A roundup of news from the Television Critics Association winter meeting, where TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
Resistance is the theme when “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns this summer with 13 episodes for its third season, but the Hulu drama is avoiding a collision with the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
The dystopian drama will debut three new episodes on Wednesday, June 5, streaming service Hulu said. Other episodes will follow on subsequent Wednesdays.
The return date contrasts with the previous seasons’ April debuts and puts the drama outside the eligibility window for this year’s Emmy Awards. It also keeps “The Handmaid’s Tale” out of the path of juggernaut “Game of Thrones,” which starts April 14.
The latter wasn’t a consideration, Craig Erwich, Hulu’s vice president for original series, told TV critics Monday.
“We simply wanted to give the show as much time as possible to maintain the quality it has,” Erwich said. As for the Emmys, he said, TV academy voters will be able to consider the series as a whole when it competes.
The Hulu drama collected six Emmys for its first season, including best drama and best lead actress for Elisabeth Moss, who stars as June. Although it earned three awards in 2018, including for Samira Wiley, it lost the top trophy to “Game of Thrones,” while Claire Foy of “The Crown” won the top drama acting trophy.
The new season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” will focus on June’s struggle against the repressive regime of Gilead, Hulu said in a release.
Other characters will be forced to take a stand as well, with “blessed be the fight” the guiding prayer for rebels. Hulu also promised “startling reunions” and betrayals in the upcoming season.
‘BOOMERANG’ IS BACK
Halle Berry and Lena Waithe say they’ve updated the 1992 movie “Boomerang” for a new generation.
Berry said the original story that focused on black characters’ lives and work was innovative for its time.
But Berry said the issues that millennials face today are different and required a “fresher” approach for the BET comedy series premiering 10 p.m. EST Tuesday.
Waithe said she understands the affection people have for the film that, besides Berry, starred Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, David Alan Grier, Martin Lawrence and Grace Jones.
But Waithe said Monday that viewers who want fresh faces and a new take should watch the show. It’s set about 25 years after the movie and follows its characters’ offspring.
The series cast includes Tetona Jackson, Tequan Richmond and Leland Martin.
George Clooney says he never expected his next project to be a miniseries based on a novel he read in high school.
But against his initial inclination, he’s directing and starring in Hulu’s series “Catch-22,” drawn from Joseph Heller’s classic work about the insanity of war. The streaming service Hulu will release it this spring.
Clooney said Monday that the longer format allowed them to develop the characters beyond what could be done in Mike Nichols’ 1970 classic movie. Adopted at the time by opponents of the Vietnam War, he said the story making fun of the red tape and bureaucracy of war is relevant today and not tied to a particular conflict.
Series makers say the mixture of horror and hilarity becomes more pronounced as the series goes on.
ASK THE DOCTOR
The question that legendary sex therapist Ruth Westheimer gets from young people today may surprise you.
It’s about loneliness.
“It’s hard not having someone to share their life with, their experiences with,” she said. “It’s not just about sex.”
The 90-year-old Westheimer, who is still teaching and writing another edition of a “Sex for Dummies” book, said she’s concerned about young people losing their ability to have conversations. She bans computers from the room when she teaches.
Westheimer is the subject of “Ask Dr. Ruth,” a documentary about her life that will appear on the Hulu streaming service this spring.
BRYANT GOES ‘SHRILL’
“Saturday Night Live” star Aidy Bryant says she was drawn to the Hulu series “Shrill” because of the chance to play a woman who is about more than her weight.
The six-part comedy debuting March 15 is based on Lindy West’s memoir, “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman,” which Bryant said struck a chord with her.
She identified with the book’s portrayal of a world that is “telling you you’re wrong for existing the way you do, even if you don’t feel that way,” Bryant said Monday. “You feel like, ‘I have a lot to offer the world and why do I have to do it in a size-two package?'”
But the series, which Bryant co-wrote, isn’t what she called a “fat festival” that’s obsessed with weight.
“Our show isn’t really about being fat and it’s also really not about dieting and it’s really not about her body,” she said of her character, Annie. Ultimately, she said, it’s what any TV show is about: a character trying to achieve her goals and the family and friends who surround her.
Abortion also figures in the show, as it does in West’s memoir.
Series executive producer Elizabeth Banks said she felt “having a positive, normalizing representation of women’s reproductive rights on television would also be a really good idea.”
HOWARD THE HULU DUCK
Hulu is teaming with Marvel to make four separate animated series based on comic book characters like Howard the Duck.
Director Kevin Smith and comics Chelsea Handler and Patton Oswalt are among the people who have signed deals with the streaming service to help produce the cartoons. Smith will work on the Howard the Duck series.
Other shows revolve around M.O.D.O.K., a villain with an enormous head; Hit-Monkey, about a Japanese snow monkey turned assassin; and Tigra and Dazzler, two superheroes who work in Los Angeles.
Hulu senior vice president Craig Erwich said Monday that animation is a particular favorite for its users. Since the deal was just signed, there’s no estimate on when the series will be ready.