HBO Max Orders Pilots for 'Practical Magic' Prequel and New Lena Dunham Series
By Stacy Lambe
WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, HBO Max, is ramping up its original content with orders for three new pilots -- one of which is a Practical Magic prequel -- from executive producers John Wells (ER, Shameless), Lena Dunham (Girls) and Melissa Rosenberg (Marvel’s Jessica Jones).
Currently titled Rules of Magic, the upcoming Practical Magic prequel series is based on the two Alice Hoffman novels of the same name. The period family drama set in 1960s New York City will follow three troubled siblings -- Franny, Jet and Vincent Owens -- as they wrestle with “abnormalities” that have kept them isolated. According to HBO Max, their journey towards self-discovery and self-acceptance will see them contending “with grief, war, bigotry and dark magic, not to mention a centuries-old curse designed to keep them away from love.”
Fans of the 1998 film will remember that Franny and Jet, played by Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest, respectively, grew up to be the revered aunts who help a new generation of the Owens family embrace their inner witchery.
The one-hour drama will consist of 10 episodes written and executive produced by Rosenberg and Dana Baratta (Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Good Behavior).
Meanwhile, Dunham will executive produce an original series created by 17-year-old Zelda Barnz -- daughter of Daniel and Ben Barnz, the duo behind Jennifer Aniston’s Cake -- called Generation. The half-hour dramedy will follow a group of high school students from a conservative community exploring modern sexuality. Daniel Barnz will serve as director and co-writer alongside Zelda.
This marks Dunham’s latest series beyond the HBO hit Girls, which came to an end after six seasons in 2017. Last year, she executive produced a remake of Camping starring Jennifer Garner for HBO. She’s also set to direct the first episode of the premium cable channel’s upcoming original finance drama, Industry, from Mickey Down and Konrad Kay.
The third new pilot, Red Bird Lane, is from Wells, the longtime TV producer behind hits like ER, The West Wing and Shameless. The hour-long psychological horror series is about eight strangers who arrive at the same isolated house and quickly realize something terrifying awaits them. Berlin Station and Southland writer Sara Gran will write and executive produce the series.
The pilot order announcement follows a string of recent originals coming to HBO Max, including a revival of Gossip Girl retooled for a modern generation, Tokyo Vice starring Ansel Elgort, The Flight Attendant starring Kaley Cuoco in her first major followup to The Big Bang Theory, and a female-focused spin-off of Dune.
In addition to the series, HBO Max recently landed director Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming film, Let Them All Talk, starring Wiest, Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Gemma Chan and Lucas Hedges. In the film, Streep plays an author who goes on a journey to heal old wounds and have some fun with her gal pals.