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13 items from 2008

William Blinn to receive WGAW lifetime nod

23 December 2008 12:00 PM, PST | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The WGA West will honor William Blinn with its Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television during the 2009 Writers Guild Awards ceremony Feb. 7.

The guild's highest TV award, the Laurel honors lifetime achievement for outstanding television writing. Blinn will join the ranks of Rod Serling, Norman Lear, Steven Bochco, Susan Harris, Stephen J. Cannell, John Wells and last year's honoree, David Chase.

Blinn's five-decade resume includes the TV longform projects "Roots," "Brian's Song" and "The Boys Next Door" and such series as "The New Land," "Fame," "Eight Is Enough," "Starsky & Hutch," "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza," "My Favorite Martian" and "Rawhide." He also co-wrote the hit 1984 Prince film "Purple Rain."

Blinn has been nominated for five Emmys and six Writers Guild Awards, winning two of each. He also won a Peabody Award for "Brian's Song" and the Humanitas Prize for "Roots."

"William Blinn's writing changed the face of television," Wgaw president Patric Verrone said. »

- By Jay A. Fernandez

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DVD Review: ‘Generation Kill’ Defines New Face of American War

17 December 2008 12:26 PM, PST | | See recent news »

Chicago – David Simon and Ed Burns, two of the television geniuses behind “The Wire”, turned their eyes and ears from the gang-ridden streets of Baltimore to the bullet-strewn bodies of Iraq in the incredible seven-part HBO mini-series “Generation Kill”, now available in a box set from HBO Home Video.

All the buyers who turned HBO’s “Band of Brothers” into a massively successful DVD release (especially around Father’s Day and Christmas) should put “Generation Kill” on their shopping list this year. It’s easily the best fictional document that has yet to be produced about the nightmare in the Middle East. While films like “Lions For Lambs” and “Redacted” and shows like Steven Bochco’s “Over There” tried to be blanket statements for the entire war and the Bush administration’s bungling of it, Simon and Burns focus “Generation Kill” on the people on the ground. It’s incredible »

- (Adam Fendelman)

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Shorts Column | An Unlikely Partnership Results in Short Films with Something to Say

19 November 2008 7:57 AM, PST | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

by Kim Adelman (November 19, 2008) Back in May 2008, eight UCLA graduate students were given good news: the nonprofit organization Aarp wanted to give each of them $10,000 to make short films on the hot-button topics of healthcare and financial security. The bad news was the students had only three months to shoot and edit their pieces, which had to be completed by an August 1, 2008 deadline. The eight shorts made under the Stolen Dreams competition umbrella were then whittled down to four finalists, which were shown on October 23, 2008 to Aarp's Emilio Pardo and industry heavyweights Steven Bochco, Curtis Hanson, and Reggie Hudlin. After an intensive morning spent screening then deliberating, the four-man jury awarded a $7,500 cash prize to Anthony Onah's "The Cure." Onah's short will go on to be integral part of Aarp's bi-partisanship Divided We Fail initiative. »

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Joel Fields leaves 'Betty' for 'Bar'

5 November 2008 6:00 PM, PST | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

"Ugly Betty" executive producer Joel Fields has left the dramedy series after eight months. He is segueing into a writer-producer gig on "Raising the Bar," Steven Bochco's legal drama for TNT. Both series are produced by ABC Studios.

Sources close to "Betty" said that Fields had been hired to help with the show's transition to a New York-based production. With all stories for the series' current third season broken and approved by the network, his assignment was considered completed. Meanwhile, "Bar" is gearing back up for production on its second season, and Bochco, who previously recruited Fields for ABC's "Commander In Chief" and FX's "Over There," invited him to join his new series.

CAA-repped Fields came on board "Betty" in March, replacing ousted executive producer Marco Pennette. »

- By Nellie Andreeva

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L.A. Law: Was Blair Underwood's Character Based on Barack Obama?

5 November 2008 4:02 PM, PST | | See recent TVSeriesFinale news »

Now that the presidential election is over, it's time to put to rest one of the campaign's stranger urban legends. Was Blair Underwood's L.A. Law character based on a young Barack Obama?

L.A. Law debuted on September 15, 1986. The NBC series was created by prolific Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues) and gave a big break to David E. Kelley, the talented writer who later created legal shows like Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Boston Legal. In its day, L.A. Law was a cornerstone of NBC's mega-successful Thursday night line-up. Following a group of lawyers at a Los Angeles law firm, the series showcases actors like Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins, Michael Tucker, Richard Dysart, Larry Drake, Susan Ruttan, Susan Dey, Jimmy Smits, Harry Hamlin, Michele Greene, John Spencer, Sheila Kelley, and Amanda Donohoe.

Blair Underwood joined the show's cast in season two as a young hotshot black attorney named Jonathan Rollins. »


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NBC Picks Up New Drama From 'ER' Creator

16 October 2008 12:30 AM, PDT | | See recent BuddyTV news »

NBC has approved yet another legal drama from veteran scribe David E. Kelley, who penned the phenomenal 15-season long ER.  The Emmy-winning creator of ABC’s The Practice and Fox’s Ally McBeal recently signed a deal with NBC, with whom he worked for La Law.  He is currently finalizing the production on the last 13 episodes of ABC’s Boston Legal, the spin-off of The Practice.

Earlier this year, Kelley moved his production company to Warner Bros. TV, and the deal with NBC marked his first fresh material since the move.  It also marks the first series from the scribe since he served as executive producer for Steven Bochco’s La Law in the late 1980s.

The new NBC drama will follow a father and daughter tandem of lawyers.  It also is one of the bigger deals NBC has closed for this development season.  NBC is looking forward to a »

- BuddyTV

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David E. Kelley takes case to nets

7 October 2008 7:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

David E. Kelley is staying on the legal beat with a new series project.

The Emmy-winning creator of ABC's "The Practice" and Fox's "Ally McBeal" has penned a spec script for Warner Bros. TV, where he set up shop in May after more than two decades at 20th TV.

The project, an hourlong legal drama, is being taken to the broadcast networks this week with CBS and NBC as primary targets. Both nets are said to be very high on the show, which is expected to fetch a significant commitment.

Kelley is said to have a great relationship with CBS, where he most recently created the critically praised but short-lived drama "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H." His previous CBS series include medical drama "Chicago Hope" and the Emmy-winning "Picket Fences."

At NBC, he worked on the Emmy-winning "L.A. Law."

Kelley is wrapping production on the final 13 episodes of the ABC legal dramedy "Boston Legal, »

- By Nellie Andreeva

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Commander in Chief: Series Creator Rod Lurie Sues Touchstone TV

11 September 2008 12:57 PM, PDT | | See recent TVSeriesFinale news »

The former leader of ABC's cancelled Commander in Chief series is suing his former bosses at Touchstone TV for at least $1 million.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Chief creator Rod Lurie and his Chariot Productions company claim that Touchstone used the writers strike to stop paying on a contract deal stemming from the 2005 Geena Davis series. Lurie was replaced as a showrunner on Chief, reportedly after overruns in the show's budget and schedule. Veteran producer Steven Bochco was brought in to replace him but he was ultimately replaced himself by Dee Johnson. Though the series had a strong start, the backstage problems caused delays in production and many audience members ultimately gave up on the series or just forgot about it.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lurie's contract was reportedly reworked following his Chief removal to include a two-year extension. As part of the deal, »


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Touchstone TV sued over 'Chief'

9 September 2008 7:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Rod Lurie has sued Touchstone TV, claiming it owes him at least $1 million for his series "Commander-in-Chief."

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the producer-director-writer claims Touchstone used the WGA strike to stop paying him under his contract for the failed 2005 series about the first female U.S. president.

Lurie, who sued under his Chariot Prods. shingle, was ousted early in the series' run, replaced as showrunner by Steven Bochco, who in turn was replaced by the show's executive producer Dee Johnson for its final episodes.

According to the lawsuit, after his firing, Lurie's contract was amended to include a two-year extension agreement, where he retained executive producer credit on "Commander" and was paid $3 million (in weekly installments) and an overhead allowance of $100,000 per year until June 2008.

The agreement provided for Lurie to remain exclusive to Touchstone and develop, write and supervise other projects.

"Touchstone had »

- By Leslie Simmons

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'Raising the Bar' breaks record in debut

2 September 2008 7:00 AM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

TNT set the bar high with its new series "Raising the Bar."

The legal drama debuted commercial-free at 10 p.m. Monday with 7.7 million total viewers tuning in, making it the most-watched series premiere ever on ad-supported cable (which includes most basic cable networks with exceptions like Disney Channel), according to Nielsen Cable Fast Nationals. That beat the previous record set in 2004 by USA Network's "The 4400" (7.4 million) and also bested the 2005 debut of TNT's hit drama "The Closer" (7 million).

In the key demos, "Bar" drew 2.8 million adults 18-49 and 3.5 million adults 25-54, surpassing USA's "In Plain Sight" with the best numbers for a new series bow on ad-supported cable this year.

Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, which includes TNT, was pleased with the numbers, saying it was a "very competitive" night.

"This proves we can compete with broadcast," he said. "The world of television is changing, and quality dramas will attract a large audience. »

- By Kimberly Nordyke

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TNT ready to nurse Masius pilot 'Time'

30 July 2008 7:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

TNT has given the green light to "Time Heals," a drama pilot from Emmy-winning writer-producer John Masius.

Produced by Sony Pictures TV, the project centers on Nancy Hawthorne, the strong but caring director of nursing at Charlotte Mercy Hospital in North Carolina, a single mother who always puts the pain of others first.

Masius penned the script and is executive producing the pilot with Spt-based producer Jamie Tarses.

With a strong female character at the center of a classic procedural, "Time Heals" follows in the footsteps of TNT crime dramas "The Closer" and "Saving Grace."

"Time Heals" joins TNT's recently ordered pilot "Night and Day" -- a gritty drama about an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from Joel Surnow and Todd Robinson -- as well as Ray Romano's buddy drama pilot "Men of a Certain Age," which is about to begin production.

Next for the cable network is the premiere of Steven Bochco's legal drama "Raising the Bar" on Labor Day.

Endeavor-repped Masius, who won an Emmy for his work on "St. Elsewhere," created such series as "Touched by an Angel" and "Providence." He most recently worked on Showtime's "Dead Like Me." »

- By Nellie Andreeva

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TNT picks up 'Leverage'

14 February 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

TNT has picked up Dean Devlin's action drama pilot Leverage to series.

The cable network has ordered 13 episodes of the project that stars Timothy Hutton and is executive produced by Devlin and John Rogers.

Leverage, from Devlin's Electric Entertainment, follows a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who exact revenge against those who abuse power. Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge, Christian Kane and Gina Bellman co-star in the series, slated to premiere this year.

Devlin directed the pilot for Leverage, which was written by Rogers and Chris Downey.

"It's fast-paced, smart and just great fun," said TNT's top programr, Michael Wright.

Leverage marks the second series pickup for TNT this year, following the 10-episode order for Steven Bochco's Raising the Bar last month.

In other cable news, USA Network said Wednesday that its new original series In Plain Sight is set to premiere at 10 p.m. April 24 with a 90-minute episode, followed by 11 hourlong installments.

The Universal Media Studios show, set in the world of the Federal Witness Protection Program, stars Mary McCormack, Lesley Ann Warren and Frederick Weller. »

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'Bar' set for TNT

24 January 2008 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

TNT has picked up Steven Bochco's drama pilot Raising the Bar to series.

The cable network has ordered 10 episodes of the legal drama starring Jane Kaczmarek, Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Gloria Reuben, which revolves around young lawyers who have been friends since law school but now work on opposing sides.

Created by Bochco and lawyer-writer David Feige, author of the 2006 book Indefensible, the ABC Studios/Bochco Media-produced project co-stars Melissa Sagemiller, Currie Graham, Teddy Sears, J. August Richards and Jonathan Scarfe.

Bochco's son, director Jesse Bochco, helmed the pilot for Bar, which was written by Feige. Steven Bochco is executive producing the series.

"'Raising the Bar' is the sort of smart, highly charged legal drama for which Steven Bochco is known and an ideal fit for our line-up," Turner's top content executive Michael Wright said. "Steven and the exceptional cast and crew he's assembled have put together an excellent drama, and we're proud to add another talent-rich, entertaining series to the TNT schedule."

Raising the Bar is one of four pilots TNT greenlighted last year, along with Leverage, Truth in Advertising and Family Man, which remain in contention for a series pickup. »

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