UPDATE with more details from presentation: Freeform has picked up its mermaid drama pilot The Deep to series, which will be titled Siren. It was one of several programming announcements at the network’s upfront presentation in New York, along with a pilot presentation order to Freeform’s first animated comedy Sticks, from Will Gluck and the Broad City duo of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson; and a series order to Hollywood Movie Night With Karlie Kloss, from Hollywood Game Night producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner.
Siren joins Freeform’s other upcoming series, Marvel’s straight-to-series drama Cloak & Dagger and comedy New Warriors, as well as the network’s drama The Bold Type and comedy Alone Together. Freeform ramped up its development coming off a challenging 2016, in which only one new scripted series, Shadowhunters, stuck, and as it was preparing for the end of flagship drama series Pretty Little Liars’ seven-season run. Freeform’s other current pilot, comedy Brown Girls, remains in consideration.
At the upfront presentation, opened by Iliza Shlesinger, host of Freeform’s Truth & Iliza, the network president Tom Ascheim touted strong Disney corporate ties, with projects from Marvel and ABC Studios and built around Disney theme parks. He also stressed that the network plans to continue to launch programming on all Freeform platforms at once.
Joanna Coles, chief content officer of Hearst magazines and exec producer of The Bold Type, drew applause during tonight’s presentation with a timely dig at Bill O’Reilly. Going off script, she said, “I just want to thank all of you advertisers who pulled out of Bill O’Reilly’s show.” The moves, she said, underscored the power of women’s stories that she as former topper of Hearst’s Cosmopolitan magazine hoped to emphasize in the new show, which is based in the young women working at a Cosmo-style magazine.
Siren, meanwhile, is set in Bristol Cove, a coastal town known for its legend of once being home to mermaids. When the arrival of a mysterious girl proves this folklore all too true, the battle between man and sea takes a very vicious turn as these predatory beings return to reclaim their right to the ocean. The project stars Alex Roe (The 5th Wave) as Ben, a bright marine biologist who finds himself drawn to Ryn, a mysterious new girl in town played by Eline Powell (Game Of Thrones), who is a strange young woman with a deep dark secret. Fola Evans-Akingbola, Ian Verdun and Rena Owen co-star in the series, based on a story by Eric Wald and Dean White who both serve as executive producers. Emily Whitesell (Finding Carter) serves as showrunner and executive producer. Brad Luff, Nate Hopper and RD Robb are also attached as executive producers.
Here is a first-look trailer:
Sticks, described as Daria crossed with Girls, marks Freeform’s first foray into animated comedy. It follows the life of Sticks, a neurotic twentysomething with a head filled with pop culture references and a love of Chili’s who lives with a giant eagle. Jessica Stickles serves as writer and co-executive producer, with Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson (Broad City), Will Gluck & Richard Schwartz serving as executive producers. Sticks is produced by Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment and animated by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (Robot Chicken) in association with Sony Pictures Television. This is the second green light for Stoopid Buddy Stoodios today, following a third-season renewal for their Crackle stop-motion series SuperMansion.
Each segment of Hollywood Movie Night With Karlie Kloss (working title) will include model Kloss and her friends offering moment-by-moment commentary around their favorite movies. Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner from Hazy Mills Productions, the duo behind NBC’s Hollywood Game Night, executive produce along with Ben Nemtin and Duncan Penn from Four Peaks Media Group. Kloss (Klossy Productions) will also executive produce.