EXCLUSIVE: Slavery continues to be in the cultural zeitgeist. FX has joined the trend with The Code, a limited series exploring American slavery from Kelsey Grammer‘s Grammnet NH Prods. It is based on the book Song Yet Sung by The Color Of Water author James McBride, which draws from the life of famous abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Born a slave, she escaped and, with the help of the hard-bitten white watermen of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, fostered an intricate escape network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad that she used to smuggle more than 300 slaves to the North. The Code centers on Liz, a black woman making a desperate dash to freedom, on the run from a torn white waterman and able slave catcher, who takes on one last job — only to find himself in a war against a notorious female slave stealer. As Liz makes her way through the dark and forbidding swamplands of Maryland’s Eastern Shore using the black codes of the underground, the complexities of slavery play out in full force, pitting slave against slave, white against white, and plantation owner against plantation owner. McBride will adapt his book and co-executive produce with Brian Taylor, with Grammer, Brian Sher and Stella Bulochnikov executive producing.
FX has been interested in tackling the subject of slavery in a limited series and actively pursued a Roots remake, a project that ultimately went to History. The topic of slavery is very much on people’s minds through a string of popular movies including last year’s Django Unchained, this year’s Oscar hopeful 12 Years A Slave, and with Lee Daniels’ The Butler also touching on the subject. ABC is developing a limited series about James Madison’s slave servant. Taylor, Grammnet’s former head of development, acquired rights to the project and brought McBride to FX through his friendship with the author. McBride is repped by CAA, while Grammnet is repped by UTA.
CBS has put in development Doc Ford, a drama project based on Randy Wayne White’s book series. Chris Gerolmo (Mississippi Burning, The Bridge) is writing the adaptation, about a retired NSA agent-turned-marine biologist who gets … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: NBC has teamed with writer Justin Adler (Better Off Ted), director John Hamburg (Meet The Parents franchise) and producer Aaron Kaplan (The Neighbors) for single-camera comedy 30 And Counting, which has received a script commitment with a sizable penalty. Based on the 2013 Sky Living series created by written by Chris Little and Tom Vinnicombe, 30 And Counting revolves around three college friends who are convinced that while their 20s were a time of discovery and their 40s a time of responsibility, their 30s is the decade that will define them. That leaves them 3,652 days to set the course for the rest of their lives. The clock is now ticking … 30 and counting. Adler is writing the adaptation, with Hamburg set to direct. Warner Bros. TV is producing, with Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and Bwark Prods., producer of the original series. Adler, Hamburg and Kaplan executive produce with Little, Vinnicombe and Bwark’s Iain Morris.
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EXCLUSIVE: Veteran animated comedy writer-producer David Goodman has signed a new overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV where he has been for the past decade and a half. Goodman has spent most of that time working with 20th TV-based uber producer Seth MacFarlane — eight years on the animated Family Guy, where Goodman rose to executive producer/showrunner, and currently consulting on live-action freshman Dads. Additionally, Goodman co-created and served as showrunner on 20th TV’s animated comedy Murder Police, which was picked up to series by Fox but will not air; developed/ran the studio’s Fox animated series Allen Gregory; and served as a co-executive producer on 20th/Fox’s Futurama. Read More »
AMC has given pilot orders to dramas Knifeman and Galyntine. Both will be produced by AMC Studios next year for consideration for series for 2015. The scripts for Knifeman and Galyntine, along with White City, had been heating up for a pickup at AMC over the past month, with Knifeman and Galyntine now joining AMC pilot Line Of Sight.
Inspired by the biography of John Hunter by Wendy Moore, “The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching And The Birth of Modern Surgery,” Knifeman is set in 18th Century London. It tells the story of a charming, arrogant, decorum-breaking genius who challenges societal norms to transform his visions into cutting-edge discoveries. A surgeon or “barber” in a time when blood-letting and praying was the norm, John Tattersal is a hard drinking, hard living man not afraid to push the boundaries of modern medicine, even if it takes digging up a few graves to do it. While he makes his living running an unlicensed operating theatre out of his residence, he picks up extra cash harvesting organs for his brother Julian, favorite son and prized physician of the St. Stephen’s teaching hospital. Read More »
ReelzChannel has picked up Marie!, Marie Osmond‘s Hallmark Channel talk show. Reelz will begin airing 80 of the 150 produced episodes on the show on January 6 at 10 AM with an option to buy … Read More »
After just 18 days of negotiations, the Directors Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced tonight that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year TV/theatrical contract. The deal will be reviewed Saturday at a special meeting of the DGA’s National Board; if the board approves it, the deal will be sent to the full membership for ratification soon afterward.
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Neither side is commenting tonight. As they have through the negotiations, which began November 4 at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, the DGA and the producers have imposed a blackout on details of the tentative agreement until it is approved by the DGA board. Meanwhile, neither the WGA nor the merged SAG-AFTRA has begun their negotiations with the AMPTP. Although the WGA announced its negotiating committee last week, it has yet to set a start date for talks. SAG-AFTRA is not expected to sit down with the producers until early in the new year.
Here’s the DGA release:
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EXCLUSIVE: Cinemax has given a pilot greenlight to Blanco, a drama project which has cast Shiloh Fernandez (Evil Dead) as the lead. Feature director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) will direct the pilot, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary Television has sold its second major broadcast project, this time on the comedy side. The company has teamed with James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment for a half-hour comedy at Fox, which will star top South African comedian Trevor Noah. The project, inspired by Noah’s comedy and life, is being written by Sameer Gardezi, who will executive produce along with LEG’s Norm Aladjem and Randy Chalawsky, and Overbrook’s Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett, brother of Pinkett Smith. Noah will produce. Noah’s comedy draws on his experience growing up in Soweto as the son of a Swiss father and South African mother and reflects his observations on race and ethnicity (check out a clip below). A popular comic on the African continent where he has sold more DVDs than any other stand-up, Noah has been crossing over to the U.S. Last year, he became the first South African comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and has since also appeared on The Late Show. His U.S. comedy special, African American, is currently airing on Showtime. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The new WGN America is barely 8 months old, but it already has ordered two original scripted series — Salem and Manhattan — and has made a major off-network acquisition with Person Of Interest. Now the scripted newcomer is adding an ambitious event series to its programming roster. I’ve learned that WGN has teamed with the Weinstein Company for a Ten Commandments 10-part event series, which is being executive produced by Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen (Silver Linings Playbook, American Beauty). I hear the plan is for each episode to be helmed by a different A-list director, focusing on one commandment and its evolving significance. I hear the project is eying a March start. This would be one of Hollywood’s highest-profile takes on one of the most studied and sacred texts in Christianity and Judaism since the 1956 movie directed by Cecil B. DeMille starring Charlton Heston as Moses. With its structure, the event series is reminiscent of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s acclaimed 1989 Polish 10-part series Decalogue, where each part also focused on one commandment. The Ten Commandments, or the Decalogue, feature a set of biblical principles delivered by God to Moses that include prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, theft, dishonesty, and adultery. On the comedy side, the commandments were famously tackled by Mel Brooks in History of The World, as well as by the 2007 movie The Ten. Read More »
Screenwriting team and Hemlock Grove creators Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman and their producing partner Michael Connolly are teaming with novelist Philipp Meyer to write and executive produce his novel The Son as a limited series … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: This is the dream of every public access show: New York’s cult weekly program The Chris Gethard Show will be making the leap from the local Manhattan Neighborhood Network to Comedy Central. The cable network has ordered a pilot for TCGS, a live, interactive call-in show with roots at the UCB Theater NY, which blends talk, variety and game elements. It will be produced by Funny Or Die, looking to repeat the success it’s had with another Comedy Central talk show, new late-night entry @midnight, which was just picked up for 40 weeks. Brillstein Entertainment Partners is co-producing, with Gethard and Zach Galifianakis exec producing alongside Funny Or Die’s Will Ferrell, Owen Burke, Adam McKay and Mike Farah as well as Brillstein’s Brian Stern. TCGS, whose episodes often are based on original bits, has featured such guests as Galifianakis, Sean Combs, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, John Mulaney, Bobby Moynihan and Andrew WK. The show also is known for championing the Brooklyn music scene and New York’s fringe artists and oddballs.
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EXCLUSIVE: Michael Chiklis‘ 2010 IDW comic Pantheon is headed to television. The actor/producer has teamed with IDW Entertainment, the recently launched TV division of IDW Publishing, to develop and produce Pantheon as a scripted live-action … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fifteen years after Laurence Fishburne starred as Walter Mosley‘s Socrates Fortlow in the HBO movie Always Outnumbered written by Mosley and directed by Michael Apted, the actor-producer is revisiting the character for HBO, this time … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Starz is fast-tracking its ballet drama project, now titled Flesh And Bone. No formal green light yet, but the show, from executive producers Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and John Melfi and creator/exec producer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad), has been actively casting, locking in four accomplished dancers for supporting roles. Additionally, Ethan Stiefel, star of the movies Center Stage and Center Stage: Turn It Up, has joined the project as consultant and choreographer. He is the artistic director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet and was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre from 1997-2012. Nationwide search for the lead role, Claire Robbins, continues, with more than 1,000 dancers already auditioned. Described as a dark and gritty exploration of the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world, Flesh And Bone follows a young ballet dancer, Claire, who has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. Cast in key supporting roles are former American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Irina Dvorovenko, current American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky (Center Stage), Ballet Arizona company dancer Raychel Diane Weiner, and Emily Tyra (Boardwalk Empire). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fall’s hottest new drama, NBC‘s The Blacklist, has promoted J.R. Orci to co-executive producer. Orci, who joined the series after the pilot as a consulting producer, also has signed a two-year overall deal with Blacklist … Read More »
While Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse‘s drama The Strain, based on del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire novel trilogy, formally had a pilot order at FX, its series pickup was considered a pure formality. It just came in today. From the onset, when FX landed the project in a bidding war, it hired a full writing staff, with the network committing some $500,000 to creature creation. The Strain now is heading into production on its first season, with the bulk of the scripts already completed and one major casting change. The role of Professor Abraham Setrakian, played in the pilot by John Hurt, is being recast. Filming is slated to begin this month in Toronto for a July premiere. As FX CEO John Landgraf indicated in August, the plan for the series is to run for 39-65 episodes.
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Fox has put in development Three The Hard Way, a comedy inspired by NBA superstar Dwyane Wade and his bestselling book A Father First, in which Wade reflects on being a … Read More »