Acquisitions Buzz: ‘Almost Human’, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, ‘Killer Women’ & ‘Sleepy Hollow’

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EXCLUSIVE: As expected, a number of high profile acquisitions were announced at the Edinburgh International TV Festival. Those deals included Channel 4’s acquisition of Hostages and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; E4’s acquisition of The 100 and The Tomorrow People; ITV2’s acquisition of the CBS comedy series Mom and Channel 5’s acquisition of the soapy ABC drama Betrayal. All of which followed on from Sky Living’s acquisition of red hot NBC/SPT drama series The Blacklist. All told 7 of the 55 new shows from the upcoming 2013-2014 season have been sold to UK broadcasters representing a sell through rate of just under 13%. There is still an expectation of stronger sales this year compared to last season, but the deals seem to be taking longer than usual to wrap up. There are a number of deals which are close to being finalised, including Comedy Central UK’s acquisition of The Millers and We Are Men and I hear there has been a bidding war over the UK rights to the Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar starring The Crazy Ones (The Michael J Fox Show is another one that seems certain to score a UK pick up, though I have no specific intel on that front). The latest industry rumour is that both Channel 4 and ITV are still in the market for a number of comedies; Universal Channel is apparently still after at least one drama and, according to one source, FOX UK is also looking at picking up one new network series. A slew of deals is expected to be announced by the time of MIPCOM 2013. But in the mean time which series are looking good for UK pick ups? TVWise presents its latest rundown of industry intel (buzz, if you will), from various sources, on which new series are being eyed for a UK pick up – specifically on Fox’s Almost Human, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Sleepy Hollow & ABC’s Killer Women.

Almost Human

Almost Human was created by J.J. Abrams & J.H. Wyman and is described as a buddy cop drama, set in the near future, when all LAPD officers are partnered with highly evolved human-like androids. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television and Bad Robot and stars Karl Urban, Michael Ealy, Mekia Cox, Minka Kelly, Lili Taylor, Mackenzie Crook and Michael Irby. One of the many new entries from prolific producer JJ Abrams for this season, Almost Human is not exactly the hottest drama of this new crop of shows (in fact reception seems cooler than it was for Revolution last year), but the sci-fi series had some fans post LA Screenings. Overall there was some concern that it was “too sci-fi”, with one source, who specifically cited Fringe as an example, saying it was becoming increasingly difficult to market such a series to a mass audience. Sources at Universal Networks International said in June that they were looking at the series for Syfy UK, something I’m told is now no longer on the table with said source citing a prohibitive price tag. I also hear that, despite being intent on acquiring less US content this year (which despite rumours to the contrary is due to a high level of returning US series), BSkyB are eyeing the series for a slot on Sky1. Beyond that, as previously reported, I was told in June that Channel 4 and Channel 5 were both considering the series for their respective channels, though from what I hear, Almost Human appearing on either is now unlikely.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Created by Dan Goor and Mike Schur, Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows a diverse group of detectives in a police precinct in New York City. The comedy series is produced by Universal Television and stars Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Melissa Fumero, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio and Chelsea Peretti. One of the new comedy entries on Fox this season, Brooklyn Nine-Nine was one of those that had some strong buzz going into the LA Screenings and managed to impress a number of international buyers after they had seen it. Even so, the talk on this one was a little soft, so it was far from clear – and to a certain extent still is – if the series would land a UK sale. But a source at NBCU tells me that they have had interest from “multiple” UK broadcasters. From what I’ve been hearing over the past 48-72 hours, those interested buyers are thought to be Channel 4 (for a slot on E4) and, surprisingly, FOX UK.

Killer Women

Created by Hannah Shakespeare, Killer Women follows Molly Parker, the only woman in the notoriously male Texas Rangers. She is a ballsy, beautiful badass who knows how to get to the truth and isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers along the way. The drama series is produced by ABC Studios and stars Tricia Helfer, Marc Blucas, Marta Milans, Michael Trucco and Alex Fernandez. Another series that seemed like it might struggle on the international market, Killer Women emerged from the LA Screenings with some (very) soft interest amongst UK buyers. At the time the general consensus was that if series distributor Disney Media Distribution scored a UK sale, it was likely to go to the Discovery Networks International owned TLC UK. But now it seems that a new buyer has appeared on the field. The latest rumour circulating is that the series is being “carefully considered” by execs at Turner for a possible slot on TCM UK. Lets be clear, I have only one source on this and other contacts at Turner refused to confirm or comment. That said, it would fit in with the general brand of the channel and could sit alongside other first run series Hell On Wheels and Longmire. But would the strong female lead be an issue? File this one as pure rumour for now.

Sleepy Hollow

Penned by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci, Sleepy Hollow follows Ichabod Crane as he partners with Sleepy Hollow’s local female sheriff to solve the mysteries of a town ravaged by the battle between good and evil. The drama series is produced by 20th Century Fox Television & K/O Paper Products and stars Tom Mison, John Cho, Orlando Jones, Katia Winter and Nicole Beharie. Another series for Fox, Sleepy Hollow had interest pre-screenings and (as we reported at the time) seemed to impress a lot of buyers. I wouldn’t classify as one of those that emerged as being red hot – as was the case with The Blacklist and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – but it was certainly close. As we reported at the time there was interest from Channel 4, Channel 5, Universal Channel and Sky. Lately I’ve been hearing that the series, while apparently still in play, wont be going to Channel 4 and is thought unlikely that it will land at Channel 5. The latest rumours I’ve been hearing is that UKTV is going hard after the series for its Watch channel, but Sky is still thought to be a possibility.