Penelope Ann Miller, coming off a stint on ABC’s Mistresses, has been cast in the network’s drama pilot American Crime. Written and exec produced by John Ridley, fresh off winning an Oscar for 12 Years A Slave, it centers on the racially charged murder of a war veteran and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. Miller, managed by APA and Untitled, will play Eve, the emotionally shattered mother of the killed man’s badly beaten wife who is on life support.
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King & Maxwell alum Chris Butler has booked NBC’s multi-camera comedy pilot Lifesaver, from writer Wil Calhoun, Uni TV and TBD Entertainment. The odd couple comedy centers on the uptight, controlling and a bit neurotic Dr. Graham Permenter (Cgristian Borle) and loose cannon Leon (Jonathan Ryland), who become inextricably linked after Leon saves Graham’s life by giving him a kidney. Butler, repped by SDB Partners and Pine River Entertainment, plays Campbell Carter, the entitled/selfish childhood friend and neighbor of Dr. Parmenter. He has been recurring on The Good Wife.
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ITV has set the roster for its upcoming four-part miniseries that follows the lives and loves of both historical and fictional characters in 1666 London as The Great Fire rages. Broadchurch‘s Andrew Buchan, Rose Leslie (Utopia, Game Of Thrones, Downton Abbey), Jack Huston (American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire) and Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs, Welcome To The Punch) have each taken on key roles in the production from Fleming and Mistresses‘ Ecosse Films. Inspired by the real events of 1666 when nearly half of London was destroyed in less than a week, the drama is written by Tom Bradby, political editor of ITN and author of Shadow Dancer. The story unfolds over four consecutive days as the fire takes hold of the city and the people desperately attempt to overcome the flames amid a threat to the monarchy. Buchan will play humble baker Thomas Farriner in whose shop the fire began on September 2, 1666. Leslie plays his sister-in-law with whom he has a complex relationship. Huston is the playboy King Charles II and Mays is Samuel Pepys, a close confidante. Per ITV, pyrotechnics and special effects, as opposed to CGI, will create the fire sequences as London burns. Also in the cast are … Read More »
Justin Hartley is set as a lead in Lauren Iungerich’s ABC comedy pilot Damaged Goods. It revolves around two damaged men (Hartley, Steve Talley) and two damaged women who explore the minutiae of love and relationships. Hartley’s smart and egoistic Tim is hit hard when his girlfriend and law firm colleague gets the promotion he expected to get. Childish and unable to applaud her accomplishments or be with a woman who outranks him, the relationship seems all but over — unless she resigns. He is repped by Innovative. Also cast as a regular in the pilot is Ben Lawson, who will play Michael, a smart, funny, good-natured, dermatologist.
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Christian Keyes (Beauty And The Beast) has booked a regular role in ABC drama pilot Agatha from ABC Studios and The Mark Gordon Co. It’s a character-driven procedural about Agatha, a former convict-turned-big-city criminologist who is brought in to help local police crack a case involving a perplexing disappearance. Keyes, repped by Resolution and manager Jerome Martin, plays tattooed bad boy Zane. Agatha knows he’s trouble — she did time to protect him — but just can’t seem to stay away. And the feeling is definitely mutual. He recurs on BET’s Let’s Stay Together and ABC’s Mistresses.
Amazon has come to the rescue of British period drama Ripper Street. The online giant is today launching its Amazon Prime Instant Video service in the UK and with that has announced a commission for a 3rd season of the BBC crime series. It’s also acquired UK subscription streaming rights to the previous seasons. The Victorian era show, which stars Matthew Macfadyen, was cancelled by the BBC in December after a 2nd season ratings drop. The news elicited an outpouring of lament from fans and it was soon rumored that Amazon’s streaming service LoveFilm might pick up the slack. Amazon recently said it was folding LoveFilm into its Prime service in Britain with the new-look platform bowing today, along with the news that new episodes of Ripper Street will be made available exclusively to Amazon Prime Instant Video members before screening on BBC One a few months later. Read More »
The always-in-demand multi-camera comedy director James Burrows has signed on to helm CBS’ high-profile pilot More Time With Family, starring Tom Papa and Alyson Hannigan, executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and written/exec produced by Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith. Based on the stand-up of Papa and the experiences of Damon, the 20th TV-produced project centers on Tom (Papa), a husband and father making a career change to spend more time with his family. This marks a reunion for Burrows and CBS/20th TV after he helmed the pilot for the upcoming comedy Friends with Better Lives last season. When Friends joins CBS’ lineup next month, replacing How I Met Your Mother, Burrows will have directed the pilots of 6 of CBS’ 7 multi-camera comedy series on the air, Friends, Mike & Molly, 2 Broke Girls, The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and The Millers.
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Another veteran comedy director, Gail Mancuso, coming off an Emmy win for Modern Family, is set to direct the pilot of another extended family comedy, TBS’ multi-camera Your Family Or Mine, from veteran comedy showrunner Greg Malins, Sony TV and Jamie Tarses’ Fanfare. The project, based on Keshet’s hit Israeli comedy series, centers on Oliver and Kelli who are living proof of the adage “When you marry someone, you don’t just marry them, you marry their whole family.” It is a family comedy with an unusual structure — each episode focuses on a different side of the family: one week featuring the couple dealing with Kelli’s family, the next spent with Oliver’s.
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ABC is adding a second homegrown original drama series for next summer with a 10-episode straight-to-series order to Astronaut Wives Club. It will join Mistresses, set to return for a second season in the summer. Both series are produced by ABC Studios. The Astronaut Wives Club hails from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire and Michael London’s Groundswell Productions.
Based on Lily Koppel’s best-selling novel published last summer, the project had been on fast-track development since ABC took it in in October as a potential limited series for summer eyeing February-March start date. Then 10 days ago, The Astronaut Wives Club was given a traditional pilot order. Today, that has been upped to a 10-episode pickup for what will likely be marketed as a limited “event” series for summer. I hear work on backup scripts is already underway. Written by Savage in her first TV writing effort since co-creating Gossip Girl with Schwartz, the 1969-set Astronaut Wives Club tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Savage, Schwartz and Fake Empire’s President of Television Len Goldstein executive produce with London. Groundswell’s president of production Janice Williams, who brought the project to London, is expected to produce.
Netflix Execs Headed Back To France For More Expansion Talks
Last week, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company was eyeing “substantial” European expansion in 2014. His comments came a little more than a month after execs from the streaming service met with staff of French President François Hollande to discuss an entry into France. According to local media reports, Netflix execs now are due to return to France to meet with industry folk within the next week. Pascal Rogard, head of authors’ rights group the SACD, told Le Figaro that the situation is coming into focus with a possible launch later this year. Netflix is available in 41 countries including France’s neighbors to the north such as the UK, the Netherlands and the Nordic region. A French launch has been rumored over the years, but moving into the fiercely protected territory is ornery in part due to a complex film-windows chronology that prohibits movies from appearing on monthly SVOD services until three years after a theatrical release. There is no such protection for TV series, but Netflix’s House Of Cards already airs on local pay-TV leader Canal Plus, which would see the service’s arrival as competition. In a conversation with analysts, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was asked last week whether the service would be out of certain markets with its key originals because it had already sold them to local providers. “It depends,” he said. “There’s multiple windows, and we’ll continue to have those negotiations as we get closer to those launches.” It’s expected that should Netflix enter France, it would have to adhere to obligations to invest in local content. Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti told Le Journal du Dimanche this weekend, “Netflix should be an additional player, not a stowaway.” It’s also believed that Netflix is eyeing a move into Germany. With regard to expansion, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson said last week that “it remains difficult to figure out the ultimate size and value of Netflix’s international opportunity” due to the company’s “undisclosed new market entries, minimal transparency and continual reinvestment.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: David O. Russell is coming to television. ABC has given a straight-to-series 13-episode order to a drama project from the American Hustle writer/director and Erin Brockovich writer Susannah Grant. The series, developed by CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman/Beverly, is an upstairs/downstairs soap set at a private country club. Russell and Grant co-wrote the story, with Grant writing the teleplay. The two are executive producing with Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly; CBS Studios is co-producing with ABC Studios. This marks the first TV series for Russell, the hottest filmmaker at the moment with rare back-to-back Best Picture Oscar nominees — American Hustle this year and Silver Linings Playbook last year accompanied by best writing and directing nominations both times. Russell is on a streak, with his previous film, The Fighter, also earning a Best Picture and Best Director nominations in 2011.
Related: OSCARS: David O. Russell On Nomination Hot Streak: “I Don’t Know If You Could Force It To Ever Happen Again”
The ABC drama also marks the first series for an outside broadcast network for CBS Studios in its first season opening up its development to broadcast nets besides siblings CBS and the CW. Grant previously created and executive produced the CBS/CBS Studios supernatural medical drama A … Read More »
Ecosse Films Inks First-Look Deal With Shine International
The UK’s Ecosse Films has pacted with Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine International in a three-year, first-look deal that will see the latter handle the producer’s TV sales and distribution. Ecosse’s TV credits include three seasons of Mistresses for BBC One (the U.S. remake was recently renewed for a second season by ABC); Life Of Crime for ITV and biopic Fleming for Sky Atlantic HD. Ecosse also has feature credits that include Diana, Becoming Jane and Nowhere Boy. Shine will rep finished tape and format rights for Ecosse Films’ new television output from January 1 onward.
Katherine Butler Leaving Film4 For UK Producer Raw
Film4 Deputy Head of Film Katherine Butler is leaving to join UK producer Raw. She will head up the film and TV drama division. Traditionally a factual producer, Raw launched a film and drama wing in 2012. Its series include Gold Rush for the Discovery Channel, Locked Up Abroad for National Geographic, and Paranormal Witness for Syfy. On the drama side, Raw has five projects in development with Film4, including Bart Layton’s American Animals. While at Film4, Butler executive produced numerous titles including Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio, and Clio Bernard’s BAFTA-nominated The Selfish Giant. Raw and Film4 maintain strong ties. Read More »
This is a topical project given the big healthcare debate at the moment. CBS has out in development The Advocate, a drama from CSI maven Carol Mendelsohn and Scandal co-exec producer Judy Smith, the crisis management consultant the series’ Olivia Pope was based on. Written by Ayelet Waldman, The Advocate centers on a former doctor who has found her calling as a medical advocate, where she works on behalf of patients and their loved ones, solving medical crises and mysteries, and guaranteeing people the care they deserve. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel has decided to simulcast Science Channel’s first stab at scripted programming — the 90-minute The Challenger Disaster — when it premieres on November 16 at 9 PM, to ensure it gets the biggest possible audience and because the movie fits Discovery’s footprint. Discovery Channel this calendar year, is averaging 1.3 million viewers – 660,000 of them aged 18-49. Science Channel this year is averaging 304,000 viewers – 117,000 of them in the demo. When Science first announced the project in July, its GM Debbie Myers said it was the “biggest swing” in the network’s history. Produced in collaboration with the BBC and based on Dr. Richard Feynman’s memoir, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, the movie details Feynman’s participation in the Presidential Commission put together to investigate the Challenger explosion. William Hurt plays Feynman – the Caltech physicist/Nobel laureate who, in a televised hearing, demonstrated that the Challenger’s O-ring was not sufficiently pliable, submerging a piece of it in a glass of ice water, causing it to grow stiff and bend, and Feynman to note, “I believe that has some significance for our problem,” according to press reports. At the investigation’s conclusion, Feynman’s report, “Appendix F – Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle,” was presented to POTUS, independent of the commission’s report.
The Challenger explosion was one of those where-were-you-then moments in American history; millions of TV viewers watched in horror on January 1986 as the space vehicle burst apart, killing all seven astronauts on board, including the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, who’d been added to the crew because space travel was considered that safe; she was going to provide terrific PR for the space program by teaching some classes to school children from space. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Former Lost co-star Yunjin Kim, now a lead on ABC’s summer series Mistresses, is expanding her relationship with the network. ABC has put in development an untitled hourlong project from ABC Studios and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s studio-based Fake Empire based on the Korean drama series Nine: Nine Time Travels. The format was brought to Fake Empire by Kim, who will serve as executive producer alongside Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire’s President of TV Len Goldstein in what marks Fake Empire’s tenth broadcast sale this season. Written by Derek Simonds, the untitled drama, described as part thriller, part epic love story, centers on a man with the ability to travel 20 years back in time who, in trying to alter a murder which destroyed his family, sets off a chain of events that impact the woman he loves and threatens his own life. He embarks on an odyssey through time to make things right. Nine: Nine Time Travels, from CJ E&M Corp., is available in the U.S. on Hulu. Here is a trailer:
ABC has ordered a second season of Motive, its Canadian-made summer drama series. With last week’s renewal of fellow freshman Mistresses and the previous pickup of veteran Canadian import Rookie Blue, ABC will be bringing back its entire summer scripted lineup next summer. Created by Daniel Cerone (Dexter), Motive opened with a 1.4/4 in adults 18-49 behind Dancing With The Stars in May and was relatively steady, ending its first season with the same rating last month. The series stars Kristin Lehman as Detective Angie Flynn and Louis Ferreira as her partner, Detective Oscar Vega. It takes a different spin on the crime procedural format by identifying the Killer and Victim at the beginning of each episode and then piecing together the connection between the two characters and what drove the Killer to commit murder. Developed by CTV, the series is produced by Foundation Features and Lark Productions in association with Bell Media, and distributed by NBCUniversal International.
ITV Studios To Distribute Miniseries ‘The Great Fire’
ITV Studios Global Entertainment has come aboard to distribute miniseries The Great Fire, with a launch set for next year’s MIPTV. The four-part series is produced by Ecosse Films, the company behind biopic Diana with Naomi Watts and the original UK format of Mistresses. Written by Tom Bradby, ITV News Political Editor and author of Shadow Dancer, The Great Fire follows the lives and loves of both historical and fictional characters in a world where, on the surface, the rich have everything and the poor have nothing. Set in 1666, events unfold over four consecutive days as the Great Fire of London indiscriminately engulfs the city. The Great Fire is executive produced by Douglas Rae and Lucy Bedford for Ecosse Films.
‘Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon’ Opens Big In China
Tsui Hark’s Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon notched the fourth-biggest opening day ever for a domestic film in China this weekend with $9.2M. According to FilmBizAsia, the 3D film falls in behind Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons ($13.7M), Tiny Times 1 ($13.2M) and Painted Skin: The Resurrection ($11.7M) on the list. The Huayi Brothers production took in $15.1M over two days and accounted for about 30% of all screenings nationwide. FBA said Detective Dee has a “strong head start” going into the weeklong National Day holiday, which starts today. The other domestic films opening in time for the holiday are 3D fantasy The Fox Lover, road comedy Bump In The Road, the Pang Brothers’ firefighter drama Out Of Inferno 3D and sci-fi sports drama Amazing. Read More »
There will be no second season of NBC’s lower budget summer dramedy Camp. The news is not surprising given the low ratings for the series starring Rachel Griffiths as part of an All-Australian cast, which often fell under the 1 adults 18-49 demo rating. Camp, produced by Universal Studios and Berman-Braun and filmed in Australia, was part of a trend this year for more homegrown summer scripted series vs. straight imports. Two other freshman summer dramas developed and produced by U.S. studios, CBS’ Under The Dome and ABC’s Mistresses, both have been renewed for a second season.
EXCLUSIVE: Fake Empire‘s Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage and Rina Mimoun were among the WB/CW’s top writer-producer talent. Now the trio have teamed at their new home, ABC Studios, where both Fake Empire and Mimoun are under overall deals. Their collaboration is drama project Sisterland, which has landed at ABC. Based on the best-selling novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, Sisterland tells the story of identical twin sisters born with paranormal abilities and how those abilities shape their very different lives. Mimoun is writing the adaptation and is executive producing with Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire president of television Len Goldstein.
This marks WME-repped Fake Empire’s fourth sale in its first development season at ABC Studios. The company has another drama at ABC penned by Joshua Safran as well as two comedies, one by Ali Adler and one from writers Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger. Mimoun, creator/exec producer of The CW’s Privileged, executive produces ABC’s summer series Mistresses, which was just picked up for season two. She also worked on Everwood, where she rose to showrunner, Gilmore Girls and Pushing Daisies. Repped by UTA and attorneys Bruce Gellman and Patti Felker.
ABC will bring its summer series Mistresses back for a second season next summer. The soapy drama, based on the British series, had a quiet freshman run, capped by 3.9 million total viewers and a 1.1 18-49 rating for the recent season finale. ABC owns the series, created by K.J. Steinberg and starring Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes, Jes Macallan and Alyssa Milano.