EXCLUSIVE: The classic Peeps marshmallow candies could be making the leap from Easter baskets to the big screen via filmmaker Adam Rifkin (Detroit Rock City, Underdog), who has optioned film and TV rights to the sugary confections along with his producing partners Brent Tinter and Brian E. Rochlin. Bethlehem, PA-based candy company Just Born moves $2 billion of the baby chicks and bunny-shaped treats a year domestically and has started to branch out into Peeps-themed merchandising in recent years. The company sprung for a full-length animation feature pitch from Rifkin & Co. to adapt Peeps into a Lego Movie-esque family epic set the night before a Peeps diorama contest, when a wayward Peep gets misplaced and must adventure through the fantasy lands of different-themed dioramas before the contest’s judging begins.
Rifkin got the idea from watching his niece and nephew construct their own Peeps diorama for a school project. That led him to discover the elaborate annual contests hosted by the likes of the Washington Post, whose winning entry this year was a black and white diorama of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech – fashioned, of course, entirely out of the sugar-dusted marshmallows. Read More »
Bill Bellamy has signed with Resolution in all areas. He stars in and executive produces the syndicated comedy Mr. Box Office and toplined the Showtime specials Crazy Sexy Dirty and Bill Bellamy’s Ladies Night Out and exec produced and hosted last month’s Centric Comedy All Stars. Bellamy also is a recurring co-host on The Rachael Ray Show and appeared in the 2013 feature 10 Rules For Sleeping Around. He is managed by Barry Katz.
Jonny Campbell has inked with Verve. The UK-based TV director also has signed to helm the BBC/HBO adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. The Warner Bros-produced project will premiere on the BBC before airing on HBO. Campbell directed last year’s BBC Three miniseries In The Flesh and has helmed multiple episodes of UK series including Doctor Who, Shameless, Ashes And Ashes and Phoenix Nights. He is repped in the UK by 42.
EXCLUSIVE: BET Networks is targeting millenials with a new daily talk show hosted by actress-singer Keke Palmer. The Keke Palmer Project (working title), which has been picked up for an initial four-week run, will premiere in July, airing Mondays-Fridays. Telepictures is producing. Judge Greg Mathis, whose long-time syndicated court show Judge Mathis is produced by Telepictures, is executive producing after being instrumental in bringing together the Warner Bros TV syndication division and Palmer.
At age 20, Palmer will become the youngest talk show host in TV history. Her show will cover such topics as fashion, pop culture, social issues, sex, and will feature celebrity interviews, “on the street” bits and undercover segments. It stems from Palmer’s interaction with fans on social media. “I like to read quotes that touch on how I am feeling,” she said. “If I am dealing with confusion, I will read quotes about clarity and peace of mind. I started posting these quotes on my Twitter page, and the fans responded so positively! I realized that many of them were dealing with similar issues, and the quotes helped to open up a genuine dialogue between us.” Read More »
Eion Bailey (Fight Club, Almost Famous) has booked a recurring role on Showtime‘s Ray Donovan. Bailey, repped by Paradigm and Industry Entertainment, will play a charismatic motivational speaker/self-help guru who needs Ray’s help. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as LA’s best professional fixer, the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. Bailey most recently recurred on ABC’s Once Upon A Time. His other TV credits include Band Of Brothers miniseries, Dirty Little Secrets, Covert Affairs, Law & Order: SVU and ER. The 12-episode second season of the Mark Gordon-produced Ray Donovan is set to premiere Sunday, July 13.
Kobe Bryant’s Muse takes an in-depth look into the life, inspirations and challenges facing one of the most successful and complex figures in professional sports, according to Showtime. Gotham Chopra (Decoding Deepak, ESPN’s upcoming 30 For 30 film, The Little Master) directs the feature-length docu set to debut in the fall. “Kobe Bryant’s Muse will offer viewers a deep character portrait of a professional athlete who has transcended his sport to become a culture-moving personality,” said Stephen Espinoza, EVP and General Manager, Showtime Sports. “We are thrilled that Kobe has given us this unprecedented access, which will allow our viewers to witness such a challenging period of time in the life of one of the NBA’s greatest players.”
The docu will follow the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s career, detailing his mentorships, allies and rivalries that have helped shape his 18-year tenure in the NBA. A 16-time All-Star and winner of five NBA championships, Bryant dominated professional basketball until a series of recent injuries threatened to derail his career. He is scheduled to return to the NBA next season. Kobe Bryant’s Muse is executive produced by Kobe Bryant and Gotham Chopra in association with Mamba Media.
The lines between TV comedy and drama get blurrier by the season with such genre-straddling shows as Nurse Jackie, Louie, Californication and Justified. Two hourlong series, Shameless and Orange Is the New Black, will compete as comedies at the Emmys this year after previously being submitted as dramas at awards shows. The subject was batted around during today’s HRTS Hitmakers panel at the Beverly Hilton, which featured Orange Is The New Black and Weeds creator Jenji Kohan as well as Carlton Cuse (Bates Motel, Lost) and Michelle Ashford (Masters Of Sex). Moderator Michael Schneider asked the trio if there’s such a thing as comedy and drama on TV anymore. “Only for the Emmys, apparently,” Cuse replied. Added Kohan, “I just wish there was an hourlong category and a half-hour category. I wish everyone wasn’t so focused on category.” For the record, the semi-word “dramedy” didn’t come up in the discussion.
EXCLUSIVE: Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) and Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid, After Earth) are set to star in The Good Lord Bird, a big-screen adaptation of the 2013 National Book Award winner by James McBride (Miracle At St. Anna, Red Hook Summer). McBride is aboard to produce the pic about Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Smith), a young slave who links up with radical abolitionist John Brown (Schreiber) in 1856 Kansas and travels the nation with Brown’s motley crew of freedom fighters. Story is told with a satirical bent through the eyes of Onion, who wears a dress and is at first mistaken for a girl, as he bears witness to Brown’s historic campaign and encounters the likes of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman en route to the bloody Harper’s Ferry raid that helped spark the Civil War. McBride’s NY Times bestseller made Publishers Weekly‘s Top 10 Books of the Year list and has drawn comparisons to Mark Twain’s classic novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Fifteen-year-old Smith is coming off a run of feature turns in Sony’s Karate Kid reboot with Jackie Chan and sci-fier After Earth, opposite dad Will Smith. He’s set to return for sequel Karate Kid 2, which hired Breck Eisner to helm last week. Read More »
The city’s first Film Czar was praised by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today in his inaugural State of the City address. “With the help of my dear friend the late Tom Sherak and Ken Ziffren, who’s continued the fight, we reignited the movement to expand film tax credits in Sacramento,” said the SAG-AFTRA card carrying politician this evening. A couple of months after Garcetti took office, the former AMPAS president and studio exec was named head of LA’s Film Office late last September in an effort to expand and evolve production in the city after years of decline due to runaway production. After
Sherak passed away on January 28, heavyweight entertainment lawyer Ziffren was appointed LA’s second Film Czar on February 10. “In just nine months, we are changing the landscape—one summer job, one red button, one film production and one balanced budget at a time.”
L.A. Move For Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ Unlikely As Pols Continue To Pitch CBS
New Film & TV Tax Credit Bill Unanimously Passes First Hurdle In Sacramento
One production that looks pretty likely not to be coming to LA is CBS’ Late Show when Stephen Colbert takes over from David Letterman next year. Despite personal pitches earlier this week from Garcetti and Ziffren, the late night show seems certain to stay in the Big Apple. Still, Garcetti also made a point in his speech at the California Science … Read More »
For more than a year, Belisa Balaban has been responsible for Pivot’s alternative programming including the network’s popular series HitRECord and documentary Teach. Now Participant Media’s Pivot has promoted Balaban to EVP Original Programming for the network targeting millenials. She’ll be based at Participant’s Los Angeles offices and will report to Pivot President, Evan Shapiro. Balaban’s prior projects include the 10-episode documentary series The Swell Life and the Emmy-nominated special It Gets Better. As co-founder of Snackaholic, she executive produced pilots and series, including Tabloid Wars for Bravo, and Bollywood Hero, a three-hour musical comedy for IFC, as well as the recent Grammy nominee From The Sky Down about the making of U2’s Achtung Baby. Previously Balaban oversaw and developed pilots and series for Actual Reality Pictures including, Freshman Diaries for Showtime, Military Diaries for VH1, and Thin for HBO Documentary Films.
FX Networks CEO John Landgraf today threw his hat in the debate over what constitutes a drama series and a miniseries for Emmy consideration and whether an hourlong series can enter as a comedy, challenging the TV Academy to stiffen its criteria and create stricter category guidelines.
FX anthology series American Horror Story shook up the Emmy landscape three years ago when it opted to submit itself as a miniseries, not a drama series. The race was jolted again this year when HBO’s True Detective took the opposite stance, identifying itself as a drama series. “In our minds this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Deadline last week.
Landgraf today defended the network’s decision to submit AHS as a miniseries, objected to HBO’s decision to have True Detective compete as drama series, and called on the TV Academy to better define its categories. “I don’t think it’s cynical to enter AHS as a miniseries,” he said. “I don’t look at it that way. The definition should be a miniseries has a story that ends, a series has a story that continues on.” Landgraf argued that limited series have the advantage to attract bigger-caliber actors, like True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as well as Billy Bob Thornton who toplines FX’s limited series Fargo. “It’s unfair for HBO to get actors that you can’t normally get to do a series who would do a close-ended show and pack the (drama actor) category. That is patently unfair to people like (The Americans’) Matthew Rhys who signed for seven years.” Right now, TV Academy defines shows like AHS and True Detective as having “dual eligibility,” with the series producers left to decide in which of the two categories they are eligible for they would compete.
Related: FX & FXX To Double Original Output, ‘Simpsons’ To Debut On FXX With A Bang, ‘Americans’ Nears Season 3 Renewal
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It is the golden age of comedy now, Mindy Kaling told reporters at NBCU Press Day, because whereas once you used to have to wait 2 1/2 years for Larry David to get around to writing another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “now there’s always something happening” in comedy on the TV landscape. She was joined by stars of other Universal TV comedies airing on NBC and elsewhere.
Related: Mindy Kaling Exits UTA
Jenna Elfman is a big fan of single cam comedies, like her new Growing Up Fisher, because “with the Internet … audiences are more savvy, and with a single camera you can home in on nuance more than with multi-cam and capture the smarter side of the story.”
Related: NBC Press Day: Bill Lawrence Talks ‘Undateable’
Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg chimed in: “I was on SNL, which was live, but everything I did was pre-taped, so I was already headed in that direction. Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott said there a “weird thing” about doing comedy on a multi-cam. “If you don’t say a joke with a particular inflection, the laughs just don’t occur. I did very badly in that format.” But he acknowledged, “Shows like Cheers were able to make it work.” Read More »
The judges are set for 13th annual edition of the event founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff. The seven competition juries for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival include 33 filmmakers, writers, producers, actors, journalists and entrepreneurs. The World Narrative Competition judges are Lake Bell, Steve Conrad, Bart Freundlich, Catherine Hardwicke and Ben Younger. Jurors for other categories include Toni Collette, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Alfonso Arau, Heather Graham, Anton Yelchin, HBO’s Sheila Nevins and Google’s Regina Dugan. The Nas rap docu Time Is Illmatic will open the fest, which runs April 16-27 in NYC. The recently re-retitled Begin Again closes it. Here is the full list of jurors and categories:
Tribeca Film Festival Unveils Competition Slate
MSG Entering Into Strategic Deal With Tribeca Enterprises
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Astronauts Wanted, No Experience Necessary, the joint venture between Judy McGrath and Sony Music Entertainment, has tapped Billy Parks as chief content officer. Parks is moving to Astronauts Wanted from The Chernin Group where has served as EVP Digital Production and Programming, it was announced today. At Astronauts, he will be responsible for developing and producing series and branded content aimed at young, social-savvy consumers. “Billy’s talent as a creative storyteller is perfect for Astronauts Wanted as we look to engage young people in bold new ways,” said McGrath. “He has a unique understanding of today’s young adults and how they consume, create and share content. Engaging this generation of content creators is our mission. Billy will team with Nick Shore, our Chief Creative Strategist, to develop content with and for the new wave of social media stars.”
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After three seasons in Charlotte, NC, Showtime drama Homeland is leaving the US to film its fourth season in Cape Town, South Africa. The end of Season 3 found Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) taking a job as a station chief in Istanbul. Showtime wouldn’t specify where exactly Mathison would work as the new season is still being mapped out, only saying that she is being “assigned to one of the most volatile and dangerous CIA stations in the Middle East where she is back on the front lines in the war on terror.” At TCA in January, Showtime president David Nevins already shed light on the setup for Season 4 with Mathison in the field overseas. “Homeland is a show that is deeply about a field operative (Carrie), and we haven’t seen her much in the field,” he said. “In Season 4 you will likely see her on the ground in a foreign capital doing her job,” adding that co-star Mandy Patinkin will continue to be “central and important” to the show. Read More »
More than a week after HBO announced that its buzzy True Detective will compete as a drama series at the Emmys, shaking up the drama race as a potential frontrunner, the decision is still a hot topic of conversation, with pundits debating whether the eight-episode series, created by Nic Pizzolatto and starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, belongs in the drama or miniseries category. The latest to weigh in was Mad Men creator Matt Weiner. “I was surprised they did it but I bet that everyone who is in that Drama category said ‘oh s***’,” he told Deadline‘s Pete Hammond. “That makes me think HBO did the right thing.”
HBO had not commented on its Emmy category choice for True Detective until now. Here is what the network’s programming president Michael Lombardo had to say about it. “This project was pitched to us, it was produced by us and marketed by us as a series. Nic never thought of this as a miniseries, and we always treated him as a creator of a series. In our minds this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do.”
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Omar J. Dorsey (Django Unchained) has landed a recurring role on Showtime‘s Ray Donovan. Dorsey will play Cookie Brown, a powerful music business entrepreneur recently released from prison. Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as LA’s best professional fixer, the man called in to make the city’s celebrities, superstar athletes, and business moguls’ most complicated and combustible situations go away. Dorsey’s other TV credits include Fox’s Rake and HBO’s Eastbound & Down.
Newcomer Carole Weyers is set for a multi-episode arc on WGN America‘s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan, from writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV. Set during the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, NM, Manhattan follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Weyers, repped by D2 Management and Element Talent Agency, will play Elodie, a French switchboard operator at Los Alamos.
Britain’s Channel 4 is embellishing its strategy with a new purview to invest in international drama co-productions. The net, which already invests in original British drama as well as boundary-pushing factual entertainment, is joining the likes of ITV, the BBC and Sky in its bid to spread its wings. To spearhead the initiative, former Red Arrow Entertainment Head of Drama & Comedy, Simon Maxwell, is joining Channel 4 in the newly created role of Head of International Drama. Maxwell launched the Red Arrow Group’s UK scripted operation and has worked with U.S. broadcasters including NBC and History Channel. Prior to Red Arrow, he was Head of Film & TV at indie Greenroom Entertainment where he ran a slate that included DirecTV crime drama Rogue. He also exec produced feature Killing Bono, for which he co-wrote the screenplay. Channel 4′s move towards international co-pros should see it benefit from the high-end TV tax credit that has electrified the local production sector and attracted U.S. projects over the past year. Maxwell will be responsible for commissioning a slate of high quality, ambitious drama with international appeal. Among the channel’s recent local commissions are Babylon, for which Danny Boyle directed the pilot, and mystery/sci-fi series Utopia. Its U.S. and European pick-ups include upcoming series Fargo, France’s The Returned, Showtime’s Homeland, comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine and new Norwegian thriller Mammon .