Nominations for the 28th annual Imagen Awards were announced today, and ABC Studios produced half of the six shows vying for Best Primetime Television Program: Castle, Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. ABC Family’s Switched At Birth also is up for the prize. Meanwhile, no studio pic is among the five nominees for Best Feature Film. Presented by the Imagen Foundation, the awards honor portrayals of Latinos and Latino cultures in television and film. Trophies will be handed out August 17 at the Beverly Hilton and air on PBS SoCal as an hourlong special later. Read a complete list of nominees after the jump:
FX is quickly turning into the exclusive network partner of Lionsgate for its 10-90 sitcoms. The cable network has picked up a third series from Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury and Lionsgate TV, a buddy comedy starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence. The marquee project, written/executive produced by comedy veterans Bob Boyett and Robert Horn, features Grammer and 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, forcing each other to find the balance between the ethical and the unscrupulous in both their professional and personal lives. FX has picked up 10 episodes of the untitled series which, in success, will be followed by a 90-episode back order.
The Grammer-Lawrence project came together pretty quickly. Debmar-Mercury had been talking to Lawrence about headlining a 10/90 vehicle when sibling Lionsgate TV approached them about doing a comedy with Grammer, who had a deal at the studio stemming from the Emmy winner’s involvement in the Lionsgate TV-produced Starz drama Boss. I hear it was Debmar-Mercury co-president Ira Bernstein who came up with the idea to pair the two stars. “Martin is arguably one of the funniest men alive and after some success in drama I thought it might be time …
Prime Focus already has a global footprint with offices in the LA, NY, Canada, the UK and India. That makes it more immune to the problems American-based VXF firms like Rhythm & Hues have had sustaining a viable business model (Prime Focus was one of four companies in the running in the R&H bankruptcy auction eventually won by another global firm, India-based Prana Studios). In March, Prime Focus announced a Chinese joint venture with Hong Kong–based private equity group AID Partners and local partner Zhejiang Jingqi Wenhua Chuanbo Co to invest $3M in a new operation that will provide 2D/3D conversion, VFX and postproduction services on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Its recent credits included stereo VFX, 3D conversion and archive footage colorization work on Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Here’s today’s release out of the Shanghai International Film Festival announcing the Beijing opening:
Free Birds tells the tale of two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks who must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history – and get turkey off the Thanksgiving menu for good. The stellar voice cast includes Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler, Lesley Nicol, George Takei, Colm Meaney, Keith David, Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo, and Dwight Howard. Jimmy Hayward directs and Scott Mosier, John Strauss and David I. Stern produce. Hayward and Mosier wrote the screenplay based on Strauss and Stern’s story. The pic from Relativity and Reel FX bows wide on November 1. Check out the trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: FX Networks has given a pilot order to Man Seeking Woman, a half-hour comedy pilot from former Saturday Night Live writer/humorist/novelist Simon Rich and Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video. The project, based on Rich’s book The Last Girlfriend On Earth, is described as a sweet, surreal, and bitingly funny look at the life and death stakes of dating in New York City. Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia, SNL) is set to direct the pilot from a script by Rich. The two are executive producing with Broadway Video for FX Prods. If Man Seeking Woman goes to series, it will make 28-year-old Rich one of the youngest series creators ever. He already is one of the youngest writers in the history of SNL, where he spent four seasons from 2007-2011 before segueing to a writing job at Pixar Studios. Rich, son of former New York columnist Frank Rich, was still an undergraduate at Harvard, where he edited The Harvard Lampoon, when he landed a two-book deal at Random House, His first book, Ant Farm: And Other Desperate Situations, was nominated for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. His first novel, Elliot Allagash, was optioned by Jason Reitman. The Last Girlfriend On Earth, Rich’s fifth book, was published in January. Man Seeking Woman joins two other comedy pilots at FX Networks, which is ramping up comedy development ahead of the fall launch of comedy-centric FXX: the Tracy Morgan-starrer Death Pact and the Andrew Gurland project.
EXCLUSIVE: After getting his start doing VFX work on projects including District 9 and The Watchmen, Canadian filmmaker Dan Gaud has his eye on directing. Here is a look at his calling card, Tonight I Strike, is a $15,000 futuristic short with about 60 VFX shots that he executed on a laptop computer in a short he shot in seven days. The money was raised by his manager, Jewerl Ross, who signed Gaud off another short that he had made for $500. Gaud’s hope from this short is to sign with an agency and either make a feature that is set in the world this short presents, or maybe the plethora of no-budget features that producers like Jason Blum are minting money with as counter-programming to the big budgeters. What do you think?
2ND UPDATE: Charlie Sheen Fired Selma Blair From ‘Anger Management’ Via Text, Show To Continue Production As Scheduled
2ND UPDATE 6:10 PM: I’ve learned more details about Selma Blair‘s shocking dismissal from Anger Management. I hear Charlie Sheen “fired” her via text, in which he called the actress a “c–t”. And it was not the only abusive, expletives-filled text she had received from Sheen, who also serves as an executive producer on Anger Management. I also hear that Blair was not the only member of the show’s cast and crew that was frustrated by Sheen’s work habits as I hear they would often sit and wait for hours for him to show up for work. Although it was Blair voicing her concerns that got Sheen to flip out and get her sacked. I hear Blair’s role as Charlie’s therapist will not be recast. Probably not coincidentally, I hear the series just sent out a notice about a new female regular who is expected to fill the void left by Blair. The producers likely will use Blair’s exit for another creative makeover following the recent tweaking following Anger Management‘s sagging ratings. But, while the show took an unplanned hiatus for the recent creative retool, it is now expected to stay in production as scheduled, with the writers making changes prompted by Blair’s departure on the fly. Anger Management is roughly halfway through its 100-episode order from FX. As for Blair, word is that she is being paid per her contract and no legal action is in the cards, at least not for now.
UPDATE TUESDAY 5:15 PM: What Charlie Sheen wants, he gets. After mounting a campaign to get his co-star on the FX comedy series Selma Blair fired over alleged comments questioning his work ethic, it’s mission accomplished for Sheen, who reportedly threatened to quit the show if Blair stayed. Anger Management producer Lionsgate just issued a statement, making Blair’s dismissal from the show official. “We are confirming that Selma Blair will not be returning to Anger Management, and we wish her the very best.”
PREVIOUS MONDAY PM: The producers of FX‘s Anger Management and reps for Selma Blair are hunkered down today trying to patch things up following a scathing TMZ report posted in the middle of the night that series star and executive producer Charlie Sheen was dead set on firing his co-star over alleged complaints about Sheen she had made to other Anger Management producers. There is no official word on Blair’s status on the show with everyone involved keeping mum, but in a recent tweet posted on the show’s first day back from a monthlong hiatus for creative tweaking in light of the recent ratings slump, Blair was more than complimentary of Sheen: “Thanks for a great day back ” . You looked pretty darn handsome.
Wilfred director/executive producer Randall Einhorn, who helmed the pilot for the quirky FX comedy series, has signed on to direct another FX comedy pilot, Death Pact, starring Tracy Morgan. From writer-creators Rob Long and Tad Safran and producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Death Pact has Morgan playing a formerly lazy, pot-dealing assistant high school coach who returns to his hometown as a decorated war hero. He runs across three down-on-their-luck friends and former students and sucks them into his new radical self-help philosophy, which involves harsh consequences for failure. The pilot, produced by FX Prods, will film this summer in New York or New Jersey. Randall’s duties on Wilfred and Death Pact stem from an overall deal he has with FX Prods.
UPDATED: Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun’s TV/digital/film production company has set up shop at MGM for television and film. BermanBraun, which just came out of a five-year stint at NBCUniversal, has signed an exclusive multiyear production deal with MGM Television to create and develop scripted and unscripted programming for broadcast and cable. The agreement, the first such production pact for MGM Television, which has been in a rapid expansion mode, came together pretty quickly only two weeks after BermanBraun’s most recent deal at NBCU expired. “It was a real meeting of minds,“ said Roma Khanna, President, Television Group & Digital, MGM Television.”The idea of this deal is to say that our appetite is large for quality productions, that we want to work with the best talent and are smart about the TV projects we put together.”
Berman and Braun took several meetings but ultimately opted to go with upstart MGM vs. a traditional TV studio because of their plan to aggressively build their TV operation. “We’re exited to be part of their expansion, it gives us an unique opportunity to spread our wings,” Berman said.
BermanBraun and MGM TV both have experimented with not-traditional production models, something BermanBraun is employing in their summer NBC series Camp, which was done as a straight-to-series, lower license fee show. MGM TV is behind History’s Vikings, which went straight to series and is made as an international co-production, as well as FX’s straight-to-series limited series Fargo. Khanna noted that MGM “got lucky” to land the two straight-to-series orders but is staying “flexible”, pursuing both non-traditional and traditional pilot development and willing to deficit finance/co-finance its projects. MGM’s focus remain on cable dramas, though Khanna hopes to expand into unscripted series via BermanBraun’s expertise in the arena. Meanwhile, BermanBraun had serviced NBCU’s cable networks, including producing Syfy’s Alphas, though its primary focus for the past five years has been on broadcast, supplying NBC. The deal with MGM “really allows to get (the cable drama) part of our business jump-started, so our interests aligned beautifully in that,” Berman said,. In addition to Khanna, BermanBraun will work with Steve Stark, President, TV Production, MGM Television. On the BermanBraun side, Gene Stein, President of Television, will be leading their team in the new venture.
MGM has also signed BermanBraun to a first-look deal on all theatrical projects they are developing and will work directly with Jonathan Glickman, President, Motion Picture Group, MGM. The theatrical executive from BermanBraun is Andrew Mittman, Head of Feature Film Development.
EXCLUSIVE: Well, it didn’t take long to find out where New Myth will be finding the money to make tentpole-sized movies. A group of investors and distributors led by New Myth and Toonz Entertainment Pte Ltd have launched Epiphany, a $200 million film fund that intends to strategically build a content platform and invest in a slate of event films with an eye toward global appeal. Epiphany aims to get involved as producer and co-financier of franchise films with major studios. It starts with New Myth and Toonz and also in the investor group is European distributor A-Company, an affiliate of AR Film in Russia.
New Myth is a Hollywood-based production company founded by principals Tom DeSanto, David Ranes, Grace Oppenheimer and Wayne Duband. Epiphany will co-finance its projects. Toonz is one of the largest animation and VFX studios in Asia, and it has worked with Marvel, Hasbro and Hallmark to become one of Asia’s biggest animation suppliers.
EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios is moving quickly to expand its original slate. After focusing on comedies and kids programming in its first batch of 14 pilots, five of which — two comedies and 3 kids shows — were picked up to series three weeks ago, the company is already setting its sights on the next target — launching a drama series. I’ve learned that the streaming service has greenlighted its first drama pilot, Bosch, a police procedural based on Michael Connelly‘s novels about Harry Bosch, a veteran police homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. I hear the pilot was written by Connelly and Treme co-creator/executive producer Eric Overmeyer, who are executive producing with Fabrik’s Henrik Bastin and Mikkel Bondesen. Bosch has been at the center of or featured in 20 novels by Connelly, starting with the 1992 The Black Echo and most recently, last fall’s The Black Box. This marks Fabrik’s second pilot order in the past month. The company is also behind The Comedians, starring Billy Crystal, at FX.
Another veteran ABC executive is heading to NBC. I’ve learned that Quinn Taylor, SVP Movies, Miniseries and Acquisitions at ABC Entertainment Group, will be leaving the network after almost 20 years to join rival NBC, which is looking to restart a longform division. I hear his title will be EVP Movies, Miniseries and International Co-Productions.
NBC has The Sound Of Music staging coming up, which would be right up Taylor’s alley as he has overseen a number of TV musicals at ABC, including Meredith Willson’s The Music Man starring Matthew Broderick. ABC is the only broadcast network that kept its longform division, headed by a high-level executive, while TV movies and miniseries dwindled on broadcast TV during the past several years.
Given the longform drought, Taylor had been focused on lower-budget and acquired series recently, overseeing such ABC shows as this summer’s newcomers Motive and Mistresses and returning Rookie Blue. NBC has been also very aggressive in acquired/lower-license fee series, including this summer’s Camp and Crossing Lines as well as recently renewed Hannibal and next season’s Crossbones and Dracula.
In light of the blockbuster success of History’s Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible, miniseries and limited/event series are making a big comeback, something NBC clearly wants to be part of. Fox and FX launched a longform unit last fall and recently greenlighted their first three event/limited series: Fargo on FX and 24: Live Another Day and Wayward …
Michael Ausiello is Editor-in-Chief of TVLine.
The gap between Modern Family and the rest of the Emmy comedy field has been so wide that even an imperfect third season landed the ABC family comedy a third consecutive best series win last year. But Modern Family is wrapping another uneven season, and with its ratings slipping and challengers gaining on it, a fourth statuette is far from guaranteed. HBO’s Girls is coming off a Golden Globe win, there’s a growing sentiment that CBS’ Nielsen juggernaut The Big Bang Theory is past due to be recognized, and former best comedy series Emmy winner Arrested Development is back. Will Modern Family’s winning streak come to an end this year? Here’s our assessment of the show’s chances, as well as the rest of the contenders.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated actor John Hurt has been tapped as the co-lead opposite Corey Stoll and Mia Maestro in FX‘s high-profile drama pilot The Strain, from Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse, which is being eyed for a 13-episode pickup. The high-concept thriller, directed by del Toro from a script he co-wrote with Chuck Hogan based on their vampire novel trilogy, tells the story of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Stoll), the head of the Centers for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. Hurt, who first worked with del Toro in his 2004 feature Hellboy, will portray Professor Abraham Setrakian, a holocaust survivor who immigrated to the U.S. after World War II and now runs a pawn shop in Spanish Harlem. As the outbreak spreads, he may be the only one with answers — if anyone will listen.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show and PBS‘s Sesame Street led the 40th Daytime Creative Arts Emmys with six wins apiece at the annual awards presented Friday night by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. CBS tied PBS as the most-awarded network as honors were doled out in over 55 categories, while Leeza Gibbons won in her first Emmy nomination in 15 years. Embattled Sesame Street fixture Kevin Clash won three Emmys for his work on the children’s show as co-exec producer, performer, and director. Here’s the full list of winners:
Veteran TV, film and stage actress Frances Conroy has signed with Paradigm, joining her agent Iris Grossman who moved from ICM Partners to Paradigm last week. Conroy, who is managed by Paul Martino, is the second Grossman client to follow her from ICM to Paradigm, along with Mandy Patinkin. Conroy co-stars on FX’s American Horror Story, appearing in all three seasons to date and earning an Emmy nomination for the first cycle. She also received a Golden Globe Award and four Emmy nominations for her role on HBO’s Six Feet Under. On Broadway, Conroy earned a Tony nomination for Arthur Miller’s The Ride Down Mt. Morgan.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, A&E has landed Blood, Sweat & Tears, a drama project from feature and TV writer Chad Feehan (Southland, Paranormal Activity 4) and director Joe Carnahan (Narc). The project, from CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman-Beverly Prods., is a serialized drama set in Texas, which centers on the world of amateur bull riding. Feehan is writing the script and serves as co-executive producer. Carnahan is set to direct and will executive produce with Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly.
This marks a return to A&E for Carnahan, who is on a hot pilot streak. Both pilots he directed this year, A&E’s Those Who Kill and NBC’s The Blacklist, garnered a lot of buzz and went to series, with Blacklist scoring NBC’s best drama pilot testing results in a decade and landing the post-Voice Monday 10 PM slot on the fall schedule. He is with CAA and Stuart Rosenthal. Feehan, repped by CAA, Management 360, and Michael Schenkman, has a couple of feature projects in the works, including Beyond The Pale, based on his Black List 2011 script, and The Man From Primrose Lane, which has Bradley Cooper attached. CAA-repped Timberman-Beverly has four series on the air, Elementary and Unforgettable on CBS, Masters Of Sex at Showtime and Justified on FX.
Emmy and WGA award winner Brian McCann has joined FX’s Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell as a producer and writer. “In 1995 my Chicago Bulls knew they were one piece away from a championship. They shocked the world by acquiring Dennis Rodman, best known for his incredible rebounding, his will to win, and unpredictability,” said Bell in a statement Thursday. “Totally Biased has just acquired Brian McCann, best known for his incredible run with Conan O’Brien, his will to get laughter at any cost, and his unpredictability. He is our Dennis Rodman. We are now ready to win.” Before his move over to the FX series, McCann spent 17 years working with Conan O’Brien on NBC’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien and Conan on TBS. Having debuted as a weekly show on FX in August 2012, Totally Biased is scheduled to move over to the new FXX when it launches in September. The half hour show will also expand to five nights a week. Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell comes from Bell and Executive Producers Chris Rock, Chuck Sklar and Keri Smith Esguia. The series is produced by FX Productions.
EXCLUSIVE: Los Angeles Lakers star Dwight Howard has found something to keep him busy during the off season. He has joined the voice cast of Relativity and Reel FX’s Free Birds. He plays Cold Turkey, one of the Wild Turkeys that Jake (voiced by Woody Harrelson) and Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson) meet when they travel back in time to try and get turkeys off the Thanksgiving Day menu. Amy Poehler, George Takei, Dan Fogler, Colm Meaney, Eddie ‘Piolin’ Sotelo, Danny Carey, Josh Lawson and Keith David also lend their voices to the film. Howard has a relationship to the label as he is represented by Relativity Sports. The Jimmy Hayward-directed film opens November 1. Scott Mosier, Craig Mazin, John Strauss and David l. Stern produce from a script by Stern and Strauss. Mazin did a rewrite. Here, watch Howard and other jocks get animated in a Relativity Sports short film. I recognize most of those pro athletes, but who is that redhead in the last few frames? Is he in good enough shape to be a world class athlete? Must be a golfer: