It looks like we’ll have to get our profanity fix elsewhere this fall. Today, HBO Sports and NFL Films announced that HBO’s Hard Knocks, a five-episode series that follows a single NFL team during preseason training camp, will not air this season. The companies in a release blamed the lockout-shortened offseason that will condense teams’ prep times for the upcoming season, but several teams reportedly declined offers to host the show. The four-month labor stoppage ended Monday when NFL players and owners agreed to a new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. HBO said a 90-minute edition of Hard Knocks cobbled together with footage from previous seasons will premiere Aug. 31, and that the series will resume in 2012. Last year’s Hard Knocks featured the New York Jets and coach Rex Ryan, who started off the first show of the season with a swear-word-rich rant that he said he eventually had to apologize to his mother for.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
TCA: OWN Announces Premiere Dates For ‘Rosie’ & ‘OWN Your Life’
Oprah Winfrey blew through the TCA press tour today to address critics at a morning session promoting OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, having been freshly installed as CEO of the network owned by Discovery Communications. She’d acknowledged earlier this summer that she hadn’t been dedicating all of her energies to OWN and aimed to change that going forward, in part to address its growing pains in the form of falling ratings. ”In my new role, I am focusing on the unity of Harpo and OWN, aligning them together,” she told the gathered critics. To that end, she introduced OWN’s new co-presidents Sheri Salata and Erik Logan, former heads at Harpo Studios who joined the new network in June. It’s no secret that OWN has struggled to find its footing and an identity, with a lineup of cheesy reality shows and little programming flow. Key to that new push is the hiring of Rosie O’Donnell, whom Winfrey also introduced today.
O’Donnell charmed the room with her wisecracking, no-nonsense style, discussing how her coming to OWN went down when she’d been courted by much larger and deeper-pocketed networks. ”I called my agent and told him to call the Oprah people, because I wanted to go to OWN,” she said. “And you know how agents only care about what you want to do, not finances? My agent was thrilled that I wanted to go to basic cable and not one of the major networks. … Oprah came in with a bunch of people from her staff and asked, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ And I’m like, ‘Because it’s you.’ With Oprah, it’s a huge stamp of approval, almost like being knighted in a way.”
TV Guide Network Cancels Newsmagazine ‘Hollywood 411′, Allen Shapiro Takes Programming Reins After Diane Robina Exits
EXCLUSIVE: TV Guide Channel has canceled its entertainment news show Hollywood 411. The last edition of the weekly celebrity newsmagazine anchored by The Bachelor host Chris Harrison will air this Sunday. As a result of the cancellation, 25 production staff positions associated with the show are being eliminated. The network is in discussions with Harrison, who also has hosted TV Guide red-carpet coverage, about possible future hosting and producing opportunities. The cancellation comes a couple of weeks after programming head Diana Robina quietly exited TV Guide Network after a year-and-a-half stint as EVP Programming and Marketing, though I hear the two are not related. TV Guide Network did try different formats with Hollywood 411, which started off as a weekly magazine, then switched to a daily and then to a weekly again while also alternating between a one- and two-host model. But the show never quite found an audience in the crowded entertainment/celebrity news space (though its ratings were consistent with TV Guide’s averages). Despite that, TV Guide still plans to keep its toe in the arena — a new entertainment news show is now in active development. It is unclear if it would utilize the new set build for Hollywood 411 a few months ago.
Robina had come from the Lionsgate side of the partnership that owns TV Guide Network (and TVGuide.com) along with One Equity Partners and former Dick Clark Prods CEO Allen Shapiro. I hear TV Guide Network chairman Shapiro — who had focused on shoring up the channel’s distribution for the past year or so, recently signing a new long-term carriage deal with Time Warner Cable — will now oversee programming hands-on, working with the team Robina put in place. Her position is not expected to be replaced, at least for now.
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer’s $7.9M Compensation Package For FY 2011 Up 116.8% Thanks To Carl Icahn
Billionaire Carl Icahn did a big favor for Lionsgate execs when he accumulated more than 33% of the stock in June 2010. That triggered change-in-control clauses in executives’ contracts, accelerating their stock payments for the fiscal year that ended this past March. An SEC filing out today shows that Feltheimer received $1.2M in salary and a $1.9M bonus — but nearly $4.8M in stock, up from $412,800 the previous year. The company also paid for personal expenses including $23,882 for club membership dues. Feltheimer’s bonus was down $50,000 in a year when Lionsgate shares increased less than 1%. The filing says that there are ”no specific financial performance targets or other objective performance criteria” for executives’ bonus awards; they’re based on ”a subjective determination” about how well they did. But Feltheimer was by far the highest-paid exec at Lionsgate: He made 250% more than the runner up, General Counsel Wayne Levin, with $3.2M. Feltheimer accounted for 46% of the total amount that went to the company’s top five execs who also included Vice Chairman Michael Burns ($2.7M), Co-COO Joseph Drake ($2M), and CFO James Keegan ($1.5M).
And round and round they go. Just days after Paradigm poached the key members of Abrams Artists’ Youth Department, Abrams has hired the agents of the Youth Department at Buchwald/Fortitude. We hear the entire department — head Pamela Fisher, senior agent Chrissy Eaden and junior agent Famata Kamara — left Buchwald/Fortitude yesterday and will start at Abrams on Monday, bringing their clients with them. They’ll join Domina Holbeck and Jeremy Apody already in Los Angeles and Ellen Gilbert, Bonnie Shumofsky, and Rachel Altman already in NYC. The move comes three months after Don Buchwald & Associates, where the three agents had been based, teamed with Fortitude. Meanwhile, CEO Harry Abrams got on the phone with Deadline today and denied that having primary agents Wendi Green and Jen Millar with good clients from his youth department leaving to join Paradigm is “disastrous”. (Their clients include Angus Jones, the highest-paid “child” actor from Two And A Half Men, Vanessa Marano, and Madeline Carroll.) But Abrams did confirm that what we’d heard; that Marna Palmer, a prominent commercial agent, and Brandon Martinez, the sole agent in the company’s New Media division, decided to depart as well. The CEO told Deadline that Palmer is relocating while Martinez is getting into the music biz.
The DGA has released its schedule and timeline for its 64th annual DGA Awards, which are set for Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012 at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. The feature film nominees will be announced Jan. 9. Here’s the other key dates:
Feature Film Award
Nov. 29: Mail Feature Film Nomination Ballots & Open Online Voting
Jan. 6: Deadline for Returning all Feature Film Nomination Ballots by Mail/Online
Jan. 9: Announce Five Feature Film Nominees; Mail Feature Film Final Ballots & Open Online Voting
Jan. 16-20: Membership Screenings of Five Nominated Feature Films
Jan. 27: Deadline for Returning all Feature Film Final Ballots by Mail/Online
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Eighty-five-year-old Jerry Lewis took over the room this afternoon during an Encore session at the TCA tour to promote the original feature-length documentary Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, slated to premiere this fall. Outfitted with a platform and a microphone, the comedy legend didn’t disappoint, holding court and sparing no opinion about an industry that he believes has lost its way. He refused to confirm that his forthcoming Labor Day Telethon in September would be his last, noting that he’d have a press conference Sept. 5 to discuss not the past but the future (presumably both his and the telethon’s).
Earlier, Lewis rolled off on a tangent about why Hollywood needs fixing. ”This business is scrounging around for what to do,” he said. “The medium is busy knocking its brand out to display the fat lady at 375 pounds (who) in two months is gonna be 240. Who gives a shit?” He continued, “The industry has destroyed themselves. It’s no longer relevant because it puts out all of its product on a stupid phone. You’re going to put ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on that goddamned stupid sonofabitch?” (Speaking of Twitter and Facebook) “They’re wonderful technical advances. But once people see how much it’s cluttering their life, they’ll figure it out for themselves. … We’re not going to have human beings in 20 years. People won’t be talking to other human beings.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Christina Kounelias has been named to the newly created post of Chief Marketing Officer for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it was announced today by Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. Kounelias will assume her new role on August 1 and will report directly to Hudson.
“As the Academy expands and fosters the achievements of the film community and its legacy, we are proud to have an executive of Christina’s caliber join us in this vital role,” said Hudson. “Christina brings a wealth of experience and a strategic perspective from working within the film community, which makes her the right person at the right time to lead our marketing initiatives and build upon the Academy’s on-going achievements.”
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with an extraordinary organization,” said Kounelias. “I am so honored to be working with Dawn, Ric Robertson, Tom Sherak, and the Academy’s talented team.”
In this new position, Kounelias will oversee all planning, strategy and marketing execution of Academy initiatives including its signature Oscar telecast, the Governors Awards and year-round educational outreach and screening programs. The marketing, communications and online staff will report to her.
Roman Polanski’s Carnage will make its North American premiere Sept. 30 as the opening-night film of the 49th New York Film Festival, the event that kicked off The Social Network‘s big awards-season run last year. The film, starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, is an adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s Broadway smash God of Carnage, which won the Tony in 2009 at best play — making its New York return a kind of fitting homecoming. The plot revolves around the events of an evening when two Brooklyn couples are brought together after their children are involved in a playground fight. Said Ben Said produced the film; Sony Pictures Classics is releasing it. Of course, it’s a safe bet that the festival, which runs Sept. 30-Oct. 16, won’t have the director of its kickoff film walking the red carpet, as Polanski remains a fugitive in the U.S. after fleeing sentencing following a 1977 conviction for unlawful sex with a minor.
EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon has renewed animated series T.U.F.F. Puppy for a third season with a 20-episode order. While not a household name, T.U.F.F. Puppy, featuring the voice of iCarly’s Jerry Trainor, actually ranks as Nickelodeon’s No. 2 animated program with kids 2-11, only behind juggernaut SpongeBob SquarePants. It averages 3.6 million viewers in Live+7. Puppy hails from Butch Hartman, who is also behind another successful Nick toon series, The Fairly OddParents.
Molly Parker (Deadwood) is set to star opposite Josh Lucas in NBC’s midseason series The Firm, based on John Grisham novel and the 1993 movie starring Tom Cruise. In the series, set 10 years after the events in the book and the movie, Parker will play Mitchell McDeere’s (Lucas) wife Abby, played in the 1993 film by Jeanne Tripplehorn.
Vinnie Jones has been added to the cast of FX’s pilot Powers, based on the graphic novel of the same name. It centers on two detectives, Christian Walker (Jason Patric) and Deena Pilgrim (Lucy Punch), in a homicide department that deals with cases involving “powers” (people with superpowers). Jones, repped by APA and Elevate, will play the regular character of Johnny Royalle, a criminal kingpin who possesses telekinesis, among other abilities. He was most recently seen in NBC’s The Cape.
Will Martha Stewart put her company’s extravagant good-bye gift to Executive Chairman Charles Koppelman in a tasteful gift box with a bow? The former EMI Music chief — who was a fixture on NBC’s The Apprentice: Martha Stewart in 2005 — will leave by year’s end, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia disclosed in an SEC filing today. His departure was moved up a year to open running room for MSLO’s new COO Lisa Gersh, who co-founded and ran Oxygen Media until NBCUniversal bought it in 2007. She’s been reporting to Koppelman but will report directly to the board when he leaves. But he shouldn’t complain: His exit package includes a $1.47M severance payment and up to $35,000 for the attorneys who worked on his new arrangement. The filing says he’ll remain on the MSLO board as “Non-Executive Chairman, Vice Chairman or Special Committee Chairman.” That will entitle him to an initial $50,000 in stock rights as well as rights to 100,000 shares. (Stewart, who was convicted of obstruction of justice in connection with an insider trading investigation in 2004, plans to rejoin the board before October.) Don’t let Koppelman’s sweet deal fool you into thinking that the publishing, TV, and merchandise firm’s doing well: MSLO shares lost about 20% of their value over the last 12 months.
TCA: Discovery Sets Launch Date For Velocity, Adds Big Names to ‘Curiosity’, Preps Science Channel’s ‘Trek Nation’, Introduces ‘Weed’ Team
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Discovery Communications announced this morning that it’s launching its new network Velocity Oct. 4 in an undetermined number of homes. It’s described as an upscale, male-skewed lifestyle network and is based on the global format Turbo TV, blending originals with acquired programming. The network also said that Robin Williams, Samuel L. Jackson and Brendan Fraser have joined the lineup of hosts for the Discovery Channel event series Curiosity that launches Aug. 7. The show, described as being dedicated to “capturing the sense of wonder” that humans have, will also feature Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michelle Rodriguez and Morgan Spurlock. Also, the Science channel is partnering with Rod Roddenberry, son of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, for the feature-length special Trek Nation premiering fourth quarter of this year. The show explores the popularity and impact of the Star Trek franchise and includes interviews with George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, Stan Lee and others.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s network, announced an Oct. 10 premiere date for its new nightly Rosie O’Donnell talk show The Rosie Show and OWN Your Life: The Oprah Class. Rosie will air weeknights at 7, OWN Your Life at 8. The latter will feature Winfrey using her library of 4,561 shows as “a teaching tool” to viewers to help them improve their lives, as she said in making a semi-surprise appearance today during the network’s TCA summer press tour session at the Beverly Hilton to introduce O’Donnell. “We’re repackaging the shows to use them as the world’s biggest classroom,” she said.
EXCLUSIVE: Despite crossing over to features in a big way recently, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol co-writers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec are also staying in touch with their TV roots through a pod deal at 20th Century Fox TV’s cable and reality division Fox21. Under the one-year pact, the two will write, supervise and produce projects targeted for cable. Fox21 president Bert Salke, who took the reins of the division exactly a year ago, said that the deal is indicative of his talent strategy. “We’re going to change the types of people we work with and the types of deals we make,” he said. That would often mean writers like Appelbaum and Nemec “that any network would want.” As for Fox21′s deals themselves, while they understandably pay less than network pacts, they are also far less restrictive than the exclusive broadcast deals. “I think that will be the future,” Salke said. For instance, Appelbaum and Nemec’s deal is exclusive in cable, but the two are free to shop broadcast projects on their own. And cable’s year-round development model allows writers who are busy in features like Appelbaum and Nemec the flexibility to pitch whenever they have time. Additionally, “the lines between broadcast and cable are really blurred now,” Salke said, pointing to 20th TV-based producer Ryan Murphy who has both a broadcast series, Fox’s Glee, and a cable one, FX’s upcoming American Horror Story. At Fox21, which produces FX’s Sons of Anarchy, A&E’s Breakout Kings and Showtime’s upcoming Homeland, Salke said he is in a roster-building mode, signing “tons of writer deals.”
Fox’s Red Tails, the Lucasfilm World War II action film inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen — the first African-American aerial combat unit — will be released Jan. 20, 2012, the companies announced today. The cast includes Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr, Bryan Cranston and David Oyelowo. Anthony Hemingway is directing; Rick McCallum and Charles Floyd Johnson produce, and George Lucas is executive producing. Here’s the teaser trailer unveiled this morning:
UPDATE, 4:30 PM: As part of Justice Department and FBI probes into allegations of bribery and the potential hacking of voice mails of 9/11 victims, News Corp today asked employees at its New York Post to save any information related to phone hacking or government bribes. The Wall Street Journal said a memo from editor-in-chief Col Allen said the measure was related to the scandal engulfing the News Corp-owned News of the World and “not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful.”
PREVIOUS, 9:37 AM: We have some interesting developments today in the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal:
James Murdoch should prepare himself for another appearance before the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Chairman John Whittingdale said today that “the chances are” members will recall him to determine whether he lied to them last week. Murdoch said he approved a keep-quiet payment to a News Of The World hacking victim two years ago thinking that just one reporter had engaged in the practice. Three former News Corp officials contradicted him, saying that Murdoch had seen an email that made it clear at least one other reporter was involved — suggesting Murdoch was trying to cover up the extent of the scandal. The committee will question Murdoch’s challengers. “If they do come back with statements that are quite plainly different from those given by James Murdoch, we will want to hear James Murdoch’s response to that,” Whittingdale says.
Murdoch also may have a new problem with Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who pleaded guilty in 2007 to hacking for NOTW. In a statement today, Mulcaire says that he was “effectively employed” by NOTW and that “as an employee he acted on the instructions of others.” Last week Murdoch agreed to stop paying for Mulcaire’s legal bills.
Also, today Louise Mensch — a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee — apologized for saying last week that CNN’s Piers Morgan hacked phones when he worked on Fleet Street.
Manager/producer Cory Concoff has joined management company The Collective. Concoff, who comes from independent management and production company Fuel Filmworks, brings with him such clients as writers Vincent Angell (The Beast), Jason Richman (Detroit 187) and Jason Cahill (Fringe); writer/director Larry Golin (Cross Bronx); and actress Sarah Habel (Whip It). Concoff served as an executive producer on A&E’s The Beast and as a producer on indie Cross Bronx. He was previously an agent at UTA for five years and a partner at the Bauer Co. The Collective has been in expansion mode over the past 2 years, adding a half-dozen managers.