PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
TruTV greenlit four unscripted projects. Around the World in 80 Games (wt) is a half-hour comedy in which Fortune Feimster travels the globewhile throwing herself into the surreal world of international game shows. Comedic variety show Blackspiracy with James Davis (wt) turns its lens on black conspiracy theories as a way to look at pop culture. Variety series The Untitled Max Jobrani Project (wt) uses stand-up, scripted sketches, interviews and hidden cameras to show the lengths people will go to “fit in.” And Yamaneika Saunders (Laff Mobb’s Laff Tracks) takes on the competition in Can You Beat Yamaneika? (wt), a format in which comedians compete to see who has the quickest wit.
Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) and Anthony Peckham (Invictus) have joined Showtime’s The President Is Missing, a drama series inspired by the bestselling novel by President Bill Clinton and James Patterson and currently in development. McQuarrie will executive produce with Heather McQuarrie and the book’s authors, while Peckham will executive produce and write the adaptation.
Members of the production team for the 91st Oscars was released on Thursday. Among the moves: Rob Paine, who has been associated with the telecast for over 20 years, returns as Supervising Producer; production designer David Korins joins the telecast for the first time; lighting designer Robert Dickinson returns for his 30th Oscar show; Jon Macks, head writer, is back for his 22nd telecast; and Taryn Hurd rejoins the team for the sixth consecutive year as talent producer. Ceremony airs Sunday, February 24 on ABC.
HGTV picked up real estate and home renovation title Stay or Sell. Series follows Brad and Heather Fox as they guide homeowners who love their neighborhood, but have outgrown their house, to either renovate their current abode or buy another property nearby that they can customize. Eight-episode series is slated to debut this summer.
Producer Aaliyah Williams signed a one-year first look agreement with MACRO and launched production company Just A Rebel. Under the pact’s terms, MACRO will have first look rights to all projects that Williams and Just A Rebel seek to develop and produce.
Chris and Paul Weitz’ Depth of Field production company secured a two-year first-look pact with Paramount Television and digital series, effective February 1. Andrew Miano, who oversees film for the company, will also guide TV projects under the deal
Allison Toman (Fargo) has been set to lead Emergence, a new NBC mystery drama pilot from Kevin (Probably) Saves the World creators and executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters, director Paul McGuigan and ABC Studios, reports Deadline. The project, written by Fazekas and Butters, centers on a police chief (Tolman) who takes in a young child she finds near the site of a mysterious accident with no memory of what happened.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
While You Were Out, TLC’s relaunched home design series and first co-production with HGTV, premieres Saturday, March 16 at 9p on TLC and HGTV. Hosted by Ananda Lewis, the show features an cast of designers from both networks redoing a room in a neighboring house on a $10,000 budget. The show airs immediately after the season 10 premiere of Trading Spaces at 8p
The final season of Star vs. The Forces of Evil debuts with back-to-back episodes on Sunday, March 10 at 8a on Disney Channel and Disney XD.
Tiny Luxury launches Monday, March 4 at 7p on Discovery Family Chanel. Series follows husband and wife tea, Tyson and Michelle Spiess as they run the country’s top high-end tiny home-building company.
L.A.’s Finest, the series marking the launch of Charter Communications’ premium content initiative Spectrum Originals and produced by Sony Pictures Television, is set to debut on Spectrum’s On Demand platform on Monday, May 13. Series stars and executive producers Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba were on hand at the TCA winter press tour, along with EP Brandon Sonnier, who expressed no regrets about the show having been passed on by NBC. “Spectrum swooped in and they really made our dreams come true because they took the show from being that network procedural,” said Sonnier. “Now we get to live more in the characters. We get to go home with them more. We don’t have to hit those benchmarks of procedurals that you always see. It’s allowed us to really make something special here.”
Who was that masked man? That was Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks, not Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier (as we mistakenly reported yesterday), making his entrance in a The Masked Singer hippo mask at TCA on Wednesday. Banks introduced Collier, who was making his first TCA appearance in his new role.
Documentary Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood bows Monday, February 11 at 9p on STARZ. Feature centers on Scotty Bowers, an ex-Marine who landed in Hollywood after the Second World War and became confidant and lover to many of the town’s greatest male and female stars.
Smithsonian Channel takes viewers on an Artic adventure in My Journey with a Polar Bear. Special debuts Wednesday, March 6 at 8p.
Ginnifer Goodwin stars in an upcoming episode of CBS All Access’ The Twilight Zone… Netflix is adding some notable names to its Season 2 guest cast for The Kominsky Method: Jane Seymour, Jacqueline Bisset and Paul Reiser… Emily Deschanel landed a major season-long role in the fourth season of TNT’s Animal Kingdom, while Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse) nabbed a lead in CBS All Access’ straight-to-series true crime drama Interrogation, according to Deadline… Anna Camp (Pitch Perfect) is set to for a lead opposite Bradley Whitford in NBC’s untitled church choir comedy pilot…Rachel Naomi Hilson (Madam Secretary) and Akira Akbar (Grey’s Anatomy) will recur as teen Beth and young Beth in an upcoming episode of NBC’s This Is Us, that will also feature Carl Lumbly (Supergirl) as Beth’s father.
Verizon Media recently polled advertisers and consumers on how they expect 5G to transform experiences for today and tomorrow. The results showed that awareness is growing, with 70% of people having heard of 5G and are somewhat familiar with its benefits. Younger consumers are most familiar with 5G, with 23% of 18 to 34-year-olds extremely familiar. The benefits consumers are most excited about are faster transfer speeds (72%), higher definition content (57%), consistent and better quality streaming (54%), better and faster connectivity to wearables (50%) and fewer or no dropped calls (47%).
Netflix’s iPhone and iPad apps will now download the next episode of a series after a user has finished viewing a downloaded episode. “The faster our members can get to the next episode of their favorite stories, the better,” said a Netflix spokesperson on Thursday. The feature also automatically deletes viewed episodes, freeing up precious storage on mobile devices.
National Geographic Kids is aiming to expand its reach with a multi-platform approach that features a deeper dive into fictional content and digital video. Zeus the Mighty, a new middle-grad book and multimedia series, is set to launch this fall. The adventure series is a follow up to last year’s Explorer Academy, Nat Geo Kids’ foray into the make believe.
Hopster, the BAFTA nominated preschool learning and entertainment service, struck a partnership with education charity Diversity Role Models to create short-form animated films to help kids learn about different types of families, challenge stereotypes and encourage acceptance.
In an effort to get more people to view longer-form video on IGTV, Instagram added IGTV previews that show up in users’ primary feeds. The move, implemented on Thursday, allows users who scroll through their Instagram feed to see when there’s a new video from someone they follow. It also allows users to preview that content before watching the full video in IGTV.
Instagram and Facebook announced changes to their policies regarding pictures depicting self-harm. The moves come in light of the 2017 suicide of a 14-year-old UK girl, whose family later discovered she was engaged with accounts that depict and promote self-harm on the platform. Starting soon, both platforms will no longer allow graphic images of self-harm, most notably cutting. The move comes after a “comprehensive review with global experts and academics on youth, mental health and suicide prevention.”
The ninth annual Digital Content NewFronts marketing event series is set to run in New York City from Monday, April 29 to Friday, May 3. Attending the event this year are co-founders Digitas, Google/YouTube, Hulu and Verizon Media (formerly AOL and Yahoo), as well as BBC News, Conde Nast, Disney Advertising Sales, Ellen Digital Network, Meredith, the New York Times, Studio71, Vice Media, and Walmart’s Vudu.
ABC Radio is set to launch The Investigation. Hosted by ABC News correspondent Kyra Phillips and the ABC News investigative team, and led by Senior Executive Producer Chris Vlasto, the free podcast will provide a weekly, behind-the-scenes look at Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Chesapeake Systems relaunched The Workflow Show. Podcast features hosts Nick Gold and Jason Whetstone addressing trends in media technology systems and solutions.
Artists Studios, backed by Endemol Shine UK, and Westward Studios are developing a reboot of police drama Bergerac for Paramount Network International, as a potential future commission for its network of channels outside the U.S.
Mexican distributor Cine Video y TV acquired the theatrical, home video, VOD, pay TV and free TV rights to movie 100% Wolf. Story centers on Freddy Lupin, heir to a proud family line of werewolves.
WildBrain appointed Mercis Media BV to manage and grow the YouTube presence of popular kids’ brand Miffy on an exclusive worldwide basis.
France’s Studio 100 Animation aligned with Singapore-based Cosmos-Maya to co-produce new 2D animation series Galactic Agency. The show follows the adventures of a team of extreme repair specialists aboard a hypersensitive spaceship. Production is scheduled to begin this year.
All3media International sold psychological thriller series Two Brothers Pictures’ Cheat to Germany.
Magnify Media closed its second European format deal for Kite Entertainment’s reality-fitness hit Fittest Family, an RTE Ireland original commission.
French animation studio Xilam Animation is adapting bestseller Listen to the Moon, a First World War mystery novel by Sir Michael Morpurgo, into a new animation titled Lucy Lost. The adventure series is being aimed at a family audience.