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Development: Captain Marvel writer to pen Scarlet Witch series; Alien gets documentary treatment; more

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Jan 9, 2019

Topping our latest development news roundup, one of the writers of Captain Marvel will pen the new Marvel series starring Scarlet Witch and Vision.

The Vision and Scarlet Witch, the new series in development for the Disney+ streaming service and based around the Avengers' literal power couple, has found itself a writer and showrunner (though it's not clear if that's the formal title).

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jac Schaeffer will write the pilot and also come aboard the show as executive producer. Schaeffer is one of the four credited screenwriters on Marvel's upcoming Captain Marvel (along with Geneva Robertson-Dworet and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck), while also penning the screenplay for the studio's forthcoming Black Widow feature.

Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen, who have played the synthezoid and the powerful telepath in the Avengers movies, are likely to continue playing the characters in the series. It's one of several projects being developed for the new Disney streaming platform, along with series focused on Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and the bromantic team of Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). There's no word yet on a premiere date for any of the shows.


Alien Xenomorph

Credit: 20th Century Fox

According to EW, the documentary, called Memory: The Origins of Alien, will debut later this month at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Director Alexandre O. Philippe said that his project will explore the roots of the classic 1979 sci-fi/horror hybrid (which just spun off a new mobile game) but promised something different from the usual making-of spiel: "(It) really is a full-on mythological take on the film. It’s an exploration of the power of cinema, the power of myths. It’s a very unique look at the original Alien film."

Memory was the name of the original script that late screenwriter Dan O'Bannon began working on in the mid-1970s, with the title later changing to Star Beast and eventually the elegant, stark, says-it-all Alien. Philippe said that he had access to O’Bannon's archives for the first time (via O'Bannon's widow, Diane, who's also an executive producer on the doc) and was also allowed to explore the archives of the late artist H.R. Giger, whose designs for the titular monster are now legendary. The doc also contains interviews with stars Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright, set decorator Roger Christian, and "a few surprises."

Philippe knows his way around the genre: His previous documentaries include 2010’s The People vs. George Lucas, 2014’s Doc of the Dead, and 2017’s 78/52. The latter effort is a 90-minute deconstruction of the iconic three-minute shower scene in Hitchcock's Psycho. But Philippe cautioned that viewers should not expect Memory to give the same treatment to Alien's famous chestburster sequence: "This is actually a very different film... People who expect the 78/52 treatment applied to the chestburster [scene] are in for a real surprise."


Michael Chabon

Credit: Getty Images

Author Michael Chabon's alternate-history novel The Yiddish Policeman's Union is being developed by CBS TV Studios from a script by Chabon and his wife, writer Ayelet Waldman. According to Deadline, the project will be shopped shortly to premium cable and streaming outlets (think HBO and Netflix).

In the spirit of works like Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle and Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, Chabon's 2007 novel was set in an alternate timeline in which Jewish refugees settled on the Alaskan panhandle during World War II while the state of Israel was destroyed in 1948. As the community faces the threat of exile once again, a Jewish police officer named Meyer Landsman must solve a murder that could have ramifications for the political situation that's coming to a boil.

The book won a number of science fiction awards, including two of its highest honors: the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Chabon himself has worked in and around the genre with other projects, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000), a number of sci-fi short stories, and screenplay work on Spider-Man 2 and John Carter. He's most recently gotten involved with the Star Trek: Discovery short film spin-offs and the writing of the upcoming Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek series.


What We Do In The Shadows Birthday

Credit: FX

Finally, we are pleased to learn that the new FX series What We Do in the Shadows will premiere this March. Based on the cult New Zealand film, the show — which is not a direct sequel to the movie — takes place in the New York borough of Staten Island, and focuses on a new quartet of vampires who came to America with the idea of conquering the young country hundreds of years ago, only to lose their way and forget their mission.

The original 2014 mockumentary was written and directed by Taika Waititi (who went on to direct Thor: Ragnarok) and Jemaine Clement, who both also starred as two of the original vampires. Waititi directed the series pilot, which Clement wrote. FX has also revealed a new teaser, which you can view below:

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