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OPEN MIC BLOG
Hillary Atkin

A Look at What’s Coming Up on Showtime and the CW

Aug 7, 2019

It’s been more than a decade since “The L Word” signed off on Showtime, and details of the revival of the groundbreaking LGBTQ show about a group of lesbian friends living in Los Angeles were a highlight of the cable network’s presentation at the Television Critics Association summer press tour last week.

The L Word: Generation Q” mixes returning characters with a younger cast including trans actor Leo Sheng and looks at the generational divide within queer culture and the nature of how the world has changed.

“What I think is interesting about this show is that we’ve extended the discussion of sexuality and gender identity,” said Jennifer Beals, who is reprising her role as Bette Porter and also serves as an executive producer with creator Ilene Chaiken and showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryan. “When we started the show, ‘non-binary’ was a mathematical term.”

Other returning characters include Alice (Leisha Hailey) and Shane (Katherine Moennig), who are also EPs on the upcoming eight-episode sequel, slated for December 8.

Showtime’s Presidents of Entertainment Gary Levine and Jana Winograde made a number of announcements during their executive session, including the fall premiere dates for returning series “Shameless,” “Ray Donovan” and “Kidding,” all slated for November, and the eighth and final season of “Homeland,” to premiere next February, two years after its seventh season. Levine said the delays were caused by an ambitious production schedule in multiple countries, including Morocco, and not any creative issues.

Upcoming limited series include Gal Gadot starring as actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr and “The Good Lord Bird,” starring Daveed Diggs and Wyatt Russell, centering on the life of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and based on the best-seller by James McBride.

Work in Progress” stars Abby McEnany as a gay woman in Chicago whose despair and misfortune lead to an unexpectedly fulfilling relationship.

“It’s funny, outrageous and profound, and we strive to keep things grounded in the real world,” said McEnany about the show, which is executive produced by Lilly Wachowski and Tim Mason.

From the producers of “Fleabag” comes “Back to Life,” a comedy about a British woman who returns to her picturesque, seaside hometown after spending 18 years in prison. The six-part series has already aired on the BBC and stars Daisy Haggard, who created it.

Kirsten Dunst stars in “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” set in the 1990s in the world of multilevel marketing and the destruction it wreaks on family and friends. She plays a minimum wage worker at a waterpark who gets caught up in a multi-million-dollar pyramid scheme that brought her family to ruin in the first place.

“We wrote it as real as possible but wanted it to be funny, wild and a bit surreal,” said showrunner Esta Spalding about the hour-long dark comedy.

Political junkies are eagerly awaiting the September 22 return of docu-series “The Circus,” with John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon and Alex Wagner. The trio fielded questions about the recent Democratic debates but declined to speculate on who they thought the eventual nominee would be. They noted that every president over the past three decades has promised an end to divisiveness but that it’s clearly gotten worse in the Trump era.

“It’s scary to see the level of divisiveness and partisanship but that elevates our sense of responsibility and enthusiasm to do it right,” said Heilemann.

During its full day of presentations at the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom Sunday, CW President Mark Pedowitz got a bit teary-eyed as he introduced the executive producers and cast of “Supernatural,” which is going into its 15th and final season on October 10. The program predates the CW. It began seemingly a lifetime ago, when the network was known as the WB.

Co-star Jensen Ackles was 27 years old when the long-running hit began. “It’s a long journey that I don’t think is ever going to be over. I think we’re just going to go away for a while,” said Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester.

“And then, 15 more seasons,” chimed in his costar Jared Padalecki, who plays his brother. Both actors said they would entertain the possibility of returning in some form down the road, although Ackles made it clear there is nothing definite in the works.

Arrow” is also heading into its final season, it’s eighth, with only 10 episodes instead of 22, and that may leave fans clamoring for more. Pedowitz indicated the network may be looking for another title in the Arrowverse, and a possible spinoff.

Executive producer Beth Schwartz described the final episodes as “greatest hits” that will feature guests from previous seasons and that each of the ten will be an event.

Just as the books did for past generations, “Nancy Drew” is expected to appeal to a young adult audience as a mystery story updated for current times that also features a supernatural element.

The producers, including Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, say that audiences are ready to see Nancy, played by Kennedy McMann, in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend (Tunji Kasim.)

“I just think there’s a little more risk now, especially regarding women. There is much less taboo in showing women how they actually are,” McMann said. “She is very prim and proper in the 1930s. In a more modern context, there is just a broader market for a lot riskier material.”

Ruby Rose will soon be donning a suit designed by Colleen Atwood and a red wig for her role as “Batwoman/” Kate Kane, saving the day — and evil things in the night — in Gotham City. The show’s tagline: “The hero we need is here.” (October 6.)

“I still remember putting it on the first time,” Rose said about the costume designed by the multiple Oscar-winning Atwood. “It’s a magical feeling. It’s not like Halloween. This thing fits me like a glove. It’s been designed for my body and feels like a second skin for the most part. You feel faster and stronger and bulletproof.”

There are other unique elements to her character. She’s gay, and she’s Jewish, although that isn’t necessarily apparent.

“Yes, Kate is a Jewish woman. We’re trying to incorporate that without it being a huge thing in the story,” said Caroline Dries, who executive produces with Sarah Schechter.

”For example, in the pilot, the girls are supposed to be on their way home from their Bat Mitzvah, so it was awkward to shove into dialogue, so how will people know? In our hearts, we know she is Jewish.”

Part of the story revolves around Rose’s relationship with Meagan Tandy’s character Sophie Moore, a connection that began when they both served in the military.

“Sparks flew. It ended, but didn’t really have to? Now they have to figure it out,” said Tandy.

Also participating in the panel were cast members Dougray Scott (Jacob Kane), Rachel Skarsten (Alice), Nicole Kang (Mary Hamilton), Camrus Johnson (Luke Fox) and Elizabeth Anweis (Catherine Hamilton-Kane).

The showrunners revealed that Batman enemies Magpie and Tommy Elliot will be part of the story. And never, ever count out an appearance by the winged superhero himself.

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