Jim Murray (CBS’ Chaos) is joining the second season of Syfy’s Defiance as a new regular. On the show, developed in partnership with gamer Trion Worlds, Murray will play Niles Pottinger, the new mayor of Defiance. Appointed by the Earth Republic, Pottinger is shrewd, polished and charming. But his civilized veneer hides a ruthless pragmatist who traffics in information and secrets, and mercilessly punishes those who defy him. His latest object of desire is ex-mayor Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz). Murray is repped by Andy Corren Management, UTA, United Agents and David Matlof,
Jenn Lyon (Justified) and Kaden Gibson (Review With Forrest MacNeil) are set to co-star opposite George Lopez inSaint George, FX‘s upcoming 10-90 sitcom from Lionsgate TV and Debmar-Mercury. Created and co-written by Matt Williams, David McFadzean and Lopez, Saint George revolves around the chaotic life of a recently divorced working-class Mexican-American turned successful entrepreneur (Lopez) who struggles to balance his demanding ex-wife (Lyon), his 11-year-old son (Gibson), his overbearing mother (Adriana Barraza) who just moved in, and his uncle (Danny Trejo), as well as his new role teaching history once a week at a night school. Lyon is repped by Patty Woo Management, SDB Partners and TalentWorks. Gibson, who landed the role after an extensive search of seeing … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE:Julie Benz is the latest client to move with her agent Iris Grossman to Paradigm. Grossman, who crossed over from ICM Partners last month, already had brought with her Ed O’Neill, Mandy Patinkin and Frances Conroy. Benz currently stars on Syfy’s Defiance, which was recently renewed for a second season. She previously had starring roles on the short-lived ABC series No Ordinary Family and Showtime’s Dexter. Her other TV credits include recurring roles on Desperate Housewives and A Gifted Man as well as Royal Pains, Law & Order and Angel. On the film side, her credits include Punisher: War Zone, Saw V, and the Rambo reboot. She continues to be managed by Vince Cirrincione.
A massive financial investment and solid ratings have led to a second-season renewal for Syfy‘s Defiance, which has received a 13-episode order. Season 2 of the show, produced by Universal Cable Productions, will begin production in Toronto in August for a 2014 premiere, returning as anchor of Syfy’s Powerful Mondays block. Defiance was developed as a partnership between Syfy and Trion Worlds as a convergence of television and online gaming. Here’s the official release: Read More »
With OK ratings and a big financial commitment by Syfy, the network’s new video game-tied drama Defiance is likely to get a second season. But if/when it does, it will be without executive producer Michael Taylor. Taylor was one of three writing executive producers on the first season, which has been completed, along with showrunner Kevin Murphy and Rockne O’Bannon. He won’t be returning for Season 2. Taylor is a sci-fi veteran who worked on Star Trek: Voyager and Deep Space Nine. He has a long history with Syfy, having served as co-executive producer on hit Battlestar Galactica and spinoff Caprica.
Last night’s series premiere of Syfy’s new drama Defiancedrew 2.7 million viewers and 1.3 million adults 18-49 to become the channel’s most-watched scripted series premiere in adults 18-49 and 18-34 (479,000) in seven years, since the 2006 debut of Eureka. The two-hour Defiance opener also delivered Syfy’s top performance in total viewers and adults 25-54 (1.4 million) since 2009 (Warehouse 13). Defiance was developed as a TV series and companion Trion Worlds video game, which has logged more than 6 million hours of gameplay since its April 2 launch. Defiance is NBCUniversal’s biggest day-and-date launch ever, premiering in more than 55 countries April 15-16 including the UK, Canada, Germany and France. Beginning next Monday,Defiance will assume its regular 9 PM time period, followed on Monday, April 29 by the season return ofWarehouse 13 at 10 PM.
Wesley Snipes Comeback Effort Kicks Off With ‘Gallowwalkers’
In advance of the former action star’s impending release from federal prison, Wesley Snipes is trying to get back into the game with the announcement that Gallowwalkers, the long-in-development action/sci-fi/horror film directed by Andrew Goth, will be shown to international buyers at the 2013 Berlin film market. Gallowwalkers features Snipes in the role of Aman, a cursed gunslinger whose victims return from the dead to torment him. The film, which began production in 2006, will have its market premiere February 8. Gallowwalkers also stars Riley Smith, Tanit Phoenix and Patrick Bergin. It is executive produced and produced by Jack Bowyer (Dark Hearts, Private Peaceful) and produced by Courtney Lauren Penn (Dark Hearts), and Brandon Burrows (Darks Hearts) of Boundless Pictures. VMI International is handling sales at Berlin. - Ross Lincoln
ITV Orders 300 More Episodes of ‘The Chase’
The UK’s ITV has renewed popular daytime game show The Chase with what is believed to be the network’s biggest order ever — more than 300 episodes over 2 seasons. The ITV Studios-produced show, which this week was named Broadcast magazine’s Best Daytime Programme, airs daily at 5 PM and has boosted the time-slot average by 1.1 million viewers, a 39% gain vs. last year. Read More »
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Syfy’s Defiance — a drama series that will exist as both a TV series and a video game in collaboration with Trion Worlds — will have its series premiere April 15 at 9 PM with a two-hour episode launching a total of 12 episodes, the cable channel announced today at TCA. During today’s panel featuring the show’s cast, executive producer Kevin Murphy and Syfy president Mark Stern, Murphy said that although the producers of both the TV show and the game will collaborate on creating parallel realities, players of the game will have no influence over major plot points in either one.
It’s not an “audience vote” adventure, Murphy said. “The analogy I like to use is, I grew up as a gigantic comic book geek, and what I loved about comics is that you could love Batman and read Batman’s adventures, and if you happen to also like Superman, if you read both titles, sometimes there would be crossovers in the summer that lent an extra level of coolness to the whole thing.”
Added Murphy, “The game has its own narrative and story lines. They are shared universes with dual portals. If there is a catastrophic weather experience [in the TV show], the characters in the game [may] put that in motion.” He said the game will create an illusion of spontaneity, but “if you are supposed to get the gadget, you will get the gadget.”
Because the game and the TV drama contain overlapping stories and characters, Stern said, “there was definitely no aspect of this deal-making that was normal. Lawyers love that. Agents love that.” Read More »
Syfy‘s upcoming Defiance is set on a future Earth ravaged by interstellar war and inhabited by surviving humans and aliens. The series was developed to debut simultaneously in April 2013 with Trion World’s multi-platform shooter MMO game. It stars Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Fionnula Flanagan, Mia Kirshner and Graham Greene. Rockne S. O’Bannon, Michael Taylor and Kevin Murphy wrote the script; Murphy serves as executive producer/showrunner. Here’s a peek:
Jane Campion Mulls More Minis
Director Jane Campion is no stranger to Cannes, but she’s usually here for the film festival. In town for Mipcom this week, she’s here in support of her BBC/Sundance Channel limited series Top Of The Lake. The six-hour drama is produced by Emile Sherman and Iain Canning (The King’s Speech) and stars Elisabeth Moss. The move to longform TV 20 years after leaving the medium put Campion in a new environment where she “really gained a lot of respect” for folks who work in the business all the time. “It’s so different to map out six hours; we were shooting a feature ever four and a half weeks,” she says. Undaunted, Campion and her co-writer Gerard Lee tell me they’re already thinking about doing another similar project that would be set in Thailand. Top Of The Lake, set in Campion’s home country of New Zealand, centers on a female detective (Moss) investigating the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl, who is the daughter of a local drug lord. Campion’s The Piano star Holly Hunter also appears as a sort of enlightened woman that Campion says she based on a man she once knew. BBC Two and Sundance will sked the series for next year.
‘Defiance’ Finds Canadian Home
Shaw Media has acquired Syfy’s Defiance for broadcast on Canada’s Showcase. The deal was made with NBCUniversal Television Canada on the future-set series. Showcase will air in the spring. Defiance introduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), the law-keeper in frontier boomtown Defiance that is one of the new world’s few oases of civility and inclusion. The Syfy Trion Worlds partnership is the first-ever convergence of TV and Massive Multiplayer Online gaming. Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Graham Greene and Mia Kirshner also star. The series is executive produced by Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor. Production is currently underway in Toronto. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Mia Kirshner (The Vampire Diaries, The L Word) and Fionnula Flanagan (Lost) have joined the cast of Syfy’s new drama seriesDefiance. Set in the near future,Defiance introduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), the law-keeper in bustling frontier boomtown Defiance that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Kirshner, repped by APA and Brillstein Entertainment, will play Kenya, the self-assured, dauntless town madam whose unvarying devotion to the town of Defiance has inexorably woven her into many of its complicated affairs. Flanagan will portray Nicky, the popular ex-mayor of the town whose intrinsic expertise from her years on the job have made her a trusted mentor to her successor, Amanda (Julie Benz). Defiance, written/executive produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor and produced by Universal Cable Prods., was developed concurrently with an online video game. It is slated to begin production on the pilot this month in Toronto.
British actress Laura Haddock is set to co-star opposite Tom Riley in Starz’s upcoming original series Da Vinci’s Demons. Written by David S. Goyer, Da Vinci’s Demons is a historical fantasy, following the “untold” story of the world’s greatest genius Leonardo da Vinci (Riley) during his turbulent youth in Renaissance Florence. Haddock will play Lucrezia Donati, the mistress of Lorenzo Medici and da Vinci’s lover.
Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves) has joined the cast of Syfy’s upcoming drama seriesDefiance. Set in the near future,Defiance introduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), the law-keeper in bustling frontier boomtown Defiance that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Greene will play Rafe McCawley, a self-made success who owns and operates the largest mine in the territory. However, Rafe’s status as the richest and most powerful human in town comes with a price, as he struggles to navigate both familial and political alliances in this precariously assembled new world.
EXCLUSIVE:Dexter alumna Julie Benz will star opposite Grant Bowler Bowler in the Syfy series Defiance. Tony Curran (Pillars Of The Earth), Jaime Murray and Stephanie Leonidas also have been cast in the live-action drama, written/executive produced by Rockne S. O’Bannon, Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor, which was developed concurrently with an online video game. Set on a future Earth, Defiance is set in a world where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravaged by decades of war and transformed by alien terra-forming machines. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Bowler), the law-keeper in a bustling frontier boomtown that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Benz, repped by ICM and Vincent Cirrincione, will play Amanda Rosewater, the idealistic newly appointed mayor of the mining boomtown who is determined to maintain peace in the community. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Ugly Betty and True Blood alum Grant Bowler has been tapped as the lead in Syfy’s new original series Defiance. The project is a live-action drama, written/executive produced by Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, which was developed concurrently with an online video game by Trion. “Grant’s charismatic charm and his depth as an actor make him the perfect anchor as we build the ensemble for this sweeping adventure series,” said Syfy’s president of original content Mark Stern.
Set on a future Earth, Defiance introduces players and viewers to a world where humans and aliens live together on a planet ravaged by decades of war and transformed by alien terra-forming machines. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Bowler), the law-keeper in a bustling frontier boomtown that is one of the new world’s few oasis of civility and inclusion. Nolan is a former Marine who fought in the alien conflict and suffered the loss of his wife and child in the war. The trauma transformed him into a lone wanderer in the wilds of this new and dangerous world. Defiance seems to be blending Western and alien themes, something that last year’s feature Cowboys & Aliens attempted to do, but the series is set in the future. New Zealander Bowler is best known for his recurring roles as Vanessa Williams’ squeeze on Ugly Betty, as werewolf Cooter on True Blood and as Capt. Gault on Lost. Scott Stewart (Legion) is … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The top executive reorganization at NBCUniversal’s cable entertainment division continues. Veteran USA Network executive, EVP original scripted development Bill McGoldrick, is moving to sibling Syfy to head that network’s development as EVP, Original Content. He replaces Mark Stern, who will segue to producing, serving as an executive producer on a 2014 Syfy series. Another USA veteran, Jackie de Crinis, will succeed McGoldrick in an expanded role as EVP of Original Programming for USA Network. McGoldrick will report to Syfy President Dave Howe, and de Crinis will report to USA President Chris McCumber. “Bill and Jackie both have uncanny instincts about quality content that resonates with audiences, and are incredibly brand savvy,” said NBCU Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer. “With this move, Bill expands his development responsibilities while he gets to satisfy a not-so-secret passion for the genre. Jackie, who’s done a fantastic job at USA, gets to take on a well-deserved leadership role. It’s a win/win for Syfy, USA and the entire Cable Entertainment Group.” Read More »
Katie Cates joins Resolution from the Kaplan Stahler Agency. She brings with her clients Daniel Knauf, showrunner of NBC’s Dracula and creator of HBO’s Carnivale; William Schmidt; female comedy duo Magee & Millan (Us & Them); Crevello & Niedermeyer (NBC’s The Fifth Wheel); J. Mackye Gruber (The Butterfly Effect); and Brown & Todd (Defiance). Prior to Kaplan Stahler, Cates was a coordinator at Gersh. She joins another recent Resolution TV lit hire, veteran Paradigm agent Ian Greenstein.
EXCLUSIVE: Opposite Worlds, which had been in the works at Syfy for a year, has received a formal green light for a January 21, 2014 premiere. The competition reality series, based on the Chilean format Mundos Opuestos, will air 12 episodes over six weeks, with the second weekly episode featuring a live element — a first for a Syfy reality series. Opposite Worlds, from Extreme Weight Loss producer Eyeworks USA, pits 14 people who face off in opposing teams in a house separated into two distinctly different worlds: one past and one future, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. A glass wall divides the house into the two environments, allowing the teams to watch, envy and dread each other’s every move. Cast members compete in a series of challenges, with viewers weighing in in real time on social media, affecting the outcome of each player’s fate. “Building on the success of Defiance, Opposite Worlds delivers on Syfy’s on-going strategy to create fully immersive 360 transmedia experiences in both the scripted and now unscripted worlds”, said Dave Howe, President, Syfy and Chiller. JD Roth and Todd A. Nelson, Brant Pinvidic and Adam Kaloustian executive produce.
FilmOn X didn’t gain any traction from Aereo‘s legal win in Massachusetts last week. In fact, today’s decision by a DC-based federal judge to deny the Alki David-run free-TV-over-the-Internet company a modification to the almost nationwide preliminary injunction ordered on September 5 might have landed FilmOn X in more legal hot water. “It appears that FilmOn X may be acting in defiance of this Court’s Preliminary Injunction, possibly by retransmitting Plaintiff’s copyrighted broadcast programming in the Boston area,” the 3-page ruling (read it here) from Judge Rosemary Collyer said, referring to her ruling last month in favor of Fox Broadcasting, ABC and NBC. The judge is giving FilmOn X 6 days to explain why she shouldn’t hold them in contempt of court.
The latest legal hand-slap comes after FilmOn X on October 10 petitioned the court to add Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine to the states not covered by the injunction. It cited the October 10 denial of an injunction sought by a Hearst-owned ABC affiliate against Aereo in Massachusetts as legal justification, but today the judge distinctly disagreed and told FilmOn X to check its facts and courts. Read More »
While television visual-effects producers are far from immune to the same market forces that recently have rocked the film world, the serial nature of TV and its inherent short deadlines allow facilities and effects artists to find a satisfying and stable niche. “The predictability of the television season helps us,” says Andrew Orloff, co-owner and visual-effects supervisor of Zoic Studios, whose clients include TNT’s Emmy-nominated Falling Skiesand ABC’s Once Upon A Time. “We built our business model on serving a bunch of different markets, and we’ve done pretty well.”
With shows going from shooting to air in two or three weeks, effects need to be done extremely quickly and to a high standard. “It can be a blessing and a curse,” says Mat Beck, president of Entity FX, which works on Emmy nominee Game Of Thrones, as well as Vampire Diaries,Mike & Molly and The Following. “What is hard is, you have to get stuff done crazy quickly. The blessing is you’re in a disciplined environment, timewise, and you have to zero in on the best solution.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jesse Zwick is making his directorial debut with ensemble drama About Alex, with Oscar-winning father Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz exec producing for their Bedford Falls Company shingle. The Footprint Features co-production stars Aubrey Plaza (The To-Do List) and a line-up of rising TV and film thesps including Jason Ritter (Parenthood), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Nate Parker (Arbitrage), Maggie Grace (Taken), Max Minghella (The Internship), and Jane Levy (Evil Dead, Suburgatory). Story picks up with seven college friends who reunite Big Chill-style one long weekend after one of their own attempts suicide. The pals wax philosophical on past relationships, old crushes, and bad decisions and how life has changed post-college in the Facebook/Twitter age.
Zwick, who’s written for NBC’s Parenthood, scripted the film. Adam Saunders is producing About Alex for Footprint Features, which also financed the indie. Producing duo Zwick and Herskovitz (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond, Defiance), meanwhile, are also exec producing The Boys of Abu Ghraib and produced Family Weekend with Footprint Features.