A&E Networks announced some of the upcoming new shows for all of their channels, and it promises to be an exciting television season for the ever-expanding network. Already a force to be reckoned with such hits as Vikings and Pawn Stars on The History Channel, Bates Motel and Duck Dynasty on A&E, and Devious Maids and The Lizzie Borden Chronicles on Lifetime, the network is now set to add Damien, based on the horror movie The Omen, on A&E, and a reimagining of Roots premiering on three channels at once – A&E, Lifetime, and The History Channel. AETV will be dominating soon!
Read the summary of highlights from AETV, plus the Damien and Roots press releases below.
Damien will continue the story of Damien Thorn, all grown up, faced with his future as the antichrist. Bradley James (Merlin, iZombie) is cast in the lead role.
Roots will give the reimagined story of Kunta Kinte, delving deeper into Alex Haley’s book and into the history of the time. No casting news as of yet, but we will bring it to you as it comes.
Some of the other new shows include survival series Alone and game show Shotgun on A&E, limited series War and Peace based on Tolstoy’s novel, an a capella singing competition Sing It on Lifetime, and Food Porn and spinoff Married At First Sight: The First Year on FYI.
Here’s a full rundown of A&E’s new program announcements:
· DAMIEN: “Damien” follows the adult life of Damien Thorn, the mysterious child from the 1976 motion picture who has grown up seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny — that he is the Antichrist. Damien stars Bradley James as Damien Thorn (“Merlin,” “Homeland”), along with Oscar® nominee Barbara Hershey (“Once Upon a Time”), Omid Abtahi (“Better Call Saul”) and Meganlyn Echikunwoke (“House of Lies”). (previously announced)
· FIT 2 FAT 2 FIT: When it comes to weight loss, it’s easy for personal trainers to talk the talk, but that if they also had to walk the walk? For 4 months, 10 personal trainers will eat what the average overweight American eats and stop working out altogether. Then each trainer will team up with an overweight for a weight loss journey unlike any other.
· CRITICS CHOICE: A&E is the exclusive home to the 2015 and 2016 “The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards” and “The Critics’ Choice Television Awards.” (previously announced)
· ROOTS CROSS NETWORK – HISTORY, A&E and LIFETIME greenlight the scripted event series ROOTS for a new generation of viewers to simulcast on all three flagship brands. Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man) joins as executive producer and original ROOTS cast member and Emmy-award winning LeVar Burton boards as co-executive producer. Mark Wolper is also executive producer. The classic miniseries ROOTS was a television phenomenon that had an indelible effect on American culture. A+E Networks and The Wolper Organization – the company that produced the original – are making a version of Alex Haley’s American family origin story based around the life of Kunta Kinte. ROOTS is slated to air in 2016. (previously announced)
· ALONE (SERIES) – ALONE, the country’s boldest and longest survival experiment ever captured for television is slated to air this summer. The ten-episode series places ten hardcore survivalists alone in the Vancouver Island wilderness – no camera crew, no teams, no producers – on a single mission to stay alive. At stake is $500,000 awarded to the person who can last the longest.
· BOYS OF ’67 (DEVELOPMENT)- HISTORY® is in development on THE BOYS OF ’67, a scripted series about the First Platoon of Charlie Company, 9th Infantry Division; the only division raised, trained and deployed en masse to service in Vietnam. THE BOYS OF ’67 will be produced for HISTORY by A+E Studios in association with Head First Productions and Muse Entertainment.
· SHOTGUN – New Digital Series – Shotgun…it’s a Game Show on the road! Contestants try to answer questions while riding “shotgun” in a high-performance race car that’s flying around a track at top speed. It will be produced as highly shareable digital shorts.
· UNREAL – Launching June 1, Lifetime’s highly-anticipated scripted drama UnREAL, starring Shiri Appleby (Girls) and Constance Zimmer (House of Cards, Entourage), gives a fictitious behind-the-scenes glimpse into the chaos surrounding the production of a dating competition program. Produced by A+E Studios, UnREAL was created by Marti Noxon (Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, Mad Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro.
· SING IT! (working title) — Sing It! follows two cross-town rival a cappella groups from New Jersey as they are given a chance to work with the world’s best coaches, Deke Sharon (Pitch Perfect) and Diana Preisler (SingStrong’s AcaIdol), and face off in weekly competitions, leading to the final championship sing off. The docuseries is produced by Studio Lambert Associates and All3Media America in association with InsomniaTV, who conceptualized the project.
· WAR AND PEACE – Lifetime, A&E Network and HISTORY are partnering with The Weinstein Company, BBC Cymru Wales and BBC Worldwide/Lookout Point on a major limited series event based on Leo Tolstoy’s enduring novel War and Peace. Simulcasting in the U.S. on the three networks in 2016, War and Peace will feature an all-star cast including SAG Award® and Film Independent Spirit Award winner Paul Dano (12 Years a Slave, Little Miss Sunshine), Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey), Golden Globe® winner Gillian Anderson (The X Files, Hannibal), Oscar®, James Norton (Happy Valley, Rush), Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge!, Iris) and others. (previously announced)
· FALL INTO ME (working title) – New Digital Platform — Marking Lifetime’s first original scripted content for non-linear distribution, the short-form digital platform Fall Into Me will feature romantic drama stories for today’s modern and tech-savvy woman. Catering to the fast-growing romance-fiction marketplace, each series will take viewers on journeys full of passion and excitement that can be discreetly enjoyed on phones and tablets. The concept for Fall Into Me comes from Daytime Emmy® nominee Guy Shalem (Lovespring International, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers), who will lead a team of creative storytellers for each series. Produced by Propagate Content, the Fall Into Me series will be executive produced by Shalem, Howard T. Owens and David McKillop. (previously announced)
· WHAT THE FUNG?! – Follows foodie comedians and brothers, Andrew and David Fung, as they travel across America in search of the best local spots to eat
· MARRIED AT FIRST SIGHT: THE FIRST YEAR – This spin-off docu-series follows the two couples who remained married from season 1
· TINY HOUSE THE FIRST 24 – Digital companion series that will highlight some of the craziest and funniest moments of a families first 24 hours in their new tiny home
· FOOD PORN – Michael Chernow takes the food scene by storm with a nationwide hunt for the most popular #foodporn dishes! (previously announced)
Damien press release:
A&E NETWORK TO PREMIERE ORIGINAL SCRIPTED DRAMA SERIES ‘DAMIEN’
BASED ON TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX’S CLASSIC HORROR FILM, THE OMEN
FOUR ADDITIONAL EPISODES ADDED TO ORIGINAL SERIES ORDER FROM FOX 21 AND EXECUTIVE PRODUCER GLEN MAZZARA (“THE WALKING DEAD,” “THE SHIELD”)
New York, NY— April 29, 2015 — A&E Network will premiere the new original scripted drama series, “Damien.” The hour-long drama from Fox 21 Television Studios and executive producer Glen Mazzara is a follow-up to the classic horror film, The Omen. Currently in production in Toronto, “Damien” will premiere a 10-episode season on A&E, increased from the initial six-episode straight to series order. The announcement was made today by Rob Sharenow, Executive Vice President & General Manager, A&E and Lifetime.
“A&E’s unwavering commitment to high quality original scripted drama programming, coupled with the sizable fan-base for our hit series ‘Bates Motel,’ which so perfectly aligns with ‘Damien,’ make the network the ideal fit for this exceptional show,” said Sharenow. “We are thrilled with what we’ve seen so far and know that Glen and the creative team have even more story to tell in season one.”
The series stars Bradley James as Damien Thorn (“Merlin,” “Homeland”), along with Oscar® nominee Barbara Hershey (“Once Upon a Time”), Omid Abtahi (“Better Call Saul”) and Meganlyn Echikunwoke (“House of Lies”).
“Damien” follows the adult life of Damien Thorn, the mysterious child from the 1976 motion picture who has grown up seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny — that he is the Antichrist. Barbara Hershey stars as Ann Rutledge, the world’s most powerful woman who has been tasked with making sure Damien fulfills his destiny. Omid Abtahi portrays Amani Golkar, a close colleague of Damien’s whose fierce loyalty will be tested when he realizes who his brother-in-arms actually is. Meganlyn Echikunwoke plays Simone Baptiste, a woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when tragedy unexpectedly strikes.
“Damien” is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios (“Homeland,” “Sons of Anarchy”) for A&E Network. Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead,” “The Shield”) serves as writer and executive producer via his 44 Strong Productions. Ross Fineman (“Lights Out”), who developed the project alongside Mazzara, executive produces through his company, Fineman Entertainment. Pancho Mansfield (“Queen of the South”) also serves as executive producer. Golden Globe® and BAFTA Award nominated director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) directed and executive produces the first episode.
Roots press release:
HISTORY®, A&E AND LIFETIME GREENLIGHT
Event Series To Air on All Three Flagship Brands
Will Packer and Mark Wolper Set as Executive Producers and
Original Cast Member LeVar Burton Boards as Co-Executive Producer
New York, NY – April 30, 2015 – HISTORY, A&E and LIFETIME greenlight the scripted event series ROOTS for a new generation of viewers to simulcast on all three flagship brands; it was today announced by Dirk Hoogstra, EVP and General Manager, HISTORY. Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like A Man) joins as executive producer and original ROOTS cast member and Emmy-award winning LeVar Burton boards as co-executive producer. Mark Wolper also serves as executive producer. ROOTS is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization. ROOTS is slated to air in 2016.
The classic miniseries ROOTS was a television phenomenon that had an indelible effect on American culture. A+E Networks and The Wolper Organization – the company that produced the original – are making a version of Alex Haley’s American family origin story based around the life of Kunta Kinte. Lawrence Konner (Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Mona Lisa Smile, Planet of the Apes), Mark Rosenthal (Mona Lisa Smile, Planet of the Apes), Alison McDonald (Alpha House, Nurse Jackie) and Charles Murray (Sons of Anarchy, Luke Cage) are writing. Vickie Thomas (Hateful Eight, Top Five, 42, Django Unchained) is casting director. ROOTS will be an original, contemporary production, incorporating more material from Haley’s novel, ROOTS: The Saga of an American Family, as well as carefully researched new scholarship of the time.
The networks also are already working closely with many prominent historians in the fields of African and African-American history, as well as diverse leaders from across the country, to use this powerful story to stimulate discussion and awareness about this important origin story that informs our American culture today.
ROOTS is a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family’s will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity. Spanning multiple generations, the lineage begins with young Kunta Kinte who is captured in his homeland in The Gambia and transported in brutal conditions to colonial America where he’s sold into slavery. Throughout the series, the family continues to face adversity while bearing witness and contributing to notable events in U.S. history – including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, slave uprisings and eventual emancipation. The story of Kunta Kinte and the women and men who came after him echoes through the history of millions of Americans of African descent, and reveals powerful truths about the universal resilience of the human spirit.
“ROOTS was a groundbreaking television milestone that has had an enduring effect on American culture. We are privileged to be stewards of this universal story and will undertake its retelling with extreme care,” said Hoogstra. “We are proud to bring this saga to fans of the original, as well as to a new generation that will experience this powerful and poignant tale for the first time. Audiences will once again feel the impact of Kunta Kinte’s indomitable spirit.”
“Kunta Kinte began telling his story over 200 years ago and that story went through his family lineage, to Alex Haley, to my father, and now the mantle rests with me,” said Wolper. “Like Kunta Kinte fought to tell his story over and over again, so must we.”
“The opportunity to present one of America’s most powerful stories to a generation that hasn’t seen it is tremendously exciting. Contemporary society needs this story and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Packer.
“My career began with ROOTS and I am proud to be a part of this new adaptation,” said Burton. “There is a huge audience of contemporary young Americans who do not know the story of ROOTS or its importance. I believe now is the right time to tell this story so that we can all be reminded of its impact on our culture and identity.”
ROOTS is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original ROOTS. Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Marc Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin Huggins are co-executive producers. Dirk Hoogstra, Julian P. Hobbs and Michael Stiller serve as Executives in Charge of Production for HISTORY. ROOTS is distributed internationally by A+E Networks under the A+E Studios International banner.