Trailer for Dreamworks’ ‘Dragons: The Nine Realms’ season three released

Ahead of the third season’s August debut on Hulu and NBC’s Peacock streaming service, the How to Train Your Dragon-inspired Dreamworks animated series Dragons: The Nine Realms has released a brand-new trailer. The show that made legendary dragons known to the general public is back with a brand-new discovery: the Fire Realm.

The dragon riders are returning to the Hidden World in seven brand-new episodes not long after the release of Dragons: The Nine Realms season two, which introduced us to the Crystal Realm, in May. This time, the riders enter a brand-new world called the Fire Realm, where they find dragons that have never been seen before. The dragon riders must learn to safely navigate the dangerous Fire Realm and keep Buzzsaw off of the elusive Lightning Bird’s trail because they are still tasked with keeping the ancient Hidden World’s secret hidden from humans. The Dragon club appears to be facing off against the most potent dragon to date in the trailer, as well as the threat of having their secrets exposed.

The Nine Realms, a How to Train Your Dragon franchise spinoff from showrunner and executive producer John Tellegen, explores an ancient universe hidden from their modern world and is set 1300 years after the first movie. The third and final instalment of the franchise, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, saw Viking Hiccup, the movie’s protagonist, discover a magical world where dragons rule supremely, untouched by humans who seek to either harness or destroy them.

The Dragon Club of The Nine Realms uncovered the mysteries of The Caldera, the gateway to the Hidden World, in the first season, and in season two the riders encountered all-new dragons in the crystal realm, including Bubblehorn, Razorwhip, and Skrill. As the kids trek a boiling magma landscape to protect the Lightning Bird in season three, the stakes are higher, just like the temperature is going up.

The voice cast of season three includes Jeremy Shada as Tom Kullersen, Ashley Liao as Jun Wong, Marcus Scribner as D’Angelo Baker, Aimee Garcia as Alexandra Gonzalez, Julia Stiles as Tom’s mother Olivia, Lauren Tom as May Wong, Keston John as Philip Baker, Justina Machado as Carla Gonzalez and D’arcy Carden as Linda.

Dragons: The Nine Realms third season debuts on Hulu and Peacock on 18 August.

DreamWorks Animation’s holiday musical ‘Trolls Holiday in Harmony’ to air in November on NBC

Trolls Holiday in Harmony, a half-hour animated musical special from the DreamWorks Animation franchise, is set to premiere on Friday, 26 November (9 pm ET/PT), on NBC.

As the holidays near, Queen Poppy plans the first annual Trolls Kingdom Secret Holiday Gift Swap. Things take an unexpected turn, however, when she and Branch draw each other’s name. Meanwhile, Tiny Diamond comes down with a bad case of writers’ block trying to think of a special holiday rap for his dad.

Trolls Holiday in Harmony includes four original songs and features the voice talent of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Kenan Thompson, Rachel Bloom, Ron Funches, Kunal Nayyar, Anderson Paak, Anthony Ramos, Ester Dean, Walt Dohrn, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Karan Soni.

The special is written and directed by Sean Charmatz and Tim Heitz with Gina Shay and Walt Dohrn serving as the executive producers.

Following its premiere on NBC, Trolls Holiday in Harmony, will be available to own on digital and DVD on 30 November, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. RCA Records will release a digital soundtrack for the special on 26 November to coincide with the special airing on NBC.

The franchise includes feature films 2016’s Trolls and 2020’s Trolls World Tour starring Kendrick and Timberlake.

NBC’s Tracey Pakosta joins Netflix as head of Comedy

Tracey Pakosta

Netflix has roped in NBC co-head of scripted Tracey Pakosta as its new head of comedy. Pakosta has left the broadcast network and will reunite with her former Universal TV boss Bela Bajaria at Netflix where she will oversee all comedy originals.

In her new role, Pakosta will look after the development and current programming for Netflix’s slate of scripted comedy, including adult animation, live-action family comedies, stand-up and comedy formats team. Netflix head of unscripted Brandon Reigg previously oversaw stand-up for the streaming service. 

“Tracey is a seasoned and talented creative executive with a true passion for comedy, a sharp wit and a great sensibility for what makes audiences laugh. She and I have known each other for many years and I’m thrilled to have her join our original series team at Netflix as head of comedy,” Netflix Global TV VP Bajaria commented on the appointment. 

Bela Bajaria

Pakosta arrived at the streamer after Bajaria restructured Netflix’s executive ranks in October, less than two months after she joined. Pakosta will take over from Andy Weil, who was serving in the role on an interim basis. Weil, who filled the brief void created by the departure of longtime comedy head Jane Wiseman (one of the four high-ranking women who departed the streamer in the past two months), will now report to Pakosta. Wiseman, during her six years stint with the streamer, oversaw titles like Grace and Frankie, Ozark, Dead to Me and Netflix’s adult animation slate.

“I’ve spent many hours watching as a fan, and now I am incredibly excited to join [Bela Bajaria] and the Netflix original series team. Comedy is my favourite playground, and I can’t wait to partner with all of the like-minded creators to make people laugh — we really need it!” Pakosta stated.

Prior to Netflix, Pakosta, the NBC comedy head was promoted in early 2018 alongside drama topper Lisa Katz to co-presidents of scripted programming for the broadcast network, replacing Jennifer Salke. In her role, Pakosta was instrumental in reviving Brooklyn Nine-Nine after Fox’s shocking cancellation a few years ago. 

Pakosta also helped develop the Andy Samberg vehicle during her tenure with studio Universal Television. She moved from UTV to NBC in 2015. 

Pakosta had been with the NBCUniversal family since 2011 and during her time with Universal TV she helped develop Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project and Parks and Recreation. Before joining the studio, Pakosta was a partner at Green Mountain West, Craig Ferguson’s CBS Television Studios-based production company. She also spent more than a decade at the former WB Network, serving as exec comedy VP.

With her new role, Pakosta will now reunite with Bajaria and Weil. Pakosta served as senior VP of comedy development at the studio, reporting to Bajaria when she was president of UTV. Weil was comedy development VP, reporting to Pakosta, from late 2011 to 2015. Bajaria was famously pushed out at UTV in 2016 and joined Netflix months later.

Bajaria, in order to streamline Netflix’s exec ranks, restructured her team at the streamer in October. Bajaria’s promotion (over that of longtime head of originals Cindy Holland) was the result of a desire on recently elevated co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ part to implement a clear hierarchy at the streamer as well as increase its focus on global expansion. As part of the changes, Bajaria is looking for an exec to head the U.S. series.

‘The Blacklist’ season 7 finale gets animated

With TV live-action productions affected by the covid-19 pamdemic, NBC’s The Blacklist producers decided to wrap up the seventh season with a twist, giving the incomplete live-action a graphic novel-style animation. The creativity has resulted in a unique hybrid episode, with the cast recording voiceover dialogue from home and editors and animators combining the two formats remotely to create the finished episode.

According to executive producer John Eisendrath, the comic book feel matches the series’ themes and tone: “Brutal antihero. Outsized villains. And the animated scenes take full advantage of that.”

Here’s NBC’s official logline for the episode: “The Task Force investigates an accountant who works for lucrative criminals in order to find the violent and thuggish brothers hired for his protection. Liz must make a momentous decision.”

Other shows also are trying creative approaches to produce new episodes in the stay-at-home. CBS legal drama All Rise filmed its first-season finale remotely, with actors doing their own makeup, set design and lighting from home, while NBC’s Parks and Recreation returned for a fundraising reunion special that featured its characters coping with the pandemic via Zoom.

The Blacklist season seven finale airs on 15 May. The show has already been renewed for season eight.


Crime-thriller ‘The Blacklist’ uses animation to finish the half-filmed season finale

The makers of NBC crime thriller The Blacklist, produced by Sony Pictures TV and Universal Television decided to go back to animation in the midst of live-action filming halt due to coronavirus. The season 7’s 19th episode, titled The Kazanjian Brothers, was midway into filming in New York when TV production across the industry was halted due to Covid-19.

The idea for the 15 May episode emerged from a brainstorming session with executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath in mid-March, after their New York-based series halted filming along with other movie and TV projects as part of widespread efforts to contain the virus.

Recently renewed for season eight, the show will launch into the next chapter for intelligence officer turned criminal turned FBI asset Raymond Red Reddington (James Spader) with a partially animated episode featuring a graphic novel aesthetic. For the animated sequences, equipment had to be shipped to the actors’ houses. The animation was created by Proof (Aladdin [2019], Spider-Man: Far From Home), primarily in Atlanta and London.

The Blacklist is shot in New York and then edited and put through post-production in Los Angeles, overseen by Eisendrath (L.A.) and Bokenkamp (back home in Nebraska).

While an ideal hybrid episode would have been done from scratch and animated scenes determined before taping, the producers hope the audience is understanding.

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