Despite facing increasing competition from the rest of the world, US television continues to dominate the small screen. This year’s collection of eye-wateringly expensive dramas and beautifully cast comedies includes the latest projects from Netflix, Amazon and hbo, which is hoping to cement the dragonslaying success of its epic Game of Thrones.
These premium players are believed to have a combined annual programming spend of more than $10bn (€8.5bn). They are trying to stay on top on their game as they compete against up to 60 other US broadcasters that air drama and comedy, as well as a plethora of international networks keen to break into the market.
The line-up also includes a host of broadcast network shows – from police procedurals to the latest superheroes saving the world, and a raft of rebooted sitcoms – that will travel globally over the next 12 months.
Superheroes are showing no sign of slowing down with the X-Men, Black Lightning and The Punisher joining Batman and The Flash on the small screen. Fox launches The Gifted, with True Blood’s Stephen Moyer taking his kids on the run after discovering their mutant abilities. Cress Williams fronts The CW’s reboot of Black Lightning, while Daredevil’s Jon Bernthal reprises his role as The Punisher for Netflix’s six-part series.
Serial may have moved the podcast into the mainstream but the next trend for the audio format is to be channelled into long-running television hits. Gimlet Media’s Startup podcast, which looks at the world of entrepreneurs, has been turned into a half-hour comedy – Alex, Inc – for abc, starring Zach Braff. Other A-list names making the move include Julia Roberts, who is starring in Amazon’s adaptation of scripted conspiracy thriller Homecoming.
This year Hollywood’s focus has been on South Korea. Cable network tnt is remaking Bong Joon-ho’s apocalyptic train thriller Snowpiercer, abc is launching Somewhere Between – a 10-part adaptation of supernatural drama God’s Gift: 14 Days – and Bates Motel’s Freddie Highmore is fronting medical drama The Good Doctor, also for the Disney-owned broadcaster. Elsewhere, Israel is a source of scripted material, with Entourage’s Jeremy Piven starring in Wisdom of the Crowd, a tech-crime drama based on a format from Israeli firm Keshet, producer of the original Homeland. Elsewhere, American Idol producer Simon Fuller is remaking Norwegian teen comedy Skam, producing an English-language remake of the Skins-esque show that originally aired on NRK.
Netflix’s slate of original productions is led by Disenchantment – an animated fantasy-drama from Simpsons creator Matt Groening – stoner comedy Disjointed from The Big Bang Theory’s Chuck Lorre and a remake of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. The firm outspends its rivals and continues to develop non-English-language content, with Japanese supernatural mystery Erased, German thriller Dark and Italian mob drama Suburra set to be released end of year.
Television loves a classic project that can be rebooted. This year abc is bringing back Roseanne with the original cast – including the eponymous comedian and John Goodman – while Debra Messing and Eric McCormack return for nbc’s Will & Grace. However, The CW network has found an all-new cast for its reboot of 1980s classic soap Dynasty, which is being produced by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, the team behind The OC and Gossip Girl.
US police dramas and stories featuring muscly men with guns are consistently the most successful shows exported globally. This year’s crop includes SWAT, an armed-police thriller for cbs, which is also airing Seal Team, a Navy Seals drama starring Angel star David Boreanaz. Plus, American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy is in charge of 911, a first-responder drama with Angela Bassett, while Anne Heche stars in nbc military drama The Brave.
When big-budget fantasy Game of Thrones comes to an end in 2019, HBO is moving into an alternative future – one where the Confederacy won the American Civil War. Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and DB Weiss are working with The Good Wife’s Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Empire’s Malcolm Spellman on Confederate, set in a nation where slavery is still legal. HBO boss Casey Bloys said that the controversial show would not be about “whips and plantations”. He added: “It’s what [we] imagine a modern-day institution of slavery would look like.”
The US broadcaster is also developing four spin-offs of Game of Thrones, with a view to one show filling the hole left by the White Walkers when series eight finishes.
Laurence King, that estimable publisher of world-class art-and-design books, likes to turn his hand to the more playful side of things every now and again while continuing to tack a course through creative waters. Et voilà! Art Oracles: a thick pack of glossy “playing” cards designed for sufferers of writer’s block, those at a creative crossroads or maybe the artistically demotivated.
Fifty artists and their oeuvres are boiled down to pithy epigrams from which to seek succour: “Eat dessert before dinner,” says Andy Warhol; “Scratch the surface until your fingers bleed,” suggests Grayson Perry; “Learn everything from nothing,” says the impractical Yves Klein. Put together by art writer Katya Tylevich, illustrated by Mikkel Sommer Christensen and used and abused by you, perhaps.
Most galleries have a flat-file system for collecting art horizontally but normally it’s just for storage. Pierogi in New York came up with Flat Files: a mobile portfolio of more than 900 artists’ works that travels worldwide and is also available online. The intention? To make original works on paper available to a wider audience at an affordable price. We leaf through the Flat Files with its founder, Joe Amrhein.
What gave you the idea?
In the mid-1990s I knew many artists who were making great work but weren’t getting shows: the art market crashed in the late 1980s and lots of galleries closed. I wanted to present art in a neutral space – between a gallery and an artist’s studio.
What are the benefits of viewing art in this way?
With the Flat Files you can flick through an array of eclectic artworks by a diverse group of artists who wouldn’t normally be shown together in a conventional exhibition. You can handle the works as opposed to formally viewing them on a wall, behind glass and in a frame. It’s a more personal and tactile experience.
Who is your audience?
A mix of artists, critics and collectors, from first-time buyers (the prices start low) to seasoned collectors. Curators also peruse the files looking for artists and ideas for exhibitions; in that sense it has become a real resource.