Warner Bros. has been very busy lately, reteaming with old associates and inviting new ones in on the game. News today is that the production company has ordered three new series for the CW: J.J. Abrams' and Mark Schwahn's comedy/drama Shelter, sci-fi romance Joey Dakota (produced by Mark Harmon) and dystopian drama The Selection, from a pair of Vampire Diaries producers. Additionally, the network has cast a lead in its new superhero series, Arrow.
I haven't seen Abrams in a while, but I assume that he has grown a beard, and maybe taken up drinking. Because, after about ten years, Abrams is heaving a sigh and uttering, "We have to go back... to Warner Bros." Abrams is returning to the company of his old friends to develop a CW series called Shelter. He will be teaming with LOST collaborators Mark Pedowitz (CW President) and Thom Sherman (Executive VP of Drama Development), as well as with One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn to work on this new show.
The WB, the pre-2006 incarnation of the CW, is where Abrams started the television career that would eventually amount to creating a new show every month. Abrams co-created the drama Felicity, a story about a girl who followed the high school crush to college. Since this series, Abrams has become more associated with high-concept thrillers and science-fiction projects, such as Alias, Fringe, his newest shows Person of Interest and Alcatraz, and his most famous television venture, LOST. But Abrams is getting back into the "real world" with this new project he is developing for the CW. Shelter, formerly titled Maine, will study the day-to-day lives of the employees and customers at a New England hotel, and how they intersect dramatically and comedically.
The CW is not limiting itself to the Abrams/Schwahn creation, however. The network is also developing two other projects. One, Joey Dakota, is being written by Bert Royal (Easy A) and will being produced by NCIS leading man Mark Harmon along with Eric and Kim Tannenbaum. The project is based on an Israeli series called Danny Hollywood and is described by THR as a "romantic time-travel musical" (already very much sold) about a filmmaker who travels back to the 1990s, falls in love with a destined-to-die rock star, and then is launched back to the present day, where she makes it her mission to re-travel back in time and save the love of her life from his untimely death.
The final project is titled The Selection, and is an hourlong drama/romance based on a developing book series by Kiera Cass. The television project is being written by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain (The Vampire Diaries). The story will follow the journey of an impoverished girl who, in a dystopian society three centuries into the future, will be chosen via lottery to be the next queen.
In more CW news, the recently greenlit series Arrow has earned itself a star: Stephen Amell, an actor who has primarily worked in recurring guest roles on series like Queer as Folk, Heartland, Private Practice and, most prominently, Hung. Amell will play the lead in the new series, which is a modern-day incarnation of the DC Comics superhero story, Green Arrow. The titular hero is a vigilante who employs his exemplary skills in archery to fight crime when not posing as a Bruce Wayne-esque billionaire playboy socialite, with a bit of Harvey Dent's politicism in him.
Although it's not the Arrested Development movie quite yet, there is a reunion of sorts in the hopper. Series creator/executive producer Mitch Hurwitz, co-star Will Arnett and co-executive producer Jim Vallely are teaming for another single-camera Fox comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The project is being written by the trio and will star Arnett as a rich Beverly Hills jackass who falls in love with a charitable tree-hugging woman who can't stand his lifestyle or values.
Produced by Sony TV and studio-based Tantamount, the project is the first to come out of the development pact that Arnett and Fox sealed in October.
Hurwitz is executive producing with his producing partners at Tantamount, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum; Vallely; and Peter Principato and Paul Young. Arnett is also a producer.
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Once considered the most powerful man in show business, Michael Ovitz isn't having much luck these days. The former president of his company Artists Production Group, Cathy Schulman, has filed a $4 million lawsuit against Ovitz, APG and APG's former partner StudioCanal, The Hollywood Reporter reports. According to the complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Schulman, who ran the company's film division unit, claims she was fired by Ovitz "in a rage" after she "effectively told auditors for Vivendi (StudioCanal's parent company) that APG was stealing from Vivendi." She was terminated Feb. 14. This suit follows on the heels of another filed by Eric Tannenbaum, the former head of Artists Management Group's television division in April, claiming fraud, deceit and defamation.
Actor Lorenzo Lamas and his wife, former Playboy Playmate Shauna Sand, are calling it quits after six years of marriage. In a statement Monday, Lamas, 44, told the Associated Press "Shauna and I are separated due to problems of incompatibility" and will work together to provide for their three young daughters. At this point, no plans for divorce have been set.
Actor Robert Blake won the right to a bail hearing Wednesday that could set him free until his murder trial begins. Having been jailed since April after he was charged with the May 4, 2001, murder of wife Bonny Lee Bakley, Blake had not received a bail hearing because of a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. Defendants with special circumstances can be held without bail if they face the death penalty. Prosecutors in this case, however, are not seeking the death penalty.
Sweet Home Alabama director Andy Tennant will stay in that Southern mood with his next project--a dramedy cop series called The Atl for Fox. Taking its inspiration from the burgeoning hip-hop scene in Atlanta, Ga., which is known in some circles as the new Motown, the series will focus on two female cops living and working in the city's energetic, youthful vibe.
Bonnie Hunt and other executive producers of her new hit ABC comedy Life With Bonnie have let go most of their writing staff to do it all themselves. Insiders told Variety from the get-go that Hunt and executive producer Don Lake stressed they didn't want a writing staff on the show, opting to pen the scripts themselves, but Touchstone Television insisted. Now that the show is off to a great start--using none of the Bonnie staffers' scripts--the studio has agreed.
NBC has signed a deal with Cher to tape a two-hour concert special to air sometime mid-season. The now-blonde diva will tape her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour performance at the American Airlines Arena in Miami Nov. 6 and 7.
Seems Comedy Central likes to air television rejects. The network has bought reruns of several TV series that had a short life on network television, including episodes of the animated series Dilbert and ensemble sketch comedy series The Ben Stiller Show. "These series all fit our brand. (We're) always on the lookout for edgy, provocative entertainment," Bill Hilary, exec VP and General Manager of Comedy Central, told Variety. "We're the anti-network network."
Fans of the rock band Pink Floyd, who last performed together in 1994, may have to wait awhile for a reunion--if not forever. The group's leader David Gilmour told Reuters doing a new Pink Floyd album and tour is the furthest thing from his mind. "I know that other people have a different view and it has some sort of intrinsic importance, but right at the moment I'm just not thinking about Pink Floyd. I'm just concentrating on what I'm doing in a totally selfish way, and enjoying myself," Gilmour said.