UPDATED: In one of ABC Family‘s first major greenlight/renewal decisions under new president Tom Ascheim, the network has picked up three drama pilots: Alice In Arabia, about an American teenage girl kidnapped by her extended royal Saudi Arabian family and forced to live with them; Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson’s novel about a teenage girl dealing with addiction; and Unstrung, about a brother-sister duo of tennis players. Additionally, the network has ordered a fourth season of comedy Baby Daddy and announced today a fourth-season renewal of fellow comedy Melissa & Joey, though that 20-episode pickup was originally unveiled in May.
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Alice In Arabia comes from a novice TV writer, Brooke Eikmeier, who wrote the script while serving as cryptologic linguist in the Arabic language to the US Army stationed at Fort Carson, CO, where she supported NSA missions in the Middle East. ABC Family also has bought a second script from Eikmeier, who left service in September with a rank E-4 Specialist. It is about female cultural specialists embedded with Special Forces teams to help them navigate cultural issues with the local population. “These three powerful new dramas are a great fit with ABC Family’s brand of original programming,” said Ascheim. Added Kate Juergens, Chief Creative Officer and EVP Original Content at ABC Family. “Innovative and authentic is the promise we make to our audience. These new projects deliver on that promise with emotional and entertaining storylines, intriguing, multi-faceted characters and complex relationships.” Last season ABC Family also ordered three drama pilots, The Fosters, Twisted and Chasing Live, all of which went to series. Here are detailed descriptions and credits for ABC Family’s newly picked up drama pilots: Read More »
Christopher McDonald (Requiem For A Dream) and Trevor Donovan (90210) have joined the killer cast of History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Roland Joffé will direct. McDonald, repped by Gersh and Brillstein, will play Henry Karnes, a grizzled, tough taskmaster of the ranging company. Donovan, with APA and Michael Yanni Management, will play Kit Acklin, a handsome, wise-ass, expert horseman whose chivalry and equestrian skills are matched only by his gun-fighting prowess. Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Thomas Jane, Olivier Martinez, Chad Michael Murray, Michael Rapaport and Max Thieriot round out the all-star cast.
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Ben Koldyke, coming off ABC’s freshman comedy Back In the Game, has joined NBC’s recently picked-up six-episode comedy series Mr. Robinson in a new co-starring role opposite Craig Robinson. The addition of Koldyke’s character is part of the changes to the single-camera project, which is being reworked by its new creative team, led by executive producers/showrunners Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen. Mr. Robinson stars Robinson as a journeyman musician who gets a job as a music teacher at a middle school. Koldyke, repped by Gersh Agency and manager Brian Medavoy, plays a gym teacher at the school. Koldyke’s series credits also include HBO’s Big Love and CBS’ How I Met Your Mother.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
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EXCLUSIVE: True Blood is adding a new vampire for its seventh and final season. Riley Smith (90210) is set for a major recurring role. He will play Keith, a sexy, rock ‘n’ roll vampire with a romantic side. A drummer in James’ (Nathan Parson) band, he becomes smitten with Arlene (Carrie Preston) on first sight. Smith, repped by Gersh and Sanders/Armstrong/Caserta, is a regular in Lifetime’s original movie/backdoor pilot Deliverance Creek from Nicholas Sparks Productions. The film has no airdate yet but is expected to premiere later this year, with the project still in series contention as backdoor pilot.
Related: Luke Grimes Exits HBO’s ‘True Blood’; Role Will Be Recast
Charlie Weber (90210) has been cast in ABC/ABC Studios’ drama pilot How To Get Away With Murder. The sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor who become entangled in a murder plot. Weber, repped by Resolution, Vanguard Management and Gregory Slewet, plays an associate of the professor.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Michelle Harrison (the CW’s Emily Owens, MD) has been added to the cast the CW/WBTV/DC pilot The Flash, about scientist Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who becomes the Fastest Man Alive. She will play the guest starring/recurring role of Barry’s mother, Nora Allen. Repped by Russ Mortensen at Pacific Artists Management.
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This marks the reunion and return to primetime for former Beverly Hills, 90210 stars Tori Spelling & Jennie Garth and the first pickup decision for new ABC Family president Tom Ascheim. The network has given series orders to two of its three comedy pilots: Mystery Girls, starring and executive produced by Spelling and Garth, and Young & Hungry, starring Emily Osment and executive produced by Ashley Tisdale. Production on both comedies will begin early this year for a premiere later in 2014. “It’s great to start the new year and my tenure at ABC Family with the pickup of these two funny original series,” Ascheim said. ABC Family’s third comedy pilot, Work Mom, remains in contention. Mystery Girls and Young & Hungry join ABC Family’s established comedy series Melissa & Joey and Baby Daddy. “Viewers are excited to see Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth back on television together again, and will fall in love with Young & Hungry star Emily Osment in these comedies that bring us fun, new characters with which to laugh out loud,” said ABC Family’s Chief Creative Officer Kate Juergens. This is a big year for ABC Family comedy pilots as last cycle none of the network’s half-hour hopefuls went to series.
Related: ABC Family Sets January Premiere Date For ‘Melissa & Joey’ And ‘Baby Daddy’
Here are descriptions of ABC Family’s newly picked up comedy series: Read More »
VH1 has commissioned a presentation for a comedy reality series created, executive produced by and starring actresses Erin Foster and Sara Foster, daughters of David Foster. The show explores the hypocrisy of reality TV by centering around two sisters (Erin & Sara Foster) who say they would never do a reality show, but are being filmed by a camera crew. 3 Arts Entertainment and Good Clean Fun are producing, with 3 Arts’s Oly Obst, Kimberly Carver and Josh Lieberman executive producing alongside Good Clean Fun’s Jason Carbone. Last year, Erin, repped by 3 Arts and CAA, was a writer on NBC’s The New Normal. Sara, managed by Luber Roklin, co-starred on the CW’s 90210.
Malcolm McDowell (Franklin & Bash) is set to co-star opposite Gael García Bernal in Amazon’s comedy pilot Mozart In The Jungle, directed by Paul Weitz. Based on the memoir by Blair Tindal, the project, written by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and Alex Timbers, is all about sex, drugs and classical music and shows that what happens behind the curtains at the symphony can be just as captivating as what happens onstage. McDowell plays Thomas, a seasoned conductor being forced into retirement by the arrival of hotshot new conductor Rodrigo (Bernal). Also cast in the pilot are Lola Kirke (Reaching For The Moon) as the impressionable oboist Hailey, Bernadette Peters (Smash) as Gloria, the Chairwoman of the Board of the symphony, Saffron Burrows (Law And Order: CI) as Cynthia, a cellist in the middle of an affair with Thomas, Peter Vack (CBGB) as Joshua, a talented dancer out of Juilliard who becomes Hailey’s love interest, and Hannah Dunne (This Is It) as Lizzie, Hailey’s friend and roommate.
Brianne Howey has landed a recurring role on ABC Family’s teen drama Twisted. She will play Whitney, a free spirit who is full of life and takes chances. She comes to Green Grove to live with her father (Ivan Sergei) for a fresh start. Howey’s TV credits include Revenge, The Middle, NCIS and 90210. She is repped by Untitled Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Stephanie Szostak (Iron Man 3) and Blair Redford (90210) are set to co-star opposite Matt Passmore in USA Network’s untitled Sean Jablonski pilot. The project, from UCP, follows investment banker Neil Truman (Passmore) and his wife, Grace (Szostak), as they struggle to sift through their stagnant marriage, looking for the spark they once had. When Neil discovers that Grace has been seeing a debonaire male escort (Redford) his entire world is turned upside down. As he gains a new perspective on life and what motivates women, Grace contemplates her own needs and whether her marriage is worth saving. Jablonski and Russ Krasnoff of Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment executive produce. The French-born Szostak, repped by UTA and manager Estelle Lasher, recently wrapped production on the Ricky Blitt/Peter Farrelly indie comedy Hit by Lightning. Redford, who has spent the last two seasons on The Lying Game, is repped by Greene & Assoc. and Luber/Roklin.
Related: Matt Passmore Set As The Lead In USA’s Sean Jablonski Pilot
In scheduling their new series in May, network executives always face the dilemma whether bumping off an existing show for a newcomer is worth it. Networks’ goal always is to improve their schedules, but inevitably, their bets not always pay off. Here is a nifty graphic showing how this fall’s freshman series are doing vs. their predecessors in the time slots last year among adults 18-49, with the vast majority of the shows faring worse. Only seven newbies have improved their time periods so far — 3 at Fox, 2 at ABC and one each at NBC and the CW. There are caveats, including ratings bombs last fall goosing up comparisons, including strong new Fox drama Sleepy Hollow which succeeded one of the biggest flops of last fall, Mob Doctor, in the Monday 9 PM slot. Of the seven freshmen in positive territory, five replaced cancelled series, Sleepy Hollow (Mob Doctor), Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Dancing With The Stars results), The Originals (90210), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Ben & Kate), The Goldbergs (Happy Endings); one, Dracula, replaced a newsmagazine; and one, MasterChef Jr., took over for a show that is not on the air and has not been renewed but has originals in the can (Kitchen Nightmares). In the opposite direction, the worst year-to-year drops, 55% for Lucky 7 and 52% for Sean Saves The World, came when newbies replaced long-running shows, the … Read More »
CBS shows have migrated to younger skewing sibling the CW — CBS pilot Ringer became a CW series, and defunct CBS vampire drama Moonlight got a second run on the sister network. Now for the first time, there is migration in the other direction, with CBS looking to reboot a series from the CW predecessor, the WB. CBS has given a script order to Charmed, a reimagining of the original series centered around four sisters who discover their destiny – to battle against the forces of evil using their witchcraft. Created by Constance M. Burge and produced by Spelling TV, Charmed aired on the WB for eight seasons, concluding just before the network’s merger with UPN to form the CW in 2006. It has done well in off-network syndication on TNT and streaming on Netflix. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Denzel Washington‘s son John David Washington is following in his father’s footsteps with his first major acting role, signing on as a regular in the HBO pilot Ballers toplined by Dwayne Johnson. Also cast in the half-hour dramedy, which chronicles the lives of several Miami-based athletes, is former Bruins player Donovan Carter. Washington will play Ricky, a highly competitive and highly spiritual pro athlete. Carter will play Vernon, a deeply family oriented pro athlete. Washington, whose only previous acting credit is a small part in his dad’s 1992 movie Malcolm X, played football in college and did a stint with NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Read More »
Well, looks like Ned Vaughn won’t be following former union boss Ronald Reagan to Sacramento after all. A rare Republican in a heavily Democratic town, the former SAG-AFTRA EVP today pulled the plug on his campaign for the California State Assembly’s 66th District. Vaughn resigned his union post in August to seek for the state seat. He had said in the spring that he would not seek re-election in SAG-AFTRA’s September elections. “As I initially considered my decision to run, I felt I could strike an acceptable balance between family life and the demands of mounting a first-time political campaign,” Vaughn wrote his announcing his withdrawal. “But despite my personal commitment, I’ve determined the timing of this pursuit is just too soon for my still-young family. My roles as husband and father are the ones I prize most, and it has become clear to me that conducting a successful Assembly campaign will require me to spend too much time away from my children at a time when they still need me.” He added, “I also look forward to helping other Republican candidates who can bring much needed balance and crucial reform to Sacramento.”
Related: SAG-AFTRA Elects ‘90210’ Actress Gabrielle Carteris EVP
Beau Garrett (Tron) is set to co-star in Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce, Bravo’s scripted pilot from Marti Noxon and UCP. Based on the book series by Vicki Iovine, it follows Abby (Lisa Edelsein), the famous author of a best-selling self-help book series who is hiding the fact that she’s separated from her husband as she starts to navigate her life as a single woman in her early 40s in Los Angeles. She finds herself seeking advice from her divorced friends, including Phoebe (Garrett), instead of her married ones. Phoebe is a former model and recent divorcee that is still close to her ex. Garrett is with Paradigm, KLWGN Entertainment and Jason Hendler. Read More »