Several Princeton alumni are contributing to shows that debuted in the summer TV and streaming season. Following is a sampling:
The Last Tycoon
Matt Bomer, Kelsey Grammer, and Lily Collins star in this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald 1917’s last novel, set in 1930s Hollywood. A. Scott Berg ’71 served as a consulting producer for the series, which premiered in late July. Berg is well acquainted with both Fitzgerald and Hollywood. He wrote his senior thesis about Fitzgerald’s editor, Maxwell Perkins; it was the basis for his 1978 book, Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, which won the National Book Award. Berg later wrote biographies of actress Katharine Hepburn and studio mogul Samuel Goldwyn.
Variety critic Maureen Ryan wrote that The Last Tycoon “excels at depicting one of the most enticing addictions of all — the helpless devotion storytellers have to their craft.” Fitzgerald could relate.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ellie Kemper ’02, back for a third season in the title role of this irreverent comedy from the creators of 30 Rock, earned her first Emmy nomination for lead actress in a comedy last month. At the start of the series, Kimmy was rescued from a doomsday cult after spending 15 years in an underground bunker. She fell in love with New York City while visiting to appear on the Today Show and decided to stay, finding a roommate, a job, and an eclectic mix of friends in the city.
The latest season, released in May, features Kimmy’s adventures as a new college student, among other things. Erik Adams of the A.V. Club wrote that the show’s “sense of humor is sharper than ever,” and that like Kemper’s character, it seems to be growing up.
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later
Wet Hot American Summer has an expansive cast — both in the 2001 cult-classic film and the eight-part “First Day of Camp” series from 2015. For the new “Ten Years Later” series, released earlier this month, creators added a new face to the mix: Mark Feuerstein ’93, who plays the aptly-named Mark. Though he wasn’t at camp for the film or the earlier series, the characters act as if he was.
According to Vanity Fair, Feuerstein and Wet Hot co-creator Michael Showalter (son of Princeton professor emerita Elaine Showalter) first met when they were acting in a Princeton-area summer production of the play Run for Your Wife when the two actors were both in college. They stayed in touch over the years, and when Showalter and David Wain began writing a “Mark Feuerstein character” into the new series, they knew exactly who to call.
David E. Kelley ’79, producer of The Practice, Big Little Lies, and several other influential shows, takes on an ambitious project in this adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The series follows a retired detective (Brendan Gleeson) chasing leads on a killer who escaped after plowing his car into a crowd of people (Harry Treadway). With King’s words as a guide, Kelley said he “felt like a world-class architect had handed me the blueprints and I was the contractor and it was my job to construct something that lived up to that blueprint.”
Todd VanDer Werff of Vox gave high marks to Kelley’s writing following the debut episode last week. Mr. Mercedes “brims with a strong sense of place and a collection of quickly drawn but nicely detailed characters, all played by strong actors,” he wrote. “In other words, it’s got all the makings of a great small-town series.”