Angsty drama Next premieres on Fox Oct. 6. The network calls it “a propulsive, fact-based thriller about the emergence of a deadly, rogue artificial intelligence that combines pulse-pounding action with a layered examination of how technology is invading our lives and transforming us in ways we don’t yet understand.”
John Slattery, formerly of Mad Men, plays a Silicon Valley iconoclast who realizes his AI creation might wreak global catastrophe.
The idea came from creator Manny Coto’s young son, who had a sleepless night and told Dad that Alexa had been speaking with him overnight. “It had a ghost story feel to it,” he said.
Slattery’s Paul teams up with a cybercrime agent to fight the AI villain.
The show was set to premiere earlier this year, until COVID arrived. Coto said Next did not change much as it sat on the sidelines. “It was a nice leisurely process to get everything right,” he said.
Next is only more timely here in late 2020. Coto noted “how frighteningly prophetic we were about 2020,” including a bit about how sketchy information found on the Internet can induce a bit of panic. “Some of the stuff is eerily, eerily familiar.”
Eli Roth’s History of Horror starts season two on AMC, and streaming service Shudder, Oct. 10. Horror director Roth hosts this show about fright films and how they are made. Episodes focus on witches, “Chilling Children,” haunted houses, monsters, body horror (The Elephant Man is dissected) and Roth’s “Nine Nightmares.”
Sharing their thoughts on horror are Quentin Tarantino, Mary Harron, Ari Aster, Jordan Peele and Bill Hader. “A very enthusiastic film buff,” said showrunner/exec producer Kurt Sayenga of SNL alumnus Hader.
Megan Fox shares her views on Carrie. “Very thoughtful comments,” Sayenga said.
There may not be a horror film that Roth isn’t familiar with. “He brings great depth of knowledge and tremendous enthusiasm to the material,” Sayenga said. “He has seen everything. If there is a horror film somewhere in the world, he has seen it or is working his way through it.”
As comedy directors are often, paradoxically, dour individuals, Sayenga said horror directors are just about “the nicest people,” and bring abundant enthusiasm to their sets.
With Halloween inside of a month, Watchman asked Sayenga for a recommendation or two. He suggested 1996 Japanese film Audition, which he described as half rom-com and half “horrific bloodbath.”
“You have to have a pretty strong stomach for it,” he added. “There’s a lot of piano wire.”
He also raved about The Wicker Man from 1973. “It’s not particularly gory,” he said. “But it’s creepy as hell.”
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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