Lionsgate Television Group Inks Multiyear Deal With Rashida Jones and Will McCormack’s Production Company

The Lionsgate Television Group has signed a new first-look producing deal with Rashida Jones and Will McCormack’s Le Train Train production company. Under the agreement, Jones and McCormack will produce scripted television programming for a broad range of platforms.

First in development is “Lovesick,” based on the U.K. romantic comedy series of the same name. This project is part of the scripted co-production partnership between Lionsgate and BBC Studios Los Angeles Productions.

“There aren’t many writer/producers like Rashida and Will who can master both an ‘R’-rated comedy a la Celeste and Jesse Forever and a ‘G’-rated masterpiece such as Toy Story 4,” Scott Herbst, head of scripted development and EVP of Lionsgate Television, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to working with both of them to create more premium and compelling content for all types of viewers.”

Under their Le Train Train banner, McCormack and Jones have served as executive producers for four seasons of TNT’s dramedy “Claws” and AMC’s “Kevin Can F**k Himself,” which is currently starting its second season. The production company is also the team behind “#BlackAF” for Netflix, “A to Z” for NBC and the documentaries Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On and Centerpiece.

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Jones, whose parents are music executive Quincy Jones and the late Peggy Lipton (“Mod Squad”), has appeared in shows including “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” and starred in Sofia Coppola’s On The Rocks opposite Bill Murray. Up next, she will star in “Sunny” and appear in “Wool” for Apple TV+.

Behind the camera, she directed episodes of “#BlackAF,” “Angie Tribeca,” and Apple TV+’s “Roar,” and was recognized with a Grammy Award for her documentary Quincy. Additionally, she received an Emmy Award nomination for producing the documentary Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, and her writing credits include “Black Mirror,” Toy Story 4, and Celeste and Jesse Forever, which she co-wrote with McCormack, earning them an Independent Spirit Awards nomination. Jones is represented by UTA and James Adams at Schreck Rose.

McCormack most recently won an Academy Award for the animated short film If Anything Happens I Love You, which he co-wrote and co-directed with Michael Govier. A graphic novel based on the film was adapted by McCormack and Govier and will be released this August.

McCormack has various screenplays in development, including Challenger Deep for Disney+; The War and Treaty, which he co-wrote with Craig Borten and will be produced by John Legend; and The People Upstairs, which he co-wrote with Jones for Film Nation and will be directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris.

His other writing credits include Toy Story 4, NBC’s “A to Z,” and Celeste and Jesse Forever, which he co-wrote with Jones, earning them an Independent Spirit Awards nomination. As an actor, he won a Lucille Lortel Award for his performance in Paula Vogel’s play A Long Christmas Ride Home, and he’s appeared in several films and television shows, including “The Sopranos” and “Brothers and Sisters.” McCormack is represented by UTA and Erik Hyman at Paul Hastings. 

ViacomCBS Launches BET Studios

ViacomCBS Sept. 15 announced the launch of BET Studios, a studio venture offering equity ownership for black content creators. Propelled by the infrastructure and financing of BET and ViacomCBS, BET Studios aims to create premium television series and films for an array of internal buyers, including Paramount+, Showtime, CBS, Nickelodeon, BET+ and BET, in addition to select third-party platforms.

BET Studios will launch with principal partners movie/TV producer Kenya Barris; actress, director, writer Rashida Jones; and screenwriter/producer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas.

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Kenya Barris, Rashida Jones and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas

 

BET Studios will operate with dedicated staff reporting to Barris, Jones and Thomas. This group will utilize the BET and larger ViacomCBS infrastructure and shared services to support day-to-day tactics.

Barris created the Netflix original comedy “#BlackAF,” and the multi-series “-ish” franchise, which includes ABC’s Peabody Award-winning sitcom “Black-ish” and spin-off series “Mixed-ish” and “Grown-ish,” which airs on Freeform. Most recently, Barris co-wrote Coming 2 America for Paramount, which licensed the movie to Amazon Prime Video.

“The demand for premium content from black creators has accelerated dramatically as a result of both the rapidly changing media and social landscapes,” Scott Mills, president of BET, said in a statement.

Black Entertainment Television was founded in 1980 by Robert L. Johnson, who later sold the company to ViacomCBS. BET ended 2015 with a reported access in 88 million U.S. pay-TV households. Johnson later bought Acorn Media and Image Entertainment, creating RLJ Entertainment, which he sold to AMC Networks.

“BET Studios is an exciting and novel extension of the storied BET brand, and we have a structure well-suited to our times to bring top talent into this production company with real ownership,” said David Nevins, chief content officer of scripted originals at Paramount, and chairman and chief executive officer of Showtime Networks.

BET Studios will be headed by Aisha Summers Burke, who was recently appointed EVP and GM of the new venture. In this role, Burke will be responsible for working collaboratively with the studio’s creative partners and key internal constituencies. Along with overseeing the day-to-day creative affairs for the company, she will also be responsible for the BET Studios content slate and focusing on growing the Studio’s production output across both internal and external platforms. Burke will report to Mills.

Prior to joining BET, Burke spent 13 years at Warner Bros. Television, most recently serving as VP of scripted television for the cable and streaming division of Warner Horizon before it merged with Warner Bros. TV in 2020.

BET in 2019 launched BET+, a SVOD service operated by Tyler Perry Studios and the BET Networks.

Lionsgate Serving Up Disc of Bill Murray Movie ‘On the Rocks’ Oct. 26

Lionsgate will release the film On the Rocks on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 26.

Written and directed by Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, Somewhere, The Beguiled), the film stars Bill Murray, Rashida Jones and Marlon Wayans. In the film, Laura (Jones) thinks she’s happily hitched, but when her husband Dean (Wayans) starts logging late hours at the office with a new coworker, Laura begins to fear the worst. She turns to the one man she suspects may have insight: her charming, impulsive father Felix (Murray), who insists they investigate the situation. As the two begin prowling New York at night, careening from uptown parties to downtown hotspots, they discover at the heart of their journey lies their own relationship.

On the Rocks was released via the Apple TV+ streaming service last year.

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‘Tag’ Is It on Digital Aug. 17, Disc Aug. 28

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the action comedy Tag digitally Aug. 17, and on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 28.

Based on a true story that was the subject of a Wall Street Journal article, the film stars Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner as five competitive friends who have engaged in a no-holds-barred game of tag for one month every year since the first grade.

The cast also includes Annabelle Wallis, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones and Leslie Bibb. The film was earned $54 million at the domestic box office.

The DVD and Blu-ray include a “Meet the Real Tag Brothers” featurette. The Blu-ray will also include deleted scenes and bloopers.