‘Chappelle’s’ Fate Hot Topic at TCA

Jul 18, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Dave Chappelle’s writing partner and “Chappelle’s Show” executive producer Neal Brennan has left the Comedy Central series and moved on to another project, making the return of “Chappelle’s” less likely, sources said last week.

Buzz about the hit’s future on MTV Networks’ Comedy Central dominated the cable portion of the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour-from which Mr. Chappelle was absent last week.

Comedy Central executives attending the TCA events at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills were tight-lipped about the future of “Chappelle’s Show,” which has been on hiatus since Mr. Chappelle walked off the set in April. Comedy Central representatives maintain the choice to resume production of “Chappelle’s Show” is Mr. Chappelle’s and that the network is focused on moving forward. They noted that ratings have increased over 2004 despite the absence of new “Chappelle’s” episodes.

Comedy Central had no comment on Mr. Brennan’s departure.

The cable portion of the Television Critics Association tour kicked off Thursday with a series of MTV Networks panels featuring such on-air talent as Gene Simmons for VH1’s “Rock School” and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs for MTV’s “Run’s House.”

Also on the opening day of the cable portion of the tour, which was scheduled to run through the weekend, Court TV unveiled its plans to rebrand as Court TV Networks, splitting its schedule into separate daytime and evening identities. The rebrand was expected (TelevisionWeek, May 9).The daytime brand will be Court TV News, consisting of legal analysis and coverage of ongoing trials. The prime-time brand remains Court TV, which will now use the tagline “Seriously Entertaining.” The evening version will continue to run series such as “Forensic Files” and “Psychic Detectives” and will introduce several new titles.

New series Court TV announced include “The Takedown,” a reality series in which a reformed con artist tries to crack security systems; “LA Forensics,” a nonfiction series looking at case files from one of the nation’s largest crime labs; “Parco PI,” a docu-soap reality series following a family of New York private investigators; “Las Vegas Law,” a reality series following a Vegas criminal defense attorney; “Swag,” a hidden-camera show based on a British series; and “Haunting Evidence,” a paranormal reality show in which a team investigates “haunted” crime scenes.

The remaining four days of scheduled TCA panels demonstrated cable’s eclectic programming expanse, with scheduled talent appearances by Venus Williams, Michael Douglas, Kathy Bates, Hugh Hefner, Bryan Singer and others.

Other programming news scheduled for release during the conference:

  • HBO was set to announce several new projects, including its first multicamera comedy and a new miniseries produced by Tom Hanks.

    The as-yet-untitled 13-episode comedy series stars Louis CK (writer for “The Chris Rock Show”) and chronicles a working-class family.

    Also new for HBO comedy is “One Night Stand,” featuring 10 half-hour episodes of original stand-up by established and up-and-coming comedians. The series will bolster HBO late-night and will follow “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

    In addition, HBO greenlighted two historical miniseries: “Elizabeth I” and “John Adams.” “John Adams” is based on a biography by David McCullough of the Founding Father and is executive produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman under their Playtone banner. The miniseries will include at least five parts. “Elizabeth I,” produced by GRB Entertainment, is a two-part miniseries starring Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons.

  • A&E planned to announce three original movies and several new series. Bob DeBitetto, executive VP and general manager of A&E Network, characterized the new original movie projects as “a great complement to our successful slate of real-life series.”

    The original movies include: “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho'” (working title), produced by Traveler’s Rest Films in association with Alan Barnette Productions, which will dramatize the famous director’s effort to make the classic horror film; “Back in Action,” produced by Jaffe-Braunstein Films, the true story of a military captain who became the first U.S. soldier ever to return to war after becoming an amputee; and “Live From New York,” produced by Cypress Point Productions, a dramatization of the creation and first season of “Saturday Night Live” based on the book by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller.

    In addition, A&E has greenlighted several new series, including “God or the Girl,” a reality show about men on the verge of entering the priesthood, produced by the Wolper Organization, and “Dallas SWAT,” a behind-the-scenes look at the elite Dallas police team.

  • GSN was to announce a development slate of seven new series, including two new poker offerings. “We’re deepening our commitment to casino game programming while broadening our development slate to include new hybrid genres that merge games with psychological thrillers and stunt shows,” said Ian Valentine, senior VP of programming for GSN.

    The new series are: “Annie Duke Takes On the World,” in which four amateur poker players take on top pro Annie Duke, who is executive producer along with Andrew Golder; “I’ve Got a Secret,” from Burt Dubrow Productions, a return of the classic panel show, in which a contestant tries to determine a secret about three panelists, all of whom are gay; “Phil Hellmuth Poker,” a series teaching amateur poker players new skills through physical and mental challenges hosted by “poker brat” Phil Hellmuth and executive produced by R.J. Cutler, Mr. Hellmuth, Bob Soderstrom and Andy Bellin; “24 Hours in Vegas,” a reality game series executive produced by Gavin Polone, Julie Pizzi and Patty Ivins in which players must work Las Vegas grunt jobs, such as parking valet and bell hop, to earn money for casino games; “Chokers,” a weekly documentary series about teams, companies and individuals who “choked” at critical moments, executive produced by Scott Stone; “Your Worst Nightmare,” a weekly thriller game produced by Hallock Healey Entertainment that puts three friends in the country’s scariest venues competing for a prize; and “Wet,” a physical competition game in which human and dolphin contestants face off in water-based games, produced by Mindless Entertainment.

  • Lifetime planned to announce it has ordered its first miniseries, “Human Trafficking,” a look at the smuggling of women and children for use as sex slaves. The four-hour, two-part miniseries, which is scheduled to run in October, stars Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland and Robert Carlyle. It is produced by For Sale Productions with executive producer Robert Halmi Sr.

    Lifetime also intended to announce the network has purchased the rights to the best-selling novel “The Mermaid Chair” by Sue Monk Kidd.

  • Discovery Channel planned to present a 90-minute documentary/dramatization piecing together the tragedy aboard Flight 93 during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “The Flight That Fought Back” combines research and interviews with families and friends of the victims of the hijacked flight that crashed in Somerset County, Pa.

  • Style network planned to announce that clothing designer Isaac Mizrahi has joined the network for a new series covering beauty, pop culture, home design, pets and fashion. The series, “Isaac,” is planned to debut on Style in late 2005.

  • ABC Family was to announce two original movies. “If Only” stars Paul Nicholls as a man given the chance to relive the day his girlfriend (Jennifer Love Hewitt) died, and “Same as It Never Was” (working title) stars Lacey Chabert as a college student who gets custody of a stepsister she barely knows.

    Both movies are scheduled to debut early next year.

  • TLC was expected to announce it has greenlighted a 26-episode reality series produced by GRB Entertainment following country singer Tanya Tucker.