EXCLUSIVE: After recurring on HBO’s True Blood for the past six seasons, Tara Buck has been upped to a regular for the vampire drama’s upcoming seventh and final season. Buck made her debut as everyone’s favorite blood-serving barmaid Ginger in the second half of Season 1 and has been a fixture on the show ever since. Buck, repped by Don Buchwald & Assoc. and Untitled, also has recurred on Justified and Nip/Tuck.
Amazon.com today announced a licensing deal with BBC Worldwide North America that will make Prime Instant Video the exclusive online-only subscription home for streaming Season One and future seasons of the dramatic thriller Orphan Black. The series returns to BBC America on Saturday, April 19, at 9 PM EST. Prime Instant Video is the exclusive online-only subscription home for PBS series Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, FX drama The Americans, CBS summer series Under The Dome and later this summer, Extant, among other programs that include Veronica Mars, Justified, Falling Skies, Grimm, Workaholics, Suits, Covert Affairs, etc., as well as Amazon’s first original series Alpha House and Betas.
Tara Holt has joined the final season of Showtime’s Californication in a recurring role. In it, Hank (David Duchovny) is joining the writers room as his never-released film Santa Monica Cop now becomes a TV series. He’s riled frequently by his boss, the show’s old-school executive producer Rick Rath (recurring Michael Imperioli). Holt, repped by Nancy Chaidez & Associates and Untitled, will play Melanie, Rath’s gorgeous assistant whose presence causes a commotion in the writers room.
VH1 is expanding its scripted portfolio with Hindsight, handing out a 10-episode series pickup to the hourlong scripted drama pilot from writer Emily Fox (Jane By Design) and Timberman-Beverly for a premiere in early 2015. The project, previously developed at NBC, marked the first scripted pilot order for VH1′s new head of development Susan Levison. Now it is her first scripted series pickup and a followup to the network’s first hourlong scripted series, the Queen Latifah-produced Single Ladies, and summer breakout Hit the Floor. The network most recently had scripted success with the highly rated TLC biopic and just greenlighted a Drumline sequel with Nick Cannon.
Related: Primetime Pilot Panic
Hindsight, whose pilot was directed by Michael Trim, is set in 1990s New York and stars Laura Ramsey, Legend Of The Seeker‘s Craig Horner and Sarah Goldberg.
OSCARS UPDATE: Production Community Rallying To Add ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew Member To In Memoriam Tribute
2ND UPDATE, 8:45 PM: The tributes to Sarah Jones continue to pour in. Below is a photo posted at WhoSay featuring Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev of CW’s The Vampire Diaries, the CW drama on which Jones worked. And action continues at the Facebook group Slates for Sarah, which now is past 21,500 likes. Other below-the-line workers are getting in on the act as well; among the more recent pics posted to the site are tributes to the late camera assistant adorning a walkie-talkie and a large power tool.
UPDATE, 6:00 PM: The Facebook group Slates for Sarah, which is gathering tribute photos for fallen Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones from production crews around the world, has now passed 18K “likes.” The online petition to include Jones in Sunday’s Oscar In Memoriam segment eclipsed its goal of 10,000 signatures within 12 hours Tuesday and now is approaching 13K. It will be submitted to the Academy on Friday.
PREVIOUS, 11:35 AM: A campaign to include Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones in this weekend’s Oscars In Memoriam tribute is gaining traction online, but time will tell if the Academy will acknowledge the increasingly vocal outcry within the production community to her tragic death. Jones, 27, died Thursday in a train collision on the set of director Randall Miller‘s Gregg Allman biopic that left several others injured in Jesup, GA. Her death has raised growing concerns within the industry about set safety and culpability as investigations into the accident continue.
Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew Member Killed In On-Set Train Accident
Mykelti Williamson (Justified) has been tapped as the male lead opposite Sarah Snook in ABC drama pilot Clementine, from the Mark Gordon Co. and ABC Studios. It centers on Clementine Ross (Snook), a troubled 28-year-old psychic who sees her life begin to change in unexpected ways when she decides to stop running from her past. Williamson, repped by Frontline Management, Innovative and David Fox, will play Ray, a hard-working, recently divorced detective with the Philadelphia Police Department. The pilot’s producers saw actors of all ethnicity for the role, with casting director Tricia Wood credited for going with Williamson.
Are longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch about to partner on a UK venture? That’s the word on the street according to The Financial Times which reports that the Malone-backed Discovery Communications and BSkyB, majority owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, are in talks on a joint bid for Britain’s Channel 5. The free-to-air broadcaster, which media entrepreneur Richard Desmond acquired for £103.5M in 2010, is thought to be seeking a buyer with about £700M to spend. The FTA channel has raised the antennae of several media companies with parties rumored to have shown interest including ITV, Turner Broadcasting, BT, NBCUniversal and Saban Capital. The latter is eyeing the possibility of merging Channel 5 with the UK’s Channel 4, creating the market’s third-largest broadcaster by audience. However, such a deal would require regulatory approval and the privitization of Channel 4. The discussions between Discovery and BSkyB have focused on the latter taking over Channel 5’s advertising sales operation, sources told the FT. Channel 5 is notably the home of Big Brother, although its contract for the show expires in 2015. The net also airs U.S. dramas like Under The Dome, CSI and Person Of Interest, but it’s previously dropped such titles as Once Upon A Time and Justified. Its weekly ratings hover around 4%.
Malone and Discovery, …
Chairman Tom Wheeler will try to revive the FCC‘s net neutrality regulations with a view that a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC last month upheld the agency’s right to set rules for the Internet, even as it vacated much of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order. Verizon had appealed the order, saying that regulators overstepped their authority. The FCC will not challenge the Appeals Court decision, but today the agency will open a docket seeking public comment on Wheeler’s proposals — expected to be formalized by summer. He wants to ban service providers from blocking any legal service. The court said that the FCC had not adequately justified that condition in its 2010 order. He also would ban discrimination — for example, offering some services at faster speeds than others — and require ISPs to be transparent about their network practices. While the court agreed with the FCC’s view that it has some rights to govern the Internet, justices also said that the agency tied its hands a decade ago when it defined broadband as a lightly regulated information service as opposed to a phone-like common carrier service. If the FCC runs into trouble with new rules, Wheeler will keep open the option of asking the FCC to change its mind and classify the Internet as a common carrier, a service that — from a legal perspective — is so important that it needs to be regulated. In addition, Wheeler hopes to promote consumer options by overruling state laws that bar cities and towns from creating public Internet services that might compete with private ones.
Deon Cole (Barbershop, FX’s The League) has joined TBS‘ comedy pilot Tribeca, directed by Steve Carell. Co-written by Carell and his wife, Nancy Carell, Tribeca is a satirical look at a police procedural anchored by Angie Tribeca (Rashida Jones). Cole, repped by APA and Kirsten Ames Management, will play Officer DJ Tanner, head of the K-9 unit. He most recently hosted his own TBS series Deon Cole’s Black Box.
Related: 2014 TBS Pilots
Edi Gathegi (Justified) and Caroline Rose Kaplan have signed on to TNT‘s pilot Proof, a supernatural medical drama executive produced by Kyra Sedgwick. Written by Rob Bragin and directed by Alex Graves, Proof centers on a skeptical, hard science, female surgeon who is persuaded to investigate cases of reincarnation.
Related: 2014 TNT Pilots
EXCLUSIVE: Famous prohibition agent Eliot Ness wasn’t even 30 years old when hit the pinnacle in his career by taking down Al Capone with his law enforcement team dubbed The Untouchables. The following two decades of his life are the subject of Ness, a drama series in development at WGN America from The Blacklist duo of Sony Pictures TV and Davis Entertainment. The project is based on Douglas Perry’s biography Eliot Ness: The Rise And Fall Of An American Hero, which is being published next week. The adaptation will be written by renowned crime novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island; Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone), with Sony TV-based Michael Dinner (Justified) set to direct. The two are executive producing with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.
Ness’ 1929-31 heroics going after crime boss Capone in Chicago were chronicled in the 1959 ABC drama series The Untouchables starring Robert Stack as Ness and Brian De Palma’s Oscar-winning movie of the same name toplined by Kevin Costner. Ness will follow is the real (and untold) story of Ness post-Untouchables when he became the top cop in Cleveland, the most dangerous city in America during the 1930s. He spent the next decade fighting the mob, his own corrupt police department, and a serial killer on the streets. All while battling his alcoholism, serial philandering and the constant need for acclaim. (Ness was broke and an alcoholic when he died from a massive heart attack at 55 in 1957). Coincidentally, Sony TV is developing another project about Ness’ years in Cleveland on the longform side. Nemesis, an eight-hour miniseries for NBC, zeroes in on Ness’ hunt for the so-called Torso Killer, billed as America’s first serial killer. The mini is based on different source material, the book Nemesis: The Final Case Of Eliot Ness by William Bernhardt, with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron executive producing.
Jere Burns (Justified) in in final negotiations and Andrée Vermeulen (CollegeHumor Originals) is set to co-star opposite Rashida Jones in TBS‘ single-camera comedy pilot Tribeca, directed by Steve Carell. Co-written by Carell and his wife, Nancy Carell, Tribeca is a satirical look at a police procedural anchored by Angie Tribeca (Jones), an outspoken 10-year veteran of the LAPD’s elite RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit). The project explores an eccentric but brilliant group of people who investigate crime, reveal way too much personal information, and refuse to rest until justice has been served…sort of.
Jace Alexander (The Blacklist) is set to direct ABC drama pilot Agatha, while Michael Dinner will helm another ABC drama pilot, Clementine. Both projects hail from ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co. Agatha is a character-driven procedural about a former convict-turned-big-city criminologist who is brought in to help local police crack a case involving a perplexing disappearance. The chief detective she’s been hired to help is her father – and they haven’t talked in 15 years. Clementine centers on a troubled 28-year-old psychic who sees her life begin to change in unexpected ways when she decides to stop running from her past. Alexander is repped by ICM Partners and Fineman Entertainment. CAA-repped Dinner serves as director/executive producer on Justified.
CBS has given pilot orders to untitled dramas from two of the most prolific producers at the moment: Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. One of the pilots is executive produced by John Cusack, the other is an adaptation of the Israeli series Ran Quartet written/executive produced by David Marshall Grant (Smash). Both hail from CBS TV Studios where Timberman/Beverly is based.
The John Cusack drama is set in the world of Wall Street power and money. It was written by Taylor Elmore (Justified) and Ben Cavell from a story the two co-wrote with Cusack and Kevin McCabe. The four executive produce with Timberman and Beverly. There are no plans for Cusack, always sought after for pilots, to act.
The untitled David Marshall Grant project is a soapy medical show revolving around quadruplets – three brothers and a sister – who grew up on a reality show. In the Israeli Ran Quartet, created by Giyora Yahalom and Oren Jakobi, the four siblings had had their entire lives documented by a filmmaker until age 32, when the documentary stops and everyone comes to find the four’s real lives are quite different from the way they had been portrayed on TV. It ran on Israeli satcaster Yes for two seasons (check out the video below).
Harvardwood, the Harvard University-sanctioned nonprofit, has announced the winners of its 2014 Writers Competition. This year’s honorees are Nicholas Paleologos, The Race for Television (feature screenplay); Anna Fishko, Baghdad (one-hour TV pilot); Kathleen Chen and William Brian Polk, Year Of The Tiger (half-hour TV pilot); and Paul D’Andrea, Win Win (one-act play). The writers, selected by a panel of television executives, writers, producers, agents and managers, were judged for excellence in categories that included marketability and originality. Each writer will receive a cash prize and a one-on-one mentorship with an industry pro. This year’s mentors include Carolyn Cassidy, SVP Comedy Development, Fox; Adam Fratto, EVP Pukeko Pictures/Weta Workshop; Nicky Weinstock, President, Invention Films, creative head of 10/90 Television at Lionsgate; and Pier Talenti, resident dramaturg/literary manager at Center Theatre Group.
There will be one more member of the Gold family sitting down with the Entourage cast at Thursday’s table read after all. After what I’m told was a long negotiation, Perrey Reeves has signed on to play Melissa Gold, the long-suffering high-society wife of Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), in Warner Bros‘ movie based on the HBO series. The actress appeared in 74 of the Hollywood-set comedy’s 96 episodes, exasperated but tough as she dealt with her neurotic super-agent husband. The film, which reunites the principal cast from the series despite their salary standoff last year, will be directed by Doug Ellin, who created the series that ran from 2004-11. Reeves is repped by APA and MOSAIC.
Jeff Hephner has been cast as a regular on TNT’s action-drama pilot Agent X. Penned by The Bourne Identity scribe William Blake Herron, Agent X centers on America’s first female Vice President, Natalie Maccabee (Sharon Stone). Hephner will play the role of John Case a.k.a. Agent X, a 39-year-old secret agent who’s called into action by the newly arrived VP when the daughter of the FBI Director is kidnapped. Hephner currently plays the recurring role of Jeff Clark on NBC’s Chicago Fire. His previous credits include recurring roles on TNT’s King & Maxwell, Starz’s Boss, and CW’s Hellcats. Hephner is repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment.
Stephen Root has signed for a recurring role on AMC’s upcoming new drama Turn, based on the book Washington Spies by Alexander Rose. Set in the summer of 1778, Turn centers on farmer Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell) who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form The Culper Ring, an unlikely group of spies who turn the tide in America’s fight for independence. Root will play the eccentric and secretive Nathaniel Sackett, a civilian member of the Committee to Detect and Defeat Conspiracies, an 18th century proto-CIA. Root’s TV work includes Justified, Boardwalk Empire, King Of The Hill and Pushing Daisies. Film credits include Finding Nemo and No Country For Old Men. Root is repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: The Vampire Diaries‘ Rick Cosnett and Danielle Panabaker (Shark) are set to co-star opposite Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin in the CW pilot The Flash, based on the DC comic. The project, from Warner Bros TV and Berlanti Productions, is an origin story about Barry Allen aka The Flash (Gustin), a Central City assistant police forensics investigator who arrives in Starling to look into a series of unexplained robberies that may have a connection to a tragedy in his past. Cosnett plays star Detective Eddie Thawne, a recent transfer to the Central City Police Department, whose past is a mystery and who harbors a dark secret. Panabaker plays Caitlin Snow, a highly intelligent bioengineering expert who lost her fiancé during an explosion at S.T.A.R. Labs. Originally envisioned as a backdoor pilot episode of Arrow, Flash will now film a regular pilot directed by David Nutter, a move clearly geared toward a series pickup.
Here’s some good news for fans of the FX drama who were bummed to hear that it will end after next season: Mary Steenburgen has signed for a recurring role on Justified. She will play Katherine Hale, a Southern belle who was the wife of Winn Duffy’s (Jere Burns) mentor in crime. Steenburgen will make her entrance in Episode 10 and recur through the rest of the show’s current fifth season. She is repped by Management 360 and UTA.
During today’s TCA panel on the new FX drama Tyrant, Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff — who executive produce with Craig Wright — compared the story of an American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent fictional Middle Eastern nation to The Godfather. That is, as much family drama as political thriller. If there is a larger theme to the series, Gordon said, it is, “What does it mean to be a good man?”
After the panel, Gordon addressed recent grumblings that the team’s popular Showtime series Homeland may have veered too far in the “family” direction by playing out the story of Brody’s troubled daughter and her disturbed boyfriend. Gordon said he doesn’t see it that way. That story line, he said, was necessary to show the “collateral damage” to the families of the political story. “I just think people got impatient with it,” Gordon added.