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And The Academy’s New President Is… Behind-The-Scenes Of Hawk Koch Win

What really happened behind-the-scenes of the election for a new president of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences tonight? Deadline’s Nikki Finke followed the twists and turns that led to Hawk Koch winning:

Make no mistake about it: veteran Hollywood producer Hawk Koch Hawk Kochwanted the job “desperately”, in the words of both his friends and frenemies. Not just because he would be a second-generation president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences, but more because it would further frame his identity independent of a famous filmmaker father. (He’d already changed his name from Howard W Koch Jr.) And make no mistake about this, either: a group of  Academy insiders just as desperately didn’t want him to be their president. One principal problem was that Koch can only serve for one year before he terms out on the Academy’s Board Of Governors. (He can run again for the panel after a hiatus.) Plus, few others were as motivated to be president, and fewer still were willing to campaign as openly for it. (How to run for high office without doing it is a trick which even consummate politicians haven’t yet mastered.)

So when those present among the Academy’s maximum 42 governors (usually 43, but screenwriter and past president Frank Pierson passed away days ago) gathered in their Beverly Hills boardroom on this Tuesday, it was for a ritualistic procedure that rivals papal succession. Choosing their current president followed seven months of twists and turns that almost no outsiders knew about. Suffice it to say that Koch’s name crossing the 50% threshold to be elected was both expected but unexpected. Here’s why:

Related: Hawk Koch Elected New Motion Picture Academy President Tonight

Koch’s initial lobbying to be in first position for AMPAS President began as far back as January when one of my insiders confided that Hawk during the last Oscars go-round told him he was going after the job. By March, it was an open secret that Koch was campaigning. “It was odd that Hawk has made it so clear that he wants to do it,” a source mused to me at the time. It was seen as unseemly. Because the sad fact is that, year after year, the AMPAS governors want most to run those candidates who don’t want them. But this year a small group of governors was actively campaigning against Koch’s candidacy. Their reason was mostly snobbism. “Look at the history of the Academy Presidents,” one insider explained to me, “Bette Davis, Cecil B DeMille, Gregory Peck. How unimpressive to follow those names with Warren Beatty’s line producer who insists on not being called Howard Koch Jr.”

Actors Tom Hanks and Annette Bening were unsuccessfully sounded out first, just as they are every year. Then the anti-Koch camp went to screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson, who didn’t want to do it. Strong names in the other branches were approached as well. But documentary maker Michael Moore “doesn’t make meetings and doesn’t have the time,” my sources told me. Fox Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jim Gianopulos ”would have restored lustre” but also didn’t have time.

In the meantime, Koch kept campaigning. He explained away the biggest misgivings of his AMPAS colleagues during quiet conversations. He pledged that, although recently re-elected as Producers Guild president, he would resign and leave running that organization through 2014 to his co-president Mark Gordon. That he could accomplish a lot in only a one-year term. It was then he also started acknowledging both inside and outside AMPAS (even to the press) that he was officially open to being drafted. “They’re coming up and telling me, ‘You should be the next president.’ I’m flattered people are saying that,” Koch told colleagues.

He went around explaining his long 40-year history with the Academy, how he’d been on the Board Of Governors for 8 years, and chaired the General Membership Committee, and served on other panels. How he’d been an officer of the Board for 11 years, and then 1st Vice President. And so on. “I feel very fortunate to have a life in this business, and I love giving back to the business. It’s a legacy,” he told people in his stump speech. ”Everyone would most like to have Tom and Annette but they’re actors who don’t have the time. I know. I’ve been in the business since  Clark Gable gave me my first horseback ride when I was 4 years old. I was really proud that the Producers Guild has become the arbiter of who really produced movies. And at the  Academy I had a big part in changing the fabric of the rules. And if it  happens that I became Academy President, I want to keep doing good. It’s a huge responsibility, exciting, scary, and also a thankless job. But you don’t get anywhere by just sitting off in the corner. I have ideas.”

Meanwhile the anti-Koch camp’s next phase was handicapping who’d win or lose the 2012-2013 Board Of Governors elections. Two very good possibilities for the presidency, Kathleen Kennedy and Mark Johnson, were running against each other in the Producers Branch. The thought was that, while reluctant, they might be draftable. Then on June 1st, George Lucas to great surprise hired Steven Spielberg’s longtime producer Kennedy as co-chair of his LucasFilms. Any hope that she’d also take on the AMPAS presidency faded. And when the elections were held, Kennedy defeated Mark Johnson, so he couldn’t be a candidate this year.

Next, veteran filmmaker Bob Rehme was seen as a strong éminence grise coming back on the board after a hiatus. And since he’d been AMPAS president twice before, a third term wasn’t out of order. But he didn’t want the gig. Two more women’s names circulated. Briefly, Gale Anne Hurd of the Producers Branch though she’s working mostly in television now. Very seriously, Cheryl Boone Isaacs from the Public Relations Branch who would have been only the third woman, and the first African-American, to hold the Academy presidency. But then this “great diversity candidate” was put in charge of the Academy’s 4th Annual Governors Awards, thus neutralizing her inevitability for now.

Still, after the election, a seemingly perfect concensus candidate emerged: Rob Friedman, the Summit Entertainment Co-Chair Read More »

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Cillian Murphy To Lead BBC Two Gangster Family Saga ‘Peaky Blinders’

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 11:20pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Cillian Murphy has been set to star as Tommy, the most ruthless brother in a family of gangsters in the six-part BBC Two drama Peaky Blinders. Created by Steven Knight, who wrote David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises and was Oscar nominated for Stephen Frears’ Dirty Pretty Things, the series is set in 1919 Birmingham where Tommy’s family rules the lawless post-war slum neighborhoods as returning soldiers, revolutionaries and criminals fight for survival. The family is known as the “Peaky Blinders” based on their practice of sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps. Murphy’s Tommy finds his leadership challenged when a Belfast police chief comes to clean up the city, and a beautiful, mysterious woman arrives with a dangerous secret. The Tiger Aspect/Caryn Mandabach Productions crime saga is produced by Katie Swinden and starts principal photography in September for a 2013 UK debut. Otto Bathurst will direct. Writers include Knight, David Leland, Stephen Russell and Toby Finlay. Murphy’s just coming off The Dark Knight Rises, his third turn in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. Upcoming, he’s got Broken, the British drama that opened Critics Week in Cannes. He is repped by CAA in the US, Lou Coulson Associates in the UK and The Lisa Richards Agency in Ireland.

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Why GMA Host Robin Roberts Left Mid-Show

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 10:06pm PDT

For the record, it’s a very sympathetic way to exit. Because here’s how Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts told viewers that her medical problems were taking their toll a little early. ”Well, a full disclosure here, I’m not feeling too well,” Roberts said at 8:08 a.m. EDT. “In fact, I’m going to leave, and let you all do the rest of the program on your own. I’m going to take a little time off, just to get some vacay. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.” Roberts was diagnosed last month with the bone marrow disease MDS, previously known as preleukemia. This morning, she appeared upbeat, joking with colleague Josh Elliott and even making fun of herself for having trouble pronouncing a word. ”I can’t talk on this side of my mouth”, she said. Roberts was suffering from a sore jaw as a result of her treatment. ”We’re going to miss you, but we do appreciate the Jimmy Cagney impersonation before you leave,” Elliott joked.

Related: Robin Roberts Plans Late Summer Medical Leave From ‘GMA’

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R.I.P. Gore Vidal

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 9:22pm PDT

Hollywood favorite Gore Vidal, a literary powerhouse, essayist, screenwriter and political activist, has died. Vidal passed away today at his Hollywood Hills home from complications of pneumonia, according to his family. He was 86. Vidal wrote 25 novels, including the groundbreaking The City and the Pillar, among the first novels about openly gay characters, and the Tony-nominated play The Best Man, revived on Broadway in 2012. His hundreds of satires included Myra Breckinridge and Duluth. His pieces on politics, religion, sexuality and literature drew praise as well as criticism. He won a National Book Award in 1993 for his United States Essays, 1952-1992. Woven throughout his works were anecdotes from his famous friends, including Hollywood stars Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and Kennedy family. His screenplay credits include Suddenly Last Summer, Ben Hur, and Billy The Kidd. He also played himself in Fellini’s Roma, and a U.S. senator in Bob Roberts. He made two unsuccessful political runs, for the Senate in California and Congress in New York.

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Hawk Koch Elected New Motion Picture Academy President Tonight

Beverly Hills, CA – Producer Hawk Koch was elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tonight (July 31) by the organization’s Board of Governors. This will be his first term in the office.

Koch, who is beginning his ninth year as a governor representing the Producers Branch, has served as first vice president of the Academy during the past year. He previously served three one-year terms as treasurer and one term as vice president.

In addition, Public Relations Branch governor Cheryl Boone Isaacs was elected first vice president; Producers Branch governor Kathleen Kennedy was elected to one vice president post and Writers Branch governor Phil Robinson was re-elected to the other vice president post; Public Relations Branch governor Rob Friedman was elected treasurer; and Executives Branch governor Robert Rehme was elected secretary.

Koch’s producer credits include “Losing Isaiah” and “Gorky Park.” He recently served as executive producer on “Source Code” and is executive producer on the upcoming “Very Good Girls.”

Academy board members serve three-year terms, while officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive terms in any one office.

PREVIOUS: The announcement should come between 8-9 PM tonight of a newly elected president and the officers for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences by its Board of Governors. More later…

Related: Three-Term President Tom Sherak’s Farewell Letter To Motion Picture Academy Members

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R.I.P. Norman Alden

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 7:12pm PDT

Veteran character actor Norman Alden, who appeared in numerous TV shows and movies over a career spanning five decades, has died. Alden was 87 and died July 27th in a Los Angeles nursing home. His movie work included a role as a soda jerk in Back To The Future and he played a cameraman in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. He also had parts in Tora! Tora! Tora!, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden and played the title character in Richard Sarafian’s Andy. Alden also provided voices for animated movies such as Walt Disney’s The Sword In The Stone and the 1986 Transformers: The Movie as well as multiple voice roles in animated TV series. His first TV appearance was on The Bob Cummings Show. Other TV work included The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp, GunsmokeThe Untouchables, My Three Sons, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, BonanzaCharlie’s Angels, The Mod Squad, Mannix, The A-Team and Jag, among many series over the years. He also worked in commercials and played the mechanic Lou in AC Delco spots.

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Ricky Gervais Announces New Web Series

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 6:30pm PDT

It’s called Learn English With Ricky Gervais. The comedian says on his blog that he’s finished editing the pilot episode and it’s going to be “great”. It’s a joint project with his frequent collaborator and foil Karl Pilkington. Gervais didn’t provide details, but it’s expected to be more comedic than educational. He says he’s going to “put out the first one free as a taster then work out the best way to distribute. Might charge a small fee or get it sponsored”, Gervais writes. Gervais also says says he hopes to subtitle the show in “as many languages as possible”, including a Klingon version. No word yet on when it will launch.

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CBS Pulls ’3′ After Just Two Episodes

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 6:20pm PDT

CBS today yanked its new dating show 3 from the schedule after just two episodes. Repeats of dramas will be put in its regular Sunday slot until The Good Wife returns in the fall. ”It was a show we tried, we were excited about”, CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said at TCA on Sunday. ”It didn’t quite get traction. I think overall the summer has been a little bit soft for everybody”. The show, based on a successful Israeli series, put contestants Libby Lopez, April Francis and Rachel Harley together in a house as they dated their way through 100 men. 3 had the lowest rating the network has ever had with a new series when it debuted on July 27. That was followed by a further fall of 38% when the show aired again on July 29 at 9 PM in what was to be its regular time slot. That airing of 3 drew an overall audience of just 1.8 million viewers. The move by CBS comes one day after ABC pulled the low rated improv bio comedy show Trust Us With Your Life from its schedule after just two weeks.

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Rob Schneider Signs With New Wave

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 5:27pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Rob Schneider has signed with New Wave Entertainment for management. Saturday Night Live alum Schneider most recently toplined his own comedy series Rob on CBS. His feature credits include Deuce Bigelow, Hot Chick and Grown Ups. Schneider continues to be represented by Gersh and attorney Howard Fishman, and he will continue to work with his brother/producing partner John Schneider at their From Out of Nowhere Prods.

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Warner Bros Acquires ‘Beautiful Disaster’

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 4:48pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Warner Bros has acquired screen rights to the novel Beautiful Disaster, with Donald De Line producing. In the Jamie McGuire novel, a young girl named Abby Abernathy tries to overcome a dark past by reinventing herself in college. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand. Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

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‘Book of Mormon’s Josh Gad Joins ‘The Internship’

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 4:29pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Josh Gad has signed up for The Internship. The Book Of Mormon star will join Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in the 20th Century Fox comedy about two middle-aged men who have to start over at the bottom of the career ladder. Shawn Levy is directing. Gad will play Headphones, an anti-social engineer at the tech firm where Vaughn and Wilson are interning. Gad starts filming in next month. JoAnna Garica, Aasif Mandvi and Jessica Szohr co-star. Read More »

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‘Community’ Creator Dan Harmon Nets Script Deal At CBS

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 3:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Dan Harmon CBS Script DealDan Harmon is a wanted man this development season. On the heels of a blind script deal at Fox for a multi-camera comedy, the Community creator has signed a second blind script deal at CBS, also for a multi-camera comedy project, which will be produced by CBS TV Studios.

Harmon has fielded interest from networks ever since his May firing from his NBC/Sony TV comedy series Community. The deals with CBS and Fox signal a change in direction for the writer-producer after creating/co-creating two consecutive single-camera comedies that have developed cult followings but have been branded as having narrow appeal: Comedy Central’s Sarah Silverman Program and NBC’s Community. Having achieved critical acclaim with his single-camera shows, Harmon is now looking to show he can go for wide audiences too with multi-camera comedies.

Harmon is currently at the Montreal Just For Laughs comedy festival scouting for talent. He is usually at his best when writing with talent in mind as he did with Silverman. Harmon also rewrote the characters on Community after the pilot was cast so they better fit the actors. In addition to his broadcast development, UTA-repped Harmon has animated pilot Rick & Morty in the hopper for Adult Swim.

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Sharon Osbourne Says She Hasn’t Been Asked Back To ‘America’s Got Talent’: TCA

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 3:25pm PDT

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TV coverage.

Sharon Osbourne Howard Stern America's Got TalentSharon Osbourne, on hand to represent The Talk during a TCA panel today for CBS’ daytime shows, revealed she has not been formally asked to return as a judge on NBC’s summer hit America’s Got Talent. “They’ve asked Howard [Stern] back,” she said. “They haven’t asked me back. Who knows?” During the panel session held on the Price Is Right Stage at CBS Television City, Osbourne was asked about her tweet last week that suggested she would be leaving her other job as a judge on Talent. “You know, with the greatest respect to everyone here, we are here to talk about the No. 1 network in the world, that is CBS,” she said. “It’s not appropriate at this time.” But afterward, she was asked whether she would come back to Talent if asked. “I don’t know, six years is a long time to be on any show,” she replied. “I have to think about me and what I want to do. I’m so fuckin’ old — I don’t know.”

Related: NBC Brass On Broadening Comedies, Future Of ‘Community’, ‘Smash’ & Howard Stern: TCA Read More »

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Lorenzo Di Bonaventura-Produced Texas Militia Drama Sells To ABC

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 2:49pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura Founding Fathers ABCEXCLUSIVE: In their first development season after partnering last June to launch ABC Studios-based Di Bonaventura Pictures Television, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Dan McDermott landed a series on the air, ABC’s midseason conspiracy drama Zero Hour. Now the duo have netted one of ABC‘s first drama commitments of the new development cycle with another high-concept project. The network has bought drama pitch Founding Fathers, from Di Bonaventura Pictures TV and ABC Studios. Written by feature scribe Rich D’Ovidio (Exit Woods, Thir13en Ghosts), Founding Fathers is described as “Donnie Brasco set in the world of Texas militias.” It centers on Nick Keating who, after serving a third tour in Afghanistan, returns home to find his small Texas town under the control of a militia group led by his older foster brother. After being seduced by the militia’s surprisingly community-based motives, he accepts a rare invitation to join the group. But unbeknownst to his new “family,” Nick has a secret agenda that will put his life in jeopardy and lead him to question his allegiances. D’Ovidio executive produces with Di Bonaventura and McDermott. Read More »

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UPDATE: RATINGS RAT RACE: Olympics Day 3 Best in 36 Years, ‘Bachelor Pad’ & ‘Glass House’ Hit Lows

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 2:45pm PDT

Missy Franklin NBC RatingsUPDATE, 2:45 PM: Missy Franklin helped last night’s Olympics become the most-watched in 36 years with 31.6 million viewers. NBC’s Monday primetime broadcast of the London Olympicswas the most-watched first Monday non-U.S. Summer Games since the Montreal 1976. That’s still behind Montreal’s 37.7 million but ahead of the 30.2 million who watched the first Monday of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Related: NBC Scores Most-Watched Summer Olympics Opening Weekend Ever

PREVIOUS, 8:40 AM: The third full day of the London Summer Olympics (10.5/28) saw diving, volleyball, men’s gymnastics and Missy Franklin’s gold medal win in the pool. In fast nationals, Monday’s primetime broadcast of the Games was down 1% from the final nationals on same night at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. However, it was up 48% from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. NBC won the night among adults 18-49 and in total viewers with 31.42 million watching. Meanwhile, ABC had a two-hour new Bachelor Pad (1.1/3), followed by a new The Glass House (0.6/2) at 10 PM. Bachelor Pad was down 27% from last week for the reality show’s lowest rating ever. Glass House was down 25% from last week’s show, also hitting its lowest rating to date. On CBS, it was an evening of repeats with How I Met Your Mother (0.9/3), 2 Broke Girls (1.0/3), Two And A Half Men (1.1/3), Mike & Molly (1.1/3) and Hawaii Five-O (0.9/2). Fox … Read More »

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DreamWorks Animation Talking To Distributors About Creating A Channel

“There does seem to be a lot of interest and a lot of opportunity” for the idea — and it’s something DreamWorks Animation is “actively talking about” with potential film distribution partners — CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts in a conference call to discuss company earnings. He had virtually no details about the plan, or his efforts to strike a distribution deal to replace the one with Paramount that expires at the end of this year. He offered, though, that “self distribution is not something we are pursuing right now.”

Related: DreamWorks Animation Q2 Earnings Fall Short Of Forecasts

But Katzenberg clearly wanted to impress analysts with the possibility of creating a channel following his recent $155M acquisition of Classic Media. “We have a bit of a gold mine here,” he says about Classic which has rights to baby boomer cultural icons including Archie, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Lone Ranger, Lassie, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Gumby, Underdog, Fat Albert, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Godzilla, He-Man, Dick Tracy, Frosty the Snowman, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. “This will go a long way toward helping us to realize the idea of a DreamWorks branded channel.” The thinking appears to be in the early stages: Katzenberg says he’s not sure if a channel might be designed Read More »

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Wes Craven & Steve Niles Bringing ‘Coming Of Rage’ To Comic Stores & Big Screen

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 2:25pm PDT

Coming Of Rage Comics MovieEXCLUSIVE: Wes Craven and Steve Niles have teamed for the graphic novel Coming Of Rage and a possible movie adaptation too. The Nightmare On Elm Street and Scream director created the upcoming comic, and Niles, who wrote the graphic novels 30 Days Of Night and Wake The Dead, wrote it. Live Free Or Die Hard producer Arnold Rifkin and Liquid Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan are developing a feature film version of Rage with Craven. Though no details are available on the comic or the film, it is pretty clear that there’ll be a healthy dose of horror, blood and suspense. Coming Of Rage is the first publication in Craven and Rifkin’s partnership with Liquid Comics, announced in 2010. It will be released by Liquid in 2013 as both a five-issue comic series and a graphic novel. Liquid Comics plans to have additional digital elements for iPads and iPhones to compliment the publication. Craven is repped by WME and Industry Entertainment.

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AMC’s Zombies Remind New Yorkers About Dish Dispute: Video

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 2:22pm PDT

There’s been no movement in the Dish Network-AMC Networks dispute since June 30, which the companies carriage contract expired and AMC, IFC and WE TV were kicked off the Dish lineup. But AMC and one of its impacted shows, The Walking Dead, has taken to the Manhattan streets to show it is, er, dead serious about the situation. The YouTube page sends folks to an AMC site,

Related: AMC Networks To Stream ‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere For Dish Network Customers

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Shiri Appleby Joins ‘Girls’ For Arc, Melanie Griffith And Tippi Hedren In ‘Raising Hope’

By | Tuesday July 31, 2012 @ 2:20pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Shiri Appleby Girls HBO CastShiri Appleby has been tapped for an arc on the second season of HBO’s Emmy-nominated comedy Girls. She will play Natalie, a new love interest for Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) lover Adam Driver (Adam Sackler), who broke up with Hannah in the first-season finale. Natalie is a beautiful and charming New Yorker who adores Adam despite his wild sexual tendencies. Roswell alumna Appleby, repped by Gersh and John Carrabino, recently starred on CW’s Life Unexpected.

Melanie Griffith Tippi HedrenMelanie Griffith has closed a deal to do an arc on another single-camera comedy, Fox’s Raising Hope, which is heading into Season 3. She will play the mother of Sabrina (Shannon Woodward). Griffith will be joined by her mother, The Birds star Tippi Hedren, who will play her mother and Sabrina’s grandmother on the show. “As a fan of Melanie Griffith, the actress, I was excited about the possibility of having her on the show, and now that I’ve had the chance to meet Melanie Griffith, the person, I can’t wait to get the chance to work with her,” said Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia. “And then Tippi Hedren agrees to play Melanie’s mother on the show? Are you kidding? Just two weeks ago, I showed my kids The Birds for the first time. This is a very exciting way for us to start off … Read More »

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