The Morning Update for Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

Hi all, here’s your Morning Update for Tuesday, February 21, 2017:


Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Drama From Aaron Paul in the Works at WGN America
WGN America is ready to down some whiskey with Aaron Paul. The cable network has put in development Blood and Whiskey, a drama based on the life of whiskey guru Jack Daniel. Based on Peter Krass’ biography Blood and Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, the drama tells the harrowing true tale of Jack Daniel, boy distiller, teenage moonshiner and the outlaw who built the world’s biggest whiskey empire out of the ashes of the Civil War. Andrew Colville will pen the script for the drama and exec produce alongside Stan Spry and Jeff Holland of The Cartel, Drew Brown at Fascination Street and Paul and Zack Beckman at Lucid Road Productions. A studio is not yet attached.

(from Fri) Stephen King Anthology ‘Castle Rock’ From J.J. Abrams Set at Hulu
Hulu is going back to Stephen King and J.J. Abrams for its next drama. The streaming service has ordered anthology Castle Rock, named after the town featured in many of King’s books.The anthology will weave together characters and themes from those novels that use the Castle Rock location. Each season will follow a different set of characters and storylines while interjecting themes and specific characters from previous seasons. Sam Shaw and Dusty Thomason are also attached to the project, which hails from Abrams and his Warner Bros. Television-based Bad Robot banner.

(from Fri) Wrestling Drama ‘Heels’ From Paramount TV Heats Up At Starz, Eyeing Series Order
Heels, an hourlong drama set in the outrageous world of independent professional wrestling, has been put on the fast track at Starz. The project from Paramount TV is in active development, eyeing a potential eight-episode straight-to-series order. Written by Michael Waldron and to be directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Heels is the story of two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or "heel," in the ring; the other a hero, or “face.” Real conflicts play out in fake matches as they war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia.

(from Fri) ‘Workaholics’ Star to Topline NBC’s Mindy Kaling/Charlie Grandy Comedy
Workaholics grad Anders Holm is set to star in the network’s untitled comedy from The Mindy Project duo Mindy Kaling and Charlie Grandy. The single-camera comedy centers on Vince (Holm), a charismatic gym owner with no ambition who lives with his younger brother Michael, a gorgeous idiot. Their simple life of women and working out is put on hold when the teenage son of Vince is dropped off on their doorstep by Priya (Mindy Kaling), one of his old high school flings. Kaling and Grandy are set to pen the script for the Universal Television comedy, with 3 Arts’ Howard Klein also attached to exec produce.

(from Fri) Civil Rights Limited Series ‘The Ali Summit’ in the Works at Showtime
Showtime is developing a limited series about the civil rights movement called The Ali Summit. The project looks at a seminal moment in the civil-rights movement – the gathering of 12 of the nation’s top black intellectuals and athletes to first vet and then ultimately support Muhammad Ali’s conscientious objection to the Vietnam War draft, 50 years ago in 1967. Jeff and Michael Zimbalist will write and direct The Ali Summit. The duo will also exec produce with Jim Brown, his wife Monique Brown, Jeff Kirschenbaum and Joe Roth.

(sched) TNT Sets May 30 as Season 2 Debut Date for ‘Animal Kingdom’The family drama stars family stars Ellen Barkin and Scott Speedman.

(opinion) Cancel Bear vs. CBS, week 22: ‘Doubt’ is a symptom of a larger problem
CBS has launched three new 10 p.m. dramas this season. None of them has managed to average as much as a 1.0 rating among adults 18-49 — heck, only two single episodes of any of them so far (both of Pure Genius”) have managed that much. The last hour of primetime on ABC, CBS and NBC underperforms the other two hours in general, true. CBS is under that line on four of the six nights it airs dramas at 10 (including “Elementary”), and five of those six hours are down vs. last season.

(review) THR: ‘Taken’ on NBC
Clive Standen is forced to live up to Liam Neeson’s standard in an NBC series prequel that takes little from the ‘Taken’ films while also adding little that’s new.

(review) Variety: ‘Sun Records’ on CMT
The history of the birth of rock and roll is one of conflict and convergence, of a white mainstream co-opting and retooling the sound of black musicians. “Sun Records” attempts to handle some of these heavier issues with occasional success. But the show is far more invested in being a lightweight, soapy set of biopics — there’s a lot of meet-cutes in charmingly ‘50s spots, like the roller rink or the high school gym — that is more about playacting with a sanitized version of the ‘50s than it is about the history of this moment.


Susannah Flood Joins ABC’s Shondaland Pilot; Swoosie Kurtz In ‘Charlie Foxtrot’
Susannah Flood (Chicago Fire) has joined the series regular cast of ABC’s untitled Shondaland legal drama pilot, written by Scandal‘s Paul William Davies and directed by Tom Verica. Mike & Molly alumna Swoosie Kurtz is set as a series regular in ABC’s comedy pilot Charlie Foxtrot, from writer Sam Sklaver, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and ABC Studios.

(from Fri) Sonia Braga to Star in ABC Detective Drama ‘Las Reinas’
‘Narcos’ alum Chris Brancato has signed on as showrunner, with Liz Friedlander set to direct the pilot.

(from Fri) Britne Oldford, Ben Rappaport & Anna Deavere Smith Join ABC Shondaland Pilot
Britne Oldford, Ben Rappaport and veteran Anna Deavere Smith are set to star in an ABC legal drama pilot from Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers’ Shondaland and ABC Studios.

(from Fri) ‘The Walking Dead’s Michael Cudlitz Cast In ABC Cop Dramedy Pilot ‘The Trustee’
Recent The Walking Dead alum Michael Cudlitz has found his next series, landing a co-starring role opposite Meaghan Rath in The Trustee, ABC‘s comedic one-hour pilot from the Smurfs writers Jay Scherick and David Ronn, Warner Bros. TV and Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman’s studio-based Brownstone Productions.

(from Fri) ‘Smash’ Grad Jack Davenport to Co-Star in ABC Drama ‘Doomsday’
He joins a cast that also includes ‘Cougar Town’ alum Dan Byrd.

(from Fri) ‘Unit Zero’ ABC Pilot Casts Kimberly Hébert Gregory; Saidah Ekulona Joins Marc Cherry Pilot
Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals) has booked a series-regular role on ABC pilot Unit Zero, an action dramedy starring Toni Collette from the Black-ish duo of exec producer Kenya Barris and supervising producer Lindsey Shockley. Saidah Ekulona is set for a series-regular role in ABC’s Marc Cherry drama pilot, from ABC Studios.

(from Fri) Antonia Thomas Cast In ABC Pilot ‘Good Doctor’; Bojana Novakovic In CBS ‘Instinct’
Antonia Thomas (Misfits) has been cast as the female lead in the ABC drama pilot The Good Doctor, from Sony TV. Bojana Novakovic (Shameless, Rake) has landed the female lead opposite Alan Cumming in CBS’ drama pilot Instinct (fka Killer Instinct).

(from Fri) Busy Philipps to Star in Tina Fey-Produced NBC Comedy ‘Sackett Sisters’
The ‘Cougar Town’ alum is set as one of the sisters.

(from Fri) Matt Barr To Star In the CW Pilot ‘Valor’
Matt Barr
(Sleepy Hollow) is set as a lead in Valor, the CW’s serialized military drama/conspiracy thriller pilot written by writer-musician Kyle Jarrow and directed by Michael Robin.

(from Fri) ‘Scalped’: Alex Meraz Cast As Lead In WGN America Drama Pilot
Alex Meraz (Suicide Squad) has been cast as one of the leads in WGN America‘s drama pilot Scalped.

(from Fri) Hulu’s ‘The Looming Tower’ Enlists Michael Stuhlbarg, Bill Camp
Hulu’s 9/11 drama is adding two to its ensemble. Michael Stuhlbarg and Bill Camp have come onboard The Looming Tower as series regulars. Based on Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning nonfiction book, the series traces the rising threat of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, taking a controversial look at how the rivalry between the CIA and FBI may have inadvertently set the stage for the tragedy of 9/11 and the war in Iraq.

(from Fri) ‘Howards End’: Julia Ormond, Philippa Coulthard, Joseph Quinn, More Join Starz/BBC Miniseries
Starz and BBC are rounding out the cast for limited series Howards End, based on E.M. Forster’s classic novel. Julia Ormond and newcomers Philippa Coulthard, Joseph Quinn have signed on to the four-part series, alongside Rosalind Eleazar and Alex Lawther.


Are Netflix and Amazon Driving Smaller Distributors Out of the Sundance Picture?
Once again, Netflix and Amazon took a large share of the acquisitions at the Sundance Film Festival. Just three years ago, the two companies weren’t even contenders for acquiring distribution rights at the fest, but this year they took home 15 features between them, up from 13 last year — and just one in 2015.

‘Lion King’ Remake Casts Donald Glover as Simba, James Earl Jones as Mufasa
Director Jon Favreau announced the news Friday on Twitter.

Angela Lansbury Joins Disney’s ‘Mary Poppins Returns’
Angela Lansbury has joined the cast of “Mary Poppins Returns,” the sequel to Disney’s 1964 film “Mary Poppins.”


YouTube Will Phase Out 30-Second Unskippable Ads After This Year
However, brands can still make YouTube’s 15-second and 20-second ads unskippable, and they also have the option of the six-second bumper ads YouTube introduced last April, which cannot be skipped by users either.


BBC announces Blue Planet II
The BBC has officially unveiled its latest blue-chip natural history series Blue Planet II. Sir David Attenborough will narrate the series, which was previously known as Ocean and will look at underwater environments and animals across every continent. BBC Studios’ NHU will make the series alongside copro partners BBC America, WDR and France Télévisions.

How Netflix’s ‘Ultimate Beastmaster’ Will Change Global Reality TV
The streaming service’s first competition series, which features contestants tackling a 600-foot-long obstacle course, will be released in six different versions worldwide tailored to local audiences.

(sched) Chelsea Handler’s Netflix Talk Show to Return April 14
The show will air weekly in its second season.


Game of Thrones star sets BBC One drama
Game of Thrones star Kit Harington will star alongside Peter Mullan, Mark Gatiss and Liv Tyler in Gunpowder, which is for BBC One. Harington developed the series with writer Ronan Bennett and Daniel West, with Endemol Shine Group-owned Kudos producing. J. Blakeson will direct.The three-part series will explore the history behind the Gunpowder Plot, a famous 1605 incident in British political history when a group of dissidents attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, which has spawned the annual Guy Fawkes Night on November 5.

France Televisions Buys Laura Esquivel’s New Teen Drama ‘Love, Divina’
Gallic pubcaster France Televisions has acquired French TV rights to pan-Latin American fiction series “Love, Divina,” toplined by Argentine pop icon Laura Esquivel. “Love, Divina’s”’ narrative mixes humor, music and drama, with Esquivel playing Divina, a kind and conscientious teenager who grew up without a family who takes a group of homeless kids under her wing . Just before social services tear the group apart, they are all taken in by Irene, Divina’s long-lost grandmother.

Sat.1 comedy moves to Amazon
Amazon Prime Video has become the new home of German comedy Pastewka, which previously went out on commercial broadcaster Sat.1. The comedy, which has been billed as the ‘German Curb Your Enthusiasm’, is going back into production this summer and will debut next year. ProSiebenSat.1-owned Sat.1 has broadcast the series since 2005, totaling seven seasons and nearly 70 episodes to date. Banijay Group-owned Brainpool produces the series, which follows stand-up Bastian Pastewka playing a fictional version of himself.

White Slave heads to Africa
A pan-African broadcaster has acquired Colombian drama The White Slave from distributor Caracol Internacional. The 62×60’ series tells the story of a white woman raised by slaves. Years after being separated from her family, she returns to the US to avenge the death of her biological parents, free her adoptive family and reunite with the love of her life.

In related news, Ecuador’s Teleamazonas has picked up drama Cuando Vivas Conmigo from Colombian broadcaster Caracol. The series is based on Mario Vargas Llosa’ novel El Héroe Discreto (The Discreet Hero) and follows two sisters who forget their differences to support each other after being orphaned.


ABC Sells Out of Ad Time in the Oscars
has sold out of commercial time in the Academy Awards.Advertisers in this year’s celebration of some of the biggest films include Walmart, Samsung, McDonald’s, AT&T, Verizon and Anheuser-Busch InBev, ABC said.Thirty-second spots are going for about $2 million, with some paying as much as $2.5 million, according to several media buyers.


Keith Cox to Lead Development at Paramount Network; Spike’s Sharon Levy to Exit
TV Land president of development and production Keith Cox is expected to be tapped to lead development at the rebranded network, while Spike’s longtime executive vp originals Sharon Levy is poised to exit the company following an 11-year run.

Paramount CEO Brad Grey to Exit After 12 Years
Paramount was last among the six major studios in market share in 2016 with only one movie, ‘Star Trek Beyond,’ cracking $100 million in domestic box office.


WGA Awards: ‘Moonlight’ & ‘Arrival’ Win Top Film Prizes; FX’s ‘Atlanta’ & ‘The Americans’ Lead TV – Complete Winners List
On the TV side, FX swept the top categories with Atlanta winning for Comedy Series and New Series, The Americans for Drama Series and The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story for Long Form Adapted. HBO’s Confirmation picked up the Long Form Original prize, and NBC won three awards including Episode Drama for freshman breakout This Is Us and Comedy/Variety (Sketch) for the rejuvenated Saturday Night Live.


(tech) AdWeek: Snap Inc.’s Spectacles Are Now Available for Anyone to Buy Online
If you want one of Snap Inc.’s Spectacles, you no longer have to find a randomly located Snapbot and then stand in line to buy one of the elusive $130 gadgets. Starting today, you can purchase them on

Wrap: Dick Clark Productions Sale to Dalian Wanda Is Dead
Dalian Wanda’s $1 billion purchase of Golden Globes producer Dick Clark Productions is dead, two individuals familiar with the matter told TheWrap. The deal has fallen apart over problems getting currency out of China — and passing regulatory muster with the Chinese state, the insiders said.

Variety: Diversity in Hollywood Is a ‘Plus Factor For the Bottom Line’ The report, “2017 Hollywood Diversity Report: Setting the Record Straight,” showed that films and television shows with casts that roughly reflect the nation’s racial and ethnic diversity posted the highest box office and ratings numbers on average. “The sociologist in me knows that minorities over-index in terms of movies and TV,” Hunt said. “People want to see their own stories so the return on investment is strong.”