Tag: gus van sant

UPDATE: ABC orders “When We Rise” LGBT rights miniseries from “Harvey Milk”‘s Dustin Lance Black



2ND UPDATE: After “Milk”, Gus Van Sant reteams with Lance Black as director and executive producer of the miniseries.

UPDATE: Shooting is now scheduled for January 2016. 

Originally published in March 2015

ABC adds a late entry to its drama pilots slate for 2015/2016 pilot season : “When We Rise”, from Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black.

With already 12 pilots ordered, all filming right now, ABC is still hungry for more with a late entry that may not be ready in time for the upfronts race but which is eyeing a mini-series order for about 8-10 episodes. Casting has just started. When We Rise, written by Dustin Lance Black, an Oscar Winner for his Harvey Milk script, also responsible for Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar and a few episodes of HBO’s Big Love, is a period piece that tells the history of the gay rights movement that started with the Stonewall Riots in 1969. It’s a passion project for Black, who was raised in a Mormon house in Texas and has worked tirelessly for marriage equality and gay rights since his carreer in Hollywood started to rise. The show will focus on the personal and political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a diverse group of men and women from the LGBT community. It’s an ABC Studios production. Laurence Mark (Julie & Julia, Dreamgirls, iRobot, Last Vegas) is co-producing.


The Devil You Know (HBO) pilot preview: Meet Nancy Botwin & Piper Chapman’s wild ancestors


Also known as “New World“. Pilot “One To Tear My Soul Away” written & produced by Jenji Kohan (Orange is the new black, Weeds), Bruce & Tracy Miller (The 100, Eureka, ER). Co-produced by Mark BurleyTara Herrmann (Orange is the new black, Weeds). Directed & co-produced by Gus Van Sant (Boss, The Sea of Trees, Harvey Milk, Elephant, Will Hunting). For HBO & Lionsgate Television. 66 pages.

Description: The circumstances around one of the most compelling chapters in American history in 1692 where intolerance and repression set neighbor against neighbor and led Salem, New England, one of the first towns in America, to mass hysteria…

With Eddie Izzard (Hannibal, United States Of Tara, The Riches), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Selfie, Guardians of the Galaxy), Ever Carradine (Once & Again), James Marsters (Buffy, Angel, Smallville), Anne Dudek (Big Love, Dr House, Mad Men), Mary Mouser (Body Of Proof, NCIS), Damien Molony (Ripper Street, Being Human), Kate Nash, Ewen Bremner, Nadia Alexander, Nigel Lindsay, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Hannah Nordberg, Will Pullen, Ismenia Mendes


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There is something fascinating that’s happening right now on TV, something impossible to ignore any longer. Bold and provocative HBO had for a long time only one solid challenger called Showtime, that used more or less the same model for more or less the same results. It was heaven on earth. The rest of TV was just something else entirely. Like two faraway continents that could never meet. Then AMC came out of nowhere and shaked the ground a little bit, just enough to create a fracture. But HBO didn’t move or even blink. European television did some bold moves too. It impressed and it inspired, but it did just that. Then came Netflix, like a tsunami that destroyed the shore and disturbed the peace. Soon enough, Amazon and Hulu will become bigger ships, eager to invade. HBO can’t just let its throne being robbed and its kingdom fall. Revenge is coming. And there will be blood.

Jenji Kohan was HBO’s ennemy for a long time. She created Weeds for Showtime, a dark comedy that really defined the network and helped put it on the map. And she did it again for Netflix by inventing critically acclaimed dramedy Orange is the New Black. Both shows could have been on HBO. But they weren’t. Now it’s time for Jenji to use her magic and do to HBO what she did for Showtime and Netflix: pushing the boundaries even further. And hopefully, people will love that and ask for more. The thing is though, HBO has already done pretty amazing things for 15 years now. And boundaries they pushed. Oh yes, they did. Jenji Kohan’s no-so-secret weapon might be her very distinctive female voice. HBO is more of a male-oriented channel, with a few exceptions. That’s how it is. The Devil You Know is definitely a provocative drama that put women at the center of it all. Some of them take drugs. Others are in cage. Most of them FEEL caged. They don’t sell weeds and they don’t wear orange jumpsuit, but they are not that different from Nancy Botwin or Piper Chapman. They are their ancestors. They were there at the beginning of the new world and damn, they suffered.

The Devil You Know starts with a scary scene that resembles Game Of Thrones’ opening, but less gory. A young girl named Betty is walking in the snow on a frigid day, during the coldest winter of the century – the sixteenth century. She feeds the pigs while singing, when a dark man moves closer and closer to her, until she sees his head: he has the face of a crow. He spreads his huge wings, takes off and flies into the clear white sky while Betty is running away towards the village. Salem. During the whole pilot, Betty has visions of crows attacking humans, ravaging bodies, eating raw flesh. Like she’s possessed. By the devil? But she’s not the only one having troubles. Then the first few pages are boring, ‘cos the show looks like something we’ve already seen a thousand times. A history drama, not far from a documentary about American history. It’s not uninteresting but not particularly engaging either. We’re introduced to a least 20 different characters. That doesn’t help. But as the story progresses, it gets less and less conventional, and more and more fascinating. Everybody turn out to be fucked-up! Like really fucked-up. The whole city is in on the verge of hysteria: women are devious, lustful, men are perverted and greedy. Even children are dreadful. For example, a group of women (lesbians?) are rubbing and penetrating their vaginas with broomsticks by the fire; while Ann, a 15 year-old girl (who is the closest to a heroin) is giving a handjob to a young man to make him testify in favor of her father, who happens to have a conflict with the richest man of the town. And there’s also a hint of incest, raw fucking with love, a very violent rape performed by an Indian tribe… yes, there’s definitely a lot of sex. Even True Blood‘s characters would blush. Is it a fantasy show? I can’t say. We have to wait 60 pages out of 66 to be introduced to dark magic and possible witchcraft. And it’s OK.

Sadly, this pilot lacks a real plot. Jenji Kohan perfectly knows the rules of writing but she also knows that she can do whatever she wants and not follow them because we all love her for that. Like her characters, she’s unconventional. She can take all the time she needs to set-up the atmosphere -and Gus Van Sant, who directs, is not exactly known to rush things either- HBO will trust her anyway. So the pilot works more as an introduction to all the characters, so we can care about them quickly and I assure you we do, than an actual pilot that builds toward a momentum and gives us a real sense of what the show will be in subsequent episodes. We don’t really know, and we don’t really care. In Jenji we trust.

The Devil You Know is an experiment, its own beast, wild and provocative, a show about townspeople discovering a new world, through a female perspective. I don’t think there is anything like it on TV right now. It’s very different from what Jenji Kohan did before. It’s tantalazing and exciting. What is HBO waiting for to order it? It needs to be on air as soon as possible! With Game Of Thrones, True Detective, The Leftovers, Westworld and now this, HBO is definitely not giving up.