Afternoon News Update for Friday, 10/4/13.


Harry Connick Jr.-Starring Comedy From Worldwide Pants & ABC Studios Gets Put Pilot Commitment At Fox
Fox is expanding its relationship with new American Idol judge Harry Connick Jr. to the scripted side, handing a put pilot commitment to a multi-camera comedy starring the popular singer-actor. The untitled project, penned by veteran Late Show writers Eric Stangel & Justin Stangel, is a family comedy with a musical element starring Connick, Jr. as a successful entertainer and single dad, who takes time off to reconnect with his teenage daughter. David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants, where the Stangel bothers are under a development deal, is producing with ABC Studios. Connick Jr., the Stangels and Worldwide Pants’ Letterman, Rob Burnett and Ann Marie Wilkins executive produce.

ABC Nabs Sofia Vergara Autobiographical Comedy With Gail Mancuso And Electus
Modern Family star Sofia Vergara is fielding another single-camera comedy project at ABC, this time inspired by her own parenting experience. The network has put in development Raising Mom, from Vergara and Luis Balaguer’s Latin World Entertainment, Electus and ABC Studios. Gail Mancuso, hot off her Emmy directing win forModern Family, is on board to helm. Written by Christine Zander (Raising Hope), Raising Mom is inspired by Vergara’s experiences raising her son and follows a young single mom and her 21-year-old son who discover that they have done a pretty good job of raising each other, only now they decide it might be time to gain some independence.

Adaptation Of James Patterson’s ‘Zoo’ From Space Floor, Cathy Konrad & James Mangold Gets CBS Production Commitment
has nabbed Zoo, a drama based on James Patterson‘s best-selling global thriller. The high-profile project, which has received a rare pilot production commitment for a pitch originating from sibling CBS TV Studios, hails from writer-producers Josh Appelbaum & Andre Nemec, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, informally referred to as Space Floor, and producers Cathy Konrad and James Mangold via their CBS Studios-based Treeline Film. Written by Appelbaum, Nemec, Pinkner and Rosenberg, Zoo is set amidst a wave of violent animal attacks sweeping across the planet. A young renegade scientist is thrust into a race to unlock the mystery behind this pandemic before time runs out for animals and humans alike.

Hallmark Channel Picks Up ‘Signed, Sealed & Delivered’ Starring Eric Mabius To Series
Hallmark Channel
is expanding its scripted portfolio. I’ve learned that the cable network has given a 10-episode order to Signed, Sealed & Delivered (formerlyDead Letters) ahead of the backdoor pilot’s October 12 premiere as an original movie. Created and executive produced by former Martha Williamson, Signed, Sealed & Delivered is a comedic drama about an intrepid group of mail detectives in the Dead Letter Office who will deliver every last lost & dead letter to its rightful owner just when the recipient needs it most. Ugly Betty alum Eric Mabius is leading that cast, which also includes Daphne Zuniga, Kristin Booth, Crystal Lowe and Geoff Gustafson.

NBC’s ‘The Blacklist’ Picked Up for Full Season
NBC has picked up a full season for The Blacklist.

Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine Gets Order For More Scripts — Full-Season Pickup Next?
Fox has commissioned several additional scripts of its rookie Andy Samberg comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The well-reviewed police satire drew a solid 6 million viewers and a 2.5 demo rating in its debut last month. Its ratings have since tapered off as its Tuesday competition has increased (in its most recent outing it notched 3.4 mil/1.4).

Fox Series ‘Us & Them’ Takes Early Hiatus
comedy series Us & Them is taking an early break. The romantic comedy, which is six episodes into its 13-episode order, was scheduled to film two more episodes before a built-in hiatus. Instead, a decision was just made to move up the hiatus starting today. The weeklong break is expected to be used for working on scripts as I hear Fox brass have had concerns about the tone of the series.

Halle Berry To Star in CBS Drama Series ‘Extant’
Halle Berry
will take her first major TV series role in "Extant," the serialized drama from Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and CBS Television Studios that CBS greenlit in August. In “Extant,” Berry will play an astronaut returning from a year-long solo space mission who tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately change the course of human history.

Topher Grace, Sarah Silverman Set to Play Siblings in HBO’s People In New Jersey
Topher Grace
and Sarah Silverman are putting down roots in the Garden State. The duo are set to play siblings in People In New Jersey, a half-hour comedy pilot for HBO produced by SNL overlord Lorne Michaels and directed by Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig. Oh, and their mother? She’ll be played by Broadway legend Patti LuPone. PINJ is described as a hilarious, poignant look at life today as seen through the prism of an adult brother and sister living in NJ.

ABC Series ‘The Black Box’ Adds Trio
is rounding out its cast for its 13-episode drama series The Black Box. Ditch Davey (Spartacus: War Of the Damned) has signed on for the role of Dr. Marc Bickman, a brilliant neurosurgeon, David Ajala (The Dark Knight) will play Will Van Renseller, a professional chef by trade and caretaker by nature, and Ali Wong (Savages) has signed on as Dr. Ina Lark, with Tasso Feldman added as a recurring.

Kim Raver and William Devane Return for 24: Live Another Day
24stars Kim Raver and William Devane will reprise their roles as Audrey Raines and James Heller for 24: Live Another Day, Fox announced Friday.

Fox Renews The Simpsons for Season 26
Fox has renewed the still-potent ‘toon for a 26th season, the network announced Friday.

ABC Cancels Struggling ‘Lucky 7′ After Two Weeks
has axed its under-performing lotto-winner drama “Lucky 7″ after just two weeks on the air, making it the first cancelation of the new television season. The show, which premiered to a 1.3 demo rating and 4.4 million viewers overall during premiere week, sunk to a 0.7 and 2.6 million in its second outing.

(review) Variety: Neil LaBute’s ‘Full Circle’
Neil LaBute
’s first foray into TV, “Full Circle,” a half-hour series premiering on DirecTV’s Audience Network, shrewdly taps into his talents, and employs a tightly constructed format sure to attract big-name actors, who can flit in for what amount to limited engagements. Granted, performers might love it more than a lot of viewers do, but the show’s “La Ronde”-style story should appeal to a discerning premium-TV-caliber audience.


Fox 2000, Donners Set YA Trilogy ‘Sylo’
Fox 2000
and The Donners Company’s Lauren Shuler Donner have set up the D.J. MacHale novel trilogy Sylo. Shuler Donner and Donners’ production president Jack Leslie brought in a package that has Thor Freudenthal to direct and Marc Guggenheim to adapt. Shuler Donner and Leslie will produce. The series follow the inhabitants of a small island who find themselves cut off from the mainland by a mysterious government military force. A group of teens escape to the mainland, only to discover that the inhabitants of the United States have all but vanished, and that they were actually being kept safe. They try to discover the source of the invasion and fight back.

Books to Film: The YA Development List
In our companion piece, we talk about the popularity of YA properties and why studios keep going back to the well, even though the overall batting average of cinematic adaptations isn’t nearly as high as anyone would like. That’s all well and good, but since you’re also probably curious about specific properties and where they are in the development process — and because we are here to serve — SSN did some research and has updates on 20 different titles.


David Letterman Extends CBS Contract Through 2015
David Letterman
is staying put at CBS with a new contract extension that will keep him as host of Late Show through 2015, solidifying his position as the doyen of late-night.


Chris Carter’s Amazon Pilot ‘The After’ Nabs Jamie Kennedy, Adrian Pasdar, Aldis Hodge
The After, the Amazon Studios pilot, which marks The X Files creator Chris Carter‘s return to series, has started building its cast. I’ve learned that Jamie Kennedy, Heroes alum Adrian Pasdar and Leverage‘s Aldis Hodge are the first actors to join the thriller, written and to be directed by Carter.The After, produced by Georgeville TV, takes place at the moment of apocalypse. Kennedy will play a professional clown, Pasdar will play a successful Beverly Hills businessman, and Hodge will play an escaped convict who proclaims to be an innocent man who was railroaded.


ABC Oz orders interactive comedy
Ludo Studio
is producing #7DaysLater, an innovative crowd-sourced six-part multi-platform comedy for Australia’s ABC. Created by Ludo’s Daley Pearson and Nick Boshier, the show invites the public to use social media to contribute storylines and characters based on a one-word theme each week. The first is ‘aliens.’ The #7DaysLater team, which includes Australian YouTube celebrities, has seven days to create a five-minute episode that will air on ABC2 and 30-minute versions for social media platforms.


HBO COO Eric Kessler to Exit
COO Eric Kessler is leaving the company, the network announced Friday. His position is being eliminated. All executives who reported to Kessler, who was at HBO for 27 years, are now reporting to CEO Richard Plepler.

Isaac Lee named CEO of Univision-ABC joint venture Fusion
Isaac Lee
, the president of Univision Communications Inc.’s Univision News, has been named chief executive officer of Fusion, the soon-to-be-launched cable channel that is a partnership between the Spanish broadcaster and ABC News.,0,3846414.story

Exec Shuffle For 10/4/13: Bravo Media, Shine America, Revolt TV, Paradigm
Bravo Media:
Andy Cohen has become Executive Vice President, Development and Talent, Bravo Media.
Oxygen Media: Rod Aissa
has been named Senior Vice President, Development and Production, Oxygen Media.
Sonar Entertainment: Sam Martin was named Executive Vice President, Development & Production.
Disney Channel: Hillary Zwick Turner has been promoted to Director, Development.