UPDATED: Fox has assembled the cast of its recently picked up John Mulaney ensemble comedy series, and it is very close to the project’s original cast when it was a pilot at NBC last season. Back in June, producer Universal TV extended the options of creator/star Mulaney and co-star Martin Short who were the only ones attached when the multi-camera project moved to Fox and was subsequently picked up straight to series with a six-episode order. But the producers had made it known that they intended to bring back several other cast members. New deals have now been completed with Elliott Gould, Saturday Night Live‘s Nasim Pedrad and Seaton Smith, who co-starred in the pilot. Gould and Pedrad will reprise their roles, while Smith’s character Motif will now be one of John’s roommates, replacing Seymour, played in the pilot by Griffin Newman. Zack Pearlman has been cast for a newly conceived character that wasn’t in the pilot. Set in New York, and based on the life and stand-up comedy of Mulaney, the series follows aspiring comedian John (Mulaney) coming of age under the influence of his over-the-top boss (Short), who was a major stand-up comedian in the 1980’s and 90’s and now hosts a game show, his roommates and his neighbors. READ MORE »
Starz Adapting Italian Gang Series ‘Romanzo Criminale’ With Steven S. DeKnight, Steve McPherson, Scripted World & Lionsgate
EXCLUSIVE: Starz is developing an U.S. adaptation of the Italian drama Romanzo Criminale. It will be written by Steven S. DeKnight, creator/showrunner of Starz’s most successful original series, Spartacus, who is serving as executive producer and showrunner as part of his overall deal with the pay cable network. Lionsgate, which previously produced Boss for Starz, is the studio, with Steve McPherson, who has a first-look deal there, executive producing alongside Scripted World’s Alon Aranya and Rob Golenberg (Betrayal). The 2008 Italian drama revolves around a gang that controls Rome’s heroin trade in the 1970s and 1980s. The U.S. adaptation will be set in Philadelphia during the turbulent era of the late sixties and early seventies. The story will chronicle the rise of a gang of working class criminals who attempt to seize the American Dream by any means necessary.
Scripted World’s Aranya and Golenberg had been eyeing Romanzo Criminale for years. They finally landed the rights about 18 months ago and took the format to Lionsgate. When the studio signed a first-look deal with McPherson in April, it attached the executive-turned-producer to the project. The drama was taken to Starz, which brought in DeKnight.
The Italian series, which aired on Sky Cinema, was based on the 2002 novel by Giancarlo De Cataldo, which in turn was inspired by the notorious Magliana gang. The series was a followup to the 2005 feature adaptation of the book directed by famous Italian actor Michele Placido (La Piovra). You can watch below a trailer for the series in Italian and one for the movie with English subtitles that better explains the setup.
History Eyes Drama About Jesus’ “Lost Years” From Eli Roth, Eric Newman & Scott Kosar That May Involve Exorcism
EXCLUSIVE: History scored big with its blockbuster The Bible miniseries. Now the cable network is exploring another project about Jesus that would portray him in a more controversial light. I’ve learned that the network is finalizing deals for the project, from feature writer Scott Kosar (The Machinist) and producers Eli Roth (the Hostel franchise) and Eric Newman (The Thing). Titled The Lost Years, the drama explores the undocumented years of Jesus’ life as a young adult. There is very little information about Jesus’ life from about the age of 13, following a pilgrimage to Jerusalem he took with his parents, to age 30, when he began his ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist. Because the project is in very early stages, it is unclear whether it would be developed as a regular series or a miniseries.
The Lost Years is based on an original idea by Kosar who developed it with Roth and Newman. All three have strong horror pedigree — Kosar co-wrote The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror and The Crazies, and Roth and Newman jointly produced The Last Exorcism franchise in addition to their other horror credits. That is not a coincidence — nor is Roth and Newman’s exorcism connection.
ABC Buys Dramas From David Diamond, David Weissman & Temple Hill; Jonathan Abrams, Marcus Wiley & Julia Franz
Writers David Diamond and David Weissman (The Family Man) have sold dual-reality drama The Double Life Of Emily Reed to ABC through ABC Studios and studio-based Temple Hill. Emily Reed is a 35-year-old divorcee from New Jersey with two kids who’s at a tipping point in her life when she makes the life-changing decision to move herself and her kids in with her mom. Just when she gives up on all her dreams, Emily magically wakes up the next morning in a gorgeous Soho loft lying next to an even more gorgeous naked man. And thus begins the double life of Emily Reed, where she lives each day twice — once as a divorced mother of two in suburban New Jersey, and again as a successful independent New York business woman.
Halle Berry is set to executive produce Hannibal (working title), a miniseries about the great generals in antiquity — Hannibal Barca and his archrival Scipio Africanus — who went head-to-head in the Second Punic War. Oscar-nominated writer Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener) is penning the script for the project, co-produced by A+E Studios and Red Arrow Entertainment. “Hannibal was not only the greatest African general to ever live, he may have been the greatest general, period,” said Berry. “His story is an intricate and captivating ride, and I’m thrilled to get this project off the ground with our partners at History.”
EXCLUSIVE: Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who are behind NBC‘s upcoming live staging of The Sound Of Music, are developing another ambitious event program for the network. The duo has teamed with NBC for Nemesis, an eight-hour miniseries about famous Prohibition agent Eliot Ness, who was portrayed by Kevin Costner in Brian Fe Palma’s Oscar-winning The Untouchables. The project, from Sony Pictures TV — where Zadan and Meron’s Storyline Entertainment has a long-form deal — is based on the book Nemesis: The Final Case Of Eliot Ness by William Bernhardt. It tells the true story of Ness in 1935, post-Untouchables, as Cleveland’s newly appointed Director of Public Safety. Bodies have started turning up — each one decapitated and dissected with a doctor’s skill and a madman’s bent. The police are baffled and the population is terrorized over America’s first serial killer, the so-called “Torso Killer.” Though it’s not his turf, Ness is forced to take over the case, but the more energy he pours into the investigation, the more it takes over and threatens to destroy his life.
ITV and Keshet International have made it official as the British network has acquired hot interactive talent competition format Rising Star. I reported earlier this month that a deal was pending and the partners now say a UK version of the show will be co-produced by ITV Studios and Keshet International UK. The deal adds to ITV’s high-profile competition franchises that include Simon Cowell’s The X Factor UK and Britain’s Got Talent. ITV’s Dancing On Ice is bowing out in 2014 and it’s expected that Rising Star will occupy its slot beginning January 2015. ABC recently landed the format for the U.S. with a 10-episode order for air in summer 2014. The UK acquisition follows other local deals in Hungary (TV2), Italy (Toro), France (M6 Group), Russia (Rossiya1), Germany (RTL) and the Nordics (Nordisk).
EXCLUSIVE: ABC Family‘s upcoming drama series Chasing Life has not been assigned a premiere date yet, but it just received a back order for seven episodes. The cast was given the good news today, just in time for Thanksgiving. The back order brings the first season of Chasing Life to 20 episodes, which is ABC Family’s standard for a full season. Chasing Life, from Kapital Entertainment, Lionsgate, Televisa and BV Family Prods, hails from the same pilot batch as ABC Family dramas The Fosters and Twisted. The other two had initial orders for 10 episodes and received back 10 orders after strong early ratings performance last summer. For Chasing Life, whose original order was for 13 episodes, the back order comes ahead of its premiere, slated for next year, representing a strong vote of confidence by the network.