Finally, mercifully, the 2018 Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour has come to a close. We ate a lot over the past 15 days, sure, but we learned even more.
Below are 13 of our top takeaways from the never-ending TV media event occupying the Beverly Hilton ballroom. Thanks for all of the coffee, but now we need some sleep.
Ironclad Details on the Iron Throne
Casey Bloys shed a little more light on the upcoming final season of “Game of Thrones” and its first approved prequel. We already knew that the eighth installment of the fantasy series is coming sometime next year, but Bloys closed the window a little bit by telling reporters that it will arrive sometime in the first half of 2019. It seems like that time frame will be a busy one for Westeros: Bloys also told TheWrap that HBO hopes to start production on the prequel series in the first half of 2019 as well.
Mark Your Calendars
The press tour also provided release dates for new shows and old favorites. In a creepy reveal, Netflix announced that the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” will drop just in time for Halloween on Oct. 26. The streaming service also confirmed what the “Stranger Things” Season 3 trailer teased: that the thriller won’t be returning until next summer.
Over on HBO, we learned that the final season of “Veep” will be coming sometime next spring, and the “Deadwood” reunion movie is officially a go, with production starting in October with a tentative release date next spring as well.
Jen Salke’s Precious
Two writers to rule them all: Amazon has tapped “Star Trek 4” duo JD Payne and Patrick McKay to develop its “Lord of the Rings” original series.
“The rich world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is filled with majesty and heart, wisdom and complexity,” Payne and McKay said in a statement on the first Saturday of our lengthy press tour. “We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with Amazon to bring it to life anew. We feel like Frodo, setting out from the Shire, with a great responsibility in our care — it is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.”
Amazon’s pretty stoked too — read more here.
As expected, FX chief John Landgraf blessed us with another “Peak TV” update: We’re now 5 percent peak-er than this time last year.
During his TCA executive session, Landgraf noted that so far this year, there have been 319 scripted shows on TV, up 5 percent (305) compared to the same time as last year. Basic cable is down 11 percent (114 to 102), while broadcast is down 5 percent (120 to 114). Meanwhile, streaming is up 46 percent from 52 to 76 and, premium cable rose 42 percent from 19 to 27.
The branding expert didn’t stop there though, renaming this ongoing (second) “Golden Age of Television” the “Gilded Age of Television.”
The Big Winners
The annual TCA Awards took place during the summer tour, with the final season of “The Americans” claiming the most total trophies and host network FX leading the pack in terms of platform. Other mentionable victors include John Oliver, who took home the first-ever TCA Award for Variety/Sketch series, and Anthony Bourdain, who posthumously earned Outstanding Achievement in News and Information for “Parts Unknown.”
Chris Rock(s) “Fargo”
Noah Hawley finally figured out what season 4 of “Fargo” looks like and he’s bringing comedian Chris Rock along for the ride.
The anthology crime series will go back to the 1950s and focus on a pair of Kansas City-based criminal syndicates that have struck an uneasy peace: one Italian American, one African American. Rock will play the head of one of the families, who has agreed to trade his eldest son with the other.
How did they convince noted Rock to take a dramatic turn? You’ll have to go here for the scoop.
Don’t Worry, AT&T Won’t Ruin HBO
HBO got this two-week press tour started off by assuring TV critics that new owners AT&T won’t make them sacrifice quality for quantity.
“There are no plans to dilute the HBO brand in favor of volume of programming,” programming president Bloys said during his executive session. “Nobody is asking to us to take pitches of a ‘Love Boat’ reboot or anything like that.”
So while the comments are likely to assuage any fear that HBO would throw its prestige brand in the garbage can, we don’t know why they had to bring Captain Stubing into this.
More of “America?”?
Making a secret second season of “Who Is America?” would be much harder for Sacha Baron Cohen & Co. — but Showtime is sure up for the challenge.
“I’m dying to bring it back, you know,” Showtime CEO David Nevins said at TCA. “There’ll be a process and I don’t know that I’ll be making an announcements, but, you know, he had me at ‘Hello.'”
As for the remainder of Season 1, well, the premium cable channel’s programming boss says we might not even get that Sarah Palin episode everyone has been waiting for.
“All I can say about that is there are several people who have thrown themselves in front of buses that may not be heading their way,” Gary Levine said.
You’re Getting 2 More Seasons of “AHS” – and Jessica Lange
FX dropped two “American Horror Story” bombs on critics while promoting the upcoming eighth season, “Apocalypse”: 1) Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series has been renewed through Season 10 and 2) franchise alum Jessica Lange will be returning for the big “Murder House”-“Coven” crossover.
“I do have the great pleasure of letting you all know that, yes, she will be back,” star Sarah Paulson told TheWrap. “Jessica will be returning as Constance in an episode I’m going to direct.” Lange will guest star on Episode 6, with the season premiering on Sept. 12.
The cast couldn’t give away much more, though they did share the names of the characters they will be playing this time around.
Last time FX renewed “AHS” it picked up two more seasons at once, with this order coming as a bit of surprise amid Murphy’s $300 million move to Netflix.
What ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’ on NBC Will Look Like
“Brooklyn Nine Nine” made its heavily-anticipated (TCA) NBC debut, with executive producer Dan Goor promising the new Peacock-infused version of the show won’t look too different from the first five seasons on Fox.
While specific details were light on the upcoming sixth season, which doesn’t premiere until midseason, Goor said the writers are “actively talking about” a #MeToo episode, there will be another “Halloween Heist” and Doug Judy (Craig Robinson) aka The Pontiac Bandit, will return.
And maybe Adrian Pimento (Jason Mantzoukas) and Gina Rodriguez. Goor said they’ve only broken the first few episodes.
So, How’s It Going, CBS Execs?
Some people thought CBS might skip its TCA day, given that it arrived about a week after sexual misconduct accusations against CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves became public. But the broadcaster showed — and so did CBS’ programming head Kelly Kahl, who took every arrow that critics aimed at him, saying that “we wanted to be here.”
Kahl addressed the elephant in the room, saying that although Moonves has been a “great boss and mentor,” the company is taking the allegations seriously. Kahl added that women in the upper ranks of the company have approached him “dismayed” by the accusations against Moonves, telling him, “this does not represent their experience at CBS.”
Finally, Kahl gave an update on the state of CBS TV Studio’s most recent misconduct investigation into former “NCIS: New Orleans” showrunner Brad Kern, saying that he’s “troubled and frustrated that reports continue to come out in the press.”
Ken-Ya Give Us a Reason the “Black-ish” Creator Bailed?
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey got candid about Kenya Barris’ decision to exit his overall deal with ABC Studios nearly three years early, saying that the “black-ish” creator was “frustrated” by network TV’s restrictions on things like content or episode structure.
“At a certain point, these are rules of broadcast, right? And if you want to veer outside of them, you have to explore streaming or something else,” Dungey said.
More Work for Them Too?
Netflix originals boss Cindy Holland said the streamer “would be happy to” make a third season of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” when the creative team felt ready, remaining unfazed by the sexual misconduct allegation made against Ansari earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Amazon provided an update on the fifth and finale season of “Transparent,” which will be absent star Jeffrey Tambor after he was accused of sexually harassing three women on set.
“We’re going to give the ‘Transparent’ fans the closure that they and we long for, and do what’s right by, you know, those fans,” Amazon Studios boss Jennifer Salke said, keeping tight-lipped about how Tambor’s character would be written off.