Morning News Update for Wednesday, 8/13/14.

Hi all! Here’s your first news update for Wednesday, 8/13/14:


WGN America Orders ‘Titans’ Straight to Series, Eyes Slave Drama
has given a straight-to-series order to hourlong drama Titans, from Peter Tolan and Paul Giamatti, and is eyeing a series greenlight for Underground, a pre-Civil War slave drama project from Akiva Goldsman. Both projects hail from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, and are expected to launch in 2015 though Underground — which has begun preproduction and has opened its writers’ room — has yet to receive an official order.

Titans, with a 13-episode pickup, centers on the Farrell clan, a family of outsiders who have been in the hills of Appalachia since before anyone can remember. Living off the grid and above the law on their mountaintop homestead, they’ll protect their world and defend their way of life using any means necessary. Playwright Peter Mattei is the creator and executive producer, alongside Tolan, Giamatti, Dan Carey and Michael Wimer.

Underground, from creator Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, follows the slaves who set foot on the fabled Underground Railroad, the secret network of men and women who risked their lives aiding them and the mercenaries tasked with hunting them down at any cost. Executive producers include Green, Pokaski, Goldsman, Tory Tunnell and Joby Harold.

‘Scandal’ Enlists Mary McCormack and Josh Randall for Season 4
They’ll play a couple and appear in an early October episode of the ABC drama.

Lifetime to Air Brittany Murphy Biopic
Amanda Fuller
stars as the late actress in ‘The Brittany Murphy Story’. The movie will recount the story of Brittany Murphy’s younger years, including her mother’s efforts to turn her talented daughter into a star in the 1980s and ’90s, and then leads up to her death. It will also touch on the aftermath, when her mother dealt with claims that her daughter’s death was not accidental.


Hollywood’s Calendar Clog-Up: What’s Behind a Rush of Mystery Movies
The sudden craze to fill the calendar is fueled by an unprecedented arms race among animation and superhero empires: Marvel vs. DC; the X-Men vs. Spider-Man universes; Pixar vs. DreamWorks Animation (and now Lego movies). It’s about courting fans with hints that known characters soon will be back onscreen while also reassuring Wall Street that studios have long-term (read: predictably profitable) plans for exploiting their most valuable properties.


Meet the pros for season 19 of ‘Dancing With the Stars’
The bad: Maksim Chmerkovskiy decided against surprising the world and returning to the show. But the good news is that fan favorites Derek Hough, Mark Ballas, Cheryl Burke, Val Chmerkovskiy, Karina Smirnoff, and Tony Dovolani will all lace up their dancing shoes once more. Joining them are returning pros Peta Murgatroyd, Emma Slater, and Witney Carson. As for the new pros: DWTS fans will recognize Artem Chigvintsev, who has been part of the show’s dancing crew in the past. We also have the brand new additions of Keoikantse “Keo” Motsepe and Allison Holker.


Disney vs. Amazon Battle: Why the Online Giant Picked Wrong Studio to Bully
It’s more about the future, specifically fueling Amazon’s voracious appetite for market share and determining whether the world’s largest web retailer or Hollywood studios will call the shots on home entertainment distribution when the digital revolution takes full effect. “This isn’t about DVD profits in the next quarter, or the one after that,” said Scott Tilghman, a B. Riley analyst who has followed the web titan for years. “Amazon is very long-term focused on nearly everything they do. And what they want to do is control media, movies and music to the same extent that they do books.”

China’s Wanda Takes on Disney, Dreamworks Animation With Plan For 200 Theme Parks
Wanda Group
, China’s biggest real estate company and the world’s largest cinema chain, is planning to build 200 children’s theme parks by 2020, local media reported, making it the country’s biggest kids entertainment company.


Nicholas Sparks Productions Taps Valhalla’s Stacey Levin To Run TV
The top-selling author’s production company has brought in Stacey Levin as EVP Television. Levin comes to Nicholas Sparks Prods from Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment, where she oversaw scripted and digital projects including USA’s drama pilot Horizon.


LAT: New York TV writers want piece of state’s production incentive
Writers who live in New York complain they’re being snubbed by TV shows that film in New York but are written on the West Coast. And a group of high-profile writers wants New York to pass a new tax credit for productions that hire scribes locally.

AdWeek: Here Is Everything You Need to Know About the Millennial Consumer
No demographic is as appealing to marketers as millennials, those folks born between 1981 and 2000. Hundreds of articles have focused on reaching this elusive adult consumer, who has money and eschews traditional methods of communication in favor of a life largely spent online. Here are some stats about your favorite target audience from three recent studies examining millennial behavior.

(tech) Amazon takes on Square with its own mobile card reader
Square is about to face even more competition in the mobile card reader space with the launch of Amazon’s new Local Register. Amazon’s credit card reader works in a similar way to Square, plugging into the headphone jack of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to read card details and allow small businesses to process payments they’d usually take only in cash.

The Alamo Drafthouse Is Coming to Downtown Los Angeles
After years of trying, the Alamo Drafthouse is finally coming to Los Angeles, CA. CEO Tim League had looked at multiple locations over the past few years, but the new theater will be in the growing downtown area. Specifically, it’ll be part of a complex called the Bloc on the corner of 7th and Flower Streets with an aim to open in 2015.

Ken Levine: The comedy writing rule of 2’s
On CHEERS we had the rule of 2’s. If the writing staff was working on a joke and any two writers pitched essentially the same punchline we automatically discarded it. Didn’t even matter if it was funny. Our feeling was that if two writers could come up with the same joke so could some audience members. And so it was quickly jettisoned. There was no debate. Ever.