Afternoon News Update for Thursday, 2/13/14.


Dwayne Johnson’s HBO Half-Hour Pilot ‘Ballers’ Picked Up To Series
has picked up to series half-hour pilot pilot Ballers toplined by Dwayne Johnson in his first major series gig. He is executive producing the series with his Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg, Steve Levinson, showrunner Even Reilly and Peter Berg, who directed the pilot. Written by Levinson, Ballers is exploring the lives of a group of former and current football players. Johnson stars as Spencer Strasnore, a retired athlete. The cast includes Omar Benson Miller, John David Washington, Rob Corddry, Troy Garity, Donovan Carter, Jazmyn Simon, Taylor Cole, and LeToya Luckett.

Romany Malco Cast As The Lead In ABC’s Kevin Hart Pilot, Lifting Contingency
Romany Malco
is set as the lead of ABC‘s multi-camera comedy pilot Keep It Together, lifting the cast-contingency off the project from hot actor-comedian Kevin Hart and former Community executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan. Written by Goldman and Donovan based on Hart’s life and stand-up and, Keep It Together takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple, Derek (Malco) and Lorraine, trying to forge a friendship for the sake of their kids, despite differences.

CW Gives Early Renewals To ‘Arrow’, ‘The Vampire Diaries’, ‘Supernatural’, ‘Reign’ & ‘The Originals’
As it has done in the past couple of years, the CW has given early renewals to its strongest series. The list includes flagship dramas The Vampire Diaries and Arrow, formidable veteranSupernatural and freshmen The Originals andReign. Left off are the proverbial bubble shows whose renewals chances are estimated to be 50-50 at best. That includes Beauty & the Beast, The Carrie Diaries, Hart of Dixie and The Tomorrow People.

Busy Multi-Camera Comedy Director Pam Fryman Books Four Pilots
Pamela Fryman has lined up four pilots to helm/executive produce, a personal best for the prolific multi-camera director. That of course includes the HIMYM spinoff How I Met Your Dad starring Greta Gerwig. Fryman also is directing Fox’s Cabot College. Additionally, she has come on board two other CBS multi-camera pilots, the Filgos’ Save The Date, starring Maggie Lawson as a woman who books a wedding date before meeting a guy she would like to marry, and David Caspe/Erik Sommers’ buddy comedy Cuz-Bros.

The British comedy co-created by Mortimer and her friend Dolly Wells premieres March 9.


Actors Added To Fox’s Matt Hubbard, ABC’s Jeff Lowell Comedy Pilots
Ely Henry
and Asif Ali have been cast as leads in Cabot College, Fox‘s multi-camera comedy pilot from Matt Hubbard, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Nicolas Wright has been added to My Thoughts Exactly, ABC‘s comedy pilot from writer Jeff Lowell, Brillstein Entertainment Partners and ABC Studios. Wright will play Peter’s handsome, slick brother.

Alec Baldwin to Guest Star on Mariska Hargitay-Directed ‘SVU’ Episode
Alec Baldwin
will return to NBC for his first post-”30 Rock” role since the comedy ended last year. The actor will appear in a March episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Producers are keeping Baldwin’s role secret, but we do know that he will appear on “SVU” star Mariska Hargitay’s directorial debut.

Good Wife: John Leguizamo to Succeed Peter
John Leguizamo
will guest-star on The Good Wife as the new Cook County State’s Attorney. Leguizamo’s character, who took over the position after Peter was elected Governor, is described as a well-liked leader intent on making the State’s Attorney’s office fair for everybody.


Julianne Moore, Zach Galifianakis to Star in Drama ‘Freeheld’
The pair join Ellen Page in the Peter Sollett-helmed film based on the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary short of the same name. The film chronicles the true story of the late Laurel Hester (Moore), a New Jersey police detective whose world was shattered when she became terminally ill and government officials prevented her from assigning her pension benefits to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Page).


Esquire Network Sees Sports-Themed Reality Shows As Key To Success
A new season of White Collar Brawlers, coupled with the buzz around Friday Night Tykes represent the network’s best chance yet to gain traction with a young male audience. Esquire Network is working on sports-themed reality shows in an attempt to attract the sought-after male demographic.


Bravo and Oxygen Media Promote Two
and Oxygen Media have upped two of its own to the same position: Emily Yeomans and Chloe Ellers will both serve as VP, communications.


(tech) How a second-screen app made ‘The Walking Dead’ come alive
One of the first to market when it debuted in 2012, Story Sync lets viewers watch an interactive presentation that plays in real time during the initial broadcast of a given episode. Originally tied to the second season of The Walking Dead, Story Sync continued to gain traction, and AMC expanded it to include Breaking Bad and The Killing in subsequent years. Updating in real time, the polls give you a taste of what it would be like to watch the show in a room full of other fans, but Story Sync is smart in not throwing out too many interactive options.