Morning News Update for Tuesday, 3/4/14.


Sean Jablonski’s Escort Drama Gets Series Order at USA
The untitled effort revolves around investment banker Neil Truman and his wife, Grace, as they try to sift through their stagnant relationship looking for what they once had. But when Neil discovers that Grace is seeing a male escort and accidentally comes into possession of the escort’s phone, he gains a unique perspective on his life and what motivates women. "The Glades" alum Matt Passmore stars in the 10-episode drama set for a summer premiere, while comedy pilot "Love Is Dead" starring Ben Rappaport will not move forward at the cable network.

truTV Greenlights Network’s First-Ever Sketch-Comedy Series: ‘Friends of the People’
truTV has given the greenlight to its first-ever sketch-comedy series: Friends of the People. The series stars comedians Kevin Barnett, Jennifer Bartels, Jermaine Fowler, Lil Rel Howery, The Lucas Bros. and Josh Rabinowitz. The network has ordered 10 episodes, including the pilot, with plans to launch the series in summer 2014. Friends of the People is being produced by 3 Arts Entertainment and Marobru Productions. Friends of the People will take sketch comedy to the next level, with a combination of scripted sketches, man-on-the-street segments and more.

’30 Rock’ Alums Set Overall Deal with Universal TV
“30 Rock” scribes Dylan Morgan and Josh Siegel have inked an overall deal with Universal TV. Pair are set to develop comedy projects for the studio.

Timbaland to Produce Music for Lee Daniels’ Hip-Hop Pilot
Grammy Award-winning Timbaland has signed on to write and produce the music for the Fox pilot, “Empire.” The family drama, which is penned by Daniels and Strong and directed by Daniels, is set in the world of the hip-hop industry and stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.

(sched) Fox Moves ‘Rake’ to Friday, ‘American Idol’ Gets 9 p.m. on Thursday
Beginning March 13, the low-rated freshman drama heads to the old "Bones" time slot, and the network uses the new season of "Hell’s Kitchen" to launch its Thursday block.

(review) Variety: ‘Sirens’
“Rescue Me” enjoyed a long run on FX, but Denis Leary apparently wasn’t quite finished with it. So he’s essentially taken the comedic half of the show’s fire-department antics and (with some help) transformed it into “Sirens,” a moderately amusing and decidedly raunchy USA half-hour about paramedics. The show has a surprisingly long creative pedigree for that fairly simple premise, inasmuch as so many gags hinge on penises and porn. All told, it marks a departure for USA less for the show’s genre than its tone.

(opinion) TVBTN: FOX Predictions: ‘The Mindy Project’ Is Likely To Be Canceled
The Mindy Project was put on hiatus in late January. That schedule yank, plus its well below average relative ratings to that point, has the Cancellation Bear moving his prediction for it down to "likely to be canceled". Note to the new, or delusional, readers. When a rookie show has a previously unannounced schedule change to Friday (Rake) in the middle of its run, the show has been canceled.


Fox’s Batman Prequel ‘Gotham’ Casts Its Young Bruce Wayne, Catwoman
"Touch’s" David Mazouz will play the Batman-to-be in the drama from "The Mentalist’s" Bruno Heller, while newcomer Camren Bicondova will portray a young Selina Kyle.

Newcomer Stacey McGunnigle Lands Lead In NBC Comedy Pilot ‘Ellen More Or Less’
After an exhaustive search, Canadian actress/writer Stacey McGunnigle has been cast in the title role of NBC’s pilot Ellen More Or Less, written/exec produced by JJ Philbin, directed by Peyton Reed and exec produced by Jason Katims and Michelle Lee.

Christina Kirk Cast In NBC’s ‘A to Z’; Yara Shahidi In ABC’s Anthony Anderson Comedy
Christina Kirk (Girls) has joined NBC’s romantic comedy pilot A To Z, from Warner Bros TV, writer Ben Queen and producers Rashida Jones and Will McCormack. Yara Shahidi, who plays young Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal, is set to co-star in in the network’s untitled Anthony Anderson pilot, from ABC Studios, Laurence Fishburne’s Cinema Gypsy and Principato Young.


Warner Bros. Ups Production Execs Jon Berg, Courtenay Valenti
Jon Berg
and Courtenay Valenti have been promoted to executive vp of development and production at Warner Bros. The move is part of a department restructure spearheaded by production president Greg Silverman that comes on the heels of executive VP Lynn Harris’ exit from the studio last month. Berg and Valenti will report to Silverman.


Dancing with the Stars Reveals Season 18 Cast
Drew Carey, Candace Cameron Bure,
and Olympic gold medalists Charlie White and Meryl Davis are among the celebrities who are heading to the ballroom for Season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. Host Tom Bergeron and his new partner Erin Andrews revealed the names of the cast members on Good Morning America Tuesday. Other celeb dancers include NeNe Leakes, Billy Dee Williams, Danica McKellar, and long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad. Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy is also in the cast, but appeared on GMA via satellite because she’s competing in Sochi.

History Launches New Reality Series ‘Down East Dickering’
Set in “down east” Maine, Down East Dickeringfollows a group a colorful locals who wheel and deal their way through life by scouring the classified ads in Uncle Henry’s magazine, searching for odd jobs, crazy barters, and offbeat goods. History will premiere the eight-part reality series on April 2 at 10 PM ET.

New Series ‘None of the Above’ to Premiere March 24 on National Geographic Channel
In National Geographic Channel’s new series None of the Above, host Tim Shaw challenges viewers to predict the outcome of spectacular experiments before breaking down the science behind the always-surprising results. These “man-on-the-street” experiments involve physics and engineering and will blow your mind or at least make you hold your breath. None of the Above will premiere March 24 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel.

(video) Jimmy Kimmel Grills Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in Scorching Interview
During Monday’s "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," the disgraced leader fielded a barrage of questions, from drugs and alcohol to why he even agreed to appear on the late-night program in the first place.

(video) Adele Dazeem – er – Idina Menzel Sings ‘Let It Go’ With Jimmy Fallon and the Roots
Idina Menzel swung through “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” Monday to perform a stripped down version of “Let It Go,” the Oscar-winning song from “Frozen.” Fallon’s house band, The Roots,” joined the pair, as well.

TV Guide: How Harry Connick Jr. Saved American Idol
Season 13 of American Idol sure caught a lucky break in new judge Harry Connick Jr. Since his debut in January, Connick has received rave reviews from both the show’s fans and television critics — but he hasn’t paid attention to any of them. "There’s just a lot of noise that I don’t listen to," Connick says. "I’ve heard some incredibly nice things, but it stops there. I’ve got a job to do."


See the debut of "Ask The Roots."


David Nevins Rises to Showtime President, Extends Contract to 2018
programming chief David Nevins has been promoted to president of Showtime Networks and extended his contract with CBS Corp.‘s pay cabler through 2018. With the new post, Nevins takes on oversight of Showtime’s sports division as well as marketing, creative and digital media operations. He continues to report to Showtime Networks chairman-CEO Matthew Blank.

Erin Jontow Joins MRC As VP Television
Indicating a ramp-up in television, MRC has added a scripted executive, bringing in BBC America’s Erin Jontow as VP Television, reporting to indie company’s TV head Joe Hipps, SVP, Television.

WE Tv Promotes Theresa Patiri
WE tv
has upped Theresa Patiri to senior veep of production and business affairs from VP of production management and operations. In her elevated position, Patiri will be responsible for all production management and business affairs for WE tv’s slate of original scripted and unscripted series and development projects.

Nerdist Industries Taps Adam Rymer And Jack Herrguth For Top Exec Posts
Nerdist Industries
announced today it has hired former Adam Rymer as President and Jack Herrguth as Head of Development, a move that signals the company’s building out of its pop culture platform.


(genre) io9: 10 Book Series That Would Make Excellent TV Shows
To compile this post, we tried to think of book series that had enough material to sustain a TV series without having to start inventing characters and plot twists out of whole cloth in the first year or two. We also thought about series that have complex worldbuilding, intense political and social conflicts, and vivid characters who stick in your mind — without requiring massive space battles or dragon wars on a TV budget.

Atlantic: The Plight of NCIS: TV’s Biggest Drama Gets No Respect
At this point, the show’s producers are resigned to NCIS fate as the Rodney Dangerfield of TV shows (i.e. gets no respect). “I try to stay really focused on the fact that as much as I would love for our cast and crew to get some attention, at the end of the day it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards,” the show’s executive producer and showrunner Gary Glasberg says. “And I have to appreciate at the end of the day that although they haven’t gotten that kind of attention, that 20 million people every week are watching. The fact that I’m getting 20 million viewers in this landscape is kind of crazy.”