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Anthony Anderson talks working with Morpheus -- er, Laurence Fishburne -- in 'Blackish'

The captain of The Matrix‘s Nebuchadnezzar hovercraft is great at fighting in slo-mo and giving exposition. But is he funny? The answer’s a definite “yes”—at least, according to Anthony Anderson, who stars with Laurence Fishburne (a.k.a. Morpheus) in the upcoming sitcom Blackish. “Laurence started out on Pee Wee’s Playhouse back in the day,” the actor told Essence magazine at this past weekend’s Essence Fest. “People forget about his sense of humor and his comedic timing and abilities.”

Click below for more on Anderson and Fishburne’s latest project, which premieres this fall on ABC—and check Essence for more fest videos. (Sadly, you won’t find any of Prince. And just when we thought he had made his peace with the Internet.)

READ FULL STORY

7 potentially awesome shows canceled before they premiered

You know how sometimes you go to Chipotle and you’re midway through having the guy build your burrito—then you realize you’ve made a terrible mistake? Maybe you should have gone for the chicken instead of the beef, or a wheat tortilla instead of white, or perhaps you finally decide you don’t even like Chipotle in the first place. This also happens to TV executives when ordering shows.

Sometimes, even after slogging through months of development, script revisions, a pilot order, a series order, and even announcing a premiere date, executives will still stop and go: Wait, we don’t really want to air that, do we? Except instead of regretting an $8 burrito, such reversals cost millions, hugely affect the careers of dozens of people, and deny viewers a project they were publicly led to believe they’d eventually get to watch.

That’s what happened yesterday, when Fox axed its Egyptian drama series Hieroglyph (which had been scheduled to premiere at midseason). In honor of those dead pharaohs, below we present Hieroglyph and six more examples of promising-sounding shows that were officially greenlit but axed before they premiered (not to be confused with mere pilots that are routinely not ordered to series). We’re not saying these shows would have been good — most likely they were executed poorly and tested terribly, or they almost certainly would have made it onto the air. (After all, enough truly bad shows get on the schedule.) Yet on paper, at least, each could have been something great: READ FULL STORY

Amazon announces another pilot: 'Hysteria,' starring Mena Suvari

An American Beauty is coming to the small screen.

Weeks after revealing its plans to debut the Sarah Chalke comedy Really during its upcoming third pilot season, Amazon has announced another pilot: Hysteria, an hourlong dramatic thriller from singer-turned-TV-multihyphenate Shaun Cassidy starring Mena Suvari.

According to Amazon’s official description, “Hysteria takes viewers to Austin where members of a girls’ competitive dance team are stricken with a strange, psycho-physiological illness that manifests in violent fits and spasms. Neurologist Logan Harlen (Suvari) is called back to her hometown to investigate the cause. Fighting her own demons (and the growing manipulation of a brother on death row), Logan develops an uneasy suspicion that the hysteria surrounding the girls might actually be linked to social media and her own tragic past.”

Though it’s not mentioned in the release, the story seems inspired by a twitching epidemic that affected a group of teenage girls in Le Roy, New York, in 2012—an incident that also served as the basis for Megan Abbott’s recent novel The Fever.

The pilot will be directed by BAFTA winner Otto Bathurst, late of the U.K. series Peaky Blinders. It will also star James McDaniel (NYPD Blue), Josh Stewart (Criminal Minds), Adan Canto (Mixology), Laura San Giacomo (Saving Grace), and T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy). Just like the rest of Amazon’s productions, Hysteria will debut on Prime Instant Video later this year; customer feedback will determine which pilots are picked up and developed into full series.

NBC fall premiere dates; 'Constantine' held until October

NBC will hold off premiering its new comic book series Constantine until late October, according to its latest schedule update out today.

As previously announced, Katherine Heigl’s new drama State of Affairs won’t start up until November.

Here are the premiere dates: READ FULL STORY

NBC's next 'New Normal: 'One Big Happy'

The network that tried and failed to tell a very modern parenting story with A New Normal will try yet again with One Big Happy, a new comedy starring Elisha Cuthbert as a lesbian who’s pregnant with her best friend’s baby.

The executive producers on the comedy are Ellen Degeneres, Liz Feldman and Scott Ellis (2 Broke Girls).

Here’s the official logline for the sitcom that’ll premiere as part of NBC’s midseason lineup: Best friends Lizzy (gay and a bit type-A) and Luke (straight and more laid back) are like family. When they were kids and both of their parents were getting divorces, Lizzy (Elisha Cuthbert, Happy Endings) and Luke (Nick Zano, 2 Broke Girls) stuck together, and they’ve been there for each other ever since. Now, all grown up and still single, they’ve decided to start a family of their own. No, not like that (there are some lines even they won’t cross), we’re talking the non-romantic, go-to-the-doctor’s-office type of babymaking. Then one night, after yet another failed attempt at conception, the two head out to a bar to let off some steam. That’s where Luke meets Prudence (Kelly Brook, Smallville), a free-spirited British girl who’s slated to go back to England in a matter of days. Lizzy isn’t a huge fan — it might have something to do with Prudence waltzing around their apartment naked — but Luke really hits it off with her. Soon they’re spending every last minute of her limited time together. Then, just as Lizzy discovers that she’s actually pregnant, Luke announces that he and Prudence got married and a different kind of family is born.

Excited? How about these comedy, then, which were also ordered today:

MISSION CONTROL: Dr. Mary Kendricks (Krysten Ritter, Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23) is a tough but brilliant aerospace engineer, leading a team of NASA scientists at the cutting edge of space exploration. The only problem is, this is the 1960s and she’s a woman. Navigating the ridiculous boys’ club of astronauts and engineering nerds is no easy task, but she’s up to the challenge … until her boss brings on Tom (Tommy Dewey, “The Mindy Project”) — a former hotshot test pilot and overall man’s man — to co-manage her team.

BAD JUDGE: Wild child Rebecca Wright (Kate Walsh, Grey’s Anatomy) knows how to have a good time, but she also happens to be one of L.A.’s toughest and most respected criminal court judges. She has a reputation for unorthodox behavior in the courtroom, including creative and saying exactly what’s on her mind. Her private life, on the other hand, is anything but innocent. She parties too much and rocks out on the drums in a band with her best friend, Jenny. While there’s no shortage of male admirers who would love to spend time with her, she’s not ready to settle down … except when an 8-year-old boy — whose parents were put in jail by Rebecca — needs her help. He may, in fact, be the one thing that starts to tame this “bad” judge.

 

 

CBS orders 'NCIS' spinoff, 'The Odd Couple'

CBS gave the go-ahead to another NCIS spinoff, along with a retelling of the classic comedy The Odd Couple that will star Matthew Perry.

Tea Leoni will also debut on CBS this fall as the Secretary of State while Laurie Metcalf returns in a family sitcom about a raucous Boston clan.

What’s missing from this round of pickups? There was talk of a CSI spinoff that would have starred Patricia Arquette as a special agent in charge of the FBI’s cyber crime division. 

CBS, which has already issued verdicts on most of its shows save The Crazy Ones, Intelligence and The Mentalist, will present its fall lineup Wednesday in New York.

Here’s what’s planned (so far) for the 2014-15 season: READ FULL STORY

David and Jason Benham respond to HGTV: 'If our faith costs us a television show then so be it'

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David and Jason Benham have responded to HGTV dropping their home improvement series pilot, Flip It Forward, amid reports that the brothers are “anti-gay, anti-choice extremists.”

“We were saddened to hear HGTV’s decision,” the pair said in a statement. “With all of the grotesque things that can be seen and heard on television today you would think there would be room for two twin brothers who are faithful to our families, committed to biblical principles, and dedicated professionals. If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”

The brothers — whose show would have followed them helping families build their dream homes from fixer-uppers – insist they are not hateful people. READ FULL STORY

A&E Network orders 'Catfish'-like dating series on remote island, more

A&E Network has announced a slate of new non-fiction series and pilots to add to its lineup.

New series include Love Prison, a unique social experiment where an online couple meets for the first time on a remote island with cameras capturing ever moment for one week with no escape, and Dogs of War, a series about the nonprofit organization Paws and Stripes that matches veterans experiencing PTSD with potentially lifesaving best friends. Among the pilots in development is the previously announced Big Brew Theory, from executive producer Mark Wahlberg, which follows four MIT grad students and four MIT undergrads teaming up to create a home grown micro-brewery.

“As our successful long-running franchises continue to be the driving force of the network, we are making a significant investment in growing our unique slate of quality original nonfiction programming,” said David McKillop, General Manager and Executive Vice President of A&E..

Take a look at the full descriptions of the shows below: READ FULL STORY

TNT picks up dramas with Jennifer Beals, Ed Burns

UPDATED: TNT has ordered the supernatural drama Proof, a Jennifer Beals starrer about a brilliant surgeon who’s persuaded by a cancer-stricken tech millionaire (Matthew Modine) to investigate cases of reincarnation, out-of-body experiences, hauntings and other supernatural phenomena.

The network has ordered 10 episodes of the drama that’ll also star Joe Morton (Scandal). The drama’s from Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) and  Rob Bragin, who wrote the pilot.

It’ll bow in 2015.

Also on tap for next year: Public Morals, a police drama from Ed Burns (Saving Private Ryan). Set in New York in the 1960s, the drama focuses on the police department’s public morals division, where cops walk the line between morality and criminality as the temptations that come from dealing with all kinds of vice threaten to get the better of them. The show centers on Officer Terry Muldoon (Burns), who is determined to raise his sons to be honest and hardworking as he deals with the city’s dark underbelly.

Public Morals also stars Michael Rapaport (Justified).

 

How TV networks REALLY pick which pilots become series

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While we wait for the broadcast networks to choose which of their comedy and drama pilots will get a series order for next season, here’s a handy primer on how this decades-old hit-making process works…

1. Choose your pilots from hundreds of scripts. “What’s hot this year? Zombies? Make sure we got a zombie one.”

2. Cast more than 90 broadcast pilots at the same time, causing a frenzy to lock down the most marketable names: “For the Asian lesbian character I’m thinking Hugh Laurie. Or maybe Hugh Laurie for the Hispanic teen. He’s an actor.

3. Shoot all the pilots at the same time, prompting another scramble for the best behind-the-camera talent. “So your top director choices are all taken, but the second unit guy from The Mob Doctor pilot is still a firm ‘maybe.’”

4. Screen pilots for network insiders who tend to have similar taste: “Having grown up in New York City, I love this comedy pilot about young people in New York City, but I will also ask the people who work for me if they agree.” READ FULL STORY

Complete fall 2014 pilot list

In just four weeks, we’ll find out if Anthony LaPaglia and David Schwimmer will stage comebacks to prime time, or if Flash will really fly for the CW. Chances are it will, but what about those comic book-inspired dramas in the works at Fox and NBC?

Here’s your chance to see all the possibilities, but don’t get your hopes up too high: A majority of these pilots won’t make the cut for fall.

CBS

DRAMA

NCIS: NEW ORLEANS: The NCIS New Orleans office handles cases from Pensacola through Mississippi and Louisiana to the Texas panhandle. New Orleans with its rich setting of music, fun, and debauchery is a magnet for military personnel on-leave. And with fun comes trouble. It is a natural backdrop for a unique character driven spin-off. Cast: Scott Bakula (Special Agent Dwayne Pride); CCH  Pounder (Dr. Loretta Wade).

BATTLE CREEK: When two detectives with very different world views are teamed up, they must answer the question: is cynicism, guile, and deception enough to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, Michigan in the face of a complete lack of resources; or is the exact opposite true – it takes naïveté, trust and a boatload of resources? Cast: Josh Duhamel (Milton Chamberlain); Dean Winters (Det. Russ Agnew); Kal Penn (Det. Fontanelle).

MADAM SECRETARY: About the personal and professional life of a maverick female Secretary of State as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics, and balances a complex family life. Cast: Tea Leoni (Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord); Tim Daly (Henry McCord); Bebe Neuwirth (Nadine Tolliver).

STALKER: Psychological thriller centered around a pair of detectives who handle stalking incidents for the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD. Cast: Maggie Q (Detective Beth Davis); Dylan McDermott (Detective Jack Larsen).

FIELD OF PLAY: When a terrorist event rocks Washington, D.C., a retired CIA operative is pulled back into action, forced to investigate closer to home where the next generation of terrorists are being bred. Cast: Anthony LaPaglia (Coach Holden Weller); Samantha Mathis (Olivia Jordan).

SCORPION: An eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age. Cast: Robert Patrick (Agent Cabe Gallo); Eddie Kaye Thomas (Toby); Katharine McPhee (Paige).

UNTITLED CUSACK/McCABE/ELMORE/CAVELL PROJECT: Series set in the world of Wall Street power and money. Charlie Cox (Jackson Holliday); Maggie Grace (Jamie Fields); David Morse (J.D. Conklin); John Cusack (guest star).

UNTITLED DAVID MARSHALL GRANT PROJECT: Soapy medical show centered around quadruplets – three brothers and a sister – who grew up on a reality show. Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis (Evelyn Lang); Ashton Holmes (Jason Lang); Anna Brewster (Dani).

CSI PLANTED SPIN-OFF: Technology, as we know it, has amplified human behavior to the point where faceless criminals are committing crimes at global proportions with a touch of a button.  Avery Ryan, Special Agent in Charge at the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI in Quantico, VA, is tasked to solve high octane crimes that start in the mind, live on-line, and play out into the real world. Cast: Patricia Arquette (Special Agent Avery Ryan)

COMEDY

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Image Credit: Getty Images

HOW I MET YOUR DAD: Kindred spirit of How I Met Your Mother, telling the story from a female point of view.  A brand new story with new characters and a new voice at its center. Cast: Greta Gerwig (Sally).

McCARTHY’S: Family comedy about a loud, sports-crazed Boston clan. Single camera. Cast: Laurie Metcalf (Majorie McCarthy); Joey McIntyre (Gerard McCarthy).

UNTITLED JIM GAFFIGAN PROJECT: Jim Gaffigan stars as the happily married and harried NYC father of five as he is in real life. Cast: Ashley Williams (Jeannie Gaffigan); Michael Ian Black (Daniel); Adam Goldberg (Dave).

SAVE THE DATE: Newly single, Katie drunkenly books a wedding venue and is now faced with the task of meeting the right man in time. Cast: Maggie Lawson (Katie); Michelle Trachtenberg (Hillary).

GOOD SESSION: A happy couple decides to see a therapist to help them decide if they should have a baby but quickly discover they have more to discuss. Single-camera. Cast: Mandy Moore (Lindsay); Tracey Ullman (Ellen).

MORE TIME WITH FAMILY:  Tom Papa stars as a husband and father making a career change to spend more time with his family. Cast: Alyson Hannigan (Cindy); Joe Pantoliano.

THE MISTAKE: A couple who just “finished” raising their kids discover they are pregnant.

CUZ-BROS: A successful, suave ladies man’s perfect life gets turned upside down when his mess of a cousin needs a place to stay. Cast: Geoff Stults (Nick); Debra Jo Rupp (Merle); Andrea Anders (Stacey).

THE ODD COUPLE: A half-hour multi-camera comedy pilot based on Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. Cast: Matthew Perry (Oscar Madison); Thomas Lennon (Felix); Wendell Pierce (Teddy).

NEXT: ABC….

ABC Family orders drama pilot 'Stitchers'

ABC Family has given a pilot order to the paranormal procedural drama pilot Stitchers. Written by Jeffrey A. Schecter (Overruled!), the drama “follows a young woman recruited into a covert government agency to be “stitched” into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave.”

The order comes a month after the family cable network axed the drama pilot Alice in Arabia when it received significant backlash from Muslim civil liberties organizations for its plotlines and portrayals of the community. READ FULL STORY

Amazon greenlights new pilot 'The Cosmopolitans,' starring Adam Brody and Chloe Sevigny

Amazon Studios continues to curate original programming featuring big-name stars with the announcement that it has greenlit two new pilots: the half-hour dramatic comedy The Cosmopolitans and the hour-long drama Hand of God. READ FULL STORY

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