Big names look to Netflix

Hitmakers such as (from far left) Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay and David Letterman have joined streaming giant Netflix.
Hitmakers such as Shonda Rhimes (above), Ava Duvernay and David Letterman have joined streaming giant Netflix.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, REUTERS
Hitmakers such as (from far left) Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay and David Letterman have joined streaming giant Netflix.
Hitmakers such as Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay (above) and David Letterman have joined streaming giant Netflix.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, REUTERS
Hitmakers such as (from far left) Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay and David Letterman have joined streaming giant Netflix.
Hitmakers such as Shonda Rhimes, Ava Duvernay and David Letterman (above) have joined streaming giant Netflix.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, REUTERS

Streaming giant is drawing directors and showrunners interested in getting financed with few strings attached

WASHINGTON• With the news this week that prolific television hitmaker Shonda Rhimes is leaving ABC for Netflix, the streaming giant added yet another big name to its increasingly deep bench.

Grey's Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder and the final season of Scandal will still air on ABC, but much of Rhimes' work going forward will be released in bulk, in perfectly bingeable doses.

Since it began investing eye-popping amounts of cash in original programming, Netflix has quickly won over showrunners and film-makers interested in getting financed with few strings attached.

So Rhimes is in very good company.

Here is a look at some of the other bigwigs who have made the leap.

MARTIN SCORSESE

After Paramount baulked at the US$100-million (S$137-million) price tag of Scorsese's gangster film The Irishman, Netflix stepped in to finance the movie, which stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci.

Even with that budget, it is hard to imagine that a project with so much talent to spare could be a risky bet for a Hollywood studio and yet it is.

The drama is scheduled to be released in 2019.

THE COEN BROTHERS

The Oscar-winning duo can do blockbusters (True Grit, 2010) and cult hits (The Big Lebowski, 1998), but brothers Joel and Ethan have never written and directed for the small screen.

That changes with The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs, a six-episode miniseries set in the old west that is slated for next year.

AVA DUVERNAY

Before she filmed the forthcoming adaptation of the classic sci-fi fantasy novel A Wrinkle In Time, one of Hollywood's buzziest directors teamed up with Netflix for last year's Oscar-nominated documentary 13th.

She will once again collaborate with the company, this time on a five-episode series about the innocent teens who were convicted in the infamous Central Park jogger case.

The series airs in 2019.

DAVID FINCHER

The director behind Se7en (1995), Zodiac (2007), Gone Girl (2014) and the pilot of Netflix's House Of Cards will return to one of his preferred themes - murder - for the series Mindhunter, about FBI agents who interview convicted serial killers to crack ongoing cases.

It is a little reminiscent of Silence Of The Lambs (1991), though the fact that Netflix has already renewed the series for a second season can only be a good sign.

The show debuts on Oct 13.

DAVID LETTERMAN

He is refusing to get rid of his crazy beard, but at least the former late-night favourite has agreed to return to television.

Each episode of the new series will have Letterman doing what he does best - grilling his interviewees - though his special guests/victims have not yet been identified.

The six episodes air next year.

SPIKE LEE

After working with Amazon on his 2015 film Chi-Raq, Lee is once again headed to a streaming outlet, though this time he will be working on a series.

She's Gotta Have It is an update of Lee's first feature film in 1986, about a woman juggling three men. The 10 30-minute episodes stream on Nov 23.

CHUCK LORRE

The man behind the mega-hit shows The Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men, among many other popular series, has two more shows on deck at Netflix.

Disjointed, which streams on Aug 25, stars Kathy Bates as a pothead who has turned her favourite pastime into a business.

The just-announced second series, The Kominsky Method, co-stars Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin as a Hollywood acting coach and his cranky best friend.

NOAH BAUMBACH

Netflix scooped up the rights to The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Selected) in April, shortly before the film got a warm reception at its Cannes Film Festival premiere.

The movie happens to star another Netflix fixture, Adam Sandler, though in a much less inane role than you have seen him play lately.

The movie follows a dysfunctional family and co-stars Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Ben Stiller.

MATT GROENING

Having created The Simpsons - the longest-running American prime- time series ever - Groening must have seemed like a sure bet for Netflix, which is already dipping a toe into the waters of adult animated series with Bojack Horseman and F Is For Family.

Groening's Disenchantment is a fantasy set in a mediaeval kingdom where an idiosyncratic princess (Abbi Jacobson) gets up to high jinks with her buddies (voiced by Nat Faxon and Eric Andre).

The first 10-episode season airs next year.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Big names look to Netflix'. Print Edition | Subscribe