Afternoon News Update for Wednesday, 1/8/14.


Dawn Parouse Olmstead To Head Development For Universal Cable Productions
Universal Cable Prods.
has tapped top TV producer Dawn Parouse Olmstead to lead its development team as the studio is looking to ramp up operations. Meanwhile, UCP’s SVP Development & Current Programming, Richard Rothstein, will be in charge of the studio’s current scripted series.

‘Happy Endings’ Creator Nabs Comedy Pilot Order at NBC
David Caspe’s "Marry Me" centers on a longtime couple who get engaged and realize it’s harder than it looks. The single-camera entry hails from Sony Pictures Television, where Caspe is under an overall deal. He’ll write and exec produce the comedy — which landed a pilot production commitment last year — alongside Fanfare’s Jamie Tarses and Seth Gordon, who will direct.

Zoe Saldana To Topline NBC Miniseries ‘Rosemary’s Baby’
Avatar and Star Trek star Zoe Saldana has been tapped as the lead in NBC’s four-hour miniseriesRosemary’s Baby, an adaptation of the 1967 best-selling suspense novel by Ira Levin. The mini centers on Rosemary (Saldana), a young wife and would-be mother who, with her husband, moves into a Paris apartment that has a darkly storied past. After finally getting pregnant, she becomes increasingly suspicious that both her husband and their mysterious neighbors have ulterior motives about the future of her child.

John Travolta and Kirstie Alley: Inside tonight’s ‘Kirstie’ reunion
Tonight’s episode of Kirstie will feature the anticipated reunion of Kirstie Alley and longtime friend John Travolta. Travolta appears on the show as Mickey, a “hunky stagehand” Maddie (Alley) fires and then comforts in the form of a one-night stand.

Damon Lindelof reveals details about his new HBO drama ‘The Leftovers’
“In the first meeting that I had with HBO, when I was trying to woo them in to letting me come aboard because they already owned the material, they said, ‘How do you see this show, tonally?’ I said, ‘If Lost and Friday Night Lights had a baby and then that baby was severely neglected, that would be The Leftovers.’”

‘Alpha House’ Finale to Feature Anthony Weiner, Bill Murray
Anthony Weiner
is among the politicians and newspeople set to appear in the season finale of Amazon Studios’ Alpha House. The former New York Representative, who found himself at the center of sexting scandals and unsuccessfully campaigned for New York mayor last year, will make a cameo in the Jan. 10 closer. Former GOP headMichael Steele, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin andTom Brokawwill also make appearances during the episode. Bill Murray, who was seen briefly in the series premiere, will return as jailed Senator Vernon Smits.

(ratings) BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane’ Series Debut Cumes 5 Million Viewers
An average of 3.3 million viewers tuned in to check out BET‘s first original scripted drama series, Being Mary Jane at 10 PM Tuesday, after which an immediate repeat clocked 1.8 million. Being Mary Jane stars Gabrielle Union as a successful TV news anchor, and hails from Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the duo behind BET’s flagship comedy The Game.

(opinion) Gold Derby: Why ‘The Good Wife’ will win Best Drama Series at Golden Globes
Looking back, this unprecedented bid shouldn’t have been that surprising as this season has scored an impressive 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Indeed, the show has garnered the kind of reviews usually reserved for its Best Drama Series rival “Breaking Bad.” HFPA members took notice. Besides its Drama Series nomination, Julianna Margulies reaped her fifth straight Drama Actress bid (she won in 2009) while Josh Charles contends for the first time in the competitive mishmash category of Best TV Supporting Actor.


Fox Options Upcoming Sci-Fi Thriller Novel Influx
20th Century Fox has acquired Daniel Suarez’s upcoming tech thriller Influx. The book — which will hit stores on Feb. 20 — centers on a world in which decades of technological advances have been suppressed in an effort to prevent disruptive change. The story follows a character named Jon Grady who comes up with an astounding invention: a device that can reflect gravity. But instead of receiving worldwide acclaim for his innovation, the lab is locked down by a shadowy organization, the Bureau of Technology Control, which aims to shut down technological advances from reaching the public.


Charisma Carpenter’s ‘Surviving Evil’ Renewed for Season 2
Investigation Discovery
has renewed “Surviving Evil,” the Charisma Carpenter-hosted series that features stories of victims fighting back against violent attacks. The “Buffy” and “Angel” star will return as its host for a 10-episode second season.

Travel Channel Greenlights Pilots with Penn Jillette and More
Travel Channel
is delving into the magician trend in reality TV, greenlighting production on Penn Jillette-starrer “Street Cred” in addition to two other pilots. “Street Cred,” a halfhour pilot produced by High Noon Entertainment, will be a hidden camera talent show that searches for the best street performers in the States. “Booze Traveler” will follow entrepreneur Jack Maxwell as he travels around the world exploring different countries one drink at a time. “Great Escapes” showcases escape artist and history buff Steve Santini as he explores tourist destinations often visited for their notorious jails and prisons.


Disney Junior Renews ‘Sofia The First’, ‘Doc McStuffins’ & ‘Jake And The Never Land Pirates’
The preschooler-targeted network has picked up Sofia The First and Doc McStuffins for third seasons and Jake And The Never Land Pirates for a fourth. All three Disney Junior shows ranked among the top cable series among kids 2-5 last year and in the top 10 preschooler cable TV series in total viewers and women 18-49.

‘Frozen’ Soundtrack Hits No. 1 on Billboard 200, Bumps Beyoncé
Frozen” was not only tops at the box office last weekend, its soundtrack shot to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, as well, and bumped Beyoncé to the No. 2 spot in the process.


Adam Sanderson is named as the new head of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club
A 17-year Disney veteran, Adam Sanderson most recently served as senior vice president, franchise management of Disney/ABC Television Group.

Veteran Disney Production Executive Brigham Taylor Segues to Producing
Longtime Disney production executive Brigham Taylor is stepping down and will now become an exclusive producer for Disney. Taylor joined the company in 1994 as a creative executive and moved up the ranks to become executive vice president of production. He became the studio’s man for tentpoles, working on Oz the Great and Powerful, Tron Legacyand the studio’sChronicles of Narniafranchise. He was also the executive who worked with mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer when he was based at the studio, overseeing all of the billion dollar grossing Pirates of the Caribbeanfilms. Taylor will now segue to become an executive producer on Tomorrowland.

Martin Scorsese Writes Open Letter Discussing the Future of Cinema
The great American director analyzes the great revolution that has been changing the movie industry landscape in the last period. With a greeting: ‘Don’t be afraid, future will be bright’

PGA’s ‘Produced By’ Conference Set For June 7 & 8
The Producers Guild’s 6th ‘Produced By Conference’ is slated for June 7 and 8 at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank (Fox hosted last year). The guild hasn’t revealed the lineup yet, but last year’s speakers included JJ Abrams and Roland Emmerich.

WGA West To Give Garry Marshall 2014 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award For TV
Veteran writer-producer-director Garry Marshall is set to receive the Writers Guild of America, West’s 2014 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement, honoring lifetime achievement in outstanding television writing.


Tupac Shakur Musical Headed to Broadway
“Holler If Ya Hear Me,”
a jukebox musical inspired by rap icon Tupac Shakur, and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” a stage version of the best-selling mystery book, will hit Broadway this year. “Holler” will be the first out of the gate, when it begins performances on May 26, 2014, before officially opening at the Palace Theatre on June 19, 2014. “Curious Incident,” will open at an unspecified date in the fall of 2014 at the Barrymore Theatre. It arrives more battle-tested. A West End production received seven Olivier Awards (the U.K. equivalent of the Tonys) this year, including Best New Play.

58% of Americans Still Have a VCR in Their Homes
Last month, Gallup polled Americans about the technologies they use in their homes. It then compared its findings to Americans’ responses to the same questions posed to them in 2005. Some of the takeaways: Cable TV has the same penetration in 2013—68 percent—as it did in 2005. Some 45 percent of Americans retain their non-smartphone cells. Some 73 percent of them have wifi in their homes—which, given Pew’s 2013 finding that 85 percent of Americans have used the Internet at all, seems extraordinarily high. One other stat that seems high: 58 percent of Americans still have a VCR in their homes.