Afternoon News Update for Monday, 1/6/14.


Craig Robinson gets NBC sitcom order
Craig Robinson
is returning to NBC. The Office star’s comedy project just received a six-episode order from the broadcast network. In the new series, Robinson will play a musician who gets a job as a music teacher at a middle school. Executive producers: Mark Cullen, Rob Cullen, Howard Klein, Mark Schulman.

ABC Family Picks Up Comedy Pilots Starring Tori Spelling, Jennie Garth & Emily Osment To Series
The network has given series orders to two of its three comedy pilots, Mystery Girls, starring and executive produced by Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth, and Young & Hungry, starring Emily Osment and executive produced by Ashley Tisdale. Production on both comedies will begin early this year for a premiere later in 2014. ABC Family’s third comedy pilot, Work Mom, is not going forward. Mystery Girls was written by Shepard Boucher. Young & Hungry is executive produced by Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum, CBS Television Studios, Relativity Television. The pilot was written by David Holden.

Sasheer Zamata Joins ‘Saturday Night Live’ As New Cast Member
Sasheer Zamata is landing a very big break — the young comedy performer has been selected to join Saturday Night Live as a new cast member. Zamata will make her debut on the venerable NBC late-night sketch comedy series on its next live show slated for January 18 with Drake as host and musical guest. Zamata, who trained at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York, becomes the first black female Saturday Night Live cast member in five years since the departure of Maya Rudolph.

Bonnie Dennison To Star In Fox’s Matt Hubbard Comedy Pilot
Bonnie Dennison
has landed a lead role in Fox‘s multi-camera comedy pilot created/executive produced by Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Directed/exec produced by Pam Fryman, the untitled comedy is set at a women’s college that begins accepting men for the first time in its history. Dennison will play Thena (originally named Callie), a pretty but uptight sophomore, a hard-core feminist and leader of the sizable population of Cabot College that does not want men on campus.

Sandra Oh ditches the scrubs for ‘Betas’ guest role
In an episode of Betas, Sandra Oh guests as the mother of badass Mikki (Maya Erskine) — a “street-wise digi-chick,” whose tendency toward rebellion can be traced partially to her flaky family, according to the site’s official description. That’s where Oh comes in.

(sched) ‘The Red Road’ to Premiere Thursday, February 27 on Sundance Channel
Sundance Channel
announced today that “The Red Road” will premiere on February 27, 2014 at 9pm ET/PT. The series boasts an exceptional cast featuring Martin Henderson, Jason Momoa, Julianne Nicholson, Tamara Tunie, Annalise Basso, Allie Gonino, Kiowa Gordon, Lisa Bonet and Tom Sizemore. The series revolves around a local sheriff (Henderson) struggling to keep his family together while simultaneously policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up just outside of New York City, and the neighboring mountains—home of a federally unrecognized Native American tribe.

Marvel TV Rumors: Agent Carter? Animated Guardians of the Galaxy?
Rumors abounded this week about more pieces of Marvel’s sizable small screen invasion. First up, the Peggy Carter series may be closer to reality, with Hayley Atwell reprising her role. A source told British tabloid news site Mirror Online that Atwell has now signed onto the series and that it will be "Marvel’s major project of 2014, and it will be a big budget production." In the second bit of "maybe" Marvel TV news, the company could be planning to launch a new Guardians of the Galaxy animated series.

THR: TV Pilots 2014: The Complete Guide
Projects from Shonda Rhimes, Vince Gilligan, Bruno Heller, Tina Fey and Greg Berlanti highlight the comedy and drama offerings for the five broadcast networks as pilot and casting season gets underway.

(ratings) ‘Downton Abbey’ Makes PBS Return to Record 10.2 Million Viewers
The hot British import launched its fourth season on Sunday night, netting an average 10.2 million viewers over the course of the two-hour episode. That’s a 22 percent jump, year over year, easily making it the highest-rated drama in PBS history.

(review) Variety: ‘Intelligence’
Intelligence” bills its technically enhanced hero as “the next evolution of intelligence,” but the series itself feels like a throwback — and a comfortable, well-constructed one at that. This feels like a show developed when computers were the size of a refrigerator, but it’s also the sort that, if maintained properly, could run a long time on CBS.

(review) Variety: ‘Killer Women’
Unlike a lot of rail-thin actresses cast as cops on TV, the statuesque Tricia Helfer (a 6-foot-tall former model) at least looks like she might be able to take down a suspect. Shot with more style than the premise suggests (and counting “Modern Family’s” Sofia Vergara among its producers), “Killer Women” is mindless fun, perhaps, but unlikely to make a killing.


Steven Spielberg, Javier Bardem, Steve Zaillian Circle Montezuma-Cortez Epic From Script By Blacklisted Writer Dalton Trumbo
Steven Spielberg
has his sights on Montezuma, an epic tale of the kinship and ultimately the bloody collision between Montezuma and Cortez as the latter led the Spanish infiltration into Mexico. I’ve heard that Javier Bardem has sparked to playing the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez, and that the catalyst here is a nearly 50-year old script by Dalton Trumbo that is being rewritten by Steve Zaillian.


(video) Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is Back on TV With ‘HitRecord,’ Watch Entire First Episode
Joseph Gordon-Levitt released the first episode of his new variety show, “HITRECORD on TV,” on Monday morning, nearly two weeks ahead of its Jan. 18 premiere on Pivot. The show is a collaborative effort between the “Don Jon” director’s community that began building up its following after being launched in 2010. The first of eight episodes features the work of 426 contributing artists, all of whom are paid for their participation.

‘The Queen Latifah Show’ Officially Renewed For Second Season
Sony Pictures Television
‘s freshman talk show The Queen Latifah Show had a two-year deal, so its renewal was considered a formality. It is now official, with the talker renewed by the CBS Station Group for a second season and cleared across 97% of the country through 2015.

‘SNL’ Alum Jim Breuer Joins AXS TV’s Comedy Series ‘Gotham Comedy Live’
Jim Breuer has joined AXS TV‘s weekly comedy series Gotham Comedy Live as consulting producer, and will host the show’s third-season season debut on January 9. The franchise received a 24-episode third season order. GOTHAM COMEDY LIVE is filmed in front of a live audience from New York City’s famed Gotham Comedy Club. Each episode features a host who performs a stand-up set along with four other comedians.

Tia and Tamera ends E! run
Reality series Tia and Tamera will not be returning to cablenet E! for a fourth season, the show’s stars have announced.


(feature) How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood
deconstructed Hollywood. They paid people to watch films and tag them with all kinds of metadata. This process is so sophisticated and precise that taggers receive a 36-page training document that teaches them how to rate movies on their sexually suggestive content, goriness, romance levels, and even narrative elements like plot conclusiveness. They capture dozens of different movie attributes. They even rate the moral status of characters. When these tags are combined with millions of users viewing habits, they become Netflix’s competitive advantage. The better Netflix shows that it knows you, the likelier you are to stick around.

And now, they have a terrific advantage in their efforts to produce their own content: Netflix has created a database of American cinematic predilections. The data can’t tell them how to make a TV show, but it can tell them what they should be making. When they create a show like House of Cards, they aren’t guessing at what people want.

FX animated sitcom ‘Chozen’ debuts a week early on Xbox One
, the new FX animated comedy from the producers of HBO’s Eastbound & Down and FX’s Archer, will be available Jan. 6 exclusively on Xbox One. Xbox One owners will be able to watch the pilot of Chozen through the console’s FXNow app, which requires a subscription to a cable television package that includes FX. The television premiere of Chozen is set for 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 13. Chozen focuses on the title character — a gay white gangsta rapper who was recently released from prison — and his journey to become the world’s greatest rapper.


BBC One prays for Monks pilot
BBC One is piloting a studio comedy based on a group of monks. In the show, named Monks, emerging television comedian Seann Walsh will play a man that decides to join a religious order to save himself from prison after years of defrauding Britain’s benefits system. He joins a down-on-its-luck monastery, where tries to change his life.

Drama boosts BBC America
BBC America
has said it expects to record its highest ratings ever for 2013, following the success of drama offerings such as Doctor Who, Broadchurch and Orphan Black. The BBC’s US channel, which also enjoyed ratings success with supernatural series Atlantis, already has dramas including The Musketeers and Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond slated for this year.


Marvel will be the exclusive home of ‘Star Wars’ comics starting in 2015
has announced that, starting in 2015, it will have exclusive rights to the Star Wars franchise for comics and graphic novels. This ends a long-running partnership between Lucas and Dark Horse, the comic publisher that’s handled Star Wars since 1991.


Forbes 30 under 30
Presenting our third annual 30 Under 30, a tally of the brightest stars in 15 different fields under the age of 30. This is the time to be young and ambitious. Never before has youth been such an advantage. These founders and funders, brand builders and do-gooders aren’t waiting for a proper bump up the career ladder. Their goals are way bigger — and perfectly suited to the dynamic, entrepreneurial, and impatient digital world they grew up in.

Eva Longoria Named Maxim’s Woman of the Year
Eva Longoria has been named Maxim‘s Woman of the Year.

R.I.P. TV Executive Dennis Johnson
Dennis Johnson
, veteran television programming executive and producer, died December 23 while on vacation in Gustavia. He had suffered a heart attack hours earlier and died at a hospital in Gustavia, according to his longtime partner Russ Patrick. He was 68. The Kenbridge, VA native began his TV career as a page at NBC on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.He went on to become Director of Comedy and Variety Programs at NBC, then VP Programming at ABC, before heading Osmond Television. Eventually, he became SVP of Programming at Showtime, where he established the Black Filmmakers Program.


How to Improve Hollywood in 2014: 9 Experts on the Future of Film and TV
A digital economy that roiled the industry continues to sweep away old business models. To make sense of the technological, artistic and financial disruptions, TheWrap spoke with nine of entertainment’s sharpest thinkers.

7 TV Shows That Deserve After-Shows
Teen Wolf returns to MTV tonight, and, in what’s becoming a rite of passage, it’s getting its own postshow. But Teen Wolf shouldn’t have all the fun. Many shows should have postshows! Here are a few suggestions. Scandal: Scandalalready has an official postshow podcast, and the series lends itself to discussion, since it’s occasionally confusing (go ahead, just try to explain the arc of Billy Chambers) and constantly juicy. It’s a network show, though, which means it would never be able to bump the local news — but we’d take a web-only series.

Cable TV Contributes More than 60 Percent of Hollywood Profits
Thanks to ad growth and gains from carriage fee negotiations, cable network units now contribute more than 60 percent of nearly all entertainment giants’ operating profits, according to a THR analysis of data from the first three quarters of 2013.

(tech) DreamWorks will release its own ‘Dreamtab’ Android tablet this spring
DreamWorks has partnered with Fuhu to produce an Android tablet for kids. The 8-inch Dreamtab will cost "under $300," and will feature regularly updated original content based on DreamWorks characters. The content will be tailored for tablets, and will automatically arrive on Dreamtabs ready for consumption. Unlike many mobile games based on movie and TV, the content isn’t being created by a third-party, but instead is being produced in-house.

(tech) CES 2014: Internet streaming device maker unveils the Roku TV
Roku, the consumer electronics company best known for its devices that deliver Internet video to televisions, is making a more ambitious play for the living room — unveiling the Roku TV.,0,3801042.story

(tech) Samsung announces major 4K streaming partnership with Amazon, Netflix, and others
today announced a major partnership with Netflix, Amazon, Comcast, and DirecTV to provide 4K streaming to consumers via their latest UHD TVs. The company hopes that the deal will speed up widespread adoption of 4K in 2014.

(tech) CES 2014 Trends: Ultra HD, and Devices That Watch You
While questions still swirl around Ultra HD television, the chief economist for the Consumer Electronics Assn. expects many answers to arrive during this week’s 2014 Consumer Electronics Show. In his annual presentation on CES trends to watch, Shawn G. DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for the CEA, said he expects at least 75 announcements related to UHD this week, and perhaps as many as 150.