Afternoon News Update for Thursday, 12/19/13.


‘Sea Of Fire’ & Shondaland’s ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ Get ABC Pilot Orders
ABC has given early pilot orders to two dramas: Sea Of Fire, based on a Dutch format, and How To Get Away With Murder, from Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers’ Shondaland. Both projects are in the serialized thriller/mystery genre and come from writers groomed by Rhimes who work on her hot ABC drama Scandal – executive producer Jenna Bans and co-executive producer Peter Nowalk.

Michael Peña Joins Fox’s Broadchurch Adaptation Gracepoint as a Series Regular
Michael Peña
is putting down roots in Gracepoint, Fox’s upcoming 13-episode adaptation of the British smash Broadchurch. He will play the series regular role of Mark Lasseter, the father of the murdered 11 year old boy at the center of the mystery.

’24’ Miniseries Recruits Judy Davis in Recurring Role
Judy Davis
has joined the 12-episode miniseries in a recurring capacity. Davis will portray Margot, a British national and the widow of a notorious terrorist. The mini is slated for a spring 2014 premiere.

Eric Ladin Joins HBO Pilot ‘The Brink’
Eric Ladin
has been cast as a regular 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.

Dylan Bruno Heads to NCIS: LA
Former NUMB3RS star Dylan Bruno is heading to NCIS: Los Angeles.

Cybill Shepherd Joins Trophy Wife
Cybill Shepherd
has landed a guest-starring role on ABC’s Trophy Wife. Shepherd will play Cricket, the mother of Malin Ackerman’s Kate.

(sched) CBS’ ‘How I Met Your Mother’ to Get Hourlong Series Finale
CBS has set an earlier-than-expected series finale date for laffer “How I Met Your Mother,” and will use the show to launch new comedy “Friends With Better Lives.” The hourlong “HIMYM” finale will air from 8 to p.m. on March 31, with Twentieth Century Fox Television’s “Friends With Better Lives” following at 9 p.m.

(sched) ‘Hannibal’ Returns to NBC on Feb. 28
NBC has set the second-season premiere of “Hannibal” for Feb. 28 in the Friday 10 p.m. slot following “Grimm.”


’300′ Producer Mark Canton Developing ‘Kingmaker’
300″ producer Mark Canton has snagged movie and TV rights to the Christian Cantrell’s sci-fi thriller “Kingmaker.” Canton will produce through his Atmosphere Entertainment. Atmosphere’s David Hopwood will oversee the project. Set in the near future with the world on the brink of global corporate dominance, “Kingmaker” centers on a disillusioned Russian operative as he smuggles himself into the United States and assembles a unique army with the goal of correcting the course of human history.


TLC Picks Up ‘My Five Wives’ to Series
The cable network has ordered nine episodes of the series following the debut of the pilot, which averaged 1.9 million viewers in September. My Five Wives centers on Brady Williams, his wives and their combined 24 children, who all live together on their large family property outside Salt Lake City.

Fox’s ‘MasterChef Junior’ Renewed for Season 2

Kids cooking competition show “MasterChef Junior” is returning to the kitchen. Host and judge Gordon Ramsay’s reality show that follows tween and teen culinary geniuses through food-related challenges averaged 5.1 million total viewers in its first season.

‘Katie’ to End Production in June After Two Seasons
Katie Couric’s
syndicated talk show, which began with enormous fanfare in September 2012, will cease production at the end of the current season.


Xbox Digs Into History of Atari, ‘E.T. the Video Game’ for New Docuseries
is digging deep into the video game industry’s past as it prepares to launch its first slate of shows on its consoles in the very near future. Filmmakers Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn will produce the yet-to-be titled documentary series through their multiplatform shingle Lightbox. Series explores the events and colorful characters that established the digital age, with each seg being helmed by a different director. Zak Penn will direct the first installment that investigates Atari’s now legendary burial of millions of unsold copies of “E.T. the Video Game” in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the middle of the night in 1983.

Maker Studios Pacts with Just for Laughs for YouTube Channels, Dedicated Video Site
Maker Studios
struck a deal with Canadian comedy brand Just for Laughs to manage its hidden-camera pranks channel on YouTube, create a new YouTube channel for stand-up comedy and develop a dedicated video website. In addition, the companies will jointly develop dedicated shows at the annual Just for Laughs comedy festival, held in Montreal in July.


‘Disney Hidden Worlds’ App Explores ‘Beauty & the Beast,’ ‘Tangled,’ ‘Aladdin’
Disney Interactive
has launched a companion piece to its well-received “Disney Animated” app that delves deep into the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ vault. In the free-to-play hidden object adventure, “Disney Hidden Worlds” features an original story in which players must find crucial objects that have gone missing from the worlds of “Beauty & the Beast,” “Tangled” and “Aladdin” after a mysterious villain brings darkness and chaos to the created kingdoms.


(ratings) Vulture: What Show Had the Richest Audience? What Do Dog Owners Watch? A Deep Dive Into 2013’s TV Ratings
If you’ve been paying even a little bit of attention to TV ratings in 2013, you know the year’s biggest trends: Cable continues to steal audience share from broadcast with megahits such as The Walking Dead and Duck Dynasty; DVRs are more important than ever; and America loves it some CBS. Dive deeper into the 2013 Nielsen ratings, however, and interesting things are revealed: Cable is starting to cannibalize itself; niche hits are multiplying; and the difference between what young and old viewers watch is astounding.