Evening News Update for Wednesday, 1/15/14.


NBC Gives Orders to 3 Comedy Pilots
pilot orders continue to roll in, with greenlights going to three comedy projects: “Love Is Relative,” “Mission Control” and “Ellen More or Less.” “Relative,” from 20th Century Fox TV project is exec produced by Tom Werner’s Good Humor TV and 3 Arts, with scribe Dan Mazer, Werner and Tom Lassally serving as exec producers. It’s a multicamera gaffer about a married couple who start to see their marriage in a new light when the wife’s newly divorced brother moves in.

Universal TV’s “Mission Control” hails from Gary Sanchez Prods. and writer David Hornsby. It’s set in 1962 revolving around a woman who butts heads with a macho astronaut in the race to land on the moon.

Also from Universal TV is “Ellen More or Less,” penned by J.J. Philbin who exec produces with Jason Katims. Project centers on a woman who reinvents herself after losing 100 pounds.

Comedy Central Orders Natasha Leggero Pilot From Red Hour & Standup Special
Comedy Central
has greenlighted a scripted pilot starring and executive produced by Natasha Leggero and a stand-up special headlined by her. The pilot, Another Period, hails from Ben Stiller’s Red Hour, with Drunk History co-creator/director Jeremy Konner directing. It was created by and stars Leggero and Riki Lindhome as Victorian-era heiresses. Shot reality style, the comedy follows the misadventures of Newport’s first family, The Bellacourts, a family with nothing to offer the world, but who have so much money that it doesn’t matter. Leggero and Lindhome executive produce with Konner and Red Hour.

The CW Acquires ‘Labyrinth’ Miniseries
has acquired the four-hour period mini Labyrinth, starring Downton Abbey alum Jessica Brown Findlay. Veteran actor John Hurt; Sebastian Stan and Tom Felton also star in the mini. Labyrinth, based on the novel by Kate Mosse, will shift back and forth between medieval and modern-day France. The mini centers on two women separated by centuries who are united by the search for the Holy Grail.

Mike Sikowitz Signs New Overall Deal With Sony TV
Comedy writer-producer Mike Sikowitz is staying at Sony Pictures Television with a new overall deal. Under the rich seven-figure pact, which I hear is for three years, he will continue to develop projects for the studio.

‘Terminator’ Alum Returns to Fox’s ‘Backstrom’ as Series Regular
Thomas Dekker
will reprise his role from the CBS pilot in the Rainn Wilson-starrer — this time as a series regular. The actor has closed a new deal to reprise his formerly guest-starring role as Gregory Valentine, a whip-smart young gay man that’s an ex-hustler-turned-entrepreneurial crook who is Backstrom’s (Rainn Wilson) tenant.

24: Live Another Day Taps Benjamin Bratt
Benjamin Bratt
is about to have a herculean task set before him: Find Jack Bauer. The Law & Order vet has joined Fox’s 12-episode event series 24: Live Another Day. Bratt will play Steve Harris, the head of CIA operations tracking Kiefer Sutherland’s elusive character.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Admits Keke Palmer
The Akeelah and the Bee alum will guest-star as a pregnant teen who seeks help from the Grey Sloan Memorial doctors and appear in one episode, which is set to air in late March.

(sched) ‘Under the Dome,’ ‘Extant’ Get Premiere Dates From CBS
“Under the Dome,” based on the Stephen King novel, will return June 30 at 10 p.m., while “Extant,” which stars Halle Berry as an astronaut whose experiences upon her return to earth lead to events that change the course of human history, will premiere July 2 at 9 p,m.

‘Intelligence’ EP on Steep Ratings Drop: ‘That Sucked’
Executive producer Michael Seitzman was candid about the steep ratings drop-off Wednesday morning during CBS’ Television Critics Association. "That sucked — there’s no other way to put it," Seitzman admitted, though he did cite happiness with CBS touting — if briefly — Intelligence’s top freshman scripted debut.

(TCAs) CBS Executive Session with Nina Tassler Press Tour Live-Blog

Nina Tassler says that the pilot season isn’t perfect, but it’s also exciting. She praises the urgency and says that gives way to "creative adrenaline." "CSI" is an example of a show that was aided by pilot season, because it was the last script ordered, the last pilot ordered and the last pilot delivered. "Everybody was under that pressure, but because they are really great creatively, they made the best decisions and the right decisions," she says. CBS has given a 13-episode commitment to "Battle Creek" from Vince Gilligan, a script she jokes has been sitting on her desk since 2002. "For us, it’s a part of the process that works, with its inherent challenges, but it does work," Tassler says.


(TCAs) The CW Executive Session with Mark Pedowitz Press Tour Live-Blog
"Pilot season is tried and true. It’s inefficient in some ways and very efficient in some ways," says Mark Pedowitz. The CW actually doesn’t order that many pilots without picking them up. He applauds Kevin Reilly’s plans, though, and says that he wishes FOX well.



Sony Wins Bidding War for Spy Novel ‘The Director’; Scott Rudin to Produce
Sony Pictures has won a bidding war for David Ignatius’ spy novel “The Director,” which will reunite the “Captain Phillips” team of producer Scott Rudin and director Paul Greengrass. Ignatius’ novel follows Graham Weber, who has been director of the CIA for less than a week when a Swiss kid walks into the American consulate in Hamburg and says the agency has been hacked, and he has a list of agents’ names to prove it.

Chernin Buys Viking Pitch From Scribe Nick Schoenfeld
Chernin Entertainment
has bought a Vikings pitch from scribe Nick Schoenfeld. No distributor is on board yet but Fox is the likely suitor since Chernin has a first look deal there. Plot details are vague other than it will be set in England in 1066.

‘King Kong’ Actor Thomas Kretschmann Joins Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’
Thomas Kretschmann
has been cast as one of the villains in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”Kretchmann will play Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, a Nazi officer working for terrorist organization HYDRA who runs up against both Captain America (Chris Evans) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).


The CW Boosts Reality Lineup With Cedric The Entertainer, Penn and Teller
The CW is strengthening its reality slate with competition programs hailing from Cedric the Entertainer and magicians Penn and Teller. Halfhour series “Barber Battle” is hosted by Cedric and features a different barbershop across the nation in each of the 10 comedic episodes. Hairstylists and barbers will compete to be named the creator of the best “crowns” in town. “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” gives aspiring magicians the chance to perform their best trick to try to fool vet magician duo Penn and Teller.

CBS Renews Entire Daytime Lineup for 2014-2015 Season
announced today they have renewed their entire daytime schedule for the 2014-2015 season. “Let’s Make a Deal,” “The Price is Right,” “The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “The Talk” will all return for another year.

The CW Cancels ‘Breaking Pointe’
“Breaking Pointe”
will not go forward will not go forward with a third season, CW president Mark Pedowitz said at the Television Critics Association press tour on Wednesday. The reality series chronicled the behind the scenes action at Salt Lake City ballet company Ballet West.

TV Sports: Small Deal for N.F.L. Games Has Major Implications and Potential
The league is interested in selling the rights to several of the Thursday night games that are now shown on NFL Network.


Maker Studios, Warner Bros. Team on Comedy From ‘Friends’ Producers
Maker Studios and Warner Bros. television will co-produce “Robin Banks and the Bank Roberts,” a heist comedy created and written by “Friends” executive producers Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. The show will run on Maker Studios’ Nacho Punch comedy channel and marks a collaboration between the massive online video network and Studio 2.0, a division of WB TV. The show stars Michael Mosley, Tony Cavalero and Josh Zuckerman as a trio of bank robbers who stumble their way through heists. The first season will run 10 episodes, each three to five minutes long, and debuted Wednesday.

‘Veronica Mars’ Getting a Web Spinoff on the CW
Creator Rob Thomas will be involved with the project, which will likely consist of six to eight 10-minute segments.


Blumhouse Productions Taps Jessica Rhoades As Head of Television
With Blumhouse Productions, the company of hot genre feature producer Jason Blum, ramping up its TV portfolio, it has brought in Jessica Rhoades as head of television. Rhoades was previously a partner with Ashley Tisdale at Blondie Girl Prods. in their deal with Relativity Television.

A+E Networks Ups Two Key Execs
A+E Networks
has tapped Thomas Moody as SVP Programming, Planning & Acqusitions for FYI and LMN and Laura Fleury has been upped to VP Programming and Development, LMN.

Starz Promotes Kevin Kasha to Head of Acquisitions
Kevin Kasha
is getting a big promotion, with the Anchor Bay executive being upped to the newly created position of head of acquisitions at the film studio’s parent company, Starz. Kasha was previously Anchor Bay’s head of worldwide acquisitions. In the newly created position, he will have the mandate to acquire products for all of the company’s platforms. He will report to chief revenue officer Michael Thornton.

Blair Westlake Resigns from Microsoft
Blair Westlake
has abruptly resigned from Microsoft. The former Universal television chairman joined Microsoft in 2004, to head media partnerships and oversaw the licensing of TV shows and movies for the company’s Xbox platforms. He was corporate VP of Microsoft’s Media and Entertainment Group.