The green lights have been plentiful for drama series this pilot season, though perhaps no one did better than the DC Comics TV team, with four pickups in four pilots. But Israeli powerhouse Keshet and others did well, too. Below is a quick slide show overview of the season’s new dramas to come. We’ll add more images and information as they become available. Click on a photo to launch:
UPDATE: NBC also has picked up to pilot Warner Bros TV-produced drama The Mysteries Of Laura, from writer Jeff Rake, Greg Berlanti’s Berlanti Productions and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. The project, based on the popular Spanish series Los Misterios De Laura, had a production commitment and I hear has a cast-contingent order. It follows the life and relationships of a female homicide detective who can handle murderous criminals — but not her evil twins. WBTV, where Berlanti Productions is based, is producing. Rake wrote the adaptation and will executive produce with Berlanti and Kaplan, while Berlanti Productions’ Melissa Kellner Berman co-execute produces.
PREVIOUS, 3:34 PM: It is a big day for Warner Bros TV and DC Comics. On the heels of Fox confirming its Batman drama Gotham is going to series this morning, NBC has greenlighted a pilot for Constantine, a drama based on the characters in DC Comics’ John Constantine stories. The project, which had a script commitment with penalty, was written by The Mentalist executive producer Daniel Cerone from a story by him and David S. Goyer, the go-to writer for Warner Bros’ feature DC adaptations. The two are executive producing, with Cerone serving as showrunner. Constantine centers on John Constantine, an enigmatic and irreverent con man-turned-reluctant supernatural detective who is thrust into the role of defending us against dark forces from beyond.
EXCLUSIVE: After wrapping his fan-funded Veronica Mars movie, Rob Thomas is reuniting with the film’s co-writer Diane Ruggiero for a zombie drama series project based a DC property. The CW has put in development iZombie, which Thomas and Ruggiero will write based on the characters created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. iZombie, from Warner Bros TV and Rob Thomas Prods, is a supernatural crime procedural that centers on a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity. But with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories, and with the help of her medical examiner boss and a police detective, she solves homicide cases in order to quiet the disturbing voices in her head. Thomas and Rugierro, who previously served as an exec producer on Thomas’ series Veronica Mars and Cupid, are executive producing with fellow frequent Thomas collaborators Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge.
Zombies cannot be hotter at the moment with AMC’s The Walking Dead shattering ratings records and Brad Pitt’s World War Z doing well in theaters recently. Additionally, there are three series projects about loved ones coming back from the dead: Babylon Fields at NBC, a remake of the hit French drama The Returned at A&E, and ABC’s midseason series Resurrection.
The CW and CBS TV Studios, which are exploring the French court circa 17th century with freshman drama Reign, are staying in the country with another period drama project, The Painted Girls. Based on the book by Cathy Marie Buchanan, The Painted Girls is set in 1880s Paris against the backdrop of the turbulent and exciting world of “La Belle Epoque” – decadence, poverty, sex, drugs and a serial killer running rampant throughout the city. It revolves around three sisters studying at a top ballet academy, one of whom becomes the muse for Edgar Degas and his famed paintings of ballerinas. Tony-nominated playwright Geoffrey Nauffts (Next Fall) will write the adaptation and co-executive produce. Dan Jinks (Pushing Daisies), who exec produced the CW’s medical drama Emily Owens, MD, is executive producing the project, which was brought to his company by SVP Nick Nantell. Nauffts’ TV credits include Brothers & Sisters and Political Animals. He is with CAA and Stephen Clark. Jinks, who is producing Big Fish on Broadway, is with WME and Alan Hergott.
News of the comics publisher’s major relocation came today from DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson, who informed DC employees of plans to shift the company’s remaining New York operations to Burbank in just over a year. The move will centralize DC operations joining parent company Warner Bros. on the West Coast, with relocation to be done in 2015. Three years ago DC’s multi-media and digital content production operations were moved to WB’s Burbank lot as New York remained DC’s publishing hub. In Nelson’s letter Tuesday she assured that all NY employees would have the chance to relocate and keep their jobs.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. TV and DC Comics are on a roll this development season with a third high-profile project. Constantine, a drama based on the characters in DC Comics’ John Constantine stories, has sold to NBC with penalty. It is written/executive produced by The Mentalist executive producer Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer, the go-to writer for Warner Bros.’ feature DC adaptations. Constantine centers on John Constantine, an enigmatic and irreverent con man-turned-reluctant supernatural detective who is thrust into the role of defending us against dark forces from beyond.
John Constantine, who first appeared in 1985 as a recurring character in the horror series The Saga Of The Swamp Thing, was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and Jamie Delano. He was portrayed by Keanu Reeves in the 2005 feature Constantine and is rumored to be featured in the Justice League Dark feature Warner Bros. has in the works with Guillermo del Toro.
Constantine joins Warner Bros. TV/DC’s The Flash at the CW, a spinoff from hit Arrow, and a Gotham City/Commissioner Gordon drama at Fox, which has a series commitment. WME-repped Goyer has co-written The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, Man Of Steel and the upcoming Batman vs. Superman. On TV, he is the …
Fox Nabs Gotham City Origin Drama About Commissioner Gordon From Bruno Heller & Warner Bros. TV With Series Commitment
EXCLUSIVE: In one of the biggest drama deals this season, after a bidding war, Fox has landed Gotham, from Warner Bros. TV and The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller, with a series commitment. For Gotham, Warner Bros TV is mining one of DC Comics‘ most popular character universes, Batman. It explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains who made Gotham City famous. In Gotham, Gordon is still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series. The Gordon character was introduced in 1939 in the very first Batman comic. Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Commissioner Gordon has appeared in comic books as well as Batman films and series, including in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, where he was played by Gary Oldman. Along with the Superman franchise, the Batman universe is probably the most prized DC property.
The Dark Knight in the unnamed sequel to Man Of Steel is “kind of tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for a while,” Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara told investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. Ben Affleck — a controversial choice to play Batman among many fans — “is perfect for the vision….We think it’s going to be huge.” Tsujihara says the film is one example of how his DC Comics unit “really does tie to all parts of our business.” The company has three animated TV shows based on DC characters, and “think about the direct to videos we do with DC and the games. This year we have two huge games.” The CEO added that “I love the way our slate is positioned going forward.” With opportunities in television and home video, “we’re confident we can grow this business.”
Attorney Marc Toberoff learned today that he won’t be penalized as DC Comics and Warner Bros desired him to be in their grinding Superman copyright legal battle. In a short but acerbic order (read it here) issued Friday Judge Otis Wright, II denied a motion for sanctions against the Man of Steel heirs’ lawyer by the Warner subsidiary. In a motion first filed last fall and reactivated earlier this year, Warner alleged that Toberoff and his companies suppressed evidence in the discovery process in the long ongoing case. Judge Wright says forget about it. “The Court comes away from this investigation with the view that DC’s Motion for Evidentiary Sanctions is really just a rehashing of the tortured course of discovery in these Superman matters. Now with the benefit of hindsight (and relatively newfound possession of a multitude of documents to which DC may not have been entitled but for the theft of those documents from Toberoff’s office and their subsequent disclosure to Warner Brothers), DC seeks to open a widereaching inquiry into attorney and Defendant Marc Toberoff’s prior privilege assertions and privilege-logging practices,” he wrote Friday.
Less than a month after scoring a major legal victory in the Superman copyright case, Warner Bros today sought to finish off the suit by the heirs of co-creator Jerry Siegel. “After nearly a decade of litigation, the Siegel Superman and Siegel Superboy cases can now come to an end,” said the motion for summary judgment (read it here) filed Thursday. The studio wants the federal court to assert the January 10 ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that essentially gave Warner Bros full rights to the superhero character and the freedom to move forward with its Superman big screen reboot Man of Steel and other related properties without the threat of further legal action by the creators’ heirs and estates. The ruling last month overturned a 2008 ruling that Laura Siegel Larson and the estate of Joanne Siegel still controlled the lucrative rights to Superman and his younger self Superboy because a binding agreement was never reached by the parties. “In short, these cases are over. Any attempt by Larson to resuscitate them is futile,” the studio and its DC Comics subsidiary said in today’s filing by lawyers Daniel Petrocelli, Matthew Kline and Cassandra Seto. “In both the Superman and Superboy cases, DC’s Fourth Counterclaim seeks a declaration that Larson transferred her Superman and Superboy copyrights to DC pursuant to a 2001 …
DC Comics waited too long to file its copyright interference suit in the battle over who owns Superman, says the lawyer of the estates of Man of Steel co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. In another round in the multi-front fight between Warner Bros and the estates, attorney Marc Toberoff on Monday cited statute of limitation laws and asked the federal court to dismiss (read it here) the suit DC’s corporate owners filed against him almost three years ago. This move comes less than a month after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals essentially handed WB full rights to Superman in a related copyright case — a big deal for the studio, whose reboot Man Of Steel flies into theaters June 14. In its May 14, 2010 suit, DC Comics claimed Toberoff meddled with the 1992 copyright agreement the company had reached with the two estates. It also alleges Toberoff drafted overriding agreements with the estates in 2001 and 2003 to recapture DC’s Superman copyright interests and to position himself and his companies to secure a controlling financial interest in the families’ claims.
The heirs to Superman co-creator Joe Shuster will not be getting back some of the rights to the hero next year as they wanted. A judge said today that an agreement the estate signed 20 years ago with DC Comics rules out any effort by his heirs to terminate the copyright granted to the Warner Bros-owned company. The order granting partial summary judgment (read it here) comes in response to a motion from DC Comics. “The Court finds that the 1992 Agreement, which represented the Shuster heirs’ opportunity to renegotiate the prior grants of Joe Shuster’s copyrights, superseded and replaced all prior grants of the Superman copyrights. The 1992 Agreement thus represents the parties’ operative agreement and, as a post-1978 grant, it is not subject to termination,” wrote District judge Otis Wright III today. DC’s motion is based on their 2010 claim to stop the Shuster heirs taking back rights to some early Superman works on October 26, 2013. In 2008, the estate of the other Superman co-creator, Jerry Siegel recaptured half of the original Superman rights through the courts. ”The order for the most part is the tentative order issued over six weeks ago before oral argument. We respectfully disagree with its factual and legal conclusions, and it is surprising given that the Judge appeared to emphatically agree with our position at the actual summary judgment hearing,” says defendants’ lawyer Marc Toberoff. Warner Bros had no comment …
The long ongoing copyright case over who owns the rights to Superman just got very personal. Attorneys for Warner Bros (which owns DC Comics) late Wednesday night claimed Superman heirs attorney Marc Toberoff has “systematically suppressed relevant evidence” and filed a motion (read it here) against the lawyer and the estates of the superhero’s co-creators. The filing seeks terminating sanctions and an evidentiary hearing for November 12. But this morning, Deadline was given a letter (original here) in response from Laura Siegel Larson — the daughter of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and Joanne Siegel, who served as the original model for Lois Lane. Larson, herself a retired award-winning journalist now suffering from multiple sclerosis, says she will never give up “fighting for what’s right”. She charges that Warner Bros has spent $35 million on corporate attorneys who now include Daniel Petrocelli, Matthew Kline and Cassandra Seto of O’Melveny & Myers. Here it is edited (and follows one written by her late mother directly to Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes):
October 11, 2012
Dear Superman Fans Everywhere,
My father, Jerry Siegel, co-created Superman as the “champion of the oppressed … sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!” But sadly his dying wish, for his family to regain his rightful share of Superman, has become a cautionary tale for writers and artists everywhere.
My family’s David and Goliath struggle against Warner Bros, the media conglomerate, goes back to April 1997, when my mom and I exercised our clear right under the Copyright Act to achieve my dad’s dream of recovering his copyrights. In April 1999, my dad’s half of the original Superman rights reverted to us, entitling our family to a significant share of Superman profits, which Warner/DC Comics refused to pay. For over thirteen years they have fought us at every turn, in and out of court, aiming to make recovery of the money they owe us so impossibly difficult that we would give up and settle for peanuts.
We refused to be intimidated despite my elderly mom’s heart condition and my multiple sclerosis. In 2008 the U.S. District Court ruled that my mom and I had successfully recaptured my father’s Superman copyrights and were entitled to Superman profits since April 1999.
Angered and alarmed by this defeat, Warner Bros resorted to a despicable old trick: diverting attention from the legal merits of our case by personally attacking our long-time lawyer, Marc Toberoff. Through DC, the media giant filed a lawsuit against Mr. Toberoff, my family and the Estate of Superman’s co-creator Joe Shuster, falsely claiming “unfair competition” and that Toberoff interfered with an out of court offer that Warner tried to push on my mom and me in early 2002 – an offer full of studio accounting traps that we refused to sign before we even knew Mr. Toberoff.
Warner Bros possesses documents stolen from my attorney’s office which mysteriously ended up on the desks of three top Warner executives. Warner claims it has no evidence whatsoever as to when these large packages arrived. According to Warner, the thief also included a cowardly anonymous letter that vilifies our attorney and mischaracterizes the privileged attorney-client communications enclosed. In a disgraceful violation of my privacy, Warner’s lawyers attached this nasty anonymous letter to a publicly filed complaint and leaked it to the media.
Friends and fans of Roger Slifer are asking police and the public for their help in tracking down the hit-and-run driver who ran down Slifer in a Santa Monica intersection, leaving him in critical condition. Police say the animation and comic book veteran was crossing 5th Street early Saturday morning when he was mowed down by a white sedan with tinted windows. The driver fled and Slifer remains hospitalized. Slifer, a member of The CPL Gang, began working for Marvel in the mid-1970s, moving to DC Comics in 1981. He later transitioned into animation, working for Sunbow Entertainment as a producer, story editor and writer on series including Jem And The Holograms, Transformers and G.I. Joe Extreme.
Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and the rest of the DC Comics universe is receiving the Robot Chicken treatment this fall, with a special announced today set for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. The stop-motion sketch comedy show will do to DC’s superheroes what it did with George Lucas with its cult-hit Star Wars specials, which garnered three Emmy noms. This time around, the voice cast includes Robot co-creator Seth Green as Batman, Robin and Aquaman; Paul Reubens as The Riddler; Neil Patrick Harris as Two-Face; Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor; Nathan Fillion as the Green Lantern; Megan Fox as Lois Lane; and Breckin Meyer as Superman. ”Having been raised on DC Comics and the Super Friends vs. Legion of Doom, it’s exciting to tell a whole Robot Chicken story within this awesome universe,” Green said. Added Robot co-creator Matthew Senreich: “We’ve been working with (DC Entertainment chief creative officer) Geoff Johns for over 15 years, so playing together on this special only made it more fun to work in the worlds we all love so dearly.” The special came about thanks to a deal between Robot producer Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and DC Entertainment and Warner Bros Animation. It’s Stoopid Buddy’s first new project since the animation studio was formed in December.
Attention, fanboys! Once again the earth is about to spin off its axis when comic worlds collide. I’ve confirmed that Warner Bros/DC Comics’ The Dark Knight Rises will debut its 3rd trailer when Marvel’s The Avengers opens on May 4th. “Yes, our 3rd trailer will be out with The Avengers,” a Warner Bros exec just told me. “We see this placement as a good strategic decision. We always want our trailers to be seen with films that people want to see — and a lot of people will be going to The Avengers!” The pairing was first teased by the Warner Bros Exhibitor website, and spotted by NolanFans.com. Both 2D and 3D conventional showings of The Avengers (as well as 2D and 3D IMAX showings) will be playing the TDKR trailer. This isn’t the first time Warner Bros has placed a big DC Comics trailer in front of a Marvel movie. Back in 2008, the third trailer for The Dark Knight played before showings of Iron Man. (In 2010, interestingly, the final trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Inception played in front of Iron Man 2.) When I suggested that newly intensified DC vs Marvel rivalry might preclude this kind of trailer pairing, the studio exec explained, “It will provide the best potential exposure for TDKR. It’s a big positive for everyone!” And certainly a boon for Joss Whedon’s pic. After all, when TDKR‘s first major glimpse paired with …
EXCLUSIVE: Brad Peyton, who helmed the global hit Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, has just been set by Warner Bros to rewrite and direct Lobo, the live-action film based on the DC Comics franchise. Joel Silver and Akiva Goldsman are producing.
Lobo is an alien that works as an interstellar mercenary and bounty hunter. Introduced as a hardened, rarely used hard-boiled villain in the 1980s, the character remained in limbo until his revival as an anti-hero biker in the early 1990s, when he became on of the most popular characters in the DC Comics stable. Peyton is repped by Verve and Piekoff Law.
Warner Bros got big judicial boost today in the case about who really owns the rights to Superman. First, the Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit unanimously rejected an attempt by Marc Toberoff, the lawyer for the estates of Superman’s co-creators, to use attorney-client privilege to keep documents pertinent to the long-ongoing copyright case secret. Then, while noting it wasn’t a matter before the court in this instance, Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain took the rare step of specifically noting the “ethical and professional concerns raised by Toberoff’s actions” in playing the role of both lawyer and business adviser for the estates of Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.
Toberoff has wanted to deny the studio legal use of material that Warner Bros claims clearly shows there was a competing joint venture between the heirs and Toberoff’s Pacific Pictures to eventually produce a new Superman movie among other things. Toberoff had cited attorney-client privilege on documents that had been stolen from his office in 2006 by former associate David Michaels and given to Warner Bros. In 2010, in the midst of his battles with the studio, Toberoff granted a “selective waiver” of the confidentiality privilege to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s investigation of Michaels’ theft. O’Scannlain, writing the 16-page opinion for the three-judge panel, said, “given that Congress has declined broadly to adopt a new privilege to protect disclosures of attorney-client privileged materials to the government, we will not do so here.”
The Warner Bros unit will launch the new look in DC Entertainment’s comics, graphic novels and websites beginning in March. Branding for films, TV, games and merchandise will join over time. The redesigned logos, from Landor Associates, “uses a ‘peel’ effect — the D is strategically placed over the C with the upper right-hand portion of the D peeling back to unveil the hidden C — symbolizing the duality of the iconic characters that are present within DC Entertainment’s portfolio.” Said John Rood, EVP Sales, Marketing and Business Development at DC Entertainment: “It was just a few months ago that Superman, Batman and many of our other Super Heroes were updated when we launched DC Comics-The New 52 and now it’s time to do the same for the company’s identity while remaining true to the power of storytelling which is still at the heart of DC Entertainment.” At left are the comics logos, which play off the same theme.