PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Welcome to Upfront Week, and the slew of 11th hour network announcements that continued into late last week. Fox, which presents today, was the last to make cancellation decisions, nixing freshman comedy “Pivoting” and drama “Our Kind of People.”
ABC handed out a bouquet of renewals including “The Bachelor,” which accepted a rose for the 27th season. “American Idol” will also be back, for a sixth season on ABC and a 21st season overall, as will “America’s Funniest Home Videos” for a 33rd season, “Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune” for a third season, “A Million Little Things” for season 5 and “Shark Tank.” David E. Kelley’s “Big Sky will also continue, for its third season, “The Conners” got a season 5 renewal, “The Wonder Years” will be back for season 2 and “Home Economics” will get a season 3.
The network also made a trio of new series orders. Incoming are Hilary Swank-fronted drama “Alaska,” about a disgraced reporter who leaves her high-profile New York life behind to join a daily metro newspaper in Anchorage, from 20th Television. “The Rookie” spinoff “The Rookie: Feds,” created by Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter, is from Entertainment One (eOne) and is a co-production with with ABC Signature. Comedy “Not Dead Yet,” from “The Real O’Neals” creators David Windsor and Casey Johnson, stars Gina Rodriguez as a newly single woman attempting to reboot the life and career she left behind a decade ago. The net passed on half-hour pilot “Josep,” starring comedian Jo Koy playing a character loosely based on himself.
At CBS, “True Lies” got the official pickup to series. The reboot of James Cameron’s 1994 action comedy movie, from Matt Nix, McG, Cameron and 20th Television, is slated for a midseason premiere and joins the network’s other new series “Fire Country,” “East New York” and “So Help Me Todd,” all expected to debut in the fall.
USA Network put in orders for a slate of series including Blake Shelton and Carson Daly’s bar competition series “Barmageddon,” produced by White Label Productions and JLP Pictures. Also on the platter is “Snake in the Grass,” a social experiment hosted by Bobby Bones that will see four strangers dropped into the Alaskan wilderness with a chance to win $100,000. “The Chain: Alaska,” from “Deadliest Catch” producer Original Productions, is a competition series that pits adventure racers and survival experts in challenges while navigating some of the most remote islands in the world for a chance at a $500,000 prize. “Winter Watchman,” produced by Nomadica Films, follows four pairs of amateur survivalists who defend Alaskan properties against man and nature. And “Rust Hunters” follows a multigenerational family business as members pick, renovate and flip old vehicles and antiques in the New Hampshire backwoods. It’s produced by Double Act.
Hulu passed on Hillary Rodham Clinton drama series “Rodham,” which had been in development since 2020 with Claire Danes and Dakota Fanning attached. The streamer is also saying goodbye to another Marvel property, adult animated show “M.O.D.O.K.,” after one season.
Kerry Washington will topline and exec-produce the first scripted comedy series for Disney’s Onyx Collective banner. “Unprisoned,” from creator Tracy McMillan and inspired by her life, is an eight-ep series about a relationship therapist and single mom whose life is turned around when her dad gets out of prison and moves in with her and her teenage son. Produced by ABC Signature and streamed exclusively on Hulu in the US, the series also stars Delroy Lindo (“Da 5 Bloods”), who exec-produces alongside McMillan and showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser.
Writers/producers Amber Ruffin and Jenny Hagel are expanding their relationship with NBCUniversal. The duo behind Peacock’s late-night variety series “The Amber Ruffin Show,” who also write on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” inked an overall deal with Universal Television. They’re also launching their own production company, Straight To Cards, and brought in “Amber Ruffin Show” producer Justin McGriff as a creative executive.
Classic ‘90s comedy series “Married… with Children” is making a comeback as an animated series. With original stars Katey Sagal, Ed O’Neill, Christina Applegate and David Faustino onboard for voice talent, the new project is housed at Sony Pictures Television, which owns and distributes the OG series that aired from 1987-97 on Fox and is carried by streamers Hulu and Peacock.
Longtime “The Good Doctor” exec producer Liz Friedman is adding stripes as co-showrunner on the ABC drama for its sixth season alongside series developer and exec producer David Shore, who’s served as showrunner for the past five seasons.
Tia Napolitano (“Cruel Summer”) will serve as exec producer and showrunner for CBS’ newly minted series “Fire Country.” The series, from Jerry Bruckheimer Television and CBS Studios, is inspired by Thieriot’s experiences growing up in Northern California fire country; he also co-wote the story for the pilot with its writers Tony Phelan and Joan Rater.
Erik Oleson, showrunner of season 2 of Amazon’s “Carnival Row,” is launching his own production company, CrimeThink. Based at Amazon Studios, where Oleson is under an exclusive three-year overall deal, CrimeThink will also be the new home of former RKO pictures exec Paul Shapiro, who’ll serve as head of content, and Lauren Rovere, who will serve as the company’s coordinator.
Domestic rights to UK boxing movie “Prizefighter: The Life Of Jem Belcher” now belong to Amazon Prime. The film, which stars Matt Hookings and is from his production house Camelot Films, features Russell Crowe in a key supporting role in the story about a gifted young boxer who fought his way to becoming champion of England.
Indiecan Entertainment is launching a genre-focused distribution arm, Red Water Entertainment, which will produce genre cinema from around the world to North American audiences. Red Water’s launch slate comprises six films, primarily across the horror, science fiction and action genres.
Visual effects firm and animation studio DNEG opened its studio in the King West district of Toronto. The new facility will house more than 150 employees and expand the company’s Canada-based VFX and animation operations and talent pool to meet multiplatform demand for its services.
May 16: NBCUniversal at 10:30a (Radio City Music Hall, NYC); Fox at 4p (Skylight, NYC); Telemundo party at 6p (Ziegfeld Theater, NYC)
May 17: Univision at 11:30a (Javits Center in NYC); Disney at 4p (Basketball City at Pier 36, NYC); YouTube Brandcast at 8p (Imperial Theater, NYC)
May 18: Warner Bros. Discovery at 10a (Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, NYC); Paramount at 4p (Carnegie Hall, NYC)
May 19: The CW at 11a (New York City Center Theater, NYC)
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
AMC+ dropped a trailer for upcoming suspense thriller “Moonhaven,” which debuts Thursday, July 7. The series, from creator/showrunner Peter Ocko (“Lodge 49,” “Black Sails”) is set in a utopian colony on the moon that may hold the keys to preserving life on Earth, which has become increasingly perilous.
FX set its summer schedule, announcing premiere dates for eight new or returning series including the debut of Jeff Bridges drama “The Old Man” (June 16), Ryan Reynolds docuseries “Welcome to Wrexham” (August 24), animated comedy “Little Demon” (August 25) and Hulu’s “The Bear” (June 23) and “The Patient” (August 30). New seasons of “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Reservation Dogs’ and “American Horror Stories” are also upcoming.
Apple TV+ announced summer premiere dates for a slate of original kids and family series, specials and shorts. The action kicks off Friday, July 8 with the premiere of animated series “Duck & Goose,” based on books by Tad Hills. New live-action series include the July 22 launch of “Best Foot Forward,” from Matt Fleckenstein and based on the real-life story of paralympic athlete Josh Sundquist; “Amber Brown (July 29), from Bonnie Hunt starring Carsyn Rose and Sarah Drew, and based on the book series by Paula Danziger; “Surfside Girls,” (August 19), from May Chan (“American Girl: Corinne Tan”) and based on the IDW graphic novel series by author Kim Dwinell; and “Life By Ella,” the story of a young girl as she takes a new outlook on life into a world that seems determined to break it down. “Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show” will return for a new special and four original shorts, all set to debut June 24. And on August 12, Apple will debut “Lucy’s School,” a new special from its partnership with Peanuts and WildBrain. “The Snoopy Show” also returns with new episodes this summer.
“Trees of Peace,” a film inspired by real eventsabout four women from different backgrounds who forge an unbreakable sisterhood while trapped and in hiding during the genocide in Rwanda, is headed to Netflix on Friday, June 10.
Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation teased “Luck” with a trailer for the animated film, slated to bow on Apple TV+ on Friday, August 5. Directed by Peggy Holmes, the movie centers on the unluckiest person in the world, Sam Greenfield (voiced by Eva Noblezada), who discovers the never-before-seen Land of Luck and must unite with the magical creatures who live there to turn her luck around. Jane Fonda and Whoopi Goldberg are also among voice cast.
Lifetime’s “The Bad Seed Returns” premieres Monday, May 30 at 8p.
Netflix is mulling launching live-streaming capabilities on its service that it potentially could use for perks like live voting and feedback across unscripted shows and specials, as well as to air in-person events like its just concluded Netflix Is A Joke festival on the screen.
Ad platform Infillion launched ShopX, its shoppable advertising product that delivers cross-publisher and cross-platform campaign activation with added benefits of consumer opt-in, creative direction and actionable measurement.
Leslie Bibb will star alongside Kristen Wiig in in Apple TV+ comedy series “Mrs. American Pie”… “Teen Wolf” alum Tyler Hoechlin will reprise his role as Derek Hale in Paramount+’s upcoming “Teen Wolf The Movie”… Jensen Ackles has been tapped a series regular for season 3 of ABC’s “Big Sky”… John Cho rounds out the season 2 ensemble cast of Apple TV+ murder mystery comedy series “The Afterparty.”
Stephanie Beatriz is onboard to star in “Heavy Metal,” Peacock’s upcoming comedy series adaptation of the video game phenom… Netflix’s upcoming Indian musical drama “The Archies” is casting up, with Mihir Ahuja (“Bard of Blood”), Khushi Kapoor (“The Garhwal Rifles”) and Sah Suhana Khan among the ensemble cast… Max Thieriot will have the starring role in CBS drama “Fire Country.”
British channel Dave is onboard for another two seasons of comedy mockumentary “Meet the Richardsons,” with an order that brings its episode total to 20. The show centers on real-life comedy couple Jon Richardson and Lucy Beaumont as outsized versions of themselves and their marriage.
BBC One greenlit “Granite Harbour,” a three-part drama series set in Scotland from LA Productions that will air on both BBC One and the BBC Scotland channel.