Morning News Update for Wednesday, 3/5/14.


AMC’s Ben Davis Upped To SVP Scripted
has promoted Ben Davis to SVP of scripted programming. He will continue to report to Susie Fitzgerald, SVP of scripted development and current programming.

NBC Drama ‘Conception’ Not Going Forward
has passed on Conception, its supernatural mystery drama project from writer John Glenn and producer David Janollari. The project, from Universal Television was set up at the network in August with a put pilot commitment, a rare such big commitment for a pitch from a sibling studio. Co-written by Glenn and Lars Jacobson, Conception tracks a modern-day immaculate conception on a large scale. The show was to follow those few children that survived and how they’re destined to change the world. The network since greenlighted the Heroes: Reborn event miniseries, and I hear NBC brass felt the two projects were too similar.

David Milch’s HBO Pilot ‘The Money’ Not Going Forward
has opted not to proceed with The Money, its drama pilot written by David Milch, directed by Justin Chadwick and starring Brendan Gleeson. The project was about wealth and corruption among the super elite, focusing on American mogul and patriarch James Castman (Gleeson), who wields power and influence to expand his media empire and control his family.

AMC Sci-Fi Pilot ‘Line Of Sight’ Not Moving Forward
foray into sci-fi is being put on hold. The cable network has passed on drama pilot Line Of Sight from Blake Masters. Co-produced by Fox TV Studios and AMC Studios, it centered on Lewis Bernt (David Morrissey), a National Transportation Safety Board investigator who survives a mysterious plane crash, bringing him on an emotionally disorienting quest to discover the accident’s cause. FtvS plans to shop the pilot elsewhere.

Fred Savage to Direct IFC’s ‘Garfunkel and Oates’ Comedy
Savage will direct and executive produce all eight half-hour episodes of the comedy’s debut season, which is set to launch in late summer.

AMC’s Computer Drama ‘Halt and Catch Fire’ to Premiere in June
upcoming drama “Halt and Catch Fire,” about the rise of the PC era in the 1980s, will premiere June 1 at 10 p.m. The series features Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy. Executive produced by Jonathan Lisco, who also serves as showrunner, “Halt and Catch Fire” follows an unlikely trio — a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy – who take personal and professional risks in the race to build a computer that will change the world as they know it.

(review) Variety: ‘Saint George’
Returning for another sitcom that features his first name in the title, George Lopez and everyone else, including the producers of “Home Improvement,” sleepwalks through “Saint George,” a numbingly awful multicamera sitcom that plays like something conjured in a lab once the presumably magical ingredient “George Lopez” was acquired. There’s obviously a business model in the 10-90 approach to comedy development – otherwise FX and distributor Debmar-Mercury/Lionsgate TV wouldn’t keep doing it. But they have once again put the deal ahead of the show, conjuring 21 minutes of rim shots that felt about three times that long, viewing-wise.


Patricia Arquette to Star in CBS’ ‘CSI’ Spinoff
The Medium and Boardwalk Empire alum has been tapped to star in CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation spinoff pilot. The spinoff, scheduled to air as a back-door pilot in the spring, centers on how technology has amplified human behavior to the point where faceless criminals are committing crimes at global proportions with a touch of a button.

Harold Perrineau, Lucy Griffiths to Co-Star in NBC’s ‘Constantine’
"True Detective’s" Charles Halford has also boarded the DC Comics adaptation starring Matt Ryan.

Norbert Leo Butz Joins Netflix’s Thriller Drama Series From ‘Damages’ Creators
Broadway star Norbert Leo Butz is set to co-star opposite Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini and Sissy Spacek in Netflix‘s 13-episode psychological thriller from Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler and Sony Pictures TV.


ABC to air figure skating specials featuring Meryl Davis, Charlie White
just announced a deal with Disson Skating to air a series of four 2-hour figure skating specials starring winners from this year’s Olympic ice dancing competition, including gold medalists (and newly-announced Dancing with the Stars season 18 contestants) Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The first two specials will air fall 2014, while the second two will be saved for early 2015. Dancing with the Stars winner and figure skating champ Kristi Yamaguchi will host the show with fellow Olympian Michael Weiss.

Ty Pennington to host TNT’s ‘On The Menu’, with Emeril Lagasse as Menu Master
Ty Pennington
is heading to the kitchen to host TNT’s new series On the Menu, with legendary Chef Emeril Lagasse signing on as Menu Master. On the Menu is television’s first cooking show ever to give viewers the chance to taste the winning dish after every episode, as well as give everyday cooks the chance to have their dish appear in dining institutions across the country. The series is being produced by One Three Media, with Mark Burnett serving as executive producer.

VH1 Unveils New Slate: Rappers, DNA Testing and Walks of Shame
In addition to Hindsight, a ’90s-set drama, VH1 will add unscripted entries centered on female rappers, a Backstreet Boy and a mobile DNA testing service. Susan Levison, a protege of former Fox reality chief Mike Darnell, has been making the rounds at the major talent agencies, outlining what the network is interested in (loud formats, arced competition shows) and less interested in (fashion, weddings, weight loss and game shows). She has looked to expand the producer pool, too, as she focuses on a 28-year-old target viewer who is female, unmarried and, though she has her life on track, “doesn’t see any shame in watching provocative, fun TV.”

Among the offerings: I Heart Nick Carter, about Backstreet Boy Nick Carter’s relationship with his fiancee; an untitled K. Michelle project, featuring the Love & Hip Hop star’s music career; Swab Stories, which chronicles how lost family members reconnect thanks to DNA testing; Walk of Shame Shuttle, a Taxicab Confessions-style series about a young woman who runs a car service for college students who overindulged the night before; This Is Hot 97, a comedic look inside the iconic radio brand; and the tentatively-titled White Girls of Rap, a Ryan Seacrest Productions series featuring female rappers striving for success in a male-dominated business.


Vice launches news channel
Youth media brand Vice has launched a new online video current affairs and documentary channel, featuring hundreds of hours of programming from around the world. Through a mix of long- and short-form documentaries, plus Vine clips, Instagram pics and live-streaming, Vice News promises to “fill a void left by mainstream media and news aggregation websites struggling to engage youth audiences and offer high-quality compelling digital programming.”


Mind Control Takes Center Stage in New Discovery Series
Discovery Networks International
(DNI) has placed an order for The Mind Control Freaks, an original series focused on the brain’s ability to be manipulated. The Mind Control Freaks uses various psychological techniques, including peer pressure and hypnosis, to illustrate the process of mind control. The 10×30-minute show is developed and produced by Objective Productions. It slated to begin airing internationally next month on Discovery Channel across DNI’s more than 224 territories.

BBC plan to take BBC3 online-only ‘not off the table’
The BBC has failed to rule out plans to shut down the linear version of youth-skewing TV network BBC3, following reports that it could be rolled into the BBC’s online iPlayer service to save cash.


Disney-Dish Network pact may alter TV viewing habits
The new distribution agreement, expected to become a blueprint on how the television industry treats digital programming rights, allows for a new wireless TV service. Walt Disney Co. and satellite TV provider Dish Network’s sweeping new agreement could lead to changes in the way consumers watch television. The satellite TV company intends to use the Disney programming to build a new nationwide TV service that would be offered over the Internet — bypassing Dish’s current delivery system.,0,7107787.story


Universal Studios to Build $2 Billion Hollywood-Themed Resort in Beijing
Located in a suburb of China’s capital city, Universal Studios Beijing will be the company’s third facility in Asia after Singapore and Tokyo.

Culver Studios Won’t Become Condos, Says New Owner
Rumors that the new owners have plans to convert parts of the landmarked studio into condominiums and shutter its 15 sound stages are unfounded, says Hackman CEO Michael Hackman. “We plan to retain and celebrate all of the historic aspects of the property, including the beautiful lawn and mansion. It’s such a recognizable landmark. The notion that we would convert the lot into condos is baseless."