Participant Media‘s network Pivot today announced the pickup of Sky Atlantic’s 12-episode drama series Fortitude starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. The series became available in the U.S. in December when Starz, which originally had committed to the project, pulled out. Pivot is designed as a younger skewing network than Starz, with its target demo being 18-34. As part of its upfront presentation, Pivot also announced an overhaul of its nightly topical series, TakePart Live. Beginning Monday, May 12, the hour-long late-night program will move to primetime (10 PM) with a new producer, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row, which is behind Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and AMC’s Talking Dead/Bad. Also undergoing makeover is the hosting team of Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria, with only Soboroff coming back, joined by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain and comedian Eddie Huang.
Pivot also unveiled a development slate that includes eleven projects from production companies including IAC’s Electus, Universal Cable Prods., FremantleMedia North America/Pukeko Pictures, Funny or Die, and Eyeworks, and revealed premiere 2014-15 dates, including an August 8 debut for the sophomore season of coming-of-age comedy, Please Like Me, and the comedy Human Resources. “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. Here is Pivot’s full slate:
In a significant expansion of its original programming, Pivot announced premiere dates for four series; greenlights in scripted series and special programming; as well as a robust development slate including both scripted and unscripted offerings.
Pivot greenlights, announced today, include a scripted drama series and two specials.
Producers: A Sky / Pivot Original Series; Writer/Executive Producer: Simon Donald (“Low Winter Sun”); Executive Producers: Patrick Spence and Frith Tiplady are the Executive Producers for Fifty Fathoms and Tiger Aspect.
(12 x :60 Drama)
“Fortitude” is a dark drama series, with psychological and thriller elements, that 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. Issues: Climate Change
“Freestyle Love Supreme”
Producers: Ars Nova; Executive Producers: Thomas Kail, Anthony Veneziale, Jon Steingart and Jill Furman
(10 x :30)
“Freestyle Love Supreme,” a 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. “Freestyle Love Supreme” stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Veneziale, Chris Sullivan, Christopher Jackson, Bill Sherman and Arthur Lewis. The show is created by Thomas Kail and Anthony Veneziale. Issues: Social Commentary, Current Events, Education
“The Peabody Awards”
Premieres: June 1, 2014
Producers: Den of Thieves: Jesse Ignjatovic/Evan Prager
(1 x :60)
Re-imagined for the millennial world, the first year of Pivot’s alliance with the Peabody Awards will result in a special 60-minute television event celebrating the prestigious winners of this coveted award, the oldest in electronic media. Produced by Den Of Thieves (MTV Music Video Awards, American Idol, VH1 Divas, Critics Choice Movie Awards), the program will spotlight how the storytelling ability of these honorees makes a difference in the day-to-day lives of Millennials. Issues: Media Literacy
Pivot has eleven series of both scripted and unscripted programming in development.
Producer: 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.
Producer: Electus; Animation: Bento Box; Executive Producer: Ben Silverman (EP, “The Office,” “The Tudors,” “Ugly Betty”) Writer/Executive Producer: Jeff Westbrook (EP, “The Simpsons”)
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 episode will highlight a different issue, and our characters, being who they are, will take it to the extreme. Issues: Social Commentary, Government Transparency
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, this comedy series 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. Issues: Social Entrepreneurship, Unemployment, Student Debt
“Pivot Creative Collective”
In Association with Windsor McKenna, Inc.: Craig Greiwe
In the “Pivot Creative Collective,” creative, bright 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.
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 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. Issues: Racial Equality, Immigration, Unlawful Detention
Producer: Alan Gasmer (EP, “The Vikings”), Tony Optican, Peter Jaysen; Writer/Executive Producer: Sandy Isaac (“Drop Dead Diva,” “Franklin & Bash”)
“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.
Issues: Water Rights
“America’s Got Issues”
Producers: Serious Business (Jason Nadler, Alex Blagg, Jon Zimelis), Funny Or Die
(:30 Clip-based Comedy)
“America’s Got Issues” 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. Issues: Food, Capital Punishment, Immigration
Producers: Stick Figure Studios
“American Rewind” 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. Issues: Race, American History, Employment
“I Am Young Detroit”
Producers: Trium Entertainment
“I Am Young Detroit” 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. Issues: Employment, Economics
“My Favorite Things”
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. Issues: Consumerism, Environment
“Untitled Andrew Jenks Project”
Producer: Andrew Jenks
Pivot is developing a docu-series targeting the millennial audience produced by and starring filmmaker Andrew Jenks (“Room 335,” “The Zen of Bobby V,” “World of Jenks”).
PIVOT – UNIVISION DOCUMENTARY SERIES
Through an innovative and groundbreaking collaboration with Univision, the leading media company serving Hispanic America, the companies will jointly produce and/or acquire a series of compelling documentaries available in both Spanish and English. Univision is no stranger to Generation Y, often beating the ratings of other major networks in the 18-34 demographic. Its mission to inform, educate and empower Hispanic America is perfectly aligned with Pivot’s goals to serve passionate Millennials with a diverse slate of content that sparks conversation, inspires change and illuminates issues. 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.
“Cesar’s Last Fast”
Premieres: May 24 at 7:00 PM (simulcast with Univision)
“Cesar’s Last Fast” is a multi-platform documentary film about the intense sacrifice and deep spiritual conviction behind Cesar Chavez’s lifelong struggle for the humane treatment of our nation’s most vulnerable workers. The film is built around never-before-seen footage of Chavez’s 1988 “Fast for Life,” a 36-day act of penance for not having done enough to stop growers from spraying pesticides on farm workers and illuminates the untold chapter in the story of civil rights in America.
Premieres: Q3 2014
“Marmato” is a documentary feature about an artisan gold-mining village in rural Colombia on the precipice of opportunity and destruction. If Colombia is the focal point of the new global gold rush, then Marmato, a mining town with over 500 years of history, is the new frontier. In its mountain is nearly $20 billion dollars in gold, but its 8,000 inhabitants are at risk of being displaced by an open-pit mining project. Filmed over the course of 6 years, “Marmato” chronicles how the townspeople confront a Canadian mining company that wants the gold beneath their homes.
NEW SERIES – PREMIERE DATES
“Human Resources” (formerly “TerraCycle”)
Premieres: August 8 at 10:30 PM (10 x :30)
Producers: Left/Right (“Mob Wives,” “Small Town Security”), Ken Druckerman, Banks Tarver and Anneka Jones
Documenting the non-stop and deadline-driven world of an innovative New Jersey-based company once touted as the “coolest little start-up in America,” “Human Resources” is a half-hour, comedy about an eccentric entrepreneur, Tom Szaky, and his team of employees at TerraCycle, a company whose mission is to eliminate waste on a global scale. A 32-year-old businessman and Princeton University dropout, Tom’s multimillion-dollar company (which operates in 24 countries) takes anything and everything that is landfill bound – from potato chip bags to dirty diapers to cigarette butts – and recycles, up-cycles and transforms these objects into cool and functional new products. The office is a crazy mix of hippies who enjoy kale chips and morning yoga… and older and more skeptical employees who find the younger staff to be a “bit naïve.” The one thing that the team has in common is a passion for their work and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Issues: Environment; Recycling
“Welcome To Fairfax”
Premieres: October 2014 (10 x :30)
Producers: Ryan Sidhoo, Ben Selkow, and Matador’s Todd Lubin and Jay Peterson
“Welcome to Fairfax” is a behind-the-scenes look at a vibrant, artistic and unique block that has emerged in the Fairfax area of Los Angeles, seen through the eyes of the young visionaries who inhabit it. A docu-series shot in cinema vérité style, “Welcome to Fairfax” focuses on a group of friends and collaborators as they each pursue their own dynamic version of the American dream. The series will transport viewers deep into the world of this creative community on the cusp of breaking onto the national stage. Among the many locals followed are Mizzle, an entrepreneur and founder of the street wear line Just Be Cool. Mizzle struggles daily to balance managing his store and growing his brand while also caring for his father, Fred McNeill, Sr., a former NFL Star who suffers from dementia and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). The show will also follow Mizzle’s girlfriend, Felicia, who works to build a career as a makeup artist while taking care of her brother as he battles substance abuse, as well as the charismatic hip-hop trio CBG (Chill Black Guys), who are establishing themselves as independent artists while putting forward the message of self-determination and inclusion. Issues: Entrepreneurship; Urban Renewal
CURRENT SERIES – PREMIERE DATES
“Please Like Me” – Season Two
Premieres: August 8 at 10:00 PM
Producers: Pivot Original series in association with Pigeon Fancier Productions/John and Josh International and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; Executive Producers: Rick Kalowski, Brett Sleigh, Josh Thomas, Todd Abbott and Kevin Whyte
This quirky, original series is inspired in part by the painfully awkward experiences of 26-year-old Australian comedian Josh Thomas who created, wrote and executive produced the coming-of-age series. Continuing Pivot’s mission to spark conversation and inspire change, “Please Like Me” sheds light on a variety of relevant issues that impact the Millennial audience and deal with topics including family relationships, sexuality and mental health. “Please Like Me” is a Pivot Original Series in association with Pigeon Fancier Productions/John and Josh International and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The series was created and written by Josh Thomas, produced by Todd Abbott and directed by Matthew Saville. The series also stars Thomas Ward, Debra Lawrance, David Roberts, Caitlin Stasey, Wade Briggs, Nikita Leigh-Pritchard, Renee Lim, Denise Drysdale, Keegan Joyce, Charlotte Nicdao, Charles Cottier, and Hannah Gadsby. The first season of “Please Like Me” was heralded as one of the best shows of 2013 by The New Yorker, Time, and Entertainment Weekly. “Please Like Me” recently won the 2014 AACTA (Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) award for Best Television Comedy or Light Entertainment Series, and is currently nominated for a 2014 GLAAD Media Award for Best Television Comedy. Josh Thomas was also the recipient of the 2010 GQ Comedian of the Year Award. Issues: Mental Health; LGBTQ
Premieres: Monday, May 12 at 10PM ET / 9PM CT
(:60 Daily Talk Show)
Producers: Michael Davies, Embassy Row
A weeknight talk show where millennial audiences can engage in an intelligent dialogue about what truly matters to their generation, “TakePart Live” gives viewers a forum to discuss the issues of the moment and explore topics from the day’s headlines. Hosted by Jacob Soboroff, Meghan McCain and Eddie Huang, “Take Part Live” will air live Monday thru Thursdays, with a special highlights show on Fridays, shot at the new “TakePart Live” studios in Los Angeles. In addition to covering the news as they see it, the hosts will have an opportunity to address topics that they find meaningful, giving the series the chance to explore a more personal side of the issues. The conversation will continue online with original articles, photography and video at Takepart.com.