Posts Tagged: Television

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MTV has announced the casting of Australian-New Zealand actor Manu Bennett as the Allanon in its adaptation of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara. This the fourth major role to be filled as casting continues for the ten-part miniseries, which airs in 2015.

Manu Bennett is the man behind the digital mask of (the much maligned) Azog from Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Hobbit. However, he’s probably better known for his role as Deathstroke on The Arrow. Judging by his physique in The Hobbit, Bennett has the size and athleticism necessary to play the lone Druid, so all that remains is the charismatic brooding and menace that make Allanon a fan favourite.

“Bennett will play Allanon, a druid who is the last of his kind in the world of Shannara,” said The Hollywood Reporter. “He is described as a wise, perceptive and serious man who knows something incredibly important has begun when the wise tree Ellcrys starts to die. He enlists Wil (Austin Butler) to fulfill his destiny and save the four lands.”

You ask me, there’s no more iconic character from my pre-teens and teens than Allanon. He’s right there with Gandalf and Alan Grant. Brooks’ Shannara novels were pivotal gateway pieces during my discovery of fantasy, and Allanon is a big part of the reason why I became so attached to Brooks’ world. There’s a gravitas to the Druid that helped to define the mentor/student role that has become a genre trope since Brooks released The Sword of Shannara 35 years ago.

Allanon is described in The Sword of Shannara as a towering, dark-skinned man, and it’s wonderful to see MTV following through on this by casting a Māori actor land for major role on the television series. I’d love to see this become a trend as MTV fills out the rest of the Shannara cast. Most of the characters Wil meets throughout the novel are Elvish (already established by the casting of Austin Butler and Aaron Jakubenko as a fair-skinned race), but there are a lot of other opportunities — notably Eretria and Cephelo, perhaps also Mallenroh — to cast native New Zealand or Australian actors in other roles.

Austin Butler, cast as Wil Ohmsford in MTV's Elfstones of Shannara

Austin Butler, cast as Wil Ohmsford in MTV’s Elfstones of Shannara

MTV has announced two more castings for its 10-part mini-series adaptation of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara, and they’re doozies: Wil Ohmsford, conflicted hero, and Ander Elessedil, trouble Elvish prince.

“Austin Butler is going from playing a 1980s heartthrob to portraying an elf,” The Hollywood Reporter reported today. “Butler will star as Wil Ohmsford, who is half human and half elf . [His] easygoing life is about to be turned upside down when he learns that he is the last of the legendary Shannara family. Charged with finding the Druid who will guide him to his destiny, Wil realizes his dangerous journey is just beginning.”

Wil Ohmsford is the central character around who the story’s large ensemble cast revolves. Unless the adaptation departs significantly from the novels, Wil is not active in seeking out this adventure. In fact, most of Brooks’ Shannara novels involve the protagonists being roped into saving the world against their will. We’ll see if this is true or not for the adaptation when it debuts in 2015. Read More »

amberle

As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Poppy Drayton has landed the role of Amberle Elessedil in MTV’s adaptation of Terry Brooks’ The Elfstones of Shannara. Amberle is an elvish princess in exile after refusing her duties as a Chosen, caretakers of the mystical Ellcrys tree. Her past catches up to her, however, when she is swept away with young Wil Ohmsford on a quest to save the Elvish people from a demonic threat.

I’ve no real objections to Drayton’s casting, though my one bit of exposure to her, Downton Abbey, left me a lukewarm. The Elfstones of Shannara is a novel that relies heavily on the relationships between its myriad characters, and finding other actors that fit well alongside Drayton, and create a natural camaraderie and chemistry with her will be very important.

Like all Shannara fans, I’m most eager/interested/terrified to see who MTV chooses to cast as the looming Druid, Allanon.

Entertainment Weekly also reports that, “Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) will direct the first two episodes. He’ll also executive produce the series alongside Gough, Millar, Brooks, Dan Farah, and Jon Favreau (Iron Man).”

interstellar-concept-art

That’s a set of books where the influence they have is just fucking massive […] there are some ideas in those that’ll set your fucking hair on fire.

Via io9 and The Wrap, HBO has hired Johnathan Nolan, most recently known for his work on Interstellar, to write a television adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s seminal science fiction series, Foundation.

“Well, I fucking love the Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov,” Nolan told Indiewire on November 4th, less than a week before this news broke. “They’re certainly not well-known, but that’s a set of books I think everyone would benefit from reading. That’s a set of books where the influence they have is just fucking massive. They have many imitators and many have been inspired by them, but go back and read those, and there are some ideas in those that’ll set your fucking hair on fire.”

Nolan’s assertion that Asimov’s classic is ‘certainly not well-known,’ is a little fishy, especially coming from someone who works directly on major science fiction IPs like Interstellar, but his enthusiasm for the series is refreshing and encouraging.

Though there is no word on whether the adaptation will be ongoing, or a predefined mini-series of episodes, io9 points out that “the books have enough material to last a very long time.” Syfy hopes they have the Game of Thrones for science fiction fans in their adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse series, but who better to usurp that title than the creators of televisions favourite fantasy and one of science fiction’s most legendary names?

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Buy Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: Book/eBook

Ann Leckie, author of the much lauded, and many award winning, novel, Ancillary Justice, announced on her blog that her Imperial Radch series has been optioned for television by Fabrik and Fox Television Studios. “They have previously worked together on The Killing for four seasons on AMC and Netflix,” Leckie said, “and they started their relationship with Burn Notice.”

Leckie warns her fans not to get too far ahead of themselves, though, citing Hollywood’s glacial pacing and labyrinthine nature. “Ancillary Justice has been optioned for TV,” she said. “Now, ‘optioned’ doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is going to actually happen–things get optioned and then never made, quite frequently.’

With the production of a television adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series in full production, this is a great time to be a fan of televised science fiction. Though the question begs to be asked, where Corey’s work is straight forward science fiction with all the fixins for television, Leckie’s series is a whole different beast, and many of its strongest facets — such as its handling of gender, and its protagonist’s preternatural cognitive abilities granted to her as an ancillary — may prove difficult to adapt to a television script.

“Bringing [Ancillary Justice] to any sort of screen (not counting your eReader screen, of course!) would be… an interestingly difficult project,” Leckie admitted. “I made sure to have a conversation with the folks at Fabrik about my specific concerns–namely, the approach to gender, and the issue of whitewashing (as in, I do not want to see the book whitewashed, I would like to namedrop LeGuin and mention her Earthsea experience here, thank you). I was very pleased with their response.”