ABC is a tough act to follow at TCA this summer when it comes to diversity. ABC has new comedies about a Mexican family, an Asian family and a Black family and a new drama starring Viola Davis. Next at TCA is CBS, which has a new comedy series about an Irish American clan and dramas starring Tea Leoni, Josh Duhamel and Scott Bakula. Its only minority lead is Maggie Q, who plays the co-lead to Dylan McDermott on drama Stalker. CBS Chairman Nina Tassler faced multiple questions about the lack of diversity on the network’s new series.”We don’t look at fall as the defining mark of giving us our diversity quota,” Tassler said, noting the cast of daytime talk show The Talk, Lucy Liu on Elementary and summer series Extant, headlined by Halle Berry. (She faced criticism even on Extant, with a critic arguing that the entire supporting cast of the sci-fi drama is White, down to Berry’s artificial son.) Tassler also pointed at different elements of diversity, like a gay main character on The McCarthys. Additionally, on the final season of Two And A Half Men, Walden and Alan are going to get married as a gay couple in order to adopt a child because Walden finds it difficult to adopt as a straight single man. Tassler called it a “positive statement”about the fact that gay couples can adopt children. …
Francois Arnaud (The Borgias) is set as a male lead opposite Maggie Q in Red Flag, a limited series from Steven Jensen’s Independent Television Group, Mike Medavoy & Benjamin Anderson of Phoenix Pictures (Black Swan), and Fred Fuchs (Transporter). It is set in the early 1800s and centers on Ching Shih (Maggie Q), a beautiful young Chinese prostitute who goes on to become one of history’s most powerful pirates and head one of the most successful crime syndicates in China. With over 100,000 sailors and 1500-plus vessels, Ching controlled the South China Sea while taking on the Imperial Chinese navy, the Portuguese navy, and the all-powerful British navy to eventually conquer them all. Arnaud, repped by APA and Management 360, will play Carlito, the Portuguese sailor and bounty hunter engaged to hunt down and capture Ching Shih. He has no loyalty and takes from everybody to kill Ching Shih, and soon becomes her lover. Red Flag begins production this fall in Malaysia.
Nikita star Maggie Q is staying in the CBS/Warner Bros family with a lead role in CBS‘ untitled Kevin Williamson drama pilot. Maggie Q will play the female lead opposite Dylan McDermott in the project, from Warner Bros TV, the studio behind CW drama Nikita, which wrapped its run earlier this season. Written by Williamson and directed by Liz Friedlander, the psychological thriller revolves around two detectives, Beth (Maggie Q) and Jack (McDermott), who handle stalking incidents for the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. Detective Beth Davis is the opinionated and obsessive, workaholic division captain of LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit who also narrates the story.
Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
EXCLUSIVE: Nikita star Maggie Q is taking on another iconic character, this time from Chinese history. The Mission: Impossible III alumna is set to headline a limited series from Steven Jensen’s Independent Television Group, Mike Medavoy & Benjamin Anderson of Phoenix Pictures (Black Swan), and Fred Fuchs (Transporter). Titled Red Flag, the series is set in the early 1800s and centers on Ching Shih (Maggie Q), a beautiful young Chinese prostitute who goes on to become one of history’s most powerful pirates and head of the most successful crime syndicate in China. With over 100,000 sailors and 1500-plus vessels, Ching controlled the South China Sea while taking on the Imperial Chinese navy, the Portuguese navy, and the all-powerful British navy to eventually conquer them all. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to share Ching Shih’s real-life story with audiences that are both familiar and unfamiliar with her prominent history,” Maggie Q said. She will next be seen in Summit’s Divergent trilogy. Jensen recently teamed with Halle Berry to produce a Hannibal Barca miniseries for History.
Sadness and excitement marked the final Comic-Con panel for The CW‘s spy show Nikita, which is set to come to an end with a six-episode midseason wrap-up. “It’s bittersweet,” said showrunner Craig Silverstein, who was joined at Comic-Con by cast members Maggie Q, Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca, Melinda Clarke, Aaron Stanford and Noah Bean. “I’m just glad we’re able to end it and bring it to a full close. Knowing that it’s going to finish lets us finish it with a period — hopefully an exclamation mark.”
The network’s decision to end the spy drama after three seasons came as a mixed blessing. Unlike many cancelled series, the cult hit will at least get to end with some closure. “My heart hurt because I have a very deep love for [the cast] and I’m going to miss them,” said Maggie Q. “We get to end this show with such integrity and with our heads high.” Filming on the fourth season is underway. The abbreviated run will accelerate the pace of Nikita‘s storytelling, said Silverstein. “What it means is you get right to the good stuff. [Most seasons] end with things happening one after the other, [but] that’s how we’re going to start this season.”
After a popular Nikita movie and series, why retell the story yet again in a new series? It’s a legitimate question and one the writer of the upcoming CW series Nikita Craig Silverstein asked himself when Warner Bros. TV approached him with the idea to do something with the title. “I took it upon myself to find a way — could it be done fresh? Could we have a take where you didn’t know how this story was going to end? And that’s when I came upon the idea of following Nikita (Maggie Q) after she had left the agency which is a chapter that’s never been told, and at the same time doing justice to the origin story of Nikita, that dark fairy tale of taking a girl and changing her life, changing her identity, and the kind of Pygmalion aspect of transforming her into a killer, a beautiful killer and giving her etiquette lessons and all that stuff. We’re doing that with the character of Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca). You don’t know which way this girl is going to go, you don’t know how the story is going to end. So it’s not a rehash.”
McG hit on the empowered female characters theme in Nikita. “From my experience with Charlie’s Angels on down, it’s just I like the idea of empowered female characters that don’t apologize for being beautiful, but are very, very intelligent and multi-dimensional, and I think Maggie nails that voicing.”
Director Danny Cannon shed some light on the action-packed pilot’s budget. “I’m very proud that this pilot cost a third of what other pilots cost this year. And that’s because I did …
Luke Y Thompson is covering the Con for Deadline:
PRIEST, based on the Tokyopop-published graphic novel, is brought to you by the folks behind the agreeable B-movie LEGION. While many of the original Manga take place in the past, the movie serves as a sequel, set in a post-apocalyptic world. We’re shown a clip that is “not MPAA approved.” It begins with a dark, BLADE RUNNER-style cityscape. A hooded figure carrying a rosary walks through. It’s Paul Bettany, and he has a red cross tattooed on his face. A vampire attacks – this vampire is like a wild, wet beast, with no eyes, no pigment – think the demons in CONSTANTINE, on the offchance you actually saw that.