Afternoon News Update for Thursday, 12/5/13.


Lifetime Sets Grim Sleeper Movie, Dreama Walker To Star; Stanley M. Brooks To Direct
The case of Los Angeles’ notorious “Grim Sleeper” serial killer is getting a TV movie treatment with Lifetime’s The Grim Sleeperstarring Dreama Walker and co-starring actress-singer Macy Gray, Ernie Hudson and Michael O’Neill . It will be directed by Stanley M. Brooks in veteran TV movie producer’s return to the genre. The Grim Sleeper, written by Robert Nathan and Teena Booth, is inspired by the true stories of the victims and survivor of the alleged serial killer dubbed the “Grim Sleeper.” It will center on LA Weekly investigative reporter Christine Pelisek (Walker) who broke the story of the series killer and coined the Grim Sleeper nickname.

Esai Morales Joins HBO Comedy Pilot ‘The Brink’ As Regular, Will Play POTUS
Esai Morales
is set to co-star in The Brink, HBO’s pilot directed by Jay Roach from a script by Roberto Benabib and Kim Benabib and exec produced by Jerry Weintraub. Morales will play Julian Navarro, the President of the United States.

Fox Keeps Elliott Gould, Nasim Pedrad On Board ‘Mulaney’
John Mulaney’s
Fox comedy is set to retain the talent attached to the project when it was seated at NBC, as Elliott Gould, Nasim Pedrad and Seaton Smith have been confirmed as cast members. Trio joins previously-announced cast members Martin Short and Mulaney in “Mulaney.” Zack Pearlman has also been added to the cast.

(ratings) TNT’s ‘Mob City’ Opens to a Soft 2.3 Million Viewers
Frank Darabont’s six-part series, airing over just three weeks, averages well south of recent network premieres in its two-hour outing. In the network’s targeted adults 25-54 bracket, Mob City raked in 875,000 viewers.


‘Breaking Bad’ Writer Tapped for Universal’s ‘Red Queen’
Universal has tapped “Breaking Bad” scribe Gennifer Hutchison to adapt fantasy actioner “The Red Queen.” The first in a trilogy, “Red Queen” is set in a fantasy world where society is divided by the color of blood. It features a 17-year-old girl who, to save her family, must assume the role of a long lost princess while secretly aiding a revolution.

‘X-Men’ Writer-Producer Simon Kinberg Re-Ups at Fox (Exclusive)
Simon Kinberg
and his Genre Films banner have signed a new three-year first-look deal at 20th Century Fox. Kinberg is heavily involved with next summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Pastand the studio’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot as both writer and producer. The new deal lets him continue to expand those franchises into full-blown universes, with the hope of creating for Fox something akin to the Marvel model of interlocking movies.


Ryan Seacrest to EP VH1 Docuseries Following Female Rappers
has picked up the Ryan Seacrest-produced docuseries Girls in the Game. The six-episode half-hour series follows a group of up-and-coming white female rappers as they aspire to and struggle for fame. S

HBO Is Mulling a New Series Inspired By Real Sex
is developing a new take on the Real Sex documentary series, which debuted in 1990 and faithfully chronicled the gamut of human sexuality (from swingers to female masturbation to Real Dolls) until its last episode aired in 2008. Helmed by Chris Moukarbel, the show, titled Sex/Now, will broadcast its half-hour pilot episode on January 2 at 11 p.m, with more potentially to come.


Walden Media Sets Expansion into TV, Animation
Philip Anschutz’s Walden Media
, which specializes in family movies, is expanding its feature-film activities with the goal of financing a slate of high-end, star-driven commercial projects along with moving into TV and animation. Frank Smith, Walden’s longtime general counsel and head of business affairs, will become Walden’s chief operating officer and oversee all aspects of Walden’s operations. Walden did not disclose specifics on TV or animation projects.

(q&a) Sony TV Chiefs on ‘Blacklist’ Heat, ‘Breaking Bad’ and Losing ‘Walking Dead’ (Q&A)
THR: What’s the most surprising trend in the industry today?
ERLICHT: The challenge is ownership. Networks across the board are looking to own more and more of every project, and as an independent studio, that’s a challenge we have to be aware of and constantly battle. We do it by attracting top-tier talent that all networks and all platforms need and want to be in business with.
VAN AMBURG: It’s rare with us that we take a pitch out now that doesn’t feel fully formed. What that means is we’re often attaching a director earlier on or identifying a star early on and attaching that person prepitch.

Fernando Mills Joins VH1 As Development VP
Susan Levison
has made her first new hire since taking the reins of VH1‘s development team in August as EVP, Original Programming & Production. Fernando Mills has been tapped as s VP, Production & Programming. He will focus on internal development and the launches of new VH1 series, working with both the West Coast Development teams and the Talent groups and reporting to Jill Holmes, SVP, West Coast Production & Development.

Fox Sports Promotes Execs David Nathanson, Bill Wanger
Veteran Fox Sports executives David Nathanson and Bill Wanger are moving up. Nathanson has been appointed general manager and chief operating officer of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, a newly created position. Wanger, previously Fox Sports’ executive vice president of Programming & Research, adds one more department to his business card as executive vice president, Programming, Research & Content Strategy.


(tech) (feature) The Rise and fall of BlackBerry
RIM grew into one of the world’s most valuable tech companies. The BlackBerry became the indispensable accessory of business executives, heads of state, and Hollywood celebrities—until iPhone and Android came along and spoiled the party. Today the company, which has been renamed, simply, BlackBerry (BBRY), is burning through cash as sales keep falling. On Nov. 21, BlackBerry shares closed at just above $6, the lowest it’s been in almost 15 years.

Newsweek restarts the presses with return of printed magazine
Started in 1933 and publishing both within the US and internationally for 80 years, Newsweek is one of the best-known weekly magazines around. Its decision to cease print publication at the end of last year in favor of a digital-only service was thus a surprise, but what’s even more eyebrow-raising is that the editors have reversed their decision and will resume printing the magazine from early next year.

Same Sh*t, Different Screen: The Disruption Myth and Digital TV
Silicon Valley loves nothing more than a little disruption, and the disrupt du jour is in the TV industry. I don’t agree. I think that today’s TV is a lot like it was a decade ago. While Netflix and Hulu have created original programming, the new shows look less like indie productions and more like mainstream broadcast series. The one place where digital has driven big change for TV is in the screens people are using. This shift to digital screens has been largely successful, and that’s because Silicon Valley and TV industry companies are working together. Going forward, I know that we’ll see more changes in television that are driven by digital. But we won’t see disruption or revolution; instead, we’ll see a smart evolution.