Now you’ll know why characters will drink Miller High Life on The Americans, Coors Light on The Strain, Leinenkugel’s in Fargo, and Miller Lite on The Bridge. The three-year deal will make MillerCoors brands the “official beers” for FX, FXX, and FXM giving the brewer exclusive rights to program integrations and first look placement rights for shows that FX is developing. The beers also will have “a strong presence” on FX’s digital app, FXNOW. The agreement — which the companies call “groundbreaking” — expands on an existing relationship that gives MillerCoors exclusive product placement rights to Sons Of Anarchy and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The new terms make this “the most comprehensive advertising deal ever for the FX suite of channels,” says FX Networks Ad Sales SVP Michael Brochstein. MillerCoors’ Marketing Connections VP Jackie Woodward says that “our objective is to make sure our brands are woven throughout the entertainment programming that matters most to beer drinkers” especially men from 21 to 35. “This partnership underscores our commitment to telling our brand stories with the right message, in the right places and at the right time.” Media strategy company Initiative helped to ferment the alliance.
FX Productions has closed an overall production deal with Noah Hawley, the writer, executive producer and showrunner of Fargo, FX‘s first limited series as part of the cable network’s push in event programming. The two-year agreement for Hawley and his 26 Keys banner covers development for all television, both cable and broadcast. “As is evident by the universal acclaim and extraordinary reviews pouring in for Fargo, Noah Hawley is one of the most talented writer/producers in this business,” said FX Networks and FX Prods President of Original Programming Eric Schrier. Inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers movie, Fargo tells a new story. Hawley wrote all episodes of the limited series, which earned great reviews. It launched to so-so premiere audience of 2.65 million but has grown in time-shifted viewing, amassing 6.3 million viewers in Live+3. “Making Fargo for FX has been the highlight of my career,” Hawley said.”A writer can search his or her whole career for a network partner who truly understands and encourages their vision. For me, the search is over. When John Landgraf announced ‘at FX, we’d rather make something great for somebody, than something good for everybody,’ I knew I’d found a home.”
This is a weird, but intriguing announcement. AT&T and The Chernin Group say today that they formed a venture “to acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top (OTT) video services.” (Jargon alert: OTT is industry-speak for an online service that can take the place of traditional pay TV.) The two have committed more than $500M, but offer no details about how much each has put up, ownership stakes, etc. — although Chernin’s kicking in his majority stake in subscription VOD service Crunchyroll. They plan to invest in ad and subscription VOD channels as well as streaming services. ”A critical part of The Chernin Group’s strategy has been our significant focus on the online video industry, and joining forces with AT&T only further underscores our strategic commitment in this area as operators, investors and programmers,” Chernin says. He adds that AT&T’s “massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us.” Chernin was a major supporter of Hulu back when he was Rupert Murdoch’s No. 2 at News Corp. AT&T Chief Strategy Officer John Stankey says that the combo “creates the opportunity for us to develop a compelling offering in the OTT space.” AT&T will disclose its Q1 earnings, and talk with analysts, after the market closes today.
Eyeing a September shoot, helmer Catherine Hardwicke is boarding comedy/drama Miss You Already, with Rachel Weisz and Toni Collette attached to star. The pair will play lifelong best friends whose relationship is tested as they confront a crisis. Morwenna Banks, best known for her UK acting credits including Skins, Shameless and Peppa Pig, wrote Miss You Already based on personal experience. Hardwicke says of Banks’ story of intense friendship, “This is something she lived through. She managed to take real life and turn it into a powerful, laugh‐ and cry‐out‐loud screenplay.” When the project was originally announced during Berlin in 2012, it had Jennifer Aniston attached to star, and Paul Andrew Williams directing. At the time, the story was very London-centric, but has since been expanded.
BBC America‘s clone drama returned Saturday night with its best-ever A18-49 rating and now is the network’s second-highest-rated series in the demo, behind only Doctor Who. Orphan Black was the No. 1 television show on Twitter and Tumblr for the day and is the No. 1 basic cable drama on Twitter for the week.
Orphan Black recorded a total of 785,000 across multiple plays — premiering with 620,000 total viewers and 391,000 demo viewers. On Saturday, the series reached a new high on Twitter, reaching 1.2 million unique users with more than 43,000 tweets about the show. This is up 185% from the previous best (Season 1 finale) and nearly six times greater than the series premiere. The premiere episode alone generated nearly 36,000 tweets, beating several high-profile premieres this season including Fargo, Homeland, True Detective, Vikings, The Americans, Turn and Arrow. On Tumblr, there were 1.8 million notes on posts about Orphan Black in the month leading up to the premiere, including 277,000 on Saturday.
Related: Amazon Prime Instant Video To Stream ‘Orphan Black’ Repeats
The perils of co-habitating with a screenwriter are playing out in a $3 million libel suit filed by actress and singer-musician Ronee Sue Blakley against her former lover, screenwriter Carroll Cartwright. In her suit (read it here), filed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Blakley, the Oscar-nominated leading lady in the 1975 classic film Nashville, claims that she was falsely and maliciously portrayed in Cartwright’s screenplay for the 2012 film What Maisie Knew starring Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard. “The primary thrust of the lawsuit is simple,” read the 15-page suit, which is is requesting a jury trial. “Cartwright wrote the screenplay to further his own feelings of hatred for Blakley by maliciously and falsely portraying her as a selfish and uncaring mother, when in fact she was a devoted and loving parent. This false depiction of Blakley has damaged her reputation and caused her to suffer severe emotional distress.”
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has closed a deal for Men Who Kill, a pitch by T.J. Fixman that will be developed as a star vehicle for fast-rising Michael B. Jordan. The tone of the film is an international Bad Boys and it gives the studio another project with Jordan, who comes off his breakout role in Fruitvale Station and heads into the Fantastic Four reboot after previously starring in the Fox sleeper Chronicle.
After starring as a teen in the iconic TV series The Wire and Friday Night Lights, Jordan is making the transition to adulthood among a handful of young actors vying to be in the next generation of bankable leading men. This is the first action thriller vehicle being developed specifically for Jordan, who is separately attached to play Apollo Creed’s grandson in a new version of Rocky that will re-team him with Fruitvale Station writer-director Ryan Coogler.
EXCLUSIVE: Gersh has signed Ron Perlman and his production company. After Hellboy and Sons Of Anarchy, Perlman is building the next chapter of his career. He’s not letting any moss grow under him since completing his superb turn as Sons biker club leader Clay Morrow. Perlman has optioned several screenplays, he is currently starring in and exec producing Hand Of God, a pilot for Amazon that Marc Forster is directing, and he has made a deal to co-write with Michael Largo the memoir Easy Street—The Hard Way that will be published by Perseus Books Group imprint Da Capo Press.
I had the honor of being asked by Kurt Sutter to moderate the Sons panel that closed San Diego Comic-Con, and found Perlman to be so subdued and fatalistic about his character’s future on the show, almost seeming ashamed of what his character had done. Feeling he was losing his grip on the club (and not just because of the arthritis he tried to hide), Clay backstabbed Jax (Charlie Hunnam), his wife Gemma (Katey Sagal), and just about everyone else in the club, leaving bloodshed and a trail of bodies in his wake. It was impossible for the Comic-Con crowd not to feel like this was going to be his last hurrah. Now, the Emmy voters have been snobbish about Sutter’s series creation and have almost made it seem …
Veep‘s Reid Scott is keeping busy with three film roles while on hiatus from the HBO comedy. (Veep returned last week for a ten-episode third season.) He’s joined Jessica Alba and Lily Rabe in Universal and Blumhouse Productions’ The Veil, about a documentary crew who returns to the site of a cult massacre with the lone survivor. Filming on the Robert Ben Garant-scripted pic, directed by Phil Joanou, is underway in L.A. Scott will also star opposite Blythe Danner in the Brett Haley-helmed dramedy I’ll See You In My Dreams, about a widow struggling to find purpose in her increasingly isolated twilight years. The actor has also been cast in romantic comedy Bad Boys Crazy Girls, from directors Don Argott and Sheena Joyce. Heather Maidat penned the script about two close friends and co-workers who are embarrassingly unlucky in love. Scott will play the bad boy who prompts the pair to try the bad and crazy lifestyle. Tammy Tiehel is producing. Reid is represented by Gersh, Impression Entertainment, and attorney Richard Genow.
Joey King (The Conjuring, Oz The Great And Powerful) has been cast in Lifetime’s original movie Outlaw Prophet from Sony Pictures Television. It focuses on the true story of Warren Jeffs, the leader of a Fundamentalist Mormon polygamist sect who spent more than a year on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, eluded authorities and was ultimately caught by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper. Based on Stephen Singular’s book When Men Become Gods, the movie chronicles Jeffs’ rise to power after the death of his father, Rulon Jeffs (Martin Landau). King will play Elissa Wall, the battered young woman who brings Jeffs (Tony Goldwyn) to justice. King, repped by Dan Spilo at Industry Entertainment and Meredith Fine at Coast to Coast Talent Group, will next be seen in FX’s Fargo and Zach Braff’s indie Wish I Was Here.
EMMYS: John Landgraf Calls For Tougher Category Rules, Says ‘True Detective’s Entry As Drama Series “Unfair”
FX Networks CEO John Landgraf today threw his hat in the debate over what constitutes a drama series and a miniseries for Emmy consideration and whether an hourlong series can enter as a comedy, challenging the TV Academy to stiffen its criteria and create stricter category guidelines.
FX anthology series American Horror Story shook up the Emmy landscape three years ago when it opted to submit itself as a miniseries, not a drama series. The race was jolted again this year when HBO’s True Detective took the opposite stance, identifying itself as a drama series. “In our minds this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Deadline last week.
Landgraf today defended the network’s decision to submit AHS as a miniseries, objected to HBO’s decision to have True Detective compete as drama series, and called on the TV Academy to better define its categories. “I don’t think it’s cynical to enter AHS as a miniseries,” he said. “I don’t look at it that way. The definition should be a miniseries has a story that ends, a series has a story that continues on.” Landgraf argued that limited series have the advantage to attract bigger-caliber actors, like True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as well as Billy Bob Thornton who toplines FX’s limited series Fargo. “It’s unfair for HBO to get actors that you can’t normally get to do a series who would do a close-ended show and pack the (drama actor) category. That is patently unfair to people like (The Americans’) Matthew Rhys who signed for seven years.” Right now, TV Academy defines shows like AHS and True Detective as having “dual eligibility,” with the series producers left to decide in which of the two categories they are eligible for they would compete.
FX & FXX To Double Their Original Output, ‘Simpsons’ To Debut On FXX With A Bang, ‘The Americans’ Nears Season 3 Renewal
FX Networks had been ramping up development, with some dozen pilots ordered in the past year. It is part of a major original expansion. At an upfront press event in New York, CEO John Landgraf said the company will go up from 11 originals to 20 across FX and FXX during the next year. FX Networks’ $750 million acquisition, The Simpsons, will make its debut on FXX in August with 12-day marathon. “It will be the longest continuous marathon in the history of television,” Landgraf said.
On the renewal front, a formal third-season renewal of The Americans is expected soon, he said. “We look forward to it being on our schedule for quite some time,” he said, later adding that he was “confident in the [show's] long-term prospect.” While the series’ live numbers may have dipped, it has been a DVR growth story. The Americans‘ DVR numbers are “unlike anything I have ever seen,” Landgraf said. “Live viewing is essentially just 20% of whole.”
Landgraf and his team will wait for the seasons of Legit and Chozen to end before making a decision on their future but that would be coming soon. Landgraf also touted the new season of Louie as being “amazing” and upcoming limited series Fargo as being “so good I can’t close the door” on another installment. “If it comes back, it will once again be located in North Dakota or Minnesota but telling a different story with different characters.” However, “the bar is high, it has to be an extraordinarily good story.”
Britain’s Channel 4 is embellishing its strategy with a new purview to invest in international drama co-productions. The net, which already invests in original British drama as well as boundary-pushing factual entertainment, is joining the likes of ITV, the BBC and Sky in its bid to spread its wings. To spearhead the initiative, former Red Arrow Entertainment Head of Drama & Comedy, Simon Maxwell, is joining Channel 4 in the newly created role of Head of International Drama. Maxwell launched the Red Arrow Group’s UK scripted operation and has worked with U.S. broadcasters including NBC and History Channel. Prior to Red Arrow, he was Head of Film & TV at indie Greenroom Entertainment where he ran a slate that included DirecTV crime drama Rogue. He also exec produced feature Killing Bono, for which he co-wrote the screenplay. Channel 4′s move towards international co-pros should see it benefit from the high-end TV tax credit that has electrified the local production sector and attracted U.S. projects over the past year. Maxwell will be responsible for commissioning a slate of high quality, ambitious drama with international appeal. Among the channel’s recent local commissions are Babylon, for which Danny Boyle directed the pilot, and mystery/sci-fi series Utopia. Its U.S. and European pick-ups include upcoming series Fargo, France’s The Returned, Showtime’s Homeland, comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine and new Norwegian thriller Mammon .
Academy members will get the chance this weekend to see Noah and The Grand Budapest Hotel when their official Academy screening program finally resumes after a break for Oscar. But while the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters is undergoing major renovations, the screenings have moved to Hollywood at the Acad’s much smaller Linwood Dunn Theater at its Pickford Center For Motion Picture Study on Vine Street. That’s a loss of about 700 seats, so it could get dicey, especially since no extra screenings are added and RSVPs aren’t taken. For a lot of films the Academy screens, 300 seats is just fine, but these fall squarely in the hotter want-to-see category, and it’s still first-come-first-served, just as it is at the Wilshire Boulevard location. Could get nasty for members wanting a free screening. Better get there early, folks.
Of course this is not exactly crunch time for serious 2014 Oscar contenders, so distributors need not worry too much about disgruntled voters getting turned away from their hot-button potential nominees. But recently I got an email from a veteran Oscar campaign consultant who asked the simple question, “Is NOAH a contender?” And it got me wondering if not only director Darren Aronofsky’s towering epic, which screens Sunday at 3 PM, but also Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, which runs Saturday at 7:30 PM both might actually have a decent shot at racking up numerous nominations, including Best Picture, despite their first quarter release dates (Noah opened March 28 and Budapest has been playing since March 7th). Both are doing extremely well at the box office and riding high with critics too (Noah is 77% fresh and Budapest is 91% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) and have the kind of first-rate production values to which Oscar voters usually pay serious attention.
With a chorus line of 40 Samba-dancing Vegas showgirls parading through the audience to the stage for a performance of a song from the upcoming Rio 2 (4/11), 20th Century Fox got its CinemaCon presentation off in style. And the studio earned high marks for attempting to put a little showmanship that has been missing from some other presentations this week. Hey this is Vegas. Let’s liven it up, folks. And Fox did.
This is not to say the rest of their “show” was not all about showing off footage from their 2014 slate. It was, but clearly they put a lot of work into impressing these theatre owners who responded strongly to what Fox was offering. Distribution President Chris Aronson appeared with a feather headdress on (he looked pretty hot) but quickly took it off for a more corporate look as he welcomed the crowd and got things rolling including those previously reported remarks regarding NATO ‘s John Fithian and 12 Years A Slave. He pointed out that the studio’s total worldwide boxoffice was $3.39 billion, the fifth consecutive year they have exceeded the $3 billion mark. He then introduced 20th’s Chairman Jim Gianopulos who expertly hosted the event as he does each year, actually managing to sound like he’s not reading stuff off a prompter – an art both he and Disney’s M.C. Alan Horn have mastered. He launched right into it by announcing “we are starting summer in April this year” and bringing on Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann to introduce clips of their comedy The Other Woman. Then it was time for the “tentpoles” as he intro’d a clip package featuring the opening scene and trailer from X Men: Days Of Future Past (5/23), extended footage from How To Train Your Dragon 2 (6/13) from their partnership with DreamWorks Animation and a harrowing scene from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (7/11) , the latter really whetting the exhibitors appetite. Let’s just say it involves a couple of drunk guys, a playful-seeming ape and an Uzi. Wow. Even Shailene Woodley, star of 20th’s June 6th romantic drama The Fault In Our Stars, said she was still shaking from the Apes footage when Gianopulos brought her on.
Investors seem to be clearing their heads from the adrenaline jolt they experienced yesterday when Bloomberg reported that Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen recently approached DirecTV CEO Michael White to discuss a potential merger — in part as a response to Comcast’s $45.2B deal to buy Time Warner Cable. Shares in both satellite companies shot up on the news, but have started to settle as of midday trading today leaving Dish +5.5 over the day and a half period with DirecTV +2.6%. The big surprise in the report was that Ergen is still interested in a deal: He has been focused lately on amassing wireless spectrum to launch a broadband service, and has made skeptical comments about the prospects for traditional satellite TV. But he and White have noted that the companies could save a lot of money — if regulators would let them combine.