PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Ava DuVernay’s star continues to rise at Warner Bros. She inked a reported $100-million multiyear multigenre overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group. The deal with DuVernay and her Forward Movement shingle encompasses drama and comedy series, docs, digital content, and longer-form projects for broadcast, cable, premium cable, streaming services and other platforms.
NBC has put in development Prism, a drama from Daniel and Ben Barnz’s We’re Not Brothers Productions, Carol Mendelsohn, Julie Weitz and Universal TV. Series is an exploration of a murder trial in which every ep is told through the perspective of someone different.
Millarworld and Netflix lifted the curtain on their next comic book collaboration. Sharkey the Bounty Hunter, from writer/creator Mark Millar, is set in a new sci-fi universe and follows a blue-collar bounty hunter who tracks criminals across the galaxy in his jacked-up ice cream truck. Project will feature art by Simone Bianchi and be released December 5. Sharkey the Bounty Hunter also is being developed as a feature film, with Michael Bacall on board to pen the screenplay.
YouTube gave a pilot order to neo-noir thriller series Dark Cargo, from Entertainment One and Counterfeit Pictures, and SEVEN24 Films. Project is written by Adam and Max Reid (Sneaky Pete) and will be exec-produced by Ben Stiller and Nicky Weinstock via their Red Hour Productions banner. Series unfolds in a race against time, the police and dark forces after a truck driver encounters a disturbed stranger on the road.
Lionsgate and Common’s Freedom Road Productions snagged rights to develop into a TV series Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’, the recently discovered book by 20th-century writer Zora Neale Hurston. Story centers on 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the Middle Passage, who was brought to America in 1927.
Critical Content acquired T Group Productions in a move to create an indie studio with significantly enhanced market presence. Jenny Daly, who founded T Group Productions in 2010, is president of Critical Content Studios; Critical Content’s founder/CEO Tom Forman will expand his scope to capitalize on growth opportunities, develop formats and expand the company’s international footprint.
Craig Gerber, who’s steered Disney Junior series Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor, entered an overall development deal at Disney Channels Worldwide under which he’ll create and produce animated and live-action series and movies for Disney Channel and Disney Junior.
Essential Media Group (Saving Mr. Banks, Miracle on Everest) is teaming with daredevil performer Bello Nock (America’s Got Talent) and his Opportunity Nocks Inc. for Volcano Walk Live, a three-hour live primetime stunt special featuring Nock navigating his way over the world’s most active volcanoes. Essential is eyeing a premiere in late 2019.
The creator of the comic on which AMC’s The Walking Dead is based, Robert Kirkman, and his Skybound Entertainment inked an agreement with Entertainment One for a series titled 5 Year based on his idea of the final five years before a fatal meteor hits the Earth. The five-season series already has deals in place for Korea, the UK, Latin America, Germany, India Russia, China, and Italy.
British producer Fired Up Films and Entertainment One are developing boxing dramedy The Box, written by Once Upon A Time star Victoria Smurfit, and a thriller based on a book penned by the aunt of convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius.
Caryn Mandabach Productions, the studio behind gangster series Peaky Blinders, secured TV rights to Jonathan Lee’s bestseller High Dive, a reimagining of the ’80s IRA bombing attack on Brighton’s Grand Hotel in an attempt to assassinate then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) will supervise the four-part series.
Katie O’Connell Marsh’s Platform One Media signed a first look deal with LA Nomad, run by Simon Mirren, David Wolstencroft and Thank You For Smoking’s Jamie Carmichael, and set its first projects. First up is drama The Book of Guns from Tony Gilroy, who penned Bourne and Rogue One.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Newly rebranded MotorTrend Network will debut a new season of Graveyard Carz on Friday, November 30, at 9p.
The new year gets a sweet start with the return of Kids Baking Championship to Food Network on Monday, January 7, at 9p, with mentors Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman.
Acorn TV snagged a deal as exclusive North American partner for ITV drama series Manhunt, starring Martin Clunes (Doc Martin). The arrangement also includes travel doc Martin Clunes: Islands of America. Series will debut in 2019.
Anchor Jose Díaz-Balart will lead Noticias Telemundo’s coverage from Mexico City of AMLO: Presidente de Mexico, the Mexican presidential inauguration Saturday, December 1, starting at noon, with analysts Valeria Moy and Carlos Bravo and presenters Julio Vaqueiro, Felicidad Aveleyra and Paulina Sodi.
Up TV’s holiday special Christmas Catch premieres Sunday, December 2, at 7p. Program follows detective Mackenzie Bennett, whose holiday plans are put on hold when her new friend is a suspect in a diamond heist. Special stars Emily Alatalo, Franco Lo Presti and Yanic Truesdale.
Netflix dropped the first teaser for Springsteen On Broadway, which debuts December 16, the day after Bruce Springsteen ends his much-lauded Broadway run. A soundtrack CD will be released December 14.
Showtime will debut special Sommore: A Queen With No Spades, featuring stand-up comedian Sommore, on Friday, December 21, at 10p.
Science Channel’s annual holiday extravaganza of high-octane explosions, duct tape, and mayhem, the MythBusters Mega Merrython, will begin Saturday, December 22, at 6a and run for 12 days and nights leading to the premiere of Mythbusters Jr. on Wednesday, January 2, at 9p.
Aubrey Plaza will host the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards, slated to air live on February 23 on IFC. She’ll take over duties from John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, who co-hosted for the past two years.
Tiger Woods inked a multiyear partnership with Discovery and its new GolfTV, which ups the cache of the streaming venture in conjunction with the PGA Tour that launches in January in territories outside the U.S. including Australia, Canada and Japan. GolfTV plans to stream 2,000 hours of live golf each year, plus on-demand content. GolfTV content created with Woods eventually will be available in the U.S.
Google’s Ad Manager will replace Comcast’s FreeWheel in powering the delivery, optimization and performance of digital ads across Disney’s global digital portfolio in a new deal between Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international unit and Google. Disney’s digital properties reach more than 230 million global users.
Following in the footsteps of rival Spotify, YouTube is introducing student plans for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music. YouTube Premium extends an ad-free experience across all of YouTube and includes access to YouTube Originals for a monthly fee of $11.99. The student plan offers a $5 monthly discount.
Local Now, the streaming service/app powered by The Weather Channel, is providing an upgraded experience for users in 25 U.S. markets that includes more in-depth analysis, localized content and new exclusive segments. Local Now also launched two new video series – Body & Mind and Mom Life – for all users and all markets.
Lifestyle entertainment company Kin will host four weeks of holiday-themed fare across its digital neighborhood of shows. Tentpole programming kicks off this week, including Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix, All Things Adrienne, Heart of the Batter with Jordin Sparks, and Engaged with JoJo and Jordan. Every week will introduce a new holiday theme.
NBCU is launching a new media-buying effort using machine learning. The company’s “contextual intelligence” will enable advertisers to align TV commercials within the content of NBC programming to give marketers scale, an elusive goal with previous contextual media planning/buying efforts, according to Josh Feldman, EVP, integrated marketing and advertising for NBCU.
Pure imagination: Netflix’s kids and family slate just got a big infusion. In a new deal with The Roald Dahl Story Co., Netflix announced a slate of original animated series based on the Roald Dahl library, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and The Twits. Netflix plans to “build out an imaginative story universe that expands beyond the books,” the company said in a statement yesterday. Production is slated to begin on the first treatment in 2019.
Sesame Workshop and Warner Music Group’s Arts Music division are teaming to relaunch Sesame Street Records in the U.S. and Canada. The multiyear deal will see the release of catalog recordings across digital platforms, plus never-before-released music from current and past seasons of Sesame Street, new thematic compilations and new cover songs and parodies that originate outside of the TV show coming in early 2019.
Sinking Ship Entertainment scored sales of Odd Squad, its co-production with Fred Rogers Productions, to KiKA (Germany), ABC Australia and CBBC.
Genius Brands International’s Rainbow Rangers, the new animated series that premiered on Nick Jr. November 5, signed new licensing partners including Cra-Z-Art, Esquire Footwear, Integrity Vitamins and Townley Girl.
RESEARCH & DATA
Tracking platform TV Time announced a subscription agreement with its first advertising agency partner, Ocean Media, for the TV Time’s cross-platform measurement solution TVLytics. Ocean Media will use TVLytics to target and measure viewing audiences as they migrate across multiple screens and media-buying channels. TV Time will leverage Ocean Media’s input to help enhance TVLytics.
Gwilym Lee (Bohemian Rhapsody) joined Hulu pilot order The Great in a role playing the best friend and confidant of Russian emperor Peter, depicted by Nicholas Hoult…Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings) is joining the cast of BBC One drama World on Fire… Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Game of Thrones), Falk Hentschel (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Florence Kasumba (Black Panther) and Désirée Nosbusch (Bad Bank) will topline alien invasion drama Spides for Syfy globally.
Discovery Inc. and artisan jewelry company H.O.W.L. are collaborating to raise funds for Discovery’s Project C.A.T. via H.O.W.L.’s wildcat pendant and ring. For each piece sold, H.O.W.L. will donate $50 to Project C.A.T.
Canada’s Family Channel is warming up to the holidays with programming including the broadcast premiere Friday, November 30, at 7p of Ross Petty Productions’ A Christmas Carol: The Holiday Musical with a Scrooge Loose! Also coming in December are season finales of Top Chef Junior, American Ninja Warrior Junior and The X Factor and back-to-back Peanuts classics on Christmas Eve.