ MORE: ‘House Of Cards’ Crew Members Allege Sexual Harassment & Assault By Kevin Spacey

“Netflix will not be involved with any further production of ‘House of Cards’ that includes Kevin Spacey,” a spokesperson for the network said in a carefully worded statement. “We will continue to work with [Media Rights Capital] during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the show.”

Translation: Netflix will cancel “House Of Cards” if Kevin Spacey remains involved in the show.

READ MORE: Netflix Halts Production On ‘House Of Cards’ Season 6

MRC quickly responded, but not in unequivocal terms. “While we continue the ongoing investigation into the serious allegations concerning Kevin Spacey’s behavior on the set of ‘House of Cards,’ he has been suspended, effective immediately.”

After a growing chorus of allegations rise against Spacey, his talent agency and publicist have dropped the actor too. Allegations of Spacey’s predatory behavior have been reaching a fever pitch in the last few days. Like many accused of sexual harassment and worse in recent weeks, Brett Ratner, James Toback, Harvey Weinstein, the dams of silence are breaking once one victim comes forward.

One recent victim alleged he was sexually assaulted Spacey when he was just 15 years old. British police have opened an investigation into another alleged assault in 2008 and stories of sexual harassment and assault have risen from the set and crew of “House Of Cards” which has likely been the final straw for Netflix.

“Kevin had few if any qualms about exploiting his status and position,” an allegedly harassed ‘HOC’ production assistant said. “It was a toxic environment for young men who had to interact with him at all in the crew, cast, background actors.”

READ MORE: Netflix Developing ‘House Of Cards’ Spinoffs

Netflix had already halted production on season six of “House Of Cards” and in the wake of the scandal quickly announced, rather conveniently, that season six would be its last and that the streaming giant would be exploring potential spin-offs from the show.

Actor Anthony Rapp first made allegations against Spacey in a story published by Buzzfeed this past week. The floodgates burst soon thereafter. Rapp alleged Spacey made sexual advances towards him when he was just 14 years of age. Spacey is currently seeking unspecified treatment, according to a statement his former reps released on Wednesday.

What does this all mean for “House of Cards,” a five-time Emmy nominee for outstanding drama? Well, if Netflix keeps its word, the show as you know it is essentially over and one has to assume the producers of the show are going to have to scrap season six. “Evaluating [the] path forward as it relates to the show,” as Netflix said in their statement probably means trying to work with MRC to see if there is a show without Kevin Spacey. Fans would clearly love to see a show led by the equally morally bankrupt, Machiavellian politician and VP Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, who also directs episodes of the show, but how that would play out and how “House Of Cards” suddenly gets rid of the President without further appearances feels beyond difficult.

Writer/showrunner Beau Willimon, the creator of “House Of Cards” who left the show after the end of season five must be feeling like he got out while the going was good.

  • jdougs

    Start the season with Claire at the President’s funeral after an assassination. It’s not so hard.

  • vonq

    Or do a “Bewitched” and replace Spacey with another actor.

‘The Crown’ Season 2 Trailer: Claire Foy Returns To The Throne

While Netflix’s “The Crown” failed to properly recoup on its 10 Emmy Award nominations – beyond a widely-predicted win for John Lithgow’s performance as former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill – and once again denying Netflix that elusive Best Drama Emmy, the series is still clearly held in high regard by the streaming giant as one of their cable-imitating prestige shows, as evidenced in the promotional blitz accompanying the upcoming second season, for which a new trailer has arrived.

The new season is doubly noteworthy for the behind-the-scenes shakeup occurring: per series creator Peter Morgan’s (“The Queen”, “Frost/Nixon”) original intention to cover the entire reign of Queen Elizabeth II from the 1950s to the present day with multiple actresses portraying the Queen. This will be the last season to feature original stars Claire Foy and Matt Smith as Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

READ MORE: Olivia Colman Is The New Queen On The Crown

The risk of this storytelling decision is one that Morgan – who adapted the series from his 2013 play “The Audience” – actually relishes for the sweeping scope it affords, revealing to Vanity Fair that “I’m not being presumptuous, I hope, when I say that ‘The Crown’ is little bit like “The Godfather” […] It is essentially about a family in power and survival. I wish I could get to write sequences like the revolving door and shooting people and horses’ heads, but I can’t. Because this is not a violent family. But it is a ‘Godfather’-esque story—closer to ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Sopranos‘ than to ‘Downton Abbey.’

That ambition will support the show’s further exploration of the power dynamics of the Windsors in its second season as Queen Elizabeth must juggle the fallout of the 1956 Suez Crisis, her erratic and volatile sister Princess Margaret finding love with the photographer Lord Snowden (new cast member Matthew Goode) and building up diplomatic relations with the new American President John F. Kennedy (Michael C. Hall). Here’s the official synopsis:

Beginning with soldiers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces fighting an illegal war in Egypt, and ending with the downfall of her third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan after a devastating scandal, the second season bears witness to the end of the age of deference, and ushers in the revolutionary era of the 1960s.

As well as Foy and Smith, “The Crown” also stars Vanessa Kirby, Victoria Hamilton, Jeremy Northam, Jodi Balfour and Anton Lesser. The second season will be released globally on December 8th.

Kevin Spacey Likely Out Of ‘House Of Cards’ Season 6

The allegations of sexual harassment and assault continue to mount against Kevin Spacey. Following the allegations made by “Star Trek: Discovery” actor Anthony Rapp, which was followed by Spacey’s widely criticized apology and coming out, more stories have emerged about the actor’s pattern of behavior from journalist Heather Unruh, filmmaker Tony Montana, actor Roberto Cavazos, Harry Dreyfuss, and more. Netflix has acted swiftly, halting production on “House Of Cards” season six, and saying nothing will move forward if Spacey is involved. Well, it looks like Frank Underwood will be out.

Fans clamoring for a way to properly wrap-up the series might be in luck, as reports are circulating that “House Of Cards” is currently “shut down” for at least two weeks in order for the creative crew of writers and producers to rework the final season — minus Kevin Spacey. “They shut it down to figure out how to write him out,” a source close to the show told THR. So, with Spacey’s Frank Underwood being written off, will we finally have the series’ true MVP — Robin Wright‘s Claire Underwood — take center stage? That is what many are suspecting will happen. Wright’s strong but devious character has become a fan favorite over the show’s five seasons, and a Lady MacBeth for the 21st century.

The good news is that Michael Dobbs‘ book, for which the Netflix series is based on, has Spacey’s character dying. The same THR source is also saying that “House of Cards” spinoffs are a possibility. There will be a lot more to come in the coming weeks as Netflix scrambles to figure a way to smoothly transition the series post-Spacey and, hopefully, cap off the series on a satisfactory note for the millions that have been watching since its 2013 debut.

‘There’s…Johnny!’ Trailer: David Gordon Green Goes Late Night

If you’re mourning the end of “Red Oaks,” don’t worry, because David Gordon Green is teaming up with Paul Reiser to take you back down memory lane. This time, pack your nostalgia bags for the 1970s and get ready to relive the glory days of “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson” with “There’s…Johnny!

Originally set up at NBC Universal‘s now-defunct comedy streaming service Seeso, the dramedy will follow a young man and woman as they work behind the scenes on “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” with the series touching upon events of the day like the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s presidency. Here’s the official synopsis:

1972, Burbank, California. 19-year-old Andy Klavin (Ian Nelson) is surprised to have stumbled his way into a job at “The Tonight Show” starring his hero, Johnny Carson. A coming-of-age story, we follow this kid who up till now has never left Nebraska, and is now caught up in the glamorous, fast lane of Hollywood. Sex, drugs, rock & roll – and show business; it’s a long, magical journey ahead.

Starring Tony Danza, Roger Bart, T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, Nate Smith, David Hoffman, Andrew Schulz, Jane Levy, Ian Nelson, Daniel Strauss, and Camrus Johnson, and approved by the Carson Estate, “There’s…Johnny” launches on November 16th.

Discover The Secrets Behind ‘Thor: Ragnarok’s’ Jack Kirby Inspired Production Design

Over the past 17 years, Dan Hennah has had quite a career working as either the art director or production designer on most of Peter Jackson‘s films. Their memorable collaboration on “King Kong” as well as the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies have rewarded him with five Oscar nominations including a win for “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” Now, Hennah and co-production designer Ra Vincent have brought their talents to Taiki Waititi’s “Thor: Ragnarok”,which is arguably one of Marvel Studios’ most critically acclaimed films and a surefire blockbuster following its $121 million domestic opening this past weekend.

The New Zealand native took some time last week to chat about the influence of legendary comic artist Jack Kirby on the film’s design, as well as the impressive lighting system integrated into most of the large sets and the joy of working with the Marvel Studios producing team (really).

Note: There is one very minor spoiler during our discussion if you have not seen the film.

—–

The Playlist: Where did the idea come from to inform most of the production design with Jack Kirby’s unique style?

Dan Hennah: Well, objectively, Jacky Kirby has been one of my gods for graphics since I was 15-years-old and maybe even younger, reading comics and looking at his drawings. We had a meeting with Taika and he brought in a painting of a helmet and it was all primary colors and abstract and had that quality of Jack’s that was instantly recognizable. And he said, ‘Look, I’ve seen this and I like this and I think we should use this as an influence.’ And it just opened a door that was so obvious really. It allowed us the freedom to go into the Jack Kirby world, the retro feel of that world and also we had the Marvel Studios production executives who bought into it as well. The idea that Jack Kirby would be celebrated in this way. This was the beginning of the whole thing. Granted, Sakaar being a dumping ground for the universe with all the space debris ending up there. We sort of took that and worked with the idea that out of that debris they would smelt it down and turn it into building materials in their own style of architecture that as peculiar to Jack Kirby, really.

Thor, Jack-Kirby, Marvel, Marvel-Comics

Was there one design or set that is an ode to Jack the most? That you see it the most?

I think the street scene where they walk through the streets and Banner gets hit in the face with green dust. That whole piece, that was quite extensive, was probably where we went most all out on Jack.

Was that the biggest set? What was the most intricate set you had to build for the film?

That was probably the biggest. It was on a hillside and we built sort of three parts of the street running down this hillside. Because it was all asymmetrical and there were no vertical or horizontal lines as such it meant it was very intricate. It is very easy to draw straight lights and level lines and put them together, but when you start running off at 45-degree angles and 75-degree angles and trying to join those together it becomes something of a picture puzzle. So, in terms of the effort that went into building those sets and designing them and making them work that was probably the biggest task. That was really fun to do.

Sakaar, Thor-Ragnarok, Behind-The-Scenes

You mentioned you built this street scene on a hillside. That’s sort of rare. Usually, it’s on a flat surface somewhere.

Well, I wanted to have a lot of levels leading up from the town up to the streets and up again into the Grandmaster’s Palace entrance. There was a hillside near the studio that we were able to rent and it had the perfect slope to build this city on a series of steps and sloping streets and wacky buildings that sort of came off on all angles. It really was a convenient back lot that happened to be in the right place, pointing the right way with the sun and the lighting and Taika was key on the idea that we were able to illustrate that we were actually going up and down through a city.

New Trailer For Netflix’s Oscar Contender ‘Mudbound’

It’s going to be an interesting awards season for a number of reasons, and one of them is the question of whether Netflix will be able to properly crack the Oscars this year. It’s no secret that the streaming giant has been trying to make an awards splash for a few years, but while rivals Amazon arrived in a big way last year with “Manchester By The Sea,” Netflix have so far only really managed to figure into the documentary categories.

But if any movie’ll do it, it could well be “Mudbound.” Dee Rees’ post-war melodrama was one of the buzziest films of Sundance, and was snapped up by the company in one of the biggest festival details in memory, with no bones made about their ambitions to give the film a big awards push, in part in the hope of making Rees the first African-American female director to be nominated.

READ MORE: ‘Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built’ Trailer: Helen Mirren Gets Haunted

The movie’s been playing at other festivals to pick up buzz and is already making a splash on the awards circuit (it’s picked up Best Ensemble at the Gotham Awards already), and with the release a few weeks, Netflix have now dropped a new trailer for the movie. It’s a good taste of a film that, while imperfect, is a sprawling, old-fashioned melodrama that has a lot to recommend it. Will awards voters take to a film that hasn’t gone the traditional theatrical route? We’ll be finding out in the coming months. In the meantime, “Mudbound” will hit Netflix and some theaters from November 17th. Check out the trailer below, along with the official synopsis.

Masterful filmmaker Dee Rees vividly captures the 1940s American South in the film Mudbound, based on the international bestselling novel by Hillary Jordan. The film, an adaptation co-written by Virgil Williams and Rees, is the timeless and timely story of two families – one black, one white – bound together by the farmland of the Mississippi Delta during the Jim Crow era.

A powerful ensemble cast including Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan portray the richly nuanced relationships between the McAllans and the Jacksons.

Rees commands a team of top craftspeople including a remarkable roster of female department heads – including cinematographer Rachel Morrison, editor Mako Kamitsuna, composer Tamar-kali, Oscar® nominee sound engineer Pud Cusack and makeup department head Angie Wells – to bring the past into the present and shine a light on a chapter of American history rarely seen on screen before.