UPDATE: Mike Sitrick just confirmed to me that he has sold his “Crisis PR” company. Well, this is a surprise! According to the PRNewswire, Resources Global Professionals, a consultancy spinoff from Deloitte & Touche and a multinational operating subsidiary of Resources Connection Inc (RECN), will hold a conference call tomorrow “to discuss the creation of a new Corporate Advisory and Restructuring business through the acquisition of Sitrick And Company and Brincko Associates”. Sitrick and Company is the Century City-based flackery started by Sitrick that’s mostly corporate but also handles a lot of showbiz messes, from actor arrests to cinematic hot button issues.
ABC has firmed up its midseason scheduling plans. With Super Fun Night only getting a Back 4 order, the network will try out another new comedy series, Mixology, in the Wednesday 9:30 PM slot behind Modern Family. The high-concept series, which takes place at a bar over the course of one night and features a 10-member core cast, will premiere on February 26. ABC previously used flagship Modern Family to launch another single-camera young ensemble comedy, Happy Endings, which recently ended its run. Meanwhile, Suburgatory will return to its original Tuesday 8:30 PM slot where it was so successful in its first season, launching Season 3 on January 15 to succeed departing Back In The Game.
ABC is making changes to some previously announced midseason moves. Once Upon A Time and Revenge are still slated to return from their winter hiatuses on March 9, joined by new drama Resurrection. But Revenge will move to 10 PM, with Resurrection taking over its 9 PM slot. With its supernatural theme (Resurrection is about deceased loved ones returning to a small town), it is considered a better fit for dark-ish fairytale drama Once than the glitzy soap Revenge. On Thursday, ABC was to launch adventure reality series The Quest, from The Amazing Race creators, on January 2. The competition has now been pushed to summer, with cooking reality series The Taste and CIA drama The Assets taking over Thursday night while Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are on hiatus, returning on February 27. In another tweak, Nashville — originally slated to go on hiatus like Once, Grey’s and Scandal under ABC’s newly adopted split-season model before returning on February 26 — will now stay on, airing a total of four originals in January and February. I hear ABC brass felt that maybe they were taking too many dramas off, and Nashville‘s strong DVR following could help it through repeats. Of the freshman dramas, Betrayal will have aired its entire limited-run first season before it goes off the air, while Once Upon A Time In Wonderland will air its fall finale on Dec. 12 and will return with a few more originals in the spring. New procedurals Killer Women and Mind Games will split the Tuesday 10 PM slot previously occupied by cancelled drama Lucky 7. Here are ABC’s new mideason premiere dates, followed by descriptions of the new series:
EXCLUSIVE: Ben McKenzie has spent his entire TV career to date at Warner Bros, starring on The O.C. and Southland. Now the actor is formalizing his relationship with a studio, signing a talent deal that includes a development component. The pact gives WBTV exclusivity on McKenzie’s services as an actor for television projects, while he also can bring the studio projects that he would star in if they go forward. McKenzie was a fresh-faced 24-year-old with virtually no credits when WBTV cast him a decade ago as the lead of its Fox teen drama The O.C. He went on to topline the studio’s cop drama Southland, first on NBC and then on TNT, and starred in WBTV’s CBS drama pilot The Advocates this past season. McKenzie is with CAA, Management 360 and PJ Shapiro.
Oscar-winning Juno writer Diablo Cody is tackling another female teen protagonist, this time on TV. Fox has put in development Prodigy, a teen drama project written by Cody and produced by ABC Studios and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s studio-based Fake Empire. It centers on a 16-year-old genius who through home schooling has been isolated from her peers. Hoping to experience a “normal” teen social life before she enters the adult world of academia, she enrolls in her local high school. But her experiment goes off the rails when she finds herself adopted by a wild crowd, getting caught up in a whirlwind of romance and crime. Cody and partner Mason Novick will executive produce alongside Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire’s president of television Len Goldstein.
Prodigy reunites Schwartz and Savage with Fox for another teen drama exactly a decade after the network launched Schwartz’s first series, The O.C., on which Savage started as a producer before partnering with Schwartz in Fake Empire. This marks the fifth sale for Fake Empire since moving to ABC Studios earlier this year. The WME-repped company, which has the CW’s Hart Of Dixie and The Carrie Diaries on the air, previously sold four projects to ABC: dramas Sisterland from Rina Mimoun and Social Circle from Josh Safran; and comedies First Timers from Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, …
File this under “cable confounds broadcast again”: CBS is losing an NFL rivalry game between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers this Sunday because grounds crews won’t have enough time to convert the O.co Coliseum from a diamond to a gridiron after a baseball playoff game the night before. Major League Baseball didn’t announce the start time for Saturday’s Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series, hosted by the Oakland A’s, until late Monday afternoon. Now the football game has been moved from 1:25 PM PT to 8:25 PT — and from CBS to the NFL Network. With Raiders-Chargers starting in primetime in the West, it should draw a huge number, especially in LA, an NFL-free city where both teams have large fan bases. That can’t be good news for broadcast networks so early in the new TV season or for HBO and Showtime, which have high-profile Sunday dramas Boardwalk Empire and Homeland, respectively. NBC has its regularly scheduled Sunday Night Football game, which should bleed into the start of Raiders-Chargers. NFL Network should send out sympathy cards to rival nets – right after that thank-you note to MLB.
EXCLUSIVE: A half-hour project, First Timers, has sold at ABC in a competitive situation, and it couldn’t have had a more perfect title. Because it marks the first sale for Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage‘s Fake Empire under the company’s rich three-year overall deal with ABC Studios. It also marks the first sale for up-and-coming writing duo Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger, currently serving as producers on the ABC/ABC Studios comedy The Neighbors. Penned by Aptaker and Berger loosely based on their own relationship, First Timers centers on twentysomething male/female business partners. The two will executive produce alongside Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein.
Starting their ABC Studios relationship with a comedy sale is symbolic for Fake Empire as expansion into half-hour comedy under the new deal has been a priority for the company, known primarily as a drama series producer. ABC Studios introduced Aptaker and Berger to Schwartz and Savage who had been tracking the duo’s career for a while (Aptaker and Berger previously staffed on I Just Want My Pants Back, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous and Friends With Benefits) and went after the young writers after reading their adaptation of the book The Future of Us.
2013-14 ABC New Series
Betrayal — A chance meeting between photographer Sara Hadley (Hannah Ware) and Attorney Jack McAllister (Stuart Townsend) leads to an instant and undeniable attraction. Sarah’s husband, Drew (Chris Johnson), is a successful prosecutor with political aspirations, while Jack is married to Elaine (Wendy Moniz), the daughter of his boss, Thacher Karsten (James Cromwell). When Karsten’s brother-in-law Lou is murdered, all evidence points to Karsten’s son, T.J. (Henry Thomas). Jack, the company’s lead counsel, will have to defend him, but for Sara’s prosecutor husband, Drew, this is the kind of high-profile murder case that can secure his political future. Just as Sara and Jack’s affair is starting, the lovers find themselves in an impossible situation — on opposite sides of a murder investigation. “Betrayal” stars Hannah Ware (“Shame,” “Boss”) as Sara, Stuart Townsend (“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”) as Jack, James Cromwell (“Babe,” “American Horror Story”) as Thacher Karsten, Henry Thomas (“E.T.,” “Gangs of New York”) as T.J. Karsten, Chris Johnson (“The Vampire Diaries”) as Drew, Wendy Moniz (“Guiding Light,” “The Guardian”) as Elaine, Elizabeth McLaughlin (“The Clique”) as Val and Braeden Lamasters (“Men of a Certain Age”) as Vic. “Betrayal” was written by David Zabel (“ER”) and directed by Patty Jenkins (“The Killing,” “Monster”) and is executive-produced by David Zabel, Rob Golenberg (“Red Widow”) and Alon Aranya. “Betrayal” is produced by ABC Studios.
Killer Women — Of all the notorious lawmen who have ever patrolled the violent Texas frontier, none are more …
ABC 2013-14 Schedule: Rebel Wilson Gets Post-‘Modern Family’ Slot, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ On Tuesday, ‘Dancing’ Shrinks To One Night
ABC is launching eight new series in the fall and taking some big swings, including a Tuesday lineup of all-new series, anchored by Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Rebel Wilson’s hot streak continues, with the rising star landing the post-Modern Family slot for her comedy Super Fun Night. ABC is looking to stem Dancing With The Stars‘ ratings decline by eliminating the Tuesday edition, with the Monday 8-10 PM show incorporating both performances and results. Dancing, as well as The Bachelor, Shark Tank and The Taste have been formally renewed for next season. Here is ABC’s fall schedule, analysis and descriptions of all 13 new series for next season, including newly picked up adventure reality series The Quest from The Amazing Race creators Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri:
ABC FALL 2013-2014 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET/PT)
8 PM – Dancing With The Stars
10 PM – Castle
8 PM – MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
9 PM – THE GOLDBERGS
9:30 PM – TROPHY WIFE
10 PM – LUCKY 7
8 PM – The Middle
8:30 PM – BACK IN THE GAME
9 PM – Modern Family
9:30 PM – SUPER FUN NIGHT
10 PM – Nashville
8 PM – ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND
9 PM – Grey’s Anatomy
10 PM – Scandal
8 PM – Last Man Standing
8:30 PM – The Neighbors
9 PM – Shark Tank
10 PM – 20/20
8 PM – Saturday Night College Football
7 PM – America’s Funniest Home Videos
8 PM – Once Upon A Time
9 PM – Revenge
10 PM – BETRAYAL
From ABC’s returning series, left off the schedule are comedy Suburgatory and reality series The Bachelor, which comes on in midseason, and The Taste.
EXCLUSIVE: Adam Brody is set for the sequel Think Like A Man Too. His character Isaac is a former frat brother of Kevin Hart’s Cedric who shows up and, to everyone’s surprise, is white. The movie, like the first 2012 Screen Gems film, is based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling relationships book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, who penned the original, are writing the sequel, which is due out June 20, 2014 from Sony Pictures. Before then, former The O.C. star Brody will be seen in the upcoming Lovelace with Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard and James Franco. After its debut at the Sundance Film Festival this year and getting picked up by Radius-TWC soon afterward, the Linda Lovelace biopic is scheduled to come out later this year. Brody plays Lovelace’s Deep Throat co-star Harry Reems in the film. Additionally, Brody is also in Neil LaBute’s Some Girls, Fox Searchlight’s Baggage Claim and the comedy Life Partners. He is repped by UTA.
UPDATE: ABC Picks Up ‘Once Upon A Time’ Spinoff, ‘Mixology’, ‘The Returned’, ‘Killer Women’, ‘Lucky 7′, ‘Betrayal’, ‘Trophy Wife’, Cullen Bros, ‘Influence’, ‘The Goldbergs’, ‘Super Fun Night’, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ To Series
When all was said and done tonight, ABC picked up a total of 12 new series — seven dramas and five comedies. All comedies are single-camera as ABC passed on both of its multi-camera pilots. Here is how it all came down today as the network opened the pickup process with one Disney-friendly shoo-in pilot, Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., and closed it with another, the Once Upon A Time spinoff. Descriptions of all ABC series and first-look photos at the bottom of the post.
ABC’s Once Upon A Time is officially a franchise as the network just ordered spinoff Once Upon A Time In Wonderland to series, joining the original series, which also was renewed.
Also picked up at ABC are ensemble comedy Mixology, which had been heating up, drama The Returned, now called Resurrection, said to be one of Paul Lee’s favorite pilots, and female procedural Killer Women, executive produced by Sofia Vergara and Ben Silverman. The Malin Akerman starrer Trophy Wife also has gotten a series pickup.
It’s a great day for David Zabel, who just got a pickup call for both of his ABC pilots, dramas Lucky 7 and Betrayal.
Two more series pickups at ABC to two 20th TV pilots, the Cullen Bros. comedy starring James Caan and executive produced by Aaron Kaplan, titled Back In The Game, and the Steve Zahn-Christian Slater procedural Minds Games (formerly Influence).
Also getting a series pickup at ABC is comedy frontrunner Adam Goldberg, whose autobiographical 1980s dysfunctional family comedy is now called The Goldbergs.
ABC wants to be in the Rebel Wilson business. The network’s first new comedy series pickup went to Wilson’s Super Fun Night. The pilot was not perfect, but with Wilson’s star rising so fast, the network couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have her on its air.
No surprise here — ABC’s first new series order for next season has gone to Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D., from The Avengers’ Joss Whedon. The network will air a first-look at the series, officially titled Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., during the season finale of Once Upon A Time on Sunday. This marks the first pilot and first series for Disney-owned Marvel on ABC.
EXCLUSIVE: Criminal Minds executive producer/showrunner Erica Messer has closed a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios. Under the pact, she is set to continue as showrunner on the studio’s veteran crime drama. Locking in Messer has been considered key to Criminal Minds‘ renewal. CBS did not pick up the show for another season along with its other series because of too many uncertainties as Messer and key cast members Thomas Gibson, Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore, Kirsten Vangsness and A.J. Cook all had no deals beyond this season. ABC Studios and CBS are yet to lock in the actors, but Messer’s deal is expected to help the process. I hear besides money, a major holdup in the actors’ negotiations had been the fact that it was unclear who would run the show next season. Messer is very well liked among the cast and crew of Criminal Minds, so her coming back would likely help the actors commit. Of course, the studio and network also have to bridge the salary gaps between what the actors ask for and what they offer, by most accounts nominal raises.
Less than two weeks before CBS’ upfront presentation, I hear there has been little movement on the money issue, leading to speculation that CBS may come out with a best and final offer. The actors don’t negotiate together, so it is conceivable that CBS renews the show with some of the cast signed and continues negotiations with the others after the upfront. That happened two years ago when Gibson and Moore’s contracts were up. Moore closed before the upfronts, while Gibson’s deal didn’t close until late June. And if CBS, which is footing the bill on the show, decides to play hardball and not renew Criminal Minds if agreements with actors could not be reached, the series could potentially move to ABC, whose sibling ABC Studios is reaping the financial benefits of the show’s lucrative off-network deal and strong sales around the world — the way CBS took in NBC’s Medium several years ago. Most insiders stress such a nuclear option is extremely unlikely, and CBS will find a way to bring Criminal Minds for a ninth season.
E! Developing Scripted Projects From Diane Warren, Josh Schwartz, Kevin Spacey, Mark Schwahn, Ryan Seacrest & Gale Anne Hurd
Last April, E! announced its first scripted slate as the reality/entertainment news-driven cable network signaled plans to enter the scripted space under its new NBCUniversal leadership. As E! is gearing up to greenlight its first three scripted pilots by Memorial Day, at its upfront today the network unveiled its new slate of scripted projects that come from well-known writers and producers. Several of the projects were originally developed for broadcast networks earlier this season. Those include dramedies Songbyrd, featuring the songs and experiences of songwriter Diane Warren, from producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan; and Laurel Canyon, from producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Songbird, written by Krista Vernoff, was originally set up at E! sibling NBC; Laurel Canyon, penned by Karen Croner, was at ABC.
E!’s scripted slate also includes three projects inspired by literary classics. Expectations, inspired by Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, is from Oscar-winning writer Ron Bass (Rain Man) and producer Dan Jinks. Interestingly, there were two modern-day Great Expectations projects in development at the broadcast networks this season — one at the CW produced by Reese Witherspoon, and one at ABC produced by Debra Martin Chase — none of which went to pilot. The Royals, a take on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is written by One Tree Hill creator/exec producer Mark Schwahn who executive produces with fellow OTH executive producers Brian Robbins and Joe Davola. The Stand-In is described as a darkly psychological re-telling of Mark Twain’s The Prince & the Pauper, executive produced by Ryan Seacrest. Fortunate Son is written by Joey Falco and executive produced by Kevin Spacey and Michael De Luca, who also had a joint project on E!’s inaugural scripted slate last year. According to E!’s original plans, the network was looking to launch its first scripted series in 2013. Here are details about E! scripted shows in development, which include dramas produced by Gale Anne Hurd and Becky Hartman Edwards:
Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are finalizing a deal to move their Fake Empire TV production company to ABC Studios with a three-year deal. Building a talent roster has been a priority for ABC Studios, which saw A-listers Greg Berlanti and Bill Lawrence go to Warner Bros TV over the past couple of years. I hear the studio went aggressively after Schwartz and Savage. Their Fake Empire was actually born at Warner Bros TV three years ago, when WBTV executive Len Goldstein came on board to run it. Schwartz had been at WBTV his entire professional life as a TV writer-producer — going back to his first series, The O.C. Fake Empire has two midseason series on the air — the CW’s The Carrie Diaries and Cult — as well as a slew of projects awaiting word on pilot pickups. The deal with ABC Studios, first reported by Variety, will begin after the end of the current pilot season when the company’s pact with WBTV expires. Fake Empire entered this season with four series on the air, all at the CW, where ABC Studios does not do business — Carrie Diaries, Cult, the departing Gossip Girl and sophomore Hart Of Dixie. ABC should be a good fit for the duo as most of their projects have been in the soap genre the network is known for on the drama side. In features, Fake Empire …
The Sons Of Anarchy creator said online today that the death of one of the show’s actors Johnny Lewis “was a tragic end for an extremely talented guy, who unfortunately had lost his way.” Lewis was found dead yesterday after apparently falling from the roof of a house in LA’s Los Feliz neighborhood. An 81-year-old woman was also found dead in the house, and the LAPD says Lewis is a suspect in her death. The actor was on the FX series for the show’s first two seasons playing Kip “Half Sack” Epps, a prospective member of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club. His character was killed off at the end of Season 2. “Johnny wasn’t happy on the show,” Kurt Sutter said in an interview at the time. He said today: “I wish I could say I was shocked by the events last night but I was not. I am deeply sorry that an innocent life had to be thrown into his destructive path. Yes, it’s a day of mourning, but it’s also a day of awareness and gratitude, sadly, some of us carry the message by dying,” he added. Lewis also appeared in roles on The O.C. and Criminal Minds.
EXCLUSIVE: Losing Our Cool, a single-camera comedy from feature writer Shauna Cross (Whip It!) and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire, has landed at Fox with a put pilot commitment. Cross is making her TV debut writing the project, which tells the story of adult friendships after parenthood and how having a kid forces you to hang with people you have nothing in common with, other than the fact that your dumbass kids play together. These awkward, funny friendships form the social lives of three wildly different couples.
Cross will executive produce with Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein through Warner Bros. TV where the company is under a deal. For Schwartz, this marks a return to the network where he first found success with his high school drama The O.C. Breaking into comedy has been a priority for Fake Empire, which has built its brand on younger-skewing dramas, most recently Chuck, which ended its run on NBC last season, and the four series the company has on the schedule this coming season: Gossip Girl, Hart Of Dixie and newcomers The Carrie Diaries and Cult, all on the CW.
Warner Bros. TV is taking another stab at a live-action series based on the DC character of Wonder Woman. This time, it is via the most popular approach for rebooting (comic) book franchises at the moment: going back to an origins story. The CW has given a script commitment to a drama, tentatively titled Amazon, which will chronicle Diana as a young Amazonian, before she becomes a warrior princess with super powers. The project, first reported by Vulture, will be written by Allan Heinberg (Grey’s Anatomy, The O.C.). It is unclear what origins for the character the TV project will chose — the comics’ stories have varied from Diana being a clay figure brought to life by the magic of the gods to her being a demigoddess, the natural-born daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus.
The approach is similar to WBTV’s take on Superman, which resulted in the long-running Smallville. It was also applied to Sex And The City with the upcoming CW/WBTV series Carrie’s Diaries. In features, there has been a string of origins editions of tentpole comic book franchise lately, including X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class and the latest Spider-Man movie. WBTV previously tried a live-action Woder Woman series two seasons ago, when David E. Kelley’s got a pilot order but did not go to series.
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of landing its first series order in May with comedy Guys With Kids, Jimmy Fallon’s Universal TV-based company Holiday Road has set up three projects for next season: single-camera comedy Slammed and untitled multi-camera Hipster project at NBC and hour-long drama Bad Seeds at Fox. Fallon will serve as an executive producer on all three, along with producing partner Amy Ozols.
Slammed is penned by APA-repped Jon Rineman, senior monologue writer for NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. It is a workplace comedy set in the world of professional wrestling.
EXCLUSIVE: In one of ABC’s first major development commitments for next season, the network has bought a soapy drama from McG, producer of Fox’s The O.C., which helped usher in the current resurgence of the primetime soap genre. ABC, home of some of the most popular nighttime soaps on TV, including Grey’s Anatomy and Revenge, has handed out a put pilot commitment to the McG-produced project, which will be written by Byron Balasco (Detroit 1-8-7).
The untitled drama, which echoes the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, revolves around the haves and have-nots of one of California’s most seductive cities, Venice. It focuses on two rival families and a forbidden and dangerous romance emerging between them as the two families battle for control of Venice. McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision is producing with Warner Bros. Television where the company is based. McG and Balasco are executive producing with Wonderland’s Peter Johnson.
This would mark McG’s first series on ABC. He currently executive produces the CW’s Supernatural and Nikita. Additionally, he has Fox drama pilot Guilty in consideration for fall 2013. His previous series credits include NBC’s Chuck and Fox’s Human Target and Fastlane. ICM-repped Balasco also worked on Happy Town, FlashForward and Without A Trace. This would mark the his first series as a creator. WME-repped McG has history of shepherding writers’ first series, including Josh Schwartz’s The O.C. and Eric Kripke’s Superatural. McG and Balasco are with …