It was a good finish for A&E drama series Longmire and The Glades last night. The Season 2 finale of Longmire drew 4.4 million total viewers, 1.1 million adults 18-49 and 1.5 million A25-54, all season highs. Similarly, the Season 4 closer of The Glades averaged 3.4 million total viewers, 1.1 million A18-49 and 1.3 million A25-54, also season highs. But neither of the series knows its future beyond last night’s episodes. Last year, Longmire was renewed four weeks into its freshman run, while A&E pulled the trigger on a fourth season of The Glades in mid-September. There are several factors that likely play into A&E’s wait-and-see tactic on the two dramas. First, the network has a new management team as part of the recent reorganization at A&E parent A+E Networks, so they likely are re-examining the entire network portfolio. Additionally, neither of the two series is owned by A&E — Longmire comes from Warner Horizon and The Glades from Fox TV Studios — which usually gives networks extra incentive. A+E is now putting an emphasis on building its newly launched A+E Studios headed by former A&E head Bob DeBitetto.
A&E’s Bates Motel gang was still riding high on star Vera Farmiga‘s Best Actress Emmy nomination Saturday morning at Comic-Con, where Farmiga explained her approach to playing the mother of Hitchcock’s most famous psycho. “I Googled ‘parents of psychopaths,” she said. “That’s where my compassion for the character comes from. She’s incredibly flawed, she comes with an incredibly warped history and a lot of pain that she’s damming up. But in her defense, she’s the mother of a child with mental issues. There’s no way that a parent can say my child has a mental illness without their spirit imploding. So I always approach Norma with a great sense of compassion and reverence.”
The drama series’ panel opened with a pre-filmed bit of fun with a gag video featuring Freddie Highmore as himself visiting the Bates Motel writers room; there he finds that all screen time and ads are devoted to Farmiga and takes over the Universal Studios Psycho tram stop as the Norman Bates persona seeps into his identity. Highmore joined Farmiga, Nestor Carbonell, Olivia Cooke, Max Thierot and EPs Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin to talk up the modern-day Psycho prequel/reimagining. The show returns for its sophomore season next year, when Cuse teased romances on the horizon for Norma and Norman. “And not with each other, OK?” joked Cuse. “Not yet.” The hint of incest between the pair remains ambiguous. “It’s just a form of Norma’s holding therapy,” said Farmiga. “Every mother in the audience will tell you they grow up so quickly you’ve got to slather it on while you can.” Another member of the Bates family could add another complex relationship to the show soon. “We made reference to Norma’s brother last season,” teased Cuse. “That character might show up this season.”
During a Bates Motel panel discussion Friday, Carlton Cuse was blunt about borrowing from a classic. No, not Hitchcock’s Psycho; TV’s Twin Peaks. “We pretty much ripped off Twin Peaks,” joked Cuse, executive producer of the A&E series with Kerry Ehrin, in response to a question about the similarities from panel moderator Shawn Ryan. “If you wanted to get that confession, the answer is yes,” he continued, tongue in cheek. “I loved that show. They only did 30 episodes. Kerry and I thought we’d do the 70 that are missing.” Cuse appeared on the Paley Center panel “Inside Bates Motel: Reimagining A Cinema Icon” with Ehrin, Vera Farmiga (who portrays Norma Bates), Freddie Highmore (Norman), Max Thieriot (Norman’s half-brother Dylan), Nicola Peltz (popular teen Bradley Martin) and Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero). English actress Olivia Cooke, who plays Norman’s friend Emma Decody, who battles cystic fibrosis, was a no-show because of “visa snafus,” Ryan said. Once it was acknowledged that both TV shows are plenty creepy and set in the foggy Northwest, Cuse, Ehrin and the cast spent more time during the freewheeling discussion citing the similarities and differences of Bates Motel from Hitchcock’s iconic 1960 film.
Round 1 of the Storage Wars legal battle looks to have gone to A&E. In a hearing today, a judge threw out the unfair business practices claims of the series former star Dave Hester’s wide-ranging lawsuit against the network and producers of the reality show. LA Superior Court judge Michael Johnson ruled that the claim fell short under California’s anti-SLAPP law. The Judge also sided with the defendants that their First Amendment rights would be violated if he were to agree to Hester’s attorneys’ request for an injunction against Storage Wars for alleged staging of the show.
A&E had requested that the unfair business practices claim be striped from the five-claim suit and their Constitutional rights affirmed in their January 28 response to Hester’s initial December 11 complaint. Johnson told the downtown hearing that in granting the requested injunction he would essentially be telling A&E what they could and could not programming on their network, something he did not agree was right or warranted. Additionally, he demanded more information on the wrongful termination aspect of Hester’s complaint for the suit to progress in the courts. Hester and his lawyer Marty Singer now have 20 days to amend their initial complaint.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on A&E’s new original scripted drama series Bates Motel, most questions had to do with how the series, from executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin, would or would not pay homage to the movie Psycho. For the record, the producers say it won’t but various Psycho incarnations are used as inspiration to create an original story.
“We don’t really view any of that as canon,” Cuse said. He called a desire to avoid “homage” a reason why the story has a contemporary setting, rather than being set in the ’60s. He added that the story of how young Bates becomes a murderous adult “will not be what you expect it to be.” (He did confirm that the story would be serialized but “have a beginning, middle and end” and will not focus on a single individual mystery or story point.) Although Cuse rejects the idea of “homage,” he said that show producers used the original plans for the movie Bates Motel that stands on the Universal Studios lot to recreate the motel on location in Vancouver.
But not surprisingly, a question arose about whether post-Newtown is a bad time to introduce an entertainment series about a disturbed young man with a troubled relationship with his mother who eventually turns violent. Said Ehrin: “I think the only thing anyone thought about that was that it was horrible and sad. This show is not about violence, it’s about a mother and son.” She said that the story is trying to “explain” violence rather than promote it.
UPDATE: In response, Michael Camacho tells Deadline: “I was in charge of unscripted television at UTA when his agency signed several of the principal characters of Pawn Stars. I have never met or spoken to the former agents or the clients and was unaware of any claim.”
The former agents of the stars of History’s Pawn Stars today sued the network, executives Nancy Dubac and Mary Donahue, A&E and former UTA agent Michael Camacho for allegedly poaching their clients. Citing $5 million in lost commissions and damages (read complaint here), Venture IAB claims that it set up Pawn Stars’ Richard B. Harrison, Richard K. Harrison, Richard C. Harrison and Austen Russell on the reality show. The agents say they signed the group as clients in 2007 and again in 2009. Pawn Stars debuted on History on July 19, 2009. It was not long after that things started to go sour between the staff of Las Vegas’ World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and their agents. “In or about January 2010, the Harrisons and Russell terminated the Agency agreements, and thereafter entered into agency contracts with Michael Camacho and UTA. As a result of the intentional interference with the Agency Agreements, Plaintiff has lost millions of dollars of income,” says the complaint. Venture IAB claims it’s “entitled to 10% of all compensation received by the Harrisons and Russell” from Pawn Stars.
Storage Wars star Dave Hester today sued A&E and the producers of the reality show, calling it a staged “fraud on the public”. Represented by attorney Marty Singer in his suit (read it here), Hester is seeking more than $750,000 in damages and fees from the network and Original Productions for their actions and for firing him from the show. “When Plaintiff David Hester (“Hester”) complained to producers that A&E’s fraudulent conduct of salting and staging the storage lockers was possibly illegal, he was fired from the Series. As further evidence of Defendants’ outrageous conduct, they purported to rescind their written exercise of an option retaining Hester’s services this coming season,” says the 14-page complaint, which is suing for wrongful termination, breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, unfair business practices and declaratory relief.
Reality shows are often accused of sleight-of-hand manipulation of events, contestants and other participants, but Hester’s suit tarnishes Storage Wars almost from top to bottom. “Nearly every aspect of the Series is faked, even down to the plastic surgery that one of the female cast members underwent in order to create more “sex appeal” for the show, the cost of which was paid for by Original,” the suit claims. “Original regularly ‘salts’ the storage lockers that are the subject of the auctions portrayed on the Series with valuable or unusual items to add dramatic effect, even going so far as to stage entire storage units. Original also manipulates the outcome of certain auctions by paying for storage units on behalf of the weaker cast members who lack the both the skill and financial wherewithal to place winning bids,” it adds. Hester is seeking a jury trial.
A&E’s drama pilot Those Who Kill has landed Chloë Sevigny as one of the leads. The project, an adaptation of a Danish crime series based on the books by Elsebeth Egholm, revolves around a police detective and a forensic profiler who possess a deep understanding of the serial killers they hunt. In a rich cable casting deal, Sevigny will play female lead Catherine Jensen, the newly appointed Detective in the Boston Police Department’s Homicide Division who is intelligent, fearless, strong and determined. Joe Carnahan is directing Those Who Kill from a script by Glen Morgan. Imagine Television and Fox 21 produce, with Morgan, Carnahan, Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, Peter Bose and Jonas Allen executive producing.