The season two premiere of MTV’s comedy series Awkward in an upgraded 10:30 PM time slot drew 2.2 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among people P12-34 last night. That was up 29% in both total viewers and 12-34 over the July 2011 series premiere when Awkward aired at 11 PM on Mondays, following Teen Mom. Last night, Awkward impressively built onto its lead-in, Jersey Shore offshoot Snooki & JWoww (2.06 million viewers) which was down a modest 6% from its series premiere last Thursday. Including the premiere episode and two encore airings, Awkward drew in a combined 3.8 million total viewers.
EXCLUSIVE: Stephen Moyer has joined the cast of Devil’s Knot in a lead role. The True Blood star will play prosecutor John Fogelman in the film about the wrongfully convicted and imprisoned West Memphis 3. He joins Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon Alessandro Nivola and more in the cast and will begin work on the Atom Eyogen-directed film immediately to fit in shooting around his schedule for the HBO vampire series. Devil’s Knot tells the true story of how, despite no psychical evidence, teens Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley were found guilty and jailed for a triple homicide in 1993. They were finally released last year. The movie is based on the 2003 book Devil’s Knot: The True Story Of The West Memphis Three by investigative reporter Mara Leveritt. Moyer is repped by WME and managed by Lubor Roklin Entertainment.
Related: OSCARS: 176 Invited To Join Academy
With the Academy inviting 176 new members, it is interesting to note that being nominated or winning an Oscar may be the easiest way to gain entrance. A total of 47 of the new members announced today were nominated for or won the elusive statuette at the 84th Academy Awards this year — eight actors, including nominees Berenice Bejo, Demian Bichir, Jessica Chastain, Jonah Hill, Melissa McCarthy, Janet McTeer and winners Jean Dujardin and Octavia Spencer, made the roster. The Artist Best Director winner Michel Hazanavicius and Best Picture winner Thomas Langmann and Best Foreign Language Film director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) were among other 2011 winners invited.
Also of note: Mathew McConaughey finally became a member (he’s not been a nominee yet, though); and in the writers branch, author Stephen King made the list even though his most recent actual screenwriting credits go back more than two decades for the likes of Pet Sematary and Creepshow – the two credits the Academy lists for him on its press release. Obviously his novels and short stories account for a lot of movies getting made. Also of note is the fact that elusive director Terrence Malick (The Tree Of Life) is among last year’s nominees to gain admittance even though his first two Oscar nominations came 14 years ago for writing and directing The Thin Red Line. Congratulations to all. Here’s the official release:
A long time in the making, Beasts Of The Southern Wild made a splash at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, taking the top prize amid rumors it would head to Cannes. Sure enough, it did although not in the Official Selection. It won notice there as well, winning one of the festival’s top prizes and it’s hitting theaters this week. Australian feature The Last Ride traveled the festival circuit, but took some time before landing U.S. distribution, though it picked up a high-profile ally here. Take This Waltz is naturally getting attention courtesy of its star Michelle Williams and director Sarah Polley, while Venice-set Unforgivable is also hoping to ride the media wave to solid box office numbers this weekend.
Probably the most celebrated indie of the first half of 2012, Beasts Of The Southern Wild won the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival and the Camera D’Or in Cannes last month. Not bad for a project with a director making his feature debut and a cast that sported non-pros across the board. The film did have some friends along the way. The San Francisco Film Society awarded the movie two grants that helped the filmmakers in withr post-production, according to producer Michael Gottwald. Grants organization Cinereach also got involved throughout the process.
The two will play siblings this fall in Christopher Durang’s Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike. In the play, Durang takes characters and themes from Chekhov and places them in present-day Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It tells the story of Vanya (Pierce) and his stepsister Sonia (Kristine Nielsen) who have stayed home to care for their ailing parents while their successful movie star sister (Weaver) travels the world. Three-time Academy Award nominee Weaver has previously appeared on Broadway in Hurly Burly (1984) and is currently working on the USA series Political Animals. Four-time Emmy Award-winner Pierce has had Broadway stints in several shows including Spamalot, Curtains and La Bete since the end of his NBC sitcom Frasier. Vanya And Sonia And Masha And Spike is slated to premiere at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at New York’s Lincoln Center in November.
It’s a big day in music publishing with the closing of the $2.2B cash and debt deal by a consortium led by Sony/ATV — Sony’s partnership with Michael Jackson’s estate — for one of the industry’s crown jewels: EMI Music Publishing. The pact gives Sony/ATV about 1.3M additional titles to administer including pop classics “My Girl,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Every Breath You Take,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” “New York, New York,” “Over The Rainbow” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” Sony/ATV, which already had about 750,000 titles — including The Beatles’ catalog — paid $320M in cash for 40% of the property. Others backing the EMI publishing acquisition include David Geffen, Mubadala Development Company PJSC, Jynwel Capital, and the Blackstone Group’s GSO Capital Partners. ”Music publishing, along with the rest of our entertainment companies, has been a bright spot in our business portfolio, and we expect that trend to continue with this important acquisition,” Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai says. The Sony/ATV-led group bought the EMI collection from Citigroup. The bank took control of EMI last year after its previous owner, Guy Hands’ leveraged buyout firm Terra Firma, was unable to make payments on the debt he took on to buy the music company in 2007 at the height of the private equity bubble. The FTC approved the Sony/ATV deal last week but has yet to rule on Citigroup’s agreement to sell EMI’s music production operation to Vivendi’s Universal Music for $1.9B.
EXCLUSIVE: Justin Long is in negotiations for the lead role in The Ten O’clock People. The Live Free Or Die Hard actor would play Brandon Pearson in the modernized adaptation of the Stephen King short story. As previously reported, Tom Holland will direct and has written the screenplay. The story follows Pearson’s attempt to quit smoking and the unknown and terrifying aspect of reality that he uncovers as he tries to kick. The Ten O’clock People comes from King’s 1993 Nightmares And Dreamscapes collection. The film starts shooting September 10 in New York. It’s produced by Making Ten O’clock Productions and Holland’s Dead Rabbit Films with Nathaniel Kramer and E.J. Meyers producing. Long is repped by CAA and Principato-Young.
George Clooney is raising more money for Barack Obama – but in Geneva this time, not Hollywood. After a May 10 dinner at his LA home raised a record-breaking $15 million for the president’s reelection campaign, Clooney is now set to star at another soiree for Obama in Switzerland. The Americans Abroad event, announced on the Obama campaign’s website, is scheduled for August 27. Obama will not be attending. Tickets range from $1,000 each for the reception and $5000 for a photo reception that is expected to have about 150 guests. A more private dinner will cost $20,000 for a individual ticket and $30,000 per couple. The reception and dinner will be hosted by the campaign’s Euro outreach co-president Charles C. Adams Jr and Matthew Barzun. The location has not been determined, according to the campaign. The news today comes as Young Hollywood — and, with David Fincher and Peter Frampton on board, not-so-young Hollywood — prepare for an event for Obama set for tonight at LA’s Soho House. The president will not be in attendance as he was at Clooney’s house or for lucrative fundraisers at Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s place on June 7 and Sarah Jessica Parker’s NYC home on June 14.
WME client Mo Mandel trades places with his agent for one day to find out whose job is more difficult. Bizarre truths and inside jokes ensue. Directed and edited by Oren Kaplan for WME’s quarterly staff meeting:
TNT has started its renewals with a fourth season order to its new flagship series, Rizzoli & Isles, and a second season pickup of freshman Dallas. Both have received 15-episode orders to air in 2013.
After excelling behind The Closer on Mondays, Rizzoli & Isles has drawn 7.1 million viewers in its new Tuesday 9 PM timeslot and ranks as summer’s #1 returning scripted series on basic cable. “Anchoring a new night in its third season, Rizzoli & Isles has proven itself to be a strong and enduring hit, not only in terms of the great storylines and performances, but also in terms of the show’s stellar ratings,” said TNT’s head of programming Michael Wright. Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star in Rizzoli & Isles, which was developed for television by executive producer Janet Tamaro from characters created by best-selling crime novelist Tess Gerritsen. Warner Horizon Television is producing, with Janet Tamaro and Bill Haber and Michael Katleman exec producing.
Dallas, also from Horizon Television, is basic cable’s #1 new series in total viewers, and currently averages 6.9 million viewers in its first season. Understandably, given the fact that it is a followup to a 1980s series, it is older-skewing. “Dallas has been a success for us on every …
ABC says allegations that The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are racist are “demonstrably false and unsupportable.” In a motion filed yesterday (read it here) seeking dismissal of the April 18 lawsuit against the shows, their producers and the network, ABC said the lawsuit “violates the First Amendment, which protects Defendants’ creative choices concerning the content — including the casting — of the television series that they produce and broadcast to the public.” The network goes on to cite legal precedent to say “it is well settled that ‘[e]ntertainment, as well as political and ideological speech, is protected’ fully by the First Amendment.” Back in April, football players Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson filed a class-action lawsuit against the reality shows for racial discrimination. The suit stated that over the course of both series a person of color has never been the finalist or the one picking their potential mate on the shows. The duo, both African-Americans who unsuccessfully auditioned to be on The Bachelor, named ABC, Bachelor executive producer and Bachelorette creator Michael Fleiss, Warner Horizon Television, Next Entertainment, and NZK Productions as defendants.
NBC is looking to bring back to broadcast television event musical programming with The Sound Of Music, a live broadcast of a new production of the original Broadway musical to be produced by Smash executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “There used to be a tradition of broadcasting musicals live back in the 1950s and we’re thrilled to do it once again with a musical that has been a family classic for five decades,” said NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt. “There is no more talented and creative producing team than Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to bring Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final — and most beloved — collaboration to network television in this groundbreaking live telecast.” Casting will begin immediately and an air date will be announced shortly.
The expected news came this morning, one day after Ann Curry’s tearful goodbye on Today. Savannah Guthrie‘s upgrade is effective immediately, putting her on the NBC morning show’s anchor team of Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Natalie Morales. The group’s first official show together is July 9. “In just a few short years Savannah has become a standout member of the news division as well as the ultimate team player”, NBC News president Steve Capus said in the release today. “She’s anchored for Brian on NBC Nightly News, moderated for David on Meet The Press, co-hosted the 9 a.m. hour of Today, reported for Rock Center and Dateline, and provided legal insights in our Supreme Court Special Reports – and that was all within the last week! She’s got an undeniable range, and she’s earned the trust of the news community, her colleagues and our viewers alike”. Guthrie joined Today in June 2011 as co-host of the third hour and chief legal correspondent. She had been NBC News White House Correspondent from December 2008 to June 2011 and served as co-host of MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown from January 2010 to June 2011. She came to NBC from CourtTV.
Endemol Studios has signed a deal with French fiction producers Tetra Media Studio and Macondo to adapt the French political-themed, character-driven hit series Les Hommes De L’Ombre for U.S. television. Les Hommes De L’Ombre was created by Dan Frank (co-writer of Carlos), Frédéric Tellier, Charline de Lépine, Emmanuel Daucé and stars Nathalie Baye, Bruno Wolkowich and Gregory Fitoussi. The political thriller pulls the audience into the center of a tension-filled campaign between two political communications advisors who will do anything to see their candidate win. The acquisition builds further momentum for Endemol with the recent primetime series pick up for Red Widow at ABC and a pilot order for Low Winter Sun at AMC – both Endemol-scripted adaptations. Les Hommes De L’Ombre will be adapted for the U.S. by Endemol Studios under the working title Kingmakers.
USA Network is doubling its bet on Jeff Eastin. The cable network has picked up to series Graceland, the new pilot from White Collar creator/executive producer Eastin. The one-hour drama, from Fox TV Studios, follows a group of diverse agents — from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and U.S. Customs — whose worlds collide while forced to live together in an undercover beach house in Southern California. Sean Daniel served as executive producer on the pilot, which was directed by Russell Fine. “Graceland is very much in our sweet spot — it has that fantastic and rich look associated with most of our shows, but we also want to go to very edgy and dark places with it,” USA co-president Jeff Wachtel said. “The characters’ day job takes them to places we haven’t gone with our original series.”
Eastin will run both Graceland and White Collar, whose fourth season premieres July 10, on the heels of what is shaping up to be a big opening for Magic Mike, which features White Collar star Matt Bomer. Because both series are with the same network, USA, and the same studio, FtvS, their schedules will be synched up so Eastin can give his full attention to both. That is the reason Graceland was picked up off-pattern. Eastin is already assembling a writing staff for the new series, with the goal to go into production shortly after filming on Season 4 of White Collar winds down. Graceland brings the number of FtvS-produced series on USA to three, along with White Collar and Burn Notice.