The Fast Five: Story Issues Shut Down a 'Star Wars' Production, While FX Fights For Its Name
January 27, 2020
You see this sentiment all the time, “There’s nothing more important than a good story.” If you’re questioning how true it actually is, then look no further than today’s Fast Five, where we cover a major Star Wars show getting shut down right before production even starts over story concerns. But first, TV networks take a stab at what they hope will be the next great story.
PILOT SEASON BEGINS
It’s that time of year again. After delivering the pilot scripts ordered over the summer, writers sit around drinking scotch, staring at their cell phones with nobody to call, because they all fired their agents. Instead, they’re hitting F5 on their laptops, cruising Deadline, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter looking for any mention of whether or not their project got ordered to pilot. For those who did get an order, it’s crunch time as they compete for talent in front of and behind the camera, to give their show the best shot at a pick-up. Probably with a fresh glass of scotch. Writers love scotch. Deadline’s annual “Primetime Pilot Panic” rundown keeps track of every show ordered to pilot and with regular updates to include casting news and the project’s current status. Aspiring writers should keep track of this information. Not only should you stay informed on your industry, but being aware of similar projects is necessary so you’re not blindsided when you pitch a show about cops who travel through time into the bodies of victims—and you’re asked how it’s different from NBC’s Echo.
IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY, UNLESS YOU’RE OBI-WAN KENOBI
The Untitled Obi-Wan Kenobi Star Wars show planned for the Disney+ streaming service has hit a setback. The show parted ways with writer and McMafia creator Hossein Amini and will start from scratch with a new story. Director Deborah Chow and star Ewan McGregor both remain attached to the project that will hopefully film early next year instead or over this summer. So what was the problem? Turns out, it may have been a little too similar to that other big Start Wars hit, The Mandalorian—and, if you haven’t seen it and have somehow avoided all mention of the show, just skip ahead to the next section to avoid spoilers—following Obi-Wan as he protected a young Luke and/or Leia. The Mandalorian followed the bounty hunter as he cared for a child dubbed by the world as Baby Yoda, so you see the plight… Plus, absolutely nobody will be able to top that character’s cuteness. This is the second time the future of an Obi-Wan project was dictated by another Star Wars property. In 2017, the planned feature was shelved after Solo: A Star Wars Story did not make as much money as Disney hoped. Rival projects can often lead to writers changing material at the last minute, and Matthew Vaughn said he had to change a fight scene in X-Men: First Class after Inception was released with a similar dream-like battle between characters, but rarely does this competition come from within. Everybody at LucasFilm would have been well aware of The Mandalorian’s story as Obi-Wan was being developed, so maybe there were larger creative differences that caused Disney to rethink the project.
FX SHOWS LAUNCHING ON HULU WILL COUNT AS FX SHOWS AT THE EMMYS
What’s in a name? It’s what Juliet Capulet pondered when she desperately wanted to get it on with Leonardo DiCaprio. And now it’s a question FX has forced the Television Academy to answer. Maybe putting the cart before the horse, FX wants Emmy® recognition for all those shows it’s giving away to Hulu. Ex Machina writer Alex Garland’s Devs, Black Sails creator Jonathan E. Steinberg’s The Old Man starring Jeff Bridges, and the Cate Blanchett vehicle Mrs. America from writer Dahvi Waller, were all developed by FX to air on FX, but an abrupt change of heart last year saw all three shows move to “FX on Hulu” instead. Now, even though none of these shows will actually air on FX, should they be award contenders, their numbers will all count toward that network’s tally.
The decision to attempt a hostile takeover of Hulu is not surprising. FX has long pushed the envelope but found itself hindered by the rules of basic cable. From the gore of American Horror Story to the language of The People vs OJ, to the nudity in The Americans, the writers behind these shows were fighting an uphill battle to try and tell the stories authentically. Hulu does not have any restrictions—beyond whatever rules new owner Disney wants to roll out—so FX can finally give its writers full creative freedom to go to whatever lengths they need to, to tell the best story.
NETFLIX INCREASES RATINGS BY 35% BY SWITCHING ITS MEASURING METHOD
The Witcher has become Netflix’s most watched series of all time! Maybe people like the fantasy show and find it to be a worthy successor to fill the Game of Thrones-sized hole in their hearts. Or maybe, Netflix completely switched how it measures audiences. Spoiler alert: it’s the latter. The Witcher was watched by 76 million households under Netflix’s new method of measuring audiences. So how is the new method different from the old one? Previously, you would have to watch at least 70% of a movie or the first episode to count as a viewer. Now, you only need to watch 2 minutes to count. So, if you turn a movie off after the opening credits or you go to check on what your dog is barking at while Netflix auto-plays from the menu, you count as watching whatever new movie the service has been aggressively pushing on you. Not surprisingly, Netflix has been trumpeting these new numbers without revealing how many people actually made it past the first two minutes of 6 Underground. And for those who didn’t, you’re missing out on one of the greatest action movies of all time. So many innocent pedestrians were run over in that movie.
THE ONLY THING YOU CAN CATCH AT CHINESE THEATERS THIS WEEK IS A NEW VIRUS
Mainland China is taking unprecedented steps to contain a new strain of Coronavirus that has spread worldwide. While this doesn’t include shutting down a 40,000 person dinner held in Wuhan last weekend in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record, it does include pulling seven big theatrical releases due to hit cinemas for Lunar New Year. This weekend is the busiest movie-going period of the year, and the move could result in the loss of a billion dollars from the global box office’s year-end tally. Since restrictions prevent movies from being released outside of China before they premiere on the mainland, this has stopped movie releases in Singapore and Malaysia as well.
The move to pull the movies was designed to stop people from gathering in close proximity with one another, when many of the infected may be unaware that they are carrying the virus. This news comes at the same time as a second case has been confirmed on American soil, two cases have been found in France, and one in Australia, all from people traveling from Wuhan. But this doesn’t mean those unlucky people stuck in their homes have to miss out. Lost in Russia, the third movie in a popular trilogy set to open this weekend, will stream for free online after the owner of social media platform TikTok paid $90 million for the rights.
Written by: Conrad SylviaConrad Sylvia is the creator of the The Week in Television, a private industry newsletter that recaps the week's television news in a humorous and unique manner. Throughout the years he has developed projects for studios and production companies and continues to provide freelance research on the current television landscape and international marketplace. He is also a fan of drinking in the bathtub. A full tub if he's happy, an empty tub if he's sad.