The Morning Update for Friday, April 29, 2016.

Hi all, here’s your Morning Update for Friday, April 29, 2016. Have a great weekend!


Netflix Orders ‘The Punisher’ Marvel Series
Netflix just announced that The Punisher, an offshoot of Marvel’s Daredevil starring The Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal, is getting a series order. The streaming had been working on the potential spinoff for several months.

Nat Geo Orders First Scripted Series, Ron Howard to Direct
National Geographic announced that it has ordered its first-ever scripted entry, the global anthology Genius from Fox 21 TV Studios, Imagine TV, OddLot and EUE/Sokolow. Not only is the commitment straight-to-series, but Nat Geo also said it envisioned multiple seasons for the program. Imagine’s Ron Howard is on board to direct the first episode. Each season of the series is expected to dramatize the stories of the world’s top innovators. The first will focus on Albert Einstein, and will be based on Walter Isaacson’s critically acclaimed book, Einstein: His Life and Universe, adapted by writer Noah Pink. A showrunner will be tapped shortly, with production expected to begin this summer in Prague.

Sylvester Stallone to Star in First Television Series: ‘Omerta’
Sylvester Stallone
is finalizing a deal to star in Antoine Fuqua’s TV adaptation of Mario Puzo’s Omerta, the final book in the author’s mafia trilogy that started with The Godfather and The Last Don. Stallone is expected to play the mafia head at the center of the story. A network is not yet attached, but sources say the pilot could film as early as this summer. Those same sources suggest the project will soon be shopped to cable and streaming services.

Johnny Depp-Produced ‘Muscle Shoals’ Among 5 Series In Works At IM Global TV
IM Global TVis teaming with Johnny Deppand Richard Branson to develop a limited music drama series based on Rick Hall’s autobiography The Man From Muscle Shoals: My Journey from Shame to Fame. It’s one of five new series projects put in development by Reliance Entertainment’s TV studio — along with I, Rebel; LD50 and adaptations of the book The Lesser Dead and graphic novel Planetoid.

Viola Davis Signs Overall Deal With ABC Studios, Taps Andrew Wang As Head Of TV
How To Get Away with Murder star Viola Davishas signed an overall deal with ABC Studios. Under the pact, Davis and her partner Julius Tennon will develop new projects for broadcast, cable, and streaming services through their production company, JuVee Productions, for ABC Studios and its cable/digital division ABC Signature. As part of the deal, JuVee has brought in Andrew Wangto serve as Head of Television Development and Production. Wang comes from Bravo, where he was VP and head of Scripted Television Development and Production.

’10 Cloverfield Lane’ Director Dan Trachtenberg To Helm ‘Black Mirror’ Ep For Netflix
10 Cloverfield Lane
director Dan Trachtenbergis set to helm an episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror reboot. He joins an increasingly high profile list of directors and filmmaking talent that includes Joe Wright and Jakob Verbruggen.

(animated) ‘Peanuts’ Will Return to U.S. TV on Boomerang
Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of Charles Schulz’ “Peanuts” gang will return to U.S. TV in a series of animated vignettes set to debut on Time Warner’s Boomerang network on May 9. New episodes will debut each day at 11:30 a.m. Once a commercial-free outlet that ran many of the old Hanna-Barbera classics assimilated into the Turner library, the cable network now runs ads and is using vintage characters like Scooby-Doo and Bugs Bunny in new iterations to capture interest from kids and parents.

(ratings) ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Enjoying Ratings Renaissance as Young Women Lift ABC Show in Season 12
In a good example of how younger viewers are discovering veteran shows on multiple platforms, the hospital drama has seen a ratings resurgence in its 12th season — driven largely by adult women under 35 who were probably in middle school or high school when the show bowed in 2005. In this category, “Grey’s” ranks second among all broadcast shows, behind only Fox’s “Empire.”


Stephen Root Cast In Bill Hader’s HBO Comedy Pilot ‘Barry’
Stephen Roothas been cast as a regular opposite Bill Haderand Henry Winkler in Hader’s HBOcomedy pilotBarry.

Cameron Crowe’s ‘Roadies’ TV Series Adds Ely Henry
Comedian, actor and writer Ely Henry has joined Cameron Crowe‘s upcoming Showtime series “Roadies.”


Amazon to ‘significantly increase’ originals spend
Amazon has announced plans to “significantly increase” spend on Amazon Originals content after reporting surging Q1 sales and profits. The CFO said that Amazon Prime subscriptions were up 51% year-over-year in 2015 – 47% in the US and a higher rate than that internationally – and attributed this growth to “a culmination of a lot of separate investments”, including Amazon Originals.


Drew Barrymore to Serve as Narrator on NBC Dating Reality Show ‘First Dates’
Drew Barrymore has joined NBC’s Ellen DeGeneres-produced dating show “First Dates”. Based on the UK format, “First Dates” explores the experience of a first date — the promise of potential love when it goes well and the hilariously awkward moments if it crashes and burns.

Z Living collars four originalsUS-based health and entertainment network Z Living has ordered four original series and acquired three others for its 2016/17 slate. The originals include Finding Fido, which follows a canine expert who helps an enthusiastic prospective dog owner to find the perfect companion. The others are Altar’d, The Big Fat Truth and Yoga Girls, which follows the lives of yoga instructors who compete for clients in LA’s West Side.


THR: Disney Rules Hollywood’s Fairy Tale War as Other Studios Bite the Poisoned Apple
"It’s in the soil here," says Disney production chief Sean Bailey, who leads the charge in spinning classic properties into live-action tentpoles. "Some studios are really comfortable making R-rated comedies; that’s not what we do. We work in this space."

Disney Did Not Discriminate Against Autistic Kids, Federal Judge Decides
After more than two years and courts from California to Florida, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was exonerated in a lawsuit claiming it discriminated against families with children with autism and other developmental disorders in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.


Lifetime Hires Sharon Bordas As VP Scripted Series Development
Sharon Bordashas joined Lifetimeas VP, Scripted Development. Based in Los Angeles, Bordas will develop and oversee production of scripted series for Lifetime, reporting to Liz Gateley, Lifetime’s EVP and Head of Programming. Bordas, who comes from production company MarVista Entertainment, will bolster Lifetime’s scripted series ranks. The network is still looking for a replacement of SVP Nina Lederman, who left last September.

ITV Taps USA Network Exec Jessica Sebastian AS SVP Development
In his first hire as president of ITV Entertainment, David Eilenberg has named veteran reality producer and development executive Jessica SebastianSVP of development at ITV Entertainment, ITV America’s in-house reality production banner.

NBCUniversal Cable Networks Promotes Three Programming Execs
Bill McGoldrick, who ascended two months ago to a post leading scripted programming at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, has filled out his executive team. Alex Sepiol has been named executive vice president of scripted development for the network group, which includes USA, Syfy, E! and Bravo. Michael Sluchan has been tapped as senior vice president, scripted programming. Heather Olander, who had led unscripted programming at Syfy under McGoldrick, will now also do so for USA as senior vice president, alternative programming.

DanceOn Hires ABC’s Karen Schuchardt, Ex-Machinima Exec Betty Tran
DanceOn, the dance and music digital media company whose backers include Madonna, named Karen Schuchardt as chief revenue officer and Betty Tran as EVP of marketing. Schuchardt joins DanceOn from Disney’s ABC, where she was VP of digital ad sales overseeing sales and strategy across all ABC video properties.

MGM TV Hires Barry Poznick to Lead Unscripted
Veteran producer Barry Poznick had been hired to head unscripted programming for MGM Television.

Jeffrey Katzenberg to Transition Out at DreamWorks Animation, Takes Consulting Role
DreamWorks Animation CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Katzenbergwill transition out of running the company he founded once Comcast completes its $3.8 billion acquisition. Katzenberg will become chairman of DreamWorks New Media. Katzenberg will also serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal.


NYT: TV’s Dwindling Middle ClassMoney worries and striving were part of the mainstream sitcom. Now on TV, no matter your actual job, almost everybody belongs to the same generic, vaguely upper-class class.

Calm Down, Grey’s Anatomy Fans: Sara Ramirez Isn’t Leaving (Probably)
Grey’s Anatomyfans found themselves in a tizzy Thursday, thanks to a tweet from star Sara Ramirezthat some interpreted to mean she’s leaving the show.With production wrapping on Season 12, Ramirez posted this message:That’s a wrap for Doctor #CallieTorres#Season13#GreysAnatomy#ThankYou all for an enriching & unforgettable #Rollercoaster ride!
Ramirez’s contract for next season is still being negotiated.

Wrap: Fox Movie Studio Pulls Out of Comic-Con Main Event Over Piracy Fears
20th Century Fox will not showcase its upcoming movie releases in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con this year. The studio feels it cannot prevent the piracy of custom trailers and exclusive footage routinely screened for fans in attendance.

TiVo to Be Acquired by Rovi for $1.1 Billion
Rovi is acquiring DVR pioneer TiVo for about $1.1 billion in cash and stock, bringing together two entertainment-tech companies with sizable patent portfolios.

Indiewire: Ten Ways to Figure Out Which TV Shows Will Be Renewed or Canceled
We asked network scheduling execs past and present to come up with a checklist to help predict whether your favorite show will live or die.
1. Are the ratings great?
2. Is the network happy with the creative?
3. Does the network own the show?
4. Are there already backend dollars coming in?
5. Is the show’s cost and license fee still low?
6. Does the network’s fall schedule need it?
7. Is the network’s sales team lobbying to keep the show?
8. Does the network have an important relationship with the show’s auspices?
9. Are there any other financial deals to keep the show alive?
10. Are there unforeseen corporate politics impacting the show’s fate?