Rhys Coiro (Hostages) and Joe Egender (Hunger) have landed lead roles in 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. Coiro will play Vern Elwood opposite Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta, Brendan Fraser and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Egender will play Beans Wilkins, a Ranger who is always hungry and looking for his next meal.
Disney’s proposed $500 million plus purchase of Maker Studios may have a problem from the past. The former CEO of the multichannel YouTube network wants a California judge to issue a temporary restring order against the planned vote next week on the big ticket merger. “Permitting the April 15, 2014 vote on the Merger to proceed without requiring additional disclosures would irreparably harm Plaintiffs, as well as Maker shareholders, because it would deprive them of the opportunity to make an informed vote in the Merger,” says the redacted and previously sealed application, filed yesterday in LA Superior Court by co-founder Danny Zapplin and three other former Maker execs. The TRO application alleges that something has to be done before it “will be too late” because current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” The application to Judge Elihu Berle became public today. Disney is not named as a defendant in the matter.
EXCLUSIVE: Thomas Lennon has joined the cast of Paramount’s Monster Trucks, the live-action/animation hybrid also starring Danny Glover, Jane Levy, Amy Ryan, Lucas Till, and Holt McCallany. Chris Wedge (Ice Age) is directing Paramount Animation‘s would-be franchise starter, which Mary Parent is producing. Plot details on the original script by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger and Derek Connolly are under wraps, but Lennon’s is a “significant” role. Filming begins this month ahead of a May 29, 2015, debut. Actor, writer, producer, and director Lennon currently exec produces Comedy Central’s social media-fueled @midnight with partner Robert Ben Garant, with whom he co-created the network’s cop satire Reno 911! and MTV’s The State. The pair also scripted comedy features The Pacifier, Let’s Go To Prison, and the Night at the Museum pics starring Ben Stiller, and wrote and directed the 2013 comedy Hell Baby.
Bravo Media has unveiled its slate of original programming at its upfront including 15 new series (two scripted), 16 returning series and three new projects in development. That includes Bravo’s first scripted comedy, Odd Mom Out, a half-hour series based on the life of author and fashionista Jill Kargman which captures the outrageous world of uber-wealthy momzillas of New York’s Upper East Side. It joins Bravo’s first scripted series, the recently greenlighted hourlong dramedy Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce. The upcoming unscripted slate includes offshoots of Bravo mainstays Real Housewives and Top Chef. Among returning series, the network has confirmed a second season of Below Deck, a third season of Don’t Be Tardy, a seventh season of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and Season 6 for The Real Housewives Of New Jersey. Returning this fall also is a 12th season of the Emmy Award-winning culinary competition series Top Chef, season 8 of The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 7, and The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills Season 5. Here are descriptions of Bravo’s new series and projects in development:
Netflix subscribers can finally catch the second season of Ricky Gervais‘ original comedy series Derek when it becomes available for streaming on Friday, May 30 at 12:01 AM PT. The announcement comes after last month’s news that UK’s Channel 4 is ordering six new half hours. Derek follows a naively, simple man played by Gervais who works in a nursing home. All six episodes will launch in all Netflix territories except in the U.K. In a statement, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos exclaimed, “Ricky is a terrific partner and he has created a heartfelt character, in Derek, that Netflix members have fallen in love with. His attention to detail and relentless vision to change conventional storytelling on television is perfectly aligned with what we are trying to do with our original series.”
In what marks the first official scripted series green light for Xbox Entertainment Studios, the entertainment arm of Microsoft’s XBox has teamed with UK broadcaster Channel 4 to co-produce Humans. The drama, which has received an eight-episode order, hails from UK production company, Kudos (Broadchurch), which has been developing the project, an adaptation of Swedish series Real Humans (watch trailer below), for more than three years. Humans will begin production in the summer for a premiere on the Xbox platform in North America and Channel 4 in the UK in 2015.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. II’, ‘The Unknown Known’, ‘The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden’, ‘Afflicted’, ‘Alan Partridge’, ‘Ilo Ilo’, ‘Frankie & Alice’
This is a jam-packed weekend of new releases, many hoping to be the perfect counter-programming pick against Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Magnolia is opening Nymphomaniac: Vol II just weeks after releasing Vol. I in theaters. The film is the continuation of the much talked about Lars von Trier two-parter that has fascinated fans of the Danish filmmaker for well over a year. Documentaries are also on tap this weekend, including Errol Morris’ The Unknown Known and Zeitgeist’s The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden. CBS Films is bowing Afflicted, a title it became involved with early on, while Magnolia will open comedy Alan Partridge. Cannes Camera d’Or winner Ilo Ilo from Singapore is opening in limited release, while Codeblack/Lionsgate will launch Frankie & Alice in over 150 theaters. Other titles not profiled in depth but also among this weekend’s packed list of theatrical openers include Searchlight’s Dom Hemingway, Anchor Bay’s In The Blood and TWC’s On The Other Side Of The Tracks. And A24 will open Jonathan Glazer’s experimental sci-fi Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson in limited release.
Magnolia opened the first part of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac duo theatrically March 21 (it was available via digital/VOD beginning March 6) and is now following up with the second part of the film, which follows the saga of sex addict Joe (she prefers the term ‘nymphomaniac,’ however). Charlotte Gainsbourg is featured more prominently in Vol. II, depicting the older Joe in the final installment of the film, following up Vol. I in which Stacy Martin is seen primarily as the younger Joe (porn stars are used for Joe’s sex scenes). Though both parts are currently available via digital/VOD (Vol. II launched on demand March 20), there will be some theaters that will screen both films for audiences preferring to see both parts back to back.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC‘s multi-camera comedy pilot from actor-comedian Kevin Hart is undergoing a change following the table read. The character of Mircea, Derek’s (Romany Malco) post-divorce girlfriend, has been reconceived and will now be called Mandy. As a result, Amber Stevens, who had been cast as Mircea, is exiting, and Army Wives alumna Ryan Michelle Bathe has been tapped to play Mandy. Mircea was originally written as Derek’s new live-in girlfriend, a former super-model who once jet-setted around the world, who is now a hostess at a local restaurant and very much in love with the newly divorced Derek. The character of Mandy is still being fine tuned but, in broad strokes, she is Derek’s optimistic girlfriend who fears she may have gotten in over her head when she encourages Derek to make peace with his over-dramatic, overbearing, ex-wife.
The British director responsible for a number of well-known early stories in sci-fi series Doctor Who died Thursday. He was 82. Derek Martinus had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, his family told the BBC. Active at the Doctor Who helm between 1965 and 1970 during the tenures of three different Doctors, his credits on the long-running BBC show include the Mission to the Unknown, The Tenth Planet, The Evil of the Daleks, and The Ice Warriors episodes, as well as the show’s first serial to be filmed in color, The Spearhead From Space. During his career the Yale-educated Martinus helmed episodes of A Little Princess, Z Cars, Blakes 7, Penmarric, and Spearhead and also directed the 1968 version of Henry James’ What Maisie Knew and the miniseries The Black Tulip.
César winning French actor Omar Sy, who’s bulked up his Hollywood resumé since his star turn in French mega-hit The Intouchables, has added another high-profile title to the list. Sy is joining the cast of Universal franchise reboot Jurassic World. He tweeted this morning, both in French and in English, that he was a “fan of this saga from the beginning” and is “very proud to be part of the cast for Jurassic World.” The 3D pic is helmed by Colin Trevorrow, who also tweeted (in French) that he was “very happy to welcome” the actor. Sy’s French agent confirmed the casting, although details of his role have yet to be divulged. Jurassic World stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jake Johnson and Irrfan Khan. Trevorrow wrote the screenplay with Derek Connolly. Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are producing. It’s set for release on June 12, 2015. Sy is next up in X Men: Days Of Future Past and is lined up for Stephen Gaghan’s Candy Store. He’ll be seen in the fall in Intouchables directors Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s French-language Samba which Gaumont releases locally on October 22. Sy is repped by Agence Adequat in France and by CAA.
NBC has given early renewals for next season to three more dramas: Chicago Fire, its spinoff Chicago P.D., and Grimm. All hail from Universal TV. They join hot freshman The Blacklist, which already was picked up for a second season. Also set to return next season are veteran comedy Parks And Recreation (Season 7), flagship reality series The Voice (Cycle 7), and Celebrity Apprentice (Cycle 14), which skipped a season.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
The renewal of Dick Wolf’s Chicago Fire for a third season and Chicago P.D. for a second opens the door to further expanding the franchise with a long-rumored Chicago-set medical drama though that likely won’t happen for next season. Last year, NBC picked up all of Wolf’s series at the same time. This time, Law & Order: SVU is not part of the package as the veteran usually gets a renewal close to the upfronts. But with the Chicago franchise blossoming, would the last representative of Wolf’s previous power NBC procedural brand, Law & Order, call it a day? (From what I hear, that doesn’t seem very likely, at least not this season.)
Chicago Fire and especially Chicago P.D. have benefited from franchise crossovers that have lifted ratings. Another one is coming with a massive bomb explosion storyline, which will span the April 29 episode …
David Cross Set For Fox’s ‘Dead Boss’; ABC’s Richard LaGravenese & CW’s ‘Jane The Virgin’ Add To Casts
Coming off his directorial debut on Sundance pic Hits, David Cross has been tapped as a guest star on Fox‘s half-hour pilot Dead Boss, from WBTV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. An adaptation of the BBC3 series created by Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh, Dead Boss is a comedic mystery that finds overachiever Helen Stephens (Jane Krakowski), who is wrongfully convicted of murdering her boss and is forced to rely on her train wreck of a sister to prove her innocence. Cross will play Derek Bridges, the narcissistic, credit-stealing, misogynistic “dead boss”. He is with UTA, BEP and attorney Harris Hartman.
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
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.
Related: 2014 ABC Family Pilots
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:
UPDATED: Chris Conroy has booked a series regular role on ABC’s The Club (fka untitled Susannah Grant) from CBS TV Studios and ABC Studios. The drama, already greenlighted straight to series with a 13-episode order, is an upstairs/downstairs soap set at a private country club. Gersh-repped Conroy will play rich and handsome Forty Holbrooke, who was doing OK until his mother killed herself, leaving him everything. Since then he’s been staggering through life with too much money and too little real support.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Comedy Central resident roastmaster Jeff Ross and Jayson Blair (The New Normal) has signed on to ABC‘s multi-camera untitled Kevin Hart comedy pilot. Written by Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan based on Hart’s life and stand-up, the project takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple, Derek (Romany Malco) and Lorraine (Bresha Webb)
Here’s a much more revealing look at Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco than any we’ve had before. The film, directed by Olivier Dahan, takes place during the early 1960s when Grace Kelly (Kidman) was married to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), and during a political dispute between the principality and France. The trailer below provides a take on the struggles the former Hollywood star faced over her role as Princess Grace. Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi, Paz Vega, Parker Posey and Milo Ventimiglia also star. Produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s Stone Angels, Uday Chopra’s YRF Entertainment, and Arash Amel (and written by Amel), the movie makes its world premiere as the opening-night film of the Cannes Film Festival on May 14. It also goes out in France on that same day and Warner Bros releases in the UK on June 6. The Weinstein Co has the movie Stateside.
Bresha Webb, who was among the finalists for the new cast member spot on SNL, has landed the female lead opposite Romany Malco in ABC‘s multi-camera comedy pilot Keep It Together, from actor-comedian Kevin Hart. Written by Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan based on Hart’s life and stand-up, the project takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple, Derek (Malco) and Lorraine (Webb), who are trying to forge a friendship for the sake of their kids, despite their differences. Webb, repped by Greene & Assoc., Mosaic and Karl Austen, is recurring on Grey’s Anatomy and next will be seen in the feature Home.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Brianna Brown (Devious Maids, Homeland) has been added to in ABC drama pilot The Visitors, from Amblin TV. Penned by Soo Hugh, it chronicles the race against the clock to defeat an unseen alien enemy out to destroy the world. Brown will play Lena, who discovers that her daughter is being turned against her by a covert alien operation. She refuses to play victim and joins forces with her husband Wes (Barry Sloane) and Claire (Lily Rabe), revealing herself as the most ruthless fighter of all in order to get her daughter back. Brown, repped by Pakula/King & Assoc., manager Gladys Gonzalez and attorney Marcy Morris, recurs on USA’s Graceland.
CBS Films’ mirco-budget horror pic Afflicted played well at last year’s Fantastic Fest and Toronto and is getting an April 4 limited release along with a VOD bow. It centers on a pair of buddies (Clif Prowse and Derek Lee, who also wrote and directed) who plan to document their around-the-world trip. But things go wrong after one of them hooks up with a mysterious woman in Paris and begins to change. It’s a cool twist on the found-footage genre, which continues to have plenty of legs thanks to the relatively low exposure for studios. Check it out:
Gold Medal Ice Dancers Meryl Davis And Charlie White Headline ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Cast Heavy On Athletes: Video
Fresh off their gold-medal win at the Sochi Olympics, ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White will headline the all-star lineup of ABC‘s competition series Dancing With The Stars when it returns for its 18th season – part of a celebrity lineup that’s heavy on athletes. Davis and White, who have been skating partners since 1997, will compete against each other on Dancing. They’ll be joined by double-amputee snowboarding champ Amy Purdy – a world-champion adaptive snowboarder and the show’s first Paralympian to compete. And, Sean Avery will be the first former hockey player in Dancing history. Also in this year’s celebrity cast: swimmer Diana Nyad, who became the first person to complete a historic 110-mile swim from Cuba to Key West in September of 2013 on her fifth attempt.
Joining the athletes in the battle for the mirrorball trophy: The Wonder Years star Danica McKellar, comedian turned game show host Drew Carey, actor Billy Dee Williams, former Full House actress Candace Cameron Bure, Real Housewives reality star NeNe Leakes, Australian pop singer Cody Simpson, and Big Time Rush actor-singer James Maslow.
EXCLUSIVE: English actor and writer Jim Piddock has been cast in the dark comedy Kill Your Friends, based on the novel by John Niven. BAFTA-nominated Owen Harris (Holy Flying Circus) directs the pic about an A&R man (X-Men‘s Nicholas Hoult) during the Britpop music wave of the late ’90s who goes to extremes to find the next hit. Piddock, a frequent Christopher Guest player, will play Derek Sommers, the managing director of the record label. Author Niven adapted his own screenplay for Kill Your Friends, which Gregor Cameron and Will Clarke are producing. Piddock next appears in Think Like A Man Too with Kevin Hart. He and Guest co-created last year’s HBO original series Family Tree, in which they also appeared opposite Chris O’Dowd. Piddock is repped by Lighthouse Entertainment, United Agents, and AEF.