HBO Max Expands Originals With Ridley Scott Sci-Fi Series, Selena Gomez Cooking Show

Some of the platform's series, delayed by Covid-19, have tentative fall premieres

Still of Selena Gomez from Selena + Chef
Selena + Chef, an unscripted cooking show starring Selena Gomez, was filmed during the pandemic lockdown. HBO Max

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NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock has an original science fiction series, Brave New World. Netflix is prepping Away, an upcoming sci-fi drama following a group of astronauts on a journey to Mars. Now, HBO Max has announced the premiere date of its own ambitious sci-fi show.

Raised by Wolves, a thriller from director Ridley Scott, will premiere on the service Sept. 3, the new streamer said at today’s CTAM virtual press tour, the partial replacement of the canceled annual Television Critics Association’s summer tour.

It’s one of four original series that will arrive in HBO Max in August and September, as some of the platform’s other anticipated originals, including the Kaley Cuoco-led thriller The Flight Attendant, have faced production delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related lockdown orders.

Coming to HBO Max this month is Selena + Chef, an unscripted cooking show starring singer and actress Selena Gomez that was remotely filmed and produced during the pandemic lockdown earlier this year. The 10-episode series, which will premiere Aug. 13 on the streamer, features Gomez learning to cook from a slate of world-renowned chefs.

“Of course there are more important things going on in the world, but this was an opportunity to make things that would make people smile and make people laugh,” Gomez said on a virtual panel today.

Coming to the streamer on Thursday is CNN documentary On The Trail: Inside the 2020 Primaries, which follows CNN journalists, including senior national correspondent Kyung Lah and video producer Jasmine Wright, as they cover the primary elections. Filming for the documentary wrapped around the middle of March, said executive producer and director Toby Oppenheimer, but post-production had to happen amid stay-at-home orders.

The journalists filmed straight-to-camera diaries remotely to help finish up the project, something that Oppenheimer said was a “happy accident” for the final film.

In September, two more originals will arrive on Max, including Raised By Wolves, starring Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim as two androids tasked with raising human children on another planet following the earth’s destruction. The first three episodes of the series will debut on Sept. 3, and subsequent episodes will be released weekly on the new service.

In a virtual panel, executive producer David Zucker said he was “looking for a flagship science fiction program” for HBO Max, and writer and creator Aaron Guzikowski already had Scott’s interest. Streamers’ larger investment in science fiction storytelling, Zucker and Guzikowski said, has expanded the medium by allowing for more ambitious stories with bigger budgets and longer running times.

“It’s an extraordinary time, there’s no question,” Zucker said. “Not only you can bring the artists, both domestic and international, and that any vision is achievable in television, but as we experienced with [AMC’s] The Terror, with [Amazon Prime Video’s] The Man in the High Castle, stories that really weren’t well-suited to a two or two-and-a-half-hour feature can be a much more expansive experience on the streamers.”

Landing on the streamer Sept. 24 is a six-part limited series, The Murders at White House Farm. That series is based on the true-story 1985 murders of a family in Essex, England and the ensuing investigations, press coverage and complicated path to identify the culprit.

The tableau of programming highlights HBO Max’s aim to offer up programming that will appeal to a wide variety of viewers while building off the name recognition of HBO. And the announcements for the streamer also accompany the line-up coming to premium cable channel HBO, which is included in a Max subscription. That line-up includes programs like the thriller Lovecraft Country and the comedy Coastal Elites, the first scripted series set during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has thrown a wrench in to the scheduling for some other upcoming HBO Max originals. The Flight Attendant, part of Cuoco’s first-look deal with Warner Bros., stopped filming before it completed its eight-episode season, and the remainder of filming must be completed in New York, said Steve Yockey, the show’s executive producer and co-showrunner.

“Obviously we were affected by Covid-19 and we had to go on hiatus at the beginning of March,” Yockey said. “We are looking to get back up and running and at the end of August … and assuming that everything goes to plan, you will be seeing Flight Attendant on HBO Max this fall.”

But if television giants have learned anything during this year, it’s that few things have gone according to plan. At Max, an anticipated Friends reunion special has also seen production delays, while rival streamer Peacock saw a much leaner originals slate due to production challenges.

Even today saw its share of unexpected upheaval: a planned CTAM panel from WarnerMedia to promote the upcoming season of TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee had to be pushed after Hurricane Isaias knocked out power and cell service in Bee’s area.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.