AMC introduced the live companion after-show to a hit serialized drama with the successful Talking Dead and Talking Bad (to be followed by Talking Mad?). Now A&E is taking a page from the playbook with Bates Motel: After Hours, which hails from the same company that has produced Talking Dead and Talking Bad, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row. A&E will try out the after-show to its flagship drama Bates Motel as a special, following the show’s second season premiere on March 3, but the intention likely is to turn this into a companion series. In the half-hour special, Bates Motel stars Vera Farmiga (Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman Bates), Max Thieriot (Dylan Massett) and executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin will discuss the Season 2 opener and answer fan questions about the upcoming season.
EXCLUSIVE: A&E Network has put in development a high-concept drama from Immortals writers Charley & Vlas Parlapanides and producer Michael London. The project’s title, The 36, stems from the mystical Jewish concept of the Righteous 36, which stipulates that at all times there are 36 people in the world possessing special powers who don’t necessarily know each other but if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end. A version of the premise was recently used on the Fox supernatural drama Touch where such 36 people were hunted by a shady organization. The 36 is set in the world of the biblical fallen angels. These dark angels, or Nephilim, live among us and are only kept in check by The Righteous 36. Set in New York, The 36 centers on Dane, a complicated hero who soon learns that he’s right in the middle of this battle for the soul of mankind. The Parlapanides are writing the script and will executive produce with London through his Groundswell Prods. for A+E Studios.
The 36 joins another project about angels on Earth, Syfy’s series Dominion, based on the feature Legion. Groundswell recently produced the Amazon comedy series Betas and is also producing ABC’s straight-to-series drama The Astronaut Wives Club. Additionally, the company is developing a series adaptation of Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A …
Breaking Boston will premiere Thursday, March 13 at 10 PM on A&E Network, which already is home to producer Mark Wahlberg‘s family restaurant series Wahlburgers. The new docu-drama will center on four working-class women coming of age in hardscrabble Boston and was inspired by the tough, hard-as-nails female characters in Wahlberg‘s Oscar-nominated movie The Fighter. A&E ordered the pilot in November 2012 and picked up the series last May. “These are real women telling their original stories of trying to break out of what’s expected of them,” said Wahlberg who himself was raised in Boston and just earned his high school diploma at age 42. “The odds are difficult, but I believe they can make it.” The series is from 44 Blue Prods, Wahlberg’s Closest to the Hole Prods, Leverage Entertainment and Bill Thompson Prods. Wahlberg, Stephen Levison and Thompson are executive producers. Executive producers for 44 Blue are Stephanie Drachkovich and Jennifer Colbert. Lily Neumeyer and Devon Graham are exec producing for the network.
Actors/pop singers/producers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg can add reality TV stars to their resumes with A&E’s Wahlburgers. While A&E’s flagship Duck Dynasty has lost some of its ratings prowess this season, it has helped launch a potential new breakout for the network in freshman reality series Wahlburgers, which chronicles brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg’s efforts to expand their burger restaurant business in the Boston area. Three weeks into Wahlburgers‘ run, A&E has ordered 18 more episodes of the series, double its original order of 9 episodes. Wahlburgers, which follows Duck Dynasty, has seen audience growth week to week, averaging 3.5 million total viewers to date. “Viewers are responding to the heartwarming dynamics of Boston’s first family as they balance living in the Hollywood spotlight and growing a business,”said David McKillop, General Manager and EVP of A&E. Wahlburgers is produced by 44 Blue Prods., in association with Closest to the Hole Productions, Leverage Entertainment and Donnie D Productions. Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Donnie Wahlberg exec produce with 44 Blue’s Rasha Drachkovitch.
Former VH1 executive Shelly Tatro has joined A&E Network of SVP Development & Programming. Based in New York, she will oversee the development and production of A&E’s nonfiction, alternative and reality series, reporting to EVP and general manager David McKillop. “Shelly has a great reputation for having her finger on the pulse of the industry,” McKillop said. Tatro joined VH1 in 1996 as Director of Series & Specials, and served as SVP Production & Programming from 2003 until October 2013 when she exited the network. At VH1, Tatro oversaw development and production for such shows as Mob Wives, Love And Hip Hop, Hogan Knows Best, I Want To Work For Diddy and Black Ink Crew. Tatro and her team also launched the I Love the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s franchise and Rock Docs. Additionally, Tatro developed Jersey Shore before it premiered on sister channel MTV and developed and produced the pilot for another project that migrated to MTV, A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila. Before joining VH1, she was a freelance producer in New York and also was part of the launch team for Barry Diller’s home shopping network Q2.
Canal Plus’s The Returned (Les Revenants) is probably the hottest global drama format at the moment. The stylish zombie series, a breakout hit in France and number of international territories, just won an International Emmy for Best Drama series and has a high-profile remake in the works at A&E with Carlton Cuse. Now Sundance Channel, which had acquired the first eight-episode season of the series, launching it this past Halloween, has picked up The Returned‘s upcoming second season, which is about to go into production, in a deal with Zodiak Rights. It will debut in the US in late 2014. “The Returned has proven to be an incredible addition to our slate,” said Sundance president Sarah Barnett. “We were delighted with the overwhelming critical and fan response to the series and we expect that season two will continue to seduce and chill audiences.” Created by Fabrice Gobert, Les Revenants was inspired by the 2004 feature film by the same name directed by Robin Campillo. It is set in an idyllic French mountain town where a seemingly random collection of people find themselves in a state of confusion as they attempt to return to their homes without realizing that they have been dead for several years. ABC’s similarly themed drama Resurrection premieres on March 9.
Playing a police detective who tracks down serial killers on A&E Network‘s dark new drama series Those Who Kill could be draining, star Chloe Sevigny said — but not nearly as draining as guesting on The Mindy Project. ”I did Mindy and went home and cried,” she told TV critics at the TCA Winter TV Press Tour today, because she thought she’d done terribly on it. At the end of each work day on Those Who Kill, however, she went home and thought she’d done alright. Doing HBO’s polygamist drama Big Love was also trying, she said, because “everybody was yelling at her all day because everybody thought I was the bad guy.”
Related: TV Teaser: A&E’s ‘Those Who Kill’
Those Who Kill is based on a popular Danish crime series format inspired by the bestselling work of author Elsebeth Egholm. The series centers on Catherine Jensen (Sevigny), a freshly minted and incredibly smart police detective who tracks down serial killers. Jensen enlists the help of Thomas Schaffer (James D’Arcy), a forensic psychiatrist, to help her get into the minds of serial killers, all the while luring Schaffer into her own personal investigation of her missing brother.
Days after A&E announced it had decided to end Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s involuntary hiatus over remarks he made in a GQ interview – and just days before the hit reality series’ return to A&E’s lineup — the Robertson family and a popular gun manufacturer unveiled a new Duck Commander line of shotguns, semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic pistols, etc.
Willie Robertson, CEO of the family’s Duck Commander, made no reference to the imminent announcement on New Year’s Eve, when he and wife Kori appeared on FNC’s ball-dropping late-night special. The press had hoped for something zippier out of that appearance than the “there will be fun good comedy from the family” and “we’re just glad to be back to work… and A&E and us are fine” script to which Willie stuck like glue no matter how many different ways FNC’s Bill Hemmer and Elisabeth Hasselbeck tried to gin up some headlines with questions about the family’s battle with A&E over Phil’s interview. Kori contributed, “We’re all happy, happy, happy. … The best thing about this show is we get to do it as a family.” The only shred of news Hemmer and Hasselbeck managed to pry out of Willie was the “spoiler” that he hires a “good looking assistant for me…and that will be revealed on the show this year.” Asked how father Phil was celebrating the New Year, and his victory over A&E, Willie said, “I reckon he’s asleep” because it’s duck hunting season and he has to get up early.
A&E’s ‘Duck Dynasty’ Headache Continues Despite Phil Robertson’s Return; FNC Snags New Year’s Eve Interview With His Kin
A&E’s Duck Dynasty headache might not be over: Fox News Channel officially announced it will ring in 2014 with Willie and Korie Robertson during its All-American New Year special, which starts at 9 PM Eastern on Tuesday. Appearing live via satellite from Steamboat Springs, CO, for their first television appearance following A&E‘s reinstatement of Phil Robertson on the hit reality series, his son and daughter-in-law will discuss the situation with FNC’s Bill Hemmer and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. The couple also will reflect on 2013 and discuss the year ahead, FNC promised. (Hasselbeck, you’ll recall, visited the Robertson’s home and Duck Call center in Louisiana, with Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, when she made her debut on Fox & Friends).
FNC on-air talent were among those blasting A&E over its decision to put Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson on hiatus indefinitely, owing to comments he made about homosexuality in a GQ interview. Sean Hannity gave out A&E exec phone numbers on his radio show; FNC contributor Sarah Palin took to social media to voice her support for Phil Robertson, saying that his suspension is an attack on free speech. “Free speech is an endangered species,” she wrote on Facebook.
UPDATED: GLAAD, the advocacy group whose swift reaction condemning Phil Robertson‘s controversial comments to GQ contributed to A&E‘s decision to suspend the Duck Dynasty star on Dec. 18, and Faith Driven Consumers, the organization behind the IStandWithPhil.com petition, have issued statements in response to A&E’s decision today to lift Robertson’s suspension. GLAAD did not appear especially pleased with the network’s decision, making it clear it doesn’t condone Robertson’s comments on gay relationships and Black Americans’ lives pre-Civil Rights, calling for a dialogue and urging A&E parent A+E Networks not to choose “profits over African American and gay people.” For A&E, co-owned by Walt Disney Co. and Hearst Corp., Duck Dynasty has been the biggest revenue driver, generating some $400 million in merchandise sales, according to Forbes, and bagging $80 million in ad sales for the first nine months of this year alone.
Related: A&E Lifts Phil Robertson’s Suspension; ‘Duck Dynasty’ To Resume Filming In Spring
Meanwhile, North Carolina-based Faith Driven Consumer took credit for Robertson’s reinstatement, which the group claims “is in direct response to the powerful and engaged voices of millions of Faith Driven Consumers, as highlighted by more than 260,000 signers of the IStandWithPhil.com petition.” The organization also insists it should be part of any dialogue A&E would have with advocacy groups and urges A&E to “embrace of our biblically based values and deeply held beliefs.” Here are the two statements:
UPDATED: Facing a firestorm of criticism that has shown little signs of subsiding, A&E parent company A+E Networks just issued a statement (read it below) announcing that the flagship A&E reality series Duck Dynasty will resume filming in the spring with the entire Robertson family — including patriarch Phil Robertson. The company put him on an “indefinite hiatus” on December 18 following the controversial comments he made in an interview to GQ. Duck Dynasty had been on a scheduled hiatus when the bombshell comments were made public. It had been slated to resume production in the spring, so today’s decision, which A+E said was made “after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups,” reverts to the show’s original filming schedule. The groups whose cooperation A+E sought are said to include GLAAD, which blasted Robertson’s initial anti-gay comments, and NAACP.
Duck Dynasty has nine of the 10 episodes for the upcoming fifth season with Phil in the can. It will film the final 10th episode before proceeding with production on the following cycle. In its statement today, A+E referred to the December 19 statement by the Robertson family in which they admitted that “some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible” but stressed that “Phil would never incite or encourage hate.” In the same statement, the family stood firmly behind their patriarch, indicating they would rather walk away from the show then film without Phil.
The stakes in the stand-off were high, with both A&E and the Robertsons poised to lose tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars, though the family had already amassed a fortune, emboldening them to make a stand. Since the controversy erupted, Phil Robertson has been defiant, reiterating his stance on gay relationships at a Bible study group. He has drawn massive support from conservatives, both politicians and regular folk, with a petition asking for his reinstatement amassing more than 250,000 signatures as of this morning. Cracker Barrel’s attempt to pull some items carrying the Phil Robertson brand Duck Commander created such strong backlash that the stores quickly restocked the items. The controversy pitted religious believes vs. tolerance and equality. It exposed the deep divisions in the country, and A+E said it wants to come out of it “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people” with a campaign across all of its networks that the company hopes the Robertsons will be part of. The brouhaha further raised awareness for Duck Dynasty, already a monster hit, some two weeks before its fifth-season premiere, which would likely shatter more ratings records. Here’s A+E’s statement:
As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.
Duck Dynasty reality star Phil Robertson spoke publicly for the first time today following his A&E suspension and defended the anti-gay comments that got him in hot water with the network. “We are a bunch of rednecks from Louisiana, but I am not uneducated, I have a degree from Louisiana Tech. But this week I have been called an ignoramus,” he told a Bible study group in West Monroe, Louisiana as reported by The Daily Mail. “This week I have been asked, ‘Is this the first time you have brought up sin?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding? I have been traveling to and fro spreading this message. ‘Then he said, ‘Well do you invite yourself to go and get your Bible and tell people what you are now sharing with us?’ I said, “No they are inviting me.” Last week Robertson set off a still-blazing media firestorm with his comments in GQ magazine’s January issue calling homosexuality a sin. “I love all men and women. I am a lover of humanity, not a hater,” Robertson said Sunday. Leading a prayer he said, “I will not give or back off from my path because you conquered death, Father, so we are not worried about all the repercussions,” without direct mention of A&E and the Duck Dynasty show. Later during the church’s service, son Alan Robertson addressed the media firestorm …
UPDATE, 2:45 PM: Some Washingtonians were disappointed this afternoon when no one stepped up to ask President Obama a Duck Dynasty question during his last news conference of the calendar year. The disappointed ones had a pool going, in re which reporter would ask POTUS a question about the recently suspended Duck Dynasty star. “Moral dilemma for White House reporters: Duck Dynasty question guarantees pickup and/but..practical dilemma for @pfeiffer44: how much prep?” tweeted Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for Time magazine, Time.com, and MSNBC. (instead, Obama got asked whether 2013 had been the “worst year of your presidency,” a couple NSA surveillance questions and what he thought was his biggest mistake of the year. Answer: ACA rollout.)
A&E has no plans to edit down, or out, show patriarch Phil Robertson’s appearances in the nine episodes that have already been completed of the show’s upcoming 10-episode fifth season, scheduled to debut on January 15. And it is hoping he will be back for Season 6. That said, the network is giving some thought to pushing back start of production on the next batch of episodes currently slated for spring, according to informed sources, as it attempts to see what it can salvage from the wreck left by this week’s GQ article and newly unearthed Phil video. In that 2010 video, Robertson is seen making an impassioned speech against the “gross sexual immorality” of “women with women” and “men with men.” The video, first uploaded by various attendees of a Wild Game Supper of the Berean Bible Church, somewhere in Pennsylvania, shows Robertson alternately demonstrating bird calls, defining his pursuit of happiness as “to blow a duck’s head smooth off,” and discussing the “shameful lust” going on in this country.
“Women with women. Men with men. They committed indecent acts with one another. And they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion,” Robertson said in the video. “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant God haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless, they invent ways of doing evil.”
PREVIOUS, 8:47 AM: A&E Network has had to beef up security at its New York headquarters after receiving death threats and suspicious packages from people enraged about the network’s decision to suspend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. No formal meetings are schedule today between A&E and the Robertson clan, who yesterday issued a statement saying they “cannot imagine” doing the show without Phil — which, loosely translated, means “No Phil – no show.” That said, the network, which has had a good working relationship with the family (as the clan noted in its statement), is “always talking to them,” as one source with knowledge of the family said. The decision to suspend Phil Robertson triggered a firestorm and has created some strange bedfellows; last night Jon Stewart defended Phil’s “right to say ignorant shit” — joining Phil defenders Sarah Palin, who’d tweeted “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us,” and Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who’d pronounced it “It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.”
Remember the good ratings for David Blaine’s ABC magic special a couple of weeks ago that we felt would spur more magic programs? A&E Network picked up Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, a new unscripted series featuring magician Andrew Mayne. The series, which will premiere January 13 at 10 PM with back-to-back episodes, has Mayne performing illusions designed to help people get even by teaching a lesson to those who’ve wronged them. Mayne employs anything from explosions to disappearing cars and slight-of-hand, with one large illusion and five smaller illusions per episode. They include cars “melting away”, iPhones winding up in a “pickle” and someone’s precious motorcycle getting shot out of the sky. Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne is produced by Joke Prods., with Joke Fincioen, Biagio Messina, Mayne and Mary Jaras exec producing.
EXCLUSIVE: A&E Network’s upcoming drama Those Who Kill doesn’t debut until March, but this weekend there’ll be sneak peek shown during the network’s two-part Bonnie & Clyde miniseries. Why wait until then to see Chloë Sevigny as police detective Catherine Jensen in the series from Imagine TV and Fox 21. Here’s the clip:
A Dog Mystery: Is ‘Family Guy’s Brian Gone?
By Nellie Andreeva – Family Guy fans are up in arms this morning over the shocking death of the show’s talking dog Brian, hit by a car in last night’s episode. There is already a petition calling for the dog’s resurrection. While Brian was definitely positively dead and buried by the Griffins in the episode, some fans are suspicious.
MSNBC’s Next Headache: What To Do About Martin Bashir
By Lisa de Moraes – MSNBC‘s joint announcement today with Alec Baldwin’s camp that they had mutually decided to end Baldwin’s Up Late interview show leaves the cable news network with just one on-air talent headache: Martin Bashir, whose apology for graphic comments he made about Sarah Palin hasn’t ended chatter as to whether he should be punished.
Alec Baldwin Won’t Be ‘Up Late’ On MSNBC Any More
By Lisa de Moraes – MSNBC and Alec Baldwin‘s camp announced jointly that Baldwin’s Friday show is toast: “We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC,” MSNBC and Baldwin rep Matthew Hiltzik said. Added MSNBC: “This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best.”
’60 Minutes’ Benghazi Fallout: Lara Logan, Producer Take Leave Of Absence
By Lisa de Moraes – Lara Logan, the reporter behind 60 Minutes‘ now-discredited story on the Benghazi attacks, has agreed to take a leave of absence from CBS News. Also taking a leave is producer Max McClellan.