‘The Wire’ Creator, David Simon, Pulls Upcoming HBO Series From Texas Following Abortion Ban

David Simon, mainly known for being the creator of popular series “The Wire,” announced that he will not be filming his newest upcoming series for HBO in Texas as originally planned because of the state’s abortion ban that passed earlier this month. 

The specific project that was set to film in Texas has not been announced, however, Simon claimed the restrictive abortion law passed in the state motivated him to film in other locations. The ban currently in place means abortions can’t be performed after six weeks, and allows citizens to sue doctors and other citizens who attempt to access safe abortion procedures after the six week point in their pregnancy. 

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“[As] an employer, this is beyond politics. I’m turning in scripts next month on an HBO non-fiction miniseries based on events in Texas, but I can’t and won’t ask female cast/crew to forgo civil liberties to film there. What else looks like Dallas/Ft. Worth?”

Simon took to Twitter to make his announcement, which was met with mixed reactions based on the individuals in Texas who don’t support the law but don’t have the means or desire to leave. Critics argue that the refusal to film in the state hurts working professionals in Texas and also diverts critical resources. 

The Dallas Film & Creative Industries Office in response to Simon’s announcement tweeted: “Laws of a state are not reflective of its entire population. Not bringing a production to Dallas (a big ‘D’) only serves to further disenfranchise those that live here. We need talent/crew/creatives to stay & vote, not get driven out by inability to make a living.”

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Simon then responded to the tweet, defending his decision and claiming that his intentions were being completely misunderstood by critics. 

“You misunderstand completely. My response is NOT rooted in any debate about political efficacy or the utility of any boycott. My singular responsibility is to securing and maintaining the civil liberties of all those we employ during the course of a production.”

After Texas officially passed the abortion ban, several other film industry professionals called for a “boycott” of using the state for any sort of Hollywood production. Oscar winner Patricia Arquette called for a boycott of the Lone Star state while Salesforce CEO, Mark Benioff, offered his Texas employees the option of relocating with support of the company in response to the ban.

The overall goal of these “boycotts” when state’s pass laws that attack civil liberties is to show them that human rights are more important than the revenue that can be brought in by being the setting of a Hollywood production.

Reading Book

Rhianna Pratchett Thrilled To Continue Father’s Legacy As Fantasy Fiction Author

Rhianna Pratchett grew up watching her father create a mythical world that fans fell in love with through his iconic Discworld comic book series. Now, five years after Terry Pratchett’s death, Rhianna decided to try her hand at fantasy fiction writing.

Glacier in Alaska

John Green’s YA Novel “Looking for Alaska” Adapted for Hulu Miniseries

For years, John Green has authored young adult novels which have received widespread acclaim, not only from his audience of young readers, but from critics around the world. The author’s success has led to the adaptation of several of his stories on the big screen; in 2014, Green’s book about teenagers with cancer who fall in love was adapted into a feature film, and the following year, Paper Towns, a romantic mystery comedy-drama film based on the 2008 novel of the same name, found its way to movie theaters around the world. Both films were financial successes, with the former movie receiving generally positive reviews and the latter film receiving mixed reviews. Their success has led to renewed interest in adapting Green’s other works, including his first novel, the Printz Medal winner Looking for Alaska, which is about a burgeoning romance between two teenagers at a boarding school that ends in tragedy.

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John Green sold the film rights to Paramount Pictures in 2005, just a year after the novel’s publication, with the belief that it would never be adapted into a film. Paramount had shelved the project for years, due to a lack of interest, but started looking more seriously at the prospect of adapting the novel after the success of the film version of The Fault in Our Stars. In 2015 Paramount commissioned a screenplay of the book, and had begun actively casting the film, but plans to produce the movie were canceled indefinitely. In 2018, it was announced that Hulu would be producing an 8-part miniseries based on the book, and John Green announced the lead cast, with Kristine Froseth playing Alaska and Charlie Plummer playing the book’s main character, Miles. Production of the series has been completed, and all eight episodes are set to premiere tomorrow, October 18, 2019, exclusively on the Hulu streaming platform.

Initial reviews of the miniseries, which were released today, are mostly positive. Caroline Framke of Variety thought that the miniseries “wears its bleeding heart on its sleeve,” as its precocious and pretentious cast of teenage characters rings true to the experience of life as a teenager, even if the characters’ superiority complexes start to grate on the viewer. Nevertheless, she praised the miniseries for fleshing out its secondary characters, even though she felt the series’ protagonist was uninteresting. Though she felt that the series’ depiction of Alaska hewed closely to tropes of the genre, as she represents a variation of the infamous “manic pixie dream girl” archetype, the show uses its eight-hour runtime to expand on her character enough to make viewers genuinely interested in her character.

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Jordan Julian, of The Daily Beast, was even more laudatory, claiming that the series is even better than the book, and characterized the show as “beautiful and idealized, foreboding, and entirely relatable to anyone who recalls the intensity of being a teenager.” According to Julian, the show excels in a genre that’s “notoriously difficult to get right,” as she felt that the characters’ dialogue was “natural and self-aware,” and applauded the show for developing Alaska’s character beyond the male narrator’s interpretation featured in the book. Kristine Froseth, of Hollywood Reporter, also praised the series, though she felt that the series “struggles to crack the title character.” Like the other reviewers, Julian praised the series’ decision to keep the events set in 2005 rather than updating the timeline for a modern audience, as this decision both solves the problem of characters not engaging with cell phones and social media as well as invokes a sense of childhood nostalgia among the series’ adult audience, helping them to connect with the youthful mindsets of the cast.

Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone gave the show a similarly positive review, awarding it four out of five stars. Sepinwall thought the show gave Green’s characters “the respect they deserve,” as they are portrayed by a talented and charming cast of young actors. Not every reviewer, however, was so positive. Kevin Yeoman of Screen Rant complained that the miniseries failed to “escape its own artificiality,” arguing that the show came off as neither realistic nor significant. Yeoman felt that the characters were incompletely written, having a set of personality quirks rather than cohesive personalities. 

You can watch the trailer for Looking for Alaska here

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Director Chair

Trailer for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Released

Spoilers for Breaking Bad follow.

Breaking Bad’s ending, while providing an emotionally satisfying conclusion for the series’ principal characters, left open the fate of deuteragonist Jesse Pinkman, who was last seen racing away from a Nazi compound in a stolen El Camino. The critically-acclaimed series spawned a spin-off, Better Call Saul, which is also critically acclaimed but does not address the question of what happens to Jesse Pinkman, as the series takes place before the events of Breaking Bad. However, a film entitled El Camino, starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman was secretly written, produced, and directed by Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, and premiers on Netflix on October 11th.

As a result of the production’s intense secrecy, details about the film are scarce. On Tuesday, a two-minute trailer was released which, though it provides hints about which characters and locations will be featured in the film, does not give much in the way of indication of overall plot progression. In the trailer, a battered Pinkman arrives at the house of his friend Skinny Pete, and is joined by series regular Badger. Pinkman showers and sets off on a journey to an unknown location for unknown reasons, stopping to dig something up in the New Mexico desert and running from the police.  An unidentified voice asks Pinkman, “You ready?” to which he replies, “Yeah,” before the film’s title appears on-screen. Though the trailer provides fans with very little information to work with, this might be for the best, as it ensures that viewing the film on its premiere will ensure an unpredictable and fresh experience.

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Though the entire cast and crew are notoriously tight-lipped, Gilligan and others have revealed a few details about the film in interviews and promotional materials. The full cast of returning characters and actors has not yet been confirmed, but Vince Gilligan has said that more than ten characters from the series will return, and Jonathan Banks has said that his character, Mike Ehrmantrout, will appear in the film, though the character died during the series. (The river where Ehrmantrout was shot is featured in the trailer, alongside two blurry figures, indicating the film may feature a flashback to the moments immediately preceding Ehrmantrout’s death.) The film was shot under the working title of Greenbrier, and used the ARRI Alexa brand of camera, giving it a more cinematic look than the series had.

Perhaps the best source of information about the movie is a feature in The Hollywood Reporter which is based off of interviews of both Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul, during which they describe the process of creating the film and its inspirations. During the interview, Gilligan said that while watching Breaking Bad beforehand will surely enhance your experience of watching the film, it is not necessary to do so to understand the film’s plot. Because the film had a much higher budget than any of the episodes of Breaking Bad, Gilligan had a lot more flexibility when it came to making filming decisions. Gilligan has long wished for a theatrical release of a Breaking Bad film, and with El Camino, this dream will be realized, as the film will be presented in a limited theatrical release alongside the October 11th Netflix premiere, before a television screening on AMC early next year.