Story By: G. H. HARDING

Fantastic Four

SIX FEET VIRTUOSO --- Funny, as I had just watched the amazing finale of HBO’s Six Feet Under (from 2005) the other day and today comes word that the cablenet has given the greenlight to a pilot for Virtuoso, a period drama about musical prodigies from Six Feet Under/True Blood creator Alan Ball, and Elton John and David Furnish.

Set in 18th century Vienna, the series follows a class of musicians from all across Europe at the prestigious Academy of Musical Excellence.

The pilot teleplay is written by Ball, and Peter Macdissi (who worked on Six Feet Under and True Blood).

Production on the Virtuoso pilot begins this spring in Budapest.

WHY SO SERIOUS FANTASTIC FOUR --- As a fan of the first two Fantastic Four movies, yes, based on yet another Marvel-comic creation, I was surprised when plans were announced last year to re-boot the franchise. Though many criticized those first two are not being serious enough, I still felt they were just great; especially Julian McMahon’s portrayal of their evil-arch enemy Dr. Doom.

Yesterday, they released the new trailer for the new one, due this summer, and at first blush, it almost seemed like a trailer for another X Men movie – by the same studio no less. Now, I don’t have any problem with a more serious rendition of anything, but, with even the X Men movies now being re-booted, a somewhat funnier movie might just be what’s needed now more than, as the whole comic-book thing may well have reached a serious tipping point.

The first two movies were directed by Tim Story and the new, darker one is directed by Josh Trank and features, the younger, sexier cast of Miles Teller, Kate Mara, and Michael B. Jordan.

CAST THIS --- Katie Holmes has signed on for a season-long recurring role on the third season on Showtime’s Ray Donovan, with Liev Schreiber. She’ll play the daughter of producer Andrew Finney (Ian McShane) … Emma Watson cast in the forthcoming live-action version of Beauty and the Beast; to be directed by Bill (Gods and Monsters) Condon. … Chris Pratt is being serious mentioned as the new Indiana Jones …. And, it looks like the new Ghostbusters will be a Bridesmaid re-union of sorts, with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon (SNL) and Leslie Jones (SNL). To be directed by Paul Feig … it will be released on July 22, 2016.

HANNIBAL RISING --- If it's one thing we grown to love on TV, it's NBC's Hannibal. The operatic horror series, based on the Thomas Harris novels that also inspired Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter, and, yes, Hannibal. The show is one of the most visually striking, emotionally riveting and just-plain-scary television series to ever hit the small screen. All of this makes the wait in between seasons downright painful, especially since it was recently announced that the show wouldn't return until summer.

And thanks to a new trailer for the third season that NBC has just unleashed, that wait is going to be even harder.

The show, of course, follows the adventures of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), a murderous shrink who is involved in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with an FBI profiler named Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).

For those of you who haven't seen season 2 yet, we'll tread lightly on spoilers, but it does appear that Will has survived a particularly ghoulish season finale and that Hannibal is somewhere in Europe with a special guest.

In fact, by the looks of it, this new season (overseen, as always, by the visionary brilliant Bryan Fuller) will combine a number of Harris novels, borrowing from Hannibal Rising (with the Lady Murasaki character being introduced), Red Dragon (Richard Armitage from The Hobbit was recently cast as the Tooth Fairy himself, Francis Dollarhyde) and Hannibal (yes, Mason Verger and his flesh-eating pigs will be back). In other words, this season is going to be Hannibal-dense.

For a while Fuller spoke about how the production didn't have the rights to some characters and scenarios from Silence of the Lambs, partially because another network was working on a show completely centered around the Clarice Starling character (essayed by Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs and Julianne Moore in Hannibal), but that clearly never went anywhere.

My out-of-left-field prediction for the conclusion of season 3 is that Will is out and a new female profiler is introduced... one we might already be familiar with... oh, and by the way, Gillian Anderson is back as a full-time regular. Wow!

CLOSING NOTES --- Blake Shelton was the guest of this past weekend's SNL. I love him, quite the character for sure, but the choice of material they had him doing was rather absurd. Even the skit titled Wishin’ Boot was in questionable taste. I know he deserves far better ...

Next month's release of DVD by Hall & Oates, recorded at Dublin's Olympia Theatre is brilliant. Included are "Las Vegas Turnaround," "Sara Smile" and "She's Gone." Astonishingly good ...

Going to see David Letterman tonight night; probably my final box there before he retires in May. What a victory lap these last few months are. Just terrific!