Wow, are we up to September already? The year is flying and we got to keep up. You might be a bit surprised by what comes to HBO in the coming month. Some creative thinking was required by the powers that be because, for one, there is no big one-hour drama to look forward to in the weeks ahead. Hey, it happens and I hope to prove that there is still some interesting fare on. This coming month will prove who the loyal HBO fans are. So here is what is on for September 2015.
Originals: So if there is no big one-hour drama just what do we have for Sunday nights as we transition for summer to autumn? Well, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon show up on the network. PROJECT GREENLIGHT returns to HBO for its eight-episode fourth season, chronicling the search for a first-time director and taking a revealing, uncensored look at the filmmaking process. Executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the new season debuts SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 beginning at 10:00pm ET with other new episodes debuting subsequent Sundays at the same time.
Spanning the entire filmmaking process, PROJECT GREENLIGHT takes a revealing, uncensored look at the challenges facing a first-time director. The show begins with a digital competition, as thousands of aspiring filmmakers submit three-minute short films via a Facebook page. The pool of contestants is eventually narrowed to 13 finalists, who are each given a scene to direct for their final project, based on a script provided to them. PROJECT GREENLIGHT follows the winner from pre-production and casting through principal photography and post-production. Equipped with a Hollywood-vetted script and surrounded by a team of industry professionals, including filmmaking duo Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary), the fledgling director must learn to cope with pressure from the studio and producers, survive on-set politics and lead a veteran cast and crew, all while trying to deliver a viable movie – on schedule and on budget.
Here is how the first few episodes break down, but note that the name of the winner is mentioned. The trailer show us the winner as well, because the star of this reality show is more the process not the people.
Episode #26 (season 4, episode 1) Debut date: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 at 10:00pm. Narrowed down from thousands of submissions, 13 finalists arrive in Los Angeles to meet with the PROJECT GREENLIGHT judges: Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, executive Jennifer Todd, producer Marc Joubert, producer Effie Brown, HBO’s Len Amato and the Farrelly brothers. As the judges discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each contestant’s final project, they also debate the importance of artistic vision versus the collaborative skills required to be a successful director, all leading up to a red-carpet event, where the winner is announced. Other HBO air dates: 09.13 at 11:30pm, & 2:30am; 09.14 at 2:35am; 09.15 at 4:45pm; 09.17 at 8:30pm and 09.19 at 12:10am.
Episode #27 (season 4, episode 2) Debut date: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 at 10:00pm. With two months until production begins, Effie, Marc and Len try to convince Jason that digital is the only way to keep the project on schedule and within budget. Meanwhile, instead of moving forward with the original PROJECT GREENLIGHT script, the winner pitches his own script: a dark comedy titled “The Leisure Class.” Other HBO dates: 09.20 at 11:30pm & 1:30am;, 09.21 at 3:00am; 09.22 at 5:30pm; 09.24 at 8:30pm and 26 at 1:45am.
Episode #28 (season 4, episode 3) Debut date: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 at 10:00pm. After filling key production-staff roles, Effie brings in the location manager to choose LA-area mansions, but Jason thinks none of them match his creative vision. Meanwhile, the production team begins casting the lead roles, and Pete Farrelly and Effie butt heads about Jason’s continued resistance to shooting digitally. Other HBO air dates: 09.27 at 11:30pm & 2:30am; 09.28 at 1:20am and 09.29 at 5:45pm and into October.
Emily Mortimer returns as well, just not in THE NEWSROOM sadly. Her DOLL & EM returns for its second season SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 beginning at 10:30pm with other new episodes debuting subsequent Sundays at the same time. Written by and starring real-life best friends Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells this series is a bittersweet, intimate portrait of female friendship. In the six-episode second season, Doll and Em write an off-Broadway play together in an effort to do something creative on an equal footing. Guest stars include Ewan McGregor, Olivia Wilde, Evan Rachel Wood and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
So what’s going on with these best buds in Season Two? After packing up her life in London, Doll has moved in to Em’s Brooklyn basement, only to find that living in the lap of her friend’s family is surprisingly lonely. Meanwhile, their play is jeopardized when Em gets cast in a Hollywood action thriller opposite Ewan McGregor and threatens to abandon their passion project. Chaos ensues as Doll and Em start rewriting the play to reflect their growing frustration with each other, and Wilde and Wood begin to lose faith in the production. Will they resolve their differences and restore balance to their friendship by curtain call, or will things finally fall apart forever for the best friends? September’s episodes:
Episode #7 (season 2, episode 1) Debut: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 at 10:30pm. Reunited best friends Dolly Wells and Emily Mortimer sequester themselves in a remote lighthouse, collaborating on a semi-autobiographical script they hope will take Broadway, or at least off-Broadway, by storm.
Episode #8 (season 2, episode 2) Debut: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 at 10:30pm. In New York, Doll and Em set to work on their play, having secured an off-Broadway venue through Mikhail Baryshnikov, and with Hollywood stars Olivia Wilde and Evan Rachel Wood interested in starring as Em and Doll, respectively.
Episode #9 (season 2, episode 3) Debut: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 at 10:30pm. A chance bar encounter with Ewan McGregor takes Dolly by surprise, while Emily lands a film role that could threaten the future of their play.Here is the season’s trailer.
Presenting a satirical look at the week in news, politics and current events, LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER continues its second season with a new edition debuting SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13 at 11:00pm, followed by other new weekly editions subsequent Sundays at the same time. REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER continues its 13th season with a new edition FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11 at 10:00pm followed by other new editions subsequent Fridays at the same time. Allowing the outspoken comedian a forum for his unique perspective on contemporary issues, the show includes an opening monologue, round-table discussions with panelists, and interviews with guests.
Theatrical Movies: Maybe September is a great time to catch up on some movies. Viewers will have four Saturday night premieres to consider. Can you find one of interest? The premieres are WILD, NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB, EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS and UNBROKEN.
A woman (Best Actress Oscar nominee Reese Witherspoon) spirals into self-destruction after the devastating loss of her beloved mother (Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Laura Dern), but ultimately finds redemption by hiking the 1,100 mile Pacific Crest Trail when WILD debuts SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 05 at 8:00pm. Nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, this drama is directed by Jean Marc Vallée, written by Nick Hornby and based on the bestselling memoir of the same name by Cheryl Strayed.Here is HBO’s promo.
Next is NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB, the third film in the hit series, which follows Larry (Ben Stiller) as he travels to London to save the enchanted tablet that brings museum exhibits to life. Debuting SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 at 8:15pm the family comedy is produced and directed by Shawn Levy with a story by Mark Friedman, David Guion and Michael Handelman and screenplay by David Guion and Michael Handelman. Robin Williams, Owen Wilson, Dan Stevens and Ben Kingsley also star. Are you up for one peek into another magical museum?
Or maybe the latest take of that biblical superhero is more to your liking? Moses (Christian Bale) rises up against the Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 600,000 slaves on a colossal escape from Egypt and its series of deadly plagues when EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS debuts SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 at 8:00pm. Directed by Ridley Scott, and written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian, the epic drama also stars John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, with Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.
UNBROKEN tells the inspiring true story of Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), who survives being stranded at sea, only to be sent to a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Debuting SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 at 8:00pm, the film is directed by Angelina Jolie, written by Joel & Ethan Cohen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson, and based on the bestselling book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand.
Specials:This past March, comedy superstar Will Ferrell appeared at five different spring training ballparks in Arizona for a special from Funny Or Die, in partnership with Major League Baseball. Dedicating the special to the fight against cancer, Ferrell played every position on the field for ten different teams in the same day. Executive produced by Will Ferrell in association with Gary Sanchez Productions, Funny Or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, and Stuart Miller, and directed by Brian McGinn, FERRELL TAKES THE FIELD debuts SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 at 10:00pm. Here is HBOWatch’s first look at Invitation to the Set.
Documentary: VICE SPECIAL REPORT: PRISONS debuts SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 at 9:00pm. The special will give viewers an in-depth look at the pervasive impacts of America’s approach to crime and imprisonment, chronicling the many interlocking pieces of the sprawling system, from prisoners and their families to the judiciary and community reformers. Hosted by VICE founder and correspondent Shane Smith, the documentary will also feature President Obama’s historic tour earlier this year of Federal Correctional Institution, El Reno in Oklahoma, where he met with inmates and prison officials.
SAN FRANCISCO 2.0 visits a city that has long enjoyed a reputation as the counterculture capitol of America. Now, with the digital gold rush, members of the young tech elite are flocking to the West Coast to make their fortunes, and this influx of new wealth is forcing San Francisco to reinvent itself. How is the tech revolution affecting the heart, soul and pocketbooks of the city? Emmy-nominated director Alexandra Pelosi (HBO’s FALL TO GRACE) goes home to find out when the documentary debuts MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 at 9:00pm.
The rest of the month is filled with the encore presentation of THE JINX. On 09.07, the documentary series returns with Chapter 1 & 2 beginning at 6:30pm. On 09.14 you will find Chapters 3 & 4 at 6:30pm and the concluding Chapters 5 & 6 on 09.21 also starting at 6:30pm. This is worth a second look in this writer’s opinion.
HBO Sports: HBO Sports, NFL Films and the Houston Texans team up for an all-access look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League when HARD KNOCKS: TRAINING CAMP WITH THE HOUSTON TEXANS continues with a new episode debuting TUESDAY, SEPT. 1 (10:00-11:00 p.m.), followed by the season finale on Sept. 8 at the same time. The first sports-based reality series – and one of the fastest turn around programs on TV –focuses on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches as the Houston Texans, who play in the hard-nosed AFC South, conduct the franchise’s 14th training camp and prepare for the 2015 NFL season. REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL goes behind the box scores and statistics to tackle timely subjects in the world of contemporary sports. Featuring a top lineup of contributors, the next monthly edition debuts TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER. 22 beginning at 10:00pm.
Other Movies and Shows: Okay, since fare is a bit light I am going to offer a slew of titles that you can find throughout the coming month so get ready. There is NIGHTINGALE, SUPERMAN RETURNS, V FOR VENDETTA (pictured), J. EDGAR, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, A GOOD JOB: STORIES OF THE FDNY, FRANK SINATRA: ALL OR NOTHING AT ALL, LOSING ISAIAH, GROOVE, TAMMY, A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.
A ‘first run feature’ on HBO is DEVIL’S DUE. In this one a newlywed woman gets pregnant on her honeymoon, but her husband isn’t the father; it’s the Devil himself in this terrifying found-footage horror flick. HBO FIRST LOOK focuses on three different upcoming movies with looks at EVEREST, MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TAPES and THE MARTIAN. You can also start bingeing on THE LEFTOVERS Season One re-airing on HBO and HBO2 has THE BRINK Season One and Cinemax’s THE KNICK.
HBO’s Other Platforms: Only you can tell us if we pick something of interest to you here. Hopefully you will find something. HBO Latino: First off, I just discovered that there is no more separate HBO Latino site. HBO has done away with it. Typing in that url got me to a Facebook page. Damn, that site was helpful, but moving on. Do you know what SEXO FACIL, PELICULAS TRIESTES translates into? EASY SEX, SAD MOVIES and in that film a Buenos Aires screenwriter visualizes, as his world is falling apart, that his characters come to life as he struggles to write a romantic comedy. EL VIENTRE means THE WOMB. It is a title of a movie in which a lonely widow plots to get her new maid pregnant and claim the baby as her own. This one is a suspenseful psychological thriller. A new series on the channel is called HEROS COTIDANOS. HBO Family: Since GOT fans miss their dragons they can go check out ERAGON in September (pictured). I can also point you to TRAPPED IN PARADISE and HOT TO TROT. Man, don’t those titles sound like family movies. Actually that latter one has Bobcat Goldthwaite alongside a talking horse. Yeah. I’ll stick with BEETLEJUICE thank you. HBO Signature: Your change to catch HBO FILMS: BELLE and the movies RUSH, HER, MANHATTTAN, TRANSCEDENCE and TITANIC plus, the ON THE RUN TOUR: BEYONCE AND JAY-Z also airs. HBO Comedy: Laugh it up with WORKING GIRL, LOSER, FUNNY FARM and ONE NIGHT STAND: JOE BOLSTER. Now comes the hard part of picking out a trailer from that batch. Yeah, I feel corny enough to give the Hot to Trot promo. Just call me sick I guess.
Hey, isn’t that what this segment is for? Isn’t it meant to dig up some old crazy shit? I think so. Now on to more serious content. HBOGo/HBONow: Here are movies coming to the sites from each genre starting with Action. You got to like the classic A FIST FULL OF DOLLARS and BLADE RUNNER. In Comedy there is Chevy Chase in FOUL PLAY and Donald Sunderland in THE TROUBLES WITH SPIES. Out of the 75 Dramas listed to appear on the sites over the next two months I’ll single out BROKEN FLOWERS with Bill Murray and the epic REDS with Warren Beatty. In the Family category there is BICENTENNIAL MAN and SHREK THE THIRD. BLADE and SIREN are the picks in Horror/Scifi and SO MUCH WATER and EMPTY HOURS are from the Latino category. IN Romance and Suspense we suggest, respectively, HEAD OVER HEELS and SWITCH plus, THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR remake and THE TWO JAKES. Cinemax: The Emmy-nominated action series STRIKE BACK continues its fourth and final season with a new episode debuting FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11at 10:00pm. The high-octane, globe-spanning show follows two members of Section 20, a secret British anti-terrorist organization: Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), a consummate British soldier struggling to overcome tragedy in his life, and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a disgraced U.S. Delta Force operative who has found redemption with S-20. Michelle Lukes, Robson Green and Milauna Jackson also star. The series is a Cinemax Presentation in association with British Sky Broadcasting Limited; a Left Bank Pictures Production; executive producer, Andy Harries; series producers, Michael Casey and Sharon Hughff. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (pictured) follows four vampire roommates trying to exist in a modern world that’s not so welcoming to the undead. Debuting SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 at 10:00pm. The comedy is co-written and co-directed by FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS’ Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, and stars Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford and Rhys Darby.
Next Month’s Tease: For October – this war-time picture’s director is no stranger to war themed movies as he was also involved in Francis in the Navy among others.
I admittedly botched up this month’s clue for our players but amended my error. The character of Mr. Woodroof is the main character in Dallas Buyer’s Club directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. He followed up with Wild debuting on 09.05.
Final Clip: It is a tough call to find the right one, but I’m most eager to watch Jolie-Pitt’s Unbroken, so it is our final clip.