Afternoon News Update for Wednesday, 7/9/14.


Lifetime Orders Drama Pilot ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear’
Lifetime has ordered the drama pilot The Clan of the Cave Bear, based on Jean M. Auel’s series of best-selling novels. A co-production of Fox 21 and Lionsgate in association with Imagine Television and Allison Shearmur Productions, Linda Woolverton is writing the pilot. The Clan of the Cave Bear takes place at a time in prehistory more than 25,000 years ago when Neanderthals shared the Earth with the first early modern humans and a band of cave dwellers adopt blond and blue-eyed Ayla, a child of the “Others.” As Ayla matures into a young woman of spirit and courage, she must fight for survival against the jealous bigotry of Broud, who will one day be clan leader.

Universal Cable Prods, Vertigo’s Roy Lee Option Supernatural Short Story ‘The House On Ashley Avenue’
Universal Cable Productions
, Vertigo Entertainment, and producer Roy Lee are moving in on The House On Ashley Avenue, the 2012 horror short story from Canadian author Ian Rogers. Tale tracks the exploits of the Mereville Group, an insurance agency that deals in supernatural investigations and has in its possession a group of haunted buildings so dangerous their existence must be kept from the public.

(TCA) BBC America Orders Pacific Island Mystery Series ‘Tatau’
BBC America said today that it has greenlighted the drama Tatau. The series is set in the Cook Islands, a paradise in the middle of the Pacific. The eight-episode season is written by Richard Zajdlic and co-produced by Touchpaper TV and South Pacific Pictures for BBC Three in association with BBC America. The drama follows Kyle Connor and Pete “Budgie” Griffiths, twentysomething friends from London who set off to travel the world. But upon Kyle’s arrival in the South Pacific, he is unsettled by the local people’s reaction to his tattoo – it clearly has a significance that he is entirely unaware of. Tatau is an ambitious drama that explores the questions of identity, love and destiny.

(TCA) BBC America renews ‘Orphan Black,’ sets ‘Broadchurch’ return for 2015
BBC America kicked off its Television Critics Association press tour panel on Wednesday afternoon with a pair of unsurprising announcements: "Orphan Back" has been renewed for a third season and the second season of "Broadchurch" will air on BBC America. Both seasons will air in 2015.

Giancarlo Esposito Returning to Once Upon a Time
Giancarlo Esposito
is set to reprise his role as Sidney Glass, otherwise known as the Magic Mirror, in the Season 4 premiere.

Elementary: Gina Gershon Cast as Joan’s New Nemesis
Gina Gershon has landed a guest-starring role on Elementary.

Robbie Amell Joins ‘The Flash’ as DC Superhero Firestorm
The CW is staying in the Robbie Amell business. The leading man of their recently canceled sci-fi series “The Tomorrow People” has booked a recurring role on their latest comic-book adaptation, “The Flash.”

(review) Hitfix: Halle Berry returns from space in CBS’ ‘Extant’
Originality often matters less than how well you execute familiar material, and "Extant" — created by Mickey Fisher, with a pilot episode directed by "Sopranos" alum Allen Coulter — does a good enough job with its recycled parts that I was eager to see more, when I went in fearing that the show would be as lacking in urgency and interesting characters as CBS’ other summer event show, "Under the Dome."

(review) TV Review: ‘The Strain’
is so steeped in brooding drama, the comicbook-y roots of “The Strain” feel mildly off brand, but also like a breath of fresh air. While there’s not much new to be done with the vampire genre, director Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s adaptation of their book/graphic novel plays like perfect summer popcorn fare, filtering the threat of marauding bloodsuckers through fears of global pandemic. At times the portentous dialogue can sound hokey, but for the most part, the slick pilot and three subsequent episodes set the tone for a series with enough of a hook to get under one’s skin.

(review) Variety: ‘Working the Engels’
A Canadian import roughly as inspired as the pun in its title, “Working the Engels” is a beyond-flat NBC comedy about a family of ne’er-do-wells who improbably take over their deceased father’s cut-rate law practice. With the show heavily narrated by a central character who’s ostensibly the normal one in the brood — the daughter who became an attorney, but leaves the big firm where she’s been languishing — think of this as a very, very poor woman’s “Arrested Development,” and as thematically tired as a half-hour comedy can get.

TVLine: Fall TV First Impression: ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder
Created by Pete Nowalk, Murder caps ABC Thursday’s new Shondaland trifecta as a spot-on lead-out to Scandal and is poised to garner the same sort of “What just happened…?!” watercooler buzz. The question is, will it grab an audience straight away (as “the new Scandal” and all) or will it, too, need time to cultivate a fanatical following? (Phrased differently: Who on this cast is up for live-tweeting?)

Slate: The Summer of Popcorn TV
Arriving in the next week are two sci-fi-tinged series that eschew certain warm-weather aesthetics (bathing suits, sunny locales) while embracing, inadvertently or otherwise, more important ones (B-movie thrills). The flaws in CBS’s Extantand FX’s The Strain are myriad, but they would both be a kick to watch at a drive-in. It says something about how far television has come that it can now serve up junk that looks and tastes this decent. Welcome to the summer of popcorn TV.


Sony Buys Melissa Rauch Comedy ‘The Bronze’
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions
is going for “The Bronze,” acquiring the comedy starring Melissa Rauch. Bryan Buckley is directing from a script by Melissa Rauch and her husband, Winston Rauch. Rauch plays a foul-mouthed former gymnastics bronze medalist who must fight for her local celebrity status when a young athlete’s star rises in town.


Docudrama Series ‘Gunslingers’ to Premiere Sunday, July 20 on American Heroes Channel
In the thrilling six-part historical docudrama series GUNSLINGERS, American Heroes Channel immerses viewers in the true stories behind Infamous icons and legendary conflicts of the Wild West. The Wild West kicks the dust off its heels with these stories of courage, survival and good versus evil when American Heroes Channel premieres GUNSLINGERS on Sunday, July 20 at 10/9c.


Netflix Buys Rights to CBS ‘Zoo’ Series from James Patterson
, beating out, will be the exclusive U.S. subscription video-on-demand home to the forthcoming CBS sci-fi drama “Zoo,” based on the best-selling novel of the same name by James Patterson. The Eye last week announced it was picking up “Zoo” in a straight-to-series order for next summer.


BBC Two, BBC America, Carnival Films Team for New Epic Drama
Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films is adapting Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of Saxon Stories books as an eight-part drama series, The Last Kingdom. The Last Kingdom is set in the year 872, when many kingdoms had fallen to the invading Vikings. In part the epic quest of our hero Uhtred, it is also a fascinating re-telling of the tale of King Alfred the Great and how he united the many separate kingdoms on this island into what would become England.


Inside ESPN’s Social Media War Room During the Most Tweeted Sporting Event Ever
The ESPN social media war room is, appropriately, at the Lincoln Square Armory up on 66th Street, where ESPN’s offices sit across from slightly less opulent digs housing the news division. Fifteen people sit huddled over computers, tossing out stats and suggesting ideas for content on the company’s social media feeds—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine—and tailoring the material appropriately.


Rick Holzman Upped at Animal Planet
The programming and scheduling exec has been promoted to general manager and EVP of the network.

Big Beach Films Launches TV Division Headed by IFC’s Dan Pasternack
Big Beach Films
, the 10-year-old film production and financing shingle, is launching a TV division to be headed by former IFC exec Dan Pasternack. The Gotham-based company run by Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub has been behind such pics as “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Sunshine Cleaning” and “Safety Not Guaranteed.”


Businessweek: Most Millennials Would Throw Work Friends Under the Bus for a Promotion
A new survey of 11,500 people worldwide conducted by LinkedIn (LNKD) shows millennials in particular aren’t letting anyone stand in the way of their ascent, especially not their work buddies. Sixty-eight percent of millennials said they would sacrifice a friendship with a colleague if it meant getting a promotion. Baby boomers ages 55 to 65, on the other hand, claim to be more virtuous: Sixty-two percent said they would never even consider it.

(books) Slate: How to Get Into the Writers’ Room
Poking a Dead Frog, Mike Sacks’ new book of conversations with successful comedy writers, turns on its head the old chestnut that comedy disproportionately attracts miserable people. Reading the book, you begin to realize that comedy writers are disproportionately miserable because of comedy. Most of the writers featured in Poking a Dead Frog say they love their horrifically stressful jobs. Still, simply reading about the manic pace James Downey, Mike Schur, Adam McKay, and the other writers in the book keep up for months on end nearly gave me a panic attack.

Atlantic: When Harry Met eHarmony
Online dating! Delayed marriages! Hollywood hasn’t caught up to the way we love now. The promises of big data—insights! wisdom! relevance!—are insinuating themselves onto relationships. Love, actually, is now more data-driven than it has ever been before. The rom-com, in general, has responded to this enormous cultural shift by ignoring it. But we’ve gotten something in their place: a move away from the sappy-and-stale dude-and-lady rom-com—and toward more expansive explorations of relationships at large.

Las Vegas is placing its bets on Hollywood
is among several leading casinos and resorts rolling out the red carpet to Hollywood. They regard movies and TV shows as an increasingly valuable marketing tool and a way to lend some star power to their properties. Typically, they become "partners" with producers, agreeing to waive or reduce film rental fees in exchange for the benefits of having their hotel featured in the movie. Caesars, which has its own film department, hosted 130 productions last year.