‘Morgan Spurlock Presents’ Label Hatched By Filmmaker’s Warrior Poets, Virgil Films & Abramorama

Mike Fleming

MorganSpurlockEXCLUSIVE: Morgan Spurlock‘s production company Warrior Poets has partnered with indie distributors Virgil Films and Abramorama to form the label Morgan Spurlock Presents. The plan is to acquire and release distinctive fiction and documentary features theatrically and on cable VOD. Two films are first up under the new venture and will be released this year: A Brony Tale, the docu that premieres Saturday at Tribeca and centers on the cultural phenomenon of men obsessed with Hasbro’s My Little Pony, the magical talking horse toys. It is set for a July bow. The other is Two: The Story Of Roman & Nyro, from Heather Winters, the exec producer of Spurlock’s Oscar-nominated Brony documentarybreakout docu Super-Size Me. It follows rock songwriter Desmond Child and his longtime partner Curtis Shaw Child as they raise their two sons.

Related: Tribeca Trailer: ‘A Brony Tale’

Under the model, films the companies discover that have targeted audiences but that otherwise might be overlooked will be released via the label in 20-30 theatrical markets just before cable VOD bows. Read More »

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Al Jazeera America To Air Docu On Low-Income Living In U.S. From Producers Of ‘Hoop Dreams’, ‘Life Itself,’ ‘New Americans,’ ‘Trials Of Muhammad Ali’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:20pm PDT

CNN isn’t the only cable news networkaljazeeralogo2 going in for documentary series. Al Jazeera America today announced its latest collaboration –  with Kartemquin Films on Hard Earned, a six-part documentary series exploring low-income life in America. Hard Earned is being executive produced by Kartemquin’s Steve James, Gordon Quinn, and Justine Nagan, who were responsible for Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, The Trials of Muhammad Ali and recent Sundance hit Life Itself, among other documentaries.

Five stories, set in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and two in the Chicago area, will be intertwined into six one-hour episodes. The series will shed more light on an ever-growing sector of the American workforce. “Low wage jobs are the fastest growing sector of employment in the American economy,” says executive producer Steve James. Kartemquin’s previous multi-part series, The New Americans, a seven-hour series on immigration produced for PBS in 2004, was an International Documentary Association award-winner for Best Limited Series. Al Jazeera America is available in more than 51 million homes in the U.S. on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Dish Network and Verizon FiOS.

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CNN’s Anthony Bourdain & Morgan Spurlock Win Time Slots In News Demo

Morgan Spurlockletterman celebs 2 240308TV in general pretty much underperformed Sunday night, but the season premieres of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock Inside Man both surged over their previous season bows by double digits. The 9 PM Season 3 opener of Bourdain’s hybrid foodie travelogue — which visited Punjab, India — posted 325,000 persons 25-54, according to Nielsen’s Live+SD numbers, up 34% over last season’s September 15 bow. Parts Unknown was up against competition that included HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which snagged 6.3M viewers, Oscar nominee Spurlock’s episode at 10 PM, which saw him step into the role of paparazzo, drew 244,000 viewers in the demo — topping last year’s series premiere by 11%. The time slot wins are some welcome good news for CNN, which had which just suffered through one of the worst primetime quarters in its history. The network said last week that Parts Unknown and Inside Man are among the docu-type original series that are replacing Piers Morgan in the 9 PM weeknight slot.

Related: ‘SNL’: The CNN Breaking News Pregnancy Test

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Deadline’s Best TV Stories Of The Week

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 8:15pm PDT

A recap of Deadline’s top TV stories this week:

stephen_colbert-350x262 Stephen Colbert Named CBS’ New ‘Late Show’ Host
By The Deadline Team
A week after David Letterman announced his retirement, CBS has named his successor. Stephen Colbert has inked a five-year deal to take over Late Show, a move that is effective as soon as Letterman officially steps aside from the late-night show he has headlined since its launch on CBS in 1993.

Related:
NBC’s Jimmy Fallon And Seth Meyers Welcome Stephen Colbert To ‘Late Show’: Video
Moonves Takes A ‘Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Victory Lap
Stephen Colbert Does Not Envy Whoever Replaces David Letterman (Video)

David Letterman On Stephen Colbert’s Hire

CBS’ Late-Night Drama Not Over Yet Despite Practically Perfect Stephen Colbert Hire
By Lisa De Moraes
CBS’ announcement today that Comedy Central rock star Stephen Colbert would replace David Letterman as host of its late-night show in 2015 caps a whirlwind week in which the network jumped from being just a little footnote in the coverage of The Battle Of The Two Jimmys to the undisputed star of the late-night drama. Read More »

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‘SNL’: The CNN Breaking News Pregnancy Test

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 3:28am PDT

Tired of CNN’s relentless breaking news alerts? Well, what if the news network got in the pregnancy test business? Instead of receiving numerous updates about the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, a woman can now rely on CNN as it routinely informs her that it’s still determining her pregnancy.  Take a look at the SNL parody:

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25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards Winners Announced

By | Saturday April 12, 2014 @ 10:01pm PDT

25th Annual GLAAD Media Award WinnersThe 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were held tonight at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, honoring 12 of their 29 media categories, with comedian Ross Mathews hosting. Previously announced honorees include Jennifer Lopez, who received the Vanguard Award, a kudo that honors artists and media professionals whose work has increased the profile and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.  Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions is behind the ABC Family series The Fosters, which portrays a blended family with lesbian parents. Also Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox was presented with the Stephen F. Kolzak award by Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page. The honor, named after a casting director who was a LGBT crusader, is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. The GLAAD Media Awards honor those who display a fair, accurate and inclusive representation of the LGBT community and their issues.  Additional awards will be presented at the org’s New York City event on Saturday, May 3.

Related: The 25th Annual GLAAD Media Award Nominees

Announced winners tonight include:

Pioneer Award  (presented by Wilson Cruz)
Norman Lear

Vanguard Award (presented by Rita Moreno)
Jennifer Lopez

Stephen F. Kolzak Award (presented by Ellen Page)
Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black 

International Advocate for Change Award
Manny de Guerre, founder of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia

Outstanding Documentary
TIE:  Bridegroom … Read More »

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CNN Gives Former Fox Star John Walsh New Home To Continue Hunting Most Wanted, Replaces Piers Morgan With Anthony Bourdain And Morgan Spurlock, Delves Into ‘Jesus Code’

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 8:31am PDT

cnnlogo4__140310195953Two weeks after Piers Morgan signed off CNN with another blast at the NRA, network chief Jeff Zucker announced he would fill Morgan’s timeslot with Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock, among others, and that he has given former Fox star John Walsh a CNN platform from which to hunt down most-wanted. CNN also unveiled plans to tap into the current fervor for religious programming with The Jesus Code — a forensic and archaeological journey through the Bible. At its upfront presentation to advertisers today in New York, CNN also detailed plans to bring back Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe to series TV in Somebody’s Gotta Do It, and Lisa Ling (Our America With Lisa Ling) will also join CNN with an original series.
Read More »

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Rupert Murdoch Talks About Succession, Politics, And His Greatest “Screwup”: Fortune

murdoch-rupertRupert 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:

Related: Rupert Murdoch Says There May Be Multiple ‘Avatar’ Sequels: Fortune

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.” murdochsThe 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.”

Related: Lachlan And James Murdoch Given Big New Roles At News Corp

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.” Read More »

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Jon Stewart Explains Media Angst Over Hollywood’s Take On Religion: Video

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 3:34pm PDT

Jon Stewart has deconstructed the media’s consternation over Hollywood’s depiction of religion in Noah and Son Of God — particularly Fox News Channel and CNN. Fortunately for Paramount, which distributes Noah, and 20th Century Fox, which distributes Son Of God (a repurposing of History’s hit 10-hour miniseries The Bible), fewer than 3 million people watch Fox News Channel and CNN combined in primetime — leaving about 317 million uninformed people available to buy tickets. This helps explain how Noah topped its opening weekend with nearly $44 million in domestic boxoffice (and $95 million worldwide) despite much hair-tearing over at FNC (and by Glenn Beck, who pronounced it “awful”),  and why Son Of God opened with $26 million in domestic boxoffice, though a CNN anchor said it made her feel “kinda dirty and freaky.” Watch Stewart’s takedown here:

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NBC Press Day: ‘Sharknado 2′ Blows Up Sharks With Bombs While Keeping Characters ‘Grounded’

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 9:59am PDT

Syfy‘s Sharknado 2: The Second One is similar to the original Sharknado — but in New York, director Anthony C. Ferrante told reporters at sharknado-attackNBCU’s Summer Press Day. “We never stopped making the first movie,” he told a reporter who asked how the second would differ from the first. “This thing never stopped…If it stayed in Los Angeles it would have been boring,” he said, but the sequel will feature the Statue of Liberty and Broadway, which, of course, the original could not. In the sequel, killer sharks get caught up in a massive tornado that invades Manhattan, making life a living hell for the locals. “This to me is the most important film ever made about climate change,” snarked cast member Judah Friedlander today at the NBCU Summer Press Day in Pasadena. Read More »

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Tribeca Film Festival Jurors Announced

Tribeca 2014 marqueeThe judges are set for 13th annual edition of the event founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff. The seven competition juries for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival include 33 filmmakers, writers, producers, actors, journalists and entrepreneurs. The World Narrative Competition judges are Lake Bell, Steve Conrad, Bart Freundlich, Catherine Hardwicke and Ben Younger. Jurors for other categories include Toni Collette, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Alfonso Arau, Heather Graham, Anton Yelchin, HBO’s Sheila Nevins and Google’s Regina Dugan. The Nas rap docu Time Is Illmatic will open the fest, which runs April 16-27 in NYC. The recently re-retitled Begin Again closes it. Here is the full list of jurors and categories:

Related:
Tribeca Film Festival Unveils Competition Slate
MSG Entering Into Strategic Deal With Tribeca Enterprises

Read More »

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Fox News Pre-Empts ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ For Fort Hood Shooting Coverage; CNN Breaks From Malaysian Airlines Marathon

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 7:18pm PDT

JFK Assassination 50th AnniversaryFox News Channel tonight took the unusual step of pre-empting The O’Reilly Factor to continue covering the shooting at Fort Hood. It marked the first time since the network unveiled the Fox News Deck in October that Shep Smith and Fox Newshis Deck took over the entire 8 PM hour for the breaking  news in the network’s heavily watched 8 PM ET time slot. In the early days of CNN’s coverage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, CNN’s Anderson Cooper had beat Bill O’Reilly in the news demo more than once.  When the ratings tonight are issued by Nielsen it will determine whether this programming move thwarted another timeslot win in the news demo by CNN, which tends to score bigger than usual ratings when major, catastrophic news breaks.

Related: Malaysia Airlines News Coverage Mania Splits Media Watchers

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Bill Hemmer Re-Ups At Fox News Channel

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 1:11pm PDT

Bill HemmerFox News Channel has re-signed Bill Hemmer to a multi-year contract. He will continue hosting America’s Newsroom with Martha MacCallum and the network’s 1 PM ET hour until a new show debuts in that time slot. America’s Newsroom has been No. 1 for 86 consecutive months, with both total viewers and in the news demo — from February of ’07 to March of ’14. “Bill Hemmer is a fantastic all-around newsman and a tremendous talent,” Fox News foxnewschannel__121107055533__130821210939__130827191454Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes said in the announcement. “One of his great gifts is his ability to work so well with everyone — there isn’t an hour in our news lineup that Bill couldn’t anchor. He’s the consummate team player.” Hemmer was one of the earlier CNN defectors, joining FNC in August 2005 after a decade at CNN, where his credits include co-anchoring American Morning and anchoring CNN Live Today and CNN Tonight.

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‘House Of Cards’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘The Bridge’, ‘Key & Peele’, ‘Orphan Black’, ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Win Peabodys

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 7:08am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Netflix and BBC America each has two scripted series on the list PeabodyAwardsof a record 46 programs to receive Peabody Awards this year. Joining Netflix’s Washington drama House Of Cards and prison comedy Orange Is The New Black is another DC drama, ABC’s soapy Scandal; BBC America’s clone thriller Orphan Black and Broadchurch, which is being remade by Fox as an event series; FX’s The Bridge, which itself is a remake of the Danish-Swedish series; Danish political drama Borgen; acclaimed French zombie drama The Returned; AMC’s Breaking Bad, awarded a second Peabody for its final season; Comedy Central’s hit sketch comedy Key & Peele; CNN’s travel docu-series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown; as well as Burka Avenger, the Pakistani animated series about a girl superhero; and two documentaries from newcomer Al Jazeera America. Additionally, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, who recently announced he is battling cancer, will receive an individual Peabody Award. Here is the full list of recipients of the 73rd Peabody Awards, bestowed by the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism. They will be presented May 19 at a luncheon ceremony hosted by Ira Glass at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. A special on the Peabodys will air later on Pivot, which recently inked a rights deal through 2016: Read More »

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CNN Hits Near Low In Q1 Ratings, Fox News On Top Again For 49th Time, MSNBC Down

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 11:04am PDT

cnnlogo4__140310195953They may have had a March ratings surge with their constant coverage of the missing Malaysian Airliner but it wasn’t enough to save CNN from one of their worst quarterly primetime results ever. Between December 30, 2013 and March 28, 2014, the Jeff Zucker-run cable news network pulled in an average of 498,000 total viewers between 8 PM and 11 PM and 169,000 among adults 25-54. While CNN saw a slight 3% dip in the key news demo, it slid 16% in total viewers from from Q1 2013. That viewership result slide tumbles CNN down to the third worst quarter it has ever had in total audience. Only the Q2 2012’s 446,000 and Q4 2013’s 474,000 were worst for network. Fellow cabler MSNBC was also down from msnbc_logo_20110630160351__121213191013__140102224602-275x86Q1 2013. With 683,000 total viewers in primetime, MSNBC fell 10% in Q1 2014 from a year beforehand. Undoubtedly, all the shifts in the cabler’s schedule, anchor missteps and the vast underperformance of assumed golden boy Ronan Farrow were contributing factors in this fall. Still MSNBC had its best quarter in a year and held on to the No. #2 primetime spot in both total viewers and among adults 25-54 (214,000, down 4% from Q1 2013). The network was also second in total day with 394,000 viewers and 138,000 in the demo, a fall of 9% and a 2% from Q1 2103.

Related:Read More »

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Maria Bartiromo Debut Boosts ‘MediaBuzz’ on Fox News Channel

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 8:16am PDT

The 10 AM ET debut of Fox News Channel‘smariab1__140324174504 Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo (1.078 million viewers, 312,000 in the news demo) took the top spot in cable news, beating CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria GPS (643,000, 169,000) and MSNBC ‘s Melissa Harris-Perry (391,000, 168,000) combined in overall audience and nearly doing same in the demo. Sunday Morning Futures’ demo crowd was Fox News’ third-biggest demo audience for the timeslot this year, delivering a strong lead in for FNC’s 11 AM program, MediaBuzz, which delivered its highest demo rating since debuting back in September (1.001 million viewers, 353,000 in the demo), outstripping CNN’s Reliable Sources (674,000 viewers, 189,000 demo viewers).

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UPDATE: Stephen Colbert Devotes ‘The Colbert Report’ To Rebuttal Of #CancelColbert (Video)

ColberReportUPDATED WITH VIDEO: “Folks — I’m still here. The dark forces trying to silence my message of core conservative principles mixed with youth-friendly product placement have been thwarted!” Stephen Colbert raved Monday night, in re the motherlode The Colbert Report hit when a Twitter campaign to cancel the show erupted last week after the network tweeted a line out of context from one of his comedy bits. He devoted his entire telecast to his rebuttal, at the end of which he and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone blew up @ColbertReport — the network’s official Twitter account for the program, from which had come the offending tweet. (The page no longer exists on Twitter.) “The Interweb tried to swallow me whole. But I am proud to say that I got lodged in its throat and it hacked me back up, like a hastily chewed chicken wing,” Colbert told fans who’d tuned in, we’re guessing in large numbers, to see how he would respond to the kerfuffle. (See the video below.)

Related: Press Runs Interference For ‘The Colbert Report’ As #CancelColbert Grows Louder

comedycentral1Tonight’s episode opened with crew members carrying boxes out of the studio, The Colbert Report set shutting down its lights, a pink rose wilting and dying, Iron Eyes Cody shedding a tear in that ’70s Keep America Beautiful anti-litter PSA. Cut to Colbert, dressed in Washington Redskins sweats and cap, waking on a couch next to BD Wong. Wong told him he’d had a nightmare. Colbert wondered why he’s still dreaming he’s on a couch next to BD Wong. “You fell asleep watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” Wong explained. “Wednesdays at 9, 8 Central, on NBC,” Colbert responded.

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‘HIMYM’ Finale Outrun By Social Media

How I Met Your Mother finaleJason Segel told CNN it would be the best series ending ever — except, he said, for the long-running Newhart series finale. You know, the one in which Vermont innkeeper Bob Newhart got knocked out by a flying golf ball in the late ’80s, and when he woke up, he was in bed with his ’70s sitcom wife Suzanne Pleshette and the whole ’80s series was a dream.  That would seem to point to a surprise ending for How I Met Your Mother — maybe the  “surprise” ending that’s been discussed endlessly in social media for days and which show creators danced around at the recent PaleyFest

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!
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CNN Chief Jeff Zucker Touts March Digital Stats

By | Monday March 31, 2014 @ 8:06am PDT

In anticipation of March cable news Nielsen numbers, which will show CNN much improved March-cnnlogo4to-March but finishing second to Fox News Channel in key TV-viewing metrics, CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker sent a memo to staff announcing the news operation’s best month ever for page views, video streams, and mobile web traffic: Read More »

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