How many times have you being lying in bed, barricaded from sleep by the monumental worry that Keanu Reeves and director Roland Emmerich were never going to work on a TV show together? You’ll be able to rest easy tonight, dear readers, for these two Hollywood mainstays are teaming up for the futuristic sci-fi series New Angeles, which doesn’t seem to involve oracles, spoons, alien invasions or Stargates.
This is the story of a young man who is bored with everyday life, so he escapes into New Angeles, an exciting and immersive virtual world where he’s able to adopt a new identity and lead a more enjoyable life. In this digital world, he’s allowed to fulfill his self-perceived destiny, soon realizing his actions there unveil clues to real-world mysteries that could result in dire consequences for him and his family. It all sounds vaguely like the story behind Ernest Cline’s excellent novel Ready Player One, which is already due for a feature adaptation, but I have no doubts that this new series will be far less nuanced in terms of video game inspirations.
The New Angeles pilot will be directed by Emmerich himself, from a script written by Gregg Hurwitz, an accomplished crime novelist whose latest book, Don’t Look Back, has received positive reviews following its publication last month. Hurwitz is also a comic book writer, having worked on Batman: The Dark Knight and several Marvel titles, and made his debut in the TV world as a writer/producer on ABC’s V reboot a few years ago.
New Angeles was initially conceived by Reeves and his Company Films partner Stephen Hamel, who brought the project to Emmerich’s production company Centropolis, and David Ellender’s new startup Slingshot Global Media signed on to produce and distribute. Reeves and Slingshot are already working together on the assassin drama Rain, based on Barry Eisler’s bestselling novel series. There are no signs in the press release that Reeves will be starring in New Angeles, though Ellender champions the actor’s action work “behind and in front of the camera,” so there’s a possibility.
Emmerich’s last trip to theaters was for last year’s action extravaganza White House Down, which gave us the ridiculous image seen above. He’s currently filming the gay liberation drama Stonewall, which centers on the Stonewall Riots of 1969, though he’s got tons of Independence Day and Stargate sequels coming, just in case you thought the guy boarded up his wheelhouse.
Reeves, meanwhile, is hopefully leaving CGI-heavy Japanese legends behind by heading into straight-up thrillers with David Leitch and Chad Stahelski’s John Wick and Eli Roth’s Knock Knock. He’s currently filming the courtroom thriller The Whole Truth for Courtney Hunt, and is set to star in Gee Malik Linton’s drama Daughter of God at some point.
Will this be the sci-fi tag team that our lives have been missing for 4 billion years? Or will it only bring up frazzled memories of Johnny Mnemonic?