|PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Country Comfort, a comedy starring actress/singer Katharine McPhee (Waitress on Broadway, The House Bunny) and Eddie Cibrian (Take Two, Rosewood), got a 10-ep order Netflix. Series, created by former The Nanny exec producer Caryn Lucas, is about an aspiring country singer who takes a job as a nanny for a rugged cowboy and his five children after her career and personal life get derailed.
In related news, Netflix scored musical competition format Sing On!, a Money Heist documentary and several new dramas among its latest spate of Spanish originals. The doc about the La Casa de Papel phenomenon will launch on April 3 to coincide with the release of the fourth season. The streamer also nabbed period drama Jaguar, starring Blanca Suarez, who starred in Netflix’s Cable Girls and Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In.
Fox gave a green light to its first comedy pilot this go-round. This Country, from Sex and the City writer/producer Jenny Bicks and Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, and based on the BBC series, is a half-hour mockumentary that follows cousins Kelly and Shrub Mallet, who are trailed by a documentary crew who go to a small town to study young adults and their concerns. Pilot is a co-production among Lionsgate, Fox Entertainment, BBC Studios and Feigco Entertainment. Bicks, who wrote The Big C and The Greatest Showman, will exec produce through her Perkins Street Productions.
Apple is in final negotiations on an untitled musical comedy series starring SNL’s Cecily Strong, from Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, and Universal TV. Written by Paul and Daurio, program follows a couple on a backpacking trip who discover the magical town of Schmigadoon, where everyone acts as if they’re in a studio musical from the ‘40s. In search of a rekindling of their own relationship, the couple then discovers they can’t leave until they find “true love.” Michaels will executive produce.
David E. Kelley is returning to ABC for the first time since his The Practice-Boston Legal franchise ended its run on the net. The Big Sky, created and exec-produced by Kelley, is based on The Highway, the first book in C.J. Box’s Cassie Dewell novel series. The straight-to-series procedural thriller hails from A+E Studios, which will produce in association with 20th Century Fox Television, part of Disney TV Studios. Written by Kelley, story follows a race to stop a killer after a private detective partners with a former cop on a search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver.
Also at ABC, a pilot order has been given to drama Wreckage. Series hails from writer Jacquie Walters (Big Shot), Marc Webb and his Black Lamb Productions, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly’s Timberman-Beverly Productions and ABC Studios. Based on Emily Bleeker’s book of the same name, it delves into the stories of survivors of a plane crash who can’t tell the truth about the crash so lie about it when the become media darlings.
Julie Plec, The Vampire Diaries co-creator and The Originals and Legacies creator, is exiting her longtime Warner Bros. TV home for a four-year exclusive overall deal with Universal Television reported at more than $60 million. Under the deal, Plec will develop projects across all platforms for the studio through her banner, My So-Called Company.
HBO Max put in development Gabrielle Union coming-of-age drama Afro.Punks, from writer Jenina Kibuka (Insatiable, Sabrina, P-Valley), Union and Holly Shakoor Fleischer’s I’ll Have Another Productions and Sony Pictures TV. Anton Cropper (L.A.’s Finest, Black-ish, Jessica Jones) is on board to direct and exec-produce the project, about three teenage misfits on the brink of rebellion as they navigate life, and love.
Oscar-nominated Julie Delpy has a dramedy series, tentatively titled On The Verge, set as a co-production between Netflix and Canal Plus. Story centers around four LA moms facing challenges with their marriages, careers and family lives, who seek to take risks and shrug off whatever is no longer serving them. Delpy is writing, exec-producing and starring in the ensemble half-hour series; Canal Plus will air the series in France; Netflix will distributing to the rest of world.
Amblin Television acquired the rights to “At War With the Truth,” The Washington Post’s report on The Afghanistan Papers, and will create a docuseries and a scripted drama based on the report. The TV division of Steven Spielberg’s production company is partnering with documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, who runs Jigsaw Productions, to develop both a limited doc series and limited scripted series. The report was the result of a three-year investigation and crusade by the publication to have the documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Starz gave an eight-ep series order for female-centric comedy Run the World, created and written by Leigh Davenport (The Perfect Find, untitled Wendy Williams biopic), who will exec-produce with showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser (Dear White People, Living Single) and Lionsgate Television. Millicent Shelton (black-ish, P-Valley) directed the pilot. Series follows a group of black, vibrant, fiercely loyal best friends who work, live and play in Harlem as they strive for world domination.
A+E Networks inked a programming agreement with automobile auction house Barrett-Jackson for Barrett-Jackson Live to air on FYI and History beginning with the 18th Annual Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction, April 16-18. Set to debut as part of the networks’ Drive Block, Barrett-Jackson Live will deliver live content plus premieres, short-form and specials.
Also at A+E Nets, A&E greenlit a second season of Court Cam. Exec-produced by Law & Crime Productions and Dan Abrams, host of A&E’s Live PD and chief legal analyst for ABC News, series provides access to courtroom moments from high-profile trials to minor court proceedings.
Canada’s CTV ordered comedy Children Ruin Everything from Chuck Tatham, Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother exec producer, and Schitt’s Creek writer Kurt Smeaton. From Letterkenny producer New Metric Media, series follows a couple who struggle to find a balance between being mom and dad and being who they were before kids. Smeaton and Tatham will also serve as exec producers alongside New Metric Media founder Mark Montefiore.
Couple new additions to the Quibi talent roster: Adam Devine (The Righteous Gemstones) will headline Bad Ideas with Adam Devine, a reality series from Mak Pictures that, to the title’s point, finds him mending an underwater fence in piranha infested waters and other bad-idea adventures… Additionally, Laurie Segall will be the correspondent for 60 Minutes’ Quibi program 60 In 6. Segall most recently founded news and entertainment company Dot Dot Dot.
Driver Studios is teaming with David N. Weiss, Shrek 2, Rugrats and The Smurfs writer, along with the Funkly Monks writing team of John Winkler and Michael Farruggia to bring kids series DreamWeaver to life. Story follows a shy young girl who must discover her hidden courage as she journeys into the realm of dreams.
Production is under way on Godmothered, an original live-action movie for Disney+ starring Isla Fisher (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and Jillian Bell (Brittany Runs a Marathon), and directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary). Set at Christmas time, comedy centers on a young, inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training who upon hearing that her chosen profession is facing extinction, decides to show the world that people still need fairy godmothers. Screenplay is by Kari Granlund (Lady and the Tramp) and Melissa K. Stack (The Other Woman); producer is Justin Springer (Dumbo), with Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Fuse is launching Future History Class of 2020, an expansion of the media brand’s Future History franchise, with the Saturday, February 1 debut of Future Black History. The inaugural segment will spotlight Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, comedian Jaboukie Young-White, sports agent Rich Paul, and Brittany K. Barnett & MiAngel Cody. Future episodes will recognize Future Women’s History, Future Asian Pacific History, Future LGBTQ History and Future Hispanic History.
Netflix’s new trailer for Love Is Blind, the streamer’s first serialized dating show, is out. During the show’s run, beginning Thursday, February 13, singles hope to fall in love and get engaged without ever seeing their partner. Ten-part series is hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, and follows couples who, if they make an emotional connection sans visuals, propose and make a go of wedding plans and life leading up to “I do.”
On Point, a 10-part docuseries about AAU basketball. will debut on streamer Crackle Plus beginning Monday, February 3. Screen Media acquired North American rights to the show, which features appearances by NBA stars Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Zion Williamson and is produced by Peter Berg and Film 45, as well as by Complex Networks. Screen Media is a unit of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.
EstrellaTV, in a co-production with Fox Sports, is producing a half-hour Super Bowl pre-game show, airing today (January 31) at 6p and highlighting the prep leading into the big game. Hosted by Rodolfo Landeros, Giselle Zarur, Alejandra Delgadillo, Alexandra Stergios and Francisco Rivera, show features fan experiences from Miami and player interviews. The Fox Super Bowl show will also be rebroadcast on Sunday, February 2 at 1p.
The Weather Channel’s AMHQ Weekend and Weekend Recharge will deliver live reports from both the Super Bowl and Groundhog Day. Coverage from meteorologists Jen Carafano in Pennsylvania, and Paul Goodloe in Florida along with guests including former NFL player Ovine Ughelli and Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman/president/CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, begins Sunday, February 2 at 8a.
TV One celebrates Black History Month via its 2020 theme, Represent Black History. Among programming, every Saturday beginning February 1 at 10a the net will air movies that celebrate important moments in Black history, including the TV One original films Behind the Movement, White Water and The Watsons Go To Birmingham. Also on tap is Unsung: The Decades, beginning Wednesday, February 5 at 8p.
Caucusing: ABC News will air coverage of the 2020 Presidential election Iowa Caucus on Monday, February 3 and New Hampshire Primary on Tuesday, February 11 including reports in primetime as voting results break, and insight on developments and their impact on the election and candidates… In collaboration with the Des Moines Register, Noticias Telemundo will offer exclusive content about the Iowa Caucus on Monday, February 3 and on Tuesday, February 4 will present Trump: The State of the Union starting at 8:55p.
MotorTrend Group acquired exclusive streaming rights to feature doc Blink of an Eye—about two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip and his star-crossed friendship with legendary stock car driver Dale Earnhardt—and will bow it Monday, February 3.
ID doc In Memoriam, premiering Saturday, February 8 at 9p, follows the aftermath of three recent mass shootings in America—Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest music festival, Sutherland Springs Baptist Church in Texas, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Film provides perspective from wounded survivors, grieving relatives and heroes.
Heroes & Icons TV network is adding an all-new War Heroes lineup, taking viewers in the air, through the trenches and across the desert with a weekly salute to action. Beginning Saturday, February 8 at 7p, classic war dramas on tap include Black Sheep Squadron, Tour of Duty, Combat.
Music artist Nicki Minaj will be on set to kick off the season 12 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Friday, February 28 at 8p.
ADVERTISING & BRANDS
As seasoned Super Bowl viewers know, it’s not about the game, it’s about the ads. Here’s the latest on what to look for during commercial breaks:
President Donald Trump and 2020 Presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg’s campaigns unveiled respective ads slated to run during Sunday’s game. Each campaign is spending more than $10 million for the ad time. The first of two Trump spots focuses on the economy, and includes the voice of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an ironic move given Trump’s attacks on the network. Trump concludes the ad by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, the best is yet to come.” Bloomberg’s 60-second spot focuses on gun violence and features Calandrian Simpson Kemp, whose 20-year-old son was shot in Texas in 2013.
HGTV’s first-ever Super Bowl ad is a 30-second commercial for the net’s reboot of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The spot, which will air in NY and LA, features host Jesse Tyler Ferguson and highlights the power of thousands of volunteers who renovate homes for local heroes.
Paramount will be seen and heard during the Super Bowl with as many as four spots. Aside from a The SpongeBob Movie ad revealed earlier this week, the studio will be promoting upcoming flick Sonic the Hedgehog, adapted from the classic Sega videogame, in a spot featuring four fast athletes— New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, NASCAR racer Kyle Busch and Olympic gold medal track and field sprinter Allyson Felix—who sing Sonic’s speed praises. Paramount also is expected to air a pre-game trailer during the for A Quiet Place II.
In other ad news, Charter Communications is launching a multiplatform Spectrum campaign starring Puerto Rican music talent Ozuna aimed at connecting with Hispanics at a deeper level through their love for music and technology. Centerpiece of the campaign is a 60-second TV ad featuring both the song and video of Ozuna’s single Hasta Que Salga El Sol.
Vivendi-owned Dailymotion will use tech from bot mitigation company White Ops to protect programmatic advertising on its global video platform from sophisticated invalid traffic. The companies’ expanded partnership leverages White Ops’ Advertising Integrity solution.
Sinking Ship Entertainment and Scott Brothers Entertainment are co-developing a preschool animated series, Builder Brothers’ Dream Factory, based on HGTV stars Drew and Jonathan Scott, aka the Property Brothers. Series, to be distributed by Sinking Ship’s distribution arm, centers on 10-year-old twins whose imagination, creativity, grit and heart help solve problems in their neighborhood by dreaming big.
Miss Persona got a third season green light from Nelvana. New season will introduce new characters, music and themes, and a returning cast featuring the Fred Penner, Alyson Court, Joe Motiki, puppeteer Mike Petersen and former WWE wrestling champion Anthony Carelli.
Media company Newsmax is launching a cloud TV service powered by the Kaltura TV platform, available on devices including Apple TV, Roku, Android and iOS devices. Service is available free on more than 100 million OTT devices nationwide and will include its 24/7 live channel and a VOD content catalog. “Streaming is the new TV and this is also true for news and real time content. Especially as mobile video consumption is growing dramatically as it’s a perfect platform for consumption of short form content,” Gideon Gilboa, SVP of product and marketing for media & telecom at Kaltura, tells Cynopsis. “In a world where streaming giants are expanding their services on global scale, media companies that want to stay competitive need to use a global scalable platform with all the relevant features, stability and the ability to use data to make the service more personalized.”
CBS Television Stations and CBS Interactive launched CBSN Philly, the sixth of ViacomCBS’ 13 local direct-to-consumer, major-market streaming news services. CBSN Philly features anchored programming, coverage of breaking news events in the region and a library of local news content available for on-demand viewing.
Snap’s new Bitmoji TV format will enable Snapchat and Bitmoji users to incorporate their own avatars into an animated show. First season will feature 10 episodes that air Saturday mornings on Snapchat, beginning Saturday, Feb. 1.
Verizon drew its highest addition of wireless subscribers in six years during Q4, due in part to its offer of Disney+ free to unlimited wireless customers for one year. The company reported a net addition of 790,000 postpaid wireless customers.
As the Iowa caucuses draw nearer, Yahoo News interviewed five students from the University of Iowa to gain insights into what is driving them in this influential campaign and created an AR experience accessible via the Yahoo News app. Series is the latest project to come from the Yahoo News XR Partner program.
A new multiyear deal will see iHeartMedia and Ozy Media co-producing and promoting a slate of iHeartRadio original podcasts, with three shows set to be released in 2020 and distributed through the iHeartPodcast Network. First up is Around the World, featuring stories of changemakers who are doing the unexpected in the face of adversity, which originates from Ozy’s year-long editorial project.
Budding French podcast studio Paradiso is expanding to the US, with LA-based exec Emi Norris tapped to develop a slate of originals and podcasts and adapt Paradiso’s hit formats for the US.
Thomas Cocquerel (Alive), Jack Gilpin (Billions) and Harry Richardson (Poldark), are in as series regulars in HBO’s The Gilded Age… Anthony Okungbowa and Bayo Akinfemi, who have been recurring on CBS’ Bob Hearts Abishola, have been upped to series regulars… David Krumholtz (The Deuce) will lead opposite Milo Ventimiglia in USA Network’s limited series Evel, based on the life of ’70s daredevil Evel Knievel.