Morning News Update for Friday, September 11, 2015.

Hi all! Here’s your morning news update for Friday, September 11, 2015. Have a great weekend!

SCRIPTED NEWS:

ABC Gives Pilot Production Order to Legendary TV Comedy ‘Downward Dog’

Legendary TV has nabbed a pilot production order from ABC for comedy “Downward Dog.” The single-camera half-hour project revolves around a woman and her dog. The concept originated as a web series created by Samm Hodges and Michael Killen for Animal Media Group. Hodges and Killen will exec produce the series for Legendary and ABC Studios. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/abc-pilot-production-order-downward-dog-legendary-1201590305/

ABC Buys Whistleblower Drama ‘Canary’ From Zack Estrin

Zack Estrinhas sold Canary, a dramatic thriller, to ABC. Canary follows a woman who risks everything to help a whistleblower come forward with secret information that will impact the lives of millions. Estrin will write the script and will executive produce with Nick Hamm and Sabrina Eisenstadt of Momentum. http://deadline.com/2015/09/canary-whistleblower-drama-zack-estrin-abc-1201519933/

Idris Elba to Exec Produce ‘The Crusaders’ Series for Fox

Fox is developing drama series “The Crusaders” with Idris Elba attached to exec produce. Thomas Ikimi will pen the project, in addition to also serving as an exec producer. “The Crusaders” follows an extended family of second-generation Africans living in the U.S. who specialize in locating and returning valuable objects stolen from Africa during colonial occupation. The project hails from Legendary Television, Di Bonaventura Television, Elba’s Green Door Pictures banner and Ikimi’s T&T Studios. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/idris-elba-the-crusaders-series-fox-1201590107/

‘American Gods’ Enlists ‘Hannibal’s’ David Slade as Director and EP

David Sladehas come on board as a director and executive producer of Starz’s “American Gods” adaptation. Bryan Fullerand Michael Greenare serving as showrunners on the series based on Neil Gaiman‘s bestselling novel. Starz has ordered the show to series, with a 2017 premiere planned. “American Gods” portrays a war between the old gods of biblical and mythological roots and a new group of gods “reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs.” http://www.thewrap.com/american-gods-enlists-hannibals-david-slade-as-director-and-ep/

Showtime’s Lena Waithe Drama Casts ‘Under the Dome’ Alum & Adds ‘The Bridge’ Creator as EP

Elwood Reid has boarded Showtime’s drama from creator Lena Waithe and exec producer Common, as a new exec producer. The Chicago-set coming-of-age story, which revolves around a young African American man in Chicago’s South Side, has assembled a strong cast of six African American actors for the pilot. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/showtime-lena-waithe-common-drama-cast-1201590001/

(review) Variety: ‘The Bastard Executioner’

Given “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter’s let’s-get-medieval sensibilities, the wedding of his knack for dark and violent material with an early 14-century setting sounds like a match made in a hellacious Heaven. Yet the collision proves a trifle jarring in his latest FX series, “The Bastard Executioner,” which proves too uneven to be satisfying. http://variety.com/2015/tv/reviews/the-bastard-executioner-review-kurt-sutter-fx-drama-1201589076/

CASTING NEWS:

Mary Elizabeth Winstead to Topline CBS Comic-Thriller ‘BrainDead’ from ‘Good Wife’ Creators

Mary Elizabeth Winstead has been tapped to star in “BrainDead,” the upcoming Washington D.C.-set comic-thriller from Robert and Michelle King for CBS. Winstead will play Laurel, the daughter of a Democratic political dynasty. Laurel discovers that the government has stopped working, and that alien spawn have come to Earth and eaten the brains of a growing number of congressmen and Hill staffers. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/mary-elizabeth-winstead-cast-braindead-cbs-laurel-1201590219/

Christopher Stanley Joins ‘American Crime’ Season Two

The ‘Mad Men’ alum will play the boyfriend of Felicity Huffman’s character. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/christopher-stanley-joins-american-crime-821834

‘The Odd Couple’ Recruits Teri Hatcher for Season 2

Hatcher’s Charlotte will romance Matthew Perry’s Oscar in the CBS comedy’s upcoming second season. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/teri-hatcher-odd-couple-season-821812

‘Empire’ Casts Vivica A. Fox to Play Cookie’s Sister

She will make her debut in the eighth episode of the upcoming second season. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/empire-vivica-a-fox-play-821747

Tim Roth to Star in BBC’s Iraq War Protest Drama

The actor will play an anti-war campaigner whose son was killed in Iraq. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/tim-roth-star-bbcs-iraq-821710

NON-SCRIPTED/ALTERNATIVE NEWS:

(ratings) Tom Brady’s Season Opening Victory Over Steelers Ties NFL’s Best-Ever Kickoff Game

The New England Patriots win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last night matched the top overnight rating ever for an NFL Kickoff game, with a 17.7. http://www.thewrap.com/early-ratings-tom-bradys-season-opening-victory-over-steelers-ties-nfls-best-ever-kickoff-game/

Brian Williams Will Make MSNBC Debut Sept. 22

Brian Williams is expected to formally return to the TV-news trenches on September 22, when he will start new duties at cable network MSNBC. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/brian-williams-will-make-msnbc-debut-sept-22-1201589916/

Core Media’s Jennifer O’Connell Joins Lionsgate as EVP of Alternative Programming

Lionsgate Television Group chairman Kevin Beggs announced that Jennifer O’Connell would be joining his ranks as executive vice president of alternative programming. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/jennifer-oconnell-lionsgate-core-media-1201589969/

ABC Family Picks Up Fashion Week Behind-the-Scenes Documentary ‘Baring It All’

ABC Family has acquired a behind-the-scenes documentary of New York Fashion Week, the network announced Thursday. “Baring It All: Inside New York Fashion Week,” produced by talent management company IMG, began fiming during the fashion industry’s event this week and will air on ABC Family next month. http://www.thewrap.com/abc-family-picks-up-fashion-week-behind-the-scenes-documentary-baring-it-all/

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

Fox UK, TF1, Atresmedia buy The Fixer

Sonar Entertainment has shopped its conspiracy thriller The Fixer to a raft of international broadcasters. The show, which stars Eric Dane and Kathleen Robertson, has been picked up by Fox International Channels UK, as well as Spanish free-to-air broadcaster Atresmedia and its French counterpart TF1. http://tbivision.com/news/2015/09/fox-uk-tf1-atresmedia-buy-fixer/478321/

TWDC NEWS:

Disney COO Tom Staggs Defends ESPN After Subscriber Drop, Touts New ‘Star Wars’ Parks

Disney Chief Operating Officer Tom Staggs reiterated the company’s belief in ESPN and the continued delivery of the sports network’s programming via traditional television bundles, rather than any near-term move to new digital platforms. Staggs’s remarks came Thursday at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills. http://variety.com/2015/film/news/disney-coo-tom-staggs-espn-star-wars-attractions-1201589852/

Frozen Musical To Replace Aladdin at Disney California Adventure

It’s official, Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular is out of the Hyperion Theatre at Disney California Adventure and a Frozen-inspired production is moving in in summer of 2016. http://thedisneyblog.com/2015/09/10/frozen-musical-to-replace-aladdin-at-disney-california-adventure/

EXECUTIVE/TALENT NEWS:

Asylum Expands Development Team with New Hires, Promotions

Asylum Entertainment, a division of Legendary, is expanding its executive ranks after an uptick in internal production and demands of the marketplace. Ryann Lauckner is being promoted to exec vice president of the company. Michaels and Koch also announced the promotions of Joan Harrison to head of scripted television and Stephanie Lydecker to head of unscripted Programming. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/asylum-expands-development-team-with-new-hires-promotions-1201590022/

All3Media’s Eric Lehrman Joins USA As VP Original Programming

USA Networkhas hired Eric Lehrmanas VP of Original Programming. He will develop scripted series and oversee production on USA scripted pilots. He will report to Alex Sepiol, SVP of Original Scripted Programming. http://deadline.com/2015/09/usa-eric-lehrman-all3media-vp-original-programming-1201520653/

Seven Bucks Productions Names Brian Gewirtz Head Of TV Development

Dwayne Johnsonand Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions is signaling a further TV expansion with the appointment writer-producer Brian Gewirtzas SVP of Development. http://deadline.com/2015/09/seven-bucks-brian-gewirtz-tv-development-dwayne-johnson-1201520418/

Pop Ups David Mandell To COO

Pophas elevated David Mandellto the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer at the CBS and Lionsgate-owned network. Mandell will continue as Pop’s General Counsel overseeing legal and business affairs, while adding content distribution, business development and operations to his responsibilities. http://deadline.com/2015/09/pop-elevates-david-mandell-coo-1201520578/

(q&a) Debbie Allen on Her Many Jobs on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’: ‘It’s a Little Crazy, But What a Great Life’

Debbie Allen was the first black woman to be Emmy-nominated in the dramatic lead actress category. More than three decades later, she has a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy,” and is a frequent director — and now exec producer of the show. http://variety.com/2015/tv/features/debbie-allen-greys-director-anatomy-executive-producer-season-12-1201585698/

MISCELLANEOUS NEWS:

Women, Minorities Still Underrepresented as First-Time Episodic TV Directors: DGA Report

Woman and minorities are still lagging among first-time directors in episodic television, a new study from the Directors Guild of America shows. The study found that 82% — or 501 of 611 — of all first-time episodic directors were male during a six-year span. Only 18% (110) were female and only 14% (83) were minority directors. http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/women-minority-directors-tv-dga-first-time-1201590038/

(feature) The Man Who Became Kermit

Twenty-five years after Jim Henson’s death, a glimpse of the man who kept his most iconic puppet singing: Steve Whitmire. http://blog.longreads.com/2015/09/10/on-the-other-hand/

Atlantic: You’re the Worst Demonstrates How to Subvert the Rom-Com

Though the characters and plot details vary, romantic comedies all tend to promise the same thing: a happy ending. But to Jimmy and Gretchen, the central couple in the rom-com series You’re the Worst, a happy ending might as well be a nightmare. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/09/youre-the-worsts-successful-subversion-of-the-rom-com/404683/

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