Fox Orders Lifeguard Drama Series ‘Rescue: Hi-Surf’ from Producer John Wells (TV News Roundup)

·16-min read

Fox Entertainment has greenlit “Rescue: Hi-Surf,” a Hawaiian lifeguard drama from “Shameless” producer John Wells and “Outsiders” writer Matt Kester. The series will be co-produced by Warner Bros. Television and is set to debut sometime in the 2023-2024 season.

According to the official synopsis from Fox, “‘Rescue: Hi Surf’ is an action-packed drama that follows the personal and professional lives of the heavy-water lifeguards who patrol and protect the North Shore of O’ahu—the most famous and dangerous stretch of coastline in the world.”

More from Variety

“Each episode will feature these dedicated, heroic, and adrenaline-seeking first-responders saving lives in the difficult and often life-threatening conditions of Hawaii’s Seven Mile Miracle.” Kester will write the first episode with Wells directing the first two episodes.

“I’ve lived on the North Shore of O‘ahu for most of my life, and these are our heroes, the most extraordinary extreme athletes anywhere,” said Kester.

*

Netflix has released a first look at its upcoming docuseries “McGregor Forever,” which provides audiences a peek into Ultimate Fighting Champion Conor McGregor’s official comeback. Produced by Religion of Sports, the four part series is set to premiere on May 17.

“Conor is unlike anyone I’ve ever collaborated with. As one of his trainers described him, he’s an entirely unreasonable man,” said Gotham Chopra, co-director and co-founder of Religion of Sports. “And for that reason, he’s impossible not to watch and be fascinated by. Don’t look away, because I guarantee you, you will definitely miss something inexplicably wild.”

Co-director Chopra also executive produced the series alongside Ameeth Sankaran, Giselle Parets, Audie Attar, Peter Berg and Matt Goldberg.

See the “McGregor Forever” first-look teaser below.

FIRST LOOKS

PBS announced “The Race Epidemic” documentary will premiere on Sept. 1 and dropped the official trailer. The upcoming documentary examines the xenophobia and racism against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Race Epidemic” will provide and inform audiences about the AAPI experience, including a detailed history of Asian immigration to the U.S. and an examination of how the AAPI community suffered after the COVID-19 outbreak. As the pandemic raged on, opinions of the AAPI community shifted with a rise in racism, xenophobia and dangerous hate crimes, which as “The Race Epidemic” identifies was assisted by former President Donald Trump’s declaration that COVID-19 was the “Chinese Virus.”

Directed and produced by Tony Shyu, “The Race Epidemic” filmmaker previously worked with George Takei, John Cho and Constance Wu for a PSA for API Vote. Following “The Race Epidemic,” Shyu is working on another documentary focusing on the Asian American experience, “Dream Builders in Silicon.”

Watch “The Race Epidemic” official trailer below.

*

ID has released the official trailer for its new docuseries “The Curious Case of Natalia Grace,” which will air across three consecutive nights beginning Monday, May 29.

“The Curious Case of Natalia Grace” will explore the mystery of Natalia Grace. Natalia was once believed to be a six-year-old Ukrainian orphan with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia. However, after she was adopted by Kristine and Michael Barnett in 2010, things took an odd turn.

The Barnett family alleged that Natalia was an adult pretending to be a child who had plans to hurt their family, leading to years of investigations and confusion. The series includes interviews from the Barnett family, never-before-seen footage and testimonies from a variety of guests as they attempt to answer the question — who really is Natalia Grace?

The special three-night docuseries will air on ID.

Watch the official trailer below.

EVENTS

Ariana Madix, Christopher Briney, Gal Gadot, Sam Clafin, Halle Bailey and Riley Keough are among the first round of announced presenters for the 2023 MTV Movie and TV Awards that will be held on Sunday, May 7 at 8 p.m. ET.

Additionally, the 16 nominees were announced for the social category “Best Musical Moment.” See the full list of announced presenters and nominees below.

The list of presenters includes:

  • Anthony Ramos (Transformers: Rise of the Beasts)

  • Ariana Madix (Vanderpump Rules)

  • Ashley Park (Joy Ride)

  • Ayo Edebiri (Bottoms)

  • Busta Rhymes

  • Camila Morrone (Daisy Jones & The Six)

  • Chelsea Lazkani (Selling Sunset)

  • Chrishell Stause (Selling Sunset)

  • Christopher Briney (The Summer I Turned Pretty)

  • Courtney Eaton (Yellowjackets)

  • Dave Burd “Lil Dicky” (Dave)

  • Dominique Fishback (Transformers: Rise of the Beasts)

  • Gal Gadot (Heart of Stone)

  • Gavin Casalegno (The Summer I Turned Pretty)

  • Halle Bailey (The Little Mermaid)

  • Havana Rose Liu (Bottoms)

  • Jamie Lee Curtis (Haunted Mansion)

  • Jonah Hauer-King (The Little Mermaid)

  • Jasmin Savoy Brown (Yellowjackets)

  • Kaia Gerber (Bottoms)

  • Katie Maloney (Vanderpump Rules)

  • Lala Kent (Vanderpump Rules)

  • Liv Hewson (Yellowjackets)

  • Lola Tung (The Summer I Turned Pretty)

  • Nick Viall (Viall Files Podcast)

  • Rachel Sennott (Bottoms)

  • Riley Keough (Daisy Jones & The Six)

  • Rodrigo Santoro (Wolf Pack)

  • Sabrina Wu (Joy Ride)

  • Sam Claflin (Daisy Jones & The Six)

  • Samantha Hanratty (Yellowjackets)

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar (Wolf Pack)

  • Scheana Shay (Vanderpump Rules)

  • Sherry Cola (Joy Ride)

  • Sophie Nélisse (Yellowjackets)

  • Sophie Thatcher (Yellowjackets)

  • Stephanie Hsu (Joy Ride)

  • Suki Waterhouse (Daisy Jones & The Six)

  • Tiffany Haddish (Haunted Mansion)

The nominees for “Best Musical Moment” include:

  • Daisy Jones & The Six: “Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)”

  • Don’t Worry Darling: Jack’s Tap Dance

  • Elvis: “Trouble”

  • Ginny & Georgia: “I Will Survive” (Bachelorette Party)

  • M3GAN: “Titanium”

  • Matilda the Musical: “Revolting Children”

  • Purple Hearts: “Come Back Home”

  • RRR: “Naatu Naatu”

  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law: “Body”

  • SNL: “Big Boys”

  • Stranger Things: “Running Up That Hill”

  • The Last of Us: “Long Long Time” (Bill & Frank Play Piano)

  • The School for Good and Evil: “You Should See Me in a Crown”

  • The Summer I Turned Pretty: “This Love (Taylor’s Version)”

  • Wednesday: “Goo Goo Muck”

  • Young Royals: “Simon’s Song”

RENEWALS

Dating drama series “A La Carte” returns to AMC’s Allblk for a second season with Kandi Burruss, Juan Gil and Xavier Avila returning as series regulars. Season 2 will also welcome Shani Marq in the role of Misha, along with India Love and Alex Jacke.

“This season, the cast will continue their independent and collective journey discovering and unraveling who they are through the lens of comedy, love, sex, fire, and trial & error,” according to the AMC Networks logline. Dijon Talton is showrunner and executive producer along with Meagan Good. “A La Carte” was created by Breanna Hogan.

*

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” returns to FX for Season 16, enduring its status as the longest-running live-action sitcom on television. Rob McElhenney, Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day all return as cast members. The first two episodes of the season will premiere on June 7 at 10 p.m.

“The gang is ripping straight from the headlines—inflation, U.S.-Russian relations, mental health, gender equality, injury liability, gun control and celebrity-branded products,” said the FX synopsis.

“This year alone, Mac battles with allergies and long-distance dating, Charlie takes on his long-forgotten sisters, Dee fights for rent control and women’s athletics, Frank wrestles for his gun, and Dennis struggles to improve his mental health. At the end of the day, they’re navigating 2023 with 16 years of baggage as a few figures from their past rear their heads.”

This season is executive produced by McElhenney, Day, Howerton, Michael Rotenberg, Nick Frenkel, Megan Ganz, Rob Rosell, David Hornsby, Scott Marder and Victor Hsu.

DATES

NBC Sports’ Matthew Berry is joining the network’s 149th Kentucky Derby coverage in the segment “Handicapping 101 with Matthew Berry,” which will air during the “Derby Day Show” on May 6 at 12 p.m. on NBC and Peacock. His coverage of the Derby will be a big shift from his usual NFL season analysis and commentating.

Leading up to the race, Berry will also host a special edition of “Fantasy Football Hour” via Peacock on May 4. He will be hosting live from the Derby’s home of Churchill Downs, and will joined by Jay Croucher, Connor Rogers and special guest Drew Dinsick.

“Being at the Kentucky Derby is a sports bucket list moment for me as a long-time fan and viewer of the race,” Berry said.

“Getting to do my show from historic Churchill Downs and then be a part of NBC’s coverage of The 149th Kentucky Derby is awesome. I promise to wait till I’m off air to start in on the mint juleps.”

*

The CW announced that two new international acquired drama series, “The Rising” and “Barons,” will make their U.S. debuts on Monday, May 29. “The Rising,” a new supernatural crime thriller, will premiere at 8 p.m. and “Barons,” a Australian surfer drama, will premiere at 9 p.m.

“The Rising” follows a deceased young woman, Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard) who soon discovers she was murdered. Neve decides to then hunt for her killer, and with the help of her newfound supernatural abilities she’s able to go where the police can’t. The Sky Studios production was adapted from the Belgian crime thriller “Beau Séjour” and is written by Pete McTighe (“The Pact”) and Charlotte Wolf (“The Last Kingdom”). Serena Thompson, Julian Stevens and Pete McTighe all serve as executive producers. Ed Lilly is lead director.

The eight-part series “Barons” follows two best friends who create two rival iconic surf brands. But as their separate success increases, their relationship begins to fall apart. And as the two are pulled deeper into the world of corporate politics, jealousy, homophobia and racial tension, their friendship fades as their rivalry intensifies. Created by Liz Doran (“Please Like Me”), Michael Lawrence (“Bra Boys”) and John Molloy (“The Gloaming”), and directed by Shawn Seet in collaboration with surf director Taylor Steele. “Barons” is a Micanical Media, 2 Jons and Fremantle Australia production.

*

Web3 studio Toonstar’s adult-animated series “Space Junk” will be available to stream on May 19 following its world premiere at Consensus 2023, the studio announced Tuesday.

The animated workplace comedy, which follows the lives of intergalactic garbage collectors, was written by Dominic Russo and stars Jon Heder and Tony Cavalero. “Space Junk” is powered by the Theta blockchain, allowing audiences to mint NFTs of the show beginning May 15.

“With each series released this year, we’ve pushed the technology forward to broaden opportunities for creators and fans to engage with the story world and take part in building new hit IP,” said John Attanasio, founder of Toonstar. “With ‘Space Junk’ we’re taking it even further, merging great content with game play that will launch a new Web3-enabled model of interactive entertainment.”

The series will feature a character solely voiced by AI-generated software, an industry first. “Toonstar is absolutely showing the broader entertainment industry how Web3 can open doors for new creators and create crazy, engaged fan communities, and uncover great new IP for Hollywood,” said Heder.

CASTING

Chris Diamantopoulos is set to star in Aircraft Pictures and Untitled Entertainment’s upcoming family comedy series “Mapletown,” which will begin filming in Canada shortly.

“Mapletown” is set on a small Canadian island, following the story of a teenager who becomes mayor of the town. After being elected, she asks her middle-aged opponent, Detwiler (portrayed by Diamantopoulos), to be her chief of staff. The show is described as “‘Malcolm in the Middle’ meets ‘Northern Exposure’ with heart and bite, [capturing] the tension between old-school islanders and brand-new transplants who come to need one another against all odds.”

“‘Mapletown’ promises to be a lot of laughs with its quirky and diverse characters,” said Aircraft Pictures co-founders Anthony Leo and Andrew Rosen. “We are excited to be working with Untitled Entertainment, along with Chris, Adam and Peter in creating this fun show for all audiences.”

Diamantopoulos created the series alongside Adam Barken and Peter Lockyer.

EXECUTIVE NEWS

Higher Ground, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, has named Vinnie Malhotra as president of Higher Ground Productions. Malhotra will now oversee Higher Ground’s expanding film development and production.

Previously, Malhotra served as executive VP at Showtime Networks, where he oversaw the network’s original unscripted and documentary programming, documentary theatrical releases and scripted programming, including “The Loudest Voice,” “The Good Lord Bird,” “Couples Therapy,” “The Circus” and “We Need to Talk about Cosby.” Prior to his Showtime tenure, Malhotra served as senior VP for development and acquisitions at CNN Worldwide, handling the development and production of CNN original series, including “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.”

“Vinnie has decades of experience bringing bold and compelling stories to life with a consistent blend of creative vision and integrity,” said President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama in a statement. “We’re thrilled that Vinnie will be leading Higher Ground Productions as it continues to grow.”

*

FilmRise has appointed Jim Brown to the position of director of digital distribution and programming. Brown previously served as the content sales and distribution director at BBC Studios.

Brown will focus on expanding FilmRise’s digital distribution footprint by licensing content to partners for their AVOD and/or FAST platforms while working alongside FilmRise’s content sales team, conducting contract negotiations, deal compliance and monitoring key performance metrics.

“Jim has an unparalleled amount of experience in licensing and deal negotiations with global streaming platforms, which will add tremendously to FilmRise’s overall growth,” said Melissa Wohl, SVP, head of content sales at FilmRise. “His background with niche content and specialty streamers is going to be incredibly valuable with our extensive library of genre programming.”

AWARD SHOWS

CBS and Pluto TV will host “The Tony Awards: Act One,” a pre-show full of live Tony Awards content on Sunday, June 11, at 3:30-5 p.m. PT., the networks announced Tuesday.

The pre-show will be available to stream on Pluto TV where audiences can tune in via smart TV, streaming device, mobile app or online for free. Following the streaming, the 76th annual Tony Awards will air from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. PT on CBS, in addition to streaming live and on-demand on Paramount+.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Pluto TV to kick off this year’s Tony Awards celebration,” said Jack Sussman, executive vice president of specials, music, live events and alternative programming at CBS. “This cross-company partnership allows us to utilize the breadth of the Paramount Global family to bring the best of Broadway into homes of more viewers than ever before.”

Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose will host the awards show live from the United Palace in New York City’s Washington Heights. The 76th show will honor theater professionals on Broadway from the 2022-2023 season.

The Tony Awards is produced in collaboration with Tony Award Productions, a joint venture of the Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing, and White Cherry Entertainment. Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss are executive producers for White Cherry Entertainment. Weiss will serve as director.

INITIATIVES 

Nielsen released the 2023 Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Diverse Intelligence Series report, and discovered that streaming programs are significantly more inclusive of AANHPI people than other platforms.

Although there was a decrease in representation from 2021 to 2022, the recent report revealed that streaming had more than twice the representation on broadcast and three times the representation on cable.

The report also found that AANHPI representation occupies more than 10% share of the screen and AANHPI audiences watch about 27% more streaming content.

Additionally, 91% of AANHPI audiences are open to content featuring people outside of their identity group. AANHPI audiences are also 46% more likely than the total population to buy from brands that advertise in inclusive content.

*

The Native American Media Alliance has announced its new class of Native American Showrunner Program fellows.

The 2023 Native American Showrunner Program fellows are Kris Crenwelge, Matthew Rochester and Benjamin Flores. Crenwelge hails as a staff writer on “True Lies” and Netflix’s “Spirit Rangers.” Rochester was previously a fellow in the 3rd Annual LA Skins Feature Film Writers Lab and is currently writing a comic book adaptation with Image Comics. Finally, Flores was a 2022 Native American Media Alliance TV Writers Lab fellow, and he now works on an upcoming STARZ series.

Throughout the fellowship, participants work hand in hand with showrunner mentors, gaining feedback on their work and expanding their writing abilities. Through one-on-one mentoring, fellows grow their professional skills throughout the duration of the program.

“This program continues to create new paths for talented indigenous writers,” said Patricia Gomes, executive director of the Barcid Foundation. “As writers find challenges to build, develop and maintain their creative careers, we find avenues to support them in their journey.”

The 4th Annual Native American Showrunner Program is sponsored by Bad Robot, Comcast NBCUniversal, Pop Culture Collaboration and A+E Networks.

*

HBO Max will partner with Gold House ahead of Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage month to further promote Asian Pacific narratives in film and television and the success of Asian Pacific artists and companies. The partnership is set to kick off in New York with a panel event featuring Olivia Cheng and Dianne Doan of the upcoming Max series “Warrior,” along with Geena Rocero, Tina Nguyen and Kinjil Mathur, and moderator Neha Joy.

“We know that the narratives in media shape how we see ourselves and the world around us. That’s the power of storytelling — and why accurate representation is critical in every step leading to what’s seen on and off screen,” said Jeremy Tran, COO of Gold House.

“We’re excited to work with HBO Max to elevate our stories, celebrate our diversity, and uplift our communities.”

HBO Max will continue to celebrate AAPI Heritage month with the release of the animated series “Gremlins: Secrets of Mogwai,” which will be screened at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Islander Festival along with a panel discussion. Additionally, the streamer will promote its Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices collection, which features titles like Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” and the HBO Max original “House of Ho.”

EVENTS

The Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti will host its first in-person event, “Talanoa: The Future of Pasifika Storytelling,” an Amazon Studios-sponsored celebration of Pasifika work within the entertainment and media industry. The event will focus on the history and progression of storytelling within Melanesian, Micronesian and Polynesian culture.

Among the panelists is PEAK co-founder Dana Ledoux Miller, who was showrunner for the “Thai Cave Rescue” limited series for Netflix. Miller is currently working on Dwayne Johnson’s live-action “Moana,” with earlier credits including “Designated Survivor” and “Narcos.”

PEAK Conversations will be moderated by PEAK’s executive director Kristian Fanene Schmidt, and will also host Uli Latukefu (NBC’s “Young Rock”), Freddie Gutierrez (writer, Nickelodeon’s “That Girl Lay Lay”) and Kerry Warkia (founding partner of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions). The event will take place on May 4 at the Grass Room in Los Angeles.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Click here to read the full article.