While its sister channel Sky Atlantic gears up BBC America co-production Fleming, Sky Arts has assembled an all-star roster for its new Playhouse Presents showcase. The slate of new shows is part of the paybox’s commitment to increase investment in original content to £600M by 2014. The previous Playhouse Presents series, which included such talent as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson and David Tenant, was the most successful ever for the Sky Arts channel. This year’s lineup includes Kylie Minogue, David Harewood, Anna Friel, Matt Smith, Idris Elba and Vanessa Redgrave, among others. Doctor Who‘s Smith will make his directing debut with Cargese starring Being Human‘s Craig Roberts and A Long Way Down‘s Joe Cole. Luther star Elba will helm The Pavement Psychologist from his own script that centers on Friel as a woman whose world is turned upside down when she meets a homeless man. Stephen Fry‘s Sprout Pictures produces. Also from Sprout, dark comedy Hey Diddly Dee will star Minogue and Homeland‘s Harewood while Redgrave stars in Union Square, a story of loneliness in the big city, written and directed by her son Carlo Nero. The series of programs starts in the UK in March.
LOS ANGELES, CA – January 17, 2013 – Cast & Crew Entertainment Services today announced that it has been acquired by an investor group led by ZM Capital, ZelnickMedia’s private equity fund. The Company was previously owned by ABRY Partners. Terms of the transaction, which closed on December 24, 2012, were not disclosed.
Elevation Sales is the home entertainment joint venture between Lionsgate and Studiocanal in the UK that was originally founded in 2004 and later acquired by the partners. Kevin Dersley joins Elevation as managing director from retail supermarket giant Tesco where he was senior buying manager in music and video. He previously held positions at both Entertainment UK and Universal Pictures UK. Referring to the upheaval in the retail market brought about by the insolvency woes of HMV and Blockbuster UK this week, Dersley said, “Whilst the industry has its challenges as this weeks sad news has bought into sharp focus, I firmly believe that the future of packaged media remains vibrant and positive, a view that is passionately shared by the teams at Lionsgate and Studiocanal.” Elevation had 7.47% market share in 2012.
Jeff Nichols‘ Mud premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions later jointly acquired it for the U.S. with a release coming this spring. Before that, it will premiere Stateside as part of the Spotlight section of Sundance which kicks off today. In the film, two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and help him to evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his true love. Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland star.
WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE: Jef Nichols’ “Mud” – Official Trailer #1
Global Showbiz Briefs: NBCU-Lovefilm TV Deal, Ian Fleming Miniseries, Aussie Fracking Doc, Hong Kong Fund
NBCUniversal Inks TV Series Deal With Lovefilm
Amazon’s European service LoveFilm has secured an agreement with NBCUniversal International TV Distribution to deliver audiences on-demand access to hundreds of episodes of iconic American TV. Deal includes recent and library titles including comedies like the U.S. version of The Office starring Steve Carrell and 30 Rock starring Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Deal also includes NBCU science fiction dramas like Heroes as well as David Hasselhoff’s 1980s cult TV classic Knight Rider. Lovefilm’s latest major studio deal follows agreements with ABC, BBC and ITV.
MTV is developing a project from the comic team of Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov. The show, a female buddy comedy set in high school, continues the duo’s relationship with MTV where they wrote for the animated series Good Vibes. The writing team, who got their break after being discovered by Adam Sandler at the Aspen Comedy Festival, previously sold scripts to Lifetime and Oxygen, and headlined a pilot produced for the WB in 2004. Goodman & Wolov are repped by ICM and Caliber Media.
Gulfstream Pictures has hired three new execs as it gears up for an additional production, The Genius Files, to be released by Warner Bros where Mike Karz and Bill Bindley’s company is based. Josie Rosen has joined as executive vice president. Rosen comes from Karz Entertainment and previously produced Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Day and Killers for Lionsgate and most recently produced the Kevin Durant vehicle Thunderstruck for Warner Bros. Joining her are incoming creative executives Margaret Chernin and Matt Phelps. Chernin comes from the talent department at Saturday Night Live and will focus on comedy. Phelps comes from Paramount’s and motion pictures creative group and will oversee action, genre films and thrillers. Based on the best-selling children’s book series by Dan Gutman, The Genius Files centers on children the U.S. government recruits as agents. Commercial director Robert Rugan has been hired to adapt.
Reality producer 11th Street Prods., the company behind the hit MTV Teen Mom franchise, has signed with CAA. It was previously at UTA. Led by Morgan J. Freeman and Dia Sokol Savage, 11th Street Prods. developed and produces Teen Mom and the series that spawned it, 16 And Pregnant, for MTV. Teen Mom 2 is currently the No.2 show in Women 18-34 and 18-49 in all of primetime cable, only behind AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Paramount‘s Brett Ratner-directed Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson as the legendary strongman, will hit theaters August 8, 2014, a week after Disney/Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy is slated to bow. Hercules is an adaptation of the 2008 Radical Studios graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars, which takes the supernatural out of classical mythology and places it in a more real-world context. If the MGM-Paramount co-production is a hit, it could signal the beginning of a franchise; the graphic novel was followed by a sequel, The Knives Of Kush, in 2011. The film’s script is by Ryan Condal, with revisions by Evan Spiliotopoulos. Ratner, Beau Flynn and Barry Levine are producing, with Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey and Jesse Berger executive producing. Production is scheduled to start soon. Aside from Johnson, no other cast has been announced.
Oprah Winfrey’s two-part interview with Lance Armstrong is close to selling out commercial time at premium prices, Reuters reports. OWN President Erik Logan said current and new sponsors have been calling to secure ad time during the Oprah’s Next Chapter interview that will air in primetime Thursday and Friday. Armstrong, who has been stripped of his Tour de France titles, admitted to Winfrey that he had used performance-enhancing drugs after years of vehement denials. The Armstrong interview was originally slated to air in a single showing but Winfrey subsequently decided there was enough material to spread across two nights. Some of the time for the Armstrong interview was pre-sold to regular advertisers of Oprah’s Next Chapter but the remaining slots ares going for a premium. Logan declined to provide specifics.
In the wake of its four Oscar nominations last week, Fox Searchlight said today that Beasts Of The Southern Wild will be re-released in theaters beginning Friday. The film’s return engagement will hit a limited number of cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C, Dallas, and Seattle — as part of the specialty label’s now-humming awards campaign, which picked up steam last week with Oscar noms for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for star Quvenzhane Wallis and Best Director for Benh Zeitlin. The film was originally released theatrically June 27 after it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance 2012 in its world premiere there; that’s where Searchlight picked it up. Now audiences will get a refresher.
Syfy’s drama Alphas is ending its run after two seasons. “Syfy has decided not to renew Alphas for a third season,” the network said in a statement. “We’ve been proud to present this entertaining, high-quality series for two seasons and to work with an incredible ensemble of talented actors, producers and creatives as well as our partners at BermanBraun Television. We’d like to thank the show’s dedicated regular viewers for their tremendous support.” Alphas, from BermanBraun, Universal Cable Prods. and creators Zak Penn and Michael Karnow, followed a team of ordinary citizens who possess extraordinary and unusual mental skills. The series starring David Strathairn was most recently run by Bruce Miller who executive produced Season 2 alongside Penn and BermanBraun’s Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein. Karnow served as co-executive producer. The second season of Alphas launched in July to 1.7 million viewers.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
It’s official. Greg Daniels, executive producer and showrunner of The Office, said at today’s TCA that Steve Carell would not make a re-appearance in the last season or the final episode of the show’s nine-season run. Daniels said that Carell “was very much of the opinion that the ‘Goodbye Michael’ episode and story arc leading up to it was the goodbye to the fans and the show”. This final season, the producer said, “is the goodbye that the rest of the show gets to have.”
Daniels said viewers should not expect every detail of 9 seasons to be wrapped up in the final episode, which does not yet have a completed script and is still at the table-read stage. He said next week’s episode is “the beginning of the end” of the 24-episode season. Daniels would not reveal any plot spoilers but said that one character is fired in Episode 15.
He added that the finale will be one hour and some series regulars and guest stars may return, including Mindy Kaling.
TNT has given the green light to Murder In The First, a drama from NYPD Blue co-creator Steven Bochco. Co-created by Bochco and Eric Lodal, Murder In The First is a murder mystery set in contemporary San Francisco, which the produces say “will provide a window into the soul of modern justice in an increasingly complex world.” It centers on two SFPD homicide inspectors as they investigate murders, a Silicon Valley wunderkind who is a celebrated CEO of a cutting edge tech firm and prime suspect, and the defense attorney and prosecutors engaged in the high profile murder case. The project was first announced as part of TNT’s development slate in May. It marks Bochco’s return to TNT where he co-created and executive produced the legal drama series Raising The Bar. Bochco is executive producing Murder In The First, with Lodal co-executive producing.
Lifetime has passed on hourlong pilot The Secret Lives Of Wives starring Kim Raver and Salli Richardson. Inspired by the book by Iris Krasnow, Secret Lives Of Wives explores the unvarnished truth behind the marriages of four different women — Michelle (Raver), Reed (Richardson), Keaton (Amber Clayton) and Jessie (Lauren Bittner). The pilot was written by Jill Gordon and produced by Lin Pictures in association with Warner Horizon Television. Lifetime seems to be cleaning house before it picks up its next new scripted series. Just yesterday, the network cancelled dramedy Drop Dead Diva after four seasons. The hourlong pilots that have been completed and are in contention for a series order are the Renee Zellweger-produced Cinnamon Girl as well as Witches Of East End. Lifetime also has pilot HR, which is still casting, and movie/backdoor pilot Stalkers, which premieres in the spring. Lifetime’s other movie/backdoor pilot, An Amish Murder, which aired earlier this month, will not be going to series. Secret Lives was one of two hourlong pilots with similar themes and titles ordered this past summer, along with NBC’s The Secret Lives Of Husbands And Wives, whose fate has not been determined.
Fox News Channel announced today it has brought former Congressman Dennis Kucinich on board as contributor to the top-rated cable news network. He will debut Thursday night on The O’Reilly Factor. “I’ve always been impressed with Rep. Kucinich’s fearlessness and thoughtfulness about important issues,” said Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes in a statement Wednesday. The strongly liberal Kucinich had represented Ohio’s 10th District since 1997, but he lost his seat in redistricting in during the fall elections. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004 and 2008. Here’s FNC announcement:
FOX News Channel (FNC) has signed former two-time presidential candidate and former U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) as a contributor in a multi-year deal, announced Bill Shine, Executive Vice President of Programming for the network. Kucinich will provide analysis and commentary across FNC’s daytime and primetime programming, as well as on Fox Business Network (FBN). He will make his debut in the new role on The O’Reilly Factor (8:00 PM/ET) this Thursday, January 17th.
The likes of the Allman Brothers Band, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, the Staples Singers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Wilson Pickett and others were drawn to the Alabama town that producer Rick Hall’s FAME Studio and Muscle Shoals Recording Studios called home. Director Greg “Freddy” Camalier brings the rich history of the “Muscle Shoals sound” to life in his documentary feature entry at Sundance, which also has Dave Grohl’s Sound City, about the famed San Fernando Valley recording studio.
WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE: Muscle Shoals – Official Sundance Trailer
Four Hollywood studios today had class action lawsuits filed against them that allege the short changing of home video royalties. If successful, the suits could result in a multi-million dollar windfall for the plaintiffs. In nearly identical filings Wednesday in LA Superior Court, Paramount Pictures, Universal City Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and Sony Pictures Entertainment were taken to task for their practice of paying profit participants based on 20% of home entertainment revenues. Paramount and Universal were sued by director Colin Higgins over 1978’s Foul Play and 1982’s The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (read them here and here) The trustee of Charles Bronson’s estate, Larry Martindale, sued Sony over 1975’s Hard Times (read it here) and Fox was sued by director Stanley Donen over 1975’s Lucky Lady (read it here). The dates of the films are important because the plaintiff’s argue in their filings that their contracts with the studios were made before the 20% figure became the industry standard in the early 1980s. In the plaintiff’s view, their contracts dictate that they should be receiving royalties from 100% of the home video revenue of their films. “Notwithstanding the 100% Gross Receipts Provision, SPE only includes 20% of the revenue generated by its own subsidiary/affiliate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, from Home Video distribution, when it reports income earned from …