Afternoon News Update for Thursday, 11/21/13.


Syfy Ventures into ‘Woods’ with Scribe Liz Phang, Chris Fedak
has teamed with scribe Liz Phang and “Chuck” co-creator Chris Fedak to develop a mystery drama about a woman’s search for her long-lost sister. Phang wrote “Woods” as a spec script and brought it to Amblin TV, which is exec producing with Universal Cable Prods. Amblin then recruited Fedak to help Phang shape the concept. Story revolves around a woman who returns to the mysterious wooded mansion and discovers that the sinister beings behind her sister’s disappearance years ago are still there.

WGN & Weinstein Company Team For Ten Commandments Event Series Produced By Bruce Cohen
The new WGN America is barely 8 months old, but it already has ordered two original scripted series — Salem and Manhattan. WGN has teamed with the Weinstein Company for a Ten Commandments 10-part event series, which is being executive produced by Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen. I hear the plan is for each episode to be helmed by a different A-list director, focusing on one commandment and its evolving significance.

FX’s ‘The Strain’ Casts ‘Harry Potter’s’ David Bradley to Replace John Hurt
He will now play Professor Abraham Setrakian in the upcoming series from Guillermo del Toro.

Two and a Half Men: Odette Annable to Play House With Ashton Kutcher’s Walden
Odette Annable
is about to send Walden’s heart rate soaring. The actress is joining Two and a Half Men for a major arc as the new boss and possible love interest to Ashton Kutcher’s perpetual bachelor.

Fox Midseason: ‘Glee’ Returns To Tuesday, ‘Brooklyn’ Moves Behind ‘New Girl’, ‘Mindy’ Takes Hiatus, ‘Following’ Gets NFC Launch
is making some scheduling changes for midseason. The underperforming two-hour Tuesday comedy block will be scaled to an hour beginning February 25, when Glee will return to the Tuesday 8 PM slot where it did pretty well during the 2011-12 season. The hourlong Fox comedy block will consist of New Girl andBrooklyn Nine-Nine, which will move to the 9:30 slot on February 4. It will replace The Mindy Project, which will go on hiatus after a winter finale on January 28, returning on April 1 after Brooklyn Nine-Nine ends its freshman run.

Fox also is changing its launch plans for midseason dramas The Following and Rake. Instead of premiering new legal dramedy Rake behind the NFC Championship Game on January 19 as previously announced, Fox will launch the second season of gritty drama The Following after the big game for a two-night season premiere on Sunday, January 19 and Monday, January 20 when the series will debut in its regular Monday 9 PM slot, following the season finale of Sleepy Hollow. The new series starring Greg Kinnear will premiere January 23 in its regular Thursday 9 PM slot, following American Idol. As previously announced, new Fox comedyEnlisted will premiere on Friday, January 10, and original episodes of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine will air after the Super Bowl on February 2.

Buzzfeed: It’s Time For Comedies To Drop The Mockumentary Schtick
The direct address format that worked for The Office and Modern Family has grown stale from overuse. By breaking the fourth wall, new series like The Michael J. Fox Show are holding themselves back. Compare it to Trophy Wife, another family sitcom in its first season. While the series was initially called “the new Modern Family” — if only because it showcased complicated alternative domestic dynamics in ABC sitcom fashion — Trophy Wife has quickly proven itself to be so much more than that. The lack of direct address is essential: Eschewing mockumentary-style gives the show the opportunity to find its own voice.


Aaron Paul to Co-Star With Russell Crowe in ‘Fathers and Daughters’
Aaron Paul
is looking to reteam with his “Big Love” co-star as he has signed on to co-star with Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried in the Voltage Prods. drama “Fathers and Daughters.” Gabriele Muccino is directing. Story follows a father and daughter living 25 years apart in New York City. Crowe will portray a famous novelist and widower struggling with mental illness as he tries to raise his 5-year-old daughter. Seyfried will portray the now-grown daughter in present-day Manhattan as she battles the aftermath of her troubled childhood. Brad Desch wrote the original script, which was featured on the black list.


‘X Factor’ Is a Hit Overseas — Why Not in the U.S.?
“X Factor’s” overseas success in many of those countries is due to the fact that there simply aren’t as many shows to watch on TV. The kind of audience share that “X Factor” is nabbing in a country like Israel is akin to what the Super Bowl is driving in the States. In the U.S., where the phrase “viewer fatigue” creates its own kind of meta-fatigue, choice, like channels, is endless, leaving even successful international formats liable to fall through the lineup cracks and be forgotten by viewers.


Dylan TV
Imagine turning on your television to discover that everyone, across every channel, was singing the words to one of your favorite songs. That trick, or, at least, the suggestion of it, was pulled off by Vania Heymann, a twenty-seven-year-old Israeli video artist who on Tuesday released a rather astounding interactive music video for the Bob Dylan song “Like a Rolling Stone.” In the video, which uses technology created by the digital-media company Interlude, performers on sixteen different channels of supposed cable TV appear as Dylan-voiced automatons.


Vulture: Why You Should Be Watching the French TV Miniseries The Returned
Sundance Channel’s French import miniseries The Returned (a.k.a. Les Revenants) hits its halfway point tonight with its fourth episode. Les Revenants is a terrific show, absorbing and disorienting in all the best ways. The performances are great, as are the subtle peeks into French home decor. But what I like most about it is that it’s about grief. Les Revenants captures maybe the most interesting thing a surreal show can do: be utterly, totally real.

Fox Japan plans record-setting ‘NCIS’ marathon
In an attempt to land in the Guinness World Record books for “longest uninterrupted transmission of a TV series,” Fox Japan has announced plans to air 234 episodes of the long-running CBS series “NCIS.”,0,5101275.story


EA/Disney ‘Star Wars’ Deal to Last 10 Years, Expand Past Movies
The deal between the Walt Disney Company and Electronic Arts to produce Star Wars video games — a deal announced a month after Disney closed Lucasfilm’s own video game studio, LucasArts — is a long-term one, according to EA CFO and executive vice president Blake Jorgensen, who told investors that the partnership will last at least ten years.


Mindy Kaling, Anne Sweeney, Bonnie Hammer Honored by Girls Inc.
Mindy Kaling
and Giselle Fernandez were being honored for their outstanding achievements (alongside NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer and Disney/ABC Television prexy Anne Sweeney).


Wanna Come Over and Watch TV?
Earlier this fall, when Scandalpremiered its third season, the show’s devoted fans had no shortage of venues for taking in the next chapter in the lives of Olivia Pope and her team. Bars across the country hosted viewing parties for the occasion. Lately, bars have been encouraging weekly communal viewing of everything from Game of Thrones to Mad Men. The move has coincided with the rise in “prestige” television series, especially those, like Breaking Bad, which traffic in dramatic tension, surprise, and catharsis, all of which can be fun—or therapeutic—to share with others.

How Bravo Is Crunching Facebook Data to Lift ‘Real Housewives’ Repeat Ratings
last month started using Facebook’s new Keyword Insights API (application programming interface) for its “Real Housewives” franchise. The feature, introduced in September, lets partners scan private posts of Facebook’s 100 million U.S. users, anonymously combining those into useful info about who’s talking about a specific topic. Bravo has run keyword searches on Facebook during new episodes “Real Housewives,” and then scours the data to pull out factoids that it uses in the “social edition” repeats that air a few days later, which include tweets and comments from the show’s stars.

How Doctor Who Survived 50 Years
Doctor Who should not have succeeded. A committee created it, to fill a time slot. It had a small budget. The BBC intended for it to be a children’s educational show focusing on science and history. And yet it worked, as seen in the incredible hype preceding Saturday’s 50th anniversary special called “The Day of the Doctor.” There’s something more primal that’s been with it since it’s start in 1963: adventure. A sense of the new. When William Hartnell debuted in November 1963 as the Doctor, showing off his time and space-traveling TARDIS, and asked his co-stars and viewers, “Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension?” And the truth was, they hadn’t. Not like this.