Emmy season is revving up already even though the primetime awards show won’t be happening until the end of summer (Monday August 25th on NBC). But if you want to vote, the first major deadline looms tomorrow April 17, the last day to join the Academy, renew your membership or apply for hyphenate ballots in order to cast a ballot in this year’s contest. There is always a surge of interest in joining the Academy around this time of year. In fact, last season there was a substantial increase in membership, primarily in order to cast an Emmy ballot. It’s not uncommon to see applications coming in bulk from staffs of shows that want those nominations, but unless these hopefuls apply by Thursday they will have to wait until next year.
In addition to the deadline, the Television Academy (as it now calls itself – and full disclosure I am on the Board Of Governors representing Writers) just sent out a formal letter this week to the eligible membership (now well over 16,000 and climbing) regarding instructions for online voting, which is being instituted for the first time this season. Read More »
Participant Media‘s network Pivot today announced the pickup of Sky Atlantic’s 12-episode drama series Fortitude starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. The series became available in the U.S. in December when Starz, which originally had committed to the project, pulled out. Pivot is designed as a younger skewing network than Starz, with its target demo being 18-34. As part of its upfront presentation, Pivot also announced an overhaul of its nightly topical series, TakePart Live. Beginning Monday, May 12, the hour-long late-night program will move to primetime (10 PM) with a new producer, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row, which is behind Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and AMC’s Talking Dead/Bad. Also undergoing makeover is the hosting team of Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria, with only Soboroff coming back, joined by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain and comedian Eddie Huang.
Pivot also unveiled a development slate that includes eleven projects from production companies including IAC’s Electus, Universal Cable Prods., FremantleMedia North America/Pukeko Pictures, Funny or Die, and Eyeworks, and revealed premiere 2014-15 dates, including an August 8 debut for the sophomore season of coming-of-age comedy, Please Like Me, and the comedy Human Resources. “Our second slate demonstrates our significant investment in, and commitment to, groundbreaking content for the thought-leading segment of Generation Y we call ‘Upstanders,’” said Pivot president Evan Shapiro. Here is Pivot’s full slate: Read More »
Joey King (The Conjuring, Oz The Great And Powerful) has been cast in Lifetime’s original movie Outlaw Prophet from Sony Pictures Television. It focuses on the true story of Warren Jeffs, the leader of a Fundamentalist Mormon polygamist sect who spent more than a year on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, eluded authorities and was ultimately caught by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper. Based on Stephen Singular’s book When Men Become Gods, the movie chronicles Jeffs’ rise to power after the death of his father, Rulon Jeffs (Martin Landau). King will play Elissa Wall, the battered young woman who brings Jeffs (Tony Goldwyn) to justice. King, repped by Dan Spilo at Industry Entertainment and Meredith Fine at Coast to Coast Talent Group, will next be seen in FX’s Fargo and Zach Braff’s indie Wish I Was Here.
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Fourteen years after he greenlighted Project Greenlight at HBO, Chris Albrecht has picked up a followup as Starz‘s first original unscripted series. The pay cable network will air the 10-episode The Chair, created by Project Greenlight executive producer Chris Moore. The competition documentary series follows two directors through the process of bringing their first feature to the screen. The up-and-coming directors, Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci, are provided with an identical screenplay How Soon Is Now, which they must craft as their own film using the same budget and filming in the same city. The series documents the creation, marketing and theatrical release of both adaptations, which will also air on Starz. Read More »
Starz‘s new original series Power will debut at 9 PM Saturday, June 7. The pay cable network made the announcement in conjunction with the release of “Big Rich Town”, a new music video by Power executive producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. The single was created specifically for the show and will serve as the main title theme. It features never-before-seen footage from the New York-based crime drama from writer Courtney Kemp Agboh, which is set in two different worlds, the glamorous New York club scene and the brutal drug trade. “For me, the musical component of Power is so important,” Jackson said. “I wanted to let the music speak to the viewers as they are watching the show and being able to create the theme song, ‘Big Rich Town’, was crucial as it sets the tone of the show.” Power centers on James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick), the owner of an up-and-coming new nightclub in New York with plans to build an empire who also is a drug kingpin. Watch the video here.
Television executives are always on the hunt for the proverbial Next Big Thing, and for the past year or so, the Mipcom and Mip-TV markets have emerged as important hubs where some of the hottest new formats are unveiled. Following a strong showing at last fall’s Mipcom, Keshet‘s Rising Star sold around the world, including to ABC in the U.S. What will be the breakout format at Mip-TV which kicks off tomorrow? With the U.S. reality market yet to yield a new tentpole franchise since NBC premiered The Voice three years ago, and most established series more than a decade old, the necessity of finding reinforcements is ever more urgent and means execs need to be constantly vigilant as to where the new possibilities may be hidden. Likening the search to digging for truffles, Jennifer O’Connell, head of Core Media’s U.S. Television Division, says, “We’re really going to be sniffing around everywhere.” It’s important to keep a “very open mind to where a great idea can come from.” Regardless of the provenance, U.S. broadcasters are more apt to take a second look “if someone else did it first… It can be almost like an insurance policy,” she says.
Most agree that the biggest proving grounds for new programming remain the UK, the U.S. and the Netherlands. Israel has also been coming on … Read More »
Colin Callender‘s first producing effort, a nine-hour TV adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s stage production of The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby launched UK’s Channel 4 and won him his first Emmy in 1983. After a stint as an independent producer in his native Britain, Callender joined HBO where he shepherded films and miniseries like Angels In America, John Adams, Maria Full Of Grace and American Splendor to the tune of 104 Emmy Awards, 29 Golden Globes, 3 Oscars, and top awards at the Sundance Film Festival. Since leaving HBO in 2008, he has kept a low profile. Having started his career in theater, as stage manager at London’s Royal Court Theatre, Callender returned to his roots and built a theater slate during a break from television because of a three-year non-compete with HBO. His first play ever as a producer was Nora Ephron‘s Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks, which was a hit last year. A year later, he is probably the busiest Broadway producer at the moment with three high-profile shows, Hedwig And The Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, which already is sizzling at the boxoffice, Harvey Fierstein’s Casa Valentina and Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth in his New York debut. Callender also has teamed with J.K. Rowling and British theater producer Sonia Friedman for an original stage play for UK theatre based on the Harry Potter stories. Read More »
Without A Trace alum Enrique Murciano and Katie Finneran (The Michael J. Fox Show) have been cast in recurring roles on Netflix‘s untitled psychological thriller drama from Sony Pictures TV. Written and executive produced by Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler, the 13-episode series centers on a close-knit family of four adult siblings (Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz) whose secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep brother (Mendelsohn) returns home. Murciano, repped by Untitled and Gersh, plays, Meg’s (Cardellini) boyfriend Marco, a member of the county sheriff’s department. He will next be seen in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Water & Power and recurring on Starz drama Power. Finneran, repped by Innovative, plays Kevin’s (Butz) red-haired, witty wife Belle.
After directing three episodes of the second season of House Of Cards, director-producer John David Coles (The West Wing) is joining the Netflix drama series full time for Season 3 as executive producer/director. Coles previously was co-executive producer/director on CBS’ Elementary and executive producer/director on NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He most recently helmed episodes of A&E’s Bates Motel and Starz’s upcoming drama series Power. On MRC-produced House Of Cards, Coles — repped by UTA and Rain Management Group — will serve as an EP alongside star Kevin Spacey, director David Fincher and writer Beau Willimon as well as Josh Donen, Eric Roth, Dana Brunetti, Lord Michael Dobbs and Andrew Davies.
Related: Maryland House Fights Back Over ‘House Of Cards’ Tax Break Threat
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of last night’s Season 4 finale of The Walking Dead.
Don’t let anyone tell you that AMC’s The Walking Dead doesn’t pack a hell of a lot more than zombies into the series — as last night’s bloody and emotionally charged Season 4 finale proved. Besides the ever-present undead, the fourth season saw a big change in leadership among Sheriff Rick Grimes and the survivors, the outbreak of a raging influenza virus in their converted prison home, the exile of one major character, the graphic decapitation of another, the death of a major foe, some revealing backstories, and the scattering of the remaining members of the series in search of a new home and new hope. It also saw Walking Dead shattering cable ratings records again, and a couple of times it beat the usually unbeatable Sunday Night Football on NBC and topped that network’s Winter Olympics coverage three weeks in a row in the key adults 18-49 demo. There’s a good chance that when last night’s ratings come in later today, we’ll see another record. Walking Dead executive producer Scott Gimple, who just completed his first full season as showrunner, talked with me about last night’s finale as well as what fans can expect in Season 5 this fall and some changes behind the scenes.
Related: ‘Walking Dead’ Season Debut Smashes Records; 16.1M Watch
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EXCLUSIVE: Mike Epps is adding a seasoned presence to Starz’s scripted comedy series Survivor’s Remorse, joining a cast of mostly 20-something up-and-comers as a regular. Additionally, Epps has booked a recurring role on the second season of the BET drama Being Mary Jane. Survivor’s Remorse, executive produced by NBA star LeBron James and Mike O’Malley, is set in the world of professional basketball. It follows Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), a basketball phenom in his early 20s who is thrust into the limelight after signing a multimillion-dollar contract with a pro team. Read More »
Jessie T. Usher (Level Up), Ronreaco Lee (Glory, Let’s Stay Together), Erica Ash (Scary Movie 5, The Real Husbands Of Hollywood), Tichina Arnold (Martin, Everybody Hates Chris) and Teyonah Parris (Mad Men, They Came Together) have signed on to Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse, a half-hour scripted comedy series executive produced by NBA star LeBron James, Mike O’Malley, Tom Werner, James’ manager Maverick Carter and Paul Wachter. Survivors Remorse is set in the world of professional basketball and explores the comedy and drama of what truly happens when you make it out. Story follows Cam Calloway (Usher), a basketball phenom in his early 20s who is thrust into the limelight after signing a multimillion-dollar contract with a pro team. Cam, along with his cousin and confidant Reggie Vaughn (Lee), move to Georgia to start Cam’s journey to success. The two confront the challenges of carrying opportunistic family members and their strong ties to the impoverished community that they come from. Ash, repped by DBA and Principato-Young, will play M-Chuck, Cam Calloway’s sister. Arnold, with APA and Zenay R. Arnold, will play Cassie, Cam’s mother; and Parris, with APA and Vanguard Management, will play Reggie’s wife Missy. Usher is repped by Paradigm and Williams Unlimited; Lee by APA, Principato-Young Entertainment … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Rapper-actor Tip “T.I.” Harris has landed a role opposite Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart in Warner Bros’ Etan Cohen-directed comedy Get Hard. In the Gary Sanchez-produced pic, the self-professed King of the South will play Joaquin, Hart’s streetwise cousin who helps Hart prep Ferrell’s millionaire fraudster for prison. Harris has been racking up the acting credits lately. He’s currently doing a season-long guest stint on Showtime’s House Of Lies, starred in a season-long guest run on Starz’s Boss in 2012, and popped up in Universal’s Identity Thief last year. Grammy-nominated Harris made his acting debut with a starring turn in 2006′s ATL, which he followed with Ridley Scott’s American Gangster and Screen Gems’ crime thriller Takers. He’s repped by UTA, Brian Sher’s Category 5, and the Blueprint Group.
Vanessa Aspillaga (Law & Order) is set for a guest recurring role on Starz‘s ballet drama Flesh And Bone. The series follows Claire (Sarah Hay), a young dancer with has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. Aspillaga will play Monica, the company’s assistant manager, who is stable, extremely good at her job and at managing her boss. The actress, whose credits include Elementary, The Good Wife and CBS’ Untitled Jim Gaffigan pilot, is repped by Paradigm.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
Leah Renee (The Playboy Club) has booked a role in NBC‘s comedy pilot Mission Control, from exec producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Set in 1962, the workplace ensemble examines what happens when a strong woman (Krysten Ritter) butts heads with a macho astronaut (Tommy Dewey) in the race to land on the moon. Renee will play the Ritter character’s secretary Jessica, a bombshell who tries to get her boss to learn flirting to advance her career. Renee, who also has joined the cast of Lifetime’s telefilm Mr. Fiction, is repped by Intellectual Artists Management and Innovative Artists.
Dexter alum Desmond Harrington has signed on to ABC’s 10-episode summer drama series Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book, it 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. Harrington, repped by UTA and Untitled, will play Alan Shepherd, one of the Mercury 7 astronauts and the first American in space. Despite a playboy reputation, he and his wife Louise were married for 53 years.
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Here’s a rundown of shows that will hit the airwaves for the first time between June 1 and the start of the 2014-15 TV season, along with those returning for new seasons or coming off hiatus. We will update when new dates are announced:
Related: Midseason Premiere Dates For New And Returning Series On Broadcast And Cable (January Through May)
Halt & Catch Fire (AMC, series premiere)
Mistresses (ABC, Season 2 premiere)
Beauty And The Beast (The CW, Season 2B premiere)
Famous In 12 (The CW, series premiere)
Jennifer Falls (TV Land, series premiere)
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix, Season 2 premiere)
Power (Starz, series premiere)
Murder In The First (TNT, series premiere)
Major Crimes (TNT, Season 3 premiere)
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