EXCLUSIVE: Syfy has renewed flagship drama Warehouse 13 for a fifth season, which will be its last. Production on the final six-episode installment of the series, on which Jack Kenny serves as executive producer/showrunner, will begin in Toronto this summer for a 2014 run. “Warehouse 13 has been an incredible signature series for us,” said Syfy President of Original Content Mark Stern. “We are grateful to the loyal and passionate fan base and know that Jack Kenny, his gifted creative team, and outstanding ensemble cast will give them an amazing finale season.” Saul Rubinek, Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Allison Scagliotti and Aaron Ashmore star in the drama from Universal Cable Prods.
SEATTLE—May 16, 2013—(NASDAQ:AMZN)—Amazon.com today announced an expanded content licensing agreement with NBCUniversal Cable & New Media Distribution that will bring a variety of popular programs to Prime Instant Video. Prime Instant Video offers more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes for Prime members to stream on Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Wii U, among other connected TVs and devices – all at no additional cost. To sign up for Amazon Prime, visit www.amazon.com/primeinstantvideo.
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:
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.
Diane Haithman is a Deadline contributor.
As previously announced, Syfy’s Warehouse 13 will return April 29 in a new 10 PM time slot behind Syfy’s drama Defiance. After today’s NBC Press Day panel on the show, Syfy SVP Original Programming Erik Storey told Deadline that he hopes the new time slot will “expose Warehouse 13 to potential new audiences” and hopes that the series “will benefit from cross pollination.”
Former Walt Disney Television International and Nickelodeon exec Nicky Douglas will oversee Universal Networks International’s Universal Channel, Syfy, E! Entertainment Television, The Style Network and Movies 24 in the UK. The group of channels has been ramping up its business in the territory with a series of significant deals. Universal Channel just acquired A&E Network’s Bates Motel for two seasons and launched TNT’s Major Crimes as part of an exclusive pact. Syfy premiered drama series Defiance yesterday, 24 hours after its U.S. bow. Douglas most recently had her own consulting firm and will start her new job immediately.
Every studio with something to push books pricey space a year or more in advance at Comic-Con, which last year packed 130,000 fans into a downtown San Diego papered with promotional branding. But this year’s SXSW saw a sign of things to come as film and television brands took that strategy to Austin, targeting the festival’s estimated 64,000 registered attendees. Universal, Warner Bros Television, A&E Network, Showtime, and Syfy jumped ahead of the pack with marketing blitzes sure to multiply by next year as other entertainment brands set their sights on the plugged-in, social media-active demographic of influencers that pour into the annual multimedia festival. This year’s edition wraps this weekend.
Growth here has accelerated rapidly in the past three years in terms of attendance and prestige, thanks to distribution deals and buzz-building debuts in the film festival portion and the hot tech conference on the Interactive side. But thanks to its unique overlap of Film and Interactive components, SXSW this year attracted the attention of studio marketers with no films in the program. All of the major companies I spoke with made their first-ever trips to SXSW in 2013 and reps tell me they’d return next year if they had the right property to promote.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Wesley Snipes, ITV’s ‘The Chase’, Unifrance, Syfy’s ‘Defiance’, Berlin Retro, BBC-Fremantle, ‘The Raid 2′
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.
Sundance: Fleming Q&As Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Buyers Circle His Helming Debut ‘Don Jon’s Addiction’
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been a continuing source of surprise. After reinventing himself from 3rd Rock From the Sun child actor to the adult star of indie films Brick and The Lookout and studio blockbusters Lincoln, The Dark Knight Rises and Inception, Gordon-Levitt unveils a new side of himself in Park City as debut writer/director of Don Jon’s Addiction. A squarely R-rated comedy about a buff young ladies man who connects better to computer porn than his conquests, the film humorously explores the obstacles to honest emotional intimacy. Sundance sales so far have been limited to docus, as buyers and sellers circle each other warily. I expect that to end by tonight or tomorrow, when buyers begin to pounce on films like Fruitvale, Austenland, The Spectacular Now, Before Midnight, Prince Avalanche and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Don Jon’s Addiction might well be atop the buyer wish list, but Gordon-Levitt is not in a hurry. He’s here all week — hosting next Sunday’s awards ceremony — and will hold out longer if needed until a distributor that agrees his first film has wide release potential. I spoke to Gordon-Levitt Saturday night as he returned to his condo after a long day answering questions about masturbation and Batman.
DEADLINE: You grew up acting, and then took a break to go to college and figure things out. When you decided to …
Gersh has signed Oxford University Press and will rep its academic and trade books for film, TV and digital opportunities for their Global Academic Business. Joe Veltre will shop its properties. Why sign an egghead outfit that was founded in 1478? Well, Oxford University Press has done pretty well in the non-fiction film arena. Among the OUP books turned into features are the Daniel Craig-starrer Defiance, the Channing Tatum-starrer The Eagle, and the docu Freedom Riders. “The breadth and quality of their list is extraordinary, and we feel privileged to help expand their reach into the world of film and television,” Veltre said.
It’s another example of publishers wanting to be part of the ancillary market for works. After years of paying writers a few thousand dollars to write articles and then watch those journalists make six-figure rights deals for film and TV adaptations, magazines and book publishers have moved to more than wet their beaks; they want to control the process. That includes magazine publishers like Conde Nast, which last year started a dedicated dealmaking division with former CW Entertainment chief Dawn Ostroff. The rationale: if the magazine is paying good money for the words and providing the means for them to be projected into the populace, why shouldn’t the publishers cash in?
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.”
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:
Instant divorce could be coming to a television near you. Fox has confirmed that they’ve made a pilot order at MIPCOM for a show that offers warring couples an immediate end to their marriage. Divorce Hotel sees A. Smith & Co. Productions partnering with BASE Productions on the concept. A. Smith & Co. are the producers of the successful Gordon Ramsay FOX shows Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. Divorce Hotel is based on a Dutch business and was secured last year by BASE at MIPCOM for TV development. The idea is that an estranged husband and wife check into a luxury hotel for a weekend of lawyers, counseling and mediation in an attempt to streamline their final separation. Come Sunday, the couples that go through with it will leave as newly divorced singles. Arthur Smith, Kent Weed, Mickey Stern, and John Brenkus will be the executive producers on Divorce Hotel.
Related: MIPCOM Briefs Day 2
MIPCOM Briefs: Jane Campion On ‘Top Of The Lake’, Syfy’s ‘Defiance’ Sells In Canada, ProSieben Gets ‘Restless’, ITV Acquires ‘Money Pump’ Format Rights
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.
Universal Cable Prods.’ SVP Current and Development Chris Sanagustin is moving to sister studio Universal Television as head of Current Programming.
This is a new position as the studio’s comedy and drama departments handled both development and current duties. But Uni TV had been mulling the appointment of a dedicated current executive in light of its increased volume: the studio is adding eight new series heading into next season on top of its returning ones. Showtime’s Pearlena Igbokwe was seriously considered for the job but was ultimately given the reigns of NBC’s drama department. “Chris has demonstrated an impressive talent for nurturing shows on air and helping them succeed and grow throughout her career at UCP and Syfy,” said Uni TV’s EVP Bela Bajaria, to whom Sanagustin will report. “She has earned the respect and admiration of the creative community for her storytelling instincts in both comedy and drama.”
Greg Berlanti entered the upfronts as the producer with the most pilots this year — four — in his first development season at Warner Bros. TV. Two of them, the CW’s Arrow and CBS’ Golden Boy, went to series, while a third, Fox legal drama Guilty, has a solid shot at a midseason order. Additionally, Berlanti has cable series Political Animals launching on USA this summer. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage‘s Fake Empire also netted two new broadcast series orders. The company went 2-for-2 with its two pilots, the CW’s The Carrie Diaries and Cult, to increase its primetime portfolio to four series next season, including returning CW dramas Gossip Girl and Hart Of Dixie, and tie the Mark Gordon Co. as the pods with the most broadcast shows on the air. In addition to newly picked up comedy Family Tools and returning Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Criminal Minds, the Mark Gordon Co. also has Army Wives on Lifetime. With CSI: Miami ending its run, Bruckheimer TV will have three series on the air next season, same as Chernin Entertainment, which added one new series, Fox comedy Ben & Kate, to its returning New Girl and Touch; J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot (newbie Revolution and returning Person of Interest and Fringe) and Alloy (666 Park Ave, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl).
Besides Fake Empire, the only other entity to log a 1.000 batting average this upfront was Lionsgate TV, also with two series out of two pilots, ABC darling Nashville and NBC’ midseason comedy Next Caller. The pickups capped the company’s renewed push into broadcast TV led by Chris Selak in her first season as head of development. Another established company in its first development cycle with a new top development executive, Wolf Films, which hired Danielle Gelber last July, landed its first non-Law & Order-branded new series in six years, NBC’s Chicago Fire. Two newly launched pods, Peter Traugott‘s Traugott Company and Lorenzo DiBonaventura‘s DiBonaventura Pictures Television, also scored series orders in their first year, NBC drama Do No Harm and ABC drama Zero Hour, respectively, as did two indies, Gaumont and Georgeville.
EXCLUSIVE: After an extensive search, Grant Bowler (True Blood) has been set to star opposite Lindsay Lohan in Lifetime‘s biopic Liz & Dick, playing Hollywood great Richard Burton. The biopic chronicles the enduring love of movie icons Taylor (Lohan) and Burton (Bowler), whose fiery romance was the most notorious, publicized and celebrated love affair of its day. The casting comes only 10 days before Liz & Dick is scheduled to begin filming — on June 4 — after the movie’s executive producer Larry A. Thompson and Lifetime had auditioned “many actors on just about any continent,” Thompson said. He noted that the hope was to try and find an actor who, like Burton, is Welsh, but New Zealander Bowler wowed them with his tape. “Grant will add gravitas to our couple and bring to life one of the greatest actors who has ever lived,” Thompson said. “Burton was a Welsh poet, a rascal, and a man’s man, who swept Elizabeth Taylor off her feet and flew her so close to the sun that they both exploded into stardust that still lights up Hollywood.”
Tuesday, May 22, 2012…Cannes…. Golden Globe®-nominee James McAvoy (Atonement, X-Men First Class) will star opposite Academy® Award-nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, The Tree of Life) in the double-feature film project for Myriad Pictures, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her.
Ned Benson (In Defiance of Gravity) wrote the two scripts and will direct both films.
The love story explores how a married couple in New York City deals with an emotional, life-altering experience, from the two different perspectives of the husband, Conor, (McAvoy), a restaurant owner, and of the wife, Eleanor, (Chastain), who goes back to college. Cassandra Kulukundis (A Late Quartet, In Defiance of Gravity) is producing. Kulukundis is also casting director (There Will Be Blood, Shattered Glass).
James McAvoy received a Golden Globe®-nomination for his performance opposite Kiera Knightley in the critically acclaimed film, Atonement. Other film credits include The Last King of Scotland with Forrest Whitaker, The Last Station with Helen Mirren and most recently in the box office hit X Men: First Class. He will next be seen starring in the new Danny Boyle film, Trance, in Eran Creevy’s, Welcome to the Punch and in Jon S. Baird’s, Filth. James is represented by UTA and United Agents.
Jessica Chastain was nominated for an Academy® Award for her performance in the 2011 critically-acclaimed drama The Help. The same year she appeared in The Debt, with Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson, and in Terence Malick’s