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Updated: 2 weeks 4 days ago

Kelli Giddish on the 'Law & Order: SVU' Renewal & Hopes for Rollins in Season 20

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 3:00pm

It's been a big week for Law & Order: SVU, as the NBC series was just renewed for a groundbreaking 20th season. This makes the crime show tied for the longest-running live-action drama series of all time.

"I'm so excited," series star Kelli Giddish (Amanda Rollins) said of the good news to TV Insider at the 2018 NBC Upfronts on May 14.

 SVU' and All Three 'Chicago' Shows Renewed by NBC 'Law & Order: SVU' and All Three 'Chicago' Shows Renewed by NBC

Plus, we'll be seeing more of the 'Chicago' shows.

"It's going to be my eighth season playing Detective Amanda Rollins," Giddish continued. "I have such faith in the writers and the whole creative team that we have. It feels different this year. We're tied with Gunsmoke; we're tied with Law & Order. It's like lets dig our heels in and make this the best season ever."

Someone on set who inspires the actress is SVU's leading lady and executive producer Mariska Hargitay, aka Lieutenant Olivia Benson. Giddish insists their friendship off-camera makes their on-screen moments that much more special.

"[Our] personal relationship has evolved along with Olivia and Amanda's and nothing's forced," she said. "Our relationship is so strong in the show because it's so strong in real life and it feels great to know that she really has my back. We can now look at each other on the show and one look explains everything."

Also, don't expect Season 20 to shy away from tough topics. The series is known for its "ripped from the headlines" storyline approach and Giddish acknowledges the sad truth that "there are too many [headlines] to choose from." So expect more family drama with a mix of politics and the affects of social media.

Something that fans have also been wanting is a little more of Rollins' history. The character's family dynamic has been a plot point before and Giddish hopes to develop that more.

 SVU' Anne Archer & Joe Piscopo to Guest Star on Alzheimer's-Focused 'Law & Order: SVU'

'Lost' alum Fionnula Flanagan and beloved 'Barney Miller' star Hal Linden will also stop by.

"[The producers] try to incorporate it as much as possible but it's an hour episode and they have to show the crime, who did it, and tie it up. But I think that they do a really good job throughout the season of mixing it in."

Law & Order: SVU, Season 20, Fall 2018, NBC

My TV Obsessions: 'Shadowhunters' Harry Shum Jr. on His Dream Co-Star & More

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 2:00pm

Shadowhunters' Harry Shum Jr. who plays fan favorite Magnus (one half of the Malec ship) shares what shows are part of his life and more.

Atlanta. It has a clever layer of social commentary disguised in an entertaining, 24-minute slice of honesty pie.

Hasan Minhaj's comedy special Homecoming King.

Hasan Minhaj. I loved his stand-up special on Netflix [Homecoming King].

Catastrophe. [Creators and stars] Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan are brilliant in their true-to-life bantering as a married couple.

'Shadowhunters,' 'Timeless' & More Shows We Don’t Want to See Canceled 'Shadowhunters,' 'Timeless' & More Shows We Don’t Want to See Canceled

Now is the time to show your favorite bubble shows the love they deserve!

Christopher Walken. My first day on set, I would ask him to do an impression of me to balance out countless ones I’ve done of him.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Uncle Phil [James Avery] was my American TV dad growing up.

'Shadowhunters' Star Alisha Wainwright on Maia, Simon & Jordan's Awkward Mission 'Shadowhunters' Star Alisha Wainwright on Maia, Simon & Jordan's Awkward Mission

Stranger Things. I can be that nosy neighbor who knocks on the Byers’ door every day to offer help, but the only thing he can provide is his pop culture expertise, which, unbeknownst to them, is ultimately the key to closing up the Upside Down for good!

Noah Schnapp as Will Byers, Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers and David Harbour as Chief Hopper in Stranger Things.

Black Mirror because I like to start the day thinking that if that is the worst thing that can happen, my day will be just fine.

Shadowhunters, Midseason finale, Tuesday, May 15, 8/7c, Freeform

Chris Sullivan Says 'This Is Us' Season 3 Will Reveal 'Why Toby Is the Way He Is'

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 1:30pm

This Is Us' Season 2 finale left fans deeply concerned about the status of Toby's (Chris Sullivan) mental health.

In a flash forward, we saw the fan-favorite character deeply depressed, in bed, barely able to look at his wife Kate (Chrissy Metz).

At the 2018 NBC Upfronts on May 14, TV Insider caught up with Sullivan and chatted about what's next for Toby in Season 3.

'This Is Us' Season 3 Will Feature Jack Pearson 'in the Vietnam Era' 'This Is Us' Season 3 Will Feature Jack Pearson 'in the Vietnam Era'

The actor promises that there's plenty more to learn about his fan favorite character.

"I'm looking forward for the audience to see both the light side and the side where he holds his pain and suffering," he says. "I think through that, the audience will get a much more grounded view of who he is and why he is the way he is."

As for Toby's family, we met his parents (played by Dan Lauria and Wendie Malick) in the Season 2 finale and heard of a mysterious brother and sister — neither of whom was in attendance at his wedding — but we haven't learned any more details. Sullivan shares that he's hoping to explore more of Toby's family on the show.

"I would love for my parents to come back. A brother and a sister have been mentioned and didn't show up at the wedding, so what's going on?! Thanksgiving dinner is gonna be a weird one," he jokes.

Sullivan reveals the writers provide an overview of what they plan to do with characters but the cast doesn't get a script until about a week before the episode shoots. In other words, he's often just as surprised or heartbroken as fans.

"Being on a sincere, vulnerable, successful show means a lot to me and it's great to have the support of the network and the studio," he adds.

This Is Us, Season 3, Fall 2018, NBC

'Shadowhunters' Midseason Finale: Anna Hopkins Previews Lilith's End-Game

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 1:00pm

It's time for Lilith (Anna Hopkins) to either win her game against our heroes and resurrect her son, Jonathan (Will Tudor), or be defeated, as "Erchomai," the two-hour Season 3 midseason finale episode of Freeform's Shadowhunters, arrives on Tuesday.

Of course, Lilith has some obstacles in her way, as Simon (Alberto Rosende) and his new powers (thanks, Seely Queen!) have proven to be a huge threat.

The rest of the gang is also on task to get back Jace (Dominic Sherwood) from under Lilith's control and, as you'll see in the midseason finale trailer below, even Magnus (Harry Shum Jr) is potentially in danger as they try to defeat the Queen of Hell once and for all.

'Shadowhunters,' 'Timeless' & More Shows We Don’t Want to See Canceled 'Shadowhunters,' 'Timeless' & More Shows We Don’t Want to See Canceled

Now is the time to show your favorite bubble shows the love they deserve!

To get the lowdown on what we'll be seeing in the two-hour finale, and whether Lilith is going to win or lose, TV Insider talked with Hopkins about not only Lilith's fabulous wardrobe (right?!) but also whether she could potentially try to use Simon for her own use, and if the Queen of Hell is actually capable of love.

How has it been to play Lilith since you have to get into a really serious headspace. There are no light moments with her; she's a pretty serious, dark person. Or, not, "person" … demon.

Anna Hopkins: Yes, don't call me a person! [laughs] By the time of episode eight or nine, there was just no turning back. I would come to set and just turn into this crazy, evil lady, and get into the groove of it. As her goal is getting closer and closer, so I think it's easier to get into that headspace when you're trying to get something done. I loved every second of it. It was super fun.

7 Reasons Freeform's 'Siren' Will Be Your New TV Addiction 7 Reasons Freeform's 'Siren' Will Be Your New TV Addiction

The mermaid drama premieres March 29.

I don't think there's one scene where you don't have some impeccable dress or outfit on. Did that actually help? In some way Lilith is so glamorous, but also so evil, too.

I think the costumes really did help in a way. They were so regal. The costume team did such an incredible job scouring consignment stores and finding these really beautiful, unique pieces. I think it helped a lot in terms of just the sense that she is a queen and she does carry herself in a certain way and costume really helps with that.

I also like playing against it sometimes. Sometimes she gets a little ugly. I think it's really cool to have that sort of wildly impeccably dressed. I enjoyed working with the costumes for her character, for sure.

Let’s go to the two-hour midseason finale. Obviously, Lilith is unnerved by Simon and his powers, but does she think she could actually use him, or is it about getting him out of her way?

Lilith is really resourceful. The idea of using him definitely would cross her mind. I think she's getting so close to her goal, however, and she's kind of toppled a bunch of roadblocks and he is obviously symbolizing the major one.

She wants to get rid of him but inherent in getting rid of him is how he can destroy things in a bigger roadblock than she's faced before. She's pretty pissed about it. He's a real thorn in her side, for sure.

Could Lilith ruin Magnus (Harry Shum Jr) and Alec's (Matthew Daddario) relationship?

How does she view Magnus? Does she see him as just an obstacle, too?

In the last episode, it's clear she could have killed him, but this is where it enters into little bit more of a chess-game situation. It's a long-term ordeal, dealing with Magnus’s dad, eventually heading back to Edom.

[Lilith is] not one to have knee-jerk reactions to kill, even though it might seem like she does. She's got a lot of chess pieces on the board, and she won't sacrifice herself just to deal with somebody who has a lot of power in the moment.

Is there more to Lilith's plan that we find out in the these last two hours?

She's probably staying on track. I hadn't seen Shadowhunters before I started the show, so I watched everything. There's definitely a theme of what you expect might not happen. So even though her plan might be on track, I would say, expect some more fun stuff.

Emotions are interesting with Lilith, but would you say it’s love that’s pushing her to bring Jonathan back?

Yes, I think so. I think that as a demon, and an Edom, we might have a little bit of a different definition of love. I think the core of what Lilith is doing from day one in Episode 1, she believes it's love. I think that she operates on a kind of parallel thing with Clary and Jace. It's in the upside down, as one would say.

'Shadowhunters' Star Alisha Wainwright on Maia, Simon & Jordan's Awkward Mission 'Shadowhunters' Star Alisha Wainwright on Maia, Simon & Jordan's Awkward Mission

Since she’s still controlling Jace, does she see him as just a tool, or has she developed some affection for him at all?

I think with her, even with Jonathan, there are two sides to the coin. The way that she loves is also pretty vicious and vile. So I think that with Jace, he's certainly a tool, but he is also really the only person around. So even though he's completely possessed she does often divulge what her plans and her workings and her emotions, she's quite open around him.

[Lilith] does have sort of this theme of motherliness and taking beings in to become her own. I think that's certainly happening throughout the season with Jace, even though she also wants to torture him and eventually kill him, probably.

Since you had to catch up on all the Shadowhunters episodes before you started, is it safe to say you're team Malec? Are you on board?

Of course! I love the whole show. Oftentimes when you come into a show, you don't have a lot of time. There were also the [Cassandra Clare] books that I wanted to read, and I just ended up getting hooked on it. My boyfriend would come home and I’d be binge-watching Shadowhunters in bed and have my book open.

I was a huge Buffy fan, and the world of angels and demons and vampires and stuff — I loved it. So the world itself I loved, and then, obviously Malec was a beautiful development. I love seeing that on screen. They're a really unique couple. I'm glad I don't ruin them!

Check out the Shadowhunters midseason finale trailer:

Shadowhunters, two-hour midseason finale, Tuesday, May 15, 8/7c, Freeform

American Idol’ Selects Its Top 3 Going Into the Finale — Who Will Win? (POLL)

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 12:45pm

During American Idol's Mother's Day episode on Sunday, the Top 3 were selected and voted into the final round of competition.

The evening boasted former Idol contestant and winner Carrie Underwood as mentor to the Top 5, which included Maddie Poppe, Cade Foehner, Gabby Barrett, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, and Michael J. Woodard.

'American Idol' Reveals Top 5, Announces Carrie Underwood as Mentor (VIDEO) 'American Idol' Reveals Top 5, Announces Carrie Underwood as Mentor (VIDEO)

The contestants performed songs from their birth year and by Prince.

As they sang a collection of songs, the audience selected their favorites bringing Poppe, Barrett, and Hutchinson to the finale with their votes during the live broadcast. Fans of the show have had their share of opinions each week when it comes to those eliminated and this week was no different.

It seemed to be a consensus among fans on social media that Michael J. Woodard was the Idol unfairly eliminated in this latest round. The singer lent his vocals to Underwood's "Flat On The Floor," and "Still I Rise" by Yolanda Adams.

In a poll taken by GoldDerby, Barrett is the leading fan favorite to win this season ahead of fellow finalists Poppe and Hutchinson. The poll has Poppe finishing second and Hutchinson third, but all of this remains to be seen in the finale.

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From 'Muppet Babies' to 'Conan the Barbarian,' the revivals keep on coming.

Scroll down for a look at the Top 5's most popular performances from the episode and let us know which contestant you think will win in our poll below!

Gabby Barrett, "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston

Maddie Poppe, "I Told You So" by Carrie Underwood

Caleb Lee Hutchinson, "So Small" by Carrie Underwood

 Their Best Performances So Far (VIDEO) 'American Idol' Top 24: Their Best Performances So Far (VIDEO)

It's almost time for America to step in an vote.

Michael J. Woodard, "Still I Rise" by Yolanda Adams

Cade Foehner, "Undo It" by Carrie Underwood

American Idol, Sundays & Mondays, 8/7c, ABC

'Superior Donuts' EP Teases Sparks Between Franco & Sofia in Series Finale

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 8:00am

The Chicago neighborhood where Arthur (Judd Hirsch) sells his sweet treats may be gentrifying, but it’s still plenty gritty in the CBS comedy Superior Donuts.

In the May 14 series finale, an armed robbery at the shop inspires some soul-searching. “Nothing concentrates the mind more clearly than a life-or-death situation,” notes executive producer Bob Daily.

 'Superior Donuts' Jermaine Fowler on What Makes Him Laugh My TV Obsessions: 'Superior Donuts' Jermaine Fowler on What Makes Him Laugh

And who his dream co-star is.

Employee Franco (Jermaine Fowler) and food-trucker Sofia (Diane Guerrero) find themselves acting on their long-brewing attraction.

But what about his girlfriend, Tavi (Shamikah Martinez), and their summer-in-Italy plans? “It’s been a pretty tempestuous relationship,” Daily says. Uh-oh.

Superior Donuts, Series Finale, Monday, May 14, 9/8c, CBS

'Fear the Walking Dead': 8 Takeaways From the Lovely 'Laura' (RECAP)

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 10:06pm

[Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about Fear the Walking Dead Season 4, Episode 5, "Laura." Read no further if you're not caught up. ]

Well, if that episode didn't beat all, Fear the Walking Dead fans.

With kinder, gentler emotions at a premium for years on both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, Sunday night's FWTD outing "Laura," gave us a welcome case of the feels from start to finish. The episode, which took place almost entirely in the Before, provided the backstory of how Garret Dillahunt's John Dorie and Jenna Elfman's Naomi/Laura met and, if only for the briefest time, fell in love.

 5 Takeaways From 'Buried' (RECAP) 'Fear The Walking Dead': 5 Takeaways From 'Buried' (RECAP)

An ill-fated supply run in the Before leads to telling revelations in the After.

With stellar performances from both Dillahunt and Elfman — the only two characters in the episode, save for a nice moment with Lennie James' Morgan Jones at the end—"Laura" gave us a chance to sit back and wallow in niceties that no longer get much play in the apocalypse. New love. A good game of Scrabble. Fishing. Sharing your secret sorrows with someone you know will keep your confidence.

And, despite what Luciana told John last week, the hope that these two will see each other again.

The Real Reason Behind [Spoiler's] Shocking 'Fear the Walking Dead' Death The Real Reason Behind [Spoiler's] Shocking 'Fear the Walking Dead' Death

There's more to that surprising exit than fans might think.

Here are our 5 top takeaways from "Laura."

1. Naomi sailed right into John Dorie's life

We open the episode with a reveal of John's life after the apocalypse dawned but before he left his cabin behind.

Turns out, he'd made himself a little one-room shanty in the woods by a river, digging a maze of trenches in front of his home to slow the progress of the walkers who keep washing ashore. There, he played Scrabble against himself, foraged for berries and prickly pear, paid Tuesday visits to a country store called Bill's and hosted one-man movie nights with titles he properly checked out from Bill's and faithfully reviewed on the return sheet.

One night, when he headed out to clear the dead from the trenches, he found life, instead. Naomi, badly wounded, unconscious and beached in her canoe on the shore in front of the cabin. (Never you mind, how that didn't make her easy pickin' for the walkers. Never you mind. It's love we care about now.)

2. John named her Laura

After he helped stitch up the nasty gash in his new guest's side and correctly assessed her wariness, John skipped asking for Naomi's real name and says he'll call her Laura, 'cause she looks like one. She's still hellbent on leaving, but his not prying seems to diffuse her eagerness to do so, at least for a bit.

Pretty soon, they're playing Scrabble together, having fishing lessons and repairing the gap in a nearby bridge's side rail that's allowing the walkers to tumble into the drink.

(Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC)

3. Naomi is a mother

A few nights in, after the pair companionably watches movies together and explores new recipes for makeshift brittle, John wakes up from a snooze to see Naomi gazing at him with tears in her eyes. "I lost my child," she whispers, then creeps away to bed.

4. The loss is likely why she prefers to be alone

Though she slowly warms to his down-home charm and their bucolic times on the river, Naomi always seem poised to go. She unsuccessfully to crib his car (revealing that she did indeed live in another camp, in the process). She snitches one of his guns, if only for safety when they go to fix the bridge. And her haul from Bill's consists of stuff not to stock the cabin to her liking, but to be useful when she's back out on her own.

Lauren Cohan Will Return for Season 9 of 'The Walking Dead' Lauren Cohan Will Return for Season 9 of 'The Walking Dead'

The actress's return was up in the air due to an unsettled contract.

5. John worked in a Wild West show

Though the former cop carried a gun on duty, he preferred to show off his skills harmlessly, at a Wild West attraction called Humbug Gulch. Hence, the fancy box of matching, white-handled revolvers.

6. ... but he was also gun averse

After John steadfastly refuses to shoot the walkers, even after it nearly cost the pair their lives while repairing the bridge, Naomi realizes his aversion is not about gunning down walkers. It's about gunning down anything. Since she shared a painful secret of her own, John shares the reason why.

One night, on his way home from Humbug Gulch, he witnessed a gas station robbery. The bad guy refused to drop his gun. John— still sporting his Humbug revolvers—fired a shot to hobble him, but the guy turned and took the bullet in an artery, instead. He bled out before help could arrive.

So, John polishes his weapons for the happy memories, but refuses to fire them for the bad ones. Until he has to ...

7. Zombies know teamwork makes the dream work. Even if they don't have brains to know with.

In one of the episode's rare eye-roller moments, a herd of walkers surrounds the Jeep John and Naomi used to block the bridge gap and shoves 'er right out of the way. They're abetted by the behind-the-wheel walker John Dorie hacked to a pulp—the only time he annoyed his girl—who undoes the brakes when what's left of his skeleton fails. It's a laughable moment, but necessary.

It's necessary, because the walkers need access to river to come after John and Naomi in the night, in a sizable herd that nearly overwhelms them. Especially when some walkers use other walkers as bridges over the trenches and advance on Naomi, who tumbles backward into a pit, a pile of undead atop her.

Hulu's Stephen King Series 'Castle Rock' Gets Premiere Date, New Teaser Hulu's Stephen King Series 'Castle Rock' Gets Premiere Date, New Teaser

The teaser raises questions about how Stephen King's famously creepy town got to be that way.

The only thing that saves her? John Dorie, duel wielding his revolvers in the knick of time, then twirling them out of habit. Naomi calls him a hero and says she's lucky to have washed up in his yard. He tells her he loves her, but he didn't want her to know because she's just going to leave.

Either way, he needs her to be alive, because if she's alive, the world is alive (no, you're crying). The gesture earns him a kiss and a bedmate. But only a bed mate. In the morning he wakes up alone, Naomi's shoes swapped out for the boots he offered her and "I LOVE YOU TOO. I'M SORRY" spelled out in Scrabble tiles on the tables.

Cut to the After, where ...

8. Morgan just may be coming around

Turns out, Morgan and John didn't go their separate ways after Al left with Luciana, Strand and Alicia. They're sitting in the sunshine, John having just told Morgan the story we watched play out in the Before.

John shows Morgan the I LOVE YOU TOO tiles which he keeps in a tin in his pocket. He wonders if Laura might have stayed longer if he'd waited to confess his love.

"No," says Morgan, emphatically. "Not in this world. Waiting—that’s how you lose people."
"It’s stupid to say, but I believed we’d have a second chance," John responds. "Stupid."

And then Morgan says it: "Maybe we still do." Not you still do. We.

Garret Dillahunt as John Dorie, Lennie James as Morgan Jones (Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC)

Morgan says Alicia, Luciana, Strand might believe that the only thing left is to fight and kill and die, but he knows John Dorie doesn't believes it, too. John admits he's right.

And Morgan—smiling the first not-pained smile I've seen since his days with Eastman—says this. "We’re alive. We’re part of the world. Let’s not waste another second." And off they go.

So what say you, FTWD faithfulDid you enjoy the break in the action to let love (momentarily) rule? Or are you all about the apocalypse and the simmering war with the Vultures? Do you think Naomi is really dead—or might true love rise again? Is there hope for Morgan becoming other than the guy who watches people die, or is he just trying to keep hope alive in someone the virtue might actually serve?

'Fear the Walking Dead' Star Lennie James Teases Character's Journey in Season 4 'Fear the Walking Dead' Star Lennie James Teases Character's Journey in Season 4

It 'takes a few episodes to reveal itself' says the actor.

A few other random thoughts

• Will you forever think of soup as "the blanket of food" after this episode?

• Will you test drive John's caramel/butterscotch/Black Jack brittle recipe?

• How 'bout that Big Mouth Billy Bass that John uses as an oh-so-appropriate alarm clock?

• Anyone else have Christopher Cross' treacly "Think of Laura" stuck in their head, too? Laugh. Don't cry. You know she'd want it that way.

Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC

Stuff We Love Right Now: 'Drunk History' Lessons, 'America's Next Top Model' App

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 3:00pm

Another week means more selections for things we're watching, listening to, and more.

In this roundup of stuff we love, the TV Guide Magazine and TV Insider staff share what's occupying their time when it comes to TV and beyond. From delectable recipes shared by culinary TV personalities like Nigella Lawson to an America's Next Top Model app, there's plenty to enjoy.

Click through the gallery above to see what other shows and apps are on their list this time around.

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The staff picks their favorite books, binge watches, and more.

Scene Stealer: 'Genius' Star Alex Rich Talks Taking on Young Picasso and More

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 1:00pm

National Geographic's anthology series Genius may recruit heavy hitting actors for biographical portrayals of intellectuals like Einstein and Picasso — repectively played by Geoffrey Rush and Antonio Banderas — but it's the young ones viewers have to watch out for. We're talking about scene stealer and young Picasso actor, Alex Rich who continues to transfix viewers each time he takes over the screen. Learn more about the actor behind Picasso's early days below.

He Plays

Cocky, obsessed artist Pablo Picasso from age 17 to 40. (Antonio Banderas takes over from there.) His arc follows Picasso from student in Spain, rebelling against his conservative teachers, to rising star in turn-of-the-century Paris. It’s in the City of Lights that the legend in the making begins to embody the Radical Modernist art movement and start collecting muses. Says Rich, who won the role with a homemade audition tape: “There’s so much passion and volatility and emotional depth in his experiences.”

 Picasso' Star Antonio Banderas Talks Pressures of the Iconic Role 'Genius: Picasso' Star Antonio Banderas Talks Pressures of the Iconic Role

The artist and the actor were born in the same town in Spain.

Where You've Seen Him

In 2015’s True Detective. “I played a long-haired hooker who approached Taylor Kitsch’s [closeted cop],” the Florida native says fondly of his first TV role. “When I found out, I chased my tail around my apartment like an excited puppy.” He also recurred on Netflix’s ’80s female wrestlers series GLOW as the “sort of butler” Florian: “That guy in his cutoff-jean shorts is near and dear to my heart.”

Why We Love Him

Rich beautifully conveys an openness and tenderness with Picasso’s first profound amour, the artist’s model Fernande Olivier (Aisling Franciosi) — qualities we see fade from the painter’s palette as his fame grows. The actor is equally moving in emotional scenes with the icon’s suicidal friend, Carlos Casagemas (Robert Sheehan), and Max Jacob (T.R. Knight), a French poet with unrequited love for him.

T.R. Knight on His 'Tortured' 'Genius' Role & a New Generation of 'Grey's' Fans (VIDEO) T.R. Knight on His 'Tortured' 'Genius' Role & a New Generation of 'Grey's' Fans (VIDEO)

The actor says his character, French poet and critic Max Jacob, was 'tortured' soul.

Lows And Highs

In the May 15 episode, an unhappy Pablo and Fernande begin their “stark journey” to an eventual split, Rich says, just as the artist gains notice for his controversial 1907 Cubist masterwork Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

Genius: Picasso, Tuesdays, 10/9c, National Geographic

'Masterpiece: Little Women' Star Maya Hawke Talks Playing the Iconic Jo March

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 3:00pm

Few characters have loomed as large as the heroines in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s Civil War–era saga. With Masterpiece unveiling the latest adaptation, we ask Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke’s daughter Maya Hawke, 19, about the tall order of playing outspoken Jo March.

This is quite a protagonist for your screen debut!

I was first approached about the role of [Jo’s sister] Meg, and I asked if I could try for Jo—I’ve wanted to play her since I was a kid. I spent hours with my mom trying to come up with the right audition tape. I’ve tried to bring my own clumsiness to the character. I want her to be as awkward and impatient and hungry as I am!

 PBS' New Adaptation of 'Little Women' Is 'Warm and Intimate' Roush Review: PBS' New Adaptation of 'Little Women' Is 'Warm and Intimate'

And it's a perfect treat for Mother's Day.

What sets this interpretation apart?

There’s a real textural quality. They’ve done a wonderful job of capturing the fabric, the skin. In the opening scene, you see the sisters’ feet touching. There’s something amazing about juxtaposing the formality of that period with the intimate home life.

The part when Beth (Elwy) dies is always brutal. Ever wish you could skip it?

Totally! Can’t this be the version where Jo and Laurie [Jonah Hauer-King] end up together and Beth doesn’t die? But unfortunately, or fortunately, we’ve stayed very loyal to the text.

Masterpiece: Little Women, Miniseries Premiere, Sunday, May 13, 8/7c, PBS (check local listings at

'Westworld' Star Angela Sarafyan on Nonverbal Acting & What's Next for Clementine

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 1:00pm

It was important to Westworld actress Angela Sarafyan that her character, rebellious host Clementine, had plenty of presence on-screen — despite not speaking a word thus far in Season 2.

To do so, Sarafyan sought guidance from acting icon Marlon Brando. "He would say, 'I want to eliminate words because words are actions. If I can say what I need to say without the words, I’d rather take the action,'" she tells TV Insider.

'Westworld' Episode 3 Takes Us to New Parks (RECAP) 'Westworld' Episode 3 Takes Us to New Parks (RECAP)

The scope of the world is expanded, and mysteries are unraveled in spectacular fashion, in 'Virtù e Fortuna.'

And so, she did. Or, rather, Clementine does as a newly-sentient host. She stares down her victims, emanating strength, power, control and thought — without uttering a single world.

This season, in an earlier timeline, you’re playing the piano and wearing some contemporary clothes. Was that fun for you?

Sarafyan: That was really fun because I play the piano really in life, and I love that they incorporated that Clementine plays the piano. And I love that you kind of get to see her in all these different timelines, and that was really fun for me to kind of explore. ‘Cause I think it all kind of fits together. I think there is a dreamlike quality to her, and I think that theme even works in the current timeline, which she's wearing the white tattered kind of angel of death look.

Is that how you see her, the angel of death? Or is she Dolores' [Evan Rachel Wood] thug? Or does she represent of a lot of the hosts that we don’t see? I'm confused, not sure what’s going on in this crazy rebellion.

I feel like she’s more of an archetype. Like she represents a specific element of hosts that isn’t seen, and so it’s almost like the demise. It’s just within the tragedy that happened to her, she found strength, and so this is the rebellion in her. So she, in a way, functions in this place of protecting her group. She protects and searches for freedom ultimately.

So she’s protecting Dolores and Teddy [James Marsden]… 

And herself. I think she’s protecting the hosts. I thought this season what I got to do with Clementine was to do what they did in the old Westerns.

If you watch Once Upon a Time in the West, they don’t talk that much. The conversations are without words. And I thought, you have these epic moments, like when I stand over Bernard. I thought, you know, there’s this kind of compassion, maybe recognition, but the mission is I knock you over the head with this rifle. I love that I got to do that with her.

That’s interesting because you’ll see a camera go from one close-up to another, and you’re just seeing the eyes and facial expressions. There doesn’t need to be any dialogue because the story is all told in those shots.

And I remember an interview I read about with Marlon Brando. He would say, 'I want to eliminate words because words are actions. If I can say what I need to say without the words, I’d rather take the action.' He found words to be the falsest thing because you’re speaking what someone else has written. He would say, 'If I can portray the role without the words, then I’ve done my job.' So I kind of took that idea on.

 HBO Responds to PETA's Criticism Over Elephant Use 'Westworld': HBO Responds to PETA's Criticism Over Elephant Use

The organization is calling for all animals to be computer-generated.

Is it hard to get out of that zone when you get into it? Of being nonverbal?

I found it romantic, actually. I loved it. It was like a release. It was just kind of… I was a little worried. I wasn’t sure if it would come across because I hadn’t done that before where you have to act without words, but still say something. I didn’t think that you should just stand there and be a zombie. It wasn’t that. I think there’s life happening. There’s still a spark behind those eyes.

Is any of that Clementine programming left?

I think so. I mean I chose… I was hoping yes.

Anything else this season that was new to you? The physicality of it? You said you didn’t want her to come across as a zombie. But what were you working on as far as her physicality because she moves differently.

She does, and I was thinking.. It was important for me that her grace was still intact. I thought that it was an interesting representation of being a woman and being strong and not having to be large to be strong. It was the element of still being feminine, yet you can still do so much. And I thought that was more powerful than seeming like I’m working hard. That’s why I used ballet, and I specifically looked at 'The Dying Swan.'

This 'Westworld' Theory About Bernard & Teddy Will Blow Your Mind This 'Westworld' Theory About Bernard & Teddy Will Blow Your Mind

Could all of these clues just be a coincidence?

You’re a dancer...

I did dance. So I was watching 'The Dying Swan,' and I was actually watching Maya Plisetskaya (a Russian ballerina). She was amazing. I like the fluidity and the fragility in her movement. I thought, 'Use that quality in the movement, in the walks and the journey.'

Is there anything you’re really eager to tell people about Clementine this season?

I think you’ll see her in a very different light this season, and it won’t be in how you expect her to be. And in the second half of the season, a lot might be revealed that you didn’t know. I really enjoyed playing her.

Westworld, Sundays, 9/8c, HBO

Reporting by Kate Hahn

'Patrick Melrose' EP Says Benedict Cumberbatch Will Transfix Viewers

Sat, 05/12/2018 - 9:00am

Should he start writing his Emmy acceptance speech now? With the emotional depth Benedict Cumberbatch brings to the troubled titular character on the new Showtime drama Patrick Melrose, he could easily snag another trophy. (He already won for PBS’s Sherlock in 2014.)

Based on Edward St. Aubyn’s five semi-autobiographical novels, the series introduces privileged twenty-something junkie and author Patrick, who in 1982 receives word that his father (Hugo Weaving) has died. Patrick’s reaction is surprising—he laughs!—but the real shockers come via time jumps to the 1960s and 2000s. (Cumberbatch plays Patrick from his twenties through his forties, while Sebastian Maltz portrays him as a boy.)

Benedict Cumberbatch Tries to Get His Life on Track in Showtime's 'Patrick Melrose' Trailer (VIDEO) Benedict Cumberbatch Tries to Get His Life on Track in Showtime's 'Patrick Melrose' Trailer (VIDEO)

The five-part limited series is based on the semi-autobiographical novels by Edward St. Aubyn.

They reveal a torturous upbringing at the hands of a cruel, controlling dad and a complacent addict mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and, later, Patrick’s recovery.

Sounds fun, right? Actually, the production, like the books, delivers quite a few laughs along with the doom and gloom. “The culmination of horror and humor is one of the main reasons we wanted to adapt St. Aubyn’s books,” says executive producer Michael Jackson.

It was up to Cumberbatch (also an executive producer) to inject light into the darkness while also keeping a handle on a complex character that Jackson calls “a fractured personality with multiple voices in his head.”

Cumberbatch more than succeeds. Jackson recalls a time during filming when the actor had everyone on set transfixed. “He did a run-through of a three-minute scene when he’s doing the voices,” Jackson says. “After, the crew spontaneously applauded! It’s really Benedict at his best. You feel like he’s inhabiting the role.”

Remarkably, we have Twitter to thank for bringing the two men together. During a 2013 chat on online community Reddit, Cumberbatch was asked about his dream roles. “He said one was Hamlet and the other was Patrick Melrose,” Jackson recalls. “Someone retweeted it, we saw the tweet, rang his agent up and met Benedict!”

Now Jackson wants St. Aubyn to write a sixth book in his series so the show can continue. “I’ve joked with him that he should return to the story,” Jackson says. “Who knows?” Hey, it worked for Big Little Lies.

Patrick Melrose, Miniseries Premiere, Saturday, May 12, 9/8c, Showtime

TV News Roundup: A 'Veronica Mars' Reboot, More Joel McHale, & 'Raven's Home' Season 2 Details

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 6:15pm

The stars of Veronica Mars — Kristen Bell, Ryan Hansen, and Jason Dohring have launched a campaign to bring back the beloved show.

Except it was a ploy! Hansen's actually recruited the cast to get votes for a second season of his YouTube Red series Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television. Woh Woh.

More Mr. McHale

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale will be returning on July 15 with 6 all new episodes... and they're dropping all at once!

The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale, Sunday, July 15, Netflix


RuPaul Charles is getting a Netflix series called AJ and the Queen. Ru is set to play, "Ruby Red, a bigger-than-life but down-on-her-luck drag queen who travels across America from club to club in a rundown 1990’s R/V with her unlikely sidekick AJ, a recently orphaned, tough-talking, scrappy 11-year-old stowaway," according to Variety.

The show will be 10 episodes and RuPaul and Michael Patrick King will serve as writers and executive producers.

Kevin Bacon is Back

Last month, Syfy axed its plans to work on a TV series based on the Tremors films starring Kevin Bacon. But you can't keep a graboid down and they made a pilot trailer anyway!

In the trailer, Valentine “Val” McKee (Bacon) lives in the small desert town of Perfection, Nevada and thought he killed all the graboids. Little does he know, danger lurks beneath the ground.

Raven's Renewed!

Season two of #RavensHome returns June 25 with 4 days of new episodes! Catch them morning’s at 9:30a on @disneychannel!

A post shared by Raven's Home (@ravenshomeofficial) on May 11, 2018 at 9:49am PDT

Season 2 of Raven’s Home is set to premiere on June 25 on Disney Channel.

In the upcoming season, "Raven Baxter learns along with the entire family that her son Booker has inherited her ability to catch glimpses into the future. When Booker and Raven's visions collide, it sets madcap escapades into motion for the entire extended family," according to a press release.

Tim Allen's 'Last Man Standing' to Return on Fox for the 2018-2019 Season

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 5:00pm

Last Man Standing is no longer down for the count.

Fox announced on Friday that it has picked up the Tim Allen sitcom, which was canceled by ABC last year after six seasons, for airing during the 2018-19 season.

Last Man Standing ended too soon and the outcry from the fans has been deafening,” said Gary Newman and Dana Walden, Chairmen and CEOs, Fox Television Group, in a Fox release.

“We’ve wanted to put the show back together since its final taping a year ago, and Tim never gave up hope either. Thanks to its millions of devoted viewers and the irrepressible Tim Allen, we haven’t seen the last of Last Man Standing.”

 Find Out Which Series Will Return for Another Season Renewed TV Shows 2018: Find Out Which Series Will Return for Another Season

Plus, CBS renews 'Criminal Minds,' NBC renews 'The Blacklist,' and more.

Tim Allen was understandably excited with these developments.

In a lengthy, and at times humorous, as you would expect, statement in the release, the actor said, "Excited? Team LMS was in the sixth inning, ahead by four runs, stands were packed and then for no reason, they call off the game. It leaves you sitting in the dugout, holding a bat and puzzled. Now we get the news from Fox that it’s time to get back out on that diamond – hell yes, I’m excited! When I heard the offer to create more episodes of Last Man Standing, I did a fist pump so hard I threw my back out.

"It’s the fans!" Allen continued. "I could not be more grateful for the fans who wrote petitions and kept up the passion and incredible support for the show. And a fist pump, ouch, for Dana Walden and Gary Newman at Fox for not only listening to the fans, but for making the bold move to bring Last Man Standing back. I’m sure audiences will be curious to see what we look like after all these years. Oh, has it only been one year? Well, just goes to show you – a lot can happen in a year."

Allen and the Fox execs were certainly right about the uproar from fans about ABC's cancellation of the show. Allen had initially suggested that his show was axed due to his conservative views, but ABC denied that idea, and Allen himself has since walked that back a bit.

 'Last Man Standing' Cancellation Not Due to Tim Allen's Political Views ABC: 'Last Man Standing' Cancellation Not Due to Tim Allen's Political Views

'Politics had absolutely nothing to do with it—we have actors on our shows who have all sorts of different political views,' said ABC's entertainment president.

Almost immediately after it was canceled by ABC, there were reports that talks with other networks, like CMT, were taking place to pick up the series. But Fox makes sense as a home for the show, given that while it originally aired on ABC, it is co-produced and distributed by 20th Century Fox Television.

Beyond that, one has to wonder if the recent ratings success of the Roseanne revival had any influence on Fox's decision to bring back Allen's show, given how the two comedies have similar themes and audiences, generally speaking.

Whatever the case, the series is back. But while fans of Last Man Standing are very excited by this development, Fox has already found itself facing the wrath of a different disgruntled fan base.

On Thursday, the network officially canceled the comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and those viewers were already irate about that decision.

Will 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Be Revived? 7 Reasons to Keep the Canceled Show Alive (PHOTOS) Will 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Be Revived? 7 Reasons to Keep the Canceled Show Alive (PHOTOS)

The show was canceled at Fox after five seasons.

Coupling that with other Fox cancellation announcements of shows with small, if passionate followers — like The Last Man on Earth, Lucifer and The Exorcist — and fans like the Twitter user below are already starting to ask why Fox found room to revive Last Man Standing:

Fox really cancelled Brooklyn nine nine and Lucifer, two shows with well written POC, LGBT and Latinx rep just to revive a lame ass white show #SaveLucifer #SaveB99

— Cande • #SaveB99 (@lgbtquxke) May 11, 2018

Fox will likely have more on this during the network's annual upfront presentation on Monday, May 14.

We'll see how long Last Man Standing stands this time when it debuts sometime in 2018-19 on Fox.

'Timeless' Rewind: The Best Period Costumes From Season 2

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 4:30pm

NBC's series Timeless finds its characters in a new decade — sometimes a new century — in every episode. Which means, tons of period costumes!

In Season 2, the time-traveling drama's costume designer Mari-An Ceo has really outdone herself.

This year we saw Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter), and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) travel back in time to 1940s old Hollywood, the 1690s Salem Witch Trials, and early 20th-century New York City, just to name a few standout episodes.

Fans React to That Big 'Timeless' Bombshell — Is [Spoiler] Actually Pregnant? Fans React to That Big 'Timeless' Bombshell — Is [Spoiler] Actually Pregnant?

Will there be a baby in the bunker?

That means, a wide range of accessories and clothing not only for the main cast but the background actors as well.

So before the Season 2 finale on Sunday night, we're taking a look back at Timeless' best historical fashions that we saw over the course of the season's 10 episodes. Click through the gallery above to enjoy.

Timeless, Season 2 Finale, Sunday, May 13, 9/8c, NBC

April Survives on 'Grey's Anatomy': See Sarah Drew's Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 3:30pm

In "Cold as Ice," the dramatic May 10 episode of Grey's Anatomy and the penultimate episode of the show's fourteenth season, Sarah Drew's character April faced death.

Much to fans' relief, the popular character survived an almost-fatal car crash as her heart's rhythm picked back up following a battle with hypothermia. Needless to say, the episode was tough to watch, as even the most skeptical of believers — Jackson (Jesse Williams) — found himself praying.

Will Arizona or April Die in the 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 14 Finale? Will Arizona or April Die in the 'Grey's Anatomy' Season 14 Finale?

Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew will depart the series in the May 17 episode.

The emotional roller-coaster leads into the Season 14 finale on May 17, which is set to feature Karev's (Justin Chambers) wedding to Jo (Camilla Luddington). From photos with her costars to the episode's writer, Drew has captured a true behind-the-scenes look at what was going on during filming.

As the actress prepares to exit the show for good this season, the photos that she's captured are all the more significant because of it. Click through the gallery above to see the  "Cold As Ice" episode through Drew's eyes.

Grey's Anatomy, Season 14 finale airs Thursday, May 17, 8/7c, ABC

'Vida' Stars Mishel Prada & Melissa Barrera on the Show's 'Emotional Roller-Coaster' (VIDEO)

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 2:30pm

You'll laugh. You'll cry. But you won't be disappointed when you watch the new Starz dramedy Vida, which premiered May 6.

The series, from creator Tanya Saracho (Looking, How to Get Away with Murder), focuses on two Mexican-American sisters, Emma (Mishel Prada, left in above photo) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera), as they return home for the funeral of their recently deceased mother.

As expected, big emotions come into play with the sisters back where they grew up and also in finding out the shocking news that their mother had spent the previous two years married ... to a woman (Ser Anzoategui).

Starz Sets 'Outlander' Season 4 Premiere Month, Renews Series for Seasons 5 & 6 (PHOTOS) Starz Sets 'Outlander' Season 4 Premiere Month, Renews Series for Seasons 5 & 6 (PHOTOS)

Plus, check out new photos from Season 4!

The good news: The show is a terrific, sexy, heartfelt mix of many emotions and — as Prada and Barrera told us recently — they were also on an emotional roller-coaster playing these characters.

More good news — if you haven't had a chance to check out the show (or don't subscribe to Starz ... yet!) you can watch the first episode for free NOW on Starz.comSTARZ YouTube channel, Vida Facebook page, and

Before you check out the premiere episode (which I guarantee will make you want to watch this Sunday's new episode), check out our chat with Prada and Barrera:

Vida, Sundays, 8:30/7:30c, Starz

Lifetime's 'Harry and Meghan' Movie: Even Parisa Fitz-Henley Found Her Meghan Markle Resemblance Uncanny

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 2:00pm

Less than a week before the royal wedding, Lifetime presents Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance, a new film chronicling the courtship and love story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, starring Midnight, Texas actress Parisa Fitz-Henley and British actor Murray Fraser as the betrothed lovebirds.

We chatted with Fitz-Henley about stepping into the shoes of the actress-turned-future royal, and she reveals why everyone’s just wild about Meghan and Harry.

Your First Look at the Cast of Lifetime's Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Movie (PHOTOS) Your First Look at the Cast of Lifetime's Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Movie (PHOTOS)

See everyone in costume.

“We meet Meghan and Harry just before they’ve found each other,” says Fitz-Henley, “but the movie takes us throughout their lives. We get to see some of each of their childhoods, and really see how the experiences that they had when they were younger connected to their adult lives and helped them to connect to each other.”

The film notes some of the challenges they faced on their road to romance, as well as how a biracial divorcée and American actress is perfectly suited for royalty.

“It makes all the sense in the world to me, especially when you look at the trajectory of the royal family,” Fitz-Henley shares. “You see this family who has — over the years — become more and more open, more and more connected to the people that they represent; it makes all the sense in the world that they would embrace someone who was from another country.

Here's Your Ultimate Meghan Markle Viewing List Ahead of the Royal Wedding Here's Your Ultimate Meghan Markle Viewing List Ahead of the Royal Wedding

Prince Harry and the 'Suits' actress are set to wed on May 19.

"You know, honestly, the women of the royal family are exemplary, incredible women. So, it makes sense that the next one would be, too.”

Getting ready to play Markle has been a whirlwind for Fitz-Henley, who admits, “We didn’t have a lot of time; everything was so fast.”

In addition to watching interviews and videos of Markle and straightening her naturally curly hair, Fitz-Henley shares, “I actually took some Pilates classes at a place where she used to take Pilates, just to walk in her shoes a little bit.”

How Meghan Markle's 'Suits' Wedding Compared to Her Real One How Meghan Markle's 'Suits' Wedding Compared to Her Real One

This was also her final episode on the series.

Prepping for the role also meant learning a few royal rules.

“There are so many protocols to be followed by royals,” says Fitz-Henley, who learned the proper way to curtsy and how to address the queen. “You call her ‘Your Majesty’ once, and then after that you call her ‘Ma’am.’ It’s Ma’am that rhymes with ham,” she explains.

And after getting a taste of Harry and Meghan’s royal life, the actress says, “Being a royal is a job in and of itself, and it takes work.”

Playing one of the world’s most fashionable women has been a lot of fun, too. Fitz-Henley explains that her wardrobe for the film includes some of Markle’s most iconic outfits.

“Meghan’s got some great taste,” she marvels, revealing that she'll be wearing costumes inspired by Markle's most famous looks.

"There are actually a couple of really stunning dresses that are matches to things that we've seen in photographs," Fitz-Henley shares. "Whenever you can find what she wears, it's a lucky day, because the minute that someone finds out what Meghan is wearing, it sells out."

How and When to Watch Meghan Markle & Prince Harry's Royal Wedding How and When to Watch Meghan Markle & Prince Harry's Royal Wedding

Get all the network details for American audiences.

Fitz-Henley admits that once she had donned Meghan-esque hair and makeup, even she found their resemblance uncanny.

“There were certain times when I’d see pictures of myself or her, and for a moment didn’t know who was who!”

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance, Sunday, May 13, 8/7c, Lifetime

Will 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Be Revived? 7 Reasons to Keep the Canceled Show Alive (PHOTOS)

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 12:30pm

Anytime a fan favorite show is canceled, backlash is inevitable and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is no exception.

On Thursday, Fox announced that the show would not return for a sixth season on the network and fans immediately began campaigning to save its life. Of course, "one man's trash is another man's treasure" comes to mind, as streaming services like Hulu and Netflix are rumored to be considering saving the comedy.

 Which of Your Favorite Series Are Coming to an End? Canceled TV Shows 2018: Which of Your Favorite Series Are Coming to an End?

Plus, say goodbye to 'Kevin Can Wait,' Fox's 'Lucifer,' ABC's 'Designated Survivor,' and many more.

The series was just one of the shows Fox axed, as The Mick and The Last Man on Earth also weren't picked up. But fans seem most taken with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, including a number of celeb viewers like Mark Hamill, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Seth Meyers.

To that end, we have several reasons why a streaming network should pick up the comedy. Click through the gallery above for our justification!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Tuesdays, 9:30/8:30c, Fox

'Sweetbitter' Author Stephanie Danler on the Challenges of Bringing Her Novel to TV (VIDEO)

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 12:04pm

Stephanie Danler's first novel, Sweetbitter, made its television debut on Starz on May 6, and the transition was quite a process for the author. Not only did she have to relinquish some creative control, but also learn how to re-imagine her characters and add some new scenes and dialogue for a TV audience.

"There were moments where I wanted to push back because I got scared we were going too far away from the original vision of the book," she admitted.

The series follows Tess (Ella Purnell), a 22-year-old woman who arrives in New York City in 2006 friendless and jobless until she's hired at at top Manhattan restaurant. There, she encounters a diverse group of people who completely change her life.

'Sweetbitter' EP Stu Zicherman Gives a Taste of What's to Come in the Starz Drama 'Sweetbitter' EP Stu Zicherman Gives a Taste of What's to Come in the Starz Drama

The Starz series is produced by Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment.

For Tess, there are long nights of hard work, drinking, drugs, and romances (can we swoon over bartender Jake, played by Tom Sturridge, for a moment?), but her most fascinating and complicated relationship is with Simone, played by Caitlin Fitzgerald, who becomes her mentor.

Danler spoke to about developing the series, and if she considers Simone a villain.

What was the biggest challenge in adapting your book for the screen?

Stephanie Danler: Something I was concerned about was how to get the voice of the book into the show. And by the "voice," I mean Tess's voice.

I think what makes the character interesting is the quality of her thoughts she's having, not necessary how she's behaving. I think that discrepancy especially in young women is really interesting. In the first episode we use voice-over, but beyond that we realized it was going to fall on Ella to give us that depth of feeling and not just play Tess as a slightly vapid, superficial millennial.

What was an aspect you found less stressful about the transition than you originally anticipated?

Writing. I was so in love with our writers and it was not hard for me to let go in the way that I thought it would be. There were moments where I wanted to push back because I got scared we were going too far away from the original vision of the book but you work in a room with these seven brilliant people and I ended up feeling great.

 New Starz Series 'Sweetbitter' Releases First Trailer WATCH: New Starz Series 'Sweetbitter' Releases First Trailer

'Sweet. Salt. Sour. Bitter. Umami. Now your tongue is coded.'

TV Tess and Book Tess have been described as "cousins." How are they different in your mind?

Ella brings so much natural energy and rebelliousness and backbone to Tess that she doesn't have in the book. In the book, she's much more passive and quiet. Tess in the book doesn't really talk which is important to me because that's a very real experience when coming into a new workplace.

But for show, when Tess starts to push back when she's selling her car — that scene is not in the book but it's very Ella. She was the only person I saw in over 200 very talented young women that I would believe would get up in the middle of the night and move to New York City and survive.

What did you talk about in your first meeting with Ella?

We talked about food. [Laughs.] And she was like, "Oh my god, you're Simone," because I ordered a glass of wine.

But the most important thing we talked about was that as young women our entire life we have been trained to be likable, to make ourselves palatable, to make ourselves small for other people, to apologize when it's not necessary and I told Ella I don't want you to feel any pressure to make Tess likable. It'll be the death of this project and I meant it.

Simone (Fitzgerald) and Tess (Purnell)

It’s hard to pin down Simone’s true intentions. Would you consider her character a villain?

No, she's not a villain. What Simone feels for Jake and Tess is very pure, and I think that she's damaged and flawed and cannot always be her best self. I think that in the book, Simone ultimately frees Tess from the restaurant, which at the time is a mixed blessing. But I think Simone sees herself as helping Tess.

In my experience, my relationships with women have formed me and shaped me and challenged me in very different and much more permanent ways than my relationships with men. I think Tess and Simone have a love story, whether attracted to each other emotionally or physically, and want to be close but don't know how to be. What's interesting to me is that toxic, maternal familial relationship they have.

Starz Sets 'Outlander' Season 4 Premiere Month, Renews Series for Seasons 5 & 6 (PHOTOS) Starz Sets 'Outlander' Season 4 Premiere Month, Renews Series for Seasons 5 & 6 (PHOTOS)

Plus, check out new photos from Season 4!

What’s happening with Season 2?

Our writers room opens in two weeks, and it's 10 episodes and we are back to work. Season 2 will cover much more time and focus on other characters. We're not tied to Tess's point of view at all.

What do you like to watch on TV?

I just finished Wild, Wild Country. I can only watch Handmaid's Tale when I'm feeling tough. I can't watch it when I'm winding down for the night because it makes me sick to my stomach.

I also love this 30-minute drama space that Atlanta, Transparent, The Girlfriend Experience, Insecure do so well. They're so inventive in those minutes, and that's really inspiring for me.

Watch this exclusive clip of Tess and Simone from Sweetbitter below:

Sweetbitter, Sundays, 8/7c, Starz


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