In this week’s podcast, Deadline Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom preview what could be a very big day in the history of broadcasting and technology, as the Supreme Court hears legal arguments Monday about Aereo and its business model. The Davids talk about what’s at stake and how it might play out, where broadcasters might go if they lose and whether a win will turn the broadcasting business upside down. They also look over that very messy, and pricey Disney acquisition of online video powerhouse Maker Studios, and examine why ESPN, pay-TV’s most valuable brand, felt compelled to pitch investors that it’s just fine despite competition, cord-cutting and other existential challenges.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom assess the just-announced lineup for this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which competing films have serious Oscar hopes and which pics Pete can’t wait to see when he hits the Croisette for Deadline next month. Today also was the last day for would-be Emmy voters to make themselves eligible with the TV Academy, and Pete and David take a look at the Emmy campaigns that are heating up, while also grumpily acknowledging the first Oscar campaign of the 2015 season. Finally, Pete gives his take on the weekend’s notable movie debuts, including Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence, the Woody Allen-John Tuturro collaboration Fading Gigolo and faith-based hit-in-the-making Heaven Is For Real.
After a lengthy search, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped PBS POV exec Cynthia Lopez as the new commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. We’ve learned Lopez’s appointment will be officially announced tomorrow at a noon press conference in NYC. Her exact start date has not yet been set. Lopez will replace Katherine Oliver, who exited in December at the end of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s third and final term. With Lopez’s lack of experience in the city bureaucracy, sources tell Deadline that a key selection will be who the deputy commissioner could be in this new regime. The commission has been bullish about revitalizing the city’s film and TV production through generous tax credits and a streamlined permit process. Most recently Mayor de Blasio called Leslie Moonves, personally asking him to keep the Late Show in the Big Apple after David Letterman retires next year.
UPDATED: Following CEO Bob Iger’s lead, Disney CFO Jay Rasulo won’t break out financial numbers for ESPN. But he strongly hints that its financial prospects are rosy by offering a few projections for Disney’s cable networks, which are dominated by ESPN. He tells investors to expect high single digit annual growth in revenues from pay TV distributors through 2016, and a similar growth rate for operating income. He’s confident about these projections because Disney has programming deals with eight of the 10 largest pay TV distributors, with the remaining two due by year end. In addition, most of its contracts with sports leagues last for years. The company won’t project ad sales but says ESPN has strong pricing power.
PREVIOUS, 11:06 AM: Disney’s dumping a lot of data about ESPN this afternoon to ease Wall Street fears that the company’s cash cow could face leaner times due its rising costs and new competition from channels led by Fox Sports 1. CEO Bob Iger kicked off today’s investor meeting in Bristol, Conn vowing that he’s “going to continue to invest” in ESPN which he sees as core to his strategy to build brands and franchises. Disney doesn’t break out financial numbers for the channel, but he noted that the company’s pay TV networks account for 32% of its revenues — and 56% of its operating income. President John Skipper and other ESPN execs …
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom do the Cannes can, previewing this week’s announcements in Paris of the lineup for the Cannes Film Festival, including likely entries from usual suspects such as Atom Egoyan and DreamWorks Animation and less likely prospects for slow-to-arrive new projects from Terrence Malick and Paul Thomas Anderson. Nancy and David also wrap up news out of last week’s Mip-TV market in Cannes, led by Keshet’s fast-selling reality formats and two hot programs out of Turkey. They finish up with their weekly peek at news and trends in the international box office, dominated abroad and in the United States by the debut of Rio 2 and the continued strength of fellow sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Meanwhile, Noah continues to sail along with another strong week.
NBC set a date for its Maya Rudolph variety special/pilot. Revisiting the variety-show format, The Maya Rudolph Show special will air at 10 PM Monday, May 19. Andy Samberg, Kristen Bell, Fred Armisen, Chris Parnell, Craig Robinson, Sean Hayes and Janelle Monae will appear; Raphael Saadiq serves as bandleader. Rudolph, David Javerbaum, Erin David and Dave Becky will produce, with Lorne Michaels serving as executive producer. When the NBC comedy series Up All Night — in which Rudolph co-starred with Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, did not go forward with the planned multi-camera revamp in February — Rudolph informed studios and networks that she wanted to do a variety show. NBC was among several suitors that began pursuing the project, leading to the pilot order. This marks the latest collaboration between Rudolph and Michaels, who also produced Up All Night. Rudolph, daughter of the late soul singer Minnie Riperton, was one of SNL‘s most popular cast members of the past decade. Her seven-year stint produced a string of memorable impersonations and original characters that often included music performances, including her recurring gigs as Beyoncé, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Barbra Streisand.
After departing McKinley High to move to New York fulltime for the latter part of this season, the musical dramedy looked destined to end its run in the Big Apple. That won’t be the case, Glee co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy said in a press call yesterday. “The final season is its own story in its own location; it is not New York-centric at all,” Murphy said, as reported by TVLine. “It really is a lovely, fitting season that dwells on the original people on the show and what happens to them and how they give back. … We’ll revisit some of the new kids that came and went, there’s a return of [Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester] and [Matthew Morrison's Will Schuester] in a big way.”
The sixth and final season of Fox‘s Glee will consist of 24 episodes, two of them carried over from this season, cut short by the sudden death of star Cory Monteith. The actor’s passing also changed Glee creators’ plans how to end the series, as their original ending featured Lea Michele’s Rachel returning to McKinley High and Monteith’s Finn. The new final scene idea “is about Rachel and Mr. Schue, and it returns them to their origins, their roots, how they felt about each other when they were much younger and everything …
So tonight there are big scoops about how David Fincher walked away from the movie Sony and Scott Rudin are developing about Apple visionary Steve Jobs, based on the Walter Isaacson book. What an unusual outcome to a story that was almost completely the result of overeager journalists. I remember when the Fincher rumor first circulated on tracking boards, and while every trade called to check, only one broke the news, claiming a deal for the director was nearly done. Then another publication splashed a story that Christian Bale was Fincher’s top choice for the role, another nugget that came from these tracking board sheets that are becoming too much a staple of what ends up being published and accepted as fact. All along, people close to the project cautioned that while they’d gone to Fincher and he liked the script, the director had not committed. Fincher is famous for falling in and out of love with projects. Insiders in the Bale camp were steadfast that while they’d heard the rumors their guy was coveted, the actor never had a single conversation with anyone. I am not sure that ever changed. So the media christened a director who didn’t have the job, and then the media cast the actor. Not surprisingly, the media has made a big deal out of Fincher dropping out of a project he never signed on to direct (the exit rumor went out on …
“I did not kill my wife!” Ben Affleck‘s hubby protagonist Nick Dunne emphatically declares in the first trailer from the high-profile big-screen adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s worldwide bestseller Gone Girl. And though that catchphrase might be an echo from 1993′s The Fugitive, Dunne is a guy — unlike Harrison Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble — who has the deck stacked against him when it comes to his murdered better half (Rosamund Pike). Or so it seems. One of Flynn’s inspirations for the novel stemmed from the psychology and dynamics of couples’ long-term relationships. CinemaCon attendees got an early look at the trailer last month. Fox will release the David Fincher film on the first Friday in October — in the same spot the director’s 2010 awards-season darling, The Social Network, launched. Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Missi Pyle and Patrick Fugit round out the cast. Take a look and see if you can get Richard Butler’s eerie cover of the Charles Aznavour’s song “She” out of your head:
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom untangle the latest twists in the giant Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger proposal, as a Senate committee grills Comcast’s “Jedi Master” of a chief lobbyist and Charter prepares a challenge at the TWC annual meeting. The Davids also talk about the very different tone of two just-signed retransmission deals, at least compared to last year’s Time Warner Cable-CBS brawl; how IMAX reduced its stake in China while increasing its influence; and this week’s National Association of Broadcasters conference, where FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urged broadcasters to think like “tech disruptors” and NAB chief Gordon Smith called for a federal plan for broadcasting.
The city’s first Film Czar was praised by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today in his inaugural State of the City address. “With the help of my dear friend the late Tom Sherak and Ken Ziffren, who’s continued the fight, we reignited the movement to expand film tax credits in Sacramento,” said the SAG-AFTRA card carrying politician this evening. A couple of months after Garcetti took office, the former AMPAS president and studio exec was named head of LA’s Film Office late last September in an effort to expand and evolve production in the city after years of decline due to runaway production. After
Sherak passed away on January 28, heavyweight entertainment lawyer Ziffren was appointed LA’s second Film Czar on February 10. “In just nine months, we are changing the landscape—one summer job, one red button, one film production and one balanced budget at a time.”
One production that looks pretty likely not to be coming to LA is CBS’ Late Show when Stephen Colbert takes over from David Letterman next year. Despite personal pitches earlier this week from Garcetti and Ziffren, the late night show seems certain to stay in the Big Apple. Still, Garcetti also made a point in his speech at the California Science …
Les Moonves better clear some time on his schedule for a call from Jerry Brown - though the California Governor might not like what the CBS boss has to tell him. On the other hand, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo might be very happy because sources tell me that despite the efforts by politicians on both Coasts, the Late Show is almost certainly going to stay in NYC once Stephen Colbert takes over as host next year. Despite Cuomo adding his two cents today (see the Gov’s statement below) other elected officials’ efforts and the fact that CBS hasn’t announced a location for the new incarnation of the Late Show, it is highly unlikely that the franchise is leaving NYC’s Ed Sullivan Theatre. “Moving the Late Show just isn’t practical,” one insider said. “Plus there’ll be more than enough of a change with the handoff from Letterman to Colbert without piling more on unnecessarily.” Add to that the fact is that Colbert’s family is based on the East Coast and the historic Sullivan Theatre is a legacy that is very important to Moonves.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom talk about the highlights in this year’s TCM Classic Film Fest, which opens tonight with a beautifully restored version of the 1955 musical Oklahoma, among many other treasures. David and Pete also mark the passing of Mickey Rooney, whose film career spanned nearly nine decades before his death this week.
Pete also gives his take on the weekend’s notable movie debuts, led by two films featuring the strongest performances in years from Oscar winners Kevin Costner (in Draft Day) and Nicolas Cage (in Joe). Pete and David also talk about the weekend’s likely box-office champ, the animated sequel Rio 2, and a thoughtful revenge drama, The Railway Man featuring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
CBS is understandably over the moon that it’s landed Stephen Colbert as its new late-night star. With Colbert as its date, the network so long treated by the media as a dinosaur, an afterthought or a curiosity (as in, “Golly gosh, can you believe how many people watch NCIS?”) has, overnight become the hottest girl at the whole damned dance.
Colbert will retire his Comedy Central conservative windbag character — who he has previously described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” — and become Actual Stephen Colbert when he takes over as host of Late Show With Stephen Colbert. It’s devastating news for Bill O’Reilly and other conservative TV and radio talking heads who counted on Colbert for material about which to fume and foment. The character looms so large in the talk-show world that Colbert today felt compelled to issue a statement about Faux Colbert’s coming demise, saying: “I won’t be doing the new show in character, so we’ll all get to find out how much of him was me. I’m looking forward to it.” CBS Corp chairman Leslie Moonves said it’s unclear how the CBS late-night show will be configured with Colbert as host; in an interview with Deadline today, he expressed no concern about the fictitious character his new star has been playing on the comedy network since 2005.
Asked when would be David Letterman‘s last day as Late Show host and Colbert’s first day, Moonves said no decision had been made and reiterated that the end date was Dave’s to decide.
Rupert Murdoch is all over Twitter. (“My family are horrified that I’m on it,” he says.) But in agreeing to sit down for a broad interview with Fortune, one of the media industry’s most powerful moguls signals that he’s finally ready to return in a serious way to the public stage that he has largely abandoned as he grappled with his UK hacking scandals and a bitter divorce, as well as uncertainty about the prospects for his media empire — which he split into two companies last year — and his succession plans. You should check out the piece by senior editor-at-large Pattie Sellers. Here are a few of the highlights:
Succession: His sons James and Lachlan are first in line to take over although “I’m going to be here for a long time. And so will [Fox COO] Chase Carey and [News Corp CEO] Robert Thomson.” The effort to bring Lachlan back intensified after a private meeting with James at last year’s Allen & Co confab in Sun Valley. “We had two or three hours together. Lachlan was not not going to come back. It was a question of how we would work together.”
Daughter Liz Murdoch’s decision not to join the News Corp board: Rupert says he’d “rather not go into that.” A lot of close families “have good arguments. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.” And it’s “more than possible” that she’ll return to the family business.
Who’ll be the GOP’s 2016 presidential candidate: Murdoch says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is “my number one” calling him “a man of very fine character.” He also has “particular admiration” for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “could recover” from inquiries into his possible role in manufactured traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Murdoch agrees with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on “a great number of things” but disagrees on foreign policy “too strongly perhaps to vote for him.”
His view of Hillary Clinton: He left open the possibility of supporting her but “it would depend on the Republican candidate totally.” He adds that he “could live with Hillary as President. We have to live with who we get. We don’t have any choice.”
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione speaks from the Mip-TV conference in Cannes with host David Bloom. With lots of news coming out the show’s first couple of days, highlights include the panel Nancy moderated Monday featuring Amy Poehler and the team behind Comedy Central’s Broad City. Nancy and David also discuss some of the increasingly out-there reality formats built on surreal social experiments, a big content deal for Sony in Scandinavia and yet another hot format for sale from Israel’s Keshet. Nancy and David also look at filmmaking in Rwanda 20 years after the genocide that killed 800,000 people, and nominees for this year’s BAFTA TV Awards. Finally, they wrap up the week’s international box office.
EXCLUSIVE: Will Les Moonves have to install a party line? One day after getting a call from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio urging the CBS boss to keep Late Show in the City That Never Sleeps after David Letterman steps down next year, I’ve learned that Moonves got a call today from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Film Czar Ken Ziffren imploring him to bring the late-night franchise to the West Coast. The three spoke this afternoon, I’m told.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Garcetti has tried to persuade Moonves to put the City of Angels in his late-night future. On the day Letterman announced that he would be retiring in 2015, the SAG-AFTRA card-carrying mayor wrote to the CBS chief on the matter of Letterman’s successor and where that show would be located. “I am excited for the opportunity to encourage you to bring CBS’ next late-night show to our city — the entertainment capital of the world,” Garcetti wrote to Moonves on April 3.
UPDATE, 11:25 AM: Forget the letter-writing campaign of Los Angeles’ mayor. The mayor of New York picked up the phone and directly asked CBS boss Les Moonves to keep the Late Show in the Big Apple after David Letterman retires next year. “I had a very good conversation yesterday with the man who will actually make that decision, Les Moonves, and I emphasized that New York has been an extraordinary home for the Late Show and that we think it’ll be a great home for the Late Show going forward,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio today during a press conference. “Obviously, David Letterman made rich use of his surrounding environment of New York City, and I hope that his successor will do the same.”
The same day Letterman announced he would be leaving Late Show sometime in 2015, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote to the CBS boss urging him to move Letterman’s successor out to the West Coast. Burbank lost The Tonight Show back to NYC after 40 years when Jimmy Fallon took over hosting earlier this year, and L.A. is currently home to late-night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Conan O’Brien’s talk show on TBS, Arsenio Hall, and Letterman’s lead-out Craig Ferguson. On Friday, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also wrote to Moonves about making sure Late Show post-Letterman stayed in New York. With de Blasio now weighing in, is it only a matter of time until this becomes a Governor-to-Governor thing? NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo has already made his stand doing the Top 10 list on April 4.
EXCLUSIVE: Material sales slowed the last two weeks while the town was preoccupied with vacations, but stuff is selling again. Yesterday, Dimension Films made a preemptive deal to acquire Transference, a horror pitch from scribes Brandon and Phillip Murphy. The movie is in the spirit of Night Of The Living Dead and World War Z, where residents of a small Bible belt town grapple with the onset of a global outbreak of demonic possession that spreads like virus. Not sure if this fits into Hollywood’s fixation on faith-based fare, but if there are plodding dead guys eating the flesh of slow moving townsfolk like the films that inspired this project, combined with some demonic possession, I am there.
The duo most recently sold their horror spec The Bringing to Sony. They are repped by WME and Mosaic.