Amazon’s queer take on Penny Marshall’s beloved A League of Their Own will get one last at-bat.
The retail giant/streamer, following months of negotiations, has handed out a second and final season renewal for the series from showrunners Will Graham and Abbi Jacobson. The Sony Pictures Television-produced show will conclude with a four-episode final season. The news follows months of renegotiations with Sony to lower the show’s licensing fee, and the cast had to sign new deals, given the order is for half the episodes that were featured in season one, sources say.
Reps for Amazon and Sony declined to comment as deals have not yet been completed for what sources say will be billed as a “limited series.”
In the works since early 2018, Graham (Amazon’s recently launched Daisy Jones & The Six) recruited Jacobson (Broad City) for the more modern take on Marshall’s beloved 1992 feature film that starred Geena Davis, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Hanks. Graham and Jacobson received Marshall’s blessing on their updated take before she passed away. The duo also recruited several members of the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to serve as advisers — including the legendary Maybelle Blair, who at age 95 came out as gay during the press tour for the show.
The series starring Jacobson, D’Arcy Carden, Chante Adams, Melanie Field and Kate Berlant builds on the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nods to sexuality and racism that were briefly featured in Marshall’s movie. In addition to featuring stories of queer players from the league, the Amazon take also examines the plight of Black women who were not permitted to join the league and were part of another contingent of teams that traveled the country.
The eight-episode first season bowed at once in August to positive reviews; it currently boasts an impressive 94 percent rating among critics and 87 percent score with viewers on Rotten Tomatoes. The show also has earned recognition from GLAAD (outstanding new TV series), the Independent Spirit Awards (for supporting actress Gbemisola Ikumelo) and with the NAACP Image Awards (costume design). It was also honored by the Critics Choice Association, earning the women’s committee seal of female empowerment in entertainment, the National Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign, and the Voice and Visibility Award from the National Council of La Raza.
Sources say Graham — who has had a first-look deal with Amazon dating back to 2017 with work on Alpha House and Mozart in the Jungle — and Jacobson pushed hard for the League renewal. Producers Sony Pictures Television, which owns the rights to League, also negotiated a reduced licensing fee as Amazon sought to cut the show’s overall price tag and budget for a possible second season. Sources say a wrap-up movie was also considered for the series.
The decision to bring back League for an abbreviated final season comes as Amazon — which, like other streamers, does not release traditional viewership data — has continued to spend big on well-known IP. Amazon has already invested more than half a billion dollars on its Lord of the Rings series, The Rings of Power. The streamer spent $250 million just to secure global TV rights to the franchise. Sources also say Amazon’s recent deal to land rights to Tomb Raider was the second most the streamer has spent on rights, following LOTR. The company is plotting a TV series as well as a movie and video game. Next up, Amazon has the pricey and troubled global event series Citadel from the Russo brothers.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter