EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment dipped into its discretionary fund to spend mid six figures to option an untitled female buddy cop action comedy written by Katie Dippold, the writer and producer on Parks And Recreation. Dippold most recently sold an untitled comedy for Chernin about babies that break out of daycare. Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping were in the middle of this and the writer was repped by WME and 3 Arts.
LOS ANGELES, March 9th, 2012 – Josh McLaughlin is joining Focus Features as senior vice president, production at the worldwide film company. Focus president of production Jeb Brody made the announcement today. Mr. McLaughlin begins work this month. Reporting to Mr. Brody, he will be based in Focus’ West Coast offices and will work with the global Focus production team in New York, London, and Los Angeles.
It’s been a busy day for Russell Brand. Fox has picked up an an animated comedy co-created and voiced by the British actor-comedian, the same day cable sibling FX announced that Brand signed a deal for an unscripted late-night …
EXCLUSIVE: In a match that seems ideal, Tim Burton is in early talks to come aboard Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, the Ransom Riggs novel that 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment acquired last spring. Burton is in talks to develop the book as a potential directing project, and he would be involved in setting a writer to adapt the tale.
It involves Jacob, a 16-year-old whose childhood was filled with stories his grandfather told him about an orphanage for unusual children. Among the residents: a girl who could hold fire in her hands, another whose feet never touched the ground, and twins who communicated without speaking. When his beloved grandfather dies unexpectedly but leaves a message behind for his grandson, the teen heads off to his grandfather’s home on an isolated island off Wales. There he discovers the abandoned remains of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It is in great disrepair and as Jacob explores its bedrooms and hallways, he can see the children were more than peculiar, they might have been there because they were dangerous. And he can’t shake the feeling they are still lurking around. Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping are producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Stephen J. Cannell’s 1980s series Wiseguy is getting a contemporary reboot at NBC. The peacock network has bought a new take on the crime drama, which will be written by Alex Cary (Homeland). The project, from 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment, has received a script commitment with penalty.
A re-imagening of the original series, which Cannell co-created with Frank Lupo, Wiseguy centers on a disgraced former cop who, while serving time in prison, cuts a deal to work undercover for time off his sentence. The show begins as he’s being released — now he’ll put the connections he made behind bars to good use in the field as he helps the police take down a criminal organization. Cary, who is under an overall deal at 20th TV, will executive produce with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. The original series, which ran on CBS for 4 seasons from 1987 to 1990, starred Ken Wahl as Vincent “Vinnie” Terranova, an undercover agent of the Organized Crime Bureau, a fictional division of the FBI, whose cover was working as syndicate enforcer after a stint in the New Jersey penitentiary. The show, which had a lead change in the final season with Steven Bauer replacing Wahl and featured a standout performances by Kevin Spacey and Jerry Lewis, was an early pioneer in the introduction of serialized elements to a crime procedural, with each season consisting of several arcs, and in the use of runaway production for cutting costs.
Fox is joining the Western trend this development season with an untitled drama project from producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who co-wrote this summer’s big-screen Western with a sci-fi twist Cowboys & Aliens. Written by The Shield alum John Hlavin, the project is described as a Western that tells the origins of Wyatt Earp, chronicling both the well-known incidents in his life such as the Gunfight at the OK Corral and lesser-known details of Earp and his brothers bringing order to a lawless frontier. UTA-repped Hlavin, who has a feature Western, The Gunslinger, in development at Warner Bros, brought the project to Kurtzman and Orci. The three will executive produce with Heather Kadin for 20th Century Fox TV and Kurtzman and Orci’s K/O Paper Products.
After two highly rated airings, Fox’s new comedy series New Girl is getting an early back-nine pickup — which in this case is a back-11 pickup — bringing the order to the show starring Zooey Deschanel to 24 episodes. The 20th TV/Chernin Entertainment series, which gave Fox the elusive first live-action half-hour comedy hit in a decade, launched with a big 4.8 rating among adults 18-49 last week. Last night, it logged a 4.5, topping all Tuesday competition in the demo both weeks.
New Girl was created by Liz Meriwether who is executive producing with Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and helmer Jake Kasdan, who directed both the pilot and last night’s second episode. “We love the charming Zooey Deschanel and the entire cast, we’re knocked out with the work that Liz Meriwether and the whole staff is doing and we are really psyched about the upcoming episodes in the pipeline,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “It’s great that audiences have responded so positively so far and we’re confident that even more people will embrace the show — and more comedy on Fox — this season.” New Girl is the first new fall series to get a back-nine order.
Fox just picked up Touch last week and already Entertainment President Kevin Reilly is unveiling the new drama series with star Kiefer Sutherland and executive producer Tim Kring at his side for a Q&A after his MIPCOM 2011 keynote on October …
EXCLUSIVE: NBC is expanding its relationship with The Voice star Adam Levine to the scripted side. After a bidding, NBC has nabbed a single-camera comedy project, with the Maroon 5 frontman executive producing and Jake Kasdan attached to executive produce and direct. The ensemble comedy set at a karaoke bar, which has received a script commitment plus penalty, is being produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. I hear at least three networks wanted the project, which is said to organically blend comedy with a musical element, but NBC was very aggressive, largely because of the involvement of its reality star Levine. This marks the first major NBC buy from 20th TV since the studio’s former EVP Jennifer Salke was named NBC entertainment president earlier this month.
With Chernin Entertainment expanding into comedy this past season with its first half-hour series orders for New Girl and the animated Allen Gregory, the company has hired a dedicated high-level comedy executive. Former NBC SVP Jane Wiseman is joining the company as SVP Comedy, reporting to President of Television Katherine Pope. Chernin already has a drama head, Lauren Stein, so Wiseman will be her comedy counterpart. Wiseman recently left NBC, where she served as SVP Comedy Development for the network and Universal Media Studios. This past season, she oversaw the development of such upcoming series as Up All Night starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett; Whitney, from stand-up comedian Whitney Cummings; and Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea. Wiseman’s departure, which I heard happened before the May exit of NBC and UMS’ EVP Comedy Development Jeff Ingold, is part of the network’s ongoing executive changes under new chief Bob Greenblatt, which include the hire of Tal Rabinowitz as new head of comedy.
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.
Here is the second-annual honor roll of the best and brightest at the broadcast upfront. First off, to all who got their pilots picked up to series — congratulations. You’re already winners. This is a list of those who took their upfront success to an extra level:
Whitney Cummings: The undisputed queen of Upfront 2011. She is behind two new comedy series that are among the highest-profile new half-hour entries next fall. She created, stars in and executive produces her eponymous comedy for NBC, which was assigned the network’s best comedy slot, following The Office. She also co-wrote on spec with Michael Patrick King the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which broke records as CBS’ best-testing pilot (comedy or drama) ever. Both were the first comedy pilots to get a series order at their networks. Cummings, who also has a talk show in contention at E!, will serve as an executive producer on 2 Broke Girls but will be full-time on Whitney, which was in first position. I hope that doesn’t impact 2 Broke Girls, which King is expected to run/co-run, because the pilot indeed looks great. Honorable mention in the category of creators with multiple projects for Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. One of their two ABC pilots, Work It, was picked up to series, while the other, Smothered, is very much in contention for midseason.
What a comeback for J.J. Abrams! After his high-profile NBC drama Undercovers went bust last fall, some questioned whether the networks will continue to bet on him. But bet they did this upfront, with both pilots he produced, CBS’ Person of Interest and Fox’s Alcatraz, going to series. Person of Interest instantly became one of the most anticipated new fall series when CBS made it its new Thursday 9 PM anchor. The network also said it was its best-testing drama pilot ever. And over at Fox, Alcatraz prevailed over several high-profile pilots to land one of only two drama series spots. Then, as icing on the cake, Abrams’ modestly rated but well-liked Fox sci-fi series Fringe got a renewal for next season, bringing the producer’s series for next season to three.