A roundup of news Friday from the Television Critics Association winter meeting, where TV networks and streaming services are presenting details on upcoming programs.
STREEP STEPS IN
Meryl Streep's self-professed addiction to "Big Little Lies" had the bonus of turning the Oscar-winning actress into a star of the HBO drama's second season.
"I loved this show. I was addicted to it. I thought it was an amazing exercise in what we know and don't know about people — about family, about friends, about how we flirted with the mystery of things," Streep said Friday. "I wanted to do it to be in that world. The world they created was amazing."
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In the seven-episode season beginning in June, Streep plays Mary Louise Wright, mother-in-law to Nicole Kidman's Celeste, whose abusive husband, Perry, died at the end of season one.
David E. Kelley, who wrote both seasons, joked that the much-acclaimed Streep had to pass muster to get the role.
"We looked at Meryl's demo reel," Kelley told a TV critics meeting. He noted that the character of Mary Louise was created by Liane Moriarty, whose novel "Big Little Lies" was adapted for the original season.
Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon return as executive producers and stars of the drama set in Monterey, California. Returning co-stars Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley comprise the so-called "Monterey Five" circle, joined together by dark secrets.
"We had such a good time doing it, and the desire to spend more time together had a lot to do with it," said Kidman, explaining the drama's return. "Also, there was an enormous demand from the audience ... It was generated by the audience, and the desire to see these people still in existence."
She noted the rarity of a series with so many female leads — let alone produced by and, this season, directed by a woman, Andrea Arnold — and the cast said the camaraderie they enjoyed last season was repeated.
Asked who proved the best storyteller in their off-camera moments, Streep's co-stars chorused, "Meryl!"
Streep modestly waved off the compliment, then added: "What happens in Monterey, stays in Monterey."
"Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus doesn't know who she'll support for president in 2020, but she is sure about who she won't.
She called Donald Trump a "pretend president" and said "I'm not a fan."
Louis-Dreyfus was asked her political views while promoting the final, seven-episode season of her HBO series, which begins on March 31. "Veep" has won three Emmys for best comedy series and the series star won four best actress awards.
She's on location shooting a movie in Austria and said via satellite that she's constantly approached by people who ask her opinion on Trump. She says she doesn't hesitate to give an answer.
"I have no idea who I'm going to support in 2020 except to say that it's a Democrat," she said.
Makers of the "Free Solo" documentary about Alex Honnold's unaided climb up the rock face of Yosemite's El Capitan say they would have still made the film if Honnold had slipped and fell to his death.
Film editor Bob Eisenhardt said that he believed the film would have been completed to honor Honnold's memory.
"We were going to make it either way," he said at a news conference where The National Geographic network said "Free Solo" will make its television debut March 3. It will be shown without commercials.
The pulse-pounding film about his quest has been nominated for an Academy Award and been a box office smash in a strong year for documentaries, second only to "Won't You Be My Neighbor" in earnings.
Honnold achieved his remarkable feat in just under four hours in June 2017. Without ropes or harnesses, he climbed using his chalk-dried hands and climbing shoes, grabbing onto cracks and crevasses. The danger is obvious in the sweeping views.