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Zach Galifianakis cast in Louis CK pilot for FX

FX just lured another big-time funny man to bolster its comedy lineup.

The cable network has ordered a comedy pilot that’ll star Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover franchise). He’ll also co-write the project with the Emmy-winning Louis C.K., who recently signed an overall deal with FX Prods. Louis C.K. will begin a fourth season of Louie in May.

Sadly, FX won’t say for now what the pilot is about. (We vote for a half-hour version of Darrell’s House!) READ FULL STORY

'Penny Dreadful': See a new image from Showtime's upcoming monster mash -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTO

Showtime’s new horror-drama, Penny Dreadful, premiering this Spring, posits that Victorian London was one helluva town, in which characters from classic novels like Frankenstein and Dracula crossed paths with each other—and with an American sharpshooter (Josh Hartnett) and a mysterious woman (Eva Green) who’s battling her own demons (the pair can be seen in the above exclusive image) .

Creator John Logan (Skyfall) says he drew inspiration from ’40s monster mash-up movies. Says Logan, “I thought there was incredible excitement to slamming all those myths together so that’s what we’re embracing in Penny Dreadful.” Though his take has a premium-cable bent — “It’s highly erotic, very bloody” — there’s a humanity to the horror. “It’s about building a family,” says Logan. “Admittedly, the creepiest family you can imagine.”

Fox: We're ditching pilot season

Flanked by two larges screens that read “RIP Pilot Season, 1986-2013,” Fox Entertainment Topper Kevin Reilly told reporters today that the network will ditch the traditional development season from fall to winter and focus more on developing series year-round.

“The broadcasting development and scheduling system was built in a different era, when there were three networks monopolizing all the talent and all the audience,” Reilly told reporters Monday. Typically, he added, the networks currently make 80 to 100 pilots in the course of a few months, which ends up diluting the talent pool and a show’s chances of going the distance.

“We screen them and schedule them, and they’re announced in a compressed and crazy 2-week period, he continued. “They have six weeks to get into production. It’s nothing short of a miracle that talent can produce anything of quality. Every first season show needs a course correction.”

Developing throughout the year “creates a better, more talent-friendly way” to cultivate potential hits. As an example, Reilly cited nine shows that the network currently has in the works, including the 24 reboot and the American version of Broadchurch that’s called Gracepoint. In the meantime, current shows like Sleepy Hollow will begin production on their second season in two months, not July when dramas typically return to work. “We’ll be way ahead of everybody else.”


'24' movie still a possibility, says Kiefer Sutherland


Though Fox is set to debut a new season of 24 on May 5, star Kiefer Sutherland says this doesn’t kill chances for a big-screen version of the long-running franchise.

“The script for the film is very different,” Sutherland told reporters Monday in Pasadena. “The film is an ongoing situation. There’s always an opportunity to do that. But Howard (Gordon) came up for 12 episode run of this and this opportunity presented to us first. It’s a fantastic idea. If this ends up causing a film to be made, so be it.”

24: Live Another Day will debut with a two-hour launch. The action picks up four years after the drama’s final season and will progress as it always did by operating in real time, though hours will be skipped it fit into the shorter season. Jack Bauer (Sutherland) remains a fugitive on a run, and CIA agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) is hot on his trail. “In the minds of the CIA, he’s not quite Osama bin Laden but he’s a fugitive of a high order,” explains Exec Producer Evan Katz. “We will learn he has a mission.  Whether it’s good or dark we don’t know, but the CIA is determined to catch him.”

The inimitable Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) will enter the picture as a Edward Snowden-type radical who has turned against the government. “Jack and her try to stop what he is after … a secret,” Katz continued.

Other characters that will return to the reboot are Kim Raver as Jack’s former lover Audrey and William Devane, who, as James Heller, is now the president. The producers joked about not always knowing who could return because of the show’s reputation for killing off so many characters.

“Sometime we had to check Wikipedia,” said Katz. “Wouldn’t it be great if Heller was president? Turns out he lived.”

Sutherland, who remains very humble about how his name is synonymous with the franchise, said he was very anxious about starting production. (It begins in London next month). “I’m very nervous without putting ourselves out there. We made eight very strong years. There’s always something in every year that we wish we did better, but I was very proud. To open that up again and make 12 episodes and not make them the best 12 we have ever made is frightening. I’m about as anxious and wound up as I’ve been in a long time.”

'Ten Commandments' reboot to air on WGN America

Another cable net is going biblical in an effort to score big ratings. WGN America announced that it has ordered a “Ten Commandments” 10-parter that will offer multiple takes on each precept.

This is where it could get interesting: filmmakers like Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), Lee Daniels (The Butler), Jim Sheridan (The Boxer), Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Michael Cera (Superbad) will helm each installment. Bruce Cohen (American Beauty) and Bob Weinstein will produce.

“We are thrilled and honored to have filmmakers of this caliber as a part of this ambitious project, and thank Bruce Cohen and The Weinstein Company for bringing this diverse group of directors together,” said Matt Cherniss, WGN America President and GM, in a statement. “The unique structure of the ‘Ten Commandments’ project and the stature of directors involved reflects the creative and bold approach to quality programming that we aspire to as we move towards making WGN America a destination network.  We look forward to seeing what each of these talented filmmakers has in store for the audience.”

Added Craven in a statement, “I’m extremely excited to become part of this project. Working with Bob and Harvey has been a huge part of my career for more than a decade, and this project absolutely fascinates me. The chance to put my own personal spin in a contemporary manner on these ancient commands is priceless, as is the chance to work alongside so many other directors whose work has inspired me over the years.”

“I have great respect for most of the ‘Ten Commandments,’ and I look forward to keeping within the rules as best I can,” said Sheridan.

WGN America is available in 75 million homes.

Last March, History scored big ratings for airing The Bible, a scripted 10-parter from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. It received more than 100 million cumulative views and prompted a follow-up miniseries that’ll focus on the life of Jesus and air on NBC in spring of 2015.

Pivot greenlights second season of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's 'HitRECord on TV'

Just ahead of the official premiere, Pivot has ordered a second season of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRECord on TV.

The first episode of the variety show was made available online last week and in that time has notched more than 495,000 views.

The network also announced today during its panel at the Television Critics Association press tour that Meghan McCain will join their nightly news program TakePart Live. She will join existing co-host Jacob Soboroff, which airs weekdays at midnight.

DirecTV subscribers could lose Weather Channel as discussions reach 'impasse'

DirecTV subscribers could lose The Weather Channel as soon as early Tuesday morning.

The broadcast satellite service provider and the network are currently in a spat over their carriage agreement, in which TWC is seeking an increase in compensation.

“Right now we’re pretty much at an impasse in our discussions. We’re still hopeful we will reach an agreement…but right now it’s not looking so good,” said Shirley Powell, head of corporate communications for The Weather Channel. “We’re asking for a very negligible increase for the life-saving information we offer.” If an agreement is not reached, by Jan. 14 at 12:01 a.m. ET, DIRECTV viewers will lose the network.

Just before TWC’s panel during the Television Critics Association press tour Saturday morning, DirecTV issued their own statement on the spat, saying they are seeking the “best value since people now use so many other ways to retrieve weather-related information.” DirecTV launched their own weather information provider in 2011 with WeatherNation, a response, they said in their statement, “to numerous customer complaints that more than 40 percent of The Weather Channel’s programming is dedicated to reality television shows.”

For his part, Sam Champion, who left Good Morning America to lead a new morning show on TWC set to launch in March, defended The Weather Channel’s assertion that despite being a for-profit business, it fills a public service. “Sometimes business has to fill in where there’s not a public utility to take care of it,” he said. “There isn’t one [for weather]. I’d love to say that we can all rest assured and be stay safe in our homes during a storm because of blank that will take care of us and inform us and prepare us and evacuate us, there isn’t one.” The Weather Channel has launched a social media campaign and a website so viewers can chime in.

NBC announces start dates for 'About a Boy,' 'Crisis,' more

The new Jason Katims comedy About a Boy, along with the new J.J. Abrams drama Believe, have start dates! About a Boy, which is based on the best-selling Nick Hornby novel, will bow on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 9 p.m.

Believe will have a special preview Monday, March 10 at 10 p.m. following The Voice and will premiere in its regular time period Sunday, March 16 at 9 p.m. The new Jenna Elfman comedy Growing Up Fisher will premiere in its regular time period Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Finally, NBC will trot out a new political thriller called Crisis on March 16 at 10 p.m.

Can’t forget about reality shows! The Nate Berkus-hosted reality competition series American Dream Builders will premiere Sunday, March 23 at 8 p.m.

Believe is a suspense drama that follows a 10-year-old girl with incredible powers who must be protected from falling into the wrong hands. Crisis examines to what extremes elite and influential Washington, D.C., parents will go to when their children are put in jeopardy by a man who is out for revenge.

Dream Builders will pits 12 of the country’s most accomplished designers and builders against each other as they tackle massive home renovation projects, featuring unique architectural styles.

Comedy Central greenlights Ben Stiller-produced comedy

Comedy Central has ordered a half-hour comedy series produced in part by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour productions. The network has also given the go-ahead to an animated series that features the voices of Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks and Will Forte.

The Stiller-produced scripted series, Big Time in Hollywood, FL, which follows two delusional filmmaker brothers, received a 10-episode order from the network. According to a statement from Stiller, the show “combines the directorial style of Hitchcock, the acting prowess of Streep, the budget of House of Payne, and the nutritional value of Velveeta. I think people’s minds will be blown wide open. For real.”

The animated series, titled Moonbeam City, is “an absurdist take on the gritty, sex-drenched crime dramas from the 1980s,” according to the network’s announcement. Lowe will lend his voice the project and will act as a producer as well. It is set to premiere in 2015.

'Saturday Night Live': Inside its search for black female voices

On November 8, New York-based comedian Kerry Coddett (pictured, left) fired shots at Saturday Night Live with an editorial published on the Atlantic‘s website. In it, she blasted the notion that the show’s cast hadn’t featured a black woman in years because — as longtime repertory player Kenan Thompson said in a widely-circulated interview last fall — “in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” Coddett contended instead that SNL‘s diversity problems were endemic and ingrained. “Perhaps it’s not that black women aren’t ‘ready’ for SNL; it’s that SNL isn’t ready for a black woman,” she wrote.

Less than a month later, a rep from Saturday Night Live invited Coddett to audition for the show.

“I didn’t know anything about the audition until I got there,” she told EW in an interview Wednesday. “Going into it, I was like ‘Ha, wouldn’t it be funny if there were only black women here?’ And that’s what it was.”


'American Horror Story': Ryan Murphy talks Stevie Nicks' debut on 'Coven' and which witches are actually dead -- EXCLUSIVE


The “White Witch” finally made her much-anticipated debut last night on American Horror Story: Coven. Yes, the one and only Stevie Nicks popped up as a pal of Fiona’s and gave the Miss Robichaux ladies a little private concert. Elsewhere, Nan, Joan and (maybe?) Misty perished. Plus, Marie did an awesome thing her tongue. EW talked to co-creator Ryan Murphy about all this and more, like which witches are gone for good.

'SNL' adds LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones to writing staff

More signs of progress at Saturday Night Live: EW has confirmed that the sketch show has added comedians LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones to its writing staff. Their hiring comes two days after SNL announced that New York-based comedian Sasheer Zamata will be the show’s newest featured player. All three women are black — a rarity for SNL, which has featured just four black female cast members in its 39-year history. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

Tookes (pictured at right), a former news reporter, was one of the 11 black women who auditioned for SNL during a secret showcase held in Los Angeles last December. She’s trained at Improv Olympic’s iO West theater. A character reel posted on YouTube shows her performing impressions of celebrities like Oprah, Paula Deen, and Nicki Minaj.

Jones is a veteran comedian and actress who has opened for Jamie Foxx and appeared on programs including Showtime at the Apollo, Chelsea Lately, Mind of MenciaGirlfriends, and Problem Child, an hour-long Showtime special. She auditioned at SNL‘s secret New York showcase in December.

Though the show currently has no plans to feature Tookes or Jones onscreen, that could easily change: Several past cast members, including Jason Sudeikis and Tina Fey, started out as writers before transitioning to on-camera work. And just this year, longtime writer Mike O’Brien was brought into the show’s cast as a featured player.

Hulu's original programming slate includes Casey Wilson comedy, new season of 'The Awesomes'

Hulu’s originals lineup for the new year, announced this morning, is an amalgam both old favorites and a few new shows, with offerings like a Real Housewives parody starring Casey Wilson (watch EW’s exclusive debut of Hulu’s Hotwives of Orlando trailer), the second season of Seth Meyers’ The Awesomes, and the second season of Chris O’Dowd’s semi-autobiographical comedy Moone Boy.

“What I love about [our slate] is the diversity of the high-quality content that is there,” Charlotte Koh, head of development, tells EW. “I think that we’re doing the continued mission of bringing a great variety of carefully selected, hand-picked shows from all over the world in lots of different genres and I think that represents the fact that we have a sophisticated, curious audience that wants to try out television that feels distinctive.”

The launch of a supernatural comedy called Deadbeat, starring Tyler Labine (Reaper) and So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley — Hulu’s first co-production with Lionsgate — and a second season of Hulu’s East Los High were also among the projects announced. Their full slate is detailed below. READ FULL STORY


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