Nickelodeon has picked up new live-action comedy series Supah Ninjas. Comic book in tone, Supah Ninjas follows three unsuspecting kids who are drafted into the secret world of ninjas. Created by Eric Garcia and Leo Chu (Afro Samurai), the series will be helmed by executive producers Garcia, Chu and Brian Robbins and Sharla Sumpter Bridgett (Fred: The Movie) under the Varsity Pictures production banner. The series is slated to begin production this year in Los Angeles for premiere in 2011.
NEW YORK, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — James W. Barge has been named Chief Financial Officer of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA and VIA.B), it was announced today by Thomas E. Dooley, Viacom’s Chief Operating Officer. In his new role, Mr. Barge, who previously served as Executive Vice President, Controller, Tax and Treasury for the Company, succeeds Mr. Dooley, who has served as Viacom’s Chief Financial Officer since January 2007.
Mr. Barge, 55, will be responsible for the Company’s financial reporting and planning, accounting, tax and treasury functions, as well as Viacom’s information technology activities. He will continue to report to Mr. Dooley.
Mr. Dooley also announced the appointment of Katherine Gill-Charest to the post of Senior Vice President and Controller for Viacom. In this role, she will have direct responsibility for the financial reporting, accounting and financial compliance activities of Viacom and its subsidiaries. Ms. Gill-Charest, 46, has been Vice President and Deputy Controller of Viacom since June 2007. She will report to Mr. Barge.
Both positions are effective October 1, 2010.
UPDATE: The actor who grew up poor in the Bronx, arrived in Hollywood in 1948 as unknown Bernie Schwartz, and became a legendary film and television star, passed away from cardiac arrest Wednesday evening in his Las Vegas area home, according to the coronor’s statement. He was 85. Many will forever remember Tony Curtis for his comedic work in 1959′s Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe, or his dramatic work in 1958′s The Defiant Ones, which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination opposite Sidney Poitier. But I will always admire his nuanced performance as press agent Sidney Falco in 1957′s Sweet Smell Of Success opposite Burt Lancaster. And his very moving portrayal of Iwo Jima’s Ira Hayes in 1961′s The Outsider. But he also shocked with his memorably menacing performance in the title role of 1968′s The Boston Strangler.
Curtis was that rare actor who could play with or against type, who could swing from light comedy to serious drama, and yet who remained a greatly undervalued thesp for most of his long career. Maybe if he hadn’t been so good-looking and become a teen idol in Hollywood’s Dream Factory days, he would have been taken more seriously as an actor sooner. (Who can ever forget Curtis hilariously playing a slave in 1960′s Spartacus with his heavy Bronx accent? When it was restored in the 1990s and audio had been lost, he redubbed the lines…) But Curtis also loved his stardom: he was married …
Producer Simon Vaughn tells me the U.S. broadcast networks and cable channels are also interested in coming on board the 4-part miniseries Titanic he’s making with ITV Studios. “I have never been in a situation before where there are so many suitable homes,” he says. Julian Fellowes, who’s having a big success on ITV with Downton Abbey, has written the script. Like Downton Abbey, there’s lots of opportunity for class conflict between posh First Class and those travelling steerage (the word “posh” comes from the golden age of cruise liners). The miniseries is being structured as a co-production with CanWest Global Communications in Canada and Irish broadcaster TV3. The show is meant to be broadcast around the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking in April 2012. Vaughn has found U.S. homes for three internationally-financed miniseries he’s made: ABC may show Canadian broadcaster CBC co-produced Ben Hur this Christmas; Diamonds was set up at both ABC and Lifetime; while another Lifetime project, Coco Chanel, was nominated for Best TV Movie at the 2009 Emmys.
UPDATE: Gareth Neame, the boss of UK independent TV producer Carnival, will oversee drama, comedy and entertainment at NBC Universal International. Neame is riding high this week. Carnival’s new ITV drama series Downton Abbey premiered last Sunday to rave reviews and attracted 7.7 million viewers plus a 30% audience share. Written by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is Gosford Park redone as a weekly TV show. NBCU acquired Carnival in 2008. It was only Carnival’s being able to draw on NBCU’s backing that tempted ITV into co-investing in the £7 million ($11 millon), 7-part show. I’m told that Neame is ambitious and quite tough. Neame and NBCU International president Michael Edelstein are now looking for three executives to build entertainment, comedy and drama respectively. Given that Neame is a drama guy, it’ll be interesting to see how much autonomy the person under him has. NBCU International appointed Edelstein 4 months ago to build towards non-US revenues of $5 billion through local TV and film production and pay-TV channel expansion. Neame’s appointment comes at a time when rival studio Time Warner is also expanding in the key market, buying Brit TV production company Shed Media for around £100 million ($159 million).
Ben Stephenson, BBC drama controller, has rejected calls for UK television to ape the U.S. and create longer-running shows. Last month, screenwriter Paul Abbott (State of Play, Shameless) urged drama bosses at the Edinburgh TV Festival to commission drama series that run for as long as US series – either a 13-parter or 24 episodes. British dramas are usually ordered in 6 parts. Stephenson, launching the BBC’s drama schedule for the next 6 months, said US TV risks losing the voice of the individual author. I’m told that US TV writers look on enviously at the British tradition of just employing single writer on each show. No writer’s room here. Stephenson said: “Get out of the room if you want to write anything else … writers would be told – make it 13 or 24 or get out. Steven Moffat would not be able to write Sherlock how he wants to. He would be biffed of and replaced with a showrunner who could give a financially acceptable model of 24 eps.”
Stephenson said that US television is driven by having to appeal to the 18-49 demographic. And for a cable network you need to be 18-49 and middle class, the BBC drama boss said. “Would we really like to see our drama suffer the same fate as new critically acclaimed Fox 24-part series Lonestar? Premiered last Monday, axed yesterday,” …
The BBC report explored the way gays and lesbians are shown on British television. And of the one-fifth of the British population uncomfortable seeing gays on TV, 9% of those 2,000 sampled claim they are “very uncomfortable” about it. Gay activist group Stonewall tells me it’s not surprised that homophobes feel like this – gays and lesbians are just as unhappy about the way they’re portrayed by the BBC. “Gays and lesbians are often portrayed in a sensational and unrealistic way, which can be just as upsetting for straight people as well as gays,” Stonewall tells me. “Broadcasters have a responsibility to recognise there are gay and lesbian licence fee payers who have been let down for years by the way they’ve been portrayed.” Stonewall’s own research shows that the BBC’s portrayal of gay people has rarely been positive or realistic. It published a report in July that found out of 39 hours of BBC1 programmes watched by young people, only 44 seconds portrayed gays positively.
Here’s another sign of the demoralization of SAG’s Membership First: Anne-Marie Johnson is stepping aside as chairwoman of the Hollywood Division after having been 1st VP for 3 SAG presidents (Melissa Gilbert, Alan Rosenberg twice, and Ken Howard). I understand she doesn’t think she would be reelected now that MF is a minority faction, but more importantly she believes it’s time for others to take on the responsibility. She wrote tonight:
A MESSAGE FROM THE 1ST VICE PRESIDENT
This is my last letter as SAG’s 1st vice president. For some, the end of my term as chairwoman of the largest and most prolific division of Screen Actors Guild will be a joyous day. Hopefully there will be others who won’t feel the same. Regardless, my four terms as SAG’s first vice president have been filled with some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my professional life.
I’ve been fortunate to represent this once great union in Sacramento and in the hallowed halls of America’s House and Senate chambers. I and other SAG elected have marched, protested, sung, cried, compromised and championed worthy causes with some of the most dynamic and legendary civil servants/leaders in this country. All on behalf of unions and unionism.
The era of the union is fading. In the last 27 years, the union membership rate in this country has plummeted to less than 13 percent. There is
And the Jeff Zucker Humiliation Tour just continues:
EXCLUSIVE: MYST, the all-time top selling computer adventure game franchise, has been optioned for live action film treatment. Producers Hunt Lowry and Mark Johnson have partnered with Adrian Vanderbosch and Isaac Testerman of Mysteria Film Group. Mysteria got the rights from game developers Cyan Worlds. MYST debuted in 1993 and expanded with four top-selling sequels. It established a market for multi-platform CD-ROM gaming and continues to be the biggest selling adventure game ever.
Trouble is, MYST became popular for the atmospheric experience it provided, but it isn’t as easily adaptable as some vidgames because it doesn’t have a simple linear narrative. It does have a strong mythology that creates possibilities, though. Johnson is the producer of the upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and the hope is to bring the distinctive world of Myst as was done with Narnia.
EXCLUSIVE: After an extensive search, British actress Shelley Conn has landed the female lead opposite Jason O’Mara and Stephen Lang on Fox’s upcoming adventure series Terra Nova. The project, produced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin, follows Jim Shannon (O’Mara), Elizabeth Shannon (Conn) and their 3 kids – an ordinary family from 2149 who are transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization. Production on Terra Nova
ABC is challenging the decades-old system of how networks and its affiliates share ad revenue with the launch of Inventory Exchange System. Traditionally, the networks sell the majority of their ad inventory nationally on the upfront and scatter markets, while their affiliate stations get a fixed small number of units. With IES, ABC will become the first network to break the pattern by exchanging additional ad inventory with its 200 affiliates throughout the year.
Here is a short scene from Red, the Robert Schwentke-directed action film that Summit Entertainment releases October 15. The cast is top-notch, and whether she’s playing royalty or an assassin, Helen Mirren continues to dazzle.
EXCLUSIVE: The deals are popping this week, and publishing is not immune. On the basis of a 4-page proposal, Alfred Knopf’s Sonny Mehta has paid $2.5 million for The Loneliness of Sonia and Sunny, the new novel by Kiran Desai. She’s the Booker Prize-winning author of The Inheritance of Loss. Robin Desser is the acquiring editor. This is the time for big book deals in the run up to the Frankfurt Book Fair, which gets underway in Germany next week. The publishing crowd was also buzzing over the fact that the deal was brokered by Andrew Wylie, who signed her 2 weeks ago from Inkwell Management. She left to join Wylie because he reps her partner, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk.
Comedian Greg Giraldo died today, five days after he was hospitalized in New Jersey for a reported accidental overdose of prescription pills. He was 44. A Comedy Central mainstay, Giraldo also served as a judge on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and as a panalist on the network’s Marriage Ref. Giraldo was a graduate of Harvard Law School and worked as a lawyer for a year before becoming a comedian. His Facebook page is open for condolences.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox is eyeing a new light legal drama franchise with Lawyers For Less. The network is developing the project, created by and to star Danny Comden and produced by Sony TV and studio-based Happy Madison. Sony-based Anthony and Joe Russo are on board to direct and produce. The Russos, Emmy winners for directing the Arrested Development pilot, are hot coming off the last development season when both of their pilots, Happy Endings and Running Wilde, got picked up to series. They executive produce 3 series this season, Happy Ending, Running Wilde and Community, whose pilot they also directed.
Lawyers For Less, which Comden will write and executive produce with Josh Pate, is a workplace comedic drama about two best friends – a white-shoe lawyer (Comden) coming back from disbarment for mixing business and pleasure and an enterprising black lawyer who takes him in as partner – who run a small storefront law firm specializing in ambulance chasing and defending the defenseless. ”Their goal is to bring reasonable doubt at a reasonable price while making as much filthy lucre as humanly possible,” Comden said. The project extends Comden’s relationship with Fox. Last year, he landed a script commitment with penalty from the network for single-camera comedy The Intruders, which didn’t go to pilot.
UPDATE: I’m told that the deal being finalized will be worth $1.5 million against more than $3 million, easily making it one of the biggest spec deals of the year.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Universal Pictures is putting the finishing touches on a multi-million dollar deal for Snow White and the Huntsman, a revisionist take on the fairy tale scripted by Evan Daugherty and produced by Alice in Wonderland‘s Joe Roth. Attached to direct is Rupert Sanders, who has been on a short list for many plum studio jobs including The Hunger Games and All You Need Is Kill, based on his reel of stylishly-directed commercials
EXCLUSIVE: The latest in a parade of major stars being drawn to the Broadway stage: Ben Stiller and Edie Falco are making deals to star on Broadway next spring in The House of Blue Leaves, a revival of John Guare’s seminal stage play. Mark your calendar for an opening date of next spring, at the Walter Kerr Theatre, with Scott Rudin producing. For Stiller in particular, the stage turn is a homecoming. He made his Broadway debut in the 1986 revival of The House of Blue Leaves, a play that originated off-Broadway in 1971. This time, he’ll play the male lead role of Artie Shaughnessy, a frustrated zookeeper who dreams of making it big as a songwriter. The play takes place in 1965 on a day that Pope Paul VI is visiting New York. Falco will play his wife, Bananas, a schizophrenic who is headed for a mental institution. The play takes place in their Queens home. It is a 60s-centric storyline, with political bombings and the Vietnam War among the plot developments, but the 1986 production won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Revival.