Afternoon News Update for Wednesday, 1/22/14.


ABC Gives Series Order to Drama From David O. Russell and Susannah Grant
has given a series greenlight to a drama shepherded by David O. Russell and Susannah Grant. Project from CBS TV Studios and ABC Studios is described as an upstairs-downstairs soap set in a tony country club. Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly are also exec producing.

Ann Peacock To Adapt ‘The Dovekeepers’ For CBS Event Series From Mark Burnett, Roma Downey
Ann Peacock
has been tapped to adapt The Dovekeepers for Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and CBS. The Dovekeepers is a four-hour miniseries based in Alice Hoffman’s historical novel about the Siege of Masada, and it will air on CBS in 2015.

Mick Jagger in Talks to Adapt ’20 Feet From Stardom’ for TV, Broadway
Mick Jagger
is in talks to turn Oscar-nominated documentary 20 Feet From Stardom into a one-hour scripted TV series and a Broadway musical. Jagger and Victoria Pearman would executive produce the TV series through their Jagged Films banner alongside the film’s director Morgan Neville. Like the film, the series and the musical adaptations would follow the lives of backup singers who perform in the shadows of some of the biggest music stars in the business. The film took a look at the history of backup singers, but the TV series would only depict contemporary performers.

Bill Cosby Reteaming With NBC for New Family Comedy
Bill Cosby
is returning to NBC to star in a new family comedy. Cosby is teaming with former Cosby Show producer Tom Werner of Carsey Werner for a new family comedy in which he’d star. The comedy will be centered on Cosby, who will play the patriarch of a multigenerational family and will include his take on marriage and parenting. A search is underway for writers on the project, which is being eyed for development outside of the traditional pilot season window.

HBO Developing Electronic Music Comedy with Calvin Harris, Jay-Z
is developing a halfhour comedy with Calvin Harris that takes place in the world of electronic music. “Higher” has Irvine Welsh on board as scribe, with a starry lineup of exec producers including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay-Z, James Lassiter, Tyran Smith, Miguel Melendez, Mark Gillespie and Dean Wilson, along with Harris.

Kevin Reilly’s War on TV Pilot Season: Will Other Networks Follow Fox?
As the network chair attacks the traditional development season, rivals and talent both praise and fear the shake-up; says "Homeland’s" Howard Gordon, "It’s about time."


Jaimie Alexander To Co-Star In Ryan Murphy’s HBO Pilot ‘Open’
Thor‘s Jaimie Alexander has joined Ryan Murphy‘s HBO pilot Open as a series regular. Open, which Murphy co-wrote with Lauren Gussis, is described as a modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships. Alexander will play Claire, the postpartum-suffering, pill-popping Stepford wife of Evan (Wes Bentley).

Ben Mendelsohn Joins Netflix’s Kyle Chandler Drama From ‘Damages’ Creators
Netflix’s untitled family drama has found its black sheep. Ben Mendelsohn has boarded the family thriller from the creators of Damages. The series centers on a family of adult siblings whose secrets and scars come to light with the return of their black-sheep brother. Mendelsohn will play Danny, black sheep of the family and the opposite Kyle Chandler’s middle child, John, the responsible caretaker of the group.

Lina Esco Joins HBO Pilot ‘Open’; Fox Event Series ‘Gracepoint’ Adds Regular
Lina Esco
has been cast as a regular in Ryan Murphy‘s HBO pilot Open. Esco will play Gina, a smoking hot and extremely ambitious employee at Jonathan’s sports management agency (and the object of his sexting and extra-curricular exploits) who will stop at nothing to get the job promotion AND her man.

Madalyn Horcher has been cast in Fox’s 10-hour event series Gracepoint, a remake of the UK’s Broadchurch. Horcher will play Chloe Lasseter, the smart and sassy daughter of Mark (Michael Pena) and Beth (Virginia Kull), who is hit hard by her brother Danny’s death.


Nu Image Acquires John Sullivan Action Spec ‘Security’
, an action spec from writer John Sullivan (Recoil) about a security guard who must protect a female witness from a gang of thugs in a mall after communication is knocked out from storm, has sold to Nu Image. The deal closed late last week and producers are eyeing A-list action talent to drive the pic. Security will be the first film produced by Jonathan Yunger and Jeffrey Greenstein, who started out as Avi Lerner’s assistants.


Discovery Orders Risky International Car Hunting Series ‘Chrome Underground’
Discovery Channel is going to some of the most dangerous international locations for its newly picked up series, “Underground Chrome.” Premiering Tuesday, Feb. 25, the Twofour America series features car hunters Yusuf and Antonio. With the assistance of Andrew, a former elite anti-terrorism Marine, the men go places others in their line of work avoid in their search for rare and vintage automobiles.

ABC’s ‘Wipeout’ Renewed for Seventh Season
The network has picked up the reality competition series for another run, with a new season-ending tournament.

(review) THR: Wahlburgers
Mark and Donnie Wahlberg’s kin cashes in on their rags-to-riches appeal with a new Boston-based A&E docu-series, which chronicles parts of their family life and the rise of their restaurant chain. Unfortunately, there’s nothing about the series’ style or format that makes it stand out among other family docu-dramas.


ITV Orders Full Series Of Horror-Themed Game Show ‘Release The Hounds’
Horror/game show hybrid Release The Hounds debuted as a Halloween special on the UK’s ITV2 last year. The one-off episode received positive notices for the premise, and an outpouring of interest on Twitter. ITV has now commissioned a six-episode series to be produced by Sony Pictures Television‘s UK production joint venture Gogglebox. Release The Hounds mixes two genres by sending unsuspecting contestants into a forest at dusk as they seek out chests full of prize money. In order to win big after a series of challenges, they must outrun a pack of hounds trained to guard the cash.


Disney Releasing New, Singalong Karaoke Version Of Frozen To Cinemas
From January 31st, Disney are going to be releasing a new version of Frozen to cinemas, this one with lyrics and a bouncing snowflake.


Netflix Execs Say No Worries As Spending Rises “Dramatically” For Original Shows, And Maybe Movies
Many investors fear that Netflix is committing too much cash to original productions — but Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told analysts this evening not to fret: While his recent project commitments will take spending on original programming “up pretty dramatically,” they will still account for less than 10% of Netflix’s total content costs. Sarandos wouldn’t confirm or deny Netflix’s aspiration to also produce big budget movies, but reiterated his case for entering the business. “To consumers, the line between a movie and TV is getting pretty blurry,” he says. “We want to make compelling content in multiple formats.”

High Noon Entertainment Promotes Pair To SVP
The producer of Cake Boss and the upcoming Polka Kings has upped Patrick Jager to SVP Development & Production and Scott Feeley to SVP Current Programming.


Viacom To Launch Customized Kids’ TV Channel
Viacom is planning to launch a new TV channel for kids that can be customized according to parents’ tastes and combines both scheduled programming and on-demand options, such as Netflix, the Wall Street Journal reports. My Nickelodeon Jr will be available first on Verizon’s FIOS service, but Viacom plans to bring it to other pay-TV cable operators in the near future.

(tech) Tivo makes its hardware exit official
According to sources within Tivo, most of the hardware team has been let go. A skeleton crew of two engineers has been retained to handle support for current and upcoming third-party devices. The sources told WIRED that Tivo is getting out of the hardware business altogether and making a big direction change.