NBC has ordered hourlong holiday musical special How Murray Saved Christmas from The Simpsons‘ writer/producer Mike Reiss. It’s scheduled to air in December 2014. Based on Reiss’ best-selling children’s book of the same name, the story centers on cranky deli owner Murray Kleiner, who is forced to fill in for Santa one Christmas and does a weirdly wonderful job. Walter Murphy (Ted, Family Guy) will compose the music of the special, produced by Universal TV. Rough Draft Animation will serve as the animation studio. Reiss has worked on The Simpsons since the show’s inception, at one point serving as exec producer/co-showrunner. His feature credits include The Simpsons Movie and Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaur.
“We’re been talking about the idea for it and working on a pitch,” said Guillermo del Toro today about a Pacific Rim sequel. “And there will be a Mexican Jaeger,” he joked about the giant robots that fight the giant Kaiju monsters in the movie, out July 12. This isn’t the first time del Toro has floated a sequel to the upcoming monster adventure movie, but the director was more confident about where it would fit in the Legendary Pictures property’s trajectory. “Having had two to three years pass from the first Pacific Rim to the second movie, we can also prepare a good video game, continue the graphic novel and continue the mythology,” the director added. Del Toro wrote the script for the first Pacific Rim with Travis Beacham, who is writing the prequel graphic novel
As enthusiastic as del Toro was about another Pacific Rim movie at a media roundtable Tuesday, Legendary CEO Thomas Tull cautioned about getting too premature about sequel talk before the movie comes out. “We’d like to do it but it’s up to the audience — ultimately we’ll have to see how it does,” Tull said.
British households with a television are required to pay an annual fee of £145.50 ($228) which goes towards funding public broadcaster the BBC. But more than 400,000 Britons were caught watching TV in the UK without having paid for a license in 2012, BBC News said today. Folks who believe they are exempt can make a “no license fee needed” claim to watchdog TV Licensing, with such valid reasons as having no TV set, if a TV is only used to watch DVDs or if catch-up services only are being accessed. Being caught without a valid license is a criminal offense and can come with a fine of up to £1,000, but even TV Licensing has kept a sense of humor about the recent revelations. Below are some of its favorite 2012 excuses from people caught without a permit:
- “Why would I need a TV Licence for a TV I stole? Nobody knows I’ve got it”
- “I had not paid as I received a lethal injection”
- “Apparently my dog, which is a corgi, was related to the Queen’s dog so I didn’t think I needed a TV Licence”
President Obama’s choice to be FCC chairman deftly steered clear of controversies in the first part of his confirmation hearing today at the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – which will be continued after a recess. Tom Wheeler says he’ll push ahead with the FCC’s effort to entice broadcasters to give up airwave spectrum so it can be auctioned to wireless broadband providers, although he called it a “monumental undertaking” that’s as complex as a Rubik’s Cube. He avoided taking a position on whether the FCC should regulate retransmission consent negotiations. Many lawmakers are frustrated by instances where an impasse in talks between broadcasters and pay TV providers left constituents unable to watch popular programs. “I look forward to looking into that issue and getting my arms around it” in light of recent and forthcoming court decisions, Wheeler said. “This is a situation that’s in flux.” Wheeler also said that he would look at facts, the law, and legal precedents when considering whether to approve mergers. Many Republicans have criticized the FCC for applying conditions to deals, which some consider to be a sly way of creating regulations without a public hearing. Wheeler, an investor who had lobbied for the cable and wireless phone industries, called himself “an unabashed supporter of competition.” He added that he also believes that the government should help to improve public access to broadband networks, promote universal service, and enhance public services. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, …
Showtime has officially announced that Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage) will helm the first two episodes of the upcoming eight-episode drama series Penny Dreadful, created, written and executive produced by John Logan and executive produced by Sam Mendes and Neal Street’s Pippa Harris. The psychosexual horror series features some of literature’s most iconic figures — including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, Dorian Gray, and characters from the novel Dracula — as then become embroiled in Victorian London, and will begin production in London this fall.
Legendary Pictures boss Thomas Tull said today that he expects to have a decision in “the next 60 days, the end of the summer” on whether his company will renew its production deal with Warner Bros or move to another studio. “We’re going through a process and we’re talking to everyone, including [Warner Bros]; it’s a process that is big in scope,” Tull said diplomatically during a show-and-tell media session in Hollywood. “If we end up staying with them, great. If it turns out it’s time for a new chapter, I will be grateful for our time with them”. As for a prospective new home, Tull said: “We’ve got it down to a handful, but I don’t want to disrespect anyone by saying who yet.” Tull and Legendary have been with Warner Bros for 10 years, teaming on such lucrative pics as Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, The Hangover movies and the latest Superman reboot Man Of Steel. Tull indicated that regardless of the outcome, the company wanted more independence. “Developing and owning our own stuff has been part of our plan for a while,” the Legendary CEO said.
The post today from Mediabistro editorial director Chris Ariens says the site is “taking five,” but it’s probably the end for the online media organization’s LA outpost. FishbowlLA co-editor Richard Horgan is already aboard at flagship FishbowlNY where he will still cover Hollywood but now also a broader range of media stories. All existing FishbowlLA content will be archived on Fishbowl NY soon.
Sundance Selects keeps filling up its dance card. The distributor has acquired North American rights to Dancing In Jaffa, Hilla Medalia’s Tribeca 2013 docu about ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine, who travels home to Israel to train Jewish and Palestinian kids from five diverse local schools. Exec produced by Morgan Spurlock, LaToya Jackson, and So You Think You Can Dance‘s Nigel Lythgoe, Dancing In Jaffa joins good company at Sundance Selects which previously distributed dance-themed documentaries Pina from Wim Wenders and First Position by Bess Kargman. Diane Nabatoff, Neta Zwebner-Zaibert, and Medalia produced the pic, which was co-produced by Keshet Broadcasting LTD. Jeremy Chilnick and Jeffré Phillips, Dan Setton, J. Arnhold, Robert Machinist, and Jonathan Shukat also exec produced with Sydney Holland as co-exec producer. Sundance Selects/IFC Films’ Jeff Deutchman negotiated the deal with Preferred Content and UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers. K5 is handling international sales.
EXCLUSIVE: How To Live With Your Parents creator Claudia Lonow has inked an overall deal with Universal Television. Under the pact, Lonow will join the writing staff of the studio’s upcoming NBC comedy series Sean Saves The World starring Sean Hayes and will also develop new projects. WME-repped Lonow is a rare female comedy writer-producer who has created four shows that have gotten on the air: Accidentally On Purpose for CBS, Rude Awakening for Showtime, Good Girl’s Don’t for Oxygen and most recently How To Live With Your Parents for ABC this past midseason. “Claudia is a gifted writer and producer with a strong female comedic point of view,” Universal TV’s EVP Bela Bajaria said. “We know she’ll contribute greatly to our new comedy Sean Saves The World and enhances our strong roster of creative talent at Universal Television.”
The first episode of Showtime‘s new series Ray Donovan has debuted on YouTube nearly two weeks ahead of its June 30 television premiere. The series stars Liev Schreiber as Ray, a “fixer” for LA’s rich and famous whose life gets turned upside down when his father Mickey (Jon Voight) is released from prison. You can catch the entire first hourlong episode below:
UPDATE: Dan Harmon took to Twitter and his blog to apologize for the “very un-Community” comments in Sunday’s podcast rant. He offered a mea culpa to the show’s fans, its crew, and the writers on the fourth season that Harmon was absent for: “I’m sorry I pooped on your work.” Harmon also apologized for using language that “dehumanize[d] the developmentally disabled” and for “using the word ‘rape’ in a comedic context.” Harmon’s now back at work on Community Season 5.
PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: At Sunday’s taping of his Harmontown podcast, returning Community creator and exec producer Dan Harmon unloaded on the show’s fourth season, which carried on under writers David Guarascio and Moses Port after NBC replaced Harmon as showrunner last year. “It’s very much like an impression and an unflattering one,” he said. “It’s 13 episodes of ‘I’m Dan Harmon!’ I’m going back to work tomorrow morning and I’m just like, do I talk like that?” Harmon, who is heading back for Season 5 with writer Chris McKenna, compared catching up on the Guarascio and Port-led fourth season to “flipping through Instagram watching your girlfriend blow a million [people].”
Leading reality production company A. Smith & Co. Productions has added veteran unscripted producers Jay Bienstock and Eugene Young as co-managing directors. The two will join the A. Smith’s senior leadership team alongside CEO Arthur Smith, president Kent Weed, and COO Frank Sinton. Bienstock and Young have spent the last three years running Bienstock Young Media, producing more than a dozen pilot and series, including Animal Intervention on Nat Geo Wild, Big Food for CMT, and Times Up at MTV. The company will now be dissolved, with A. Smith & Co absorbing part of the Bienstoc -Young production slate. Last year, Bienstock and Young formed a partnership with Jay and Phil McGraw, which yielded several pilots in contention at A&E.
EXCLUSIVE: Montecito and Paramount have tapped scribes Eyal Podell & Jonathon Stewart to write Juliet, based on the book by Anne Fortier. Tree Line’s Cathy Konrad will produce with Montecito. The project was set up in fall, 2011 for James Mangold to direct. In the book, a young woman learns that the legend of Romeo & Juliet is actually real, and that Shakespeare’s version was simply the most popular retelling. More compelling is that she is Juliet’s direct descendant, but was kept in the dark to protect her. Podell & Stewart are coming on the project hot after having their script Seuss reach the second slot on the latest Black List. They are represented by Verve and Industry Entertainment.
Michael Slezak is Senior Editor at TVLine.
You know those people who brag about not having a television? Girls’ Allison Williams has a handy response for ’em. “I always say very dryly and very honestly, ‘You should invest in one. I’m not even saying you would necessarily like our show. But TV is so good right now.’” Williams’ awareness of the number of great performances under consideration this Emmy season makes it all the more “exciting and unbelievable” when her name gets floated as a possible contender for supporting actress. And while she’s quick to credit Girls creator and star Lena Dunham—as well as the show’s writers, directors and hair and makeup staff—for helping her bring to life the rudderless Marnie Michaels, Williams admits that “it’s a really fun challenge to play someone who seems to have it all together and yet has this anxiety bubbling beneath the surface. It’s an anxiety she isn’t necessarily aware of herself.”
Related: EMMYS: Comedy Series Overview
Wilfred director/executive producer Randall Einhorn, who helmed the pilot for the quirky FX comedy series, has signed on to direct another FX comedy pilot, Death Pact, starring Tracy Morgan. From writer-creators Rob Long and Tad Safran and producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Death Pact has Morgan playing a formerly lazy, pot-dealing assistant high school coach who returns to his hometown as a decorated war hero. He runs across three down-on-their-luck friends and former students and sucks them into his new radical self-help philosophy, which involves harsh consequences for failure. The pilot, produced by FX Prods, will film this summer in New York or New Jersey. Randall’s duties on Wilfred and Death Pact stem from an overall deal he has with FX Prods.
28 Entertainment has snagged rights to tell the life story of country icon George Jones, who died April 26th in Nashville at the age of 81. Dennis L. Baxter will script the project which he will also produce with LA-based 28 Entertainment’s father-and-son team of Jay Hoffman and Brian A. Hoffman. Jones and wife Nancy first teamed up with Baxter six years ago on the project, which Nancy will exec produce. Story follows Jones’ rise to fame and success despite his struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse. Chris Corabi negotiated the deal on behalf of 28 Entertainment with Jess Rosen of Greenberg Traurig on behalf of George and Nancy Jones.
Fox International Productions is betting twice on Argentine social satire Buena Vida Delivery. The studio group headed by Sanford Panitch has acquired remake rights for the film from FilmSharks International and will simultaneously develop local-language versions in Germany and Brazil. The original 2004 Buena Vida Delivery was directed by Leonardo Di Cesare and sold to over 35 countries. It tells the story of a beautiful woman who takes advantages of her naïve boyfriends by bringing her family to live with them rent-free. The picture was spotted by VP Production Anna Kokourina and will be jointly overseen by FIP Germany production chief Marco Mehlitz and FIP Brazil head of production Cristina Fanato.
EXCLUSIVE: If you’ve grown weary waiting for the Logan’s Run remake because of all the talent that has fallen in and out, here’s news that will give the languishing film a jolt. Warner Bros has tapped Ken Levine, creator of the Bioshock video game franchise, to write the screenplay for a remake of the 1976 cult classic science fiction film. Jon Berg is overseeing it for the studio.
Levine began his career as a screenwriter and a playwright before he became one of the most influential figures in the video game industry. He’s making a rare appearance outside of video games because Logan’s Run has been such a passion project for him.
The film was based on the 1967 book by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, about a dystopian society set in the year 2116 in which all people must be willingly executed at age 21 as a means of population control. Those who try to escape their fate are called “runners.” In the 1976 Michael Anderson-directed film that starred Michael York as Logan 5, the maximum age is 30 and the setting is post-apocalyptic earth in which all humans live inside a huge domed city. The studio has been trying for a long time to get this remake made, and it has been developed by the likes of X-Men helmer Bryan Singer, and more recently Nicolas Winding Refn looked at it as a re-team with Ryan Gosling. A fresh take might be just what the project needs.
The GSN original series The Chase is a one-hour quiz show show adapted from the British original that pits a team of four contestants against a resident genius — in this case Mark Labbett, one of the original “Chasers” in the UK version. The network has set the premiere date for August 6 at 9 PM. Brooke Burns will host the series, from ITV Studios America and executive producer Bob Boden. Its lead-in will be the Apolo Anton Ohno-hosted Minute To Win It.