Catch up on the top TV stories you missed this week:
Obama Rips Cable News & Joel McHale Bombs At White House Correspondents’ Dinner
By Dominic Patten
If last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner with headliner Conan O’Brien was white bread bland, tonight’s event was just painful. In way way over his head, Joel McHale stumbled and sputtered through a routine that got more moans and groans from the packed Washington Hilton ballroom than laughs.
PILOTS 2014: Strong Year For Drama & Latest Pilot Buzz
By Nellie Andreeva
A second consecutive season failed to produce a breakout new comedy series, that despite the fact that there was excitement at a number of broadcast networks last spring about their comedy pilots.
Will Yun Lee Joins HBO’s ‘True Blood’
By Nellie Andreeva
EXCLUSIVE: Meet one of the last major additions to HBO’s True Blood. Will Yun Lee (Total Recall) has been tapped for a major recurring role on the upcoming seventh and final season of the vampire drama.
Michael McKean To Co-Star In ‘Breaking Bad’ Prequel Series ‘Better Call Saul’
By Nellie Andreeva
EXCLUSIVE: I have learned that veteran actor Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap) is the first new cast member to join AMC’s upcoming series Better Call Saul, joining Breaking Bad alums Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks. The prequel to the Emmy-winning Breaking Bad, from Sony TV, centers on Odenkirk‘s unflappable criminal lawyer Saul Goodman before he became Walter White’s lawyer. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I have learned that Fox has opted not to pick up a second season of Almost Human. The futuristic drama starring Karl Urban and Michael Ealy got off to a sluggish start in November but held enough ground to at least earn renewal consideration, often finishing on par with its Monday companion (the already-renewed drama The Following). In fact, the March season (and series) finale of Almost Human logged a 1.5 rating in 18-49, matching the Live+Same Day rating for last night’s finale of The Following. (The Following is a bigger DVR draw). Almost Human‘s chances started to slip once Fox’s drama pilots started to come in. All three of them — Gotham, The Red Band Society and Empire – are considered strong contenders for a series pickup. That didn’t bode well for Almost Human. Also, it is produced by an outside studio, Warner Bros TV, which also has The Following and the sure-to-be-picked-up Batman prequel Gotham. Almost Human, about a cop (Urban) paired with a lifelike combat-model android (Ealy), comes from the Fringe team of JJ Abrams and J.H. Wyman. Elsewhere in Fox bubble land, the renewal chances for Seth MacFarlane-produced freshman comedy Dads appear to have gone up in the past few days.
PILOTS 2014: The Latest Buzz
Primetime Pilot Panic
2014 Fox Pilots
BBC Programming Heads Down Under With Foxtel
Australia’s Foxtel is getting a burst of BBC programming beginning in August. The BBC First channel will be the new home of premium British drama and comedy in Oz, grouping a bevy of shows together in one place for the first time. Launch titles include recent British hits The Musketeers and Peaky Blinders, along with The Politician’s Husband, single drama Burton And Taylor and the new Alan Partridge mockumentaries. Returning series including Call The Midwife will start airing in 2015. BBC First will be the first window in Australia, with programs debuting there before potentially moving to terrestrial television at least 12 months later. Oz is the first territory to launch BBC First, one of three new global brands announced by BBC Worldwide in October 2013. Banished, written by Jimmy McGovern, will be the first local production for BBC First. Co-commissioned with BBC Two in the UK and produced by RSJ Films/See-Saw Films, the epic seven-part series is loosely inspired by events in 1788 when Britain established a penal colony in Australia. BBC First joins existing BBC channels – UKTV, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies and BBC World News – on the Foxtel platform
Read More »
IFC Midnight has released a trailer for Almost Human, the sci-fi slasher from neophyte helmer Joe Begos about New Englanders who discover their alien abductee buddy has returned home with some newfound killer instincts. Begos wrote, directed, DP’ed and produced the John Carpenter-esque throwback while longtime pal Josh Ethier produced, edited, did sound and starred in the pic with Graham Skipper and Vanessa Leigh. IFC’s genre arm took rights following the film’s Toronto Film Fest premiere last Fall and has set a limited theatrical/VOD release for February 21: Read More »
Remember those Bus Stop and Bus Bench For Humans only signs from the viral marketing campaign for District 9 that got people’s attention by mixing fiction and reality? Fox is hoping for a similar effect with its promos for another futuristic project, upcoming drama series Almost Human. The network is sending to its local stations newscast segments made to look like local news from the future. (you can watch them after the jump.) Anchored by Houston/Fox 26’s Rita Garcia (formerly of Los Angeles’ KCAL), each promo includes a news story related to the plot of the series about cops being partnered with androids as well as miscellaneous news headlines, like a retinal scan that allows you to pay as you blink, subliminal election campaign messages secretly installed on car windshields during carwashes and cheeseburgers in a pill. Wonder how many people will stop going to the carwash or will start googling “cheeseburger pill” after seeing the stories on their local news… Read More »
Related: ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ Gets December 2015 Release Date
Changing the screenplay team on the new Star Wars movie was all about time, said JJ Abrams today. “It became clear that given the time frame and given the process and the way the thing was going that working with Larry in this way was going to get us where we need to be and when we needed to be,” said the Episode VII director Thursday. “Working with Larry Kasdan, especially on a Star Wars movie is kind of unbeatable,” Abrams told Deadline. The upcoming Disney project is set to be released in 2015. On October 24, it was announced that Abrams would take over the writing of the script for the upcoming new Star Wars pic with Empire Strikes Back co-writer Lawrence Kasdan. Oscar winner and Hunger Games: Catching Fire scribe Michael Arndt had been on board as writing the script based on treatments he had drafted. The new Star Wars movie is set to start filming early next year in the UK. The Stars Wars: Episode VII director was participating in a media conference call Thursday with his fellow Almost Human EP J.H. Wyman on the upcoming Fox series. Read More »
After postponing the series debut of sci-fi-tinged crime drama Almost Human by two weeks, Fox is giving Hulu-watchers a sneak peek at the premiere episode. The Karl Urban-fronted series airs in a two-night event on Sunday and Monday, November 17-18. Check out this eight-minute clip:
Fox‘s new drama series Almost Human, originally slated to premiere on Monday, November 4, will now launch as a two-night event on Sunday, November 17 and Monday, November 18. The network is making the change to take advantage of the football doubleheader lead-in on Sunday, November 17 and try to keep the momentum going with the second episode of Almost Human airing the next night in its regular Monday 8 PM time period. The decision also will help breakout Sleepy Hollow, keeping its successful pairing with Bones for a couple more weeks before Bones relocates to Fridays on November 15. That same night, Raising Hope will have its fourth season premiere with one hour of all-new back-to-back episodes. Here are Fox November schedule updates: Read More »
The horror pic from writer-director Joe Begos has been been acquired by IFC Midnight following its Toronto Film Festival premiere. Almost Human stars Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh, and Josh Ethier in the gory sci-fi horror tale of a rural Maine town hit by a string of axe murders and alien abductions. IFC’s genre label picked up North American rights to the pic, while WTF Films is still repping international sales. Begos and longtime friend Ethier took on multiple roles for the TIFF Midnight Madness selection for their Channel 83 Films banner, with Begos acting as writer, director, producer, and cinematographer and Ethier producing, editing, and doing sound as well as starring in the film. Anthony Ambrosino of Ambrosino/Delmenico Films also produced. Almost Human nabbed Begos agency representation at Paradigm and will next play Austin’s Fantastic Fest, which kicks off this week in Austin. Arianna Bocco and Sean Berney of Sundance Selects/IFC Films negotiated the deal with ICM Partners and Caliber Media on behalf of the filmmakers.
Related: Hot Toronto Trailer: ‘Almost Human’
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Naren Shankar is leaving Fox‘s new drama series Almost Human, where he served as executive producer/co-showrunner alongside creator/executive producer/showrunner J.H. Wyman. Almost Human, from Warner Bros. TV and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, is described as an action-packed police drama set 35 years in the future, when cops are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. Shankar joined Almost Human after the upfronts. Unlike Wyman/Bad Robot’s previous sci-fi Fox series, the heavily serialized Fringe, Almost Human is at heart a police drama. That explains the idea of bringing in a co-showrunner with extensive procedural background like CSI veteran Shankar, who served as co-showrunner on the long-running CBS crime drama and was an executive producer on another police drama with genre elements — NBC’s Grimm. While I hear Wyman and Shankar got along very well personally, like it happens with some showrunner marriages, this one didn’t quite work for this particular show. Wyman will continue as sole showrunner, with no immediate plans to bring in a new co-showrunner. Almost Human premieres Nov. 4.
Related: TCA: Creator Says ‘Almost Human’ Is No ‘Fringe’ – A Good Thing
EXCLUSIVE: Joe Begos, whose pic Almost Human makes its Toronto debut Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 11:59 PM in the Midnight Madness section, has signed with Paradigm. It was a competitive signing and he’s also managed by Caliber Media. ICM Partners is handling the movie sale.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on Almost Human — Fox’s new human-android, near-future (2048) police drama – creator/executive producer J.H. Wyman called the new series “more accessible” than Fringe, the previous sci-fi series from the JJ Abrams team. During the panel, Wyman joked that Fringe survived 5 years on Fox despite low ratings due to “the incredible taste” of Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly. He acknowledged that the former series had its own mythology but “as the story evolved it wasn’t exactly clear.” The new series, he said, “is a police drama. This is about hardworking brave people in the front lines of a future that is just a stone’s throw away.” He said “We don’t look at episodic television as a bad word” and added that the series would “present a compelling case every week that involves these characters.” He and executive producer Naren Shankar stressed that they are not creating a dystopian future, but one in which good trumps evil.
After the session, Wyman was quick to say his onstage comments weren’t intended to diss Fringe. “I’m very proud of Fringe,” he said. But he joked it was show that people either loved or hated and added that not everyone is ready for a dose of string theory on TV. “I think this is more accessible because people don’t seem to want to think about science when they come home from work.” Read More »
Joe Begos’ horror pic Almost Human was just slotted for a spot in the Toronto International Film Festival‘s Midnight Madness sidebar, where films like Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno and opening-night film All Cheerleaders Die will also be making their world premieres. This one doesn’t skimp on the gore. It’s the story of a guy who disappears from from his home in a brilliant flash of blue light almost two years earlier, and a string of grisly murders leads his buddy to believe he has returned with something evil living inside of him. Check it out: