ITV, the UK’s leading — and highly acquisitive — commercial broadcaster said this morning that it’s on track to deliver another year of growth despite a 3% drop in viewing figures for the flagship channel over the first six months of 2014. In releasing its half-year results, the company says external revenues are up 7% to £1,225M ($2,074M). That includes increases in non-advertising, online, pay, interactive, and ITV Studios revenues. The latter, which is one of the key areas the company has been focusing on, is up 2% to £402M ($681M). ITV has acquired a slew of independent production companies over the past nearly two years, most recently taking 80% of Pawn Stars maker Leftfield Entertainment. The broadcaster has also been on a transformation plan to reduce debt and says its total cost savings for the full year is ahead of target at about £15M ($25.4M). The acquisitions, it says, will “ensure continued good growth in ITV Studios this year and into next year” while a return to organic growth will be seen in 2015 helped by investment in scripted programming. The evolving strategy will include an increasing emphasis on international content creation and distribution. However, ITV is not expecting to be acquired itself. Liberty Global recently bought BSkyB’s 6.4% holding in ITV, but boss Adam Crozier said today that the broadcaster doesn’t plan to sell parts of its business. “We are certainly not considering selling off any parts of this business; …
Tom Lipinski (Suits) has been promoted from a recurring character to series regular for the recently announced second season of Cinemax‘s period drama The Knick. Lipinski plays Phillip Showalter, a charming and aristocratic young man whose father is a millionaire rubber king, and who is Cornelia’s suitor. Steven Soderbergh directs and Clive Owen stars in the series set in downtown New York in 1900. It centers on Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Lipinski, repped by Gersh and Mike Gasparro at TMT Entertainment, just wrapped features Dial A Prayer and The Early Years. The Knick’s first season debuts on Aug. 8.
“I want to last. I want to be an actor,” Daniel Radcliffe said Friday at his very first Comic-Con, where the erstwhile Harry Potter was promoting his dark horror pic Horns. French horror maven Alexandre Aja directs the tale of Ig Perrish, who awakens one morning to find a pair of demonic horns growing out of his skull in the wake of his girlfriend’s murder. Radcliffe, Aja, and author Joe Hill showed off the premiere of the U.S. trailer and an extended scene that had been edited for the young eyes and ears in the audience. Two f-bombs in the span of a single reel? Accio adulthood, Potterites.
Pic is adapted by Keith Bunin from Hill’s 2010 novel, a genre-bender he described as a “tragicomic-horror-dy.” In the footage, Radcliffe’s Ig has developed the power to compel others to express their worst impulses and persuades a scrum of journalists to brawl in exchange for an exclusive interview. “Getting journalists to fight … I took pleasure in that scene,” Radcliffe laughed. He admitted the heavy media scrutiny on the young Potter cast eventually took its toll. “Towards the end of time on Potter, I did start to get worried,” he said. “I wasn’t before but journalists started asking, ‘Do you think your best years are behind you?’ — at 20.”
Radcliffe said he was determined “to have a career after Potter” and sought out mature stage and film works “that sent a message to people that I wanted to challenge myself as an actor.” He came to the filmmakers in pursuit of the Ig role. “That was before Woman In Black, so I didn’t really know about your work,” said Aja to Radcliffe. “I was really impressed that you were so skilled as an actor.”
Comic-Con: Marvel TV Panel Reveals ‘Captain America’ Movie Directors To Helm ‘Agent Carter’, ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D’ Adds Lucy Lawless
Looks like the greater Marvel Universe is officially coming to the upcoming Marvel’s Agent Carter – at least behind the camera. It was announced today during the Marvel TV panel at Comic-Con that Captain America: The Winter Soldier directors Joe and Anthony Russo will be helming the second and third episodes of the ABC series set to debut in 2015. Captain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnson will helm the fourth episode, with Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito set to direct the first one.
Related: TCA: ABC Sets Fall Premiere Dates
The announcements were made after a short teaser video was shown to a packed Ballroom 20. Mostly a voice-over via President Harry Truman, the post-WWII-set series promised fans that they would discover a “different side of the Marvel Universe.” Agent Carter picks up in 1946 and the first version of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming together as the Cold War heats up. Marvel TV boss Jeph Loeb said the show hasn’t started stated filming and the writers room opens next week.
The cast of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. was also on the panel with Clark “Agent Phil Coulson” Gregg coming out to a thunderous standing ovation. The panel confirmed Lucy Lawless will join the show in the second season as a longtime S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Isabel Hartley. British actor Nick Blood will also join as a mercenary, and Reed Diamond, who appeared on Joss Wheldon’s 2009 Fox series Dollhouse, will also be added. The panel was treated to a specially made video of Patton Oswalt in his S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Billy Koenig role jokingly lecturing the crowd on security.
San Diego is about to get a Gothic horror visit from Victorian England today and John Logan is about to let Penny Dreadful get truly uninhibited. “A lot of Season 1, for me, was actually putting the playing pieces on the board,” says the Oscar nominated scribe of the Showtime series of 19th century iconic supernatural misfits he created. “Now I feel we’ve had 8 hours to do that, to establish the landscape and so now I really get to play,” the first time showrunner adds with a laugh. “I can create more and more complex patterns of the relationships of the characters and of the supernatural element as well,” the Gladiator and Skyfall writer says. “In terms of the second season, I’ve written all but two of the episodes. So, the last two are yet to be written. So I’m well ahead of the game there, and the actors will all be getting it the end of this month.
In just over a month since Dreadful’s rather spectacularly blood soaked Season 1 finale, Logan will be taking the stage in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center this evening with cast members Harry Treadaway, Reeve Carney and Josh Hartnett. If he returns next year, he may be bringing a few more people with him and not just absent leads Timothy Dalton and Eva Green. “I’m teasing out from the characters I really love …
UPDATE: Obama Praises ‘Scandal’ At Shonda Rhimes & Kerry Washington Fundraiser; Producer Says POTUS “Doing His Job Like A Boss”
UPDATE, 6:52PM: President Obama addressed a crowd of about 450 supporters tonight during a fundraiser hosted by Shonda Rhimes and her Scandal star Kerry Washington. According to White House pool reports, the president gave his traditional fundraising remarks but couldn’t resist citing the ABC drama about a D.C. fixer and her capital intrigue. “No offense — Scandal is a great show,” Obama said, “but it’s not something that we necessarily want to be living out day in, day out.” Earlier, Washington introduced Rhimes as “my boss,” then the prolific producer said of the president, “He’s been doing his job like a boss.” Obama later complimented Washington, saying “there were few people who worked harder” on his campaign than she did. Rhimes also was a big supporter of both of his presidential bids as a donor and a volunteer – even pitching in at a campaign phone bank. Singer Janelle Monae also was there, and the president joked about her having a video of him trying to keep up with Usher on the dance floor. ” Now, this is top secret,” he said of the video. “She has promised that this will never be released. But she can blackmail me at any time.” He joked later, “I did not drop in splits, but I did bust a move.”
Pool reports say the commander in chief arrived at Rhimes’ Spanish-style Hancock Park home a little after 5PM. With tickets ranging from $1,000 to $32,400, the event was held in the backyard, which was adorned with white umbrellas and U.S. and California flags. Among the guests were various members of the Scandal cast such as on-air President Fitz Grant, played by Tony Goldwyn. HBO’s Michael Lombardo, who held an event recently at his home with Michelle Obama, and ABC’s Paul Lee were also in attendance this evening. The President is staying overnight in Beverly Hills and has another fundraiser set for tomorrow at the home of Live Nation head honcho and transplanted Canadian Michael Rapino – so expected more traffic delays on Wednesday.
Ambyr Childers & Beau Mirchoff To Recur On NBC’s ‘Aquarius’, Miguel Sandoval Upped To Regular On ‘Bad Judge’
Ambyr Childers (Ray Donovan, We Are What We Are) and Beau Mirchoff (Awkward) have been cast as recurring in NBC‘s upcoming series Aquarius, a gritty 1960s drama about a cop (David Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. Childers, repped by McKeon/Myones Management and UTA, will play Susan Atkins, who lures Emma’s boyfriend away as part of Manson’s plan to recruit her. Mirchoff, repped by APA, Velocity Entertainment Partners and Ginsburg Daniels, will play Rick Zondervan, a fictitious UCLA student who takes his girlfriend to a drug party in Laurel Canyon where they run into infamous Charles Manson.
Miguel Sandoval has been upped to a series regular on NBC’s single-camera comedy Bad Judge. It centers on a hard-living, sexually unapologetic woman (Kate Walsh) whose life on the edge is constantly in balance as she also happens to be a judge in the criminal court system. Sandoval, who guest starred in the pilot, plays Judge Connors, her boss on the San Bernardino County bench, who gives her extra work because he believes in her as a judge. He is repped by Greene & Assoc. and manager Ben Levine.
With the departure of Fox’s previous top programming executive and the network’s new co-heads not in place yet, their boss, Fox Networks Group chairman Peter Rice, took the stage on his own at the network’s executive session at the TCAs this morning. Top question of the day: Fox’s new executive structure, in which the network and sibling 20th TV are both under the oversight of the same executives, Dana Walden and Gary Newman.
“We’d been the odd man out,” Rice said, a reference to the other broadcast networks, which have closely integrated with their studios. “As competition for talent has become more intense, it has put us at a disadvantage, and to have the network and the studio aligned would be helpful.”
Rice was asked to elaborate on the ways the previous setup disadvantaged Fox. “The old structure had a clear advantage for the studio: a big independent studio that was able to sell to everyone, which it has done extremely successfully,” Rice said. “But the network was increasingly disadvantaged. The ability to be reactive only because you are a buyer, that funnel became narrower and narrower as the (landscape) became more competitive… By putting these things together, we’re telling the creative community, we have this great network and a great studio, you can speak to us in a single voice.”
TCA: Showtime’s David Nevins On Emmy Category Controversy, ‘Happy-ish’, ‘Halo’ Future, ‘Nurse Jackie’s End Game
Showtime‘s Shameless switching from drama to comedy was part of the Emmy category rules debate of the past several months. “There is always a degree of arbitrariness,” Showtime boss David Nevins said about the Emmy category assignments. He argued that whatever genres and categories are out there, Showtime’s DNA would be to defy them and push the limits. In the case of Shameless, he said executive producer John Wells had always wanted to submit the show as a comedy, with Showtime backing him up this year after competing as a drama for three years. The move paid off, with star William H. Macy earning a first lead actor nomination. “He is giving a comedic performance,” Nevins said.
Nevins gave an update on the status of Happy-ish, the dark comedy project the network had just picked up to series when star Philip Seymour Hoffman suddenly died in February. “I’m sitting on five scripts from (creator) Shalom Auslander that I think are brilliant,” Nevins said. “If we cast it the right way, I would make it.” Showtime had been quietly reaching out to A-list actors for the past few months to take over the role played by Hoffman. If the lead is recast, “it wouldn’t necessarily go straight to series.” But Nevins was adamant that the pilot starring Hoffman would not air.
Nevins confirmed that the TV series adaptation of Halo is still on track despite Microsoft’s announcement yesterday that it would shut down its XBox Entertainment Studios division, which was to develop and produce the series with Amblin TV in partnership with Showtime.
EXCLUSIVE: Saturday Night Live is going through the first phase of annual cast changeover, which involves not bringing back some existing players. As usual, most affected are first-year actors. I’ve learned that the contracts of Noël Wells and John Milhiser, who joined SNL as featured players last September, are not being renewed, joining fellow rookie Brooks Wheelan, who announced his dismissal yesterday on Twitter.
Things are murkier about Michael Patrick O’Brien, who made his debut as a featured player last season after a four-year stint as a writer on the show. I hear discussions are underway for O’Brien’s future on the show that could involve him returning to the writing staff or continuing to have an-screen presence if he stays on. With anchoring experience on the popular Web series 7 Minutes In Heaven, some have been calling for him to get a shot at co-hosting Weekend Update.
It was a difficult, rebuilding season at Saturday Night Live, and boss Lorne Michaels promised there would be casting changes for next fall. The first and widely expected one — Brooks Wheelan has been let go after one, hardly memorable season as a featured player with very little screen time. He announced the news on Twitter. “Had a blast and loved every second of it,” Wheelan wrote. “I’m totally honored to be able to make this next joke… FIRED FROM NEW YORK IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT!”
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
Oxygen Media is getting a makeover. The network debuted its new logo and tagline – “very real” – today at Summer TV Press Tour. It’s part of Oxygen’s rebrand targeting young modern women initally announced in April and scheduled to launch on Tuesday, October 7 across all platforms. The network also announced two additional series It Takes A Sister and After Happily Ever After, for a total 9 new shows, along with three development projects, The Assistants, Party Inc., and Stranded At Work. They join Oxygen’s upcoming lineup including Sisterhood Of Hip Hop, Nail’d It, My Crazy Love, Street Art Throwdown, Funny Girls, Living Different, Fix My Choir and a second season of the hit series Preachers of L.A. Here are details on Oxygen’s newly picked up series and projects in development:
A scheduled hiatus in production on USA Network‘s new series Dig has been extended a week while producers assess the situation and decide if they can continue to shoot the six-episode series in Jerusalem. ”This caught us off-guard and we are assessing,” Gideon Raff told TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, of the violence in the region. The network is “looking at all options and hopefully things will calm down, and we’ll go back” to Jerusalem to shoot the remaining episodes. “If not, we’ll sort it out” he said, noting “Jerusalem is a key element in our show. We chose to shoot there because of its history.”
The action adventure drama, from Tim Kring and Raff — creator of the Israeli series on which Showtime’s Homeland is based — centers on Peter (Jason Isaacs), an FBI agent stationed in Jerusalem who, while investigating a murder of an archaeologist, uncovers a conspiracy 2000 years in the making that threatens to change the course of history. The series is a production of Keshet Media Group for UCP in cooperation with the city of Jerusalem. Anne Heche co-stars.
In a conference call with reporters following the announcement of Fox Television Group, a unit combining Fox and 20th Century Fox TV that will be run by the studio’s Dana Walden and Gary Newman, the duo stressed that each company will continue to operate independently going forward, with each having its own P&L and management team. However, there will be synergies. “They will have shared creative and financial goals: to create more hits and, with the benefit of more collaboration and a more streamlined approach to development, create more hits together,” Newman said. “We’re a mature industry-leading studio that will continue to produce for multiple networks with a greater focus now on providing FBC with the best possible shows.”
Upon starting their new expanded duties on July 28, Walden and Newman plan “to be involved both companies,” Newman said. There are no plans for bring in a president of entertainment at Fox or make executive changes for the time being. The network’s top programming executive is COO Joe Earley, who was given development oversight a few months ago. “He has been doing a fantastic job, and there is a terrific executive team at Fox,” Walden said. “There are no immediate plans to bring anyone new.” Still, the two will take some time “to immerse ourselves in the culture at Fox and make recommendations,” Walden said, vowing a hands-on involvement, including hearing pitches. Over at the studio, Walden noted the recent promotions of Jonathan Davis to President of Creative Affairs and Howard Kurtzman to President, Business Operation, indicating that the two would be asked to step up to cover more ground as their bosses expand responsibilities.
Boyhood bowed spectacularly this weekend, piling audiences into five theaters for the initial run of Richard Linklater‘s tour de force that was 12 years in the making. As we mentioned earlier this morning, the IFC Films title is coming in with a $360 – 385K weekend estimate for a stratospheric $72K to 77K PTA, depending on how the dust settles Sunday. Friday and Saturday numbers were buoyed by Q&As in both New York and LA, but none are scheduled today. IFC Films was actually conservative reporting their numbers Sunday morning, with an initial $359K gross ($71,800 PTA) though others tracking the numbers had estimates land a bit higher. Whatever the number, the final tally points in one direction — this is a tremendous opening for the Berlin and Sundance festival title (and award winner at both) that had audiences swooning ahead of this weekend’s opening. Boyhood is easily the year’s second-best opener in terms of screen average behind Fox Searchlight’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which opened in several locations back in March with a record-breaking $202,792 PTA. ”We are thrilled with the opening numbers for Boyhood this weekend,” IFC noted in reporting their numbers. “The opening numbers have surpassed our highest expectations for the weekend, as audiences flocked to theatrers for the critically acclaimed film.”
IFC Films financed the film by doling out small amounts each year over its 12-year process of creation. The AMC Networks division has a long-standing relationship with Linklater, having financed Waking Life and Tape. The Austin-based filmmaker and producer John Sloss had approached IFC Films president Jonathan Sehring about what was then dubbed the “12-year project” and, together with his boss Josh Sapan at AMC Networks, committed about $200,000 a year to the film’s editing and shooting. Said Sehring and Sapan: “Back in 2002, we thought Rick’s idea was an extraordinary notion and we believed him to be a great filmmaker. Putting our creative and commercial fates in the hands of people who are brilliant has proven to be a terrific strategy for the company and we couldn’t’ be happier to have supported Rick’s creative vision. The result is a film for the ages and we can’t wait to bring Boyhood to the rest of the country in the weeks to come.”
NBC is in “an active creative discussion” for more of The Maya Rudolph Show, either as a weekly series or a series of specials, NBC’s president of alternative Paul Telegdy said during the NBC executive session. The variety show, starring the Saturday Night Live alumna and produced by SNL boss Lorne Michaels, started as a special that aired on May 20 behind The Voice. That special is looked at as an “imperfect first episode,” Telegdy said.
A discussion is ongoing about the show’s future structure and format, including the quotient of music performances versus sketch comedies. “It is a show we were really proud of,” Telegdy said. “On balance, we really enjoyed the experience. Added NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt, “We were very encouraged by the ratings.” In a Q&A with Deadline last month, Michaels was optimistic about the show’s future.
Also today, Telegdy was asked about the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice, which has been in the can for awhile but has not been scheduled yet. No update on a premiere date yet, Telegdy said. Celebrity Apprentice‘s most recent season aired in the spring of 2013. Greenblatt noted that the network has taken long hiatuses with other long-running reality series, like The Biggest Loser. “You look at what your needs are,” he said.
Back when the TV Academy voted to merge the best TV movie and miniseries categories in 2011, hardest hit were smaller networks in the arena like Lifetime and Hallmark Channel as HBO and British imports were expected to gobble up the nomination spots. Those networks are now benefiting the most from the recent decision to restore the two categories. For instance, Lifetime’s Georgia O’Keeffe received a best TV movie nomination the year before the category consolidation. In the three years of merged best movie and miniseries category, Lifetime did not crack the field. Today, it landed both a best TV movie nom for The Trip To Bountiful and its first ever best miniseries nom for Bonnie & Clyde, a collaboration with sister network History. (Bonnie & Clyde was one of four programs produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to receive Emmy noms today, along with the Oscar ceremony, NBC’s The Sound of Music and another Lifetime movie, Anne Nicole). Also boosted by this year’s expansion of the longform acting categories from five to six nominees, Lifetime landed two lead actress in a TV movie or miniseries nominations for the first time in almost a decade for Return To Zero‘s Minnie Driver and Bountiful‘s Cicely Tyson, with longform fueling the network’s record 17 total Emmy noms.
Once again, HBO led all networks in Emmy nominations this year, and it wasn’t even close. Here’s a look at HBO’s noms haul in the past decade, followed by a breakdown in who got what this year.
NOMINATIONS BY NETWORK
HBO – 99
CBS – 47
NBC – 46
FX Networks – 45
ABC – 37
PBS – 34
Netflix – 31
AMC – 26
Showtime – 24
Comedy Central – 21
Lifetime – 17
National Geographic Channel – 15
Starz – 11
Discovery Channel – 10