KATHERINE HEIGL TO STAR IN AND EXEC PRODUCE FIREFLY LANE: Katherine Heigl is set to star in and executive produce Netflix’s Firefly Lane drama series. The show, about two inseparable but very different best friends, is based on a bestselling novel by Kristin Hannah, and is written and directed by Maggie Friedman.
REACTIONS TO LION KING: Critics, reporters and editors tweeted out their first reactions to Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King. The reaction to the film, which stars Beyonce and Donald Glover and was directed by Jon Favreau, was fairly positive across the board, with high marks for visuals and mixed marks for emotional resonance. IGN deputy managing editor of entertainment Laura Prudom said: "Visually, it’s stunning — an unparalleled technical achievement that’s like watching a nature documentary." She added: "Ultimately #TheLionKing will be a touching introduction to a timeless story for a new generation, but I’d never rewatch it over the original." Buzzfeed senior film reporter Adam B. Vary also offered a measured note, writing: "#TheLiongKing is a landmark *visual* experience. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I think it’s going to change how we look at movies forever." He added: "As an *emotional* experience, though … I’ll put it this way: It turns out lions can’t really emote." The film opens July 18th.
MULTIPLAYER LORD OF THE RINGS GAME IN THE WORKS: Amazon is collaborating with Middle-earth Enterprises and Chinese video game holding company Leyou Technologies Holdings Limited to develop a multiplayer online game for PC and consoles based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy series, The Lord of the Rings. "Tolkien’s Middle-earth is one of the richest fictional worlds in history, and it gives our team of experienced MMO developers — from the same studio developing New World — tremendous opportunity to play and create," Amazon Game Studio vp Christoph Hartmann said in a statement. "We have a strong leadership team in place to helm this new project, and we’re actively growing our team to help build this incredible experience." Amazon is also currently developing a series for Amazon Prime based on The Lord of the Rings.
THE CW PARTNERS WITH CBC ON WARIGAMI: The CW is teaming up with Canada’s CBC on a short-form samurai drama dubbed Warigami. The ten-part series stars Emily Piggford and will consist of ten-minute episodes depicting a modern sumarai saga. The drama focuses on Wendy Ohata (Piggford), who realizes she has a twin brother, is a descendant of ancient Japanese people who turned paper into deadly weapons, and has become targeted by a kami-jin warrior for reasons she doesn’t understand.