Afternoon News Update for Thursday, 1/23/14.


NBC Orders Rob Lowe Comedy Pilot
has given a pilot order to a comedy to star Rob Lowe as a former tennis pro who reunites with his ex-partner. Project hails from scribes Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory. ABC Studios and Universal TV are producing, with Todd Holland and Karey Burke exec producing.

NBC has also added a multi camera project from scribe Wil Calhoun to its comedy pilot roster. “Lifesaver,” from Universal TV, is billed as an odd couple comedy revolving around two friends who are polar opposites, and one has donated a kidney to the other. Calhoun penned the pilot and is exec producing with Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan of Universal TV-based TBD Entertainment.

‘Transporter the Series’ Lands at TNT
continues to diversify its drama portfolio, picking up the first two seasons of international drama Transporter: The Series. An extension of Luc Besson’s popular film franchise of the same name, Transporter follows Frank Martin — a professional who specializes in delivering people and cargo to and from anywhere in the world. It stars Chris Vance and is produced by Atlantique Productions and QVF Inc. It was originally ordered to series in the U.S. by Cinemax back in 2011, but a production hiatus and showrunner change ultimately prompted the cable network to pull out.

HBO To Redevelop Riddle/Salahuddin Pilot, Passes On ‘People In New Jersey’
has decided not to go forward with People In New Jersey, written by Bruce Eric Kaplan, directed by Paul Feig and executive produced by Lorne Michaels. Meanwhile, the untitled Riddle/Salahuddin project, will be redeveloped with a production commitment, meaning that the retooled script will likely film a new pilot.

HBO’s ‘Family Tree’ Will Not Be Renewed, ‘Hello Ladies’ Will Wrap Run With Special, ‘Getting On’ Eyes Second Season Pickup
has opted not to order a second season of Family Tree. Also not going to second season is Hello Ladies, which will wrap the story of Stuart Pritchard (Stephen Merchant) and his group of friends with a special. There is no final decision on medical comedy Getting On but it is expected to get a second-season renewal pending the sorting out of budget issues.

‘Modern Family’ Duo Inks Overall Deal With 20th Television
Writing and producing duo Paul Corrigan and Brad Walsh will remain with the Emmy darling under a new two-year pact with the studio behind the ABC comedy.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’s’ Patrick Dempsey, Ellen Pompeo Ink New Two-Year Deals
The new contracts ensure that the duo will remain with the series for a potential 11th and 12th season.

TV Land’s ‘Hot in Cleveland’ Gets Live, Animated Episodes
TV Land
announced that the season premieres of Betty White’s Hot in Cleveland and Cedric the Entertainer’s The Soul Man will kick off with live episodes on Wednesday, March 26 at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., respectively. White and Cedric will also cross over on the other’s show.

(review) THR: Rake
Greg Kinnear and a solid cast may not be enough to save this scoundrel series from its own familiarity.

Deathlok & Lorelei Characters Joining ‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’
The Marvel Comics character Deathlok will appear on ABC‘s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.beginning next month, Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb said today during the show’s TCA set visit presentation. The character Mike Peterson, played by J August Richards on the show, will become the cyborg. Also coming aboard is the character of Lorelei (played by Elene Satine), a villain from Thor’s home of Asgard.

(video) New ‘Salem’ Trailer: Shane West, a Witch-Hunt, and a Creepy Wolf-Head-Type Creature
Life’s a witch and then some people die in the first trailer for “Salem,” the first scripted series from WGN America. The series, which stars “E.R.” alum Shane West, explores what really fueled Salem’s infamous witch trials and uncovers the dark, supernatural truth behind them.

TNT’s Perception à Paris!
TNT’s Perception
is trading the Windy City for the City of Lights, filming on location in Paris, France. “Scott, Rachael, Eric and I are really thrilled to be shooting the Season 3 premiere on location in Paris,” executive producer Ken Biller tells TVLine. “The story takes Pierce out of his comfort zone to the most romantic city in the world where, of course, because this is Perception, nothing is exactly as it seems.”


Fox’s ‘Broadchurch’ Adaptation Adds ‘Lucky 7’ Alum
Stephen Louis Grush
has boarded "Gracepoint" as a series regular.

Adrianne Palicki Joins NBC’s ‘About a Boy’
The actress will reunite with showrunner Jason Katims and recur as a love interest for David Walton’s Will on the freshman comedy.

TNT’s ‘Murder in the First’ Adds ‘Revolution’ Alum
Nicole Ari Parker has boarded the cast of the drama starring Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson.

VH1 Drama Series ‘Hit The Floor’ Adds Trio Of New Regulars For Season 2
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Adam Senn
and newcomer Brent Antonello are joining the cast of VH1‘s basketball-themed drama Hit The Floor as new regulars in Season 2.


Fox Orders ‘Utopia’ From ‘The Voice’s’ John de Mol
Already a hit in The Netherlands, the reality format puts participants in a remote, isolated location for an entire year and tasks them with creating their own civilization.

CBS To Launch New Courtshow From Judge Judy In Fall
Created by Judge Judy Sheindlin, “Hot Bench” features a panel of three judges hearing court cases, arguing the merits of the case amongst themselves, and rendering a verdict.

‘SNL’ Names Head Writer Colin Jost as Cecily Strong’s ‘Weekend Update’ Co-Anchor
has tapped head writer Colin Jost as its new “Weekend Update” co-anchor. Jost’s first show will be on Mar. 1. Current “Update” co-anchor, Seth Meyers, is departing the show following its Feb. 1 episode.


Warner Bros. TV, FremantleMedia, More TV Titans Wake Up to Web Content
In a new wave of partnerships, companies including FremantleMedia North America, Univision Communications, Warner Bros. Television and Universal Cable Prods. are working with smaller digital-media firms on joint productions or distribution of content. Established companies increasingly see such partnerships as a better path to learning than try to do it all themselves, said Brian Bedol, founder and CEO of Bedrocket Media, which is developing a range of content for Univision’s digital-only Flama media brand. But why are companies that produce top-shelf TV programming bothering with microbudget, YouTube-grade content in the first place?


Working Title Television Produces ‘The Secrets’ for BBC
Working Title Television
has been commissioned by the BBC to produce “The Secrets,” a season of five 30-minute films that have been penned by up-and-coming scribes, and are helmed by Dominic Savage. Each season of “The Secrets” takes an inciting incident, and from this starting point, five different stories are told, in five distinctive and original voices. The writers of “The Secrets” are Nick Payne, who will pen two episodes, Elinor Cook, Ben Ockrent and Sarah Solemani.


21 Network Chiefs on Challenges, Dream Showrunners and Projects That Got Away
THR caught up with TV’s top executives during TCA to discuss the next big programming trend, the best note they’ve given, their TV guilty pleasures and more.

Ari Mark Named Head Of Unscripted Programming At Xbox Entertainment Studios
has hired Ari Mark as head of unscripted programming for Xbox Entertainment Studios in Santa Monica, CA, joining Nancy Tellem’s team overseeing unscripted for the studio.

Fremantle International Ups Hayley Dickson To VP TV Acquisitions & Development
FremantleMedia International
has promoted Hayley Dickson to VP Television Acquisitions and Development, Global Content. Dickson previously served as Director, Television Acquisitions and Development before moving into the newly created role where she will oversee Global Content in its North American division.

Fox Writers Intensive Finalists Named
This year’s 10 FWI finalists were selected from more than 400 nominations and submissions by talent representation and arts organizations across the country.

Nazrin Choudhury (ICM / Silver Lake Entertainment)
Tze Chun (WME)
Nate Clark (Independent)
Sonay Hoffman (Kaplan Stahler / Scripted World)
Johanna Lee (Scripted World)
Bernadette Rivero (Circle of Confusion)
Kevin Seccia (The Gersh Agency / Gotham Group)
Gabby Revilla (Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein & Kohner, P.C.)
Debby Wolfe (ICM)
Ed Gonzalez & Jeremy Haft (Summit Talent and Literary Agency / Luber Roklin Management)


(rumor) New Apple TV reportedly coming in first half of 2014
Apple is "well into testing" its next revision of the Apple TV set-top box, according to 9to5Mac. The new hardware is likely to launch sometime in the first half of 2014 and runs a revamped user interface with deeper ties to iOS, the report claims. That could open the door to an App Store for Apple TV and an expanded offering of third-party apps and games. Apple’s selection of "channels" has grown steadily in recent months, but still lacks the depth offered by Roku and other set-top box manufacturers.

(video) Book Trailer: B. J. Novak’s “One More Thing”
Here’s the trailer for B.J. Novak’s new book, hot off the (French) presses.

The Problem With Doing What You Love
“Do what you love” is the mantra for today’s worker. Why should we assert our class interests if, according to DWYL elites like Steve Jobs, there’s no such thing as work?