The Morning Update for Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Hi all, here’s your Morning Update for Thursday, April 20, 2017:


‘Wheel of Time’ TV Series Lands at Sony The long-gestating “Wheel of Time” TV series adaptation is moving forward with Sony Pictures Television. The series will be based on the high fantasy novels written by Robert Jordan, the pen name of James O. Rigney Jr. Sony will produce along with Red Eagle Entertainment and Radar Pictures. Rafe Judkins is attached to write and executive produce. There are 14 novels in total, following the quest to find the Dragon Reborn, who it is said will help unite forces to combat The Dark One.

Vatileaks Scandals Being Developed Into TV Series by Leone Film GroupItaly’s Leone Film Group has acquired rights to a series of books by Italian investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi to develop an English-language TV series based on the so-called Vatileaks scandals that recently exposed rampant corruption and mismanagement at the Vatican. Nuzzi will supervise and collaborate in the writing process with an American screenwriter, said Raffaella Leone, who is currently shopping the project in Los Angeles. She is also seeking a U.S. showrunner and director.

Entertainment One & Palomar Team For ‘Gaddafi’ Series From ‘Gomorrah’ Writer Roberto SavianoEntertainment One and Italy’s Palomar are teaming for a new series based on the life and times of Muammar Gaddafi and the effects he had on the world today. Gaddafi is created and written by Roberto Saviano and Nadav Schirman. The series is based on the life of the former Libyan revolutionary, a man with a bottomless desire for power who wanted a worldwide revolution.

Freeform Picks Up Mermaid Drama to Series, Teams With ‘Broad City’ Duo for Animated Comedy
announced a series pickup for mermaid drama Siren (formerly titled The Deep) as well as Sticks, an animated pilot from Broad City duo Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Siren stars Alex Roe as Ben, a marine biologist who finds himself drawn to the mysterious Ryn (Eline Powell), a strange young woman with a deep dark secret. The project is based on a story by Eric Wald and Dean White, who both executive produce. Emily Whitesell serves as showrunner.

On the pilot side, the network has picked up its first animated comedy in Sticks. The pilot presentation, from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and Broad City duo Glazer and Jacobson, is described as a cross between Daria and Girls. It follows the life of Sticks, a neurotic twentysomething with a head filled with pop culture references and a love of Chili’s who lives with a giant eagle. Jessica Stickles will pen the script and co-exec produce. The comedy hails from Will Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment, Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and Sony Pictures Television.

Birth Control Pill Drama in the Works at Nat Geo
National Geographic
has put three high-profile scripted dramas in its development pipeline. The projects examine the creation of the birth control pill, origins of the Ebola virus and the creation of National Geographic and hail from R.J. Cutler, Lynda Obst and Marti Noxon, respectively.

The Birth of the Pill is produced by Sonar Entertainment and producer-director Cutler, and will be exec produced by Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan. The Hot Zone, from Scott Free, Fox 21 Television Studios and Obst, is being written by Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson and Jeff Vintar. Rounding out the slate is an untitled drama about the formation of National Geographic written by Erik Jendresen that Noxon will produce via her Skydance Television-based Tiny Pyro Productions banner.

‘Life-Size’ Sequel Movie Starring Tyra Banks Officially Greenlit at FreeformIt’s official — Tyra Banks is returning for a sequel of her hit TV movie, “Life-Size.” “Life-Size 2” has been greenlit by Freeform. The movie will air on Freeform in December 2018, as part of the network’s popular “25 Days of Christmas” programming month.

‘Genius’ Renewed as Nat Geo Adds Docuseries From Jay Z, Katie Couric
is off to a smart start at National Geographic.The cable network has handed out an early second-season renewal to its first scripted drama as part of its upfront slate. The pickup for the anthology comes days ahead of its April 25 series debut. The theme of the sophomore run will be unveiled June 20 during the show’s season finale. Nat Geo’s upfront slate also includes docuseries Race With Jay Z. The project will explore how race has become the most pressing issue in the nation in the wake of the presidential election.

Niels Arden Oplev To Direct TNT Drama Pilot ‘The Deep Mad Dark’Niels Arden Oplev, who directed the pilot for USA’s Mr. Robot, has been tapped to direct and executive produce the TNT hourlong pilot The Deep Mad Dark, an atmospheric mystery-thriller about the complexities of friendship. The Danish filmmaker will direct from a script by Megan Martin (Animal Kingdom).

‘Mars’: Dee Johnson Named Showrunner For Season 2 Of Nat Geo Event SeriesDee Johnson, coming off a four-year stint as executive producer on Nashville while the country drama series was on ABC, is changing gears, joining National Geographic’s sci-fi event series Mars as executive producer and showrunner for the upcoming six-episode second season of the show, which blends cinema-quality scripted drama with documentary sequences.

Sky, HBO Ink $250-Million Co-Production Deal for High-End Drama
and HBO are set to extend their partnership with a new multi-year, $250-million co-financing deal to develop and produce high-end drama. The agreement will see the two pay-TV giants co-commission high-end dramas that can be exploited globally in both HBO and Sky’s home markets and via international distribution elsewhere.

(review) Variety: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ on HuluMargaret Atwood’s story, which is brilliant, presents quite a challenge for a screen adaptation: The story has to build the world of Gilead, place the action in the context of the real world, and do justice to Atwood’s singular, award-winning prose. Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” — via showrunner Bruce Miller — is a worthy, heartbreaking adaptation of the text, anchored by strong performances and profound visual grammar.


Brian Geraghty Cast as Lead of TNT’s The Alienist, Replacing Sean Astin
upcoming detective drama The Alienist has found a new lead actor. Chicago P.D. alum Brian Geraghty will replace Sean Astin in the lead role of future U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt. “Unfortunately because of scheduling difficulties, Sean Astin will no longer play the role,” the network said in a statement.

Chicago Justice Books Richard Schiff for Season 1 FinaleRichard Schiff will play a major role in the Season 1 finale of Chicago Justice, as a real-estate tycoon who comes under fire after a deadly accident at one of his building sites.

CollegeHumor Adds Trio of New Castmembers
Ally Beardsley, Rekha Shankar
and Raphael Chestang have joined the comedy site.


‘Captain Marvel’ Finds Its Directors‘Mississippi Grind’ filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will helm the MCU stand-alone.


Tribeca: Apple Buys Clive Davis Documentary ‘Soundtrack of Our Lives’
Apple Music
has bought the rights to the documentary “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives,” which opens the Tribeca Film Festival Wednesday evening at the Radio City Music Hall.


Fox News Picks Tucker Carlson for 8 p.m. Slot
Tucker Carlson
is moving into the 8 p.m. hour as Bill O’Reilly exits Fox News while The Five is moving to primetime and Eric Bolling — a host of the panel program The Five — is getting a 5 p.m. show.

Big Machine CEO Scott Borchetta Developing Singing Competition Series
Big Machine Label Group
president and CEO Scott Borchetta has unveiled plans for a TV singing competition series to be co-produced with Canada’s Bell Media. The record label exec has teamed with the Canadian broadcaster to co-produce The Launch, a six-part talent search series for CTV. Developed as an international reality TV singing competition franchise, The Launch will see a group of unsigned musicians mentored in the creation of original songs by a panel of veteran hit makers, including Borchetta.

History Orders Comic Book Special ‘Superheroes Decoded’
is tapping some big names from Marvel and DC to uncover the hidden origin stories of comics’ biggest heroes. The cable network will air the two-part special Superheroes Decoded on April 30 and May 1. The two-parter features Stan Lee, The Russo Bros. and George R.R. Martin.

Aaron Hernandez Documentary TV Series In The WorksAaron Hernandez, the former NFL star who was found dead after hanging himself in prison, is the subject of a documentary TV series produced by Geno McDermott’s Blackfin. The company had been in production on the series since early this year, working with writer Dan Wetzel who had covered Hernandez’s story for the past four years.

Michelle Wolf Sets HBO Comedy SpecialIt marks ‘The Daily Show’ writer’s first stand-up special.


Lionsgate Television Group Promotes Laura Kennedy To COOLaura Kennedy, a 10-year Lionsgate veteran, has been promoted to COO of the Lionsgate Television Group. She will head up the operations, strategy and planning for the television division and will continue to oversee M&A activity, reporting to Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs.

Discovery Promotes Savalle Sims To General CounselDiscovery Communications didn’t have to look far to find its new general counsel: It promoted Savalle Sims, who was Deputy General Counsel. She’ll continue to report to Bruce Campbell, the programmer’s Chief Development, Distribution and Legal Officer.

El Rey Network Taps Brand Strategist Alma Derricks As Chief Marketing OfficerEl Rey Network has hired brand strategist Alma Derricks as chief marketing officer, a newly created position overseeing all consumer and trade marketing.

BBC Studios Names Simon Winstone as Head of Drama, Wales
Simon Winstone
has been appointed as the head of drama in Wales for BBC Studios, the broadcaster’s television production arm. Winstone will oversee BBC Studios’ drama and serials business out of its Roath Lock Studios base in the Welsh capital, Cardiff.

Working Title UK hires ex-BBC comedy chief
Working Title Television UK
has hired former BBC comedy chief Mark Freeland to run its comedy unit.He will join the NBCUniversal International Studios (NBCUIS)-backed producer as head of television comedy, working closely with Andrew Woodhead, managing director of Working Title Television, as well as NBCUIS president Michael Edelstein and executive VP of scripted JoAnn Alfano.


‘Veep’, ‘Atlanta’, ‘Horace & Pete’ Among Peabody Honorees; HBO & FX Tie For Wins
Atlanta, Better Things, Horace and Pete, Veep
and Lemonade are among this year’s Peabody Awards entertainment winners, the Peabody organization announced.


Variety: Fox May Not Have Ad-Sales Chief In Place In Time For TV Upfront
Fox Networks
will most likely not have a new ad-sales chief in place as it prepares to start TV’s “upfront” negotiations, according to five people with knowledge of the situation, leaving the company without a key executive during a critical industry period when haggling for billions of dollars of commercial inventory takes place.

NYT: Ajit Pai, F.C.C. Chairman, Moves to Roll Back Telecom RulesMr. Pai, who has been unwinding Obama-era regulatory efforts, is putting two items up for vote on Thursday that would empower telecom companies and broadcasters. The two specific items to be voted on include a plan to make it easier for broadband providers to charge other businesses higher prices to connect to the main arteries of their networks. The other item up for vote is a move to ease the limit on how many stations a broadcast television company can own.

FastCo: Viacom’s New Study Is A Marketer’s Blueprint For Millennials
in-house integrated marketing studio Velocity recently released The Culture of Proximity, a short documentary that provides context and supplementary interviews with academics, celebrities, futurists, etc. to support its study on the intersections of millennials, content distribution and consumption, and brands. …Perhaps one of the most salient points that can be distilled from The Culture of Proximity is how millennials see themselves not only as consumers of what companies and brands distribute, but creators as well, which plays out across fan fiction, memes, and even so far as people becoming brands themselves, à la social media stars.