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Comic-Con: ‘Walking Dead’ EP Gale Anne Hurd & Warren Ellis Team For Universal Cable Prods TV Series

Comic-Con: ‘Walking Dead’ EP Gale Anne Hurd & Warren Ellis Team For Universal Cable Prods TV SeriesComic-Con doesn’t officially open until tomorrow, but the soon-to-be packed San Diego confab will be buzzing with this news. The Walking Dead EP Gale Anne Hurd, one of the queens of the geekfest, is partnering with Warren Ellis, one of the biggest names in comics, for the latter’s first leap into the world of TV. In a deal signed with Universal Cable Productions, the as-yet-untitled Ellis project will be produced with Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment. “I’ve been strongly drawn to television over the last few years, and working with brilliant and determined collaborators like Gale and the UCP team, I’m delighted at the opportunity to add my voice to the new, novelistic TV form that’s evolved so dramatically,” said the Iron Man: Extremis, Gun Machine and Red author today. Added Hurd: “There are very few writers who have been able to so completely influence a medium as Warren has with comic books.”

Although Ellis won’t be at Comic-Con this year, Hurd will appear again in the cavernous Hall H for the always-packed Walking Dead panel featuring AMC’s zombie apocalypse blockbuster. This year’s panel is set for Friday at 12:20 PM and will feature co-creator Robert Kirkman, cast members Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus and others. Read More »

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USA Network Orders Hacking Drama Pilot ‘Mr. Robot’

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 9:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

USA Network Orders Hacking Drama Pilot ‘Mr. Robot’UPDATED: USA Network has given a pilot order to Mr. Robot, a drama executive produced by Sam Esmail (Comet) and Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin (True Detective) and Chad Hamilton (Breakup At A Wedding). Written by Esmail, Mr. Robot centers on a young programmer, Elliot, who suffers from a debilitating anti-social disorder and decides that he can only connect to people by hacking them. He wields his skills as a weapon to protect the people that he cares about and finds himself in the intersection between a cybersecurity firm he works for and the underworld organizations that are recruiting him to bring down corporate America. USA president Chris McCumber called Mr. Robot “a visionary drama.” “It is a very timely and relatable story that captures both the excitement and danger of today’s digital world,” he said.

Mr. Robot is the second drama pilot picked up as part of USA’s current cycle, joining Stanistan, about State Department workers, covert CIA officers and journalists who operate in a delicate balance of danger and levity. Both pilots hail from Universal Cable Prods.

Universal Cable Prods, also announced today it has acquired rights to Danish drama The Legacy for development into an event series. Doug Liman (Edge Of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Suits), Dave Bartis (Edge Of Tomorrow, Covert Affairs), and Gene Klein (Suits) of Hypnotic have been tapped to produce. Created by Maya Ilso, The Legacy follows the four children of an internationally renowned artist who dies leaving them to divide her estate. What was meant … Read More »

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Universal Cable Prods, Vertigo’s Roy Lee Option Supernatural Short Story ‘The House On Ashley Avenue’

Universal Cable Prods, Vertigo’s Roy Lee Option Supernatural Short Story ‘The House On Ashley Avenue’Universal Cable Productions, Vertigo Entertainment, and producer Roy Lee (The Ring, The Departed, Bates Motel) are moving in on The House On Ashley Avenue, the 2012 horror short story from Canadian author Ian Rogers. Tale tracks the exploits of the Mereville Group, an insurance agency that deals in supernatural investigations and has in its possession a group of haunted buildings so dangerous their existence must be kept from the public. One of said houses sits, you guessed it, on Ashley Avenue. Universal/Vertigo/Lee optioned TV rights to The House On Ashley Avenue with Lee and John Middleton set to executive produce with Adam Stone, President of Production overseeing for Vertigo. Rogers is aboard as a consultant on the project, and Ellen Datlow is co-producer. Read More »

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Universal Cable Prods Acquires Sci-Fi Novel ‘Spin’

By | Monday June 9, 2014 @ 12:15pm PDT

Universal Cable Prodsspin has acquired the rights to Robert Charles Wilson’s Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel Spin to develop into an event series. The deal marks one of the first project commitments under Dawn Olmstead, who recently joined Universal Cable Prods as EVP Development. Additionally, the studio has signed Bits And Pieces Pictures’ Rob Morrow and Olympus Pictures’ Leslie Urdang to produce. Spin follows 3 childhood friends, who while playing one night, witness the stars in the sky mysteriously vanish. NASA probes reveal a black energy barrier has surrounded the earth and time is traveling a billion times faster outside of the barrier. Civilization learns that it has five years left before the sun expands and consumes the planet. As the children grow, they go their separate ways trying to save the world from annihilation, but with time running out, will their friendship and mankind survive?
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Universal Cable Prods Signs Deals With Steve Carell & Jessica Biel’s Companies

By | Thursday March 6, 2014 @ 10:12am PST
Nellie Andreeva

carell1bielUniversal Cable Productions has signed exclusive development deals with Steve Carell’s Carousel Television and Jessica Biel’s Iron Ocean Productions. Both companies already are  developing projects with the studio. Carousel has a an untitled drama about the onset of Hollywood’s golden age, focusing on actual Hollywood events and characters dating back 100 years. Iron Ocean is working on two projects. Pop Culture — written by Melissa Hilfers and executive produced by Royal Pains‘ Michael Rauch, who is under an overall deal at UCP – centers on a bachelor ucp_01living the high life in NYC who has a sudden change of heart after babysitting his nephew. He hires an aspiring actress to play his wife, and things get complicated when he finds himself falling for her. Moguls, penned by Geoff Moore & David Posmentier, is a half-hour workplace comedy about the eccentric twentysomethings employed at a family-owned Colorado ski resort whose way of life is challenged when the mountain is purchased by a corporate behemoth.

Related: Tom Lieber Departs Universal Cable Prods, Joins ‘Dominion’ As Producer Read More »

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Tom Lieber Departs Universal Cable Prods, Joins ‘Dominion’ As Producer

By | Friday January 31, 2014 @ 2:22pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

ucp_01I’ve learned that Universal Cable Prods. VP Tom Lieber is leaving the company. Under UCP’s previous management structure, development was split to three areas — projects for USA, overseen by SVP Richard Rothstein, for Syfy, headed by Lieber, and for outside networks, run by SVP Maira Suro, who left a year ago. In the recent restructuring, veteran producer  Dawn Parouse Olmstead (Prison Break) was brought in to lead UCP’s development team as the studio is ramping up operations under Jeff Wachtel, President and Chief Content Officer at NBCU Cable Entertainment, while Rothstein was put in charge of the studio’s current scripted series. Lieber is leaving to join Syfy/UCP’s drama Dominion, which he had been shepherding for the studio. He asked to be relieved from his duties at the studio and will be based in South Africa where the series is filmed.

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Dawn Parouse Olmstead To Head Development For Universal Cable Productions

By | Wednesday January 8, 2014 @ 4:36pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Dawn Parouse OlmsteadEXCLUSIVE: Universal Cable Productions has tapped top TV producer Dawn Parouse Olmstead (Prison Break) to lead its development team as the studio is looking to ramp up operations. Meanwhile, UCP’s SVP Development & Current Programming, Richard Rothstein, will be in charge of the studio’s current scripted series. This marks the first major executive move for Jeff Wachtel, President and Chief Content Officer at NBCU Cable Entertainment, since the former USA Network co-president moved into his new role in September. Both Olmstead, who is taking on a title of EVP Development, and Rothstein will report to him. “It’s a real coup for us to land a creative producer at Dawn’s level to spearhead our newly escalating effort to create and own original content,” Wachtel said. “She is one of the smartest and most focused producers I’ve ever met, and she is the perfect person to take our in house scripted studio to the next level.” Wachtel also stressed the increasing need for centralized oversight of UCP’s growing slate of existing series, currently approaching a dozen. “Richard has been a key member of the team that has created one of the best series-to-success ratios in the business.” Read More »

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Starz In Development On Scripted Dramedy ‘Heartbeats’ From Hypnotic And Universal Cable Prods

By | Tuesday November 5, 2013 @ 10:17am PST

The latest project in development at Starz joins recent additions WonderWorld, an hourlong scripted drama from Owen Wilson, Rene Balcer, Fred Berner, and Regina Lee about two straight-arrow FBI agents who infiltrate the violent Mob-controlled porn industry of the 1980s; and Most Wanted, a drama project from writer Chris Collins, director Ken Fink and author Dan Chaon. Set in the Great Plains during the 1970s, it traces the rise and demise of Nate Daniels, a talented and prolific bank robber who finds himself on a collision course with his family and crew as he becomes one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted. The pay network recently promoted Melissa Harper and Richter Hartig to SVPs in Original Programming Production who had been credited with the increase in original programming production in their roles as VPs. Here’s today’s release:

Beverly Hills, Calif. – November 5, 2013 – Starz Managing Director, Carmi Zlotnik, announced today that STARZ has put into development a new half-hour scripted dramedy, “Heartbeats,” from Hypnotic’s Doug Liman and Dave Bartis, Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and writers Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan. “Heartbeats” is an intimate glimpse into the constantly intersecting and diverging lives of Bobby and Kristen; two down-to-Earth individuals who would be perfect for each other, if only they had met at a different time. “Heartbeats” will explore their story with an episode format that focuses alternatingly on Bobby and Kristen.

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Syfy’s ‘Warehouse 13′ To End Run With 6-Episode Fifth and Final Season

By | Thursday May 16, 2013 @ 7:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Syfy has renewed flagship drama Warehouse 13 for a fifth season, which will be its last. Production on the final six-episode installment of the series, on which Jack Kenny serves as executive producer/showrunner, will begin in Toronto this summer for a 2014 run.  “Warehouse 13 has been an incredible signature series for us,” said Syfy President of Original Content Mark Stern. “We are grateful to the loyal and passionate fan base and know that Jack Kenny, his gifted creative team, and outstanding ensemble cast will give them an amazing finale season.” Saul Rubinek, Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Allison Scagliotti and Aaron Ashmore star in the drama from Universal Cable Prods.

Related: Syfy’s Erik Storey Talks ‘Warehouse 13′: NBC Press Day

Related: Syfy’s ‘Defiance’ Renewed For Season 2

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‘Royal Pains’ Andrew Lenchewski & Michael Rauch Ink New Overall Deals With Universal Cable Prods, Set Up Projects At USA

By | Tuesday March 26, 2013 @ 3:53pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: As production on the fifth season of USA Network hit Royal Pains begins, the series’ executive producers and showrunners Andrew Lenchewski and Michael Rauch have renewed their individual overall deals with the studio behind it, Universal Cable Prods. Under the pacts, Lenchewski and Rauch will continue to oversee the series starring Mark Feuerstein. Additionally, Rauch and Lenchewski each have projects in development at USA.

Rauch will executive produce a family drama, written and co-executive produced by Ken Lin, following two brothers (one an ex-con, the other a small-town cop) who inherit their failing family business and turn it into a multibillion-dollar cult pyramid scheme. As they reunite and re-tie family bonds, they navigate the dangers inherent in selling the most addictive, seductive, and volatile substance in the world: hope. Lenchewski will executive produce and write drama American Confidential, in which a principled Secret Service agent is forced by the White House to cover up secret after secret. The show explores the toll that deception takes on him. UCP will produce with Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ studio-based pod Hypnotic. Additionally, Lenchewski executive produces previously announced USA half-hour single-camera comedy project Speak American, written/co-exec produced by Benjamin Brand. Read More »

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Universal Cable Prods.’ Maira Suro Exits

By | Thursday March 7, 2013 @ 7:40pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Universal Cable Prods. SVP Maira Suro has exited the studio after a three-year stint. Suro headed development for external networks at UCP, leading the studio’s efforts over the past couple of years to expand its portfolio beyond sister nets USA and Syfy. They resulted in two series, MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back and Lifetime’s Against The Wall, which lasted a season each, as well as a slew of development projects at cable and broadcast networks, some of which are still active. In light of Suro’s exit, it is unclear whether UCP will stay in the business of selling to outside networks. Before joining UCP in 2010, Suro was SVP, West Coast series development, MTV Networks. She also worked for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Television.

In other development executive departures, Phil Breman is exiting his post as executive director, development for Disney Channel where he had been since 2008. I hear he is considering several options including one inside Disney. Read More »

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Tagline Television Builds Up Slate With Projects At ABC, USA, TNT And IFC

By | Wednesday October 24, 2012 @ 2:35pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Tagline Television, the TV production division of management company Thruline, has set up a slew of projects at broadcast and cable networks including ABC, USA Network, TNT and IFC.

Five of the projects are through Universal Cable Prods., where Tagline has a first-look deal and a long-term relationship through Psych, Tagline’s first series, which will hit the 100-episode mark in its upcoming seventh season on USA. Tagline’s new projects with the studio have been sold to both USA and outside networks as part of UCP’s mandate to become a supplier to all networks.

At ABC, the companies have The Lisa Jones Club, a drama with dark comedic overtones written and co-executive produced by Barbara Marshall (Terra Nova). The project, which was sold on spec, revolves around down-on-their-luck suburban wives who embark on a criminal spree to make ends meet. Marshall is with APA and Industry Entertainment. Read More »

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Kate Schumaecker Joins Universal Cable Productions As VP

By | Thursday October 18, 2012 @ 3:11pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Universal Cable Productions has hired Kate Schumaecker as VP Development and Current Programming. She will supervise the development of drama and comedy series for the studio that air on USA Network as well as handling current productions — including the long-running series Psych and Fairly Legal. Schumaecker arrives from Teri Hatcher’s ISBE Productions, where she was VP at the ABC Studios-based production company. At UCP she will report to SVP Development and Current Programming Richard Rothstein. Before ISBE she worked at Meryl Poster’s production company Superb Entertainment, which had a first-look deal at NBCUniversal. Schumaecher succeeds Reena Singh, VP, Development & Current, who moved over to sibling betwork USA this past summer.

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Syfy Developing ‘Clandestine’ Space Drama

By | Wednesday August 8, 2012 @ 3:57pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Syfy has put in development Clandestine, a drama produced by Universal Cable Prods. Written by actor-writer Todd Stashwick and artist Dennis Calero, Clandestine is described as a swash-buckling space drama/adventure and revolves around mercenaries who masquerade as part of an Intergalactic fleet. John Shiban (Hell On Wheels) is supervising the script and is attached as executive producer, with Stashwick and Calero co-executive producing. Read More »

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Comedies Produced By Aaron Kaplan And Doug Liman Find Homes

By | Monday October 17, 2011 @ 4:10am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC has bought 33 1/3, a single-camera musical comedy from The Cleveland Show co-executive producer Kirker Butler. The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, centers on a 33-year-old aspiring rock singer and single mother of a teenage girl who, after a humiliating failed marriage proposal, moves back into her mother’s basement where she must learn to deal with her opinionated gay slacker brother, an old crush who still lives next door, a mother with a medical marijuana card, and a head filled with a never-ending playlist of some of the best songs ever written. This marks the first network development for Butler, who worked on Family Guy before segueing to spinoff The Cleveland Show and penned the famous Star Wars parody episode. ICM-repped Butler is writing 33 1/3 and is executive producing with Aaron Kaplan. Read More »

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Syfy Renews ‘Alphas’ For Second Season

By | Wednesday September 7, 2011 @ 11:19am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Syfy has renewed freshman drama Alphas for a second season with a 13-episode order. The series, from BermanBraun, Universal Cable Prods. and writers Zak Penn and Michael Karnow, has been a solid ratings performer airing behind veteran Warehouse 13. Alphas, whose Season 2 will premiere in 2012, stars David Strathairn and follows a team of ordinary citizens who possess extraordinary and unusual mental skills. Penn is executive producing with showrunner Ira Steven Behr and BermanBraun’s Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein.

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ION Acquires ‘Psych’, ‘Monk’ & ‘House’

Nellie Andreeva

ION Television has inked a package deal with NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution for off-network rights to Universal Cable Prods.’ USA series Psych and Monk and Universal Media Studios’ Fox medical drama House. ION has picked up all six produced as well as future seasons of the detective dramedy Psych, marking the first time the series has been syndicated on a broadcast network, as well as all 8 seasons of Monk. Starting in fall 2012, ION will air House 2 times per week for one year, meaning that if the series continues on Fox (which is uncertain as star Hugh Laurie’s contract is up at the end of this season), the medical drama will air on 2 broadcast networks simultaneously. (Reruns of House air nightly on USA.) ION’s other acquired series include Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, Without a Trace, My Name Is Earl and Flashpoint.

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NBCU’s UMS And UCP Are Branching Out To Produce For Broadcast And Cable Networks

Nellie Andreeva

Since NBC Universal’s TV studio Universal Media Studios spun off Universal Cable Prods in 2008, the mothership studio had been developing and producing pilots and series for NBC and occasionally for other broadcast networks, while UCP had been supplying affiliated USA Network and Syfy and, starting last year, other cable networks. But things started to change over the past few months. Like a starfish that regenerates into two whole sea stars when cut in half, UMS and UCP are each becoming a full-service TV studio supplying both broadcast and cable networks and could potentially compete with each other.

This spring, two drama projects developed by UMS that didn’t get pilot orders by NBC were taken out to cable networks by producers and agents with the studio’s permission. Both shows — a medical drama from writer Amy Holden Jones and the BermanBraun-produced 1-800-Autopsy, from writers Adam Armus & Kay Foster (Heroes) and based on a real-life guy who performs private autopsies — landed at Lifetime. But instead of handing them over to UCP, UMS kept the two dramas and plans to produce them if they go to pilot and series. “We are in the process of rebuilding the studio, and the strategy is to beef up studio operations,” one insider said. “We made projects we think we can produce for Lifetime at a good price and would have asset value for us as a third-party producer.” As an indication of the growing stature of UMS, which new NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt referred to as “our re-emerging studio” in announcing the three-year pod deal with Peter Traugott this morning, UMS is expected to get its own topper for the first time since Katherine Pope exited as part of a December 2008 executive shakeup. UMS is not at a stage of actively selling to third parties and will not seek out writers who develop specifically for cable. But if there are opportunistic projects in-house that would be right for cable and UMS can produce them in a way that would allow it to recoup its investment, the studio plans to go for it as long as the projects are first shopped to sibling networks USA and Syfy. That was done with the two medical dramas that ultimately went to Lifetime.

Had this expansion been in place two years ago, Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ Hypnotic may have stayed at UMS, where the company had been based for five years. Back then, a couple of Hypnotic’s projects got a pass at NBC. Liman and Bartis walked the street and set them up at USA and soon moved their company from UMS to UCP. One of those projects became the USA series Covert Affairs, which just started its second season. Another Hypnotic project originally developed for NBC was I Just Want My Pants Back, which recently went to series at MTV with UCP producing, the studio’s first series for a non-NBCU network. UCP, which also has a pilot starring Carrie-Anne Moss in contention at Lifetime, has its sights on broadcast next as it is looking to become a full-service studio producing for all cable and broadcast networks. “Our original focus is on cable,” UPC co-head and USA co-president Jeff Wachtel said. “But with our expanded roster — including Hypnotic, Steve Franks, Jack Kenny, Michael Rauch, Andrew Lenchewski — we want to take shows where they have the best chance to succeed.” Read More »

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MTV Greenlights ‘Pants’ Drama Pilot From Universal Cable Prods. & Doug Liman

Nellie Andreeva

MTV has greenlighted for production I Just Want My Pants Back, a drama pilot based on the book by David Rosen, which will be directed by Doug Liman. The project, from Liman and Dave Bartis’ Hypnotic and Universal Cable Prods., marks the first pilot order from an outside network for UCP, which has been ramping up development for unaffiliated cable networks in the past 6 months under SVP Maira Suro. It also falls under a two-year overall deal that Hypnotic has signed with UPC. Read More »

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