Universal Cable Productions has signed exclusive development deals with Steve Carell’s Carousel Television and Jessica Biel’s Iron Ocean Productions. Both companies already are developing projects with the studio. Carousel has a an untitled drama about the onset of Hollywood’s golden age, focusing on actual Hollywood events and characters dating back 100 years. Iron Ocean is working on two projects. Pop Culture — written by Melissa Hilfers and executive produced by Royal Pains‘ Michael Rauch, who is under an overall deal at UCP – centers on a bachelor living the high life in NYC who has a sudden change of heart after babysitting his nephew. He hires an aspiring actress to play his wife, and things get complicated when he finds himself falling for her. Moguls, penned by Geoff Moore & David Posmentier, is a half-hour workplace comedy about the eccentric twentysomethings employed at a family-owned Colorado ski resort whose way of life is challenged when the mountain is purchased by a corporate behemoth.
Hammer-Wielding Attorney From Viral Super Bowl Ad To Topline Reality Series For Mike Fleiss & Warner Horizon TV
EXCLUSIVE: From Savannah to Hollywood. George-based personal injury lawyer Jamie Casino has been one of the most pursued pieces of TV talent since becoming an overnight celebrity with his epic two-minute Super Bowl commercial that featured him wielding his sledgehammer of justice (check out the ad below). In a very competitive situation, with more than 40 companies pursuing the viral star attorney for unscripted and scripted projects, Warner Horizon Television has signed Casino for Casino’s Law, a primetime unscripted series to star the lawyer. I hear Warners’ pursuit of Casino was spearheaded by new unscripted and alternative president Mike Darnell, who helped seal the deal as part of his efforts to ramp up the studio’s reality production. Casino’s Law will be executive produced by one of WHTV’s top producers, The Bachelor creator/executive producer Mike Fleiss, who will develop the show through his Next Entertainment. There is no concept for the series yet, with discussions underway to pin down the type of show that would suit Casino best.
Written and directed by and starring Casino, the Super Bowl ad tells the life-changing story of the tragic death of Casino’s brother and Casino’s subsequent efforts to clear his brother’s name and fight for justice on behalf of innocent victims everywhere.
EXCLUSIVE: For years, I’ve been writing about all the futility involved in attempts to bring the life of iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr to the screen. So here’s a big one. I’m hearing that David Simon, the architect of the HBO series The Wire, Homicide and most recently Treme, will spearhead the HBO six-hour miniseries adaptation of America: In The King Years, based on the celebrated book trilogy by Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch. Just as will happen with the Ava DuVernay-directed Selma, Oprah Winfrey will be backing this project as well in a producing capacity.
Winfrey’s Harpo banner originally set up the three books at HBO in 2010 with the plan that it would be overseen by The Kentucky Cycle playwright Robert Schenkkan. While I’ve been trying to confirm the Simon part to no avail at HBO for weeks, I’m told reliably that Simon has assured Branch that he is taking on the project, which instantly becomes a beachhead project for HBO, covering King and his relationships with Lyndon Johnson, John F and Robert Kennedy, as well as the freedom rides, the Birmingham and Selma campaigns, and the poor people’s march on Washington that he was organizing when he was killed in Memphis. It is the perfect venue to tell the story of King’s long struggle.
I’ve heard that Simon will write at least the first episode, as well as the bible for the entire mini. He and Treme co-creator Eric Overmyer will see the entire mini through completion. This is a broad canvas, spanning Branch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting The Waters, as well as Pillar Of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge.
Discovery Redistributes Networks Among Group Presidents Eileen O’Neill, Marjorie Kaplan, Henry Schleiff
In a re-alignment of its U.S. network portfolio, Discovery Communications has named Eileen O’Neill to be Group President of the Discovery Channel and has been given oversight of Science Channel and Velocity — two networks seen to have tremendous growth opportunity. TLC, which O’Neill is credited with turning around, has been given to the care of Marjorie Kaplan, who becomes Group President of TLC and Animal Planet, while Henry Schleiff adds O’Neill’s Discovery Fit & Health network to his watch, as Group President of that network and Investigation Discovery, Destination America, and American Heroes Channel.
“Nearly 70% of our global output is developed, commissioned and acquired in the U.S.,” company CEO David Zaslav said this morning in a memo to staff. “Most of our big characters, new franchises and tent pole specials have been developed by U.S. Network creative teams. We continue to invest in new international and local content, but it turns out that Gold Rush, River Monsters and I (Almost) Got Away With It attract an audience in almost every market in the world. The optionality of sharing our programming across so many brands and countries, and lining up that domestic content engine to support our global distribution growth overall, is key to our success.” He noted the cpmpany’s marketshare in the U.S. is up significantly over the past six years, growing from 5% in 2007 to nearly 12% today, “and that creative output has helped drive marketshare growth of nearly 25% internationally during the same time.”
Disney To Film Marvel Series For Netflix In New York As Part Of Multimillion-Dollar Incentive Package
New York was “our first choice” to film four NYC-based Marvel “Defenders” series and a miniseries planned for Netflix beginning in 2015, Disney CEO Bob Iger said today during a press event in NY announcing the deal. But the Empire State’s taxpayers had to help seal the deal for what officials say is the biggest film or TV production commitment ever for New York: The state provided the entertainment giant with undisclosed breaks and incentives estimated at $4M for the project that’s projected to create 3,000 jobs including 400 full time ones in the Big Apple. They’ll work on 52 one-hour live action episodes and a miniseries built around Marvel characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage in what Disney calls “the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.” Taxpayers had to sweeten the terms for Disney because there was “a lot of competition from different cities” to land the production, Iger says. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the commitment is “exciting,” and a win for his efforts to broaden the economic base which heavily depends on financial institutions. The economic downturn in 2008 “was a wake-up call for the state of New York…you have to diversify,” he said at announcement with Iger. The Disney chief says that no decision has been made with Netflix about whether the series’ episodes will be released all at once or individually.
Here’s the release from Disney and New York state:
Amazon has come to the rescue of British period drama Ripper Street. The online giant is today launching its Amazon Prime Instant Video service in the UK and with that has announced a commission for a 3rd season of the BBC crime series. It’s also acquired UK subscription streaming rights to the previous seasons. The Victorian era show, which stars Matthew Macfadyen, was cancelled by the BBC in December after a 2nd season ratings drop. The news elicited an outpouring of lament from fans and it was soon rumored that Amazon’s streaming service LoveFilm might pick up the slack. Amazon recently said it was folding LoveFilm into its Prime service in Britain with the new-look platform bowing today, along with the news that new episodes of Ripper Street will be made available exclusively to Amazon Prime Instant Video members before screening on BBC One a few months later.
In one of the highest-profile pilot castings this season, Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) is set as the lead of ABC‘s drama pilot How To Get Away With Murder, from ABC Studios and Shondaland. This marks the first series regular role in a decade for the two-time Oscar-nominated actress. In making her foray into pilot season, Davis joins her Help co-star Octavia Spencer, who recently signed on to star in Fox drama pilot The Red Band Society. Written by Peter Nowalk, How To Get Away is described as a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller that centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor (Davis) who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their entire university and change the course of their lives. Nowalk is executive producing alongside Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Neil Simon’s classic The Odd Couple is getting closer to a primetime return with a pilot order by CBS to the multi-camera version starring, co-written and executive produced by Matthew Perry. The project, which had a script commitment with penalty, is a new take on two mismatched roommates — the messy Oscar Madison (Perry) and the neat freak Felix Unger. It was written by Perry and Frasier veteran Joe Keenan, the latter replacing original co-writer Danny Jacobson. The Odd Couple pilot hails from CBS TV Studios and two of its top pods, Timberman-Beverly and The Tannenbaum Co. It marks Friends alum Perry’s return to multi-camera comedy after two single-camera shows — ABC’s Mr. Sunshine, which he also co-created, and NBC’s Go On. Simon’s play The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway in 1965 with Walter Matthau as Oscar and Art Carney as Felix and spawned a successful 1968 movie in which Matthau reprised his role alongside Jack Lemmon as Felix, and the 1970 ABC/Paramount TV series in which Oscar was played by Jack Klugman and Felix by Tony Randall. It ran for five seasons.
Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
UPDATE: Netflix Agrees To Pay Comcast For Broadband Access; Public Knowledge Calls For FCC, DOJ Action
UPDATE, 2:53 PM: DC-based public interest group Public Knowledge raised its concerns over the Netflix-Comcast deal in a statement Sunday. Said John Bergmayer, Senior Staff Attorney at Public Knowledge:
“No one on the outside knows what is happening in this market.
EXCLUSIVE: One of the most famous personal feuds in the business world — between flamboyant developers Donald Trump and Steve Wynn — is the subject of The War At The Shore, an event series in …
EXCLUSIVE: Bravo Media is officially a scripted series player. The cable network has greenlighted its first original scripted series, the hourlong Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce starring House alumna Lisa Edelstein. The project, from writer-producer Marti Noxon and Universal Cable Prods, has received a 13-episode order for a 2015 premiere. Based on the best-selling “Girlfriends’ Guide” books by Vicki Iovine, the series follows Abby (Edelstein), a self-help book author who hides the fact that she’s separated from her husband, as she starts to navigate her life as a single woman in her early 40s in Los Angeles. She finds herself seeking advice from her divorced friends instead of her married ones, which leads to some unexpected and life-changing experiences. This is the second series order for Noxon this month, following Lifetime’s 10-episode pickup of Un-Real. I hear Girlfriends’ Guide has the Buffy The Vampire Slayer alumna in first position. She is executive producing the Bravo series with Dawn Olmstead, Iovine and Weinstein Co.’s Meryl Poster and Adam Brooks, who directed the pilot. The series co-stars Janeane Garofalo and Beau Garrett, with Paul Adelstein and Carrie Fisher featured in the pilot.
Girlfriends’ Guide was originally set up at Showtime in 2012 as a half-hour spec by Noxon. Bravo took the project in early last spring and converted it to one-hour. It’s been a smooth sailing ever since, with a pilot order in August, the hire of Brooks to direct and Edelstein to star, leading to the series order. “From the minute we saw this script, we felt this was really on brand for Bravo — it’s got lots of humor, lots of fun, and it’s incredibly stylish,” said Frances Berwick, president Bravo and Oxygen Media. “More than anything, this is a real passion project for Marti who is a big Bravo fan.” There is no plan yet how to launch Girlfriend’s Guide but Berwick suggested that “we have the benefit of having great natural big-reach shows to launch out of” and “with the comedy and drama in (Bravo’s) heavily serialized reality shows, there is a natural connection” that would make for an easy flow from them to the scripted Girlfriend’s Guide.
Former Nikita co-executive producer Albert Kim has signed a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV. The pact, which has an option for a third year, marks Kim’s first overall deal. Under the agreement, Kim will work on 20th TV’s upcoming Fox adventure series Hieroglyph and will later join the second season of the studio’s breakout Fox drama Sleepy Hollow as a co-executive producer. He also will develop. “This was highly sought after,” said 20th president of creative affairs Johnny Davis of the deal. “We build shows around a voice, and Albert has a very specific voice; his writing is compelling and an adrenaline rush.”
EXCLUSIVE: Fox‘s animated brand is built on family comedies with stalwarts The Simpsons and Family Guy. Now the network is eyeing a new addition in Dark Lord Of Delaware, an animated comedy from Alan Schoolcraft & Brent Simon, writers of DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind, and former Fox head of comedy-turned-producer Marcus Wiley. The project, now in development, centers on Zarbus, a man who must deal with the conflicting emotions of being a stay at home dad after losing his job. The situation is made all the more challenging by the fact his previous position was that of a Voldemort-like evil sorcerer who once ruled over a magical kingdom. Now banished to our world, he must navigate the social minefield of suburbia while keeping his omnipotent powers in check.