This Week in TV News: ‘The Walking Dead’ spinoff gets picked up for at least two seasons

Cobalt

This Week in TV News is a compliment to the Week in Review feature, which will now be focused on film news. 

AMC has guaranteed two seasons to the prequel companion series of The Walking Dead, as per THR. The announcement was made earlier this week, and comes as somewhat unsurprising news. The Walking Dead continues to be one of the channel’s highest rated shows, with its popularity showing no signs of waning as the show’s fifth season rolls along. In addition, AMC has found similar commercial and critical success with Better Call Saul, its new series that is itself a spinoff of Breaking Bad.

There’s no set title for the series as of yet, and working titles have included Fear The Walking Dead and Cobalt. The first season, much like the show that spawned this spinoff, will consist of six episodes, with creator Robert Kirkman working on the writing staff of both shows. Producer Gale Anne Hurd and Special Effects specialist Greg Nicotero will also work on both shows, with Sons of Anarchy and Low Winter Sun writer Dave Erickson taking on showrunning duties. Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, and Frank Dillane all star in the series, which is expected to premiere in late summer of this year.

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Andy Samberg has been announced as the host of the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. The appointment marks Samberg’s first time hosting an event, following in the footsteps of fellow Saturday Night Live alum Seth Meyers. Samberg, known mostly for his work on the iconic sketch comedy show and his collaborations with Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer in the comedy musical group The Lonely Island, can currently be seen starring on the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The Emmys will be held on September 20.

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E! has announced that The Grace Helbig Show will be premiering on April 3. The show is being described as a comedy talk show, and will air at 10:30 PM ET. Helbig was brought on by the channel after the departure of popular late night show host Chelsea Handler, who signed a deal with Netflix. Helbig rose to popularity with numerous YouTube channels, and has also written a book and been a correspondent on G4’s now-cancelled Attack of the Show! She was last seen on the big screen in Camp Takota, and will continue to make her presence felt on the internet as one of the leads in the upcoming webseries Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. A promo for the show can be seen below.

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HBO’s film about the famous “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs has found its two leads. Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti will step into the respective shoes of the tennis players for the as-yet-untitled movie, which is being written by Proof and The Lake House scribe Danny Auburn. The 1973 match remains a legendary moment in sports history.

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The CW has released casting descriptions for three new roles in the upcoming spinoff show set in the universe of Arrow and The Flash. As previously announced, the show will star Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance, and Wentworth Miller’s Leonard Snart. Now news of three new characters has emerged via casting calls, and while the characters are not named, the descriptions are below.

“THE TRAVELER” | Described as a “Han Solo-esque rogue who gets by with his charm, this hero hails from the future, and has journeyed back in time on a secret mission. His razor-sharp wit hides the pain of a man who has lived through serious conflict. He also harbors many secrets, always leaving both his teammates and the audience unsure of his true allegiances.

“FEMALE WARRIOR” |This twentysomething Latina is pretty but unassuming, book smart and socially awkward by day. But by night, when she hears the cry of battle, her fury is ignited and she becomes a fierce warrior — so much so, that sometimes she can become a threat to others.

“MYSTERY HERO” |An African-American male in his twenties will fill the role of a regular, street smart guy who unexpectedly gains powers, and then, as part of the team, regularly quips about the insanity of the situations.

TV Line, along with the descriptions, has their own speculation on who these characters might be, with the prevailing theories being that they’re Rip Hunter, Fury, and Virgil Ovid Hawkins, respectively. This is the fourth announced show on The CW set in the same universe, with the CW Seed’s animated series Vixen set to make its debut later this year.

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After being praised as a standout supporting performer on numerous series, Hannibal Buress is finally getting his own show. Comedy Central has announced that it has picked up eight episodes of Why? With Hannibal Buress, which is poised to be a half-hour show focusing on Buress’ standup and interviews, among other things. Buress can currently be seen on The Eric André Show and Broad City, and was also a member of the 30 Rock writing staff, appearing onscreen as a recurring homeless man as well.

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Sleepy Hollow will be coming back with a major change behind the scenes. The Fox supernatural drama, which seems all set for a third season renewal, has now lost its showrunner, as Mark Goffman has departed after signing a two-year deal with CBS studios. A replacement for Goffman, who has been the showrunner for both seasons, has not been announced yet.

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The Fall will be returning for a third season. The BBC Two drama, which stars Jamie Dornan as a serial killer and Gillian Anderson as the detective who pursues him, wrapped up its second season late last year. Fans outside the UK can see the series on Netflix, which continues to have distribution rights. A teaser for the third season can be seen below.

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In casting news this week:

  • Another HBO movie has also found its lead, as Kerry Washington has signed on to play Anita Hill in the TV movie Confirmation. Washington will also act as executive producer on the movie, alongside Erin Brockovich and The Soloist scribe Susannah Grant, who will also write the screenplay for the film. A director for the feature has not been set as of yet.
  • Lucy Lawless will be joining the Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead. The TV continuation of the Evil Dead franchise, which sees creator Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell returning, will feature Lawless as a character who is hunting down the source of the Evil outbreaks and thinks Ash is the cause. Lawless and Raimi previously worked together on Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • Don Johnson will be returning to television. The star, who is best known for his role as Detective Crockett in the ’80s series Miami Vice, has been cast in the upcoming ABC series Boom, about the discovery of oil in North Dakota. The announcement of Johnson’s signing was followed by news that Delroy Lindo and Chace Crawford had joined the cast of the drama as well.
  • The second season of Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn will have a face familiar to fans of the filmmaker, as Danny Trejo has joined the tv adaptation of the feature film. Trejo, however, will not be reprising the role he played in the 1996 film for the El Ray show, but will instead be playing The Regulator, an evil agent. Briana Evigan has also signed on to the show.
  • Speaking of TV adaptations of popular films, the CBS adaptation of the Rush Hour trilogy has found its two leads. Co-written by Scrubs and Ground Floor creator Bill Lawrence, and executive produced by trilogy director Brett Ratner, the series will star Justin Hires and Jon Foo in the lead roles. Hires has been previously seen on Key & Peele and the feature film 21 Jump Street, while Foo has been seen in Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Extraction.
  • David Hasselhoff will be joining Syfy’s Sharknado 3. He’ll be playing the father of lead character Fin, and joins an eclectic assortment of new castmembers for the third entry in the franchise, as the movie had previously signed Mark Cuban, Ann Coulter, and Jerry Springer.
  • Cristin Milioti has joined the cast for the second season of FX’s Fargo. The actress, best known as the titular Mother in CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, as well as one of the two leads in the NBC sitcom A to Z, will be playing Betsy, daughter to Sheriff Hank Larsson and wife to police officer Lou Solverson. This would make her a significant figure in the life of Molly Solverson as well. Milioti joins a season 2 cast for the show that includes Ted Danson (who plays Larsson), Patrick Wilson (who plays Lou Solverson), Kirsten Dunst, Nick Offerman, and Jesse Plemons.
  • The Fox comedy pilot The Grinder has added three new castmembers, as Mary Elizabeth Ellis, William Devane, and Natalie Morales have joined the show. The trio join Rob Lowe and Fred Savage on the show.
  • Steven Weber has signed on as the lead in the new CBS sitcom Joe Time, as the titular Joe.
  • The CW show Reign has cast its version of Queen Elizabeth I, with Rachel Skarsten taking on the role. Skarsten will be a familiar face to fans of Lost Girl, where she plays Tamsin.
  • Jaime Pressly has been bumped up from recurring role to series regular on the CBS sitcom Mom.

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And in the rest of the television landscape:

  • Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune will continue to have the steady hands of their veteran hosts guiding them through to the 2017-2018 television season, as Alex Trebek, Pat Sajak, and Vanna White have all signed contract extensions.
  • CBS has renewed three of its comedies, as Mom, Mike & Molly, and 2 Broke Girls all received formal renewals. Mike & Molly leads the pack as the show is poised to head into its sixth season, with 2 Broke Girls close behind as the renewal means the show will get a fifth season. Mom will be entering its third season with this renewal.
  • USA Network has given a pilot commitment to Shooter. The drama is based on the 2007 movie of the same name, with the star of the film, Mark Wahlberg, onboard as executive producer. John Hlavin, who has previously written for The Shield and Trust Me, will be penning this pilot.
  • BBC has prematurely pulled the current season of Top Gear off the air, following the suspension of host Jeremy Clarkson following an altercation with a producer. The channel has shelved the season’s last three episodes, and the investigation into the proceedings is ongoing, with the fate of the show itself still up in the air.
  • Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is imploring fans of the show to not throw pizzas on the roof of the property that was one of the shooting locations. The Albuquerque house that was used for exterior shots of the White residence and is currently inhabited, has become an attraction for fans of the series, many of whom are seeing fit to emulate Walter’s actions in Season 3 and throw an entire pizza on the roof, much to the chagrin of the house’s occupants. Gilligan and actor Jonathan Banks, who appeared on both Breaking Bad and spinoff Better Call Saul, both expressed displeasure at this action on the Better Call Saul Insider Podcast.
  • W. Kamau Bell, Reza Aslan, and Kevin Spacey will all be on CNN in 2016. Bell and Aslan will both be hosting new docu-series, and Spacey will produce a series on US Presidential races, as well as narrating. Bell’s show will be titled United Shades of America and will examine different cultures in the country, while Aslan’s show, called Believer, will examine the rituals of different faiths.  The channel will also be airing Alex Gibney’s documentary Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine in 2016.
  • The National Association of Broadcasters will formally induct show creator and producer Shonda Rhimes into its Hall of Fame during the association’s luncheon on April 13. Rhimes currently is involved in three hit shows on ABC, with a fourth one in the midst of casting. At the luncheon, the association will also honour actress Tracee Ellis Ross, who is set to receive the 2015 NAB Television Chairman’s award.
  • Fox has announced the premiere dates for their summer lineup. The Matt Dillon-starring thriller series Wayward Pines will make its debut on May 14, with the new season of Masterchef premiering on May 20th. Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader will follow suit on May 26, with So You Think You Can Dance returing on June 1. The other new series, titled Boom!, will have its series premiere on June 25.
  • After only seven episodes, comedian Kathy Griffin has quit the E! show Fashion Police. Griffin’s departure follows the loss of Joan Rivers last year, who was an integral part of the show, and Kelly Osbourne, who left the show herself last month. Griffin explained her departure on her Twitter account, saying, “I do not want to use my comedy to contribute to a culture of unattainable perfectionism and intolerance towards difference”. Her full statement can be read below.

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