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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

TV/STREAMING . . .

Law and Order: SVU Will Run as Long as Mariska Hargitay Wants to Play Benson, a Role She's Still "Deeply" Inspired By. Law & Order: SVU will never leave you... at least as long as Mariska Hargitay is involved. At a Paley Center event, NBC's Robert Greenblatt said the long-running drama starring Hargitay as Lt. Olivia Benson, which is entering season 20 this fall, will continue as long as Hargitay wants to do the show. Hargitay has been with the series since its launch in 1999 and won an Emmy for her portrayal of Benson. With the upcoming season 20, Law & Order: SVU ties Gunsmoke and the original Law & Order as the longest-running scripted live-action American drama series. "I'm still processing it because it's a lifetime of processing. I'm just so full of gratitude and so excited that I get to do what I love to do everyday," Hargitay told E! News about SVU's historical new season. But, Hargitay said there are moments when she steps outside of the bubble SVU filming exists in, like the Paley Center event, that "it's such a marker and it's so beautiful to celebrate." "When you're just in it, it's hard to fully take it in," she said. "So I'm just grateful for this role, for this part, for [Dick Wolf's] vision and that I've gotten to mine a character for so long that is still deeply challenging to me and inspiring to me and necessary and timely, and I think truly changing the culture." It doesn't seem like Hargitay is hanging up her TV badge and gun soon. "It's deeply in me. I was just saying the other day, I don't know any more where Mariska ends and Olivia starts. They're just becoming so enmeshed and entwined, and I think that's a good thing," Hargitay told E! News on set of SVU ahead of the season 19 premiere. "You know what? Nineteen years later and I'm finding myself deeply inspired and committed and finding new places to go and challenged. I want to be challenged. As long as that's happening, I'm very happy and very fulfilled." As for what's next for Benson, she did tease she's going to do something with the character she has yet to do in the last 19 seasons, but she won't reveal what that is. Law & Order: SVU returns with new episodes this fall on a new night, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on NBC. (Eonline)

ABC wants to move forward with a second reboot of "Roseanne" and we're told an announcement could be imminent. Sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ ... network executives kicked negotiations into third gear when Tom Werner, who produced "Roseanne" through his company Carsey-Werner, got involved over the weekend in direct talks with top network brass. His involvement has all but sealed the deal. Our sources say the network's fine tuning last-minute details ... particularly around Roseanne, who was not only the face of the show, but also served as an executive producer. TMZ broke the story ... ABC has been exploring the possibility of rebranding the show and focus on Sara Gilbert's character, Darlene. John Goodman is "very interested" ... as is the rest of the cast and crew. There is a possible snag. Although ABC seems to have good cause to fire Roseanne as both the star and Executive Producer, the network may be contractually bound to pay her a fee or back end or both for her participation in creating the show. ABC, of course, could argue it's now a different show. We were told ABC was desperately trying to salvage the jobs of those affected by ABC's swift decision to axe the show ... but there's reason for optimism ... especially for crew members who passed on other jobs in town, believing Season 2 was a go. And now it is ... albeit a rebranded version. We're told an announcement could come as early as this week. (TMZ)

Jeff Glor's 'Evening News' struggles reignite Norah O'Donnell controversy. The shaky start for new "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor is breathing new life into controversy over the network's decision to pass over Norah O'Donnell for the gig. Sources tell Page Six that inside the network, O'Donnell was a popular pick for the storied anchor's chair after Scott Pelley vacated it last summer. Last week we reported that Tiffany Network execs are in panic mode because their flagship show has lost some 1.5 million viewers since Glor took over in December. The network has denied the story, saying it "couldn't be more excited about the direction" in which Glor is taking the show. CBS News president David Rhodes said in a note to staff after our story was published: "We have full confidence in Jeff Glor." Now we're told that O'Donnell's supporters are crowing, "We told you so!" Last year, insiders said that execs were loathe to move her off the successful "CBS This Morning" for the "Evening News" job, which has been held by Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Katie Couric. When they moved Glor over from streaming service CBS Interactive, O'Donnell even appeared to express frustration, posting on Facebook, "Reposted this running photo as a reminder to myself that life is a lot like training for a road race. Sometimes no matter how much effort you put into the goal, you fall short. There's always another race." Sources close to O'Donnell claim it was a coincidence, but fans seemed clear on her meaning, replying with condolences on being skipped over for the "Evening News" job. Said an insider, "Norah's well-respected and she seemed like the obvious choice, and there's a faction inside the network that continues to be disappointed. With Glor struggling, it makes that even worse." A CBS News spokesperson said, "We're extremely confident in the journalism and the momentum of the broadcast. We're just getting started." They also argued that Glor's rating's are up 10 percent from Pelley's last month. (PageSix)

Streaming Service Acorn TV Launches in Latin America. The RLJ Entertainment-controlled Acorn, which specializes in British and international TV, will be available on Roku streaming devices on 12 countries throughout Central and South America. Acorn TV, the international-focused streaming service, is expanding into Latin America with the launch, in 12 countries, from Mexico and Guatemala through Argentina and Chile. Acorn will be available in the region on Roku streaming devices and via acorn.tv for a $4.99 monthly subscription service. Programming will be available in English with Spanish subtitles. Until now, Acorn TV has been available solely in North America. The service, run by RLJ Entertainment, specializes in British and international TV, with series from Britain, Canada Australia and Europe, including such hits as Doc Martin, Poldark and Jack Taylor. "Acorn TV has built a fast-growing subscriber base of passionate and loyal British and international TV fans in the U.S. and Canada, and we are excited to bring our unique offering of premium entertainment to other countries," said Acorn TV's general manager and RLJ Entertainment senior vice president Matthew Graham in a statement, noting that Latin America was "an excellent first step" in the company's international expansion. (Hollywood Reporter) 'Peppa Pig' Attraction in the Works for China. Entertainment One has licensed its popular kids TV property to Merlin Entertainments to become an indoor play center in Shanghai. Entertainment One's popular Peppa Pig character is set to star in an indoor attraction in China. The indie studio on Tuesday said it has licensed the popular kids TV property to Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments so the theme park operator can develop and open an indoor play center to open at Shanghai's LC Mall later this year. The planned indoor attraction, Peppa Pig World of Play, will feature ten play areas for pre-schooler fans. Peppa Pig airs on Nick Jr. in the U.S. and has become popular in China after launching on the China Central Television network in 2015. Merlin has identified four additional standalone locations in China, and another three in the U.S., including in the Grapevine Mills shopping mall in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, for additional Peppa Pig World of Play venues scheduled to open in 2019. "Peppa Pig is an exceptionally strong brand, recognized and loved by families around the world, and the global preschool market for location-based entertainment represents a great opportunity for Merlin. The attraction's flexible design means we are excited about the rollout potential of these attractions, with an initial focus on China and the U.S.," Merlin chief development officer Mark Fisher said in a statement. Andrew Carley, executive vp of global licensing, family & brands at eOne, in his own statement added the partnership with Merlin aimed at "building enduring global success for Peppa Pig and these attractions will play an integral role in making it a favorite preschool property for many years to come." Earlier this year, Merlin launched two in-park dedicated Peppa Pig brand areas at Gardaland, Italy and Heide Park, Germany. (Hollywood Reporter)

Hit Belgian Series 'Team Chocolate' to Get British Adaptation. Canadian/British producers Reel One and UK theater troupe Chickenshed will adapt the series, about a young man with Down syndrome who travels across Europe to reunite with the love of his life. Canadian/British Group Reel One Entertainment are teaming with UK theater company Chickenshed to adapt the award-winning Belgium TV series Team Chocolate for British TV. The Belgium show, which launched to ratings success and critical acclaim on Belgium public broadcaster VRT last year, follows Jasper Vloemans (Jelle Palmaerts), a young man with Down syndrome, who starts his first job in a family-run chocolate factory. He soon falls in love with one of his colleagues: Tina, a girl from Kosovo. But when Tina is suddenly deported to her home country, Jasper and his friends set out on a road trip across Europe to find her. The feel-good Flemish-language dramedy picked up the best drama series at the first Diversity TV Excellence Awards at international television market Mipcom in October and won the 2017 Prix Europa for best European Fiction Series. The series was the result of a unique collaboration between Belgian TV production company De Mensen, whose credits include hit crime drama Salamander and upcoming Netflix series Undercover, and Theater Stap, a Flanders-based theater company that works with disabled actors. Actors from the company play many of the lead roles in the show. Reel One, who picked up series adaptation rights from Wild Bunch TV, plans to recreate that collaboration with Chickenshed, an inclusive theater company based in Southgate, London. Reel One is pitching Team Chocolate to UK networks and is in talks to attach a British writer to the project. Broadcasters in the UK are under pressure to increase the representation of physically and mentally disabled people on screen. According to last year's Project Diamond survey of major broadcasters, people with disabilities are one of the most under-represented groups on TV, making up just 6.5 percent of on screen and 5.5 percent of behind-the-camera talent while making up 18 percent of the national population of Great Britain. Reel One, based in Montreal with offices in LA, London and Vancouver, is expanding into serial production, recently hiring producer Adam Fratto (Cleverman) as new senior vice president of TV series and naming former Channel 4 executive Dominic Schreiber its global drama executive. Reel One is currently developing a series of crime procedurals as well as a sci-fi series based on the Philip K. Dick novella Second Variety. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC has given a greenlight to cooking-competition series "Family Food Fight" from Endemol Shine North America. Based on the Australian format of the same name, the show will pit eight families from across the United States against each other in a battle to determine which is the country's top food family. Restaurateur and cookbook author Ayesha Curry will serve as host of the show. Putting regional cooking on display, "Family Food Fight" will see competing families vie for a grand prize of $100,000. No premiere date has yet been set. Curry had previously served as co-host of ABC's "The Great American Baking Show," which was abruptly canceled by ABC last year after abuse allegations against judge Johnny Iuzzini surfaced. A former actress and the wife of Golden State Warriors basketball star Stephen Curry, she also previously hosted the show "Ayesha's Homemade" for The Food Network. Produced by Endemol Shine North America, "Family Food Fight" was created by Endemol Shine Australia with Nine in Australia. The original series on which the U.S. version is based was recently renewed for a second season. Curry, Robert Flutie and Shab Azma serve as executive producers through Yardie Girl Productions; DJ Nurre, Georgie Hurford-Jones and Faye Stapleton also serve as executive producers for Endemol Shine North America. (Page Six)

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