Review: ‘Judy Blume Forever,’ starring Judy Blume

April 21, 2023

by Carla Hay

Judy Blume in “Judy Blume Forever” (Photo courtesy of Prime Video)

“Judy Blume Forever”

Directed by Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok

Culture Representation: Taking place in various parts of the U.S., the documentary film “Judy Blume Forever” features a predominantly white group of people (with a few African Americans, Asians and Latinos) who are fans, loved ones and business associates of author Judy Blume, who also participated in this documentary.

Culture Clash: Blume talks about the controversies surrounding some of her books, her two failed marriages, and various insecurities and tragedies that she’s had in her life. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the target audience of Judy Blume fans, “Judy Blume” will appeal to people interested in documentaries about famous and influential book authors.

Judy Blume in “Judy Blume Forever” (Photo courtesy of Prime Video)

“Judy Blume Forever” is a fan tribute documentary in the best sense of the term. It doesn’t need a lot of exposé journalism, because Judy Blume candidly shares her flaws and failings in the movie. Anyone who is a fan of Blume should consider this documentary as essential as her best books. “Judy Blume Forever” had its world premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by Davina Pardo and Leah Wolchok, “Judy Blume Forever” beings with a scene of Blume reading an excerpt from her 1973 young-adult novel “Deenie.” In this excerpt, gym teacher Mrs. Eileen Rappaport talks to her students about masturbation. It’s the type of writing that got some of Blume’s books denounced or outright banned for being “inappropriate” reading for children. This type of banning is still going on in some places for books by Blume and many other authors.

Most of the protagonists in Blume’s books are tweens and teenagers, usually girls. And for millions of people, Blume’s books were the first books that they read as children where topics such as masturbation, menstruation, bullying, eating disorders, physical disabilities and teenage sex were openly discussed as facts of life that not everyone dealt with in the same way. The books validated many underage readers’ own feelings and insecurities about these issues that these kids couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to discuss with any adults.

Former 1980s teen idol Molly Ringwald, who knows what it’s like to be thought of as a relatable “role model” for girls, is one of several Blume fans interviewed in the documentary. Ringwald says, “Everything I learned about sex, or thinking about sex or crushes, I learned from Judy.” Filmmaker/TV producer/actress Lena Dunham adds, “Judy’s books speak about the unspeakable. It’s the reason why her books were so complicated for people.”

And author Tarayi Jones comments on what it was like to read a Blume book as a child: “It was like a look into a secret world. I felt someone was being honest. That’s a gift. That’s magic.” Tony-nominated actress Caitlin Kinnunen “(The Prom”) adds, “Judy wrote these scenes that were awkward.” It was that awkwardness that made her work so realistic, say many of her fans.

Blume says in the documentary, “When I started to write, I only identified with kids, not adults.” Although Blume would later write some books about and for adults, she is most famous for her books about adolescents and teenagers. She adds, “I was an anxious child. I felt like adults kept secrets from the kids. I hated the secrets. I had to make up what those secrets were. That fueled my imagination.”

Born in 1938 as Judith Sussman, she was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Blume describes herself as a child who loved to go to the library with her homemaker mother Esther Sussman. Her father Rudolph Sussman was a dentist. Blume describes him as a “nurturer.” She adds, “I adored my father. He tried to raise me to want an adventurous life … and to take chances.” Blume also grew up with a brother named David, who was four or five years older than her.

As an anxious child, Blume says what worried her the most was her father dying in middle-age, because all seven of her father’s siblings died before they reached the age of 60. Blume (whose family is Jewish) also remembers childhood worries about the Holocaust and World War II. Blume admits that she’s struggled with lifelong insecurities about not being “good enough.”

Joanne Stern, Blume’s best friend since childhood, describes Blume as a child: “She was a good girl. She was very cute, very pretty, had beautiful clothes. She was very thin.” Blume adds, “I was a good girl with a bad girl lurking inside.” Mary Weaver, another Blume friend since childhood, is also shown in the documentary. Weaver and Blume fondly reminisce about a boy who was a schoolmate crush.

Blume came of age in the 1950s, a decade that she describes as “the era of pretend: Pretend that we’re happy when we’re not. Pretend that everything is great when it isn’t.” You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to know maybe that’s why Blume chose to be so frankly realistic in her books that are fiction but discuss issues that happen to real people.

Blume met her first husband, attorney John Blume, when she was a second-year undergraduate student at New York University. Sadly, her worst fear about her father came true, when he died of a heart attack at age 54, just five weeks before her wedding in 1959. Judy and John became the parents of two kids: daughter Randy and son Lawrence, also known as Larry. Blume said she knew she wanted a career outside of the home. And so, this avid reader decided to become a professional writer.

Like many famous authors, Judy’s early career was filled with a lot of rejections from publishers. She describes her earliest unpublished work as “imitation Dr. Seuss.” Judy says her mother was always her biggest supporter, who typed all of Judy’s manuscripts and never gave any criticism of her work. But Judy also admits her feelings toward her mother were complicated: “My mother had some low self-esteem issues herself. She wanted me to be perfect.”

Judy’s first children’s book to be published was 1969’s “The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo,” which went largely unnoticed by the general public at the time of its publication. And then, Judy heard that book publisher Bradbury Press was looking for realistic fiction for middle-school kids. After getting a series of rejections, Blume finally got her big break: Bradbury published Blume’s 1970 novel “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” It was a bestseller and is widely considered one of the most influential young-adult novels of all time. It has now been made into a movie, starring Abby Ryder Fortson as the title character.

In the book, 11-year-old Margaret Simon has parents who are in an interfaith marriage (her father is Jewish, her mother is Christian) but they chose not to raise Margaret in any religion. Margaret frequently talks to God about her hopes, dreams and fears about her life and about growing up. She is afraid of being the last in her peer group to grow breasts and get her menstrual period. And she worries about being accepted by her peers in school and in her New Jersey community.

These are all insecurities that Judy says she went through in her own adolescence. She was embarrassed that she hadn’t started menstruating yet, like most of her female friends, so she lied to her friends about getting her menstrual period. Judy says, just like Margaret, she was also self-conscious about being flat-chested. Judy can laugh about it now, but at the time, these issues weighed heavily on her adolescent life.

“I wanted the truth, the reality of being that age,” Judy says about how she wrote “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” Judy adds, “Writing ‘Margaret’ gave me my sense of who I was and what I might be able to do.” Pat Scales, a librarian, comments on the phenomenal success of the book: “I knew when I read ‘Margaret’ that kids would flock to this book. The ‘realism’ that was available prior to Judy [Blume books] was not realistic at all.”

Simon & Schuster publishing executive Justin Chanda comments on the book: “It was explaining things that were foreign to me, quite frankly. But it was also speaking to me about stuff that I was thinking about, in terms of religion and where you fit in the world.” Young-adult author/historian Gabrielle Moss quips about the book: “Come for the masturbation. Stay for the empowerment.”

Judy says that although she supported the feminism movement that flourished in the 1970s at the same time as her career flourished, she was not an outspoken, public supporter. She says she wanted to march in protests and burn bras, like many feminists did at the time, “but I didn’t. I could be fearless in my writing in a way [that] in my own life I could not.

Among her other bestsellers are the aforementioned “Deenie,” whose title character has scoliosis and wears a brace; 1974’s “Blubber,” which covered issues of bullying and body shaming; and 1975’s “Forever…,” perhaps her most controversial young-adult book, because it had descriptions of unmarried 18-year-olds having sex with each other. It’s common for today’s young-adult books to have frank descriptions of teen sexuality, but back in 1975, it was unprecedented.

Judy says that even with all of her success, she’s always had many critics and opponents. “Some people weren’t necessarily wishing me well,” she wryly comments. Judy says one of the questions she would often get from literary snobs was: “When are you going to write a real book?”

After “Deenie” was published, she says a male school principal told her that male masturbation was normal, but female masturbation was not normal. During the worst of the criticism that she got from people who wanted to ban her books, Judy says that she was getting death threats, “which I took very seriously.”

At the height of Judy’s fame in 1975, she decided to end her first marriage. All she will say about why she and her first husband John were incompatible is this comment: “I married a man who, like my mother, never talked about his feelings.” Judy remembers feeling stifled in her marriage at the time: “Enough of this. I have to get out of here. I have to live.”

By her own admission, she jumped too quickly into another marriage after her first divorce. Her second husband was a London-based scientist named Thomas Kitchens. That marriage ended in divorce in 1978. Blume says her biggest regret in life is deciding to uproot her kids to live in England during this doomed marriage.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” Judy comments on her second marriage. “I was rebelling in the stupidest way. It was very rough, not just for me but my kids. I still have guilt about that. The honest thing was to admit I had made a terrible mistake … Through all the worst times in my life, I’d been able to write, and my writing has gotten me through.”

Judy has been happily married to her third husband, George Cooper, since 1987. She describes him as “easygoing” and “non-judgmental.” Together, they own the retail store Books & Books in Key West, Florida. They are frequently in the store and make themselves accessible to customers and other visitors. The documentary includes footage of the couple greeting many of these people and interacting with employees, such as Michael Nelson and Emily Berg. Judy’s biological children are not in the movie, but Judy’s stepdaughter Amanda Cooper is briefly interviewed in the documentary.

Speaking of fans and admirers, one of the best parts of the documentary is how it shows that Judy considers her fan mail to be among her most treasured possessions and some of her fans to be among her closest friends. She reads some of her fan mail out loud and is obviously still emotionally touched by people telling her how her books have changed their lives and made them feel less alone in the world. Judy has kept so much of her fan mail, in 2017, Yale University acquired 50 years’ worth of her writing and fan mail to keep in the Yale archives.

Lorrie Kim, who has been writing to Judy since Kim was 9 years old, is one such superfan who became a friend. The documentary shows Judy attending Kim’s graduation from Bryn Mawr College. Karen Chilstrom, who’s been writing to Judy since Chilstrom was 12, shares her traumatic family history of having a brother who sexually abused her and who then committed suicide. Chilstrom says of how her friendship with Judy developed: “She saw a person who was hurting, and she didn’t give up on me.”

The documentary has mention of Judy’s foray into adult-oriented novels—most notably 1978’s “Wifey,” which covered the topic of marital infidelity. Judy also talks about how she’s said no to numerous lucrative offers to turn her books into movies because she’s so protective of her work. Her 1981 young-adult novel “Tiger Eyes” (which was inspired by her own real-life experiences of her father’s death) is one of the few of her books that has been made into a movie. The 2013 “Tiger Eyes” movie, starring Willa Holland and directed by Judy’s son Lawrence, was a low-budget independent film that flopped.

Many fans of Judy’s books talk about how her books helped them learn about many of life’s issues that are larger than a girl worrying about if she’ll be popular in her school. Jones comments on the impact that “Blubber” had on her: “It made me understand that just being a bystander to cruelty made you cruel.”

Other fans and associates interviewed in the documentary include comedian/media personality/author Samantha Bee, author Jacqueline Woodson, screenwriter/producer Anna Konkle (“PEN15”), author Cecily von Ziegesar (“Gossip Girl”), author Mary H.K. Choi, book publisher/editor Beverly Horowitz, author Alex Gino, sex educator Rachel Lotus and author Jason Reynolds. There are also numerous children of various races who are shown reading from her books out loud.

“Judy Blume Forever” is more of a “fan appreciation” documentary than a “fan worship” documentary. The movie doesn’t shy away from including criticism of Judy’s work, although that criticism is mostly shown in archival clips. One of the more memorable clips is from 1984, when Judy appeared on the CNN talk show “Crossfire” for a heated discussion with conservative media pundit Pat Buchanan, who was one her most outspoken critics. In the documentary, Judy comments on this “Crossfire” appearance: “It was a very strange experience.”

The documentary also mentions the uproar that some people had because of a line in Judy’s 1993 young-adult book “Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson.” The line was “Here’s to my fucking family.” This was in 1993, when most kids had access to movies and TV shows with vulgar language on cable TV and home video releases, but book publishers were still skittish about putting profanity in books geared to tweens and teens. Judy says that her editor told her that she would have full support from the editor on her decision to keep that line in the book. Judy describes her former book editor Richard “Dick” Jackson (who died at the age of 84 in 2019) as “the best editor in the world.”

The documentary probably would been more interesting if it had current interviews with Judy’s critics, especially since book banning (particularly in schools and in libraries) has been having a resurgence in recent years. Not surprisingly, Judy is vehemently in support of writers’ rights. Even with the absence of recent criticism of Judy’s work, “Judy Blume Forever” doesn’t feel like it’s an incomplete movie. The documentary undoubtedly shows that Judy Blume, who is a master of soul-baring storytelling, is indeed the best person to tell her own life story.

Amazon Studios released “Judy Blume Forever” in select U.S. cinemas on April 21, 2023, the same day that the movie premiered on Prime Video.

Review: ‘Catherine Called Birdy,’ starring Bella Ramsey, Lesley Sharp, Sophie Okonedo, Joe Alwyn, Isis Hainsworth, Billie Piper and Andrew Scott

December 19, 2022

by Carla Hay

Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey in “Catherine Called Birdy” (Photo courtesy of Alex Bailey/Amazon Content Services)

“Catherine Called Birdy”

Directed by Lena Dunham

Culture Representation: Taking place in Stonebridge, England, in 1290, the comedy/drama film “Catherine Called Birdy” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few black people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A 14-year-old girl resists her father’s attempts to marry her off to any wealthy man who is the highest bidder and who can erase her father’s debts. 

Culture Audience: “Catherine Called Birdy” will appeal primarily to fans of the novel on which the movie is based; filmmaker Lena Dunham; and slightly unconventional movies about female empowerment in the medieval era.

Joe Alwyn and Bella Ramsey in “Catherine Called Birdy” (Photo courtesy of Alex Bailey/Amazon Content Services)

Just like the movie’s titular protagonist, “Catherine Called Birdy” can be petulant, repetitive and irritating, but it’s also got enough flashes of wit and comedy to be entertaining. Writer/director Lena Dunham creatively puts a modern spin on a medieval story. “Catherine Called Birdy” (which had its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival) is not going to appeal to everyone, but it does not try to be that type of movie.

Dunham adapted the “Catherine Called Birdy” screenplay from Karen Cushman’s 1994 novel “Catherine, Called Birdy.” It’s about a free-spirited teenage girl named Catherine, who prefers to be called Birdy (because she loves birds), and her attempts to assert her independence in the medieval era of England, when women and girls were treated as property regarding marriage and many other things. In the movie “Catherine Called Birdy” (which takes place in 1290, in Stonebridge, England), Catherine/Birdy (played with great enthusiasm by Bella Ramsey) is 14 years old and is expected to get married, much to her dismay. She’s also the constant narrator of the story, which takes place during at a time when the average human life expectancy was much shorter, and getting married at 14 years old was not only legal but it was very common.

Birdy does not want to get married not only because she doesn’t feel like she’s ready for marriage but also because her 41-year-old, greedy, alcoholic and conceited father Lord Rollo (played by Andrew Scott) is essentially auctioning her off for marriage to the highest bidder. All of Birdy’s “suitors” are men who are old enough to be her father or grandfather. Birdy’s 36-year-old mother Lady Aislinn (played by Billie Piper) is thought of in the community as “wise of spirit and fair of face,” according to Birdy. Lady Aislinn, who is pregnant for much of the movie, is incredibly patient with her loutish husband.

The other people in Birdy’s immediate family are her two older brothers: Edward the Monk (played by Archie Renaux), who is 21, is described by Birdy as “more fun than most monks.” Robert (played by Dean-Charles Chapman), who is 17 years old is “abominable,” according to Birdy. Robert and Birdy often get into nasty quarrels with each other, usually instigated by Robert, who likes to bully and insult Birdy.

Birdy’s three closest friends are also teenagers. Her best friend is 16-year-old Aelis Sidebottom (played Isis Hainsworth), an aristocrat who attracts a lot of male attention because of her good looks and family name. Then there’s 14-year-old eccentric Perkin (played by Michael Woolfitt), whom Birdy describes as someone who “likes to sleep in the hay, runs fast despite his limp, and farts a lot.” Her other close pal is 18-year-old dairy maid Meg (played by Rita Bernard-Shaw), who is modest and unassuming, compared to outspoken and gregarious Birdy.

Birdy says near the beginning of the film that her favorite activities include avoiding her chores, causing harmless mischief in the village, and eavesdropping. Her brother Edward advises her to write down her thoughts, which is why much of Birdy’s voiceover narration sounds like diary entries. When Edward gives her a book about saints, Birdy says in a voiceover, “Saints are just dinguses I’ll never meet.”

Even though Birdy comes from an aristocratic family, and she is a rare female in medieval times who knows how to read and write, she is still ignorant abut some basic facts of life. For example, when she gets her menstrual period for the first time, she thinks she’s dying. However, Birdy smart enough to figure out the meaning of menstruation, and she hides her bloody rags from her father, because she doesn’t want him to know that she’s physically mature enough to get pregnant. Birdy knows that her father would use that information in his attempts to find a rich husband for her.

However, Birdy is still not completely knowledgeable about sex and human conception. Early on in the movie, Birdy credits the family’s sassy Scottish maid Rowenna (played by Lesley Sharp) with teaching Birdy about how babies are made. Birdy says that babies are made by a man taking a heated iron poker, sticking it up a woman’s nose until there’s a hole big enough for his thumb. Then, he puts seeds in her brain, until they trickle down into her intestines, where they take root. When the baby is ready to be born, Birdy says the baby comes out of a woman’s rear end.

Birdy thinks of herself as fun and fearless. But she can also be tactless and insensitive. Her lack of manners and mischievous nature are often part of the film’s comedy. One day, Birdy tells Perkin: “You’re so lucky your father is dead.” Perkin replies, “Birdy, I’m still upset about that.”

There are many reasons why Birdy and her father do not really like each other. One of them is because he disrespects her. Lord Rollo calls Birdy a “leper.” And in a conversation with his wife Lady Aislinn, he tells her that the family is financially broke and “Birdy is our real currency, so we’re in real trouble.” He also seems to care so little about Birdy that he asks her what her age is because he can’t remember.

It’s easy to see why Lord Rollo has been irresponsible with the family’s money. He buys frivolous things, such as a tiger imported from Siberia. The tiger does not survive the trip. Because he has put the family in a dire financial situation, Lord Rollo is desperate to get Birdy married to a wealthy man as soon as possible. Her suitors include Finneas the Steward (played by Akemnji Ndifornyen); a middle-aged man from Kent who’s described as a “simple wool merchant” (played by Russell Brand); John of Normandy (played by Christophe Tek); Lord Rolf of Saxony (played by Douggie McMeekin); Godfrey of Glardenmere (played by Lawrence Hodgson-Mullings); and Balthasar of the Low Country (played by Bola Latunji).

Every time Birdy is introduced to a potential husband, she does something that she thinks will turn him off and make him lose interest in her. These tactics include pretending she has a virus, dressing as a “bogwitch,” and acting like she’s inseparable from her pet birds. The more that Birdy drives these suitors away, the angrier and more frustrated her father gets. In one scene in the movie, Lord Rollo physically abuses Birdy by beating her on her hands.

Birdy’s best friend Aelis also has family issues. Aelis’ 81-year-old father Lord Gideon Sidebottom (played by David Bradley) has a 25-year-old wife named Lady Berenice Sidebottom (played by Mimi Ndiweni), who despises him. Aelis’ stepmother Lady Berenice is just one of many examples of young women and girls in “Catherine Called Birdy” who are expected to marry older, wealthier men.

One of the reasons why Birdy finds so many of these suitors unattractive is that she’s smitten with her mother’s 28-year-old brother George (played by Joe Alywn), who is charming, good-looking, and everything that Birdy thinks she wants in a future husband. The movie doesn’t make it look like Birdy wants to commit incest with George, but instead portrays George as Birdy’s intense crush and an ideal for the type of man she would want to marry someday.

Things get complicated whn Aelis develops a crush on George too. Meanwhile, George shows a romantic interest in an older widow from Devon named Ethelfritha Rose Splinter (played by Sophie Okonedo), who has a 9-year-old son. And then, Birdy gets introduced to a lecherous, elderly and rich suitor named Sir John Henry Murgaw VIII (played by Paul Kaye), also known as Shaggy Beard, who won’t take no for an answer.

“Catherine Called Birdy” has a lot of fast-paced, snappy banter where people trade sarcastic barbs with each other. Birdy can be an annoying, self-centered brat, but she can also be perceptive and compassionate when she want to be. In other words, her flaws make her realistically human. Still, some viewers will find this character too hard to take and not be able to finish watching the movie.

The production designs and costumes are fairly accurate to this period of time. However, Dunham infuses a contemporary sensibility to the movie in some of the dialogue and with the choice of the movie’s soundtrack songs, which are all pop and rock tunes from the 20th century and 21st century. Misty Miller performs cover versions of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks,” Supergrass’ “Alright,” Piper’s “Honey to the Bee,” “Elastica’s “Connection,” the Angels’ “My Boyfriend’s Back” and Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.”

With its breezy tone that has a little bit of edge, “Catherine Called Birdy” is mature enough to appeal to adolescents and whimsical enough to appeal to adults. The movie also benefits from having a talented cast who can keep up with the dialogue and the pace of the movie in a way that looks natural, instead of overly rehearsed or awkward. “Catherine Called Birdy” has an ending that is radically different from the book. Considering what Birdy is all about, the ending is a delightful surprise, and what some people might say is an improvement on the original story.

Amazon Studios released “Catherine Called Birdy” in select U.S. cinemas on September 23, 2022. Prime Video premiered the movie on October 7, 2022.

WarnerMedia announces HBO Max streaming service, set to debut in 2020

July 9, 2019

The following is a press release from WarnerMedia:

WarnerMedia today unveiled HBO Max as the name of its new streaming service, which will offer an impressive direct-to-consumer experience for everyone ranging from families with young children to adults of all ages. Anchored with and inspired by the legacy of HBO’s excellence and award-winning storytelling, the new service will be “Maximized” with an extensive collection of exclusive original programming (Max Originals) and the best-of-the-best from WarnerMedia’s enormous portfolio of beloved brands and libraries.

New deals with Warner Bros. Television and others for HBO Max announced today include:

· The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of “Friends” – one of the biggest hits on television and in streaming

· The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all episodes of fan favorites “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “Pretty Little Liars”

· The exclusive streaming home to a string of new Warner Bros.’ produced dramas for The CW beginning with the fall 2019 season, including the highly-anticipated new DC Entertainment series “Batwoman,” and “Katy Keene” (spinoff of “Riverdale”)

· New exclusive movie production deals with Greg Berlanti, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and successful producers, and Reese Witherspoon, Academy Award(R) and Emmy Award(R)-winning actress and producer; Berlanti will produce an initial four movies focused in the young adult space, while Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine will produce at least two films

HBO Max, scheduled to launch commercially in spring of 2020, is anticipated to premiere with 10,000 hours of premium content.

“HBO Max will bring together the diverse riches of WarnerMedia to create programming and user experiences not seen before in a streaming platform. HBO’s world-class programming leads the way, the quality of which will be the guiding principle for our new array of Max Originals, our exciting acquisitions, and the very best of the Warner Bros. libraries, starting with the phenomenon that is ‘Friends,'” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer. “Under the leadership of two of the strongest creative visionaries – Casey Bloys (HBO) and Kevin Reilly (original content and acquisitions) – and two of the most experienced digital experts – Tony Goncalves and Andy Forssell – I have no doubt they and their dedicated teams will deliver the world’s best storytelling to audiences of all ages wherever and whenever they want it.”

Max Original series previously announced include:

“Tokyo Vice” star Ansel Elgort (Photo courtesy of TBS)

· “Dune: The Sisterhood,” an adaptation of Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson’s book based in the world created by Frank Herbert’s book Dune, from director Denis Villeneuve

· “Tokyo Vice,” based on Jake Adelstein’s non-fiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat starring Ansel Elgort

· “The Flight Attendant,” a one-hour thriller series based on the novel by Chris Bohjalian, which will star Kaley Cuoco, who is also executive producing alongside Greg Berlanti

· “Love Life,” a 10-episode half-hour romantic comedy anthology series starring “Pitch Perfect” star Anna Kendrick, who will also executive produce alongside Paul Feig

· “Station Eleven,” a postapocalyptic limited series based on Emily St. John Mandel’s international bestseller, adapted by Patrick Somerville and directed by Hiro Murai

· “Made for Love,” a 10-episode, half-hour, straight-to-series adaptation based on the tragicomic novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, also from Somerville and directed by S.J. Clarkson

· “Gremlins,” an animated series from Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Entertainment based on the original movie

Highlights of HBO programming previously announced for 2020 and 2021 include:

“The Outsider” star Ben Mendelsohn (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

· Stephen King’s “The Outsider,” a dark mystery starring Ben Mendelsohn, produced and directed by Jason Bateman

· “Lovecraft Country,” a unique horror series based on a novel by Matt Ruff, written and executive produced by Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams

· “The Nevers,” Joss Whedon’s new science fiction series starring Laura Donnelly

· “The Gilded Age,” the opulent world of 1885 New York from “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes

· “Avenue 5,” high satire aboard a space-bound cruise ship from Armando Iannucci (“Veep”), starring Hugh Laurie and Josh Gad

· “The Undoing,” a psychological thriller from David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant

· “The Plot Against America,” reimagined history based on Phillip Roth’s novel written and executive produced by David Simon and Ed Burns, starring Winona Ryder and John Turturro

· “Perry Mason,” the classic legal drama for a new generation, executive produced by Robert Downey, Jr. and Susan Downey, with Matthew Rhys in the title role

· “I Know This Much Is True,” a complex family drama starring Mark Ruffalo playing twin brothers, one of whom has schizophrenia, based on the best-selling novel by Wally Lamb, written and directed by Derek Cianfrance.

Casey Bloys, programming president of HBO, continues to oversee content on the HBO service, with investment in HBO original programming having been increased 50% over normal spending.

Kevin Reilly, president of the Warner Media Entertainment Networks that include TNT, TBS, and truTV, also serves as chief content officer of HBO Max overseeing all new Max Originals and library content.

Tony Goncalves, CEO of Otter Media, now oversees the development of HBO Max with Andy Forssell, also from Otter Media and formerly CEO of Hulu, as the general manager.

Some of Hollywood’s most successful creators and producers are looking forward to the new service, including the following who are either producing for HBO and/or an upcoming HBO Max Original:

Anna Kendrick

Anna Kendrick (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

“WarnerMedia has three things going for it with this new streaming service. One, they have an incredible history and legacy of storytelling. Two, they’re super future-focused and trying to be the best. And three, they’re letting people like me embarrass myself episode after episode until I find love. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this family.”

Issa Rae

Issa Rae (Photo by Mike Smith/NBC)

“What’s exciting about HBO Max is that we have so many more resources and so many more voices of support for our show, and it’s an opportunity for other creators to have a bigger platform. I’m thrilled that my show will still be on HBO but now it will also be part of a new service that will reach more and more people.”

Greg Berlanti

Greg Berlanti (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros./Everett Collection)

“What I’ve always loved about creating shows that connect with a young audience is that these fans grow up with the programs and will remember them for the rest of their lives. Now I get to do even more of that for HBO Max, where viewers will be able to discover shows on their own time, in their own way. Like any great novel, these shows will be there waiting for you. As a fan, what I’m personally most excited to watch on the service are all the great Warner Bros. movies that affected our entire culture and changed the way we live.”

Damon Lindelof

Damon Lindelof (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

“Working with HBO has been an entirely different level. People really care about these shows and they invest at such a high level. And now with HBO Max in the family, what I’m feeling is a greater sense of understanding and belonging that the family went from being a nuclear family to now there’s a couple more kids and there’s aunts and uncles and there’s cousins and they’re all cool. I want to go to that family reunion!”

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham (Photo by Charles Sykes/Bravo)

“To be able to work for a company that’s allowed me to grow as an artist, as a woman, as a creator is a real gift. I love being part of this specific group of HBO programs that have meant so much to me. And lots of people are obsessed with the concept of streaming and now HBO Max is the future of the medium because it’s all just about continuing to tell really smart stories, and to me, that’s evergreen. I’m working on more projects for HBO as well as something very exciting for HBO Max and I’m just in heaven.”

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

“It’s the dream of every artist to create art that inspires and even changes people. I’ve had a glorious experience doing ‘Big Little Lies’ on HBO and I’m so happy to also be developing a brand-new original drama series for HBO Max. This bigger platform will enable even more people to see the work that I and so many of my friends have poured our hearts into creating.”

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin (Photo courtesy of TBS)

“Back in 1991, after a decade in television, I began writing a series of novels that I knew would never be filmed. ‘A Game of Thrones’ and its sequels were too big, too complex, too dark, too sexy, with a cast of thousands, gigantic battles, massive castles, direwolves, ice wights, and dragons. Too sprawling for a feature film, too expensive for television. I should have remembered, ‘It’s not television, it’s HBO.’ Working with HBO during the past decade has been a dream come true. What they did could not be done, but they did it anyway. And now they are embarked on a new venture. No, they won’t be tying their shows to the legs of ravens as I suggested… instead they are launching an exciting new streaming platform that will carry all the great HBO programming around the world… classic old shows and thrilling new shows, including (I hope) a return to my world of Westeros. Sign me up!”

Kaley Cuoco

Kaley Cuoco (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

“I have been part of the Warner Bros. Television family for over 12 years. I treasure my time on ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ and I am thrilled that our relationship continues to flourish in my new role as a producer on ‘The Flight Attendant.’ When I read the book more than a year-and-a-half ago, I was instantly obsessed with it – and with the idea of bringing it to the screen. I could not be happier to collaborate with the team at HBO Max to make this dream a reality. WarnerMedia has a long history of supporting storytellers and empowering them to fulfill their greatest potential. I am proud to be working with them on this series and cannot wait for viewers to have the opportunity to see it.”

“Friends” was created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman and aired for 10 seasons on NBC from 1994 to 2004. The show revolved around six friends and made stars out of its ensemble — Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer. The series was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television.

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was created by Andy Borowitz and Susan Borowitz, and ran for six seasons on NBC from 1990 to 1996. The show revolved around Will Smith as a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to move in with his wealthy aunt and uncle in their Bel-Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown. The show made Smith a star. Also starring in the comedy were James Avery, Daphne Maxwell Reid, Janet Hubert-Whitten, Alfonso Ribeiro, Karyn Parsons, Tatyana M. Ali and Joseph Marcell. It was produced by The Stuffed Dog Company, Quincy Jones Productions-Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment and NBC Productions.

“Pretty Little Liars” was developed by I. Marlene King, based upon a series of books by Sara Shepard, and aired for seven seasons on ABC Family/Freeform from 2010 to 2017. The series follows the lives of five high school girls whose clique falls apart after the leader of the group, Alison, goes missing. The series features an ensemble cast, including Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish. It was produced by Alloy Entertainment, Long Lake Productions and Russian Hill Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television.

About WarnerMedia

Warner Media is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Now, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC Entertainment, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others. Warner Media is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T).

September 12, 2019 UPDATE:

Making its first move into the key unscripted space, HBO Max, the upcoming direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia set to launch in the spring of 2020, has ordered two original unscripted series, Legendary and The Greatest Space (working title) straight to series.

Legendary will be serving up 10 episodes of all body and face, with no shade. In this show, divas will battle on voguing teams called “houses,” with the chance to win a cash prize in ballsy fashion and dance challenges to ultimately achieve “Legendary” status. Voguing is a competitive style of modern dance featuring over-the-top fashion and choreography based on poses struck by models on a catwalk. Legendary will feature 10 voguing “houses,” each comprised of five performers and a leader – the house “parent.” The teams rotate in a round-robin format, and each episode documents a themed ball from start to finish. They Walk. They Serve. They Live to Slay.

The Greatest Space (wt), a 10-episode epic design competition show, will feature interior designers traveling around the world to transform an eclectic mix of empty rooms into spectacular spaces. In each one-hour episode, pairs of professional designers will head out on a country-hopping adventure, traveling to a new city in search of their canvas. Along the way, challenges will force them to lift directly from some of the most glamorous, audacious and ambitious rooms all around the world. From ballrooms to bedrooms to treehouses and everything in between, competitors battle to win the judges’ favor. High stakes, surprises, language barriers and exotic locales await these designers, along with unpredictable eliminations. But, if they can hold on, the dwindling designers will gain access to larger, more surprising and more imaginative spaces, in pursuit of a substantial cash prize.

Legendary is executive produced by Scout Productions’ Emmy® Award-winning team David Collins, Michael Williams and Rob Eric (Queer Eye) along with Renata Lombardo and Shant Tutunjian.

The Greatest Space (wt) is produced by New Media Collective (NMC) and Scout Productions with NMC’s Emmy® Award-winning Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri along with Mark Dziak (The Amazing Race), and Scouts’ David Collins, Michael Williams and Rob Eric serving as executive producers.

September 13, 2019 UPDATE:

Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Disney)

HBO Max, a division of WarnerMedia Entertainment, today announced a straight-to-series order for “Americanah.” Based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel of the same name, “Americanah” is an epic story of a woman born in Nigeria who leaves for America and her extraordinary experiences with love, heartache, adversity and self-discovery. The 10-episode limited series will star Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”; “Black Panther”), with the pilot being written by showrunner Danai Gurira (“Black Panther”; “Avengers: Endgame”), who was nominated for a Tony Award® for writing the Broadway show “Eclipsed.”

“Through ‘Americanah,’ Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way. It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific,” said Gurira. “I am honored to bring her incredible novel to life on the screen. I’m thrilled to collaborate once again with Lupita who brings her astounding ability as a performer and producer shepherding this project, along with HBO MAX’s unbridled enthusiasm to bring this groundbreaking narrative to the TV audience.”

“Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda’s beautiful novel in 2013. It’s a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless,” said Nyong’o. “HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I’m thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah.”

Americanah tells the story of Ifemelu (Nyong’o), a young, beautiful, self-assured woman raised in Nigeria, who as a teenager falls in love with her classmate Obinze. Living in a military-ruled country, they each depart for the west, with Ifemelu heading for America, where, despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple for the first time with what it means to be black. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous undocumented life in London. A highly lauded tale that has become a leader in the cultural conversation, “Americanah” is an incredible exploration of the human experience that crosses three continents to give an empathetic, compelling view of the complex realities of race, politics, immigration and identity.

The series will be executive produced by Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o for Eba Productions, Plan B Entertainment, Andrea Calderwood (“Generation Kill”) for Potboiler Television, Didi Rea and Danielle Del for D2 Productions, and Nancy Won (“Jessica Jones”).

September 15, 2019 UPDATE:

“The Big Bang Theory” (Photo courtesy of CBS)

HBO Max, the upcoming streaming platform from WarnerMedia set to launch in the spring of 2020, has secured the first-ever U.S. streaming rights to all 12 seasons of the massive comedy hit “The Big Bang Theory.” All 279 episodes will be available on HBO Max when it launches in spring of 2020. In addition, TBS has extended its agreement to continue airing the show through 2028.

September 19, 2019 UPDATE:

Building upon its expanding original film roster, HBO Max has confirmed production of “UNpregnant,” adapted from the young adult HarperCollins novel authors Jenni Hendriks (“How I Met Your Mother”) and Ted Caplan (music editor for “The Hate U Give,” “The Greatest Showman”). From PICTURESTART and Berlanti Productions, the film offers a mix of humor and grounded human emotion as it tackles complicated friendships and the difficult road to adulthood, all while in a stolen El Camino. Starting production in New Mexico this fall, Emmy® winner Rachel Lee Goldenberg (“Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” “The Mindy Project”) has signed on to direct.

“Unpregnant” tells the story of seventeen-year-old Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson), who never thought she’d want to fail a test—that is, until she finds herself staring at a piece of plastic with two solid pink lines. With a promising college-bound future now disappearing before her eyes, Veronica considers a decision she never imagined she’d have to make. This tough and never-taken-lightly decision leads her on a 900+ mile road trip to New Mexico over three days with her ex-best friend Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), where they discover that one of the most important factors in your life is who your friends are.

“When the opportunity to produce a film based on ‘UNpregnant’ arose in partnership with the incomparable Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Erik Feig, I knew HBO Max was the right place for this story,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “We want to create authentic, relevant films that are told with grace and humor to serve our young adult audience, and this is exactly that.”

Berlanti Productions, led by Greg Berlanti (“Love, Simon,” “Arrow,” “Riverdale,” “The Flash”), Sarah Schechter (“Supergirl,” “Riverdale”) and Michael McGrath will executive produce alongside PICTURESTART’s Erik Feig (“The Twilight Saga,” “The Hunger Games” franchise, “La La Land”), Lucy Kitada (“The Babysitters Club”) and Jessica Switch (“Nerve”). This is the inaugural film within Berlanti’s overall HBO Max film deal.

About Haley Lu Richardson
Haley Lu Richardson can next be seen in Kogonada’s “After Yang” opposite Colin Farrell. She recently starred in “Five Feet Apart” opposite Cole Sprouse for CBS Films. She starred in Kogonada’s highly-acclaimed “Columbus,” which premiered at Sundance in 2017 to rave reviews. Haley was nominated for Best Actress at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, and the film also received Independent Spirit Awards nominations for Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

She was most recently seen in writer-director Chris Weitz’s “Operation Finale,” in which she stars with Oscar Isaac and Ben Kingsley. Haley also stars as legendary silent screen star Louise Brooks in “The Chaperone” for Julian Fellowes, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Her film “Support the Girls,” directed by Andrew Bujalski, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and recently received nominations for Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards.

Haley is repped by 3 Arts Entertainment, Gersh, and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern.

About Barbie Ferreira
Barbie Ferreira is best known for her role as Kat on the HBO hit show “Euphoria.” The show marked her return to HBO having previously appeared on Sarah Jessica Parker’s, “Divorce.” Time Magazine named Ferreira one of the Most Influential Teens globally for her influence in giving a platform to women on topics like self-empowerment, representation, and body diversity in fashion. Ferreira also starred in her own Vice series exploring facets of social etiquette entitled “How to Behave,” for which she won a Webby Award as Best Web Personality/Host.

She is repped by Aperture Talent Agency, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson.

September 27, 2019 UPDATE:

Ellen DeGeneres (Photo by Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.)

HBO Max, the upcoming direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia set to launch in the spring of 2020, has teamed up with Emmy® Award Winner Ellen DeGeneres, ordering three original shows straight to series: “Ellen’s Home Design Challenge,” “First Dates Hotel,” and “Little Ellen,” as well as docu-series “Finding Einstein” in development. DeGeneres announced the pickups today on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and didn’t stop there. She also surprised her audience with a two-year HBO Max subscription in celebration of the news.

“Ellen is a singular talent, and a powerhouse, creative triple-threat that we are lucky to have now bringing her talents to bear on behalf of HBO Max,” said Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer, HBO Max and president, TNT, TBS, and truTV. “Ellen’s flair for home design and matchmaking will most certainly inspire and delight – but HBO Max is full service, so as not to leave the kids out she’s bringing them back to the hilarious misadventures of her childhood in an imaginative animated series.”

Ellen DeGeneres added, “I’m very excited to bring my new shows to HBO Max. I don’t know who Max is, but I can’t wait to work with him.”

In “Ellen’s Home Design Challenge,” design aficionado DeGeneres is giving eight forward-thinking designers the chance to push their creativity to the limit. DeGeneres will be on hand to weigh in on each challenge and provide humorous, colorful commentary. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television and A. Smith & Co. Productions in association with Telepictures and A Very Good Production, with DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman and Arthur Smith serving as executive producers.

“Little Ellen” is a 2D animated children’s show that explores the world through the eyes of a hilarious and unpredictable seven-year-old Ellen DeGeneres. On her adventures in her musical hometown of New Orleans, Little Ellen takes big risks and makes big mistakes, but she’s always able to laugh at herself and bounce back when things don’t go as planned. The 40-episode quarter-hour series is produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Ellen Digital Ventures. DeGeneres, Kevin A. Leman II, and Sam Register serve as executive producers. Jennifer Skelly is a co-executive producer and Jason Blackman is a producer.

“First Dates Hotel” takes matchmaking to new heights. Based on the hit UK format devised by Twenty Twenty Productions, Ltd., this charming dating series set at an affluent boutique hotel will find single people from multiple generations gathering for an intensive and tailor-made romantic experience. After fun, amusing and potentially disastrous dates at the hotel restaurant, poolside and under the stars, if the potential lovers like each other, they can choose to stay on for a second date in the hopes of finding out if they’re ultimately a match. Produced by Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television in association with Shed Media, A Very Good Production and Twenty Twenty Productions Limited, DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman, Pam Healey, and Dan Peirson will serve as executive producers on the project. Previous seasons of the UK series “First Dates” and “First Dates Hotel” will also be available on HBO Max.

Currently in development, “Finding Einstein” is an inspiring docu-series, blessed by the Einstein estate, that will seek out, celebrate and support a fresh generation of Einsteins. Some may be a stone’s throw away …others may be in a tiny village halfway around the world…all of them are motivated to live up to Einstein’s ideal of changing the world for the better. The series is executive produced by Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television in association with Telepictures and A Very Good Production, with DeGeneres, Kleeman and Todd Goldman serving as executive producers.

October 9, 2019 UPDATE:

HBO Max continues to expand its storehouse of exceptional content by ordering 8 episodes each of two unscripted kids competition series, Karma and Craftopia. Karma, an hour-long series, will be hosted by Michelle Khare, an extreme lifestyle enthusiast with almost 2 million followers on YouTube, and Craftopia, a half-hour series, will be hosted by Lauren Riihimaki, aka LaurDIY, one of YouTube’s top creators with over 21 million followers across all her social platforms. Both social media gurus are known for inspiring their followers to think creatively and follow their dreams.

“We are giving kids an opportunity to show us their absolute best as they strive for excellence in both challenging and creative situations,” said Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president, original content, HBO Max. “With Michelle and Lauren at the helms, we are aiming to surprise and delight our young viewers. These shows are incredible additions to our growing list of HBO Max kids originals.”

Karma, currently in production, takes 16 contestants, ranging in age from 12 to 15, completely off the grid to solve puzzles and overcome physical challenges, with the laws of karma setting the rules. This adventure competition series hosted by YouTube sensation Michelle Khare, will test the mental and physical stamina of its young contestants as they unravel how their social actions impact their success in the game. Focus, giving, humility, growth, connection, change and patience are the path to becoming the “Karma Champion.” But more importantly, the players learn one of life’s most profound lessons: “What you give out, you get back.”

Karma is executive produced by JD Roth, Adam Greener and Sara Hansemenn for GoodStory Entertainment with Fred Pichel serving as showrunner and executive producer.

“After over 30 years of making kids television, this partnership with HBO Max has given me the ability to make a show about something important — Karma,” said Roth. “Teaching kids that the energy you put in is the energy you can expect to get back has been transformative. This show is a rare opportunity to entertain while teaching and I’m loving every minute of it!”

Craftopia is an epic kids crafting competition show hosted and executive produced by Lauren Riihimaki,  who was deemed the “millennial Martha Stewart” by Forbes. On Craftopia, 9-to-15-year old contestants put their imaginations to the test and make their crafting dreams come true in a magical studio. After racing to fill up their carts with inspiring materials from the studio “store,” crafters meet larger-than-life challenges, making the most amazing creations the world has ever seen. Production will begin later this year.

Craftopia is executive produced by Rhett Bachner and Brien Meagher for B17 Entertainment.

“Kids are so incredibly inventive. They look at an empty cardboard box and a paper towel roll and see a pirate ship with a telescope.” said Bachner and Meagher. “So with Craftopia, we are thrilled to work with HBO Max to see what happens when we give ingenious kids a store full of every material imaginable.”

October 15, 2019 UPDATE:

“Grease: Rydell High” (Image courtesy of HBO Max)

HBO Max has ordered Grease: Rydell High, a musical series inspired by the 1978 Golden Globe® nominated film Grease. A joyous musical series set in and around the world of Rydell High, the show reimagines the global smash hit movie with some characters you already know, and a whole lot more you will soon meet.  It’s still the 1950s, a world that rocks with big musical numbers from the period combined with new original songs as well. It’s the peer pressures of high school, the horrors of puberty, and the rollercoaster of life in middle America with a modern sensibility that will bring it to life for today’s musical lovers.

“Grease is an iconic pop-culture phenomenon that works for every generation, and I’m thrilled that our friends at Paramount were excited about the idea of opening up the show and putting it on a larger canvas for a weekly series,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “This is high school and life in small-town USA told on the scale of a big rock’n’roll musical. It’s Grease 2.0 but with the same spirit, energy, and excitement you immediately think of when you hear any of these iconic songs. You’re the One That I Want!

Said Nicole Clemens, President of Paramount Television, “Grease is one of the most beloved Paramount titles and it’s a thrill to be re-imagining it for today’s audience with our good friends at Temple Hill and Picturestart. When Bob Greenblatt called about bringing it to television, we knew we would be in the perfect hands because of our great working relationship with HBO Max and Bob’s genuine passion for musicals and Grease in particular.”

Picturestart and Temple Hill will serve as executive producers and Paramount Television and Picturestart will produce the series. Additionally, Temple Hill, Picturestart and Paramount Pictures are in development on a feature film prequel to Grease, entitled Summer Lovin’. 

October 16, 2019 UPDATE:

HBO Max pays tribute to the epic origin stories of the LGBTQ+ movement with EQUAL, a masterful four-part docu-series that captures the gripping and true backstories of the leaders and unsung heroes, pre-Stonewall, who changed the course of American history through their tireless activism. These warriors gave voice, often in a life or death battle, to millions of people yearning for equality and the desire to be themselves.

Each hour-long episode in the series plays like a thriller, bringing to life the high stakes and hard deadlines of historical events that have not yet been given their due. EQUAL honors the rebels of yesteryear through high-end re-enactments, never-before-seen footage, and captures the emotions of the times with messages just as relevant today.

Over the course of the series, viewers will meet a wide range of LGBTQ+ pioneers, including: Harry Hay, a gay rights activist and the founder of the modern gay movement; The Daughters of Bilitis, a lesbian civil and political rights organization; Christine Jorgensen, transgender woman who flew to Europe in 1951 to undergo sex reassignment surgery and publicly transitioned; and gay rights and African American rights leader Bayard Rustin. Part four chronicles The Stonewall Riots from start to finish as well as the first Pride, the year after Stonewall.

“In June, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which shepherded in a new era for LGBTQ+ pride. While we know the story behind that fateful summer night, there’s a lot of fascinating, untold history of the patriots, artists, and thinkers who paved the way,” said Jennifer O’Connell, Executive Vice President of Original Non-fiction and Kids Programming, HBO Max. “It’s time to share their heroic tales, and we could not have more perfect partners in Jim Parsons, Greg Berlanti, Jon Jashni and Scout to introduce our HBO Max audience to these historical trailblazers.”

“We are extremely proud to partner with these groundbreaking producers on a subject this important, at a time this critical,” said Mike Darnell, President, Unscripted & Alternative Television at Warner Bros. “What a perfect project to launch Warner Horizon Unscripted Television’s new documentary series unit.”

EQUAL is executive produced and led by Scout Productions’ Emmy Award-winning team David Collins, Academy Award® winner Michael Williams (The Fog of War) and Rob Eric (Queer Eye) and Joel Chiodi along with Emmy nominated Berlanti Productions’ Greg Berlanti (Love, SimonArrowRiverdale, The Flash) and Sarah Schechter (SupergirlRiverdale), Emmy and Golden Globe® winner Jim Parsons (The Big Bang TheoryThe Normal Heart, The Boys in the Band) and Emmy nominee Todd Spiewak (SpecialYoung Sheldon, A Kid Like Jake) from That’s Wonderful Productions, Jon Jashni (Lost in Space) from Raintree Ventures, and Mike Darnell and Brooke Karzen, Warner Horizon Unscripted Television.

October 17, 2019 UPDATE:

HBO Max will bring the wonder of Japan’s legendary, Oscar®-winning animation house, Studio Ghibli, to its slate of premium content that will be available at launch in the spring of 2020. HBO Max will be the US streaming home to the entire Studio Ghibli film library, one of the world’s most coveted and revered animation catalogues. The landmark deal with North American distributor GKIDS for the twenty-one Studio Ghibli feature films marks the first time these beloved films have been licensed to a streaming platform.

Available at launch of the service will be the Academy Award®-winning Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya and more.

“Studio Ghibli films are visually breathtaking, completely immersive experiences” said Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer, HBO Max and President, TNT, TBS, and truTV. “Exciting, enchanting, and deeply humanistic, these wonderful films have captured people’s hearts around the world, and we are proud to showcase them in an accessible way for even more fans through HBO Max.”

“We are excited to be working with HBO Max to bring the complete collection of Studio Ghibli films to streaming audiences in the US. As a premium content brand, HBO Max is an ideal home for our films,” said Koji Hoshino, Chairman of Studio Ghibli.  “Upon launch of the service this spring, existing Ghibli fans will be able enjoy their favorites and delve deeper into the library, while whole new audiences will be able to discover our films for the first time.”

Studio Ghibli is one of the most acclaimed and influential animation studios in the world, inspiring filmmakers and audiences alike over the last 30 years with beloved stories and breathtaking visuals. Under the brilliance of visionary animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki, the studio’s films have won countless international awards, including an Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature for Spirited Away, as well as four additional Academy Award® nominations for Howl’s Moving CastleThe Wind RisesThe Tale of The Princess Kaguya, and When Marnie Was There. Director and studio co-founder Hayao Miyazaki was separately given an Honorary Award at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Awards in 2014, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will pay tribute to his artwork with a special exhibit when the Museum opens in 2020.

Studio Ghibli’s acclaimed catalog of films include:

Castle in the Sky
The Cat Returns
From Up On Poppy Hill
Howl’s Moving Castle
Kiki’s Delivery Service
My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbors the Yamadas
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
Ocean Waves
Only Yesterday
Pom Poko
Ponyo
Porco Rosso
Princess Mononoke
The Secret World of Arrietty
Spirited Away
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya
Tales From Earthsea
When Marnie Was There
Whisper of the Heart
The Wind Rises (launching Fall 2020)


About Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and is one of the most successful and well-respected animation studios in the world. Cultivating a creative force of talented directors, animators, and storytellers under the revered brilliance of Miyazaki and Takahata, Studio Ghibli’s films have been praised for their originality, dazzling animation, and epic storytelling. The films have become a beloved part of Japanese popular culture and have garnered worldwide acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature of 2002 and in 2005 Miyazaki was named one of “the most influential people” by TIME Magazine.

About GKIDS
GKIDS is a producer and distributor of award-winning feature animation for both adult and family audiences. Since 2010, the company has scored eleven Best Animated Feature Oscar® nominations for their titles, including eight in the past six years. Current and upcoming releases include Promare from Studio TRIGGER and Weathering With You from director Makoto Shinkai. GKIDS also handles North American distribution for the famed Studio Ghibli library of films, one of the world’s most coveted animation collections with titles Spirited AwayMy Neighbor TotoroPrincess Mononoke and others. GKIDS is the producer of ANIMATION IS FILM, an annual animation film festival taking place Oct 18-20, 2019 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.
gkids.com  animationisfilm.com

October 17, 2019 UPDATE:

Melissa McCarthy (Photo by Todd Williamson/E! Entertainment)

Adding to its slate of premium content from leading industry powerhouses, HBO Max has picked up Superintelligence, an original film starring beloved Oscar-nominated actress Melissa McCarthy (Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids). Directed by Ben Falcone (Life of the PartyTammy) and written by Steve Mallory (The Boss), the comedy is slated to premiere on HBO Max when the service launches in Spring 2020.

With a star-studded cast, including Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man and the Wasp, upcoming Motherless Brooklyn), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, Widows), Jean Smart (Fargo, Life Itself) and James Corden (upcoming Cats, Peter Rabbit, Into the Woods), Superintelligence tells the story of Carol Peters (McCarthy), to whom nothing extraordinary ever happens. But when she starts getting snarky backtalk from her TV, phone and microwave, she thinks she’s being punked. Or losing her mind. In fact, the world’s first superintelligence has selected her for observation, taking over her life…with a bigger, more ominous plan to take over everything. Now Carol is humanity’s last chance before this artificial intelligence-with-an-attitude decides to pull the plug.

“We used the A.I. from Superintelligence to look at every single platform in the world, and then used its super knowledge and big artificial brain-like thing to determine that HBO Max was the right home for our film,” laughed McCarthy and Falcone.

“This is the perfect high concept comedy with an artist we all love to work with, and shows the top caliber of talent we’re bringing to HBO Max,” said Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer, HBO Max and President, TNT, TBS and truTV.

“The pairing of HBO Max with the tremendous talent of Melissa and Ben demonstrates the advantage of collaboration across WarnerMedia, and our ability to work with our creative partners to determine the distribution platform that will deliver the greatest success for their projects,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Falcone and McCarthy also produced Superintelligence, alongside Rob Cowan, whose credits include the Falcone/McCarthy comedy Tammy and the Conjuring films.

October 18, 2019 UPDATE:

Gary Janett and Brad Goreski (Photo courtesy of Brad Goreski)

HBO Max, the upcoming direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia set to launch in spring of 2020, has ordered a lifestyle follow-doc series Brad & Gary Go To… (working title). The six-episode series will follow Hollywood power couple, Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti, as they go on a jet-setting culinary adventure around the globe, inspired by their Instagram stories.

“Brad and Gary have become an Internet sensation and it was actually their over one million followers who requested this series. These same fans also helped turn Gary’s go to Starbucks order into a viral sensation known as ‘The Gary.’ said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max.We can’t wait to travel the world with them and capture their fabulousness and hilarity.”

Brad Goreski is one of the hottest celebrity stylists in the industry and his A-list clients are a fixture on “Best Dressed” lists. From The Rachel Zoe Project to his own show on Bravo It’s a Brad Brad World to Fashion Police and Live from the Red Carpet Brad has become a trusted expert in the fashion industry. He has traveled the world styling clients, photoshoots and campaigns and has served as the brand stylist for Kate Spade for four years.

Gary Janetti is an Emmy nominated producer and writer of Family GuyWill & Grace, and Vicious, among others.  His first book, Do You Mind If I Cancel? is set for release on October 22, 2019. Gary is currently making a lot of noise with his Instagram account garnering international media attention with his satire of British Royals through the eyes of young Prince George of Cambridge.

The series will be produced by Brad Goreski and Gary Janetti as well as Purveyors of Pop (Married to MedicineEx on the Beach, Lady Gang, and Real Housewives of Miami) and Entertainment One (eOne). Matt Anderson, Nate Green, and Cooper Green will serve as executive producers for Purveyors of Pop and Tara Long for (eOne).


Purveyors of Pop

Purveyors of Pop is an independent entertainment company producing cutting-edge programming across multiple platforms. Founded in 2010 by veteran executive producers Matt Anderson and Nate Green, POP specializes in programming at the forefront of the pop culture zeitgeist. Known for their string of hit TV series, the duo has developed and produced shows ranging from MTV’s The Ashlee Simpson Show to Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, where they have executive produced over 200 episodes. Under the POP banner, the outfit has produced series for major cable networks including Bravo (Married To Medicine Atlanta/Los Angeles/Houston, Real Housewives of Miami), MTV (Ex On The Beach), E! (Lady Gang), VH1 (Love & Listings), Lifetime (Jordin Sparks: A Baby Story), and A&E (Psychic Tia).

About Entertainment One
Entertainment One Ltd. (LSE:ETO) is a global independent studio that specializes in the development, acquisition, production, financing, distribution and sales of entertainment content. The Company’s diversified expertise spans across film, television and music production and sales; family programming, merchandising and licensing; digital content; and live entertainment. Through its global reach and expansive scale, powered by deep local market knowledge, the Company delivers the best content to the world.

Entertainment One’s robust network includes international feature film distribution company Sierra/Affinity; Amblin Partners with DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, and Reliance Entertainment; Makeready with Brad Weston; unscripted television production companies Whizz Kid Entertainment, Renegade 83, and Daisybeck Studios; live entertainment leaders Round Room Live; world-class music labels Dualtone Music Group and Last Gang; innovative music platform Audio Network; and award-winning emerging content and technology studio Secret Location.

October 18, 2019 UPDATE:

Amy Schumer (Photo courtesy of Amy Schumer)

HBO Max, the upcoming direct-to-consumer offering from WarnerMedia set to launch in the spring of 2020, has ordered the documentary Expecting Amy (working title) from Emmy® Award Winner Amy Schumer.

The unfiltered documentary shows the struggle, strength and ambition that has made Schumer one of the singular comic voices of all time. It takes viewers behind-the-scenes as Schumer goes through an extraordinarily difficult pregnancy while touring to prepare for a stand-up special. From hospitalizations to going out in front of a crowd of thousands, to quiet moments at home with her family, Schumer shares it all. Beginning the day she found out she was pregnant, through the birth of her child, she showcases her incredible journey on the road, revealing just how challenging it can be working night after night, week after week, with no regrets or excuses. Expecting Amy (wt) offers a hilarious and raw 360 degree look at this new stage of her life. With her family and colleagues along for the ride to support her and keep her sane and balanced, she does it all with perseverance, heart and the priceless sense of humor she’s known for.

“Amy Schumer is an inspiration and this project is such an honest look at her experience being on the road while preparing for her special,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max.“Her willingness to showcase her immense vulnerability, during the most challenging time in her life, is both empowering and hilarious.”

”Women are warriors, every one of us. And I hope sharing my story brings more awareness to the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth,” said Schumer.

Produced by Schumer, Expecting Amy (wt) is being edited by Alexander Hammer, who previously edited Homecoming for Beyoncé.

 

October 21, 2019 UPDATE

Monica Lewinsky (Photo courtesy of A&E)

HBO Max has picked up the groundbreaking documentary 15 Minutes of Shame from executive producers Monica Lewinsky and Max Joseph (MTV’s Catfish). Produced by Six West, the documentary features Joseph with appearances by Lewinsky as they take an in-depth look at the public shaming epidemic in our culture and explore our collective need to destroy one another.

15 Minutes of Shame features well known, bold-faced names and is a timely, irreverent roller-coaster ride through the world of public shaming. Using follow-doc storytelling, social experiments, and the examination of social behavior, this documentary film will feature individuals from around the globe who have been publicly shamed – while exploring the bullies, the bystanders, the media, psychologists, politicians and experts in between. 15 Minutes of Shame is about one of the most pressing and unaddressed issues of modern life, brought to you by the people who know it best.

“Monica Lewinsky is an anti-bullying activist with unparalleled authority, making her the perfect partner for this project,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “And Max’s strong advocacy for social justice and distinctive storytelling make him particularly well-suited to explore this complex modern phenomenon.”

Lewinsky’s impactful work includes her 2015 TED Talk “The Price of Shame,” which has garnered over 16 million views, as well as several award-winning anti-bullying campaigns including 2018’s “Defy the Name” and 2017’s Emmy-nominated “In Real Life.” Joseph is an award-winning filmmaker who has made over 100 shorts, commercials, and viral videos. He directed and co-wrote the feature film We Are Your Friends (acquired by Warner Bros in 2015) and his non-fiction work has been featured at Sundance, Telluride, SXSW, and the Cannes Creativity Festival where he won a Cannes Lion. Joseph co-hosted and executive produced MTV’s Catfish for seven seasons.

Steve Ascher and Kristy Sabat serve as executive producers for Six West.

October 21, 2019 UPDATE:

The Ho Family (Photo by Tuong Van Nguyen)

HBO Max cordially invites you into the opulent, over-the-top world of the Ho family with a series order for a new docu-series from Lionsgate TV, The Ho’s (working title). The inaugural season of this comedic, full-hearted doc style series in the spirit of Crazy Rich Asians will include 8 thirty-minute episodes.

Led by patriarch Binh Ho and his wife, Hue Ho, the power couple immigrated from Vietnam to the United States with little money, relying on hard work to establish the ultimate American dream. They have built a multi-million dollar bank, a real estate development company and a new generation of American Ho’s. The series pulls back the curtain of their lavish Houston lifestyle and showcases the tight family connections that unite them as well as the multi-generational outrageous drama that ensues. While Binh and Hue have laid down a golden foundation for their children, Judy Ho and Washington Ho (yes, named after the nation’s founding father and whose kids are named Lincoln and Roosevelt), they are not exempt from the constant pressure to achieve and to live up to their parents’ lofty expectations. Despite the power struggles, at the end of the day, the Ho household is filled with love, laughter, and a few designer handbags, of course.

“Rarely do you come across a family that is so rich in so many ways – not just in wealth, but in heart, traditions and love for each other,” said Jennifer O’Connell, Executive Vice President of Original Non-fiction and Kids Programming, HBO Max. “There’s great pride in being a Ho and they are ready to give the world a seat at their luxurious table.”

“The Ho family is wildly engaging and we’re very excited to partner with HBO Max in bringing this hilarious and exuberant series to viewers,” said Alice Dickens-Koblin, Lionsgate SVP and Head of Unscripted Programming.

The Ho family tree includes:

Binh Ho, 71, despite being the super strict patriarch of the Ho family, Binh has nothing but good intentions. Originally from Vietnam, his hard work has paid off and he is now the owner of a successful bank. Although Binh is living the ‘American Dream’ he feels the need to control every move his children make.

Hue Ho, 66, is Binh’s loving wife and the matriarch of the family. Hue is always the perfect looking, highly critical mom who thinks her children can do no wrong. She often defends the children when Binh seems unreasonable, especially over Washington’s hard-partying ways. Her love for her family is rivaled only by her love of cooking, which is on full display at the weekly Sunday dinner she hosts. The authentic Vietnamese fare is mouth-watering but the drama at the table is even juicier.

Judy Ho, 39, is the first born of Binh and Hue Ho. The self-pegged responsible and reliable one, Judy was the perfect candidate to become a lawyer and did so with flying colors as she is the consummate perfectionist. She is a mom to three kids and is going through a divorce.

Washington Ho, 38, is the “former” playboy of the family with a reputation of dating questionable women and partying way too hard. Once he met Lesley, his future wife who would eventually steal his heart, he was forced to settle down … a little. Now, he’s a devoted father of two adorable kids, Roosevelt and Lincoln, but all of this is about to change as he attempts to prove he’s a changed man and ready to step out of his father’s looming shadow – he just hasn’t quite figured out how.

Lesley Ho, 34, is Washington’s independent, outspoken, down-to-earth and loving Vietnamese-American wife who juggles being the mother of their two beautiful children with her career as a pharmacist. Growing up in a small town, middle-class family in Oklahoma, she’s had to adjust to the over the top lifestyle that comes with being a Ho.

Aunt Tina, 58, is the Aunt that likes to be noticed and makes sure that everybody does. From her purple streaked hair to her tight dresses, Aunt Tina is all about…well, Tina. She likes to work hard and play harder. As one of the younger immigrants of the Ho family, she grew up in Vietnam before following in her older brother’s footsteps and moving to America.

Cousin Sammy, 29, should probably have her life a little more together but instead, lives for the moment even if it doesn’t always work in her favor. Since she and Washington are so close, he decided to offer her a job as his head of marketing.

From Wallin Chambers Entertainment in association with Lionsgate Television, the series is executive produced by Katy Wallin and Stephanie Bloch Chambers. Amanda Ly and Rosalina Lydster serve as co-executive producers with casting by Peter Huntley. Wallin Chambers Entertainment and the Ho family are represented by UTA.

October 22, 2019 UPDATE:

Lisa Ling (Photo by Jeremy Freeman for CNN)

HBO Max has greenlit travel docuseries Birth, Wedding, Funeral as part of an overall deal with Lisa Ling. Each episode of the series will immerse viewers in a different country to reveal their cultures through the lens of the three universal rituals—births, weddings, and funerals. In a quest to understand what connects us and celebrate the diversity of deeply rooted customs around the world, each episode is a riveting investigation of the human experience in a specific region, and a dramatic dive into an intimate moment in the lives of the people who live there.

As host of CNN Original Series This is Life with Lisa Ling, currently airing its sixth season, this deal marks an expansion of Ling’s relationship with WarnerMedia. As part of her overall deal, HBO Max will have a first look at new projects she will continue to develop for the streamer.

“We are living in a deeply polarized world and I am elated for the opportunity to bring us closer to one another through stories about the most defining moments in people’s lives: their Births, Weddings and Funerals,” said Lisa Ling.

“As part of the CNN family, Lisa has carved out a unique space for herself using her style of gritty, investigative journalism to drive at the heart of every human story she tells,” said Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president, original content, HBO Max. “Birth, Wedding, Funeral takes audiences on a global journey through a range of societies, exploring the rituals around three critical life events and we are eager to bring this illuminating storytelling to our HBO Max audience.”

The concept of Birth, Wedding, Funeral was created by legendary journalist Dan Rather, Maro Chermayeff and Jeff Dupre. The series is produced by Part2 Pictures, with Ling executive producing alongside Rather (60 Minutes, The Big Interview) and Philip Kim for News and Guts.

“Over the course of my many travels, I have always welcomed the chance to learn about the world’s varied cultures through how they experience life’s most intimate and transformative benchmarks,” said Dan Rather. “I am thrilled that Lisa, a skilled and compassionate storyteller, will bring these moments into our homes and allow us to renew our faith in the common bonds of humanity.”

October 23, 2019 UPDATE:

(Image courtesy of HBO Max)

HBO Max is re-crystallizing the Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning smash hit Adventure Time greenlighting four new one-hour specials titled Adventure Time: Distant Lands that will premiere exclusively on HBO Max with the first two set to debut on the streamer in 2020.

These four new specials will continue the Adventure Time stories that captured imaginations and introduced unlikely heroes Finn and Jake, best buds who traversed the mystical Land of Ooo and encountered its colorful inhabitants.

“The enchanted world of Adventure Time has mesmerized viewers and critics alike as Finn and Jake right wrongs and battle evil,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “The addition of these specials to the HBO Max kids and family programming lineup is sure to make kids everywhere say ‘Slam-bam-in-a-can!’”

The first two specials, BMO and Obsidian are set to premiere on the streamer in 2020 followed by Wizard City and Together Again.

  • BMO follows the lovable little robot from Adventure Time. When there’s a deadly space emergency in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, there’s only one hero to call, and it’s probably not BMO. Except that this time it is!
  • Obsidian features Marceline & Princess Bubblegum as they journey to the imposing, beautiful Glass Kingdom—and deep into their tumultuous past—to prevent an earthshaking catastrophe.
  • Wizard City follows Peppermint Butler, starting over at the beginning, as just another inexperienced Wizard School student. When mysterious events at the campus cast suspicion on Pep, and his checkered past, can he master the mystic arts in time to prove his innocence?
  • Together Again brings Finn and Jake together again, to rediscover their brotherly bond and embark on the most important adventure of their lives.

Adventure Time was a groundbreaking series and a creative playground for so many talented creative artists,” said Rob Sorcher, Chief Content Officer, Cartoon Network Studios. “Producing Adventure Time: Distant Lands for HBO Max will allow our studio to explore this beloved world in an all-new format.”

Created by Pendleton Ward and executive produced by Adam Muto, Adventure Time is a critically decorated show that garnered numerous entertainment awards and cultivated a generation of talent who have helmed such hits as Steven Universe, Over the Garden Wall, and Clarence. Adventure Time: Distant Lands is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.

October 24, 2019 UPDATE:

“gen:LOCK” (Image courtesy of Rooster Teeth)

HBO Max as picked up gen:LOCK for a second season following its success as Rooster Teeth’s newest animated series. Starring Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Black Panther), the half-hour animated series focuses on a near-future dystopia undergoing a new, technologically driven world war. gen:LOCK originally premiered on Rooster Teeth. Season 2 of gen:LOCK will premiere on HBO Max and 90 days later will be available on Rooster Teeth for FIRST members.

Fifty years in the future, gen:LOCK tells the story of an oppressive authoritarian force that threatens to conquer the world. A daring team is recruited to pilot a new form of devastating mecha, but they must be willing to sacrifice everything to save the world.

Dakota Fanning (The Alienist, Twilight Saga), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones, Early Man, New Mutants), Golshifteh Farahani (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), and David Tennant (Jessica Jones, Dr. Who) are all set to return to the series along with Jordan.

“We are proud to bring gen:LOCK’s bold vision, inventive style, and extraordinary cast to HBO Max, and to build on the success that our partners at Rooster Teeth and Outlier Society have crafted so skillfully,” said Billy Wee, senior vice president original animation, HBO Max.

“We’re beyond excited to be producing a second season of gen:LOCK for HBO Max,” said Matt Hullum, co-founder and Chief Content Officer at Rooster Teeth. “Billy Wee and the team at HBO Max have been incredibly supportive in the development process, and we’re thrilled to be working closely with them on this project. We were blown away by the response to the first season of this show, both by the Rooster Teeth community and the Adult Swim audience, and cannot wait to bring it to more fans of action, sci-fi, and mecha animation.”

gen:LOCK is executive produced by Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo of Outlier Society, along with Rooster Teeth’s Matt Hullum and Ryan P. Hall. The series is produced by Rooster Teeth’s in-house animation studio.

October 24, 2019 UPDATE:

HBO Max has greenlit four original unscripted projects from CNN for the streamer. The slate includes Heaven’s Gate and Generation Hustle (wt) from CNN Original Series and two feature-length documentaries, The Scoop and Persona (wt) from CNN Films – each offering a compelling lens through which the modern world comes into focus.

“We are tremendously inspired by CNN’s history of award-winning documentary storytelling and journalistic integrity,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “This slate of projects with CNN demonstrates our power as a media family to create quality programming that covers the captivating and critical issues of today.”

“We are so pleased to produce original nonfiction projects with HBO Max and to release new content from CNN Films and CNN Original Series via a streaming partner that complements our brands and creative goals,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.  “We look forward to partnering on future projects as well.”

Heaven’s Gate is an intimate, four-part HBO Max original from CNN Original Series that explores the infamous religious movement and the stranger-than-fiction circumstances that culminated in the biggest mass suicide to ever take place on U.S. soil. It is a raw, honest depiction of the shared experiences of those directly involved with the group, and those closely affected by it. Directed and executive produced by Clay Tweel, Heaven’s Gate is produced by Campfire, the scripted and nonfiction production company from prolific television and film producer Ross Dinerstein (The Innocent Man, 2018; Stephen King’s 1922, 2017), and Chris Bannon, Eric Spiegelman, Peter Clowney, and Erik Diehn for the digital media company Stitcher (Heaven’s Gate podcast, Sold in America podcast).

Generation Hustle (w.t.) is a 10-part HBO Max original from CNN Original Series about the lengths young people will go to for fame, fortune, and power. From the Academy Award- and Emmy® Award-winning Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions (The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, 2019; Death Row Stories for CNN Original Series, 2014; Dirty Money, 2018), the series will be executive produced by Yon Motskin, Stacey Offman, and Richard Perello.

The Scoop (w.t.) is a documentary feature produced by CNN Films and will follow the exhilarating and exhausting lives of CNN’s fearless female political reporters as they cover the most unpredictable presidential campaign in American history. This behind-the- scenes documentary draws from unprecedented access to the campaign press corps and reveals how these powerhouse political reporters deal with the candidates as well as with the challenges of life on the road.

Persona (w.t.) is a documentary feature produced by CNN Films that explores the riveting and unexpected origin story of America’s obsession with personality testing.  Embedded in everything from dating sites to job applications, Persona reveals the profound ways personality testing has formed and influenced the world around us.

“Full Bloom” stars, from left to right: judges Maurice Harris and Elizabeth Cronin with host Simon Lycett. (Photo credits left to right: Maurice Harris, Marta Sasinowska and Mark Waugh)

HBO continues to blossom ordering Full Bloom, an eight-episode, hour long competition series featuring 10 of America’s budding florists vying to be crowned America’s best.

With incredible artistic creations and floristry face-offs, Full Bloom will allow audiences to escape into a surreal world as contestants will design and execute some of the most wondrous, Wonka-esq floral creations ever seen. Each episode features themed challenges centered around a unique stem of the floristry world including fashion, art, events and weddings. Contestant’s designs and creations will be mentored and judged by legendary floristry artists Maurice Harris, Elizabeth Cronin with celebrity florist Simon Lycett serving as host.

Full Bloom will transport viewers into the intricate and fantastically colorful word of competitive floristry,” said Jennifer O’Connell, executive vice president, original content, HBO Max. “HBO Max is the trellis for this series to bloom and shine the light on this incredibly beautiful art form.”

“We are thrilled to be working with HBO Max and some of the best floristry artists in the world in this celebration of creativity, color and competition” said Chris Culvenor, CO-CEO of Eureka productions. “It’s a series that lets imagination blossom.”

HBO Max along with the cast and crew of Full Bloom are committed to using all the fantastic creations from this series to brighten someone’s day. At the end of each episode, unsuspecting people will be surprised with a floral extravaganza that we hope inspires everyone to always find time to stop and smell the roses.

Full Bloom is created and produced by Eureka Productions with Chris Culvenor, Paul Franklin and Wes Dening serving as executive producers.

October 25, 2019 UPDATE:

Anthony Bourdain (Photo courtesy of CNN)

CNN Films, HBO Max, and Focus Features are partnering for a documentary film about the uncommon life of the late storyteller, explorer, and chef, Anthony Bourdain, to be directed and produced by Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom). Focus Features will first release the documentary exclusively in theaters worldwide before the film premieres on television on CNN and streams via HBO Max. CNN Films and HBO Max will executive produce the film. Neville’s Tremolo Productions will produce the film.

“Morgan is the top of the game when it comes to documentary filmmaking and we’re delighted to be working with him again on this project with our great collaborators at CNN Films and HBO Max,” said Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski.

“We are thrilled that Morgan will bring his singular voice to this film, revealing what we loved so much about Tony. Partnering with Focus Features and HBO Max ensures even more of Tony’s devoted fans will be able to celebrate him,” said Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development, on behalf of CNN Films.

“Anthony Bourdain did more to help us understand each other than just about anyone in the history of television. He connected with people not in spite of his flaws, but because of them. To have the opportunity to tell his story is humbling. CNN is in the DNA of Tony’s work, and the perfect partners in this journey. I’m thrilled to be re-teaming with Focus Features after our journey on Won’t You Be My Neighbor?. I am also happy that HBO Max will make sure Tony’s audience only continues to grow,” said Neville.

Neville has spent more than 20 years making documentary films that illuminate and explore the struggles and triumphs of the human condition. In addition to his Oscar®-winning ’20 Feet from Stardom,’ Neville‘s highly acclaimed body of work also includes the Emmy® Award-winning Best of Enemies (2015) and the Emmy® Award-nominated The Music of Strangers (2015). Neville’s extraordinary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the number one highest-grossing biodoc of all time about Fred Rogers, was also distributed by Focus Features.

“It requires a filmmaker as expert and prolific as Morgan Neville to capture the essence of a raconteur and world explorer like Anthony Bourdain,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “We are honored to partner with CNN Films and Focus Features on this project that is so close to all of our hearts and give viewers the opportunity to celebrate his legacy.”

This project is the third announced film collaboration between CNN Films and HBO Max. Previously announced features include The Scoop (wt) and Persona (wt). In addition to the worldwide theatrical distribution to be managed by Focus Features, the Bourdain documentary will premiere for television on CNN, and HBO Max will stream the film for its subscribers. WarnerMedia is the parent corporation for HBO Max and CNN.

For five years, Bourdain brought a relentless authenticity to his work for CNN, through Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown (CNN Original Series) and CNN Films. Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown was honored with 36 Primetime Emmy® Award nominations and 12 wins, and a George Foster Peabody Award. Bourdain also executive produced a theatrical documentary with CNN Films about a chef who inspired him, Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent, in 2016.

Lydia Tenaglia and Christopher Collins, founders of Zero Point Zero Production (ZPZ), creative collaborators with Bourdain for nearly two decades, including the series Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, will be consulting producers for the film. Kimberly Witherspoon, Bourdain’s longtime agent and literary executor, will also serve as a consulting producer. The Bourdain estate will provide access to family photos, home movies, letters, music, and other content that will add greater insights into his work and life.

“Having worked with Anthony Bourdain for close to 20 years, Chris Collins and I felt very protective over the story of his life and the decision on who to direct it. In Morgan Neville’s hands, we are sure to get a nuanced portrait of the complex, wildly creative man we knew,” Tenaglia said.

The deal between CNN Films and HBO Max and Focus Features was negotiated by Stacey Wolf, senior vice president of business affairs for CNN Worldwide, and Stephanie Schroeder, senior vice president for business affairs for direct-to-consumer content for WarnerMedia, on behalf of CNN Films and HBO Max, respectively, with Carol Smithson, vice president for business and legal affairs for Focus Features.

Recently, CNN Films executive produced the Todd Douglas Miller-directed and produced Apollo 11, an archival documentary exploring the historic NASA mission that resulted in humanity’s first steps on the moon and safe return home. The Rob Epstein-, Jeffrey Friedman-directed Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice about the life and musical journey of the legendary singer, also executive produced by CNN Films, is currently in theaters. Scandalous, about the history and cultural influence of the National Enquirer newspaper, is directed by Mark Landsman and will open in theaters Nov. 15.

 

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