Afternoon News Update for Friday, 1/10/14.


NBC Orders Comedy Pilots From Casey Wilson, Rashida Jones
has picked up two comedies to pilot. “Mason Twins” is a single-cam comedy penned by Casey Wilson and June Rafael. Project centers on fraternal twins Pender and Lizzie Mason who reconnect after being estranged for 15 years. Lizzie’s perfect city life has fallen apart, and she returns to her suburban town to find that her sister hasn’t matured past her teen queen years. ABC Studios is producing the pilot. Exec producers include Wilson, Rafael and Stacy Traub.

From exec producer Rashida Jones, “A to Z” is a whimsical single-cam comedy set in the world of an online dating company that details the “A to Zs” of a relationship. The ensemble cast will navigate the complicated world of modern dating. Ben Queen is “A to Z’s” scribe, and is exec producing alongside Jones and Will McCormack. Warner Bros. TV and Le Train Train are producing the project.

Family Comedy Starring Chevy Chase & Beverly D’Angelo Produced By Aaron Kaplan Gets ABC Production Commitment
Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo are reuniting for a TV comedy project, which has received a large penalty by ABC that qualifies as a production commitment. The single-camera comedy, which is looking for a writer and has not been set up at a studio yet, is eyed for the 2015-16 development season. Based on an original idea by Aaron Kaplan, who executive produces through his Kapital Entertainment, the untitled single-camera comedy would star Chase and D’Angelo as spouses in their 60s who are finally enjoying their golden years. But, due to circumstances beyond their control, they now are forced to raise their grandchildren.

HBO Eyes ‘The Normal Heart’ Sequel Written By Larry Kramer & Directed By Ryan Murphy
has commissioned a script by Larry Kramer for a potential sequel to the HBO Films’ The Normal Heart. Ryan Murphy would be back at the helm, with the film’s stars Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts and Jim Parsons expected to return, along with the entire producing team: exec producers Murphy, Kramer, Jason Blum, Dede Gardner and Dante Di Loreto. The sequel would chronicle the events from 1987 through the 1990s, with Ruffalo, whose Ned Weeks (modeled after Kramer) witnessed the disease first-hand in The Normal Heart, becoming an activist trying to help people who have been affected — also similar to Kramer’s real-life trajectory.

(sched) NBC’s ‘About a Boy’ Gets Post-‘Voice’ Slot, Sets Midseason Schedule
has solidified the remaining premiere dates for midseason, utilizing the upcoming Sochi Olympics as a launchpad for two freshmen comedies. About a Boy, from Parenthood executive producer Jason Katims, will get a special post-Olympics preview on Friday, Feb. 21, at 10:30 p.m., before officially launching Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 9 p.m. in the prime post-The Voice slot. Growing Up Fisher, from creator DJ Nash, will have its official debut following About a Boy on Feb. 25 at 9:30 p.m., after also getting an Olympics preview on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 10:30 p.m. Alfonso Cuaron’ Believe and Crisis, starring Gillian Anderson and Dermot Mulroney, will both take the Sunday slots

Starz’s Chris Albrecht On 2014 Plans, ‘White Queen’ Sequel, ‘Magic City’s Demise
At the top of Starz‘s TCA session, CEO Chris Albrecht did his semi-annual State Of The Network overview, laying out his programming plans for the next year. Starz will continue to push into original programming, which accounts for almost half of Starz’s top telecasts despite representing only 5% of the pay cable’s network schedule and has fueled Starz’s streak of eight consecutive quarters of subscriber growth.

‘Hawaii Five-0’ Invites Viewers to Choose Additional Elements for Fan-Built Episode
announced today that the Fan Built “Five-0” initiative, where HAWAII FIVE-0 producers invite viewers to help build an episode to be broadcast. Starting today, viewers will be able to select wardrobe and props by voting. In upcoming weeks, viewers will be able to select featured music and the episode’s title. Previously, viewers have voted on Scene of the Crime (winning element: Chin Ho’s High School Reunion), The Victim (winning element: Macadamia Nut Tycoon), The Murder Weapon (winning element: Five-Inch Stiletto), The Evidence (winning element: Toy Rocket), The Suspect (winning element: Struggling Illusionist) and The Takedown (winning element: Giant Maze).


The Weinstein Co. Acquires New York Times Article ‘A Speck in the Sea’
The Weinstein Co
. has picked up the screen rights to "A Speck in the Sea," a maritime survival account by Paul Tough that appeared in The New York Times Magazineearlier this month. Rachael Horovitz will produce the adaptation withJason Blum as well as Harvey Weinstein."Speck, " which was published Jan. 2, told the story of 45-year-old lobster fisherman John Aldridge, who at 3:30 a.m. one morning slipped off his boat and fell into the Atlantic. The boat, on autopilot, kept on chugging, and his partner, Anthony Sosinski, wouldn’t wake up for another few hours, so Aldridge was left behind, with no life vest, in the dark deep waters, 40 miles south of Montauk.

Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard Join ‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’
British actress BelPowley, KristenWiig and AlexanderSkarsgard have joined coming-of-age film The Diary of a Teenage Girl.Marielle Heller, who wrote the script, will make her directorial debut with the project. Heller went through both the Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs with the project. The script is based onPhoebeGloeckner‘s graphic novel of the same name and follows a teen artist (Powley) living in San Francisco in the ’70s who attempts to navigate her way through an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. The film is currently shooting in San Francisco.

Cote De Pablo Joins Chilean Miner Movie ‘The 33′ In First Post-’NCIS’ Gig
Cote De Pablo
has been cast in The 33, the feature film based on the 2010 rescue of 33 Chilean miners after being trapped 69 days in the Copiapo gold and copper mine more than half an mile below the earth’s surface. Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche and Rodrigo Santoro are among those already aboard the ensemble cast of the pic, which is now in production in Chile and Colombia with Patricia Riggen directing. The script is from Craig Borten and Michael Thomas.

Rebel Wilson to Join Amanda Seyfried in Universal Comedy ‘He’s F-ing Perfect’
Rebel Wilson
is signing on to join Amanda Seyfried in the comedy “He’s F-ing Perfect.” Seyfried stars a girl who’s pessimistic about love and uses social media to vet her friends’ dates. When she finds what looks like the perfect guy, she decides to use her web-sleuthing skills to turn herself into his perfect match. Wilson will play Seyfried’s carefree best friend and roommate.


‘Idol’ Tries to Clean Up Its Act
Contestants at auditions will be allowed to use instruments; the slow middle rounds in which surviving contestants get sorted out will be sharply condensed into what Mr. Reilly called a “two-hour blitzkrieg”; the resulting shows will shrink to a half-hour in the second part of the season. Then there’s the infamous sequences of wretched or hilariously bad performances: Those will be “exponentially less to almost nonexistent,” Mr. Urban said. He, Ms. Lopez and Mr. Connick all spoke out against the practice, with Mr. Connick the sharpest, saying he had told several hopelessly poor contestants: “This is a waste of time. You just need to stop.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers to Join Bruno Mars’ Super Bowl Show
Bruno Mars may not have to carry the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show by himself The Los Angeles Times reports that the Red Hot Chili Peppers will join the singer during his set at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium on February 2nd Mars will reportedly make the announcement during the Saints-Seahawks game.


Disney Breaks Ground On ‘Avatar’ Attraction In Orlando
announced its deal to add Avatar-licensed attractions to its parks two years ago, and today it officially kicked off construction on Pandora at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. The plan is to have it finished in 2017, complete with a bioluminescent jungle cruise, floating mountains, a new nighttime spectacular, and a flying Banshee simulator attraction among other “surprises.” On hand for shovel duty was Avatar producer Jon Landau and a crew of Disney execs including Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs.


Exec Shuffle For 1/10/14: Paramount, A24, Mortar Media, IM Global
Blumhouse Productions: Jessica Rhoades
has joined as Head, Television.
Lighthearted Entertainment: Shelby Adams has been promoted to Coordinator, Development.
Fishbowl Worldwide Media: Emily Mayer has joined as Senior Vice President, Development.
Fishbowl Worldwide Media: Winston Cutshall has joined as Director of Development.
TruTV: Lesley Goldman has joined as Vice President, Development & Original Programming.
USA Network: Tiffany Hawthorne
has been promoted to Manager, Original Programming.


Two-Thirds of U.S. Adults Say They Go to the Movies Less Often
According to a new survey, 68 percent of U.S. adults went to the movies at least once last year. But two-thirds of Americans say they’re going to the movies less often now than a few years ago, with a majority adding that they prefer watching films at home over going to the theater, a Harris poll released Friday reports. On average, Americans went to roughly five movies a year, but only 17 percent of those surveyed went to more than 10 films in 2013. When asked whether they prefer watching movies at home or in the theater, 57 percent said they would rather stay in with 21 percent saying they’d rather go out.

(tech) How Netflix won CES: It’s not the TVs, it’s what you watch on them
The march of 4K into the mainstream feels like it has a much stronger chance to be successful than 3D did — but that’s really just the beginning of the story. The stakes aren’t limited to the purchase of a single television; it’s the battle for the way people will watch TV in the years ahead. Above all other mediums, television watching is a habit, and as viewers rely on Netflix more and more, it gives the company more leverage in dictating the future of the industry.

Comic-Con Only Selling Single Day Passes for 2014 Show
If you plan on attending all four days (and preview night) of the massive pop culture event this year, it’ll involve buying five separate passes.

Aereo case to be taken up by the Supreme Court
Last year, the country’s largest broadcasters petitioned the Supreme Court to rule on Aereo, a service that streams broadcast TV over the internet using thousands of mini-antennas. Now, the Supreme Court is saying that it will hear an appeal from networks including Walt Disney, Fox, ABC, NBC Universal, and CBS.