3 Pop Culture Stories You Missed; ‘Walking Dead’ Hits Syndication, Billy Crystal to FX, Showtime’s Summer Plan

With news breaking every day in Hollywood, a number of stories get overlooked that should be a bigger deal than reported. This is a look at three you might have missed.

Mar 22, 2014 at 10:00AM

In the entertainment industry news comes out fast and furious, and sometimes the importance and impact of some of those developments gets lost in the shuffle. Here's a look at three of the top pop culture stories from the past week that you might have missed and why they are worth a second look.

My Network TV signs deal for Walking Dead repeats


(Credit: AMC)

AMC's (NASDAQ:AMCX) Walking Dead is on the move...sort of. Starting this fall the runaway smash hit series will begin airing in syndication on My Network TV. The station, which primarily only runs syndicated fare, will add the drama to its roster, with back-to-back episodes from the show's first three seasons airing one night a week. It is expected future seasons will also be included as part of the deal, which will see Dead air alongside other staples such as House, Bones, Monk and the Law & Order franchises Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit.

Industry impact

In a statement, Frank Cicha of the Fox TV stations said, "It's not often you get to add the hottest show on the planet to your lineup. We just did, and it's a tremendous get for our stations."

He's not kidding! This is a huge coup for My Network and a big gun to add its arsenal in the wake of heavy competition from ION Network, which has TNT's Leverage and a number of USA's big ticket shows like Burn Notice and Psych already on its lineup.

Usually a marquee series of Walking's caliber would go to somewhere like TNT, USA, or FX, but given that it's a cable series, that isn't really an option. This is a nice win for both My Network and AMC as it will likely draw in new fans ahead of the series' presumed October return and reengage current viewers who will by that point be craving new episodes.

Showtime reveals summer strategy


(Credit: Showtime)

Showtime's (a subsidiary of CBS (NYSE:CBS)) powerful freshman 2013 class is graduating in a big way this summer. The cable network's well-received dramas Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex will both return this July, but this time air back-to-back.

Last year Donovan bowed during the summer, but had the benefit of Dexter's final season as a lead-in. Now the Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight fronted series will likely be the lead-in for fellow breakout Masters of Sex. The adult drama starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Kaplan had previously opened in the fall and, similar to Donovan, used its strong lead-in (Homeland) to capture attention and earn a sophomore run.

Impact on network

Showtime's reasoning for this move is two-fold and both will impact its competitors. First, it frees up a slot for another high-profile new series in the fall to use Homeland as a launching pad. Secondly it positions both series to take full advantage of the expected success the shows are believed to have at this year's Emmys. Donovan and Masters are likely to earn nominations this year -- not coincidentally, those nominations will be announced around the same time of the shows' second season launches and should help spike the ratings. It's a good move and one that should pay off.

FX orders 'Comedians' series with Billy Crystal and Josh Gad as leads


(Credit: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

A number of Hollywood "A-listers" are expected to make the jump to TV this fall, and now that list includes Billy Crystal.

FX (a subsidiary of Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA)) has ordered the series Comedians, a 13-episode comedy featuring the multi-time Oscar host as a veteran comedian on a late-night sketch comedy show who is forced to team with an edgy up and comer. Joining Crystal as his foil will be Book of Mormon star Josh Gad, who had a banner 2013 thanks to the success of Disney's Frozen. Larry Charles (Seinfeld), Matt Nix (Burn Notice), and Ben Wexler (Community) will join Crystal as writers and executive producers of the series, which is based on a Swedish series of the same name.

Impact on network

Having Crystal is one thing, but teaming him with Gad on-screen and a talented trio of showrunners behind the scenes is something that could be really special. Crystal previously broke through on TV in the '70s sitcom Soap, before seguing to film after a one-season run on NBC staple Saturday Night Live.

For FX the move gives the network another promising rookie on its comedy slate, which also includes Denis Leary's buzzy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. With FX having two big dramas coming off the books very soon (Sons of AnarchyJustified), executives can take solace in knowing its upcoming comedies could help shoulder the load.

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Brett Gold owns shares of CBS. The Motley Fool recommends AMC Networks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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