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Global Showbiz Briefs: Egypt Extends Canadian Filmmaker’s Detention; Helen Flint Launches Little Island Productions; More

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 10:00pm PDT

Egypt Extends Detention Of Canadian Filmmaker Held Since August
Egyptian authorities have extended the detention of Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and his colleague Tarek Loubani, who have been held since August without being charged. Officials say they are being held during an investigating of items found in the men’s hotel room, including a camera attached to a small plane. The Canadian government has called for the release of Greyson and Loubani, who have been on a hunger strike in jail for the past two weeks. There also were several shows of support during the Toronto Film Festival. They were en route to Gaza on a humanitarian mission August 14 when they asked Cairo police for directions and were arrested. Amnesty International says scores of those arrested since have been deprived of their basic legal rights.

Helen Flint Launches TV Company Little Island Productions
Former Company Pictures exec Helen Flint has formed Little Island Productions with a view to producing scripted drama for the UK and global markets. Flint spent eight years with All3Media’s Company Pictures (The White Queen) and produced 2006 award winner Longford. Company’s Alex Protherough is joining Flint at Little Island as Production Executive. Little Island will also sport a production services arm to aid international and UK domestic companies seeking to benefit from the new UK TV tax credit. Read More »

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CBS Loses Its Raiders-Chargers Game To NFL Network Because Of Baseball Playoffs

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 9:58pm PDT

File this under “cable confounds broadcast again”: CBS is losing an NFL rivalry game between the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers this Sunday because grounds crews won’t have enough time to convert the Coliseum from a diamond to a gridiron after a baseball playoff game the night before. Major League Baseball didn’t announce the start time for Saturday’s Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series, hosted by the Oakland A’s, until late Monday afternoon. Now the football game has been moved from 1:25 PM PT to 8:25 PT — and from CBS to the NFL Network. With Raiders-Chargers starting in primetime in the West, it should draw a huge number, especially in LA, an NFL-free city where both teams have large fan bases. That can’t be good news for broadcast networks so early in the new TV season or for HBO and Showtime, which have high-profile Sunday dramas Boardwalk Empire and Homeland, respectively. NBC has its regularly scheduled Sunday Night Football game, which should bleed into the start of Raiders-Chargers. NFL Network should send out sympathy cards to rival nets – right after that thank-you note to MLB.

Related: NFL Forcing Orlando TV Viewers To Watch Woeful Jaguars

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Logan Marshall-Green Joins ‘Madame Bovary’; ‘Senior Project’ Adds Sterling Beaumon

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 7:15pm PDT

Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) has joined director Sophie Barthes’ Madame Bovary along with Cesar-nominated Olivier Gourmet and Downton Abbey‘s Laura Carmichael. The Occupant Entertainment-produced adaptation also stars Mia Wasikowska, Ezra Miller, Paul Giamatti, Rhys Ifans, and Henry Lloyd-Hughes and begins production this week in Normandy, France. Rose Barrenche and Barthes scripted from Gustave Flaubert’s classic novel about Emma (Wasikowska), who escapes her small-town life through marriage to a doctor and indulges in a string of adulterous affairs, with tragic consequences. Marshall-Green will play the Marquis, with Gourmet as Monsieur Roualt and Carmichael playing Henrietta. Marshall-Green is repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment; Gourmet is repped by Artmedia; and Carmichael is repped by Curtis Brown Group and Untitled Entertainment.
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Alicia Witt & Edi Gathegi Join FX’s ‘Justified’

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 6:58pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Alicia Witt and Edi Gathegi (The Twilight Saga, X-Men: First Class) have been cast in major recurring roles on the upcoming fifth season of FX/Sony TV’s drama series Justified. Witt will play Wendy Crowe, the smart, sexy sister of crime lord Dale Crowe (Michael Rapaport). She’s a paralegal and the public face of the Crowe crime family. She dickers with Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) to cut a nice deal for Dale, in exchange for essentially nothing tangible, and enjoys outmaneuvering the Kentucky lawman. Gathegi will play Jean Baptiste, a Haitian criminal in the employ of the Crowe family. The villain in charge of the Crowe family gator farm, he’s a former member of the Haitian secret police and has a coldly merciless attitude when it comes to disposing of both gators and humans. Witt, repped by Paradigm and Brillstein Entertainment, also is recurring on the new ABC drama Betrayal and stars in the upcoming Hallmark’s movie Merry Mix-Up and feature Tyler Perry’s A Medea Christmas. Gathegi, repped by Framework and ICM Partners, is shooting a cameo in Cameron Crowe’s Untitled Hawaii Project.

Related: Jere Burns Upped On ‘Justified’

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Broadcasters Ambushed By Hysteria Around ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 6:07pm PDT

It may be too much to say last night was the night cable overtook broadcast TV for good — as some media have claimed –  but it sure felt that way today. It’s not like broadcasters have never competed on Sunday against numbers like the 10.3 million Breaking Bad attracted in its series finale — HBO’s The Sopranos used to log those crowds on a weekly basis. But broadcasters definitely did not anticipate the media hysteria over the Breaking Bad wrapup, to which they had contributed mightily — most recently in the form of a big fat plug on NBC’s highly hyped Saturday Night Live season debut the very night before BB’s swan song. Breaking Badsteria first erupted one week earlier with the series’ Best Drama Emmy win. Sucks to be CBS, which aired the trophy show that launched AMC’s monster Breaking Bad marketing campaign that did so much to send CBS’ Premiere Week Sunday into double-digit declines in the ratings. (CBS didn’t suffer alone; ABC and Fox experienced same.) Between Breaking Bad‘s Emmy win and Sunday’s finale, AMC unspooled a weeklong full-run-of-series marathon while TV critics scattered role petals in its path. (After the finale aired, the critics got down to the serious business of arguing as to whether Bryan Cranston’s Walter White was TV’s ultimate winner or loser, an American hero or Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning — and if the show’s wrap meant the end, or the dawn of a bright new day, for the economy of Albuquerque, where the show was shot.)

Related: Walter White’s Odyssey Completed In ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale

Read More »

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‘Runner Runner’ Director Brad Furman Boards Joe Weider Bodybuilding Pic ‘Bigger’

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 6:00pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: With his Runner Runner set to hit theaters this week, Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) has signed to write and direct Bigger for Bee Holder Productions. The biopic tells the story of the Weider brothers — bodybuilding icon Joe Weider, the Canadian entrepreneur who created the Mr. Olympia competition and mentored budding champ Arnold Schwarzenegger, and brother Ben, who co-founded the International Federation of BodyBuilding with Joe in 1946. Steve Lee Jones and his Bee Holder Productions have optioned the rights to the Weider brothers’ life story as well as rights to Brothers of Iron, the duo’s 2006 biographical tome chronicling their journey from dirt-poor sons of Jewish immigrants battling anti-Semitism to the owners of an international health and fitness empire. The Weider family business grew to include a supplements line, fitness magazines, and the Mr. Olympia, Ms. Olympia, and Masters Olympia bodybuilding contests. Bigger will chronicle the siblings’ rise thanks to Joe’s vision and Ben’s biz smarts. Read More »

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ABC Buys Drama From Don Todd & Jason Winer With Penalty

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 5:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Beverly Kills, a drama from Don Todd (Samantha Who?) and Jason Winer, has landed at ABC with significant penalty. The project, from 20th TV and Winer’s studio-based Small Dog Picture Co., is based on an original idea by Winer. Written by Todd, it centers on a wife and mom who retires from her job – as a highly skilled hit-woman for the mob – and settles into domesticity. But try as she might to live the life of a normal housewife, she soon spots crime, corruption, and evil-doing beneath the quiet, green surface of Beverly Hills, and decides to clean it up and keep her family safe in the only way she knows how. The premise is reminiscent of another ABC/20th drama project, the 2010 pilot Cutthroat, which starred Mia Maestro as a Beverly Hills housewife also living a double life, laundering money for the syndicate on the side. Todd and Winer are executive producing Beverly Kills with Small Dog’s Renate Radford. This marks Small Dog’s third sale this season. The company also has comedies Man/Child at Fox and The Runt at CBS, both with pilot production commitments.

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EOne Names Eric Shiu VP Marketing & Communications

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 5:44pm PDT

Eric Shiu will oversee eOne TV‘s worldwide marketing and communications efforts from the company’s LA office, reporting to Peter Emerson, President, eOne Television International, the company announced today. Prior to eOne, Shiu spent 15 years in TV marketing and creative advertising, including executive stints at Lionsgate, Warner Bros. and FX Networks. Shiu is credited with re-positioning and elevating the FEARnet brand as well as launching FEARnet’s traditional cable platform; overseeing Warner Bros.’ on-air promotion group; and orchestrating the launches of several hit original series at FX, including The Shield, Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck.

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Between ‘Hercules’ Set-Ups, Brett Ratner Becomes Media Mogul With Eye On China

Mike Fleming

Brett Ratner took a few minutes away from directing Dwayne Johnson in the MGM/Paramount film Hercules: The Thracian Wars to talk about being in the center of a herculean $450 million slate financing deal that RatPac-Dune Entertainment finally closed with Warner Bros. It is an arrangement that will cover as many as 75 of the biggest films made by Warner Bros and New Line for the next few years.

Ratner tells me that this is a straight financing deal, but one that will allow and his RatPac-Dune partners James Packer and Steven Mnuchin to build library assets. It is just one piece of what could become a very interesting puzzle. Ratner said that Packer, son of the late media mogul Kerry Packer, got out of the media holdings that were his father’s preoccupation and instead has put his money in a number of ventures that include casinos in Macau. That whetted his appetite for investing in China’s fast-growing film business.

Related: China’s Wanda & Hollywood: How Much Is Real?

“Part of our strategy will be to expand into China, to co-finance Chinese movies and films that not only work around the world but Asia in particular,” Rather told me. “We are already developing some movies we feel will work in the Asian market.” Read More »

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Disney And Dish Reach Short-Term Deal To Continue Retrans Talks

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 5:13pm PDT

The companies said today that they have reached a short-term extension of their carriage contract to keep Disney‘s channels on Dish Network‘s systems. The sides say talks will continue on a contract first inked in 2005 and set to expire at the end of the month. At stake is the continued carriage of Disney networks including ESPN, Disney Channel and ABC Family and ABC-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno. No other details were announced. The deal comes less than a month after Time Warner Cable and CBS settled their retrans dispute that cost TWC customers 32 days of CBS programming. That impasse was widely believed to be broken by the start of the lucrative NFL season, so it’s notable that ESPN has Monday Night Football in its corner. But Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has been grumbling for months about the cost of sports rights and said in February that the loss of revenue from Dish’s 14.1M subscribers “would be a long-term problem for Disney”. Last year, Disney CEO Bob Iger defended ESPN’s price increases, attributing the growing complaints about sports costs to “a rough economy over the last few years”. Another wrinkle in the ABC-Dish standoff: The network is suing the satcaster over its ad-skipping Hopper DVR.

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Hot Trailer: James Franco’s ‘Sal’

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 5:00pm PDT

James Franco directs the pic about 1950s teen idol and Oscar-nominated actor Sal Mineo, who rocketed to fame with his turns in Rebel Without A Cause and Otto Preminger’s Exodus before he was stabbed to death at age 37. Sal, scripted by Stacey Miller with a story by Miller, Franco, Vince Jolivette, and Val Lauren from Michael Gregg Michaud’s book on the actor, follows Mineo in his final hours as he struggles to regain career momentum. Lauren stars as Mineo alongside Franco, Jolivette, Miller, Jim Parrack, Trevor Neuhoff, and Raymond T. Williams. Tribeca Films will release the pic on VOD and iTunes on October 22 followed by a limited theatrical run November 1:

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Fox Nabs Family Comedy From Chris Miller & Phil Lord, Johnny Depp And Chris Romano With Put Pilot Commitment

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 4:43pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: For their first sale through their overall deal at 20th Century Fox TV, Chris Miller and Phil Lord have teamed with Johnny Depp to produce Torched, a comedy project that has landed at Fox with a put pilot commitment. The single-camera family comedy hails from Blue Mountain State co-creator/star Chris Romano. It centers on a fast-talking, fun-loving dad, who through his very unique — and sometimes law-breaking — job, strives to give his young son the life he never had. 20th TV, Lord Miller and Depp’s Infinitum are producing, with Romano, Lord, Miller, Depp, Lord Miller President Seth Cohen and Infinitum’s Christi Dembrowski and Norman Todd executive producing. Miller and Lord previously worked with Depp on 21 Jump Street. Read More »

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Disney/ABC DGA Directing Program Submission Period Opens Oct. 1

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 4:30pm PDT

The Disney/ABC DGA Directing Program will accept applications from Tuesday, October 1 through Wednesday, November 27. Based in LA, the two-year professional directing program focuses on potential episodic directing opportunities on Disney/ABC series. Selected participants are offered shadowing assignments with veteran episodic directors, mentoring by Disney/ABC Television Group network or studio creative executives and exposure to industry professionals. Current program director Rob Greenlea made his episodic directing debut last season on Grey’s Anatomy and earned a second directing assignment this season. Participating directors have secured assignments on series including ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Private Practice, ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars  and Disney Channel’s Shake It Up. For more information click here.

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Ryan Seacrest Prods Adds Unscripted EVP

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 4:22pm PDT

Ryan Seacrest Productions said Izzie Pick Ashcroft will join the company as EVP Current, Unscripted Programming. She will report to CEO Adam Sher and start early next year. Pick Ashcroft is currently SVP Programming Development and Production at BBC Worldwide Productions LA, where she oversees a team that developed and formatted shows including Ladies Of London (Bravo), Breaking Pointe and Breaking Pointe 2 (the CW), Lovetown, USA (OWN), The Next Big Thing (Oxygen), and Skating With The Stars (ABC). Before joining BBC, she was the showrunner on Dancing With The Stars and was part of the original team on Strictly Come Dancing, helping to develop both formats in the UK and the U.S. Ryan Seacrest Prods recently sold Dream Date to Fox, marking a rare competition series for the company, which has built its unscripted brand on docu-reality series like the Keeping Up With The Kardashians franchise and Shahs Of Sunset.

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BAFTA Opens TV Awards To Web-Based Broadcasters, Tweaks Other Rules

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 4:11pm PDT

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is adding new rules which will for the first time include web-based broadcasters to be eligible for its TV awards, a move that opens the field to the likes of Netflix. Here’s a release on this and other changes to the prizes which will be awarded in April and May of 2014:

London, 1 October 2013: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) today announced that, for the very first time, web-based broadcasters will be eligible to enter the British Academy Television Awards and the British Academy Television Craft Awards.

BAFTA’s Chief Executive, Amanda Berry, said: “We continually strive to ensure our Awards remain relevant to the industry, as well as reflecting the trends among the viewing public. We’re in a golden era for storytelling and programme-making, with top-class shows being broadcast online as well as on digital and terrestrial television; the latest update to our rules ensures we celebrate and reward the very best.”

The new Rule Books for both Awards are now published online, with full details on entry and eligibility, at

This important update to eligibility is one of a number of changes made to the Television and Television Craft Awards this year, presented in 2014.

Other changes include the expansion of the previous Comedy category, which becomes Comedy and Comedy Entertainment and encompasses programmes whose comedy is central to the editorial of the programme, including panel-led shows, chat shows where comic content plays a significant part, stand-up comedy shows, and comedy clips shows.

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Discovery Orders ‘Dukes Of Haggle’ And Shuffles Schedule To Debut Oct. 1

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 3:41pm PDT

Imagine if American Pickers and Duck Dynasty had a love child. You’d have Dukes Of Haggle – the latest iteration of the still-going-strong  “found money” reality TV genre. Discovery Channel has ordered 12 episodes of Dukes Of Haggle, to debut tomorrow night. It’s about four rival teams of barterers working in the “barter economy that exists along the backroads of the American South,” the network explained. These teams scour the south to barter-up at barns, swap meets and other, less likely places. Apparently  the bartering business is becoming more competitive there. Once they’ve collected their Prohibition-era kegerators, Civil War swords, Colonel Sanders windvanes and giant faux corn ears, they take them to auction Friday night at Neal’s Auction House which is apparently a community ritual second only to Sunday church going. Dukes Of Haggle is produced by MAK Pictures for Discovery Channel.

Mark Kadin, Will Ehbrecht, Ed Cunningham, Calvin Simmons, and Tucia Lyman are Executive Producers for MAK, while Denise Contis and Joseph Boyle Executive Produce for Discovery Channel.

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UPDATE: NBC Kills Its Hillary Clinton Miniseries; RNC Takes Credit

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 3:18pm PDT

2ND UPDATE 6:30 PM: The Republican National Committee is taking credit for NBC and CNN deep-sixing what the group calls “their Hillary Clinton infomercials”. In August, the RNC threatened to block both networks from the 2016 presidential debates if they were forward with their Clinton programs. Here RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski’s statement on their cancellation: “This was only the first step in the Republican Party taking control of our debate process. The purpose of our party’s debates is to better inform our grassroots and those participating in Republican primaries and caucuses. Now that CNN and NBC have canceled their Hillary Clinton infomercials, we will work on developing a new debate model that will address the timing, frequency, moderators and venues that will come in the next few months. Any media organization looking to be part of the debate process will have to comply with the new system.”

Related: CNN Bails On Hillary Clinton Documentary

UPDATED, 3:18 PM: Having lost its production partner on its Hillary Clinton miniseries back in August, and with all the brouhaha that had erupted over its Clinton mini (and CNN’s documentary), NBC planned to announce that its biopic was a goner sometime down the road, a source tells us. But when CNN this morning announced the demise of its Clinton documentary, NBC pounced on the opportunity to slip its news into the CNN story, rather than have reporters pound away with will-NBC-or-won’t-NBC sidebars and second-day stories. This is known as taking out all the dirty laundry in one afternoon — public relations 101.

Related: CNN Fires Back At GOP Over Hillary Clinton Docu & Debate Threat
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Melissa Rosenberg To Produce CIA Drama For ABC

By | Monday September 30, 2013 @ 3:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: More than a decade after Alias, ABC is eying another drama about a female CIA agent. The network has put in development Clandestine, an hourlong project from Melissa Rosenberg‘s Tall Girls Prods. Written by feature scribe Matthew Sand (Ninja Assassin), Clandestine takes a look into the CIA world through the perspective of an unlikely asset: the hard-partying daughter of the American ambassador to the UK. As her work grows more dangerous, she discovers skills and talents no one ever thought she possessed — especially not her father, from whom she is keeping a dark secret. ABC Studios and studio-based Tall Girl Prods, headed by CEO Rosenberg and president Mandy Safavi (Ender’s Game), are producing. Rosenberg’s TV credits include ABC’s Red Widow and Dexter; on the feature side, she penned all five movies in the Twilight franchise and is currently writing Earthseed for Paramount. Tall Girls is repped by UTA and 3 Arts; Sand, who is writing Arclight for Universal and Imagine, is with Paradigm and Circle of Confusion.

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Hollywood Pics Pack UK Soundstages As Space Crunch Starts To Squeeze

Next year, Bond 24 and Star Wars: Episode VII will be shooting Walther PPKs and brandishing light sabers at Pinewood Studios outside London. That’s a lovely image for fans, and Pinewood bean-counters. But with Hollywood increasingly queueing up to shoot in Britain, and Pinewood’s application for expansion having been thwarted twice in the past year, a capacity crunch is coming to the UK at light speed — and some potential big-ticket tenants already have been turned away.

Among the films currently shooting at Pinewood are frequent client Disney’s Cinderella, QED and Sony’s Fury, and Fox’s Exodus. The new Star Wars installment is settling into its offices on the lot ahead of shooting in early 2014. Over at nearby Shepperton, Marvel currently has Guardians Of The Galaxy, with The Avengers 2 gearing up. Also there is Disney’s Into The Woods. Leavesden, the Warner Bros facility the studio acquired in 2010 and in which it invested £100M after shooting all eight Harry Potter movies there, is hosting Ron Howard’s Heart Of The Sea and Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The J.K. Rowling-penned Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is expected to shoot there when it goes. Read More »

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