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Bel-Air series is a retelling, not a Fresh Prince reboot – Jimmy Akingbola

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Actor Jimmy Akingbola clarified that Peacock’s upcoming television series, Bel-Air, will be a grittier dramatization of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, rather than a reboot of the popular 90’s sitcom. In an interview with THR, the Bel-Air star playing the Banks’ iconic butler, Geoffrey, confirmed that his new show would not be a retelling of the original and that each episode will be around an hour long.

Akingbola said that this freedom allowed the team behind the series to delve deeper into the beloved characters from the classic sitcom, while also putting a unique spin on them. “We have the license from Will to go in a completely different direction, but there are some beautiful nods to the original,” Akingbola said. “But there are a lot of things where we’re going in a completely different direction. Even Geoffrey, he’s very different.”

Akingbola revealed that Bel-Air’s Geoffrey will be a far more serious and no-nonsense character than his colorful counterpart from the original, claiming that the reimagined version has “an edge and a swagger to him.” That is not to say that Geoffrey has been completely stripped of his playfulness, however, as Akingbola confirmed that audiences will get to see his lighter side as the series progresses.

The origins of Bel-Air are unusual — it came about due to a YouTube fan film of the same name, written and directed by Morgan Cooper featuring a mock trailer that depicted the famous sitcom with a gritter and more serious tone. Upon seeing the fan film, the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, expressed an interest in turning the concept into a full-fledged series. After being in the works for over a year, Bel-Air was officially announced on Aug. 11, 2020, and Peacock ordered two seasons of the show on Sept. 8 later that year.

Much like its predecessor, Bel-Air centers around a young man from the streets of West Philadelphia and how he came to live in a mansion in Bel-Air with his wealthy aunt and uncle.

Bel-Air also features an entirely different cast from the original. Joining Akingbola as Geoffrey are Jabari Banks as Will Smith, Adrian Holmes (19-2) as Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman (The Last O.G.) as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones (Let it Shine) as Hillary Banks and Akira Akbar (Captain Marvel) as Ashley Banks. Jordan L. Jones and Simone Joy Jones will also play Jazz and Lisa, Will’s best friend and love interest respectively.

Bel-Air will begin to stream on Peacock from Feb. 13.

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‘God of War’ live-action TV series ordered at Amazon

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A live-action adaptation of PlayStation’s hit video game franchise ‘God of War’ has been ordered to series at Amazon’s Prime Video, with ‘Wheel of Time’ boss Rafe Judkins set as showrunner. Based on the massively popular 2018 video game, the show follows Kratos, the God of War, who, after exiling himself from his blood-soaked past in ancient Greece, hangs up his weapons forever in the Norse realm of Midgard, per Amazon’s description. When his beloved wife dies, Kratos sets off on a dangerous journey with his estranged son Atreus to spread her ashes from the highest peak — his wife’s final wish. Kratos soon realizes the journey is an epic quest in disguise, one which will test the bonds between father and son, and force Kratos to battle new gods and monsters for the fate of the world.

“‘God of War’ is a compelling, character-driven franchise that we believe will captivate our global customers as much with its expansive and immersive worlds as its rich storytelling,” Vernon Sanders, head of global television at Amazon Studios, said. “We are honored to share in the adventure of exploring the God of War mythology in such a momentous way with Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, and Santa Monica Studio.”

The ‘God of War’ TV series marks the latest show based on a video game that is either in the works or in production, including Amazon’s ‘Fallout’ adaptation from ‘Westworld’ creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ (based on another PlayStation property), Paramount+’s ‘Halo’, the Anthony Mackie-led ‘Twisted Metal’ at Peacock, among others.

“We are so proud and excited to be working with our friends at Amazon Studios and our partners at PlayStation Productions to adapt this beautiful and heart-breaking game into a premium live-action series,” Katherine Pope, president of Sony Pictures Television Studios, said.”

A sequel to the 2018 ‘God of War’ game, titled ‘God of War: Ragnarok’, was just released last month. At last week’s Game Awards, it won for best narrative, action/adventure game, score/music, audio design, performance for Kratos actor Christopher Judge and innovation in accessibility.

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‘The Crown’ officially suspends Season 6 production after Queen’s death

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It has been confirmed that Netflix hit show ‘The Crown’ suspended production on Friday in honour of the Queen’s death. It is currently in the middle of shooting its sixth and reportedly final season. “As a mark of respect, filming on ‘The Crown’ was suspended today,” a Netflix source confirmed. “Filming will also be suspended on the day of Her Majesty The Queen’s funeral.”

‘The Crown’ is about Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped it. The monarch, who ascended the throne in 1952, was the world’s oldest reigning monarch at age 96. She died surrounded by her family at Balmoral, her palace in the Scottish Highlands, the family announced on Thursday. Her eldest son, King Charles III, succeeds her.

Peter Morgan, writer of the Emmy-winning drama, said that the series is “a love letter to her.”

Her death comes ahead of Season 5 of the Netflix show, which is set to premiere in November and feature a new cast. Imelda Staunton will play Queen Elizabeth, Jonathan Pryce will portray Prince Philip, Dominic West will star as Prince Charles and Elizabeth Debicki stars at Princess Diana. Olivia Williams has been cast as Camilla Parker Bowles and Jonny Lee Miller will appear as Prime Minister John Major.

Although the details have been kept quiet, the season will seemingly focus on the 1990s, leading up to Diana’s death in 1997. Season 6 recently cast 16-year-old Rufus Kampa as Prince Harry and 21-year-old Ed McVey as Prince William, hinting that the season will explore the aftermath of Diana’s death and the boys’ lives in the early 2000s.

Although Queen Elizabeth II never spoke publicly about ‘The Crown’, Claire Foy, who played her in 2016’s first season of the show, stated one year later that she “would hate the idea of her watching it.”

“When you’re playing a real person, you never want to be ghoulish,” she told Town & Country at the time. “I don’t want to pick apart a person. I want to invent someone. So, I would hate for her to watch it and think I overdramatized anything.”

Following the death, Peter Morgan, writer of the Emmy-winning drama, said that the series is “a love letter to her.” He wrote that “[The Crown] is a love letter to her and I’ve nothing to add for now, just silence and respect. I expect we will stop filming out of respect too.”

Netflix have long had plans in place should Queen Elizabeth die during its run.

‘The Crown’ has had three actresses who have portrayed the Queen: Foy, Olivia Colman, and Imelda Staunton, whose reign is due to start on Netflix in November.

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Racist viewers happy with dragon flying, but not a rich black guy – Steve Toussaint

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‘House of the Dragon’ star Steve Toussaint, who plays Lord Corlys Velaryon a.k.a. “The Sea Snake” on the series, slammed viewers of the ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel who took issue with his casting.

“It seems to be very hard for people to swallow,” Toussaint said in an interview with Men’s Health. “They are happy with a dragon flying. They’re happy with white hair and violet-coloured eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”

While Lord Corlys is never explicitly described as white in George R. R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” from which ‘House of the Dragon’ is adapted, many imagined the character to be fair-skinned because his ancestors are Valyrian and his hair is described in the book as “Targaryen white-blonde.”

However, as Toussaint notes, those who feel his casting is unrealistic have no problem buying into the existence of dragons and magic — not to mention that screen adaptations often stray from matching exact character descriptions in the source material.

“What has been wonderful is for every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive and been like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t wait, this is going to be great!’” Toussaint added. “Even when we were doing certain scenes, there would be supporting artists who would come up and go, ‘It’s great to have this representation.’”

The first episode of ‘House of the Dragon’ dazzled with the biggest series premiere in HBO’s history last Sunday, drawing nearly 10 million viewers.

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