Small screen: Two interracial family pilots sold; Luke Cage crashed Netflix
ABC and CBS may have gotten vastly different grades in our network diversity analysis, but the two networks have something in common going into next fall’s television season. In the meantime, both networks announced many new castings for this season, including the return of Grey’s Anatomy star Sandra Oh. Netflix’s Luke Cage also proved to be very vulnerable this week, after possibly crashing the streaming service, the day after its premier. For these stories and more, read on:
Network: Sandra Oh’s time in scrubs may be up, but the Grey’s Anatomy vet isn’t ready to leave ABC just yet. Oh will appear in a guest-starring role in the next season of Emmy-winning American Crime. She will play a woman running a shelter for victims of domestic abuse in a multi-episode arc. The show recently won an Emmy for Regina King, who will soon be Oh’s co-star along with Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton and Lili Taylor. The show will return to television in 2017.
Speaking of Felicity Huffman, the actress will also star in another ABC program, this time a comedy from the creators of Black-ish. Kenya Barris and Vijal Patel sold the half-hour family comedy titled Black & Wright about a politically divided married couple to ABC Studios, where they have an overall deal. Huffman will play one half of a mixed race couple in Barris’ second politically charged comedy. Barris has a packed schedule this season; along with these two commitments, he also executive produces action dramedy Unit Zero. The sale is one of the biggest of the season.
It won’t be the only multiracial family comedy coming to networks next year, though. Ryan Seacrest, host of everything, sold a script to CBS that will be penned by comedian Dan Ahdoot, about his own interracial engagement. It will follow a couple trying to stay happy despite influence from their vastly different parents. Adhoot previously wrote prank comedy Public Disturbance, which will star Mike Tyson. The comedy could improve CBS’s lack of diversity on screen.
In the meantime, the network appears to already be making strides to improve. Criminal Minds has added Damon Gupton to the main cast in its twelfth season, replacing actor Thomas Gibson. He will play a seasoned special agent introduced later this current season. He is the second diverse actor to be added to the starring roster this season, following Adam Rodriguez who joined last year. Gupton previously appeared in Bates Motel, The Player and Empire.
A new poster for the third season of Fresh off the Boat shows the Huangs fresh on the road. Next week’s season opener will feature the family visiting Taiwan, where Louis (Randall Park) rethinks his life in Orlando. In its third season, the family comedy is the only network program to feature a full Asian family in starring roles. The show will return to ABC October 11.
Cable: FX is about to get some chilly weather. The channel picked up Jon Singleton’s drama Snowfall about the crack cocaine epidemic in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Singleton will direct 10 episodes of the show, having previously directed 1991’s drama Boyz N the Hood. The series will follow numerous characters struggling with the epidemic, played by Damson Idris, Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Resident Evil: Afterlife), Carter Hudson and Emily Rios (The Bridge). It will premier around October 2017.
John Legend will portray a legendary abolitionist in WGN America’s Underground. The singer will play Frederick Douglass in the show’s second season, which will return with new episodes in early 2017. Douglass was born into slavery before escaping to the north and becoming a prominent revolutionary leader. Legend already serves as the show’s executive producer.
Taika Waititi is planning a television sequel to her 2014 horror mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. The comedy series Paranormal Event Response Unit will follow two cops in New Zealand capital Wellington as they defend citizens from a wide variety of monsters in six half-hour episodes. The bad news? It will only air on New Zealand’s local channel TVNZ2. Waititi is currently filming Thor: Ragnarok, which will release in 2017.
Joseph David-Jones is heading to Music City, USA. The Legends of Tomorrow graduate will play a major recurring role in Nashville, which jumped from ABC to CMT. David-Jones will play an up-and-coming bluegrass musician who suffers from intense mood swings. The country-music drama will premier on its new channel early 2017 under new showrunners.
Online: So much for being invincible. Netflix streaming was down for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, AKA the day after Luke Cage dropped on the service. Part of Marvel’s superhero lineup on Netflix, the season marks the first superhero television show starring a person of color. The company never directly said what caused the outage, but it’s not too outlandish to believe legions of fans flocking into Marvel’s next superhero outing may have punched down the service. The show’s Twitter page seems to think so, anyway.
Spike Lee has found his replacement. Hamilton vet Anthony Ramos will play Mars, a role originally played by Lee himself, in Lee’s upcoming Netflix adaption of She’s Gotta Have It. Previously playing the roles of John Laurens and Philip Hamilton in the Broadway smash, this is the Puerto Rican star’s first leading television series role. Lee will direct all ten episodes of the show as an update to his 1986 film.