In the Works: Wong, Lee, Denis, and More

Just as the weekend began, Variety’s Cynthia Littleton and Daniel Holloway broke the news that Amazon had ordered up a rather remarkable round of new series.

  • Wong Kar-wai will direct Tong Wars, “an hour-long drama written and executive produced by Paul Attanasio [Homicide] . . . set against the Tong Wars of 19th century San Francisco and tells a story spanning a significant period of time about Chinese immigrants and the clashes between organized-crime families in the city’s Chinatown.”
  • Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph will team up with Alan Yang (Master of None) on “an untitled single-camera half hour comedy.”
  • Upload, a single camera half-hour comedy set in the future and hailing from The Office creator Greg Daniels, has received a pilot order, as has Making Friends, a half-hour series from How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas.”
  • And then there’s The Boys: “Based on the comic book series by Preacher creator Garth Ennis, the hour-long drama is being written by Eric Kripke, with executive producers [Seth] Rogen and [Evan] Goldberg set to direct.”

Spike Lee will direct and, with Jordan Peele (Get Out), co-produce Black Klansman, “the true story of an African-American police officer who infiltrated the KKK,” according to the Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit. “John David Washington, Denzel Washington's son and one of the stars of HBO’s Ballers, is in negotiations to star.”

Juliette Binoche and André Benjamin are joining Robert Pattinson, Mia Goth, and Lars Eidinger in Claire Denis’s High Life, reports Variety’s Brent Lang. Denis’s first feature in English “revolves around convicts who reduce their time behind bars in exchange for embarking on a dangerous mission to a black hole. . . . Denis has tapped visual artist Olafur Eliasson to design of the black hole. The original score and sound design comes from her long-time musical collaborator, Stuart Staples. Scientific expertise has been provided by the astrophysicist Aurélien Barrau, as well as the European Space Agency.” And Denis is once again working with cinematographer Agnès Godard.

Binoche is already working with Naomi Kawase on the Japanese director’s Vision, reports Melanie Goodfellow for Screen. Binoche plays Jeanne, “a journalist tracking a mysterious rare herb that appears only once every 997 years. . . . The cast also includes Japanese actor Masatoshi Nagase [Mystery Train].”

Kim Nguyen’s (War Witch,Eye on Juliet) The Hummingbird Project with Salma Hayek, Jesse Eisenberg, and Alexander Skarsgård will be “set in the high-stakes game of High Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds,” reports Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. “Two cousins dream of building a fibre-optic cable straight between Kansas and New Jersey that will make them millionaires. What could go wrong?”

Regis Roinsard’s The Translators with Olga Kurylenko, Lambert Wilson, and Sisde Babette Knudsen “follows the journey of nine translators who have been picked by a ruthless publisher and locked in a luxury bunker to translate the highly anticipated book of a famous author in record time,” reports Variety’s Elsa Keslassy. “Although the translators are confined to prevent any kind of leak because of the high financial stakes, a crisis erupts when someone posts the first 10 pages of the novel online and blackmails the publisher to pay five million euros.”

When Our Souls at Night premiered in Venice, Shalini Dore, reporting for Variety, asked director Ritesh Batrawhat’s next. “I am working on Photographer in Bombay, that I wrote and I’m directing later this year. We’re not casting yet. But I’m writing with the team from Lunchbox. It will be in English and Hindi.”

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