08/07/15: FOX expands its Empire with new Lee Daniels drama; Uzo Aduba and Amber Riley join NBC’s The Wiz Live!; HBO orders sex industry pilot


Good morning. It’s Friday August 7, 2015, and this is your first early morning briefing.

Tonight’s Premieres:
Discovery Family: Animals LOL at 8p
E!: The Comment Section at 10:30p
ID: Deadly Women at 10p
Secret Guide to Fabulous at 9p

Saturday’s Premieres:
FYI: Cabin Truckers at 10p
Food: Valerie’s Home Cooking at 12p

Sunday’s Premiere:
Destination America: Project Afterlife at 10p

Sunday’s Finales:
Bravo: Mother Funders at 10p
HBO: True Detective at 9p
World: Life on the Reef at 8p

FOX is expanding its Empire. The network announced new drama pilot Star, from executive producer Lee Daniels, a possible companion series to the network’s breakout hit. “Like Empire, it’s set against the backdrop of the music business, but from a very different perspective,” said FOX chairman and CEO Gary Newman, noting that Star is set in Atlanta. “There is a lot from Lee’s own life that’s baked into the DNA of this project.”


The all-star cast of NBC’s holiday production of The Wiz Live! keeps growing. Uzo Aduba (Orange Is the New Black) and Amber Riley (Glee) have signed to play Good Witches on the special airing Thursday, December 3. “We are so happy to welcome two actors we’ve admired and wanted so much to work with,” said executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

Jon Stewart Has Left the Building airs tonight at 9p on MSNBC. Produced by NBC NewsPeacock Productions, the one-hour special celebrates Stewart’s 16-year run as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, with clips from his top interviews.

Expect a change in Sleepy Hollow when the show returns to FOX on Thursday, October 1.  “What we asked for [in Season 3] was a bit of a return to the storytelling model of the first season – a bit more of the fun instead of such a deep mythology that got a little bit dense” during the show’s second season, FOX CEO Dana Walden told TVLine. 

In other FOX news, Walden confirmed that the net is “in negotiations” with Marvel for an X-Men live-action TV series, and is “hopeful that we’ll be able to announce something soon.” The deal could include characters in the X-Men feature film franchise, owned by FOX, but not Marvel characters in commission at Disney and ABC.

Let the bingeing begin. The day after the Tuesday, August 25 premiere of drama Public Morals, TNT will make episodes 1-4 available through set-top VOD, the Watch TNT mobile app and online; three seasons of the net’s Cold Justice will be available leading into the season 3 finale on September 18. TruTV is offering on demand viewing of seasons 1 through 3 of Impractical Jokers. “Taking a creative approach to on demand programming and listening to viewer behavior, as well as working with our distribution partners to reach as many of their subscribers as possible, is a strategic way to engage audiences who have become accustomed to these new ways of viewing content,” said John Harran, SVP of business & product development at Turner Content Distribution.

Destination America‘s Project Afterlife, focused on people who say they have been resurrected, premieres Sunday. Do you think resurrection is fact or fantasy? Let us know in the new Cynopsis poll.



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USA Network announced a pilot pick-up for hour-long scripted drama Shooter, starring Ryan Phillippe. The project is based on the best-selling Bob Lee Swagger novel by Stephen Hunter, Point of Impact, and the 2007 Paramount film starring Mark Wahlberg. Phillippe also serves as producer. 

HBO ordered The Deuce, a drama pilot from David Simon (The Wire) about the rise of New York’s sex industry. James Franco (of course) stars as twin porn kingpins.

It’s official! Prison Break is returning to FOX in 2016 as a 10-episode event series. Original stars Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell will reprise their roles as brothers. “It picks up the characters several years after we left them in the last season of the show,” said FOX CEO Dana Walden, adding that the sequel, “will address some questions that were set up at the end of the series.”


Medium Rebecca Rosen connects the spirit world with the living world in LMN original series The Last Goodbye, debuting Saturday, August 22 at 10p.

Antenna TV celebrates the 50th anniversary of I Dream of Jeannie with a 50-episode marathon  on Saturday, September 19 at 8p. Can’t make it? Sitcom also airs on the net weekdays at 1p, Tues-Sat at 4a and Sundays at 3p.

Child chefs compete on Food Network‘s Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off, premiering Monday, August 24 at 8p. At stake: a $20,000 culinary scholarship and a web series on FoodNetwork.com.

Attention coffee lovers: Travel Channel‘s Uncommon Grounds premieres Monday, September 14 at 11p. The eight-part series follows host Todd Carmichael and his cameraman sidekick "Hollywood," as they explore the culture of different countries through the lens of coffee.

TLC airs actress Alfre Woodard’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on Sunday, August 9 at 9p. Woodard sets out to learn more about her paternal grandfather’s family and uncovers the story of her great-grandfather Alec, who endured the horrors of slavery and ascended from servitude to successful landowner.


Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking heads back to public television this fall. Produced by WGBH and Fine Cooking magazine and hosted by Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans, the series kicks off its 13-episode, third season on Saturday, September 5.

Syfy has confirmed Haven‘s return date as Thursday, October 8 at 10p. The show will premiere
new episodes on Syfy channels in 87 countries with the UK, Germany, Spain, Asia and Benelux among the first to air them in primetime.


Witches of East End alum Madchen Amick has been tapped to guest on American Horror Story: Hotel. The anthology series returns to FX in October.

Saturday Night Live vet Bill Hader is headed to FOX‘s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He’ll guest-star in the show’s Season 3 premiere on Sunday, September 27.

Kim Raver (24) has been cast as an FBI special agent on Bones. Her character appears in the first two episodes of the FOX drama’s 11th season, starting Thursday, October 1.

John Stamos will reprise his role as Sir Jean Hamm on Season 2 of ABC midseason comedy Galavant.

Pitbull guest stars and performs on the season two of Empire. FOX drama returns Wednesday, September 23 at 9p.

Kenny Johnson (The Shield) landed a series-regular role on ABC‘s Secrets and Lies.

Tom Everett Scott (Southland) is joining Reign as Queen Elizabeth’s trusted advisor. The show’s third season bows Friday, October 9 at 8p on The CW.


Dell computer subsidiary Alienware signed on as a sponsor partner of Mixed Martial Arts sports franchise World Series of Fighting. As part of the agreement, which began with the WSOF 22: Palhares vs. Shields world championship on Saturday, the Alienware brand will be prominently visible on all live NBCSN telecasts of World Series of Fighting events. Live World Series of Fighting action returns to NBCSN on Friday, September 18 at 7p.


Crime Watch Daily, the daytime syndicated show debuting nationwide on Monday, September 14, unveiled a first look at its six-month investigation into Uber X, the $50 billion ride share service, during a panel at TCA. Executive producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey shared a preview of the story about three people with criminal histories who agreed to apply to drive for Uber X.


The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has announced the nominees for the 2015 News & Current Affairs categories. The eight nominees span seven countries  Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom  and mark the first time Indis has been nominated in the News category. Winners will be announced in New York on September 28.

Spain’s La Radio y Televisipn de Andalucia has commissioned Armoza Format’s family game show Pull Over. The 16-episode season will air weekly on Canal Sur, beginning mid-September. Developed by Ori Dror and Shy Barmeli, the on-location show proves that being pulled over by a cop doesn’t have to ruin your day. Instead of getting a ticket, lucky owners of old vehicles get the chance to win a new car on the spot.


Late Night Shows Weekly Average Ratings week of July 27, 2015
NBC: Late Night, 1.55 million viewers and .47/3 A18-49
ABC: Nightline, 1.42 million total viewers and 0.34/2 A18-49
CBS: Late Late Show, 1.21 million total viewers and 0.30/2 A18-49
Source: Nielsen, NTI

Broadcast Morning News Shows Weekly Average Ratings week of July 27, 2015
ABC: GMA 4.59 million total viewers; 1.4/13 and 1.63 million A25-54
NBC: Today 4.07 million total viewers; 1.3/12 and 1.52 million A25-54
CBS: This Morning 3.13 million total viewers; 0.7/7 and .824 million A25-54
Source: Nielsen, NTI

Sunday Morning News Shows August 2, 2015
ABC: This Week 2.75 million total viewers; 0.7 and 848,000 A25-54
CBS: Face the Nation 3.16 million total viewers; 0.6 and 703,000 A25-54
NBC: Meet the Press 2.80 million total viewers; 0.7 and 810,000 A25-54
CBS: Face the Nation-2 1.78 million total viewers; 0.3 and 414,000 A25-54
FOX: Fox News Sunday: 1.42 million total viewers; 0.4 and 454,000 A25-54
Source: Nielsen, NTI

Wednesday A18-49 Analysis: CBS led with the most A18-49 viewers Wednesday with 1.5/3, according to final primetime national ratings from Nielsen. At 8p CBS’ Big Brother topped with 2.2/9, followed by NBC’s America’s Got Talent and FOX’s MasterChef, tied with 1.5/6. NBC’s Mr. Robinson took over the lead at 9p with 1.1/4; ABC’s Modern Family and Blackish combined for a 0.9/3 to place second. NBC’s Last Comic Standing finished the night at #1 at 10p with 1.5/5 and Telemundo’s El Senor de Los Cielos was #2 with 1.2/4.

A18-49: CBS 1.5/3, NBC 1.3/5, FOX 1.2/5, ABC 0.8/3, TELE 0.8/3, ION 0.8/3, CW 0.4/2, ION 0.3/1

Live + Same Day Household Ratings: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 time period averages. Source: NTI, Galaxy as dated. Live+SD.
CBS: 3.5/7
Big Brother 3.8/7, Extant 3.1/6
NBC: 3.1/6
America’s Got Talent 4.2/8, Mr. Robinson 2.8/5, Mr. Robinson 2.3/4, Last Coming Standing 3.0/6
FOX: 2.3/5
MasterChef 2.9/6, Home Free 1.7/3
ABC: 2.3/4
The Middle [r] 2.7/5, The Goldbergs [r] 2.1/4, Modern Family [r] 2.3/4, Black-ish [r] 2.2/4, Celebrity Wife Swap 2.2/4
Amores Con Trampa 1.3/2, Lo Imperdonable [r] 1.3/2, Yo No Creo en Hombres [r] 1.1/2
TELE: 1.0/2
Avenida Brasil [r] 0.7/1, Bajo el Mismo Cielo [r] 0.9/2, El Senor de Los Cielos [r] 1.4/3
CW: 0.7/2
America’s Next Top Model 0.8/2, A Wicked Offer 0.5/1
ION: 0.7/1
Ghost Whisperer 0.6/1, Ghost Whisperer 0.7/1, Ghost Whisperer 0.7/1


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Marjorie Kaplan has been named President of Content of Discovery Networks International. Kaplan is a nearly 20-year veteran of Discovery Communications, where she launched Discovery Kids; Kaplan last served as Group President TLC, Animal Planet and Velocity.

ABC Family has bolstered its ranks. Simran S. Sethi, previously Senior Vice President of Comedy Development at NBC, has been appointed Senior Vice President, Original Programming and Development. Jennifer Gerstenblatt has been upped from Executive Director, Programming, to Vice President, Current Programming. George Chen, who last served as Director, Business Development at Disney|ABC Television Group, will serve as Vice President, Strategy and Business Development. Karissa Zigarovich, most recently Director, Marketing and Programming Insights at MTV, joins as Director, Consumer Insights.

Turner Broadcasting promoted Justin Williams to Senior Vice President of Digital for TNT and TBS. Williams last served as Vice President for both ventures.

Bob Cook, formerly President of Twentieth Television, has been named Vice President and General Manager of FOX-owned KTTV-KCOP.

Antonio Campo Dall’Orto has been appointed General Manager of Italy’s Rai TV. Dall’Orto was formerly Executive Vce President at Viacom International Media Networks.

Beth Braen, Senior Vice President of Marketing at NATPE, is leaving the entertainment organization later this month, after more than two decades. Braen plans to launch her own strategic marketing company.

Friday Fun Fact:
If two full moons occur in a month, the second full moon is called a blue moon.

This Day in History: 1959 – The U.S penny design changed from sheaves of wheat to the Lincoln Memorial.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: Who was the maid of honor at schoolteacher Miss Beadle’s wedding on Little House on the Prairie (1974-1982)? Nellie. Kudos to: Linda Grillo-
Viacom/NYC, Elizabeth Corda-Time Warner/NYC, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-Generate/
Beverly Hills, CA

Today’s Trivia: Who owned Nuevo Vesuvio, the restaurant Tony and friends frequented on The Sopranos (1999-2007)? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone.).
Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey: Editorial Director @Lynn_Leahey
reported by Janet Di Lauro

Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

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ABC: Shark Tank [r], What Would You Do [r], 20/20 [r]
Elementary [r], Hawaii Five-0 [r], Blue Bloods [r]
CW: Masters of Illusion [r], Whose Line Is It Anyway? [r], Penn & Teller: Fool Us [r]
FOX: MasterChef [r], Gotham [r]
NBC: America’s Got Talent [r], Dateline NBC
PBS: Washington Week with Gwen Hill, Live from Lincoln Center [r]
Telemundo: Avenida Brazil [r], Bajo el Mismo Cielo [r], El Senor de los Cielos [r]
Univision: Amores Con Trampa, Lo Imperdonable [r], Yo No Creo en los Hombres [r]

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