Pivot Announces New Slate, Including Stanley Tucci Drama, Andrew Jenks Docuseries

9:28 AM PST 04/16/2014 by Lacey Rose
Evan Shapiro

"Pivot's programming is meant to spark conversation among the very people most likely to create change," said president Evan Shapiro as he unveiled a slate featuring four new series and 11 more in development.

Pivot is getting that much more serious about its programming commitment.

The younger-skewing network from Participant Media announced at its upfront Wednesday that it will add four new original series and 11 projects in development as part of its push for more than 300 hours of original programming this year. Included in the mix is Fortitude, a 12-episode Sky original series collaboration, previously set up at Starz, which stars Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Sienna Guillory and Luke Treadaway.

As it looks to grow its portfolio of series, talent and producers, millennial-focused Pivot has tapped Embassy Row (Watch What Happens: Live) to produce a new season of Meghan McCain and Jacob Soboroff's TakePart Live. The pair will be joined by co-host Eddie Huang when the new season returns May 12. Pivot's other development efforts hail from production companies including Electus, Funny or Die, Universal Cable Productions and FremantleMedia North America.

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"Our second slate demonstrates our significant investment in, and commitment to, groundbreaking content for the thought-leading segment of Generation Y we call 'Upstanders,' " said Pivot president Evan Shapiro, who was recruited to the not-yet-year-old network from IFC/Sundance. "We believe that a story well-told can change the world. Pivot's programming is meant to spark conversation among the very people most likely to create that change."

In addition to an expanding collection of scripted and unscripted offerings, the fledgling cable network unveiled new research that it conducted in collaboration with Nielsen. Entitled the "Generation Why Segmentation Report," the study of more than 3,000 adults 18-34 focuses on the lifestyles and attitudes of millennials. Among the findings: Generation Y is highly engaged in social causes and actively pursues a life of purpose.

More specifically, 79 percent saying "meaningful work" is their No. 1 factor in choosing a career, while 67 percent are interested or passionate about six or more social issues. The segment within that grouping that Pivot is labeling "upstanders" are that much more active across causes and social media.

Here's a look at the network's slate:

Fortitude

The dark drama series, which features psychological and thriller elements, follows the residents of the Arctic town of Fortitude, a place unlike any other place on Earth. Surrounded by the savage beauty of the polar landscape, Fortitude is a close-knit community whose future sparkles with the promise of Arctic opportunity, development, wealth, and discovery. There has never been a violent crime in Fortitude but the town is shaken to its core by the brutal murder of a research scientist. Above-average temperatures lead to a record ice melt revealing secrets long since hidden beneath the frozen landscape. As the endless nights give way to the cold Arctic darkness of winter, the police find reasons to suspect and mistrust each other - and the community struggles to make sense of the terror that has been unleashed among its residents. Pivot will air 12 hour-long episodes of the series, written and executive produced by Simon Donald (Low Winter Sun).

Freestyle Love Supreme

The series of ten half-hour original episodes brings Pivot's national audience into New York City to experience the much talked about live improvised show from two of the creators of the Tony Award-winning musical, In The Heights. Dubbed by The New York Times as "Masters in the art of Freestyle rhyme," Freestyle Love Supreme uses rap to spin audience suggestions into fully realized musical numbers.

IN DEVELOPMENT (Scripted)

Laughing Matters

Producers: Eyeworks / Media RED; Executive Producers: Tom Leach, Todd Nelson, JD Roth, Brant Pinvidic

Each week, comedy teams will face off in a series of ever-changing rounds – from pre-taped video sketches to in-studio improv – in a fast-paced battle for comedy supremacy.

Leader Town

Producers: Electus; Animation: Bento Box; Executive Producer: Ben Silverman, Jeff Westbrook

An animated comedy, Leader Town follows an American family that tries to fit in in Barkhiva, Russia - the town where the world's deposed ex-leaders are allowed to live out their lives in luxury using their ill-gotten gains until the money runs out. Each half-hour episode will highlight a different issue, and our characters, being who they are, will take it to the extreme.

Panic Years

Studio: Universal Cable Productions; Executive Producers: Michael Goldstein, Michael Larkin; Writers/Co-Executive Producers: Jay Baxter and Shaun Zaken

Inspired by the book by Doree Lewak, the comedy follows four friends prone to panic and bad decisions when they find themselves on the wrong side of 25. Doree is the founder and owner of a socially responsible foods company, where she often employs her friends when they need time to figure out their next move. Doree's fiancé dies unexpectedly days before their wedding, but she vows to pick up the pieces of her life, regroup, and carry on.

Pivot Creative Collective

In Association with Windsor McKenna, Inc.: Craig Greiwe

In the Pivot Creative Collective, emerging talent step behind and in front of the camera to produce short-form content matching Pivot's reputation for high-end, original, and innovative programming. Content will be compelling, socially relevant, and focused on the Millennial generation and the issues they face. It's the chance for emerging creators to take that next step from acting into filmmaking; from developing web series to TV series, from working on indie projects to creating compelling original content for television.

Prison Earth

Studio: FremantleMedia North America; Producer: Pukeko Pictures; Writers/Executive Producers: Jonathan Penner & Stacy Title; Executive Producers: Adam Fratto, Martin Baynton

Prison Earth is a serialized, hour-long drama set in a Gitmo-like detention facility created to contain Earth's first guests from outer space. A science fiction series with a strong female lead, this story dives into the volatile mix of scientists, soldiers, and aliens that are locked together on this remote base, and the conflicts and choices they face with the fates of two species at stake. Themes of racism, xenophobia and prisoner's rights are presented through the lens of species-ism, forcing us to reexamine what actions are inhumane or intolerable in this context of forced confinement with design and effects by Weta Workshop in New Zealand.

Thirst

Producer: Alan Gasmer, Tony Optican, Peter Jaysen; Writer/Executive Producer: Sandy Isaac

Thirst is a family drama surrounding the discovery of fresh water in a dying New Mexico town, and how the battle to control the water rights and reap the vast fortune the water will bring turns deadly.

IN DEVELOPMENT (Unscripted)

America's Got Issues

Producers: Serious Business (Jason Nadler, Alex Blagg, Jon Zimelis), Funny Or Die

The clip-based comedy features comedians, experts, and notable personalities riffing on the evolution of social and cultural issues through American history as reflected in pop culture. Topics might include water, food, capital punishment, immigration and population.

American Rewind

Producers: Stick Figure Studios

The half-hour docuseries follows the employees of the world's largest living exhibition, Colonial Williamsburg, whose day-jobs consist of recreating hotbed Revolutionary-era issues of politics, race and gender. The role-playing by day has startling ramifications on their 21st century identities and personal lives.

I Am Young Detroit

Producers: Trium Entertainment

The half-hour series is a social venture that promotes entrepreneurship as a means to combat youth unemployment and boost economic impact in Detroit. Their mission is to help revitalize Detroit by empowering young entrepreneurs to launch businesses and support them by providing resources, mentorship, and funding. Part docu-series, part process show, each episode will follow the staff of "I Am Young Detroit" as they work to help a budding millennial business each week.

My Favorite Things

Producers: Snackaholic

This half-hour series celebrates the things we love by looking at the life they have before – and after – we own them. Each episode explores two of our most nationally coveted items, including blue jeans, smart phones, and fast food. Told through first hand exploration, animation and with liberal use of humor, the series will explore each product's history, means of production, environmental impact, and life after disposal.

Untitled Andrew Jenks Project

Producer: Andrew Jenks

Pivot is developing a half-hour docu-series targeting the millennial audience produced by and starring filmmaker Andrew Jenks.

PIVOT – Univision Documentary Series

Through a collaboration with Univision, the companies will jointly produce and/or acquire a series of compelling documentaries available in both Spanish and English. Together, Pivot and Univision will curate a selection of eight distinctive documentary films that highlight topics of interest to Latinos ages 18-34 and each film will premiere simultaneously on both networks, with the first film in the series debuting in May.

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