TBS has picked up a 10-episode second season of multi-camera comedy Ground Floor, created by Bill Lawrence and Greg Malins and starring Skylar Astin and Briga Heelan. The renewal extends TBS’ streak of renewing its freshman series, which includes sitcoms Men at Work and Sullivan & Son and reality comedy King of the Nerds. Ground Floor started off lower than the other two scripted comedies, drawing 1.6 million viewers for its premiere vs. 2.7 million for for Men at Work and 2.5 million for Sullivan & Son. But Ground Floor launched against much stronger competition during the November sweep; it has been pretty consistent, and TBS brass believe in its upside potential. Ground Floor finished its first season with an average of 1.8 million viewers in Live + 7 delivery, including 1.1 million adults 18-49 and 575,000 adults 18-34. The renewal keeps Lawrence and Malins with two projects each at TBS. Lawrence has series Cougar Town, while Malins has pilot Your Family or Mine.
Paul Reiser has been set to recur on Andrew Gurland’s new FX series Married, which was picked up to series in January and will debut this summer. Created, directed and executive produced by Gurland, Married stars Nat Faxon and Judy Greer as Russ and Lina Bowman, who can barely remember what was like before kids, debt, and suburbia rained on their romance. But every once in a while they are reminded what drew them together in the first place: They’re best friends. Reiser will play the older love interest of co-star Jenny Slate’s character. Brad Gelman also co-stars. Reiser, who had a pair of films — Whiplash and Life After Beth — premiere at Sundance this year, most recently appeared in HBO’s Behind The Candelabra. He is repped by Gersh, New Wave Entertainment, and attorney Jeff Finkelstein.
Related: 2014 FX Pilots
HBO will debut its latest Bruce Springsteen documentary, Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes, at 9:30 PM on April 4. The half-hour docu, from Grammy- and Emmy-winning filmmaker Thom Zimny, chronicles the making of Springsteen’s 18th studio album and it premieres two days before the start of his North American tour. The album reached No. 1 in 20 countries with its January release, including the U.S. The film features behind-the-scenes studio and rehearsal segments, exclusive E Street Band tour footage and interviews with Springsteen and album collaborator Tom Morello, guitarist for Rage Against the Machine. The two explain how Morello brought a distinctive twist to Springsteen’s material. He joined Springsteen and the E Street Band on tour in Australia in 2013 and the two began collaborating on ideas that would make their way onto the album.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed actor Taylor Kitsch. Here’s the guy who – after playing one of the great recent TV characters in fullback Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights and then a small but showy role as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine – seemed like he was going to be the next big leading man. That was before he suffered a hellacious summer when the two big movies he starred in, John Carter and Battleship, both flopped. But Kitsch has put himself back on the track with a good showing in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages and most recently playing the Medal of Honor-winning Long Island-bred Navy SEAL Michael Murphy in the Peter Berg-directed Lone Survivor. Kitsch was last repped by WME but has been agent-less this year until now. He continues to be managed by Untitled Entertainment, and he next stars in the ensemble of HBO’s adaptation of the Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart, directed by Ryan Murphy.
In a study released today on feature film production in California in 2013, FilmL.A. has added its voice to the chorus wanting an increase to the entertainment industry tax incentives the Golden State offers. While the opinion is nothing new for the nonprofit local-permitting organization, the basis of its latest argument is: We need more blockbusters. According to FilmL.A.’s 6-months-in-the-making report, California is tied for second place with the entire country of Canada for the location where most feature films released last year were made. Introduced in 2009, California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program does not allow pics with budgets of more than $75 million to be eligible for its annual lottery. “For a program intended to help reverse runaway production, California’s incentive entirely ignores film projects carrying the greatest economic value with the greatest propensity to run away: big‐budget features,” says the 2013 Feature Film Production Report. Even with an increase in overall feature production in California last year, the only 2014-released pics with budgets of more than $100 million that were partly made in the state are Interstellar and Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Solder. Removing the cap on blockbusters is one of the elements of new legislation introduced on to expand the state’s program.
The Tribeca Film Festival continues to roll out its lineup for this year’s 13th edition, which kicks off April 16. Here is the program slates for the Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings and Storyscapes sections. The fest’s shorts program will be unveiled Tuesday. Here are today’s films, which include Spotlight spots for Roman Polanksi’s Venus In Fur, the Robin Williams-starrer Boulevard from Dito Montiel, world premieres of films directed by actors Chris Messina and Courteney Cox, and of course the Berlin horror comedy Zombeavers:
“Symphony” is NBC parent Comcast-speak for “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It involves various properties of the company promoting each other. In the case of the star of HBO’s Girls Lena Dunham‘s, the music started when the network booked the creator-writer-star to guest host Saturday Night Live for the first time, this weekend. This week, Dunham showed up on NBC’s Late Night, now hosted by former SNL head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers, to help keep up his second-week ratings, during which she plugged this weekend’s SNL . Today, NBC News sent out info about a Dunham interview, taped for tomorrow morning, on Today – from the set of Saturday Night Live — during which she talks to Savannah Guthrie about the fact that she is hosting SNL for the first time, and her love of SNL. In the course of that conversation, which will be broadcast tomorrow, she also plugged Late Night, while answering a question as to whether she came to SNL with any sketch ideas of her own. In that conversation, which will be broadcast tomorrow, Dunham said she asked new-host Meyers for advice about pitching the SNL writers, because she “didn’t want to be the person who shows up for the first day of school with, like, all their pencils sharpened, already knowing all the answers.”
From Dusk Till Dawn, the first original series from the El Rey Network, is based on the cult horror movie by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Internationally, it’s being branded as From Dusk Till Dawn: A Netflix Original Series now that the streaming giant, in association with Miramax, El Rey and FactoryMade Ventures, has pacted to make the 10-part drama available to subscribers in the UK, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands and the Nordics starting March 12. Netflix members in Latin America will get the show a week later on March 19. The series is Rodriguez’s first foray into serialized drama. It premieres on El Rey in the U.S. on March 11. From then, new episodes will arrive weekly in Europe and Canada within 24 hours of the U.S. broadcast. Latin America will follow a week later. The story follows bank robber Seth Gecko (D.J. Cotrona) and his brother, Richard ‘Richie’ Gecko (Zane Holtz) as they shoot their way south after a bank heist in Abilene, Texas. The series takes place over the course of one night, following the brothers as they try to evade a pair of Texas rangers. Along the way, they take a family hostage and steal their RV to cross the border. Chaos ensues when the group detours to a strip club populated by vampires. With the law, the undead and some of Mexico’s most hardened criminals on …
Rufus Sewell is set as the male lead in ABC’s Richard LaGravenese drama pilot. In the vein of Dangerous Liaisons, the untitled project is set in New York and revolves around the love and rivalry between two equally matched, powerful socialites — Philip Fitzgerald Julien (Sewell) and Margot Worth Cole — who play out their obsessive attraction and seduction of each other through their manipulation of others. UK-born Sewell, repped by WME, previously headlined CBS’ drama series Eleventh Hour and recently co-starred in HBO’s Parade’s End. He’ll next be seen in Hercules.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Penelope Ann Miller, coming off a stint on ABC’s Mistresses, has been cast in the network’s drama pilot American Crime. Written and exec produced by John Ridley, fresh off winning an Oscar for 12 Years A Slave, it centers on the racially charged murder of a war veteran and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. Miller, managed by APA and Untitled, will play Eve, the emotionally shattered mother of the killed man’s badly beaten wife who is on life support.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
King & Maxwell alum Chris Butler has booked NBC’s multi-camera comedy pilot Lifesaver, from writer Wil Calhoun, Uni TV and TBD Entertainment. The odd couple comedy centers on the uptight, controlling and a bit neurotic Dr. Graham Permenter (Cgristian Borle) and loose cannon Leon (Jonathan Ryland), who become inextricably linked after Leon saves Graham’s life by giving him a kidney. Butler, repped by SDB Partners and Pine River Entertainment, plays Campbell Carter, the entitled/selfish childhood friend and neighbor of Dr. Parmenter. He has been recurring on The Good Wife.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver’s Point Grey Pictures have entered into a joint venture with Good Universe to develop comedies together. The two companies already have found great success working on such films as 50/50 and This Is The End, and Neighbors, which Universal will release May 9. They also colloborated on an untitled Christmas comedy coming from Sony Pictures. “Point Grey has been one of the most rewarding partnerships for our company, and we’re thrilled to be collaborating on this new venture. Our goal is to create a platform for ambitious filmmakers to take the reins of their projects and bring these comedies to life,” said Good Universe co-founder Nathan Kahane in a statement. Point Grey just entered into a deal with Scott Rudin and Eli Bush to produce three films for Sony. One is with the Mail Order Comedy troupe behind Comedy Central’s Workaholics. Workaholics cast members Anders Holm, Adam DeVine and Blake Anderson will star and Holm is writing the script. Also producing is Isaac Horne, who manages the trio. The second is Brooklyn Castle, which is based on the Katie Dellamaggiore-directed docu about the trials and tribulations of the junior unbeatable champion chess team in an inner-city high school. The documentary won the audience awards at SXSW. And finally, Console Wars is about the battle Sega and Nintendo for video game dominance between in the 1990s. …
EXCLUSIVE: For years, I’ve been writing about all the futility involved in attempts to bring the life of iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr to the screen. So here’s a big one. I’m hearing that David Simon, the architect of the HBO series The Wire, Homicide and most recently Treme, will spearhead the HBO six-hour miniseries adaptation of America: In The King Years, based on the celebrated book trilogy by Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch. Just as will happen with the Ava DuVernay-directed Selma, Oprah Winfrey will be backing this project as well in a producing capacity.
Winfrey’s Harpo banner originally set up the three books at HBO in 2010 with the plan that it would be overseen by The Kentucky Cycle playwright Robert Schenkkan. While I’ve been trying to confirm the Simon part to no avail at HBO for weeks, I’m told reliably that Simon has assured Branch that he is taking on the project, which instantly becomes a beachhead project for HBO, covering King and his relationships with Lyndon Johnson, John F and Robert Kennedy, as well as the freedom rides, the Birmingham and Selma campaigns, and the poor people’s march on Washington that he was organizing when he was killed in Memphis. It is the perfect venue to tell the story of King’s long struggle.
I’ve heard that Simon will write at least the first episode, as well as the bible for the entire mini. He and Treme co-creator Eric Overmyer will see the entire mini through completion. This is a broad canvas, spanning Branch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting The Waters, as well as Pillar Of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge.
Patricia Arquette, who won an Emmy for Medium, is set as the lead of another crime drama procedural, CBS’ planted CSI spinoff. Written by the CSI franchise team of Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony E. Zuiker and Ann Donahue, the untitled spinoff (aka CSI Cyber) centers on Avery Ryan (Arquette), Special Agent in Charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI in Quantico, VA, who is tasked with solving high-octane crimes that start in the mind, live online, and play out into the real world. The project, inspired by Irish Cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, would be the first CSI series with a female lead. Avery will be introduced in a CSI episode this spring. Mendelsohn, Zuiker and Donahue exec produce with Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman for CBS TV Studios and Bruckheimer TV. Arquette, repped by Gersh, 3 Arts and Ziffren Brittenham, recently completed the feature The Wanna Be and HBO drama series Boardwalk Empire, both produced by Martin Scorsese. She will next be seen in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.
Warrior Poets, the New York-based production company founded in 2004 by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and his producing partner Jeremy Chilnick, has promoted Matthew Galkin to partner. Galkin will continue to executive produce, direct and develop original content. Since joining Warrior Poets more than four years ago, Galkin has worked closely with Spurlock and Chilnick to grow the company and has worked om such documentary films, TV and Web series as One Direction: This Is Us, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, ESPN Films’ 30 For 30 documentary The Dotted Line, CNN series Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man and Web series A Day In The Life for Hulu and Failure Club for Yahoo! “During his tenure at Warrior Poets, Matthew has brought his unique energy, creative experience and storytelling mastery to projects in both the top-tier documentary film world as a director and producer and in the reality/non-fiction TV world as a show runner, producer and director,” Spurlock said. Galkin’s previous credits include HBO’s Kevorkian and Family Bonds and Style’s Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane.
The New York Times on Tuesday issued a correction to a 161-year-old story that covered the plight of Solomon Northup, the subject of Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years A Slave. The original newspaper report, dated January 20, 1853, ran with the headline “The Kidnapping Case” and the sub-headline “Narrative of the Seizure and Recovery of Solomon Northrup.” The article had two misspellings of Northup’s name, one in the sub-headline and one in the body that spelled it as Northrop. The correction was made after people tweeted the error on Monday. One of the Twitter posts was by author Rebecca Skloot, rights to whose 2010 non-fiction bestseller The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks were acquired by HBO Films for a movie to be exec produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball. 12 Years A Slave is the story of a New York State black man who was born free but later kidnapped in Washington, DC in 1841 and sold into slavery. The NYT correction notes in part: “The errors notwithstanding, The Times described the article as ‘a more complete and authentic record than has yet appeared’.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: Chinese “Fifth Generation” Director Wu Tianming Dies; New BBC Dramas Feature Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Chaplin, Joanne Froggatt & More; Maurice Lévy To Give Mip-TV Keynote
Chinese director Wu Tianming died Tuesday of an apparent heart attack at his home in Beijing. Wu, known as the “Godfather of the Fifth Generation” directed several films in the 1970s and ’80s that helped reshape Chinese cinema including 1986′s Old Well and 1995′s award winner King Of Masks. He got his professional start at Xi’an Film Studios as an apprentice to Cui Wei and eventually took over the studio in the late 1970s, over the next decade-plus helped guide the careers of such noted Chinese filmmakers as Huang Jianxin, Tian Zhuangzhuang, Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. His last directing job was 2003′s Gadfly, a 20-part TV miniseries based on the E.L. Voynich novel.
Stellan Skarsgard has been cast in the lead role of Abi Morgan’s new BBC series River. Morgan, who has scripted features including Shame, The Iron Lady and the upcoming Suffragette, won an Emmy last year for writing the now cancelled BBC series The Hour. River reteams her with the BBC for a six-part series she created. Kudos is producing. The drama centers on John River (Skarsgard), a brilliant police officer who walks a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift. The series is due to air in 2015.
Also at the BBC, Ben Chaplin, Downton Abbey‘s Joanne Froggatt and Silent Witness‘ Emilia Fox have been confirmed to join drama showcase The Secrets. The strand is a series of five stand-alone films that highlights new writing talent. It’s made by Working Title TV for BBC One. The above are joining a host of British names that includes Olivia Colman, Alison Steadman, Ashley Walters, Helen Baxendale and Sarah Solemani. BAFTA-winning director Dominic Savage will helm the five films, each of which starts with one incident and then follows five different stories stemming from the event.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO has opted not to proceed with The Money, its drama pilot written by David Milch, directed by Justin Chadwick and starring Brendan Gleeson. The project was about wealth and corruption among the super elite, focusing on American mogul and patriarch James Castman (Gleeson), who wields power and influence to expand his media empire and control his family. Nathan Lane, Patrick Kennedy, Dominique McElligott, Laila Robins, Billy Magnussnen and Morgan Spector co-starred in the pilot, with Ray Liotta, John Carroll Lynch, Rosemary Harris and Mamie Gummer playing recurring roles. Milch executive produced with Art Linson and John Linson. The Money marked Milch’s fifth consecutive pilot at HBO in one of the longest collaborations between a network and a creator. Of the five, three – Deadwood, John From Cincinnati and Luck – went to series.
Related: 2014 HBO Pilots
The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival unveiled 47 of its 89 feature-length films in its lineup today in the World Narrative and Documentary Competition selections as well as the out-of-competition Viewpoints pics. Thursday will see the remainder in the Spotlight, Midnight, and Special sections. The fest kicks off April 16 with the already announced opening-night film, the Nas documentary Time Is Illmatic. Dior And I will screen opening night for the World Documentary competition, the Rory Culkin-starrer Gabriel from U.S. writer-director Lou Howe will open the World Narrative competition, and Summer Of Blood will open Viewpoints — all world premieres and all to screen April 17. The fest runs through April 27. Here’s the lineups in the three sections:
Coming off HBO’s Treme, Rob Brown has joined NBC’s drama pilot Salvation. In the project, written by Elizabeth Heldens and directed by Jeffrey Reiner, mega-church Pastor Daniel Strickland suddenly dies, and his loyal wife, Jennifer Strickland (Ashley Judd), must rally to keep their family together and save the church. Brown, repped by WME, Industry Entertainment and Jeff Endlich, will play Miles Strickland, the adopted son of Jennifer and Daniel Strickland who returns home after a 6-year absence out of a sense of loyalty to the family but does not share in their beliefs. He most recently seen in Joseph Gordon Levitt’s directorial debut Don Jon.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
Drew Powell has been cast in a guest starring/recurring role in Fox‘s Batman prequel drama Gotham, which has a series commitment. Based on DC characters from the Batman universe, Gotham explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as an idealistic rookie detective in Gotham City, along with Bruce Wayne and the villains who made Gotham City famous. Powell, repped by Stone Manners Salners and Billy Miller Management, will play Butch Gilzean, the deceptively clever and ambitious second-in-command to sadistic gangster boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots