Afternoon News Update for Wednesday, 6/18/14.


ABC Boards Lionsgate & Tandem Drama Series Project ‘Sex, Lies And Handwriting’
Lionsgate Television
and Tandem Communications have set crime drama Sex, Lies And Handwriting at ABC. The project, now in development, is intended as straight-to-series, with a fall production start in Vancouver eyed should ABC move to greenlight the pilot script. Inspired by Michelle Dresbold’s book of the same title, Sex, Lies And Handwriting is a witty take on the crime series that follows the exploits of Leslie Bold, an accomplished artist and handwriting expert — with her own newspaper column on the subject — who is unexpectedly drawn into the world of crime-solving because of her extraordinary skills. Annie Brunner (Saving Grace) will write the script and co-executive produce the series, with fellow Saving Grace alum Nancy Miller onboard as executive producer and showrunner.

Showtime Orders Cameron Crowe’s Rock Comedy Pilot ‘Roadies’
has given a pilot order to Roadies, a comedy about a successful rock tour told through the eyes of the crewmembers working behind the scenes. Crowe is writing and directing the pilot — joined by Winnie Holzman and J.J. Abrams as executive producer.

Tim Story Inks First-Look Deal With HBO
Tim Story
has signed a two-year first-look deal with HBO to produce comedy, drama and longform projects for the pay cable network through his The Story Company banner.

‘Agents of SHIELD’s’ J. August Richards to Go for Bravo’s ‘Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce’
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” J. August Richards and “Crazy, Stupid, Love” actress Julianna Guill have joined Bravo’s first scripted series, “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.”

Martin Sheen to Star in Netflix’s Jane Fonda-Lily Tomlin Comedy
"The West Wing" alum will play Fonda’s husband in the 13-episode series. The single-camera comedy centers on nemeses Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin), whose lives are turned upside down when their husbands announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married.

(review) Variety: ‘Dominion’
Do not be tempted to watch this bomb and make a drinking game out of it. The whole planet could be wiped out. Or drunk. Speaking of drunk — who thought "Dominion" was a good idea?

Atlantic: The Miniseries Is Dead (Long Live the Miniseries!)
Miniseries have never been more popular. Just don’t call them that. The genre is having a renaissance in the United States. But nobody calls these shows “miniseries,” anymore. Instead, the networks have embraced terms like “limited series” and “event series” to describe programs with a predetermined end or cast that changes from season to season. “Miniseries” is seen as a musty, antiquated term that conjures up sprawling epics of the 1980s. So what’s the difference? Not even the people running the networks can answer that one.


Marvel Setting Jon Spaihts To Script ‘Doctor Strange’
Marvel Studios
is negotiating with Jon Spaihts to write the script for Doctor Strange, the franchise-launching film which will be directed by Scott Derrickson. Doctor Strange was hatched by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during that Marvel Comics heyday of the early 1960s. He’s a neurosurgeon who becomes Sorcerer Supreme, protecting Earth against magical and mystical threats with powers of sorcery, mysticism, and martial arts.


‘Extreme Weight Loss’ Renewed for Fifth Season by ABC
The ABC Television Network has ordered 13 new two-hour episodes of the hit series “Extreme Weight Loss,” a unique, non-competitive show about weight loss that documents the unprecedented 365-day journeys of courageous, “super-obese” people. Season 4 is currently airing on Tuesdays (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET/PT) with its highest ratings in more than two seasons. The series is produced by Eyeworks USA.


Comedians Skipping Traditional Distribution to go Straight to Fans
The on-demand revolution in entertainment isn’t just about giving audiences more control over their viewing experience. Talent is also enjoying the instant-gratification boom. Take comedian Todd Barry. A chance phone call from his old pal Louis C.K. led to an Internet distribution pact for his standup special “Todd Barry: The Crowd Work Tour.” C.K. blazed.

AMC Plans Novel Move into Online TV
AMC Networks
, which has vaulted into the first tier of TV programmers in recent years with shows such as “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” is preparing to break from the long-established cable television business model and launch several subscription video websites, according to two people who have been involved in the project. The first site is expected to launch later this summer, one of these people said. Rather than try to compete head-on with Netflix, Hulu, HBO and other general-interest offerings, AMC’s video sites will each focus on a specialized category, with documentaries and horror expected to be two of the initial genres.


(q&a) Netflix’s Original Content VP on Development Plans, Pilots, Late-Night and Rival HBO
In a rare interview, Cindy Holland talks to THR about Netflix viewer habits, why men watch "Orange Is the New Black" with women, which genres she wants to tackle and what factors would lead to a show’s cancellation.

Working Title’s Daniel Pipski Joins Miramax TV as Television VP
Working Title Television head Daniel Pipski joined Miramax TV on Wednesday in the newly created role of vice president, Television. Pipski is responsible for developing and producing original series, as well as concepts from the Miramax library and third party television projects. He will report to Miramax executive vice president, Production and Development, Zanne Devine.

Michael Benaroya & Darryl Taja Launch Indie TV Studio, Commit $50M To Produce 4 Series
Film financier and producer Michael Benaroya has teamed with veteran manager-producer Darryl Taja to form an independent television studio, Revolution Media. It will borrow from the Benaroya Pictures financing model and will finance TV shows as an independent studio using a mix of equity, foreign presales and tax credits after securing a domestic broadcaster. Revolution has committed up to $50 million for the production of four series over the next year, with plans to start production on the first series in the beginning of 2015.


Variety: Wily Indies Succeed on Digital Channels Where Majors Struggle
The recent decision by the ABC owned stations group to pull the plug on its Live Well Network in January shows how little progress has been made by the industry’s largest station groups on developing digital multicast channels. With the transition to all-digital broadcasting, full-power stations can beam out as many as four digital channels in addition to the mothership signal. Despite the wealth of programming resources at the major media congloms, the most successful digital multicast efforts to date have come from independent outfits.

Harris Poll: TV Still Dominant Viewing Choice, But Millennials Driving Gains in Streaming
Streaming continues to slowly gain ground on more traditional modes when it comes to the ways Americans most often watch television programs — though it’s in no danger of overtaking them in the immediate future. That’s one of the main takeaways in a recent survey by The Harris Poll, which found that 85% of Americans say they most often watch TV on, a TV (live feed, recorded or on demand). This is down from 89% in 2012.

DGA & WGA Members Use Fake Names To Work Nonunion Reality Shows
It’s one of the little-known realities of reality TV: DGA and WGA members sometimes use fake onscreen names so they can work on nonunion reality shows without getting busted by their unions. Directors and writers have been known to use this ruse to keep from getting in trouble with their unions when working on such nonunion shows as ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and Bravo’s The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills.

(tech) The Amazon smartphone is here: meet the Fire Phone
Jeff Bezos
has officially unveiled Amazon’s first cellphone, the Fire Phone. The Fire Phone has a 4.7-inch, 720p display, aluminum buttons, a Qualcomm processor, Adreno 330 graphics, and 2GB of RAM. It’s 0.35 inches thick, and weighs 5.64 ounces. But chief among the Amazon-friendly features on the Fire Phone is Firefly, the tool that automatically recognizes basically everything the phone looks at and hears — Bezos quickly demoed the feature with a DVD, detergent, a song that was playing, and more, and the phone almost immediately gave him a way to buy everything.