EXCLUSIVE: Castle executive producer/co-showrunner Rene Echevarria has departed the ABC dramedy series after not being able to reach a new deal with producer ABC Studios. Echevarria co-ran Castle with creator/executive producer Andrew W. Marlowe this season, which saw the quirky mystery show establish itself as ABC’s most promising new hourlong series in years. Castle’s ratings rise in the current second season earned the Nathan Fillion starrer an early renewal for next fall. Marlowe will now be the series’ sole showrunner. Echevarria, who co-created/executive produced USA’s 4400 and executive produced Medium when it ran on NBC has several projects in the hopper, including the MTV pilot Teen Wolf, on which he serves as an executive producer.
Today was supposed to be the deadline for Carl Icahn’s $7 per share tender offer made to Lionsgate stockholders. But stockholders were cold to the proposal: only 6.55 million shares have been tendered so far. I don’t think the 10-day extension is going to give Icahn his hostile takeover unless he ups the ante significantly. Otherwise, he’ll have to start proxy fight if he wants to continue, and that could really gets pricey. Stay tuned.
Showtime’s new dark comedy series The Big C, starring Laura Linney as a woman diagnosed with terminal cancer, will premiere Monday, Aug. 16 and will air at 10:30 p.m. It will follow the network’s comedy Weeds whose sixth season also debuts Aug. 16.
Showtime also has set June 10 as premiere date for the eighth season of Penn & Teller: Bullshit, which is being paired with the new roundtable comedy series The Green Room with Paul Provenza at 10:30 p.m.
New reality series The Real L Word debuts June 20 and will air on Sundays where the scripted L Word Showtime that inspired it once ran.
EXCLUSIVE: Jamie Tarses is staying at Sony Pictures Television with a new two-year overall deal. Tarses is among the studio’s most prolific non-writing producers. She exec prods two Sony series, TBS’ My Boys and TNT’s Hawthorne as well as four buzzed-about comedy pilots this development season, Mr. Sunshine and Happy Endings at ABC, True Love at CBS, and Franklin & Bash at TBS.
At one time one of the most controversial network executives in entertainment history, first at NBC and then at ABC, Tarses came to Sony in 2005 when she joined Gavin Polone at his Sony-based Pariah. After fielding a few projects, including My Boys, the two parted ways at the end of 2006 when WME-repped Tarses launched her company Fan Fare and inked an overall deal with Sony.
WriteThru: So here is the latest on 20th Century Fox’s efforts to lock in a director for X-Men: First Class, which will begin production late summer or early fall. I’m told that Samuel Bayer, who directed the weekend’s top grossing film A Nightmare On Elm Street, will meet with the studio tomorrow, and joins a list of filmmakers that includes Timur Bekmambetov, Louis Leterrier, David Slade, Daniel Espinosa and Carl Erick Rinsch. A decision will be made in the next week or so on the director who’ll start production late summer or early fall. The studio became receptive to making a directing star when Bryan Singer moved from director to producer, and Espinosa and Rinsch fit that bill. Espinosa directed Snabba Cash, Rinsch was in line for the Alien prequel job until Ridley Scott decided he himself wanted to direct it. The other three have solid hitmaking credentials: Bekmambetov needs to make a film while the Wanted sequel sorts itself out after Angelina Jolie declined to reprise, Letterier has stepped off returning for a sequel to Clash of the Titans, and then there’s Slade, who followed the thrilling 30 Days of Night with the upcoming The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Last week, things were looking good with Matthew Vaughn, the Kick-Ass director who previously had gone far down the road with Fox before dropping out of X-Men: Last Stand, the film that Brett Ratner ultimately directed. Vaughn dropped out of contention last Thursday–his …
CHICAGO, April 30 — Ed Wilson, who has served as Tribune Company’s chief revenue and sales officer since 2009 and as president of Tribune Broadcasting since 2008, announced today that he will step down from both positions effective immediately and be retained as a consultant to the company. “The time is right for both the company and for me to make this move,” said Wilson. ”It has been an amazing ride since I came onboard and I’m grateful to Randy Michaels for giving me this opportunity—the future for Tribune is a bright one.”
Tribune chief executive officer Randy Michaels praised Wilson for his talent, dedication and hard work. ”Our station group and WGN America have made tremendous progress over the last two years under Ed’s leadership—we’ve expanded local news in all our markets, lined up some great new programming that will debut this fall and streamlined our decision-making process,” said Michaels. ”There is a lot of opportunity ahead.”
CBS News released more excerpts from the Sunday interview with Conan O’Brien on 60 Minutes.
Asked to comment on NBC statements that The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was losing money, O’Brien said, “I honestly don’t see how that’s possible. It’s really not possible. It isn’t possible.”
“I don’t regret anything. I don’t regret one decision I made in that week and a half period. I wish it had ended differently. But, I’m fine. I do believe, and this might be my Catholic upbringing or Irish magical thinking, but I think things happen for a reason. I really do.”
Was He Screwed?
“The biggest thing people come up and say to me in gas stations and restaurants, I have so many people say this to me. ‘Hey partner, you got screwed.’ I don’t, and I always tell them, ‘No, I didn’t. I didn’t get screwed. I’m fine. It just didn’t work out.’
Resolved His Issues?
“No, I have not resolved all my issues. I am mostly very happy. I love this tour it’s the most thrilling thing I’ve done in my career. And so I’m in a really great place in a lot of ways. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t have my moments of everything, you know, anger, disappointment, frustration and just confusion.”
Warner Bros has set Batman 3 for release on July 20, 2012, according to an internal email just sent by distribution chief Dan Fellman. There is no official start of production date at this point because Chris Nolan just completed Inception, the film that opens July 16. The film is expected to be done in 3D, as studio chief Alan Horn told theater owners at ShoWest that all Warner Bros tent poles will be done that way. Of course, Nolan will make the final decision, he’s the most dominant director presence the studio has. Nolan’s brother and oft-collaborator Jonathan Nolan has been working on the script, based on a story hatched by the writer and David Goyer. Goyer simultaneously is writing the next Superman installment, which is being godfathered by Nolan based on an idea he and Goyer hatched together. No word on when that gets into production.
EXCLUSIVE: It’s been kept completely secret — until now. But I’ve learned that savvy media investor and entertainment programmer Allen Shapiro is the wizard behind the curtain of this One Equity Partners deal-in-the-making to purchase CKX. Sources tell me that the many weeks of day and night meetings to hammer out a deal have reached a crucial stage. But Shapiro’s name hasn’t yet been linked, and neither The New York Times nor Wall Street Journal even mentioned him in recent stories about the advanced deal talks. My info is that he’s been involved for a long time. Of course, the last time Shapiro partnered with One Equity Partners, the global private equity investment arm of JPMorgan Chase, it was for their purchase of 49% of Lionsgate’s TV Guide Channel and TVGuide.com.
The secrecy surrounding Shapiro’s involvement in CKX may have to do with that TV Guide deal. He was initially buying TV Guide until Lionsgate swooped in at the last minute. Ultimately, Shapiro got a sizeable chunk of it almost a year ago. ”But the fact is it’s in no one’s interest not to keep this new transaction secret,” a source tells me.
As to why Shapiro is interested in CKX, my sources say it’s primarily because of the company’s high-profile American Idol and Elvis Presley and most of Muhammad Ali assets. Despite some beliefs that American Idol may suffer after judge Simon Cowell exits, and especially when his hit UK show X Factor …
EXCLUSIVE: MTV is adding two projects to its scripted slate. The cable network is close to a 12-episode order to Good Vibes, an animated comedy from The Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green. Additionally, it has ordered a comedy pilot tentatively titled THAT Girl. Launching a scripted lineup of live-action and animated series has been a priority for MTV’s president of programming Tony DiSanto who recently hired veteran David Janollari to head the network’s scripted development.
Good Vibes was originally developed at Warner Bros. TV through Tom Werner’s studio-based Good Humor TV production company. It was given a pilot presentation order by Fox in the fall of 2008, with 20th Century TV attached to produce. Good Humor’s Werner and Mike Clements, along with Green, executive produced the presentation, whose voice cast included Adam Brody, Alan Tudyk, Danny McBride, Debi Mazar, Jake Busey, Josh Gad and Olivia Thirlby. Green, Werner and Clements are now on board to executive the Good Vibes series for MTV as is the animator of the original presentation Brad Ableson. Talks are underway with the cast of the presentation to possibly return.
The single-camera THAT Girl centers on Jenna Hamilton, a high school sophomore and wallflower striving for attention who gets her wish and more when a clumsy bathroom accident has the whole school convinced she’d tried to commit suicide. Lauren Iungerich wrote the script and is executive …
UPDATE: Epix is probably the 4th place pay channel right now, behind HBO, Showtowm, and Starz. But Oliver Stone just signed a development deal to turn Bruce Wagner’s novel Still Holding into a series pilot with Epix which is furiously trying to sign up carriers. Stone had a previous relationship with HBO, which aired his controversial documentaries. Now he’s doing this project as a favor to Wagner at Epix, which is a joint venture of Viacom, Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM. Epix is looking for original programming after setting up the show iCon, with Larry Charles writing the pilot about a Steve Jobs-like Silicon Valley megalomaniac. Oliver will unveil his sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps at the Cannes Film Festival next month.
‘ALL THE POPE’S PRIESTS’? Deal To Develop Catholic Church Scandal Film From POV Of Boston Globe Journalism Team
The producers intend to frame the movie in the vein of All The President’s Men. One of the planned film’s hooks is that some of the journalists are themselves Catholic and were conflicted as they researched and wrote their stories. This journalism angle seems a fascinating way to approach the topic. And, interestingly, the Boston Globe investigative team was headed by Ben Bradlee, Jr., son of the legendary Washington Post editor who stood behind Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein when their Watergate reporting was assailed by Richard Nixon’s White House.
The production companies Anonymous Content and Rocklin/Faust have made deals to develop the feature film about the Catholic Church’s decades-long cover-up of its pedophile priest scandal that rocked the New England faithful. The producers acquired the life rights of the Boston Globe “Spotlight Team” of reporters and editors who were part of the team that shared the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for meritorious public service for their reporting. The year-long investigation by The Globe of the cover-up, which was initially denied by church officials, reverberated all the way to the Vatican. It culminated in the emotional resignation of Cardinal Law, who acknowledged mistakes that could have prevented some of the abuse from occurring. It also opened the floodgates for exposure of other Catholic Church molestation scandals in Canada, Ireland, Chile and elsewhere.
Journalists including Bradlee Jr., Michael Rezendes, Walter Robinson, Sacha Pfeiffer, Matt Carroll and Globe editor Marty Baron will cooperate with the film. Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Michael Sugar …
As predicted, Channel 4 television director Kevin Lygo has been appointed managing director of ITV Studios. Current ITV Studios boss Lee Bartlett will continue to oversee its overseas business. There is no word yet on when Lygo will start. But his departure from Channel 4 was seen as inevitable when he was passed over for the top job. Newly-appointed Channel 4 CEO David Abraham is about to start shortly. I wonder how Lygo will find the move from potentate to supplicant. ITV Studios is, despite its size, just another producer out there pitching for business.
“It’s a good move for Kevin because he couldn’t keep on working with David Abraham’s Channel 4,” one media analyst tells me, “but ITV Studios’ underlying problems remain the same. And they’ve defeated everybody who’s previously held the job.”
In short, ITV Studios’ problem is how to increase its dwindling 47% share of network output. Should it be cut free from the broadcaster and go completely independent? Or, as has been mooted, will ITV do something imaginative and merge it with a big producer such as Talkback Thames, which makes its biggest show, The X Factor? There was speculation last weekend about ITV merging with Talkback’s owner Five. ITV says that is not something currently under consideration.
Forty two online movie stores went out of business last year, according to research firm Screen Digest. Online movie stores that have disappeared over the past few years include Movielink, Lycos, Guba, AOL and BitTorrent. So much for that online movie pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. Here in the UK, iTunes commands a 60% share of the digital movie market. Microsoft, which has been selling movies through Xbox Live since December 2007, is in second place. Apple has an even larger 85% share of the download-to-own TV show market. Xbox is not selling TV through its games console over here yet.
The consultancy estimates that the UK internet-delivered movie market was worth almost £16 million ($21 million) last year — less than 1% of the DVD market. And 63% of that came from download-to-own rather than video streaming. Screen Digest presented its findings this week to industry lobbyist Bsac. The analyst recently slashed its global digital film revenue estimate by one third to $943 million.
Here is Ben Silverman’s recent keynote speech at the MIPTV market in Cannes. I’ve watched this video 3 times now and still have no idea what he’s talking about: “Hyper-globalisation is a comment on every moment but clearly adapted in localisation”? “Full circle is where culture really can manifest”? “How do you scale bespoke”?
NCIS co-star David McCallum earlier tonight closed a deal to continue on the hit CBS crime drama. He plays medical examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard. McCallum was one of four original cast members whose future on the show became uncertain over a salary dispute with producer CBS TV Studios. Still not signed for Season 8 are Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette and Sean Murray who are yet to reach an agreement with the studio.
Hollywood will be pleased to know that longtime Variety lead film critic Todd McCarthy, who was laid off by the trade two months ago, has found an outlet for his reviews at IndieWire. He “will not be silenced,” the venue just announced. “At Todd McCarthy’s Deep Focus, we will work with Todd to build an even larger audience for his work: reviews and dispatches on film from his home in Los Angeles and at festivals around the world.” Meanwhile, Variety head Neil Stiles told me at the time of McCarthy’s layoff that it was the cost-cutting decision of editor Tim Gray. I told Neil it was a pisspoor allocation of Variety‘s limited resources. Because at least Hollywood reads McCarthy. Unlike the useless Brian Lowry, who makes $200,000+ at Variety but never breaks any news about the TV biz in his lame column.