EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that British actor Simon Kassianides (Quantum Of Solace) has joined the second season of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a major recurring role. He will play Bakshi, a confident right-hand man who’s not afraid to do the dirty work. Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres September 23. Kassianides, repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and Sanders.Armstrong.Caserta Management, is one of several new cast additions, along with Lucy Lawless, who will play longtime S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Isabel Hartley; British actor Nick Blood, playing a mercenary; and Reed Diamond. Kassianides will next be seen in Relativity’s Desert Dancer.
EXCLUSIVE: To Tell The Truth is eyeing a comeback. FremantleMedia North America has teamed with Jeff Gaspin and George Moll on a new version of the classic celebrity panel game show. Eyed for primetime on the broadcast networks, the new To Tell The Truth is described as an update of the familiar format with a surprising new twist that adds action and suspense and raises the stakes. It will be taken out to buyers shortly.
Created by Bob Stewart, To Tell The Truth launched in the U.S. in 1956 and has gone through several incarnations on network TV and in syndication, airing a total of 25 seasons to date, with its most recent run ending in 2001. The original format features a panel of four celebrities who are introduced to three people who all claim to be the same person with the same incredible talent. One of them is telling the truth, and the other two are lying. After asking questions, the celebrities take turns identifying who they believe is telling the truth.
Jim Gaffigan single-camera comedy pilot is getting a series order at TV Land. After lengthy negotiations, the cable network has closed a deal for a 10-episode order to project, created by Gaffigan and Peter Tolan, which is now titled The Gaffigan Show. Originally developed and produced by Sony TV and twice piloted by CBS, the comedy will stay single-camera and will remain based in New York where Gaffigan lives with his family and where the two CBS pilots were shot. It will premiere on TV Land in 2015. Sony TV will have a passive role in the series, which became possible after TV Land was able to bring the budget down. Also boarding the project is TV Land sibling Comedy Central, which will air the episodes within one week after their TV Land premiere. The synergy is natural as Gaffigan is a very well liked comedian with strong following on Comedy Central, and the airings on the comedy-themed network would expose the series to a larger audience. While sibling Viacom channels have pitched in to help each other in the past, like Logo coming on board to co-produce Comedy Central’s Sarah Silveman Program to make its renewal financially possible, in this case the shared window is described as a purely promotional move, with TV Land footing the entire bill for the series.
The Originals‘ Claire Holt is set as one of the leads opposite David Duchovny in NBC‘s upcoming series Aquarius, a gritty 1960s drama about a cop (Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. Holt, repped by CAA and Affirmative Entertainment, will play Officer Charmain Tully, a beautiful young officer who is dying to be taken seriously, but in the male-dominated world of the LAPD in 1967, that’s not easy. Holt’s credits also include the movie Messengers II: The Scarecrow and a recurring role on Pretty Little Liars.
EXCLUSIVE: Maverick TV, producer of USA’s breakout docu-comedy Chrisley Knows Best, has teamed with Serious Business, the creators/executive producers of another breakout comedic program, Comedy Central‘s late-night entry @midnight, to develop #ThrowbackThursday, a new panel comedy series that taps into the hugely popular social-media phenomenon of sharing “throwback” photos and videos from the past every Thursday.
Funny and nostalgic #TBT pictures and videos will be presented by a host to a panel of top comedians, who will riff and poke fun at the embarrassing things people used to wear, say, and do. Adam Greener and Jim Sayer will executive produce for All3Media‘s Maverick TV, along with All3Media America’s Eli Holzman and Stephen Lambert and Serious Business principals Alex Blagg, Jason Nadler, and Jon Zimelis. The project is expected to be pitched to networks soon.
I’ve learned that TV Land has opted not to renew comedy Kirstie for a second season. The decision comes five months after the show ended its freshman run. Kirstie was not a ratings or critical hit but it featured a dream cast of sitcom stars: Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards. The show revolved around Madison “Maddie” Banks (Alley), a Broadway star who finds her life turned upside down when Arlo (Eric Petersen), her long-lost son, turns up looking to connect after his adopted mother dies. Perlman played Maddie’s assistant and best friend; Richards played Maddie’s outlandish driver. Possibly factoring into TV Land’s decision was the fact that Kirstie creator/executive producer/showrunner Marco Pennette left at the end of Season 1 for personal reasons and the network had to search for a new showrunner.
EXCLUSIVE: Emily Hampshire (Rookie Blue) and Tom Noonan (Hell On Wheels) have been cast in major recurring roles on Syfy‘s adventure thriller series 12 Monkeys, inspired by Terry Gilliam’s 1995 movie starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. The 13-episode show centers on Willis’ character Cole, played in the series by Aaron Stanford. Utilizing a dangerous and untested method of time travel, Cole journeys from 2043 to the present on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will all but annihilate the human race.
Canadian actress Hampshire, repped by Intellectual Artists Management and Canada’s Creative Drive Artists and K.L. Benzakein Talent, will play Jennifer Goines, a female version of the Jeffrey Goines character played in the movie by Pitt. Jennifer is a dangerous, unstable mental patient who might have the key to unraveling the 12 Monkeys mystery locked away in her head. Noonan, repped by Vanguard Management and AKA Talent Agency, plays a newly created character, a mysterious villain who is the face of the enigmatic Army of the 12 Monkeys. Imposing and intelligent, Noonan’s character will be at the center of the conspiracy. The series, which also co-stars Amanda Schull (Dr. Cassandra Railly), Kirk Acevedo (Ramse) and Noah Bean (Aaron Marker), starts production on August 6 in Toronto. Creators Terry Matalas …
Ethan Embry and Brooklyn Decker have been cast in Netflix‘s half-hour comedy Grace & Frankie, toplined by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The 13-episode series — created by Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, directed by Tate Taylor and executive produced by Paula Weinstein and Skydance Prods — centers on longtime nemeses Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin), who are facing the last chapter of their lives. When their husbands (Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston) announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married, the women find their lives both turned upside down and, to their dismay, permanently intertwined.
Embry, repped by APA and Nelson Davis Wetzstein, will play Coyote, the charismatic son of Sol (Waterston) and Frankie (Tomlin). More than a little self-destructive, he has a history of drug abuse; however, after 90 days of sobriety, he’s determined to get back his life. Decker, who comes off CBS’ Friends With Better Lives, will play Mallory, the younger daughter of Grace (Fonda) and Robert (Sheen). She is a classic beauty like Grace. She modeled her marriage after her parents and now that their relationship has blown up, she doubts all aspects of the choices she’s made in her life. She is repped by Gersh, Authentic and attorney James Adams.
EXCLUSIVE: J.R. Ramirez has been cast as Ted “Wildcat” Grant on the upcoming third season of the CW‘s Arrow. The show’s executive producer Marc Guggenheim announced at Comic-Con this past weekend that the character would be introduced on the show in Season 3 but did not reveal casting information. The role is envisioned as a potentially recurring. In the DC Comics, Ted Grant is a member of the Justice Society for America, as well as the mentor and trainer of other masked vigilantes including the Black Canary.
In Arrow, Grant will be a former boxer who now runs a gym for underprivileged youth. A man with a mysterious past, he will play a pivotal role in Laurel Lance’s arc this season. Wildcat is one of two major DC comic book characters to be added to Arrow this coming seaso, along with villain Ra’s al Ghul. This marks Ramirez’s return to the CW where he recurred on Emily Owens, MD. The actor, repped by Mavrick Artists and manager Marie Mathews, has been recurring on Starz’s drama Power.
EXCLUSIVE: Rob Juster, Esquire Network‘s head of digital, has left the NBCUniversal cable net, a co-venture with Hearst. Juster was a 10-year G4 veteran before segueing to Esquire after NBCUniversal made the decision last summer to rebrand Style as male-oriented Esquire and stop programming game-themed G4. Juster was named head of digital, reporting to Esquire head of marketing Deena Stern, who also oversees other areas, including digital.
Related: Esquire Network Names Three New VPs
It has been a slow build for Esquire, which lost more than 60% of the Style audience after the September 2013 switch. As it has been adding originals, the channel has made inroads in young demos, posting three consecutive quarters of growth among adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 and logging its best month yet in June in demos and total viewers. It has turned around the network’s gender skew, from 20% male at Style a year ago to 64%. But it has yet to reach the overall viewership levels of predecessor Style. In the second quarter, Esquire averaged 85,000 viewers in primetime compared with 126,000 for Style and 120,000 for G4 for the same period last year. Esquire may be able to close the gap in July, having just posted a week that was up from Style’s averages in both 18-49 and total viewers. The network’s top series in the adult demos is G4 import American Ninja Warrior.
EXCLUSIVE: Feature-film financing, production and sales company IM Global is expanding into television production and distribution with the launch of IM Global Television. Mark Stern, former President of Original Content at Syfy, has been tapped as president and a partner of the new venture. Founded by Stuart Ford in 2007 and part of Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA since 2010, IM Global has been in a growth mode, presenting its biggest slate ever at Cannes this year, and has offices in LA, London, Mumbai, Mexico City, and Beijing. Stern will be based in the company’s Los Angeles office on Beverly Boulevard. “We’ve spent a considerable amount of time exploring the right entry point for IM Global to enter the television business, and Mark brings to our new operation an outstanding track record, skill set and profile,” Ford said. “In just seven years we’ve established ourselves as one of the most prolific feature film players outside of the major studios in Hollywood, and in partnership with Mark, I look forward to us now becoming a recognized force in the fast-evolving global television arena.”
Syfy has put in development Absolute Zero, a futuristic thriller from former Burn Notice co-executive producer Michael Horowitz, Universal Cable Prods and Doug Liman and David Bartis’ studio-based Hypnotic. Set in 2124, Absolute Zero follows the denizens of a remote mining colony who discover a dangerous new species on a moon of Jupiter, setting off the first stage of an alien invasion ultimately heading for Earth. Horowitz is writing the script and will executive produce with Hypnotic’s Liman, Bartis and Gene Klein.
Horowitz, repped by WME, Magnet Management and Lichter, Grossman, joined Matt Nix’s Burn Notice as a staff writer in the second season, rising to co-executive producer. He currently serves as a co-exec producer on Nix’s new series for USA, Complications, and developed drama Lithium for Fox last season. Hypnotic is repped by CAA.
Sons Of Anarchy creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter is staying in the 20th Century Fox TV fold with a new three-year overall deal. Sutter is now working on the seventh and final season of his gritty FX drama Sons Of Anarchy, produced by 20th TV’s cable division Fox 21 and FX Prods., and will next segue to his new project for FX and Fox 21, pilot The Bastard Executioner, which is co-produced by Imagine TV. The pilot, set in 14th century England, is slated to shoot in London in early 2015, with the potential series eying a fall 2015 launch. Additionally, Sutter is having conversations about an SOA prequel, he told the Comic-Con crowd yesterday. “My sense is right now that I don’t know if it will be a full-on series or a miniseries,” he said.
Under the new deal, Sutter would work on those projects and develop new ones, with FX having first look on his development. His previous pact — Sutter’s first overall agreement ever — was a joint one between 20th TV and FX Prods. and included a script commitment at FX where the writer-producer has set up multiple projects over the past couple of years, including a comedy starring his wife, SOA leading lady Katey Sagal. “Kurt is that rare producer who is a triple threat — he writes, he showruns and he directs. There is nothing he can’t do,” said Fox Television Group …
WGN America’s second original scripted drama, the generally well received Manhattan, opened with 904,000 total viewers and 233,000 adults 18-49 at 9 PM last night. That more than tripled network’s season-to date average among total viewers in the hour. But it was off the hot debut of WGNA’s first original drama, Salem, which premiered with 1.5 million total viewers and 647,000 adults 18-49 at 10 PM on Sunday in April. Tribune-owned WGN America, which is single-feed and covers only 62% of the U.S. (71.4 million homes), employed a different strategy with Manhattan. To generate larger sampling, in addition to its airing on WGNA, the premiere ran in primetime in 33 markets where Tribune has broadcast stations, including WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles. With 14 of the larger of these 33 markets reporting, the series debut of Manhattan, which is skewing older than Salem, delivered 1.8 million viewers last night, 1.4 Million (326,000 Adults 18-49) in three combined airings on WGNA and another 400,000 on broadcast local stations. Salem‘s premiere amassed 2.3 million total viewers and 886,000 adults 18-49 over four airings on WGNA. Like with the Salem debut, which jumped 56% in Live+3 among adults 18-49 and 41% in total viewers, WGNA brass expect Manhattan‘s numbers to grow significantly in time-shifting viewing.
Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Madsen & Keith David Join Comedy Central Series ‘Big Time In Hollywood, FL’
EXCLUSIVE: Cuba Gooding Jr, Michael Madsen and Keith David have joined the cast of Comedy Central’s new scripted series Big Time In Hollywood, FL, produced by Ben Stiller‘s Red Hour and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Written by Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf, it follows two delusional brothers and self-proclaimed filmmakers (Anfanger, Lenny Jacobson), who are kicked out of their parents’ (Kathy Baker, Stephen Tobolowsky) house and forced to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives, leading them on an epic journey in pursuit of their American dream. In six episodes of Big Time‘s 10-episode order, Oscar winner Gooding will play a fictionalized version of himself. In four episodes. Madsen will play a grizzled, alcoholic private investigator hired by the family to track their sons’ criminal activity. In six episodes, David will play a federal agent sent to investigate Cartel activity in Hollywood, Fla. The series is filming in Los Angeles for 2015 debut.
Three weeks into its freshman run, CBS‘ new sci-fi drama series Extant is sliding an hour from the post-Big Brother 9 PM berth to 10 PM starting this Wednesday. The Halle Berry-starrer, which has been sliding in Live+Same Day viewing since the premiere, most recently logging a 1.1 in 18-49, will switch places with the Criminal Minds repeats that had been airing at 10 PM.
CBS is making the change after a similar switcheroo worked well on Sunday. There, new drama Reckless too was falling hard in the ratings at 9 PM, behind Big Brother, leading to returning Unforgettable at 10 PM. After CBS switched Unforgettable and Reckless, Unforgettable‘s numbers naturally went up (+43% in 18-49) with a stronger lead-in from Big Brother. But Reckless didn’t suffer any further drop among adults 18-49 in its transition to 10 PM, staying consistent in the demo and even picking up 5% in viewers. CBS is hoping for a similar outcome on Wednesday, with an established drama lead-in from a stronger, Big Brother-buoyed Criminal Minds stabilizing Extant.
The scheduling change is made with enough lead time for this Wednesday’s DVR listings to be updated, which is important for Extant. The series debut of the mystery drama has seen a 50% bump in 18-49 from Live+SD to Live+7.
EXCLUSIVE: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) have signed a two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures TV. This marks the first overall TV pact for the Oscar-winning writing duo. Under the agreement, Faxon and Rash will develop and produce series projects with Kevin Walsh, their film and TV producing partner at the trio’s B Story banner. Faxon and Rash previously penned the 2005 ABC comedy pilot Adopted and made their TV directing debut this past season with Fox’s comedy pilot Fatrick, which they also executive produced. Additionally, both have series experience as actors. Rash has a relationship with Sony TV with his co-starring role on the studio’s cult comedy Community, which recently found a new home at Yahoo, while Faxon stars on FX’s freshman comedy series Married.
On the feature side, in addition to earning an Oscar for co-writing The Descendants with Alexander Payne, the duo helmed their script for The Way, Way Back, which starred Steve Carell and premiered at Sundance in 2013. Faxon and Rash were repped in the deal-making with Sony TV by CAA. The duo have since signed with WME. Faxon is managed by Principato-Young; Rash by Intellectual Artists. Both are with Stone, Meyer, Genow.