Tag: hbo

Euphoria (HBO) pilot preview: A provocative and addictive new teen drama like no other

GENRE: Teen Drama

LOGLINE: A group of high school students attempt to cope through drugs, sex and violence in an effort to make sense of an uncertain future, one year after one of their own was found dead in a cornfield off a road. Lost and hurt, vulnerable and thrill-seeking, they become a community in a town of lonely individuals. Their story is told by a lying, drug-addicted, fucked-up 17-year-old girl named Rue…

Pilot Cast: Zendaya, Eric Dane, Storm Reid, Maude Apatow, Nina King, Barbie Feirrera, Hunter Schafer, Austin Abrams, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Algee Smith……
Series Creators: Sam Levinson (Wizard of Lie, Another Happy Day, Assassination Nation).
Pilot Director: Augustine Frizzel (Sweetbitter, Never Goin’ Back). 
Producers: Drake, Future the Prince, Sam Levinson, Ron Leshem, Daphna Levin, Tmira Yardeni, Hadas Mozes Lichtenstein, Mirit Toovi, Yoram Mokadi & Gary Lennon.
Studios: A24.

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.




WRITTEN BY: Sam Levinson

PAGECOUNT: 64 pages.

DRAFT: April 27th, 2017

BACKGROUND: Euphoria is the very first HBO teen drama, based on an Israeli format of the same name. When the Israeli version premiered in 2012, it was compared to movies like Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and Larry Clark’s Kids. Those are big shoes to fill, and as I’ve not seen the Israeli show, I can’t say whether or not it met those expectations. Still, from a PR perspective alone, the show seems like a smart bet on HBO’s part. As the network vies for attention in this era of Peak TV, it makes sense that it would pick up a show with the potential to generate the kind of attention that 13 Reasons Why did for Netflix.

SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We’re in the maternity ward of a New York hospital three days after 9/11. There’s a bright, fluorescent light. The camera goes down between the legs of a woman about to give birth, right into her vagina, and then inside her womb. It’s here that we meet Rue, our heroine and narrator, a baby not yet ready to be torn from the comfort of her home. She puts up a fight, but loses. There she is, bloody and in the arms of her mother, Leslie. On a TV set, there are images of George W. Bush standing atop Ground Zero, facing the world saying “I can hear you! The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” People are chanting “USA! USA! USA!.” A nipple is shoved into Rue’s mouth.

Through a series of shots, we’re introduced to Rue’s childhood in a white suburban middle-class neighborhood. At 4 years old, a therapist diagnoses her with Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder and possible Bipolar Disorder. As a 10 year-old, Rue is chubby and so heavily medicated as to appear catatonic. We see a montage of famous people including Vincent Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, Fiona Apple and Britney Spears, reminding us that those with mental disorders can still achieve great things. Cut to Rue at 17, as she snorts fine powder. She tells us about her teenage years: the first dick pic she received at the age of 9, her first kiss at 12, the hand jobs and blow jobs, some of which she was emotionally coerced into…

Now she’s laying naked on the tile of the laundry room of a rando fuckboi’s parents. He’s asking her if she came. She says yes, but she’s clearly lying… and she’s clearly high. Then, finally a moment of sweetness: an old home video of her trying to hula hoop in the backyard with her father. He’s encouraging her, telling her not to give up. Back to today, where she’s clearly given up. She introduces us to Nate Jacobs, the star quaterback of the football team, only to confess that he was found dead in a cornfield off Route 38… and that she’s the one who killed him.

COMMENTS: The definition of Euphoria is “a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness,” but there’s nothing about Rue, her “friends” or the show itself that seems to come from a happy place. Instead, this is a really, really sad and lonely place, perhaps the darkest version of a teen drama we’ve ever seen. In comparison, Skins and 13 Reasons Why seem like walks in the park. And it’s exactly what you’d expect from the network that brought you True DetectiveThe Night Of and Sharp Objects. But its representation of troubled and highly intoxicated teenagers won’t be for everyone. This is clearly an adult show, and that’s where it’s likely to be controversial — teenagers and young adults will find it, whether it’s on HBO or somewhere else. And the more it will be talked about, the more they’ll want to watch it.

In the context of the pilot episode, drug use may be seen as glorified or glamourized (the directing will play an important role). Or at least as an inevitable rite of passage for a “normal” teenager. I imagine the show will be smarter than that, and will want to send a message of prevention and awareness. But in a country where there’s an rampant opioid epidemic, where drug overdoses have become the leading cause of death of Americans under 50, one can’t afford to be too ambiguous on this subject and/or be seen as taking your time getting to its point. To be sure, Rue is never shown as someone who’s living her best life because of what she’s taking. It’s clear that she can’t be trusted: you never know if she’s telling lies or telling the raw, disturbing truth. She’s also very smart, and — depending on how she’s played by the likable young star Zendaya — may be seen as an attractive example for those already in a vulnerable state. And that’s worrying. At the same time, done right, the show has the potential to be a game-changer… one that actually helps people.

Going back to the storytelling itself, this is a very well-crafted pilot script that’s as addictive as a designer drug. It effectively jumps back and forth in time, thanks to a voice-over that even those who are allergic to the practice will appreciate. Rue’s voice creates further intimacy in an already intimate tale and a certain comfort in the discomfort, until we realize that perhaps we shouldn’t believe everyting that we’re told. (Our narrator is bipolar, after all.) The mess in her head becomes more and more clear to us, as we ourselves are thrown from euphoria to paranoia. That’s quite an feat. Writer Sam Levinson clearly knows how to maintain suspense through his protagonist’s voice. By the pilot’s end, there are multiple mysteries to be solved. And probably more to come in future episodes.

The characters are numerous, and most of them are properly introduced, but the pilot is mostly about Rue and her friendship with Jules, a 17 year-old trans who’s new in town after her parents’ divorce and who’s starting hormone replacement therapy, making her daily life even more difficult than it already is. There are quite a few disturbing and horrifying scenes involving her and her quest for affection. (Transgender activist and runway model Hunter Schafer has been cast in the role.) And there’s Nate. Think 13 Reasons Why‘s Bryce, but even darker. You can’t escape the classic party sequence that seems to appear in every teen drama, but here too, it’s ambitious — striving to be “the druggy equivalent of the Fred Astaire dance sequence in Royal Wedding in a single take.”

FINAL RECOMMENDATION: Suspenseful and provocative, Euphoria portrays a troubled group of rageful teens who traffic in internet fantasies, narcissistic dreams, drug-induced hallucinations and traumatic disorders. Done right, it promises to be more than just a TV show. In any case, it will almost certainly make headlines for HBO when it premieres.



[   ] PASS


Insecure (HBO) pilot preview: For all the broken pussies out there!


Created by Issa Rae (The Choir) & Larry Wilmore (Blackish, The Bernie Mac Show, The Office). Directed by Melina Matsoukas (Videos for We Found Love by Rihanna & Pretty Hurts by Beyoncé). Produced by Prentice Penny (Scrubs, Happy Endings, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Michael Rotenberg (Everybody Hates Chris, King of the Hill, It’s always sunny in Philadelphia), Dave Becky (Broad City, Master of None, Louie) & Jonathan Berry. For HBO & 3 Arts Entertainment. 34 pages.

Description: The awkward experiences and racy tribulations of two modern day African-American women. Issa is 29 and lives with her depressed and unemployed boyfriend. She starts to wondering after four years if it’s really the life she deserves. What if there was more out there? While very successful in her corporate work life, Molly, Issa’s best friend, is very unsuccessful in her love life. It’s time for a change for both of them…

With Issa Rae, Yvonne Orji (Basketball Wife), Jay Ellis (The Game)…

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2015 was the year when half-hour dramedies thrived on television. Just look at how many were realeased and among them how many were just unmissable. Yes, I’m thinking of you newbies Master Of None Casual. And yes, to you too sophomore You’re the worstTransparent. Thanks for all the feels, good vibes and melancholy. Red Oaks & Togetherness, we like you but you can do better. Girls you lead the way and we want you back ASAP. Looking, we already miss you very much my dear. As you all know, 2015 was also the year when afro-americans started getting treated better with shows and characters that are not black for the sake of being black, or just funny sidekicks. Empire, How To Get Away With Murder, Blackish… They opened up all new possibilities. But hey, where’s the dramedies with mostly afro-americans talents and characters? They’re coming in 2016! HBO is getting ready. There will be somewhere this year Brothers in Atlanta, about two 30-year old-reporters who try to make it big in the burgeoning black mecca of contemporary Atlanta; and Insecure, starring newcomer Issa Rae. This one is not to be missed! Mark my words.

It could -and probably will- be billed as a “black Girls“, like Looking was said to be a “gay Girls“. But it would be a bit offensive and most importantly: not entirely true. But we can’t overlook the fact that none of Lena Duham’s Girls are black. No judgement. That’s just a fact. Still, the problems met by Hannah and her girlfriends are the same for many black women all around the world. It would have been nice to just recognize it by giving one part to a woman of colour. Not for quotas. Just to be real. Anyway, I don’t see Insecure as HBO’s response to this b(l)acklash, just the opportunity to give Issa Rae, a really promising writer and comedian, a chance to shine and to tell her truth to all of those are interested to hearing it and seeing it just the way it is. Whether you’re male or female. Or unsure. Whether you’re black or white, or brownish, or whatever. Whether you’re confortable in your own skin or insecure. Like she is. Or at least, like her/our heroin is.

You’ve read the pitch up above (no, you didn’t?! JUST DO IT ALREADY!). That’s pretty much all there is to say about the story at this point. Those two friends realize, going towards their thirties, that they deserve better than this life they’re living. They’re smart, they’re ambitious, they’re entitled to. They’re awkward too sometimes and that’s charming. So they’re ready to make things work. Of course, that won’t be easy. But feeling kind of ready is the first step. And admitting that you have a “broken pussy” as they say,  is another one. This part of the pilot is hilarious. And it’s not just for the sake of saying repetedly the world “pussy” on television. It means something deep for Molly. Even if a vagina is not that deep I learned. Anyway. Some jokes are bold, racy. The tone they used is totally unapologetic and it feels good. They don’t avoid the question of ethnicity, of belonging to a community. But it’s not at the center. Those girls happen to be a lot of different things, sometimes paradoxical things, and one of them is being black. That’s it.

In many ways, I feel like Insecure is more Master of None than Girls. Or a mix of both. The writing is top-notch. It’s damn funny and it has heart and depth. It’s exactly what we’re asking from a cable dramedy. I can’t wait to witness their tribulations. It’s gonna be good my friends! And maybe It’ll help you fixing your very own broken pussy.



EXCLUSIVE: Netflix orders “Mindhunter” series from David Fincher & Charlize Theron


Previously set up at HBO,  the “Mindhunter” drama series produced by David Fincher & Charlize Theron is ordered straight to series by Netflix for a possible late 2016 launch…

Back in 2010, actress Charlize Theron & director David Fincher developed together a show for HBO adapted from the book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker that never came to fruition. The serial killer drama recounts Douglas’ experiences as a top FBI investigator of serial killers and rapists and the profiling techniques he developed. He became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic killers of our time like the man who hunted prostitutes for sports in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer or Seattle’s Green River killer, a case that nearly cost Douglas his life. Every shortened season may follow a different case.

The pilot script was written by Scott Buck, who worked on Six Feet Under & Dexter and who was recently chosen by Netflix to run Marvel’s Iron Fist series. It’s produced through Theron’s Denver and Delilah banner & Jennifer Orme Erwin’s Jen X Productions. Shooting is expected to start in May 2016 in Pittsburgh. They are now looking for the perfect big name who will star as Douglas.


EXCLUSIVE: HBO orders “The Recruiters” pilot from “Zero Dark Thirty” Kathryn Bigelow


UPDATE – The Hollywood Reporter reveals more informations about the story : “Set in Minnesota, the drama will draw open an iron curtain behind which viewers will see the highly impenetrable world of Jihadi recruitment“.


While several drama pilots (Us, The Deuce, The Devil You Know…) are still in contention at HBO, the pay channel has just ordered a new one from oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty)…

The Recruiters tells the story of a high school poet who goes on a journey far from his home. It’s created and directed by Somali born-canadian rapper and musician K’naan Warsame, inspired from his own journey, and produced by Kathryn Bigelow through her company First Light Productions. The shooting is planned for an april 2016 start in Toronto.


EXCLUSIVE: “Wild” director Jean-Marc Vallée reteams with Reese Witherspoon for HBO’s “Big Little Lies”


HBO miniseries “Big Little Lies” starring Nicole Kidman & Reese Witherspoon will be directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild, Dallas Buyers Club, CRAZY). 

Produced by Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and writer David E. Kelley (Ally McBeal, The Practice, Boston Justice) for his first foray into premium cable, the show, based on a best selling novel by australian Liane Moriarty, is in the same vein as The Slap and tells the story of three mothers of kindergartners, each at crossroads, whose apparently perfect lives unravel to the point of murder. Kidman will play Celeste, the kind of beauty who makes the world around her stop and stare. Whitherspoon will play Madeline, a force to be reckoned with, funny, biting and passionnate. New to town single mother Jane has yet to be cast. When Celeste and Madeline takes her under their wing, none of them realize how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all. It’s a show about ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Shooting is expected to start next January and will resume in May. French Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée has been chosen to direct the episodes -the exact number has not been announced yet. It’s a reunion with Reese Witherspoon, whom he directed on Wild in 2014. His previous movie Dallas Buyers Club received a ton of nominations in 2013, including two wins at the Oscars for Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto’s performances. His next movie, Demolition, starring Jack Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, will be released on April 2016.






EXCLUSIVE: HBO orders “Tin Star” series from “28 weeks later” writer


Endemol Shine North America, already behind AMC’s “Hell On Wheels” & DirecTV’s “Kingdom”, has just sold to HBO a direct-to-series drama called “Tin Star” from “28 Weeks later” co-writer Rowan Joffe.

Set in an idyllic mountain town overrun by migrant oil workers from a nearby fracking facility and swamped by a rising tide of crime,  it tells the emotionnaly charged and sometimes funny tale of Jim Worth, a good-humored, teetotal family man and zealous police chief, whose peaceful life is shattered when a newly arrived gang of criminals murder his infant son in a botched attempt to assasinate him. This act -and the shameful responsibility Jim bears for his own cowardice when he ducks to avoid the assassins bullet combined with his refusal to aknowledge the past triggers Jim’s alchoholism. And Jim’s alcholism takes the form of an alter-ego: a hard-drinking, charming, deceitful and ruthlessly violent past self, called Jack Devlin. This is The United States of Tara meets every gritty cable drama you can think of.

English Kudos Film and Television (Broadchurch, Humans, Utopia…) is co-producing this contemporary gripping drama, set to shoot in Calgary, Canada, starting April 2016.