This could potentially complicate Comcast’s attempt to obtain FCC regulatory approval before the end of the 2010. Level 3 Communications, which delivers Netflix online movies among other products and services, issued this statement today from chief legal officer Thomas Storz:
BROOMFIELD, Colo., November 29, 2010 — “On November 19, 2010, Comcast informed Level 3 that, for the first time, it will demand a recurring fee from Level 3 to transmit Internet online movies and other content to Comcast’s customers who request such content. By taking this action, Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content which competes with its own cable TV and Xfinity delivered content. This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access markets as the nation’s largest cable provider.
“On November 22, after being informed by Comcast that its demand for payment was ‘take it or leave it,’ Level 3 agreed to the terms, under protest, in order to ensure customers did not experience any disruptions.
EXCLUSIVE: TV Land has greenlighted two more comedy pilots from sitcom veterans: Happily Divorced, written/executive produced by The Nanny co-creators, actress Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobsen, and Rip City, written/exec produced by Lizzy McGuire and Less Than Perfect creator Terri Minsky and executive produced by Michael Hanel and Mindy Schultheis (Reba, TV Land’s upcoming Retired at 35). The two half-hours join the recently ordered comedy pilot Ex Men, from former Fraiser executive producer Mark Reisman.
Happily Divorced is based on Drescher’s real life. In addition to co-writing/exec producing, the former Nanny actress could potentially star in the project, about a woman who re-enters the dating world after finding out that her husband is gay. It focuses on how she juggles her relationship with her current boyfriend and ex-husband post-divorce. Drescher and Jacobsen are also executive producing Drescher’s syndicated talk show, which is making a trial run on the Fox stations. Rip City is a multi-camera office comedy which takes place at Rip City Cola, a regional … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Dollhouse star Eliza Dushku is returning to series television as the female lead in Mike Robe’s TNT drama pilot Bird Dog, while D.B. Sweeney has landed the lead in Dean Devlin’s hourlong TBS pilot Brain Trust.
Bird Dog is a mystery fashioned around an unlikely partnership of two cops who happen to be father and daughter. It centers on Gail McGrath (Dushku), who followed in her father’s footsteps in becoming a police officer but had little else in common with him. She left the big city she had grown up in to move to a small Pacific Northwestern town where she was patrolling the streets until her dad, a NYC cop, showed up on her front doorstep to join her as her new partner. Now this father-daughter team, call sign “Bird Dog,” is being put to the test — not only in solving crimes, but with each other. Robe wrote the script and is directing the pilot. Warner Horizon is producing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer alumna Dushku, repped by UTA and the Collective, recently guest starred in a highly-rated episode of The Big Bang Theory.
Brain Trust, written by Marco Schnabel, centers on Detective Billy Doyle (Sweeney), whose career and life have hit rock bottom after he accidentally ends his partner’s career. Doyle’s life gets turned around, however, when a recent murder case gets unexpected and unconventional help from three … Read More »
LOS ANGELES, CA – Following up on last month’s announcement of the Film Forward: Advancing Cultural Dialogue initiative, Sundance Institute announced today the ten films selected to participate in the inaugural year of this cultural exchange program. The first Film Forward slate includes five American and five international films which will be presented in collaboration with public and private partners. These films and their filmmakers will kick off the ambitious project in New York and Tunisia in December.
The five American films that will tour throughout the United States and abroad as part of the initiative are: A Small Act directed by Jennifer Arnold; Amreeka directed by Cherien Dabis; Freedom Riders directed by Stanley Nelson; La Mission directed by Peter Bratt, and the 2010 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Winner, Winter’s Bone, directed by Debra Granik. The five international films chosen to complete the line up of independent films are: Afghan Star directed by Havana Marking; Boy directed by Taika Waititi; Last Train Home directed by Luxin Fan; Son of Babylon by Mohamed Al-Daradji, and Udaan directed by Vikramaditya Motwane.
“This exciting and diverse slate of independent films presents the common humanity we share across all boundaries,” said Keri Putnam, Executive Director, Sundance Institute. “Film Forward deeply reflects Sundance Institute’s core mission by presenting films to new audiences around the world to inspire cross-cultural dialogue.”
“We could not be more excited about this program and these films,” said Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the
Britain’s Culture Ministry just handed leadership of the industry back to the British Film Institute. The organisation will take control of and devise strategy for £15 million (£23 million) of lottery funding each year, and administer the £100 million tax incentive. Ex-BBC boss and now BFI boss Greg Dyke was understandably ecstatic. He immediately announced that the BFI hopes to increase lottery funding for film to £18 million in 2011/2012 – an increase of 20%. Dyke told me the BFI will take over movie funding in April next year. “This decision is a great vote of confidence in the BFI. It is a bold move to create a single champion for film in the UK and we welcome it. We want to achieve greater coherence across the whole film sector and to strike a balance between cultural and commercial. We see an opportunity to reduce overhead costs which in turn will allow us to put more of the lottery funds into frontline activities.”
The culture minister underlined that the film tax credit – so crucial for attracting U.S. investment — is here to stay. Overseas filmmakers injected £780 million into the British economy last year. Vaizey said: “Some people think there are two British film industries — one indigenous and the other supporting big American movies. I don’t agree. Hollywood investment promotes both British characters and British storytelling.”
Film London will take over promoting the UK as a moviemaking destination from the British Film Commission. Vaizey called this a “public/private partnership” – in short, the government is asking the private sector to cough up if it wants an office whose job it is to attract Hollywood to Britain. Studios such as Pinewood Shepperton and VFX houses such as Framestore would, after all, have the most to gain.
And Film London and BFI will also work with BAFTA and BBC Worldwide on how to increase the number of UK films being released abroad – the role which Unifrance performs for the French film industry. The organisations will also showcase the work of British filmmakers in Hollywood. The BBC already runs showcases in China and in Latin America.
Vaizey also announced he was setting up a ministerial roundtable that will meet every 6 months to address film industry problems.
Vaizey said he would consider proposals from industry organisations such as the British Screen Advisory Council and the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television to help create “a sustainable film industry”. Vaizey expects to implement these proposals by spring 2012. What was interesting was that he used the word “sustainable”. This phrase has become a shibboleth for British film policy makers. Creating a sustainable British film industry was the original mission statement of the UK Film Council – until it quietly dropped it as unworkable. “The ‘sustainable’ word is back,” Dyke observes. “The Film Council wanted to do it but they just couldn’t live with it.”
Today’s announcement from a Tory government was surprisingly well-received by the traditionally left-of-centre British film industry. It was amusing to see the jockeying for position already within this new world order. It was almost as if the UK Film Council had never existed. How quickly the waters close over one’s head. “There’s an irony in that a year ago the government was forcing the BFI to merge with the Film Council,” Dyke tells me. “Fine, we said, but it’s got to be on the right terms. Today we got those terms.” Read More »
The zombie craze continues. I think we can safely say that The Walking Dead‘s first season finale next week will do gangbuster ratings. The penultimate fifth episode of the AMC zombie drama last night drew 5.6 million viewers, a series high, besting the series’ monster premiere that averaged 5.3 million. In adults 18-49, the series, which has already been renewed for Season 2, attracted 3.7 million viewers, also a record.
The U.S. version of Simon Cowell’s reality smash The X Factor won’t premiere for another 10 months, but Fox is already launching its promotional campaign. Next: The Statue of Liberty morphing into Cowell?
The four-time Academy Award and Emmy and Tony nominee and one-time Best Actor Oscar winner (for Kiss Of The Spider Woman) just made the move to Adam Schweitzer, co-head of ICM’s motion picture talent department. He’s currently filming the lead role in the HBO film Too Big To Fail about the financial crisis directed by Curtis Hanson.
EXCLUSIVE: Kristoffer Polaha is staying in the CBS family. Polaha, who stars on the critically praised CW/CBS Studios drama Life Unexpected, has signed a rich talent holding deal with CBS and CBS Studios to topline a new project eyed for next fall. I hear Polaha was offered the deal the day CW decided not to give Life Unexpected a back order, effectively sealing the fate of the sophomore drama. There are four unaired episodes of LUX left and, barring any last-minute ratings surge, the series will be done in January, allowing Polaha to take on pilot duty for CBS.
Actors signed in talent deals by CBS have gone on to headline some of its biggest series, including William Petersen on CSI, Melina Kanakaredes on CSI: NY, LL Cool J on NCIS: LA and Alex O’Loughlin on Hawaii Five-0. Polaha, repped by WME and Mosaic, is the only drama actor on CBS’ talent roster for this pilot season. On the comedy side, the network has deals with Leah Remini and Rob Riggle. Polaha’s breakthrough came in 2003 when he was cast in the title role of the telefilm America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story. He went on to star on several series, including Fox’s North Shore and ABC’s Miss Guided, and also recurred on AMC’s Mad Men.
Cartoon Network has renewed its Monday night animated comedy series Adventure Time, Regular Show and MAD. Created by Pendleton Ward and executive produced by Fred Siebert, Adventure Time is in its second season and has now been greenlit for a third. Created by J.G. Quintel, Regular Show debuted in September 2010 and has been picked up for a second season. MAD, based on the DC Comics magazine, produced by Warner Bros. Animation and executive produced by Sam Register, also launched in September and has been renewed for a second season.
UPDATE: The Academy just made it official. Press release below.
Oscar telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer announced just now that “James Franco and Anne Hathaway personify the next generation of Hollywood icons— fresh, exciting and multi-talented. We hope to create an Oscar broadcast that will both showcase their incredible talents and entertain the world on February 27. We are completely thrilled that James and Anne will be joining forces with our brilliant creative team to do just that.”
Analyzes Deadline awards columnist Pete Hammond: “Part of the reason the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences feels comfortable going with these two is that both James Franco and Anne Hathaway have very successfully hosted Saturday Night Live. And they looked at that and felt these young actors could work in front of a live audience which is why in the past the Academy has gone to so many stand-up comedians. And, of course, the other factor is that they really ’young up’ the Oscars this year. It’s an interesting choice and certainly unexpected and bold.”
EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS 6:45 AM: I’ve just learned that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has asked James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host the 83rd annual Academy Awards on February 27th at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater, and it “looks like” both young stars have accepted the offer. There is always the chance that one or both of them might … Read More »
Sunday Night Football sealed NBC’s 12th consecutive ratings victory on the night. The San Diego Chargers 36-14 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts drew a 13.0 overnight rating/19 share. That was down 18% from last week but up 3% from last fall’s Week 12 game, a Steelers-Ravens face-off that was decided in overtime. Meanwhile, with a football runover as a lead-in, Fox’s comedy originals spiked with double-digit ratings increases vs. last week. The Simpsons (4.1/10) at 8 PM was up 41%. The Cleveland Show (3.4/8) was up 42% and American Dad ! (2.9/7) was up 26%. Family Guy (3.0/7) was a rerun. CBS’ The Amazing Race (3.1/7) was up 3% from last week when CBS’ lineup was pushed back by 12 minutes because of an NFL overrun. The network’s Hallmark Hall of Fame movie November Christmas (2.1/5) did respectable business from 9-11 PM, flat with last year’s Hallmark Hall of Fame holiday movie A Dog Named Christmas. ABC’s ratings were trending downward throughout the night with an all-rerun lineup: America’s Funniest Home Videos (1.9/5), Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (1.7/4), Desperate Housewives (1.3/3) and Brothers & Sisters (0.9/2).
(November 29, 2010, Burbank, CA) – Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has sold a new, one-hour daily strip hosted by Anderson Cooper to major market stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston for a fall 2011 debut. The series has been sold in New York (WPIX), Los Angeles (KTTV), Chicago (WFLD) and Boston (WFXT). The series will be based in New York City and produced by Telepictures Prods. in association with StrongChild Productions and Anderson Cooper will serve as an executive producer. Like his predecessors Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue, Anderson Cooper will create a daily destination for multiple generations of women looking to be informed and entertained, gain perspective, have a voice and stay connected to each other and the world around them.
EXCLUSIVE: WME is the victor in the very lucrative Dick Wolf sweepstakes. After taking a month and a half following his surprising exit from UTA to ponder his top agency options, the Law & Order creator has signed with WME. I hear he made the decision just before Thanksgiving. Wolf has strong personal ties with top TV agents at WME, CAA, and ICM, and that created some intrigue over where he would choose to go after spending 11 years at UTA. But there had been growing speculation over the past couple of weeks that he was headed to WME. Wolf will be represented by head of TV and board member Rick Rosen who is his Santa Barbara neighbor and a good friend.
Last month, a source explained Wolf’s departure from his longtime agency to Deadline’s Nikki Finke as the result of frustration over his inability to launch a successful non-Law & Order branded series as well as the fact that the mothership Law & Order couldn’t clinch a renewal that would have made it the single longest-running drama on television, an honor it now shares with Gunsmoke. Still, after two decades after the launch of his franchise, Wolf remains one of the top earners in television with a very lucrative deal at NBC Universal for his Wolf Films and a truckload of money from domestic and international TV syndication. He has three Law & Order series currently on the air: veteran Law & Order: SVU and … Read More »
Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner died at his home in Paris, France, after suffering from an illness. He was 87. The longtime Los Angeles resident directed Sean Connery as James Bond in 1983′s Never Say Never Again and Peter Weller in 1990′s Robocop II. He was born in Philadelphia in 1923, and trained as a musician and in photography before creating documentaries and moving into feature films. It was because of his involvement in the Star Wars franchise that he was included by Carrie Fisher in her memoir Postcards From The Edge and played by Gene Hackman in the film version as the caring but also demanding film director having to put up with his star’s drug addiction.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS’ daytime drama The Young and the Restless will be restless for at least three more years with a new renewal that will keep the top-rated soap on the network through the 2013-14 season. The pickup comes on the heels of NBC giving a two-season renewal to Days of Our Lives. That makes it 2-for-2 for Sony Pictures Television, which produces both series, at a time when many daytime dramas are struggling. The soap world has been contracting over the past couples of years with the cancellations of CBS’ The Guiding Light and As the World Turns and NBC’s Passions. The Young and the Restless was never considered in jeopardy as it ranks as the top-rated daytime drama for a 22th consecutive year. Still, a long-term renewal so early into the series’ current season is a vote of confidence to the show. I hear the pickup is a straightforward one. The previous two-year renewal in August 2009 included a license fee reduction that resulted in budget cuts, including trimming the cast’s salaries that led to a brief standoff between star Eric Braeden and Sony. Created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell, The Young and the Restless debuted on March 26, 1973 as a half-hour and was expanded to an hour in 1980. The soap recently featured the return of one-time star David Hasselhoff.
Another reality star has been recruited by CNN to host a prime-time talk show. Dr. Drew Pinsky has signed a deal for a new weeknight prime-time show on CNN’s sister channel HLN, which will launch next spring. HLN, formerly CNN Headline News, has a vacancy at 10 PM where it currently airs a rerun of Nancy Grace’s 8 p.m. show. Pinsky hosts Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew on VH1 and has also headlined other reality series dealing with addiction. Pinsky’s appointment follows CNN’s recent hire of America’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan to succeed Larry King at 9 PM.
EXCLUSIVE: In a rare venturing into multi-camera comedy, Fox is developing a half-hour project starring comedian Owen Benjamin and written by comedy veteran Marsh McCall. Benjamin and McCall co-created the ABC Studios-produced sitcom, which stars Benjamin as a question-everything high school counselor balancing bachelorhood and his eccentric family. McCall executive produces the untitled project with producer Bill Haber, former agent and CAA co-founder, as well as Peter Principato, Paul Young and Joel Zadak. Benjamin, repped by CAA and Prinicpato Young, co-starred in The House Bunny and was a regular correspondent on The Jay Leno Show. He recently filmed a small role in the Adam Sandler movie Jack and Jill and was part of Vince Vaughn and Kevin James’ sold-out comedy tour.
Here is the third teaser trailer for HBO’s upcoming fantasy series Game of Thrones, which premiered tonight on the pay cable network. Game of Thrones, which is based on the books by George R.R. Martin, is now filming in Ireland for a 2011 premiere.