New ABC president Channing Dungey, who replaces exiting Paul Lee (making her the first African American to not only head ABC, but a major TV network) is already making her presence felt a mere 2 weeks into the job, announcing today the early renewals of a handful of ABC series.
Of note, “Scandal” will return for a 6th season (recall the show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, said that she knows exactly how and when it will end, adding that it would be a 6 or 7 season series, at most. So can we assume that “Scandal” is near its end, now that it’s been renewed for a 6th season?); Also “How to Get Away With Murder” has been renewed for a 3rd season; and “Black-ish” will get a 3rd season.
Also renewed are: “Agents of SHIELD,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “Modern Family,” “Quantico,” “The Goldbergs,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Bachelor.”
No announcement on the fate of John Ridley‘s critically-acclaimed anthology series “American Crime,” unfortunately. Although it’s still early, so I wouldn’t count it out yet.
Ridley is working on another series for the network. In December, ABC gave an early pilot order to a new crime drama from Ridley titled “Presence,” with the 2016/2017 season eyed for a premiere – assuming it goes to series eventually.
“Creed” director Ryan Coogler, “Short Term 12” helmer Destin Daniel Cretton and production company Macro (founded by Charles King) are teaming to develop a new TV series, “Minors,” Variety has learned.
Created by Coogler, Cretton and writer Chinaka Hodge, “Minors” will tackle institutionalization in a unique and fresh way by exploring juvenile facilities and the kids that grow up in the system. The drama will be specifically structured to show how the facilities shape the kids over a one-year time period. The project is based on Cretton’s experience working in residential foster care, Coogler’s East Bay area upbringing and time working in a juvenile detention facility, and Hodge’s experience teaching underserved youth in Bay Area continuation schools and her 15 years of working with local youth.
The series will be exec produced by Coogler, Cretton, Hodge, King, Macro’s president of production Kim Roth, and Macro’s SVP of production Poppy Hanks. “Short Term 12” producer Asher Goldstein will serve as co-executive producer. Coogler and Cretton will direct the series, with Hodge penning the scripts. It remains to be seen where the project will land, but given the auspices, the show is likely to attract interest from both traditional and streaming networks.
Following the success of “Creed,” which scored Sylvester Stallone an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor, Coogler will next direct Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Hodge previously served as an associate producer of HBO’s “Brave New Voices,” and appeared in the premium cabler’s “Poetry.” She is a founding member of Blackout for Human Rights.
VH1 has given a huge break to hip-hop drama “The Breaks.” After airing as a TV movie and possible back door pilot, the cable network has ordered it as a series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The film follows the journey of Nikki, David and DeeVee, three friends united by their love of hip-hop, as they work to blow up in the music industry. The film begins in summer 1990 in New York, where the industry’s artists and hustlers intersect in the dance clubs and the street corners of the still crime-ridden city. But they all soon discover lives can be broken as fast as legends can be born.
“The Breaks” is based on Dan Charnas’ best-selling book “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop,” considered one of the most comprehensive accounts of the history and business of hip-hop, notes THR. The book spans 40 years of stories and was culled from more than 300 interviews with execs, entrepreneurs, hustlers and handlers.
“The Breaks” aired in January and currently ranks as the No. 2 cable original movie of the year among adults 18-49, 18-34 and women in both demos. The January premiere and immediate encore collected a combined 2.6 million total viewers, propelling VH1 to a 42 percent gain among adults under 50 in January.
Wood Harris (The Wire), Mack (Tristan) Wilds (90210), Afton Williamson (Banshee), David Call (Gossip Girl), Antoine Harris (Ballers) and Method Man starred in the TV movie. Most are expected to return for the series.
DJ Premier composed the score and served as executive music producer.
Dawn-Lyen Gardner (Unforgettable, Heroes), Kofi Siriboe (Awkward, Whiplash) and Omar J. Dorsey (Ray Donovan, Selma) have been cast opposite Rutina Wesley on OWN’s new original drama series Queen Sugar, from Ava Duvernay and Warner Horizon Television.
Written, directed and executive produced by Duvernay, the contemporary series is adapted from the first-time novel by Natalie Baszile. It centers on Nova Bordelon (Wesley), a formidable journalist and activist based in New Orleans. Her life, and that of her brother and their extended family, undergoes significant change when her sister, Charley, returns to Louisiana from Los Angeles to help run the family sugarcane farm. Oprah Winfrey will have a recurring role on the show.
Gardner will play Charley Bordelon West, the charismatic and savvy manager and wife of professional basketball superstar Davis West, with whom she has a challenging, conflicted relationship. The proud mother of Micah, Charley is originally from New Orleans, but never seems to get the time to go back home in the midst of her busy, exciting and public life in Los Angeles.
Siriboe is Ralph Angel Bordelon, the youngest Bordelon sibling. Formerly incarcerated and somewhat worn out by life, Ralph Angel is trying to make a new start — and find a job — while raising his beloved 6-year-old son Blue with the help of family members, notably his aunt Violet. Dorsey will play Hollywood Desonier, a rugged, resourceful man and staunch supporter of the Bordelon family. The longtime boyfriend of Violet Bordelon (aunt to Charley, Nova and Ralph Angel), Hollywood clearly loves her — and doesn’t think anything of their 20-year age difference.
Empire fans, rejoice! The hit Fox series has been renewed for a third season. Currently, countless fans are going through withdrawal because of the winter hiatus, so hopefully this news will put smiles on their faces.
Although the ratings of the second season declined, it seems as though the Fox network still has faith in the show. Of course, the renewal news comes on the heels of Taraji P. Henson’s win at the Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series—Drama.
Empire continues its second season on Wednesday, March 30, on Fox.
It’s been almost two years since HBO’s True Blood aired its series finale, but Rutina Wesley is still a familiar face to many people, and now Wesley has been tapped to star in Ava DuVernay’s upcoming OWN series, Queen Sugar.
Adapted from the novel written by Natalie Baszile, Queen Sugar tells the story of Nova Bordelon (Wesley), a journalist-activist based in New Orleans, whose life is turned upside down when her sister returns to Louisiana from Los Angeles to help run the family’s sugarcane farm. DuVernay is writing and directing the series, and Oprah Winfrey will also make a few guest appearances.
Earlier this year, Winfrey and DuVernay discussed how the series came to be.
“I loved this book and immediately saw it as a series for OWN,” said Winfrey. “The story’s themes of reinventing your life, parenting alone, family connections and conflicts, and building new relationships are what I believe will connect our viewers to this show.”
“From the moment I was introduced to the book, I was captivated by the idea of a modern woman wrestling with identity, family, culture and the echoes of history,” DuVernay added. “To bring this kind of storytelling to life alongside Oprah for her network is wildly wonderful. I’m excited about what’s in store.”
Jay Z’s music streaming service TIDAL is expanding its content beyond just music, according to exclusive reports on Variety.
Today (November 3), a new show titled “No Small Talk” is set to premiere on the service. The comedy, which will initially include five, 25-30 minute episodes, is hosted by DJ Cipha Sounds, who himself is signed to the management arm of Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Each episode is set to detail the lives of three burgeoning comedians performing at Manhattan’s Comedy Cellar.
“I didn’t want it to feel polished like the standup specials you see on TV,” Cipha Sounds says. “My goal is to help new guys get known, like Def Comedy Jam set up a lot of people’s careers.”
Elsewhere, TIDAL has ordered the second season of “Money & Violence,” an urban drama based on the lives of a group of thieves and drug dealers in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The second season, which is scheduled to premiere in January, is set to be comprised of 12 episodes and will be available exclusively on TIDAL for one week prior to wider distribution, Variety reports.
This change in strategy is part of TIDAL’s next step forward to increase value to its subscribers, Tim Riley, TIDAL’s Senior VP of Artist and Label Relations, said.
“If someone is paying for Tidal, we want that to be the best experience they can have,” Riley said.
The prognosis is good for Fox’s “Rosewood.” The medical drama starring Morris Chestnut as a charismatic Miami pathologist has been given a full season order.
The series has been the standout among Fox’s freshman series this fall, averaging a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 7.8 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates for its first three episodes. Fox has paired the show with “Empire” in the 8 p.m. Wednesday berth, which has benefitted “Rosewood” as its audience has consistently grown in its second half-hour as viewers await “Empire” at 9 p.m.
Todd Harthan is creator and executive producer of “Rosewood” for 20th Century Fox TV. Other cast members include Jaina Lee Ortiz as Beaumont Rosewood’s potential love connection, Detective Annalise Villa, and Lorraine Toussaint as his mother. It was recently announced that Taye Diggs would guest star on the series.
“’Rosewood’ has proven to be a real self-starter for us, which is a tremendous feat on this highly competitive night. Todd Harthan, Morris, Jaina, Lorraine and the entire cast and crew have done a fantastic job creating a gorgeous, sexy world that is the perfect complement to ‘Empire’,” said Fox entertainment president David Madden. “The upcoming episodes are so compelling as we build out the family dynamics, and with today’s order, we’re excited to explore the world of ‘Rosewood’ even further this season.”
The back-nine order brings the show to 22 episodes for its first season. At a time when many network dramas are opting for shorter episode orders, Fox is hoping “Rosewood” will hold up as a reliable procedural drama in the vein of “Bones.”
article by Whitney Friedlander w/reporting by Rick Kissell via Variety.com
Fox is developing a new event series revolving around a racially-motivated police shooting. The project hails from “Love & Basketball” writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood and will star Sanaa Lathan, who starred in the 2000 film.
The untitled event series examines the dangerous aftermath of a police shooting when an African-American cop kills a white teen in Tennessee. Lathan (“The Perfect Guy”) will play an expert investigator who digs into the case, alongside a yet-to-be-cast special prosecutor sent to the town by the Department of Justice. The duo must navigate the media attention, public debate and social unrest that accompany such a volatile case, as they seek justice before the divided town erupts into a race war.
The announcement of the project comes amidst of an uproar of recent media attention on racially-motivated police attacks, most notably the Trayvon Martin case, in which the African American teenager was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. The Fox project, however, features a race-flipped scenario with a white teen being killed by a black cop.
Prince-Bythewood, along with Reggie Rock Bythewood, will serve as writers and exec producers on the 20th Century Fox project, which will be directed by Prince-Bythewood. Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo will also exec produce. Prince-Bythewood’s Undisputed Cinema and Imagine Television will also produce.
The event series reunites Lathan and Gina Prince-Bythewood, who worked together “Love & Basketball.” Prince-Bythewood and Bythewood also worked together on “Beyond the Lights.”
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has signed a two-year exclusive premium television pact with Starz, the cabler that is home to his drama series “Power.” Under the deal, Jackson will develop new projects for the network through his G Unit Film & Television, Inc. shingle and continue as executive producer on “Power.”
“Starz has been the perfect partner to make ‘Power’ the success that it is and I am looking forward to developing many more record-breaking series with them,” said Jackson.
Starz has been proud of the success of “Power”; the second season finale in August set a series record for its episode premiere viewership performance (2.39M viewers Live+3). A 10-episode third season ordered in June and production began earlier this month at the series’ home base at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn.
“Curtis is a wonderful hands-on producer and actor on ‘Power’ and we look forward to expanding his roles behind-the-camera with Starz over the next two years,” said Carmi Zlotnik, managing director of Starz.
“Power” creator Courtney Kemp Agboh signed her own overall deal with Starz in June. In addition to Kemp Agboh and Jackson, “Power” exec producers are Mark Canton, Randall Emmett and Gary Lennon.