Production is underway on new Disney Channel live-action limited series Fast Layne, an action-comedy in which 12-year-old over-achiever Layne, played by Sophie Pollono (The Young and the Restless), finds her orderly life thrown into a tailspin when she discovers a sophisticated talking car named “V.I.N.” hidden in an abandoned shed. Series is exec produced by Matt Dearborn and Tom Burkhard (Even Stevens, Zeke and Luther) and set to premiere this year. Travis Braun (Vampirina) created the series and will serve as co-exec producer; Hasraf Dulull (Origin Unknown) will direct the first two eps.
Nickelodeon gave a 20-ep order to live-action series Cousins for Life. Buddy comedy, from Austin & Ally creators Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert, follows 12-year-old cousins Stuart (Dallas Young) and Ivy (Scarlet Spencer), who come from different backgrounds but are best buds navigating life under one roof with their families. Series begins production this summer in LA and will premiere later in 2018.
Graphic novelist goes big: Netflix made a seven-figure rights deal with Rob Liefeld, whose Extreme Universe of graphic novels spawned Deadpool. Akiva Goldsman (Ology, Transformers spinoffs) is onboard to run the writers’ room that will create a series of feature films based on Liefeld’s characters. Goldsman, Liefeld and Brooklyn Weaver are set to produce; Weed Road’s Greg Lessans will exec-produce.
Sonar Entertainment, in association with The Jim Henson Co., is developing live-action sif-fi series Rift. Targeting teens, the series follows a 17-year-old who is caught between two worlds. In one, she’s a typical high-school student but in the parallel world of Elysia, she’s rebel who teams with alternate versions of her friends from Earth to stop a dark organization out to subjugate both worlds through violence and oppression. Rift is created and written by Simon Racioppa and Richard Elliott (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Fangbone!, Teen Titans).
For bigger kids, Apple scored animated musical comedy Central Park, from 20th Century Fox TV and Loren Bouchard, who created animated Comedy Bob’s Burgers. The show’s voice cast includes Kristen Bell, Titus Burgess, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr. and Stanley Tucci. It’s about a family of caretakers who save Central Park and the world.
Freeform has finished casting spinoff drama pilot Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. Sydney Park (The Walking Dead) in as Caitlin, and newcomer Eli Brown was cast as Dylan; together with the previous announcement of Sofia Carson as Ava, they round our the Perfectionist triumvirate. Also in are Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish (Pretty Little Liars), and Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl). New show is based on book series The Perfectionists, written by Sara Shepard, who also penned the Pretty Little Liars books.
Steve Baldikoski and Bryan Behar are in as new exec producers and showrunners of the fourth season of Netflix’s Fuller House. They replace Jeff Franklin, who was dropped last month after allegations surfaced he’d been verbally abusive to writers and staffers.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Universal Kids is launching two lifestyle series in May. Competition show The Big Fun Crafty Show will premiere on May 14. Get Out Of My Room, where homes get makeovers with a teen twist, debuts May 21. Produced and created by Departure Films, along with executive producer Marta Ravin, Get Out Of My Room is hosted by interior designer Claire Zinnecker and carpenter Jerry Brown Jr. The Big Fun Crafty Show, hosted by Carly Ciarrocchi (Sprout House) and produced by Breakthrough Entertainment, features three teams of two kids with one mission: tackling a crafting challenge.
Also new on Universal Kids are DreamWorksTV’s Life Hacks for Kids: On the Road, which premiered on the net March 3, and Junk Drawer Magical Adventures, which debuts May 12.
Emmy-nominated producer/actor Jon Favreau will exec produce and write a live-action Star Wars series for Disney’s upcoming direct-to-consumer platform. Favreau had roles in Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Nickelodeon has some serious squad goals for this year’s Kids’ Choice Awards. The net has teamed with 15 digital content creators from 11 countries to form the KCA PrankStars, who will share on the ground and backstage excitement from the event when it goes live Saturday, March 14. The PrankStars also will pair up for the KCA Prank War in LA in the days leading up the awards.
AROUND THE INDUSTRY
Disney ruled the domestic weekend box office, with Marvel’s Black Panther and Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time taking the top two slots. This marks the fourth weekend in a row of domination for Panther, which crossed the $1 billion mark globally. Panther grossed $41.1 million this weekend; Wrinkle took in $33.3 million in its debut.
Disney’s annual shareholder meeting saw CEO Bob Iger confirm plans to launch a Disney-branded OTT service in Q4 2019, as well as wax poetic about theatrical phenom Black Panther. “The real impact of this movie reaches far beyond the theater. I’ve never seen anything like the reaction we’ve gotten,” he said. Iger also previewed clips of the new Avengers project, Solo: A Star Wars Story and Incredibles 2.
Nickelodeon and IMAX Corp. launched SlimeZone, the network’s first multi-player social VR experiences. Created in the Nickelodeon Entertainment Lab, SlimeZone – which allows up to six players to play games, watch cartoons and slime friends – debuts at IMAX VR Centres in LA, NY and Toronto; Shanghai, Bangkok and Manchester, UK, are up soon.
Universal Pictures cast Benedict Cumberbatch as the green menace in its reboot of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Film, directed by Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney, is slated to open November 9.
Actor/singer Corey Feldman, who began his career at the age of 3 and has appeared in more than 80 films, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the third Young Entertainer Awards on Sunday, April 15. Additionally, 13-year-old Anthony Gonzalez, who voiced the role of Miguel in Disney/Pixar’s Coco, will receive the first “Breakout Young Entertainer of the Year Award.” The awards, which honor youthful achievements in film, TV, music and stage, will stream live on the Young Entertainer Awards YouTube channel.