PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Grace/Beyond exec Josh Wakely provided Cynopsis more detail about the new projects the company is developing with Universal Music Group, which were announced Monday. “It is a dream to be granted such extensive access to one of the world’s largest, most culturally rich collection of music catalogs,” he says. “So much of history’s greatest music is filled with compelling characters and important themes, and this partnership with UMG is a way for us to bring them to life on screen, and collaborate with UMG’s most revered artists and their exciting emerging talent.” Grace/Beyond is developing three series, temporarily titled 27, Melody Island, and Mixtape.
Norman Lear project Guess Who Died has landed at NBC with a pilot production commitment. The 95-year-old Lear is teaming for the comedy with Rescue Me creator Peter Tolan; Sony TV, which has both an overall deal for Tolan and Lear’s revival of One Day at a Time for Netflix, is the studio.
Starz is developing an action-drama series under working title Black Samurai with Jerry Bruckheimer Television. Series stars Academy Award winner Common (John Wick 2, Suicide Squad, Selma), who also will exec produce under his Freedom Road Productions banner. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and Mitchell Diggs will also exec produce for Wu Films. Based on the Black Samurai novels by Marc Olden, the series will follow an American Army Ranger whose life is transformed when he meets a legendary Japanese master who invites him to train as a samurai.
In advance of last night’s season finale, MTV announced the rebooted Fear Factor has been given the greenlight for season No. 2. Ludacris is set to return as host and executive producer. The 20-ep second season from Endemol Shine North America is slated to premiere in 2018.
The first project to come from the co-production deal between RTE, European public broadcaster ARTE and American Public Television is Countdown to Calvary, a documentary slated to debut in spring 2018, hosted by Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Paddington). Bonneville traveled to Jerusalem to tell the story of the last six days of Jesus’ life.
Pentatonix is returning to deck the halls at NBC this holiday season. The a capella group will stage a new holiday special featuring live performances and more; last year’s A Pentatonix Christmas Special drew over 10 million viewers across two airings on the network. Airdate to come.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Emmy Award-winning journalist Chris Hansen returns to Investigation Discovery for the third season of Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen, premiering Tuesday, September 5 at 9p. This season, Hansen explores several cases dating back to the 1990s, and will visit each crime scene.
The Third Rail with OZY, from OZY Media and PBS, will premiere Friday, September 8 at 8:30p. The seven-part series will feature host and OZY CEO Carlos Watson with celebrity guests discussing hot-button topics. Confirmed guests include New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Katie Couric and Chris Rock.
Eight new bakers from across the country will compete to create haunting and spooky sweets on the new season of Halloween Baking Championship, premiering Monday, September 25 at 9p on Food Network. Comedian John Henson hosts.
Adventurer and explorer Josh Gates sets off on a 50,000-mile, multi-continent quest in Travel Channel’s four-ep series Expedition Unknown: Hunt for ExtraTerrestrials beginning Wednesday, October 4 at 9p. Gates’ mission takes him across North America, South America, Africa and Europe, searching for evidence of life beyond our planet and the truth behind longstanding extraterrestrial legends.
Dick Wolf’s new Oxygen Media series has a premiere date. The hour-long Criminal Confessions drops Sunday, October 1 at 7p. Executive-produced by Wolf and Shed Media, it delves into the psychological showdown that transpires inside actual police interrogation rooms.
Family, friends and frenemies reconvene for the eighth season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which will debut with a 75-minute premiere on Bravo on Wednesday, October 4 at 9p. New housewife Margaret Josephs joins returning cast mates Teresa Giudice, Melissa Gorga, Siggy Flicker and Dolores Catania.
CBS announced that the fifth season of CBS Dream Team, It’s Epic! will premiere Saturday, September 30 from 9a-12p. The three-hour Saturday morning block is FCC educational/informational-compliant and targets 13-16 year olds. Among returning series are: Lucky Dog, featuring Emmy-winning host and animal trainer Brandon McMillan; The Henry Ford Innovation Nation, hosted by Mo Rocca of CBS Sunday Morning; scripted drama The Inspectors; and The Open Road With Dr. Chris and Dr. Chris Pet Vet, both featuring veterinarian Chris Brown.
PBS Kids and the Carson-Dellosa Publishing Group announced a multiyear licensing partnership that will create a range of PBS Kids educational products. The products will include a new series of books, workbooks, educational cards and learning kits and is slated to launch in 2018.
Ricky Martin: Behind The Vegas Residency will premiere Monday, September 4 at 10p on VH1. The one-hour special will give viewers access to Martin’s seven-week preparation for his series of Las Vegas shows.
Up your nose with a rubber hose! That’s right, class is back in session on Antenna TV, which will begin airing eps of classic 1970s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter starting Monday, September 4. The airings begin with a 17-hour/34-episode marathon launching at 5a; the series will air weeknights at 6:30p.
Epix will air the world TV premiere of original doc Foreman on Wednesday, September 13 at 8p. Documentary delves into the story of George Foreman, who, at the age of 45, completed one of the greatest comebacks in the history of heavyweight boxing in 1994.
Brent Jennings, Sonya Cassidy, Linda Emond, David Pasquesi and Eric Allan Kramer have been cast as series regulars in the upcoming AMC original comedic drama Lodge 49. They join Wyatt Russell, who was previously announced as playing the lead role of Sean “Dud” Dudley; the series is being executive produced by Paul Giamatti.
Brittany S. Hall, who recurred in season 3 of HBO’s Ballers, moves up to series regular for season 4.
A nationwide digital casting call is underway for the lead role of Ralphie Parker in Fox’s live musical production of A Christmas Story, slated to air in December. Auditions, accepted in digital form only here, are open now through Tuesday, August 29.
Ovation TV struck a licensing deal with Sky Vision for the exclusive U.S. television broadcast rights to the Sky Arts’ 10-part series Andre Rieu: Welcome To My World. The violinist is one of the biggest classical music talents in the world, having has sold more than 35 million albums globally, and has been awarded more than 330 platinum and 100 gold awards.
Univision Communications’ major-market television stations will continue to air niche nets Bounce, Escape, Grit and Laff as subchannels through 2024 as the result of a new agreement. The channels are owned by Katz Broadcasting.
AWARDS SHOW NEWS
Academy Award-winning actor, producer, voice actor and activist Morgan Freeman will be the recipient of SAG-AFTRA’s highest tribute — the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award — for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Freeman will be receive the accolade at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, January 21 at 8p, simulcast on TNT and TBS.
MTV announced the “Song of Summer” category for the VMAs, which will air live Sunday, August 27 at 8p. Contenders include: Despacito (Remix) by Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee & Justin Bieber; Down by Fifth Harmony ft. Gucci Mane; OMG, by Camila Cabello ft. Quavo; and Shape of You, by Ed Sheeran.
MTV is amping up the digital elements accompanying the VMAs this year: Bleachers, Khalid and Cardi B are set to perform live from the red carpet at the VMA Pre-Show, which will stream live on MTV.com and on Twitter at 7p on Sunday August 27.