Expanding its European reach, AMC Networks‘ AMC/Sundance Channel Global is buying Frankfurt-based KinoweltTV. The pay-TV channel airs classic and contemporary films and is distributed to 4.5 million subscribers throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The acquisition provides the international arm of AMC Networks with distribution across all platforms in German-speaking Europe for the first time. AMC has been actively growing its overseas presence; last year, it paid about $1B for Chellomedia which produces and distributes TV channels across such territories as the UK, Benelux, Central Europe, Spain and Latin America, and reaches about 390 million households. Founded in 2004, KinoweltTV was the first German TV station completely dedicated to high-class feature films; it now offers European and American cult movies, indies, arthouse fare, classics and monthly retrospectives. The channel’s existing management will join the AMC/Sundance Channel Global team which is led by Bruce Tuchman. Achim Apell will continue as KinoweltTV’s Managing Director. Financial terms of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, were not disclosed.
WEtv has dropped a trailer for its first original scripted drama The Divide. Written by Richard LaGravenese (Behind The Candelabra) and co-created by LaGravenese and Tony Goldwyn (Conviction), The Divide explores the personal cost of morality, ambition, ethics, politics, and race in today’s justice system through the eyes of Christine Rosa played by Marin Ireland (Homeland, Boss, Side Effects), an impassioned caseworker with The Innocence Initiative, and Adam Page played by Damon Gupton (The Newsroom, Prime Suspect), an equally passionate district attorney and political rising star. The eight-episode series, produced by AMC Studios, premieres in July. Have a look:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Tom Jones To Star In ‘Under Milk Wood’; Marco Frazier Upped To SVP At AMC/Sundance Channel Global
Tom Jones, Sian Phillips & Michael Sheen Join ‘Under Milk Wood’ Cast
Tom Jones, Sian Phillips and Michael Sheen have joined the cast of Under Milk Wood, BBC Wales TV’s adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ “play for voices.” Jones stars as the blind and tormented Captain Cat, with Sheen among several actors playing First Voice and Second Voice, including Matthew Rhys and John Rhys Davies. The cast also includes Jonathan Pryce, Ioan Gruffudd and opera star Bryn Terfel. Since its debut on radio 60 years ago, the tale of the residents of the fictional Welsh village of Llareggub has been adapted as a stage play, an opera, and a 1972 starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Fading Gigolo’, ‘The Final Member’, ‘Cesar’s Last Fast’, ‘That Demon Within’, ‘Tasting Menu’, ‘Small Time’
After making a mega-splash at the box office last year, Woody Allen gets some time in front of the camera with John Turturro‘s comedy Fading Gigolo, which he also stars in along with Sharon Stone. Millennium Entertainment will open the title in limited release. Two docs are among this weekend’s crop of new Specialty releases, including Sundance title Cesar’s Last Fast as well as penis documentary The Final Member from Drafthouse Films. China Lion is opening action-crime feature That Demon Within, which co-stars Nick Cheung who recently won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in Unbeatable. Magnolia is rolling out Tasting Menu, hoping to re-create a recipe of lofty box office returns from its previously released food-oriented fare. And Anchor Bay will open Small Time from first time filmmaker Joel Surnow in just over a dozen locations.
John Turturro directed Woody Allen’s one-act play Honeymoon Hotel in 2011. “I was thinking it would be interested to do something with Woody, but I didn’t know if we’d have chemistry,” said Turturro about the beginnings of what would become Fading Gigolo. The comedy centers on Fioravante who decides to become a Don Juan as a way of making money for his cash-strapped friend, Murray. The pair wind up in the sex business. “I didn’t know how I’d approach it but we exchanged notes,” said Turturro. “I did research on living that kind of life and on the Hasidic community. I wanted to make a human comedy and [Woody Allen] encouraged me to take that route.”
Are you kidding?
Did Paramount just officially start the 2014 Oscar campaign even as we are barely getting the Emmys off the ground and the Tonys are two months away? Uh, yes. Looks like it. One top studio exec (not from Paramount) forwarded me an email he got yesterday from the Paramount Awards Office that pronounced free admission starting April 15th - two by two for Academy members and a guest- to screenings of Noah at theaters nationwide – but only Monday thru Thursday since most theater owners usually don’t like to give up seats on the weekends, especially to rich and famous movie types.
Participant Media‘s network Pivot today announced the pickup of Sky Atlantic’s 12-episode drama series Fortitude starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. The series became available in the U.S. in December when Starz, which originally had committed to the project, pulled out. Pivot is designed as a younger skewing network than Starz, with its target demo being 18-34. As part of its upfront presentation, Pivot also announced an overhaul of its nightly topical series, TakePart Live. Beginning Monday, May 12, the hour-long late-night program will move to primetime (10 PM) with a new producer, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row, which is behind Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and AMC’s Talking Dead/Bad. Also undergoing makeover is the hosting team of Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria, with only Soboroff coming back, joined by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain and comedian Eddie Huang.
Pivot also unveiled a development slate that includes eleven projects from production companies including IAC’s Electus, Universal Cable Prods., FremantleMedia North America/Pukeko Pictures, Funny or Die, and Eyeworks, and revealed premiere 2014-15 dates, including an August 8 debut for the sophomore season of coming-of-age comedy, Please Like Me, and the comedy Human Resources. “Our second slate demonstrates our significant investment in, and commitment to, groundbreaking content for the thought-leading segment of Generation Y we call ‘Upstanders,’” said Pivot president Evan Shapiro. Here is Pivot’s full slate:
It is the first film Weiner directed since What Do You Do All Day, the 1996 helming debut Weiner made before he developed his edgy voice on The Sopranos and then Mad Men, the celebrated AMC drama which begins its final season Sunday. The film stars Owen Wilson as bored TV weatherman Steve and Zach Galifianakis as eccentric shut-in Steve. The two childhood best friends embark on a road trip back to their hometown after the latter learns he has inherited a large sum of money from his recently deceased estranged father. There they do battle against Ben’s formidable sister (Amy Poehler) and deal with his father’s 25-year-old widow (Laura Ramsey). No confirmation on the deal, but I’m told reliably it’s happening and that the film will come out later this year. The film is produced by Gilbert Films’ Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Scott Hornbacher, and Weiner.
Pic was packaged and sold by CAA and ICM Partners.
WE tv‘s slate of unscripted original programming for 2014-2015 includes a one-hour pilot of Charlie Sheen’s Bad Influence, a relationship-based competition show in which Sheen puts engaged couples to the ultimate test by challenging how well they think they know their intended. The pilot is currently in production in Los Angeles and was announced today during WEtv’s upfront presentation. The network also greenlighted the new series Match Made In Heaven, Mystery Millionaire and David Tutera’s CELEBrations and renewed the popular shows Kendra On Top, Marriage Boot Camp and the Braxton Family Values spinoff Tamar & Vince. In addition to the network’s growing unscripted efforts, WE tv will debut its first original scripted series, The Divide, this July. The network previously announced the fourth season of Braxton Family Values, second season of SWV Reunited, and the new series Love Thy Sister debuting this summer. Here’s a complete description of its slate:
Are there any questions left to ask the cast and creator of AMC‘s Mad Men? ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer gives it a whirl on her World News tomorrow night; additional portions of the interview will follow on Nightline and Friday’s Good Morning America. Part 1 of Mad Men’s final season kicks in Sunday, April 13. Here’s a preview of the interviews:
Fox TV Studios president David Madden has signed a new long-term contract with 20th Century Fox Television to remain at the helm of the boutique cable production company for at least four more years. Madden, a respected veteran TV executive and producer, was elevated to the top FtvS post in 2010 after a stint shepherding the company’s development as EVP creative development and production. He helped establish FtvS’ identity with such series as FX’s The Shield and The Americans, USA Network’s Burn Notice and White Collar, AMC’s The Killing – which he helped bring back from cancellation twice, once at AMC and once at Netflix. Because of the health of the company on Madden’s watch, FtvS was kept as an independent label after the company was put under the purview of 20th TV Studios CEO and chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman and not merged with 20th TV’s own successful cable arm, Fox21. “David encourages creators to take big swings, and the results have been breakthrough programs, from The Shield and The Killing to Burn Notice and The Americans,” Walden and Newman said. “He’s a smart, strategic leader who is beloved by both the creative community and his colleagues. We couldn’t be happier that he’ll be with us for many years to come.” In addition to White Collar and The Killing, which are heading into their final seasons, and The Americans, which is about to be renewed for …
Paramount TV Unveils First Development Slate That Includes Series Takes On ‘Narc’ & ‘Truman Show’, Firms Up Executive Team
A year after Paramount Studios signaled its re-entry in TV with the relaunch of Paramount Television, the start-up division has set its first development slate. As expected, it includes mining well-known properties from the Paramount movie library. That includes a crime drama with roots in Joe Carnahan’s Narc, with Carnahan writing and directing the pilot, and a re-imagination of the Jim Carrey hit The Truman Show. Additionally, Paramount has boarded the Terminator TV series, joining Skydance Television and Annapurna Pictures, who announced the project back in December. Paramount TV also has in the works an adaptation of hit feature Ghost with filmmakers Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner.
Other projects on Paramount TV’s inaugural slate include a drama series inspired by Caleb Carr’s best-selling novel The Alienist, with Anonymous Content (True Detective) executive producing; a limited series event based on A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer-winning biography Lindbergh; and an adaptation of Peter Moffat’s BBC series The Village with Sundance Productions and All3Media. They join previously announced mutli-project deal with Craig Brewer for original scripted dramas. “While we are just getting started, there has been a terrific amount of momentum at Paramount TV as we look to develop new ideas as well as harness some of the studio’s most iconic titles,” said Paramount TV president Amy Powell.
MacKenzie Porter Joins AMC’s ‘Hell On Wheels’; Salli Richardson-Whitfield In BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane’
Canadian country music singer and actress MacKenzie Porter has been cast as a series regular in AMCs Western drama series Hell On Wheels, from Entertainment One, Endemol USA and Nomadic Pictures. Porter, repped by Red Management in Canada and KLWGN Entertainment, will play Naomi, Cullen Bohannon’s (Anson Mount) wife and mother of his child who is torn between the restrictive Mormon way of life (all she’s ever known), and the exotic adventure promised by life with her gentile husband outside the Mormon fort. Principal photography on the series’ fourth season begins later this month in Calgary. Porter was last seen in the features Tom, Dick & Harriet and Killer Among Us.
MIPTV Briefs: Germany Finds ‘Utopia’; eOne Sells AMC Titles; ‘SAF3′ Secures 2nd Season; ITVSGE Adds Major Series; More
Social experiment format Utopia is getting a German version. The ProSiebenSat.1 Group has acquired rights with the local version to be a co-production between Talpa Media and its German partner, Schwartzkopff TV. In the States, Talpa Media U.S. is working with Fox on the American version for launch later this year. The reality series features a group of everyday people whisked to an isolated, undeveloped location for an entire year and challenged to create their own civilization.
Former IFC head of original programming Debbie DeMontreux has joined Michael Davies’ Sony TV-owned production company Embassy Row as SVP of Development & Programming. DeMontreux, who is starting this month, will oversee development of new projects as well as all programming currently in production. DeMonreux spent 25 years at AMC Networks, most recently as SVP of Original Programming at IFC for the last 7 years, until resigning at the end of last year. Under her watch, IFC launched its flagship comedy series, Portlandia, as well as Comedy Bang! Bang!, Maron, sketch comedy The Birthday Boys, executive produced by Bob Odenkirk and Ben Stiller; and Will Ferrell’s miniseries The Spoils of Babylon.