×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Microsoft Ready to Unveil Xbox Originals Slate to Advertisers

Live action series based on game franchises like "Gears of War," "State of Decay," "Age of Empires," "Fable" and "Forza Motorsport" in development

It’s showtime for Nancy Tellem.

After making several one-off announcements of original shows it wants to make for the Xbox Live platform, including a Steven Spielberg-produced series around hit videogame “Halo,” Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios has a full slate it will unveil to advertisers for the first time.

Tellem, the former CBS chief who became president of entertainment and digital media for Xbox in 2012, will promote six greenlit shows and at least 11 more in development, on Monday during the NewFronts, a gathering of online networks and digital programmers seeking advertising dollars from Madison Avenue.

The shows, which include live action series based on other hit game franchises exclusive to Xbox like “Gears of War,” “Age of Empires,” “Fable” and “Forza Motorsport,” as well as “State of Decay,” that will be presented include an array of documentaries, scripted dramas, animation, comedy and live events. All are designed to offer interactive ways to delve deeper into the programming, and will play on multiple screens that offer Xbox Live. They’re also meant to serve as premium programming that stand out from series available through apps from the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Machinima currently available on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One video game consoles and specifically target 18-34-year-old males.

For example, its first show to launch, “Every Street United,” will be available on Xbox Video for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8 (on PC and Surface tablets) and Windows Phone 8 when it bows in June.

Microsoft sees the launch of original series as a way to turn its videogame consoles into more of a hub in the living room for all forms of entertainment, but rather than just offer apps from other streaming video providers, it too wants to be a major player with a platform that needs more exclusive content to sell consoles.

Series that Tellem’s team, which includes former WB network CEO Jordan Levin, have committed to include:

■ A live action “Halo” series executive produced by Spielberg, created in partnership with 343 Industries (behind the “Halo” game series, above) and Amblin Television. A separate “Halo” digital feature from 343 Industries and Scott Free Prods will be released later this year that Ridley Scott and Scott Free TV president David Zucker will produce. Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (“Battlestar Galactica,” “Pillars of the Earth,” “Heroes”) will direct.

■ The unscripted series “Every Street United” that will play out as eight, 30-minute episodes and a one-hour finale, featuring legendary soccer players Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids, focused on the global search for soccer’s most gifted and undiscovered street stars scouted across eight countries (United States, England, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Ghana and South Korea). Show concludes in July with a street game finale in Rio de Janeiro, which is hosting the World Cup. Jonathan Hock (“Streetball,” “30 for 30: The Best That Never Was”) is directing the series, while Mike Tollin and Mandalay Sports Media are executive producing.

■ A live stream of the Bonnaroo music and arts festival June 13-15, with Xbox featuring perofrmances from multiple stages.

“Signal to Noise,” a six film documentary series from Simon Chinn (“Searching for Sugar Man” and “Man on Wire”) and Jonathan Chinn (FX’s “30 Days” and PBS’s “American High”) that will expose little known stories of how modern technology has radically altered the way people interact with our world. The first installment, “Atari: Game Over” exposes how Atari sold millions of unsold cartridges of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” game in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. The episode is directed by Zak Penn (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Incredible Hulk”).

“Humans,” a sci-fi drama co-produced with UK broadcaster Channel 4 and Kudos (behind the “The Hour,” “Utopia,” “Broadchurch”) that’s an English retelling of the popular Swedish series about humans living with robot servants. Show will be an hour-long, eight-episode series, which will share a premiere broadcast window on the Xbox platform and Channel 4 in 2015. Jane Featherstone (“Life on Mars,” “Broadchurch”) and Derek Wax (“The Hour,” “Sex Traffic”) are producing the series, written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley (“Spooks”). Production starts this summer.

Projects in development include:

■ Live action series based on other hit game franchises like “Gears of War,” “Age of Empires,” “Fable,” and “Forza Motorsport,” as well as “State of Decay.”

“Deadlands,” based on the successful pen-and-paper role-playing game created by Shane Lacy Hensley that’s filled with undead gunfighters, card-slinging sorcerers, mad scientists, secret societies, and fearsome abominations.

■ The comedy “Extraordinary Believers,” from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (“Robot Chicken”), which mixes live action with stop motion animation and man-on-the-street interviews. Seth Green and Matt Senreich are executive producing with the show’s creators Eric Towner and John Harvatine IV.

“Fearless,” an unscripted series about Australian Navy bomb clearance diver and shark attack survivor Paul de Gelder, who goes on an adrenaline-fueled quest to aid individuals who risk their lives. Australia’s Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder is producing the series.

“Gun Machine,” a thriller about a detective tracking a serial killer who is tied to a mysterious collection of guns used in infamous New York murders. Brett Conrad (“The Killing,” “Sons of Anarchy,” Netflix’s upcoming “Marco Polo”) is writing the pilot, based on Warren Ellis’ bestselling novel. Ellis will executive produce.

■ An untitled half-hour variety show from JASH, a comedy collective founded by Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim and Eric and Reggie Watts. A different comedian will host each week, starting with Silverman. Daniel Kellison (“Late Night,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Crank Yankers”) will executive produce.

■ Live-action series “Winterworld,” a co-production with IDW Entertainment, based on Chuck Dixon and artist Jorge Zaffino’s graphic novel in which the world has been encased in ice and the surviving humans have formed tribes that war, enslave and trade with one another in an effort to survive. IDW’s Ted Adams and David Ozer will executive produce with Rick Jacobs and Dave Alpert from Circle of Confusion (“The Walking Dead”).

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Snoop Dogg Weed

    In the Cannabis Business, Not All Star Strains Are Created Equal

    With the cannabis green rush in full swing, many celebrities are jumping into the fray with their own brands, including such well-known stoners as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong. But as it turns out, not all star strains are created equal, so we assembled a trio of crack experts to put the product [...]

  • Richard Branson Jason Felts

    Kaaboo Festival Acquired by Virgin Fest Owner Jason Felts

    Kaaboo, which says it has “shifted the music festival paradigm by offering a highly amenitized festival experience for adults,” is now under new ownership. Virgin Fest founder and CEO Jason Felts (pictured above with Virgin founder Richard Branson) has fully acquired all of the festival brand assets through an affiliate of Virgin Fest, the music [...]

  • Live Nation Chief Michael Rapino Talks

    Live Nation-Ticketmaster Chief Michael Rapino Talks Dept. of Justice Inquiries

    Back in August, Senators Richard Blumenthal of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota made the most recent of several requests for an Department of Justice antitrust investigation into competition in the ticketing industry, and it soon became clear that the target of the probe was Live Nation and its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, which [...]

  • Lowell Smokes Cafe Marijuana

    With Cannabis Lounges, On-Site Consumption, Marijuana-Infused Meals Go Legit

    Can this century’s Roaring ’20s repeat history but with pre-rolled joints instead of whiskey flasks and soccer moms as the new flappers? This month, West Hollywood will see the opening of the nation’s first at least quasi-legal cannabis consumption lounge, officially dubbed Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café, located at 1211 N. La Brea between Fountain [...]

  • 2020 TV Season Preview

    How 2020's Fall TV Season Is Already Shaping Up

    Aiming to stand out in a crowded field, broadcasters this season have leaned on the stability of their schedules and the return of established hits. But for many of the same reasons, they’ve also begun to seed the ground for next year’s crop of shows, considering that top performers like “How to Get Away With [...]

  • Taylor Swift Talks Scott Borchetta’s ‘Sneaky’

    Taylor Swift Talks Scott Borchetta's 'Betrayal,' 'Sneaky' Deal With Scooter Braun

    While Taylor Swift’s sprawling Rolling Stone cover interview is largely about her music and herself, there’s also plenty about the personal and business dramas of the last three years. And not surprisingly, Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta — who this summer inked a reported $300 million deal for the Big Machine Records catalog and with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content