ABC has bought comedy No. One Son from writer Cindy Caponera (Shameless, Saturday Night Live), Lisa Ling and DreamWorks TV. ABC Studios is producing. The single-camera show is about two completely culturally different families, one Chinese and the other Irish/Italian, that have to learn to co-exist because they are now related through the new marriage of their oldest children. Caponera is executive producing with Ling and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. This is the second comedy sale to ABC for DreamWorks TV, which also has Tracy McMillan’s single-camera comedy Why You’re Not Married set up there with a script commitment plus penalty.
In a competitive situation, ABC is finalizing a deal to buy two projects from Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman: one with DreamWorks TV, Red Band Society, and one with Ben Silverman’s Electus, The Avalon. Both are based on international formats and neither is cookie-cutter, traditional broadcast fare. Red Band Society, which Kauffman will write and showrun, is based on the Spanish format Polseres Vermelles and revolves around young hospital patients. The Avalon, which Kauffman will write with Jessica Queller (Gossip Girl), is based on the Pan Asian format The Kitchen Musical and is a musical drama set at a restaurant. Both shows have been laid off at ABC Studios. I hear that ABC made a substantial, seven-figure commitment to Kauffman, which makes a pilot order likely. This marks Kauffman’s first year developing without Warner Bros TV, where she was based for nearly 20 years. She opted not to renew her deal there and take the indie route so she can partner with different companies on different projects and explore both broadcast and cable development.
EXCLUSIVE: From a hit blog post to a book to a TV series. In a competitive situation, ABC has nabbed Tracy McMillan’s single-camera comedy Why You’re Not Married with a script commitment plus penalty. DreamWorks TV, which developed the project, will produce it with ABC Studios. McMillan, whose series credits include Mad Men and the DreamWorks TV-produced United States Of Tara, will write Why You’re Not Married, an ensemble comedy that explores the current state of modern American love — especially the dynamic between the millions of attractive chicks between the ages of 25 and 45 who want to be married… and the men who seemingly refuse to commit to them. The project, described as “a brutally honest look at love,” stems from McMillan’s hugely popular February blog post titled Why You’re Not Married, which went viral and became the second most read story on Huffington Post with some 2.9 million views. (In it, McMillan lists the main reasons for single women not being able to get married as: 1) You’re a Bitch; 2) You’re Shallow; 3) You’re a Slut; 4) You’re a Liar; 5) You’re Selfish & 6) You’re Not Good Enough.) The post launched a bidding war among book publishers, eventually landing at Ballantine/Random House, which will release Why You’re Not Married…Yet: How To Stop Acting Like a Bitch And Start Getting Hitched on May 29 next year. A TV project based …
CBS has bought Legacy, a drama project from Jericho co-creator Jonathan E. Steinberg, DreamWorks TV and author James Frey’s book-packaging company Full Fathom Five. The project has received a script commitment plus penalty from the network and has been laid off at CBS TV Studios. It centers on a one-term president who goes back to work at his hometown law firm where he hand-picks the cases that really matter to him. Steinberg, who will write the script, is executive producing with Frey, Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank.
In a competitive situation, Fox has bought The Raiding Party, a drama project from Breakout Kings creator Nick Santora. The project hails from DreamWorks TV, Sony Pictures TV and Santora’s Blackjack Films banner and stems from the premium blind script deal Santora had at Sony. The Raiding Party centers on three brothers, overseen by their dominant mother, who carry on the successful family business that was founded by their grandfather and bequeathed to them by their dad … and that business happens to be robbing banks. This marks Santora’s return to Fox, where Breakout Kings was originally developed and picked up to pilot. Additionally, Santora, repped by WME and the Gotham Group, worked on the network’s Prison Break for the drama’s four-season run. He also created and executive produced the CW reality series Beauty and the Geek. DreamWorks has 5 series on the air, all large-scale, big-budget productions: The Borgias on Showtime, Falling Skies on TNT, and the upcoming Terra Nova on Fox, Smash on NBC and The River on ABC.
In one of Showtime’s most ambitious undertakings, the pay cable network is partnering with Steven Spielberg and Stephen King for Under the Dome, a drama series based on King’s 2009 novel, which will be produced by DreamWorks Television. The supernatural thriller revolves around locals at a Maine vacation spot who battle one another when a force field suddenly surrounds their town and cuts them off from the rest of the world. DreamWorks’ Spielberg and Stacey Snider nabbed the rights to King’s novel shortly after it was published in November 2009 to strong reviews. Search is underway for a writer to write the project, whose executive producers will include King and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Spielberg has a longstanding relationship with King. He previously teamed with the bestselling author to adapt his 1984 novel The Talisman, which was originally developed as feature and then as a miniseries that was once set up at TNT.
This marks a return to genre series for Showtime, which took a break following the 2003 dramedy Dead Like Me, and the network’s latest collaboration with DreamWorks TV.
TNT has ordered a second season of Falling Skies, the alien-invasion drama from Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks TV that premiered last month with 8 million total viewers, making it cable’s top series launch this year. The series, starring Noah Wyle, has averaged 6.4 million total viewers in its first three episodes and is attracting strong ratings in overseas territories. The network has ordered 10 episodes for Season 2, which is slated to air in summer 2012.
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.
Messing is finalizing a deal to star in NBC’s hourlong pilot Smash, an ambitious drama about the mounting of a Broadway musical, which was based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, produced by DreamWorks TV and UMS, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway. At the heart of the show are the musical’s composer Tom, who is gay, and the lyricist Julia (Messing), who is somewhat against the idea of a Marilyn Monroe-themed musical.
TV writer/playwright Theresa Rebeck wrote the script for Smash and is executive producing with Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of DreamWorks TV, Hairspray producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Grammy and Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who will pen original songs for the show. Michael Mayer (American Idiot) is directing. This has been a passion project for new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt who first developed it at Showtime. But, despite its pay-cable origins, Smash is said to be a broad, broadcast-type show.
After the end of NBC’s Will & Grace, which earned Messing an Emmy, she toplined the USA Network mini-series/series The Starter Wife. Last season, the actress, repped by Gersh and 3 Arts, starred in and produced the ABC comedy pilot Wright vs. Wrong.
New NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt is putting his stamp on the network’s development with a pilot order for a project he originally developed while at Showtime. NBC just greenlighted Smash, an ambitious one-hour musical about the mounting of a Broadway musical based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, which will be produced by DreamWorks TV and Universal Media Studios, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical. TV writer/playwright Theresa Rebeck wrote the script and is executive producing with Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of DreamWorks TV, Hairspray producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Grammy and Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who will pen original songs for the show. Negotiations are underway for Michael Mayer (American Idiot) to direct. Smash joins an expansive slate at DreamWorks TV, which includes 4 series, including the upcoming The Borgias on Showtime and Terra Nova on Fox. Musicals have been a hot genre on the broadcast networks this development season with in light of the success of Fox’s Glee, but Smash is the first such project to reach a pilot stage.
Also greenlighted to pilot at NBC under Greenblatt is the comedy spec I Hate That I Love You, from Will & Grace alumna Jhoni Marchinko and 20th Century Fox TV. It is described as a twisty single-camera romantic comedy in which a straight couple …
Writers Jeremy Miller and Dan Cohn have set up two comedy projects: one at Fox based on a non-fiction book, and one Showtime, which has Ryan Phillippe and Breckin Meyer attached as executive producers. Additionally, the duo has inked two blind deals: one at Warner Bros. in conjunction with McG’s studio-based Wonderland Sound and Vision, and one at 20th TV’s cable division Fox21.
The Fox project, from DreamWorks TV and 20th Century Fox TV, is based on Walker Lamond’s book Rules for my Unborn Son, a collection of fatherly advise for boys that includes such rules as “A man’s luggage does not have wheels,” “When in doubt wear a tie,” “If you are tempted to wear a cowboy hat, resist” and “There is no better remedy (for hangover) than a dip in the ocean.” The Fox comedy centers on Miles, a 25 year-old underachiever adopted and raised by a family of eccentric intellectuals. When Miles meets his birth father, whom he finds to be “the world’s most interesting man,” his life is turned upside down, and, putting his own spin on the advice from his two very different fathers, Miles begins to write a rule book of life for his future son.
The Showtime comedy, Heavy and Rolling, is about a towncar driver in Manhattan who assumes different Ripley-esque identities as he teeters on the brink of madness. Miller and Cohn …
You thought a suburban home was scary. How about the Amazon river? Oren Peli, the writer-director of the indie phenomenon Paranormal Activity, is bringing to primetime The River, a cinema verite-style thriller drama in the vein of Paranormal Activity set on a mysterious river. After a heated bidding between ABC and NBC, the project is close to landing at ABC with a rich put pilot commitment. The TV division of DreamWorks, the studio that discovered Israeli-born video game designer Peli and his $15,000 supernatural thriller Paranormal Activity that ended up grossing almost $200 million worldwide, is producing with ABC Studios. Peli hatched the idea for the project with veteran TV writer Michael R. Perry (Law & Order: SVU) who penned the upcoming Paranormal Activity sequel. Perry is writing the pilot script, with Peli possibly directing. Peli also is executive producing with his producing partners Jason Blum and Steven Schneider as well as Perry and DreamWorks TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey. According to one description of the project floating around, The River follows the story of a famed adventuter/tv personality who goes missing and is presumed dead deep in the Amazon. His friends and crew go to look for him on their state-of-the-art research vessel.
Allison Miller has become the second actor after Jason O’Mara cast in Fox’s upcoming adventure series Terra Nova. The project, produced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin, follows an ordinary family from 2149 led by Jim Shannon (O’Mara) who are transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization. Miller will play Skye.
Fox is finalizing a deal for one of the first major pieces of development this coming development cycle, a Steven Spielberg-produced adaptation of the graphic novel Locke & Key. The project from writer Josh Friedman and producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, hails from 20th Century Fox TV, where Kurtzman and Orci’s company is based, and DreamWorks TV where the project originated on the feature side.
Locke & Key will be written by Friedman who will also serve as showrunner. Based on Joe Hill’s comic published by IDW Publishing, the project centers on Keyhouse, an unlikely New England family estate where brothers Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke uncover fantastic doors that transform all who walk through them and a hate-filled and relentless creature. Friedman, Kurtzman, Orci, Spielberg and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank are executive producing along with IDW CEO Ted Adams.
EXCLUSIVE: Shark alumna Sarah Carter has joined the upcoming TNT/DreamWorks TV sci-fi series Falling Skies as a regular. The Steven Spielberg-produced drama stars Noah Wyle stars as Tom, the leader of a group of soldiers and civilians struggling against an occupying alien force. Carter will play a motorcycle gang member who helps Tom and Anne (Moon Bloodgood) escape. Carter’s addition to the cast is expected to be announced at Falling Skies’ Comic-Con panel this afternoon, which will feature Wyle, Bloodgood and co-executive producer /writer. Carter is with Innovative and Global Creative.