By Lynn Elber AND PABLO ARAUZ PENA
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
A roundup of news from the Television Critics Association summer meeting, at which TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
Octavia Spencer is bringing the remarkable saga of black haircare mogul Madam C.J. Walker to television.
Netflix said that Spencer will produce and star in a limited series about the outsized life of Sarah Breedlove, who was known professionally as Walker.
The eight-episode drama is based on the book “On Her Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles and includes basketball star LeBron James as a producer.
Walker became one of America’s first self-made female millionaires by creating and marketing hair products for African-Americans at the turn of the 20th century.
Netflix said the series will detail the hostility, rivalries and tumultuous personal life that marked Walker’s life.
A release date for “Madam C.J. Walker” was not announced.
A PRINCESS, GROENING STYLE
Matt Groening said his new adult cartoon series “Disenchantment” has a feminist component that sets it apart from his previous shows.
Groening spoke to reporters about bringing fresh talent to the Netflix show that included the voice actors Abbi Jacobson and Eric Andre.
He also highlighted the differences between the new project and his previous work, the long-running Fox series “The Simpsons.”
“One of the reasons that ‘The Simpsons’ is what it is, is because of the time constraints,” he said. “In this show, we’re able to let it breathe a little more which I find gratifying.”
The series notably stands out as an adult cartoon with a female lead. It follows the misadventures of an alcoholic slacker princess named Princess Bean, voiced by “Broad City” star Jacobson, who has everything but a sense of purpose.
Joined by a personal demon named Luci, played by Andre, and a scruffy elf named Elfo (voiced by Nat Faxon), Bean creates mischief in the kingdom of Dreamland where she’s infamous for her careless antics.
Both Jacobson and Andre have a built a following with the hard-to-win young adult audience in their shows “Broad City” and “The Eric Andre Show.” The stars shared their stories of growing up watching “The Simpsons” and finding their place with Groening and Josh Weinstein, creators and producers of “Disenchantment.”
THEIR BRAINS ON DRUGS
Jonah Hill and Emma Stone are starring in a new TV series that tackles sensitive issues of mental illness and the pharmaceutical industry.
The Netflix series, a black comedy titled “Maniac,” follows two participants of a murky late-stage pharmaceutical drug trial.
Hill plays a man diagnosed with schizophrenia, while Stone plays a woman fixated on broken relationships.
Both sign up to test a mysterious pill believed to cure anything about the mind, but things do not go as planned.
Cindy Holland, vice president of Netflix original series, announced that it would debut Sept. 21.
A 50th anniversary look at Woodstock and a Ken Burns series on the human genome will be among PBS’ upcoming documentaries, the public TV service said.
The documentary on Woodstock will air in 2019 and will examine the events that led up to the three-day festival that would become one of the defining moments of the tumultuous 1960s.
The documentary will be part of PBS’ “American Experience” series and is being directed by Barak Goodman, who is teaming up with Burns on the genome series.
Burns’ “The Gene: An Intimate History” will be a three-hour documentary series based on a book of the same name by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It will air in 2020.
Also airing in 2019 will be a documentary series from Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. that examines the post-Civil War era of Reconstruction. The four-hour series “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War” will examine the period’s lasting impact on U.S. culture.