The Morning Update for Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

Hi all, here’s your Morning Update for Tuesday, December 15, 2015:


Kiefer Sutherland to Play President in ABC Drama Series ‘Designated Survivor’
Kiefer Sutherland
will star in Designated Survivor, a dramatic thriller that has been ordered straight-to-series at ABC. The drama will be written by David Guggenheim, who will exec produce alongside Simon Kinberg and his Genre Films banner, Sutherland and Entertainment 360’s Suzan Bymel. Designated Survivor centers on a lower-level United States cabinet member who is suddenly appointed president after a catastrophic attack during the State of the Union kills everyone above him in the presidential line of succession. The series is described as a family drama wrapped around a conspiracy thriller about an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation. The series hails from the Mark Gordon Co. Studios, and marks the banner’s first series pickup since it was launched as a stand-alone company based at Entertainment One. ABC Studios will co-produce alongside MGC.

NBC’s ‘Xena’ Reboot Finds Writer in ‘Lost’ Alum
is moving forward with its Xena: Warrior Princess reboot. The network has tapped Javier Grillo-Marxuach to pen the script for the project. Grillo-Marxuach will exec produce the Xena reboot alongside co-creator Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi, who will oversee the NBC International Television Studios entry via their Ghost House Pictures banner. The reboot will follow a new, modern Xena.

‘2 Black Dudes’ Comedy Exec Produced By Seth MacFarlane In the Works At FoxFoxhas put in development2 Black Dudes, a single-camera comedy written by J Lee, with Seth MacFarlane executive producing alongside Mike Mariano who will serve as showrunner. 20th Century Fox TV, where MacFarlane is under an overall deal, is the studio. Originally from St. Louis, two cousins with two completely different perspectives on life, now live in Los Angeles and continuously bump heads on everything from religion, sex, politics, and being black in America.

MTV Greenlights Three Comedy Series Including Nicole Byer ProjectBeefing up their scripted comedy slate, MTV has given the greenlight to three new original comedies. The cabler has ordered “Little Darlings,” an untitled series from Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont, plus a scripted comedy starring comedian Nicole Byer.

Margaret Cho to Star in Pot Comedy for Amazon
Margaret Cho
is set to star in comedy Highland, which is in development at Amazon. Hourlong dramedy Highland stars Cho as a version of herself, who, after a court-ordered rehab, gets a chance to start over but has to move in with her dysfunctional family who now runs a pot dispensary. Liz Sarnoff will pen the script and executive produce the comedy, which is a co-production between Tomorrow Studios and Amazon Studios.

HarperCollins & Insurrection Forge Book-To-TV Partnership Starting With YA Series ‘Mila 2.0’Publisher HarperCollinsand digital TV studio Insurrection Mediaare joining forces for a strategic framework to option and develop science fiction, dramatic and comedic literature for scripted series with digital, television and other distribution platforms in mind. The partnership’s first planned project is to adapt Mila 2.0, the young adult trilogy written by Debra Driza. Mila 2.0 follows a young woman grappling with the recent death of her husband who, unable to remember the details of her past, discovers she is actually an experimental android.

(sched) ‘Underground’ Gets March Premiere Date On WGN AmericaWGN Americahas slated Wednesday, March 9, for the premiere of its Underground Railroad thriller Underground.


‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Recruits Damon Wayans Jr.
Damon Wayans Jr.
is returning to Fox. The New Girl alum has been tapped to guest star on the network’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Outlander Casts Burnt Actor as Roger
has found its Roger in Scottish actor Richard Rankin. Rankin will play the grown-up version of Rev. Wakefield’s adopted son, whom we met in Season 1.

Nicholas Gonzalez Joins Lee Daniels’ Fox Music PilotNicholas Gonzalezhas been cast opposite Queen Latifahand Benjamin Bratt in Fox’s untitled pilot from Empire co-creator Lee Daniels(aka Star).


Constance Wu, Jonathan Kite to Star in Horror-Comedy ‘All the Creatures Were Stirring’
Constance Wu
(“Fresh Off the Boat”) and Jonathan Kite are starring in the Christmas horror-comedy “All the Creatures Were Stirring.” Rebekah McKendry and David Ian McKendry are making their directorial debut from their own script, which is set on a Christmas Eve marked by encounters with monsters and misfortunes.


Plebs to Stream on Hulu in the U.S.
has acquired the exclusive U.S. SVOD rights for the first two seasons of the comedy series Plebs from DRG. Set in Ancient Rome, the Rise Films-produced series centers on Marcus (Tom Rosenthal), Stylax (Joel Fry) and Grumio (Ryan Sampson). These desperate young men must navigate women, careers and friendship as they attempt to climb the social ladder.

Verizon Now Allows TV Customers To Stream DVR Recordings Outside Of The HomeIn an effort to stave off further cord-cutting as well as catch up with rivals, Verizon announced that its FiOS customers will be able to stream their DVR recordings outside of the home, anywhere they have an Internet connection, for the first time.


History Channel Greenlights Military Docuseries from Peter Berg
has greenlit a new military docuseries “Live to Tell,” which gives first-person accounts of recent U.S. Special Operations Forces missions in the War of Terror. Hailing from Peter Berg’s unscripted shingle Film 45, History has ordered eight hourlong episodes of the docuseries, which premieres Sunday, Jan 10 at 10:00 p.m.

Travel Channel Goes for Season Two of Man Finds Food
Travel Channel
has renewed the culinary/travel series Man Finds Food for a sophomore season, set to kick off next year.

MMA, Matchmaking Series on Myx’s 2016 SlateMixed martial arts and a matchmaker who battles moms are part of the 2016 programming slate for Myx TV, the Asian-American focused cable and satellite channel. With new original series “Mom vs. Matchmaker,” professional matchmaker Carmelia Ray will go head-to-head with opinionated mothers as she finds the perfect mate for their single children.


Berlin’s Studio Babelsberg Invests $13.2 Million in Backlot Set, Starts ConstructionBerlin production facility Studio Babelsberg, which is the home of the most recent season of “Homeland” and the next instalment in the “Bourne” franchise, is to invest Euros 12 million ($13.2 million) in an extensive new backlot set, with construction due to start Tuesday.

Disney, Alibaba Launch DisneyLife OTT Service in China
The Walt Disney Company
and Alibaba Group have entered a multiyear license agreement for an over-the-top (OTT) service in China. DisneyLife will give Alibaba customers in China “an all-encompassing and immersive family friendly digital experience,” the companies said.


Mark Burnett Named President of MGM Television
Mark Burnett
has been named president of MGM Television and Digital Group and has signed a five-year contract. Roma Khanna, who had run MGM Television for the past four years, is leaving the company. Under the deal, Burnett will report directly to Gary Barber, chairman and CEO. Burnett’s and Roma Downey’s interests in United Artists Media Group will be absorbed under the MGM Television Group umbrella.

Vertigo Entertainment Inks Overall Deal With Warner Bros. TV, Taps Michael Connolly As Head Of TelevisionRoy Lee’s Vertigo Entertainmentis expanding its longterm relationship with Warner Bros. to the television side with a two-year exclusive overall deal at Warner Bros. TV for drama and comedy series. The company’s TV operations will be headed by Michael Connolly.

A&E Network Taps TLC’s Amy Savitsky as Programming Exec
A&E Network has recruited TLC alum Amy Savitsky to serve as senior VP of development and programming, focusing on unscripted series. Savitsky will be based in New York and report to Elaine Frontain Bryant, exec VP and head of programming for the cabler.

Discovery Taps VP of Current Production
Discovery Channel
has appointed seasoned TV producer Matthew Vafiadis as VP of current production.

Chuck Lorre and Dick Wolf Talk Serialization, Scheduling and Why "Platform Is Secondary"
As part of HRTS’ newsmakers luncheon series, the two prolific producers discussed their past hits, current franchises and what’s next.

SSN: Exec Shuffle for 12/14/15Rebecca Arzoian has been upped from Creative Executive to the Director of Development at Focus Features.
Sara Rastogi has been hired as a Creative Executive at 20th Century Fox. She was formerly the Creative Executive at Ridley Scott Films.
Keith Dawkins has been upped from SVP, General Manager to the EVP at TeenNick & Nicktoons in New York.
Simon Shalgosky has been hired as the Head of Entertainment Development at Lion TV. He was previously the Head of Development, Non-Scripted at Keshet International.
Alana Rosu has been hired as the Director of Talent Relations & Events at FX Networks. She was formerly the Manager of Branded Entertainment at NBCUniversal.
Ben Fast has been hired as the EVP of Development at Indigenous Media. He was previously the Director of Scripted Television at The Weinstein Company.

Howard Stern Signs 12-Year Deal With SiriusXM That Adds Video To Mix
Howard Sternhas agreed to stay on the air for five years as part of a 12 year deal with the satellite radio company that includes its first foray into streamed video programming. He’ll keep The Howard Stern Show going on SiriusXM for five years.


AV Club: Best of: The best TV of 2015, part 140. Marvel’s Daredevil (Netflix)
39. Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)

38. South Park (Comedy Central)

37. Bloodline (Netflix)

36. Please Like Me (Pivot)

35. Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

34. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp (Netflix)

33. Broad City (Comedy Central)

32. Banshee (Cinemax)

31. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)

30. Veep (HBO)

29. Silicon Valley (HBO)

28. The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst (HBO)

27. Halt And Catch Fire (AMC)

26. The Flash (CW)

25. Looking (HBO)

24. Nathan For You (Comedy Central)

23. Game Of Thrones (HBO)

22. Steven Universe (Cartoon Network)

21. Parks And Recreation (NBC)

Black List 2015 Topped by Michael Jackson Chimp Script, Features JFK DramaThe 2015 Black List, consisting of Hollywood’s top unproduced screenplays, was announced on Monday. Isaac Adamson’s story about Michael Jackson’s chimp, “Bubbles,” led the list with 44 votes. Samuel V. Franco and Evan Kilgore’s “Mayday 109” script about President John F. Kennedy’s World War II days also made the list.

Vulture: The 10 Best Comedy Podcasts and Comedy Podcast Episodes of 2015

1. “Comedy Bang! Bang!”

2. “Stop Podcasting Yourself”

3. “My Brother, My Brother and Me”

4. “Harmontown”

5. “How Did This Get Made?”

6. “Throwing Shade”

7. “Hollywood Handbook”

8. “With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus”

9. “Pistol Shrimps Radio”

10. “The Read”


ESPN Tops List of Most Social TV Networks
dominated the November ranking of the most socially engaged TV networks in the U.S., with ABC coming in second, according to the social media benchmarking and audience analysis firm Shareablee. The ranking includes all television shows and the main network brand accounts under their respective networks. It reflects a total of 530.3 million social actions across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube.