TV/STREAMING . . .

Batwoman boss teases 'pretty serious Batman villain' in season 1. Showrunner Caroline Dries explains her 'back to basics' approach to Kate Kane and 'Batwoman'. Batwoman has been in production for only a few weeks, but Ruby Rose is already loving it. "It has a completely different feel than any other job that I've done before," says the Orange Is the New Black alum, who appears on the cover of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. "I wake up and I feel a lot of gratitude and excitement for what's going to come in the day ahead." Rose's red-haired vigilante grappling-hooked into the Arrowverse in last December's "Elseworlds," but the actress' new series is set before that topsy-turvy crossover. Premiering Oct. 6, Batwoman begins with Bruce Wayne's cousin Kate Kane (Rose) returning home to a beleaguered Gotham after years of training, and picking up the Bat-mantle in Bruce's absence. "She's everything that I wish I could be, that I had the guts to be," showrunner Caroline Dries says of her heroine, who is the first out LGBTQ superhero to headline a television show. "She's a really courageous, no bulls -- badass who knows herself very well and is not afraid of sharing that with the world." In season 1, Kate's a war on crime will pit her against her nemesis, the psychotic Alice (Rachel Skarsten), as well as a rogues' gallery of Batman foes. "In episode 3, we have a pretty serious Batman villain show up thinking, 'I'm going to f---ing kill Batman,' "teases Dries, who is taking a cue from Arrow and making sure Batwoman remains as grounded and gritty as possible (at lease until the annual crossover). "Batwoman is the only caped crusader in town. We'll have bad guys show up wearing their own versions of disguises, but in terms of costumed good guys or bad guys, it's just Kate in hers." She continues, "It's very tempting to jump to what the other shows are doing now because that's the world we're living in. But I keep going back to what was Arrow season 1? [We're aiming for a] back to basics of a girl kind of discovering the awesomeness of this Batsuit, all of this Bat tech that she has access to, and just keeping it simple." Looking further ahead at the season, Dries is particularly excited to explore Kate's romantic side. Yes, there's her old flame Sophie (Meagan Tandy), whose kidnapping lures Kate back to Gotham, but Dries teases that we'll see Kate date around, too. "I love all the Bat-gadgets that we do in the fight scenes and the action is right up my alley, but the thing I love about the show or all of these new character dynamics that are unfolding, and one of the things I love writing regardless of genre, is the romantic elements of the show," says Dries. "For Kate, a big part of her identity is her personal life, obviously, and what she's doing when she's not Batwoman. One of the things she's going to figure out pretty early on is, 'Oh, I now see why there was no Mrs. Wayne.' It's because it was very hard to be the hero of Gotham and have a love life. So her personal life will have its due time on screen, and she's trying to grapple with how do I be Kate and also be Batwoman." For Rose, playing the caped crusader has been an opportunity to stretch out of her comfort zone and explore a character with a lot of emotional baggage from not only her mother and sister dying tragically when she was younger, but also from being expelled from the military academy for being gay. "I feel like up until now I haven't really been given the opportunity to play a character that has these dynamics of such severe trauma and such heartbreak and betrayal and loss. She's heavy. She has a really heavy heart for a lot of very valid reasons," says Rose. "I actually said to Caroline -- It only hit me during the pilot -- 'I am so thankful that you are the first person to believe in me as more than an action star, or even in the mean girl rock star [in] Pitch Perfect.' No one up until now has really been like, 'Yeah, you know what, you can play a real person with all these things going on and dealing with more than just being kickass.'" But, for the record, kicking butt as Batwoman is indeed really cool. Says Rose, "When I put that suit on, everything kind of changes and you feel a shift in your energy." Batwoman premieres Sunday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. on The CW. (Entertainment Weekly)

'Agents of SHIELD' to End With Season 7 on ABC. The Marvel drama joins 'Modern Family' and 'How to Get Away With Murder' as long-running shows that will wrap on the Disney-owned network in the 2019-2020 season. ABC's Agents of SHIELD's days of surprising renewals have come to an end. The Marvel drama will officially end with its previously announced seventh season on the Disney-owned network. The series, starring Clark Gregg and Ming Na, scored an early renewal back in November -- ahead of its sixth season -- as the last order of business for then-ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey. That announcement came as a surprise. The show, which had reduced licensing fees to secure its fifth-season pickup at the Disney-owned net, has hardly been a top performer for the broadcaster. But, as the first Marvel TV foray, it is proving to be the most enduring. (Hollywood Reporter)

Westworld season 3 to be 'less of a guessing game,' producers say. Westworld is getting a major upgrade for its long-awaited season 3. The HBO sci-fi drama has several new locations (such as a near-future Los Angeles) and some new major cast members (like Breaking Bad alum Aaron Paul), and the famously ultra-twisty show makes its most surprising change yet -- a storyline that's a bit easier to follow. "This is season is a little less of a guessing game and more of an experience with the hosts finally getting to meet their makers," co-showrunner Jonathan Nolan says. Giving their first interview about the new season, Nolan and fellow showrunner Lisa Joy describe a new iteration of the acclaimed HBO drama that's a major departure in some respects from the first two seasons, where the rebelling android hosts were largely trapped in the Wild West theme park. At the end of season 2, Evan Rachel Wood's vengeful Dolores escaped the park and took the CPUs for several of her companions with her. "I love shows that find a groove and hang with it for 100 episodes -- that was never this show," Nolan says. "We always wanted every season to find our characters in radically different circumstances. And with a cast this talented, watching the metamorphosis of all these characters is one of the most fun parts." And which characters are those, exactly? We know Dolores is back, but the showrunners aren't yet saying which other familiar faces are returning. As for Paul's mysterious new character, we found out a few tidbits. Paul plays a construction worker in Los Angeles named Caleb who has a strong impact on Dolores, who along with other hosts experiences major "culture shock" now that she's in the real world. "Aaron's character will challenge Dolores' notions about the nature of humanity," Nolan says. "He's the type of person who doesn't get to go to Westworld." And not only is the story line a bit more linear this season, but there's no time jump either (at least not at first), with season 3 picking up directly after the events in season 2. "We're looking at the aftermath of the massacre in the park," Joy says. "After all they went through to get out of the park, Dolores finally got what she wanted, so we wanted to see how she interacts with the world and what her plan is. That's a part of the story we were excited to tell." In case you're wondering if the title Westworld is now a bit out of date given the show's changing focus, Nolan points out that's not really the case due to the new modern-day L.A. setting (one of several locations for the show this year). "Part of the story plays out in the Western United States, and that's a thematic through-line in the show -- the American West as a setting and an ethos," Nolan says. "The idea of the West as a wild place, where just over the next hill or horizon there are no rules. On that thematic level, Dolores emerges to figure out what happened to the real West. And the answer is: We paved the thing over, and civilization eventually caught up with all those people who were running away from it." Westworld returns to HBO in 2020. (Entertainment Weekly)

Chrissy Metz Teases "Unexpected" This Is Us Season 4 for Kate, Toby and Baby Jack. This Is Us season four is still months away, but that didn't stop Chrissy Metz from giving us the scoop on what's to come. Metz, who was promoting the release of Breakthrough on DVD, Blu-ray and digital, said the show will continue to jump around in time (duh). "I think we're going to see... what the teenagers have gone through and how the shapes the Big Three into adulthood," Metz teased. "We're going to see Kate and Toby co-parenting and how/if that will change the dynamic in their relationship." Kate and Toby welcomed baby Jack in season three a little prematurely. He got to go home, but "he is still a preemie, so we're going to see what that all means," Metz teased. "What I'm excited about is it's unexpected, but also really important in the way that Dan and the writers have orchestrated Kate and Toby and Jack," she said. Metz said the scripts still surprise her. "I'm an audience member on the show that I'm on. I know that sounds silly, but... it's one of the best shows on television. The writing is ridiculous," she said. This Is Us received a number of 2019 Emmy nominations, including Mandy Moore , Sterling K. Brown, Milo Ventimiglia, Chris Sullivan and Outstanding Drama Series. "Beyond proud," Metz said. "To be in the conversation with cable shows that have eight times the budget... and the writers have to write for commercials and acts and we can't talk about particular things. And we're talking about real life stuff... It's just a wholesome great show that I think is teaching people how to move through life because none of know how to do it." This Is Us returns Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. on NBC. (Eonline)

Nordic Group, Eagle Egilsson Board Female-Led Supernatural TV Drama 'One Bad Apple'. The series is set around a rural British boarding school after it takes in the Devil's own daughter as a pupil. Award-winning Icelandic director and cinematographer Eagle Egilsson (Gotham, Hawaii Five-O, The Blacklist, The Wire) has been tapped to direct upcoming supernatural drama series One Bad Apple. Nordic Entertainment Group has also joined the project co-produced by ZDF Enterprises and Tuvalu Entertainment as a broadcast partner. Tuvalu CEO Paul Johnson will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Created and developed by Tuvalu and getting a budget of 15 million euros ($16.8 million), One Bad Apple is written by father-daughter duo Gavin Scott (The Young Indiana Jones, Small Soldiers) and Rebecca Scott (Discovery's Blood Relative, Murder Among Friends), and is set in and around a rural British boarding school after it takes in a new student: the Devil's own daughter. Enrolled at the school purposefully for its location near the burial place of The Holy Grail, which is preventing Satan's return to Earth, the new pupil -- described as the "female equivalent of Darth Vader" -- soon begins to spread her influence, but comes up against a plucky scholarship girl who, it transpires, comes from a long line of women sworn to defend the ancient artifact. "Reading the first episodes of One Bad Apple, I knew that I wanted to be a part of the team bringing this show to life," said Egilsson. "In today's world where sustaining character and honesty comes at a premium, One Bad Apple can make one question their perspective." Added ZDF Enterprises' Robert Franke: "One Bad Apple is, first of all, a great story and it is great that Eagle has joined to create our shared vision and ambition for the series. I am also proud that [Nordic] is a broadcasting partner in the project. We are very excited about the enormous potential of this rare female-inspired drama and very pleased by the positive feedback from network partners around the world." Tuvalu's Johnson said: "From the first time I met Eagle I knew he was the perfect director to bring our unique drama to life. Every producer wants a director who shares your vision and ambition for a series." (Hollywood Reporter)

CNN Is Making a Debate Lineup Draw a Primetime Event: Will Anyone Watch? "It may be gimmicky and it may be a ratings play, but viewers and voters are fascinated by the process," a former CNN bureau chief said of Thursday's 'The Draw.' Viewer interest in the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates is massive -- a combined audience of more than 33 million viewers tuned into last month's kick-off debates on the NBC networks. With campaign mania in full swing, CNN is trying an experiment on Thursday night, making the normally behind-the-scenes process of selecting the candidate lineup into a live event worthy of regular promotion. Described in on-screen graphics as "The Draw," the event will take place during the 8 p.m. hour hosted by Anderson Cooper. CNN did not explain the decision to host the draw live and has not made executives available to discuss the choice, though industry observers and network veterans say it's self-explanatory and makes obvious sense. "It may be gimmicky and it may be a ratings play, but viewers and voters are fascinated by the process," said former CNN Washington bureau chief Frank Sesno. "There is no reason not to do this live and promote the debates and bring viewers into the process to see the positioning that goes into them." CNN's programming decision stands in stark contrast to the way NBC selected the two-night lineup, at a secretive event held at 30 Rockefeller Center that was attended by representatives of the campaigns. The results trickled out on Twitter from political reporters on the scene. While NBC picked candidates randomly from two buckets (high-polling and low-polling) to ensure that the two-night event would not be lopsided, the second night ended up being more star-studded than the first. CNN is likely hoping for a more balanced slate on July 30 and 31 in Detroit. "I was actually surprised MSNBC didn't do the live draw on TV," said Brian Fallon, a former CNN contributor who ran press for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. "Enough people were glued to Twitter that day to learn who'd be sharing the stage that they might as well broadcast it live. It certainly beats another pundit panel." To truly be a success, the hour of the live draw would likely have to exceed the 892,000 total viewers (214,000 in the demo) Cooper drew in the second quarter of this year. "I don't know if there will be a lot of turn-up outside of the campaigns and a few journalists," says a network executive who thinks "The Draw" is a good idea, if a bit over-promoted by CNN. "I'm not sure I would flog it to death," he added. "I think that might be a little excessive. But, I think airing it is good because right now, with two nights of debates, it's actually significant whose going to be on with whom and which debate. There's some news there." While those network insiders polled by The Hollywood Reporter were generally in favor of CNN's decision to hold the draw live, there's some apprehension about the potential format. "I hope the tone is distinguished and not a circus," said Sesno, now a program director at George Washington University. Mark Lukasiewicz, a former NBC News executive who produced 10 presidential debates and forums, said the "The Draw" is "just the latest step down the road of gamifying the primary debates." But, he said, "I have to share the blame, as a former debate producer, and I completely understand the instinct to build excitement and anticipation to grow viewership. It's why what used to be a one-night, two-hour broadcast has become a multi-day affair with pre-game and post-game programming built on location around the debate itself." Lukasiewicz, now dean of the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, said he supports innovation in debate programming. But, he added, "I think viewers and voters and the process itself would be better served by dialing back on show biz and dialing up the content." (Hollywood Reporter)

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