A+E Networks put female storytellers up front for its Upfronts yesterday, with an all-female slate of presenters at the New York Public Library event. Themes covered included A&E uncovering moments of truth through brave storytelling; History being made every day through true stories of human endeavor; Viceland examining the world we live in and exploring the things that make us curious, confuse us, make us laugh or awaken our sense of wonder; Biography exposing the untold stories of the meaningful events or personalities and their impact on our culture; and Lifetime believing in every woman and girl’s right to be whomever and whatever she wants to be.
Continuing the female theme, A&E struck production deals with Queen Latifah and Toni Braxton. Latifah will EP documentary Where Did the Women of Hip Hop Go? as well as one-hour special U.N.I.T.Y., which follows the singer as she remakes her hit single from 1993. Braxton’s multi-picture deal includes It’s a Wonderful Lifetime, a centerpiece of Lifetime’s holiday programming block.
Feature The Bad Seed, starring and directed by Rob Lowe, debuts Sunday, September 9 at 8p on Lifetime, leading into the network’s newest scripted series, YOU, at 10p. The drama, based on the Caroline Kepnes bestseller of the same name, tells the story of a young man in love who’s willing to do whatever it takes to get the girl.
On the custom content front, Lifetime has partnered with Ford Motor Company for Her America: 50 Women, 50 States, a digital series documenting real women across the country. Ford content began airing on Wednesday, March 15 on Lifetime. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Ford on such timely and necessary content that captures the truth and provides a fresh perspective about women’s lives in the United States,” said Peter Olsen, EVP Ad Sale, A+E Networks. “The custom pieces introduced with Ford are creative and authentic to their respective brands.”
Lifetime picked up unscripted series Raising Tourette’s and Seatbelt Psychic, and will air Seven Year Switch’s move to the net from FYI for its third season. For more Upfronts news from A+E Networks, got to the Cynopsis Upfronts portal: http://www.cynopsis.com/upfronts2018/
PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Starz greenlit The Spanish Princess, a limited series and follow-up to The White Princess and The White Queen, based on Philippa Gregory’s bestselling books The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse.
Electus has teamed with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds on a scripted 90s music series. The untitled project is a serialized one-hour dramedy developed by and based on the lives of songwriter and record producer Damon Sharpe and actress, recording artist and producer Stacy Asencio-Sutphen, who met in New York in the 1990s when they were both aspiring pop stars.
MTV greenlit a U.S. version of international hit Ex On The Beach. Rapper/actor Romeo will host the social experiment featuring reality stars from The Bachelorette, Big Brother, Bachelor in Paradise, The Challenge, Vanderpump Rules, Are You the One? and Bad Girls Club, alongside everyday singles who show up for what they think is run-of-the-mill dating show, only to be blindsided by their exes. Meet the cast Thursday, April 12 at 10p; series debuts Thursday, April 19 at 9p.
Disney Jr. ordered a third season of Mickey And the Roadster Racers. The series makes its second season premiere on Friday, April 13 at 9:30a on Disney Channel.
Shooting begins this month on returning ITV’s Dark Heart. Crime thriller stars Tom Riley as a cop haunted by the murder of his parents, when he was 16. The series pilot, initially titled Wagstaffe, aired on ITV Encore in 2016.
PepsiCo’s in-house content development studio, Creators League, announced a lineup of impending projects. Included are Piano Bar, a comedy series from Scooter Braun and BoJack Horseman producer Peter Knight; Street Ball Stories, a docuseries from EP Jamie Patricof; Rugby Boys of Memphis, a doc following the rise of the first rugby team at an inner-city Memphis high school; and Hood River (wt), a doc about a high school soccer team in Hood River, Oregon.
SHORT FORM VIDEO
When it comes to creating short form video content, “The bar has really gone up for writers, directors, and creators,” Christine Lubrano, SVP, original programming for IFC, tells Cynopsis. “Everyone is on their A-game and ready to create smart, elevated, and funny content because while there is more opportunity than ever, there is more competition than ever.”
So how do you rise to the top? You’ll learn more about short form at the Cynopsis Short Form Video Festival, postponed due to weather but back on the calendar for Thursday, March 22. That’s good news for media execs interested in this red-hot format who hadn’t saved a seat – we’ll have speakers from State Farm, Subaru, Facebook and much more, as well as screenings and networking opportunities. For details go here.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Contractor Marie Oursler renovates more seaside homes in a new season of Big Beach Builds starting Monday, April 9 at 9p on DIY Network.
An hour-long block of comedy, competition and hip-hop returns to TBS on Sunday, April 15 with the debut of a new season of Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild at 10p, followed by Drop the Mic at 10:30p.
Pasiones acquired hit Turkish drama Amor Prohibido, set to premiere Tuesday, March 20 at 7p.
Season 2 of The Jim Jeffries Show returns Tuesday, March 27 at 10:30p on Comedy Central.
AXS TV’s original series Rock & Roll Road Trip With Sammy Hagar returns on Sunday, April 8 at 9p.
Fox News Channel airs The Wise Guys: DC Edition on Sunday, March 18 at 8p. Roundtable discussion ranges from special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe to the future of the economy. Former Education Secretary Dr. Bill Bennett moderates with a panel including retired Lt. Col. Oliver North, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, attorney Robert Bennett and FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Reagans. WGN runs a two-day marathon of Blue Bloods starting Saturday, March 17 at 6p.
Laff presents “Roseanne Family Favorites Week,” featuring the cast of Roseanne handpicking and hosting their favorite episodes of the series, starting Monday, March 19 at 9p.
Smithsonian Channel debuts Stephen Hawking special, Leaving Earth: Or How to Colonize A Planet on Sunday, March 25 at 8p. Show features interviews with the visionary physicist, who died March 14 at age 76, as well as others.
Reebok struck a sponsorship deal with Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, aimed at inspiring women and future generations to discover and embrace fitness and become the best versions of themselves. “Together, we’re going to find the fun in fitness, and the strength in sports,” tweeted the actress.
New research from Parks Associates shows the percentage of U.S. broadband households with digital antennas has steadily increased to 20% near the end of 2017, up from 16% in early 2015. “360 View: Access and Entertainment Services in U.S. Broadband Households” reveals that the increase coincides with a steady decline in pay-TV subscriptions and increase in OTT video subscriptions. “Increasingly, consumers are cobbling together their own bundles of content sources. Digital antennas are experiencing a resurgence as consumers consider over-the-air TV and OTT video services as alternatives to pay TV,” said Brett Sapp, senior director of research, Parks Associates. “The percentage of ‘Never’ households (households that have never subscribed to pay-TV services) has held steady, and the percentage of households actually cutting the cord has increased between 2015 and 2017.”
Justin Kerr (Weeds) will recur on Showtime’s upcoming comedy Kidding… Peyton List (Frequency) nabbed the female lead in FOX’s untitled drama pilot based on the best-selling book Gone Baby Gone…Ryan McPartlin (Chuck) landed a series regular role in NBC’s untitled Bad Boys spinoff pilot.
Dax Shepard is set as a recurring guest star in the second half of The Ranch’s upcoming third season on .… James Tupper (Big Little Lies) named the male lead in FOX FBI drama pilot from Ilene Chaiken and Melissa Scrivener Love… Deadline reports that Missy Peregrym (Rookie Blue) will lead Dick Wolf’s upcoming CBS drama F.B.I.
More cast additions have been announced for ABC’s Get Christie Love reboot. Steven Webber (Wings) nabbed a key series regular role along with Lisseth Chavez (The Fosters) and Dennis Oh (NCIS: New Orleans).
Annabella Sciorra (The Sopranos) signed on to the sophomore season cast of Netflix’s Marvel’s Luke Cage… Bre-Z (Empire) and Greata Onieogou (Miss Sloane) landed series regular roles on The CW’s untitled April Blair and Spencer Paysinger drama pilot… Tati Gabrielle (The 100) will be a series regular on Netflix’s upcoming Sabrina series.
Jason Michael Snow was cast as a lead in ABC’s untitled Justin Noble comedy pilot… Charles Parnell (The Last Ship) and Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Kevin Can Wait) landed series regular roles in FOX’s Our People pilot… Adewale Akinnuove-Agbaje (Ten Days in the Valley) nabbed a lead role in ABC drama pilot The Fix.
Facebook Lite, initially designed for developing countries, is rolling out in developed countries, including the U.S., reports Reuters. The basics version was created for markets with limited internet connections, but “We’ve seen that even in some developed markets people can have lower connectivity, so we want to make sure everyone has the option to use the app if they want,” said the company. The app is available for download today.
Rihanna took Snapchat to task for an ad that mocked domestic violence. About the “Would You Rather?!” game that asked whether users would rather “slap Rihanna” or “punch Chris Brown,” Rihanna posted on Instagram, “You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!!” Responded a Snapchat spokesperson, “This advertisement is disgusting and never should have appeared on our service. We are so sorry we made the terrible mistake of allowing it through our review process. We are investigating how that happened so that we can make sure it never happens again.” Post-Rihanna post, the stock price for Snap Inc. dipped 4%.
The Walt Disney Company has created a new unit for its streaming video and international businesses. The Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service, which has yet to be named, will launch in late 2019 and be the exclusive home for SVOD viewing of the newest live-action and animated movies in the pay-TV window from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm.
SpotX renewed is partnership with Pluto TV in an effort to connect more brands to its video offerings. Pluto TV is now leveraging SpotX not only to power OTT monetization, but also its Demand Facilitation services
Award-winning artists with disabilities reveal the challenges of independence in new documentary Flying Solo, premiering on Wednesday, March 21, World Down Syndrome Day. Doc is available on Vimeo On Demand and Amazon Prime.
Telestream is set to release a unique one box solution for closed caption encoding to multiple live streams at NAB 2018. The 608/708 caption insertion capability is part of the latest version of Lightspeed Live Stream, Telestream’s multiscreen live encoding and packaging at scale solution for broadcasters, content aggregators and live event production companies.
Amazon secured the rights to American Idol in the UK from FremantleMedia International. The streamer will air weekly episodes of the singing competition in the UK on Tuesday, after their U.S. debut on ABC on Sunday nights.
TRT World inked a distribution agreement with Norwegian cable-TV operator and internet service provider Get, increasing its viewership in Norway and other Scandinavian countries.
Independent UK based distributor DCD Rights signed deals increasing its portfolio. Included are Facing the Fire, the third season of Aussie Gold Hunters, and new seasons of Bridezillas, Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars and Mama June: From Not to Hot.
RTE and the Irish Film Board announced the 10 projects progressing to development stage in its new scripted comedy initiative. Among them: Bump, a sitcom about two warring sisters; Lifeguards, an ensemble comedy about a team of young lifeguards; and Headcases, which centers on four very flawed women juggling their lives.
Media Ranch was commissioned by Bell Media’s Canal Vie to produce new series The Goldwater Rule (wt), focused on a high-profile lawyer who comes to the rescue of troubled couples.
Comedy Central International is expanding its digital programming slate with six new short form originals exclusively for Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Comedy Central Play app and web, as well as renewing Josh Investigates for a second season.
Globo hit Edge of Desire is headed to another Latin American country. The series will begin airing on Teledoce in Uruguay on Monday, April 9.