On Monday, Showtime announced a new and innovative anthology series Cinema Toast would be arriving on their streaming platforms – including Showtime and Showtime Anytime – by the end of the month. Deadline describes the Jeff Baena (The Little Hours, Horse Girl) and Duplass brothers (Togetherness, Safety Not Guaranteed) created series as “a post-modernist reinvention of older movies that turns pre-existing imagery from the public domain on its head to tell new unique stories.” With an April 20 premiere set for all ten episodes of the series, classic cinema fans excited by the prospect of this series will not have to wait long to see it come to fruition.
‘Cinema Toast’ Anthology Series From Jeff Baena & Duplass Brothers To Stream On Showtime https://t.co/D39ck2DE5q
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) April 12, 2021
Though news of the series was just announced, Baena discussed how the idea for the anthology began in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw physical productions come to a screeching halt, via Variety. “All paths to traditional production seemed unlikely at best, I racked my brain to find a way to still create,” Variety quotes the director “that’s when the idea hit me to re-dub and re-shape old material into something transcendent that extends beyond just a comedic curio.”
Each episode of the anthology will feature a new take on a classic film from a different director, including one entry from Baena and one from the elder Duplass brother, Jay Duplass (Transparent). Other directors on the series include Mel Eslyn (Room 104, The One I Love), Alex Ross Perry (Golden Exits), Marta Cunningham (Insecure, Fear the Walking Dead), Numa Perrier (Sexless, Queen Sugar), Jordan Firstman (The Disgustings), Kris Rey (Unexpected), David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete’s Dragon) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation, Legion).
— Aubrey Plaza (@evilhag) April 12, 2021
Plaza shared the excitement about her upcoming episode of Cinema Toast – entitled “Quiet Illness” – on Twitter. The actress has previously directed a TV movie and a UCB Comedy Original short, making Plaza’s episode of Cinema Toast among her first handful of directing credits. Plaza’s episode will revise the work of Loretta Young (The Farmer’s Daughter, The Stranger) “to create a portrait of an emotionally tortured modern woman” (Deadline).
Other planned episodes of Cinema Toast include “Attack of the Karens,” “After the End” and “Report on the Canine Auto-Mechanical Soviet Threat,” which will draw from the source material of Night of the Living Dead, Beast from the Haunted Cave and a collection of “Soviet rarities” respectively, via Deadline.
Unlike anthologies with thematic through-lines, such as Black Mirror or the recently canceled Twilight Zone, Cinema Toast episodes will find their connection in the format of cutting found materials from public domain cinema while shifting in tone and genre from episode-to-episode. Those familiar with the Duplass brothers may find this genre-hoping anthology style bares resemblance to the producers HBO project Room 104, which kept setting as the constant connective tissue rather than theme.
Much like the viral video trend of re-cutting classic films into genre-bending trailers – for instance, The Shining as a romantic comedy – Cinema Toast will not rely solely on the source materials used for its episodes. Voice actors Alison Brie (Community, GLOW), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation, The Great North), Fred Armisen (Portlandia, Big Mouth), John Early (Search Party, The Disaster Artist), Christina Ricci (The Addams Family, Pan Am), Megan Mullally (Will & Grace, Childrens Hospital), Chloe Fineman (Saturday Night Live, Search Party) and Chris Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Happy!) will breathe new life into Cinema Toast’s reimagined narratives.
Since the series, announced April 12, is set to premiere with a quick turnaround on April 20, it’s unclear as to whether any first look or trailer for Cinema Toast will be provided by Showtime ahead of the episodes dropping on the network’s streaming services.