Hi all! Here’s your afternoon news update for Wednesday, 8/27/14:
‘Psych’ Creator Steve Franks Teaming With Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo for Fox Comedy
Fox has handed out a hefty put-pilot commitment to single-camera comedy DeTour, inspired by the life of the Weezer singer-songwriter. Based on a pitch from Psych creator Steve Franks, DeTour is described as a coming-of-age story that’s slightly out of sequence. It tells the story of a 30-something rock star who, unable to rationalize his success and worried that he may not have the tools to repeat it, walks away from the spotlight at the height of his fame in an effort to rediscover the parts of his life he missed while he was busy becoming a massive success. Franks will pen the script and executive produce the comedy with Tagline Television’s Chris Henze and Willie Mercer. Cuomo and manager Dan Field are also on board to exec produce the comedy.
NBC, Claudia Lonow Developing Family Comedy ‘Assisted Loving’
Claudia Lonow is teaming with Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment for comedy Assisted Loving. From Universal Television, the comedy — which has received a script commitment — is based on the book of the same name by Bob Morris. The comedy centers on two half-siblings who take care of their father. Lonow will pen the script and exec produce alongside Kaplan and Tracy Katsky.
DJ Nash, David Janollari Developing Romantic Comedy for NBC
DJ Nash is teaming with David Janollari to develop romantic comedy The Catch. The Universal Television comedy, which has received a script commitment at the network, centers on Jack Heller, a newly single guy who finds an amazing Greenwich Village apartment for well below market value — only there’s a catch. Turns out that his landlord (and potential love interest), Sydney, is an uptight therapist who uses the apartment to see clients for a few hours every day.
FX’s Zach Galifianakis, Louis C.K. Clown Comedy ‘Baskets’ Ordered to Series
The 10-episode single-camera comedy will debut in 2016. The comedy follows Bakersfield man Chip Baskets (Galifianakis) as he pursues his dream, against all odds, to be a respected clown. But after an unsuccessful enrollment at a prestigious clowning school in Paris, the only job he can find is with the local rodeo.
Jason Bateman’s Aggregate Banner Re-Ups Film, TV Deal With Universal
Shaleen Desai will spearhead the banner’s TV division. Desai comes to the company from Fishbowl Worldwide Media, where he served as senior vp and oversaw the scripted department.
Kristin Bauer van Straten Returning to Once Upon a Time
Kristin Bauer van Straten will reprise her role as Maleficent on Once Upon a Time.
‘Mean Girls’ Star Joins HBO’s ‘Looking’
Daniel Franzese boards the series in a major role.
(sched) (video) Amazon’s ‘Transparent’ Gets Premiere Date
Amazon Studios’ dark comedy Transparent has a premiere date: Friday, Sept. 26. All 10 episodes of Transparent will be available on that day, the first time the streaming video service will roll out a series a la Netflix’s model.
NBC Promotes Jenny Groom to Senior Vice President, Alternative Programming and Development
NBC has promoted Jenny Groom to senior vice president of alternative programming and development. Groom, who began as an NBC page in 2003, will be responsible for overseeing all development for the alternative department and shepherding new series from concept through production of the first season. She’ll report to Paul Telegdy, president of alternative and late night programming at NBC Entertainment, and Meredith Ahr, executive vice president of alternative programming at NBC Entertainment.
El Rey Network, Mark Burnett Announce Production of ‘Lucha Underground’
El Rey Network is putting its spin on lucha wrestling with “Lucha Underground,” an original unscripted series from Mark Burnett’s One Three Media. The hour-long weekly series will feature five Luchadores.
Versailles Period Drama Begins Filming, Unveils Cast
CANAL+ Original Programming, Zodiak, Capa Drama and Incendo have commenced filming on Versailles, a period drama starring George Blagden. Created by Simon Mirren and David Wolstencroft, Versailles tells the story of a young Louis XIV, who sets a trap at the palace of Versailles in order to gain absolute power of his kingdom. The 10×52-minute series is set to film for six months in Versailles and Paris.
(rumor) The Wrap: Future of Broadcast TV Under Scrutiny: ‘Everyone Should Be Reevaluating’
“Everyone in the TV business should be reevaluating how important the broadcast business is,” media analyst Rich Greenfield told me this week in a post-Emmys discussion. “Everyone sees that behavior is changing. Either you should be exiting the TV business, or driving reverse retrans fees dramatically higher – taking dollars from the TV stations.”
Over at Disney, insiders tell me that the performance of ABC is driving conversations around selling the network or parts of it. Ben Sherwood, new co-chairman and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, can only hope this is not imminent since he has just moved his family across the country to try and turn things in an upward direction. But the numbers are clear: ABC is contributing less and less to Disney’s bottom line, down to 12 percent this year from 15 percent a few years ago.
Greenfield sees the move of Monday Night Football to ESPN off ABC in 2006 as a bellwether. “In no way is ABC core to Disney,” said Greenfield. “Bob Iger has no love for the TV stations. You could keep the network and sell the stations, or sell them both.”
Disney Files Patents for Use of Theme Park Drones
Disney recently filed three patents related to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which eventually could pave the way for drones to be employed in its theme parks. The blueprints the company submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office depict a variety of aerial devices, including ones shaped like iconic Disney characters (e.g. Jack Skellington from ”The Nightmare Before Christmas”) and smaller, nondescript ones meant to work together and project aerial nighttime entertainment.
TLC Promotes Three Production and Development Executives
TLC announced the promotion of three East Coast production and development executives Wednesday. The network named Alon Orstein the region’s senior vice president of production and development, Wendy Douglas the region’s vice president of production and Marisa Levy the region’s vice president of development. Each continues to report to Howard Lee, the company’s executive vice president of production and development.
HBO Europe hires drama exec
Steve Matthews is joining HBO Europe as executive producer, drama development at the HBO Europe Original Productions unit. He will be based in London, but work with HBO Europe production bases in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Romania, supporting local creative teams on original series and miniseries development as well as international format adaptations. HBO Europe moved into original development last year with the announcement of Wataha, a drama set on the Polish-Ukrainian border, but has produced a number of series based on formats such as Israel’s In Treatment.
Variety Picks 10 Actors to Watch for 2014
Variety has announced its annual list of 10 Actors to Watch, an honor the publication has been bestowing since 1998. This year’s 10 Actors to Watch are: Kaitlyn Dever, Eve Hewson, Dakota Johnson, Caleb Landry Jones, Lola Kirke, Zoe Kravitz, Jack O’Connell, Tye Sheridan, Jenny Slate, and Miles Teller.
Gov. Brown to OK California TV, Film Tax Credit Bill After Cut in Funding
Gov. Brown will approve legislation to significantly beef up California’s TV and film tax credit program after reaching an 11th-hour deal that cuts back its funding with the sponsors of the measure. The final figure will be $330 million annually for five years for the measure, which is likely to come to state Senate floor on Wednesday or Thursday.
Re/Code: The Netflix Case Against Comcast, in One Chart
We’ve already heard Netflix executives explain why they signed an Internet deal with Comcast, even though they say they didn’t want to: They say they had to pay Comcast for access to its broadband pipes because their video streams were suffering. But here’s a new version of the same argument: Netflix says it had to pay Comcast for access to its broadband pipes because Netflix was starting to lose customers.
New Inquiry: Made For China
As U.S. audiences tire of big budget spectacle, Hollywood designs its blockbuster product for the ever-expanding Chinese market.