Morning News Update for Friday, September 19, 2014.

Hi all! Here’s your first news update for Friday, 9/19/14:


Endemol Studios Signs Byron Balasco For Its First Overall Deal
Byron Balasco
, creator and showrunner of DirecTV’s upcoming original series Kingdom, has inked an overall deal with the production company behind the MMA drama, Endemol Studios. This marks Endemol North America’s scripted studio operation’s first endemolstudioswriter/producer overall deal.

(from Thurs) Ian Sander & Kim Moses Ink First-Look Deal With 20th TV, Set Biblical Drama At Amazon
Ian Sander
and Kim Moses have signed a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox Television Studios to develop and produce new series for the studio through their Sander/Moses Prods. The deal stems from Sander and Moses’ collaboration with 20th TV on the drama Runner. Outside of the deal, Sander/Moses has set up the drama series project Kingdoms at Amazon. The project, written by Roderick and Bruce Taylor, tells the biblical saga of the Apostles – 12 ordinary men who clashed with the power and wealth of three kingdoms to change the world forever.

(from Thurs) Legal Drama From Jerry Bruckheimer & Rick Eid Gets CBS Put Pilot Commitment
A new hourlong project — this time on the legal side —has received a put pilot commitment from CBS. Acquittal, which hails from Jerry Bruckheimer TV and Warner Bros TV, will be written by Rick Eid. It is based on the nonfiction book by trial consultant Richard Gabriel. Acquittal centers on an influential trial consultant who works alternately for the prosecution and the defense, using unorthodox ideas and tactics, often more psychological than legal.

(from Thurs) Kevin Connolly to Star in Matthew Berry Fantasy Football Comedy at Fox
Fox has handed out a hefty put-pilot commitment with a significant penalty attached to Fantasy Life, an adaption of ESPN analyst Matthew Berry’s best-selling book. Kevin Connolly is attached to star in the office comedy as a guy who lands his ultimate dream job working in the fantasy sports department at a major sports network. Tim McAuliffe will pen the script and executive produce alongside Connolly, 3 Arts’ Jonathan Berry, Greg Walter, Michael Rotenberg and Troy Zien. Fantasy Life, from 20th Century Fox Television, will be a multicamera hybrid comedy.

(from Thurs) NBC, ‘Office’ Alum Prep ‘Greatest Love Story Ever Told’
has handed out a script commitment for The Greatest Love Story Ever Told, a single-camera comedy from Justin Spitzer. Spitzer will pen the script about a disparate group of employees working at a big-box store in Middle America and the love stories that will ultimately unfold among them. Spitzer will also executive produce alongside Enlightened’s David Bernad and Ruben Fleischer, the latter of whom will direct should the script move to pilot. The comedy hails from Universal Television.

(from Thurs) A&E Adapting Mexican Drama ‘Nino Santo’ With ‘Fringe’ Producer
is teaming with Amblin Television to adapt popular Mexican series Nino Santo. Based on the drama created by Mauricio Katz, Pedro Peirano and Pablo Cruz and executive produced by Cruz, Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, Nino Santo follows a group of young doctors sent to a remote village to vaccinate the locals, where they encounter an unusual cult headed by an enigmatic faith healer. The drama hails from A+E Studios, Amblin Television and Canana. A&E has ordered multiple scripts for the project, which is being written by Katz and Peirano. Jeff Pinkner will exec produce and serve as showrunner should the project move forward.

(from Thurs) TNT Orders Drug Trade Drama Pilot From Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay
has ordered an untitled cocaine drama from executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Bay and Michelle Ashford. Sources say the drama has been in the works for a long time under programming president Michael Wright, who is poised to exit the entertainment group he has been a part of for a decade. The untitled entry is described as a serialized character drama centering on the captivating, wild and unpredictable world of the Florida drug trade in the 1970s.

(from Thurs) ‘CSI’s’ Carol Mendelsohn Sells Journalism Dramedy to ABC
Carol Mendelsohn is receiving a hefty put-pilot commitment with a sizable penalty attached for a journalism dramedy set up at ABC. Liz Heldens will pen the script for the untitled entry. The dramedy centers on a disgraced journalist who is forced to go back to work for his former intern, who has since invented a BuzzFeed/PopSugar-type news site. Mendelsohn and her Carol Mendelsohn Productions topper Julie Weitz will executive produce via the banner’s new overall deal with Sony Pictures Television.

(from Thurs) ABC Adapting Hot Korean Drama ‘My Love From Another Star’
has handed out a script commitment with a penalty attached to a remake of the Korean hit My Love From Another Star. Described as epic supernatural love story about a world-famous actress, Lark, and her anti-social neighbor, James, who happens to be from another planet. James gets a premonition that the infuriatingly self-centered but compelling Lark is going to be murdered, James finds himself drawn into her chaotic life and falling deeply in love. Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain will pen. Produced by HB Entertainment and EnterMedia Contents in association with Sony Pictures Television.

(from Thurs) Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer Developing HBO Comedy With French Twist
Mark V. Olsen
and Will Scheffer will write the comedy with French actress and writer Judith Godrèche, on whose experiences the project is based. It centers on a famous French actress who moves to the U.S. and, with savoir faire, goes to great lengths to keep her unorthodox family together. I hear the intention is for Godrèche to play the lead.

FX Renews Middle East Drama ‘Tyrant’
The series will return for 13 episodes in the summer of 2015.

Salon: How NBC got back to No. 1
It’s all flashy spectacle — but is it sustainable? NBC’s status relies heavily on expensive, unrepeatable or unsustainable feats. The margin of victory was boosted by the Winter Olympics and further bolstered by “Sunday Night Football” and “The Voice.” All they have to do is look across the broadcast dial to a flailing Fox to see just how quickly spectacle can erode.


Adweek: CBS’ New Fall Shows, Ranked From Best to Worst
More than any other network, CBS unapologetically does capital-T Television along classic lines: one-and-done mysteries, sitcoms with laugh tracks, and dramas about politics. While nothing here is wildly innovative, you can kick the tires on any one of these guys and the muffler won’t fall off the back of the car.

(review) Variety: ‘Forever’
Forever,” an oddly uninvolving drama that forces one to contemplate what “Castle” might look like if the lead character couldn’t die. Star Ioan Gruffudd is likable enough, but the rules of the show — poorly explained though they might be — tend to blunt any emotional attachment. Given ABC’s trio of strikeouts in the timeslot last year, the title seems overly ambitious; for starters, “November” sounds like a more reasonable goal.

(review) Variety: ‘Madam Secretary’
Madam Secretary” was clearly developed with a time period in mind — another high-powered, classily cast drama about a woman with ripped-from-the-headlines undertones. Yet this lead-in to “The Good Wife” plays more like a slightly simple-minded return to “The West Wing,” with Tea Leoni as the reluctant Secretary of State. So come for the Hillary factor, and stay for the feel-good foreign policy practiced with courage and intelligence, or at least, so CBS hopes.

(review) Wrap: ‘Madam Secretary’ Review: CBS Drama Struggles to Find Itself
Unfortunately for viewers, “Madam Secretary,” like its heroine, suffers from an identity crisis. The series opener, which debuts Sunday, is rendered glacial by its derivative approach. This is in spite of a top-notch cast.

(review) Variety: Amazon’s ‘Transparent’
In Transparent, Amazon has made one of those rare shows that alters the complexion of the landscape with its quality. The show isn’t a shot from Amazon Studios across the bow of fellow streaming service Netflix; it’s an ambitious and accomplished series on the level of the shining lights on HBO.

(review) THR: ‘Transparent’
A father with three grown children gathers the courage to tell them he’s transforming himself into a woman

(review) Variety: ‘Scorpion’
The participants in this mildy fun yet wholly disposable exercise would be wise not to dwell on calculating their chances of network survival.

THR: Comic Book Critical Mass: Inside TV’s Biggest Bet
Fall’s new season reveals how TV is following the movies with sometimes obscure comic book adaptations that will strain to satisfy both nerds and a broad audience all at once: “It’s the Goldilocks problem: It has to be juuuust right”


‘90210’ Alum AnnaLynne McCord Booked for CBS’s ‘Stalker’
90210” vet AnnaLynne McCord has signed on for a guest-starring role on CBS’s upcoming drama “Stalker.”


‘Fargo’s Noah Hawley To Adapt His Novel ‘Before The Fall’ In Sony Pic Deal
Sony Pictures
has acquired Before The Fall, a novel written by Noah Hawley. Hawley will adapt his novel and produce the feature with John Cameron. The book tells the story of a mysterious private-plane crash and focuses on the two survivors, an artist and a little boy, and the lives of the people who died in the crash and the coincidences that begin to emerge which suggest the flight’s crash may not have been an accident,


ABC Orders Mark Burnett Game Show ‘500 Questions’ Straight to Series
has given a direct-to-series order to “500 Questions,” an event game show that reteams reality competition king Mark Burnett with Warner Bros. unscripted and alternative television president Mike Darnell. It is an “genius game show” that will test the “smarts — and nerve — of contestants in a pressure-packed, incredibly intense environment.”

TV Guide Network To Relaunch In Early 2015 As POP
The outlet — currently called TVGN and owned jointly by Lionsgate and CBS Corp. since March of 2003, when CBS purchased a 50% stake in the venture — will change its name to POP sometime in the first quarter of 2015, and curate programming that celebrates being a fan of popular culture. The theme will allow the new POP to look at anything that draws a coterie of intense adherents, whether it be Comic-Con, Coachella, the “Twilight” books and movies, or hit TV shows.


Amazon Prime May Have 50 Million Members, Analyst Says
Respected analyst Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital ended up concluding that Prime has somewhere between 10 million and 20 million members in the U.S. and perhaps 20 million to 30 million worldwide. But in a research note today, Mahaney said RBC is now boosting that estimate to between 30 million and 40 million in the U.S. and 40 million to 50 million globally.

Twitter Says It’s Time for Must-Tweet TV
Posting from a show’s Twitter handle, like @GameofThrones or @ScandalABC, increases total Twitter conversation by about 7 percent during television premieres, Twitter found. Having the show’s cast members live-tweet is even better, increasing total tweets by 64 percent. Some TV executives don’t think Twitter helps ratings all that much, an assessment CEO Dick Costolo has openly disagreed with.


TVA Group Orders Another Season of The Killer Inside
Following the successful first season of The Killer Inside on SVOD platform Videotron and specialty channel Addik-TV, French Canadian broadcaster TVA Group has commissioned a second season of the crime thriller. The Killer Inside follows an interrogation specialist and her team as they use psychology to investigate murder suspects. The 10×60-minute show, which stars award-winning actress Fanny Mallette, is locally known as Mensonges.

UKTV Orders New Sitcom for Dave
UKTV has commissioned the scripted comedy Undercover for its channel Dave, due out next year. The 6×40-minue series follows an undercover police officer who finds himself out of his depth when he infiltrates an Armenian crime family. The show is shot on location in Newcastle and stars Daniel Rigby and Sarah Alexander.

Canal+ orders spy series
French pay TV operator Canal+ is to begin shooting a spy drama from French film director and scriptwriter Éric Rochant that will be partly filmed in Morocco. The Office of Legends is produced by Paris-based Federation Entertainment, in association with The Oligarchs Productions. Show is about a group of spies working undercover in hostile territories.


Vulture: How Shonda Rhimes Became Television’s Most Celebrated Showrunner
Thursday nights on ABC now officially belong to Shonda Rhimes. But how did she get here? Where did she come from, and what came first? From Crossroads to Scandal, here’s a rundown of Shonda Rhimes and how she became television’s most celebrated writer.

CBS Promotes Karen Church, Fern Orenstein to SVP
CBS has upped Karen Church and Fern Orenstein to senior vice president of casting, announced Peter Golden, CBS Entertainment’s EVP of talent and casting. They join current casting SVPs Lucy Cavallo in Los Angeles and Amy Herzig in New York.

(feature) Businessweek: Tim Cook On The iPhone 6, The Apple Watch, And Being Nice
“Anybody coming out of there yesterday knows that innovation is alive and well in Cupertino,” he says, rocking back and forth in a conference-room chair next to his office, an Apple Watch on his wrist. “If there were any doubts, I think that they should be put to bed.”


Study Deems Broadcast Networks Mostly Mediocre When It Comes To Latino Inclusion
was deemed Mediocre, though it had the most Latino scripted actors, and led the pack in terms of Latino writers and producers. That’s because ABC didn’t do so well with Latino directors and when it came to unscripted talent. NLMC was most seriously displeased about the casting of Juan Pablo Galavis on The Bachelor; the group said he “ended up perpetuating stereotypes with his sexist and homophobic remarks.”

Variety: Do TV And Advertising Still Belong Together?
TV and advertising used to go together, to quote some famous commercial slogans, like baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. Or like food, folks and fun. Now, a new thought is rising that the two sides fit together less snugly.

Facebook Will Get 10% of U.S. Digital Ad Spending in 2014
Adults in the United States will spend an average of 6 percent of their total digital media time on Facebook—or 21 minutes every day—and the social media giant captures 10 percent of all U.S. digital ad spending, according to a new study from eMarketer. Overall, almost half of the total time spent on media in any form in 2014 will be spent on digital platforms, the researcher states, but only 30.5 percent of media budgets will be allocated to the space.