PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
ABC picked up comedy Bless This Mess, starring Lake Bell and Dax Shepard as a newlywed couple who ditch big-city living for life in Nebraska. Elizabeth Meriwether (New Girl) and Bell are exec producers and co-creators of the series, a co-production from 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios.
Fremantle Italian production company Wildside (The Young Pope) is developing a series about the life of Audrey Hepburn. The English-language project will be based on a treatment co-written by the My Fair Lady star’s son, Luca Dotti, and Italian writer Luigi Spinola.
ABC gave a pilot production commitment to New York Undercover, a new version of the 1994-1999 cop drama from Dick Wolf. Ben Watkins (Hand of God) will write the Wolf Entertainment project, a co-production between Universal Television and ABC Studios.
NPR current events radio/podcast game Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me is being developed for TV by Wilshire Studios with Storied Media. The adaptation features three celebrity panelists competing for cash for the charity of their choice. “The series, radio show and podcast, working in tandem, will allow us to expand the audience across multiple platforms,” said Dawn Olmstead, President, Wilshire Studios.
Netflix ordered a scripted series based on the life of Mexican-American superstar Selena Quintanilla. Selena: The Series will be developed and executive-produced alongside the singer’s family, said the streamer.
Fuse Media ordered animated series Sugar and Toys and renewed originals Complex x Fuse and T-Pain’s School of Business on Fuse and Big Boy’s Neighborhood on FM. “Our platforms are fast becoming destinations for hard-to-reach, young viewers that demand content that takes a stand by tapping into their passions and values through the musicians and influencers we feature in our series,” said J-T Ladt, Fuse Media Chief Content Officer.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
WE tv’s Marriage Boot Camp franchise is expanding with the addition of Marriage Boot Camp: Hip Hop Edition, premiering Thursday, January 10, at 10p. It’s the first time a Boot Camp show will air as part of WE tv’s Thursday lineup.
Season five of PBS’s Finding Your Roots debuts Tuesday, January 8, at 8p, with guests George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg.
Netflix/BBC thriller Black Earth Rising, centered on the prosecution of international war crimes, debuts Friday, January 25. John Goodman (The Conners) and Michaela Cole (Chewing Gum) star.
The Virginian is returning to INSP on Tuesday, January 1, starting with an eight-hour marathon at 12p. “This series is wildly popular with the INSP audience,” said Doug Butts, SVP of programming. “For more than a year, one of the questions most asked by our loyal viewers has been: ‘When is the Virginian coming back to your lineup?’” The 1962-1971 drama will be featured in INSP’s “Weekday Western” and “Saddle Up Weekend” programming blocks.
New Discovery Family Channel animated series Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy premieres Saturday, January 5, at 9a with back-to-back episodes.
TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life kicks off season five with a super-sized two-hour episode on Tuesday, January 1, at 8p.
At Home with Amy Sedaris settles in for season two at truTV on Tuesday, February 19, at 10p. Among the guests will be Rose Byrne, Matthew Broderick, Justin Theroux, Susan Sarandon, Juliette Lewis, Ellie Kemper, Fred Armisen, Martha Plimpton, Jessica Walter, Campbell Scott, Billy Crudup and Janeane Garofalo.
USA powers up its annual WWE Holiday Week on Monday, December 17, with three hours of Monday Night RAW at 8p. Among other offerings are New Day’s WWE 2018 Pancake Powered Year End Super Spectacular on Wednesday, December 19, at 10p, and a two-hour Tribute to the Troops on Thursday, December 20, at 9p that will include an appearance by former Daily Show host Jon Stewart.
Nat Geo climate change doc Paris to Pittsburgh premieres tonight, December 12, at 9p. Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) narrates the film, set against the national debate over the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement.
BET original A Throwback Holiday, centered on a woman who wakes up to find she’s eighteen again, debuts Saturday, December 15, at 8p.
On the 10th anniversary of US Airways Flight 1549’s landing on the Hudson River, Smithsonian Channel is airing a documentary about the impact of bird strikes in aviation accidents. Bird vs. Plane: Miracle on the Hudson premieres Tuesday, January 15, at 9p.
Love, Gilda, the documentary film about groundbreaking Saturday Night Live comedian and actress Gilda Radner, makes its television premiere on CNN Tuesday, January 1, at 9p and 11p with limited commercial interruption. Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989 at age 42.
SHORT FORM VIDEO
Big Bad Boo has partnered with Hope Works to produce and distribute Hope Works’ content this holiday season. Started by Alison Stewart (BBC) and Lucy Murphy (Sky), the Hope Works program consists of 12 short films for children.
Chris O’Dowd (Get Shorty) and Anne-Marie Duff (Shameless) landed the leads in Storyglass’ inaugural podcast, Baby It’s Cold Outside. Three-parter tells the story of a man on the edge of homelessness….Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow), Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers), Beau Bridges (Homeland), Griffin Dunne (House of Lies), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) and Shamier Anderson (Destroyer) will appear in season three of Amazon drama Goliath.
WPP plans to cut its workforce by 3,500, or 2.5%, and close or merge almost 200 offices in a restructuring under new CEO Mark Read. The company said it will hire 1,000 creative staff, cutting total job losses to 2,500. “The restructuring of our business will enable increased investment in creativity, technology and talent, enhancing our capabilities with the greatest potential for future growth,” said Read, who replaced longtime CEO and WPP founder Martin Sorrel earlier this year.
Hulu is launching an automated biddable marketplace for advertisers it claims will be “the largest scale, premium private marketplace to reach consumers on OTT.” The video service says programmatic buys will be treated the same as buys made through Hulu’s sales team. The new marketplace, which does not require contacting a sales rep, launches January 1.
Group Nine Media officially launched its in-house branded content studio, Brandshop, bringing together the creative services teams across digital brands NowThis, Thrillist, Seeker and The Dodo as well as the branded entertainment arm of its production studio, JASH. The effort will be led by Yosef Johnson, SVP and Head of Brandshop, who built the branded content team for NowThis.
Streaming service Acorn TV is now available in thirty new countries, including Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and ten European countries, as well as more South American countries and ten Caribbean countries. Acorn TV, which offers British and international content, was launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2011.
Canada’s CBC launched streaming service CBC Gem, offering live and on-demand access to the national broadcaster’s programming slate for free, as well as French-language programming from ICI Radio-Canada. In addition, a partnership between CBC and Wattpad gives emerging Canadian writers the chance to create exclusive content for the new streamer.
This Friday, Mike Bloxham, SVP, Global Media and Entertainment, Magid, will lead a panel for the Market Research Council on AI and 5G. “Five years from now we’ll be looking back on our current efforts and see them in the same light as we look at fax machines now,” Bloxham tells Cynopsis. “One thing I think we’ll see in the coming year is the increased development of AI-based services and functions across more industries but also an acceleration in the attempts to reap the rewards of a more integrated approach. In some ways we’ll move more noticeably away from projects and experiments to strategy and process.” As for 5G, “The imperative will be to establish the basis upon which 5G can not only drive efficiencies but also facilitate different and new opportunities to reach consumers at key moments of relevance in new contexts.” For more from Bloxham, check out the latest Cynsiders.
While 89% of respondents in a 10-country survey by Penthera said they stream TV show and movies on their mobile devices, 88% report they experience some level of frustration. Among those with issues, 47% said they give up and try again later, 25% reported exploring other apps for their streaming needs, and 20% stopped using the app altogether.
Viewers will be able to play along with host Howie Mandel on CNBC’s Deal or No Deal revival, with a play-along app, Deal of No Deal Live. Players can make choices along with contestants and compete with others via the app’s social media integration. Game show airs Wednesdays at 9p and 10p.
Netflix isn’t big on offering viewing data but, perhaps in the holiday spirit, the streaming service put out a release listing its most-binged shows, measuring global viewing from January 1-November 28. Top ten “shows we fell in binge with this year”: On My Block, Making a Murderer: Part 2, 13 Reasons Why: Season 2, Last Chance U: Indy, Bodyguard, Fastest Car, The Haunting of Hill House, Anne with an E: Season 2, Insatiable, and Orange Is the New Black: Season 6.
Armoza Formats’ singing competition The Four has been acquired in Portugal, with the local rights to the format being taken by production company SP Entertainment.