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  1. #31
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    TV show

    Jan 13, 2022 12:30pm PT
    ‘Real Steel’ Series in Early Development at Disney Plus


    By Joe Otterson


    ©DreamWorks/Courtesy Everett Collection
    A “Real Steel” series adaptation is in the early stages of development at Disney Plus, Variety has learned.

    The potential series would be based on the 2011 film of the same name, which was itself based on the short story “Steel” by Richard Matheson.

    The film took place in the not too distant future in which human boxers have been replaced by giant fighting robots. Hugh Jackman starred as a former boxer who, along with his estranged son, fixes up an old robot they find in a junkyard and turns it into a champion.

    As the project is still in the very early stages, no writer is yet attached. That means it is not yet clear if the show would adhere to the events of the original film or take a different direction altogether with new characters.

    Shawn Levy, who directed the “Real Steel” film, will executive produce the series via 21 Laps. Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke of Compari Entertainment also executive produce, as does Jacqueline Levine, and Susan Montford and Don Murphy of Angry Films. The Disney Branded Television series will be produced by 20th Television.

    Along with Jackman, the “Real Steel” film starred Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Olga Fonda, Karl Yune, and several more. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film went on to gross just shy of $300 million worldwide against a reported budget of $110 million. It also received an Academy Award nomination for best visual effects.

    Should the “Real Steel” series move forward, it would be the latest attempt by Disney Plus to mine existing IP under the media giant’s umbrella as a new streaming series. In addition to the successful Marvel and “Star Wars” series that have already aired on Disney Plus, the streamer also has shows like “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,” High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” and upcoming fare like “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “National Treasure,” and “Willow.”
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  2. #32
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    Disney+

    Shang-Chi’s Michelle Yeoh & Destin Daniel Cretton Reunite For Disney+ Series ‘American Born Chinese’; Chin Han, Yeo Yann Yann & Daniel Wu Also Star

    By Mike Fleming Jr
    Co-Editor-in-Chief, Film
    @DeadlineMike

    February 7, 2022 7:30am


    Michelle Yeoh
    EXCLUSIVE: After teaming in the Disney/Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Michelle Yeoh is set to top an international cast for the Destin Daniel Cretton-directed Disney+ fantastical series American Born Chinese. She will star alongside Ben Wang (MacGyver), Yeo Yann Yann (Wet Season), Chin Han (Mortal Kombat), Daniel Wu (Reminiscence), Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once and as a child he starred in Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), former Taekwondo champion Jim Liu and Sydney Taylor (Just Add Magic).


    Ben Wang
    Sean Velasco-Dodge

    Yeo Yann Yann
    Chen You Wei
    Produced by 20th Television for Disney Branded Television, American Born Chinese will begin production this month in Los Angeles. The genre-hopping action comedy is adapted from Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel by Emmy-winning writer-producer Kelvin Yu (Bob’s Burgers, Central Park) who is EP and showrunner. Cretton directs and is also EP alongside Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan, Erin O’Malley, Asher Goldstein and Gene Luen Yang.


    Chin Han
    Reto Sterchi

    Daniel Wu
    Wing Shya
    Yeoh, whose film work includes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II and James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar sequels, with TV credits including Star Trek: Discovery and the upcoming The Witcher: Blood Origin, here will play Guanyin. She is an unassuming auntie who helps her nephew Wei-Chen navigate the challenges of American high school while maintaining her secret identity as the all-powerful Buddhist bodhisattva of Compassion. The series focuses on Jin Wang, an average teenager juggling his high school social life with his home life. When he meets a new foreign student on the first day of the school year, even more worlds collide as Jin unwittingly is entangled in a battle of Chinese mythological gods. The action-packed coming-of-age adventure explores identity, culture and family.


    Ke Huy Quan
    Paul Wong

    Jimmy Liu
    Josh Monkey
    Wang plays Jin Wang, the American teen whose parents immigrated from Taiwan and who is struggling to carve out exactly who he’s supposed to be, socially and culturally. Yann Yann plays Jin’s mom, Christine Wang, a strong-willed, opinionated woman with a sly wit, who loves her family deeply. Han plays Jin’s father Simon, a hard-working, devoted father and husband who is bumping up against the “bamboo ceiling” at his job.


    Sydney Taylor
    Amy Casson
    Wu plays Sun Wukong “The Monkey King,” the legendary, all-powerful god of the Chinese epic Journey to the West, who enters our world in search of his son. Quan plays Freddy Wong, a fictional character from a popular mid-1990s sitcom. Liu plays Jin’s confident friend Wei-Chen, a teen who has just arrived in the United States, whose sweet demeanor belies the deeper mystery of his true identity. And Taylor plays Amelia, a friendly “all-American” girl who is Jin’s classmate and crush.

    Yeoh’s deal was made by David Unger of Artist International Group.
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  3. #33
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    Abc + eeaao = d+

    Disney+'s American Born Chinese Is Turning Into an Everything Everywhere All at Once Reunion
    The upcoming show about teenagers embroiled in battles between mythic Chinese gods adds Stephanie Hsu to its lineup.
    By Linda Codega
    Yesterday 5:00PM

    Stephanie Hsu as Jobu Tupaki in Everything Everywhere All at Once
    Hail to Hsu.Photo: Allyson Riggs/Courtesy of A24
    Amid an absolutely stacked cast, Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once, Nora from Queens) has been cast as a guest star in the new Disney+ series American Born Chinese. According to Variety, “Hsu will appear as Shiji Niangniang, the Goddess of Stones, who works in a modern day jewelry shop along with her magical dog.”

    American Born Chinese is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Gene Luen Yang that depicts the intersection of Chinese mythology and family through the enmeshing of three storylines. Kelvin Yu is poised to write, produce, and act as the showrunner for the show, which already reads as being much more action-oriented than the original graphic novel, which told a grounded, careful storyline amid magic and identity. Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) directs and executive produces.

    In the Disney+ show, the series will follow Jin Wang (Ben Wang), who is struggling to balance his high school social life and the pressures he feels at home. When Jin runs into Chinese exchange student Wei-Chen (Jim Liu) on the first day of school, “their worlds collide as Jin becomes entangled in a battle of Chinese mythological gods. Identity, culture and family are themes throughout,” according to Variety.

    Also in the cast is Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, both of whom starred alongside Hsu in the Daniels’ multiverse film, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Revealed in a Disney press release, Yeoh (who was also in Cretton’s Shang-Chi) will play Guanyin, an unassuming auntie, who helps her nephew Wei-Chen navigate the challenges of American high school while maintaining her secret identity as the all-powerful Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion. Quan plays as Freddy Wong, a fictional character from a popular mid-1990s sitcom. Also in the cast is Daniel Wu as the Monkey King, Sun Wukong—the legendary, all-powerful god of the Chinese epic Journey to the West, who enters our world in search of his son. There’s no word yet on when American Born Chinese might be premiering, but it’s high on our list of must-watch series when it does.
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  4. #34
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    The return of DareDevil

    May 19, 2022 1:00pm PT
    ‘Daredevil’ Disney+ Series in the Works With Matt Corman, Chris Ord Set to Write (EXCLUSIVE)

    By Joe Otterson


    David Lee/Netflix

    A new “Daredevil” series is moving forward at Disney+, with Variety having exclusively learned from sources that Matt Corman and Chris Ord are attached to write and executive produce.

    Rumors have persisted for some time that a Disney+ series about the Man Without Fear was in the works, especially considering that two of the stars of the Netflix “Daredevil” series — Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio — have appeared in recent Marvel projects. Cox once again played Matt Murdock, the secret identity of Daredevil, in the film “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” while D’Onofrio reprised the role of Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. Kingpin, in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye.”

    It now appears that the project is picking up steam with the hiring of Corman and Ord, although Marvel has yet to announce anything regarding the show formally.

    Reps for Corman and Ord declined to comment. Marvel Studios reps do not comment on projects in development.

    Corman and Ord most famously co-created the USA Network series “Covert Affairs” starring Piper Perabo and Christopher Gorham. The show aired for five seasons on the basic cabler between 2010 and 2014. They most recently worked as executive producers and co-showrunners on the NBC drama shows “The Enemy Within” and “The Brave” as well as The CW series “Containment.”

    They are repped by Verve, Entertainment 360, and Goodman Genow.

    Fans have been clamoring for more Daredevil ever since the Netflix series was canceled in 2018 after three seasons. They were in for a long wait, however, as Variety reported in 2018 that the deal with Netflix included a clause that prevented any characters from the Marvel-Netflix shows from appearing in any non-Netflix projects for two years after cancellation.

    The move came as Disney looked to bring its Marvel heroes under one umbrella, with multiple Marvel Cinematic Universe shows having since debuted on Disney+. “Moon Knight” starring Oscar Isaac was the last such show to premiere, with a trailer for the “She-Hulk” series starring Tatiana Maslany dropping earlier this week.
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  5. #35
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    EXCLUSIVE
    The Acolyte: How Star Wars Is About to Venture Back in Time

    Showrunner Leslye Headland previews the upcoming Disney+ series set in the galaxy’s High Republic era.

    BY ANTHONY BREZNICAN

    MAY 24, 2022

    A concept image from the publishing project based in the High Republic.COURTESY OF LUCASFILM.

    The Acolyte will expand upon an aspect of Star Wars that was always slightly mind-bending, even if it’s become under-appreciated over the years. The events in the galaxy far, far away were never presented as some advanced version of our future. Instead, the very first words of the saga place it “a long time ago.”

    Within that Star Wars chronology, The Acolyte is about to venture even further back in time.

    The show, which is still in the preproduction phase, takes place about 100 years before any of the screen stories fans have already watched. That sets the story at the tail end of an era known as the High Republic, which was an age of wealth and innovation for the galaxy, with white-clad Jedi inspiring awe and the dark side of the Force seemingly erased from existence.

    It was a golden age—or maybe just a gilded one. That’s the way showrunner Leslye Headland made it sound as she previewed the upcoming Disney+ series for Vanity Fair’s cover story, Star Wars: The Rebellion Will Be Televised.

    Headland, best known for her work producing and directing for the shows Russian Doll and Single Drunk Female, and the movies Bachelorette and Sleeping With Other People, is drawing extensively from what’s known as the Expanded Universe, or “the E.U.,” which is the plethora of books, games, and comics that are now considered unofficial “legends” instead of narrative canon. When The Acolyte debuts, lovers of those stories may be relieved to see aspects of them become real once again.

    “She is a gigantic Star Wars fan,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “What’s wonderful about Leslye is she knows it all. I mean, she’s read a gazillion books inside the E.U. There are little bits and pieces that she’s drawing from that no one has explored yet in the onscreen storytelling.”

    The High Republic era of Star Wars has not previously been depicted in TV or movies, but it has been extensively chronicled in Lucasfilm publishing—especially in a recent series of books and comics set during the peak of this prosperous age. The Darkest Minds and The Hate U Give star Amandla Stenberg is reportedly set to play the lead role, although no official casting announcement has been made.

    It’s still too early for Headland to fully reveal what the title means—and maybe it has multiple points of significance. But she strongly hints that it points toward an adherent to the dark side of the Force. “Acolyte” is commonly used to refer to a follower, especially a deeply devoted one. A true believer. But its primary definition is someone who assists a religious leader in the performance of a ritual. In Star Wars lore, practitioners of the dark side always worked in pairs—a master, and an apprentice.

    “In the prequels, Mace Windu says: ‘There’s no way that the Sith could have reemerged without us knowing about it.’ And Yoda says, ‘Hard to see, the dark side is,’” Headland points out. “He acknowledges that this is a part of the Force that has been dormant, or at least hidden from them, for so long. What I immediately wondered about this particular period was: Who is practicing it?”

    The Acolyte is still distant on the horizon, with no release date specified, but here’s what Headland had to say about her plans for it:

    PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Director/writer Leslye Headland of "Sleeping with Other People" poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald's McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)LARRY BUSACCA

    Vanity Fair: How do you explain the High Republic to a Star Wars fan who may not yet be familiar with the stories the books have been telling?

    The way I would explain the High Republic, and specifically where my show takes place, is that I'm about 100 years before The Phantom Menace. So, a lot of those characters haven't even been born yet. My question in watching The Phantom Menace was always like, "Well, how did things get to this point?" Do you know what I mean? How did we get to where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate and none of the Jedi pick up on it? What went wrong? What are the scenarios that led us to this moment? So that's what I would say. That's how I would describe it to my friends, especially my non-Star Wars friends.

    One hundred years in our own world is a huge leap. There are unthinkable changes in the span of century. Is that true of the Star Wars world, too? Obviously there are starships, there are lightsabers, but is it a different era technologically in the High Republic?

    Absolutely. I mean, I love the fact that George Lucas, when he originally made Episodes 4 through 6 [a.k.a. the original trilogy], you can see that he wants everything to feel like it has this particular type of decay. This is a lived-in sci-fi fantasy world, not a sleek, well-put-together aesthetic. He was really going for something that I think was a bit revolutionary at the time.

    When he tasked himself with making the prequels, the way that he decided to address technology and all of those types of things was to make it a much sleeker, better-looking, almost more advanced time. That's what's kind of weird about Star Wars. The further you go back, the better things are. “A long time ago” actually becomes more futuristic. So while we are creating this type of world, we're trying to carry George's concept that the further you go back, the more exciting and new and sleek and interesting things look.
    "How did we get to where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate and none of the Jedi pick up on it? "
    The way you're describing it reminds me of the Roman era, a time where that empire was very powerful and fairly technologically advanced. Then that region of the world falls into a period of barbarism, and the Dark Ages follow. Is that similar to what you're talking about here? Is the High Republic an era of education and advancement and glory, while the Star Wars movies and shows that we know best are from a time of collapse and decay?

    Yes. We actually use the term the Renaissance, or the Age Of Enlightenment. There doesn't necessarily need to be an uprising among people in the expanded regions or in the inner worlds, because everybody's doing so well. For what I'm exploring, another good analogy might be post World War I in the United States, where we very much got into this isolationist concept of: we're not helping anybody. We want to protect this particular vibe that we have going. [Laughs.] ‘Vibe’ is definitely not the word they use.

    So the leaders of this galactic era would rather ignore conflict or suffering than resolve it?

    The High Republic is so golden in so many ways. The Jedi uniforms are gold and white and it's almost like they would never get dirty. They would never be out and about. The idea is that they could have these types of uniforms because that's how little they're getting into skirmishes. So of course my question is like, ‘Well, what else is going on?’ You can't just end up with George’s Phantom Menace situation if everything is going well.

    It has to be going well at the expense of what? What is not being attended to? What are we turning a blind eye to that could lead to the rise of somebody like Palpatine about a century later? Yes, it's one bad guy, but it's one bad guy that completely undermines the entire system of government. A lot of other things must have been going on beneath the surface.

    And we know the Jedi completely miss this.

    [They’re] constantly talking about balance. If the light side is proliferating everywhere, what's going on with the dark side? How is it manifesting itself? What is it doing to survive? Because it very clearly does later on in the world.
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  6. #36
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    continued from previous

    "The Jedi uniforms are gold and white and it's almost like they would never get dirty. They would never be out and about.
    I've heard you describe The Acolyte as a mystery. So is that the mystery, what's below the surface of this glossy world?

    Yes—are things what they seem to be? Are things as good as everybody's saying they are? That's the big question of any society that has these big booming periods. There is some form of counterculture or some form of underground, whether good or bad, you know what I mean?

    What are some of your cinematic influences for the show?

    Jon Favreau said that when you're working in this world, you want to go back to what George was inspired by. There were Westerns and then of course, Akira Kurosawa samurai films, and the fact that he originally offered Obi-Wan Kenobi to Toshiro Mifune …

    So I actually went more toward martial arts films, and storylines that are a little bit more personal and less global and galactic. Those warriors were on missions that were deeply personal, with people feeling wronged and having to make it right. Wuxia Films and martial arts films from King Hu and the Shaw Brothers, like Come Drink With Me and Touch Of Zen. They're monks that are also martial arts heroes.



    What can you share about how The Acolyte originated?

    I was pitching with Kathy Kennedy and we were developing this with [Lucasfilm development execs] Michelle Rejwan, and Rayne Roberts, who was like my main gal on this project. She was the person that literally found me and shepherded this idea all the way up to the top. We were really getting into it, and what's so exciting about those [influencing] stories is that you don't always know exactly who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. You're not quite sure whether you can trust the heroine in this case as a result of that.

    Honestly, my pitch to Kathy was the first time that everybody in the room was a woman. I've done many of those types of pitches and I was like, ‘This is trippy that my big [intellectual property] meeting is all ladies.’ That was pretty cool.

    Since this is the first screen story told from the High Republic era, what was their ambition for it? Were they looking to break free of the well-explored Star Wars universe?

    The truth is that I, as a major mega fan, came to them with this idea. And I said, 'I think the best place to put this is in an era you guys have not quite explored yet.' They were very enthusiastic. It wasn't that they didn't want to explore that [existing] world, but I think that they already were because The Mandalorian and a lot of the other television projects were really relying on legacy characters.

    I was coming at it as a fan who was much more into the RPG [role-playing games] that the Extended Universe feeds on. I came hard at that in the '90s, and then got introduced to [the animated series] The Clone Wars. I knew the timeline really well. And I was like, "I think if you want to explore Star Wars from the perspective of the bad guys, the best time to do it is when the bad guys are wildly outnumbered. When they actually are essentially the underdogs, for lack of a better term." So this would be that era.

    Kathy Kennedy and I talked about how Star Wars publishing can serve as a kind of storytelling test kitchen. They’ve been putting out a lot of books about the High Republic in recent years. Was that a factor in the creation of the show?

    [Publishing] had just launched Phase One for the High Republic, and I think it was just kind of kismet. "Actually we could do that. That is something that we're now prepared for..." The deep, deep fans are actually much more like, ‘Okay, I’ve got it. I know what this is. I know what place I'm in.’ I was pitching something so specific that would only really work in this time period. And [Lucasfilm] was like, ‘This is actually a time period we're interested in pursuing.’

    There's always a lot of pressure around Star Wars. What are the stakes of this show from a franchise standpoint?

    I feel a lot of pressure, but I also feel—weirdly—enormous amounts of freedom because I don't feel like I'm dealing with legacy characters, which is a lot scarier... I mean, you could not pay me enough money to try to be in the Luke Skywalker timeline. I'm like, "No, thank you!" [Laughs.] It's just too intense. There's too much iconography and intensity with those particular characters.

    Whereas, I think I'm telling a story that's more about a timeline we don't know much about. Let's hang out here for a little bit and check out what Star Wars looks like when the good guys are actually in charge. What happens? We know what it eventually leads to, so let's explore. What are the holes that we can poke into what happened?

    Can you talk to me about the necessity to grow beyond the Skywalker era?

    I mean, it's such a good question. And I think there are probably people that would disagree with you. There would be people who say, ‘That is Star Wars. Star Wars is the Skywalker saga.’ For someone like myself who was introduced to Star Wars not just through the films, but also through role playing games, I'm also like, ‘You don't understand what type of escapism this afforded me as a young kid—a kid that did not fit in, that had many, many behavioral problems.’ I was able to escape into that world with my friends, to pretend that I was part of that world. It was not like, ‘And now you have to do a scene from the original movie.’

    You could imagine your own scenarios.

    My first stabs at writing were writing essentially what you might call Star Wars fan fiction, meaning I would be inspired by [Timothy Zahn’s 1991 Star Wars novel] Heir to the Empire. I'd be inspired by a particular [gaming] session with my friends and then I would go and I'd write. ‘What if my character was also in a different scenario, and what would she do there?’

    That to me is the magic of Star Wars. It's not just the characters. It's not just that particular monomyth. That is part of it. That is part of the longevity. But it feels like a world so much more so than a story. But I also don't want to say that and make it sound like it isn't one of the best stories that our culture has ever produced.

    "I feel a lot of pressure, but I also feel—weirdly—enormous amounts of freedom because I don't feel like I'm dealing with legacy characters, which is a lot scarier."
    Star Wars is set in a society in which there is great spiritual advancement and also great technological advancement. And in between, people are trying to maintain their humanity while being drawn by these two poles.

    It is unusual to point to pieces of pop culture that have representations of extreme spirituality. The concept of God is such a heavy concept. The concept of religion is such a really oppressive one, especially for people like myself and many, many others. So what you just made me realize is that part of the lasting effect is that Star Wars is a spiritual story.

    Even Tolkien is not as spiritual as the Force is, or as Yoda is. I remember as a child being raised in a Catholic home … When Yoda says, ‘Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter,’ even as a kid I understood that so much more than I understood catechisms and sacraments and all of those other things. I got that immediately: That I have a spirit in addition to having a body. For George to have done that, it's almost an impossible thing.

    Is that part of The Acolyte too?

    That would be my big hope in getting to play in this world, to continue to search through a spiritual story that changes someone's identity or destiny. That to me is the heart of it.

    This interview has been edited for context and clarity.
    The Acolyte
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    Gene Ching
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