‘Mayor of Kingstown,’ ‘The Game,’ ‘SEAL Team’ Renewed at Paramount+

American Age Official

Paramount+ executives came armed with news for their first, albeit virtual, presentation to the Television Critics Association on Tuesday.

Nicole Clemens and Tanya Giles, meeting the press corps for the first time since respectively taking over as head of scripted originals and programming chief at the streamer, announced renewals for three of the expanded service’s key programs. Returning for additional seasons are Mayor of Kingstown, the Jeremy Renner vehicle from Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan; The Game, a revival of the iconic BET show from powerhouse Mara Brock Akil; and CBS transfer SEAL Team. All three shows are produced by two of ViacomCBS’ most valued brands — MTV Entertainment and CBS Studios — and reflect the importance of ownership in the streaming era.

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On the development side, Clemens announced three “priority” projects for the streamer from Paramount Television Studios — the in-house studio that she continues to oversee alongside her Paramount+ originals duties. The studio continues to mine IP with Clemens unveiling an update of the 1980 John Travolta and Debra Winger Western co-written by Summering duo James Pondsolt and Benjamin Percy. (Par TV previously developed an update of the film for Fox in 2015 that did not go forward.) Additionally, Dear White People showrunner Justin Simien has boarded PTVS’ previously announced Flashdance update as one of his first projects since signing an overall deal with the studio last year. Clemens also unveiled plans for Guru Nation, a half-hour docu-style comedy from Bob Odenkirk, David Cross and Bill Odenkirk, with the Mr. Show duo set to star as rival cult gurus manipulating the minds of their deluded followers. Jason Woliner (Borat 2) will direct.

In terms of renewals, Kingstown launched in November and, per the streamer, ranked as the top original scripted drama on Paramount+ since the former CBS All Access was rebranded a year ago as a hub for all things ViacomCBS. The streamer used the linear strength of the Kevin Costner Western to launch Kingstown, driving viewers to Paramount+ for subsequent episodes. A month later, Yellowstone prequel 1883 debuted on the platform where ViacomCBS is further expanding the franchise to even more spinoffs in a bid to keep subscribers and limit churn.

The renewal for Kingstown is notable as Sheridan has been working on the drama for more than two years, during which the show was moved to the streamer from Paramount Network and the showrunner weathered multiple executive changes as ViacomCBS repositioned to prioritize streaming. Sheridan is easily one of ViacomCBS’ most valued showrunners — he’s on his second nine-figure overall deal there — and controls the Yellowstone franchise. While the show continues to see linear ratings soar and breakthrough on the awards circuit, NBCUniversal’s rival streamer, Peacock, bought the SVOD rights to the series. Executives have reportedly attempted to buy back those rights, but Peacock has been unwilling to part with the show. (While Paramount+ is searching for its big breakthrough hit, Peacock is, as Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw wrote, losing the streaming wars.)

Kingstown debuted on the heels of Renner reprising his Marvel hero in Hawkeye for Disney+ with a cast that also features Dianne Wiest and Kyle Chandler. Between its linear sampling and its shared Sheridan pedigree, the show helped served as bridge to 1883. The latter drama and Kingstown rank first and second among Paramount+’s most-watched original series. (The streamer, like others, does not release specific viewership data.) Kingstown and 1883 are the first scripted originals Sheridan has launched on Paramount+ as the streamer looks to build out the franchise without the flagship series.

“With Mayor of Kingstown, Taylor Sheridan and [co-creator] Hugh Dillon offer a nuanced portrayal of the United States’ harsh prison system,” Giles said. “The stellar crew and cast, including Jeremy Renner and Dianne Wiest, delivered a thought-provoking, intense drama that kept audiences captivated and yearning for more. We are thrilled to be the home of the expanding Taylor Sheridan Universe and we look forward to bringing fans back to Kingstown next season.”

The Game, meanwhile, will return for a second season on the streamer after its original six-season run on UPN and BET. Brock’s original series is also available on Paramount+ (though Girlfriends — the UPN/CW show that birthed spinoff The Game — is on Netflix). The Game, featuring a number of original stars reprising their roles alongside new characters, is produced by CBS Studios and counts showrunner Devon Greggory and Kelsey Grammer among its exec producers.

While ViacomCBS also has streamer BET+, The Game revival launched on Paramount+ as the company looks to reflect key brands including BET, MTV and Nickelodeon. Like Disney, ViacomCBS has been unwilling to put all of its programming on one platform and instead been offering streaming bundles for platforms including Showtime and BET+. (This also explains why Showtime’s buzzy Yellowjackets is not available on Paramount+.)

“With ample humor and heart, Devon Greggory reimagined an iconic series, brought back beloved legacy characters and introduced new fan favorites,” said Clemens who continues to oversee Paramount Television Studios. “As Tasha Mack says, ‘game recognizes game,’ and audiences continue to discover the series on Paramount+. We look forward to what Devon and his team have in store for us next season on and off the field.”

SEAL Team, meanwhile, reflects the other core of Paramount+, CBS’ procedural brand. The military drama starring and exec produced by David Boreanaz, will return for a sixth season after airing its first four on the linear network. The streamer says the show’s loyal viewers helped the show succeed in its first season on the platform. (Let’s also give credit to Boreanaz, who has built a legion of loyal fans that dates back to 1997 and includes Bones, Angel and Buffy.

“We are very excited to welcome SEAL Team back for another season on Paramount+,” Clemens said. “The show’s loyal fanbase followed the series to its new exclusive home, and it has proven to be a high-performing title for the service, consistently in the top 10 most-watched original series. We can’t wait for the fans to see what our brilliant creative team has in store for Team Bravo next season!”

Clemens and Giles — alongside David Nevins, Chris McCarthy and Brian Robbins — were promoted last summer as ViacomCBS repositioned its staff into content groups with individual greenlight power at the streamer. Clemens and Nevins handle scripted originals; Robbins handles Nickelodeon and kids programming; and McCarthy has unscripted and adult animation.

As part of their time before the TCA, execs also touted the streamer’s previously announced Kiefer Sutherland espionage drama. The eight-episode drama from John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (This Is Us) will be titled Rabbit Hole. Paramount+ started its TCA day with Giles and Clemens, with virtual panels for Godfather making of series The Offer, Showtime’s big-budget transfer Halo and the latest in Alex Kurtzman’s all-important Star Trek franchise Strange New Worlds.

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