Howie Mandel’s Alevy Prods. and CORE Media Group have signed a first-look deal for Mandel and Alevy to executive produce scripted and unscripted TV and digital projects. Mandel and his Alevy partner Mike Marks currently executive produce the TBS hidden camera series Deal With It. Mandel previously worked with CORE president Marc Graboff at NBC, where Mandel hosted Deal Or No Deal, earning an Emmy nomination, and continues to serve as a judge on America’s Got Talent. “Over the course of my long-standing relationship with Howie, I have come to appreciate him as possessing that extremely rare combination of being an incredibly talented performer as well as a smart, savvy producer,” Graboff said. Other shows produced by Alevy Prods. — repped in the deal by WME, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney Bill Sobel — include Mobbed, Take It All and Howie Do It.
Travel Channel president Shannon O’Neill today unveiled ten new series, one new special and a series in development. New series Big Crazy Family Adventure (wt), Hotel Amazon (wt), World Access (wt) and the special, One Day On Earth (wt), highlight the cultures, landscapes and people that make travel so transformative. Other series, including Big Time RV (wt), Booze Traveler (wt), Expedition Unknown, (wt), Resort Rescue and Tours By Unger (wt), will introduce new talent who share their knowledge on specific topics and places. And for traveling foodies, Travel Channel crisscrosses the country to discover America’s best grillers and BBQ’ers in American Grilled and Underground BBQ Challenge. In addition, the network has greenlit two half-hour episodes for a new series in development called 1 Way Ticket (wt). Here is a description of the greenlit productions:
NBC today set unveiled its original summer lineup. It features six scripted series: comedies Undateable, Welcome To Sweden and Working The Engles, and dramas The Night Shift, Crossbones and the just-acquired Taxi Brooklyn. Of the six — which NBC notes is the most original scripted series a U.S. broadcast network has had on during the summer in 21 years — three are series originally picked up for the 2013-14 season (guy comedy Undateable, medical drama Night Shift and pirate show Crossbones) and three are acquisitions (Swedish-made Welcome To Sweden produced by Amy Poehler, Canadian import Working The Engels from Halfire Entertainment and Shaw, and Taxi Brooklyn from EuropaCorp). On the unscripted side, NBC has new series Food Fighters, which joins returning summer staples America’s Got Talent (debuts May 27) and American Ninja Warrior (May 26) and the return of Last Comic Standing (May 22). Here are the summer debut dates for NBC’s new series:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Jesus Perezagua Exiting Fox International Channels; ‘Peaky Blinders’ Tops BAFTA TV Craft Award Noms; More
Jesus Perezagua Exiting Fox International Channels
Fox International Channels President of Europe and Africa Jesus Perezagua has announced his departure. The exec has been at the company since 2003. He joined as managing director of FIC Spain and Portugal and in 2005 took over the company’s expansion plan in Eastern and Central Europe, Turkey and Greece. Perezagua became President of FIC Europe and Africa in 2011. He will step down from the role on April 30 but will continue to consult FIC. The search is on for a successor. Prior to FIC, Perezagua held posts at Iberian Channels and Online for Fox Kids Entertainment Espana and was Managing Director of Bandai Espana, a Japanese toy company specializing in TV marketing concepts.
NBC will bring out the next season of American Ninja Warrior on Monday, May 26, 8-10 PM, and America’s Got Talent the next night, Tuesday, May 27, 8-10 PM. Talent is returning with its judging/host cast intact — an increasingly rare occurrence on reality competition series these days, NBC having announced last November that Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel were returning as judges on the summer competition series, though Stern had made sure he was the headline by announcing his return to the show 24 hours ahead of the NBC announcement. Breaking the news on his SiriusXM radio program, Stern was sure to let listeners know he’s the BFD on AGT, saying, in response to radio sidekick Robin Quivers’ question as to whether Klum, B, and Mandel would be back: “Let’s put it this way: When they asked me if [returning] was conditional, I said … let them all come back.”
Meanwhile, NBC to air originals of Ninja and Esquire Network will run repeats, like last summer.
Analysts may feel Comcast‘s just announced $45.2B all-stock deal to purchase Time Warner Cable is a good bet, but there will certainly be more than a few voices coming out against the mega-merger. One of the first to formally oppose the deal is the Parents Television Council. The sometimes controversial and always vocal advocacy group today said the deal “will invariably be anti-consumer and anti-family” in a statement. While the PTC is known for coming out against the TV rating system, on-air profanity and content, the group also has been consistent in its opposition to cable bundling — the source of its issues with the TWC-Comcast deal. “A horizontally and vertically integrated Comcast/Time Warner Cable entity would wield calamitous market leverage over consumers,” PTC president Tim Winter said today in a statement. “Unless and until Comcast – or, for that matter, any other potential suitor of Time Warner Cable – agrees to allow customers to choose and pay for only the cable networks they want coming into their homes, the Parents Television Council will vehemently oppose any such merger.”
The PTC has long advocated cable unbundling as part of its agenda, with the argument that the present system “forces families to underwrite explicit content.” The group isn’t the only one against bundling: Last May, Sen. John McCain introduced The TV Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 to, in part, end bundling, though that effort has been quiet since. Regardless, Comcast and TWC as well as investors will have to wait for a potentially long regulatory approval process from the FCC and the DOJ.
On the heels of ITV’s announcement that The X Factor creator Simon Cowell will be returning to the UK edition as a judge this year, Fox has announced that the U.S. version of the singing competition will not be renewed for a fourth season. “I’ve had a fantastic time over the last 12 years, both on The X Factor and American Idol,” Cowell said. “And apart from being lucky enough to find some amazing talent on the shows, I have always had an incredible welcome from the American public (most of the time!). Last year, for a number of reasons, I had to make a decision to return to the UK version of The X Factor in 2014. So for now, I’m back to the UK and I want to thank Fox for being an incredible partner and I also want to thank everybody who has supported my shows. America, I’ll see you soon!”
Cowell is not departing American television completely, he still executive produces NBC’s summer staple America’s Got Talent, but his on-screen presence in the U.S. will be taking a break. The cancellation decision comes after a dismal third cycle for X Factor on Fox, which was down double-digits from Season 2. Fox chairman Kevin Reilly praised Cowell, pointing to his decision to leave the judging table as reason for the axing. “To all of us at Fox, Simon is more than one of the most prolific TV personalities …
Brandon Riegg and Enrique Guillen have been promoted to SVPs in the NBC Entertainment Alternative Programming Department. Both report to EVP Meredith Ahr. Riegg will oversee the department’s current slate while contributing to the development of new shows. Riegg has served as VP Alternative Programmming & Development since 2010, overseeing such alternative shows as The Biggest Loser, America’s Got Talent and American Ninja Warrior. He also developed NBC/Universal TV’s Hollywood Game Night. In his expanded role, Guillen will focus on the development of new projects with digital components and cross-company collaboration. A 10-year veteran of NBCUniversal, Guillen joined as VP Alternative Programming, NBC Entertainment in 2009 from Telemundo, where he was instrumental in the founding of Telemundo Studios. He oversees The Celebrity Apprentice and Last Comic Standing.
Former top reality producer-turned-FremantleMedia North America CEO Thom Beers has picked a person with the same background to head the company’s unscripted development. Veteran reality producer Toby Gorman has joined FMNA as EVP of Alternative Programming, effective mid-April. He will spearhead the development of formats for reality competition and game shows for broadcast, major cable networks as well as syndication. He replaces Jeff Tahler, EVP Global Content. “FremantleMedia aims to continue to build on its strong presence in reality, game show and other unscripted television, and Toby has earned a wonderful reputation as a terrific series producer and show runner,” Beers said. The company behind American Idol, The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, Family Feud and Beers’ The Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers has struggled to add another marquee reality franchise to its portfolio over the last couple of years though it has a promising new syndicated entry in Craig Ferguson’s Celebrity Name Game.
COMMENTARY: The Weinstein Company’s co-chairman Harvey Weinstein made some bold statements Friday on CNN to Piers Morgan about backing away from violent content. He spoke about his own children and how he no longer wanted to feel like a hypocrite. “The change starts here,” the man who produced Quentin Tarantino’s violent Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and D’jango Unchained told Morgan. “It has already. For me, I can’t do it. I can’t make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids and then just go out and be a hypocrite.” He added that he would still make a movie like Lone Survivor, which is a violent but accurate portrayal of our American military and their dedication to serving this country. “I’m not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it,” he said. “I can’t do it.” Weinstein’s statements came only days after a fatal shooting of the father of a 3-year old in a Florida theater during a screening of Lone Survivor who was killed while texting his little girl by a supposed “good guy with a gun,” a 71 year-old former police captain.
“The insensitivity that the average person has now because of violence is because people have become so used to it. It’s an obsession as well as almost an addiction. It’s a cheap way of getting an audience, more people shot and more explosions, but it’s at the expense of the story,” said one entertainment marketer with 35 years of experience. “Abject violence has proven successful, and as long as it is, it will be produced because it’s profitable. It’s the accepted way of life rather than asking is this the right thing to do?”
The question is, of course, how Harvey is going to reconcile being in business with Tarantino. The filmmaker has made a lot of money for the company with violent fare. And therein lies the conundrum that all studio heads and TV executives face. I’ve interviewed several executives over the past few weeks and many have said privately that they think the gun violence — especially in video games — has gotten out of control. However, they also say they have an obligation to their shareholders to make a profit and violence sells. There will always be violence in movies, just as there is violence in the Bible and in the plays of William Shakespeare. But, Weinstein is trying to tip the scales; to shift Hollywood from glorifying violence in films, to showing the true human cost and destructiveness of it.
The Weinstein Company did just that when it released Fruitvale Station last year. The film does contain gun violence, but it’s told from the point of view of the victim of gun violence. And that, in itself, is unusual and powerful. When Weinstein said, “The change starts here. It has already for me,” I thought of Fruitvale. Produced by Forest Whitaker and directed by newcomer Ryan Coogler, you come to care about this boy, see him with his little girl, understand him as a father and a son before he is murdered. It was passed over by the Academy this past week for Oscar noms, but it shouldn’t have been. It did win the Producers Guild’s Stanley Kramer Award. Stanley Kramer, of course, was the patron saint of bringing social issues to the foreground with films such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Fruitvale was the first film I saw in a theater (a large screening room) after the Aurora, CO shooting where my cousin’s daughter was among many murdered by a gunman at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012. During the emergency room scene, I couldn’t bear it. I closed my eyes and sobbed. The film depicts the true face of violence — a very realistic depiction of how gun violence destroys a family. It was made for under $1M and brought in $16.7M at the box office is and still bringing in money in its ancillary markets.
Is This The Next Hot Reality Format? John De Mol’s Social Experiment ‘Utopia’ Off To Strong Start In Holland, Heads To U.S.
With the talent competition arena pretty saturated by Fox’s American Idol and The X Factor, NBC’s The Voice and America’s Got Talent, soon to be joined by ABC’s Rising Star, and the cooking broadcast market cornered by Gordon Ramsay, reality industry insiders have been tipping social experiments as the next hot unscripted genre. Now the man behind the most successful social experiment format to date, Big Brother creator John de Mol, is throwing his hat into the ring with his latest series, Utopia, in which 15 people set up their own new society. Like he does with most of his formats, which include global hit The Voice and Deal Or No Deal, de Mol launched Utopia in his native Holland, where the show premiered Monday night on SBS 6, part of SBS Broadcasting’s Dutch operations, in which de Mol’s Talpa Media has a 33% stake. The debut exceeded expectations, ranking as SBS 6′s highest-rated nonscripted premiere in six years. It won its time slot and pulled a 25.2% share in adults 18-49, improving the network’s market share in the time period by 500%, and drew almost 1.6 million overall viewers compared to SBS’ average viewership in the slot of 300,000. I hear at least one US network already has reached out to the Utopia producers, with Talpa Media USA’s chief creative officer Stijn Bakkers, executive producer of The Voice, and SVP Sadoux Kim expected to begin meeting with American broadcasters early next week about an U.S. version.
Social experiments formats have been heating up, with former Fox reality topper Mike Darnell also said to be shopping a series in that arena with Shed’s Twenty Twenty. In Utopia, 15 contestants leave their current lives to create their own ideal mini-society while being followed by hundreds of cameras. (Watch a trailer in Dutch below.)
The second half of the 2013-14 TV season kicked off Thursday night with the series bow of ABC’s The Assets and season debut of The Taste. Here’s a rundown of the midseason shows that will hit the airwaves for the first time during between now and May 31, along with those returning for new seasons or coming off hiatus:
Downton Abbey (PBS, Season 4 premiere)
Revenge (ABC, returns from hiatus)
The Bachelor (ABC, season premiere)
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, Season 4B premiere)
Intelligence (CBS, series premiere; regular slot debut at 10 PM Monday, January 7)
Ravenswood (ABC Family, Season 1B premiere)
Justified (FX, Season 5 premiere)
Killer Women (ABC, series premiere)
Cougar Town (TBS, Season 5 premiere)
Psych (USA, Season 8 premiere)
Chicago PD (NBC, series premiere)
The Spoils of Babylon (IFC, limited series premiere)
Enlisted (Fox, series premiere)
Banshee (Cinemax, Season 2 premiere)
Helix (Syfy, series premiere)
Shameless (Showtime, Season 4 premiere)
True Detective (HBO, series premiere)
Girls (HBO Season 3 premiere)
House of Lies (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)
Episodes (Showtime, Season 3 premiere)
Year-End: Will Broadcast Pilot Season Paradigm Finally Be Broken & Other TV Industry Questions For 2014
Broadcast executives for years have been preaching about switching to a year-round development cycle or adopting the cable model of producing fewer pilots with higher pilot-to-series ratio. They have been ordering occasional off-cycle pilots and have jumped on scripts with pilot orders in November and December but are yet to break the traditional pilot season paradigm. This coming year, they may be forced to. In 2013, we had what was probably the first true continuous pilot season, with existing and new cable and digital players constantly handing out pilot and straight-to-series orders. Add to that the new push into limited/event series arena, and there were at least a dozen projects casting at any time of the year. That has kept casting directors and TV talent agents busy and has further depleted the acting talent pool. Every year, there are a handful of pilots that are left unproduced because of difficulty casting. There is quiet panic in the air these days that this coming pilot season we will see a lot more of that. It is the logical next step after the proliferation of scripted programming across different platforms caused a shortage of writers, especially on the drama side, pushing the number of drama buys this development season way down.
A cancelled series used to mean a cast available for the following broadcast pilot season. When ABC in January 2010 announced that Ugly Betty was going to end that spring, it created a feeding frenzy for the stars of the show that pilot season. Now actors from cancelled shows are snatched long before the following broadcast pilot season rolls along. For instance, the CW said in May that drama Nikita was calling it a day with a final six-episode installment. Its male leads, Shane West and Aaron Stanford are already spoken for with big roles in cable projects — West is the male lead on WGN America’s first scripted series, drama Salem, Stanford is the lead of Syfy’s pilot 12 Monkeys, based on Terry Gilliam’s movie, with his Nikita co-star Noah Bean also cast in the pilot.
“The show will be back next season,” Simon Cowell said of The X Factor — which this season is clocking its smallest numbers yet — when asked by Deadline. Asked if he will be back as a judge on the show next season — it’s been widely speculated he’ll return to judging on the UK version — he responded, “I might have a different kind of role.” Cowell was on a conference call with reporters to talk about this season’s two finalists, who also were on the call. Cowell said he “was not necessarily saying” he wouldn’t be a judge on the show next season but rather that the show’s format is likely to change a lot. The singing competition has fumbled about half of its first-season audience (which in itself was only half as many viewers as Cowell had forecast for his franchise before its premiere). Going forward, Cowell said, X has “got to be more different next year than it was this year,” adding that he’s in “the middle of a presentation of what we think the show should look like and what the fans would like. And yes, my role could change.”
Among those changes is likely a truncation from two nights to one, Cowell said, which would emulate what ABC did this season with Dancing With the Stars. “Possibly, yeah — I won’t say which night,” Cowell said in response to the truncation question. (If ratings mean anything, in re which night, the show clocks a bigger crowd on Wednesday, its performance night). Carving X down to one night a week would make it cheaper to produce — it is not profitable this season, according to informed sources — though what would make it a lot cheaper is if Cowell did not return as one of the judges.
The news that Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, and Howie Mandel were returning as judges on NBC‘s summer competition series America’s Got Talent came complete with carefully crafted quotes from the network’s reality-TV chief and the show’s exec producer. The announcement was greeted with — yawns, Stern having made sure he was the headline by announcing his return to the show 24 hours ahead of the NBC announcement. Breaking the news on his SiriusXM radio program, Stern was sure to let listeners know he’s the BFD on AGT, saying, in response to radio sidekick Robin Quivers’ question as to whether Klum, B, and Mandel would be back: “Let’s put it this way: When they asked me if [returning] was conditional, I said … let them all come back.” Here’s the full release:
NEW YORK, NY — Nov. 20, 2013 — Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel are set to return as judges to NBC’s top-rated summer competition series “America’s Got Talent.” Nick Cannon will also return as host.
The announcements were made by Paul Telegdy, President of Alternative and Late-Night Programming, NBC Entertainment.
“Howard, Heidi, Mel and Howie have proven that they are a dynamic quartet of judges who aren’t afraid to share their opinions, while at the same time creating fireworks of their own,” Telegdy said. “Along with Nick serving as an incomparable host, our talent on ‘Talent’ is among the finest on all of television.”
“The judges on ‘America’s Got Talent’ this past season were fun, astute and really knew how to spot talent,” said Trish Kinane, Executive Producer and President of Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America. “We are delighted to have this vibrant group of diverse, discerning personalities returning to take the show to new heights next season.”
Howard Stern will return as a judge on America’s Got Talent next summer, his third stint on the NBC talent competition series. Stern made the announcement today on his SiriusXM morning radio show. “It started out as a goof. Now it’s becoming a job,” he said. “I am very excited to be going back to America’s Got Talent.” NBC was aggressive in its pursuit of Stern to replace Piers Morgan in 2011, moving production of the show from Los Angeles to New York, where Stern is based, in addition to offering him a big check, believed to be around $15 million. “What a bunch of gracious people,” he said of NBC. “They listened to me. I said I don’t want to travel too much, and they adjusted the scheduling to accommodate me, so they made me feel very special.” Still, the decision to return wasn’t straightforward, he said. “I really, really did struggle with this decision because I’ve been working a long time. I really wanted to decide if this was going to take away too much free time. Did I really still enjoy doing it? Did I have something to say? Is it something I should be involved with still?” Stern joins AGT host Nick Cannon, who also recently announced that he will be back on the show next summer.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, ABC has landed hot Israeli talent competition reality format Rising Star. The network has given a 10-episode order to the series, which will air next summer. Rising Star is the first hot international singing format to hit the U.S. since The Voice. It also is the first project to come out of the recently launched Keshet DCP, a joint venture between Keshet International (Homeland) and DC Media, the parent company of dick clark prods. (So You Think You Can Dance). Keshet DCP is producing Rising Star, which joins such established talent competition series that also launched in the summer as American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, America’s Got Talent, and SYTYCD.
Paula Deen visits another of the stations of the cross on her road to TV redemption tonight — she’s the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story. E!THS says it will detail the “rags to riches tale of a broke, divorced mother of two who carved out a multi-million dollar empire as America’s southern sweetheart, only to see it all fall apart amidst a national scandal ignited by a lawsuit.” Deen’s career resuscitation has been TV-tantalizing since the lawsuit was dropped that had sparked her N-word scandal, nuking her TV reign and multiple endorsement deals — a career nosedive hastened along with an interview on NBC’s Today show she botched so badly even Today panned it.
First, reports got out she’d hired the real-life Olivia Pope — not the character canoodling POTUS, but the crisis management specialist on whom the hit ABC primetime soap Scandal is based. Then, two months ago, Deen made a pre-taped cameo on Fox’s MasterChef. Last month, the ex-Food Network star made her first live public appearance since her June mea culpa media blitz, opening the annual Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Houston with a pair of cooking demos that earned her a standing ovation. “I’ve said all along that the one place I’d want to make my first step back out is Texas. Y’all’s hearts are as big as …