Afternoon News Update for Thursday, 10/3/13.


Rob Lowe- Starring Workplace Comedy Gets NBC Production Commitment
The network has given a production commitment to The Pro, starring and executive produced by Rob Lowe. Comedy veterans Pete Huyck and Alex Gregory will write the script and serve as showrunners, with Todd Holland set to direct. It will be co-produced by ABC Studios, which has a deal with Huyck and Gregory, and Universal TV, with ABC Studios taking lead. The Pro stars Lowe as former tennis doubles champion “Big Ben” Bertrahm, whose career flame-out and misguided investments have left him working as the pro at a tennis and golf club, where he tries to hustle and charm his way back into America’s 1%.

Shondaland Sells Crime Procedural To ABC
Shonda Rhimes‘
company has set up another project — drama Just Rewardsat ABC. Written by Paul Downs Colaizzo, it centers on a bankrupt, forty-something divorcée and her underemployed Millenial neighbors who make ends meet by chasing reward money for unsolved crimes. ABC Studios and studio-based Shondaland are producing, with Rhimes and Beers executive producing and Colaizzo co-exec producing.

ABC Buys High-Concept Family Drama From Aaron Stockard & Mark Gordon
Producer Mark Gordon has set up another drama project at ABC. It hails from feature writer and frequent Ben Affleck collaborator Aaron Stockard. Written by Stockard in his TV debut, Conviction centers on Amy Koch. When her 20-year-old son, Steven, is convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, she is simply unable to accept it, and so, facing a slim list of options, Amy sees no alternative but to take matters into her own hands. ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co. are producing, with Gordon and Nick Pepper executive producing.

Dennis Haysbert to Visit ABC’s Trophy Wife
ABC’s Trophy Wife is in good hands, now that Dennis Haysbert has been elected to guest-star on the freshman comedy. The onetime 24 POTUS and insurance pitchman will appear in Episode 9 as Russ Bradley Morrison, a straight-laced man who, with Malin Akerman’s titular Kate, chaperones a school field trip to the museum.

Nathan Fillion To Guest Star on ‘Community’
When Annie (Alison Brie) and Professor Hickey (guest star Jonathan Banks) team up to navigate Greendale’s corridors of power, they must contend with Bob Waite (Nathan Fillion), the politically savvy head custodian who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty.


Disney Picks Up Fairy-Tale Comedy ‘Happily Ever After’ for Reese Witherspoon
The studio has picked up Happily Ever After, a pitch from Nahnatchka Khan, the creator of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, that has Reese Witherspoon attached to star. Witherspoon is also on board to produce with her Pacific Standard partner Bruna Papandrea. John Jacobs of Smart Entertainment is also producing. The idea is to catch up with a prince and princess about 10 years after they have ridden off into the sunset for their "happily ever after." The couple discovers that even in fairy-tale land, you have to work to keep your relationship and your life together.

Lionsgate Heads To Vatican For Jason Blum’s Spooky ‘White Smoke’
is developing Vatican supernatural thriller “White Smoke” with horror film titan Jason Blum and Kevin McCormick on board to produce. The studio has acquired a pitch from Jeff Richard and Mark Bianculli, who are writing the script about a series of bizarre and haunting occurrences that grip the Vatican. A renowned neuroscientist is summoned by the inner circle of cardinals to find a logical explanation.

Focus to Adapt Sundance Short ‘Record/Play’ With Chuck Roven Producing
The specialty label has closed a deal to make a feature-length adaptation of Jesse Atlas’ short Record/Play with Chuck Roven producing. Atlas is writing the screenplay with Aaron Wolfe and is attached to direct. The 11-minute short, which screened at Sundance in January, is described as tragic love story wrapped in a complex time-travel scenario. The time travel is achieved by manipulating a Walkman to transport to the source of a cassette recording.


Facebook Reveals the New Fall TV Shows Generating the Most Buzz
The most-watched new TV shows launching this fall are also making a splash on Facebook. ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” led the field among new fall TV series launched prior to October, generating 1.13 million “interactions,” which is the total number of comments, posts and Facebook “likes” about a show, during a 48-hour period beginning with the series’ premiere date. Fox’s “Sleepy Hollow” was a close second with over 932,000 interactions from over 582,000 users. CBS comedy “The Crazy Ones” (254,310/211,552) and NBC’s “The Blacklist” (216,678/168,940) finished third and fourth, respectively.


Relativity TV Heads into Kids Programming with ‘Power Rangers’ Co-Creator
Relativity Television
has inked a first-look production deal with “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” co-creator Shuki Levy, signaling that the shingle is moving into the children’s television space. Under the pact, Relativity TV will oversee worldwide distribution, finance and production for Levy’s content in the tyke realm. “Tribe of the Wild,” an action-adventure series that centers on five high school students and blends live-action with CGI animation, is Levy’s first project to fall under the deal.


California Lawmakers Say They Will Introduce Bill to Boost Film and TV Production Tax Credit
California’s existing tax incentive program, which originally passed in 2009, provides credits up to $100 million per year. Critics say that the sum is insufficient to meet the demand or to compete with other states, and that the credit is not available to categories like premium cable shows and commercials. In an interview, Gatto said that specifics of the legislation are still being drawn up, but he said that an expansion of the total amount available to producers is “the most obvious thing to consider.”

(tech) Amazon Readies Set-Top Box for Holidays Inc.
is taking steps toward releasing a video-streaming device in time for the holiday selling season, according to people briefed on the company’s plans. The set-top box, which would pit the online retailer against a host of established rivals, is a small device that resembles a Roku Inc. player and is similarly styled as a platform to run apps and content from a variety of sources, these people said. It would also serve as a delivery vehicle for Amazon’s existing streaming video service — available as part of its Prime membership — which competes with Netflix Inc. and has been expanding lately.