Morning News Update for Thursday, 6/19/14.


MTV2 Orders ‘Fatawesome’ Comedy Pilot From Viral Video Duo
duo Justin Parker and Jimmy Craig are set to star in and executive produce their own untitled half-hour sketch comedy pilot, which MTV2 has ordered. Ryan Ling and PJ Morrison, who are executive producers on the network’s Guy Code, will also EP with showrunner Morrison directing the pilot episode. Fatawesome were discovered by comedy writers Evan and Shea Mirzai.

Syfy Zombie Series Z Nation Casts Lost, Southland, Supernatural Alums
is getting in on the zombie craze, and as such has announced the cast of its upcoming action-horror series, Z Nation. Harold Perrineau, Tom Everett Scott and DJ Qualls have joined the 13-episode series, which follows a team of everyday heroes three years after a zombie virus has devastated the country.

‘Smallville’s’ Michael Rosenbaum to Star in TV Land Comedy ‘Impastor’
He will topline the single-camera comedy pilot from writer Chris Vane. Impastor centers on a low-life (Rosenbaum) who hides out in a small town by conning the residents into thinking he’s their newly hired gay pastor.

Hampton Fluker Cast In Potential ‘Major Crimes’ Spinoff, Charlotte D’Amboise In AMC Pilot ‘Galyntine’
Hampton Fluker is set as to guest star in Episode 307 of TNT‘s drama series Major Crimes, envisioned as a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff series focusing on Jon Tenney’s character. Charlotte D’Ambroise has joined AMC drama pilot Galyntine.

(review) THR: ‘Tyrant’
The youngest son of a Middle Eastern dictator has been living a quiet life in Pasadena for 20 years, ignoring his royal family and focusing on his own family — until he gets pulled back in to the turmoil. A big, sprawling possible-epic, FX believes the series’ potential outweighs the risk of a divided audience.

(review) Variety: ‘The Last Ship’
Wedding military hardware and a martial mind-set to paranoia about global pandemics, “The Last Ship” is an odd duck — a post-apocalyptic tale with a glimmer of hope, tonally similar to (if not as good as) the late, lamented “Jericho.” It’s left to a hardy naval crew and one inordinately beautiful scientist try to save humanity, without knowing exactly what’s left of it to save. A TNT summer drama with plenty of possibilities but also numerous pitfalls as it seeks to navigate rather treacherous narrative currents.

(review) Variety: ‘Almost Royal’
At first blush, TV would seem to be a little “Borat”-ed out by now. Yet “Almost Royal” quickly establishes itself as a sprightly surprise, following a mock brother-and-sister team of snotty Brits as they travel the wilds of America, reeling in unsuspecting marks along the way. What ensues is fast-paced and frequently funny, a mix of deft writing and the duo’s deadpan improvisational skills.


Disney Taps Philip Steuer As Senior Veep Of Physical Film Production
Reacting to Tony To’s move to Lucasfilm, Disney has hired Philip Steuer to be senior vice president, Physical Production, for the studio’s live action film group. For the time being, Steuer and longtime Studio executive Jerry Ketcham will co-lead physical production following To’s move to Lucasfilm. The two will report directly to President of Production Sean Bailey.


Chelsea Handler Inks Mega-Deal for Netflix Late Night Show
As part of the multi-tiered deal, the outgoing E! host will also front a stand-up special in October and four docu-comedy specials in 2015.

NBC Orders Bear Grylls Adventure Reality Show Featuring Channing Tatum, Zac Efron
The summer series will focus on Grylls as he takes celebrities including Ben Stiller and Tom Arnold into the most remote locations for 48-hour adventures.

truTV to Roll Out Eight New Series over Seven Months including ‘Jokers Wild’, Fake Off’ and More
The slate includes the summer premieres of the new car-design competition series Motor City Masters (June 24) and the reality western Way Out West (July 21). In the fall, truTV will launch the Impractical Jokers spin-off Jokers Wild (Sept. 25); the unique performance competition show Fake Off (Oct. 27); Friends of the People (Oct. 28), the network’s first sketch-comedy series; the ambush game show Hair Jacked (October); and How to Be a Grown Up (October), a comedic take on the relatable trials and tribulations of true adulthood. And this winter, truTV will premiere Local News (working title), a look at the playful rivalry between the news teams at two small town television stations.

eOne Builds Up Alternative Programming Division, Hires David Shaye
Entertainment One
(eOne) is bolstering its alternative programming by appointing David Shaye as vice president of development, U.S. alternative programming for Entertainment One Television and signing first-look deals with a trio of veteran reality television producers.


Hulu to Stream Reality Series ‘Los Cowboys’
The half-hour reality series about people trying to qualify for the Mexican National Rodeo will premiere on Hulu in October. Los Cowboys will follow a group of Latino cowboys, including an L.A. firefighter, a horse trainer and a model, in their quest to qualify for the Mexican National Rodeo Finals in Guadalajara. The half-hour series, which goes into production in July, was created by executive producer Alex Corral, who will also star, and produced by his production company, Corral 360, which focuses on series that target Hispanic millennials.

Netflix’s ‘planning French original series’
will commission an exclusive drama series in France next year following the launch of its service this autumn, according to French news service BFMTV. BFMTV reported three months ago that Netflix had asked French producers to submit projects for an original series, but that it had not specified whether the project would be initiated in time for the service’s launch or later. The news service has now said that it will be available in 2015 and will most likely be shot in Marseille.


(tech) NYT: Why Did Amazon Make a Phone? A Conversation With Jeff Bezos
Q. You showed a graph of Prime memberships rising sharply. Is that because of your media content?

A. We can track people who are joining Prime for the first time, and we know if they’re coming from a page about free shipping or a page about Prime Instant Video. With every passing year, that is shifting toward Prime Instant Videos. There’s one group of customers who start their membership because of Prime instant video, but they’re like, “I got this free two-day shipping thing.”


Atlantic: The Most Popular Social Network for Young People? Texting
Yes, it’s a social network. Also: Just a third of high school seniors place a call each day, and more teens report using Pandora than Instagram or Snapchat.

Longreads: How An American Wine Empire Was Born
The House of Mondavi: The family that turned a Napa Valley winery into a billion-dollar fortune.