Days after greenlighting its first comedy pilot for 2014 – Cameron Crowe’s Roadies, executive produced by J.J. Abrams – Showtime has ordered a second half-hour from well-known filmmakers: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, from feature writer Aline Brosh McKenna, with The Amazing Spider-Man helmer Marc Webb set to direct.
The comedy features musical elements, a first for Showtime. “This pilot is an exciting change of pace for us,” said Showtime President David Nevins. Co-created, written and executive produced by Brosh McKenna and writer/actress/comedian Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend stars Bloom as Rebecca, a successful, driven, and possibly crazy young woman who impulsively gives up everything – her partnership at a prestigious law firm and her upscale apartment in Manhattan – in a desperate attempt to find love and happiness in that exotic hotbed of romance and adventure: West Covina, CA.
Brosh McKenna and Bloom sold the project to Showtime last fall. The pay cable network landed it in a competitive situation with what what I heard at the time was a commitment equivalent to a put pilot. Webb is joining the project at the pilot stage as director/exec producer. CBS TV Studios is producing. This marks the second pilot at Showtime for its sibling studio, following the 2011 Andrew Garland Project. Filming is slated to begin in California in the fall. “I am so happy to be working with Rachel Bloom, who is not just a powerhouse musical comedy talent but also a fabulous writer and creator,” said Brosh McKenna. “I feel very lucky to have found her videos online.” Read More »
As we know, Amazon Studios acknowledges the existence of its pilots on its own time table. Some three months after it quietly ordered single-camera comedy Really to pilot and two months after casting it and started filming in New Orleans, the streaming service has made it official, confirming the project today. Really joins Amazon’s third season of pilots and they will be available later this year for feedback from viewers. They include The Cosmopolitans and Hand Of God, which the studio has confirmed, and Red Oaks, Hysteria, Cocked, Point Of Honor, Salem Rogers: Model Of The Year 1998, Down Dog and The Outlaws, which it hasn’t yet — along with Really.
The dramadey, written, directed by and starring Jay Chandrasekhar, part of comedy team Broken Lizard, is executive produced by Jamie Tarses and fully financed and produced by Main Street Films. Sarah Chalke, Selma Blair, Luka Jones, Travis Schuldt, Lindsay Sloane, Hayes Macarthur, Collette Wolfe and and Rob Delaney co-star in the pilot, about four hard-charging suburban Chicago couples trying to grasp on to their dwindling youth. It centers on the happily but messily married couple Jed (Chandrasekhar), and Lori (Chalke). When Jed is faced with the choice of keeping his pal’s secret or destroying his friend group, he winds up digging himself into a very deep hole. “Really … Read More »
As production on the 10-episode Better Call Saul is getting underway in Albuquerque, New Mexico, AMC has given the Breaking Bad prequel series a 13-episode second-season order, bringing the total to 23 episodes. In other Better Call Saul news, Breaking Bad creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan will direct the series premiere. He also will co-showrun along with fellow Breaking Bad alum Peter Gould, creator of the Saul Goodman character. (The conceived Better Call Saul together.) AMC also is making a scheduling change for Better Call Saul. The series, previously slated for a November launch, will now premiere Season 1 in early 2015 and Season 2 in early 2016. Here is a first-look photo from the Sony TV-produced series, which shows Gilligan and Gould from the set, with star Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman).
“Production on Better Call Saul is underway and we could not be more proud of nor more excited about the work to date,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate Television and Tandem Communications have set crime drama Sex, Lies And Handwriting at ABC. The project, now in development, is intended as straight-to-series, with a fall production start in Vancouver eyed should ABC move to greenlight the pilot script.
Sex, Lies And Handwriting is the first project to come out of the joint venture Lionsgate Television and Tandem Communications, a Studiocanal company, launched last year to co-finance and distribute hourlong dramas using the straight-to-series model Tandem employed for its first drama series, Crossing Lines, as well as its miniseries including The Pillars Of The Earth and its follow-up World Without End. As expected, the partners tweaked Tandem’s existing approach, in which the Munich-based company financed its series (mostly though international pre-sales) and completed the projects before taking the finished product to the U.S.. With Sex, Lies And Handwriting, an American network, ABC, is brought in much earlier in the process for more simultaneous sales in the U.S. and Europe and Canada. Other network development partners already on board for the potential series include Bell Media (Canada), TF1 Network (France) and ProSiebenSat.1 (Germany). The series would be produced in Canada by Sea To Sky, the Canadian studio joint venture between Lionsgate and Thunderbird Films. Read More »
After a few weeks of dealmaking, Showtime has finalized a pilot production order to Roadies, a comedy written, directed and executive produced by Cameron Crowe. The project, executive produced by My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman and J.J. Abrams, follows the day-to-day life of a successful rock tour as seen through the eyes of the crew members who help get the show on the road. It marks a return to the rock world for former Rolling Stones reporter Crowe, who previously tackled it in his semi-autobiographical feature Almost Famous.
Crowe wrote the script and will direct the pilot, with Holzman serving as showrunner. The two executive produce with Bad Robot’s Abrams and Bryan Burk, with the company’s Kathy Lingg co-executive producing. Warner Bros. TV, where Bad Robot is based, will produce the project, described as an inside look at the reckless, romantic, funny and often poignant lives of a committed group of characters who live for music and the de facto family they’ve formed along the way. Gail Levin who was the casting director for many of Crowe’s features including Almost Famous, We Bought a Zoo, Elizabethtown, Vanilla Sky and Jerry Maguire, will be casting the pilot.
This marks Showtime’s first comedy pilot order for 2014. Last year’s crop of pilots yielded one half-hour series pickup, Happyish. The network is yet to make a decision on the future on the project, which has been in limbo following the sudden death of star Philip Seymour Hoffman in February. On the drama side, the network greenlighted pilot Billions in March. Read More »
Starz has signed a deal with another executive producer of its new drama series Power, which was just renewed for a second season. Under the overall pact, David Knoller also is joining Starz’s drama Blackbirds, from John Shiban, and will develop other projects for the pay cable network. The hire gives extra boost to Blackbirds, already on a fast track for an order after recently setting up a writers room. Adapted by Shiban from the novels by Chuck Wendig, Blackbirds centers on Miriam Black, a hitchhiker who struggles with a unique ability to see how and when you die when she touches you. Shiban and Knoller executive produce the project, which is being developed under his Knollwood Prods. banner, with Ian Williams serving as the company’s director of development. “David is one of those rare people who is able to make everything he’s involved in better,” said Carmi Zlotnik, managing director of Starz.
Knoller will return to New York in the fall to executive produce and direct episodes of Power, created by Courtney Kemp Agboh. Executive producing the second season along with Knoller and Kemp Agboh, are Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Mark Canton, whom Starz signed into a first-look deal last year, and Randall Emmett. The deal solidifies Knoller’s reunion with Starz’s top executive Chris Albrecht and Zlotnik, with whom he previously worked at HBO as producer and director on Big Love and Carnivale. He is repped by … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After eight years at Universal TV, drama writer-producer Liz Heldens is moving to Sony Pictures TV. In a competitive situation, with multiple studios pursuing, Sony TV has signed a two-year overall deal with Heldens that is focused on development. Heldens is a prolific creator. At Universal TV, she conceived the 2009 NBC 2009 medical drama Mercy, 2013 mystery drama Deception and co-created the network’s summer series Camp. This past season, she wrote the Texas mega-church project Salvation, which went to pilot at NBC with Ashley Judd starring. Before segueing to development, WME-repped Heldens spent three seasons on the NBC/DirecTV critically praised drama Friday Night Lights.
Leah Gibson (DirecTV’s Rogue) and Rhys Ward (The 100, The Strain) have been cast as recurrings in Carlton Cuse’s 10-episode A&E Network drama series The Returned. An adaptation of the acclaimed French series, Returned, from A+E Studios and FremantleMedia, focuses on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear, bringing with them both positive and detrimental consequences. Gibson, repped by Industry Entertainment and Play Management in Vancouver, will play Lucy, a sexy, free-spirited traveler who works as a waitress at the local bar, The Dog Star Tavern. Ward plays Adam, an expert hunter with a dark nature and a complicated family history that he’s struggling to overcome.
EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Johnson will be the day-to-day showrunner of Fox drama series The Following for its upcoming third season as part of an overall deal with The Following producer Warner Bros TV. She will replace at the helm of the Kevin Bacon-starring dark thriller creator/executive producer Kevin Williamson, who will remain an executive producer and very involved in the show but will focus his attention on his newest series, fall CBS drama Stalker. Williamson previously made a similar transition from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, which is now run by co-developer Julie Plec, to The Following.
This marks Johnson’s return to the WBTV fold where she spent five years before signing an overall deal with 20th TV two years ago. Johnson started at WBTV as a supervising producer on the studio’s CBS crime drama Cold Case, rising to showrunner. Johnson, repped by WME and attorney Matt Johnson, went on to create, executive produce and run the NBC drama Chase, also for WBTV and Bruckheimer TV. She then became showrunner on WBTV’s Fox drama Alcatraz, reuniting with producer J.J. Abrams having previously worked with him on Lost.
EXCLUSIVE: More than two years after the end of Chuck, two of the cult spy dramedy’s key auspices are reuniting on a new series. Chuck co-creator/executive producer Chris Fedak is returning to Warner Bros. TV, the studio behind the NBC series, with a two-year overall deal. Under the pact, he will join WBTV’s new ABC fall drama Forever, created and executive produced by former Chuck executive producer Matt Miller. Fedak will serve as an executive producer on Forever as well as develop new projects. Forever, from WBTV and Lin Pictures, centers on Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), New York City’s star medical examiner who helps solve crimes while trying to solve his inexplicable immortality. Since the end of Chuck, Fedak has sold several projects, including Midnighters, a drama based on the Alloy sci-fi/fantasy book trilogy, which he co-created with fellow Chuck co-creator/executive producer Josh Schwartz for Fox two seasons ago. He recently set up a high-concept drama at NBC through Legendary TV. Fedak is repped by WME, Fuse Management and Bloom Hergott.
There will be a change at the helm of veteran ABC hourlong series Castle. Creator/executive producer Andrew Marlowe will step down as showrunner. He will continue to maintain a day-to-day presence on the show while focusing on developing new projects under his overall deal with Castle producer ABC Studios. Marlowe will be succeeded by Castle executive producer David Amann who will take over primary showrunning responsibility for Season 7. “Over the past four seasons, David has proven himself to be a tremendous leader and a great steward of our show’s unique voice,” Marlowe said. ” I’m excited to continue our creative collaboration as he assumes his new responsibilities, “ Marlowe has run Castle for its six seasons to date. He was joined by Barry Schindel for the first episodes after the pilot in Season 1 and by another veteran, Rene Echevarria, who co-ran the show with him in Season 2. Under Marlowe’s overall deal with ABC Studios, he developed a Philip Marlowe drama project, inspired by Raymond Chandler’s character. Marlowe’s move resembles that of the creator of another long-running ABC/ABC Studios dramedy, Desperate Housewives‘ Marc Cherry, who stepped down as showrunner after Season 7 to focus on development while continuing on Housewives in a consulting capacity. The series ran for another season, with Cherry returning to write the finale.
Castle, starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, is coming … Read More »
There will be a change at the helm of veteran ABC hourlong series Castle. Creator/executive producer Andrew Marlowe will step down as showrunner. He will continue to maintain a day-to-day presence on the show while focusing on developing new projects under his overall deal with Castle producer ABC Studios. Marlowe will be succeeded by Castle executive producer David Amann who will take over primary showrunning responsibility for Season 7. “Over the past four seasons, David has proven himself to be a tremendous leader and a great steward of our show’s unique voice,” Marlowe said. ” I’m excited to continue our creative collaboration as he assumes his new responsibilities, “ Marlow has run Castle for its six seasons to date. He was joined by Barry Schindel for the first episodes after the pilot in Season 1 and by another veteran, Rene Echevarria, who co-ran the show with him in Season 2. Under Marlowe’s overall deal with ABC Studios, he developed a Philip Marlowe drama project, inspired by Raymond Chandler’s famous hard-boiled detective. The move resembles that of the creator of another long-running ABC/ABC Studios dramedy, Desperate Housewives‘ Marc Cherry, who stepped down as showrunner after Season 7 to focus on development while continuing on Housewives in a consulting capacity. The series ran for another season, with Cherry returning to write the finale.
Castle, starring … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: ABC Studios is keeping its ABC drama pilot Clementine alive by extending the options on the cast that were set to expire at the end of the month. Clementine was on the short list of ABC series pickup contenders but missed the cut. It was one of two supernatural/genre drama pilots, along with The Whispers (aka The Visitors), which went to series. Written by Dean Georgaris and directed by Michael Dinner, Clementine centers on habitual criminal Clementine Ross (Sarah Snook) who digs in to the mystery of her origins after she becomes the target of a group of zealots who fear she possesses latent supernatural abilities that she will one day harness for either profound good or monstrous evil. The cast of the project, from the Mark Gordon Co., also includes Mykelti Williamson, David Strathairn, Edwin Hodge, Kevin Alejandro, Kathleen Munroe, Nick Gehlfuss and McKenna Grace. Alejandro was recently tapped for and is currently filming another drama, A&E’s 10-episode straight-to-series The Returned, from Carlton Cuse. Cuse has a strong relationship with ABC Studios where he co-ran Lost for six seasons and is now the co-creator/executive producer of Amazon pilot Point of Honor. While a positive sign, extending cast options does not guarantee a series pickup. Last season, of all pilots that picked up their actors only one, NBC’s Craig Robinson comedy, went to series.
Wrenn Schmidt (Boardwalk Empire) has joined FX’s new drama series Tyrant, from Howard Gordon, Craig Wright, Gideon Raff, 20th TV and Keshet. It tells the story of an unassuming American family — Bassam “Barry” Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner), his American wife Molly (Jennifer Finnigan) and children — drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation. Schmidt, repped by ICM Partners and Davis/Spylios, will recur as Molly’s younger sister, Jenna.
Joining USA Network’s six episode event series DIG, from Raff, Tim Kring and Keshet, is Angela Bettis. It centers on an FBI agent (Jason Isaacs) stationed in Jerusalem who, while investigating a murder of a woman archaeologist, uncovers a conspiracy 2000 years in the making. Working alongside Debbie (Lauren Ambrose), Faye (Bettis) is another devout follower of evangelist Ted Billingham (David Costabile). Bettis is repped by Benderspink.
Jennifer Grey is set to co-star in Amazon Studios’ comedy pilot Red Oaks, from Steven Soderbergh and David Gordon Green. Set in summer 1985, Red Oaks centers on 20-year-old David Myers, who takes a job as an assistant tennis pro at the predominantly Jewish Red Oaks country club in New Jersey. Grey will play David’s mother and Sam’s (Richard Kind) wife. She’s relieved to see that her husband’s heart attack wasn’t fatal and she and Sam seem like a perfectly normal, reasonably content married couple despite her sexuality possibly being in question. Grey, repped by UTA and Untitled, voices Disney Channel’s Phineas And Ferb and was seen in Joss Whedon’s In Your Eyes. Read More »
Amazon Studios is saddling up for Point Of Honor, a Civil War drama from former Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and Secretariat director Randall Wallace. I hear the streaming service is finalizing a pilot order deal for the project, to be co-produced by ABC Studios’ boutique division ABC Signature and Amazon Studios.
Point of Honor is a historical drama about a fictional family from Lynchburg, VA who find their lives and family fractured by the commencement of the Civil War. It has been a passion project for Cuse and was the first show he developed after his six-season run on the Emmy-winning ABC drama Lost. He and Wallace, who separately were both interested in doing Civil War projects, were put together by their mutual agent, WME’s Ari Greeenburg. Their ideas melded together well, and the two created the show together. The teaming gave the project two different perspectives on the war as Wallace is from the south and went to Duke and Cuse grew up in Boston and went to Harvard.
Like Lost, Point Of Honor was set up at ABC though ABC Studios during the 2010-11 season but did not go to production. Barry Jossen, then head of ABC Studios, was a big champion of the project. He is now an executive producer alongside Cuse as he was instrumental in setting the show up at Amazon. Key on the Amazon side was Amazon Studios head of drama Morgan Wandell, who also knew of the project from his days at ABC Studios. Point Of Honor had been envisioned as a major event series, a genre whose popularity has been on the rise the past couple of years. Cuse and Wallace co-wrote the script, with Wallace set to direct. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Hench, co-creator/executive producer of new ABC comedy series Cristela and executive producer of ABC’s Tim Allen starrer Last Man Standing, has signed a two-year overall deal with the studio behind both shows, 20th Century Fox TV. Under the pact, Hench will focus on Cristela, co-created by and starring comedienne Cristela Alonso, on which he serves as showrunner. Still, “he will have a hand in both,” 20th TV president of creative affairs Jonnie Davis said. “Tim looks to him for his point of view.” Hench, who has been an executive producer on Last Man since its inception, will take on a consulting role for the show’s upcoming fourth season. Read More »
Dascha Polanco has been promoted to a series regular for season three of Netflx/Lionsgate’s Orange is the New Black. Polanco, repped by Gersh and Shirley Grant Management, has appeared in virtually every episode of the hit dramedy’s first two seasons playing ‘jailbird sweetheart’ Dayanara Diaz. She can be seen in the upcoming Adam Sandler dramedy, The Cobbler.
In another Season 3 promotion, Nicole Gale Anderson is now a regular on the CW’s Beauty & the Beast where she plays the sister of Catherine (Kristin Kreuk). Anderson actually started off as a regular in the pilot, though the role was made a recurring after it was picked up to series. While recurring on BATB, Anderson landed a lead in the ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars spinoff Ravenswood. When that show was cancelled after one season, Anderson, repped by Paradigm and the Marshak/Zachary Co., planned to take time off but was invited to return to BATB as a recurring and was quickly upped to a regular.