Veteran TV producer Betsy Schechter has launched Storyville Entertainment, a full-service New York-based production company that will create content for TV, film, branded and multimedia outlets. Schechter, whose credits include producing A&E’s Paranormal State and the syndie dating show Shipmates, will serve as president of the new shingle, which already is in production on a music-based documentary series for MTV International and in development on nonscripted and scripted projects for A&E, TNT, H2, MTV International, Animal Planet and National Geographic. It also is collaborating on a scripted series with Paranormal Activity producer Jason Blum. Caroline Christopher, formerly director of development for National Geographic Television and among those who helped launch Peacock Productions, has been hired as VP Development and Production. She will oversee Storyville’s development team, creating nonfiction series, specials and branded content. “Storyville serves as a hub for creativity regardless of the genre and platform, everything from non-fiction to scripted to digital to reality,” said Schechter. “What matters most and what will define our projects is that at the core are solid characters and great storytelling with a distinct point of view.”
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The digital studio that specializes in scripted female dramas is partnering with the script site to find a writer to develop a YouTube series. The Black List will solicit teleplays to be evaluated by its community of industry pros and readers and deliver a shortlist of five writers to be considered for a script. Submissions are being accepted through May 6. WIGS, the digital studio created by TV and feature producers Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia, inked a multiyear deal with Fox last year.
Black List Teams With TNT & TBS For Diversity Initiative
WIGS YouTube Dramas Added To Hulu
Julia Stiles (the Bourne movie franchise) has been tapped for the lead in TNT‘s drama pilot Guilt By Association, from former prosecutor Marcia Clark, on whose book the project is based, and Dee Johnson. The project centers on Rachel Knight (Stiles), a talented, unorthodox and impulsive Deputy DA in the LA County District Attorney’s office who sometimes operates outside the law in order to uphold it. Rachel relies on her cohorts — fashionable prosecutor Toni LaCollette (Rose Rollins) and tough-as-nails Detective Bailey Keller (Elisabeth Röhm) — for all things professional and personal. Driven by compassion but haunted by guilt, Rachel tackles the Special Trials Unit’s most difficult cases and does so with humor, an edge, and an “evidence is for pussies” attitude. When the suspicious death of a close colleague throws her own judgment into question, Rachel must rely on her connections and instincts to solve the case and clear her friend’s name. Neve Campbell was previously in final negotiations to play Rachel but pulled out at the last moment. The pilot is executive produced by writer-showrunner Johnson, Clark and Nelson McCormick. Dexter alumna Stiles, repped by ICM Partners, Untitled and Sloane, Weber, has been starring in Web series Blue.
Related: 2014 TNT Pilots
TBS has finalized a deal for a pilot order to an ensemble multi-camera workplace comedy from Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. This would mark the duo’s first cable pilot. The untitled project (formerly known as Clipsters) is about a group of kids from high school, who ran in different circles but now all work together at a local Charlestown, MA. barbershop called Buzzy’s. 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. The project was set up at TBS a year ago, stemming from an exploratory meeting Kohan and Mutchnick took with the network’s programming chief Michael Wright. Kohan and Mutchnick’s KoMut Entertainment and Warner Horizon are producing.
Related: 2014 TBS Pilots
At TBS, the Kohan/Mutchnick project joins a busy pilot slate that include four other comedy pilots: single-camera Tribeca and multi-camera Living The Dream, Do It Yourself and Your Family Or Mine. Kohan and Mutchnick also have an Upstairs/Downstairs dark comedy in development at Showtime. Mutchnick has been repped by WME since last year, but the TBS pilot (as well as the Showtime project) was packaged by the duo’s longtime agent Scott Schwartz at Vision Art, who continues to rep Kohan.
British actor Jon Fletcher (The Good Wife) is set to co-star in CW drama pilot The Messengers from feature producer Basil Iwanyk (the Clash Of The Titans franchise) and CBS TV Studios. Stephen Williams (Lost) has been tapped to direct. The Messengers starts with a mysterious object crashing down to Earth. A group of seemingly unconnected strangers die from the energy pulse, but then awaken to learn that they have been deemed responsible for preventing the impending apocalypse. Fletcher, repped by Resolution and One Entertainment, will play Joshua, a charismatic and compelling pastor at a Texas mega-church. Williams is with UTA and Oasis Media Group.
Related: 2014 The CW Pilots
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EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of landing his first pilot order last year with ABC’s Big Thunder, hot feature writer Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift) is returning to television with a conspiracy thriller drama at TNT. Written by Fuchs and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV, Black Box, now in development, centers on three strangers whose lives are forever changed after the accidental crash of a civilian airliner over the Long Island Sound when clues begin to emerge that the crash may not have been accidental. Fuchs and Amblin’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank exec produce. Black Box (not related to ABC’s upcoming drama series of the same name) is geared toward TNT’s action-adventure Sunday slot anchored by Amblin’s Falling Skies. The company also has TNT cop drama pilot Public Morals, written, directed by and starring Ed Burns.
On the feature side, Fuchs’ Peter Pan origin story, Pan, for Warner Bros, recently landed on the Black List and is prepping in London for a July 17, 2015 release with Joe Wright directing and Hugh Jackman starring as the villainous pirate Blackbeard. Garrett Hedlund is rumored for the role of a young Captain Hook. Fuchs is repped by WME and Brookside Artist Management.
EXCLUSIVE: After a long, long search and multiple rounds of testing, British actor Max Brown has been cast as the lead in Fox‘s 13-episode action-adventure drama series Hieroglyph, from 20th TV and Chernin Entertainment. Set in ancient Egypt, where fantasy and reality intertwined, it follows Ambrose (Brown), a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah (Reece Ritchie), navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers. Brown, repped by UTA, Luber Roklin Entertainment and UK’s United Agents, most recently co-starred on the first season of the CW drama, Beauty And The Beast as medical examiner Evan Marks. He previously starred on Showtime/BBC’s The Tudors and BBC’s Spooks (aka MI-5).
EXCLUSIVE: Drama writer-producer Rick Eid has closed an overall deal with Warner Bros TV. Under the two-year pact, Eid will develop new projects for the studio. He also is boarding Warner Horizon’s newly picked-up Lifetime drama series The Lottery as executive producer/showrunner. Written by Timothy J. Sexton and starring Marley Shelton, David Alpay, Michael Graziadei and Martin Donovan, The Lottery is set in a dystopian future when women have stopped having children. Remarkably, 100 embryos are successfully fertilized and a national lottery is held to decide the surrogates. Eid will executive produce alongside Sexton, the pilot’s director Danny Cannon and Dawn Olmstead. Eid is coming off executive producer/showrunner duties on WBTV’s drama series for CBS Hostages. Before that, he was under a deal at CBS TV Studios where he served as co-executive producer on the studio’s long-running CBS crime drama CSI. At WBTV/Warner Horizon, he previously served as executive producer/showrunner on TNT drama series Dark Blue. WME-repped Eid also co-created the NBC/Universal drama series Conviction.
Related: 2014 Lifetime Pilots
A leveling off for TNT’s Dallas reboot, which bagged 2.7 million viewers with its third season debut – its smallest start yet. That said, it suffered nowhere nearly as steep a fall as had its Season 2 starter. That season opened with 2.98 million viewers, but it was a 60% plunge compared to the hefty 6.9 million who’d welcomed the return of the Ewings in the less-crowded summer. That Season 2 starter had been a series low for the new Dallas. TNT notes last night’s third-season kickoff matches the new Dallas’ second-season average.
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Callum Blue (The Princess Diaries 2) has been tapped for a regular series role in 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. Callum, repped by Gersh, The Artists Partnership and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, plays Peter Van Owen, a charming, a best-selling author who claims to be a psychic medium.
Related: 2014 TNT Pilots
Alexia Fast (Jack Reacher) has been booked for a regular series role in WGN America’s 13-episode scripted series Manhattan. From writer Sam Shaw and director Thomas Schlamme, Skydance TV, Tribune Studios and Lionsgate TV, Manhattan is set against the backdrop of the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico and follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families. Fast, repped by UTA, Great North Artists Management and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, will play Callie Winter, the 16-year-old somewhat sharp-tongued daughter of Liza and Frank, whom she needles about his frequent, secretive absences from home for his work.
Kevin Hart was named entertainer of the year tonight at the NAACP‘s Image Awards aired live on the East Coast on TV One. Forest Whitaker was named best actor and Angela Bassett best actress for their respective roles in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Black Nativity. Best picture award went to 12 Years A Slave. Kevin Hart was named best actor in a comedy series for Real Husbands of Hollywood and LL Cool J took the best actor in a drama series prize for NCIS: Los Angeles. Kerry Washington was named best actress in a drama series for Scandal. The award for best actress in a comedy series went to Wendy Raquel Robinson for The Game. Scandal and Real Husbands Of Hollywood took nods, respectively, for best drama and comedy series.
Oprah Winfrey honored Nelson Mandela with a tribute. Forest Whitaker received the NAACP Chairman’s Award. And Paris Barclay and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first African-American Presidents of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, respectively, were inducted into the Image Awards Hall of Fame. The complete list of winners follows: Read More »
Landscape Entertainment has promoted Tyler Mitchell to Partner and has extended its first-look deal with Entertainment One Television through 2015, the company said today. In his new role, Mitchell will oversee both Landscape’s film and television slates, with projects in active development at Warner Bros., Disney, New Regency, HBO, Fox, WGN, TNT, and USA. Under their first look deal with eOne Television, Landscape will continue to develop and produce projects targeted primarily for cable. Mitchell joined Landscape in 2011 as Head of Feature Film, working as a producer on several pics including The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Lucky Number Sleven and most recently The Angriest Man In Brooklyn set for release later this year. Mitchell also has worked in television as both a producer and writer on NBC’s Kidnapped and My Own Worst Enemy. Landscape Entertainment is repped in TV by WME.
UPDATED: Richard Cabral and Johnny Ortiz have joined the ensemble cast of John Ridley’s American Crime pilot for ABC Studios. The ABC project centers on the home invasion and murder of a young war veteran and his beauty queen wife in Modesto, CA. APA-repped Cabral will play Hector Tonz, a hustler and occasional drug dealer who is implicated in the murder and attack of the young couple. Ortiz will play Tony Gutierrez, Alonzo’s son who is eager for independence and sick of his dad’s rules.
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A long-gestating series offshoot from TNT‘s successful The Librarian original movies is inching closer to a green light as a 10-episode, straight-to-series at TNT. Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, which was behind the three Librarian movies, would be back as producer, partnering with the movies’ star Noah Wyle, who is in early talks to serve as an executive producer as well as reprise his role as Flynn Carsen in several episodes as he has a full-time job on TNT’s hit series Falling Skies. Also eyed to reprise their roles from the movies in guest starring/recurring capacity are Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin. Tentatively titled The Librarians, the proposed series would revolve around a group of younger men and women eager to become Flynn’s successor as the protector of secret artifacts. The green light for the series is cast-contingent, hinging on finding an actress for the lead role of a strong, ass-kicking woman. I hear the character is conceived as British, with actresses like Melissa George and Rhona Mitra as prototypes.
Related: TNT Orders Six Extra Episodes Of ‘Cold Justice’
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More than two months since original The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont and CAA sued AMC, over unpaid fees and other claims, the cable station has finally replied. In a dry point-by-point 10-page retort filed today in the Supreme Court of New York, AMC denied all of the plaintiffs’ claims and asked for the case to be dismissed. “Defendants deny that Plaintiffs are entitled to any relief, whether monetary, compensatory, declarative, equitable, costs, and/or fees relating to this matter, or in any other form sought by Plaintiffs,” said the filing (read it here). “We look forward to demonstrating through the legal process that this is a baseless lawsuit built on claims that have no merit,” an AMC spokesperson told me today. The dense December 17 complaint that Darabont and CAA filed against AMC Network Entertainment and others alleged that the former WD EP and his agency were cheated out of contractually assured profits from the blockbuster zombie apocalypse series.
AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’ Slays NBC’s Olympics In Key Demo Again
TNT’s Mob City Not Getting Second Season
Darabont and CAA’s 24-page plus exhibits filing late last year also claimed that AMC enacted a limbo-low license-fee shell game to the show based on Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels to pad its own pockets. It also said that cabler snagged some tax money from the state of Georgia and ran the in-house … Read More »
Oscar-winning Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, who won the Best Animated Feature Academy Award in 2002 for Spirited Away, is back in contention this year with The Wind Rises, the film he says will be his last as a director. Could that be a factor in how the Academy votes? The film — about the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during World War II — is nominated for its original Japanese version, but Disney on Friday will be releasing the English-language version featuring a starry voice cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Martin Short, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin and others. Here’s an exclusive clip that doesn’t depend on dialogue at all, a harrowing earthquake sequence that shows off Miyazaki’s true gifts as an artist. If this is his last hurrah as a director, you can see why he will be missed:
Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf Of Wall Street) has been cast as a regular in NBC’s romantic comedy pilot A To Z. From Warner Bros Television, Rashida Jones, Le Train Train and Ben Queen, A To Z follows the relationship between a young couple, Andrew and Zelda (Cristin Milioti), from meeting to breakup. Zebrowski, repped by CAA, Ken Treusch, and Melissa Fox, will play Stu, who despite his outward obnoxiousness and often unsolicited advice, is a great guy and loyal friend to Andrew, his roommate and co-worker at a dating site.
Whitney‘s Tone Bell has been set as a regular in Bad Judge, NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot starring and executive produced by Kate Walsh. The project centers on a hard-living, sexually unapologetic woman (Walsh) who plays with the law, and whose life on the edge is constantly in balance as she also happens to be a judge in the criminal court system. Bell, repped by Innovative and Black Box, plays Edward, the bailiff in Rebecca’s courtroom who gets swept up in her flawed, impulsive and chaotic personal life.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
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Former Nikita co-executive producer Albert Kim has signed a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV. The pact, which has an option for a third year, marks Kim’s first overall deal. Under the agreement, Kim will work on 20th TV’s upcoming Fox adventure series Hieroglyph and will later join the second season of the studio’s breakout Fox drama Sleepy Hollow as a co-executive producer. He also will develop. “This was highly sought after,” said 20th president of creative affairs Johnny Davis of the deal. “We build shows around a voice, and Albert has a very specific voice; his writing is compelling and an adrenaline rush.”
Related: 20th Century Fox TV’s Head Of Current Jeffrey Glaser Upped To EVP
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