Tag Archive: HBO


The BBC and HBO brought a new trailer to San Diego Comic-Con Thursday for the new series His Dark Materials.  Logan star Dafne Keen is back in a leading role as Lyra Belacqua, with Ruth Wilson as the vile Mrs. Coulter, James McAvoy as the grand Lord Asriel, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as the friend to polar bears everywhere, Lee Scoresby.

If it all looks familiar it’s because the first part of the series traces the steps of the Philip Pullman novel Northern Lights aka The Golden Compass, already translated into the movie The Golden Compass, a big-budget, special effects filled spectacle in 2007 starring Dakota Blue Richards, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Sam Elliott, and Christopher Lee, and an equally impressive voice cast.  The film was as big as fantasy movies get, with a budget to support an all-star cast, so it will be a challenge to create an episodic version as spellbinding and audience-grabbing on a TV studio budget.

Yet for television fantasy it looks great so far–Dafne Keen showed in Logan she can create one of the greatest superheroine performances of all time even at her young age, and for fans of the original film and the novels the trailer may just get them to finally check out an HBO subscription.  Last week novelist Philip Pullman commented on Twitter: “Today I wore a jacket I hadn’t worn for two years.  In the pocket I found my green leather pen case containing the pen that wrote His Dark Materials… I knew it would come back to me.”  Coincidence?  We doubt it.

Complete with a new alethiometer, check out this great trailer for the BBC-produced HBO series, His Dark Materials:

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Dafne Keen tops the list of best child actors in movies, and her performance as X-23 along with co-stars Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart made Logan–and specifically the black and white version released as Logan Noir–my pick for the #1 best superhero movie of all time.  So it’s a big deal that Keen has been tapped in the lead role of Lyra Belacqua, the young protagonist of a new adaptation of Philip Pullman′s His Dark Materials–a Carnegie Medal-winning trilogy of novels and a favorite among a generation of readers, selling 18 million copies and translated into 40 languages.  It’s doubly exciting for a fan like me, as the story and character of Lyra was adapted to the big screen once already, in 2007, as the Oscar-winning The Golden Compass, my pick back in 2012 here at borg at the top position of my ten favorite fantasy films of all time (check out that and our staff writers’ lists from back then here if you missed it).  Keen is the perfecting casting decision for one of fantasy’s best-developed, and most fascinating supernatural worlds.

Coming from the BBC and to be released via HBO in the States, His Dark Materials will feature eight episodes the first season.  Take a look at the first trailers below.  Along with Keen as Lyra (who was played by Dakota Blue Richards in the film), the series stars X-Men and Glass’s James McAvoy as Lord Asrael (played by Daniel Craig in the film), Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliott in the film), John Wick and Jessica Jones’ Clarke Peters as Dr. Carne (Jack Shepherd in the film), The Strain and The Borgias’ Ruta Gedmintas as Serafina (Eva Green in the film), Shetland and Outlaw King’s James Cosmo as Farder Coram (Tom Courtenay in the film) and Luther, The Prisoner, and Jane Eyre’s Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman in the film).  No voice cast has been announced for the several animal characters.  The series is directed by Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper.  Production for season one wrapped in late 2018 and a second season has already been green-lighted.

  

It’s a good time to catch up on the novels, beginning with Northern Lights (released as The Golden Compass in the U.S.), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, along with two sequels, Lyra’s Oxford, and Once Upon a Time in the North, and a book set in the same universe, The Book of Dust.

Here are the first trailers for His Dark Materials:

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As HBO’s series Game of Thrones wraps with its final episode next week, Insight Editions is releasing four books highlighting the artwork of the series.  With photographs and interviews looking behind the scenes of what visually made the series stand apart from other fantasy series, these books will show how it was all done, keeping fans returning to the series for re-watching as pre-orders begin for the eight season set on Blu-ray.

Game of Thrones: The Costumes showcases what makes the actors look good, from the practical layered fabrics of Winterfell to the finery of King’s Landing.  Suits of armor, dresses, uniforms, capes, and robes all will be shown in detail.  Series costume designer Michele Clapton discusses her own creations, providing a view of never-before-published drawings and up close views of fans’ favorite wardrobe pieces and integral prop components.  Game of Thrones: The Costumes is available for pre-order now here at Amazon.

Series storyboard artist William Simpson takes viewers through his vast trove of concept art in Game of Thrones: The StoryboardsSimpson developed much of the show’s action, character, and environments through his thousands of sketches and designs.  Fans can watch how early imagery made its way to the final season layouts and the step by step formation of the series’ key scenes.  Simpson’s Game of Thrones: The Storyboards is available for pre-order here at Amazon.

Principal Game of Thrones unit photographer Helen Sloan showcases the as-filmed characters, locations, and key moments in The Photography of Game of Thrones (now available for pre-order here).  Writer Michael Kogge has put together an assemblage of behind the scenes imagery for this deluxe compendium.

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The good news?  The networks all have released previews of their new Fall TV series.  The bad news?  Most of the trailers play-out pretty flat–look for more of the same bland, dry, typical attempts at the next best Emmy-winning drama and the same brand of network comedy.  We showed you previews for three new series from CBS last week (here) for shows we think might be worth giving a shot: the reboot of Magnum, p.i., the return of Murphy Brown, and the Dick Wolf series FBI with Law & Order’s Jeremy Sisto and the DCU’s Connie Nielsen.

We were looking forward to New Girl’s Hannah Simone starring in a reboot of The Greatest American Hero, but ABC rejected the series after the pilot was filmed.  Forever and Law & Order’s Alana de la Garza‘s series Chiefs, and Timothy Hutton in Main Justice are still expected from CBS.  What We Do in the Shadows is a werewolf-zombie comedy starring Doug Jones coming from FX.  HBO is expected to launch a series called Camping with David Tennant, Ione Skye, and Juliette Lewis.  And Showtime has City on a Hill with Kevin Bacon, Aldis Hodge, and Jill Hennessy, Ball Street with Don Cheadle, and Kidding with Jim Carrey, Catherine Keener, and Frank Langella.  But we’ve seen no trailers for these series yet.

Putting aside the ongoing series being continued between now and year end, several new series with trailers now released may be of interest based on actors who have previously acted in genre series, so we’re going to run down those that may be worth at least a viewing of the first episode.

Here are the other new series, the genre actors you might want to know about, followed by the trailers for Fall 2018:

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The most pervasive actress of the past two years, along with the stars of two of today’s biggest box office and critically acclaimed hits are all coming your way in May when HBO’s adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi classic, Fahrenheit 451, arrives.  Sofia Boutella, star of every other box office champ in the past few years–the lead actress in Star Trek Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and The Mummy, and #2 actress in Atomic Blonde–will play nature-loving Clarisse McClellan.  But don’t look for her except for a passing frame in the first teaser released this week.

You will see the actor behind the villainy of Man of Steel and The Shape of Water, Michael Shannon, again pouring on the evil, this time as Captain Beatty, the steely smart but twisted Fire Captain.  And the actor behind the villain of the current #1 box office hit Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan, will portray the initially complacent protagonist of the story, the fireman Guy Montag.

Ray Bradbury‘s most famous work and a pinnacle of 20th century literature and social criticism, Fahrenheit 451 is filled with symbolism and messages no generation should forget.  Ramin Bahrani serves as both writer and director for the series.  Another familiar face to science fiction aficionados, Keir Dullea, plays the Historian in the series.

Check out this first look at HBO’s series Fahrenheit 451:

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Westworld second trailer

Westworld was writer/director Michael Crichton’s original high-tech vacation theme park-turned disaster blockbuster film, from 1973.  Twenty years before Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs went on a murderous rampage, it was a sideshow automaton from the Old West pavilion that turned on the tourists.  We showed you the first teaser trailer for the new series Westworld (discussed here at borg.com) and now we have a fuller look at the newest incarnation of borgs Hollywood has created for us in HBO’s latest trailer for the series.

Jonathan Nolan, brother of The Dark Knight series’ Christopher Nolan, is directing the return of the sci-fi classic, also the latest J.J. Abrams production.  The original Westworld starred Yul Brynner as the cool and unflinching Gunslinger, with Richard Benjamin running for his life, along with appearances by James Brolin and Majel Barrett.  The new series stars a great, comparable actor to Brynner as the Gunslinger–Ed Harris, as well as Anthony Hopkins in a role like Richard Attenborough’s mastermind in Jurassic Park, plus a host of genre actors:  X-Men’s James Marsden, Jimmi Simpson (Psych, House of Cards, Zodiac), Thandie Newton (Mission: Impossible II, The Chronicles of Riddick), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), Star Trek’s Clifton Collins, Jr., Veronica Mars’ Tessa Thompson, Prince Caspian’s Ben Barnes, and James Bond’s Jeffrey Wright.

Westworld cyborg hand

But it’s Evan Rachel Wood’s character Delores who takes center stage in this trailer–and hopefully the entire series, which looks to hone in on what it takes to be human.  It’s a theme we love to see in the best borg shows, from the mind of Philip K. Dick in Blade Runner to Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Data to Terminator Genisys, and the BBC series Humans last year.  We ask the question all the time here.  Are the creations in the new Westworld just updated automatons?  Merely androids?  Or will the biological meet high-tech to give us something else?

Check out the latest trailer for the series Westworld:

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Gunslinger Westworld

Do androids dream of a surreal town in the Old West?

Known for one of the most bizarre characters ever played by actor Yul Brynner, 1973’s Westworld was writer/director Michael Crichton’s original theme park-turned disaster.  Twenty years before Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs went on a murderous rampage, it was sideshow automatons from a high-tech vacation spot that turned on the tourists.  Now we have a fuller look at the revival series with a preview released this week by HBO for its new Westworld series.

Jonathan Nolan, brother of The Dark Knight series’ Christopher Nolan, is directing the return of the sci-fi classic.  The original starred Brynner as the cool and unflinching Gunslinger, with Richard Benjamin running for his life, along with appearances by James Brolin and Majel Barrett.  The new series stars a great, comparable actor to Brynner–Ed Harris, as well as Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Jimmi Simpson, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Star Trek’s Clifton Collins, Jr., and James Bond’s Jeffrey Wright.

Westworld has seen better days

The new trailer creates a world that feels very much like the trapped, askew community in Wayward Pines, and unlike the original film the series delves into what it’s like to be an android or borg as was so nicely handled in the series Humans. 

Check out the first teaser for the series Westworld:

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HBO Westworld

Known for one of the most bizarre characters ever played by actor Yul Brynner, 1973’s Westworld was writer/director Michael Crichton’s original theme park-turned disaster.  Twenty years before Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs went on a murderous rampage, it was sideshow automatons from a high-tech vacation spot that turned on the tourists.  Will HBO’s new series Westworld also add in the other theme parks (like RomanWorld) as in the original?  We’ll know soon.

Jonathan Nolan, brother of The Dark Knight series’ Christopher Nolan, is directing the return of the sci-fi classic.  The original starred Brynner as the cool and unflinching Gunslinger, with Richard Benjamin running for his life, along with appearances by James Brolin and Majel Barrett.  The new series stars a great, comparable actor to Brynner–Ed Harris, as well as Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Jimmi Simpson, and James Bond’s Jeffrey Wright.

Check out the first teaser for the series Westworld:

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By C.J. Bunce

Journalists in real-life tend to get a bad rap from folks who don’t understand how critical the Fourth Estate is in keeping the masses informed, upholding the First Amendment, and ensuring and fostering an open marketplace of ideas.  Journalists in fiction have been portrayed as good or bad, reflecting the realities of any profession.  Archetypes dating back from the days of yellow journalism survive to this day, in part because of the general nature of journalism and its origins as an apprentice-learned field.  We emulate the past leaders of our professions to some extent.  Journalists are practically unregulated.  Regulations resulting from the 1934 U.S. Communications Act that protected the public and set boundaries for the profession have changed over the years, loosening restrictions on reporters (at least in the States) yet the news business draws the same personalities–driven people who get a thrill from searching for a needle in a haystack, who won’t give up until they can quote chapter and verse about that needle.

In mirroring reality over the years, Hollywood has shown us as time marches on what real journalists look like, what they do in their profession that we like and don’t like.  You can see a shift from yellow journalism’s search for the biggest headline to journalists attempting to change the world, breaking barriers, asking questions, digging deeper, and often crossing the line to get the truth behind a story.

As Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda headline The Newsroom, a new journalism-inspired TV series this airing this summer on HBO, let’s look at where Hollywood has done a good job (or not) in its depiction of newsrooms and their occupants.

I know a lot of journalism educators have their students watch some of these shows as part of understanding the history and nature of the craft of investigative reporting (mine did) and I often wonder just how much that has served to get students and future professionals in the mindset of the classic feet-on-the-street reporters.  Case in point: It Happened One Night (1934)  Clark Gable plays a reporter, cocky and sure-footed, yet a bit of a slacker who is not making the cut with his editor.  He pursues a spoiled heiress who runs away from home, played by Claudette Colbert, to get a big headline for his paper, and becomes romantically involved with her by picture’s end.  His reporter is the type depicted in film for the next several decades.  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1945 film State Fair starred Dana Andrews as a reporter covering the Iowa State Fair for The Des Moines Register.  Andrews’ confident character showed reporters as people to admire, and also illustrated that reporters are people, too, as he becomes involved with someone he meets (Jeanne Crain) while covering his story (like Gable’s character in It Happened One Night).  Even Dustin Hoffman’s take on Carl Bernstein in 1976’s All the President’s Men seems to emulate this strident reporter attitude, adding a bit of renegade to the mix.  Randy Quaid in the Ron Howard newspaper film The Paper is another variant on this guy–sleeping in the newsroom, seemingly some kind of drifter yet street smart, knows all the right people especially if part of the city’s underbelly, and just the guy you want when you need a partner on a big story.  Although The Paper seemed more of a caricature of journalism–complete with Michael Keaton shouting “Stop the presses!”–it definitely is a lighter entry in the catalog of journalism films.

The newsroom is the center of the biggest film ever made, Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1939).  Charles Foster Kane’s classic line:  “I think it’d be fun to run a newspaper” connects with anyone running a journal, newspaper, or magazine.  And as loud and off-the-wall as journalists are depicted here, Welles got the film absolutely right, basing the entire story on the life and times of media baron William Randolph Hearst.  In pursuing the mysterious “Rosebud,” the journalist who bookends the story adds a double layer of truth with reporter as storyteller.  The excesses of yellow journalism and the abuse of the medium permeated many mainstream movies of that era, including Frank Capra’s Meet John Doe (1941). Not entirely a newspaper movie, it does focus on an over-eager reporter played by Barbara Stanwyck who, like Kane, creates news where there is none for the sake of headlines.

Reporters as valuable, even crucial and noble members of society elevated the Fourth Estate to something of a venerable realm with movies like Call Northside 777 (1948).  There Jimmy Stewart picks up a dead case of a man convicted of a crime that only his mother believes he didn’t commit.  Based on a true story, Stewart’s reporter leaves no stone unturned in early Chicago, ultimately risking his own life to get the man out of jail (the film also reveals the first use of the lie detector machine as an investigative tool).  The height of the importance of newspapermen, of course, came with the Washington Post bringing down a presidency, as documented perfectly in All the President’s Men (1976), a film whose newsroom could not better reflect a real-life, working newspaper office.  Jason Robards, Jr. played Ben Bradlee as only a real editor could be played and Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played young aspiring journalists Woodward and Bernstein in a mystery movie that could prompt anyone to enter the field.

The year 1976 also highlighted the more modern arm of journalism, broadcast journalism, in the popular film Network, which caused  viewers to repeat forever the phrase “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  But here, it seems dated now, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, and Peter Finch just seem to have shed a light on the problems of any business in crisis, and despite its focus it does not make my recommendation list that well-document the journalist experience.  However, where Network shone a dark light on broadcast journalism, the timely China Syndrome reflected the value of reporters in society.  Jane Fonda’s bright and cheery fluff reporter who wants to report hard news is as real and inspiring as it gets, and Michael Douglas’s role as photographer who pushes the envelope to get a story rounds out a great reporting team.

Genre movies based on comic books have revealed to most of us our view of the editor and reporter in a big city newsroom, and the result doesn’t miss the mark so much.  Jackie Cooper as The Daily Planet’s Perry White in Superman (1978) and later, Lane Smith’s work in the same role in the Lois & Clark (1993) TV series revealed a tough-as-nails editor every bit as real as Ben Bradlee at the real Washington Post, although Smith’s take brought Cooper’s 1950s-1970s era version into a version more familiar to 1990s newsrooms.  A more cartoonish but similar role was played well by J.K Simmons as Peter Parker’s editor J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-man (2002).

Modern Hollywood, and perhaps modern audiences, latch onto the journalists as sleuths.  That thrill and danger that may not be the stuff of daily working journalists certainly happens in real life from time to time and more modern films exemplify that.  In Pelican Brief (1993) Denzel Washington gives a textbook performance as an investigative reporter.  In The Insider (1999) Russell Crowe and Al Pacino reveal journalists as watchdogs, taking on big tobacco and the media themselves as politics prevents the long-time respected TV news show 60 Minutes from telling the story the reporters want to tell.  Good Night and Good Luck took us back to the same CBS newsroom 40 years prior, as Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his team (including a memorable performance by Robert Downey, Jr.) take on McCarthyism in the 1950s.  Veronica Guerin (2003) revealed the true story of a reporter played by Cate Blanchett whose pursuit of the story shows the extent reporters will go through for their cause–the pursuit of truth.  There is simply no more exciting and gritty film about newspaper reporting than David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007), following Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jake Gyllenhaal in pursuit of the Zodiac killer in 1970s San Francisco.

Most recently British television has reminded us that classic news stories still make compelling entertainment.  You can probably ignore the U.S. remake of the same name starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck, but the British original TV series State of Play (2003) follows newshounds John Simm and Kelly MacDonald as they work for a brilliant newsroom manager played by genre actor Bill Nighy in their pursuit of the truth behind the death of a young political worker who may or may not have gotten too close to an up-and-coming politician.  Like Robards, Cooper, and Smith mentioned above, Nighy crystallizes for us the role of the newsroom editor/manager.  Then last year the BBC’s The Hour (2011) took us back to 1950s fledgeling broadcast journalism, including the pressures of England’s complex government and politics and the impact of censorship laws on the media.  Romola Garai and Ben Whishaw star not as news anchors but producers behind the scenes in a refreshing new look at the business of news.

As media evolve into multimedia, Hollywood will no doubt keep pace with more fascinating storytelling, and we’ll be on the lookout for the next great journalism films.