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WIRE Buzz: Avatar stars take a deep blue dip; Jessica Jones fires up new audio series; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Zoe Saldana in Avatar

Ah, the lazy delight of lounging by some Pandoran pool with our good Avatar pals Neytiri and Jake Sully.  No, wait: scratch that — on second thought, after seeing the newest watery shot from the set of James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar sequels, we’re not sure we’re ready to put in the hard work it must take to be a chlorinated celebrity.

The stars of the enormously big-budget new chapter in the Avatar franchise at least look like they’re enjoying having to go above and beyond for some VFX motion capture, though. The movie’s official Twitter account just shared a new look at cast members Kate Winslet, Zoe Saldana, Cliff Curtis, and Sam Worthington, all dressed up in mo-cap suits and submerged in a giant tank to snag some cool-blue underwater footage.

At nearly a million gallons, the big o’l pool was purpose-made for the sequels (there’s that budget again!) and, according to the tweet, serves as the site of lots of the performance capture work we’ll be seeing when Avatar 2 and its three planned successors start bio-illuminating theaters beginning next December.

In the middle of the industry-wide production shutdown that’s put a stop to current work on the Avatar sequels, Cameron himself recently said he doesn’t expect the delay to further affect the release timeline for Avatar 2 and everything after. Originally set to hit the big screen on Dec. 18 of this year, the coronavirus pandemic already has prompted Disney to push the release of Avatar 2 down the line once, moving the movie's debut to Dec. 17 of 2021. That fun pool photo was evidently taken before work on the movies had to be suspended … but judging from their smiles, at least it looks like the cast won’t mind getting wet once more when things finally do get back on track.

Jessica Jones may have Netflix in her rear-view mirror, but that doesn’t mean Marvel’s anywhere near finished telling her story. Fans are on the cusp of embarking on 16 episodes of a new Jessica Jones storyline set to debut this month on the Serial Box e-book and audiobook platform.

Titled Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire, the new series finds our street-smart hero trying to rein things in a little — you know, going to a therapist, drinking less, and working on that whole anger-management thing. But of course that’s just when something interesting happens that pushes all her type-A buttons.

Jessica Jones Playing With Fire cover

“A simple missing persons case seems like just the ticket for Jessica Jones to take things slower and finally start taking better care of herself,” Marvel teases. “But when a boy’s body turns up in what looks like a cut-and-dried OD, Jessica can’t let it go and dives headlong into an obsessive search for answers.” Eventually, the breadcrumbs lead her to a supernatural discovery, one that takes the form of “an ancient and deadly magic.”

Serial Box, which will also be home to new series of audio Marvel tales featuring Thor, Black Widow, and Black Panther, lets fans choose whether to read the story or hear it. Jessica Jones will be voiced in Playing With Fire by voice actor Fryda Wolff. The writing team is led by best-selling novelist Lauren Beukes, four-time Hugo Award finalist Elsa Sjunneson, Zoe Quinn (Vertigo’s Goddess Mode), Vita Ayala (Marvel’s Nebula; Age of X), and television writer Sam Beckbessinger, with cover art (seen above) from Annie Wu.

All 16 episodes in the full season will be available for $9.99, but you can sneak an early peek at what’s in store here. It all starts on May 28, when the first weekly installment in Jessica Jones: Playing With Fire lands on the Serial Box app for Google Play and the Apple App Store. 

A pair of series at USA have signed off for good. The network (owned by NBCUniversal, which also owns SYFY) has decided not to renew new seasons for both The Purge and Treadstone, according to a Deadline report.

The Purge, a creation of Blumhouse TV and UCP, followed an episodic storyline set within the no-rules framework of the one night of anarchy each year that the similarly named movie series introduced. Treadstone was set in the Jason Bourne story-verse, and tracked the behind-the-scenes and origin story of Operation Treadstone — a secret CIA program that deployed behavior modification methods to make next-level assassins out of eligible recruits. 

The Purge leaves behind two seasons at USA, while Treadstone is ending after its first season.