Month: September 2015

EXCLUSIVE: HBO orders “Tin Star” series from “28 weeks later” writer

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Endemol Shine North America, already behind AMC’s “Hell On Wheels” & DirecTV’s “Kingdom”, has just sold to HBO a direct-to-series drama called “Tin Star” from “28 Weeks later” co-writer Rowan Joffe.

Set in an idyllic mountain town overrun by migrant oil workers from a nearby fracking facility and swamped by a rising tide of crime,  it tells the emotionnaly charged and sometimes funny tale of Jim Worth, a good-humored, teetotal family man and zealous police chief, whose peaceful life is shattered when a newly arrived gang of criminals murder his infant son in a botched attempt to assasinate him. This act -and the shameful responsibility Jim bears for his own cowardice when he ducks to avoid the assassins bullet combined with his refusal to aknowledge the past triggers Jim’s alchoholism. And Jim’s alcholism takes the form of an alter-ego: a hard-drinking, charming, deceitful and ruthlessly violent past self, called Jack Devlin. This is The United States of Tara meets every gritty cable drama you can think of.

English Kudos Film and Television (Broadchurch, Humans, Utopia…) is co-producing this contemporary gripping drama, set to shoot in Calgary, Canada, starting April 2016.

SEE ALL HBO PROJECTS

 

EXCLUSIVE: TNT orders crime spree pilot “Robbers”

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UPDATE : According to Deadline, the singer has left the project

After a a role in Disney’s Tomorrowland, country singer Tim McGraw pursues a career in acting with a pilot for TNT he’ll star in, “Robbers”, adapted from Christopher Cook’s 2000 debut novel of the same name. 

Described as in the vein of Cormac McCarthy/Coen Brothers No Country For Old Men, Robbers tells the story of a cop and two “running buddies” on a crime spree across Texas, plus the girl who becomes the complication in a very unique love triangle. Everyone has a story. Everyone is a mystery. Mc Graw will play one of the two drifters, Ray Bob, described as being worst of the worst. Co-written and directed by Michael Dinner (Justified), the pilot is set to shoot this november in Austin, Texas. Sarah Timberman & Carl Beverly (Masters of Sex, Elementary) are producing for CBS Televison Studios. It’s the first time Tim McGraw agrees to star in a TV show after being pursued for years, especially for the lead of The Last Ship that he refused and ultimately went to Eric Dane.

The pilot order for Robbers comes on the heels of a big push from TNT in changing the brand for more edgier series, following orders for family crime drama Animal Kingdom, Michelle Dockery’s thriller Good Behavior, soapy thriller Home or psychological drama The Alienist. READ MORE ABOUT THOSE PROJECTS HERE.

Shonda Rhimes: her shows you will never get the chance to watch!

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Who thought one day the writer behind Disney’s The Princess Diaries and Britney Spears’ movie Crossroads would become THE producer everyone in Hollywood talks about, dreams to work with, dies to be? Shonda Rhimes, the queen of her own empire modestly called Shondaland, the queen of Thursday nights (#TGIT!), the queen of ABC, the queen of television, well THE QUEEN, has had a lot of success since she launched medical drama Grey’s Anatomy in 2004, still on the air 12 years later and probably for at least a couple more. Spin-off Private Practice quietly lived 6 years after a rocky start; Scandal got bigger and bigger; How To Get Away With Murder started strong right out of the gate last year. The Catch, coming this midseason, is a question mark for now, but the cast is just great (Mireille Enos, Peter Krause, Sonya Walger…). The only disappointment so far was another medical drama Off The Map, cancelled after 13 episodes in 2011. But Shonda Rhimes knows failures too. She also developed many projets and pilots that were not picked up to series over the years, like every other producer out there. Here’s your guide to the dark side of Shondaland: the shows you will never see (except if they are revisited some day)…

 

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PILOTS THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT

INSIDE THE BOX – ABC (2009)

Description: Welcome to the fast-paced, cutthroat world of network news. CNS is a hotbed of professional backstabbing and personal betrayals. The only way to survive here is through strength, talent and friendship. When the DC Bureau Chief retires, everyone assumes that Catherine Powell is a shoe-in for his job. She’s dedicated and savvy and she practically runs the newsroom already. So no one is more shocked than Catherine when the board passes her over in favor of the charismatic, but shallow Englishman, Kenneth Donnegan. Kenneth welcomes Catherine to stay onboard as part of his team but he makes it clear that it’s his team. There’s no way Catherine’s going to take this lying down. She quickly pulls together an investigative team of her own, including her loyal, right-hand man Jake Fisher and talented, but brutally ambitious reporter, Samantha Hathaway…

Cast: Indira Varma, Kim Raver, Jennifer Finnigan, Jason George, Martin Henderson, Sarah Drew…

I will tell you later in the article how Shonda Rhimes attempted to create a show revolving around journalists twice. But she finally made it the third time. Well. Almost. ABC ordered Inside the Box pilot the same year as The Deep End (basically Grey’s Anatomy with lawyers), The Forgotten (that we’ve all… yeah… forgotten, just one of those Christian Slater’s cancelled shows), Eastwick, V and high-concept and much talked-about Flash Forward. Despite quite an interesting cast (with an Indian lead! We had to wait for Quantico, starting this year, to get another one in a drama!) and a result that was said to be “great” from insiders, Inside The Box was not picked-up to series and it was announced that it would be redeveloped at a later time. Which it never was. Shonda used the cast for her other shows though. For having read the pilot script, I have to say I’m very surprised ABC didn’t even try. Yes, it was a bit generic, yet another soap not that different from the others, but it explored a new world and it had a real potential! That was a weird decision quite frankly. I would even call it a mistake.

 

THE GILDED LILYS – ABC (2012)

Description: After a year away in Paris in 1895, Violet Langton Lily – a beautiful young socialite from the renowned Lily family – gets blindsided by love on a New York-bound luxury liner. His name is John Kidd, a handsome working-class man whom Violet’s family definitely wouldn’t approve of. This sudden yet profound encounter makes her question everything including her future. Ultimately, Violet will have to choose between what her heart wants, and what her family expects. Back in New York, Violet returns to discover her father, Edwin Lily, has sunk the family fortune into the construction of the City’s first Luxury Hotel, The Lillian. Eager to get in on the action and attention, Edwin’s brother, Julius, offers to become equal partner and financier. Through years of reckless behavior, Julius has earned a reputation for being a playboy and lout. He’s the Black Sheep, and this is his chance at familial redemption. And he’s willing to get it no matter the cost…

Cast: Sarah Bolger, Matt Long, John Barrowman, Matt Lauria, Blythe Danner, Brian F. O’Byrne, Madeline Zima…

When the world fell in love with the English show Downton Abbey in 2010, Shonda Rhimes was among the early fans. So when The Nine writer K.J. Steinberg came to her with an idea of a similar show located in the US she couldn’t resist and accepted to produce it. The script was convincing enough for ABC to order a big-budgeted pilot. But it was not good enough to order it to series, so it seems. It’s hard to know what went wrong but one thing’s for sure: period dramas are always a tough sell, especially on a network, and it might be what doomed it in the end. And according to The Daily Mail at the time, John Barrowman as the lead was not considered a big enough star in the US to carry the show. The pilot had to compete that year with Nasvhille, Last Resort, Zero Hour, 666 Park Avenue and Devious Maids (first developed for ABC, then sold to Lifetime). Even though most of them came quickly to an end, they had very decent pilots… One year later, K.J. Steinberg created Mistresses for ABC, but without Shonda.

 

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PROJECTS THAT WEREN’T ORDERED TO PILOT

CORRESPONDENTS – ABC (2006)

Description: drama about four female journalists from different media who travel the country…

Cast: Jeffrey Dean Morgan…

In 2003, Shonda Rhimes sells her first script deal for a TV series to ABC, about four female war correspondents who strive to maintain some semblance of normal life despite their demanding careers. She’s virtually no one at the time and the project doesn’t pass the script stage but Disney is impressed and wants her to write something else. One year later, it becomes a little show called Grey’s Anatomy. But the woman is obsessed with the idea of a journalist-centric TV show so she comes back with a similar idea, this time without the “war” part, with Pete Horton, Grey’s Anatomy‘s pilot director, on board. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is meant to be part of the cast after his highly-praised recurring role on Grey’s Anatomy as Denny Duquette. Again, the script was never ordered to pilot. Probably because she is already very busy working on two different shows at the same time and not experienced enough to be able to add another one. Yet.

 

THE CIRCLE – ABC (2012)

Description: drama about 10 friends, adopted as children by a billionaire philanthropist, who begin to question their past when one of their own is murdered

Created by Richard Robbins, like Inside The Box, The Circle was developed the same year as The Gilded Lilys. Maybe ABC didn’t want to order two Shondaland pilots at the same time, especially since Shonda already worked on two shows. Or maybe the script was just not good enough. We’ll never know. But even if the premise is exciting, it’s hard to imagine something really good coming out of it for the long haul.

 

WILDWOOD – FOX (2012)

Description: period drama about a wise-beyond-her-years teenager who poses as an adult in order to land a job at a popular bar on the jersey shore in 1985

The first time Shonda developed a show for another network than ABC -but it was still ABC Studios-produced of course- it sounded a lot different than what she’s used to make. The coming of age 80s dramedy was written by Diane Ruggiero, whom she never worked with before, a prominent Veronica Mars‘ writers, who later created iZombie for The CW. It sounded cool, and reminds me now of The Carrie Diaries. Retrospectively, FOX may have missed a great opportunity to get a hit but it may have been considered too teenage-y for the network.

 

UNDER THE GUN – NBC (2013)

Description: drama about a woman who goes to work for the FBI as she struggles to make sense of a terrible event in her past that ruined her life and tore her family apart. While her young and fragile appearance doesn’t typically suggest that she’s best suited to work as a field agent, her dark past helps her get inside the head of criminals who were normal one day and cracked the next…

Two years before Pete Nowalk created How To Get Away With Murder -after writing mostly for Grey’s Anatomy- he came to Shonda Rhimes with the idea of Under The Gun. The script was sold to NBC and not to the Alphabet network. Not ABC enough? Not good enough for NBC either? Anyway, it sounded like a procedural we’ve already seen.

 

MILA 20 – ABC (2013)

Description: sci-fi thriller about a young woman who discovers that she is a Mobile Intel Life-like Android, Mila, an experiment in artificial intelligence created by the U.S. government and her scientist mother, who kidnapped her when she was found to have human emotions…

This Bionic Woman-like story, based on a book for teenagers, was written by David DiGilio, who created the really good but cancelled too soon Traveler for ABC in 2007. It didn’t sound good and I’m not sure Shonda Rhimes and her fellow associate Betsy Beers were the right persons to work on it… But the idea of a sci-fi show produced by Shondaland is appealing in the future!

 

THE MIX – ABC (2013)

Description: drama about the public and not-so-private lives of five very different women who sit in the hot seats as hosts of an influential morning talk show

I’m still not over the fact that this very promising idea never came to fruition. Inspired by ABC’s incredibly popular morning show The View, it was created by screenwriter John Hoffman, who co-produced HBO’s Looking later on. I was already picturing it as the new Desperate Housewives! Going too far?

 

COOKING UP FOR NEXT PILOT SEASON…

WARMTH OF THE OTHER SUNS – FX (2016)

Description: llimited series based on Isabel Wilkerson’s book which chronicles the movement of some 6 million African-Americans from the south into the north and western regions of the country from the period of 1915 to 1970

Shonda Rhimes is working for the first time for a cable network! And it’s a historic drama, another first for her. It might never see the light of day but the high-profile project is in development right now, written by Dee Rees, who made recently HBO movie Bessie.

 

UNTITLED CONVENT DRAMA – ABC (2016)

Description: It revolves around a group of Catholic nuns fighting the closure of their Bronx-based convent who must suddenly deal with three young novices whose arrival unearths long-buried secrets.

This is SO EXCITING, good lord! It’s original –Sister Act is long gone- and it exactly sounds like what Shonda Rhimes does best, with the right amount of soapy elements and feminism, in a very different environment than before. It’s too soon to tell if ABC will give it the thumb up for shooting a pilot but as of now it’s one of the best things that ABC has in store, at least on paper. And creator Alison Schapker has written for AliasBrothers & Sisters, Lost, Fringe and The Flash. Impressing. That can’t be bad, right?

 

SPLITSVILLE – ABC (2016)

Description: in the wake of a wave of divorces, the single residents of a suburban cul-de-sac join forces to raise their kids and get through it together…

Shonda Rhimes has yet to produce a comedy series. She develops a few projects but this one seems to have a better chance to land a pilot order next cycle. Emily Halpern (Private Practice) & Sarah Haskins, the women behind great and cancelled too soon Trophy Wife, are writing it right now…

 

Drama 2015 #PilotWatch : the full recap

It’s this time of the year when we get all judgy and mean, happy because we enjoy a show we didn’t think we would, sad because our expectations were too high for some others… It’s time to make tough choices (some are really easy though) and decide whose are the characters, the families, the places, the writers we want to spend the rest of the year with! Game ON.

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Again, this year is not the year of comedy and like last year the drama field is filled with quite capable new entries, some of them having the potential to break out but none of them being exceptionnally original and a game changer. While soaps are gonna invade next pilot season, this time it’s The Blacklist clones, mixing procedural elements and mythology with big male leads (Blindspot, The Player, Game of Silence, Minority Report, Limitless, Lookinglass). Heavily serialized shows are once again mostly in ABC’s territory with Quantico, The Family, Wicked City and The Catch, a very solid freshman class. Blood and oil could be a goner very soon. CBS might be in big trouble if Supergirl doesn’t deliver, Code Black & Limitless are wild cards and the schedule is not great, to say the least. NBC only have Blindspot as a potential breakout hit, with Heroes Reborn which could surprise, at least at the beginning. FOX might be okay and will have to rely on Empire and possibly Scream Queens to spend a decent fall. Rosewood and Minority Report are not the ones to bet on. Midseason will be more exciting for everyone with such shows as The Family, The Catch, Lucifer and of course the return of The X-Files.

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  1. THE FAMILY  rate rate rate rate rate

A dark, sometimes brutal, smart family soap, gripping and devastating. Perfectly cast. Joan Allen is incredible. Could be ABC’s Broadchurch. Critically acclaimed. Wow. Very few pilot can make you cry. I remember Homeland did. The Family is one of these. Chills.

2. QUANTICO  rate rate rate rate rate

The best pilot you’ll see this fall. It’s fast-paced, smart, exciting, fun, sexy, full of twists and turns. GREAT. Though it is not produced by Shondaland, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Shonda Rhimes show. It is written HIT all over it. Priyanka Chopra really is a revelation. She’s not just stunningly beautiful, she’s good, really good. Though I still don’t get why ABC didn’t give it the best timeslot they had, it’s strong enough to stand on its own and explode.

3. THE CATCH rate rate rate rate 

Mireille Enos is stunning and gives an intense & subtle performance. Pilot is classy, in a Scandal fashion. It’s too bad the secondary characters are so weak, they doesn’t spark any interest for now. Fired actors Damon Dayoub & BethanyJoyLenz were not bad at all. But I guess Mireille Enos is worth better performers. Peter Krause & Sonya Walger can turn this good pilot into a great show. Looking forward to it! Shonda Rhimes never disappoints.

4. BLOOD AND OIL rate rate 

Bo-ring. Script was great so what happened? Too cute cast. Too cable-y feel with no substance. Too serious, no fun. It’s not steamy, not soapy enough. No pleasure & no guilt. Hard task to make it better but not yet a lost cause. The cast is so meh, though. Why ABC is giving it a better timeslot than Quantico is beyond me, honestly… Two good points: Don Jonhson & the natural setting. But I fear it will be all green screen by the second episode…

 

Not seen: WICKED CITY, KINGS AND PROPHETS (entirely being rewrote & reshot).

 

 

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  1. CODE BLACK  rate rate rate

Going after ER & Grey’s Anatomy is an impossible task. They did their best to make it similar and different at the same time. It can be boring in spite of everything that is happening. We need to care about the characters and right now we don’t. Marcia Gay Harden could make me watch anything so I’ll give the show the time it needs… But damn, it’s depressing

2. SUPERGIRL  rate rate rate

Certainly not a CBS show, except for the big budget. It’s in the same range as The Flash, but with a story really too similar to Superman’s to suprise us in a any way. And it goes fast, too fast. Plus, there’s a girly vibe that feels outdated. No idea if it’s gonna work but it’s a show we didn’t need. They did their best. But the best version of this story can’t be geat, it seems.

3. LIMITLESS   rate rate rate

Not sure what to say about this one. Could go either way. I didn’t like it but there’s an audience for it. CBS-y but not too much. Boring, a bit. Not as efficient as Scorpion, for example. But there’s Bradley Cooper (temporarily). A waste of Jennifer Carpenter’s talent. Didn’t know Ron Rifkin is playing the hero’s dad! Nice surprise. Oh and Fringe‘s Blair Brown is playing the mother!

 

Not seen: RUSH HOUR, CRIMINAL MINDS: BEYOND BORDERS.

 

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  1. BLINDSPOT  rate rate rate rate

First Blindspot pilot scenes: how not to show any intimate body parts with a standing naked character all along in 10 lessons. This is a very entertaining and enjoyable pilot, with enough mistery for wanting to be back. A potential hit for NBC

2. HEARTBREAKER rate rate rate

Very surprised! Lots of rewrites. Melissa George is more charming than ever. It feels fresh, funny, warm, moving. Soundtrack is perfect, montage is efficient. Probably too close to Grey’s Anatomy but good job!

3. GAME OF SILENCE rate rate rate

Psychological thriller, not very thrilling though, dark and depressing for the most part. Cable-y. Could have been excellent, but for some reason it’s “just” good but it’s hard to imagine the show lasting for more than one short season, whatever happens ratings-wise. Should have been announced as a miniseries in my opinion.

4. THE PLAYER rate rate rate

If the show wasn’t doomed (timeslot…) I would have bet on it. But Blindspot is stronger, NBC made the right call. High octane. Sometimes it’s dark and not very convicing. Sometimes it’s fun and it works. Shares an awful lot with The Blacklist. Best things about the show: Wesley Snipes of course and Charity Wakefield ! She’s just great and… playful!

5. YOU, ME AND THE END OF THE WORLD  rate rate 

It’s a dramedy but it’s not really funny nor emotional. Not that English either. Dunno what is. A bit of a mess? You have to wait for Rob Lowe to appear to really get pleasure out of it. And he’s not there much. Megan Mullally is almost unrecognizable. Seems like she’s just out of an Orange is the New Black episode. Which is good (Jenji Kohan, think about her!) Anyway NBC won’t be able to do anything with it. Hidden next summer or on fridays at 10? It’s likely and that’s OK.  I’ll be watching episode 2 though. It finally gets interesting in the very end…

 

Not seen: SHADES OF BLUE, HEROES REBORN, CHICAGO MED.

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  1. LUCIFER  rate rate rate rate

A very suitable substitute for gone too soon Forever. Same kind of fun police procedural, entertaining & warm. Tom Ellis is charming as hell.  After Castle, Bones… it doesn’t add anything new to the game, but TV needs shows like these. That being said the supernatural part/mythology could be more exciting than that. And the pilot takes too long to start

2. LOOKINGLASS / MINORITY REPORT  rate rate rate 

Kinda like it in a weird way. It’s far from perfect but it’s emotional and fun at times. What I’m concerned about is the subsequent episodes. Will it become a procedural of some sort? Hope not… I think it would be a better fit with The X-Files than Lucifer. But Lucifer has better chances to work so it makes sense… It’s not really Frankenstein it’s more… FrankHulkenstein! / Really good looking pilot, kinda fun and badass. Convincing cast, good chemistry. A Fringe vibe. Great attention to details. More into it than I expected. Wondering how long it can last without becoming boring… and going off the air…

3. ROSEWOOD rate rate 

Lazy & sometimes ridiculous shiny procedural. Tries too much to be cool & fun. Everything feels fake. Annoying hero even if Morris Chestnut is very good to watch. Ordered only because FOX desperately needed something to pair Empire with. The african-american hero was reason enough it seems. And it’s a shame.

Not seen: Scream Queens

cw   Pilot

  1. CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND rate rate rate rate

Really liked it! There’s an unexpected Ally McBeal vibe! The kind of show you wanna watch cosy while eating an ice-cream. That was not a good fit with Showtime but it could have been their Girls. A weird fit with The CW. I just hope they won’t sweeten the whole thing up. Take the curse words out and keep the fun & spirit. The masturbation scene will be dearly missed. It’s the best one!

2. CONTAINMENT rate rate rate 

Kinda hooked by the story but not much by the characters. Not totally convinced. Disgusting and entertaining. But isn’t it just one of those mediocre catastrophe TV movies turned into a 10-episode season?

Not seen: LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (not shot yet)

 

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THE FAMILY > QUANTICO > THE CATCH > BLINDSPOT > LUCIFER >  CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND >

 HEARTBREAKER  > GAME OF SILENCE > THE PLAYER > CODE BLACK > LOOKINGLASS > MINORITY REPORT > SUPERGIRL > CONTAINMENT >

YOU, ME AND THE END OF THE WORLD > LIMITLESS > BLOOD AND OIL > ROSEWOOD

 

SEE COMEDY 2015 #PILOT WATCH