Afternoon News Update for Wednesday, 11/13/13.


Syfy Developing ‘Beowulf’ Drama Series
has put in development Beowulf a drama series adaptation of the classic Old English epic poem that further examines the hero’s rise to power and his feud with the monster Grendel. The project, produced by Omni, is being written by Matt Greenberg (1408) who will executive produce with Brian Hamilton, Michael Chechik, Andrew Cosby and Paulo de Oliveira. Omni and Universal Cable Prods. serve as co-distributors.

NBC Orders Maya Rudolph Variety Pilot To Air As Primetime Special Post-Olympics
Maya Rudolph is returning to NBC with a new variety series project produced by SNL honcho Lorne Michaels, this time in primetime. The network has ordered a pilot for a variety series headlined by Rudolph. I hear the plan is to air the pilot as a special after the Winter Olympics. Rudolph is executive producing with Michaels, Erin David and Dave Becky.

Aisha Tyler Joins Ryan Murphy’s Sex-Tinged HBO Pilot Open
Aisha Tyler
‘s career is taking a dramatic turn via a role in Ryan Murphy’s risqué HBO pilot Open. The actress-comedienne-hostess will guest star in the sex-and-relationships drama as Monica, a happily married nurse at Grace’s (Michelle Monaghan) practice who possesses a modern outlook on matrimony.

Matthew Perry to Guest Star on TBS’s ‘Cougar Town’
Matthew Perry
is set to reunite with Friends co-star Courteney Cox this winter in an episode of the TBS’s hit comedy Cougar Town.

Brooke Shields Books Arc on NBC’s ‘Michael J. Fox Show’
She’ll play a single mother and make her debut on the freshman comedy in 2014.

Nightwing joins the growing DC TV universe of Arrow
Not content with Black Canary, Arsenal, the Huntress, Deathstroke, Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, China White, Doctor Ivo, or upcoming characters like The Flash and Amanda Waller, Arrow has just added Batman’s protégé Nightwing to its ever-increasing cast, to be played by Steve McQueen of The Vampire Diaries fame.

Was ‘Modern Family’ a Bad Investment for NBCU’s USA Network?
USA Network
paid around $1.4 million an episode to air repeats of "Modern Family," but so far that big bet doesn’t appear to be paying off, reports The Wall Street Journal. USA "was so confident ‘Modern Family’ would do well that it negotiated higher ad rates than advertisers had previously paid for the same prime-time slots occupied last season by shows including reruns of aging crime dramas like ‘NCIS’ and ‘Law & Order: SVU,’" the story notes. But no one’s laughing just six weeks after the debut of the strategy, the piece reports. The comedy is averaging 9% fewer viewers than its time slots delivered last year in the key 18-49 demographic. Total audience, meanwhile, has plunged 40%.


Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage To Pen & Produce ‘Monster High’ For Universal
Universal Pictures
has set Fake Empire‘s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to write and produce their live-action Monster High movie, based on the Mattel doll franchise. The brand is centered on the imperfect teen children of the world’s most famous monsters. Schwartz and Savage will produce the big screen adaptation for Fake Empire with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Hot Spec: ‘The Politician’, Bad Santa As D.C. Pol
The hot spec script du jour is The Politician, a hard R-rated comedy by Matt Bass andTheodore Bressman. They are ex-assistants to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and their former bosses are attached to produce with Mark Gordon. Here, the title character starts off in a raucous encounter with hookers and it gets worse from there in what is described to me as Bad Santa, if that character was a D.C. politician.

Participant Picks Up Thriller Script ‘From Here To Albion’
British/American writing duo Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani have sold their thriller script From Here To Albion to Participant Media. The story is set in a coastal English town, where a tragic accident sets a chain of violence in motion and a malevolent stranger seeks revenge on the perpetrators and the detective who covered it up.


NBC Reviving ‘Last Comic Standing’
NBC is heading back to the mic for yet another round of “Last Comic Standing.” The Peacock has begun producing a new cycle of the comedy talent competition, slating the eighth season for a summer 2014 debut. This latest iteration will be exec produced by Wanda Sykes and Page Hurwitz through their banner Push It Prods.

Tim Gunn Nabs His Own Fashion Competition Series On Lifetime
Tim Gunn has received his own fashion competition titled “Under the Gunn.” Show will air on Lifetime, the same net that boasts “Runway.” Series will bring “Runway” alums Mondo Guerra, Anya Ayoung-Chee and Nick Verreos on board as mentors to teams of designers that battle it out in a series of fashion competitions. “Under the Gunn” is produced by The Weinstein Company and Bunim-Murray Prods.

Discovery Channel Picks Up Funny Or Die Sports Docu-Series
Comedy website Funny Or Die will tackle its first TV documentary series, a sports docu-series set to air on Discovery Channel sometime in 2014. Funny Or Die has shot a pilot of the untitled series, which stars strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis who will train with a different pro athlete in each episode.

Britney Spears Gets Her Very Own E! Documentary
The 90-minute documentary, “I Am Britney Jean” — a nod to the title of Spears’ upcoming album, “Britney Jean” — will premiere Dec. 22 at 8 p.m., with a rebroadcast at 9:30 p.m. Directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the documentary will follow Spears as she preps for “Britney: Piece of Me,” her two-year residency at Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

‘Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell’ Cancelled by FXX
After a recent move from FX to newbie cabler FXX, “Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell” has been cancelled, FXX has confirmed. Its final episode will air Sunday.


Can Vice Build YouTube’s First Huge News Channel?
YouTube wants to be in the news business. The world’s most popular video site has identified news as an “emerging” area internally, believing teens and tweens will come to YouTube for all the latest. But there’s no dominant purveyor on the massive video upload site yet. Vice hopes to change all that. The company will invest an additional $50 million in its newsgathering efforts and has hired an additional 60 reporters, according to a report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal. I


‘Dangerous Liaisons’ Drama From Chris Hampton, Tony Krantz & Colin Callender In The Works At BBC, Eyes U.S. Network
Choderlos de Laclos’ classic 18th Century novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses is headed to the small screen as a drama series project penned by Christopher Hampton. Hampton first adapted the book as a play and then turned his play into an Oscar-winning script for the 1988 movie. Now Hampton has teamed with producers Tony Krantz and Colin Callender for a drama series adaptation, which is in development at the BBC. A tale of seduction, betrayal and revenge, Les Liaisons Dangereuses chronicles the cruel games played by ex-lovers and bitter rivals Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, who use sex as a weapon to humiliate others for their own enjoyment.


Disney Theatrical Gets Busy with ‘Shakespeare in Love’ and ‘Newsies’
Disney Theatrical Prods.
keeps loading more onto its plate, setting the creative team and West End theater for the upcoming premiere of its co-production of “Shakespeare in Love” plus a tour of current Broadway title “Newsies” set to hit the road next year.

ABC Accused of Scheming to Create ‘Mega-Soap’ in Lawsuit by Producer
Production company Prospect Park has expanded its lawsuit against ABC — from which it acquired the rights to “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” — to accuse the Alphabet net of borrowing “OLTL” characters in order to create a “mega-soap” merging that show with “General Hospital.


Bravo’s New Development Head Lara Spotts Discusses Plans for Reality and Scripted
With over five years under her belt at Bravo, Lara Spotts will be the new exec shepherding fresh series to the net on both the east and west coast after serving most recently as veep of development. Spotts told Variety that she aims to capture the “wealthy backdrops,” sudsy characters and “OMG! moments” that Bravo is known for, but in fresh, unexpected ways.

Pivot’s Evan Shapiro: The TV Exec Who Wants to Slow Down America
When Evan Shapiro worked for AMC Networks, he remembers seeing the pilot for “Mad Men,” a show that takes a novelistic approach to storytelling. “To be perfectly blunt, I worked at that company at that time and I watched it like, ‘Ain’t nobody gonna watch this TV show. It’s never gonna happen. Nothing f—in’ happens,’” he recalled. “And my boss didn’t listen to me, and thankfully greenlit that show. And it was a major shift in storytelling. And now I’ve had conversations with writers and storytellers, where I’m like, ‘Slow. Down. This pilot is an entire season. Slow down.’”


The Black List Website Now Accepting TV Scripts
The Black List’s website is open for TV business, the script-database service announced Wednesday. Just like with movie scripts, a $25 monthly fee allows writers to host and index each of their projects, which can be accessed by industry pros and fellow writers. For an additional fee, Black List script readers will evaluate them.

TV Will Be The Fastest Growing Source Of Sports Team Revenues: Study
Sports execs had better pray that pay TV’s programming bundles stay intact. Rights payments from television networks and other media will grow 37.8% from 2013 to $17.1B in 2017, according to a study out today from PwC. That makes it the fastest growing source of revenues ahead of gate receipts (+10.9% to $19.1B), sponsorship deals (+25.7% to $17.7B) and merchandising (+4.6% to $13.8B).

(books) The Number of Self-Published Titles on the Market Up 59% Last Year: Bowker
The amount of self-published book titles available in the marketplace went up 59% between 2011 and 2012, according to Bowker’s latest self-pubishing report. The report looked at U.S. ISBN data to identify that there were more than 391,000 books self-published in 2012. eBooks made up 40 percent of these ISBNs. The report examined how the self-publishing industry has grown over the past six years, illustrating a large proliferation of self-published titles in the marketplace.

Slate: Winning The Price Is Right
Slate’s complete guide to better bidding through game theory—you don’t even need to know the prices.