This week in TV news, the next America’s Next Top Model, Xena gets a reboot, casting news, and more!


REVAMPED AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL COMING TO VH1

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America’s Next Top Model ended its 12-year run on The CW (formerly UPN, formerly The WB) with Cycle 22 last December, but this won’t be the end of ANTM. VH1 is reviving the show for a 14-episode run – sans host Tyra Banks – later this year. This is a natural step for VH1 – the channel has shown reruns of the reality show for years. “We could not be more excited to bring back and breathe new life into one of the greatest unscripted franchises on television,” said chief licensing officer for CBS Corp Scott Koondel,  “VH1 is the perfect partner for this new endeavor and we hope this is the beginning of a long relationship.” While Banks will not be the host of this new ANTM, she will remain on board as an executive producer. The show will move to New York City and will likely have new hosts. We are all rooting for it.

UNDERGROUND SCREENED AT THE WHITE HOUSE

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 22: (L-R) Stars Alano Miller, Amirah Vann, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica de Gouw and Chris Meloni appear at a screening and panel discussion of WGN America's "Underground" at The White House on February 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for WGN America) *** Local Caption *** Alano Miller; Amirah Vann; Jurnee Smollett-Bell; Aldis Hodge; Jessica de Gouw; Chris Meloni

Yesterday, WGN America screened its highly anticipated original series Underground at the White House as part of the White House Office of Public Engagement’s Black History Month event, “These Hallowed Grounds.” Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to President Barack Obama, provided opening remarks, and the premiere episode was lauded by attendees at the event. Prior to the screening, the Underground cast and creative team, including executive producers John Legend and Akiva Goldsman and stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Christopher Meloni, Alano Miller, Jessica de Gouw and Amirah Vann, participated in panel discussions in which they elaborated on the inspiration behind the escape thriller. Underground premieres Wednesday, March 9th on WGN America.


SHOWRUNNER FOR PLANNED XENA REBOOT SPILLS BEANS

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In a recent interview between Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost), showrunner of a new Xena: Warrior Princess reboot for NBC, and Genevieve Valentine, writer of the new Xena comic, Grillo-Marxuach spilled some beans about his plans. Changes will include a more serialized story arc than Xena fans are used to and the changing of some character backstories. “Some of their morality will be tweaked,” he explained. But it will still surround legendary characters “in a way that makes sense to the totality of the story.” Will Xena still have a Chakram? Grillo-Marxuach said he usually answers that with, “Of course… What am I, a monster?” But lead actresses Lucy Lawless and Renée O’Connor won’t be recreating their roles. While he loves and will miss the duo, the showrunner said, “The reboot is not a repudiation of the classic show, but rather a compliment to it. I want for Xena to be a cultural icon for longer than my tenure in the entertainment industry, or that of anyone else involved with the project.”

THIS WEEK’S HEAVYWEIGHTS IN CASTING

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In casting news this week, Actor-producer-rapper Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner has just booked an influential guest starring role on Fox’s Empire. Xzibit is playing Leslie “Shyne” Johnson, who is described as 100% wolf and 100% gangster and it looks like 100% nemesis of Lucious Lyons. And as long as we are talking Cruel Intentions, we have learned Sarah Michelle Gellar will be reprising her role as Kathryn Merteuil in NBC’s revival of the famed 1999 film. Gellar will not be joined by her famous co-stars, but by their fictional son who learns the dark truth of his late father’s family. And all those that have been missing Dr. Mark Greene – E.R. alum Anthony Edwards has been the first cast, and will play Drew’s father, in CBS’s eagerly anticipated Nancy Drew reimagining. CBS has promised a diverse cast and a grown up Nancy, so we shall see where this famed feminist icon will take us next.

PROGRAMMING WOES AT HBO

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HBO hasn’t had a breakout drama hit since Game of Thrones premiered in 2011, and the pressure has been mounting for the next big hit. Their most recent release, Vinyl, garnered less than impressive ratings and mixed reviews. And after troubles with highly anticipated productions like Westworld, and projects from David Fincher, and Steve McQueen were benched due to production problems, HBO’s drama head Michael Ellenberg found himself out of a job this year. Nevertheless, HBO insists that they are still looking forward to their 2016 slate.

It’s time for our weekly countdown of the Winter TV premieres! Here are the best new shows for the week of Friday, February 12th. See how this week’s shows, Vinyl, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and Those Who Can’t stack up against each other on the Tomatometer!

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