HBO sets release date for pandemic comedy Coastal Elites starring Bette Midler, Issa Rae
Things are about to get real meta on TV.
Audiences will have the chance to watch a comedy about the pandemic they're currently living through because HBO's Coastal Elites is coming out Sept. 12, the network announced during the CTAM Press Tour on Tuesday.
The satire, which features a stacked cast including Bette Midler and Issa Rae, will spotlight five distinct points-of-view across the United States. When coronavirus hits and a shutdown ensues, the characters react with frustration, hilarity, and introspection.
Miriam Nessler (Midler) is a long-time teacher in the New York City public school system who finds herself in police custody. Sharynn Tarrows (Kaitlyn Dever) is a young nurse from Wyoming who flies to New York to volunteer at a hospital at the height of the area’s COVID-19 crisis. Mark Hesterman (Dan Levy) is a young actor in West Hollywood videoconferencing with his therapist at a moment of career and personal stress. Clarissa Montgomery (Sarah Paulson) is a YouTuber filming episode 28 of her Mindful Meditations, hoping to soothe and inspire her followers. Callie Josephson (Issa Rae) is a well-connected philanthropist whose prep school network leads her to the highest levels of government.
Coastal Elites comes from playwright and screenwriter Paul Rudnick and is directed by Jay Roach.
Also in the pipeline from HBO and Rae is Seen & Heard, a two-part documentary exploring the history of Black television through the eyes of trailblazers behind groundbreaking series from the past and present. HBO Documentary Films is currently in production on the project, with Rae serving as executive producer.
"Black people have such a rich, but often unacknowledged history in Hollywood," Rae said in a statement. "We have defined American culture and influenced generations time and time again across the globe. I'm honored to pair with Ark Media to center and celebrate the achievements of those who paved a way for so many of us to tell our stories on television."
HBO Documentary Films is also in production on The Lady and the Dale, a doc series from Mark and Jay Duplass about an audacious 1970s auto scam centered around a mysterious entrepreneur. The series, directed by Nick Cammilleri and Zackary Drucker, traces the story of Elizabeth Carmichael, who rose to prominence when she released a fuel-efficient three-wheeled vehicle during the 1970s gas crisis. As she wins over major carmakers and investors, a web of mystery unfolds regarding the car’s technology and Carmichael’s surprising past. A portrait of an extraordinary entrepreneur’s rise and eventual fall, the series explores a one-of-a-kind story of fraud, family, and identity. The series is expected to air in 2021.
HBO has also announced multiple upcoming documentaries for the second half of 2020, including The Vow (Aug. 23), a doc series from Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, which will take a deep dive into the self-improvement organization NXIVM. The company has come under fire for various charges including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy.
Another buzzy upcoming title is Siempre, Luis, a portrait of Luis A. Miranda Jr. following his mission to bring his son Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton to his home island of Puerto Rico. Additionally, the documentary Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, about a black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by a group of young white men, will premiere Aug. 12.
Beginning in November, HBO will feature a weekly anthology of crime-focused doc films including Crazy, Not Insane, which profiles a forensic psychiatrist who's spent her life investigating the interior lives of violent people like Ted Bundy; Baby God, which examines the dark legacy of a fertility specialist who used his own sperm to impregnate women; The Mystery of DB Cooper, which spotlights four people believed to be the infamous plane hijacker; Alabama Snake, about a Pentecostal minister who was accused of attempting to murder his wife with a rattlesnake; and The Art of Political Murder, executive produced by George Clooney, which tells the story of the 1998 murder of Guatemalan human rights activist Bishop Juan Gerardi.
Other docs coming to HBO this fall include the continuation of the bi-weekly news series Axios; Transhood, which chronicles four young people growing up transgender in Kansas City, Mo.; and The Soul of America, a documentary that illuminates America's current political challenges by exploring past events like the women's suffrage movement and the incarceration of Japanese Americans.