EXCLUSIVE: I have learned that Warner Horizon EVP Craig Erwich will be leaving his post atop Warner Bros TV’s cable/alternative division. I hear Erwich opted not to renew his contract and will stay on until his current deal is up in March. Erwich was the No. 2 programming executive at Fox when WBTV president Peter Roth — for whom Erwich had previously worked at Stephen J. Cannell Prods. — brought him over to build a cable and reality unit. At the time, WBTV had a cable hit in The Closer and an unscripted one with ABC’s The Bachelor but no one to spearhead that part of the business for the studio. Over the past six years, Erwich oversaw Warner Horizon’s transformation into a major cable player claiming the top-rated series on two networks – Rizzoli & Isles on TNT and Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family, where the studio also has spinoff series Ravenswood. Additionally, Warner Horizon is behind Lomgmire, A&E’s most watched original scripted series ever; Dallas on TNT; Sullivan & Son and Ground Floor on TBS; and it produced Greg Berlanti’s Political Animals for USA Network. On the unscripted side, during Erwich’s tenure Warner Horizon landed its biggest hit with NBC’s The Voice and launched such series as the long-running Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew on MTV, Oh Sit! on the CW and has the upcoming Famous In 12 on the CW and Copycat on MTV.
Is Bravo — once upon a time the network of Romeo and Juliet but now the home of Real Housewives of Fill In The Blank — taking a page from its past with one of its new scripted series projects? Fortune, a one-hour drama series script in development, from playwright Theresa Rebeck and exec producers John Wells and Andrew Stearn at Warner Horizon, is inspired by Charles Dickens’ 19th century classic Bleak House. Fortune is set in the present and follows a prominent New York family and the battle over an inheritance after the patriarch dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances. The original Bleak House details the impact of the endless litigation that results from a case in which a testator made several conflicting wills.
TNT has started its renewals with a fourth season order to its new flagship series, Rizzoli & Isles, and a second season pickup of freshman Dallas. Both have received 15-episode orders to air in 2013.
After excelling behind The Closer on Mondays, Rizzoli & Isles has drawn 7.1 million viewers in its new Tuesday 9 PM timeslot and ranks as summer’s #1 returning scripted series on basic cable. “Anchoring a new night in its third season, Rizzoli & Isles has proven itself to be a strong and enduring hit, not only in terms of the great storylines and performances, but also in terms of the show’s stellar ratings,” said TNT’s head of programming Michael Wright. Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star in Rizzoli & Isles, which was developed for television by executive producer Janet Tamaro from characters created by best-selling crime novelist Tess Gerritsen. Warner Horizon Television is producing, with Janet Tamaro and Bill Haber and Michael Katleman exec producing.
Dallas, also from Horizon Television, is basic cable’s #1 new series in total viewers, and currently averages 6.9 million viewers in its first season. Understandably, given the fact that it is a followup to a 1980s series, it is older-skewing. “Dallas has been a success for us on every …
EXCLUSIVE: In his first TV pact, bestselling author Nicholas Sparks has signed a two-year, first-look deal with Warner Horizon Television, the cable division of Warner Bros TV. Under the rich agreement, Sparks and his longtime publishing agent and creative collaborator Theresa Park will develop and executive produce series projects with an eye toward the cable marketplace “that will bring to television many of the core elements of my books and films: romantic love, family bonds, and the universal human dramas that move us all,” Sparks said. The projects, which won’t include shows written by Sparks himself, will be shepherded through Sparks’ newly-launched Nicholas Sparks Prods. Park has been named President of Production for NSP, which will develop and produce both feature film and TV projects. On the feature side, Sparks is producing through NSP Relativity’s Safe Haven, a Lasse Hallström-directed adaptation of his novel which is slated to begin production later this year. The Best of Me, also based on a bestselling Sparks novel, is in development at Warner Bros., with Sparks producing and Park co-producing. Those mark the eighth and ninth movie based on some of Sparks’ 16 published novels. The seventh one, The Lucky One starring Zac Efron, opens April 20. On the TV side, Sparks, repped by UTA and attorney Scott E. Schwimer, sold his first original TV project this development season, supernatural drama The Watchers, which landed at ABC.
Warner Bros Television has revamped its business affairs team that services the production units of WBTV and sibling Warner Horizon Television. Adam Glick has been promoted and tapped for the newly created role of EVP Business Affairs at Warner Horizon Television, while Dan Limerick has been promoted to serve as sole head of business affairs at WBTV.
ABC Family has picked up one of its top series, Pretty Little Liars, for a third season, which is slated to launch next summer. The size of the order is a whopping 24 episodes, which rivals those for broadcast drama series. It matches the mystery series’ sophomore-season order, which was consequently upped to 25 episodes with a Halloween special that aired last month. Pretty Little Liars, from Warner Horizon and Alloy, returns for the second part of its second season on Monday, January 2. The series, which broke ABC Family ratings records in several young demos when it premiered last year, has become one of the network’s top three shows, or as ABC Family’s president Michael Riley calls them, ABC Family’s “triple-threat”: Switched At Birth, The Secret Life Of The American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars.
EXCLUSIVE: Keir O’Donnell, David Denman, Shannon Lucio and Eric Lange have been cast in the TNT Western drama pilot Gateway aka Tin Star. The action/adventure project, executive produced by Bruce C. McKenna and Danny Cannon, is set in the Colorado town of the same name in the 1880s. It tells the story of three Flynn brothers — Terence (Denman), Daniel (O’Donnell) and Jake (previously cast Cam Gigandet) — who step in to save their town when their sheriff father is murdered, pitting them against a corrupt cattle baron determined to make the town his own. Lucio will play Terence’s wife. Lange, repped by Domain and Trademark, will play the town banker. In addition to Gigandet, O’Donnell, Denman, Lucio and Lange join the recently cast Keith Carradine, who plays the brothers’ surrogate father. Warner Horizon is producing the pilot, which will be directed by Cannon from a script by McKenna.
EXCLUSIVE: I hear the CW is picking up to series H8R, an one-hour reality project from Warner Horizon, which pairs people with celebrities they absolutely detest. Additionally, I hear that the series pickup deal for the Sarah Michelle Gellar-starring mystery drama RINGER at the CW is now done. The network is expected to unveil both series at its upfront presentation on Thursday.
Mario Lopez hosts H8R, in which celebrities confront their biggest haters and try to convince them that their animosity is misdirected. The CW first ordered a pilot for the project, which featured reality stars Snooki and Kim Kardashian. The pilot has been red-hot at the CW. The network for years has been looking for a new big, loud reality series to join America’s Next Top Model, and I hear the feeling internally is that this might be it. H8R also represents some Time Warner synergy as it comes from a team that works on the Telepictures-produced entertainment newsmagazine Extra. Extra host Lopez is executive producing H8R with Extra senior executive producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey and co-executive producer Jeremy Spiegel. Warner Horizon’s reality division has been on a roll lately. It is also behind NBC’s breakout hit The Voice.
EXCLUSIVE: Meet Lifetime’s Jane: Deadwood alumna Molly Parker has landed the lead in the cable network’s drama pilot Meet Jane. The project, from Warner Horizon, centers on Jane Bilinski (Parker) whose stale life as an unhappily married mother of two daughters in the Washington, DC area is suddenly re-energized and empowered when the FBI enlists her to spy on her husband, a computer technician the government suspects is selling top-secret information to Russia. Andi Bushell wrote the pilot on spec and is executive producing it with Mark Pedowitz. CAA-repped Parker, whose series credits also include the CBS drama Swingtown, starred in the CBS drama pilot Quinn-tuplets last season.
TNT has greenlighted another drama pilot, Mike Robe’s Bird Dog, which has received a cast-contingent order. The project, from Warner Horizon, is a mystery fashioned around an unlikely partnership of two cops who happen to be father and daughter. It centers on Gail McGrath, who followed in her father’s footsteps in becoming a police officer but had little else in common with him. She left the big city she grew up in to move to a small Pacific Northwestern town where she was patrolling the streets until her dad, a NYC cop, showed up on her front doorstep and join her as her new partner. Now this father-daughter team, call sign “Bird Dog,” is being put to the test – not only in solving crimes, but with each other. Robe (Shake, Rattle & Roll) wrote the script and is attached to direct and executive produce the pilot. The pickup comes on the heels of the network putting one of its recently ordered pilots, noir PI drama Hollywood & Vine, on hold because of difficulties casting it. Word spread quickly that TNT was planning to make another pickup in its place. Bird Dog is in the same crime/mystery genre and from the same studio, Warner Horizon, as Hollywood & Vine. Bird Dog joins 3 other pilots ordered by TNT last month: Dallas, Perception and an untitled project from Allan Loeb.