- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

HBO taps ‘Boardwalk’

HBO is building a “Boardwalk Empire” with a series order for the Martin Scorsese-directed pilot.

The premium cable network has picked up 11 episodes of the period drama, bringing the total order to 12 hours, including the pilot, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Production on the series is slated to begin this fall for a 2010 premiere.

Written by Terence Winter, “Empire” is set in 1920 at the dawn of Prohibition and chronicles the life and times of Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi), the undisputed ruler of Atlantic City, who was equal parts politician and gangster.

Mr. Scorsese and Mr. Winter are executive producers of the series with Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Tim Van Patten.

Mr. Scorsese is expected to continue to be creatively involved and may direct another episode of “Empire,” subject to his availability, THR says.

In addition to Mr. Buscemi, the cast of the pilot also included Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Stephen Graham, Vincent Piazza, Aleksa Palladino, Paul Sparks, Shea Whigham, Anthony Laciura, Michael Kenneth Williams, Dabney Coleman, Michael Stuhlbarg and Paz de la Huerta.

HBO has been beefing up its slate of original series over the past nine months with orders for new comedies “Hung,” “Bored to Death” and “How to Make It in America” and the drama “Treme.”

NBC beefs up logo

NBC is about to get a little “more colorful.”

As part of a major branding makeover, the Peacock network will unveil a new slogan as well as a new on-air look on Sept. 14 — the night that “The Jay Leno Show” debuts, Variety notes.

According to the trade publication, the tag line “more colorful” will begin popping up in NBC promos at that time as text onscreen — but never actually voiced on-air.

The phrase is a conscious throwback to both the network’s famous colorful peacock icon as well as the announcement regularly heard on NBC at the dawn of color TV: “The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC.”

“Sometimes the most powerful ideas are the ones staring at you in the face,” Adam Stotsky, NBC Entertainment marketing president, tells Variety. “The NBC peacock is 53 years old but has incredible heritage and brand equity. We’ve seen research that suggests an incredible unaided awareness that the icon means NBC.”

NBC will introduce “more colorful” to promos and campaigns supporting Peacock programming rather than introducing spots that just focus on the network.

The on-air makeover comes as NBC’s programming and marketing teams pore over data from an internal study over what the network’s brand is and what it should be.

“Our brand is significantly defined by the shows we put on,” said John Miller, NBC Universal TV Group’s chief marketing officer. “Part of that effort we went through … was the idea of our internal brand guidelines, to recapture the heritage of NBC.”

NBC began the exercise late last year, tapping global marketing firm Naked Communications to help reposition the networks’s once-storied brand.

However, NBC’s Nielsen woes, coupled with its unprecedented decision to move Jay Leno into the 10 p.m. slot five nights a week this fall, gave the executives reason to start thinking how to reposition the network, Variety notes.

Bilson on ‘Runway’

The parade of guest judges on “Project Runway” continues with Rachel Bilson.

The former “O.C.” star will sit in judgment of the designers on Thursday’s episode of Lifetime’s fashion design competition show, Zap2it.com reports.

It airs at 10 p.m.

Last week, a pregnant Rebecca Romijn was the guest, and the designers had to create stylish maternity wear. The week before in the premiere, Lindsay Lohan weighed in on the red carpet gown designs.

New additions

Nicole Ari Parker (Showtime’s “Soul Food”) has joined ABC’s midseason drama series “The Deep End,” and Michael Benjamin Washington has been added to another midseason entry, NBC’s comedy “100 Questions,” notes the Hollywood Reporter.

Both regular roles were recast.

In “Deep End,” set at a Los Angeles law firm, Miss Parker will play Susan, a sexy, smart, steely lioness of the firm’s litigation department whose husband, Clifford Huddle (“Titanic’s” Billy Zane), is the firm’s new managing partner.

She replaces Sherri Saum, who played the role in the pilot.

Miss Parker, who also had a co-starring role in 1997’s “Boogie Nights,” recently appeared opposite Eddie Murphy in “Imagine That.”

“Questions” stars Sophie Winkleman as Charlotte, who, looking for love, joins an online-dating site.

Mr. Washington will play her dating counselor, a role played in the pilot by Amir Talai.

Mr. Washington has appeared in such Broadway productions as “Mamma Mia!” and “La Cage aux Folles.”

Joining Fox 5

Lindsay Murphy has been named weekend sports anchor and reporter for WTTG FOX 5, Duffy Dyer, the station’s vice president and general manager, announced.She will anchor the station’s sports reports on Fridays and Saturdays, and serve as a sports reporter during the week for various newscasts.

A graduate of James Madison University, Miss Murphy most recently spent two-and-a-half years as a sports anchor and reporter for WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, Va. Prior to that, she served for two years as a sports producer for the District’s NBC affiliate, WRC-TV.

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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