LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - On the eve of the season five premiere of AMC's monster skein "The Walking Dead," the show's executive producer Greg Nicotero described the mood perfectly: "Tomorrow feels like Christmas."
The core cast, Nicotero, graphic novel creator and producer Robert Kirkman, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and showrunner Scott Gimple kicked off PaleyFest New York Saturday with a panel with an aud filled to the brim with eagerly awaiting fans. Like a zombie herd, the fans were so rabid, some journalists weren't able to get to the red carpet.
"I decided if I do one thing wrong [tonight] I'm closing down my Twitter account because I know you all will let me have it," said NBC News' Tamron Hall, moderator of the Yahoo! live streamed event.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Come January during the sixth season premiere of "Archer," the show's central spy agency will no longer be called ISIS.
The creators of the hit FX animated show have eliminated all use of the acronym, which stands for the International Secret Intelligence Service -- the name of the show's underground spy organization -- as it's become increasingly associated with the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
According to The Daily Beast, the season opener shows movers rolling out the circular blue ISIS sign that has been a prominent part of the show's New York City setting for the past five seasons. The pivotal scene and following dialogue between Malory Archer (Jessica Walter) and her son Sterling (H. Jon Benjamin) -- explaining that they now work for the CIA -- was added after the original version of the episode screened at San Diego Comic-Con.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson's Color Force production banner has plenty of high-profile film properties to manage these days, including the final two "Hunger Games" pics and the Warner Bros. adaptation of Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Goldfinch."
But the time has also come for the movie veterans to make their first foray into TV series production. And this is no small effort. Jacobson and Simpson have teamed with Ryan Murphy to produce a 10-episode miniseries recounting the O.J. Simpson murder trial for FX.
"The People Vs. O.J. Simpson" will be the first installment of what FX hopes will be a recurring true-crime franchise for the cabler. The project will focus on the profound impact that the trial, which ran nearly 10 months, had on the country, on the media biz and on race relations. Former NFL great Simpson was ultimately acquitted in October 1995 of charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman in June 1994.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - After scoring this summer at the box office with "Guardians of the Galaxy," Marvel is moving ahead with an animated series for Disney XD that will revolve around the heroic misfits.The Marvel Television produced show will star Peter Quill as Star-Lord, the brash adventurer who, to save the universe from its greatest threats, joins forces with Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora and warrior Drax the Destroyer.
The film has earned over $324 million at the domestic box office since August.
"This is a very exciting time for the Marvel Animation Studio as we get to explore the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe by developing the first-ever 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy' animated series," said Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel Television. "After starring in the biggest movie of 2014, everyone wants more of Star-Lord and his crew - now they'll get it."
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - When "The Walking Dead" returns to AMC on Sunday, Oct. 12, our survivors must face the immediate obstacle of escaping the train car they were trapped in by the residents of Terminus at the end of last season -- but is their new prison preferable to what awaits them outside?
Variety sat down with "Walking Dead" star Michael Cudlitz, who plays fan-favorite character Abraham Ford in the monster hit, to delve into Abraham's overarching mission to transport scientist Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) to Washington, D.C., in the hope of curing the outbreak; his relationship with the rest of the group; and the importance of keeping hope alive in the midst of a zombie apocalypse.
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Animal Planet is the latest cable network to dip into graphic novel fare, optioning the zombie animal story "The Other Dead" to be developed as a scripted series.
From creators Joshua Ortega ("Gears of War," Spider-Man") and Digger Mesch ("Agent 88," "X-Men") and IDW Publishing, "The Other Dead" is set in Louisiana during the 'next Hurricane Katrina' and revolves around a world of undead animals and unrelenting storms.
"The entire creative team could not be more excited about this partnership, and the timing for 'The Other Dead' series could not be more perfect," says Ortega."Zombie animal meets Animal Planet? Sounds like we have some serious undead fun ahead of us."
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - A software bug has resulted in TV ratings being allocated incorrectly among broadcast and syndication programming since March, according to executives at Nielsen, the measurement service whose rankings form the basis of how advertisers pay for TV commercials.
At issue is a process used by the company when it moves from its initial survey of national ratings to its final one. When Nielsen calculates its early "fast national" ratings, some sources of viewership are not properly labeled and the data is put aside as "all other television" until they can be identified and tabulated properly. But Nielsen has discovered that some of that early unidentified data was improperly attributed to ABC programming, explained David Poltrack, chief research officer for CBS Corp., who said CBS contacted Nielsen about the issue three weeks ago, which he believes spurred the company's investigation.
Because of the error in its systems, "we started to credit that viewing to different programs," explained Patricia McDonough, Nielsen's senior VP of planning policy and analysis, in a Friday conference call with reporters. "Some of that was done to the wrong source."
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" is adding two new faces to its stable of on-air personalities. Hasan Minhaj will join the team as a correspondent in November while Trevor Noah will sign on as a contributor in December.
Minhaj (pictured left) is a comedian, actor and writer who has made appearances on Netflix's "Arrested Development" revival, HBO's "Getting On" and Comedy Central's "@midnight." He was also recently featured as a New Face at the 2014 Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.
Trevor Noah (pictured right) has previously hosted several television shows in his native South Africa, including kudocasts, the South African Comedy Festival and two seasons of his own latenight talker. Noah made his U.S. debut on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and went on to appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" and his own comedy special for Showtime, "Trevor Noah: African American."