The CW has unveiled its summer schedule, which includes originals on all five nights the network programs. That includes the reboot of Whose Line Is It Anyway? which originally launched last summer, now moving to a new night, Mondays. It will be joined by original episodes of Beauty And The Beast, which has been benched for the rest of the season; two new scripted offerings, Canadian comedy Seed and web-to-TV comedy Backpackers; docu-reality series Famous In 12; and two magic series, Penn & Teller: Fool Us and a Masters Of Illusion revival. Here is the CW summer schedule with premiere dates and descriptions of the new series:
UPDATE: Warner Bros Taps Former Clinton Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers As Communications Chief; Sue Fleishman Exiting
UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM MYERS AND FLEISHMAN: Warner Bros has hired former White House Press Secretary and longtime political strategist/analyst Dee Dee Myers as EVP Worldwide Corporate Communications and Public Affairs replacing nine-year veteran Sue Fleishman. The move comes after Fleishman had to negotiate through a very rocky transition at the studio through several shakeups in 2013. That included the ascension of new Warner Bros Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara and the exits of the other two WB biggies angling for that gig — Warner Bros TV boss Bruce Rosenblum last May and Warner Brothers Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov the next month.
Myers is coming into a studio rocked by these exits. And although Warner Bros is still reaping the benefits of the pictures greenlit by Robinov — Gravity, The Lego Movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire, and others — it is being led by a studio chairman who has been in the job only a year and is seen as still trying to get his footing. The question is what will happen once the studio blows through all the projects set in motion by Robinov and what characteristic mark will Tsujihara make during his tenure? Fleishman was seen as Barry Meyer’s guy, which is kind of interesting because so was Tsujihara so go figure. Fresh blood now.
Warner Bros. has had a terrific run at the box office from those aforementioned films and is a force to be reckoned with TV powerhouse with such properties as The Big Bang Theory, The Voice, Two and Half Men, The Following, to name a few. They are also partnered with CBS in the CW Network where they produce Arrow, The Vampire Diaries, Shameless, and syndicated hit The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Myers is a smart, aggressive woman who is not afraid to speak up. In fact, she wrote a book Why Women Should Rule The World about how things might be better worldwide if more women were in leadership roles. Her husband has long worked as a journalist (at the New York Times and Politico) and is currently the national editor and political correspondent at Vanity Fair (where Myers also wrote). Originally from Los Angeles, she worked for many years with former Mayor Tom Bradley and other politicians before heading to Washington, working with Walter Mondale’s campaign, Michael Dukakis, Dianne Feinstein, and then, of course, with President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton as the White House press secretary for the first two years of the administration. She was the first female press secretary and one of the youngest to hold the job.
She is certainly not the first political press secretary/strategist to make the move to Hollywood. Years ago, Anna Perez, Barbara Bush’s press secretary, was hired at CAA. Zenia Mucha, currently EVP and chief communications officer at Disney, worked for Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and NY Gov. George Pataki. And Kori Bernards at Universal Pictures previously worked at the MPAA and in D.C. for 13 years with then-Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Nancy Pelosi (now House Minority Leader). “There is a fair number of people who go back and forth,” said Myers. “There’s an affinity between politics and entertainment but that being said, it’s very different and there will be a transition for me.”
New Line has added Colton Haynes (Teen Wolf) to the cast of San Andreas. Haynes, who plays Roy Harper on the CW superhero show Arrow, joins Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario in the quake pic directed by Brad Peyton. Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson are producing the film about an ex-Special Ops firefighter pilot (Johnson) who searches a devastated California for his estranged daughter after the Big One hits. Rob Cowan is exec producer and Hiram Garcia is co-producer on the pic. Haynes’ credits include TV series Look, The Gates, and The Nine Lives of Chloe King. He’s repped by ICM and Podwall Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Who Is Dayani Cristal? opened the World Cinema Documentary section at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and won that year’s cinematography award. Focusing on the death of migrant workers in the Sonora desert, the film follows a team from the Pima County Morgue in Arizona as they try to identify a man who died trying to enter the U.S. through that dangerous path. Mexican actor and activist Gael Garcia Bernal investigates the life of the immigrant, known as Dayani Cristal, retracing the man’s harrowing journey along the migrant trail in Central America. Marc Silver directs. Bernal also produces with Lucas Ochoa and Thomas Benski. The pic is set to bow on April 25 in NYC and will expand nationwide in the following weeks. Check out the trailer:
‘Midnight Rider’ Director Randall Miller Attempting To Move Forward With Film In LA Following Sarah Jones Death
EXCLUSIVE: Filming was suspended following the fatal February 20 train accident that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones on the Georgia set of Midnight Rider – but Deadline has learned that director/producer Randall Miller is hoping to move forward with the production as early as June.
A source close to Miller confirms that discussions are underway on proceeding with the Gregg Allman biopic, but not in the Savannah-Atlanta region where the Jones death occurred. According to sources with knowledge of the plans, Miller wants to instead resume filming in the Los Angeles area where he and his Unclaimed Freight banner are based. According to one source with knowledge of the production, Allman, who is the executive producer on Midnight Rider, has to sign off on it too but it’s not clear if he has yet. A rep for Allman did not return calls seeking comment. It appears that Miller and Unclaimed Freight believe they have a legal right to move forward to complete the film.
Atlanta-based Jones, 27, died when a train collided with equipment on active tracks in rural Doctortown, GA where the crew of Midnight Rider was set up for filming on a train trestle overlooking the Altamaha River. The film’s producers were reportedly still trying to rally crew to continue filming in the days immediately following the accident. Production was officially suspended six days later; Open Road Films still has a distribution agreement to release the film.
EXCLUSIVE: Ann Peacock is staying in Africa for her next writing gig, signing on to pen the feature adaptation of Asher Naim‘s 2003 book Saving The Lost Tribe: The Rescue And Redemption Of The Ethiopian Jews. First Born Films has optioned the book and life rights to Naim, the one-time Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia. The book tells the true story of the rescue and redemption of the black Jews of Ethiopia, known as the Falashas, who in May 1991 with the country devolving into a brutal civil war were airlifted to Jerusalem by the Israeli air force in a plan Naim helped hatch that involved paying off brutal Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Meriam and raising cash mostly from the U.S. Jewish community. About 14,000 Falashas made the trip over the course of 25 harrowing hours in a coordinated effort known as Operation Solomon. The book’s main themes focused on the Falashas’ struggle to endure more than 3,000 years in Ethiopia amid famine and tribal wars and the true meaning of faith and identity.
Peacock, who is South African, has a diverse set of adaptations on her resume that includes her first pic, HBO’s A Lesson Before Dying, which won the Outstanding TV Movie Emmy in 1999 as well as the writing Emmy for her. She also adapted the first Chronicles of Narnia film based on the C.S. Lewis book series, Nicolas Sparks’ novel Nights In Rodanthe starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane and Valerie Tripp’s Kit Kittredge books into the 2008 feature starring Abigail Breslin. Peacock’s latest credit is also set in Africa: 2011′s The First Grader, the BBC Films pic based on the true story of an 84-year-old Kenyan and ex-Mau Mau freedom fighter who goes to school for the first time.
The tech-heavy exchange fell 3.1% today to a two-month low as investors, fearful that the bull market for Internet and biotech companies has run its course, continued to shift their cash into more conservative investments. On NASDAQ’s worst day since 2011, the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 2.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 1.6%. Media stocks also felt the chill: The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 2.8%. All of the major companies we track lost ground. CBS (-3.8%) was hardest hit in Big Media followed by Time Warner (-3.7%), Disney (-3.7%), Sony (-3.6%), Viacom (-3.6%), Comcast (-2.8%), News Corp (-2.2%), Fox (-2.1%), and Discovery (-1.7%). In the rest of the sector companies licking their wounds include Pandora (-10.5%), WWE (-7.2%), Facebook (-5.2%), Netflix (-5.2%), Lionsgate (-4.8%), and RealD (-4.6%)
It is very difficult for showrunners to wrap production on a season without knowing if their series would get another season. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the network business, and about two dozen shows go though that every year. Here is a look at each network’s comedy and drama series in peril and their odds for survival.
With all the drama carnage at ABC this season (Lucky 7, Betrayal, Killer Women, Mind Games, The Assets), the network is pretty lean on the hourlong side, and all shows currently on the air have a good shot at coming back. That includes two freshman series, fall drama Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., despite slipping in the ratings, and midseason entry Resurrection. Of returning dramas, there is no doubt about renewals for Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, especially with stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey signed on, and Scandal, as well as Castle and Once Upon A Time. While it was heavily on the bubble last season, country music drama Nashville appears in a stronger position this spring and looks likely to continue. And, despite its ratings erosion, Revenge remains a signature, upscale drama for ABC that the network also owns. Because of its heavy mythology with a revenge storyline that has been central to the show since the pilot, it is unlikely that ABC would abruptly end the series without giving it a final chapter to wrap things up.
Things are far murkier on the comedy side where there are three shoe-ins, anchors Modern Family and The Middle and freshman The Goldbergs. None of these hail from ABC’s sister studio, and building a steady comedy pipeline at ABC Studios has been important for the overall health of the company. There are three ABC Studios-produced comedy series on ABC at the moment, all on the bubble: freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology and sophomore The Neighbors. The network will likely renew at least one comedy from its own studio. (Last year, it picked The Neighbors vs. 20th TV’s How To Live With Your Parents.) Of the three, Trophy Wife seems to have the biggest support and is the most promotable, with a star cast led by Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford. But the name cast also makes Trophy Wife the most expensive, and its ratings are pretty soft. The Neighbors, which comes from prominent Disney writer Dan Fogelman, costs way less, and, while only doing so-so on Fridays, it could deliver something ABC Studios has not seen in a while: a third-year comedy. (Fogelman also has comedy pilot Galavant in the running at ABC.) Then there is Mixology, which has not done well behind Modern Family. It stands out with its unusual structure — set in a bar over the course of one night — it has quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC. But relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge and growing ratings for such a show with a continues storyline would be very difficult. ABC has a recent history of sticking with narrow, quirky relationship comedies like Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- but all were eventually cancelled. 20th TV’s Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen is quietly wrapping its third season. It has done a decent job as a Friday 8 PM anchor and is ABC’s only multi-camera series. With several high-proile multi-camera pilots, the network could use Last Man Standing as a building block. (How about Allen paired with another comedy vet, Henry Winkler of The Winklers?).
Warner Bros Taps ‘Jungle Book’ Scribe Justin Marks To Adapt Vertigo Comics’ ‘Federal Bureau Of Physics’
EXCLUSIVE: Justin Marks is reuniting with producer David Goyer to adapt Vertigo Comics’ Federal Bureau Of Physics, penning the script based on a treatment by Simon Oliver, who created the comic with Robbi Rodriguez. The comic series was titled Collider before the name was changed last year. Nellie Reed from Goyer’s company is also producing the Warner Bros pic; Jon Berg is overseeing for the studio. Goyer and Marks previously teamed at Warners with the latter adapting the DC Comics property Green Arrow: Escape From Supermax.
The comic series centers on the FBP, or the Federal Bureau of Physics, a group formed in a world where quantum disturbances happen all the time and must be dealt with.
Marks has been busy, with his Jungle Book at Disney and directed by Jon Favreau set for a October 9, 2015 release. He also just completed a military action thriller for Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney and penned 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo, also for Disney, when Sean Bailey was producing. He also adapted the DC project Suicide Squad for Dan Lin and Warners. Marks is repped by CAA, Madhouse Entertainment and attorney Stephen Clark.
On the producer side, Goyer, repped by WME, just set up the Justin Rhodes script The Breach at Lionsgate with Lorenzo DiBonaventura. Goyer will direct that this year.
MIPTV Briefs: Baltasar Kormakur To Direct & Produce Icelandic Series ‘Trapped’; ‘Boom!’ Goes To Spain; Japan’s Wowow Boards Scorsese Doc; More
Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur, who segues between Hollywood and home-based projects, is set to direct and produce serialized crime series Trapped in his native country. From Kormakur’s RVK Studios, it’s based on his original idea and written by Sigurjon Kjartansson and Clive Bradley. Trapped follows the investigation of the grisly murder of an unidentifiable man found in the water after an international ferry arrives in a small town at the bottom of a fjord. Soon after, a powerful blizzard hits the town with deadly force, making the only road in or out impassable. The 10-part series, the most ambitious Icelandic commission ever ordered, will air locally on public broadcaster RUV. RVK’s Magnus Vidar Sigurdsson is also producing and RVX, the effects arm of RVK, will design the VFX. Dynamic Television’s Daniel March and Klaus Zimmermann are executive producers and are handling worldwide distribution. Kormakur, whose The Deep was shortlisted for the Foreign Language Oscar in 2012, is currently directing Everest for Universal, Cross Creek Pictures and Working Title Films.
The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia
Anita Busch contributed to this report. First in a series.
Local, state, and federal investigations are underway to determine who from the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider is responsible for the February 20 train collision on location in rural Georgia that left 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones dead and seven others injured. As the production community rallies around the tragedy and calls for stronger guidelines to ensure that similar accidents never happen again, a Deadline investigation that included interviews with people on the ground in and around Savannah has revealed several troubling factors preceding the afternoon when the crew of the movie, directed and produced by Randall Miller through his Unclaimed Freight Productions banner, placed a metal hospital bed on the live train tracks overlooking Southern Georgia’s Altamaha River. Was the “whatever it takes” spirit that’s fueled filmmaking for decades partly to blame for such an avoidable on-set tragedy?
The city of Savannah, GA has been hungry to grow into a contender to rival competing industries in nearby Atlanta and Wilmington since generous incentives started boosting productions locally in 2009. After a busy 2012, however, film business slowed. Last year Paramount sequel SpongeBob SquarePants 2 was the lone feature to film in the city and became the center of a local firestorm when Jay Self, Savannah’s Film Commissioner of 18 years, was terminated after fighting with the studio over permit requests he said did not adequately protect the interests of local business owners and the City of Savannah.
Self publicly accused city officials of ordering him to approve permits for productions like SpongeBob SquarePants 2 in his termination hearing statement. He told me last month in Savannah that his bosses urged him to issue permits against his concerns when an L.A.-based director came to town to make a new movie in 2012. Self said his concerns went unheeded, and the same filmmaker in question prepared to bring his next feature production to Georgia. That filmmaker was Randall Miller.
Midnight Rider And The Accident Of February 20, 2014
The Allman biopic Midnight Rider was set to be Miller’s third feature in three years in the Savannah area. He and his L.A.-based Unclaimed Freight first brought production cash flowing into the city’s local economy in 2011 with the Jim Caveziel / Chiwetel Ejiofor-starrer Savannah. The following year he came back to film the NYC-set punk period piece CBGB. By the time he returned with Midnight Rider, Miller had developed a favored position within the local industry, despite his reputation for instilling a maverick sensibility on his sets and surrounding himself with a team of like-minded production crew.
Syfy‘s Sharknado 2: The Second One is similar to the original Sharknado — but in New York, director Anthony C. Ferrante told reporters at NBCU’s Summer Press Day. “We never stopped making the first movie,” he told a reporter who asked how the second would differ from the first. “This thing never stopped…If it stayed in Los Angeles it would have been boring,” he said, but the sequel will feature the Statue of Liberty and Broadway, which, of course, the original could not. In the sequel, killer sharks get caught up in a massive tornado that invades Manhattan, making life a living hell for the locals. “This to me is the most important film ever made about climate change,” snarked cast member Judah Friedlander today at the NBCU Summer Press Day in Pasadena.
The team behind Amazon Studios‘ series Bosch was in town on Monday, talking up the adaptation of Michael Connelly’s bestselling books. Connelly was flanked by Titus Welliver who plays the iconic antihero Harry Bosch, as well as producer Henrik Bastin of Fabrik Entertainment, and Jan Frouman and Irina Ignatiew of Fabrik owner Red Arrow. Amazon first ordered a pilot to be written by Connelly in June 2013, and the series was picked up last month. The books revolve around the eponymous veteran LAPD homicide detective. Connelly said the stories will be culled from three books with a mixture of new material that will be “true to the city of Los Angeles and the character of Harry Bosch.” The 10-episode series is set in contemporary LA and is all shot there, which was very important to Connelly when he agreed to the adaptation. He said his thinking was, “I’m not going to make a deal with anyone who doesn’t agree to make every shot in Los Angeles.” And the city was accomodating, “The real LAPD let us shoot in the real detective bureau,” the first time, he said, that’s been done.
Welliver said the character in the series is very true to the books. “He doesn’t say much, the silences and moments of solitude in the …
MIPTV Briefs: Germany Finds ‘Utopia’; eOne Sells AMC Titles; ‘SAF3′ Secures 2nd Season; ITVSGE Adds Major Series; More
Social experiment format Utopia is getting a German version. The ProSiebenSat.1 Group has acquired rights with the local version to be a co-production between Talpa Media and its German partner, Schwartzkopff TV. In the States, Talpa Media U.S. is working with Fox on the American version for launch later this year. The reality series features a group of everyday people whisked to an isolated, undeveloped location for an entire year and challenged to create their own civilization.
Television executives are always on the hunt for the proverbial Next Big Thing, and for the past year or so, the Mipcom and Mip-TV markets have emerged as important hubs where some of the hottest new formats are unveiled. Following a strong showing at last fall’s Mipcom, Keshet‘s Rising Star sold around the world, including to ABC in the U.S. What will be the breakout format at Mip-TV which kicks off tomorrow? With the U.S. reality market yet to yield a new tentpole franchise since NBC premiered The Voice three years ago, and most established series more than a decade old, the necessity of finding reinforcements is ever more urgent and means execs need to be constantly vigilant as to where the new possibilities may be hidden. Likening the search to digging for truffles, Jennifer O’Connell, head of Core Media’s U.S. Television Division, says, “We’re really going to be sniffing around everywhere.” It’s important to keep a “very open mind to where a great idea can come from.” Regardless of the provenance, U.S. broadcasters are more apt to take a second look “if someone else did it first… It can be almost like an insurance policy,” she says.
EXCLUSIVE: Is Fox heading back to Temptation Island? I hear that the network is in talks for a pilot order to Couples Retreat, a new reality project that would put couples to the test. Unlike Fox’s controversial Temptation Island, which was trying to break couples whose relationship was not strong enough, Couples Retreat aims at helping couples whose relationships are struggling using an unconventional method: “each agree to go on a fantasy weekend with the opposite-gender partner of a similarly matched couple.” The provocative concept, which likely will draw swinging-couple references, is sure to raise eyebrows. The project, which is now casting, comes from Red Arrow-backed Kinetic Content, run by Chris Coelen, who previously worked on ABC’s Wife Swap.
The tech-heavy NASDAQ fell 2.6% today, apparently reflecting fears that many companies — after soaring in 2013 — will report disappointing info on Q1 sales. The concern has been building: Netflix, for example, is down 25.7% over the past month. But it seemed to spread today, and soured the rest of the market with the Standard & Poor’s 500 -1.3% and the Dow Jones U.S. Media Index -1.7%. Viacom, down 2.8%, was the hardest hit Big Media company followed by Fox (-2.6%), Comcast (-1.8%), CBS (-1.7%), Disney (-1.5%), Discovery (-0.8%), Time Warner (-0.4%), and Sony (-0.3%). News Corp was the only gainer in the group, rising 0.1%. In the broader media universe, Barnes & Noble fell 5.4% — for an 18% drop in the two days since Liberty Media said it will sell 90% of its holdings in the book retailer. Tech-oriented media companies followed including Netflix (-4.9%), Pandora (-4.9%), Google (-4.7%), Facebook (-4.6%), Yahoo (-4.2%), RealD (-4%), and Amazon (-3.2%). Only a few media stocks appreciated. They include Madison Square Garden (+0.4%), which sold its Fuse TV network, and Scripps Networks (+0.5%) after Wunderlich Securities’ Matthew Harrigan changed his recommendation to “buy” from “hold.”