Here is a look at Netflix‘s next original series, the irreverent (and a little trippy) adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman, which premieres August 22. The PSA-style promo introduces BoJack (Will Arnett), the failed legendary star of the favorite ’90s family sitcom Horsin’ Around, who has been trying to find his way through a muddle of self-loathing, whisky and failed relationships. Now, in the presence of his human sidekick Todd (Aaron Paul) and his feline agent and ex-paramour Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), BoJack is primed for his comeback. The cast of the 12-episode series, which marks Arnett’s return to Netflix following last year’s installment of Arrested Development, also includes Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins and Patton Oswalt. Raphael Bob-Waksberg created the comedy, from Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Co., and executive produces with Arnett, Paul, Steven A. Cohen and Noel Bright. BoJack was designed by graphic artist Lisa Hanawalt and animated by ShadowMachine.
Universal and director F. Gary Gray have found their MC Ren and DJ Yella, adding two more thesps who’ll portray core members of rising 1980s gangsta rap group N.W.A in biopic Straight Outta Compton. Turn‘s Aldis Hodge will play MC Ren aka Lorenzo Jerald Patterson, and The Walking Dead‘s Neil Brown Jr will play DJ Yella aka Antoine Carraby alongside O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E.
Straight Outta Compton chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of the seminal group, which burst from the streets of Compton, CA, with aggressive beats and tales of hood life. O.G. N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are directly involved as producers, alongside Matt Alvarez and Tomica Woods-Wright. Will Packer and Gray are exec producing the August 14, 2015, release.
Cube, Dre, and Eazy-E are the pic’s lead characters, but the formative years of N.W.A saw a deep lineup of hip-hop talent joining the group. DJ Yella, a colleague of Dre’s from their early electro DJ days in the World Class Wreckin’ Cru, would become a co-producer on Eazy-E’s solo debut Eazy-Duz-It and co-produced all of N.W.A’s albums including its 1988 debut Straight Outta Compton. MC Ren joined the group in the same year and co-wrote the majority of the first album with Ice Cube.
EXCLUSIVE: Carlton Cuse is officially the hardest-working drama showrunner in town with three series and two pilots on his plate. USA Network has handed a pilot green light to Colony (working title), from Lost alum Cuse and Hercules co-writer Ryan Condal, who co-created the project and will executive produce. It hails from Legendary Television, marking the first scripted pilot for the company, and Universal Cable Prods.
Written by Condal, Colony was featured on USA’s development slate in May. It is described as a naturalistic drama set in the near future in Los Angeles, which exists in a state of occupation by a force of alien intruders. Some collaborate with the authorities and benefit from the new order, while others rebel and suffer the consequences. The project centers on a family torn by opposing forces and making difficult choices as they balance staying together with surviving the struggle of the human race.
Related: 2014 USA Pilots
“Colony is a gripping story that brilliantly weaves together an intense family drama in an authentic, yet unknown, world,” said USA President Chris McCumber. USA had been looking to return to the alien genre space, which the network tackled with the 2007 sci-fi series The 4400. Its most previous batch of pilots included World War II alien drama Horizon, which didn’t go to series.
Severed heads, torture, epic battles, weaponry galore, menacing voice-over, badass stares — it’s all here in the first-look trailer for Season 3 of History‘s Vikings that premiered at Comic-Con today. The series was renewed in March and will return in 2015. Have a look:
Related: History’s ‘Vikings’ Adds Cast
With the power of fans growing and the influence of TV reviews declining in the age of social media, the once marque summer TCA press tour has been taking a back seat to Comic-Con. Once again, the Los Angeles critics convention served as a warm-up for the San Diego geekfest, with the networks trying to save their noisy announcements for the Con. But what would’ve been another uneventful summer TCA was livened up by two big consolidation stories that broke in the first and second week — 21st Century Fox’s decision to put both the broadcast network and 20th Century Fox TV under the studio’s chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, and the company’s (for now unsuccessful) bid to acquire Time Warner.
The first news, which had been widely expected, was met largely with approval as an inevitable move in an industry where owning content is becoming more and more important. CBS has helped grow CSI into a billion-dollar franchise for the parent company, which owns the show. Compare that with The Big Bang Theory, which CBS developed and nurtured to a blockbuster hit that would make as much as $3 billion — for another company, Warner Bros. TV. Watching how much money it has made for WBTV, with the Chuck Lorre series, and for 20th Century Fox TV, with How I Met Your Mother, the network focused on growing its own syndicatable comedies, recently renewing CBS Studios-produced The Millers for a second season. During CBS’ TCA executive session, chairman Tassler was asked whether ownership played a role in the decision to renew The Millers over two 20th TV freshmen, The Crazy Ones, which drew bigger DVR ratings increases, and Friends with Better Lives, which showed better retention. “We will never ever, ever discriminate based solely on ownership,” Tassler said. “We feel that The Millers has a lot of great story material still imbedded in the DNA of the show.”
Michelle Monaghan stars as a decorated Army medic who returns from a 15-month tour of duty in Afghanistan and tries desperately to reconnect with her 5-year-old son, who initially wants nothing to do with her. As they try to restore a bond, she is faced with redeployment — and the likelihood of losing everything she worked to rebuild. Ron Livingston, Pablo Schreiber, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Dash Mihok and young newcomer Oakes Fegley co-star in Fort Bliss, from writer-director-producer Claudia Myers. Phase 4 Films opens the drama September 19 in theaters and VOD. Here’s the new trailer:
UPDATED 2:55PM: On the day its first smartphone hit the market, Amazon is smarting from a hit it took from investors. The company’s shares plunged a wince-inducing 9.7% today in the wake of Thursday’s disappointing Q2 earning report — losing about $15 billion in net worth in just a few hours. It was the worst performer on the S&P 500, which fell 9.6% today, and Amazon’s worst stock day since October 2011. Shares closed at 324.01, rebounding from an intraday low of 314.76, but continued lower in after-hours trading. UBS analyst Eric Sheridan told CNBC that investors going forward will be looking for a “continuation of growth in [Amazon's] media business and stickiness of its Prime base.” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Pope said in a research note: “With growth not accelerating, Amazon could become a show-me stock.”
PREVIOUSLY July 24: Shares are down 10.2% in post market trading after the e-retailer reported a far bigger Q2 loss than investors expected. Amazon lost $126M, up from a $7M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $19.3B, +23.2%. The top line was right on target with analysts’ consensus forecast. But the loss at 27 cents a share far exceeded the 15 cent loss the Street anticipated. What’s more, Amazon warns that it could lose as much as $810M on an operating basis in Q3, up from last year’s $25M loss.
The shortfall comes from Amazon’s big investments in new products and services, including video. The company says …
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month. And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.
Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.
And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.) Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.
The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to …
Based on Philip K. Dick’s Hugo Award-winning novel, The Man In the High Castle hails from The X-Files alum Frank Spotnitz and Scott Free. Written by Spotnitz and to be directed by David Semel (Legends), the project set in 1962 explores an alternative reality in which Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II and occupy the United States, with the East Coast controlled by the Nazis and the West Coast owned by Japan, and a chunk of the Midwest still up for grabs. Fascism rules and the few surviving Jews hide under assumed names. But an aging Hitler has one foot in the grave, and the Japanese are preparing for an imminent Nazi stab in the back. The U.S. Resistance is scattered, scared, or crushed. The project originally was set up as a four-hour miniseries at Syfy last year. “The Man In High Castle is one of Dick’s most imaginative and captivating works and certainly one of my favorites,” Scott Free’s Ridley Scott said at the time. Scott, of course, directed the 1982 Blade Runner, one of several feature adaptations of Dick’s books, along with two versions of Total Recall (1990 and 2012), …
The stock price fell 4.6% to $431.09 even though the Q2 earnings reported last night were largely in line with analyst expectations, subscriptions were up impressively, and management forecasts were upbeat. What gives?
The simplest explanation is that Netflix always is susceptible to downturns because its shares are so expensive, reflecting investor optimism about its prospects. They trade for about 128 times the company’s earnings — a stark contrast to more stable media giants such as Fox, Comcast, Time Warner and CBS whose stock prices equal about 20 times earnings.
And Netflix bears found some reasons to be skittish. The company will have to boost spending to secure the content it will need to serve new markets including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg — and that could put pressure on earnings “as soon as next year,” says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. He’s concerned about the decline in DVD-by-mail rental subscribers; they account for “half of all operating profit for the company.” The analyst also says that Amazon’s recent streaming deal with HBO suggests that “a stand-alone subscription plan is coming” that would make the e-retailer a more potent video competitor.
3BlackDot Hybrid Firm Emerges From Stealth Mode With Ex-’Duck Dynasty’, Machinima Execs, Top YouTubers
3BlackDot – a hybrid entertainment company with gamer and social-media-marketing roots and composed of video production, game development, online influencer and integrated marketing units – has officially come out of stealth mode this morning. Company principals include two former Machinima executives (Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton) and two prominent YouTube personalities (SeaNanners, aka Adam Montoya, and TheSyndicateProject, aka Tom Cassell).
As well, Stepleton’s older brother, former Duck Dynasty co-executive producer Hank Stepleton, will join the organization as partner and head of Pickaxe, the company’s video-content production company. The first Pickaxe project will be a live-action short based on Zombie Killer Squad, the mobile title developed by the company’s game unit and released last November to substantial success. The trailer for the short will be shown at San Diego Comic-Con this week, at a lounge 3BlackDot will be running for its online influencers and others.
Matthew Strauss isn’t a household name in Hollywood yet. But he should be, and possibly will be soon. As Comcast Cable’s GM of Video Services, Strauss oversees the cable colossus’ Xfinity cloud-based X1 platform, video on demand, TV Everywhere, and — starting last year — sales of digitally downloadable movies and TV shows (known as Electronic Sell Through). In other words, he leads the cable industry’s counter-offensive as digital services led by Netflix and ad-zapping DVRs make inroads with pay TV consumers.
Studios and networks are taking notice, and striking deals with Strauss that push the boundaries of technology, and traditional business practices. For example, Comcast and FX have just begun to let VOD customers watch episodes of The Bridge a week before they appear on the channel itself. Deadline caught up with Strauss to find out the latest about that experiment and others that could reshape the medium. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.
DEADLINE: VOD has been one of Comcast’s top initiatives. Where do things stand?
STRAUSS: I have a long history with VOD. I’ve been working on this for almost 13 years now. About 70% of our digital subscribers use on demand every single month, and by the end of this year we’ll have 200,000 hours of on-demand content available. We surpassed our 30 billionth program viewed on demand last year. So this is something that has gone from almost an infancy, novelty kind of product and now is deeply entrenched. For the first time we now have the top 100 rated Nielsen shows …
Bart: Like 7th grade boys staring in the mirror, corporate CEOs these days keep asking themselves, “Am I big enough?” What scares them is the prospect of becoming a takeover target, and there’s been a rush of takeover talk lately —Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Time Warner being the most dramatic. Size means safety in the corporate universe and Time Warner became vulnerable by ridding itself of Time Inc., AOL and Time Warner Cable — the latter becoming a target for Comcast. With giants like Google, Apple and Amazon looming, CEOs are scared they can’t measure up, but the folks who should really be frightened are the creatives and their audiences. Bigness means giant fees for bankers and profits for shareholders, but the impact of the monoliths is easy to read — a universe of corporate plodding, tentpoles and sequels.
I’ve learned that Amazon has given a pilot order to Mad Dogs, based on the British black comedy/thriller series. The original show’s creator, Cris Cole, wrote the adaptation and is executive producing with The Shield creator Shawn Ryan for Sony Pictures TV, where Ryan is under an overall deal. Emmy winner Charles McDougall is set to direct. The project was originally set up at FX as a potential limited series last year. The U.S. version follows the reunion of four fortysomething guys who head to Belize to visit their old school friend, when things take an unexpected and dark turn. (Check out a trailer for the UK version below.) British production company Left Bank, which is behind the original series, is co-producing with Sony.
Mad Dog premiered in 2011 and aired for four seasons (a total of 14 episodes) on Sky1. Sony TV previously did a pilot for Amazon based on the feature Zombieland. Mad Dogs joins a growing roster of comedy and drama pilots from Amazon’s third pilot season that include The Cosmopolitans, Hand Of God, Red Oaks, Hysteria, Cocked, Point Of Honor, Salem Rogers: Model Of The Year 1998, Down Dog, The Outlaws and Really.
Fox-Time Warner News Colors Senate Committee Look At Online Video; Netflix’s Reed Hastings Declines Invite
“We’re in an arms race,” Public Knowledge CEO Gene Kimmelman told the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing to explore the prospects for broadband video. It’s “no surprise, content companies bulk up” as Fox wants to do with its $80B bid for Time Warner, which was rejected by the company but disclosed today. Following Comcast’s deal to buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T’s with DirecTV, “consumers are between a rock and a hard place….They started the ball rolling and as we’ve seen from today’s stories, we don’t know where it’s going to end.”
Representatives from Comcast and AT&T indirectly debated with execs from Dish Network, the WGA, and Kimmelman over whether online video providers have to fear mergers or need strong net neutrality rules. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W Va) ended the proceedings by arguing for municipal broadband to provide a low-cost option for poor residents. He also said that he invited Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who declined to show. “I can’t figure [it] out because I’m trying to help them, I think. But he didn’t want to be here.”
Dish says that later this year it plans to introduce a low-priced online video service that will include live streams of ESPN, and could be threatened by the union of the two largest cable companies. “Comcast doesn’t necessarily want us to succeed because we’re competitors,” says the satellite company’s Deputy General Counsel Jeffrey Blum. “We are very concerned that a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable will have an incentive and ability to stifle our service.”
UPDATE. 6:46 AM: Time Warner confirms that it rejected 21st Century Fox‘s acquisition offer saying its board concluded that remaining independent “will create significantly more value for the Company and its stockholders and is superior to any proposal that Twenty-First Century Fox is in a position to offer.” Fox said it would pay $32.42 in cash plus 1.531 of its own non-voting shares for each Time Warner share. Directors don’t like the plan, in part because it involves “significant risk and uncertainty as to the valuation of Twenty-First Century Fox’s non-voting stock and Twenty-First Century Fox’s ability to govern and manage a combination of the size and scale of Twenty-First Century Fox and Time Warner.” The board also notes that there would be “considerable strategic, operational, and regulatory risks” to a deal.
PREVIOUS, 4:39 AM: Time Warner’s up nearly 20% in pre-market trading after The New York Times and CNBC reported that the media giant recently rejected an $80B takeover proposal by Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox. The bid could “put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry,” the Times says. Fox COO Chase Carey met with Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes in early June offering $85 a share — 40% of it in cash — a 25% premium at the time. The proposal said that the combined companies could save at least $1B by eliminating duplication. Fox, which owns Fox News, offered to sell CNN to avoid antitrust problems, and indicated that it would maintain Time Warner’s studio and cable network operations, as well as most of its best execs, according to the reports. The Time Warner board seriously considered the proposal but rejected it, in part because the offer included nonvoting shares. Nonetheless, “Rupert Murdoch is ‘determined’ to buy Time Warner,” CNBC reports, citing unnamed sources. Murdoch is said to have enlisted Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to advise him while Time Warner has Citigroup.
Fox says that it “can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies. The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.”
UPDATED, Monday, 4:56 PM: Saturday’s panel with Secretary of State John Kerry and interviewer Charlie Rose went off without a hitch after some technical problems the previous day, but listening about the conflicts in the Middle East was not as interesting to moguls (‘what else is new, it’s a mess over there’) as the panel that featured billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to some in attendance. Bezos, whose company Amazon has become a powerhouse in publishing and is creating its own content now, told the group gathered that the Amazon business model in publishing and creating content is here to stay. While the panels are always greatly attended, some of those who sat through the first few said they were a bit dry and boring, but “Buffet is always interesting to listen to,” said one attendee. Said another, “All the networking is really done in the first day … unless you’re Jeffrey Katzenberg lining up meetings every hour.” Added another, “He sits there and does one meeting after another … he must have had like 20 meetings.” Yes, DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg was doing his ‘speed-dating’ meetings near the duck pond as usual which had some entertainment moguls laughing and others rolling their eyes (‘He has like what? One movie in the marketplace?’ Does he know how silly it looks?).
On Saturday, too, were presentations from the younger entreprenuers of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club, which another attendee said he thought was fantastic (‘The guy from Lookout looked like he was 16 years old’). Also interesting to one attendee was the education panel with Eva Sarah Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and Kaya Henderson who is the D.C. school superintendent. “They were really good together and kept everyone’s interest.” That panel took place last Thursday.
The five-day Sun Valley retreat wrapped up last night with the annual dinner hosted by Herb Allen, whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all. In reference to the panel earlier in the week that featured producer Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein talking about the creative process, one attendee noted that “Brian really hit the mark on it. He was pitch perfect. If he did that same speech in showbiz circles it might not resonate but it did with most of people who were not in the business.’” One of the things that they both suggested was to listen to the voices in your head and get in touch with your instinct, which Allen use as a set up for a joke at the Sunday night dinner: “I have the voices in my head. I just don’t know what to do with them yet.” Until next year …
3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY, 2:50 PM: People actually enjoyed the Michael Bloomberg panel today at the Herb Allen Sun Valley conference as the 72-year-old answered questions from journalist Willow Bay, wife of Disney’s Robert Iger. The former mayor of New York whose fight for reasonable gun laws is well-documented, spoke about his philanthropy efforts and giving back to society. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the billionaire does just that in the areas of education, the arts, gun issues, governance and public health. He spoke about how dysfunctional the current U.S. system is politically and otherwise to get things done — no doubt as he personally saw what happened behind the scenes in Washington D.C. as politicians in the pocket of the NRA stymied efforts to get background checks on gun sales passed. Leave it to a politician — an orator and a former Eagle scout (hey, it’s no small task) — to wake up the moguls.
The second panel, which was supposed to feature Charlie Rose interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry piped in live from Afghanistan, went awry as the video feed didn’t work (they tried for about 15 minutes to get it up and running to no avail). That conversation, which was expected to be about how heavily the U.S. should be involved in the current explosive situation in the Middle East, will now take place tomorrow after journalist Becky Quick interviews Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.
So they are attempting to fix the video feed for tomorrow, but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work, we doubt anyone will be upset as Kerry drones … on and on. Speaking of drones, there has been some attempt to make sure that drones don’t fly over the conference taking pictures, according to Bloomberg News. Ahhh, technology … the age of the paparazzi drone? If people are still awake after Kerry and Rose, a number of younger entrepreneurs will have their turn at bat.
Most all we spoke with don’t expect any major deals to go down at this conference. That
EXCLUSIVE: Having just revived NBC’s Community, Yahoo might be looking to do the same with another recently cancelled cult broadcast comedy series, Fox‘s Enlisted. I hear talks are under way between the online giant and Enlisted producer 20th Century Fox TV for a second season of the military series, created by Kevin Biegel, on Yahoo’s streaming service Yahoo Screen. Sources cautioned that the conversations are preliminary and it’s unclear whether they would result in a deal.
Much like Community, Enlisted has a passionate and loyal following, something that is attractive to digital platforms which crave core groups of passionate fans. Interestingly, following the news of Yahoo’s deal for another season of Community, Enlisted fans targeted Yahoo Screen with a major save-our-show campaign, pitching the service a Community/Enlisted double feature.
After presenting a slew of series panels for its upcoming series and a sizzle reel for its pilots, director of Amazon Studios Roy Price was bombarded with questions by the press at the Beverly Hilton about Amazon Prime‘s avant garde pilot process and overall strategy as a streaming network.
First gripe by the media: There’s no press site up yet to obtain materials, not to mention there’s an approximate, not exact, set of release dates for upcoming shows, i.e. Jill Soloway’s series Transparent drops in late September, Alpha House in late October, Roman Coppola, Alex Timbers and Jason Schwartzman’s Mozart in the Jungle in December and Amazon’s two dramas, Bosch and Chris Carter’s The After in 2015. Pilots Red Oaks, The Cosmopolitans, Really, Hysteria and Hand of God will be streamed to the site in August. Amazon’s third pilot process entails their customers voting on what they like before proceeding with a series commitment.