Universal Pictures has set Fake Empire‘s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to write and produce their live-action Monster High movie, based on the Mattel doll franchise. The brand is centered on the imperfect teen children of the world’s most famous monsters with characters like Frankie Stein (daughter of Frankenstein), Clawdeen Wolf (daughter of the Wolfman), and Deuce Gorgon (son of Medusa). The franchise, created in 2010, has already yielded several Nickelodeon TV specials, YA novels, webisodes, and an animated direct to DVD movie. Schwartz and Savage will produce the big screen adaptation for Fake Empire with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Mattel’s Playground Productions is exec producing the project. Zadan and Meron are the ones who first brought the global $1.4B entertainment, publishing, games, and apparel brand to Universal. VP of production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Chloe Yellin will oversee for the studio. Schwartz and Savage are repped by WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Zadan, Meron, and Mattel are repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC has bought a drama from feature writer Karen Croner and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire. The untitled project is based on Croner’s experience of growing up in the Hollywood Hills and is described as a contemporary dramedy soap about a woman returning with her teenage son to live with her rock-n-roll family in Laurel Canyon. Croner, Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein executive produce for Warner Bros TV and studio-based Fake Empire. Croner wrote upcoming Universal feature comedy Admission, directed by Paul Weitz and starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.
Greg Berlanti entered the upfronts as the producer with the most pilots this year — four — in his first development season at Warner Bros. TV. Two of them, the CW’s Arrow and CBS’ Golden Boy, went to series, while a third, Fox legal drama Guilty, has a solid shot at a midseason order. Additionally, Berlanti has cable series Political Animals launching on USA this summer. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage‘s Fake Empire also netted two new broadcast series orders. The company went 2-for-2 with its two pilots, the CW’s The Carrie Diaries and Cult, to increase its primetime portfolio to four series next season, including returning CW dramas Gossip Girl and Hart Of Dixie, and tie the Mark Gordon Co. as the pods with the most broadcast shows on the air. In addition to newly picked up comedy Family Tools and returning Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Criminal Minds, the Mark Gordon Co. also has Army Wives on Lifetime. With CSI: Miami ending its run, Bruckheimer TV will have three series on the air next season, same as Chernin Entertainment, which added one new series, Fox comedy Ben & Kate, to its returning New Girl and Touch; J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot (newbie Revolution and returning Person of Interest and Fringe) and Alloy (666 Park Ave, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl).
Besides Fake Empire, the only other entity to log a 1.000 batting average this upfront was Lionsgate TV, also with two series out of two pilots, ABC darling Nashville and NBC’ midseason comedy Next Caller. The pickups capped the company’s renewed push into broadcast TV led by Chris Selak in her first season as head of development. Another established company in its first development cycle with a new top development executive, Wolf Films, which hired Danielle Gelber last July, landed its first non-Law & Order-branded new series in six years, NBC’s Chicago Fire. Two newly launched pods, Peter Traugott‘s Traugott Company and Lorenzo DiBonaventura‘s DiBonaventura Pictures Television, also scored series orders in their first year, NBC drama Do No Harm and ABC drama Zero Hour, respectively, as did two indies, Gaumont and Georgeville.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures is acquiring Status Update, a pitch by Sascha Rothchild and Randi Barnes. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire will produce. Ashley Brucks will oversee for the studio. Pitch is a high school comedy that utilizes social media, particularly Facebook. That’s where they got the title. It’s …
Known primarily for its hourlong series, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire has sold a half-hour comedy pitch to Fox. The single-camera comedy about three childhood friends who are all now fathers with teenage sons will be written by Barry Schwartz, who will co-executive produce. Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein will executive produce for Warner Bros TV. Fake Empire has three series on the air this season: NBC’s dramedy Chuck and the CW dramas Gossip Girl and Hart of Dixie. On the feature side, Barry Schwartz, repped by WME and the Gotham Group, sold Bromance to Montecito and DreamWorks and Parents Weekend to Kopelson Entertainment.
Writer-director Nancy Hower and her writing/producing partner, actor John Lehr, have sold a half-hour comedy pitch to NBC. Titled Retreat, the project is set at a corporate retreat. The sale was made based on a demo Hower and Lehr shot, which Hower directed and Lehr starred in. The demo, made in association with EUE/Sokolow, was probably helpful, as the duo uses a hybrid scripted/improv style where their scripts are incredibly detailed but don’t feature any dialogue.
EXCLUSIVE: With their sharp fashion sense and busy social life in Manhattan, the young ladies from the CW’s Gossip Girl often evoke Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Now a teen version of Bradshaw herself may be joining the CW’s lineup. I hear that the CW has emerged as the leading candidate for The Carrie Diaries, a TV series project based on Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell’s recent book about Bradshaw’s high school years. There are no deals in place, and talks are in preliminary stages, but I hear that Warner Bros TV would produce and Gossip Girl executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are being courted to shepherd the project through their Warner Bros TV-based Fake Empire banner. Former Sex and the City writer/producer Amy Harris, who is writing for Gossip Girl this season, will likely pen the adaptation.
Because it previously adapted Bushnell’s Sex and the City into a hugely popular series, HBO has the rights to The Carrie Diaries, a young-adult novel that chronicles Carrie’s senior year of high school in a small New England town. But since the book is much younger skewing than HBO’s audience, the pay cable network had been seeking another outlet for the potential series. “Discussions are underway for The Carrie Diaries, Candace Bushnell’s book about Carrie Bradshaw’s high school years, to find a home as a potential television series,” HBO said in a statement.
Paramount said today that it will release its teen comedy Fun Size wide on Oct. 12, 2012. The pic, from the Fake Empire team of Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, stars Victoria Justice, Josh Pence, Johnny Knoxville and Chelsea Handler and centers on a troubled but whip-smart girl who loses …
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.
Part of a series that takes an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.
It has been a big year for non-writing producers this pilot season, the biggest since the so-called “invasion of the pod people” in 2003 when the broadcast pilot season and May series pickups for the first time were dominated by shows developed via pods, i.e. companies run by non-writing producers based at major studios.
There are a lot of familiar faces – some of the overachievers of the 2003 season are back in full force: Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Brillstein Entertainment and Reveille as well as Imagine TV and Marty Adelstein. But Bruckheimer TV, a pilot season staple for the past decade and a top performer in 2003 with 3 pilots, all picked up to series, is without a pilot for the first time in years. (However, the company’s Fox project, a dramedy based on the life of music supervisor Kathy Nelson, has been pushed and remains in contention.)
But the big news this pilot season are the upstarts, companies formed in the past year-and-a-half, which have done very well. Leading the pack is the 20th TV-based Chernin Entertainment, which has had a dominating performance with 5 pilots this season: the Kiefer Suthaland starrer Touch, which is expected to get an episodic order at Fox, Stephen Gaghan’s cop drama S.I.L.A at NBC, Fox’s untitled Liz Meriwether comedy starring Zooey Deschanel, Fox comedy Outnumbered and NBC comedy Lovelives. The company already has 3 upcoming series, Fox’s Terra Nova - which it is co-producing with 2 of the other top performers this pilot season, DreamWorks TV and Kapital Entertainment – Fox’ animated comedy Allen Gregory and A&E’s Breakout Kings, which also started on broadcast.
Other recently formed TV companies that landed pilots this season include Aaron Kaplan’s indie Kapital Entertainment (ABC’s comedy Bad Mother, ABC dramedy Good Christian Bitches, NBC Western The Crossing), Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s 20th TV-based K/O Paper Products (Fox’s Ethan Hawke starrer Exit Strategy directed by Antoine Fuqua and another Fox drama, graphic novel adaptation Locke & Key), Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Warner Bros.-based Fake Empire (ABC soap Georgetown starring Jimmy Wolk, the CW drama Hart of Dixie starring Rachel Bilson), Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein’s 20th TV-based 21 Laps/Adelstein (ABC’s untitled Jack Burditt comedy starring Tim Allen), Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen’s ABC Studios-based Temple Hill (ABC’s drama Revenge directed by Phillip Noyce) and Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan’s UMS-based American Work (NBC’s untitled Lennon Parham/Jessica St. Clair comedy)
In another twist this year, three independent production companies that operate outside of the studio system are having a great year. DreamWorks TV, a strong performer in 2003 with 5 pilots, 2 of which, Las Vegas and Line of Fire, went to series, has 3 pilots this year, second only to Chernin Entertainment, and tied with two another indies, Reveille and Kapital, as well as the ABC Studios-based Brillstein Entertainment and CBS TV Studios-based Tannenbaum Co. DreamWorks has NBC’s Broadway-themed Smash starring Debra Messing, ABC’s horror thriller The River directed by Jaume Collet-Sera and Fox’s Locke & Key. Reveille, which in 2003 had its Coupling remake picked up to series, has NBC comedy pilot My Life As an Experiment, Fox comedy Tagged and CW drama Awakening.