News Briefs: Starz Is Developing Chuck Wendig's Blackbirds


... Following the news that Starz has renewed Da Vinci's Demons for a third season, the network is also developing a series based on the Chuck Wendig novel Blackbirds. The book is about a young woman named Miriam who has a special gift: If she touches you, she sees how and when you're going to die! But things get complicated when she realizes that she might be the next victim of a killer. Apparently Starz has already set up a writers' room for the project, a good sign that it intends to go all the way with this one. [Deadline]


... USA has ordered a pilot presentation (which is like a quick glimpse at what a pilot would look like) for Difficult People, a comedy produced by Amy Poehler and starring Billy Eichner (Billy on the StreetParks and Recreation) and Julie Klausner (Ugly Americans). The duo will play a pair of struggling comedians who are obsessed with pop culture. And this sounds important: They hate EVERYONE. USA is totally getting into original comedy, having recently launched Sirens and Playing House. [THR]

... Okay this is getting out of hand. Even WEtv is producing original scripted programming. The network known for Law & Order reruns and Joan Rivers reality shows is ready to launch The Divide, a drama that looks at the justice system through the eyes of a caseworker for the Innocence Initiative and a district attorney on the rise. The eight-episode series will debut July 16 at 9pm with a two-hour premiere, then move to its regular 10pm time slot a week later. It has a pretty solid cast, too: Marin Ireland (the white lady terrorist from Homeland), Damon Gumpton, Nia Long, Clarke Peters, and Paul Schneider. [WEtv via press release]

... Fox has added 10 episodes to the straight-to-series order of its John Mulaney comedy Mulaney. Originally given a six-episode order, the series has been bumped up to 16 episodes as Fox plans out its fall schedule. The show stars Mulaney, a former writer for Saturday Night Live, as a comedian on the ups, with Martin Short playing his boss. [THR]

... Louie returned on Monday with good-for-Louie ratings, drawing 940,000 viewers for its first episode and 910,000 viewers for its second episode, which is a shame because the second episode was goooooooood. Those numbers on their own aren't spectacular, but they're higher than Louie's average Season 3 audience, which was around 790,000 viewers. That's especially notable given that the show hasn't aired for over a year. [Variety]

... Another week, another Game of Thrones ratings record. The HBO fantasy drama hit another series high this week, reaching 7.2 million viewers. I think this show might be a hit, guys! [Deadline]


... Sleepy Hollow has cast America's favorite kite-flying, electricity-researching Founding Father, Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Actor Timothy Busfield (The West Wing) will wear Ben's bifocals, and the character will have a history with Ichabod and a major role role in the Revolutionary War. [EW]

... In some UNcasting news, Downton Abbey will be saying "Cheerio!" to Lady Rose. Actress Lily James is leaving the British soap for the bigshot world of Hollywood films, and has joined Disney's Cinderella redo as Cindy herself. James willl depart Downton Abbey after Season 5, but might not be gone permanently. Showrunner Julian Fellowes wants to keep her character alive so that she can return for Christmas specials or later seasons down the road. In other words, she ain't getting Matthew'd. [Dailymail]

... And the first big-name judge for ABC's singing show Rising Star is... country singer Brad Paisley! He'll make or break young artists' lives on the show that adds a twist to people screaming the hits into microphones. Contestants will perform before a huge video screen showing viewers at home in real time as they decide whether or not to vote for or against the singer using an app. This sounds pretty cool but how are they gonna stop people from showing their butts on TV and what about time zones and how much does the app cost? [Deadline]


... One day after ordering Gotham to series, Fox has picked up two more new shows: the Terrence Howard-starring hip-hop drama Empire, from The Butler's Lee Daniels, and Steven Spielberg's Red Band Society, about a group of teenagers who meet as patients in the children's wing of a hospital.

... NBC pulled Crisis and Believe off its schedule, which is bad, bad news for both. 

... Jimmy Kimmel earned a two-year contract extension from ABC, so expect more viral pranks. 

... 24 returned last night with the premiere of Live Another Day, and it had ratings! Good ones! 

... Starz gave Da Vinci's Demons a third season

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