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WIRE Buzz: Black Mirror's 'Death to 2020' trailer; Ready Player Two movie; and Katy Perry vs aliens

By Josh Weiss
Samuel L Jackson Death to 2020

Black Mirror didn't produce a new season this year, but that's only because 2020 has worked overtime to ensure that our reality has felt like an actual episode of the tech-based anthology. As a way to wrap up this doozy of a year, Black Mirror executive producers Charlie Brooker (also the project's creator) and Annabel Jones have lined up a star-studded comedy special/mockumentary that will poke fun at all the curveballs we've all faced this year, from the COVID-19 pandemic, to worldwide civil unrest, to the death of Quibi.

The aptly-named Death to 2020 (coming to Netflix before the year is out) has dropped its first trailer, which features Samuel L. Jackson, Cristin Milioti, Leslie Jones, Hugh Grant, Lisa Kudrow, Samson Kayo,  Joe Keery, Kumail Nanjiani, and more. All of them will be occupying different roles, whether it's that of a scientist (Kayo), reporter (Jackson), or unofficial conservative spokesperson (Kudrow).

Watch the trailer now:

"Those who only know me through Black Mirror may not realize that when not writing speculative sci-fi about people frowning at smartphones, I’ve spent years making comedy shows in the UK — including many topical comedy specials," Brooker said in a statement published by The Hollywood Reporter. "So to me, Death to 2020 feels like the collision of several different strands. (Do strands 'collide'? No. Apologies). But the approach for this is quite different to most of the topical comedy I’ve done in the past. For one thing I'm not on screen presenting it — a relief for anyone watching in 4K — and it's more character-based. In the loneliest year on record, I got to work (remotely) with writers and team members from my previous comedies, as well as many sickeningly talented people who were new to me."

He added: "I don’t love the word 'satire' but there’s some of that here, alongside some angry jokes, and some goofy jokes."

The one-hour special arrives on Netflix Sunday, Dec. 27.

Hollywood is plugging back into the OASIS for an adaptation of Ernest Cline's Ready Player Two.

Recently speaking with Inverse, the best-selling author revealed that a film version of his long-awaited sequel is "in the early stages right now." Things are moving a bit slower in the age of COVID, "especially since Hollywood is in limbo right now," he added, "but I can tell from the experience of making the first movie that everybody had a lot of fun." The first book, Ready Player One, was adapted for the big screen in 2018 by Steven Spielberg and went on to make over $580 million worldwide. The legendary director offered Cline feedback on the story for Ready Player Two (nabbing a shoutout in the acknowledgments), but it's too early to tell if he'll decide to return for a second helping.

"I knew everybody would even be going into this story with expectations, including me and including Steven Spielberg," Cline said during an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "He would call occasionally and ask if it was done. Nothing will light a fire under you like getting one of those phone calls ... Getting to bounce ideas off of him and get his reaction was really valuable. He lived in that world of the book for several years and knows it as well as anybody."

Ready Player Two cover

Now on sale from Ballantine Books, the follow-up novel picks up immediately after Wade Watts emerges victorious from Halliday's grueling and nostalgia-fueled Easter egg hunt. Now the head of Gregarious Simulation Systems, the pop culture-loving protagonist discovers a new piece of technology that changes the OASIS experience in a profound way. The tech's introduction kicks off a brand-new scavenger hunt (this one centered around the search for the seven shards of something called the "Siren's Soul"), but may also spell certain doom for millions of innocent people.

Right now, Cline doesn't have any plans to write a direct sequel to RP2, but he is toying with the idea of a "coming-of-age" prequel about the formative years of GSS founders: James Donovan Halliday, Ogden Morrow, and Kira Underwood.

And here's something to brighten your day: a new Katy Perry music video about the end of the world. Her new song is titled — what else? — "Not the End of the World." 

When a UFO full of aliens kidnap Zooey Deschanel (mistaking her for the famous singer), it's up to the New Girl actress to save the planet and put on one helluva concert. Just like Black Mirror, Perry is leaning into the borderline apocalyptic nature of 2020, which, in addition to a new virus, gave us those charming murder hornets and... oh yeah, actual government proof of aliens (kind of)! Forget a single chapter in history textbooks, this year is gonna need its very own textbook to cover every little thing that happened.