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Writer-Producer Jennifer Johnson Signs Overall Deal With 20th Century Fox TV

By | Thursday March 29, 2012 @ 2:06pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Jennifer Johnson AlcatrazEXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Johnson, executive producer/showrunner of Fox’s freshman drama Alcatraz, has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV after a five-year stint at Warner Bros TV, which produces Alcatraz. 20th TV chairman Dana Walden noted that Johnson is exactly the type of writer-showrunner 20th TV wants on its roster, “somebody who can contribute meaningfully to our existing shows and somebody whose development we’re interested in.”

Johnson spent the last season on Alcatraz, where she started as a consultant after the pilot and was bumped up to executive producer/showrunner following the November departure of co-creator/executive producer Liz Sarnoff. With her deal at 20th TV, which starts at the end of the season, Johnson will be leaving Alcatraz. While Fox has not made an official decision yet on the future of the the time-travel procedural, which wrapped its freshman run Monday, it is unlikely to return for a second season. Johnson started at Warner Bros TV as a supervising producer on the fourth season of the studio’s CBS crime drama Cold Case. She was elevated to showrunner at the end of Season 5. 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 reunited with JJ Abrams on Alcatraz after previously working with him on the first season of Lost.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Drops, ‘Alcatraz’ Makes Quiet Exit

By | Tuesday March 27, 2012 @ 9:02am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Alcatraz Fox TV RatingsIn its second week against new competitor The Voice, ABC’s reality veteran Dancing With The Stars (3.1/8, 17.6 million) was down 11% from its season premiere last Monday, which was the lowest-rated ever in the franchise’s history. Dancing still was the most-watched program of the night by a mile. At 10 PM, Castle (2.4/6) was even with last week’s fast national. (Compared with the final it was up 4%, but those comparisons are irrelevant since Castle‘s fast nationals are always inflated by a Dancing overrun and are adjusted down in the finals.) NBC’s The Voice (4.4/12, 11.8 million) was down a tenth from last week’s fast national to a season low, and Smash (2.2/6) was flat.

Fox aired a two-hour season finale of Alcatraz (1.5/4), which didn’t make a case for renewal — down a tenth from last week’s hourlong episode to a series low. With CBS in repeats, NBC and ABC split the honors for the night, with NBC (3.7/10, 10 million) taking the demo crown and ABC (2.9/8, 15.8 million) No. 1 in total viewers. The CW aired Confessions Of A Shopaholic.

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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Voice’ & ‘Smash’ Rise

By | Tuesday March 6, 2012 @ 9:29am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Smash Ratings NBCAfter taking a hit from facing Daytona 500 last week, NBC’s The Voice (6.1/16) bounced back with its first battle round, which was up 13% from last week for the show’s best result since the post-Super Bowl Monday episode. At 10 PM, Smash (2.7/7) was up a big 17% to reverse its initial ratings downtrend. After two weeks of double-digit drops following the premiere, Smash held steady last Monday before heading up last night — it’s great news for NBC’s new regime, which put almost all of its eggs in the Smash basket this season. NBC’s lineup, which won the night in 18-49 (4.9/13) and total viewers (13.7 million), was helped by CBS, which aired reruns. (ABC’s 10 PM drama Castle also was a repeat.) Fox’s Alcatraz aired two back-to-back episodes (1.9/5, 1.8/4). The first was up a tenth while the second was flat with the series’ most recent hourlong original two weeks ago. ABC’s aired a two-hour The Bachelor: The Women Tell All special (2.5/6), which was down a tenth from last week and down 19% from last spring’s special when The Bachelor did not face The Voice. The CW also aired repeats.

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Ratings Rat Race: CBS Lineup Rebounds, ‘Voice’ Steady, ‘Smash’ & ‘Alcatraz’ Still Drop

By | Tuesday February 21, 2012 @ 9:25am PST
Nellie Andreeva

RATINGS: The Case Of Disappearing Live Nielsen Viewers

CBS’ Monday lineup recovered nicely from the head-scratching ratings losses last Monday. How I Met Your Mother (3.8/10) was up 12%, 2 Broke Girls (4.0/10) and Two And A Half Men (4.1/10) were both up 5%. Mike & Molly (3.4/8) was even, while Hawaii Five-0 (2.8/7) was up 4%. There was good news and not-so-good news for NBC: It won the night in 18-49 (4.6/11) and total viewers (12.6 million), and The Voice (5.8/14) was down only a tenth from its fast national last week and up 23% from the same episode last year to rank as a dominant No. 1 for the night in all key measures. But at 10 PM, Smash (2.3/6) was down 18% from last week. While 2.3 is still a respectable demo rating at 10 PM, the drops of 26% last week and 18% this week indicate that the musical dramedy might still have ways to go before it bottoms out. Even worse, it dropped a big 26% from the 10 PM to the 10:30 PM half-hour. Smash lost the 10 PM demo race for the first time since its launch to Hawaii Five-0. ABC’s The Bachelor (2.5/6) held steady for a third consecutive week, while Castle (2.1/5) inched up a tenth. Fox’s House (2.3/6) and Alcatraz (1.8/4) were both down another tenth from last week … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Alcatraz’ Slips, ‘Rock Center’ Drops, ‘Gossip Girl’ & ‘Dixie’ Rise

By | Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 9:11am PST
Nellie Andreeva

It was another case of “when the cat’s away…” last night as Fox and ABC battled it out last night while CBS’ formidable Monday lineup was once again in repeats. But CBS wasn’t completely out — a repeat of Two And A Half Men (3.0/7 in adults 18-49, 10 million viewers) was the top-rated and most-watched program of the night against mostly original competition on the other networks. Both Fox dramas, House (2.8/8) and Alcatraz (2.7/7), were down 10% from last week. Alcatraz is shaping up to be as big a DVR player as J.J. Abrams’ other Fox series, Fringe, gaining 37% in Live+3 last week. Fox (2.8/7, 8.5 million) won the night in 18-49 and total viewers. ABC’s The Bachelor (2.6/7) was down 4% from last week, while Castle was a repeat. NBC’s Who’s Still Standing (1.7/5) was flat with last week, while Fear Factor (1.5/4) aired a rerun to replace the controversial donkey semen episode that was pulled at the last minute. Rock Center With Brian Williams (0.8/2) was down 50% from last week’s two-hour episode that featured a GOP debate. At the CW, the 100th episode of Gossip Girl (1.4 million, 0.8/3 in 18-34, 0.7/2 in 18-49) posted across-the-board gains from last week: 25% in total viewers, 14% in 18-34 and 17% in 18-49. Hart Of Dixie (1.5 million, 0.6/1 in 18-49) was up too, 21% in viewers and 20% in 18-49.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘House’ And ‘The Bachelor’ Rise, ‘Alcatraz’ Drops In Week 2

By | Tuesday January 24, 2012 @ 9:50am PST
Nellie Andreeva

House‘s ratings upswing couldn’t have come at a better time. As conversations between Fox and Universal Television over the future of the veteran medical drama continue, House last night came back strong from a two-month hiatus. Returning to its old Monday 8 PM slot, the series starring Hugh Laurie with Melanie Lynskey as guest drew a 3.1/8 in adults 18-49, up 19% from its last original telecast on November 28. In its regular 9 PM time period debut, new drama Alcatraz (3.0/7) was down 9% from its two-hour premiere last Monday. It matched the second-week fast-national rating for Terra Nova despite starting off higher with a stronger premiere and airing at 9 PM with a lead-in from House vs. a 8 PM berth for Terra Nova. The Fox dramas were helped by CBS, whose formidable Monday lineup was in repeats last night. Also taking advantage of that was ABC’s The Bachelor (2.7/7), up 13% from last week. But Castle (2.1/5) at 10 PM was down 5%. NBC’s Who’s Still Standing (1.7/5) was up 6% from its most recent episode two weeks ago. With a Republican presidential debate airing under the aegis of Rock Center With Brian Williams, the newsmagazine not surprisingly posted its highest ratings ever: The two-hour debate averaged 7.1 million viewers, the second-highest audience for a GOP debate this cycle behind ABC’s December 10 special. Fox (3.0/8, 8.8 million) won the night in 18-49 and total viewers.

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J.J. Abrams Says ‘Alcatraz’ Changes Gave Series Chance To Improve: TCA

By | Sunday January 8, 2012 @ 12:47pm PST

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

During today’s TCA panel on Fox’s midseason time-travel series Alcatraz, executive producer J.J. Abrams was quick to defend November’s decision to tinker with the show’s existing episodes, as well as make a change in creative leadership at the top. Both, he said, were opportunities to improve the series before it went on the air, rather than being indicators of a show in trouble. In early November, the series put filming of new episodes on hold to do reshoots on some of the completed episodes. Then, mid-month, co-creator/executive producer/showrunner Elizabeth Sarnoff departed the series over creative differences, leaving it to be co-run by Jennifer Johnson and Daniel Pyne. Read More »

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Fox Announces Midseason Sched: ‘Touch’ Gets Monday 9 PM Slot, ‘American Idol’ Paired With ‘Mobbed’ On Wednesdays

By | Thursday December 1, 2011 @ 12:35pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Fox today was the last broadcast network to reveal its midseason plans. There were no major surprises. The J.J. Abrams-produced time-travel drama Alcatraz will air in the Monday 9 PM slot as announced at Fox’s upfront in May. As expected, it will share the slot — once occupied by real-time drama 24 – with 24 star Kiefer Sutherland’s new drama series Touch. Alcatraz launches on January 16, Touch on March 19 after a preview on January 25 behind American Idol.

Resurrected comedy Breaking In officially joins Fox’s new two-hour, four-show Tuesday comedy block that will launch March 6, when Glee goes on hiatus before returning with all-original episodes. With pilots Family Album and Little In Common dead, Fox is short a show for the block, so it will air New Girl reruns along with new episodes of New Girl, Raising Hope and Breaking In. The multi-camera I Hate My Teenage Daughter, which premiered after The X Factor last night, is not on the schedule, but Fox says that it will return as originally planned in spring, airing behind a 90-minute Idol performance show. Idol‘s premiere date has been tweaked. The reality competition series was originally going to launch its 11th season behind the NFC Championship game on Jan. 22. Idol will still air after the big game, but as a special. The new season will now start on Jan. 18 with a Wednesday-Thursday premiere. Fox also kept its original scheduling plan for  Bones spinoff The Finder intact. It will premiere on January 12 behind a Bones rerun and will air after the Idol results show starting the following week. Bones will return in the spring. New animated series Napoleon Dynamite has been assigned the Sunday 8:30 PM slot currently occupied by Allen Gregory, also per Fox’s original plans. Here is Fox’s midseason schedule with premiere dates: Read More »

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Fox’s J.J. Abrams-Produced Drama Series ‘Alcatraz’ Undergoes Showrunner Change

By | Tuesday November 15, 2011 @ 7:34pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: There is a change at the helm of Fox’s midseason drama Alcatraz, from Warner Bros TV and J.J. Abrams’ studio-based Bad Robot. Co-creator/executive producer/showrunner Elizabeth Sarnoff is leaving the time-travel series, which will now be co-run by Jennifer Johnson and Daniel Pyne. Chase creator/executive producer and Lost alumna Johnson joined Alcatraz after the pilot as a consulting producer. Two months ago, she was quietly elevated to executive producer and co-showrunner alongside Sarnoff. Sarnoff, who wrote the version of the project that was picked up to pilot and then to series by Fox from an earlier incarnation by Steven Lilien and Bryan Wynbrandt, is now stepping down over creative differences, with feature writer Pyne (Fracture) coming in as an executive producer and co-showrunner alongside Johnson. His TV series credits include Miami Vice. Sarnoff is expected to receive an executive consultant title on the show going forward. The behind-the-scenes showrunner turnover was a factor in WBTV and Bad Robot’s decision two weeks ago to put filming of new episodes of Alcatraz on hold and do reshoots on some of the seven completed episodes instead. After completing some reshoots, the show is not filming at the moment, with the writers working on scripts and producers and directors prepping for additional reshoots as well as filming new episodes. Alcatraz, which features inmates from the infamous prison popping up in present day San Francisco, is slated to premiere in midseason in the … Read More »

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Fox’s Midseason Series ‘Alcatraz’ Pauses Production On New Episodes For Reshoots

By | Wednesday November 2, 2011 @ 5:04pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Fox’s midseason drama Alcatraz has put filming new episodes on hold to do reshoots on some of the 7 completed episodes. The series will stay in production, doing additional principal photography on previous episodes before proceeding with filming the remaining 6 episodes of the series’ 13-episode order. The J.J. Abrams-produced Alcatraz is an ambitious time-travel drama, and since the show is not on a tight delivery schedule, the producers opted to slow down and make improvements on some of the finished episodes. The reshoots are expected to last 1-2 weeks. Unlike another ambitious midseason drama, NBC’s Awake, which recently shut down production for a couple of weeks to work with scripts, Alcatraz is expected to stay in continuous production, segueing from reshoots to filming new episodes. Here is a recent trailer for the show: Read More »

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COMIC-CON: TV Series Will Be Out In Force

Deadline Comic-Con TV Contributor Gary Hodges reports:

While a studio presence for movies is shaping up to be a little thin at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con (save for notable exceptions like the Cowboys and Aliens premiere and a rumored Steven Spielberg pop-in), the television side of things doesn’t seem bad at all. In fact, it already is looking pretty meaty, promising to keep small-screen aficionados (and this Deadline writer) hustling if they want to see every panel the convention has to offer. The announcements are still rolling in and the official schedule is probably still a couple weeks away, but here are a few of the juicier tidbits about what to expect at the July 21-24 event that we’ve heard so far.

20th Century Fox has announced that it will be promoting at least 13 shows this year with panels, from the familiar (Bones, Family Guy, The Simpsons and Glee, all with their respective casts) to a handful of new offerings. Probably the one garnering the most interest is Terra Nova, the sci-fi drama that boasts Spielberg as an executive producer and a ballsy commitment from Fox, which has already ordered 13 episodes (said to cost about $4 million apiece). The show should find a receptive audience at the convention, as it tells the story of how Earth in the year 2149 is apparently so bad, time-traveling to 85 million years ago to be chased and eaten by expensive CGI dinosaurs is considered an improvement. Another new Fox offering that’s interesting and destined to be fodder for the talking heads is Allen Gregory, an animated series about the titular precocious 7-year-old boy (voiced by Judd Apatow-darling Jonah Hill) and his gay dads. There’s also an animated Napoleon Dynamite series on the way, with the film’s original cast returning to do the voice work, and Awake, a sci-fi drama about a detective (Jason Isaacs) who, after a car accident, finds he can occupy two parallel realities: one where his wife died in the crash, and a second where it was his son who perished. No word yet on which reality has Fox canceling every other new series because they poured all their money into Terra Nova’s gaping prehistoric mouth.

Warner Bros will also be there in force, with a 3,000-square-foot booth on the show floor and 16 shows in their lineup. Most of the shows are old standbys; then again, most are also beloved by the average convention-goer. The Big Bang Theory cast is always welcomed with enthusiasm, making their scheduled appearance a no-brainer. Likewise Chuck, Fringe, Nikita, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and curiously apostrophe-free Childrens Hospital all will have no problem finding happy, receptive attendees to fill seats for a chance to glimpse their favorite star in the flesh. As for new fare, the enigmatic drama Alcatraz opens present-day with 302 people — wardens and prisoners — suddenly reappearing in the infamous prison, 50 years after their mysterious disappearance. It also stars Lost alumnus Jorge Garcia as a “hippie geek” Alcatraz expert, a challenging-sounding role that I hope he’s up for. Person of Interest is a sci-fi series about a computer program that predicts future crime victims (sounding a bit like Minority Report, but minus the precognitive crack babies who sit in a bathtub all day) and the former CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) who is tasked with trying to solve the crimes. Lastly, WB will roll out The Secret Circle, a young-adult fantasy-horror-romance series based on the book of the same name. In the series, teenaged Cassie (played by Britt Robertson) discovers she comes from a family of witches. Oh, and love; she also discovers love. Read More »

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Jack Bender Joins ‘Alcatraz’ As EP

By | Tuesday June 28, 2011 @ 4:30pm PDT

Jack Bender is reuniting with his fellow Lost pals Elizabeth Sarnoff, JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk, agreeing to join the upcoming Fox series Alcatraz as an executive producer/director. Sarnoff, the executive producer/showrunner, co-wrote the series pilot with Steven Lilien & Bryan Wynbrandt, who are co-executive producing. Abrams and Burke are executive producing. Abrams, Burke, Sarnoff and Bender were linchpins on Lost, which ran for six seasons on ABC and won the best drama series Emmy in 2005 before wrapping its run last year. Bender, an exec producer on that series as well, earned one of series’ 12 Emmy nominations last year for helming the show’s finale. He is repped by UTA.

Alcatraz, slated to run Mondays at 9 PM midseason, centers on a San Francisco detective (Sarah Jones) involved in a grisly homicide case that takes her to America’s most infamous prison, where her prime suspect becomes an inmate who died more than 30 years before. Turning to an Alcatraz expert (Lost‘s Jorge Garcia), they discover that the inmate is not only alive but loose on the streets of San Francisco, exacting decades-old revenge and leaving bodies in his wake, having not aged a day since 1963. They dig into the history of the prison and discover that the killing spree is only the tip of a much more sinister threat. Robert Forster and Sam Neill also star. The series is from Bonanza Prods in association with Bad … Read More »

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Critics’ Choice Awards Honors 8 New Shows

Nellie Andreeva

Seven broadcast and one cable series made the cut in the Most Exciting New Series category at the inaugural Critics’ Choice Television Awards. The category, voted by broadcast journalists who have seen the pilots and any available episodes, recognizes shows premiering after June 1, 2011. Some of the most buzzed-about new series, including NBC’s Smash and Fox’s New Girl and Terra Nova, made the list, while others, including CBS’ Person of Interest and 2 Broke Girls and ABC’s Pan Am, didn’t. Here are the honorees (there will be no winner in the category, with all eight shows acknowledged at the awards show June 20):

Alcatraz – Fox – Warner Bros.
Apartment 23 - ABC – 20th Century Fox
Awake – NBC – 20th Century Fox
Falling Skies – TNT – DreamWorks
New Girl – Fox – 20th Century Fox
Ringer - CW – CBS Studios
Smash - NBC – DreamWorks/Universal Media
Terra Nova – Fox – 20th Century Fox Read More »

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Final Thoughts On The Broadcast Upfronts: Wind Of Change

Nellie Andreeva

Exactly 20 years ago, German rock band Scorpions released Wind of Change, which became an anthem for our generation of young Eastern Europeans going through a dramatic political change: the fall of communism. Coming back from the broadcast upfront presentations in New York last week, I’ve been having a hard time getting the catchy tune out of my head. While less far-reaching and profound, there is a clear sense of changing of the guard and a new direction for the broadcast networks this year. I can’t remember a time where the majority of the networks had new heads at their upfront presentations. Paul Lee took over for Steve McPherson at ABC, Bob Greenblatt for Jeff Gaspin and Angela Bromstad at NBC, and Mark Pedowitz is succeeding Dawn Ostroff at the CW. There is a similar changing of the guard among the top TV producers this year. Upstart Chernin Entertainment and DreamWorks TV, which is re-entering the broadcast arena, topped the pods with the most new series, three each, with another recently launched company, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, scoring two new shows. And in its first season, Marty Adelstein and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps/Adelstein Prods.got one pilot, Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, picked up to pilot, with another, Fox’s Family Album, in serious contention. Meanwhile, such longtime upfront fixtures as Jerry Bruckheimer TV, Mark Gordon Co. and Wonderland didn’t land any new series for next season. Read More »

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TV’s Sexual Revolution: Female-Driven Series Dominating Early Orders

Nellie Andreeva

How many new comedy series with a female lead were picked up last May? Zero. How many have been picked up so far this season? Every single one. All four new comedy series ordered so far by Fox and NBC this season have female leads. That is how many the four broadcast networks combined have on the air this season: NBC’s 30 Rock starring Tina Fey and Parks and Recreation starring Amy Poehler, and ABC’s The Middle starring Patricia Heaton and Cougar Town starring Courteney Cox. Half of those were created by women. All four of the newly picked series come from female creators. While not at 100%, female-centered series are also dominant on the drama side. One of the two new Fox dramas, Alcatraz, has a female lead, Sarah Jones, and was co-written by a female writer, Liz Sarnoff. Of the two NBC drama pickups, one is the female-centered Prime Suspect starring Maria Bello and written by Alexandra Cunningham and the other the female-skewing Smash, which has two leads, one played by Debra Messing. And the two locks at ABC are all about ladies (though penned by male writers), Charlie’s Angels and Good Christian Bitches.

The four newly picked up half-hour series will probably be joined by 3-4 more for a complete domination of the freshman comedy class of 2011 the way ensemble relationship comedies were all the craze last year. What’s more, it looks like as many as three new comedy series are two-female lead shows. Read More »

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3RD UPDATE: Fox Orders ‘Finder’, ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Daughter’ & ‘New Girl’ To Series, ‘Council’, ‘Locke’, ‘Bellevue’, ‘Outnumbered’ & ‘Iceland’ Dead; ‘Exit’, ‘Album’ & ‘Common’ Still In Play

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE 9 PM: A Locke & Key limited series/miniseries was a stretch, and it seems that it is not happening. The show is now heading to the death pile. And yes, comedy Outnumbered is dead too. Surprisingly, multi-family comedy Little In Common starring Rob Corddry and Kevin Hart, which had stayed largely under the radar, is still very much in the mix.

UPDATE 8 PM: With two high-profile drama pilots, the Ethan Hawke starrer Exit Strategy and Locke & Key, conspicuously missing from the list of series pickups or rejects, speculation started swirling as to their fate. I hear both are still in play. Word is Exit Strategy may be held for retooling. I hear Fox brass felt the pilot had a lot of action and not too much character in it, so they had been looking to shift the focus on the show. As for Locke & Key, there is a rumor that Fox wants to make it into a big-event limited series/miniseries, but it is unclear if that would be financially feasible. Comedy Family Album is still TBD but is not getting an order at this time and may get pushed.

UPDATE 7:30 PM: Fox has picked up a second new comedy series, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, on the same night its star, Jaime Pressly, appears on Fox’s Raising Hope. Meanwhile, three other pilots, medical drama Weekends at Bellevue and comedies Council of Dads and Iceland, are dead. 

UPDATE Read More »

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TV CASTINGS: Actors Join ‘Alcatraz,’ ‘Wedding Band’ Pilots, ‘Hawaii Five-0′ Series

Nellie Andreeva

Former Heroes co-star Santiago Cabrera has landed the final regular role on Fox’s drama pilot Alcatraz. The project, executive produced by J.J. Abrams, chronicles the efforts of tenacious cop Rebecca (Sarah Jones) and team of FBI agents tracking down a group of missing Alcatraz prisoners and guards who reappear in the present day. Cabrera, repped by Gersh and Management 360, will play Jimmy, Rebecca’s sweet-natured fiance, an uniform cop. Cabrera is best known for his role on Heroes as comic book artist Isaac Mendez.

Well, this rules Jan Levenson as a potential successor to Michael Scott on NBC’s The Office. Melora Hardin, who has been playing Jan on a recurring basis, has been tapped for a lead role in the TBS pilot The Wedding Band. The hourlong comedy follows a group of guys performing in a wedding band, anchored by 2 lifelong best friends – perennial bachelor Tommy (Brian Austin Green) and Eddie (Peter Cambor), a married father of two. Hardin plays the sassy, demanding and opinionated president of Rutherford Events who hires the band for her events every week.

Former Secret World of Alex Mack star Larisa Oleynik is joining the cast of the freshman drama Hawaii Five-0. On CBS’ reboot of the classic cop show, Oleynik will play Jessica Kaye, an highly educated … Read More »

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Broadcast Nets Are Going For Genre And Period Dramas This Development Season, But Can Such Series Work On The Big 4?

Nellie Andreeva

Genre series are all the rage in cable with the success of AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s True Blood, which have been breaking series records to rank as their network’s top-rated series and become pop culture staples. A genre series, The Vampire Diaries, also is the highest-rated series on the CW, which has had continuous success in the sci-fi arena with veterans Smallville and Supernatural. But, with the exception of ABC’s Lost, sci-fi, vampire, zombie, fantasy and comic book-based series have struggled to attract sizable audiences on the major broadcast networks. That has not deterred the nets to heavily pursue such projects this development season. The 2 drama pilots ordered so far by Fox are both in the genre category: Locke & Key is based on Joe Hill’s comic, and Alcatraz features missing Alcatraz prisoners who reappear in present day. Genre projects have also attracted some of the biggest writer-producers in town: Lost‘s J.J. Abrams is behind Fox’s series Fringe and Alcatraz, David E. Kelley, who dabbled in sci-fi with Life on Mars, is developing a series adaptation of comic book icon Wonder Woman, Greg Berlanti co-created and is executive producing ABC’s freshman superhero family drama No Ordinary Family, Fringe co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are executive producing Locke & Key, and Battlestar Galactica‘s David Eick is involved in a series adaptation of The Hulk for ABC and … Read More »

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Parminder Nagra And Robert Forster Join Fox/J.J. Abrams Pilot ‘Alcatraz’

By | Friday December 10, 2010 @ 5:47pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: ER alumna Parminder Nagra is set for a lead role on Fox’s pilot Alcatraz. Also in negotiations to join in the J.J. Abrams-produced pilot is veteran Robert Forster. The drama project, from Warner Bros. TV, Abrams’ Bad Robot and executive producer/showrunner Liz Sarnoff, chronicles the efforts of a cop (Sarah Jones) and team of FBI agents tracking down a group of missing Alcatraz prisoners and guards who reappear in the present day. Sam Neill was just cast as Emerson Hauser, a head of a government agency. Nagra will play his lab technician, Lucy. Forster, who was nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in Jackie Brown, will play Ray Archer, a retired detective who is now owner/bartender of a cop hangout bar. Following her breakthrough performance in the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, Nagra joined NBC’s medical drama ER, on which she co-starred for six seasons, until the show’s end in April 2009. She is with Gersh and 3 Arts. Forster, who recurred on NBC’s Heroes as Peter and Nathan Petrelli’s dad Arthur, is with Don Buchwald & Assoc.

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