Under the multiyear overall pact, Dave Caplan will develop and produce unscripted programming through his Trooper Entertainment banner. Caplan joins Lionsgate TV from 51 Minds Entertainment, where he spent two years as VP Development and executive produced such series as Syfy’s Heroes Of Cosplay, MTV’s Scrubbing In, Syfy’s Ghost Mine and truTV’s Cash Dome. “Continued growth in the area of alternative programming is a high priority for our TV division and we are always looking for terrific partners,” said Lionsgate TV Group chairman Kevin Beggs. “Dave is an extremely creative producer and we anticipate a great collaboration.” Caplan’s move to Lionsgate comes on the heels of an executive restructuring at 51 Minds following the company CEO Cris Abrego’s appointment as co-chairman and co-CEO of parent Endemol North America that saw Christian Sarabia elevated to president of 51 Minds.
Showtime’s ‘Nurse Jackie’ Renewed For Seventh Season, Showrunner Clyde Phillips Inks New Overall Deal With Lionsgate TV
Ahead of Nurse Jackie‘s sixth-season premiere, Showtime has given the dark comedy starring Edie Falco an early seventh-season renewal. Clyde Phillips will continue as executive producer/showrunner after closing a new two-year overall deal with Lionsgate TV, which co-produces Nurse Jackie with Showtime. Phillips joined Nurse Jackie after Season 4. The series’ fifth season, the first with him at the helm, averaged 3.13 million weekly viewers across platforms, up 14% from Season 4. Under the overall deal, former Dexter showrunner Phillips also will develop new projects. “We are delighted to continue our longstanding relationship with Clyde Phillips, a creative powerhouse who has reinvigorated the Nurse Jackie series and who is also a prolific developer of television series in the auteur television arena,” said Lionsgate TV Group chairman Kevin Beggs. “His expertise in comedy and drama makes him a rare showrunner/creator and we are lucky to have him in the Lionsgate family.”
Lionsgate TV has put in development a drama series based on Nick Bilton’s bestselling book Hatching Twitter: A True Story Of Money, Power, Friendship, And Betrayal, with former executive and now Lionsgate-based producer Allison Shearmur attached to executive produce. Bilton, a columnist and reporter for the New York Times, will write the script and serve as producer. Hatching Twitter gives behind-the-scenes account of the creation of the service by four friends and its evolution into a social media phenomenon. “Twitter has transformed almost every aspect of our lives from politics to business to friendship, and I can’t think of a more compelling story to adapt for television right now,” said Lionsgate’s Kevin Beggs. “Nick’s book has all the elements of a great drama with its complex characters, high-stakes power struggles and betrayed friendships.”
Reporting from Jerusalem
With the TV business evolving at a rapid pace, Lionsgate COO of television, Sandra Stern, mused on Tuesday that “every generation is now 15 minutes old.” She made the remark on a panel here at Keshet’s Innovative TV Conference and was joined by eOne TV CEO John Morayniss and WME agent and partner Marc Korman. The execs discussed shifting paradigms, a potential talent shortage and the wisdom of remakes.
Business models are changing and “Everybody is looking around saying ‘How do we make noise?’” But “if you do good work, the audiences are going to find you,” Stern commented. Lionsgate’s Orange Is The New Black found a lot of love when it debuted on Netflix this summer. Morayniss noted that along with Netflix and other new entrants, there are “probably over 50 networks in the U.S. that are commissioning original scripted programming.” EOne is teamed with Discovery on Klondike, the net’s first original. “Good shows will rise to the top, there will be a market, and money will be made.”
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.
There won’t be a third season of Starz‘s acclaimed drama Boss starring Kelsey Grammer and created by Farhad Safinia. However, I’ve learned exclusively that there are discussions between the pay cable network and Boss producer Lionsgate TV about possibly doing a two-hour movie that would wrap up the story of Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, played by Grammer. “After much deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not proceed with (a third season of) Boss,” said Starz in a statement Tuesday. “We remain proud of this award-winning show, its exceptional cast and writers, and are grateful to Kelsey Grammer, Farhad Safinia and our partners at Lionsgate TV.”
Ratings-wise, Boss was soft but relatively steady. The series premiered to 659,000 viewers in October 2011. Season 2, which was ordered before Boss‘ series debut, opened with 317,000 viewers this past August, down 52% from Season 1, but subsequently recovered. It averaged 937,000 viewers over its weekend premiere airings on the Starz flagship channel and around 2.4 million across all platforms per episode. That was down slightly from Season 1 (1.1 million, 3 million). But Boss brought cachet to Starz, earning critical praise. It earned the first major awards nominations for the pay cable network, winning a Golden Globe for star Grammer who probably delivered the strongest performance of his career in Boss. Additionally, the show developed strong following by a small but devoted fan base. Its ratings performance was probably hampered by the fact it didn’t have a strong lead-in as Starz doesn’t have enough original series to go around, and that it aired on low-trafficked Friday night. (Though the network puts emphasis on a series’ cumed weekend viewership). Going into Season 2, the show beefed up the cast with new additions Sanaa Lathan, Jonathan Groff and T.I. while keeping its status as one of the less expensive Starz series. However, unlike Magic City, whose first season did only marginally better than Season 1 of Boss, the Grammer-starring drama was not owned by Starz, with Lionsgate TV controlling international and DVD rights.
EXCLUSIVE: What did Hawaii look like in the late 1960s? We’ll get a glimpse in the Season 6 premiere of AMC’s Mad Men. I’ve learned that the New York-set drama series is headed for a …
EXCLUSIVE: I have learned that after lengthy negotiations, Netflix is finalizing a deal with Lionsgate TV for a 13-episode straight-to-series order to Orange Is The New Black, a comedy from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. This marks the second original series for Netflix, which earlier this year gave a 26-episode straight-to-series pickup to MRC’s David Fincher/Kevin Spacey drama House Of Cards. Kohan’s project falls under her rich overall deal with Lionsgate TV. Co-created and executive produced by Kohan and House co-executive producer Liz Friedman, it is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is The New Black: My Year In a Women’s Prison and revolves around women in prison. The book chronicles nonprofit communications executive Kerman’s year-long stint at the minimum security correctional facility in Danbury, Conn., stemming from a conviction for her part in a drug smuggling and money-laundering scheme she got tangled up in 10 years earlier as a fresh college graduate.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC is developing an English-language remake of mega hit telenovela Soy Tu Dueña, with Jorge Zamacona (10-8: Officers On Duty) writing and Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria executive producing. ABC’s version will be co-produced by Televisa, the company behind the Mexican telenovela; Lionsgate TV; and ABC Studios. It centers on a Texas heiress who loses her fortune and is forced to move back to the ranch she grew up on. Zamacona will serve as showrunner and executive produce with Longoria though her Unbelievable Entertainment, as well as Tariq Jalil, who helped put the English adaptation together, through his Intrigue banner.
Soy Tu Dueña — which means I’m Your Owner but is translated into English as “A Woman Of Steel” — itself is a remake of the 1995 telenovela La Dueña. It became a ratings sensation when it aired on Univision from June through December last year, ranking as the most-watched telenovela ever and the second-highest-rated in 18-49 on the leading Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S. Toward the end of its run in December, Soy Tu Dueña posted a string of timeslot wins over its English-language competitors and led Univision to a couple of nightly wins among 18-49 — including one for the telenovela’s December 27 finale, which was the highest-rated program of the night on any U.S. broadcast network and the second-highest-rated non-sports program of the week behind an original episode of Longoria’s Desperate Housewives.
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.