No surprise here — NBC has renewed midseason comedy About A Boy for a second season. The romantic comedy, from Jason Katims, has done solid business on Tuesdays behind The Voice, averaging a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 8.3 million viewers in most current ratings. What’s more, after the inevitable post-premiere slide, the show has held ground in the ratings, even posting a few upticks. About A Boy, based on Nick Hornby’s book and the movie with Hugh Grant, stars David Walton and Minnie Driver. Katims exec produces with Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Liza Chasin, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal for Universal TV, Working Title Films, True Jack Prods. and Tribeca Prods. No word yet on About A Boy‘s Tuesday companion, Growing Up Fisher, whose renewal has not been as certain as About A Boy‘s.
Weekly Column: Three weeks into the post-Jay Leno Tonight Show era, his replacement Jimmy Fallon is still the frontrunner, though his margins have shrunk, his ABC competitor Jimmy Kimmel has regained ground he lost temporarily during Fallon’s highly hyped first week with a Sochi Olympics lead-in. Now the two Jimmys are settling in for the long haul, as they wrestle over America’s late-night viewing habit.
All eyes were on Fallon when he kicked off his Tonight tenure during the second Monday of NBC’s Olympics coverage, with a star-studded week that included guests Will Smith, U2, Jerry Seinfeld, Lady Gaga, the First Lady, and Justin Timberlake. More than 11 million viewers listened as Fallon asked that they give him time to get it right. And, over the course of that first week, with DVR-watchers factored in, Fallon drew the biggest weekly audience Tonight had enjoyed since Johnny Carson signed off after 30 years in 1992 — an average of 10.42 million viewers. Those viewers, NBC noted, had the youngest median age of any weekly crowd for any of the broadcast TV 11:35 PM talk shows this season: 52.6 years.
Then the honeymoon was over.
In Fallon’s Week 2, headline writers turned their attention to ABC’s Kimmel and the ninth iteration of his much-ballyhooed, even more celeb-studded post-Oscar show, which jumped 22% in total viewers year-to-year to nab nearly 7 million viewers. It was the ABC late-night program’s largest-ever overall audience for any single-day telecast in either late-night or primetime and up 20% in the demo, to reach 2.423 million. In each of the country’s Top 3 markets – New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago – Kimmel’s show coming out of the most-watched Oscarcast in a decade outperformed both the final Tonight broadcast with Leno and the first Tonight with Fallon, in households and in the demo.
Kimmel followed this up the very next night with what members of the media regarded as the Holy Grail of late-night bookings — Toronto’s wildly unpredictable, much-memed Mayor Rob Ford. This past Monday, Kimmel mopped sweat from Ford’s brow, and suggested the mayor might want to get some help if he does in fact have a drinking problem, which Ford laughed off, saying he “wasn’t elected to be perfect” and that he is “just a normal average, hardworking politician.” To which Kimmel respectfully insisted Ford is not only not average, “you are the most wonderful mayor I’ve ever witnessed.” And, while final stats for Monday’s sit-down aren’t available yet, Jimmy Kimmel Live that night achieved a 2.5/6 in metered market homes, jumping 19% (and 50% in the demo) from the prior Monday, to land in his nearest competitive position on a Monday yet against Fallon. That said, Fallon still topped Kimmel by 68% in metered market households and by 89% in demo ratings in the 25 LPM markets, with his former Saturday Night Live Weekend Update co-anchor Tina Fey as guest. (Kimmel’s Oscar surge appeared to have fizzled by Tuesday night where, in Nielsen’s 56 metered markets, JKL fell to a 1.7/5 — well behind Fallon’s 3.5/9 — though ABC’s new 10 PM series Mind Games, with its 0.6 demo rating and its 2, 2.120 million viewers, may have contributed.)
UPDATE, 4:09 PM: Warner Bros has filled another slot in its early 2015 release date calendar, saying today it will drop the Liam Neeson-starrer Run All Night, the Brad Ingelsby actioner, on February 6, 2015. Jaume Collet-Serra is directing in a reteam with Neeson who combined to make Unknown and the upcoming Non-Stop. Neeson plays a mob hitman who, in a single night, is forced to take on his former boss. The guy also has to protect his son and family, and winds up on the run from the mob and the authorities. Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris and Vincent D’Onofrio co-star.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY AM: Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E will be released January 16, 2015, which is the start of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend, Warner Bros said today. Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander and Luca Calvani star in the pic, a big-screen update of the 1960s TV series. This is the project that forced Warners to go back to Square 1 a couple of times, first when Steven Soderbergh was ready to direct and George Clooney to star. After Soderbergh and Clooney left, Warner Bros recruited Ritchie and then landed Tom Cruise for the lead alongside Hammer. Cruise departed last May to focus on Mission: Impossible 5. Cavill then came aboard as CIA agent Napoleon Solo opposite Hammer’s KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, who team amidst the Cold War to stop a global criminal organization. Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant co-star.
Most of the coverage has been about Leno taking with him a commanding ratings lead in late-night, not only among total viewers but also in the 18-49 age bracket advertisers covet. And in the days leading up to his exit, The Reporters Who Cover Television dusted off think pieces about Leno leaving the show in the wake of a demographic shift affecting millions of baby boomers who are being pushed aside to make way for a younger generation with different sensibilities. In many ways, Leno’s handoff to Fallon does mirror the first time the press wrote those think pieces, when NBC replaced Leno with his lead-out, Conan O’Brien in 2009 – a plan that famously flamed out over seven months.
But the bigger news here is the incredible gift Leno’s been given: a handoff do-over.
It’s a loaded gift for Leno. He owes much of his ratings success, and longevity, to the fact that he’s much adored in flyover country — Leno won last month’s 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll asking which late-night host was most likely to make you laugh, handily beating his latest replacement Fallon, his first replacement O’Brien, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, and Craig Ferguson. But the media doesn’t like Leno so much, having pegged him decades ago as the closet-hiding, eavesdropper who backstabbed their late-night crushes Letterman and, later, O’Brien.
On Jay Leno‘s last Tonight Show Tuesday, some of Jay’s favorite guest appearances were shown: President Obama reminiscing about when he and Donald Trump grew up together in Kenya, John Kennedy Jr. and Jerry Seinfeld reminiscing about Seinfeld’s Contest’s episode, former President George W. Bush giving Jay a portrait, Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing his candidacy, Betty White announces she’s as horny as she ever was, Hugh Grant explaining his escapade on Sunset, etc. Guest Matthew McConaughey reflected on advice that Jay gave him many years ago, and Charles Barkley retired Jay’s jersey:
EXCLUSIVE: After numerous attempts by Warner Bros to make a new version of the King Arthur legend, I’m hearing that Guy Ritchie is again looking to make the movie. This one is a tentpole fantasy retelling of the Arthur legend, meant to span six films. It was created by Joby Harold, who wrote the script for the first film. Producing is Akiva Goldsman through Weed Road, Harold and Tory Tunnell through Safehouse Pictures, and Ritchie’s partner Lionel Wigram. Ritchie and Wigram previously developed a version of the King Arthur saga based on a script by Trainspotting scribe John Hodge, but it lost steam when it looked like the one by David Dobkin was going to happen.
Warner Bros got closest to a production start with Dobkin’s Arthur & Lancelot, with Colin Farrell most recently at the center of talks to revive the project as Lancelot, and they chased Gary Oldman for the Merlin role. Warner Bros paid $2 million to acquire Dobkin’s script, but unplugged the film the first time because its $130 million budget was $20 million too high, with Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington to play Arthur and Robocop‘s Joel Kinnaman to play Lancelot. Those young upstarts were unproven screen commodities. Other projects previously considered by Warners was a remake of the 1981 John Boorman pic Excalibur that had X-Men helmer Bryan Singer attached; there is also a Harry Potter-style take being produced by Donald …
Looks like NBC‘s got crossover fever, not just in the crime drama department but in its comedy slate. A few hours after Chicago PD creator Dick Wolf teased that show’s upcoming crossovers with Chicago Fire and Law & Order: SVU, About A Boy EP Jason Katims revealed today at TCA that the new half-hour comedy does indeed exist in the same TV universe as his other San Francisco-set show, Parenthood. The small screen adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name premieres February 21 before settling into its Tuesday 9 PM slot and stars New Girl‘s David Walton as Will, a bachelor man-child who befriends the 11-year-old misfit kid next door (Benjamin Stockham) and his single mother Fiona (Minnie Driver). Walton popped up briefly this week on Parenthood to set up the bridge between the shows. “It turns out Will also has his own poker game so Dax Shepard will be making an appearance as Crosby Braverman on About A Boy,” said Katims.
The pilot episode pretty much covers the events of Hornby’s book and subsequent film adaptation starring Hugh Grant, right down to Marcus’s performance at the school talent show (substituting One Direction for Roberta Flack). Katims …
Emma Thompson Mulls “Hierarchical” Hollywood, Ang Lee’s Brutal/Funny Notes, Oscars & More In BAFTA Career Chat
Following in the recent footsteps of her Saving Mr Banks co-star Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson sat down in London on Sunday afternoon for a trip down memory lane. At a BAFTA Life in Pictures event at the British Academy’s headquarters, Thompson spoke of the important role that comedy played in her early career, and touched on her collaborations with the likes of Merchant Ivory, Richard Curtis and Ang Lee. The Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter also peppered in some stark feelings about Hollywood.
Thompson has steadily worked across borders since the 90s and while she feels there’s no real difference between great actors in the States and Britain – “Dustin Hoffman is as exquisite as Anthony Hopkins” – the star system in Hollywood “is not a good system.” Thompson called it “hierarchical” and said it was “just revolting for people who are actors to become grand and unattractive to watch.” She recalled that while working on Last Chance Harvey, Hoffman had been stuck in traffic one day and, so concerned with being late to set, ran there in his socks once he’d arrived at the location. “Those are the people you want to work with. You find some young actors who really can’t be bothered and you think well, let someone else do it,” she said to the largely British crowd. Thompson noted that “some of the most intelligent people” she knows live in Hollywood, but lamented that the town “always finds a way to make you feel bad.” At parties, there’s “always some bit that’s penned off that you’re not allowed into,” she mused, adding that it’s the “better than/less than judgment you’re making upon yourself and others that Hollywood is particularly good at and that’s the one thing I really hate.”
Guy Ritchie has set a new reunion with his Moriarty. Sherlock Holmes star Jared Harris (Mad Men) has joined Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. for WB in the role of Sanders. Filming begins September 9 in England, Rome, and Naples. The big screen update of the 1960s TV series stars Man of Steel‘s Henry Cavill as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and The Lone Ranger‘s Armie Hammer as KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, who team up amidst the Cold War to stop a global criminal organization. Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, and Hugh Grant as Waverly round out the cast. Ritchie and Lionel Wigram wrote the script and are producing via their Ritchie/Wigram Productions. John Davis and Steve Clark-Hall are also producing while David Dobkin is exec producer. Harris, repped by Paradigm and Independent Talent Group in the UK, is currently in theaters in Screen Gems’ The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones. His upcoming releases include Hammer & Liongate’s The Quiet Ones, FilmDistrict’s Pompeii, and Laika’s stop motion pic The Boxtrolls.
David Koplan has joined upstart production, finance, and international sales outfit Red Granite Pictures as Head of Physical Production and Development. Koplan, whose producing credits include Sundance pic Chrystal and Tim Blake Nelson’s Leaves of Grass (as exec producer), is exec producing Marc Lawrence’s untitled Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei starrer and is producer on Stuart Blumberg’s Thanks For Sharing starring Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow. He’ll work closely with Red Granite Chairman Riza Aziz and Vice Chairman Joey McFarland in his new post starting with the comedy sequel Dumb and Dumber To. Red Granite’s upcoming slate includes Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, Daniel Radcliffe starrer Horns, and the Relativity release Out of the Furnace.
Movie Castings: Chris Elliot & J.K. Simmons Join Hugh Grant RomCom; ‘Jupiter Ascending’ Adds David Ajala
Chris Elliot and J.K. Simmons have signed on to join Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei and Allison Janney in the still untitled romantic comedy from Marc Lawrence. Simmons will portray Dr. Lerner, Chair of the University’s English department where Grant’s Ray Michaels character teaches. Lerner takes former Oscar winning screenwriter Michaels under his wing. Simmons is represented by The Gersh Agency. Elliott will play Jim, a Shakespeare professor and neighbor to Michaels. Elliott is represented by UTA and Anonymous Content. Lawrence is writing and directing the film, which is scheduled to start filming in NYC next month.
David Ajala has joined the cast of Lana and Andy Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending.The British actor will play Ibis in the sci-fi action film. The character is the leader of the cyber hunters who are after Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis’ characters. Besides Tatum and Kunis, the Warner Bros-Village Roadshow co-production also stars Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne. Jupiter Ascending is set to shoot in London and to be released on July 25, 2014. Ajala can next be seen by blockbuster audiences in Fast & Furious 6. He is repped by managers Jeff Golenberg and Matt Goldman and the UK’s Oliver Slinger from Independent Talent Group.
The German Film Academy has announced the nominees for this year’s Lola Awards, the local equivalent to the Oscars. The largely German-financed Cloud Atlas leads the pack with nine nods including Best Film and Best Director(s). Andy and Lana Wachowski and local son Tom Tykwer helmed the sprawling and divisive fantasy that stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and a host of others. Oh Boy, a tragicomic portrait of a young man by Jan Ole Gerster, scored eight nominations and Margareth von Trotta’s biopic Hannah Arendt, which screened in Toronto, has six. Also figuring on the list is Australia’s entry for the foreign-language Oscar this year, Lore. Cate Shortland’s German-language drama has four mentions including Best Picture. The Lolas will be handed out April 26 in Berlin. Click over for a full list of nominees:
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
UPDATE, 4:09 PM: The UK government today announced a fresh sweep of press regulation reforms, brought about as a result of the News Of The World phone-hacking brouhaha. But key newspaper groups, including Rupert Murdoch’s News International, have refused to endorse the government’s proposals. A late-night round of cross-party negotiations prevented a potentially embarrassing rebellion from within David Cameron’s own party as the two proposals were brought to consensus. The final reforms will see British papers regulated by a watchdog run completely independently of the media. Fines of up to £1M — thought to be the toughest in the world — would be handed down to the worst offenders. And the only legal statute relates to the right of ministers to change the rules in future, designed to prevent any possible corruptions to freedom of speech.
In a group statement signed by News International, along with Daily Mail publishers Associated Newspapers, the Telegraph media group and Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, newspaper proprietors say the proposals feature “several deeply contentious issues which have not yet been resolved with the industry”. As one senior exec told the Guardian, “This is a political deal between the three parties and Hacked Off,” referring to the campaign group fronted by Hugh Grant. “It is not a deal with the newspapers.”
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
A swathe of high-profile names are getting big paychecks from Rupert Murdoch’s News International this week as the company tries to consign the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal to the past. Doctor Who star Christopher Ecclestone and actor-turned-press ethics campaigner Hugh Grant will both receive “substantial damages”. There are more payouts, along with public apologies, for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and celebrity magician Uri Geller, bringing the total number of settlements to 143. But with police still in the process of notifying victims, new cases continue to be brought forward. American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe and former Crystal Palace Football Club owner Simon Jordan are among those filing new claims. A lawyer working on behalf of victims said the settlements reflected an urge by News Corp‘s UK publishing arm to persuade victims to drop lawsuits ahead of a case management hearing held today, according to the Guardian.
David Walton is set as the lead in About A Boy, NBC‘s single-camera pilot based on the Nick Hornby book and the 2002 movie. Written by from Friday Night Lights and Parenthood executive producer Jason Katims, and directed by Revolution’s Jon Favreau, About A Boy follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child (Walton) and the young boy who moves in next door with his kooky single mother. Michelle Lee, serves as producer on the pilot, from Katims’ True Jack Prods, Universal TV, Working Title and Tribeca Prods. Walton was among the most sought-after comedy actors this season, fielding multiple offers before settling on the role played by Hugh Grant in the 2002 movie. This marks his return to NBC where he starred opposite Amanda Peet in Bent last season. (He also toplined the network’s underrated comedy Perfect Couples.) Earlier this season, Walton was attached to star in a single-camera comedy project by Bent creator Tad Quill which was set up at CBS with a put pilot commitment. The project’s premise somewhat echoes that of About A Boy — it centered on a bachelor firefighter (Walton) who has to make the ultimate sacrifice of taking care of someone other than himself when a 9-year-old girl enters his life. Walton, who has been recurring on Fox’s New Girl, is with Gersh and Special Artists Agency.
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off directing the pilot for the highest-rated new fall series, drama Revolution, Jon Favreau is set to direct another NBC pilot, comedy About A Boy. The single-camera comedy, from Friday Night Lights and Parenthood executive producer Jason Katims, is based on the Nick Hornby book and the 2002 movie. Written and executive produced by Emmy-winner Katims, About A Boy follows the relationship between a bachelor man-child and the young boy who moves in next door with his kooky single mother. Katims’ head of development, Michelle Lee, serves as producer on the pilot, which is from Katims’ True Jack Prods; Universal TV; and Working Title and Tribeca Prods, the companies that produced the Hugh Grant-starring feature. Favreau serves as co-executive producer on the JJ Abrams/Eric Kripke NBC drama Revolution. On the feature side, the Iron Man director recently executive produced The Avengers and is now exec producing the upcoming Iron Man 3.
Rupert Murdoch was in London last week, crowing about scoring rights to online clips of Premier League soccer matches and reportedly visiting his UK newspapers. He also held a private dinner that’s becoming a hot potato in the local media. London Mayor Boris Johnson, a rival to Prime Minister David Cameron for leadership of the Conservative Party, is widely believed to have attended along with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, whose office confirmed his presence to The Guardian. (Also reportedly there was Homeland star Damian Lewis, whose show is produced by News Corp.-owned Fox21, and who’s a graduate of Eton, as is Johnson.) While private meetings between politicians and media owners don’t run afoul of parliamentary or party rules, this particular dinner has raised eyebrows in light of last year’s Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics where an overriding theme was the cozy relationship enjoyed by newspaper proprietors and the highest levels of government.
Rupert Murdoch has had to apologize for, or clarify, so many of his tweets that you’d think he’d have learned to edit himself — or just think a moment longer before hitting the “send” button. But it happened again this evening after he wrote a message about a story in his New York Post about an overweight woman from Queens who fell through the sidewalk on the Upper East Side: “How did fat lady who fell thru street get to 400 lbs? Welfare, stamps, etc? Then leave us all with 20 yrs immense health bills.” The response was immediate: “How many prejudiced assumptions can you fit in one tweet, Rupe?” Keith Olbermann wrote. He added: “This is like assuming all media moguls achieved success thru bribery, bullying, phone hacking.” Murdoch quickly tried to clean things up: “Did not mean to be unsympathetic to 400 lb lady, but fact remains unhealthy eating by rich and poor driving up premiums for all.” Last year Murdoch apologized to actor Hugh Grant for wrongly suggesting that he had refused to support his daughter. He apologized for suggesting that Gen. David Petraeus had “taken the fall” for President Obama following the murder of U.S. embassy personnel in Benghazi. He apologized for asking why the “Jewish owned press” was “so consistently anti-Israel.” And he missed by 23 days what he said was the one-year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death.