FilmRise Picks Up Digital Rights to ‘Highway to Heaven’

FilmRise, a New York-based film and television studio and streaming network, has acquired the worldwide digital distribution rights to classic TV series “Highway to Heaven.”

Starring Michael Landon (“Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie”) and Victor French (“An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Rio Lobo”), the series follows a probationary angel sent back to Earth who teams up with an ex-cop to help people.

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“We’re thrilled to add the beloved series ‘Highway to Heaven’ to FilmRise’s constantly growing library of treasured, classic television series,” FilmRise CEO Danny Fisher said in a statement. “Now, millions of original fans will be able to re-watch the series and a whole new group of viewers will have the opportunity to discover it — including in multiple dubbed versions throughout the world. Additionally, we will now be able to release newly restored, HD versions, which we are excited to introduce to streaming.”

“Genesis is excited that FilmRise, a company with a proven track record of success with digital properties, has partnered with us on ‘Highway to Heaven,’” said Wayne Lepoff, president and CEO of Genesis International TV & Film. “Since Genesis first introduced ‘Highway to Heaven’ into U.S. television syndication, our admiration for Michael Landon and his legacy, as well as his family and business team, has been unparalleled.”

The American fantasy drama series aired for five seasons on NBC from 1984 to 1989, with a total of 111 episodes, and received numerous Emmy nominations. “Highway to Heaven” was Michael Landon’s final TV show and a Nielsen top 20 series during its first season.

The Roku Channel Launching Original Series ‘Cypher’ in North America

Roku is slowly expanding from streaming video facilitator to content distributor. The media technology company March 11 announced that a new scripted series, “Cypher,” will premiere exclusively on The Roku Channel March 19. The FBI drama features seven one-hour episodes and will be available for the first time to viewers in Canada.

“Cypher” follows top FBI cryptanalyst Scott (Martin Dingle Wall), who is enlisted to crack a coded document, which is revealed to be a hit list. Scott soon finds himself in the crosshairs of bad guys who want their list back. He must navigate the murky waters of loyalty and betrayal among an underground ring of hackers, hit men and FBI agents — all as the clock ticks in pursuit of the latest targets.

The series also stars Eve Mauro, Brian Krause, John Reardon, Mary Helen Schmidt, Jaclyn Hales, Lauren Gravitt and John J. Jordan.

“As The Roku Channel continues to grow, we’re constantly looking for ways to elevate the streaming experience for our viewers and get them to great entertainment easily and for free,” Sweta Patel, VP of engagement growth marketing at Roku, said in a statement.

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The Ad-supported Roku Channel content lineup features more than 40,000 movies and programs and more than 165 live linear-TV channels in North America. As of the fourth quarter of 2020, Roku reported a total of 51.2 million monthly active users in the United States.

 

Series ‘Almost Paradise’ Headed to IMDb TV Feb. 1

Electric Entertainment’s “Almost Paradise,” which originally premiered domestically in March 2020 on the broadcast network WGN America, is headed to AVOD service IMDb TV Feb. 1.

“We have established a wonderful relationship with Amazon’s IMDb TV,” said Electric CEO Dean Devlin. “This marks our third partnership with the free streaming service — the first being the re-imagining of the hit TV series ‘Leverage 2.0,’ and secondly, the streaming of all three seasons of ‘The Outpost.’ We can’t be more pleased with how our relationship is blossoming and look forward to more opportunities with the rapidly growing AVOD service.”

The series stars Christian Kane (“The Librarians,” “Leverage,” “Angel”) as Alex Walker, a former U.S. DEA agent who was forced into early retirement. Once the DEA’s most resourceful undercover operative, the combination of his partner’s betrayal and a life-threatening battle with hypertension sent him as far from the madness as he can go — a small tropical island in the Philippine Archipelago. He now runs the gift shop at the island’s luxury resort hotel, gets his disability payments at the nearby U.S. Air Force base, and generally manages his transition from Jason Bourne to Jimmy Buffett. But, the island’s luxury resorts attract rich, powerful, and sometimes criminal elite from around the world, often on a collision course with Alex. Despite his best efforts to begin a tranquil new life, he’s pulled back into a world of dangerous people and deadly situations, either through his friends in the local police department or running into people from his old life.

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HBO Max Picks Up Exclusive SVOD Rights to ‘The Middle’

HBO Max has secured U.S. SVOD streaming rights to all nine seasons of the family comedy “The Middle,” with a total of 215 episodes available now.

Two-time Emmy winner Patricia Heaton stars in this single-camera comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations. Middle-aged, middle class, and living in the middle of the country in Orson, Ind., Frankie Heck (Heaton) is a harried wife and mother of three who uses her wry wit and sense of humor to get her family through each day intact. Frankie works as a dental assistant, and her unflappable husband Mike is manager at the local quarry and her sardonic partner in the daily grind that is raising their family. Between juggling shifts and picking up fast food to be eaten in front of the TV, Frankie and Mike raise their kids — popular slacker Axl, optimistic, awkward Sue, and odd, eccentric Brick — with love, humor and solid midwestern pragmatism.

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In addition to Heaton, the comedy stars Neil Flynn as Mike, Charlie McDermott as Axl, Eden Sher as Sue and Atticus Shaffer as Brick.

Debuting in 2009, the series won the esteemed Humanitas Prize in 2016 and was also nominated for multiple Critics Choice Awards throughout its run.

Produced by Blackie and Blondie Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, “The Middle” was created and executive produced by Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline.

‘Fresh Prince’ Reunion to Debut on HBO Max Nov. 19

Will Smith via social media released the trailer for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion and revealed that the special will debut on HBO Max Nov.19.

In the unscripted special, Smith is joined by series regulars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro as well as recurring co-star DJ Jazzy Jeff for a family reunion on set in the Banks’ home for a look back at the show. Taped on the 30th anniversary of the original series premiere date, Smith also sat down with Janet Hubert, who originated the role of Aunt Viv, for the first time in 27 years for a reunion and a candid conversation.

As previously announced, the special will be night full of music and dancing and a look at the cultural impact the series has had since its debut. HBO Max is the exclusive SVOD home of the full original series library in the United States, debuting on the platform when it launched in May.

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‘The Office’ Complete Series Available on Blu-ray Via MOD

Universal’s The Office: The Complete Series will come out from Allied Vaughn via manufacture-on-demand.

The release features 34 Blu-ray dual-layer discs at $119.98.

“The Office” is a documentary-style look at the humorous and sometimes poignant foolishness that plagues the 9-to-5 world. Episodes include Michael’s (Steve Carell) infamous encounter with a breakfast grill, Dwight’s (Rainn Wilson) power plays, Jim’s (John Krasinksi) pranks, Andy’s (Ed Helms) struggles with anger management, and Pam (Jenna Fischer) and Jim’s evolving romance.

Developed for American television by Primetime Emmy Award winner Greg Daniels, The Office: The Complete Series includes every episode plus bonus commentaries, webisodes, blooper reels and more than 15 hours of deleted scenes.

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Complete ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Collection to Bow on DVD Nov. 10

Schitt’s Creek: The Complete Collection will come out DVD Nov. 10 from Lionsgate.

The irreverent character-driven comedy centers on the reversal-of-fortune story of the once filthy-rich Rose family. Suddenly finding themselves broke, the Roses are forced to rebuild their empire in Schitt’s Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke. As the seasons go on, we see the family thrive in a place they begin to call home, ready to take their personal relationships, business pursuits and, for some, exit strategies, to the next level.

The show received 19 Emmy nominations during its run, with 15 for its sixth season, setting a record for most nominations for a comedy series in its final season. At the 2020 ceremony, “Schitt’s Creek” became the first Canadian show to win the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, for its sixth and final season. In doing so, it also became the first ongoing series to sweep all four acting categories — Eugene Levy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, Catherine O’Hara for Lead Actress, Daniel Levy for Supporting Actor, and Annie Murphy for Supporting Actress — plus the awards for writing and directing, en route to nine total wins (it also won for Casting and Contemporary Costumes).

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The cast also includes Chris Elliott, Emily Hampshire, Jenn Robertson, Sarah Levy and John Hemphill.

DVD special features include deleted scenes, bloopers, featurettes, outtakes, “Behind the Episode” segments, and “A Schitt’s Creek Farewell” documentary.

Will Smith and ‘Fresh Prince’ Cast Reunite to Tape Special for HBO Max

Will Smith released two first-look photos at the 30th anniversary Sept. 10 taping for the upcoming “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reunion special from Westbrook Media.

Will Smith and Janet Hubert

Smith was joined by series regulars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro as well as recurring co-star DJ Jazzy Jeff for a reunion on set in the Banks’ home in this one-time special.

Surprising the rest of the cast, Smith revealed that he sat down Sept. 9 with Janet Hubert, who originated the role of Aunt Viv, for the first time in 27 years for a reunion and a candid conversation.

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As previously announced, the special will include music, dancing and more special surprise guests in honor of the series that ran for six seasons and 148 episodes.

Produced by Westbrook Media, the reunion will launch exclusively on HBO Max around Thanksgiving. HBO Max is the exclusive SVOD home of the full original series library in the United States.

‘James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction’ Coming to Disc July 28 From RLJE

The sci-fi documentary series “James Cameron’s Story of Science-Fiction” will come out on DVD and Blu-ray July 28 from AMC Networks’ RLJE Films.

The series originally aired on AMC Networks in 2018 as part of the AMC Visionaries series.

The show, an intimate look at science fiction’s roots, its futuristic vision and our fascination with its ideas, is hosted by Academy Award winner James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic). It features interviews with ‘A’-list storytellers, stars and others whose careers have defined the field of science fiction movies and television. Interviewees include Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial), George Lucas (“Star Wars” franchise), Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner), Christopher Nolan (Tenet, Interstellar), Will Smith (Men in Black, I Am Legend), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Terminator) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The Sixth Sense).

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Bonus features include extended interviews with Spielberg, Lucas, Scott, Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro and Schwarzenegger.

New Season of ‘Frankie Drake Mysteries,’ ‘Secrets of Highclere Castle’ Among Titles Available on PBS Masterpiece Prime Video in July

A new season of “Frankie Drake Mysteries,” the “Worricker Trilogy,” Secrets of Highclere Castle and several “Walter Presents” series are among the titles available on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel in July.

The subscription rate for the channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

“The Worricker Trilogy”

“The Worricker Trilogy” is David Hare’s spy trilogy that exposes the battles raging inside the intelligence community in the name of security. It stars Bill Nighy as Johnny Worricker, a long-serving MI5 officer whose life, both personal and professional, has just been turned inside out. The three installments of the trilogy are “Page Eight,” “Salting the Battlefield” and “Turks & Caicos,” and each episode features a host of guest stars, including Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Walken, and Winona Ryder.

In Secrets of Highclere Castle, viewers get the insider story about the famous mansion from the multi Emmy award-winning series “Downton Abbey.” Viewers step inside one of Britain’s best-known manor houses. It may be more famous now than any time in its 1,300-year history as the setting of “Downton Abbey,” but England’s Highclere Castle has its own stories to tell. In its heyday, Highclere was the social epicenter of Edwardian England. Viewers see how all the inhabitants of Highclere lived, from the aristocrats who enjoyed a life of luxury to the army of servants toiling “below stairs.” They also find out how the current inhabitants, Lord and Lady Carnarvon, spend their $1 million in annual upkeep funds, and what life in the castle is like today.

“Walter Presents: Imperial”

“Walter Presents: Imperial” is an Italian series set in 1905. The young and handsome Pietro Neri, from a nearby agricultural town, arrives at the Imperial, a luxury hotel in the Italian Alps. Posing as a waiter, he is there to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his sister Caterina, who also worked at the hotel. But Pietro is unprepared for what awaits him at the Imperial Hotel. On one of his first days there he crosses paths with the beautiful Adele Alibrandi. She is the aristocratic daughter of the hotel’s owner, Donna Vittoria Alibrandi, a woman with her own secrets, lies and crimes who will stop at nothing to keep them hidden. However, the difference in class will not stop Pietro and Adele from falling in love and starting a tumultuous affair, complicating everything for them.

Three Sovereigns for Sarah

Nineteen people were hanged and one man pressed to death, while hundreds went to jail during the witch hysteria of 1692. Three Sovereigns for Sarah is a true story based on transcripts from the Salem Witch Trials and stars Academy Award winners Vanessa Redgrave, Kim Hunter and Phyllis Thaxter. Sarah Cloyce (Redgrave), and her two sisters, are accused of being a witches in 1690s Massachusetts. After the trial, her sisters are found guilty and burned at the stake and Sarah is given a life in prison sentence. For years she is kept in brutal and terrible conditions until her family rescues her, after which she sets about trying to clear her family’s name. With real characters and original transcripts woven into the dialogue, the film is a moving story about three sisters accused of witchcraft and what happened to those who were found guilty.

“Walter Presents: The Hunter”

Based on real events, the Italian series “Walter Presents: The Hunter,” which begins streaming July 10, is the true story of the “hunting season” in Italy during the 1990s. In Palermo, after decades of bloodshed and government officials turning a blind eye to the crime and corruption of the mafia, a new lawyer decides it’s time to go after the two rivaling bosses who have been causing the deaths of criminals and the innocent alike for years. Saverio Barone is a young and ambitious prosecutor who is fighting for what’s right through the legal system. When he reports his own boss as being a part of the mob corruption, his colleagues criticize and blame him for the trouble he causes. Barone is uniquely equipped for the job, with a distinct set of skills that will make him known as “The Hunter.” Thanks to a number of brilliant hunches that he follows, spectacular raids and arrests are made, taking 300 Mafiosi into police custody.

“Frankie Drake Mysteries: Season 3”

In season three of “Frankie Drake Mysteries,” which begins streaming July 17, the ladies of the Drake Detective Agency are back solving the crimes the police can’t handle, from cases in London with new mystery novelist friend Agatha Christie, to a mermaid-themed jazz club, to swanky Toronto private schools, to busy telephone exchanges filled with busybody operators. Mary is still at the police station where her newfound confidence at work and life leave her feeling frustrated with her status as a morality officer and push her toward new professional goals. Meanwhile Flo finishes her classroom portion of medical school and is looking forward to her clinical in-hospital training, all while juggling a long-distance beau and the varied demands of Drake Detective cases. As Trudy’s love life with Bill Peters heats up, she also excels at her investigative work, taking on some truly hair-raising risks as she works to solve cases. And finally, Frankie continues to lead the team with aplomb and ingenuity, while exploring a romantic connection with boxer Moses Page.

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“Walter Presents: The Inner Circle”

Mixing political intrigue with personal drama, the Swedish series “Walter Presents: The Inner Circle,” which begins streaming July 17, is a thriller that plays out over the course of several days as enterprise minister David Ehrling is in the running to become the next prime minister, all while his press officer Lena Nilsdotter attempts to keep his past misdemeanors from prying journalists. Adding to his troubles, David must also juggle the demands of his job with his family life, which is under threat of falling apart.

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“Walter Presents: Rocco Shiavone”

In the Italian series “Walter Presents: Rocco Shiavone,” streaming beginning July 24, due to disciplinary reasons, the unorthodox, weed smoking, foul-mouthed Italian police detective Rocco Schiavone is transferred far from his beloved Rome to the small mountain town of Aosta. The sophisticated but cranky Roman despises the mountains, the cold and the provincial locals as much as he dislikes his superiors and their petty rules. But he loves solving crimes, the only thing that is keeping him from losing his sanity.

“Walter Presents: Hide and Seek”

Finally, the Ukrainian series “Walter Presents: Hide and Seek” streams beginning July 31. In a small industrial town, a father and daughter love playing hide and seek, but during one of their usual playdates, the daughter mysteriously disappears and is nowhere to be found. Later, a video is released that shows the girl holding a sign with an unusual set of numbers, but no one knows what they mean. She becomes the first of several children to disappear without a trace. Two young detectives, Varta Naumova and Maksim Shumov, take on the complex case and their own demons during the investigation. They are total opposites, but both have experienced trauma and this case affects them each on a deep level. They become personally vested in finding the children and apprehending the kidnapper as they confront their pasts.