Liz Heldens, creator of NBC‘s 2009 medical drama Mercy and last season’s mystery drama Deception and co-creator of the network’s summer series Camp, is a step away from returning to NBC’s primetime with a pilot order for her latest project, drama Salvation. Produced by Universal TV and David Janollari’s studio-based David Janollari Entertainment, Salvation is a family saga set against the backdrop of a Texas mega church where faith, family and corruption are explored in equal measure. The pilot centers on Jennifer Strickland, who has to defend her children, church and religious beliefs after her husband dies under mysterious circumstances. Heldens wrote the script and is executive producing with Janollari. This marks the first pilot order for Janollari, in the first year of an overall deal at NBC. It is NBC’s seventh drama pilot as the network has been particularly aggressive, ordering 14 pilots (7 comedy, 7 drama) and two straight to series projects (Tina Fey/Robert Carlock and Mr. Robinson) so far.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
After teaming with Awkward creator Lauren Iungerich for a comedy project at NBC, former MTV boss David Janollari, who developed and put Awkward on the air, has partnered with another key player from the flagship MTV series for an NBC comedy produced by Universal TV where Janollari’s production company David Janollari Entertainment is based. The untitled Erin Ehrlich project, written by Ehrlich, is an ensemble comedy about a group of young 20-something nursing students and the doctors, hospital staff and patents they encounter on their way to becoming full-fledged nurses at St. Genevieve’s Hospital (“Saint G’s”). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: NBC is looking to revive one of the most successful series in TV history – Murder, She Wrote — with a brand new take from writer Alexandra Cunningham and producer David Janollari that has Oscar winner Octavia Spencer succeeding Angela Lansbury in the lead role of an astute amateur detective. The new hourlong project, which has received a put pilot commitment, is a re-imagining of the long-running CBS series. Described as a light, contemporary procedural in the vein of Bones or Fargo, it follows a hospital administrator and amateur sleuth (Spencer) who self-publishes her first mystery novel. Set in a day where sensational headlines inundate the news, this woman’s avid fascination with true crime leads her to become an active participant in the investigations. Former Desperate Housewives executive producer Cunningham is writing and will executive produce with Janollari. I hear Lansbury has been approached to be a part of the reboot. Universal TV, whose namesake predecessor produced the original series, is producing with studio-based David Janollari Entertainment.
This would mark the first series regular role for Spencer, who won an Oscar for The Help. She previously worked with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt and Janollari on the 2001 Sci Fi Channel series The Chronicle, which the two exec produced and she recurred on. Spencer’s involvement in Murder, She Wrote stems from an exploratory meeting she took with Greenblatt. “I’ve always considered myself an armchair detective and in a recent meeting with Bob Greenblatt, he asked me what type of character would be able to lure me to TV. Naturally, I said ” J.B. Fletcher” meets “Colombo”… And here we are,” she said. “I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with Dave Janollari again, and Alex Cunningham a brilliant writer who shares my love for all things mysterious and Angela Lansbury.” Cunningham also spoke of her and Spencer’s shared passions. “Octavia and I are both huge true crime buffs, amateur criminologists, and fans of Angela Lansbury,” she said. “To get the chance to reimagine Murder, She Wrote for a dynamic and multi-faceted actress like Octavia is a thrill and a pleasure.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Former MTV programming chief David Janollari is reuniting with more creative auspices he worked with at the cable network. His Universal TV-based David Janollari Entertainment has partnered with Krysten Ritter’s also Uni TV-based Silent Machine Entertainment for Six Months, Three Days, an hourlong project, which has been sold to NBC. Based on the 2012 Hugo Award winning novelette of the same name by Charlie Jane Anders, Six Months, Three Days is a light procedural about a mismatched pair of San Francisco private investigators — an upbeat, free-spirited idealist and a swoon-worthy, brooding fatalist –- both of whom can see the future. Forced to team up, the pair knows their relationship is destined to grow from antagonistic rivalry into fairy-tale true love… but only if they can stop him from being killed in six months and three days. The adaptation will being written by film and TV writer Eric Garcia, author of the novel Matchstick Men, on which the feature film was based. Ritter, Garcia, Janollari and Silent Machine’s Lindsey Liberatore are executive producing. Read More »
Awkward creator Lauren Iungerich is having a banner development season following her three-year stint at MTV. After landing a pilot production commitment at ABC for single-camera comedy Damaged Goods, Iungerich has nabbed a put pilot commitment at NBC for another single-camera project, Bitch Off The ‘Ol Block, for which she has reunited with former MTV boss David Janollari, now a Universal TV-based producer. Written by Iungerich, Bitch centers on a young professional woman whose life is turned upside down when her biological daughter, who turns out to be a younger smart-ass version of herself, moves in with her and her roommates. ‘It takes a village’ takes on a whole new meaning in this ensemble comedy about a group of friends who become an unorthodox surrogate family. Loosely inspired by the upcoming birth of Iungerich’s first daughter as she imagines what kind of child she might raise, Bitch deals with the same themes of complicated and hilarious mother/daughter relationships and complicated romantic triangles that Iungerich successfully tackled in Awkward, but in a more adult comedy. Iungerich and Janollari will executive produce for Universal TV and David Janollari Entertainment. As programming chief of MTV, Janollari brought Iungerich to the network and developed her hit comedy series Awkward as well as followup pilot Hot Mess. Iungerich, repped by WME and Robyn Meisinger at Madhouse Entertainment, ran … Read More »
Nothing like having Hollywood pals, huh? Out of work MTV scripted boss David Janollari crashed and burned last fall. Now he’s been saved from the witness protection program thanks to a 3-year, first-look deal at Universal TV overseen by his former producing partner Bob Greenblatt. From 1996 to 2003, they did Six Feet Under, Elvis, American Family. Former ABC chief Stephen McPherson did the same thing, recently signing a deal with Fox reuniting him with 30-year good friend Kevin Reilly.
MTV is beefing up its original slate with six new series: Craig Wright’s ensemble comedy Underemployed, comedy Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous co-created by and starring hot young comedian Bo Burnham, and four reality and docu-series: Catfish, based on the feature documentary; Hoods, about celebrities going back to their hometowns; Wake Brothers, about two pro wakeboarding brothers; and Wait Till Next Year, about a real-life Bad News Bears high school team. The pickups were made after MTV brass last month screened all pilots developed by head of programming David Janollari and Chris Linn, EVP of programming and head of production.
On the scripted side, MTV went 2-for-2, picking up both of its pilots to series. Underemployed, about a group of recent college graduates, “is the personification of our ‘life amplified’ mantra for the 18-24s who are coming out of high school and college and have to figure out how to make their dreams come true and their career aspiration fit into today’s tough economic times,” Janollari said. The show hails from playwright and Six Feet Under alum Wright, who modeled the lead character after his 21-year-old son. Zach Stone, from 3 Arts, stars 20-year-old Burnham as a kid fresh out of high school who hires a camera crew to film him because he wants to be famous. The project shines … Read More »
MTV has renewed freshman teen comedy Awkward for a second season. The news comes on the heels of the series, created and executive produced by Lauren Iungerich, hitting a series high 2.0 rating in persons 12-34 last week, up a whopping 21% from the week before. “The show is really resonating with our young audiences,” said MTV programming head David Janollari. “What I like about the show is that it first and foremost is a comedy but it’s also not afraid to be honest and emotional. It’s all about the voice of Jenna that Lauren Iungerich so brilliantly created, and with Ashley Rickards, we have an immensely watchable TV star who gives Jenna all the depth and humor and pathos and sympathy we’re looking for in a TV star”. Awkward is less than a month into its first-season run, with seven more episodes left to air. Season 2 will debut in 2012. In addition to Awkward, Iungerich is also shepherding a comedy pilot for MTV, the recently picked up Dumb Girls. This is the second scripted MTV series to be renewed this summer, following the recent pickup of Teen Wolf for a second season. Meanwhile, Skins and The Hard Times Of RJ Berger have been canceled after one and two seasons, respectively. Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
UPDATED: During the MTV Networks session at TCA, MTV EVP and programming head David Janollari announced that the network has renewed for a seventh season its reality series America’s Best Dance Crew, executive produced by American Idol judge Randy Jackson. The network also said it will bring back Fantasy Factory for a fifth season. And NBC’s comedy classic Friends is being picked up by Nick at Nite for nightly run beginning Sept. 6. It kicks off with a 10-hour marathon that night and runs weeknights at 10 thereafter.
After being feted at Comic-Con in San Diego last weekend, it was a smaller and less enthusiastic but equally supportive audience that met Mike Judge this afternoon for a panel promoting the new incarnation of his iconic toon Beavis and Butt-head to MTV beginning Oct. 21. Flanked by MTV Networks and Logo Group president Van Toffler, Judge demonstrated why he may be the most unassuming creator-producer in show business history. Typical was his response to a critic’s query about why he was bringing the series about the perpetually maturity-challenged nerds back now. “Well,” Judge began, “I like doing it. We’d talked about doing another (Beavis and Butt-head) movie over the years. But, you know, ‘King of the Hill’ was done, I thought we had a couple of pretty good characters here, maybe we should do this while we still could. I don’t know, it just felt right.” Read More »