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Cobwebs, Walkers and Lace: AMC Networks Has Franchise Fever With Anne Rice and ‘The Walking Dead’



AMC Networks is a few months away from launching what programming chief Dan McDermott calls “the biggest venture we’ve ever embarked upon from the ground up.”

The company that proudly bills itself as a high-end TV boutique is preparing to unleash this fall a TV series adaptation of “Interview with the Vampire.” AMC hopes it will become the cornerstone in a prosperous content franchise rooted in the Southern Gothic milieu based on the works of the well-loved novelist Anne Rice.

On the latest episode of Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” McDermott details the world-building process that began after the company struck a wide-ranging rights deal in May 2020 to develop all manner of content from 18 notable Rice books. The pact is a good example of how TV has become so competitive that art of development is fielding Marvel-level interconnected storytelling universes involving multiple series and other content extensions, from gaming to podcasts to internet shorts. It’s not the pilot season of old anymore.

“I envision us getting five to seven series over the next five or six years up on their feet, each one running four to six seasons, with primary main characters featuring significant stars that will get our universe up and on its feet for the next five to 10 years,” McDermott says.

Also in production at present is “Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches,” another one of the better-known titles from the famously eccentric scribe who died in December 2021 at the age of 80. McDermott said “Mayfair,” will be out “pretty soon” after “Interview.” It’s a brick-by-brick development process that is “thrilling” for an executive who came up through Fox Broadcasting Co. and DreamWorks and has also worked as a producer. He joined AMC Networks in March 2020.

“You have to develop supporting characters underneath those significant leads that can, and this is a process of discovery, some of these are in the books, some of these might be new characters, some of these might be characters that you have a small role and the books but would be created to have an oversize impact in a series, but that can ultimately after two or three seasons, or four seasons, spinoff and become the lead of their own series,” he says. “And then then you really start having fun, because then you then you can start pulling characters from different shows.”

McDermott’s range of experience in programming and production gives him good perspective on how the content industry is changing. He was drawn to AMC Networks by the company’s clear vision for how to position itself as a smaller player in a land of giants.

“We’re not competing with any of those other streamers. We’re complementary with them,” McDermott says. “Our value proposition is we aspire to be the best platform in the world at delivering premium marquee content for adults. That’s the only lane we swim in. We don’t do kids. We don’t do animation, sports, news, all that sort of stuff. We just want to live in the world of premium marquee content for adults.”

McDermott contrasts the building phase on the Rice franchise with the work the company is doing now on winding up orginal “The Walking Dead” series later this year. The graphic novel-inspired fantasy series has been a pillar of AMC’s schedule since 2010, inspiring multiple spinoffs to date. And on the other end of the spectrum, AMC is also putting energy into crafting lower-budget shows for its niche streaming services like Acorn TV, Sundance Now and Shudder.

McDermott says the growing portfolio of niche streaming players is becoming a meaningful business for AMC Networks. “They don’t go broad but they go incredibly deep,” he says of the viewership of the narrowly targeted services.

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud. Click here to subscribe to Variety‘s free “Strictly Business” newsletter.

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Marvel Makes Fake Tinder Profile for She-Hulk



To promote the upcoming series She-Hulk, Marvel creates a faux Tinder profile for Jennifer Walters, highlighting the charcater’s romantic journey.

As part of their promotion for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Marvel has created a faux Tinder profile for the show’s lead character Jennifer Walters. She-Hulk is the next project to be released in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, streaming exclusively on Disney+ beginning August 17. Starring Tatiana Maslany as the title character, the show will also feature the return of several familiar MCU faces like Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, Tim Roth as Abomination, Charlie Cox as Daredevil, and Benedict Wong as Wong alongside an ensemble cast of new characters played by Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Anais Almonte, and The Good Place alum Jameela Jamil.


She-Hulk will take a look at an often ignored corner of the Marvel universe: the lawyers who clean up after superheroes. One such lawyer is Jennifer Walters, who gains her own set of powers from her cousin Bruce Banner. The show will follow her as she attempts to balance her career of defending superpowered individuals in court, her search for a romantic partner, and her eventual rivalry with Jamil’s social media influencer villain Titania. Walters’ romantic travails might not be the primary focus of the series, but they do wind up front and center in the advertisements, particularly a scene where she Hulks out and carries a man around her apartment.

As originally reported by, the She-Hulk publicity team clearly had Jennifer Walters’ love life on the mind when crafting their latest promotional material. They have crafted a faux Tinder profile that has been shuffled onto the ap. Although it does say “ad” in the lower right corner of her profile picture, it is a pretty convincing replica of what her profile might look like until one looks at the caption, which is an advertisement for the series that closes with “Find out who she DOES match with in She-Hulk… (seriously – she goes on dates!).” Check out screenshots from the fake profile, shared on Twitter by user jozopath, below:

This is the latest in-universe ad for the series in a particularly creative campaign that has also included bus ads that mimic real-life ads for attorneys. It’s clear that Marvel is using this particular promotional strategy to appeal to people who may be more interested in romantic television series than the action-packed superhero mayhem the franchise is known for. However, the ad does leave fans with the implication that Walters may end up with a love interest that rises above the heap over the course of the 12-episode season.

It’s possible that this could be Bass’ character Todd, who according to his character description has recently taken the plunge into online dating. However, there will likely be plenty of twists and turns before Walters gets to that point, including a potential entanglement with Segarra’s character Pug Pugliese, who is part of her legal team. She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a Marvel series, after all, so it is likely that nothing is as it initially seems.


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Bob Greenblatt Turns His ‘Gift of Free Time’ into Memoir of Producing, Programming and Persevering



After years of working with accomplished writers to develop TV shows, Greenblatt says it was humbling and invigorating to face the blank page every day.

“It was about a year of me pouring out the stories on the page, and another four to five months reworking it,” Greenblatt says. “So many things about writing it were revelatory to me. So many little things.”

The title refers to Greenblatt’s hometown of Rockford, Ill., about 90 miles west of Chicago, and the detective drama series starring James Garner that ran on NBC from 1974-80.

Taking a long look in the rearview mirror helped him take stock of where the industry is headed. And that was a worthy exercise for an executive who is pursuing entrepreneurial ventures in TV, stage and other content opportunities.

“When you step back for a minute and really think about things, it’s really remarkable to look at what’s happened to the business,” Greenblatt says. “When I started there were basically three networks and Fox was on a couple nights a week. Then we went into the cable revolution and now it’s streaming that is the next iteration.”

From the days of vaudeville and nickelodeons to the burgeoning world of Web3 entertainment, the one constant throughout is the need for distinctive content to bring consumers to the screen. Greenblatt’s book is an invaluable compendium of anecdotes about his experiences in the TV trenches. He brings the dual perspective of a seasoned industryite who has worked as a top programming buyer for major networks as well as a producer of Emmy-winning series.

Some of the liveliest tales in the tome revolve around “Six Feet Under,” the beloved HBO drama series that ran from 2001 to 2005. Greenblatt and his former producing partner, David Janollari, shepherded the series with creator Alan Ball through the Greenblatt Janollari Studio banner that the pair ran in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

On paper, a show about a deeply dysfunctional family that runs a funeral home in Pasadena hardly has the makings of a successful TV series. But in the moment that “Six Feet Under” was birthed some 20-odd years ago, HBO was just starting to open the aperture of prestige television.

“The Rockford Files” also makes crystal clear how much television is a team sport. Greenblatt goes out of his way to recognize the many people who contributed the ideas and inspirations that make for distinctive shows.

Courtesy of HBO

The germ of the idea for “Six Feet Under” came from then- HBO development chief Carolyn Strauss being interested in finding a series set against the backdrop of the business of death. At the same time, “Six Feet Under” only worked because Ball brought his unique view to the subject matter.

“Alan Ball is a singular talent, and recognizing that early on was a stroke of luck for us. We had an instinct about him. And while instincts are hard to quantify, if you learn to listen to them and trust your gut about a ‘feeling’ you have, it can pay big dividends,” Greenblatt writes. “This show always goes back to one of my favorite epiphanies — only pursue ideas that are singular, totally original and even risky. While it’s not possible to do that every single time, when you can, the payoff is often extraordinary. In a million years, the idea of a show set in a funeral home doesn’t make any sense, until it gets into the hands of a genius.”

Of course, in the stranger-than-fiction way the world works, Greenblatt was head of programming for HBO rival Showtime by the time “Six Feet Under” wrapped its five-season run in 2005.

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Why Never Have I Ever Season 4 Is The Last Explained By Creators



Creators of the Netflix series, Never Have I Ever, describe their choice to end the series with season 4. Co-creators Lang Fisher and Mindy Kaling helm the series that follows Devi Vishwakumar (played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and her two best friends, Eleanor Wong (played by Ramona Young) and Fabiola Torres (played by Lee Rodriguez), on their journey through love, embarrassment, and fun in high school. The series also includes several supporting cast members including Poorna Jagannathan as Dr. Nalini Vishwakumar, Richa Moorjani as Kamala Nandiwadal, Darren Barnet as Paxton Hall-Yoshida, Jaren Lewison as Ben Gross, and John McEnroe as himself in the role of the narrator.


Aside from co-creating Never Have I Ever, Fisher is known her writing on shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Mindy Project. Actress, writer, and producer Kaling rose to notoriety after her role as Kelly Kapoor in The Office, a series that she also an executive produced, and since then has gone on to executive produce several others including The Mindy Project, Never Have I Ever, and The Sex Lives of College Girls. Never Have I Ever recently aired season 3 on Netflix, and season 4 already finished filming earlier this month.

In an interview with EW, Fisher and Kaling explain why they are ending the popular Netflix series with season 4. Fisher notes that part of the reason that the series is ending is that the characters are moving on to their senior year of high school in season 4, and unfortunately the writers can’t keep the characters in high school indefinitely. Kaling and Fisher also share the sentiment that the way that they’ve chosen to end the series will bring satisfaction to viewers both because of the natural close to a high school story ending with senior year, and because they didn’t extend Never Have I Ever for an unnecessary amount of seasons just because the characters are so fun to write for. Full quotes from Fisher and Kaling can be read below via EW:

Fisher: “It’s hard when you have a high school show, because you can’t keep them in high school forever. The cast gets older and older. Then you start having, like, 30-year-olds going to high school and it’s hard to take them to college. I think we felt like this is it, this is good. We can tell this tale and end it the way we want to on a high note and really finish out senior year and it will feel satisfying.”

Kaling: “We finished season 4, and it’s good. It’s just a testament to how hard it is to say goodbye to characters you love writing. It takes a while for writers to figure out characters. You write a pilot and then you hire people and then you get into this groove, that’s why so many shows growing up lasted like five seasons too long. [Laughs] But I do feel that, in a couple years, I’ll look back on this and say, ‘No, that was good that it ended then.’ But right now I’m not ready to accept it.”

Kaling and Fisher deciding to end Never Have I Ever with season 4 will be bittersweet for its fans, although that decision leads to a higher likelihood that finale will feel like a true and satisfying series finale, rather than a finale that comes at the necessity of the series being canceled. Season 3 ended with a surprise cliffhanger as Devi is apparently ready to have sex with Ben after deciding to stay at Sherman Oaks High School rather than transferring to the prestigious Shrubland school, so viewers can look forward to a season 4 in which Devi will still be grappling with her feelings toward Ben, and possibly also Paxton. Although season 4 already finished filming, it’s unlikely that it will be released any time soon due to time needed to finish editing the series, as well as seasons 1, 2, and 3 setting the precedent for being released around spring or summer.

If fans truly crave more content revolving around the characters in the series, there is always the possibility that a spin-off could happen for one of the characters as long as it seems like there is a market for that series. As for now, fans of the series can find relief in the fact that there will be another season of the show, and can cherish season 4 knowing that it will wrap up Devi’s story. Viewers will have to continue following updates regarding what Never Have I Ever season 4 may entail, as well as when an official release date for the final season is announced.

Sources: EW

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