Home Entertainment Series Mania Lineup: Annette Bening-Starrer ‘Apples Never Fall,’ MGM+’s ‘Hotel Cocaine’ and...

Series Mania Lineup: Annette Bening-Starrer ‘Apples Never Fall,’ MGM+’s ‘Hotel Cocaine’ and a Leonard Cohen Love Story 

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Lille-based Series Mania, Europe’s biggest TV festival and forum, has revealed its impressive 2024 main competition, which includes three streamer bows  – from Peacock, and MGM+ and Disney+/HBO Europe world premieres.

The starry lineup features, for example, the much-anticipated new Liane Moriarty adaptation “Apples Never Fall” with Annette Bening as the matriarch who suddenly disappears, leaving her picture-perfect family in disarray. Currently celebrating Oscar nomination for “Nyad,” Bening is joined in the series be by Sam Neill and Alison Brie. 

Alex Wolff, recently spotted in another Oscar hopeful “Oppenheimer,” will put on his deepest voice for “So Long, Marianne” about the tumultuous relationship between Leonard Cohen and Norwegian writer Marianne Ihlen, from Norway’s NRK.

With Wolff currently set to attend, Zal Batmanglij – behind Netflix’s “The OA” – “The Artist’s” Bérénice Bejo, “Gossip Girl” alumni Kelly Rutherford, novelist Douglas Kennedy and France’s Laurent Lafitte will also deliver masterclasses. 

Among other world premieres, “In the Shadows” will dive into the dirty world of politics, while “Rematch” brings back the epic fight that stopped the entire world back in the 1990s: Garry Kasparov’s series of chess matches with supercomputer Deep Blue. 

Rematch
Courtesy of Series Mania

In “Hotel Cocaine,” white powder will be just about everywhere in the infamous Miami location, hotspot for Cuban exiles, criminals and CIA operatives.

Daniel Lawrence Taylor, off “Timewasters,” will bring his unique sense of humor – and social satire – to “Boarders.” “House of Gods” has another powerful family which will need to reevaluate its position, while Germany will finally try to solve one of its murkiest murder cases in “Herrhausen – The Banker & The Bomb.”

Laurence Herszberg, general director of Series Mania, and president Anne Bouverot admitted the festival has been affected by ongoing international crises.

“The Russian-Ukrainian war and Israel-Hamas war have drastically reduced the number of applicants from these territories. In Israel, many ongoing projects were shut down, making it impossible for Series Mania to include any Israeli production this year, for the first time ever,” they said, also mentioning current turbulence in South America and Hollywood strike, which resulted in fewer U.S. premieres.

“In this regard, we are delighted to welcome entries from newcomer nations who rose to the occasion, and surprised us with content whose quality matches the creativity of the countries temporarily absent this year.”

Herszberg and artistic director Frédéric Lavigne also opened up about 2024 trends, underlining that this year, Series Mania decided to include documentary series. That being said, escapism is still high on the list. 

“Should we understand this trend as despondency regarding the tensions of our current world?,” they wondered.

As proven by the main competition, family dramas reign supreme – also including  “Ourika,” “After The Party” and “Bouchon.” “Can the global success of ‘Succession’ explain why we see so many this year? Inheritance is a double-edged sword: Siblings often try to jettison it to chart their own course. However, when confronted with unexpected difficulties, they close ranks,” they observed. 

Apart from tackling tricky dynamics of sex and desire in the likes of “All and Eva,” “30 Days of Lust” or “So Long, Marianne,” TV writers have also become “obsessed” with AI and mysticism. Brought by the creators of “Game of Thrones,” “The Three-Body Problem” shows an AI that gives access to alternative spacetimes, while “La Mesías” takes on religious brainwashing of a woman and her children by her deeply devout new partner.

Series Mania 2024 Main Competition Lineup

“Apples Never Fall”

Australia, U.S. (Peacock)

“All happy families are alike,” claimed Tolstoy, but the seemingly perfect Delaney family has to reassess their own history when their mother, Joy (Oscar nominee Annette Bening), suddenly disappears. Based on a popular novel by Liane Moriarty, behind “Big Little Lies” and “Nine Perfect Strangers.” Alison Brie, Sam Neill and Jake Lacy also star. 

“Boarders”

International Premiere

U.K. (BBC Three)

Daniel Lawrence Taylor, nominated for BAFTA for “Timewasters,” delivers a new six-part comedy drama which follows five underprivileged black students from London. As they win scholarships to an elite boarding school, they have to step into a whole new universe. Developed by Studio Lambert in association with All3Media International for BBC Three. 

“In the Shadows”

World Premiere

France (France 2)

Melvil Poupaud, fresh off Woody Allen’s “Coup de chance,” Swann Arlaud, Karin Viard and Evelyne Brochu will gather in Lille in person to present this politically charged show created by Pierre Schoeller. In the story, César Casalonga (Arlaud) wins the French presidential election primary for his party. But that victory was rigged. Produced by Elzévir Films and Deuxieme Ligne Films. 

“Herrhausen – The Banker & The Bomb”

International Premiere

Germany (ARD)

Taking on the unsolved and much-discussed murder of the former head of Deutsche Bank in 1989, during the fall of the Berlin Wall – played by Oliver Masucci, known for “Dark” – this new limited series is produced by Sperl and “Babylon Berlin’s” X-Filme Creative Pool, with Fremantle handling sales. Pia Strietmann directs. 

“Hotel Cocaine”

World Premiere

USA (MGM+)

Showrunner Chris Brancato – known for “Narcos” and Forest Whitaker starrer “Godfather of Harlem” – will turn his attention to one Roman Compte: Cuban exile, CIA operative and general manager of the Hotel Mutiny, known as the epicenter of the late 70s and early 80s cocaine scene in Miami. “The Shield” actor Michael Chiklis is set to appear, while Danny Pino plays Compte. 

“House of Gods”

International Premiere

Australia (ABC)

The life of an influential Iraqi family in Australia is changed when its patriarch (played by Kamel El Basha, awarded in Venice for “The Insult”) is chosen as the head cleric of a local mosque. Set in Western Sydney and produced by Matchbox Pictures, it’s created by “Shayda’s” Osamah Sami, who also stars, and Shahin Shafaei. 

House of Gods
Courtesy of 2023 Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd

“Rematch”

World Premiere

France, Hungary (Arte, Disney+, HBO Europe)

Oscar nominee Yan England – who also directs – co-creates the show alongside Bruno Nahon, delivering a psychological thriller set during the six-game chess matches between champion Garry Kasparov and IBM’s supercomputer Deep Blue in 1997. Christian Cooke is cast as Kasparov, while Trine Dyrholm plays his wife Klara. 

“So Long, Marianne”

World Premiere

Norway, Canada, Greece (NRK, Crave)

Showrunner Øystein Karlsen, also behind “Dag,” will now focus on a legendary, if somehow tragic couple: Leonard Cohen and Norwegian writer Marianne Ihlen, the subject of his 1967 song. Featuring Thea Sofie Loch Næss and “Hereditary” star Alex Wolff as Cohen, it also stars Anna Torv and Peter Stormare.