It’s old news that scripted TV has turned around in the past few decades, going from the birthplace of formulaic, sappy, unambitious writing to the home of some of the best storytelling available.
I remember when the presses stopped because movie-identified actresses Holly Hunter and Glenn Close decided to take on TV roles. But at this point, for many viewers, a screen is just a screen — not big or small. And for actors, good writing is just good writing, no matter where it is. The wall between working in the movies and working on TV has come down.
I’m thinking of this because two actors considered by many to be among the best in the movies — three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep and two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro — are coming to TV without much ado. So many have done it already it’s no biggie anymore: Matthew McConaughey on “True Detective,” Kevin Spacey on “House of Cards,” Jeremy Irons on “The Borgias,” Dustin Hoffman on “Luck,” Jane Fonda on “The Newsroom” and “Grace and Frankie,” Anthony Hopkins on “Westworld,” Clive Owen on “The Knick” — the list goes on.
■ De Niro will star with another Oscar winner, Julianne Moore, in an Amazon series to be written and directed by David O. Russell, the guy behind “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.” The project is still untitled.
■ Streep will star in a limited series produced by J.J. Abrams based on “The Nix,” a new novel by Nathan Hill. No network has been announced yet.
■Daniel Craig, best know for his big-budget James Bond movies, is coming to Showtime in “Purity.” The 20-episode adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s novel will be written by Todd Field (“Little Children”).
■ Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, another pair of Oscar winners, are coming to HBO in a limited series created by David E. Kelley and based on a novel by Liane Moriarty. “Big Little Lies” is due next year.
■Jude Law and Oscar winner Diane Keaton will star in “The Young Pope,” due on HBO in January. The story follows Pius XIII, the first American pope. Law plays the pope, Keaton is Sister Mary, a nun from the United States living in Vatican City.
■ Netflix is pairing Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup in a psychological thriller due next year called “Gypsy.” She’s a therapist who gets too involved in her patients’ lives; he’s her husband.
■ “Feud,” the upcoming FX Ryan Murphy series built around one famous feud per season, will first look at the battle between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis on the set of “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Two Oscar winners play the central pair: Jessica Lange (who has been on “American Horror Story”) as Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Davis. Added treat: Judy Davis as Hedda Hopper.
■ Assorted others: Pierce Brosnan in AMC’s 2017 series “The Son,” Tom Hardy in FX’s 2017 limited series “Taboo,” Antonio Banderas in Starz’s “Havana Quartet,” and two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank in Starz’s “The One Percent,” from “Birdman” director Alejandro González Iñárritu.