Nearly 9 million tuned in to A&E Networks one-hour Duck Dynasty Christmas special last night. While that’s not the show’s biggest crowd this year — the Season 4 premiere clocked nearly 12 million -- it’s …
A&E Networks, revving up for its first ever triple-cast, of new four-hour two-night miniseries Bonnie & Clyde, announced today it had lined up six “premium sponsors” on the project — including the 20th Century Fox release of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, as well as, ironically, Match.com, plus Jeep Cherokee which will use the time to position itself as the “ultimate escape vehicle.”
Lifetime, A&E and History channels will simulcast the miniseries starting Sunday, December 8 at 9 PM ET. Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) star in the title roles of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the infamous Depression-era outlaw couple; the cast also includes Holly Hunter (The Piano) and William Hurt (Too Big to Fail).
From today’s announcement:
A&E’s Bates Motel gang was still riding high on star Vera Farmiga‘s Best Actress Emmy nomination Saturday morning at Comic-Con, where Farmiga explained her approach to playing the mother of Hitchcock’s most famous psycho. “I Googled ‘parents of psychopaths,” she said. “That’s where my compassion for the character comes from. She’s incredibly flawed, she comes with an incredibly warped history and a lot of pain that she’s damming up. But in her defense, she’s the mother of a child with mental issues. There’s no way that a parent can say my child has a mental illness without their spirit imploding. So I always approach Norma with a great sense of compassion and reverence.”
The drama series’ panel opened with a pre-filmed bit of fun with a gag video featuring Freddie Highmore as himself visiting the Bates Motel writers room; there he finds that all screen time and ads are devoted to Farmiga and takes over the Universal Studios Psycho tram stop as the Norman Bates persona seeps into his identity. Highmore joined Farmiga, Nestor Carbonell, Olivia Cooke, Max Thierot and EPs Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin to talk up the modern-day Psycho prequel/reimagining. The show returns for its sophomore season next year, when Cuse teased romances on the horizon for Norma and Norman. “And not with each other, OK?” joked Cuse. “Not yet.” The hint of incest between the pair remains ambiguous. “It’s just a form of Norma’s holding therapy,” said Farmiga. “Every mother in the audience will tell you they grow up so quickly you’ve got to slather it on while you can.” Another member of the Bates family could add another complex relationship to the show soon. “We made reference to Norma’s brother last season,” teased Cuse. “That character might show up this season.”
During a Bates Motel panel discussion Friday, Carlton Cuse was blunt about borrowing from a classic. No, not Hitchcock’s Psycho; TV’s Twin Peaks. “We pretty much ripped off Twin Peaks,” joked Cuse, executive producer of the A&E series with Kerry Ehrin, in response to a question about the similarities from panel moderator Shawn Ryan. “If you wanted to get that confession, the answer is yes,” he continued, tongue in cheek. “I loved that show. They only did 30 episodes. Kerry and I thought we’d do the 70 that are missing.” Cuse appeared on the Paley Center panel “Inside Bates Motel: Reimagining A Cinema Icon” with Ehrin, Vera Farmiga (who portrays Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman), Max Thieriot (Norman’s half-brother Dylan), Nicola Peltz (popular teen Bradley Martin) and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero). English actress Olivia Cooke, who plays Norman’s friend Emma Decody, who battles cystic fibrosis, was a no-show because of “visa snafus,” Ryan said. Once it was acknowledged that both TV shows are plenty creepy and set in the foggy Northwest, Cuse, Ehrin and the cast spent more time during the freewheeling discussion citing the similarities and differences of Bates Motel from Hitchcock’s iconic 1960 film.
Round 1 of the Storage Wars legal battle looks to have gone to A&E. In a hearing today, a judge threw out the unfair business practices claims of the series former star Dave Hester’s wide-ranging lawsuit against the network and producers of the reality show. LA Superior Court judge Michael Johnson ruled that the claim fell short under California’s anti-SLAPP law. The Judge also sided with the defendants that their First Amendment rights would be violated if he were to agree to Hester’s attorneys’ request for an injunction against Storage Wars for alleged staging of the show.
A&E had requested that the unfair business practices claim be striped from the five-claim suit and their Constitutional rights affirmed in their January 28 response to Hester’s initial December 11 complaint. Johnson told the downtown hearing that in granting the requested injunction he would essentially be telling A&E what they could and could not programming on their network, something he did not agree was right or warranted. Additionally, he demanded more information on the wrongful termination aspect of Hester’s complaint for the suit to progress in the courts. Hester and his lawyer Marty Singer now have 20 days to amend their initial complaint.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on A&E’s new original scripted drama series Bates Motel, most questions had to do with how the series, from executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin, would or would not pay homage to the movie Psycho. For the record, the producers say it won’t but various Psycho incarnations are used as inspiration to create an original story.
“We don’t really view any of that as canon,” Cuse said. He called a desire to avoid “homage” a reason why the story has a contemporary setting, rather than being set in the ’60s. He added that the story of how young Bates becomes a murderous adult “will not be what you expect it to be.” (He did confirm that the story would be serialized but “have a beginning, middle and end” and will not focus on a single individual mystery or story point.) Although Cuse rejects the idea of “homage,” he said that show producers used the original plans for the movie Bates Motel that stands on the Universal Studios lot to recreate the motel on location in Vancouver.
But not surprisingly, a question arose about whether post-Newtown is a bad time to introduce an entertainment series about a disturbed young man with a troubled relationship with his mother who eventually turns violent. Said Ehrin: “I think the only thing anyone thought about that was that it was horrible and sad. This show is not about violence, it’s about a mother and son.” She said that the story is trying to “explain” violence rather than promote it.