News Briefs: Jonathan Banks Will Star in Better Call Saul

By Tim Surette

Jan 28, 2014


... When AMC announced that it would move forward with Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad spin-off centered on criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, we all wondered how many Breaking Bad characters would be part of the new show. Badger? That car wash owner with the eyebrows? That spider-collecting kid who died? Mike Ehrmantraut? Well, we can put a check next to that last name, as Jonathan Banks has joined the series as a regular. Better Call Saul will take place before Saul became Walter White's lawyer, and will debut in November. [Deadline Hollywood]


... Sometimes networks outgrow their names and after a stellar 2013, Sundance Channel has decided to spruce itself up a bit. The network that brought you Rectify, The Returned, and Top of the Lake will now be known as Sundance TV and "feature a streamlined logo in a modern sans serif font and neutral palette." From that quote, it's clear that one thing that's NOT changing is Sundance's highfalutin snobbery. J/K Sundance I love you. [Sundance TV via press release]

... Vince Gilligan won the Directors Guild of America prize for his work behind the camera on the series finale of Breaking Bad “Felina.” He beat out his own star Bryan Cranston, who was nominated for his directing work on "Blood Money," the Season 5B premiere. [Variety]

... Starz is hoping that "From the producer of Breaking Bad!" is enough to bring attention to a drama about ballet. The network has ordered Flesh and Bone, a drama following a young ballet dancer as she joins a prestigious New York company, to series. Breaking Bad writer/producer Moira Walley-Beckett created the show which won't be all tutus and frilly things; instead, Flesh and Bone will pay more attention to the dark and gritty side of the ballet world. In related news, today I learned that there's a dark and gritty side to the ballet world. [Starz via press release]

... But what about the shows Starz already has, you ask? Well, it's great news for Black Sails, which premiered Saturday night with the network's best-ever launch across multiple platforms. 850,000 people tuned in to the pirate drama for the premiere telecast, and another 2.6 million watched rebroadcasts or saw it via on-demand or online streams. Most critics didn't like it, but I did because I used to be a pirate in a former life. Captain Facebeard, they used to call me. [THR]

... FX's upcoming comedy starring George Lopez has a premiere date FINALLY! Saint George will debut Thursday, March 6 at 9pm. Lopez stars as a successful Mexican-American businessman who is caught between cultures manifested by his gringo ex-wife and his overbearing Mexican mother. Sounds like a real treat. This is one of those 10/90 deals, meaning that if the first 10 episodes meet certain ratings criteria, FX will order another 90 episodes, just like it did with Anger Management. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it probably also signifies that the series will really suck. [FX via press release]

... Travel Channel has ordered three new series, and only one of them is really about traveling. Barely. Ace the Game follows casino consultant Sal Piacente as he travels the country helping people beat carnival games and street-corner hustles. Hotel Amazon will follow two guys trying to build a luxury hotel in the middle of the Amazon. Finally, Spy World recreates spy stories around the world. Yup! That's the Travel Channel! [Travel Channel via press release]

... Housewives are so 2013. Preachers are so 2014. Oxygen has renewed Preachers of L.A. for a second season and is actively pursuing spin-offs in other cities around the country, including New York, Dallas, and Atlanta. The franchise follows mega-preachers as they mega-preach. [Deadline Hollywood]

... 28.5 million viewers watched the Grammys last night, the second biggest audience for the music awards since 1993. I watched it for about five minutes before I realized I couldn't identify any of the performers. Luckily I read Price's photo recap of the thing and now I know what a Macklemore is! [CBS via press release]

... Well, NBC has done it again. The network has ordered a multi-camera comedy pilot for a TV adaptation of the 1986 movie The Money Pit. That film starred Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as a couple who bought a fixer-upper house. Sigh. We probably don't need this, do we? Also earning a pilot order was The Fifth Wheel, another multi-camera comedy about a woman whose last single friend gets engaged. [Deadline Hollywood]

... TV Land has picked up the single-camera comedy Jennifer Falls to series. It stars Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl, I Hate My Teenage Daughter) as a recently canned career woman who's forced to move back in with her mom, just like every other sitcom made in the past two years. [TV Land via press release]


... BBC America's upcoming series Intruders has brought on Mira Sorvino as its female lead. The drama has a sci-fi bent to it, with a secret society chasing immortality by living in the bodies of others. Sorvino will play two characters who share the same body. James Frain (True Blood) has also joined the series. Now Sorvino just needs seven more characters to catch up to Tatiana Maslany! [Deadline Hollywood]

... The CW's The Flash pilot/Arrow spin-off has added two more to its cast to prep for production. Rick Consett (The Vampire Diaries) will play a detective with a (surprise!) dark past, and Danielle Panabaker (Necessary Roughness) will play a bioengineer who lost her fiancé in a lab explosion. That sounds like an open door for The Flash to speed on through if you ask me. [Deadline Hollywood]

... Rosie O'Donnell will pay a visit to her old screaming grounds as a guest on The View! She'll stop by the ABC daytime talk show to squawk about stuff on Friday, February 7. [ABC via press release]

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  • JosephCecil Jan 28, 2014

    It seems more and more likely this is Community's final season. Chase and Glover are gone and the semi-regular is already part of another show. Yeah, he can do both, but I think it's time for #fiveseasonsandathankyou.

  • MarlboroMagpi Jan 28, 2014

    Really happy I get to see Jonathan Banks as Mike again ! I am definitely watching the show ! Intruders sounds very interesting. Keep us updated when it is airing.

  • Mantis82 Jan 28, 2014

    I'm looking forward to Better Call Saul but the fact that we already know what happens to Saul and Mike does take a huge element of surprise away. I'm not saying it won't be good, but just that Breaking Bad's biggest moments were the shocks and not knowing if a character would survive. Still have high hopes for this show

  • DirgeNovak Jan 28, 2014

    Aww yeaahh. Let's hope he can stay on Community as well. We need as much Jonathan Banks as possible in our lives.

  • zeofan1 Jan 28, 2014

    Yet another person who doesn't appreciate ballet as an art form, nor the hard work that those men and women pour into their craft. Le sigh.

  • missjudgment Jan 28, 2014

    Actually, that thing about ballet sounds interesting, if it doesn't devolve into Black Swan-esque territories.

  • XY Jan 28, 2014

    Every time I see Jonathan Banks, I just wanna give him a hug.

  • sleepy-sonic Jan 28, 2014

    Intruders sounds interesting.

  • JT_Kirk Jan 28, 2014

    "Sundance TV" sounds so much cheaper than "Sundance Channel", so chintzy, like a sub-network that rents time on ABC Family at 3am or something along those lines.

    What is with TV lately trying to convince us that we just gotta watch dramas about ballet? That's the 3rd one in as many years, right? This is all goddamn Black Swan's fault, isn't it?!? A wonder what a couple faux-lesbian scenes can do for a movie's street cred.

    How is sub-million a good turnout for Black Sails? Insanity.

    George Lopez is going to get 100 episodes and FX will finally realize crap 2000s sitcoms reborn on cable aren't the way to go, idiots.

    Macklemore wears your granddad's clothes, Tim. He got them from the thrift shop down the road, he looks incredible. Also his uncles are gay, and that's ok. And his former photographer is now his producer and musical partner, and he's an indie label guy. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

    The Money Pit wasn't even a terribly successful film, now it's going to a terribly unsuccessful (both critically and viewership) network? And dang, I just remembered, it's already had a TV show before it was a movie, Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House was a movie that spun off to a TV show in the old days of black & white. Oh, but at least they also picked up a sitcom about an unmarried woman and it's a multi-cam, that'll last 6 weeks.

    Damn, Jaime Pressly made the move to TV Land awful fast! And yeah, it's the same premise as a bunch of shows, most of which already tanked.

    Haven't seen Mira Sorvino in a while, wonder how that'll work out, she's pretty good at times but she can also phone it in worse than anybody. It's always surprising to see her and realize who her dad is (the fat guy from every other cop or mob show and flick over the past 40 years).

    The daughter from Shark is going to be Iris West? ... I'm ok with this.

  • dodge_hickey Jan 28, 2014

    850,000 viewers for a basic cable channel on a Saturday night? How is that not great news? (It's like CBS getting 5 million for an original on a Saturday)

    I am still puzzled at the fact Starz is airing such an amibitous show on a Saturday instead of a Friday where most of it's hits started.

  • dodge_hickey Jan 28, 2014

    This comment has been removed.

  • ben45tpy Jan 28, 2014

    If Mike was NOT in Better Call Saul it would have been disasterous because it's so obvious that he is essential if the show is to have any chance of being good. But him being there isn't enough to stop me being very cynical about this show. I expect to be proved wrong.

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