Downton Abbey’s fifth season will debut on January 4, PBS chief Paula Kerger said this morning. She boasted the fourth season was up 16% year over year — among the reasons PBS will not consider an airdate that more closely coincides with the British play-pattern — and that the Masterpiece franchise within which Downton Abbey airs is up 24%. “We’re extremely proud of this growth and continue to focus on Sunday night drama,” she told TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014.
As for Sherlock, Kerger said PBS did not yet have word as to when it would be ready for air. “Because it’s coming from our partners in the UK, we have to wait to know when it will be finished,” Kerger said. “But, whenever it comes we’ll put it in a wonderful place and we know the next season is going to be terrific,” she added.
Likewise, Kerger said she had no airdate for the return of Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven. That franchise’s renewal for a third season was announced by its British producer in February, saying only that it would air in 2015. Read More »
PBS chief Paula Kerger this morning made a slew of announcements from TCA Summer Press Tour 2014:
– Call The Midwife will be back for a fourth season. BBC announced in February it would produce a fourth season of the period drama about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London in the 1950s — only it will be set in the 60′s for the next season.
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Before FX developed The Strain for its lineup, Guillermo del Toro says a broadcast network suggested developing it as a comedy. The Strain, based on the trilogy of novels by del Toro and Chuck Hogan, follows Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) as the NYC head of the Centers for Disease Control Canary Team, leading the effort to discover the root of a viral outbreak that seems to have killed all the passengers and crew of a Berlin-originated airplane that turns out to be a strain of vampirism.
Back in 2006, del Toro told TV critics this afternoon at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, the project was sent around for possible development as a TV project. At that time he said, the the only way anybody envisioned vampires was “as a romantic conception of vampires — that sort of GQ version of vampires,” he said. But he was pitching a show in which vampires would be “truly revolting, physically and spiritually.” At one network, he said, he got asked, ” ‘Could you turn it into a comedy?’ I said ‘no’.”
Series exec producer Carlton Cuse, meanwhile, says that while there are horror elements to the show, he thinks of it much more as an adventure show, along the lines of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, he worked on in its development. “It’s not that scary — it’s not just a horror show,” Cuse insists of The Strain. “The material lent itself to a big pulpy engaging type of storytelling.” Read More »
“I didn’t want to do the serial-killer-of-the-year story. I can’t compete with the genre that’s out there,” The Bridge executive producer Elwood Reid said today at TCA about his primary objective for Season 2 of the FX thriller.
“If I’m going to tell a story about the U.S.-Mexican border, one which these characters warranted, I couldn’t tell that story while they were tracking a serial killer,” said the EP. Departing Bridge EP Meredith Stiehm, who developed the series with Reid before returning to Homeland, also shared the same second-season vision.
“Meredith was right there with me in wanting to break the old mode of the show,” said Reid, “We looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s get these figures up on the bridge and finish this part of the story.’” Read More »
“This is an adopted child for me,” Howard Gordon told TV critics this afternoon about FX‘s controversial drama series Tyrant. “I’m the midwife… it came to me and this is what it is.”
Gordon came to TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 to discuss the series that debuted last month. He was joined onstage by representatives of various groups that have blasted, to varying degrees, the series. They came to discuss the ways in which they have complained about the series and the degree to which they have effected change. According to a network spokesman, some of the people onstage participated in a three-hour conversation with Gordon and others involved with the program which was a “very educational experience.” Their leader seemed to be Cynthia P Schneider, who co-directs the Los Angeles-based Muslims On Screen and Television, and teaches at Georgetown University. Read More »
FX‘s one-two punch of frosh summer comedies Married and You’re The Worst are taking different slants toward sex — one grounded and the other a bold, in-your face approach.
Up for discussion at the network’s TCA Married panel was how the show changed dramatically between its pilot and subsequent episodes in terms of implementing hanky panky in its storylines. In Episode 1 of the Andrew Gurland-created show, Ross Bowman (Nat Faxon) hits an intimacy wall with his wife Lina (Judy Greer), to which she suggests that he venture out and find a mistress. (Spoiler: He failingly does.)
Related: TCA: FX Orders Second Installment Of ‘Fargo’, Fifth Season Of ‘Louie’
Talking with Deadline after the panel, Gurland said: “The show will became less about their sexual relationship. I found that a good jumping-off point for the series would be a husband saying, ‘We don’t have the intimacy we use to have,’ and there’s this element of, ‘Well, go have sex with other people.’ I wanted to put that to rest by the pilot because that’s not really the answer. That’s not a long-term solution if you want intimacy from your wife, so moving forward we wanted to keep the intimacy between the two of them but not restricted to their sexual relationship. I wanted to keep the show grounded and not go to this paper reality of here’s all this crazy stuff that this normal married guy is going to do.” Read More »
FXX said in April that it will air the longest marathon in TV history when it welcomes The Simpsons repeats, and today the network announced that it’ll run August 21 through September 1. During the course of the mega-marathon, FXX will air in chronological order all 25 seasons — 552 episodes — of the Fox animated series that’s the longest-running scripted series in TV history. The Simpsons Movie will be included in the marathon and also will air chronologically within the stunt, after episode No. 400. The marathon begins at 10 AM ET/PT on August 21 and ends at midnight ET/PT on September 1.
Related: ‘The Simpsons’ To Debut On FXX With 552-Episode Marathon
Reminding TV critics about the stunt at the TCA Summer Press Tour, panelists also walked them through plans for a new interactive digital and online experience that’s billed as the ultimate Simpsons digital experience. Simpsons World — named after, and incorporating, Matt Groening’s published show bible of same name — offers a premium Simpsons fan experience, including access to their entire catalog of full-length episodes for the first time ever via FXNOW App and SimpsonsWorld.com, in October.
Related: TCA: FX’s John Landgraf Talks ‘AHS: Freak Show’ & ‘Fargo’, Freshman Renewals, W. Kamau Bell
Beginning September 2, FXX will regularly schedule The Simpsons episodes in fringe, primetime and late-night dayparts on weekdays and weekends. Additionally, every Sunday the network will broadcast a thematic mini-marathon consisting of eight Simpsons episodes beginning at 4 PM ET/PT and leading into the 8 PM ET/PT broadcast on Fox. Read More »
Nearly 5,000 people applied to participate in Fox’s reality series Utopia, Fox’s reality TV guru Simon Andreae told TV critics this afternoon. Showrunners have whittled that prodigious list down to about 40, and are now selecting the 15 who will get to go live in some isolated made-for-TV makeshift community in southern California for a year while trying to forge a new society that believes in filming its citizens 24/7 for broadcast on TV and on the Internet.
Utopia, from reality vet John de Mol, is a reality series featuring a group of everyday people whisked to an isolated location for an entire year and challenged to create their own civilization. The show builds dramatic tension from the provision that any of the “colonists” can be replaced at any time by someone from the show’s audience. It’s based on a Dutch show that’s been running since January. The show premieres Sept. 7.
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Fox’s Gracepoint, an American remake of the British series Broadchurch, is not a shot-for-shot recreation — though it may seem like it’s going in that direction in the first two two episodes, after which it will begin to differ substantially, the exec producers promised to dubious TV critics this afternoon at the TCAs.
The first portions of the British eight-parter were “so well done, why would we contort ourselves to tell it differently?” Carolyn Bernstein said when some critics commented about how the two episodes they’d seen of Gracepoint replicated early Broadchurch episodes. “We didn’t want to fix something we all thought was excellent,” Bernstein explained at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. She and EP/showrunner Dan Futterman promised it will begin to differ substantially.
Further muddying things, in October, Fox announced that Broadchurch star David Tennant had been cast in its 10-hour series. In Fox’s version, Tennant plays an American detective who is the lead investigator in a shocking murder that puts a small town under scrutiny. Though this time it’s set in an American town, like the original it follows the tragic and mysterious death of a young boy found dead on a beach surrounded by rocks and a jutting cliff face, from where he may have fallen. Although his cause of death remains unsolved, the picturesque seaside town where the tragedy occurred is at the heart of a major police investigation and a nationwide media frenzy.
The American version purports to have a different killer.
“I don’t … Read More »
Amid gripes from American actors about the lack of diversity in TV and film, as well as the industry’s penchant for selecting British and Australian thespians for prolific roles, the casting directors at FX’s “Casting 101″ TCA panel assert they’re just looking for the best person for the part – and often it doesn’t matter how famous the person is.
Cami Patton, the casting director for Justified said, “Producers, showrunners and studio executives are used to looking at tape from other actors in other parts of the world. You don’t need an actor with an entire history (of credits).” One candidate, as pointed out by the group, was Matthew Rhys who plays the lead Soviet undercover spy Philip Jennings on FX’s The Americans. Largely known to U.S. audiences through his turn on Brothers & Sisters, Rhys bowled casting directors over with his Broadway performance in Look Back in Anger. Patton added that when she cast a fresh-faced British actor by the name of Damian Lewis in the role of U.S. Army Lt. Richard Winters in 2001′s Band of Brothers, “We were trying to match actors with the photos that we had of these real people. At the time he was doing Hamlet on stage with Ralph Fiennes. That’s how he got on our radar.” Read More »
Homeland producers grumbled about their 2014 Emmy nomination snub for drama series at today’s TCA, but Jon Voight seemed happy to carry the Emmy nom flag for Showtime at today’s panel on his second-season series, Ray Donovan. The supporting actor nominee appeared on the panel with stars Liev Schreiber, who plays the title character, a Hollywood fixer, Paula Malcomson, Season 2 guest stars Hank Azaria and Wendell Pierce, creator/EP Ann Biderman and EP Bryan Zuriff.
For Zuriff, this marks a return to the executive producer ranks of the series following his high profile arrest and subsequent indictment for allegedly running an illegal gambling operation this time last year that prompted his temporary exit from the show. Zuriff actually touched upon his history when the cast and producers were asked to attest to the accuracy of some of the crazy storylines on the show. “We’ve all had a little bit of a past, so there’s stuff that we can draw on in the writers’ room that we can have some fun with,” he said.
Related: ‘Ray Donovan’ Executive Producer Bryan Zuriff Pleads Guilty In Gambling Ring Tied To Russian Mob
Earlier this year, Voight won a Golden Globe for his performance (star Schrieber got a nom for lead actor in a drama). When asked about Emmy, Voight could have been rehearsing his Emmy speech. The abridged version of his reply: “Let me just say, I feel very blessed and very fortunate to have had so many wonderful experiences as an actor. I am really enjoying this family that’s making Ray Donovan. It’s almost like I earned this role over years of struggling and failing and experimenting and succeeding…” He praised the “wonderful artists” he works with on Ray Donovan and reached back into the past to praise earlier collaborators John Schlesinger, Dustin Hoffman, Hal Ashby and Andrei Konchalovsky. Read More »
“Sorry I was late, I was out looking for a head coach,” Kobe Bryant said after showing up about half an hour late to plug his autobiographical Kobe Bryant’s Muse, debuting on Showtime in the fall.
To pass the time, Showtime distributed bottles of sports drink, BodyArmor — a company in which Bryant is a major investor. On the bottle were tags that reminded TV critics the TV project is “a portrait of an elite athlete’s professional and personal journey.” Showtime has said Kobe Bryant’s Muse takes an in-depth look into the life, inspirations and challenges facing one of the most successful figures in professional sports.
Bryant said he came up with the idea for Kobe Bryant’s Muse while lying in bed, mulling what to do for his next Nike campaign. He decided that, “now that my career is coming to an end” it would be “pretty cool to tell the genesis of where the mentality came from.” That’s the difference, he said, between this Kobe Bryant docu-mercial and an earlier Spike Lee Kobe Bryant documentary — the one that debuted on ESPN in 2009 and focused on one day of the Los Angeles Lakers star’s season. Read More »
OK, he admits it: Homeland showrunner/executive producer Alex Gansa said the lack of a drama series Emmy nomination in 2014 “hurt.” The critics hurt, too. “I don’t know how you can look at the last episodes of the season, especially the last two episodes [and not believe] they are the best we’ve ever done,” Gansa said at today’s TCA. “But we’re going to get back on the mountain again.”
Gansa was speaking at a luncheon panel along with executive producers Alexander Cary and Meredith Steihm. The three revealed a few plot developments for Season 4, which Showtime announced earlier in the day would premiere October 5.
Gansa started off with the joking promise to “only kill most of your favorite characters,” adding to laughter: “I can guarantee that Dana Brody will not be back for Season 4” (a reference to Brody’s moody teenage daughter whom many critics thought got way too much moping screen time in Season 3).
But the writer-producers dropped a few real story tidbits: Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison’s bipolar illness has stabilized and in her new Middle Eastern setting will be on the tail of a new character, “someone whom she’s recruiting and trying to get his trust.” Steihm added that this is just one of “5 or 6 new characters” who will be added. Steihm confirmed that the character Carrie pursues as a recruit is portrayed by Life Of Pi‘s non-CGI star Suraj Sharma. Read More »
CW chief Mark Pedowitz still is hopeful he’ll get a Supernatural spinoff on his schedule, despite passing on a long-gestating one this past May. “The Supernatural spinoff that came in, creatively did not quite get to where we wanted it to go,” he told TV critics this morning, echoing sentiments he expressed to reporters the morning of his Upfront presentation to advertisers in May. “We have told [the exec producers] we are very open to do another spinoff; we’re waiting for them to come in with whatever the next concept is,” he said, calling Supernatural “a franchise that has a lot of legs to it.”
Supernatural exec producer Jeremy Carver thinks so too, telling TV critics at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. “There’s so much story left to tell – which is remarkable given that we’re in season 129 already,” he quipped during the Q&A session to discuss the start of its 10th season. That said, when the show finally throws in the towel, “I know [show creator] Eric Kripke always had an ending in mind,” Carver said. However, he insisted the writers “minds are wide open” to a “happy accident” producing some new idea for the show wrapper, adding, “The show is continuing on beyond any of our wildest dreams and I don’t want to limit myself.”
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The upcoming fourth season of Showtime‘s flagship drama Homeland will debut October 5. The announcement was made at the top of Homeland‘s TCA presentation when the show also unveiled its first Season 4 trailer (watch it below). Set in the Middle East, the season was shot in South Africa after three years in North Carolina. It sees Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) assigned to a volatile and dangerous CIA station in the Middle East.
“We’re incorporating almost everything from the mythology into it and have added a whole new backstory” with the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator, Geoff Johns, CEO of DC Entertainment, said today during the panel for the new CW series. The series, starring Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash, is a spinoff of CW’s Arrow.
The producers also announced today that Wentworth Miller will guest star on the series as Leonard Snart, aka Captain Cold. The series premieres October 7 in the Tuesday 8 PM slot.
Johns said “the most faithful DC Comic adaption ever” includes using as many characters from the comic series as possible. He appeared on the panel with executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg and cast members. Read More »
CW‘s new series Jane The Virgin, is not a straight adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana La Virgen - more telenovela meets Gilmore Girls, writer Jennie Snyder Urman told TV critics attending Summer TV Press Tour 2014. Jane The Virgin chronicles the story of aspiring writer Jane Villanueva, a virgin, who accidentally is artificially inseminated at a hospital, and subsequently struggles to navigate her relationships with the biological father, her boyfriend and her mother and grandmother.
“The show is a little less broad [than ABC's telenovela adaptation Ugly Betty],” Urman explained, calling it “the strange mark I’m trying to hit….I wanted it to have a fairy tale, whimsical quality.” At the same time, she hopes to use the tropes of the telenovela – “Evil twin” and things like that, while keeping the characters “grounded and relatable” which she acknowledged, is a “tricky tone” to pull off.
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The CW president Mark Pedowitz likes to set the tone for his TCA executive session with a music theme that plays while he is walking out. Today it was a Buena Vista Social Club tune in honor of the network’s new dramedy Jane The Virgin. Expectations are high for the charming comedic soap in the mold of Ugly Betty, which also put the CW on the list of networks with high marks on diversity this season. A couple of years ago, touting Beauty And The Beast‘s Kristin Kreuk as Asian American was the best Pedowitz could come up with when pressed on the whiteness of the network’s new series. Now, the network has a Latino family show. “I believe shows need to reflect what America looks like,” he said today.
Pedowitz was asked to lay out the distinction between BeautyAnd The Beast, which was renewed, and fellow bubble series Star-Crossed, The Carrie Diaries and The Tomorrow People that wasn’t. “Beauty And The Beast has a very engaged fan base, and it is a very profitable show,” Pedowitz said of the remake, which is a big international seller for sister studio CBS TV Studios. As for those that didn’t make the cut, Pedowitz admitted to having received 90 boxes of pasta from angry fans of cancelled alien romance Star-Crossed. Read More »