EXCLUSIVE: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) have signed a two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures TV. This marks the first overall TV pact for the Oscar-winning writing duo. Under the agreement, Faxon and Rash will develop and produce series projects with Kevin Walsh, their film and TV producing partner at the trio’s B Story banner. Faxon and Rash previously penned the 2005 ABC comedy pilot Adopted and made their TV directing debut this past season with Fox’s comedy pilot Fatrick, which they also executive produced. Additionally, both have series experience as actors. Rash has a relationship with Sony TV with his co-starring role on the studio’s cult comedy Community, which recently found a new home at Yahoo, while Faxon stars on FX’s freshman comedy series Married.
On the feature side, in addition to earning an Oscar for co-writing The Descendants with Alexander Payne, the duo helmed their script for The Way, Way Back, which starred Steve Carell and premiered at Sundance in 2013. Faxon and Rash were repped in the deal-making with Sony TV by CAA. The duo have since signed with WME. Faxon is managed by Principato-Young; Rash by Intellectual Artists. Both are with Stone, Meyer, Genow.
I’ve learned that Amazon has given a pilot order to Mad Dogs, based on the British black comedy/thriller series. The original show’s creator, Cris Cole, wrote the adaptation and is executive producing with The Shield creator Shawn Ryan for Sony Pictures TV, where Ryan is under an overall deal. Emmy winner Charles McDougall is set to direct. The project was originally set up at FX as a potential limited series last year. The U.S. version follows the reunion of four fortysomething guys who head to Belize to visit their old school friend, when things take an unexpected and dark turn. (Check out a trailer for the UK version below.) British production company Left Bank, which is behind the original series, is co-producing with Sony.
Mad Dog premiered in 2011 and aired for four seasons (a total of 14 episodes) on Sky1. Sony TV previously did a pilot for Amazon based on the feature Zombieland. Mad Dogs joins a growing roster of comedy and drama pilots from Amazon’s third pilot season that include The Cosmopolitans, Hand Of God, Red Oaks, Hysteria, Cocked, Point Of Honor, Salem Rogers: Model Of The Year 1998, Down Dog, The Outlaws and Really.
EXCLUSIVE: Coming off a recurring role on the Fox drama The Following, Susan Heyward has been tapped as the female lead in Powers, the Sony Playstation Network series based on the graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Also cast in the direct-to-series project, whose first two episodes will be directed by David Slade from scripts by Charlie Huston, are Max Fowler (The Killing) and Adam Godley (Breaking Bad, Suits).
Combining the genres of superhero fantasy, crime noir and police procedural, Powers, produced by Sony Pictures TV, is set in a world full of people with superhuman abilities and where all of those powers are just another catalyst for mayhem and murder. It follows the lives of two homicide detectives, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim (Heyward), who are assigned to protect humans like us and investigate cases involving people with superhuman abilities, referred to as Powers who glide through the sky on lightning bolts and fire and who clash above cities in epic battle, oblivious to the mortals below. Pilgrim is described as equal parts beauty and sarcasm, a wunderkind detective with edgy style. Read More »
David Slade (Hannibal, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) has signed on to helm the opening two episodes of Powers, the Sony Playstation Network series based on the graphic novel by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. He will direct from scripts by Charlie Huston (The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest), who penned the first two episodes of the live-action series, which is set to premiere exclusively on Sony’s network in December. Slade and Huston also will exec produce the first two episodes.
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Community has done it, beating the odds and overcoming a cancellation to score a sixth-season order. After a couple of weeks of negotiations, series producer Sony Pictures TV has closed a deal with Yahoo for 13 new episodes to air this fall on Yahoo Screen. Talks went down to the wire as the options on the cast were set to expire today. Ever since NBC canceled Community last month, there had been interest from multiple outlets in continuing the cult comedy. I hear the list of possible suitors also included rebranded cable network Esquire; streaming service Hulu, which already has off-network rights to the series; and the Sony-owned Crackle.
Dan Harmon created Community and is returning as executive producer with Russ Krasnoff, Gary Foster and Chris McKenna. “I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo,” Harmon said in the announcement of the deal. “I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!”
With its devoted following by a core group of passionate fans, Community is the type of show digital platforms crave. Complicating the series’ options was the fact that it has a digital syndication deal in place with Hulu, in addition to a cable off-network pact with Comedy Central. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Underscoring the studios’ need for senior-level writer-producers, Sony Pictures TV has inked a two-year overall deal with drama writer Mike Ostrowski. This marks the first overall deal for Ostrowski, who will join Sony’s flagship broadcast drama series The Blacklist as a co-executive producer for the upcoming second season.
Ostrowski’s series credits include CSI: Miami, Jericho, Private Practice, Human Target and Being Human. He is with WME.
EXCLUSIVE: After eight years at Universal TV, drama writer-producer Liz Heldens is moving to Sony Pictures TV. In a competitive situation, with multiple studios pursuing, Sony TV has signed a two-year overall deal with Heldens that is focused on development. Heldens is a prolific creator. At Universal TV, she conceived the 2009 NBC 2009 medical drama Mercy, 2013 mystery drama Deception and co-created the network’s summer series Camp. This past season, she wrote the Texas mega-church project Salvation, which went to pilot at NBC with Ashley Judd starring. Before segueing to development, WME-repped Heldens spent three seasons on the NBC/DirecTV critically praised drama Friday Night Lights.
After a 14-year stint at CBS TV Studios, longtime CSI showrunner Carol Mendelsohn is moving to Sony Pictures TV with a three-year overall deal. Mendelsohn has run the mothership CSI series since its 2000 launch and had been under an overall deal at CBS Studios, which produces the hugely successful crime drama franchise, since 2001. With her latest overall pact at the studio coming up, she was pursued by Sony TV brass who had had their eye on the veteran showrunner for a while. “Carol is a part of the fabric of television around the world and to work with someone who has not only created but sustains such an amazing global franchise is an honor,” said Sony TV president of programming and production Zack Van Amburg. Added fellow president Jamie Erlicht, “With her ability to tell stories that engage audiences everywhere, and the array of opportunities for great content, there is no limit to what we can accomplish together.” Read More »
George Clooney and Grant Heslov‘s company Smokehouse Pictures, which was behind best picture Oscar winner Argo, is making a move in television with an overall deal at Sony Pictures TV. Under the pact, the company will develop and produce comedy and drama series for all platforms: broadcast, cable and digital. Since launching Smokehouse in 2006, Clooney and Heslov have been focused primarily on features, developing and producing films that the two directed, like Leatherheads, The Ides Of March and The Monuments Men (Clooney) and The Men Who Stare At Goats (Heslov) as well as features directed by others, most recently Argo, helmed by Ben Affleck and last year’s August: Osage County, directed by John Wells. Clooney comes from a strong TV background, having started in television as an actor and then producer. CAA-repped Smokehouse has a history at Sony — the company moved its feature deal from Warner Bros. to Sony in 2009.
In a competitive situation with other studios pursuing, Patrick Massett & John Zinman are staying at Sony Pictures TV with a new two-year overall deal. The duo served as co-executive producers on Sony TV’s breakout freshman drama The Blacklist this season and before that worked in the same capacity on the studio’s Last Resort. The interest in Massett and Zinman, including from hot new NBC drama Allegiance, illustrates the problems with shortage of senior level writer-producers that the broadcast networks and studios are facing.
Related: Showrunners Wanted: Networks Grapple With Lack Of Experienced Writing Producers
Massett and Zinman, whose series credits also include Friday Night Lights, Caprica, The Chicago Code and The Finder, are with CAA and Industry Entertainment.
This is the first co-production for Sony Pictures TV and Televisa under their 5-year deal announced on Monday. Original teleseries Señorita Pólvora, starring Camila Sodi, Iván Sánchez and José María de Tavira, was inspired by the real life story of a beauty queen whose alleged connections to the underworld and a romantic affair with an assassin ultimately led to her untimely demise. The series will be produced in Mexico by SPT, and will air cross multiple Televisa platforms and on UniMás in the U.S. UniMás will present the series at Univision’s upfront next Tuesday. Señorita Pólvora is also being sold across the rest of Latin America by SPT while Televisa will distribute across the east and south of Europe; SPT and Televisa will jointly distribute the series throughout the rest of the world. Señorita Pólvora follows Valentina (Sodi), a beautiful, well-to-do young women who falls for a hit man only to find out that her love, in addition to her own family, belongs to of one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels. Her explosive life and gradual descent into the world of crime is chronicled by a journalist who kindles a burning flame for the deadly beauty queen.
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EXCLUSIVE: Josh Berman tenure at Sony Pictures Television will be crossing the decade mark with a fourth consecutive overall deal. Under the new, three-year pact, Berman continues as executive producer and showrunner of Sony TV’s Lifetime series Dead Drop Diva. He created the dramedy, now in its sixth and final season, under his first overall pact at the studio. He also will continue to develop projects for network and cable. Berman began his career as a junior writer on the first season of CBS’ CSI. He remained on the long-running procedural for six years, rising to executive producer. He went on to create the Fox drama Vanished and spent four years on the network’s veteran procedural Bones. While at Sony TV, Berman, repped by CAA and attorney Ken Richman, also co-created and executive produced the Fox drama Mob Doctor.
A judge in Florida has ruled in favor of Sony Pictures Television in a $50 million lawsuit over the reality TV show Shark Tank. “Sony Pictures Television won a directed verdict and the entire case was settled afterwards,” said Sony TV spokeswoman Paula Askanas today. The suit against the producers of the entrepreneurial reality show was filed by Florida attorney Bobbie Cellar. He claimed that he’d hired two of the show’s “sharks,” Daymond John and Robert Herjavec, to appear at an event he called the “Shark Tour,” an expo for people trying to start their own businesses. The suit claimed that Sony Pictures Television coerced John and Hervavac to withdraw from Cellar’s event because SPT didn’t want anyone to think the show and his expo were in any way connected. Cellar was unavailable for comment.
In a competitive situation, Parenthood executive producer David Hudgins has signed an overall deal with Sony Pictures TV. Under the two-year pact, he will develop and potentially join existing studio projects. Hudgins is coming off a two-year overall deal at Universal TV where he worked on Jason Katims’ Parenthood, most recently as executive producer, in addition to developing a number of projects, including a legal drama that sold to CBS earlier this season. Before that, Hudgins worked on Friday Night Lights for the entire run of the series, serving as co-showrunner with Katims on the final season, which earned four Emmy nominations including best drama series. Hudgins, repped by WME and Bryan Wolf, previously created Fox’s short-lived drama Past Life and worked on the WB drama Everwood.
Comedy writer Hilary Winston has signed a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal at Sony Pictures TV. This is Winston’s fourth consecutive overall pact at Sony TV, bringing her tenure at the studio to eight years. Winston is the writer/executive producer/showrunner of CBS/Sony TV’s midseason comedy series Bad Teacher, based on the feature, which debuts April 24. During her stint at Sony TV, Winston also served as a co-executive producer on the studio’s comedy series Community and Happy Endings and sold several projects, two of which went to pilot, Bad Teacher at CBS and Happy Valley at NBC. Winston, repped by UTA, Mosaic and attorney Jared Levine, segued to Sony after getting her break on NBC/20th TV’s My Name Is Earl, which she joined right after the pilot and stayed on for the comedy’s entire four-season run. She also is a contributing editor for Playboy Magazine.