Tag: adan canto

The Hypnotist’s Love Story (ABC) pilot preview: You, female stalker edition

SERIES TITLE: The Hypnotist’s Love Story
NETWORK: ABC
GENRE: Soap Drama

LOGLINE: After a string of failed romances, Ellen, a successful hypnotherapist, is optimistic about her current boyfriend, a charming widower… until he reveals a disturbing truth: a stalker ex-girlfriend Sasha who has been following him and his son for years. Ellen finds herself intrigued, and oddly thrilled by the stalker, entirely unaware that they’ve already met…

Pilot Cast: Juliet Rylance (McMafia, The Knick), Heather Graham (Austin Powers, Boogie Nights, Californication), Adan Canto (Designated Survivor, The Following), Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Jane The Virgin), Liza Lapira (9JKL, Don’t Trust The Bitch, Dollhouse), Skye P. Marshall (Black Lightning)…
Series Creator: Katie Wech (Star, The Secret Circle, Rizolli & Isles, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland).
Pilot Director: Francesca Gregorini (Humans, Electric Dreams).
Producers: Katie Wech, Heather Graham, David Hoberman (Monk), Todd Lieberman & Laurie Zaks (Castle, The Family, Wicked City).

Studios: ABC Studios & Mandeville Television.

Ever wonder how TV executives wade through the dozens of pilot scripts they’re pitched each year? They have staff script readers, who provide what’s called “Script Coverage,” an executive summary and a recommendation for each script. Now you too can preview some of the season’s most buzzed about pilots and find out whether we’d recommend them for pickup. Note that all opinions are our own, and all plot, casting and other creative details described here are subject to change.

 

 

You’ll Like It If You Already Like: You, Dirty John, Lifetime and Hallmark Channel movies…

Likely Timeslot: Paired with The Bachelor in midseason or with The Bachelorette in the summer. Or sent to Lifetime or Hallmark Channel.

 

WRITTEN BY: Katie Welch

PAGECOUNT: 61 pages

DRAFT: 3rd Revised Network Draft. 1/11/19

 

BACKGROUND: The Hypnotist’s Love Story was the first pilot season order for ABC (NYPD Blue‘s happened off-cycle) and the first pilot order for the network’s new entertainment president Karey Burke, who comes from Disney’s cable channel Freeform. She wants to target women to lure them back at ABC and take back that number one crown they lost to NBC. The pilot is based on australian writer Liane Moriarty’s book published in 2011. It’s one of the seven international bestselling novels she wrote, with Big Little Lies, The Husband’s Secret and Truly Madly Guilty, each claiming the No. 1 spot on The New York Times Best Seller list. As you all know, Big Little Lies‘ HBO adaptation became a hit and won multiple Emmy Awards, while a second installment is on its way. If The Hypnotist’s Love Story were to be ordered to series, it would become the second adaptation to come to our TV screens, which is an indeniable strong selling argument for ABC.

Heather Graham, who plays the stalker character, has been the driving force behind the project from the get-go. She brought the book to Mandeville Television and ABC Studios after meeting with several producers. The pitch led to a buy, then a script and now a pilot.

 

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: ELLEN (38) is a hypnotherapist who excels at helping others with their relationships, but can’t seem to find one of her own. Four dates in with PATRICK SCOTT (38), a handsome widower and single dad, Ellen finally thinks she may have found her soulmate. She remains undeterred after Patrick is forced to reveal that he has a stalker, an exgirlfriend named SASHA (40s), when she suddenly appears at their dinner date, but Ellen’s best friend JULIA (38) is immediately concerned. Back at work, Ellen convinces her client ROSIE (28) to break off her engagement with media mogul IAN ROMAN (40s), who in turn publishes disparaging articles about Ellen and threatens her. Ellen eventually meets Patrick’s son JACK (10), which enrages Sasha, who had a very close relationship with him. Sasha breaks into Ellen’s house after seeing where she leaves the spare key, bakes banana bread in her kitchen, and then gives it to Jack. Ellen ends up in need of new clients after Ian’s articles scare off her old ones, and she ends up unknowingly in a session with Sasha.

COMMENTS: I guess sometimes you can’t resist to a strong selling argument and it feels like that’s what happened here with ABC’s top execs when they greenlighted the pilot, based on a weak script but coming from a name. Also, they made their decision while You became a hit on Netflix and Dirty John started to get some traction over there too. They probably saw an opportunity to tell a similar stalker-could-be-a-serial-killer story but more focused on women this time. By the way, I have a suggestion for a better title: Crazy In Love. It’s more attractive and it fits better with what’s at stake honestly. It’s two women madly in love and slighlty deranged. And I don’t think a network that launched so many female empowering shows should ruin it with such a dull thing. Of course, women can be stalkers, and they can go crazy, and they can make mistakes and love too much, and badly, but then you have the responsibility to portray them with subtlety and dignity, tell how they got there in the first place. And pitting them against each others is not very 2019… unless you’re doing Killing Eve and have Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s talent and intelligence.

I don’t know if the book it’s adapted from was any good -reviews seem to mixed overall- but there’s always such an efficiency and a great deal of suspense and twists in Liane Moriarty’s work that you can’t really hate it. It’s definitely chick lit but with an edge and the surprising depth that comes with it. The Hypnotist’s Love Story may be the outlier though. There’s no such thing as edge and depth here, I’m not even sure there’s a story. Probably more of a lack of story. I don’t think it’s a good pilot and I don’t think it could become a good TV series either. The foundations and the characters are simply not solid enough and it’s overall very predictable. I even felt kind of insulted sometimes. The writer sets some straps for us -why not? let’s play!- but gosh, they are so obvious. How could she think we would jump in? And in terms of twists and craziness I’m very disappointed too. The craziest thing the stalker Sasha does is… baking banada bread in her rival’s kitchen. I mean, WTF??! If it’s supposed to give us an idea of how far she’s able to go, please stop right there! Which leads me to a reflexion I had during the whole reading: those characters don’t act like functionning adults. There is teenage angst and obsessive behavior that just doesn’t feel appropriate for the age group they’re supposed to be in. And it’s mostly painful to watch. It’s not fun. It’s probably not supposed to be but at least we would enjoy it more if it was. What it is supposed to be though it’s thrilling. And it’s not that either. It’s too cheesy to be.

In the end, can something be saved from this mess? Certainly not Patrick’s character, who’s one-dimensional and too good to be true. You have a hard time understanding why both Ellen and Sasha desire him so much, he’s so boring… It all rests on the actor’s shoulders now to make him at least charming and damn hot. Adan Canto should be able to. Fans of Big Little Lies, you’ll get a good amount of normal (and uninteresting?) chit-chat with friends and family, around coffees, cup of teas or glasses of wine. But most of it sounds fake sadly. And Ellen’s best friend is one more flat protagonist. One character I liked though is Ellen’s extravagant mother, played by Jane Seymour. She’s actually funny, that’s a breath of fresh air. So no, not much can be saved from this mess. But it’s watchable if you have time to spare and a fondness for these things.

 

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Since both You and Dirty John are uniformly dull shows that worked anyway, there’s hope for The Hypnotist’s Love Story. But maybe this one would have a better chance on Netflix thanks to the system of recommendations or on Disney+ to stay in the family. Coming back week after week would suppose a need of better writing, more appealing characters and stronger hooks. I want to believe ABC wants to win women back with shows that are more empowering and less insulting. 

 

OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:

[ X ] PASS
 ] CONSIDER
[  ] RECOMMEND

“The Curse of the Fuentes Women” (NBC) pilot preview: “Ugly Betty”‘s creator wants you to have an orgasm!

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Written & produced by Silvio Horta (Ugly Betty, Jake 2.0). Co-produced by Andrew Maher. Directed by Jason Ensler (Hart of Dixie, Franklin & Bash, Red Band Society). For NBC, Warner Bros. Television & Silent H Prod. 62 pages.

Description: When Salvador, a magical and mysterious young man inexplicably emerges from the ocean during a violent storm, he breathes new passion into the lives of the Fuentes women who own a Cuban restaurant on Miami Beach: the beautiful but lonely Lola, who instantly falls in love with him, her mother Esperanza, who’s losing her mind since she’s been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer, and her troubled daughter Soledad, who’s secretly pregnant. The curse that ruined their lives for so long finally breaks…

With Adan Canto (The Following, Mixology, X-Men: Days of the future past), Christina Vidal (Taina), Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall, Law & Order: Los Angeles), Katie Sarife, Sonia Braga (Alias, Royal Pains), Daphne Rubin-Vegain (Smash), Robbie Jones (One Tree Hill, Hellcats, 90210, Bosch), Trace Lysette

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NBC is definitely trying to sweep the latino american community off their feet this year, and most importantly off their spanish speaking channels like Univision & Telemundo, which draw big ratings every night. A smart strategy since ABC is more into the african-american community thanks to the Shondaland series & comedy Blackish, while FOX has the surprise success of Empire. In order to make a splash, they are rolling out the heaviest artillery: besides Eva Longoria’s Telenovela (Read the preview), Jennifer Lopez’s Shades Of Blue (Read the preview) & America Ferrera’s Superstore (Read the preview), NBC ordered a new show from Ugly Betty‘s creator, Silvio Horta. The man had a hard time getting one off the ground with all his previous attempts (Bastards & Sold! for ABC…) failing to get picked-up. Will The Curse of the Fuentes Women break the cycle? It could, but should it?

For those who didn’t understand the pun in the title of the show -can’t blame you, it’s not an easy one- let me try explaining it to you without being too crude. Of course, Fuentes is the name of the family first. But fuentes in spanish also means fountain. The curse is linked to a fountain. But the naughty thing is the (rare) women who ejaculate water -like a fountain- when they have an orgasm are called “mujeres fuente” in spanish, or “femmes fontaines” in french. You got it now? It was important to note because it puts you in the mood for what the show aims at: giving you pleasure -a guilty one or not, you choose- and why not even making you squirt! Not much of the show is really about sex, but there is a scene I have to talk about: Lola, our desperate and lonely heroin, is so turned on by the new man in town that she takes a banana away with her in the toilet of the restaurant and starts to masturbate with it! And she screams loudly. I’m not sure NBC will keep it in the final version, but I’ll be impressed and proud of them if they don’t touch any of it. It was the climax of the pilot for me. Later on, Lola hooks up widly in the kitchen with her cook, Jean Baptiste. But that’s it for the sex. Well, if you don’t take into account the fact that Salvador is so so hot that every scene he’s in is automatically wets your pants.

The first act is kind of excruating to read but unavoidable for us to understand: it’s the whole story of the curse from when it started to today. That’s when the show looks like a telenovela the most. It’s a little bit funny thanks to the voiceover (in the same fashion as Jane The Virgin) but it’s really long. It’s the director’s job to make it better now, I guess. The rest of the pilot is way more exciting, even if I’m not totally sold on the characters. I’m afraid Lola turns into Betty Suarez. We loved her but sometimes, she was too whiny and way too nice with everybody. Esperanza is an interesting and touching character due to her illness, but it will be hard to use her every week as long as she can’t remember anything. Soledad is the mandatory teenage character that has yet to prove being worth more screen time. Hopefully, there’s a Wilhelmina kind of bitch, Orquidia, the one that created the curse in the first place, but she’s not funny in her wickedness, at least for now. And she needs to be. What’s the point otherwise? The Curse of the Fuentes Women is mostly ridiculous, with some crazy scenes like when Salvador spits out so much sea water that he filled a whole room with it or when he makes the whole neighborhood dance because he is so sexy and he knows it, but that’s exactly what makes the show attractive at the same time.

While Devious Maids is a not a ratings juggernaut for Lifetime but a decent player nonetheless and as Jane The Virgin became a critical darling more than a hit for the CW, The Curse of the Fuentes Women can’t be a sure thing at NBC but I totally see it joining their Friday’s supernatural line-up, paired with Grimm. It is way more compatible than Dracula, Hannibal and Constantine were, because it’s lighter, funnier and of course, magical enough. Plus, they really need something like this, not too serious, in their schedule. That being said, TV can do without the Fuentes Women. But who would refuse an orgasm when it’s so gently offered?

Catches of the Week: it’ all about diversity! Vanessa Williams, Laverne Cox, Natalie Martinez…

desperate-housewives-s8-vanessa-williams-renee-perry-dvdbash1

While the directors’ jobs are filled quickly, casting is tough this pilot season. Because of the increasing competition from cable and most importantly digital platforms like Netflix & Amazon, the talent pool of experienced actors is almost empty. The pressure over channels and talent agencies is higher than ever. So far, catches are not impressive. But most of them have something in common: diversity! 

NBC is very high on diversity, something they made pretty clear since their pick-ups of series Telenovela (Eva Longoria) and Shades Of Blue (Jennifer Lopez) and pilots Go, Jerrod Go!, The Curse of the Fuentes women, martial arts Warrior, and Love is a Four Letter Word. They all requires latinos, afro-americans and asian americans in lead roles.

This is how Nadine Velasquez and Cynthia McWilliams have been cast this week in the marriage drama Love is a Four Letter Word which chronicles the collision of race, sexuality and gender roles when three diverse couples put modern marriage to the test. The My Name is Earl alumna will play play Rebecca, a Cuban American who is deeply in love with Julie and very happy with their marriage, but doesn’t realize her wife is actively considering getting back together with her ex, Nick. McWilliams will play Tandi, one half of a happy couple with a young son who is experiencing difficulties fulfilling her dream of having another child. Hot Adan Canto, seen in The Following and Mixology, got the part of the mysterious man who brings the Curse to the Fuentes women in the pilot from Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta. Natalie Martinez, most recently seen in Under The Dome, will star in Warrior as Kai Forrester, a damaged heroine who works undercover with physical and spiritual guidance from a mysterious martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord. Finally veteran S. Epatha Merkerson from Law & Order is reuniting with producer Dick Wolfe with a lead role in the Chicago Fire and Chicago PD planted spin-off Chicago Med. She will be the head of the hopistal.

LAVERNE

In other diversity casting news, Vanessa Williams from Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives will play the bold and unapologetic new boss of Kevin Connolly (Entourage) in comedy pilot Fantasy Life for FOX, where Mitch (Connolly) lands his ultimate dream job hosting a fantasy football show, he’s forced to navigate office politics while becoming the star he never thought he could be. Asian American actor Daniel Henney has joined the Untitled Criminal Minds spin-off with Gary Sinise & Anna Gunn. Last but really not least, Laverne Cox, discovered in Orange is the new black, got the part of a transgender attorney in Reasonable Doubt for CBS. If the show is ordered to series, then she’ll become the first transgender regular character on broadcast TV, which is exciting and groundbreaking.

In other non-diversity news (!), cancelled Perception‘s star Eric McCormack, pursued for different roles, will star in musical drama pilot Studio City for FOX, where he’ll play the songwriter father of a young singer who’s trying to make it big in Hollywood, but the man turns out to be a drug dealer to the stars! Ex-Breaking Bad actress Betsy Brandt wants to prove she can be funny after the Michael J. Fox Show demise, so she accepted one of the female leads in CBS’ Life In Pieces comedy pilot, with Colin Hanks playing one of her siblings. David Lyons (Revolution, The Cape) toplines drama pilot Game Of Silence, which NBC is very high on. Sweet Zach Gildford (Friday Night Lights, Off The Map), coming off Stanistan‘s pilot USA Network sadly just decided not to pick-up to series, lands on ABC in soap pilot Flesh & Blood. Finally, excellent Annie Potts & John Carroll Lynch will play the heroine’s parents in comedy pilot Family Fortune for ABC, where the central character comes out to her family.