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WarnerMedia signs up Soderbergh

Acclaimed filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has extended his relationship with WarnerMedia by signing a three-year overall deal with HBO and HBO Max, while the latter has lined up new shows including a climate change anthology series.

Steven Soderbergh

WarnerMedia’s deal with Soderbergh builds on the previously announced Meryl Streep-starring HBO Max original  film Let Them All Talk (working title), which he is making for the soon-to-launch streamer.

It will see the Sex, Lies & Videotape director work exclusively for HBO Max and HBO in all forms of television and give the WarnerMedia-owned companies a first look at his features.

“Steven is a groundbreaking filmmaker who not only tells unique, irresistible stories but is also a master of so many genres,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, which launches in May.

“In many ways he is the anti-algorithm, constantly surprising, never predictable and his career is living proof that one gifted filmmaker can impact our culture again and again,” added Aubrey.

The deal was brokered by Michael Sugar of Sugar 23 and Jamie Feldman of Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark.

Writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editor Soderbergh most recently directed the films The Laundromat and High Flying Bird, both of which debuted on Netflix in 2019.

He earned an Academy Award in 2000 for directing Traffic, the same year he was nominated for Erin Brockovich. Among his other credits are the HBO limited series Mosaic, television series The Knick for Cinemax and the films Unsane, Logan Lucky, Side Effects, Magic Mike, Che and the Ocean’s trilogy.

Also announced during the WarnerMedia Television Critics Association (TCA) Day yesterday was HBO Max’s greenlighting of The Uninhabitable Earth, written and directed by Oscar and Emmy winner Adam McKay (Succession, The Big Short).

The anthology series will comprise stand-alone fictional stories covering a wide range of genres and possible futures that could result from the rapid warming of our planet.

It is inspired by David Wallace-Wells’ global best-selling book and New York Magazine article about the impending perils of climate change. McKay’s Hyperobject Industries, Wiip and Animal Kingdom will executive produce.

McKay, who recently closed a five-year overall television deal with HBO and HBO Max, is attached to write and direct the first episode. The plan is for the first season to enlist top directors and writers to join in creating a provocative and entertaining series that taps into our unease with just how delicately our planet is teetering on the precipice.

“I can’t wait to see what he does with this material, as there is no timelier and more relevant message than a wake-up call on climate change and the growing impact on our lives,” said Kevin Reilly, chief content officer at HBO Max and president of TBS, TNT and truTV.

HBO Max has also ordered the unscripted documentary series The Event from Wolfgang Puck and Renegade 83. Viewers will be given an unprecedented look behind the scenes at the extraordinary events created by Wolfgang Puck Catering and legendary restaurateur Wolfgang Puck.

“This series will usher viewers into a world of opulence and luxury and showcase the unpredictable challenges he and his team encounter while executing the biggest and most exclusive A-list events we all wish we were invited to,” said Reilly.

Meanwhile, Aquaman: King of Atlantis will launch on HBO Max as a three-part animated miniseries executive produced by James Wan through his production company Atomic Monster.

Based on the classic DC character created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris, each of the standalone episodes will have a unique storyline following the adventures of Aquaman as protector of the deep.

Produced by Warner Bros Animation, it joins HBO Max’s animation line-up, which includes Looney Tunes Cartoons, Jellystone, Adventure Time: Distant Lands, Little Ellen, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Rick & Morty and The Boondocks.

For TBS, ITV America’s Sirens Media is producing Lost Resort, an upstairs/downstairs look at the booming subculture of exotic wellness retreats.

The 10-episode unscripted series follows a group of strangers who are immersed in a three-week Costa Rican retreat led by a colourful team of alternative healers.

It is part of TBS’s escapist, lean-back line-up of smart, imaginative programming that tells stories with heart and a comedic edge, the network said.

“Lost Resort is an inside look at the exclusive, explosive and often hilariously experimental world of self-help retreats,” said Corie Henson, executive VP and head of unscripted programming for TBS, TNT and truTV.

TBS is also getting two more seasons of American Dad from 20th Century Fox Television, while truTV has greenlit “unscripted sitcom” Tirdy Works, set in a small rural town with four paved roads and a booming new business: arts and crafts created out of moose faeces.

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