3:15pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Better Call Saul,' 'Fear the Walking Dead,' 'McMafia' Renewed at AMC
AMC on Saturday used its time before the press corps at the Television Critics Association's summer tour to cement the futures of three of its dramas, while also unveiling an anthology created by and starring Jason Segel.
The cable network has handed out renewals for Better Call Saul (for a fifth season), Fear the Walking Dead (also for its fifth season) and McMafia (for a second season). On the new series front, AMC has given a straight-to-series order to Dispatches From Elsewhere, starring Segel and featuring an audience engagement component.
"In an environment where viewer choice is almost unlimited, the success of these shows is especially meaningful, with characters and stories that our viewers connect with and return to season after season," said AMC president of originals David Madden. "It’s a privilege to continue collaborating with and sharing the vision of the talented creatives behind these series, and we’re excited to start exploring the next chapter in the lives of these unique and complex characters."
Dispatches From Elsewhere revolves around a group of ordinary people who stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life. They will come to find that the mystery winds far deeper than they ever imagined. With the role, Segel returns to series regular television following his long run on CBS' How I Met Your Mother. The project, which is an AMC Studios production, begins shooting early next year. A writers room was opened earlier this year under the cabler's scripts-to-series development model that has also produced series including Dietland, Lodge 49 and NOS4A2.
Segel will executive produce alongside Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Garrett Basch. The hourlong anthology, AMC says, will include viewer engagement across multiple media platforms. “This is a very special project based on a truly unique premise and peopled by vivid characters, all driven by Jason’s wildly creative vision. We’re thrilled for audiences to see this bold, witty and enthralling series,” Madden said.
The renewal for Better Call Saul comes ahead of the Aug. 6 fourth season premiere of the Breaking Bad prequel series. The Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan drama has been an awards-season darling and a key piece of studio Sony Pictures Television's cable business.
The Fear the Walking Dead renewal arrives as the Walking Dead prequel series returns for the back half of its fourth season this month. The spinoff has undergone a number of changes, onscreen and off-, ahead of season four: Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg took over for Dave Erickson as showrunner, and stars including leading lady Kim Dickens were killed off. The show now features only one series regular remaining from the pilot — Alycia Debnam-Carey — and has added new stars including Garret Dillahunt, Maggie Grace, Jenna Elfman and Lennie James. James reprises his Walking Dead flagship role as Morgan as the two shows now co-exist after creator Robert Kirkman initially balked at the idea. Scott M. Gimple executive produces Fear after being promoted to chief content officer of all things Walking Dead at AMC.
Rounding out the renewals is McMafia, the U.K.-produced global series based on the book of the same name about the franchising of the mafia that has spread globally. The series is a co-production between the BBC, AMC, Cuba Pictures and Twickenham Studios. James Norton and David Strathairn star in the series, which AMC acquired for stateside broadcast.
Better Call Saul, Fear the Walking Dead and McMafia join an AMC scripted lineup that also includes The Walking Dead, The Terror, Dietland, Into the Badlands, Humans, Preacher, The Son and the upcoming NOS4A2, Lodge 49 and The Little Drummer Girl. The cabler also announced that Little Drummer Girl, starring Florence Pugh, Alexander Skarsgard and Michael Shannon and based on the John le Carre novel, will launch in November.
Segel is repped by WME and Sloane Offer.