Thursday, November 03, 2005

A tad of TV

The Scotts Take on The COMPANY
Ridley and Tony Scott, John Calley and Cary Brokaw will develop a six-hour limited series based on Robert Littell's novel The Company: A Novel of the CIA.

The story mixes real-life and fictional characters in a story centering on U.S. intelligence and is "said to trace the activities of the CIA during a 40-year span, beginning with the Cold War through the demise of the Soviet Union."

Ken Nolan will adapt the script. Scott Free Productions and John Calley Productions will produce.

NBC has picked up the pilot KIDNAPPED, which follows abduction over the course of a season by writer Jason Smilovic (KAREN SISCO).

The procedural drama centers on the kidnapping of the son of well-to-do New York City parents. Every episode that follows depicts a day in the investigation of the child's disappearance. During the season the audience will get to know the boys family along with the investigators and even the people who performed the kidnapping. EDITOR'S NOTE: "24" BUT WITH A KID?

Shooting will take place in New York starting in December.

Bergen tapped first mom for ABC's 'Chief'
Polly Bergen has been tapped to play the mother of the first female U.S. president on ABC's "Commander in Chief."

Bergen is taking on the role of Kate Allen, mom to Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis), in the freshman drama series, which is produced by Touchstone Television in association with Steven Bochco Prods. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND SINCE BERGEN LOOKS A LOT LIKE MY MOM, DOES THIS MEAN I GET TO BE PRESIDENT? (I'M CONFUSED NOW.....)

Her first episode will be the Nov. 29 Thanksgiving-themed installment.

Bergen actually had a role playing the first female president in the 1964 movie "Kisses for My President" opposite Fred MacMurray. Her other credits include ABC's 1988 miniseries "War and Remembrance" and the network's 1983 mini "The Winds of War." She is repped by Joel Dean at TalentWorks and manager Jan MacCormack. "Chief," created by Rod Lurie, airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays. It's executive produced by Steven Bochco, Dee Johnson, Lurie and Marc Frydman

Fox Broadcasting Co. has acquired the rights to develop THQ's best-selling sci-fi video game "Destroy All Humans!" into a half-hour CGI-animated comedy by former "King of the Hill" writer/co-executive producer Jim Dauterive.

The deal marks the first time a video game will be used as the basis for a primetime network television program. The script will be developed through 20th Century Fox TV, where Dauterive has an overall deal.

Set in the 1950s, the third-person action game puts players into the bulbous gray head of Crypto 137, an alien who has landed on Earth and is intent on destroying it. The game takes a comic approach and spoofs '50s Hollywood B-movies. "The goal is to make the show as good and as funny as the video game," Dauterive said.

Connery Travels at LIGHTSPEED
Sci-Fi Channel has announced that Jason Connery is the lead in Stan Lee's LightSpeed, an original TV film for the channel. Conncery is part of a cast that includes Lee Majors, Nicole Eggert and Daniel Goddard.

The film is based on a new character created by Lee The movie was directed by Don Fauntleroy. Filming just wrapped in Utah.

The movie centers on Daniel Leight, a government agent who discovers that he has the super power to run at the speed of light after his legs are crushed in a building collapse and he is exposed to a near-lethal dose of radiation. EDITOR'S NOTE: REAL SCIENTISTS MUST LOVE THIS STUFF. Leight pursues his nemesis, Python, with the moniker LightSpeed.

Mullally show cleared for '06 in top markets
There's good news for Megan Mullally, whose syndicated daytime show has been cleared in four top markets for a fall 2006 launch.

NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution is set to announce today that it has cleared the one-hour talk-variety strip hosted by the Emmy-winning "Will & Grace" star on four NBC owned-and-operated stations: WNBC-TV New York, KNBC-TV Los Angeles, WMAQ-TV Chicago and KNTV-TV San Francisco. The news marks the first station-clearance announcement for a first-run syndicated show launching in fall 2006.

"These are very good stations, and the show will be surrounded by very good programming -- we're excited about that," said Barry Wallach, president of the domestic distribution division

Scott 'Saved' by TNT for drama lead
TNT has cast Tom Everett Scott in the lead role of the drama pilot "Saved."

Scott stars as Wyatt Henry, a medical school dropout and compulsive gambler who becomes a paramedic in San Francisco. "Saved" is from Fox 21 and Imagine Television with executive producer David Manson ("Nothing Sacred").

"Saved" is one of several drama pilots under series consideration at TNT, including the cop drama "Grace" from Spelling Television and "Talk to Me," a series about hostage negotiators from Lions Gate Television and Electric Entertainment. "Saved" begins production this week in Vancouver. TNT is expected to decide early next year if it will pick up the series.

NBC's newest 'Invisible' man: Ross
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Gary Ross has signed up for television duty, teaming with Bruckheimer Television and Warner Bros. TV for a drama project dubbed "Invisible" that has landed a pilot commitment at NBC.

The project is described as a medical thriller about a renegade researcher who is tracking a mysterious disease through the Centers for Disease Control. Ross is set to pen the script and serve as an executive producer alongside Jerry Bruckheimer and Bruckheimer TV chief Jonathan Littman.

Ross earned Oscar nominations for adapted screenplay and best picture for his 2003 period drama "Seabiscuit." He also snared Oscar noms in writing categories for 1993's "Dave" and 1988's "Big." He also wrote and directed the 1998 cult-fave film "Pleasantville." EDITOR'S NOTE: SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES.

Among his recent feature projects, Ross is shepherding a remake of the 1954 creature-feature classic "Creature From the Black Lagoon" through his Universal Pictures-based Larger Than Life Prods. banner. (HR 10/20). Ross also has been signed by FX to pen one of the episodes in its upcoming miniseries "The Ten Commandments"

Analysis: Fox, NBC mull midseason moves
With the summer hit "Dancing With the Stars" now set to cut in on Thursday nights starting in January, some of ABC's competitors are considering some fancy footwork of their own.

Fox is weighing a shift of television's top-rated series, "American Idol," to Thursday to grab a greater share of the massive amounts of movie marketing dollars studios lavish on the night.

NBC may follow suit with a bold move of "My Name Is Earl," which has emerged as primetime's top-rated comedy in the adults 18-49 demographic.

To be sure, no one can know whether the industry chatter about these potential scheduling shifts are trial balloons or strong considerations; programming brass often engage in the kind of posturing and politicking commonly seen among contestants on another Thursday asset, CBS' "Survivor."

But in stark contrast to the stability the broadcasters are preaching as they head into the November sweep period Thursday, no one is ruling out the possibility of a major scheduling shakeup on TV's most lucrative night as the new year approaches.EDITOR'S NOTE: SNORE. I HAVE TO READ THIS SORT OF TRIPE ALL DAY. THOUGHT I'D SHARE MY PAIN.

NBCU Cable Launching Sleuth in January
If you’ve got the time, NBC Universal Cable’s got the crime.

The media conglomerate announced Wednesday that on Jan. 1, 2006, it will launch Sleuth, a new 24-hour cable network devoted to the crime, mystery and suspense genre.

The very model of corporate synergy, the new network will draw on NBC Universal’s vast library of film and television titles, and will be initially available to corporate sibling Time Warner Cable’s 5.2 million digital subscribers.

David Zaslav, president, NBC Universal Cable, said that while Sleuth will bow as a standard-definition network, an HD feed and a video-on-demand channel would be rolled out later in 2006.

We’re trying to approach this channel in a different way, because people watch TV in a different way than they did even five years ago,” Zaslav said. “Sure, we’re launching this as a traditional, long-form channel, but in this age of customized viewing, we’re going to have a big VOD offering.”EDITOR'S NOTE: VOD, THE HOLY GRAIL OF TV NETWORK EXECS EVERYWHERE. AND THEY ARE STILLLLLLLL SEARCHING.

Zaslav said that NBC Uni would be able to break through the clutter of the 140-basic cable channel universe by way of its unique content offering and the opportunity for cross-promotion on its 15 sibling cable nets, including Bravo, SCI FI Channel, and USA Network.

Sleuth will “get out of the box” with episodes of hit series from the 1980s such as Miami Vice and The A-Team, Zaslav said, adding that “there’ll be a mix of newer shows as well.”

Initial movie offerings will include Scarface and Casino.

When we closed on Universal, one of the attractions was they had a great TV and movie library, and we always hoped we could create something special out of that,” Zaslav said. “We really took our time with this, because we just didn’t want to launch just another cable channel.”

While establishing a network on a foundation of crime and mystery programming may seem a direct shot across the bow at Court TV, that’s not how CEO Henry Schleiff sees it.

Given its usage of NBC’s old series and movies, it sound like TV Land for lawyers,” Schleiff said.

Which is not to say that Schleiff is turning up his nose at NBC programming. Earlier in October, Court TV picked up the rights to all 13 episodes of NBC’s short-lived series Law & Order: Trial by Jury, and will begin airing them in Dec.


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