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April 28, 2020

For all those who've been trying to escape with Netflix while social distancing, get ready for a Netflix show all about social distancing.

Orange is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan is set to executive produce a new Netflix anthology series, Social Distance, which will be produced remotely and set during the coronavirus crisis, per The Hollywood Reporter. Orange is the New Black's Tara Herrmann, Blake McCormick, and Hilary Weisman Graham will also produce, with Graham set as showrunner.

"Our job as storytellers is to reflect reality, and in this new, bizarre, bewildering reality we are all experiencing, we feel passionate about finding connection as we all remain at a distance," the show's producers said. "The experience of social distancing is currently universal, but no individual story is the same. Through a broad spectrum of tales and moments, some seismic and some mundane, we hope to capture a moment in time."

As Hollywood productions have been forced to shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, some shows have continued on remotely, with Saturday Night Live and late night TV shows producing episodes from home. Earlier today, it was announced that One Day at a Time will produce an entirely animated episode since filming can't continue, and Parks and Recreation will also return for a one-off reunion special later this week shot entirely remotely about quarantine life.

Parks producer Michael Schur, though, told Deadline on Tuesday that based on his experience on this special, "I don't think there's any way this is a sustainable method for making TV." Brendan Morrow

April 27, 2020

Might another Barack and Michelle Obama documentary be headed to the Oscars in 2021?

Becoming, a surprise documentary film revolving around Michelle Obama and the book tour for her 2018 memoir, is dropping next week, Netflix has revealed. The film was directed by Nadia Hallgren, and Netflix called it an "intimate look into the life of former First Lady Michelle Obama during a moment of profound change, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House."

In an announcement, the former first lady recalled how "we came together" during the Becoming book tour and wrote, "I treasure the memories and that sense of connection now more than ever, as we struggle together to weather this pandemic, as we care for our loved ones, tend to our communities, and try to keep up with work and school while coping with huge amounts of loss, confusion, and uncertainty," per The Hollywood Reporter.

A first look at Becoming released on Monday by Netflix focused on a discussion Obama held at a community event in Philadelphia. This documentary hadn't been officially announced prior to today, and the Reporter writes that it was kept "top-secret for months."

Barack and Michelle Obama in 2018 signed a production deal with Netflix, and a film produced by the Obamas' Higher Ground Productions, American Factory, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards this year. Becoming is Higher Ground Productions' third movie, The Washington Post notes. Its release also comes after Hillary, a documentary about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, dropped on Hulu last month.

Becoming will begin streaming on Netflix on May 6. Brendan Morrow

April 2, 2020

South by Southwest may have been called off this year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but in some form, the film festival must go on.

Organizers of South by Southwest, the film, music, and technology festival that takes place every year in Austin, Texas, on Thursday announced it's bringing some movies that were set to premiere at the 2020 event to stream on Amazon as part of a 10-day "online film festival."

As the novel coronavirus spread in the United States, South by Southwest was among the first major events to be called off; the decision came after Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a local disaster. It was a major blow to Austin's economy, not to mention to all of the filmmakers who'd been making preparations to debut movies at the festival, which would have kicked off on March 13.

Now, some of these movies can reach audiences online as part of "Prime Video presents the SXSW 2020 Film Festival Collection." Those who were taking part in the festival this year will be invited to opt-in to the online version, the announcement said Thursday. The specific selection of movies hasn't been unveiled yet — The Associated Press notes it's probably safe to say Netflix won't be opting in — but filmmakers who participate will receive a screening fee.

"We're inspired by the adaptability and resilience of the film community as it searches for creative solutions in this unprecedented crisis," Janet Pierson, Director of Film at SXSW, said.

There's no specific date for the online festival, which will be free to watch in the U.S. and will require an Amazon account but not a Prime Video subscription, though organizers are "targeting" late April. Brendan Morrow

October 21, 2019

Monica Lewinsky will continue her campaign against bullying and public shaming with a brand new documentary.

Lewinsky is set to produce a documentary for HBO Max, 15 Minutes of Shame, which is set to explore the "public shaming epidemic in our culture," The Hollywood Reporter reports. She'll appear on camera in the documentary that examines cases of people who have been publicly shamed. Max Joseph, known for co-hosting Catfish: The TV Show, is also producing.

In recent years, Lewinsky has spoken out not only about former President Bill Clinton's "inappropriate abuse of authority" during their affair when she was a young White House intern but also about the "avalanche of pain and humiliation" she experienced during the scandal and his impeachment trial, as she described to John Oliver earlier this year in a Last Week Tonight episode focusing on public shaming.

"I think that with the advent of the internet, and of course social media, we now have situations where it's exasperated beyond what anybody could have imagined," Lewinsky said on the show. "The anonymity that comes with that, that sort of unleashed these whole new personas for people." Lewinsky also spoke on the topic of public shaming and bullying in an acclaimed 2015 TED Talk, and she has produced several anti-bullying public service announcements.

This is Lewinsky's latest project after recently signing on to produce the third season of FX's American Crime Story, which will revolve around the Clinton impeachment scandal. She told Vanity Fair at the time of this announcement, "I'm so grateful for the growth we've made as a society that allows people like me who have been historically silenced to finally reintroduce my voice to the conversation." Brendan Morrow

June 3, 2019

Magic: The Gathering is getting its first ever screen adaptation.

Netflix on Monday announced a new animated series based on the wildly popular card game, which will be produced by Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Variety reports. Never before has Magic: The Gathering been brought to life on screen, although there has in the past been talk of a feature film.

The Russos in a statement said that they have been "huge fans and players of Magic: The Gathering for as long as it has been around, so being able to help bring these stories to life through animation is a true passion project for us." The series is described as being a new storyline that will "expand on the stories of the Planeswalkers."

Netflix is not only scoring an entry into a hugely successful franchise but also another project from the directors of the second highest-grossing film in history; the Russos have also partnered with the streamer on the upcoming movie Dhaka starring Chris Hemsworth, which they are producing.

Netflix's head of anime programming on Monday touted Magic as a "beloved global franchise with a massively engaged fan base," also praising the Russos by saying their "talent for genre storytelling is unmatched."

This could just be the beginning for Magic: The Gathering on Netflix, as The Hollywood Reporter writes that the "big-picture goal" is to "expand the series into a larger franchise featuring multiple series." The Reporter also notes that with this project, Netflix has "found its Game of Thrones-like fantasy franchise." Brendan Morrow

March 6, 2019

Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude is about to receive its first screen adaptation ever.

Netflix on Wednesday announced that a series adaptation of the classic 1967 novel is in the works, touting it as the "first filmed adaptation." García Márquez for years had turned down offers to make his book into a feature film, as he was always worried it wouldn't work as one movie, García Márquez's son, Rodrigo García, explained to The New York Times. He also insisted that any adaptation be in Spanish.

Netflix's adaptation will indeed be in Spanish, and García told the Times that "Netflix was among the first to prove that people are more willing than ever to see series that are produced in foreign languages with subtitles." The streamer last year released Roma, a Spanish-language film that won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was a frontrunner for Best Picture.

García added in a statement on Wednesday, per Deadline, that "in the current golden age of series," the "time could not be better" to adapt the novel and that "we are excited to support Netflix and the filmmakers in this venture." Brendan Morrow

March 1, 2019

Netflix has just debuted a trailer, release date, and title for Ava DuVernay's four-part limited series about the Central Park Five.

When They See Us, the latest project from the director of Selma and A Wrinkle in Time, will explore the infamous case of five teenagers who were wrongly convicted of rape in 1990 and later exonerated.

Netflix's brief trailer plays out in a powerful continuous shot smoothly transitioning from one of the young men getting ready in his bedroom to being confronted by police and eventually ending up in custody, all while a voiceover dismisses him as a "little thug." DuVernay in a tweet on Friday said the film will explore the "millions of young people of color who are blamed, judged and accused on sight."

When They See Us will be released on Netflix on May 31. Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

October 9, 2018

After an almost three-year wait, Netflix has finally released footage from the follow-up to Making a Murderer.

The trailer for Part 2 begins where the last season of the hit documentary series left off. Steven Avery, the subject of season one, reflects on the phenomenon of the show, telling the filmmakers that he "didn't think all of these people would care" about his story. The original run of episodes traced the trial of Avery, a Wisconsin man once exonerated after being wrongfully convicted of a crime, for a second crime he says he didn't commit. It ended with his conviction of murder.

Now, Part 2 introduces viewers to Avery and Dassey's appeal lawyers, who say in the new footage that they're up against "an entire system that favors the prosecutors." There will once again be interviews with Avery and his family, although don't expect a happy ending, as Avery was denied a motion for a new trial last year, and an appellate court upheld Dassey's conviction.

The same documentary filmmakers from the original episodes shot Part 2, and fans won't have long to wait for it, as it begins streaming on Oct. 19. Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

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