PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Craig Gerard and Matthew Zinman (Trial & Error) inked an overall deal with CBS TV Studios that sees the duo in as writers/exec producers on upcoming CBS comedy series Happy Together. They’ll also develop new scripted projects. Happy Together, written/exec produced by Tim McAuliffe and Austen Earl and exec produced by Ben Winston and Harry Styles, stars Damon Wayans Jr. and Amber Stevens West as a couple who open their home to a young pop star.
The CW is developing a live-action Batwoman series, which hails from former The Vampire Diaries exec producer Caroline Dries and CW Arrowverse guru Greg Berlanti. (The character is, not coincidentally, slated to make an Arrow appearance in December). In the series, written by Dries and based on the DC character, Kate Kane soars as Batwoman, as an out lesbian and highly trained street fighter primed to right the Gotham’s criminal resurgence – and fight her own demons along the way.
Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles is in development at Hulu. Paramount TV and Anonymous Content optioned the book series last year, and Rice’s son Christopher Rice will serve as exec producer alongside her and Anonymous’ David Kanter and Steve Golin.
Netflix announced its first slate of series and films based on the stories from Millarworld, the entertainment company run by Mark Millar and Lucy Millar Netflix bought last year and whose global comic book franchises include Wanted, Kingsman and Reborn. Original series to be produced include Jupiter’s Legacy, a multigenerational American superhero epic, with Steven S. DeKnight (Marvel’s Daredevil, Spartacus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as showrunner and exec producer along with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Dan McDermott. Also, multilingual series American Jesus, which follows a 12-year-old boy who suddenly discovers he’s returned as Jesus Christ, with Everardo Gout (Marvel’s Luke Cage, Sacred Lies, Mars, Banshee) and Leopoldo Gout (Molly’s Game, Instinct) as co-showrunners and exec producers. Film projects include: Empress, Huck, Sharkey and The Bounty Hunter.
Entertainment One signed a first-look deal renewal with filmmaker, producer and show creator Datari Turner under his Datari Turner Productions banner. Building from the 2016 initial partnership which saw success with titles such as WeTV series Growing Up Hip Hop, Turner will continue to create, produce and develop original programming.
In more eOne news, the company secured the IP to graphic comic series Skin&Earth, written and illustrated by singer/songwriter Lights. The first six issues will be developed for television, as well as digital and gaming content. Lights is co-managed by eOne; Andrew Lazar of Mad Chance Productions will produce Skin&Earth.
Amazon Studios gave an eight-ep straight-to-series order to Tales From the Loop, an hourlong series based on the sci-fi art of Simon Stalenhag, from writer Nathaniel Halpern (Legion), director Mark Romanek, Matt Reeves’ 6th & Idaho, and Swedish production shingle Indio. Series is a co-production with Fox 21 Television Studios.
British game show The Time It Takes, with former The Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson on board, got a pilot order from ABC. The order comes weeks after the show was picked up by the BBC for an eight-ep run. Hat Trick Productions, the company behind UK for political comedy panel show Have I Got News for You, is producing.
Charter Communications, in a bid to accelerate its original scripted series for Spectrum customers, is negotiating with Lionsgate Television for a two-season order to anthology series Manhunt. According to Deadline, the first of the two 10-ep seasons would chronicle the manhunt for domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph, known as the Olympic Park Bomber, and will be shepherded by the core creative team behind Manhunt: Unabomber, led by exec producer John Goldwyn and writer/exec producer Andrew Sodroski.
Chris Addison and Will Smith (Veep) are back together. The pair is creating transatlantic fantasy detective series Warlock Holmes (working title), described as “Princess Bride-meets-Game of Thrones.” The project already has a British broadcaster on board.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Science Channel picked up rights to air robot fighting series Robot Wars. Filmed in an enormous bulletproof arena that contains hazards such as fire, spikes and the iconic pit, 40 of the top global robot combat teams compete for Robot Wars supremacy. US premiere is slated for Wednesday, August 8 at 10p.
Vanilla Ice, aka. Rob VanWinkle, takes on another house flip in a new season of his DIY Network series The Vanilla Ice Project. Premiering Saturday, Aug. 11, at 10p, the season of 10 new eps will focus on the transformation of a derelict ‘70s Palm Beach house into a modern home with over-the-top amenities.
Reelz will air Manson’s Bloodline, a four-part docuseries about Charles Manson’s family, funded by British distributor DRG. Series focuses on Manson grandson Jason Freeman, and how he came to terms with his notorious grandfather’s murder spree, and is slated for a late summer debut.
Documentary I Am Paul Walker, celebrating the life of the actor and humanitarian whose life was tragically cut short in a car accident, premieres Saturday, August 11 at 9p on Paramount Network. Doc, directed by Adrian Buitenhuis, features exclusive family footage and interviews with Walker’s network of family and friends.
Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story, a Starz-acquired documentary from director, producer and writer Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism I & II, Carnage Park), will air exclusively on the network on Monday, July 30 at 9p. The feature follows Bell and a team of elephant rescuers led by world-renowned conservationist Sangdeaun “Lek” Chailert on a daring 48-hour mission, across Thailand to rescue a 70-year-old captive blind Asian elephant.
John Skipper-helmed Perform Group’s DAZN streaming sports network, which is operating in several global markets, is slated to touch down in the US on Sept. 10. The $10-a-month service initially will be top-lined by boxing and MMA, with more than 70 matches in a partnerships with Matchroom Boxing U.S.A., Bellator MMA and the World Boxing Super Series. Skipper formerly was longtime president at ESPN.
What crash? Despite getting off to a slippery start, Amazon’s Prime Day annual shopping-deals mega-promotion was bigger than ever, according to the company. According to Amazon, the company pedaled more products during the first 10 hours of the event than all day last year.
The steep dive in Netflix shares Monday after the company missed subscriber-growth targets by more than 1 million for Q2 2018 was a buying opp for sanguine investors. As a result, the company’s shares regained some footing yesterday, closing down 5.2 percent for the day to $379.48 per share.
NBCU Cable Entertainment is rebranding Craftsy as Bluprint, an expanded subscription service that will offer online classes focusing on legacy crafts and complementary categories including music, writing, fitness, decor, entertaining, and kids and family. The service’s content library with more than 3,000 hours of original classes will be available on-demand via subscription, and Blueprint will produce original series. NBCUCable Entertainment acquired Craftsy in May 2017; Bluprint will continue to serve the Craftsy community of more than 13 million.
Expanding on the podcast Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network will launch the podcast version of its Emmy-nominated series Oprah’s Master Class on Apple Podcasts on Thursday, July 19 featuring hip-hop innovator Jay-Z.
Digital marketing tech company Amobee acquired select assets of Videology, a software provider for advanced TV and video advertising, for approximately $101 million. The move is aimed at boosting Amobee’s omni-channel platform and help marketers meet consumer demand for premium video and connected TV content.
AXS TV announced the judging panel that will helm the 15th season of The X Factor UK, returning to the network for the fifth consecutive year this fall. Series creator Simon Cowell will be joined by new judges One Direction‘s Louis Tomlinson, pop singer Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda Williams, and returning judge Sharon Osbourne.
ADVERTISING & PARTNERSHIPS
Data firm TVision Insights secured $11.5 million in new funding, led by Accomplice and Jump Capital. The company also announced Luke McGuinness will become the organization’s first president and COO. The funding will accelerate the company’s ability to help companies including Mars, Hulu and ABC compare viewability across platforms to inform their advertising decisions.
Red Arrow Studios International secured a deal with boutique foreign-language drama streaming service Walter Presents for its Icelandic legal drama The Court and Swedish thriller series Farang. Seasons 1 and 2 of The Court will launch on All4 under the Walter Presents banner in September 2018; Farang will premiere on Channel 4 later this year.
CBS Studios International and RTL in Belgium announced an exclusive, multi-year licensing agreement for programming including new Dick Wolf-produced drama FBI; The CW’s Charmed, and A Million Little Things from Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment.