Sam Esmail Will Not Direct Season 2 of ‘Homecoming’ for Amazon

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sam Esmail will not return as director for the second season of Amazon’s “Homecoming,” an individual with knowledge of the series told TheWrap.

Esmail is the second major departure for the drama’s sophomore follow up, joining star Julia Roberts who will also not return. Both are remaining involved as executive producers. Amazon did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Esmail directed all 10 episodes of the show’s first season. Roberts had only signed on for the first season, and is already in talks to star in another Amazon series, “Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win.”

“Homecoming” is based on Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz’s two-season (12 episodes total) podcast for Gimlet Media, which centers on Heidi Bergman (Roberts), a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center — a facility helping soldiers transition back to civilian life — and her work with one of those soldiers, Walter Cruz (Stephan James). The series also starred Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham, Alex Karpovsky and Sissy Spacek.

Also Read: Amazon Reveals When Its ‘Lord of The Rings’ TV Series Takes Place

Esmail had previously told TheWrap he deviated from the podcast-version of the storyline, in part to give Roberts’ character an ending. “We got together and sort of invented this new back half of the storyline and new ending for Heidi.” On the podcast version, Heidi spends the second season reluctantly teaming with the Geist Group, the shadowy conglomerate backing the Homecoming project, to find Walter.

“I had only listened to the first six episodes, which sort of end in the middle of the Walter-Heidi story,” Esmail said. “I really wanted to come to some sort of satisfying conclusion of Walter and Heidi’s journey together.”

Esmail renewed his overall deal with Universal Content Productions last month, will see him create programming for NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service. Esmail’s USA Network series “Mr. Robot” is ending this year. He is an executive producer for USA’s upcoming Rosario Dawson drama “Briarpatch,” and has the Emmy Rossum-led limited series “Angelyne” as well as “Metropolis,” an adaptation of Fritz Lang’s 1927 science fiction classic, in development.

Variety first reported the news.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Homecoming’: Yes — Sam Esmail Knows the Geist Group Looks a Lot Like ‘Mr Robot’s’ E-Corp

‘Homecoming’: Why the Amazon Series Abandons Its Source Material Halfway Through Season 1

‘Mr Robot’ Creator Sam Esmail Renews Deal With UCP – and This One Includes Streaming

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sam Esmail will stay in business with Universal Content Productions long after “Mr. Robot” goes off the air.

UCP, the studio behind the USA Network series, has renewed its overall deal with Esmail and his company Esmail Corp. The new agreement will include developing shows for NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service, which will launch in 2020.

The renewal comes as “Mr. Robot” ends its run later this year.

Also Read: Rosario Dawson-Led ‘Briarpatch’ Anthology Lands Series Order at USA Network

“Sam is a visionary creator who inspires us on a daily basis,” said Dawn Olmstead, president, UCP and Wilshire Studios. “He’s a risk taker, a ground-breaker and a hit maker. On top of all of this, he is a great person, and we are beyond excited to continue this collaboration.”

Esmail will still be in business with USA after “Mr. Robot” ends. The network just greenlit “Briarpatch” with Rosario Dawson, which Esmail executive produces. He also serves as the executive producer and director for Amazon’s “Homecoming” and has the Emmy Rossum-led limited series “Angelyne” as well as “Metropolis,” an adaptation of Fritz Lang’s 1927 science fiction classic, in development.

“As a creator, nothing is more important to me than the integrity of a story and staying true to the vision I’ve created. Working with UCP has always given me the opportunity to do so, while pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling,” Esmail said. “The studio has been my home for the past four years, and I’m thrilled to continue this supportive and trusted partnership, while having the unique opportunity to create for every possible platform across the industry.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Homecoming’: Yes — Sam Esmail Knows the Geist Group Looks a Lot Like ‘Mr Robot’s’ E-Corp

13 Shows Delayed or Changed Because of Real-World Violence, From ‘Mr Robot’ to ‘Heathers’ (Photos)

Julia Roberts Unlikely to Star on ‘Homecoming’ Season 2 – But She’s Still Part of the Show

Rosario Dawson-Led ‘Briarpatch’ Anthology Lands Series Order at USA Network

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

USA Network has given a series order to anthology drama “Briarpatch” from “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail, that will star Rosario Dawson.

The first season is based on Ross Thomas’ novel of the same name, which sees Dawson playing a gender-swapped version of Thomas’ lead character, Ben Dill.

Dawson plays Allegra Dill, a dogged investigator returning to her border-town Texas home after her sister is murdered. What begins as a search for a killer turns into an all-consuming fight to bring her corrupt hometown to its knees. The season celebrates the beloved genres represented by Thomas’ book — a stylish blend of crime and pulp fiction — while updating his sense of fun, danger and place for a new generation.

Also Read: ‘Suits’ Renewed by USA for Ninth and Final Season

The season also stars Jay R. Ferguson, Brian Geraghty and Edi Gathegi. The first season will shoot in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Dawson will also serve as a producer. On TV, Dawson is known recently for playing Claire Temple on Netflix’s Marvel-produced shows including “Daredevil,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones” and “The Defenders.”

“When we were first introduced to the anthology by Andy Greenwald, UCP and Paramount Television, we were immediately struck by the show’s unique tone and captivating story,” said Chris McCumber, president, entertainment networks for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “And Sam Esmail’s incomparable vision and style, coupled with Rosario Dawson’s tremendous performance as Allegra Dill, will no doubt leave audiences buzzing.”

Andy Greenwald, who UCP also signed to an overall deal, adapted “Briarpatch” for television and will executive produce along with “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail through his production company Esmail Corp and Anonymous Content’s Chad Hamilton. Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television will produce. Ana Lily Amirpour directed the pilot and also served as an executive producer.

The pick-up comes ahead of the fourth and final season of “Mr. Robot.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

USA Network Gives Its Gina Torres-Led ‘Suits’ Spinoff a Title

WWE ‘Raw’ Won’t Run Long on USA Network Anymore

‘The Purge’ Renewed for Season 2 by USA Network

Don’t Stop Him Now: Will The Oscars Embrace ‘Mr. Robot’ Emmy Winner Rami Malek’s Turn As Freddie Mercury In ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?

Read on: Deadline.

When Sacha Baron Cohen left the Freddie Mercury biopic back in 2013, it was hard to imagine another chameleon who could step into the skin of the flamboyant 1970s-80s musical genius who died at 45 after battling AIDS. Then came Mr. Robot star Rami Male…

‘Homecoming’: Yes — Sam Esmail Knows the Geist Group Looks a Lot Like ‘Mr Robot’s’ E-Corp

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

(Warning: This story contains spoilers for the first season of Amazon’s “Homecoming.”)

If the Geist Group, the large monolithic company at the center of Amazon’s “Homecoming,” reminds you of another big, shadowy company from a Sam Esmail-led series, well, the “Mr. Robot” creator gets it.

“If I have to psychoanalyze myself, I would say there are a lot of similarities,” Esmail tells TheWrap after we pointed out how similar the two companies appear. The only real differences between the two are that Esmail came up with E Corp himself, while The Geist Group was something already baked into “Homecoming,” as it was adapted from the Gimlet Media podcast from Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz.

“I just think there’s something in the air right now, something in the world that’s going on where we have this untrustworthiness with powerful conglomerates,” Esmail said. “In that way, even though it resonates on a personal level, I do feel like it’s a relevant topic to explore.”

Also Read: ‘Homecoming’: Why the Amazon Series Abandons Its Source Material Halfway Through Season 1

Geist Group is the company backing the Homecoming project, which ends up developing an experimental drug that “cures” veterans of PTSD by physically erasing painful memories. While it’s initially stated that its purpose is to help veterans transition back to civilian life, the twist is that Geist is doing this in order to send them back out into the field. In “Mr. Robot,” E Corp – or Evil Corp, as its derogatorily referred to by Rami Malek’s Elliot – is a nefarious giant conglomerate. The company, essentially a combination between Apple and Merrill Lynch, is frequently the target of the hacker group fsociety.

The similarities don’t stop there. “Mr. Robot” and “Homecoming” both feature major plotlines that deal with someone attempting to take down these giant companies. In “Homecoming,” after Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts) realizes what Geist is up to, she drugs herself and one of the soldiers she was working with, so he ends up getting sent home instead back to war. In “Mr. Robot,” fsociety succeeded in hacking all of E Corp’s files, essentially wiping out all consumer debt at the end of the first season, with subsequent seasons dealing with the fallout.

In case you think Geist Group is the runaway winner in the “evil giant company” race, with its memory-erasing drugs and lying to war veterans, it is revealed during the first season of “Mr. Robot” that E Corp covered up a toxic gas spill at one of its factories, and in the ensuing 24 months, 26 employees there ended up getting leukemia, including Elliot’s father, Edward (Christian Slater).

Also Read: ‘Mr. Robot’ to End After 4-Season Run on USA

But while E Corp was definitely something that Esmail designed, Geist Group was more of a happy coincidence. “For me, what resonated were the characters and the journey they go on and the themes that Eli and Micah explore in such a human way,” he said of his reason for taking on “Homecoming.” But we’d bet writing about a shadowy company that’s pulling the strings behind the scenes didn’t hurt, either.

“It resonated with me four years ago when I first wrote ‘Mr. Robot. I feel like since then its only amplified.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Tech’s Month From Hell: Facebook, Amazon Look to Rebound From October Swoon

Facebook, Amazon ‘Fundamentally Oppose’ Trump Redefinition of Transgender Rights

‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins Signs TV Development Deal With Amazon

‘Homecoming’: Why the Amazon Series Abandons Its Source Material Halfway Through Season 1

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

(Warning: This story contains spoilers for the first season of Amazon’s “Homecoming”)

Amazon’s adaption of Gimlet Media’s “Homecoming” podcast remains pretty faithful to its source material — until about halfway through. From there, it goes in a completely different direction, completely abandoning the second half of the podcast’s narrative.

“We wanted to intentionally sort of deviate from the podcast at that point,” Sam Esmail, who executive produced the series alongside the podcast’s creators Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz, and directed all 10 episodes, tells TheWrap.

“Homecoming” is based on Bloomberg and Horowitz’s two-season (12 episodes total) podcast for Gimlet Media, which centers on Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts), a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center — a facility helping soldiers transition back to civilian life — and her work with one of those soldiers, Walter Cruz (Stephan James). Amazon picked up the show for two seasons, but whatever the second season looks like, it will be different from the podcast’s sophomore campaign.

Also Read: ‘Patriot’ Creator, Star Michael Dorman Tease John’s Season 2 Problems: ‘He Can’t See Straight, for One’

The “Mr. Robot” creator explains that, since Bloomberg and Horowitz were still working on the second season of their podcast while he was directing the Amazon version, they decided to come up with a completely different version of how the story ends for Bergman. “We got together and sort of invented this new back half of the storyline and new ending for Heidi.”

The series is told over two separate timelines: one in 2018 with Heidi and Walter at Homecoming, and another one in 2022 following a Department of Defense official investigating an incident at the facility involving the two. In the latter, Heidi is now a waitress who has seemingly forgotten everything about her work at Homecoming.

And it’s where that latter timeline ends that Esmail veers off in his own direction, and it’s quite the departure. Amazon’s version ends with Heidi managing to track down Walter, which has yet to happen in the podcast.

“I had only listened to the first six episodes, which sort of end in the middle of the Walter-Heidi story,” says Esmail. “I really wanted to come to some sort of satisfying conclusion of Walter and Heidi’s journey together.”

Also Read: Roger Ailes Painted as Genius and Monster in ‘Divide and Conquer’ Trailer (Video)

On the podcast version, Heidi spends the second season reluctantly teaming with the Geist Group to find Walter. Geist is the shadowy conglomerate backing the Homecoming project, which is working to cure military veterans of PTSD by physically erasing painful memories with an experimental drug. While Heidi is initially led to believe this is to help the veterans transition back to civilian life, the twist is that Geist is doing this so they can actually be sent back out into the field.

Once Heidi realizes what Geist’s true motivation is, she drugs herself and Walter, which is why in the future timeline she can’t remember anything about her work at the facility. “To make a straight adaption would sort of defeat the purpose,” said Esmail. “I really wanted it to be its own creature.”

Moving from an audio medium to a visual medium also gave the “Homecoming” team the chance to play around with some of the other elements from the podcast. “Eli, Micah and I really talked surgically on when to expand it in a more cinematic way and when to retain what they did so well in the podcast,” said Esmail.

Also Read: ‘Moonlight’ Director Barry Jenkins Signs TV Development Deal With Amazon

He pointed to a specific example in the show’s “Optics” episode.

That episode features a subplot where Shrier (Jeremy Allen White), a fellow patient at Homecoming, coerces Walter into a stealing a van with him so they can leave because he’s convinced they’re being lied to about the facility’s location — they’re told it’s in Florida but Shrier doesn’t believe it. When they stumble upon a retirement community located near the facility, they realize that are, in fact, in Florida. In the podcast, this whole sequence is relayed after-the-fact by Walter to Heidi during one of their sessions, but Esmail decided to give viewers of the Amazon series a first-hand account of the failed escape.

“That was a sequence I thought especially would work better if you could actually be with the characters,” Esmail explained, arguing that “tension of all that was gone” when you’re just hearing it explained by Walter. “In adapting it, we were able to expand and dive into that sequence with those characters, and have that kind of suspense and tension throughout of whether Shrier is on to something.”

Also Read: ‘The Romanoffs’ Star Amanda Peet on the ‘Wish Fulfillment, Fantasy’ in That Fake-Out Ending

But there were other instances where Esmail kept things exactly the same as the podcast, including the “Titanic” sequel joke that ends up turning what is initially a fun anecdote into a major plot twist. And as Esmail explains, the TV show plays out that plot thread in the exact same way as the podcast: via the sessions between Heidi and Walter.

In one of the early sessions, Walter is recounting a joke he plays on one of his fellow soldiers about a fake “Titanic” sequel called “Titanic Rising,” but when he’s asked to relay the story again in a later episode, he can’t remember it, proving the drugs are working.

“You listen to a little anecdote a character gives at the beginning of the season, and you take it in as just a little bit of an insight into who this character is,” said Esmail. “Then later, it becomes a huge twist that actually spins the plot in an interesting way. That was something we definitely wanted to retain in the TV show.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Tech’s Month From Hell: Facebook, Amazon Look to Rebound From October Swoon

Facebook, Amazon ‘Fundamentally Oppose’ Trump Redefinition of Transgender Rights

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ to Stream Exclusively on Amazon Prime

Study Shows Bleak Middle Eastern & North African Representation, Reinforced Stereotypes On Primetime TV

Read on: Deadline.

Representation and inclusion on TV appear to be on the steady uptick, but a closer look shows that progress is a minuscule move of the needle. We are seeing more black, Latino and Asian representation, but as we look deeper into specific portrayals wit…

‘Mr. Robot’ to End After 4-Season Run on USA

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

USA will wrap its hacker drama “Mr. Robot” after its upcoming fourth season.

The fourth season will air sometime in 2019. Creator Sam Esmail addressed the decision on Twitter:

“Excited to show you guys the final chapter in Elliot’s journey. It’s going to be sad to say goodbye to Mr. Robot, but it’ll be sadder to say goodbye to all the fans. Thanks for hanging with us throughout the years and cannot wait to share the conclusion with all of you.”

Also Read: Christian Slater Says ‘Mr Robot’ Will End After Season 4: ‘I Believe That Will Be the Last Season’

Excited to show you guys the final chapter in Elliot’s journey. It’s going to be sad to say goodbye to Mr. Robot, but it’ll be sadder to say goodbye to all the fans. Thanks for hanging with us throughout the years and cannot wait to share the conclusion with all of you.

— Sam Esmail (@samesmail) August 29, 2018

The decision comes two weeks after Christian Slater, who plays the eponymous Mr. Robot, told Collider that he expected the fourth season to be the show’s last.

“Yeah, Season 4, and I believe that will be the last season. [Show creator] Sam [Esmail] always said it was going to be somewhere in that zone, and he didn’t want to go further than what he could creatively contribute to that storyline,” Slater told Collider. “So, I think that Season 4 will be it.”

Also Read: USA Orders ‘Bourne’ Franchise Spinoff TV Series ‘Treadstone’

“Mr. Robot” premiered in 2015 and marked the network’s shift from its “Blue Skies” programming aesthetic to darker and edgier fare, which included shows like “Colony,” “Queen of the South” and “The Sinner.” The network has also recently ordered to series “Treadstone,” a TV series set inside the “Jason Bourne” film franchise universe and will debut a “Purge” spinoff TV series.

“Mr. Robot” starred Slater, Rami Malek, Portia Doubleday, Carly Chaikin, Martin Walstrom, Grace Gummer, Michael Cristofer and BD Wong.

But it’s not as if Malek and Esmail would be looking for work once the show wraps. Malek will star as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in this fall’s biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The duo is also working on “American Radical,” the adaptation of a Muslim FBI agent’s memoir about infiltrating an al Qaeda-controlled terrorist cell.

Related stories from TheWrap:

13 Shows Delayed or Changed Because of Real-World Violence, From ‘Mr Robot’ to ‘Heathers’ (Photos)

‘Mr Robot’ Season 3 Trailer Is Seriously Bleak and Eerie (Video)

‘Mr Robot’ Star Christian Slater Wants to Hug John Travolta at Golden Globes

Rosario Dawson to Star in Drama Pilot ‘Briarpatch’ for USA Network

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Rosario Dawson will star in USA Network’s drama pilot, “Briarpatch,” the network confirmed to TheWrap.

The pilot is based on Ross Thomas’ novel of the same name, which sees Dawson playing a gender-swapped version of Thomas’ lead character, Ben Dill.

Dawson, as Allegra “Pick” Dill, is a tenacious and highly-skilled investigator working in Washington, D.C. for a young, ambitious senator. When her 10-years-younger sister, a homicide detective, is killed by a car bomb, Allegra returns to her corrupt Texas hometown. What begins as a search for the murderer becomes a fraught and dangerous excavation of the past Allegra has long sought to bury.

Also Read: WWE ‘Smackdown Live’ on Fox to Remain 2-Hours Long, Pins Down Debut Date

Dawson will also serve as a producer. On TV, Dawson is known recently for playing Claire Temple on Netflix’s Marvel-produced shows including “Daredevil,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” “Jessica Jones” and “The Defenders.”

Andy Greenwald adapted “Briarpatch” for television and will executive produce along with “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail through his production company Esmail Corp and Anonymous Content’s Chad Hamilton. Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television will produce.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Krystal’ Film Review: Rosario Dawson Bewitches in Baffling Farce

Shania Twain to Host Country Music Competition Series On USA Network

‘Bourne’ Spinoff Series Among 4 New Pilots Ordered by USA Network

Rami Malek, ‘Mr. Robot’ Creator Sam Esmail Team Up for ‘American Radical’ Movie

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Universal has optioned the rights to the FBI agent memoir “American Radical,” with “Mr. Robot” star Rami Malek and showrunner Sam Esmail attached to respectively star and direct.

“American Radical” was written by a Muslim FBI agent under the pseudonym Tamer Elnoury with Kevin Maurer, the author of the Osama bin Laden assassination account “No Easy Day.” Malek will star as Elnoury in a true story thriller about how the agent infiltrated an al-Qaeda-controlled terrorist cell.

Also Read: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ First Trailer: Watch Rami Malek Rock You as Freddie Mercury (Video)

In addition to directing, Esmail will produce through his banner Esmail Corp. alongside Chad Hamilton of Anonymous Content, who also served as a producer on “Mr. Robot.” Executive Vice President of Production Mark Sourian and Creative Executive Lexi Barta will oversee for Universal.

Malek will appear in cinemas in August alongside Charlie Hunnam in a remake of the classic biographical drama “Papillon,” and will star as famed Queen singer Freddie Mercury this fall in the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” He is repped by WME, Brillstein Entertainment and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern.

Esmail is repped by CAA, Anonymous Content and McKuin Frankel Whitehead LLP. WME repped the book deal.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek Break Out of Devil’s Island in ‘Papillon’ Remake Trailer (Video)

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ First Trailer: Watch Rami Malek Rock You as Freddie Mercury (Video)

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: Rami Malek Stuns as Freddie Mercury in New On-Set Photo

‘SMILF’s Frankie Shaw On Season 2’s Risks, Tackling Sexual Abuse & That Title – Next Generation TV

Read on: Deadline.

“I feel that it is so similar – the process of being a single mom with a young child and creating and running a TV show – there is almost no difference,” SMILF creator, showrunner and star Frankie Shaw says in the first installment of Deadl…

The fucks are prepared to fly on Syfy and USA

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Swearing on basic cable has always been something of a gray fucking area; while the FCC watches the mainstream networks like a hawk for any signs of f- or s-bombs on their way, it’s always been much more lax when it comes to subscription-based media. Still, most cable networks have Standards & Practices departments…

Read more…

‘You’re The Worst,’ ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,’ ‘Lady Dynamite’ Lead the Charge of Mental Health Inclusiveness on TV

Read on: Variety.

More than a decade and a half ago, in 2002, Tony Shalhoub portrayed a police consultant with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) on USA’s procedural “Monk.” Given the show’s comedy roots, his compulsions were often exaggerated, wide-ranging and played as “quirks” that hindered him professionally and personally. But times have changed, and “Monk” was just a starting […]

Remote Controlled: ‘Mr. Robot’ Creator Reflects on Season 3, Previews Season 4

Read on: Variety.

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In this week’s episode, Variety‘s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum chats with “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail about the show’s recently wrapped Season 3 and upcoming Season 4. Esmail said he wanted to center […]