'Tower,' 'History' get series orders
Cartoon Network is getting a lot less animated, picking up its first-ever live-action series.Cabler on Thursday gave series orders to two titles: “Tower Prep” and “Unnatural History.” Production begins on both in January. “Tower Prep” revolves around a rebellious teen (Drew Van Acker) who winds up at a mysterious prep school. He enlists a group of friends to figure out the school’s secrets — and how to escape. Paul Dini (“Lost”) exec produces and wrote the pilot, which was directed by Terry McDonough (“Breaking Bad”). Cartoon Network Studios will produce the show in Burbank along with Dolphin Entertainment. “Unnatural History” revolves around a teen (Kevin G. Schmidt) who moves to Washington, D.C., and with his cousin encounters mysteries at the National Museum of Natural History. Warner Horizon TV is the studio attached. Mike Werb (“Face/Off”) created and wrote the pilot, which was helmed by Mikael Salomon (“Band of Brothers”). Cartoon Network chief content officer Rob Sorcher said he believed the two new shows “will be a powerful complement to our diverse and expanding array of original programming.” Cartoon has been moving away from the animated arena for some time. Its live-action TV movie “Ben 10: Race Against Time” started the shift in 2007, scoring the channel’s highest-ever ratings up to that point. More recently, the channel has launched several live-action reality shows, such as “Bobb’e Says,” starring “30 Rock” thesp Bobb’e J. Thompson, and demolition-themed “Destroy Build Destroy.” Channel also has another “Ben 10″ movie airing this month and more live-action longforms in the works, including a “Scooby Doo” prequel movie. Move into live action is all part of Cartoon Network’s aggressive drive to attract more boy viewers, one of Sorcher’s mandates upon joining the cabler in 2008.