|PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Taraji P. Henson is building a new Empire. The actress is developing a spin-off series centered on her Empire character, Cookie, as part of a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Empire co-creator Danny Strong is writing alongside Stacy Littlejohn and Yolonda Lawrence. Lee Daniels will serve as a non-writing executive producer alongside Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Samie Falvey.
Better late than never: The new season of Big Brother didn’t premiere in its usual June slot, but it will still make CBS’s summer slate. Season 22 of the reality show, featuring an all-star cast of past winners and memorable characters, will launch Wednesday, August 5 at 9p. Housemates will undergo quarantine and be tested for coronavirus prior to, and during, production.
Amazon Prime Video ordered season two of Spanish-language thriller La Jauria, centered on an investigation into an online game that encourages men to assault women. Season one premiered on July 10. “In the current political climate and the ongoing fight for justice and gender equality internationally, the first season is more relevant than ever,” said Christian Vesper, EVP and Creative Director of Global Drama at Fremantle.
Amazon also handed a series order time travel adventure Paper Girls, based on the graphic novel by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. The project comes from Legendary Television in association with Plan B.
Netflix giveth… The streamer is bringing back romance drama Sweet Magnolias for a second season. Stars Joanna Garcia Swisher, Brooke Elliott and Heather Headley are all onboard. And Netflix taketh away, by scrapping a yet-to-to-go-into-production unscripted prank show featuring Chris D’Elia, following allegations that the comedian solicited underage girls on social media. While D’Elia denied knowingly pursuing underage women, he added, “I really am truly sorry. I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle.”
HBO is adapting stage show, Between the World and Me, based on the bestseller of by Ta-Nehisi Coates, as an HBO Special Event to air this fall. Originally adapted and staged by the Apollo Theater in 2018, the special will combine elements of that production, including readings from Coates’ book, and will once again be directed by Kamilah Forbes. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Susan Kelechi Watson are also executive producers.
Denis Leary (The Moodys) signed a deal to develop and produce shows for Fox Entertainment through his company, Amoeba. “Through his warm, waggish and relatable portrayal as the Moody family patriarch, Denis has become a fast friend of Fox. His creative pedigree speaks for itself; and when the opportunity arose to expand our relationship with him to create new comedies, dramas and animated series for us, we leapt at the chance,” said Michael Thorn, President of Entertainment of Fox Entertainment. “As we ramp up our commitment to programming year-round, we’re honored to partner with Denis on this broadcast-exclusive deal.”
Apple gave a series order to thriller Shining Girls, based on the 2013 novel about a Depression-era drifter who must murder to continue his journey. Elisabeth Moss will star and executive produce via her Love & Squalor Pictures; Leonardo DiCaprio will EP through his Appian Way. Studio is MRC Television.
Nickelodeon and CBS Television Studios revealed the title and logo for new animated series Star Trek: Prodigy, following a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship. The series is developed by Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters) and overseen for Nickelodeon by Ramsey Naito, EVP, Animation Production and Development, Nickelodeon.
HGTV renewed Flipping 101 with Tarek El Moussa, to premiere in 2021 with a new one-hour format. New episodes of season one will air Thursdays at 9p beginning September 17.
Armando Bó (Birdman) is developing two series based on Argentinian stories. Bó’s About Entertainment is at work on Cromanon, based on an autobiographic novel by Camila Sosa Villada, and Las Malas (Bad Girls), about a trans woman who joins a group of trans sex workers.
Done+Dusted will be back to produce the Primetime Emmys, hosted on ABC by Jimmy Kimmel. Producer/director Reginald Hudlin, nominated for an Emmy for producing the Oscars, will be the first Black executive producer for the telecast. “I’m excited to collaborate with this outstanding team as we produce a show that celebrates the best of what we do and reflects this moment in history,” said Hudlin. The show is set for September 20; nominations will be announced July 28 in a livestream ceremony hosted by SNL alum Leslie Jones.
Attention shoppers: Interactive special Syfye Wire After Dark will be the first NBCU show to feature NBCUniversal Checkout, which turns content into shoppable moments. Dark Horse Comics, goodr sunglasses and DC licensee Graphitti Designs have signed on as retail partners for a show that takes viewers inside the weird world of nerd fandom on Saturday, August 1 at 11p.
Discovery’s Bad Chad Customs kicks off a new season on Monday, August 17 at 10p. This go-round, Chad and the newly branded “Hiltz Auto Co” team attempt a record seven builds in under six months.
Tom Jones shakes things up in the Windy City in Tom Jones: A Soundstage Special, premiering Saturday, August 15 at 9p on AXS TV. The concert was filmed at the landmark Grainger Studio.
ID’s Impact of Hate: Charlottesville relives the story of Heather Heyer, killed in a protest over the removal of confederate statues. The two-hour special airs on the third anniversary of the tragedy, Wednesday, August 12 at 9p.
Plex is taking a deeper dive into live TV with a free offering of over 80 live TV channels and a broad range of content. Channels include KidsFlix, fubo Sports Network, Reuters TV, Yahoo Finance, The Pet Collective, Dove Channel, Game Show Central, Law & Crime Trial Network, along with eight of Cinedigm’s streaming channels, and more. Previously, viewers could only capture and record live TV via a digital antenna and tuner connected to a Plex media server. The service’s free content is supported by programmatic advertising.
Philo and TV One inked a distribution agreement that adds the channel to Philo’s lineup. “Adding more diverse programming aligns with our continued commitment to our community,” said Philo CEO Andrew McCollum. “The addition of TV One is the result of our appreciation for the importance of Black-owned channels and content perspectives to our overall business objectives, which in turn create opportunities for diverse creators.” This is TV One’s first vMVPD distribution deal.
AVOD Pluto TV is now available to Verizon customers, via an app on Android mobile devices and pre-installed on Fios cable boxes and Stream TV and 5G Amazon Home Fire devices. Three new channels will be exclusive to Verizon subscribers: Movies on Verizon, Real Life on Verizon, and Yahoo Finance.
CBS TV Distribution’s AVOD Dabl extended its reach through distribution with Comcast’s Xfinity and Verizon Fios across a number of markets. The lifestyle network also added four programs to its summer schedule: Emeril Live, Instant Gardener, 60 Minute Makeover and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, via a deal with ITV Studios.
VENN – Video Game Entertainment and News Network – is set to launch August 5, with distribution partners including Facebook Gaming, Twitch, Twitter and YouTube; additional AVOD and vMVPD deals are in the works. Series for gamers feature James “Dash” Patterson, Austin Show, Chrissy Costanza, The Sushi Dragon, Cash Nasty and Sasha Grey. “VENN was designed to be always on and always accessible to its viewers,” said David Eichenstein, its VP of Business Development for the live 24/7 network. “This group of partners – which represent the present and future of streaming – are the perfect cross-section to help ensure that goal becomes a reality right from the start.”
Do you work in esports? If so, it’s time to get in the game: The final entry deadline for the 2020 Esports Tempest Awards is July 30. Winners will be covered on esportsbiz.com and celebrated during the annual Tempest Awards gala. Enter now: https://awards.esportsbizsummit.com/.
STIRR is adding DMR channels RetroCrush (classic anime), Midnight Pulp (horror/thriller/action) and Cinehouse (arthouse and independent cinema). “DMR has a host of content not offered by others in the space, and their channels are going to bring some of the most popular cult classics to the STIRR platform,” said Ben Lister, director of content acquisition and business development for STIRR. “Our audiences have come to expect STIRR to offer a wide variety of free programming, and this partnership furthers that mission.”
Expanding its library of movies, UK AVOD streamer W4free acquired 80 movies and mini-series from Signature Entertainment. Among the titles tbe added to the service beginning in August are Muriel’s Wedding (1994) starring Toni Collette; Contender (2000) with Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges and Sam Elliot; and Pandemic (2007) with Faye Dunaway and Eric Roberts.
LIT, a cross-platform live streaming entertainment news network “for the social media generation,” has launched across YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Indonesian streaming platform Kaskus. Launching with one hour live on air at 2p from Monday to Friday, the service will expand to become a live 24/7 network.
Active daily users of Twitter grew 12% in 2Q20, to 186 million. CEO Jack Dorsey told investors the company is experimenting with potential revenue product opportunities, including subscriptions, and said it is addressing security issues and will “continue to be transparent in sharing our learning and remediation.”
TikTok reported it has set up a Creator Fund, to be distributed over the coming year. The goal is to “encourage those who dream of using their voices and creativity to spark inspirational careers,” wrote TikTok US General Manager Vanessa Pappas in a blog post. “The U.S. fund will start with $200 million to help support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content.”
Despite such feel-good gestures, concern over security issues regarding the Chinese-owned company continues – and a group of US investors is reportedly consulting with regulators to determine whether acquiring a minority stake in the company would alleviate concern. “We are very confident in the long-term success of TikTok and will make our plans public when we have something to announce,” said a TikTok spokesperson.
OpenX announced the launch of Bidding Intelligence Data Set (BIDS), a solution to make log-level reporting available to marketers or agencies looking for more visibility into their programmatic media buys. Through a partnership with cloud data platform Snowflake, buyers that work with OpenX can access granular data around auction participation and bid performance on Snowflake Data Marketplace. “One of the macro trends in digital advertising over the past few years is that marketers are taking a much more hands on approach to their digital campaigns, digging deep into what is happening behind the scenes. The increase in log-level data requests is a direct result of that,” said Brian Murphy, SVP, Demand at OpenX. “We love to partner with marketers on initiatives like this, and our partnership with Snowflake is all about making it easy as possible to access and analyze this data.”
WildBrain Spark, the digital media division of WildBrain, is teaming with South Korean AR specialist ANIPEN to bring to life characters from WildBrain’s Teletubbies, In the Night Garden and the original WildBrain Spark’s show Boy & Dragon through ANIPEN’s AR technology, made available within their AnibeaR app. Through the app, users will be able to create short videos which will incorporate the characters in real-world scenes shot on their phones.
Red Arrow Studios International has secured new deals with European broadcasters for its portfolio of TV movie titles. Broadcasters include France’s M6 Group, ProSiebenSat.1 PayTV, RTL Belgium and Sky Italia.
Armoza Formats, part of ITV Studios, has announced that comedy La Famiglia has been licensed in two new territories. The local rights to the format have been taken in Russia by CTC and in Greece by Antenna 1.
Insight TV has entered into a programming partnership with Africa’s digital TV operatorStarTimes et. Insight TV will supply eight sports-themed series to two of its sports channels, StarTimes Sports Focus and StarTimes Sports Lifestyle.