PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Travel Channel gave a green light to Finding Beasts, starring wildlife expert Casey Anderson (Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti). Anderson’s mission: track down evidence of animals thought to exist only in folklore or to be extinct. Series, slated for an August premiere, starts production this month.
FremantleMedia struck a deal with Australian author Richard Flanagan to adapt his bestselling 2013 novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North. Series will be produced by FremantleMedia Australia.
Fuller House has 2 new showrunners: Co-exec producers Steve Baldikiski and Bryan Behar will replace series creator Jeff Franklin for season 4. Franklin was cut loose in the wake of allegations of abusive behavior.
A competition series that has bladesmiths attempting to recreate iconic swords might not have seemed like the (ahem) sharpest idea, but it’s a History hit. With season 5 of Forged in Fire premiering tonight, Jodi Flynn, President, Outpost Entertainment and executive producer of the series, explains why “under the radar” concepts can resonate with TV audiences in the new Cynsiders.
CNBC special Back in the Game, starring former MLB star Alex Rodriguez helping former NBA star Joe Smith get back on his feet, airs tonight at 10p. “Nowadays, it’s not unusual to hear about former athletes who earned millions of dollars, then lost it all just a few years after they retire. Not Alex Rodriquez. He began making smart investments way before he signed his first multi-million dollar contract when he bought a condo with the earnings from his first bonus check,” Jim Ackerman, EVP, primetime alternative programming for CNBC, tells Cynopsis. “Now he’s a superstar in the world of business. But he also wants to make a difference; by educating young athletes (and everyone for that matter) about financial literacy. And in the case of Back in the Game, by getting to know Joe Smith, a guy who burned through 60 million dollars, and help him get back on his feet. This is a show about changing your life and making smart decisions from a guy who knows something about reinvention.”
Confirmed speakers for Series Mania’s European Project and Talent Forum in Lille, France, May 2-4, include Hagai Levi (In Treatment), Tony Grisoni (The City and the City), Bryan Elsley (Kiss Me First), and Fanny Herrero (Call My Agent).
Epix stunt “Throwback Thursdays” has throwback films running every Thursday in April. First up: Spaceballs (8p) and Flawless (9:45p) on April 5.
Velocity and new digital partner Motor Trend OnDemand air 21 hours of live coverage from the expanded 16th annual Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach, FL. Velocity’s Barrett-Jackson Live revs up Thursday, April 12 at 1p and on Friday and Saturday beginning at noon. Motor Trend OnDemand will livestream the added fourth day on Sunday, April 15 from noon-4p.
SEEN AT SXSW
There’s a reason CW’s Black Lightning battles real-world issues like gang violence. “I didn’t want to be too fantastical because so many people out there are suffering and I feel like they needed a hero,” said showrunner Salim Akil at SXSW’s Deadline Studio.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
CBS’s Code Black returns for season 3 one week earlier than originally announced, on Wednesday, April 25 at 10p. The season finale of the net’s Criminal Minds also moves up a week, with a 2-hour episode Wednesday, April 18 at 9p.
NBC is bringing back The Wall for a third season. The game show is averaging a 1.2 rating among A18-49 and 6 million viewers in Live+7 Nielsens.
Cartoon Network added its popular short Infinity Train to its lineup of greenlit series. Since debuting on CN’s YouTube channel in 2016, the short has garnered over 3.2 million views
HGTV renewed Flip or Flop Nashville for a second season, set to launch in early 2019. The show’s freshman run helped HGTV achieve a top 5 cable ranking among upscale W25-54 in its Thursday timeslot.
Cinelatino has launched on Cox Communications’ cable system in New Orleans and other southeast markets, completing the net’s distribution throughout the Cox footprint. Cinelatino can be found in the “Latino Pak.”
Five years after the merger between Digitas and LBI, DigitasLBi is changing its name it Digitas. Along with the name, Digitas is introducing a new brand proposition: “Creating better ways to connect with people through Truth. Connection. Wonder.” One thing that won’t change: The unicorn mascot.
The Church of Scientology has launched standalone OTT streaming video channel, The Scientology Network. In addition to films like Scientology Principles, programming will include series along the lines of Meet a Scientologist and L. Ron Hubbard: In His Own Voice.
Digital out-of-home organization DPAA announced that Accretive Media, a programmatic digital out-of-home advertising platform, has joined the association. Based in LA, Accretive made its debut in February.
Sling TV has launched a new marketing campaign, “We Are Slingers,” spanning TV, digital, mobile, social and OOH. The campaign positions Sling TV as the most flexible live streaming service.
Docu-series Dream the Future premieres on CuriosityStream on Thursday, March 15. Sigourney Weaver narrates segments that include visionary experts on topics like Cities, Homes, Waste, Food, Medicine and more.
Apple elbowed out Netflix and Amazon to grab animated musical comedy Central Park, from Bob’s Burgers’ Loren Bouchard and Nora Smith and Josh Gad (Frozen), with a straight-to-series order. Bouchard and Gad will exec produce alongside Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Spotify introduced a tool, Line-In, that lets community members offer input into music on file, aimed at expanding the service’s data to improve the experience of users and artists. Users can suggest edits on categories like genre, explicitness and mood, as well as take quizzes to share their knowledge while contributing data.
Later this month, Snap will put AR lenses built by third-party creators in the Snapchat app. Late last year, Snap launched Lens Studio, giving creators the chance to play with AR.
SHORT FORM VIDEO
Watch out, ID and Oxygen. Snapchat is tackling true crime content with an order for True Crime, a series of 4-minute docs focused on different misdeeds. The 6-episode series was produced by Conde Nast Entertainment.
Time’s up in the advertising world. Women ad agency leaders announced the launch of Time’s Up/Advertising, aimed at driving new policies and practices that result in more balanced, diverse, and accountable leadership; address workplace discrimination, harassment, and abuse; and create equitable and safe cultures within the advertising industry. The group’s first community meeting will be held May 14 in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and LA.
Ad spend on TV news programming rose 8.7% to $4.074 billion, according to data from Standard Media Index. MSNBC rose 17.8%, CNN grew 13.6% and Fox News had an 11.2% boost.
Endemol Shine Group landed the first international deal for entertainment format All Together Now. Endemol Shine Australia has been commissioned by Seven Network to produce a prime time run of the singing competition series.
Romania’s Antena 1 licensed prime time singing competition The Four. The local 12-part adaptation is slated to premiere this month.
Israel’s Keshet International has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Greenbird Media, the UK production company incubator, investor and business accelerator. As part of the deal, KI becomes the distribution partner for the independent production companies that are supported by Greenbird Media.
One Life Studios licensed historical drama series Porus to The Capital Maharaja Organisation in Sri Lanka. Porus premiered on Sony Entertainment Television in India on November 2017.
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries) will star in CBS comedy pilot Fam, about a woman whose younger sister comes to live with her and her fiance to escape their train wreck of father….Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Man) landed a lead role in the untitled Fox drama pilot from Empire creator Danny Strong and David Elliot.
Gabrielle Dennis (Rosewood) landed the role of Whitney Houston in BET miniseries The Bobby Brown Story.