EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has sprung for a pitch from Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan, who wrote the last four Saw films, to adapt Alvin Schwartz’s classic spooky tale collection Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I’m told it was a competitive bidding for the project, which will see Melton and Dunstan adapt some of the Scary short stories into a screenplay about a group of outcast kids who stand up to their fears to save their town when nightmares come to life. Sean Daniel and Jason Brown of Sean Daniel Company and Elizabeth Grave of 1212 Entertainment will produce, with Roberto Grande and Joshua Long exec producing. SDC and 1212 initially optioned rights before teaming up with Melton and Dunstan, who are repped by WME and Trevor Engelson at Underground. VP Mark Ross and Creative Executive Alex Ginno are overseeing the project for CBS Films.
Schwartz collected the Scary Stories tales from folklore and urban legend. The three-book children’s series, which has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide, began with 1981′s Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark and continued with More Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (1984) and Scary Stories 3: More Tales To Chill Your Bones (1991). Scribes Melton and Dunstan got their start in horror but also recently wrote on Pacific Rim and were tapped to pen Disney’s Stuff of Legend, … Read More »
CBS has put in development Doc Ford, a drama project based on Randy Wayne White’s book series. Chris Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning, The Bridge) is writing the adaptation, about a retired NSA agent-turned-marine biologist who gets justice for those in need on the Gulf Coast of southern Florida. Gerolmo and Jeffrey Kramer are executive producing for CBS TV Studios, and Rick Rosenthal is supervising producer. Gerolmo, who also created the FX Iraq war series Over There, is repped by ICM Partners, as is White. The Doc Ford book series consists of 20 novels, starting with 1990′s Sanibel Flats. The most recent, Night Moves, was published last year.
Chi McBride has been upped to series regular on CBS‘ Hawaii Five-O. CBS announced last summer McBride, who starred in the network’s short-lived Golden Boy, would guest star on the fourth season debut of Five-0, playing SWAT Captain Lou Grover – a character from the original series. At the time, it was suggested more episodes with McBride were likely. With its switch from Monday at 10 PM to Fridays at 9 this season, and without those younger-skewing Monday comedies as its leadin, Five-0 is up 17% in overall audience — from 10.2 million to nearly 12 million viewers — but is down 19% in the demo; its median age has increased from last season’s 55.8 years at this point last season, to 59.5 this season to date.
“Well, I know this sounds corny, but the only thing I ever wanted in my career was to be on CBS, the home of my idol Jackie Gleason,” McBride enthused in today’s announcement.
They would be on more stable legal footing if they just jumped in the surf off the coasts of America’s 50th state. After being in, then out, and then in again, CBS today is really back in the multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the Hawaii Five-O reboot. In a downtown hearing today, LA Superior Court Judge Gregory Alarcon denied the network’s latest bid to be let out of the case brought by talent agent George Litto. In his ruling on the summary judgment motion, Alarcon made no finding on the merits of the actual case, which is now set for a January 21, 2014 trial date. However, the judge did agree with Litto’s contention that CBS had clear knowledge of the partials rights that the talent agent held to the series in conjunction with creator Leonard Freeman’s estate. The agent to Freeman, Litto is seeking $10 million in punitive damages and a share of the profits from the rebooted show, which CBS brought back in 2010. “Once again, this is a procedural hearing, and we remain confident that we’ll prevail on the actual merits of the case at trial,” a CBS spokesperson told me after today’s hearing.
It’s been quite a road to get where CBS is now. In January of this year, Alarcon agreed with CBS’ then demurrer and removed the network from the suit Litto first filed in May 2012. But in July, Alarcon changed his mind and put CBS back in the lawsuit with Freeman’s heirs after the plaintiff assured the court that legal battle over Five-O was about money and not CBS’ ability to continue to produce the show. In September, Judge Elizabeth Allen White denied CBS’ effort to again get out of the case. Read More »
Edi Patterson has been cast as a regular in Braddock & Jackson (working title), FX/Lionsgate’s 10-episode comedy series starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence as Chicago lawyers from vastly different backgrounds who develop a partnership after they unexpectedly meet in court on the worst day of their lives. Patterson, repped by UTA and Parallel Entertainment, will play Verushka, a sexy Russian woman who co-owns the massage shop next door. She is part of the Groundlings and was a guest writer on SNL last season.
Tongayi Chirisa, who co-starred in CBS’ Jim Gaffigan/Peter Tolan comedy pilot last season, has been recruited for the retooled version. Originally only star Gaffiganwas slated to return; he will now be joined by Chirisa. Co-written by Gaffigan and Tolan, the project, inspired by Gaffigan’s real life, stars the comedian as the happily married and harried NYC father of five as he is in real life. Chirisa, repped by Domain and New Wave, plays Father Nicholas Ngungumbane, a Catholic priest from Zimbabwe, recently relocated to New York and thrilled to be living in the United States, who tries to convince Jim to come to church more often.
D.J. Petroro, who is Linda Bell Blue‘s No. 2, and Linda Fuller will be taking the reins of the show, CBS Television Distribution made official today. Bell Blue will remain in her job through the end of the current season, with the new team taking over for the show’s 33rd season in the fall. Her pending departure from Entertainment Tonight was first reported in September. Bell Blue, who has spent 19 years as executive producer of the iconic syndicated Hollywood-centric show, has signed a multi-year deal to transition into a new role as president of the newly created Entertainment Tonight Studios. In her new gig, she will oversee the creation of Entertainment Tonight-branded series and specials for cable, broadcast and digital platforms. This is not a stretch — during her nearly two decades on the show, she executive produced loads of CBS primetime specials: the ABC reunion special Entertainment Tonight Presents: Laverne & Shirley Together Again; the recently produced Entertainment Tonight Presents: The Katy Perry Experience for TVGN; and four ET-branded specials on weight, plastic surgery, unsolved mysteries, and scandals and drug use in Hollywood. Read More »
You know who loves the MSNBC Puts Alec Baldwin’s New Show On Two-Week Suspension After Alleged Homophobic Rant story? CBS News, which is happy for any bright shiny light that distracts media finger-waggers from its botched 60 Minutes Benghazi report. Unfortunately, the two media-centric Sunday shows, on cable news networks CNN and Fox News Channel, weighed in anyway, though no damning new revelations or accusations came to light. Neither show was impressed with CBS’ internal review of the newsmag’s Benzhazi segment, which CBS News has said was reported out for a year. It was based on bum information given by a now discredited security contractor who’d written a now-discredited book about the incident for CBS’ publishing division. Some of Sunday’s talking heads noted CBS News exec producer Al Ortiz will be taking the results of his investigation into the failure of 60 Minutes exec producer Jeff Fager to the chairman of CBS News — Jeff Fager. “60 Minutes needs to re-report this story and share the results with the public,” advised CBS News alum Terence Smith on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Lara Logan’s day of apologizing “isn’t enough,” chimed in Fox News’ MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz, who also called for an outside investigation, adding his boilerplate “We all make mistakes — myself included.”
Related: ’60 Minutes’ Wraps Ups With Another Apology For Botched Benghazi Report
Watch both shows: Read More »
Prepare to say goodbye to How I Met Your Mother and hello to How I Met Your Dad. After a pretty brief, two-week negotiation that underlined the HIMYM franchise’s importance to CBS, the network has closed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV for a pilot order to a spinoff project, which takes a female spin on the original show. How I Met Your Dad, which was pitched on October 30, hails from HIMYM creators/executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and Up All Night creator/exec producer Emily Spivey. Described as a kindred spirit of How I Met Your Mother telling the story from a female point of view, Dad tells a brand-new story with new characters and a new voice at its center. Linking the new group of New York friends and the HIMYM gang will be Ted, Barney, Marshall, Lily and Robin’s favorite hangout, MacLaren’s Pub, which also will be featured on the new show, written and executive produced by Spivey, Bays and Thomas. It is unclear if the characters from the spinoff would be introduced in the HIMYM finale as originally envisioned.
CBS certainly could use more HIMYM — the veteran comedy is the key piece holding together … Read More »
The CBS chief is taking Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen at his word after he said this week that there’s a way for broadcasters to benefit from his Hopper DVR, which automatically zaps ads on recorded shows. “We’re very flexible. We’re willing to negotiate,” Les Moonves told investors today at the Guggenheim Securities TMT Symposium. Calling Ergen “a very smart man” he says “if there’s a way to do this that benefits everybody, we’re very open to it.” But the bottom line has to be that “we need to get paid for our content…. We spend $4M an episode for NCIS. I have to pay for it.” Broadcasters have sued Dish alleging that the Hopper infringes on their copyrights; Dish counters that it simply automates the ad skipping that DVR viewers already do. The fate of the device is an issue in Dish’s current program carriage negotiations with Disney. Ergen says the Hopper “has built-in technology that can target commercials to customers in a better [way]” and “give the broadcaster more revenue” — although he added that “it’s not a proven concept yet.” Read More »
The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute To The Beatles will air from 8-10 PM February 9, on CBS – the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s first U.S. TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. No names were announced, but CBS said the special, which will be taped the day after the Grammys on January 27, will feature top artists covering the songs performed by the group during the landmark TV performance and other Beatles songs throughout the years. It also will include footage from the Sullivan Show performance and other archival material and various presenters will highlight the group’s musical, cultural and historical impact. The special is produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures, LLC. Ken Ehrlich is the executive producer.
In his new role Mickey Carter will work with CBS’ team of negotiators and assist in multiplatform and distribution strategies for all CBS-owned properties. He will work together with Jonathan Sarrow, another former Fox exec, who was recently appointed to a similar role within the Television Distribution division. Both will report to Ray Hopkins, President of the department. Carter recently served as VP of National Accounts at Fox News, where he managed the business relationships with all major cable, satellite and telco companies that distributed Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network content. Before that, Carter served as Senior Director of Programming for Time Warner Cable.
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Pelley is a star 60 Minutes correspondent and landed the anchor chair at a broadcast nightly newscast without an agent. Imagine what he can do with one. The CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor has signed with WME for representation in all areas. The newscast has been improving since Pelley took over in 2011, currently up 8% season to date among total viewers compared with last year. Emmy winner Pelley has been a correspondent on CBS’ 60 Minutes since 2004, with his segments responsible for half of the major awards won by the venerable newsmagazine. In the field, Pelley was one of the first reporters on the scene after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City and also reported extensively from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pelley previously was CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent, covering the Clinton administration.
CBS News Wraps ’60 Minutes’ With Apology For Botched Benghazi Report
CBS Big Winner At News And Documentary Emmy Awards
Two days after the company announced that Louis Briskman was stepping down as SVP and General Counsel, CBS today named his successor. Former NBCUniversal General Counsel Lawrence Tu will take over as Senior EVP and Chief Legal Officer of CBS Corporation in January of next year. “He brings to this position a unique combination of experiences at the highest court of the land, as well as in finance, M&A, entertainment, government regulation, litigation and technology,” said CBS chief Les Moonves of Tu in a statement Wednesday. Tu will be based out of LA and report directly to Moonves, CBS said today. Harvard grad and Rhodes scholar Tu served as NBC’s General Counsel from 2001 to 2004 before moving to the same position at Dell, where he was until today’s announcement. Before his stint at NBC, Tu was co-general counsel of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific out of Hong Kong after a decade and a half at powerhouse firm O’Melveny & Myers, where he became the managing partner of their Hong Kong office. A former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the lawyer also served at the State Department in his career.
Tu’s predecessor at CBS, Briskman was a 30-year veteran of the company. After a one-year stint at Aetna Inc., Briskman rejoined the company in 2005 and became EVP and General Counsel … Read More »