Oscar, Schmoscar: MTV Votes ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ Best Movie

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 8:13pm PDT
Mike Fleming

mvUPDATE: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire just beat out such films as Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave and The Wolf Of Wall Street for Movie Of The Year in the conclusion of the MTV Movie Awards. Even though Johnny Depp presented, the award was accepted by Josh Hutcherson. Nobody else showed up. Yowza.

EARLIER: So what’s happening in the vitally important MTV Movie Awards? Well, Conan O’Brien–who would win if there was an award for Most Screwed Over For Network Late Night Slot after guys who came behind him have the big network gigs while he’s still the best show on TBS–took the stage on a design that seemed to be inspired by where the Sleestaks lived on Land Of The Lost. I can tell you Jared Leto won Best On-Screen Transformation for getting dolled up for Dallas Buyers Club (I bet he puts the popcorn trophy right next to Oscar on his mantle), and that We’re The Millers’ Will Poulter won for Breakthrough Performance, with Zac Efron beating out some hunks for Best Shirtless Performance and Channing Tatum for Trailblazer Award. And Jonah Hill won some award… You know what? The Yankees are right now playing the Boston Red Sox, and they’re winning and it’s Jeter’s final season. And Game Of Thrones is coming on and trust me, there will be blood. I’m sort of in charge here and screw it, I can’t watch … Read More »

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Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin Exits To Become CEO Of Atlanta Hawks

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 4:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

kooninAfter 14 years as Turner Broadcasting, Tuner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin is leaving for what he describes as a dream job, to become CEO of NBA team Atlanta Hawks. A native Atlantan, Koonin has spent his career so far holding top positions at two blue-chip Atlanta-based companies, Coca-Cola and Turner, spending 14 years at each. He now plans to finish his career in his hometown with the post at Atlanta Hawks. The gig stemmed from conversations he recently had with the sports organization about coming in as an investor which grew into Koonin joining as CEO and Part-Owner. Koonin has had a 28-year association with the NBA, including his stint at TEN, whose network TNT carries the league’s games.

Koonin’s departure comes a month before TEN’s upfront presentation where he has been a staple. (Who can forget his memorable improv when the network’s video system temporarily shut down three years ago). In a memo, Turner Broadcasting Systems president David Levy said a search for Koonin’s replacement will start right away with both internal and external candidates expected to be considered. He indicated that the company would use the changeover at the top to bring in “fresh eyes” for evaluating TEN’s positioning in a rapidly changing media landscape. The process needs to be relatively quick so the networks have a leadership in place for the important upfront buying process when advertisers make the bulk of their commitments for the next year.

Koonin joined Turner in February 2000 as a head of TNT, eventually taking over the entire entertainment division, which also includes TBS, TruTV and TCM. He led both TNT and TBS into original scripted programming and spearheaded their rebrands with slogans “We Know Drama” (TNT) and “Very Funny” (TBS). He leaves the division in good shape. TNT traditionally has commanded the highest ad prices in basic cable and has produced a string of major hits in the past decade with The Closer, spinoff Major Crimes and Rizzoli & Isles, while TBS has been running high with off-network Big Bang Theory. TruTV is going through some rough times, with Koonin last year tapping MTV’s Chris Linn to lead a turnaround. Here is Koonin’s internal memo announcing the departure, in which he quotes Green Day’s Time Of  Your Life, as well as the memo by Levy:

Steve Koonin:

I set my guiding principle as a very young man that living in Atlanta, the home of my family and friends for multiple generations, was the key for lifetime happiness. For the past 28 years, I have been able to live and work in a senior leadership role in my hometown for two fantastic companies. I was very lucky to be a part of Coca-Cola’s incredible global growth in the 80′s and 90′s.

In February 2000, I walked into Turner Broadcasting after being invited to run TNT. I was 42 years old, had a full head of brown hair and dreams of taking the consumer lessons I learned from Coca-Cola and apply them to TV. I am truly gratified in saying that TNT, TBS, TCM and truTV have become familiar and beloved brands to TV viewers all over the USA.

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Howie Mandel Inks First-Look Deal With CORE Media Group

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 10:52am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

mandelHowie Mandel’s Alevy Prods. and CORE Media Group have signed a first-look deal for Mandel and Alevy to executive produce scripted and unscripted TV and digital projects. Mandel and his Alevy partner Mike Marks currently executive produce the TBS hidden camera series Deal With It. Mandel previously worked with CORE president Marc Graboff at NBC, where Mandel hosted Deal Or No Deal, earning an Emmy nomination, and continues to serve as a judge on America’s Got Talent. “Over the course of my long-standing relationship with Howie, I have come to appreciate him as possessing that extremely rare combination of being an incredibly talented performer as well as a smart, savvy producer,” Graboff said. Other shows produced by Alevy Prods. — repped in the deal by WME, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney Bill Sobel — include Mobbed, Take It All and Howie Do It.

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UPDATE: NYC Mayor Called Les Moonves Directly To Keep Post-Letterman ‘Late Show’ In Big Apple

CBS Late Show marquee UPDATE, 11:25 AM: Forget the letter-writing campaign of Los Angeles’ mayor. The mayor of New York picked up the phone and directly asked CBS boss Les Moonves to keep the Late Show in the Big Apple after David Letterman retires next year. “I had a very good conversation yesterday with the man who will actually make that decision, Les Moonves, and I emphasized that New York has been an extraordinary home for the Late Show and that we think it’ll be a great home for the Late Show going forward,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio today during a press Washington Nationals v New York Metsconference. “Obviously, David Letterman made rich use of his surrounding environment of New York City, and I hope that his successor will do the same.”

Related: David Letterman Through The Years: Video

The same day Letterman announced he would be leaving Late Show sometime in 2015, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote to the CBS boss urging him to move Letterman’s successor out to the West Coast. Burbank lost The Tonight Show back to NYC after 40 years when Jimmy Fallon took over hosting earlier this year, and L.A. is currently home to late-night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Conan O’Brien’s talk show on TBS, Arsenio Hall, and Letterman’s lead-out Craig Ferguson. On Friday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also wrote to Moonves about making sure Late Show post-Letterman stayed in New York. With de Blasio now weighing in, is it only a matter of time until this becomes a Governor-to-Governor thing? NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already made his stand doing the Top 10 list on April 4.  Read More »

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The Black List And Fox Team To Find New TV Drama Writers

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 10:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

blacklistEXCLUSIVE: Fox Broadcasting Company has partnered with The Black List to find television drama writers for Fox projects. The way it will work is, The Black List will solicit scripts to be evaluated by its in-house readers, and will recommend a short list of scribes to Fox for consideration. If Fox likes them, a drama script deal or drama staff position might be the result. Writers can begin submitting material today, to www.blcklst.com/fox, and the program ends May 1 at 11:59 PM. Read More »

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Ashley Tisdale & George Wendt Join TBS Comedy Pilot From ‘Will & Grace’ Creators

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 5:50pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Ashley-Tisdale1__120604231834George WendtCheers alum George Wendt and Ashley Tisdale are set to co-star in David Kohan and Max Mutchnick‘s multi-camera untitled barbershop comedy pilot at TBS. Also cast in the untitled workplace comedy is Lauren Lapkus (Orange Is the New Black). The project revolves around a group of kids who ran in different circles in high school but now all work together at Buzzy’s Barbershop in Charlestown, MA. Their dreams may lie across the Charles River in Boston, but for now, their work, their lives, their loves and their worries remain in the town they grew up in. Wendt, repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners and AMT Artists, will play Buzzy, the barbershop’s former owner, a nice guy who’s always up for a conversation. But he has one tragic flaw: He’s an inveterate gambler. Tisdale, repped by UTA and Perlman Management, will play Danni, a barber at Buzzy’s who is one of the guys — but she’s still totally sexy without really trying. Lapkus, repped by CAA and Odenkirk Provissero, plays Joy, the barbershop receptionist who’s an eternal optimist.

Related: 2014 TBS Pilots

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Conan O’Brien To Broadcast TBS Show From Comic-Con 2015

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 2:11pm PDT

comic-con-2013__130716202600__130720233914Talk about planning ahead. He’s hosting the MTV Movie Awards for the first time on April 13 and now Conan O’Brien is climbing another pop culture mountain by heading to Comic-Con next year. The TBS 2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivalslate night host plans to broadcast his show from July 8 – 12, 2015 when the studios, the networks and hundreds of thousands of the geekest geeks in geekdom all head to San Diego. In the first time a late night show has broadcast from Comic-Con, CONAN will take over the downtown Spreckels Theater. The production closed the deal on the theater today, a source tells me.Additionally, this is the clearest indication that Conan truly isn’t in the running to take over CBS’ Late Show when David Letterman retires next year. While this is the first time a late nigh show has aired from Comic-Con, this won’t be the first time O’Brien has been to the confab. He was down there in 2011 to promote his animated alter ego the “Flaming C “during a panel for the Green Lantern Animated series panel.

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UPDATE: David Letterman Ends An Era, Announcing He Will Retire In 2015

UPDATED THROUGHOUT, 7:35 PM: CBS late-night star David LettermanDavid Letterman Retiring Late Night With David Letterman surprised his studio audience this afternoon when he announced he is retiring in 2015. “The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring,’” Letterman told his Ed Sullivan Theatre crowd, who reacted with stunned silence. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Letterman only notified Moonves this morning.

Related:
David Letterman Through The Years: Video
Watch David Letterman Announce His Retirement Read More »

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LA Mayor Urges CBS To Bring Letterman Successor’s Show To West Coast

President Obama Announces First Five "Promise Zones" To Battle PovertyBurbank may have recently lost NBC’s The Tonight Show to NYC after 40 years, but LA’s mayor now wants CBS to make the City of Angels the home of the replacement to Late Show With David Letterman. In a letter today to CBS boss Les Moonves after David Letterman announced that he will retire next year, Mayor Eric Garcetti urged him “to bring CBS’ next late night show to our city.” With shows and features deserting LA in droves in the past decade, Garcetti has made stabilizing and increasing film & TV production in the city a TCA Summer Press Tour 2013top priority for his still fairly new administration. The mayor created a Film Czar office and has been advocating an expansion of California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program. Having said that, LA still has some late-night skin in the game with Letterman’s lead-out Craig Ferguson, Conan O’Brien’s TBS show, Arsenio Hall, and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, but getting CBS to set down more post-primetime roots here would be a real though unlikely coup for the city post-Letterman. Here is Garcetti’s full letter to Moonves:

Related:
L.A. Mayor, Production Alliance Cheer New Film/TV Tax Credit Legislation
Watch David Letterman Announce His Retirement
David Letterman Through The Years: Video

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CNN Hits Near Low In Q1 Ratings, Fox News On Top Again For 49th Time, MSNBC Down

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 11:04am PDT

cnnlogo4__140310195953They may have had a March ratings surge with their constant coverage of the missing Malaysian Airliner but it wasn’t enough to save CNN from one of their worst quarterly primetime results ever. Between December 30, 2013 and March 28, 2014, the Jeff Zucker-run cable news network pulled in an average of 498,000 total viewers between 8 PM and 11 PM and 169,000 among adults 25-54. While CNN saw a slight 3% dip in the key news demo, it slid 16% in total viewers from from Q1 2013. That viewership result slide tumbles CNN down to the third worst quarter it has ever had in total audience. Only the Q2 2012’s 446,000 and Q4 2013’s 474,000 were worst for network. Fellow cabler MSNBC was also down from msnbc_logo_20110630160351__121213191013__140102224602-275x86Q1 2013. With 683,000 total viewers in primetime, MSNBC fell 10% in Q1 2014 from a year beforehand. Undoubtedly, all the shifts in the cabler’s schedule, anchor missteps and the vast underperformance of assumed golden boy Ronan Farrow were contributing factors in this fall. Still MSNBC had its best quarter in a year and held on to the No. #2 primetime spot in both total viewers and among adults 25-54 (214,000, down 4% from Q1 2013). The network was also second in total day with 394,000 viewers and 138,000 in the demo, a fall of 9% and a 2% from Q1 2103.

Related:Read More »

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Lionsgate TV Inks Overall Deal With Reality Producer Dave Caplan

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 9:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

davecaplanUnder the multiyear overall pact, Dave Caplan will develop and produce unscripted programming through his Trooper Entertainment banner. Caplan joins Lionsgate TV from 51 Minds Entertainment, where he spent two years as VP Development and executive produced such series as Syfy’s Heroes Of Cosplay, MTV’s Scrubbing In, Syfy’s Ghost Mine and truTV’s Cash Dome. “Continued growth in the area of alternative programming is a high priority for our TV division and we are always looking for terrific partners,” said Lionsgate TV Group chairman Kevin Beggs. “Dave is an extremely creative producer and we anticipate a great collaboration.” Caplan’s move to Lionsgate comes on the heels of an executive restructuring at 51 Minds following the company CEO Cris Abrego’s appointment as co-chairman and co-CEO of parent Endemol North America that saw Christian Sarabia elevated to president of 51 Minds. Read More »

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The Quiet Ground Breaker: How ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Pushed The Sitcom Form & Was Saved By Britney Spears

By | Monday March 31, 2014 @ 4:10pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

On How I Met Your Mother‘s last day of production a month ago, Dana Walden — chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox TV, which produces the long-running series — HIMYM Finalewas meeting with the big boss, 21st Century Fox chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, in his office. She mentioned HIMYM was wrapping that day and, in the middle of their meeting Murdoch said, “I want to go over and say hallo.” He walked to the set and thanked creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the cast and the crew “for all of the great work they have done.” “For a show to provoke that kind of response from Rupert, it speaks to how important that show has been to the company,” Walden said.

If such a gesture from the head of a global conglom might come as a surprise, it is probably because HIMYM, which wraps its nine-season run tonight on CBS, has flown largely under the radar. HIMYM hasn’t been a blockbuster ratings hit like The Big Bang Theory, hasn’t made headlines with a record-breaking syndication cbs-logo__120711164808__121116195436__130108233101__130716162250__130926192712__131121001522deal like 2 Broke Girls, and hasn’t been an awards darling like Modern Family, never landing an Emmy in the major categories. But it broke ground, pushing the limits of the traditional multi-camera sitcom with a new production model and heavy serialization that helped it attract younger (18-34) viewers, something very few multi-cam comedies have been able to do in the past decade as young audiences have been largely shunning the format in favor of edgier single-camera fare.

Multi-camera comedies had tried employing shorter scenes before, most notably NBC’s Seinfeld. But Bays and Thomas’ pilot script for How I Met Your Mother called for a pace that had not been achieved before. It included a whopping 59 scenes, plus freeze frames with narration, whip pans, a split screen scene and a montage. That’s not how you normally see in a multi-camera sitcom, which is what CBS had bought in HIMYM. But then, Carter and Bays didn’t quite know normal. The young writers were recent transplants to Los Angeles and primetime after a stint at CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman. They had only worked for a couple of very short-lived comedy series and had never developed before HIMYM. “This was new to them, and they didn’t know the limitations of what they can and cannot do, so they wrote what was in their heads,” Walden said. Read More »

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Richard Dreyfuss To Co-Star In TBS Comedy Pilot ‘Your Family Or Mine’

By | Monday March 31, 2014 @ 11:48am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Richard Dreyfuss TBS Comedy Your Family Or MineEXCLUSIVE: Richard Dreyfuss has joined the TBS comedy pilot Your Family Or Mine, from Greg Malins, Sony Pictures TV and Fanfare. Based on a Keshet format, the show 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. Dreyfuss, repped by APA and The Schiff Co., will play Ricky, Oliver’s father, opposite JoBeth Williams’ Louis. This marks the first series-regular role for Oscar-winner Dreyfuss since his starring turn on the 2001 CBS drama The Education Of Max Bickford. Over the past decade he’s done arcs on Showtime’s Weeds and NBC’s Parenthood. He most recently wrapped Darren Aronofsky and Joel Viertel’s feature Zipper and was seen in Paranoia.

Related: 2014 TBS Pilots

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Warner Horizon’s Craig Erwich Joins Hulu As Head Of Content

By | Monday March 31, 2014 @ 11:04am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

erwichHulu is making a statement in the original content arena with the hire of seasoned TV development executive Craig Erwich. Erwich, who recently exited his post as president of Warner Horizon, has been tapped as SVP and head of content to lead the content and programming strategy for Hulu and Hulu Plus. This marks one of the first major hires for new Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins, who made the announcement. “Craig is ready to hit the ground running hulu5__131120195159-275x122and lead us as we increase our overall content offerings,” Hopkins said. “Craig is the perfect guy for the job — he has been developing shows and programming networks for over 20 years. He has impressed me and others who’ve met him with his collaborative approach, humility and tenacity to do what he believes.” While Hulu has had traction with some originals, including animated comedy The Awesomes, which returns for Season 2 this summer, the online service has been overshadowed by rivals Netflix and Amazon, which have established slates of network-quality comedy and drama series that, in the case of Netflix, already go toe to toe with the traditional network fare for awards consideration. Hiring an experienced TV executive like Erwich signals Hulu’s intention to become a major player in the arena and possibly expand into drama. Hulu’s next original series, comedy Deadbeat starring Tyler Labine, debuts April 9. Read More »

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Chelsea Handler Eyes Exit From E!

By | Sunday March 30, 2014 @ 2:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

chelsea_lately-showWhen powerful music manager Irving Azoff in October joined the team of comedian/talk show host Chelsea Handler, the announcement stated the duo’s intentions. “The host of E!’s top-rated late night show, Chelsea Lately, Handler is busy positioning herself for life after her current contract expires at the end of 2014,” it read. That “positioning” has featured exploratory meetings with production companies and other cable networks. It also has included pointed comments dropped by Handler about her dissatisfaction with E!, recently referring to the network a “a sad, sad place to live” and “a failure” on The Howard Stern Show. Now, after weeks of speculation that the Handler was plotting an exit, Azoff has told The Hollywood Reporter that Handler indeed “intends to leave” when her contract expires at the end of the year. Theoretically, that could be posturing, which is part of any renegotiation where the stakes are this high, but given the fact that Handler specifically hired Asoff to plan her life post-E! and that the rift between the her and E! appears to run pretty deep, the intention appears to be real. That has been confirmed by sources.

Related: Chelsea Handler: Crankiest Talk Show Guest Ever?

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‘Saint George’ Hits Low In Week 4, Not Likely To Continue Beyond Initial Order At FX

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 8:17pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

saintgeorgeAiring against NCAA basketball on CBS and TBS last night, George Lopez‘s sitcom Saint George drew 721,000 total viewers on FX, down 9% from last Thursday and a new series low for the comedy as it approaches the midpoint of its initial 10-episode run. Compared with its series premiere, last night’s fourth episode was down 40%. In adults 18-49, it delivered 401, 000 viewers, down 15% from last week and off 28% from the premiere (see ratings chart below). Saint George hails from Lionsgate TV and sibling TV distribution company Debmar-Mercury and is produced under Debmar-Mercury’s 10/90 model. That means a straight-to-series 10-episode order which, if a ratings threshold is met, triggers a 90-episode back order. Lionsgate/Debmar-Mercuty’s FX sitcom Anger Management, starring Charlie Sheen, is a product of the same model. Its original 10-episode order, fueled by a big initial interest in Sheen post-Two And A Half Men, hit the ratings target and received a back-90 order that is now airing. With four of the 10 episodes of Saint George broadcast, sources indicate that it appears impossible for the show to fulfill the ratings threshold requirement for a back order. Read More »

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Kathryn Busby Joins SPT Networks As SVP Programming & Production

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 4:21pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

busbyEXCLUSIVE: After four years at Turner, Kathryn Ann Busby has joined Sony Pictures Networks as SVP Programming & Production at a time when the international channel division of Sony Pictures TV is looking to ramp up its original series portfolio. Busby will oversee sourcing, development and early production of SPT Networks’ original series slate, working with the EVP Programming and Production and Network Programming heads around the world on all aspects of original development for the three main Sony channel brands – AXN, SET (Sony Entertainment Television) and Animax. Busby most recently served as VP of TNT and TBS Original Productions after a stint as VP Comedy Development for TBS, overseeing the network’s scripted development. Before that, Busby was supervising producer for The Aisha Tyler Show and SVP Production at New Line Cinema, where she served as exec producer on the Sex And The City movie and senior executive on Rush Hour 3. She also served as SVP/head of development at former indie powerhouse Carsey-Werner, where she oversaw the development of Grounded For Life. Busby began her television career as director of comedy development at Universal Television, following several years in the record industry.

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Toks Olagundoye Joins NBC Pilot ‘Feed Me’, JoBeth Williams In ‘Your Family Or Mine’

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 6:44pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

toksToks Olagundoye, one of the leads of sophomore comedy The Neighbors, has been cast as a regular in NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot Feed Me in second position to the ABC series. Feed Me, from Witt-Thomas and Universal TV, stars Mary-Louise Parker and centers on a dysfunctional family bound by love and the restaurant they run together. Nigeria-born Olagundoye plays Meryl, the live-in girlfriend-turned-fiancee of John (Ed Wuinn), one of three grown-up children of restaurateur parents and brother of Emma (Parker). On Neighbors, Toks, repped by Shelter Entertainment and The Glick Agency, plays alien matriarch Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Related: 2014 NBC Pilots

JoBeth WilliamsJoBeth Williams is set as a regular in TBS comedy pilot Your Family Or Mine, from Greg Malins, Sony Pictures TV and Fanfare. Based on an Israeli format, the show revolves around a young couple and their relatives, with each episode focusing on a different side of the family. Williams plays Ricky, the disapproving mother-in-law. Williams, repped by SDB Partners and the Coronel Group, plays a mother in another Sony comedy pilot about a young couple this season, NBC’s Marry Me, where she is recurring. She is shooting the film Crawlspace.

Related: 2014 TBS Pilots

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PILOT SEASON 2014: Network Casting Chiefs On This Season’s Biggest Challenges, Casting Coups & Fresh Faces

By | Friday March 21, 2014 @ 5:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Network Pilot Casting InterviewsSpring arrived yesterday, bringing the end of the annual two-month mad dash known as pilot casting season. Heading into pilot season this year, there was a lot of concern that the proliferation of original scripted programming on cable and digital platforms would put an additional strain on broadcast pilot casting, further depleting the talent pool. Going head-to-head with the casting of more than a dozen cable and digital pilots/series — including multiple-pilot slates on TNT, Amazon and FX and high-profile series on Viola DavisNetflix, USA and WGA America — the broadcast networks escaped mostly unscathed, successfully casting more that 80 pilots/direct-to-series, with only three comedy pilots rolled because of difficulties finding actors.

RelatedPilot Season 2014: The Overachievers

This pilot season brought an additional wrinkle, with Fox’s Kevin Reilly declaring in January that his network plans to bypass the traditional pilot cycle going forward. There were more straight-to-series and limited/event series orders this season, and several networks started casting a handful of projects early. But overall, it was mostly business as usual, with thousands of castings sessions crammed into eight weeks that resulted in the casting of more that 1,500 roles. We saw Oscar winners and happyendingsnominees like The Help‘s Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (plus Halle Berry earlier in the season) come to television, TV stars like David Schwimmer, Patricia Arquette, Mary-Louise Parker and Josh Duhamel make a return, and the casts of cancelled shows Happy Endings and Nikita be sought after.

Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!

As we close the book on this year’s casting season, let’s hear from the women (and a man) who were in the middle of it all, leading the casting charge at the broadcast networks. I asked the exhausted heads of casting (“I need a vacation,” one of them exclaimed) Tess Sanchez (Fox), Keli Lee (ABC), Grace Wu (NBC) and Peter Golden (CBS), plus Lori Openden (the CW), whose network doesn’t compete directly with the Big 4 as it targets younger talent, to answer questions about the challenges of this pilot season, progress on cast diversity, their and their competitors’ biggest casting coups, the season’s biggest discoveries, and the toughest roles and types to cast. (Find out how many child actors Fox saw for the Bruce Wayne role in Gotham.) Here are their answers:

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