EXCLUSIVE: Netflix, already in talks with 20th Century Fox TV about possibly picking up recently canceled Fox series Terra Nova, may also be eying another freshman drama facing cancellation: ABC’s The River. I’ve learned that the streaming giant has had conversations with The River producer ABC Studios about the possibility of continuing the thriller/horror series on Netflix. Sources stress that the talks are exploratory at this point in the context of a larger conversation between ABC Studios and Netflix. The River never got traction on ABC, finishing its midseason run with a 1.4 18-49 rating for its finale Tuesday. But it is the type of show — a heavily serialized genre series — that works well on streaming services like Netflix. The River‘s Live+7 ratings bump, 36% vs. Live+Same Day according to the most recent available data, is solid though not as high as that of Terra Nova (44%), which also was higher-rated overall. DVR ratings are indicative of how many viewers prefer to “stream” a show on their own timetable instead of watching it the night it airs. Unlike Terra Nova, The River has not been officially canceled by ABC, though that is considered a foregone conclusion. Also, since the series is produced by ABC’s own production arm, the network probably won’t stand in the way of a deal that would make money for its sister studio.
Steven Spielberg/Oren Peli thriller series collaboration The River makes its U.S. debut on February 7 on ABC. In a first for producer ABC Studios, the shows will then be available via iTunes in the U.K. 24 hours later. There is currently no U.K. broadcaster deal for The River, although an announcement is expected soon. Meanwhile, U.K. iTunes customers can watch the series on a one-day delay during its entire run. Experiments like this are partly a means to deter piracy and are proving more frequent (they’re also welcome for frustrated fans in Europe). In 2010, for example, ITV made Vampire Diaries available on iTunes in the U.K. before it started airing the popular show. In France, leading broadcaster TF1 makes episodes of shows like House available via its own VOD service on a 24-hour delay from the U.S. TF1 also airs the series on TV at a one-season delay and the show remains a ratings powerhouse. In the U.S., Fox last
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The name Steven Spielberg seems to be attached to an ever-increasing number of series — in broadcast network primetime in particular. Those include Fox’s on-the-bubble Terra Nova as well as the forthcoming NBC musical drama Smash and ABC’s horror hour The River, the Bruce Greenwood-starrer that’s been tagged “Paranormal Activity outdoors” and premieres February 7 in the Tuesday 9 PM slot. But it remains something of a mystery exactly what Spielberg’s input might be as executive producer on any of these projects — or if it’s largely ceremonial and meant simply to attach his powerful brand. The subject was raised this morning at the TCA session for The River, where it was noted that Spielberg always is too busy to grace one of these panels with his presence. One of the three exec producers who was there, Zack Estrin, begged to differ: “Oh, I think he actually is here in this room,” he said. “(Spielberg’s) influence with stories, his influence when he watches the cuts is amazing. I mean, he’s off doing a movie — or two — and the fact he finds time to watch these cuts and give us notes and be just incredibly supportive is great for us. To have someone like him at our hip and giving us guidance that’s not superficial but indeed foundational is pretty great.”
Exactly 20 years ago, German rock band Scorpions released Wind of Change, which became an anthem for our generation of young Eastern Europeans going through a dramatic political change: the fall of communism. Coming back from the broadcast upfront presentations in New York last week, I’ve been having a hard time getting the catchy tune out of my head. While less far-reaching and profound, there is a clear sense of changing of the guard and a new direction for the broadcast networks this year. I can’t remember a time where the majority of the networks had new heads at their upfront presentations. Paul Lee took over for Steve McPherson at ABC, Bob Greenblatt for Jeff Gaspin and Angela Bromstad at NBC, and Mark Pedowitz is succeeding Dawn Ostroff at the CW. There is a similar changing of the guard among the top TV producers this year. Upstart Chernin Entertainment and DreamWorks TV, which is re-entering the broadcast arena, topped the pods with the most new series, three each, with another recently launched company, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, scoring two new shows. And in its first season, Marty Adelstein and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps/Adelstein Prods.got one pilot, Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, picked up to pilot, with another, Fox’s Family Album, in serious contention. Meanwhile, such longtime upfront fixtures as Jerry Bruckheimer TV, Mark Gordon Co. and Wonderland didn’t land any new series for next season.
Home Improvement star Tim Allen is returning to ABC’s primetime, and the network will use his star power to launch a new comedy block. As we predicted, the network is opening up a 8-10 PM comedy block on Tuesday, with Allen’s comedy Last Man Standing anchoring it. ABC will be launching roughly half of its 13 new scripted series in the fall, including Charlie’s Angels, which has been given the tough task to open Thursday night. The network proved it was serious about Happy Endings, giving the modestly rated midseason series its prime comedy slot after Modern Family. Also noteworthy: 1960s soap Pan Am landed the post-Desperate Housewives slot, and ABC opted to go scripted in the Sunday 8 PM slot long occupied by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with new fantasy series Once Upon a Time. ABC’s top series, Dancing With the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives are staying put. Held for midseason are high-profile new entries Good Christian Belles and The River as well as returning comedy Cougar Town. All fall series have received traditional 13-episode orders, while the size of the orders for most midseason shows have not been determined. Here is ABC’s release with the fall schedule:
New ABC series for the 2011-12 season are “Apartment 23,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Good Christian Belles,” “Last Man Standing,” “Man Up,” “Missing,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Pan Am,” “Revenge,” “The River,” “Scandal,” “Suburgatory” and “Work It.”
“America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Bachelor,” “Body of Proof,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Happy Endings,” “Secret Millionaire,” “Shark Tank” and “20/20” join previously announced returning series “Castle,” “Cougar Town,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and “Private Practice.” “Saturday Night College Football” also returns.
ABC’s fall primetime schedule is as follows; new shows are in bold:
8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
10:00 p.m. “Castle”
8:00 p.m. “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m. “Man Up”
9:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
10:00 p.m. “Body of Proof”
8:00 p.m. “The Middle”
8:30 p.m. “Suburgatory”
9:00 p.m. “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m. “Happy Endings”
10:00 p.m. “Revenge”
8:00 p.m. “Charlie’s Angels”
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m. “Private Practice”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Shark Tank”
10:00 p.m. “20/20”
8:00 p.m. “Saturday Night College Football”
7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Once Upon a Time”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “Pan Am”
NEW FALL AND MIDSEASON SERIES:
Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows has joined NBC’s untitled Kari Lizer project. The workplace comedy centers on Mary (Sarah Paulson), a relationship-challenged woman who, with the help of her co-workers, guides people through unexpected career transitions and downsizings. Meadows, repped by APA and Brillstein Entertainment, will play Mary’s partner, a psychotherapist and the reality check to Mary’s eternal optimism.
Off the Map co-star Zach Gilford has been cast as the male lead in the Fox single-camera pilot Iceland. The project centers on Mackenzie (Kerry Bishe), a twentysomething woman whose fiance recently passed away. Gilford, from WME and D/F Management, will play a guy friend of Mackenzie described as “bad influence.” For Gilford, the casting is in second position to Off the Map. He is the third cast member from the midseason drama to book a pilot this season along with Martin Henderson and Rachelle Lefevre, both cast in NBC’s Reconstruction.
Paul Blackthorne (Lipstick Jungle) has just been cast in the ABC drama pilot The River directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. The horror thriller centers on Lincoln Cole (Joe Anderson) who, after his famous TV explorer father Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) goes missing way up the Amazon, reluctantly abandons his medical studies and follows in his father’s footsteps. Blackthorne, repped by SDB Partners, Seven Summits & Optimism, will play the producer of Emmet Cole’s long-running documentary series.
It’s been a big week for the Lone Star leading trio. Adrianne Palicki (on right in the photo), was just cast as the new Wonder Woman in David E. Kelley’s pilot for NBC. Now the show’s star, Jimmy Wolk and other female lead, Eloise …
You thought a suburban home was scary. How about the Amazon river? Oren Peli, the writer-director of the indie phenomenon Paranormal Activity, is bringing to primetime The River, a cinema verite-style thriller drama in the vein of Paranormal Activity set on a mysterious river. After a heated bidding between ABC and NBC, the project is close to landing at ABC with a rich put pilot commitment. The TV division of DreamWorks, the studio that discovered Israeli-born video game designer Peli and his $15,000 supernatural thriller Paranormal Activity that ended up grossing almost $200 million worldwide, is producing with ABC Studios. Peli hatched the idea for the project with veteran TV writer Michael R. Perry (Law & Order: SVU) who penned the upcoming Paranormal Activity sequel. Perry is writing the pilot script, with Peli possibly directing. Peli also is executive producing with his producing partners Jason Blum and Steven Schneider as well as Perry and DreamWorks TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey. According to one description of the project floating around, The River follows the story of a famed adventuter/tv personality who goes missing and is presumed dead deep in the Amazon. His friends and crew go to look for him on their state-of-the-art research vessel.