HBO has given early second-season pickups to new comedy series Veep and Girls after two and three airings, respectively. Both have received 10-episode orders. The Julia Louis-Dreyfus starrer Veep drew 1.4 million viewers in its debut to Girls‘ 872,000, though Veep has a much larger lead-in from Game Of Thrones. In gross audience, the two comedies are on par, 3.8 million for Girls and 3.7 million for Veep, which started a week later. Girls, created by and starring Lena Dunham, takes a comic look at the humiliations and triumphs of a group of girls in their early 20s. Veep, created by Armando Iannucci, stars Louis-Dreyfus as the newly minted Vice President.
EXCLUSIVE: NCIS co-star David McCallum has closed a new two-year deal with series producer CBS TV Studios to continue on the long-running CBS procedural. McCallum is one of four original cast members whose contracts are up at the end of this season, along with Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette and Sean Murray (who joined during the first season). During the quartet’s previous renegotiation two years ago, McCallum again was the first to reach a new agreement at the end of April. Talks with the other three stretched past the upfronts into June. There is indication of that happening again this year, with Weatherly, Perrette and Murray all in various stages of negotiations. On NCIS, which was recently renewed for a 10th season, McCallum plays medical examiner Donald “Ducky” Mallard. The rest of the cast, including star/executive producer Mark Harmon, have deals in place for next season.
EXCLUSIVE: Condé Nast Entertainment Group president Dawn Ostroff said today that CNEG has named Sahar Elhabashi EVP and Chief Operating Officer. In her new role, she will report to Ostroff. This addition of the former Discovery Networks International and MTV executive comes six months after former CW Entertainment chief Ostroff became president. CNEG is charged with setting up film, TV and digital projects derived primarily from the content of Condé Nast’s 18 consumer magazines that range from GQ to Glamour, Vogue, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Bon Appetit, Condé Nast Traveler, Wired, Details and Architectural Digest. Elhabashi’s appointment also comes just more than two weeks after CNEG hired Imagine and Fox Searchlight exec Jeremy Steckler to be EVP motion pictures, and Sundance Channel exec Michael Klein to be EVP alternative programming. Elhabashi will oversee administrative, financial and strategic planning across all sectors of CNEG, including motion picture, television, digital and distribution. She will also work with others in the division’s senior management team on new business models and growth.
John Legend has joined the quartet of star mentors on ABC’s upcoming music reality series Duets. He replaces Lionel Richie, who was originally tapped for the gig but has pulled out citing scheduling conflicts. Duets will feature Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as they set out across the country looking for two undiscovered singers to be their duets partners. The duets will compete for the top prize: a recording contract with Hollywood Records for the aspiring singer. The show, hosted by Quddus, is slated to premiere May 24. Legend has been active in television lately. The nine-time Grammy winner also hosted and executive produced a music special, which is in consideration for a series pickup at Showtime.
Bounce TV, the over-the-air broadcast network targeting black audiences, said it will launch its first original series June 18 — nine months after the station’s launch. The sitcom Family Time stars Omar Gooding and Angell Conwell and centers on the Stallworths, a working-class family who wins the lottery and is vaulted into the middle class overnight. Bentley Kyle Evans (The Jamie Foxx Show, Martin) created the series; he produces with Evans and partner Trenten Gumbs. It is scheduled in the 8 PM Monday slot on Bounce, which currently reaches 60 million U.S. homes.
Birthday wishes are in order for Universal Pictures, which as widely noted is celebrating its centennial all year long. But today is the actual official day: On April 30, 1912, Universal Film Manufacturing Company was incorporated in New York. Company founder Carl Laemmle said he got the name for the studio after noticing “Universal Pipe Fittings” written on a passing delivery wagon. Above are a couple of vintage ads pulled together by Deadline’s Pete Hammond showing how Universal celebrated birthdays more than half a century ago. The studio today also sent out today 100 facts about its history, which makes for a good read. (See the full list after the jump.) So what historical moment is your favorite — or which one do you think they missed?
NEW YORK, April 30, 2012 – Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB) and WhoSay Inc., the leading personal media management platform for high-profile film, television, music, and sports personalities, today announced that Viacom Advertising Sales will serve as the exclusive sales force for WhoSay, selling inventory for the site. With a network of more than 1,000 members, WhoSay will also work with Viacom brands to create original content and marketing integrations connected to on-air programming, online destinations, live events, and more.
Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher has booked the first acting gig after the end of the ABC dramedy. Hatcher is staying within the ABC family with a recurring role on ABC Family’s Jane By Design. Hatcher will be playing the lead character Jane’s (Erica Dasher) long-lost mother for four episodes, the first of which will air on June 19. Hatcher also will make her directorial debut by directing an episode of Jane By Design, which returns to originals on June 5.\ Jane By Design follows Jane Quimby (Dasher), a quirky teen with an eclectic chic fashion sense, who lands a job at a hip fashion house when they mistake her for an adult, working for demanding, but talented creative director Gray Chandler Murray (Andie MacDowell). Hatcher is the latest Desperate housewife to line up a new gig.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has purchased a sci-fi action pitch about a rapidly evolving species of dinosaurs who attack modern Los Angeles. John Clisham, a longtime employee at James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment and who recently worked on the Titanic 3Dconversion, is directing and will write the script with Mike Bayman. The rest of the plot is being kept under wraps, but the project was developed by online network Break Media as a large-scale web series. Warners’ Greg Silverman and Sarah Schechter saw early tests and stepped up to acquire it as a feature film. Bayman will produce; Scott Nocas and Break Media’s Greg Siegel will executive produce. Break Media creates and distributes male-targeted content online. The company reaches more than 200 million consumers through its portfolio of owned and operated web properties and mobile applications.
The first Sunday of the May sweep was a quiet one, with most series staying within a tenth of a demo rating of their most recent originals. ABC’s Once Upon A Time (2.9/8 in adults 18-49) was even with its fast national from last week, down a tenth from the final, to rank as the No.1 program of the night among adults 18-49. Desperate Housewives (2.5/6) was down a tenth from its last new episode four weeks ago as the veteran dramedy returns for its final four episodes. GCB (1.9/5) was up 27% from its last original, which followed the low-rated Titanic mini-series and flat with its last outing after a new Desperate Housewives. ABC won the night in 18-49.
BREAKING… MONDAY 7TH UPDATE: Still more countries are reporting grosses, and the superhero super-blockbuster opened #1 in every foreign market. It doesn’t come out in the U.S. until May 4th but already it’s scooping up 60+% of all pre-sold movie tickets online and more than all the previous Marvel films combined. Overseas, Disney is reporting $185.1M box office in the film’s first 5 days of release in 39 territories. Marvel‘s The Avengers from Disney now is playing in approximately 70% of its foreign run. Latin and South America dominated with the highest opening weekend of all time in major markets like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Central America, Peru, and Boliva. As well as the Asian makets which had the highest opening weekends in Hong King, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines. Big ticket nations like Russia, China and Japan are still to open, and upcoming May Day is a huge holiday. The pic is already grossing ahead of Alice In Wonderland, Pirates Of the Caribbean 4, Iron Man 2, and The Dark Knight. The Avengers scoored the biggest opening days in New Zealand, Taiwan, Iceland and Malaysia. Cumes for key territories include: UK $25.5M, Australia $19.8M, Mexico $16.9M, France $13.9M, Korea $13.0M, Brazil $11.3M, Italy $11.0M, Germany $8.1M, Taiwan $7.5M, Spain $6.9M, Philippines $6.6M, and Hong Kong $4.7M.
Saint Aire Productions has acquired the worldwide film rights to Andy Andrews’ The Noticer, the company announced today. The bestselling 2009 novel, by the author of The Traveler’s Gift, mixes fiction, allegory, and inspiration to tell the tale of a man who notices what others in an Alabama small town miss. Saint Aire, which produced 2010’s The Kids Are All Right, plans to go into development immediately; shooting is scheduled to start in winter 2013 in Alabama.
If you’ve got any meetings over at CAA today, you might want to reschedule. The offices over at 2000 Avenue of the Stars are closed due to “an electrical problem in the building,” Deadline has learned. The company is encouraging agents to work from home and get back to people via email or cell.
As expected, AMC Networks has promoted Jennifer Caserta to IFC president and general manager. She succeeds IFC TV and Sundance Channel president Evan Shapiro, who recently left the company to become president of Participant Television. AMC Networks was not expected to seek a replacement for him, with Caserta, EVP and general manager of IFC, and Sarah Barnett, EVP and general manager of Sundance Channel, absorbing his duties. Both have reported to AMC Networks COO Ed Carroll, and in her new capacity, Caserta will continue to do so. “Jen has been a tremendous asset to the network, leading IFC’s successful rebrand and its transition last year to an ad-supported model, and implementing an original programming strategy that’s resonating with viewers,” Carroll said. As EVP as GM of IFC, a position she had held since 2008, Caserta spearheaded IFC’s 2010 rebrand around new tagline “Always On. Slightly Off”; implemented the network’s transition from a sponsorship model to an ad-supported network; and greenlit original comedies The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret, Onion News Network, docu-comedy Whisker Wars and the upcoming Comedy Bang! Bang! and Bunk, premiering June 8. Before becoming GM, Caserta was IFC’s EVP of marketing, communications, scheduling and alternative programming.
They could, Barclays Equity Research analyst Anthony DiClemente says in a report this morning. He still predicts that sales in television’s pre-season marketplace will rise — by 4.3% to $9.49B for the Big Four broadcast networks, and by 6.3% to $9.88B for cable channels. DiClemente says he’s encouraged to see consumers’ growing willingness to buy cars; auto makers account for about 20% of all TV ads. But this year’s increase in upfront sales will lag last year when the top broadcasters were up 7.9%, and spending on cable rose 16.1%. Some advertisers will hold back “to maintain some flexibility in case of macro choppiness” later this year — meaning, they’ll wait to see if they can get a bargain in the scatter market if the economy turns south. Meanwhile, Fox and NBC may sell less of their ad inventory in this year’s upfronts, hoping that their ratings will improve and give them more leverage in negotiations with advertisers. While everyone looks at total dollars networks collect in upfront deals, the more important barometer for their health is the CPM price they can charge for each 1,000 viewers they reach. DiClemente predicts that ABC will end up +8%, CBS will be +10%, Fox will be +9%, and NBC will be +7%.
The conventional wisdom holds that the 2012 campaign will set records for TV spending. But that’s not how things have gone so far, says Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Rivicker — who follows political ads closer than just about anybody on Wall Street. Campaigns have spent $275.5M on TV ads through April 15; nearly 66% went directly to broadcast stations while the rest went to national TV and cable. But spending and fundraising through February was 20% below the average in presidential year campaigns from 2000 through 2008. The large number of GOP presidential debates “dampened the need for advertising,” Ryvicker says, adding that there wasn’t “a clear path to the Republican nomination.” But spending in March was 12% over the average for the month in the previous cycles. That leaves Ryvicker unsure of whether 2012 political TV spending will come in ahead or behind her forecast of $2.7B. Modeled on the last presidential election year in 2008, it would fall short at $2.3B. But based on 2010, the total would hit $2.9B. It’s probably
E! Picks Up Nigel Lythgoe & Kevin Jonas Reality Series, Whitney Cummings Talk Show, Unveils New Logo, Tagline & Branding
UPDATED: E!, which is holding its upfront presentation today, has picked up Opening Act, a new talent competition headlined by American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, R&B singer Mary J. Blige and producer Antonina Armato from Rock Mafia. Additionally, the cable network has greenlighted a reality series starring Kevin Jonas for summer and has given the long-gestating Whitney Cummings talk show a pickup as a weekly half-hour series titled Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings. E! also is unveiling a new look, logo and tagline (Pop Of Culture). The new branding campaign, part of the transformation of the channel under the leadership of NBC Uni cable maven Bonnie Hammer, will kick off on July 9 with the premiere of Opening Act.
In Opening Act, Lythgoe, Blige and Armato will comb the Internet to find talented amateurs and give them a chance to open for an A-list music star. Music acts on board to take in aspiring musicians to open for one show on their current tours are Nicki Minaj, Rod Stewart, LMFAO, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Jason Mraz and Gym Class Heroes. The unsuspecting band or solo acts will get the news of their big break in person by TV personality Olivia Lee (The Tonight Show With …
Barnes & Noble shares are up more than 70% in pre-market trading following the announcement. The computer software giant will own 17.6% of the Nook subsidiary, valuing it at $1.7B, and provide a Nook application in its new Windows 8 operating system, the companies said this morning. Barnes & Noble will own the remaining 82.4% of the venture. The agreement also settles the patent infringement complaint that Barnes & Noble raised against Microsoft last year. The bookseller and its Nook subsidiary “will have a royalty-bearing license under Microsoft’s patents for its NOOK eReader and Tablet products,” the companies said. Barnes & Noble is throwing its College books business into the subsidiary. Its Nook Study software “will provide students and educators the preeminent technology platform for the distribution and management of digital education materials in the market.” Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch says that Microsoft’s investment will help “bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, (and) will allow us to significantly expand the business.” Barnes & Noble said in January that it was considering a spin off of its Nook business. The book chain says in an SEC filing that Microsoft will pay the Nook subsidiary $60M a year in the first three years after it launches Windows 8, as well as $25M a year for five years to help the enterprise acquire digital reading content and develop technology.
Once again this year CBS’ The Good Wife is the only real broadcast contender for a best drama series Emmy nomination. It was the only broadcast series in the category last year and the only best drama series nominee producing 22 episodes a season in both of its years of eligibility to date, 2010 and 2011. (There was only one other broadcast drama, ABC’s Lost, which landed a nom in 2010 for its 16-episode final season. The final season of DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights, which earned a nom last year, consisted of 13 episodes despite the show’s broadcast origins as an NBC series.) Facing cable competitors who make 10-13 episodes a year, The Good Wife is taking a page from the cable playbook in its Emmy campaign this year, trying to put as many episodes in the hands of voters as possible. The legal drama’s Emmy mailer contains seven episodes, far more than the average 2-4 episodes sent by most shows. A cable series, Showtime’s Huff, was the first to send out an entire season of episodes to TV Academy members in 2005. The strategy has been subsequently adopted by other cable shows but broadcast drama and comedy series have largely stuck to the decade-old tradition of only making a handful of episodes available to voters.