'Tell Me a Story'? The CW does just that -- with creepy, contemporary twists

  • Student Kayla (Danielle Campbell) talks with a teacher (Billy Magnussen) who has more on his mind than lessons in "Tell Me a Story,'' debuting Tuesday, July 28, on The CW.

    Student Kayla (Danielle Campbell) talks with a teacher (Billy Magnussen) who has more on his mind than lessons in "Tell Me a Story,'' debuting Tuesday, July 28, on The CW. Courtesy of CBS

 
By Jay Bobbin
Gracenote
Posted7/26/2020 7:00 AM

Some stories are worth telling anew.

The CW evidently believes so, since it's bringing a series from a sister outlet to broadcast television. "Tell Me a Story'' streamed on CBS All Access, and the show begins again as it makes its CW debut Tuesday, July 28. Executive-produced by Kevin Williamson, it puts contemporary, sometimes creepy twists on classic fairy tales -- for starters, "Little Red Riding Hood,'' "Hansel and Gretel'' and "The Three Little Pigs.''

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hinsdale native Danielle Campbell, of the "Vampire Diaries'' spinoff "The Originals,'' plays Red Riding Hood surrogate Kayla. Relocating to New York with her father (Sam Jaeger) after her mother's death, she has an unusual high-school teacher (Billy Magnussen) who's the counterpart of the wolf in the correlating story.

Adapting "Tell Me a Story'' from the Spanish series "Cuentame un Cuento,'' Williamson explains that he and his creative team "chose these three fairy tales because they sort of complemented each other with their themes and the morals of the stories. They told three diverse story lines, and (we've) sort of interwoven them in a way in which the original series did not. The `Three Little Pigs' story line might be reminiscent of the original (show), but `Little Red Riding Hood' and `Hansel and Gretel' are just products of me and a roomful of writers.''

Hinsdale native Danielle Campbell plays a Little Red Riding Hood surrogate in "Tell Me a Story," debuting on The CW.
Hinsdale native Danielle Campbell plays a Little Red Riding Hood surrogate in "Tell Me a Story," debuting on The CW. - Courtesy of CBS

As for how "Tell Me a Story'' changes things up, co-star Campbell reflects that the original "Little Red Riding Hood'' was "this very sweet girl. I think that in our adaptation, she's going through loss, and she's just trying to distract herself and party and drink and go out. She's kind of this really troubled kid, and you get to watch that.''

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Kim Cattrall, James Wolk, Daria Ramirez, Dorian Missick and -- reuniting with Williamson after their "Vampire Diaries'' days -- Paul Wesley also are in "Tell Me a Story's'' first season. Wesley and Campbell returned in different roles for the show's second and final round, which adapted "Sleeping Beauty,'' "Cinderella'' and "Beauty and the Beast'' in its own way (and added Odette Annable and Carrie-Anne Moss, among others, as co-stars).

"Tell Me a Story'' likely will undergo some editing despite The CW's trademark edginess, since content standards differ in the streaming world. Also featured in the forthcoming James Bond movie "No Time to Die,'' Magnussen says he knew the initial boundaries of his role.

"Every project is individual,'' he reasons, "and how you address it is individual to that process. And how it lives inside you as a performer, creator, whatnot, it's going to manifest itself uniquely. You have to know the playground you are playing in, and then you create your world there.

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"Tell Me a Story"

Premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, on The CW.

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