5:20pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
CBS All Access Adds Will Ferrell Comedy, Two Dramas to Series Slate
CBS All Access, the network's digital platform, is adding three new scripted shows to its rapidly growing portfolio — including its first original comedy.
The SVOD platform has handed out straight-to-series orders for Will Ferrell-produced scripted comedy No Activity and dramas Strange Angel (from The Wrestler's Mark Heyman) and $1 (from Jason Mosberg).
The news, announced by CBS Interactive president Marc DeBevoise on Tuesday ahead of CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discovery panel at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, more than doubles the platform's scripted offerings.
"CBS All Access is dedicated to delivering inventive, premium original programming for our subscribers and creating opportunities for world-class content creators to find new, creative ways to tell stories,” said DeBevoise. “The addition of Strange Angel, our first series based on original IP; No Activity, our first comedy series; and $1, an innovative thriller, builds on the tremendous momentum CBS All Access has generated in its first season of original programming with The Good Fight and the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery."
Star Trek: Discovery, after two production delays, is set to premiere Sept. 24 on CBS before moving to a weekly rollout on CBS All Access. The drama, which saw showrunner Bryan Fuller fired from the project after he had a different vision for the franchise, still doesn't have a completed pilot as VFX work continues (which explains why the show — with its cast and producers making their first public appearance together — did not screen the pilot at San Diego Comic-Con in July). The series will unspool in two chapters, with the second coming in January. Comedy No Activity will launch this year and unspool between half-seasons of Star Trek: Discovery.
To hear DeBevoise tell it, the plan is for CBS All Access to feature at least one show per quarter with the overall goal of four or five scripted originals per 12 months. (The exec noted that Big Brother would likely return to the digital platform at some point, but it will not be in the fall, as it was last year.)
DeBevoise foresees a CBS All Access rollout in the coming year that will begin with Star Trek: Discovery in September, followed by the eight-episode run of No Activity, then chapter two of Discovery. Those will be followed by The Good Fight season two, then either Strange Angel or $1, then the whole cycle starts over again. "The goal is to have a consistent slate of originals," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "Four or five shows per year, we're not committed to more or less. But the hope is our service grows and we can do more for those subscribers."
Despite announcing its first comedy, DeBevoise expects CBS All Access originals to largely be focused on drama, given the premium nature of the service, though he's open to more half-hours based on the pitch. Overall, he's looking for premium versions of what a CBS show could be with more serialized fare.
Here's a closer look at all three new series:
From Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Funny or Die, No Activity marks CBS All Access' first original comedy. The series is set against the world of a drug cartel bust and follows two low-level cops who have spent too much time in a car together; two criminals who are kept in the dark; two dispatch workers who haven’t clicked; and two Mexican tunnelers who are in too small a space considering they’ve only just met. The project is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Gary Sanchez and Funny or Die. It's based on the Australian series produced by Jungle and broadcast by Stan. Ferrell, McKay, Patrick Brammall, Trent O'Donnell, Jason Burrows and Joe Farrell executive produce. Brammall, who starred on the Australian series, will topline the comedy, with additional castings to be announced at a later date.
Strange Angel is created by Mark Heyman (Black Swan) and based on George Pendle’s book of the same name. The drama explores the intersection between genius and madness, science and science fiction, and follows the life of Jack Parsons in 1940s Los Angeles as by day he helps birth the discipline of American rocketry and by night is a performer of sex magick rituals and a disciple to occultist Aleister Crowley. The project is produced in-house by CBS Television Studios in association with Scott Free Productions. Heyman, David DiGilio, Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker executive produce. Clayton Krueger is on board as a co-exec producer, and David Lowery (A Ghost Story) will direct and also exec produce. (An episode count has not yet been determined.)
The drama $1 is a mystery-thriller set in a small Rust Belt town in post-recession America, where a one-dollar bill changing hands connects a group of characters involved in a shocking multiple murder. The path of the dollar bill, and point of view in each episode, paints a picture of a modern American town with deep class and cultural divides that spill out into the open as the town’s secrets get revealed. The project is being produced by CBS Television Studios and Anonymous Content. Mosberg created the series and exec produces alongside Anonymous Content's Matt DeRoss with Alexandre Dauman and Craig Zobel (The Leftovers) and the latter set to direct. (An episode count has not yet been determined.)