PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have teamed with Hulu to adapt Erik Larson’s book The Devil in the White City. The duo is executive producing the series, which is being developed by Paramount TV, alongside Stacey Sher, Rick Yorn, Emma Koskoff and Jennifer Davisson.
Lucy Liu (Elementary) will star in upcoming CBS All Access series Why Women Kill, from creator Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids). The comedic drama explores the lives of three women living in three different decades – a house fire in the ‘60s, a socialite in the ‘80s and a lawyer in 2018, each dealing with infidelity in their marriages.
Jane Levy (Suburgatory) is set as the lead in NBC’s musical dramedy pilot Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. The project, from Jake in Progress creator Austin Winsberg, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, FeigCo, Universal Music Group and Lionsgate, follows smart but socially awkward Zoey (Levi), who is suddenly able to hear the innermost thoughts of people around her.
Marvel and Hulu inked deals for four adult animated series. A Howard the Duck series, based on the cigar-chomping character introduced in the comics in 1973, will be led by Kevin Smith (Clerks), along with Dave Willis. Former Netflix talk show host Chelsea Handler will move to Hulu to EP and write, with Erica Rivinoja, the politically progressive Marvel’s Tigra & Dazzler Show. Josh Gordon and Will Speck, plus Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum, lead Marvel’s Hit Monkey, about a supervillain with an ego and family issues. Marvel’s M.O.K.O.K. follows a Japanese snow monkey trying to take down Tokyo’s crime underworld with the ghost of an American assassin by his side. All four series will also team up in The Offenders special.
Hulu picked up two pilots to series. Reprisal, a femme fatale thriller, hails from The Handmaid’s Tale EP Warren Littlefield and is being written by Josh Corbin (StartUp). It centers on a woman who, after being left for dead, leads a vengeful campaign against a bombastic gang of gearheads. Catherine the Great drama The Great, starring Elle Fanning as Catherine, takes an anti-historical ride through 18th century Russia. Both series go into production later this year.
HBO Europe greenlit 30 Coins (30 monedas). Written by De la Iglesia and his writing partner Jorge Guerricaechevarria and produced by Pokeepsie Films, series explores the tragedy of Father Vergara, an exorcist, boxer and ex-con, who is exiled by the church to a remote Spanish town. The project will premiere day-and-date across HBO Europe territories.
MGM Television extended its overall deal with Sean Kelly and Steve Hughes and their Shaggy Entertainment through 2020. The pair created and executive produced CBS’ competition series TKO: Total Knock Out with Kevin Hart and set up projects at Discovery and Epix.
Group Nine’s JASH, in partnership with NowThis, is producing unscripted pilot The Untitled Maz Jobrani Project (wt) for truTV. Half-hour variety series stars Maz Jobrani, who uses standup, scripted sketches, interviews and hidden cameras to mine comedy from the lengths people will go to “fit in.”
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Animal ER Live premieres on Nat Geo WILD on Saturday, March 30 at 9p. Anchored by veterinary experts from a studio in New York City, series follows animal emergencies in real time as they occur at animal hospitals and mobile vet emergency units across the country.
TruTV set premiere dates for a new block of back-to-back laughs this spring.
Impractical Jokers is back for an eighth season on Thursday, March 28 at 10p, followed by the series premiere of Tacoma FD at 10:30p.
HGTV’s Restored by the Fords returns for a second season on Tuesday, March 19 at 9p and 9:30p. The series, hosted by brother and sister Leanne and Steve Ford, who bring their design style to Pittsburgh-area homes, garnered more than 13.9 million total viewers during its first season.
Hulu drops all six episodes of Catch-22 on Friday, May 17. Limited series hails from George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Paramount Television and Anonymous Content and tells the story of artful dodger Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier in World War II who is furious because thousands of people he’s never met are trying to kill him.
Ramu, the 10-episode comedy from Jason Blum’s indie TV studio, bows Friday, April 19 on Hulu.
Discovery Channel’s Alaskan Bush People is back on Sunday, March 3 at 10p. This season, the Brown family get closer to realizing their dream of a sustainable ranch, while overcoming new challenges.
American Idol returns Sunday, March 3 at 8p on ABC. Helping to discover the next singing superstar are music legends and judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, along with producer-host Ryan Seacrest and in-house mentor Bobby Bones.
Gerardo Ortiz is returning to the judging panel of Estrella TV’s 20th season of Tengo Talento, Talento Mucho. Talent search show launches Friday, March 25 at 8p.
Craig Erwich, Hulu Senior Vice President of Originals, was asked about the future of his company, which will become majority owned by Disney following that company’s acquisition of FOX assets. Erwich cited the double-digit subscriber growth in 2018 to 25 million, noting that “you don’t get that kind of growth without the support of our ownership.” Hence, he expects Hulu’s programming strategy to remain the same. “We will continue the strategy of offering a lot of choice in a wide variety of genres,” said Erwich. “I don’t anticipate that changing at all.”
Hulu’s decision to set The Handmaid’s Tale third season return date on Wednesday, June 5 – with three new episodes – came with a price: it means the series won’t be eligible for the 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards. “We wanted to give the show as much time as possible to maintain the quality,” said Erwich. So how are the first two episdoes? “Spectacular,” he raved. Erwich also addressed the probable renewal of Marvel’s Runaways, praising the comic book adaptation which launched its second season in December 2018. “We’re really happy with the performance of Runaways, both creatively and in terms of its performance, and we’ll have an announcement shortly,” he promised.
As for the reboot of Veronica Mars, Erwich said the title character is “not a little girl anymore. You’ll see her dealing with contemporary issues in a contemporary world.” Nevertheless, Erwich added that Rob Thomas, who is the steward of the franchise, remains “very true to the character and the world and the tone of the show, which is what made people fall in love with the show.”
Erwich explained the reasons behind the cancellations of Sarah Silverman’s I Love You, America and mission-to-Mars drama The First. While noting that the net was “proud of” Silverman’s efforts “to thread a needle and find a balance on both sides of the political conversation” and the growth of the show creatively, “it didn’t acquire a large enough audience despite the critical acclaim.” Erwich issued a similar sentiment about Sean Penn’s The First, calling the show “ambitious” for “taking on the adventure of going to Mars, but not the actual adventure. Unfortunately, the audience did not materialize.”
On the heels of the 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy’s execution, ABC News’ 20/20 presents a two-hour documentary on the infamous serial killer’s vicious past on Friday, February 15 at 9p on ABC.
Hulu set premiere dates for two new installments of horror event series Into The Dark. An April Fools’ Day-themed I’m Just F*cking With You bows on Friday, April 5, while a Mother’s Day-themed All That We Destroy premieres on Friday, May 3.
Ask Dr. Ruth, a documentary that delves into the story of sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, debuts on Hulu on Friday, May 10. The project, which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, will be followed by a 20-plus market theatrical release on Friday, May 3. During a discussion at TCA, Dr. Ruth revealed what topics are off-limits: “You will never know how much money I have and with whom I am sleeping,” she declared.
Shopify Studios launched Vanguard by Shopify Studios. The weekly podcast, currently available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Play, explores the secret economies at the vanguard of culture and features interviews with entrepreneurs as the forefront of the cultural movement.
Netflix announced its lead cast for superhero epic series Jupiter’s Legacy. Josh Duhamel (Transformers), Ben Daniels (The Crown), Leslie Bibb (Tag), Elena Kampouris (Sacred Lies) and Andrew Horton (How to Talk to Girls at Parties) have been tapped to star in the show, while Matt Lanter (Timeless) and Mike Wade (For the People) will also be featured.
John Heffernan (The Crown) and Dolly Wells (Doll & Em) joined the cast of BBC and Netflix drama Dracula, while Alana de la Garza (Law & Order) nabbed a lead in FBI: Most Wanted, spinoff of CBS drama FBI… Tiffany Boone (The Chi) nabbed a role on Amazon’s The Hunt…Melissa Leo, Ray McKinnon, Jessica Collins, Camryn Manheim, Timothy Busfield and Patricia Wettig are among the latest castings for Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings anthology series on Netflix.
Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios is launching Spanish-language weather streaming service, The Weather Channel en Espanol. The new program is set to launch the first quarter of 2020 and will feature Spanish-speaking weather reporters and show hosts throughout the day on weekdays and weekends, forecasting weather conditions in the U.S. and its territories in Puerto Ricos as well as in Mexico and Central America. The company bought the Weather Channel linear network and its streaming service, Local Now, in 2018.
CuriosityStream raised approximately $140 million in private placement funding to fuel the company’s next phase of growth. Investors include Blum Capital Ventures and TimesSquare Capital Management. The doc streaming service plans to boost programming, technology and marketing spend, and build on its global distribution effort.
Thrillist acquired YouTube hit Send Foodz from digital creator and comedian Timothy DeLaGhetto (3.0 million subscribers) and partner David So (14 million subscribers), marking its first IP acquisition. The series follows the comedians and foodies as they offer an inside look at the biggest food festivals across the U.S.
AT&T Communications is consolidating its programmatic advertising spend on the open exchange through Xandr’s Demand-Side Platform, AppNexus Programmable Platform. The news marks a five-year milestone in the relationship between AT&T and AppNexus. Using AppNexus technology and engineering teams, Xandr is developing next-generation TV planning, campaign management and measurement capabilities. As part of the consolidation to AppNexus, AT&T will be a first mover on new capabilities.
Two filings for Facebook’s Oculus Quest VR headset touch controllers passed the FCC, indicating they should hit the market this spring. The all-in-one headset won’t require a PC or phone, and will sell for $399.
AMC Networks International – Central and Northern Europe and Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiaries in the Czech Republic and Slovakia announced a multi-year renewal of their distribution agreement. The deal builds on the companies’ long-term partnership by providing carriage of AMCNI CNE’s full portfolio of networks to Slovak Telekom’s Magio and Didi Slovakia and T-Mobile TV Czech Republic customers.
Blue Ant Media greenlit Life Below Zero: Canada. The new version of the hit series begins production with Saloon Media in partnership with BBC Studios.