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Netflix announces global casting call for ‘Squid Game’ reality series

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Netflix has greenlit ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’, a reality competition series based on the hit 2021 South Korean drama. The news came from Bela Bajaria, Netflix’s head of global TV,  at the Banff World Media Festival on Tuesday. According to Netflix, it will be “the biggest reality competition series ever,” hosting the largest cast and offering the largest lump sum cash prize in reality television history as 456 players compete for $4.56 million.

Contestants will go through a series of games inspired by the original show, plus new additions, which are all intended to test their strategies, alliances, and character as others are eliminated around them. Recruitment for the series is currently open to English-language speakers from anywhere in the world.

“Squid Game took the world by storm with Director Hwang’s captivating story and iconic imagery. We’re grateful for his support as we turn the fictional world into reality in this massive competition and social experiment,” said Brandon Riegg, Netflix’s vice president of unscripted and documentary Series. “Fans of the drama series are in for a fascinating and unpredictable journey as our 456 real world contestants navigate the biggest competition series ever, full of tension and twists, with the biggest ever cash prize at the end.”

The 10-episode competition series is a co-production between Studio Lambert and The Garden, and will be filmed in the U.K. Stephen Lambert, Tim Harcourt and Toni Ireland executive produce for Studio Lambert while John Hay, Nicola Hill and Nicola Brown executive produce for The Garden. For more information about casting, visit SquidGameCasting.com.

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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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