The Craig Ferguson-hosted Celebrity Name Game is set to launch on 58 Sinclair stations, four CBS O&Os and others, pushing clearances for the fall 2014 syndicated pop culture game show past 80% of the U.S — up from 40% in less than a month. Tribune Broadcasting previously came aboard, acquiring Celebrity Name Game for all 25 of its stations. The half-hour strip, based on the board game Identity Crisis, was developed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods with Scott St. John (Deal Or No Deal), who will serve as showrunner. The show teams celebrities with contestants to identify famous names, including actors, singers, athletes, pop culture figures, politicians and even cartoon characters. Celebrity Name Game is co-produced and co-financed by FremantleMedia North America and Debmar-Mercury, and is distributed domestically by Debmar-Mercury and internationally by FremantleMedia.
Syndicated Pop Culture Game Show With Craig Ferguson Set For Fall 2014 Launch Via FremantleMedia, Debmar-Mercury & Coquette
FremantleMedia North America has teamed with Debmar-Mercury for Celebrity Name Game, a fast-paced game show slated for a fall 2014 nationally syndicated launch with The Late Late Show’s Craig Ferguson hosting. The half-hour strip, based on the board game Identity Crisis, was developed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods with Scott St. John (Deal Or No Deal), who will serve as showrunner. Ferguson’s involvement stems from the project’s first incarnation at CBS where Coquette sold it as a pilot two years ago under the title Identity Crisis with Ferguson hosting. In Celebrity Name Game, celebrities team with contestants to identify famous names including actors, singers, athletes, pop culture figures, politicians and even cartoon characters. “Celebrity Name Game is a hilarious and innovative rapid-fire game show that combines the best of pop culture with the best of comedy,” said FMNA CEO Thom Beers, noting the company’s success with game shows hosted by comedians like Drew Carey (The Price Is Right), Steve Harvey (Family Feud) and Wayne Brady (Let’s Make A Deal). This marks the second syndicated collaboration between FMNA and Lionsgate’s Debmar-Mercury, along with Family Feud, which is produced by FMNA and distributed by Deb-Mer.
EXCLUSIVE: The King of Queens star Kevin James is returning to his sitcom roots. I’ve learned that as part of the overall film and TV deal James just signed with Lionsgate, he will star in and executive produce a multi-camera comedy under the 10/90 model crafted by the Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury. Under the template, Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury sell sitcoms to mostly cable networks with an initial 10-episode straight-to-series order, which, if a ratings target is met, triggers a 90-episode back order that allows the sitcom to quickly amass enough episodes for its launch in broadcast syndication. Debmar-Mercury introduced the 10/90 model with Tyler Perry’s House Of Payne followed by Perry’s Meet The Browns and Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet? — all on TBS. In the model’s second incarnation, Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury have been building comedies around proven sitcom stars including Charlie Sheen, the lead of Anger Management, now in production on its 90-episode back order; George Lopez, in production on the initial 10 episodes of Saint George; and Kelsey Grammer & Martin Lawrence, in preproduction on the initial 10 of the untitled Grammer/Lawrence project. Those three shows are on FX.
Talk show host Wendy Williams and her manager-husband Kevin Hunter have formed Wendy Williams Prods, a production company that will focus on development and production of reality, game and talk shows for the cable and broadcast markets. Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury, producer-distributor of Williams’ nationally syndicated The Wendy Williams Show, will be a partner in the new company, which has tapped veteran producer Lisa Knapp as SVP Development. Williams will serve as executive producer of the projects developed through her company and may also have an on-camera role in some. “This is a dream come true,” she said. “As anyone who watches my show knows, I am a huge fan of all reality and game shows, and know a thing or two about talk.”
EXCLUSIVE: It would be the biggest star pairing on a TV series in a long long time. Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence are considering pairing up to star in and produce a multi-camera comedy together for Lionsgate TV and its subsidiary Debmar-Mercury. We hear it started with a November meeting right before Thanksgiving between Grammer, Lawrence and Lionsgate where the two actors showed great chemistry. The pair are repped by different agencies: Grammer by WME, and Lawrence by UTA. But Grammer’s financial settlement with recently divorced wife Camille wasn’t yet finalized and he ordered everybody not to discuss the project until it was. (We hear the concern was that Camille might try to lay claim to the project. She reportedly owned half of Grammnet Productions with its television shows including Girlfriends, Medium, and The Game and worked as a creator, writer, and executive producer within the production company.) That financial settlement finalized right before Christmas and now the project is on a fast track. In the past few weeks, the studio has quietly sent out feelers to writers. In coming weeks, the studio will start meeting with potential creators/showrunners to pin down a concept for the buddy series which sources say may have an “odd couple” feel.
Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom Anger Management has landed at FX with an initial order for 10 episodes for a summer 2012 launch. If successful, that will be followed by a 90-episode order by FX as well as broadcast syndication launch by distributor Debmar-Mercury in fall 2014. After a marathon of pitches to broadcast and cable networks earlier this month followed by a short window of intense negotiations, the direct-to-series project has found a home at the cable network that already carries reruns of Sheen’s previous series, Two And A Half Men, to great ratings success. The cable network also owns the TV rights to the 2003 Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler movie Anger Management — about a mild-mannered man (Sandler) ordered to attend group anger-management sessions led by a volatile therapist (Nicholson) – on which the series is loosely based. Sheen plays a version of Nicholson’s character on the show, produced by Lionsgate TV and distributed by sibling Debmar-Mercury. Joe Roth, who produced the movie, is producing the series with Sheen, who retains a significant ownership stake, and The Drew Carey Show creator Bruce Helford, who serves as writer/showrunner. Production is slated to begin in early 2012.
EXCLUSIVE: As the traditional broadcast pitch season is winding down, one of the most talked-about projects has hit the broadcast/cable marketplace. Star-producer Charlie Sheen has been out in full force pitching his new series Anger Management along with producer Lionsgate TV and distributor Debmar-Mercury over the past two weeks. There has been a healthy level of interest in the project, with a number of networks taking the pitch. I’ve learned that the list included broadcasters NBC, Fox and ABC as well as cable networks FX, USA Network, Comedy Central and TV Land and streaming company Netflix. I hear Sheen was present at all the meetings, which were held on both the East and West coasts. “It was a great pitch, very polished,” a person who has seen the presentation said, with Sheen described as “very buttoned up and passionate.” What is being pitched is a series version of the 2003 Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler movie Anger Management about a mild-mannered man (Sandler) ordered to attend group anger-management sessions led by a volatile therapist (Nicholson), with Sheen playing a version of Nicholson’s character and The Drew Carey Show creator Bruce Helford writing/executive producing.
Word is cable networks FX, USA, Comedy Central or sibling TV Land are a possibility, along with Netflix. Getting meetings with broadcast networks was a coup for the producers, but they were always considered a long shot because of the type of deal Debmar-Mercury is seeking for the series: a trial 10-episode run that, if ratings guarantees are met, triggers a 90-episode pickup. (According to sources, the sizes of the orders in the two stages are not set in stone and Debmar-Mercury may be open to tweaking them, but the commitment is expected to remain very significant, especially for a broadcast network.) There had been talk about Fox possibly teaming with FX and NBC with sibling USA for such an arrangement, but that appears highly unlikely. The only pairing that seems possible is one between Comedy Central and TV Land, both part of MTV Networks Entertainment Group headed by Doug Herzog. Comedy Central, of course, has an in with Sheen as it did the Roast Of Charlie Sheen last month. Given its success, Comedy Central seems like a natural home for Anger Management — though, according to an industry source, Herzog had been joking privately that he wants the bad Charlie Sheen, not the nice one, a reference to Sheen’s recent image rehabilitation as he dropped the rants of warlocks and tiger blood, adopted a conciliatory tone towards his former employers at Two And A Half Men and settled his $100 million lawsuit against them. But while bad boy Charlie Sheen has entertainment value, even cleaned-up Charlie Sheen is probably difficult to insure, and the off-the-rails one last spring is certainly impossible to.
It’s official: The Drew Carey Show creator Bruce Helford will guide Charlie Sheen in his return to series television with Anger Management. I’ve learned that Helford has closed his deal with Lionsgate TV to come on board the project as writer/executive producer/showrunner. Helford, who has created two successful sitcom starring vehicles in the past — ABC’s Drew Carey and George Lopez — was one of several veteran showrunners that Sheen met with and someone the actor connected with right away. Based on the 2003 Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler movie about a mild-mannered man (Sandler) ordered to attend group anger-management sessions led by a volatile therapist (Nicholson), Anger Management will star Sheen as an updated version of Nicholson’s character. The project is being produced by Lionsgate TV, Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios and Sheen manager Mark Burg’s production company Evolution Management.
Apparently Charlie Sheen got the soul searching and remorse out of his system on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. It was all fluff in the promo clips of his Monday guest shot on The Wendy Williams Show just sent out by Debmar-Mercury. The host does get Sheen to show …
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that The Drew Carey Show creator Bruce Helford has entered negotiations to write, executive produce and run Charlie Sheen’s new comedy series Anger Management. Helford was one of several veteran comedy showrunners that met with Lionsgate TV and producer Joe Roth on the project and emerged as a leading candidate for the job about two weeks ago. Helford has been considered a strong choice to create a starring vehicle for Sheen, having done the same in the past for Drew Carey with ABC’s The Drew Carey Show and George Lopez with the comedian’s eponymous ABC sitcom. He will develop Anger Management based on the 2003 Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler movie, with Sheen set to play an updated version of Nicholson’s character, a volatile anger management therapist. Once there is a showrunner on board, Lionsgate is expected to take out the project to networks and station groups in search of a buyer.
Debmar-Mercury and the Fox TV Stations are setting up another gradual rollout of a daily syndicated talk show, Father Albert. This summer, the daily one-hour talk show featuring advice from radio-television talk show host, author and priest Father Alberto Cutié, known as “Father Oprah” will get a preview on the …