|PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
A new incarnation of ‘80s family dramedy The Wonder Years, which centers on a Black middle-class family in Montgomery, AL in the turbulent late ‘60s, scored a pilot production commitment from ABC. From exec producer Saladin K. Patterson, Lee Daniels, the original series’ star Fred Savage and 20th Century Fox TV, new series is inspired by Patterson’s childhood. Savage will direct the potential pilot.
Tether, a supernatural drama from The Black List writers Kevin Hamedani and Travis Betz, and Daniel Dae Kim, is in development at Amazon Studios. Tether centers on a woman—now a ghost tethered to the house she died in—who’s on a mission to find her kidnapped husband and son, and seek revenge on those who hurt them and murdered her.
British quiz show Weakest Link is heading for another run in the US, with Jane Lynch set to host and exec produce for NBC. The network greenlit 13 eps of the series, co-produced by BBC Studios’ LA production arm and Universal Television Alternative Studio. Latest version promises a few modern twists, says NBC.
Lionsgate and Oprah Winfrey are working with 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and The New York Times to develop Hannah-Jones’ The 1619 Project and the NYT podcast 1619 into a portfolio of films, TV series and documentaries, unscripted programming and other formats. The 1619 Project, launched in 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies, is a continuing series connecting slavery with the racism that endures in current aspects of American life. Winfrey will produce along with Hannah-Jones and Caitlin Roper, NYT’s head of scripted entertainment and editor of The 1619 Project.
Showtime is on board for a limited series about the life of entertainer and activist Lena Horne, in conjunction with Alex Kurtzman and Horne’s granddaughter Jenny Lumet. Blackbird: Lena Horne and America will detail Horne’s life from dancing at the Cotton Club when she was 16, stardom at MGM, McCarthyism, the civil rights movement and her return to the stage.
It’s a new Day for Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald, who are reuniting for a sequel to their 2010 YouTube feature Life In A Day. The original production, filmed in July 2010 to mark YT’s fifth birthday, relied on user-generated footage to create a portrait of the world in one day. Life In A Day 2020 will follow the same format on July 25 with plans to debut at the Sundance Film Festival and on YouTube in 2021.
ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group signed Emmy winner Darren Star to an overall production and development deal. Star, the creator, exec producer and writer of TV Land’s Younger, Sex and the City, Beverly Hills 90210 Melrose Place, will create projects through MTV Studios, which will be overseen by Keith Cox, president of E&Y Studios.
Oscar-winning filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino will write and direct The Hand Of God for Netflix. This latest film from Sorrentino, who recently helmed HBO series The New Pope, will film in his hometown of Naples and be produced by Lorenzo Mieli for The Apartment Pictures, a Fremantle company, with Sorrentino.
New on the scene is virtual production shingle Bron Digital, launched by Bron Media Corp. to develop and produce long-form animation for TV, short-form content and motion pictures. Jason Chen will lead production and technology, as head of digital.
Barcelona-set drama The Diplomat, from Bodyguard producer World Productions and Cobra writer Ben Richards, got a greenlight at UKTV’s Alibi. Six-part series follows Laura Simmonds and her Barcelona Consul colleague and friend as they fight to protect British nationals who get in trouble in the Catalan locale.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
FX and Hulu are teaming for documentary series The New York Times Presents, which will feature 10 standalone documentaries on stories via NYT journalists. From the team behind FX’s The Weekly, series will air monthly on both networks Fridays at 10p beginning July 10 with the episode They Get Brave, about the resolve of doctors and nurses helping patients battle coronavirus.
Cleo TV will unleash new episodes of All Things Adrienne with Adrienne Houghton on Saturday, July 11 at 9p. Series delves into Houghton’s lifestyle and the ways she optimizes her Latin heritage.
Two decades after The Sims came onto the gaming scene, the enduring title is headed for television. Slated to debut Friday, July 17 on TBS under the Turner Sports’ ELeague esports and gaming umbrella, as well as on BuzzFeed Multiplayer, four-ep series from Electronic Arts will see 12 contestants vie in a virtual world for a $100,000 grand prize.
Netflix is bringing back The Umbrella Academy for a 10-ep second season Friday, July 31, and dropped a trailer hinting of the family drama to ensue.
Backyard Envy returns to Bravo for season 2 on Tuesday, August 4 at 10p. James DeSantis, Garrett Magee and Melissa Brasier are all returning for the second go-round.
Amazon Prime Video teased a trailer for the second season of The Boys, which returns to the platform Friday, September 4. Based on the comic book by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and Darick Robertson, series puts an irreverent lens on the scenario of superheroes abusing their powers rather than using them for good.
UPtv will premiere the movie Love in Harmony Valley on Sunday, July 12 at 7p. Story follows the drama as Emma, who’s waited to reunite with her best friend since she was in a serious accident, realizes her friend’s brother won’t allow it because he blames her for the accident.
Outdoor Sportsman Group and exhibitors from the ICast Online 2020 fishing trade show will deliver a review of the latest products from the fishing industry in the multiplatform ICast New Fishing Gear Guide event, July 13-18.
Disney+ dropped a trailer for Disney film The One and Only Ivan, which debuts on the streaming service Friday, August 14. Based on the book by Katherine Applegate, story follows a silverback gorilla who learns that life isn’t defined by place and circumstance—Ivan, voiced by Sam Rockwell, shares a communal habitat in a suburban shopping mall with Stella the elephant (Angelina Jolie), Bob the dog (Danny Devito), and various other animals.
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Farewell Play will launch exclusively on BET+ on Thursday, August 27. In Perry’s final stage run as Madea, he pulls together some of his audience’s favorite characters for a family gathering.
ADVERTISING, ANALYTICS & BRANDS
TV data and measurement company Alphonso and Tegna renewed and expanded their multi-year partnership to include all of Premion, Tegna’s OTT and CTV advertising platforms. The new agreement enables Tegna’s local ad sellers to provide clients with digital-like measurement and attribution for linear TV and OTT campaigns. Tegna operates 62 television stations in 51 markets.
Parrot Analytics launched TV360, a new data analytics platform that can be optimized by individual users and large media corporations alike. Available on a subscription model, TV360 brings together TV content analytics and exclusive deep-dive reports and insights.
Ad tech firm Amobee is launching a self-service platform for its TV Amplifier solution aimed at optimizing the process for advertisers to create connected TV, social and digital media campaigns that complement their linear TV strategy.
Live TV streamer fuboTV during Q1 clocked 107.2 million hours streamed, up 124 percent year over year. fuboTV’s monthly active users during the quarter watched 120 hours per month on average, up 52 percent. The moves helped the company see a 78 percent revenue rise over the prior year period, to $51 million. fuboTV this week also sold 2.16 million in stock shares to Credit Suisse Capital LLC in a deal valued at $20 million.
Entertainment One notched a multiyear licensing partnership that will see Olympusat air 200-plus hours of its content on its newly launched AVOD service Free TV in Latin America. Among titles included in the deal are Bitten, Haven, Rogue and Saving Hope.
UK-based performing arts streaming service Marquee TV is expanding its US footprint with the launch of its full slate of programming within Cox Communications’ Contour TV platform.
Whip Media Group will provide real-time streaming availability data for more than 4 million television episodes and movies across 60 countries and 1,200 platforms, in partnership with content distribution researcher BB. Whip Media also will integrate BB’s data into the company’s TV Time app, to provide users with an enriched search and discovery experience.
Amazon Fire TV is stepping up its live programming showcase by directly integrating heavy hitters Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV and Sling TV into Fire TV’s live discovery features. The three services join close to 20 other integrated apps with live components, including Amazon’s own Prime Video Channels, Philo and Pluto TV.
Speaking of Sling TV, Comcast is launching an app for the OTT service on its Xfinity Flex device—the first virtual pay TV the US’ largest cable operator is adding to Flex and a marked olive branch to cord-cutters.
A Twitter job posting that found its way into the social stream prompted speculation the company is eyeing a move into subscription platform business. The buzz about an ad seeking a developer to work on a new internal team called Gryphon, “building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future,” sent Twitter share up nearly 9 percent yesterday afternoon.
Spotify is set to enter the Russian market on Wednesday, July 15. The move, which comes a year and a half after the music streaming service debuted in India, marks its 80th locale.
UK’s Barcroft Studios, producer of Netflix series Amazing Interiors, is launching an online game show with new parent publishing company Future. Streaming across Snapchat, YouTube, Tik Tok and Facebook, Totally Game features top gamers and probes true stories from the gaming community.
Demi Moore will topline and produce the scripted Dirty Diana, which bows Monday, July 13. Created during lockdown by Run Sweetheart Run and Shana Feste, and touted as “a new form of erotica,” six-ep series details the story of a dying marriage and how two partners find their way back each other through perseverance and sex. Sex and desire will be portrayed from a female POV.
Walton Goggins (The Unicorn) is set to star in a true crime podcast from Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries. Launching Monday, July 13, Deep Cover: The Drug Wars, is a nine-part series that follows the experiences of a Detroit FBI agent as he goes undercover in an outlaw motorcycle gang that inadvertently lead to the US invasion of a foreign country. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jake Halpern narrates and exec produces alongside Jeff Singer at Stowaway Entertainment
Johannes Larcher, former Hulu exec and current chief of Arabic-language streamer Shahid, will lead the international rollout of HBO Max for WarnerMedia. First on his short list when he joins the AT&T-owned company in August is the HBO Max launch in Latin America, slated for next year.
Sky and Sony Pictures Television extended their partnership in a deal that gives the pay-TV operator access to Sony’s movies across the UK and Ireland, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland… Sky also commissioned new children’s series The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, from TG Entertainment Ltd, which will be available on demand via Sky Kids.
BBC will premiere Sexy Beast director Jonathan Glazer’s latest film, Strasbourg 1518, on Monday, July 20, as part of the broadcaster’s Culture in Quarantine initiative.