Pushing Daisies‘ Anna Friel is eyeing a return to American television with a co-starring role opposite Kyle Chandler in The Vatican, Showtime‘s high-profile drama pilot from Paul Attanasio and Ridley Scott. Said to evoke The Sopranos and Upstairs, Downstairs, Vatican is described as a provocative contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic church. Friel will play Kayla Duffy, the younger sister of Cardinal Thomas Duffy (Chandler). Unlike her brother, Kayla is a sexually active, hard-partying New Yorker. The Vatican, which co-stars Matthew Goode as Papal Secretary Bernd Koch and Sebastian Koch as Cardinal Marco Malerba, will begin production next month in Rome. Sony Pictures TV is producing with Scott Free and Showtime. Brit Friel, repped by UTA and Ken McReddie Assoc., has been sought for pilots since the end of ABC’s Pushing Daisies, which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. This is the first pilot she has committed to.
He has been one of the most wanted men for television series for the past two years. After passing on dozens of pilots, Kyle Chandler has finally picked his follow-up to Friday Night Lights, which won him an Emmy. Chandler is set as the lead in Vatican, Showtime‘s high-profile drama pilot from Oscar nominees Paul Attanasio and Ridley Scott. Also joining the pilot, written by Attanasio and to be directed by Scott in his pilot directing debut, is German actor Sebastian Koch (The Lives Of Others). They join previously cast Matthew Goode. Vatican reunites Chandler with Showtime entertainment president David Nevins, who as president of Imagine TV executive produced the critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights.
Said to evoke The Sopranos and Upstairs, Downstairs, Vatican is described as a provocative contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic church. Chandler will play Cardinal Thomas Duffy, the charismatic yet enigmatic Archbishop of New York, whose progressive leanings (he has ordained a woman) excite some and alarm others within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Koch will play Cardinal Marco Malerba, the Vatican’s Secretary of State who is informally known as the “dark prince of the Curia” for his proven abilities to ruthlessly wield power within the Church hierarchy. Goode plays Papal Secretary Bernd Koch. “Kyle Chandler is one of the most talented and sought-after actors working today, and was a fantastic creative partner through five seasons of Friday Night Lights,“ said Nevins. “With Kyle, Matthew Goode and Sebastian Koch, Ridley and Paul have put together a powerhouse cast to anchor this incredibly timely show.” The Vatican, produced by Sony Pictures TV in association with Showtime and Scott Free, is set to begin production in April.
Shares are down slightly in initial after-market trading following a report that seems to present more questions than answers. CBS increased its share repurchases and reported net earnings of $393M, +6.2% vs the end of 2011, on revenues of $3.7B, +2.4%. But analysts expected the top line to be higher, at $3.79B. And adjusted earnings from continuing operations came in at 64 cents a share, short of forecasts for 69 cents. At the Entertainment unit — which includes the broadcast network and studios — revenues fell 3% to $1.99B with operating income +19.1% to $280M. The company says that ad revenues and retransmission consent fees were up, but the unit didn’t have the same bump it had last year from the deal to sell streaming rights to shows from The CW network. At the Cable Networks, which include Showtime, revenues were up 10.9% to $438M with operating income +4.1% to $176M. The improvement was partly due to higher rates and subscriptions for Showtime. In Local Broadcasting, the influx of political ads contributed to a 9.2% increase in revenues to $787M with operating income +21.9% to $295M. That income figure would have been higher had it not been for an $8M restructuring charge.
Three weeks into the season, Showtime has renewed its entire current Sunday lineup: Drama Shameless for a fourth season, comedy House Of Lies for a third and veteran Californication for Season 7. The pickup comes as all three series are off to a strong start this season. They all returned on January 13 with their highest-rated episodes ever. The third season of Shameless is currently averaging 5.4 million weekly viewers across platforms, up 22% from last season and up 63% vs. Season 1. The second season of House Of Lies is averaging 3.2 million weekly viewers, up 10% from Season 1, and the sixth season of Californication is averaging 3.1 million weekly viewers, up 21% vs. season five. Production for the new seasons of all three series will kick-off in Los Angeles later this year for a 2014 launch. “Californication, House Of Lies and Shameless possess highly distinctive comedic voices, and given that all three continue to grow their audience season after season – the pick-up decision was easy,” said Showtime entertainment president David Nevins.
EXCLUSIVE: Bridesmaids co-star Wendi McLendon-Covey, who was just tapped as the female lead of Adam F. Goldberg/Seth Gordon’s ABC comedy pilot How The Hell Am I Normal, is set for a recurring role on Showtime‘s upcoming drama series Masters Of Sex. The series, an adaptation of Thomas Maier’s book, stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, and chronicles their unusual lives, romance and pop culture trajectory. McLendon-Covey will play Dr. Lillian DePaul, a new, formidable doctor at the hospital — the only female in an all-boys club who is both competitive with and a mentor to Johnson (Caplan).
EXCLUSIVE: Living up to its “Brace Yourself” slogan, Showtime has put in development another provocative project, neo-Nazi drama The 4th Reich. The project, executive produced by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, is described as American History X meets The Town. It is a high-octane crime thriller delving into race, religion, and politics through the lens of a dogmatic faction of the neo-Nazi movement in South Boston. When a former leader is sprung from jail by agreeing to become a confidential informant to the FBI, he assimilates back to his old life and finds his estranged 15-year-old son has been co-opted by his former best friend and now current leader of the Brotherhood. The trajectory of the series will track the central character caught between two worlds as he starts to gain perspective and change.
4th Reich, written on spec by Sonya Winton and Jonathan Kidd, has been a passion project for Rosenthal as it dovetailes with Tribeca’s work with Against Violent Extremism, a “social network” for former violent extremists and their victims. Backed by the Google Ideas think tank, AVE’s goal is to counter violent extremists. In that context, people close to the project stress that The 4th Reich is not just another violent show but hits on the human stories of former extremists and people affected by extremism to help influence “at risk” young people.
America’s best selling band just got a home on cable. Showtime announced today that it has purchased the documentary History Of The Eagles at the Sundance Film Festival. Read the release below:
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Producer Mark Gordon had a little surprise for his audience at today’s TCA panel on his new Showtime drama series …
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Showrunners of the Showtime cancer comedy The Big C were split originally in their relative level of optimism over whether they thought the show would be renewed to wrap up …
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Lara Logan, who was hired fulltime as a 60 Minutes correspondent last September and appeared this afternoon on a panel promoting Showtime’s new series spinoff 60 Minutes Sports — on which she serves as a correspondent — grew emotional while speaking after session. She was asked about any lingering emotional scars stemming from the frightening and nearly-fatal February 11, 2011 attack she suffered in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, during which she was groped, assaulted, beaten and had her clothes entirely ripped from her body. The attack continued for some 25 minutes and involved an estimated 200-300 men. When Deadline asked if the emotional trauma remained with her, she replied, “I think anything that happens to you on this scale stays with you forever.” Logan continued, “Am I traumatized? Do I have bad dreams? No. And after it happened, when I got back from Egypt, I was honestly almost elated because I was so close to death and coming to terms with being gone.” The gravity of that event contrasted today with Logan’s vibrant, vivacious demeanor and striking appearance, which belied feelings that seem to reside just below the surface, “I was dying in that square,” she recalled, “and I never thought I would see my children again. After I got home, for weeks I couldn’t believe I was alive.”
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Premium cable channels enjoy the luxury of not having to worry as much as commercial TV about success in certain time slots, Showtime entertainment chief David Nevins said during today’s TCA Q&A with reporters. He pointed out that 65% of the Dexter audience watches the show at some time after its original airing.
But Showtime chose to focus on a time slot – an evening, that is — in presenting this afternoon’s panel featuring actors from its Sunday night series House of Lies (Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell), Californication (Evan Handler, Pamela Adlon) and Shameless (William H. Macy, Emmy Rossum).
The lively conversation ranged all over the map but at one point wandered to Macy’s short haircut, a marked difference from the filthy flowing locks his character sported when Shameless began (and the clean flowing locks the actor wore in the 2012 movie The Sessions). “I cut it off on the show, it was very dramatic,” the actor said, joking that after his buzz cut he enjoyed watching the faces of onlookers searching for something positive to say about his new look. “I got 7 hats for Christmas,” he added.
Of his character, the actor drew laughs by saying: “There is no low for this character. They have installed special low-cal scenery because I’ve been eating so much of it.”
Showtime’s 2013 Schedule: ‘Dexter’ Moves To Summer, Will Launch ‘Ray Donovan’; ‘Homeland’ Paired With ‘Masters Of Sex’
At TCA today, Showtime entertainment president David Nevins laid out the pay cable network’s scheduling plans for the rest of 2013. The biggest change is the decision to separate veteran Dexter and Homeland, which have been paired since Homeland‘s launch in fall 2011, helping both shows break ratings records. “Dexter has proved incredibly valuable as a launch pad for Homeland,” Nevins said. “Our plan is to harness (the success) and use the shows to launch the next generation of Showtime drama series.”
Dexter will get on the air earlier than usual, on June 30 at 9 PM, serving as a lead-in for new crime drama Ray Donovan. The early return has not affected production on Dexter. “There is no less production time, just a little less vacation time between the seasons,” Nevins dais, adding that the drama’s producers and cast had gotten enough lead time to adjust to the scheduling change.
On Sept. 29, “we are employing our crown jewel Homeland to launch Masters Of Sex,” Showtime’s new drama about real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, Nevins said.
Here are month-by-month highlights of Showtime’s original programming slate for the rest of 2013:
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of their movie Skyfall smashing worldwide box office records as the highest-grossing James Bond pic of all time and landing the franchise’s first Oscar nominations in 30 years, the film’s co-writer John Logan and director Sam Mendes are headed to Showtime. I’ve learned that the pay cable network, flying high on the critical success of original drama Homeland, has landed the duo’s high-concept drama project, which Logan and Mendes took out to premium cable networks in November as a spec written by Logan. Deals are still being finalized but I hear that the project is eyeing a straight-to-series order at Showtime, with Logan and Mendes executive producing with an eye for Mendes to direct. The untitled drama, which has undergone some tweaking from the original spec to tailor it to the Showtime audiences, is described as a psychological horror drama series with literary underpinnings, including Dr. Frankenstein and his creature, set in the 1800s. This would mark both Logan and Mendes’ series debut. They are executive producing the show with Pippa Harris, Mendes’ partner at Neal Street Prods.
“Everyone was writing our obituary” a few years ago when Showtime cut back on theatrical films and filled more air time with original shows, CEO Matt Blank tells Bloomberg Television today. But with shows such as Dexter and Homeland setting ratings records at the network, and movies becoming …