Month: January 2017

SCOOP: NBC bets on musical soap “Drama High” by Jason Katims & “Hamilton” producers

   

Missing Glee? NBC is working on a new teen musical soap written by Friday Night Lights & Parenthood creator Jason Katims with the “Hamilton” team producing. 

Drama High tells the story of Lou Mazzuchelli, a litterature teacher in his forties in a Pennsylvania high school, who is appointed by the principal to take over and modernize the theater program that is dying. He chooses the provocative and emotional rock musical Spring Awakening –about teenagers discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality in late-19th-century Germany- as their first production. A choice that won’t be without consequences for the students and their families in this “Americana” town… It is based on the true story of the first-ever high school production of Spring Awakening that made headlines back in 2011.

The drama project about to get an official order looks like a mix between Smash, about the creation of a Broadway musical, and teen soap Glee with a more grounded feel thanks to Jason Katims. Plus, he already wrote for teenage characters in critically-acclaimed Friday Night Lights and family drama Parenthood. He also executive produces alongside partner Michelle Lee under their overall deal with Universal Television. Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez, producers of Tony-Award-Winning hip-hop musical Hamilton, are also producing through their production deal with Universal signed last year.

SEE ALL PILOT ORDERS AT NBC

Bluegrass/Blood Red (ABC) pilot preview: Desperate Cop in soapy smalltown America

Written and produced by Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, The Golden Girls). Also produced by Reba McEntre, Sabrina Wind (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, Reba), Mindy Schultheis & Michael Hanel (Malibu Country, Reba, Rita Rocks). Directed by Michael Offer (How to Get Away With Murder, Longmire). 54 Pages. 2nd revised network draft (01/05/17). For ABC Studios, Cherry-Wind Productions & Acme Productions.

Description: Ruby Adair, the sheriff of colorful small town Oxblood, Kentucky, finds her red state outlook challenged when Tag Fayad, a young FBI special agent of Middle Eastern descent is sent to help her solve a horrific crime that happened during the 4th of July parade. Together they form an uneasy alliance as Ruby takes Tag behind the lace curtains of this southern gothic community to meet an assortment of bizarre characters, each with a secret of their own…

With Reba McEntire (Reba, Malibu Country, Tremors), Jack Coleman (Heroes, Scandal, The Office, Dynasty), Amanda Detmer (What About Brian, Private Practice), Ryan McPartlin (Chuck, Devious Maids), Ben Esler (Hell On Weels), Emily Rose (Haven, ER, Graceland), Natalie Hall (Star-Crossed, All My Children), Saidah Ekulona (Impastor)…

   

You’ll like it if you already like: Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids, True Blood

Likely timeslot: Sunday at 9 (the old Desperate Housewives slot) or Monday at 10 (right after old-skewing Dancing With the Stars).

 

Desperate situations call for desperate measures. And in their drama department, ABC is in a desperate situation. They found no new hit this season, except Designated Survivor that is doing okay, while older dramas that are not Grey’s Anatomy are dying. So they asked Marc Cherry, one of their last hit maker, responsible for the rise and fall of the iconic Desperate Housewives, to give them something. Anything. And here we are.

I am thrilled to be coming back home to ABC. What makes it all the sweeter is Reba McEntire is coming with me. And we can’t wait to share with our fans this wonderful Southern Gothic soap opera we’ve been cooking up for them” Cherry said in an official statement. I find it amusing that he considers having fans of his own. Reba McEntire has fans. Of course, she’s a legendary country music star (who wants to be an actress too for some reason). But Marc Cherry? I’m not sure. I mean, there are fans of Desperate Housewives all over the world. There must have fans of Devious Maids too. I am one of them. Don’t judge me. But fans of him? Anyway. It’s just PR after all. So, will those said fans be happy with his new project? Possibly. But not as much as they would have anticipated I’m afraid.

The first question I ask myself when I’m finished reading a pilot script from a renowned writer is not was it good or not but would it have been picked-up if it was not written by this particular talent that has a value for obvious marketing reasons (“from the writer that brought you Desperate Housewives“)? In this case, Marc Cherry has such a special voice that there is no doubt it’s him and there is no doubt it would have been picked up even written by someone else or written by a young and unproven Marc Cherry. Even though it’s clearly not his best work, it’s exactly what ABC needs: something heavily serialized but with a crime and an investigation at the center since there’s still a craving for this kind of shows; something fun and soapy, but not too dark since ABC had too many of those the past few years; and finally something that has the potential to stay on the air for years to come since you know, it’s a business.

Plus, it is believed to be part of the network’s push for more programming that reflects Middle America. On this, I’m not really sold. Yes, it is set in the traditionally Republican state of Kentucky -as both Marc Cherry and Reba McEntire are proud Republicans- but those people living in Oxblood are way too quirky for real americans to recognize themselves in them, apart, maybe, in our heroine and her family. For example, there’s the character of Miss Bo. She will probably be the funniest part of the show. But she runs the local brothel with “the ugliest whores in Kentucky”. I don’t think my mother or yours will recognize themselves in her. Except if your mother is “a Madam”. And that’s okay. I’m also thinking about the Winemiller sisters, black and colorful church ladies. They run a Bed & Breakfast and they talk a lot. Often at the same time. Not your regular neighbours. But anyway, that’s where the fun is. That’s Marc Cherry at his best. Bitchy comments, dialogues to die for. He still got it, my friends. If they find the right cast, magic will happen.

In case you’re wondering, Cherry isn’t offering here a celebration of Donald Trump and his digusting ideas, especially about immigration. But I had my doubts while I was reading the teaser. A brown-skinned woman that is supposed to be a terrorist after she plowed into crowd during a 4th of July parade, killing people (it reminded me of the Nice attack during Bastille Day last summer, which was probably his inspiration)… a detective who is described (in bold letters) as “Middle eastern decent”… but without revealing too much, it’s not what you think. It’s about looking beyond the appearrances for both the townspeople and the stranger coming to town. Like Cherry did with Desperate Housewives and even a bit with Devious Maids: there are no good or bad people in the end, there are only crazy people. It’s not life, it’s soap. And it’s not deep but it’s irreverent.

What I’m less fond of in the show is the investigation part. It’s not used as a distraction from time to time. It’s at the center of it all. And it’s Marc Cherry. The ones in Desperate Housewives were always kinda ridiculous. I’m afraid it’s still the case. It’s not yet, but it could become quickly. Especially if there are planning 22-episode seasons. Just don’t expect The Killing. Thankfully, the dynamic between Ruby and Tag looks different than what we’re used to. It’s not about them falling in love in the near future. She’s 55 (Reba is 61 but she has a “good” surgeon). He’s in his thirties. Well, it would be bold to make them fall in love but I don’t feel like it’s in the cards. It’s more of a mother/son relationship and I don’t recall such a duet in crime dramas. She’s a tough woman with a temper (who has every reason to be angry – her ex-husband Deke is now married to her ex-best friend, plus her junkie daughter left, leaving her 7 year-old son behind); he’s a sex-addict and rude and vegan FBI agent who doesn’t believe in love, monogamy or marriage. Definitely an interesting pair.

I don’t know if it’s because Twin Peaks is coming back or because networks suddenly remembered that America is not only made of big overcrowded cities, but quirky little towns are back in the game this year (Riverdale is another example) and the Marc Cherry Project is apparently ABC’s way of saying: “Middle America, we heard you. Let’s have some fun together!”. Fun, there is. It’s an exciting soap a little more grounded than usual mixed with a crime drama, that has enough potential to be considered as a frontrunner in this pilot season. It isn’t revolutionnary. It won’t be a game-changer show for the network but it could turn into a solid performer that will primarily resonate with older viewers (it lacks teenager/ young adult characters so far). 

PILOT WHISPERER: New edition #PilotSeason

First published on December, 07

2017 pilot season officially started yesterday when ABC ordered political comedy pilot Libby & Malcolm starring Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance as we reported 3 weeks ago. Other comedies are nearing pilot orders while deals are being worked out.

 

At ABC, the next one on the list is Rapper Mayor / Untitled City Mayor Project, that could be descrided as a comedic version of hit Designated Survivor. It is about Courtney Rose, a talented but struggling hip-hop artist, who runs for mayor to promote his mixtape – and wins. The guy is a quitenssential optimistic, a dreamer through and through. He’s the coolest, most fun dude in town, and if you don’t believe it, just ask him and he’ll tell you… It’s created by Jeremy Bronson, writer and producer on The Mindy Project and Speechless, and produced by Jamie Tarses (Happy Endings) for ABC Studios. The casting for the leading man is underway. PICKED-UP

The multicamera comedy project Documenting Love, sort of a Mad About You new generation has a pilot production commitment, as well as thriller drama Doomsday from Sony Pictures Television about a secret think tank featuring the most creative minds in science and entertainment that is tasked with dreaming up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. PICKED-UP  DTLA, about a celebrity choreographer who must fight to protect her status, family, business and secrets, is heating up. The Untitled Marc Cherry drama with Reba McEntire is already ordered to pilot.

Comedy Start Up starring Zach Braff is inching closer to a pick-up PICKED-UP, as well as Splitting Up Together produced by Ellen De Generes  PICKED-UP and Charlie Foxtrot from Aaron Kaplan PICKED-UP. A not-yet-announced project starring basketball player Jalen Rose, Jalen vs Everybody, and written by Nahnatchka Khan, is heating up. PICKED-UP

 

At CBS, the Untitled Chris Distefano Hybrid Comedy Project is heating up. Written and produced by How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays & Craig Thomas. Inspired by comedian Chris Distefano’s life story, the hybrid project is centered on Izzy and Chris, two 20-somethings who are raising their newborn daughter and merging their loud families – one Puerto Rican, one Italian… PICKED-UP

Me, Myself and I is also on the map. The single-camera comedy which examines one man’s life over a 50-year span, somewhat in the vein of movie Boyhood, has a put pilot. PICKED-UP And of course, the order for The Big Bang Theory spin-off Sheldon is just a formality. UPDATE: World Wide Webbs, a comedy about a family who became rich and famous thank to their daily video blogs, is on tracks for an order.

On the drama side, quirky cop show Magnolia Springs about a sheriff and his teenage son solving crimes in a small city is gearing up towards a pick-up, casting is underway. Firewall, a new procedural from Mentalist creator, is also hot. Luc Besson’s Hunch, about a LAPD detective who begrudgingly teams up with a celebrity psychic who, unfortunately, is also his ex-wife, should get the nod soon; as well as Justin Lin’s SWAT,  a reboot of the 1970s series billed as an intense, action-packed procedural following an African-American SWAT lieutenant torn between loyalty to the streets and duty to his fellow officers. PICKED-UP

 

At NBC, while Amy Poehler’s off-cyle pilot The Baby starring Seann William Scott will shoot in a few days, the Untitled Kourtney Kang Comedy produced by Fresh Off The Boat creator Nahnatchka Khan is red hot. It explores what it’s like to grow up as the only girl in the only mixed race family in the suburbs of Philadelphia, dealing with real-world issues like race and gender while never losing focus of her life goal… to become a Laker Girl like her idol, Paula Abdul. PICKED-UP

In the drama department, the peacock has medical drama Salvation directed by Paul Haggis awaiting green light. It is billed as the first real-time hospital “extreme event” show, capturing the life-and-death choices nurses, PA’s and other front-line caregivers make as they struggle to provide care and triage. PICKED-UP Legal drama Blood Defense, based on Marcia Clark’s book about a relentless criminal attorney, is red hot for a pick-up, as well as Family Honor, from Matt Reeves, a police procedural told through the eyes of four diverse foster sisters. The Last Policeman is close to a pick-up. It follows a detective in New Hampshire during the final years of civilization as a catastrophe-level asteroid hurtles toward the planet. Heavy serialized legal drama Flight Risk from John Wells is also considered. Drama High, an high-school drama with musical elements written and produced by Jason Katims (Parenthood) with Hamilton producers Jeffrey Seller & Flody Suarez is red hot. PICKED-UP Last drama pilot order at NBC should go to Redliners, adapted from Charlaine Harris’ short stories, that mixes romance and espionnage about a pair of former spies living in suburbia who are reactivated when a failed hit on one of them leaves the assassin dead. PICKED-UP

 

At FOX, DC’s Black Lightning is almost a done deal PICKED-UP AT THE CW, as is Matt Nix’s untitled family superhero drama at Marvel in the X-Men Universe PICKED-UP. The network is just waiting for the final pilot script. Dr House creator David Shore could be back at FOX with an untitled project about a professional spy who teams up with an enterprising civilian to solve cases here and abroad. Control, by Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joyce, is heating up.

Comedy Thin Ice from New Girl creator is already ordered to pilot. Other comedy heating up is Turned On, directed by Paul Feig, about a brilliant but awkward engineer who creates an android who spirals out of control… The Untitled Wresting Comedy produced by Dwayne Johnson, Will Ferrell & Adam McKay, is also very much on the map.

 

At The CW the Charmed reboot seems to be a priority. Searchers pilot from The 100 creator Jason Rothenberg & Greg Berlanti is a sure thing, with a shooting expected to take place in South Africa. PICKED-UP Transience produced by Ian Somerhalder, is heating up, as well as LA Demonic for Warner Bros.

 

More to come…

SCOOP: Netflix preps remake of french series “Ainsi soient-ils” (“Churchmen”) produced by Tom Fontana

David Baïot, Julien Bouanich, Clément Manuel, Samuel Jouy et Clément Roussier in “Ainsi Soient-ils” (“Churchmen”)

 

Oz creator Tom Fontana is back at work with a Netflix series adapted from french faith-based drama Ainsi Soient-Ils, which ran for 3 seasons from 2012 to 2015 on channel Arte and won the Séries Mania Best Series Award in Paris twice and the Best Film Award winner at the International Catholic Film Festival.

Churchmen is about five young men from very different backgrounds and with different motivations for leaving the lives they’ve known who enter seminary in New York, discovering an institution where ambition and discord could cast a shadow over their strongest belief. Tom Fontana (Borgia, Copper, Homicide) is producing the project through his Levinson/Fontana Company alongside Netflix and Asylum Entertainment, with James Yoshimura, who worked on Homeland & Treme, William Powell and K.C. Warnke. Fontana may have heard about Ainsi Soient-ils for the first time when he came to the Series Mania festival in Paris in 2013. Shooting should start as soon as February in New York. The number of episodes is unclear at this time.

It’s the second time a french TV show is adapted in the US. A&E did “The Returned” two years ago, based on “Les Revenants” from Canal +. It was cancelled after one season. Churchmen will probably have better luck with Netflix behind.

 

SEE ALL NETFLIX SHOWS IN THE WORKS

SCOOP: The CW eyes Charmed prequel with Jane The Virgin team

More than three years after CBS passed on the Charmed reboot they were working on -which is still talked about a lot by fans all over the world- The CW has landed a prequel to the cult WB series produced by the team of critically acclaimed dramedy Jane The Virgin.

Jane The Virgin creator Jennie Snyder Urman, as well as producer Brad Silverman, are behind the project which will follow three witches who fight evil in a small New England town during the seventies/eighties (1976), possibly the Halliwells’ ancestors from the Warren Line, the most powerful line of witches in history introduced in the original show. The pilot script is written by Amy Rardin & Jessica O’Toole who already know a thing or two about the 80s and prequel series since they wrote for The Carrie Diaries, prequel of Sex & The City. They also worked on Jane The Virgin, Selfie & Greek.

Brad Silberling, who directed the pilot of Jane The Virgin and also A Series of Unfortunate Events movie (not the upcoming Netflix show) is attached to direct this one as well. CBS Television is the studio, with Propagate Content and Reveal Entertainment.

So don’t expect Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty, Holly Mary Combs or Rose McGowan to comeback, at least initially.

It’s not the only series reboot The CW is developing for next season. A Dynasty remake is also in the works.

The CW’s 8 most exciting projects for 2017/2018 pilot season