|PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
A big week for Mayim Bialik. The former The Big Bang Theory star signed a deal with Warner Bros. TV Group, the studio behind her hit show, that includes an exclusive two-year pod deal for Bialik’s new production company Sad Clown Productions… Additionally, she and Big Bang co- star Jim Parsons are behind upcoming Fox comedy Call Me Kat (formerly called Carla) from Warner Bros. TV and based on Miranda Hart’s BBC series Miranda. Project, about a 39-year-old woman who struggles against society and her mother to prove that you can’t have everything you want and still be happy, stars and is exec-produced by Bialik, and exec-produced by Parsons. It has a series order for fall 2020.
In related news, Bialik will host TV Land’s Candid Camera reboot alongside Peter Funt, son of the show’s creator and first host, Allen Funt. Series will premiere Monday, August 11 at 8p with original episodes airing Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.
Nicole Kidman will star and produce an adaptation of Janelle Brown’s upcoming novel, Pretty Things, for Amazon. Reed Morano is attached to direct and exec produce the title, to be produced by Kidman’s Blossom Films banner, which struck a first look deal with Amazon in 2018. Story follows two brilliant but damaged women try to survive a game of deceit initiated by a grifter.
Hip-hop artist Rick Ross is partnering with Red Arrow Studios’ production house Half Yard Productions for a new docuseries. Half Yard’s development chief Dirk Hoogstra is developing the untitled project, centered on the Fronzaglia family in New Jersey. Ross, who recently launched film and television company Lucky Bastard Media, will be a cast member.
The Sister, starring Russell Tovey (Years & Years) and adapted from Neil Cross book thriller Burial, is headed to Hulu. Originally commissioned by ITV and produced by Fremantle’s Euston Films, four-part series is about a well-meaning but generally directionless man trying to escape his past. Cast also includes Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster), Amrita Acharia (Game of Thrones), Nina Toussaint-White (GameFace) and Paul Bazely (Benidorm).
Egyptologists, archaeologists and forensic experts decipher stories of renowned and enigmatic mummies in a six-part series from Blink Films commissioned for Travel Channel and the UK’s Channel 5. Mummy Mysteries/Mummies Unwrapped follows a team that uses science and historical breakthroughs to determine what caused the deaths of six of Ancient Egypt’s most important royals.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
CBC launches one-hour weekly primetime show What’re You At? With Tom Power this Sunday, April 5 at 8p. Each Sunday, Power will connect virtually with Canadians from all walks of life, including artists, storytellers and musicians offering intimate performances from their homes, and everyday heroes helping their families and communities.
TBS dropped the trailer for the third season of The Last O.G., which returns Tuesday, April 7. After serving his time at the halfway house and having his food truck go up in flames, new action finds Tray (Tracy Morgan) searching for a new place to live and new forms of income. Meanwhile, ex-girlfriend Shay (Tiffany Haddish) is presented with the business opportunity of a lifetime, which could mean big changes for the whole family.
A new season of VH1’s T.I. & Tiny: Friends & Family Hustle returns Monday, April 13 at p. This season, the cast is faced with public scrutiny and forced to defend themselves in new ways.
Netflix dropped a trailer for limited doc series The Innocence Files, debuting Wednesday, April 15. Series shines a light on the untold personal stories behind eight cases of wrongful conviction that the nonprofit organization the Innocence Project and organizations within the Innocence Network have uncovered. Nine episodes are divided into three parts—the Evidence, the Witness and the Prosecution.
Couples featured across the 90 Day Fiance franchise have been tested by distance, cultural differences, skeptical families, language barriers and more. Now, like the rest of the world, they’re facing the coronavirus pandemic in new 90 Day Fiance: Self-Quarantined eps on TLC that will reveal how alums are being affected by COVID-19 via a self-shot footage and remote video interviews with producers. The action begins Monday, April 20 at 9p.
TV One’s newest night of true-crime programming, True Crime Thursdays, launches April 23 at 9p with a new season of For My Man. The Thursday night expansion joins the network’s signature True-Crime Mondays programming slate currently airing new eps of Fatal Attraction at 9p.
In an effort to provide new original content at a faster pace, TNT is moving up the debut of post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer to Sunday, May 17 at 9p.
Season 2 of AMC’s supernatural horror series NOS4A2 will premiere Monday, June 1 at 10p. The full season also will simulcast on sister net BBC America. Series, which stars Zachary Quinto and Ashleigh Cummings, is based on Joe Hill’s best-selling novel of the same name. Second season picks up eight years after the events of season 1.
The Los Angeles Football Club and Estrella Media announced that every Saturday, 5-7p PT, beginning April 4, Estrella will air LAFC Flashback featuring popular Black & Gold matches. Earlier this year, LAFC announced Estrella Media as the official Spanish television partner for the 2020 season in the greater LA market.
Food Network’s weekend lineup is brimming with comfort food-focused episodes aimed at viewers looking for family entertainment and menu ideas. On the roster is a pantry-friendly quarantine edition of The Kitchen on Saturday, April 4 at 11a, preceded by a live Q&A with Geoffrey Zakarian from his home at 10:30a on Food Network’s Instagram.
CMT will air a special celebrating the life and music of Kenny Rogers, who died in late March, on Wednesday, April 8 at 8p. Special will encore on MTV Live on April 10 at 8p, and again on CMT at noon April 11. Tribute features performances and interviews from Rogers’ friends and collaborators including Dolly Parton, Gavin DeGraw, Lady Antebellum and Lionel Richie, plus archival photos, interviews and performances. Special will include an opportunity for fans to donate directly to MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
The cast of Wynonna Earp will host a #TBT marathon from their homes of the series’ first season on Thursday, April 9 on Syfy. In on the party are creator Emily Andras and cast members Melanie Scrofano, Tim Rozon, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Katherine Barrell and Varun Saranga.
The Best Of Farm Aid 2019 will debut on Easter Sunday, April 12, at 8p on AXS TV. The network originally broadcast Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid 2019 fest live from the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin in September, and the new two-hour-plus special compiles exclusive footage from the original presentation. Highlights include appearances from Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews.
Immigrant drama Windows on the World, starring Edward James Olmos, will exclusively premiere April 23 on free Latino-focused streaming service Vix.
PBS will premiere two-hour doc Inside the Vatican on Tuesday, April 28 at 9p. Filmed over the course of the fifth year of Pope Francis’s pontificate, special offers rare behind-the-scenes access to one of the most important places in the Christian world.
May is “The Month of Mayberry” on classic TV network MeTV, which will present a monthlong celebration of television series featuring Mayberry and the characters made famous in each one. Selected eps of The Andy Griffith Show, spinoff Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and spinoff continuation series Mayberry R.F.D. are on the slate, along with the TV reunion movie Return to Mayberry and other TV series featuring Mayberry favorites.
CONNECTING IN A COVID-19 WORLD
HITN will air a live special, Date un Respiro con la Dra. Aliza (Take a Breather with Dr. Aliza) today (April 3) at 4p. Program, which also will air on Facebook Live, will virtually gather medical experts from Mexico, Spain, LA, SF and NY, to offer advice and tips for families who are quarantining. The special will be moderated by Gabriela Quiroga, host of the series Vida y Salud.
A broadcast of benefit event Comedy Gives Back Laugh Aid will air Saturday, April 4 at 7p on AXS TV. The four-hour telethon will raise money and awareness for an emergency relief fund benefiting working comedians who have been financially impacted due to the spread of COVID-19. Lineup includes Dave Attell, Dane Cook, Jessica Kirson, Howie Mandel, Marc Maron, Patton Oswalt, Ray Romano, Iliza Shlesinger, Bob Saget, Amanda Seales and David Spade.
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Fox News Channel will present weekend special America Together on Sunday, April 5 at 9p. Hosted by FNC’s Pete Hegseth, program will showcase the resilient American spirit and spotlight stories of communities joining together to persevere in times of crisis.
A new YouTube channel devoted to the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber is offering a new ALW filmed musical ever Friday at 11a—all for free. Channel, called the Show Must Go On, begins this week with 2000 adaptation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Donny Osmond, Maria Friedman, Richard Attenborough and Joan Collins. Next up on Good Friday, April 10, will be the 2012 version of Jesus Christ Superstar.
PBS and its recently launched crowd-sourced storytelling project PBS American Portrait, the signature content initiative of PBS’s 50th anniversary, will present the special In This Together: A PBS American Spirit Story, on Friday, May 8 at 9p. Participants from across the country will use self-shot video, photos and text to share how the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting their lives, their communities and their understanding of what it means to live in our country at this unique moment in time.
Oprah Winfrey committed $1 million to support the America’s Food Fund launch to support those facing food insecurity due to the virus pandemic. Leonardo DiCaprio, Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple and the Ford Foundation helped launch the Fund with $12 million. The initiative is hosted by the GoFundMe platform and will benefit World Central Kitchen and Feeding America.
Gary Lineker, the BBC’s highest-paid TV personality, will donate two months’ salary to The British Red Cross to help boost the battle against coronavirus.
The Match Of The Day host and former soccer star revealed the gesture during an interview on BBC Radio 4 and on Twitter.
In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan is slashing premiums in half for the next three months for tens of thousands of participants. The move, effective yesterday, brings a savings during the three months of $450-$855 participants except those receiving “Senior Performers” coverage. Those on COBRA will save between $460-$1,168 per month. “Relief is on the way,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White told members. “The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has announced it is temporarily reducing premiums by 50% during the second quarter.”
BBC World News, CNN International and NBC-backed Euronews are partnering to donate $50 million of advertising space to public health organizations fighting the coronavirus pandemic. In a joint statement the companies, with a combined reach of more than 800 million viewers, will open up advertising slots across TV and online, with various orgs being able to target people in specific territories. First to jump in on the free ads is the World Health Organization.
The Grand Ole Opry is launching the #Unbroken charitable campaign to benefit the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund beginning this Saturday, April 4. The fund benefits artists and musicians struggling through the pandemic.
HBO will stream 500 hours of free programming, including The Sopranos, Veep, Six Feet Under and The Wire, to offer some entertainment relief during in this time of social distancing. For a limited time beginning today (April 3) on HBO Now and HBO Go, viewers without a subscription can take in a roster that also includes Warner Bros. films Pokemon Detective Pikachu, The Lego Movie 2, Crazy, Stupid, Love, plus 10 HBO documentaries and docu-series.
FuboTV and celebrity- and sports-focused virtual entertainment company FaceBank Group closed their previously announced merger agreement. The combined company will do business as fuboTV and with David Gandler will serve as CEO, based in NY.
Country music lifestyle net Circle Network will host a free livestream to kick off the new season premiere of The Dailey & Vincent Show. Hosted by Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent, premiere and livestream will launch Tuesday, April 7 at 8:30p on Circle’s Facebook page, YouTube, Circleplus.com and Dailey & Vincent’s Facebook page.
MTV commissioned live and interactive digital game show series MTV Game Night with Charlotte Crosby. To be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube, six 30-minute eps will feature MTV reality TV star Charlotte Crosby live from her home entertaining fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Series is remotely produced by ViacomCBS Digital Studios International using cloud-based Grabyo and Zoom.
IN CONVERSATION WITH… DISCOVERY’S KATHLEEN FINCH
When the COVID-19 pandemic turned life upside down for so many, Discovery Inc.’s stable of lifestyle networks was uniquely positioned to deliver the kind of “comfort food” content a suddenly-homebound audience craved. Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brands officer, explains how the company responded to the crisis.
Cynopsis: How did the lifestyle networks pivot as the COVID-19 crisis became apparent?
Kathleen Finch: For all of us across the Discovery Lifestyle portfolio, we were instantly motivated by our fans. We looked at social and saw our viewers relying on us as a source of comfort. It energized the teams to get to work creating marathons, stunts, social posts and videos, anything we could do to connect our shows and talent more closely to viewers during this unprecedented time.
From Say Yes to the Dress marathons on TLC and afternoons on the couch with the Property Brothers on HGTV, to pantry dinner ideas from Ina Garten at Food Network and Insta videos with ID’s Lt. Joe Kenda, we got to work quickly to superserve fans. That was week one. In week two and three, we asked our talent to self-film even more. We just announced a “90 Day Fiancé: Self-Quarantined” limited series featuring fan-favorite couples across the franchise documenting their own lives in this crisis. Food Network’s Guy Fieri set up a studio in his house and his teenage son is filming him for a new series set in his home. We created on-air promos featuring our talent sending well wishes and inspirational messages to viewers across HGTV, TLC and Food Network, and messages thanking our first responders.
Cynopsis: Do you think viewers’ relationships with the networks will change because of the way they are being served now?
Finch: We’re so humbled and pleased to be an escape and source of comfort right now. When we all get through this, and after people are able to reconnect in person with loved ones and friends and gather together, we hope they have an even greater closeness to our brands and talent. We actually saw this on Food Network after 9/11…people wanted comfort food and comfort TV and we were there for them. I’m glad our whole portfolio can provide that when people need it most. It’s something that scripted can’t do; we’re uniquely poised to support viewers in this way.
Cynopsis: People are appreciating television content more than they have in a long time. Are there insights you’ve gained about how to engage viewers that happened because of the current situation?
Finch: We are seeing viewership rise pretty dramatically – in prime, daytime, mornings, especially on Food Network, which is up double digits. TLC continues to be #1 for women in prime. We’ve also seen a rise in live content and engagement on social. Both of these trends have led us to dig deep on how to best serve our audiences. Ina Garten has gone online to ask fans to tell her what’s in their pantry. We’re asking HGTV devotees to tell us the marathons they’d like to see. For self-described “ID Addicts,” we’re having them tell us what crime stories they want to see now. We’re doubling down on our programming strategies across the networks with reloads, marathons and new, timely content, and encouraging our talent to engage on social through live tweeting during premieres, and to go live on Instagram and post as much as possible.
To find out five ways Discovery Lifestyle Brands are nourishing fans, go here: https://www.cynopsis.com/cyncity/five-ways-the-discovery-lifestyle-brands-are-nourishing-fans-during-covid-19/.
See you on Twitter: Brooklynn Prince, Jon M. Chu, Dara Resnik, Dana Fox, Joy Gorman Wettels, Abby Miller and Jibrail Nantambu will host a live Twitter watch party of their new Apple TV+ series Home Before Dark tonight (April 3) at 8p.
Mayim Bialik joined ProSiebenSat.1 Group’s multichannel network Studio71 to expand her social media presence.
Suddenly ubiquitous Internet videoconferencing platform Zoom is suspending videoconferencing development for 90 days to address privacy and safety concerns that have emerged in at least one lawsuit. “We want to do what it takes to maintain your trust,” founder/CEO Eric Yuan wrote in a blog post.
PBS Kids is marking Earth Day and the start of spring with new episodes of series focused on exploring natural wonders and creatures of the world. Among shows getting into the Earth Day spirit are Wild Kratts, Nature Cat, Molly of Denali; new eps will debut April 20-May 29.
Disney Channel debuted a song and dance montage set to its We’re All in This Together anthem on its YouTube channel. Video encourages kids of all ages to get up and move, and to embrace self-expression and connection. Featured dance numbers include excerpts from The Cheetah Girls, Camp Rock, Descendants Austin & Ally, Girl Meets World, Phineas and Ferb and a Disney Junior segment led by Mickey Mouse.
Cheyenne Jackson scored the male lead opposite Mayim Bialik in Fox comedy Call Me Kat, and Leslie Jordan (The Cool Kids) is in as a series regular on the show. Swoosie Kurtz and Kyla Pratt are also in for the series.
With help from epidemiology experts and reporters, Bill Nye launched a series of eps of his Stitcher podcast Science Rules! with Bill Nye dedicated to explaining information on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. Three-month series, published on Tuesdays and Fridays, will feature analysis from doctors, reporters and experts on the development of a vaccine.
Streaming service Acorn TV, a hub for British and international programming, will launch in the UK on Wednesday, April 29. The exclusive UK premiere of Emmy-nominated British series Queens of Mystery is among the content available at debut, as well as recent and classic series including Foyle’s War, Keeping Faith and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
Disney’s new deal with Middle East pay TV and streaming operator OSN results in Disney+ originals being distributed through a third-party for the first time. Beginning Thursday, April 9, Disney+ original content will be available in OSN’s 17 markets, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt.
Distributor Fred Media, owned by Australia’s WTFN, acquired more than 300 new hours of content from The Africa Channel and Tastemade.
British distribution company TCB Media Rights has been acquired by Australian producer and distributor Beyond International, ending its run with collapsed Canadian TV empire Kew Media Group. Beyond announced the deal in a statement to investors issued on the Australian Stock Exchange.