Mark the calendar for the April 19 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Keep On Keepin’ On, the Al Hicks-directed documentary about 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin, who is helped over his terrible stage fright by his ailing mentor, jazz legend Clark Terry. Terry was Quincy Jones’ first teacher and mentor to Miles Davis. As they prepared for an elite international competition, the 89-year-old Terry saw his sight and then his health fail. While he is one of few to have played in the orchestras of Count Basie and Duke Ellington and later broke the color barrier as first African-American staff musician on NBC’s Tonight Show, the most important thing to Terry was hanging in to see Kauflin realize his dream and play his best at the competition. Jones produced with Paula DuPre’ Pesmen, latter of whom was behind the Academy Award-winning The Cove and Chasing Ice. After the festival premiere, the subjects will be there for a Q&A followed with a performance by Herbie Hancock, Esperanza Spalding, Dianne Reeves, Roy Hargrove and Kauflin, who’ll follow his star docu turn by tinkling the ivories. The performance is also being produced by Jones.
Hot Tribeca Clip For ‘Keep On Keepin’ On; Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock To Swing At Saturday’s Post-Premiere Performance
The day after CBS’s bombshell announcement that Stephen Colbert would replace David Letterman on Late Show, when things calmed down a bit and reason returned to her throne, industry pundits began to contemplate the deeper meaning of the shift in the late-night landscape. Practically speaking, it means Comedy Central is now one late-night show short — and CBS may be as well, if Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson, or the network, decides to call it a day now that Craig’s for sure not getting the 11:35 PM timeslot. We’ve all been brought up to speed on the clause in Craig’s contract that landed him a pot of cash if the network settled elsewhere on its Letterman replacement. But Ferguson was quick to tweet his congratulations to Colbert the morning the news broke. That night, Ferguson opened his show with another shout out to Colbert, after which he teased viewers with cracks about resigning — but only for the length of a commercial break.
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: “As you can imagine, it’s been a wild day around here. You may remember a few years back there was a gentleman on this program by the name of Stephen Colbert,” Jon Stewart said tonight at the top of his Comedy Central program The Daily Show, addressing CBS‘ hire of Colbert to replace David Letterman on Late Show. (Video below)
Wild cheering from the studio audience.
“He was yea high, skin like porcelain, very talented actor, writer, dancer, improvisational comedian. We would send him to the field, usually with some type of fruit, and see where the day took us.”
Related: CBS’ Late-Night Drama Not Over Yet
Today’s news that Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report would end its run at the end of the calendar year and Stephen Colbert would retire the faux conservative TV personality he’s previously described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” was sad for the conservative TV and radio talking heads who have counted on Colbert over the years to regularly provide them with conversational lighter fluid.
“I won’t be doing the new show in character, so we’ll all get to find out how much of him was me. looking forward to it.,” Colbert said in a statement after CBS announced it had hired Colbert to take over Late Show when David Letterman retires some time in 2015.
On the bright side, it gave one of those pundits something to talk about today. Rush Limbaugh announced today on his syndicated radio show that CBS has “declared war on the heartland of America” by hiring Colbert. (Watch his rant below.)
Related: CBS’ Late-Night Drama Not Over Yet
Fourth in a series.
With all its car crashes, explosions, and hair-raising stunts, the film and TV industry is a notoriously dangerous business. But your chances of getting killed while making a movie go up dramatically the minute you step foot inside a helicopter. Indeed, helicopter crashes have taken more lives on film sets than any other type of accident in modern times. Since 1980, 33 film and TV workers — nearly one a year — have been killed in helicopter accidents around the world, 14 in the U.S. and 15 more for American companies shooting abroad.
In the 1980s, two crashes alone — both being shot on the cheap in the Philippines by the same production company — claimed nine lives in the span of just two years. The ’80s were by far the deadliest decade for helicopter crashes on movie sets, accounting for all but five of the 31 helicopter-related film and TV production fatalities in the last 34 years. The list:
Just days before Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens, the heirs of Captain America, The Avengers and X-Men co-creator Jack Kirby are asking the Supreme Court to hand them back the rights to the comic legends from Marvel and Disney. “The Court of Appeals unconstitutionally appropriated Kirby’s valuable copyrights and gave them outright to Marvel, effecting a transfer of wealth on a massive scale,” says the 39-page petition (read it here) filed with the high court on March 21. The petition is the latest legal attempt by Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby to assert that they had the right in 2009 to issue termination notices to Marvel and others on the artist’s characters under the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. A response is due from Marvel and Disney on April 28.
Looks like it’s going to be a while before Quentin Tarantino and Gawker face off in court after all. Just less than two weeks before a motion to dismiss hearing, a federal judge today set a trial date of January 27, 2015 for the director’s copyright infringement lawsuit over the site’s promotion and dissemination of his leaked and now-shelved screenplay The Hateful Eight script. That’s a year to the day from when Tarantino filed his $1 million suit against the website. Of course, that estimated three-day jury trial may not happened at all as Judge John F. Walter also moved the matter to private mediation. The judge has given the two sides until September 8, 2014 to complete the mediation, during which the parties will be able to conduct discovery and prepare their cases as a scheduling and case management order (read it here) from the judge today outlines. Of course there’s no promise that Tarantino’s lawyers and Gawker’s attorneys will work anything out in their heated dispute by then, but it does take the April 14 hearing on Gawker’s motion to dismiss the case off the calendar, which certainly lowers the immediate temperature.
Today’s orders come a day after the parties presented a joint report to the court estimating a four- to seven-day trial, and two days after Gawker responded to Tarantino’s response to its March 10 motion to dismiss the case. Gawker basically said the director is going after the wrong party, that his argument “misconstrues, misunderstands, and misstates” the law and part of the reason he’s suing is because of the Oscar winner’s “displeasure with Gawker’s past and present reporting about him.” Bet that’s going to be a topic of some discussion in the mediation.
UPDATE, 6:40 AM: GMA gang this morning told viewers that Josh Elliott is leaving the show to go to work for NBC Sports, marking the second successful poaching of a GMA cast member by NBCU, and that he would be replaced as news anchor by Amy Robach, who was on the scene – Elliott himself was on “vacation.” Meanwhile, over at NBC, Al Roker publicly congratulated Elliot, via Twitter, for his “conscious uncoupling” from GMA/ABC. Watch here:
ABC US News | ABC Business News
UPDATE, 6:30 AM: Josh Elliott‘s former Good Morning America colleague Sam Champion weighed in this morning on Elliott’s announced exit from the ABC morning infotainment show to go to work for NBC Sports. Champion, who was also poached by NBCU and now works at The Weather Channel, called it “a great opportunity for Josh’s heart,” adding, “I know that fans of GMA are not loving it.” Watch here:
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY PM: After an intense negotiation with ABC News, Good Morning America news anchor Josh Elliott is leaving the network for NBC Sports. ABC News wasted no time in announcing his replacement: Amy Robach, who has been part of the GMA team for some time, including filling in for Robin Roberts at various moments when she was out for medical reasons. Elliott, who had been making about $1.2 million salary at GMA, turned down an offer to stay with the show for $4-$5 million. After his fellow anchor Lara Spencer nailed down a lucrative multiyear contract Thursday, Elliott raised his ask to $10 million a year. With Elliott, NBC is getting a strong sports guy — a next generation Bob Costas — who previously worked at ESPN. Per the terms of Elliott’s exit, he cannot appear on NBC’s Today for six months according to people familiar with the situation. Elliott is the second member of the ensemble team that put GMA in first place in the morning show ratings race, and to depart for an NBCUniversal property. In December, NBCU successfully poached longtime GMA weatherman Sam Champion who is now a bigwig at their Weather Channel. In much the same way they did today, ABC announced Champion’s replacement, Ginger Zee, minutes after it was reported that he was leaving. In the wake of Champion’s departure, GMA has scored some of its highest ratings ever.
ABC News’ Good Morning America has signed Lara Spencer to a new contract, leaving Josh Elliott the lone holdout among GMA cast members whose contracts are coming up now, as the morning infotainment show gets buffeted by competitor NBC. That NBC campaign reportedly includes talk with Elliott — who came to GMA from ABC parent Disney’s ESPN — about working for NBC in both news and sports, a sort of next-generation Bob Costas. Similarly, NBC poached GMA weatherman Sam Champion late last year; Champion, who had been with GMA since 2006, left to join NBCUniversal’s The Weather Channel as host of its new morning flagship show, and to become the channel’s managing editor.
Elliott, whose paycheck currently is in the $1.2 million range, is said to be seeking north of $8 million a year — a more than 500% pay hike. According to one industry insider, with Robin Roberts re-signed and now Spencer (George Stephanopoulos’s contract runs through the end of 2014, so he’s not part of this flurry), ABC News may have put a time ultimatum on the table with Elliott, though others say no. Regardless, there’s not much time left what with Elliott having less than four weeks left on his current deal.
So far, the blow-by-blow media coverage of the near-simultaneous contract talks with four of GMA’s five pieces of on-air talent, and reports of jealousy over Robert’s $14 million-ish deal has not dinged GMA’s one-big-happy-family image to a degree that impacts viewing, in the way similar media reports of internecine disharmony did to Today, reaching a fevered pitch around the time of the cringe-inducing denouement of Operation Bambi – aka the ouster of a weepy Ann Curry – in June 2012:
Even after Champion’s departure, for instance, GMA last week delivered its biggest overall audience since Nielsen electronic records began and its best news-demo delivery in eight years. Still it’s considered no coincidence that GMA added Elliott and Spencer to the lineup about a year before GMA eclipsed Today in the ratings. This puts Elliott in a good position, though he and ABC News are said to still be far apart on price, with the network offering about half his asking price — quite a spread. (For comparison sake, GMA’s George Stephanopoulos reportedly is paid about $6 million a year; his contract runs through this calendar year.)
The 4.7% increase in Q1 admissions and 7.2% uptick in box office shows that it pays to have family friendly films in the early months, NATO‘s John Fithian told exhibition execs at the opening session for the CinemaCon confab. But it’s not enough. “We have a need for more family friendly, quality movies,” he says noting that four hit the top 10 last year vs two the year before leading to a spurt in attendance by kids 11 and under. Fithian adds that “we could sell even more [tickets] if they were spread out…We could still use more calendar diversity.” He also cheered the growth of films featuring diversity in their leading actors, and in the audiences that they target. That’s becoming especially important now that major studios are “shooting for the globe but releasing fewer titles.” But Fithian says he’s encouraged to see Lionsgate rise “to major studio status” while new productions come from the exhibition-backed Open Road, and a new venture led by Bob Simonds. “We will have the titles we need to continue our box office growth,” the NATO chief says.
UPDATE, 3:25PM: Madison Square Garden Company is buying a 50% stake in Tribeca Enterprises at $45 million, both companies have confirmed. CEO and co-founder Jane Rosenthal will continue to lead Tribeca along with President and COO Jon Patricof. For MSG, the upside is Tribeca’s content, not to mention an entry into the film festival business, while Tribeca will benefit from MSG’s marketing and promotional expertise and platforms. It also puts Tribeca in a position to expand its film festival brand and programs in New York and nationally. In the future, MSG will have the opportunity to up its share in Tribeca.
PREVIOUS BREAKING, SATURDAY 2:41PM: Madison Square Garden Company is making a strategic investment in Tribeca Enterprises — which includes Tribeca Film Festival. MSG is taking a substantial position in Tribeca. We are told MSG’s investment is at least $20 million-plus, upwards of $45 million. MSG and Tribeca are two of the best-known Gotham-based entertainment brands. The Tribeca Film Festival attracted 450,000 attendees last year at $550 a pop for top tier passes and $350 for second tier tickets. The fest is said to generate $750 million in economic activity for New York City. We are told that Tribeca Productions, which was founded by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal in 1989, is not part of the deal.
Issues faced by TV writers again are the sticking point in the WGA negotiations with the studios. In 2007, when the impasse led to a writers strike, it was residuals from series distributed online. This time around, it is the restrictive contracts for writers working in cable and on digital platforms. Under pattern bargaining, the deal between the WGA and AMPTP was expected to be similar to the recent DGA agreement with the studios with two writer-specific issues brought to the table by WGA — parity between cable and broadcast pay and the notion of exclusively and options. One of the two seem to have been resolved. “Every aspect of our contract has been negotiated and agreed upon with two exceptions — options and exclusivity — which remain points of contention between us,” negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray wrote to their constituency last night. What are options and exclusivity, why are they so important to writers and what do writers seek to accomplish on them ?
While the number of scripted cable series at the time of the 2007 negotiations was a fraction of the number of such shows on broadcast, there is now parity between the two, with cable and digital scripted programming gaining an edge with rapid expansion. For instance, during calendar year 2013, broadcast networks introduced 23 new series, while cable/digital debuted almost 40, not counting kids fare. That means that soon there may be more writers working in cable and digital than in broadcast, all of them facing the underemployment problem that is at the heart of the current WGA-AMPTP stand-off.
What has been hailed as major part of the lure of cable as a superior creative environment — shorter orders — has become a major practical problem for writers. As Johannessen and Ray pointed out in their letter, broadcast dramas employ writers for 10 months a year to produce 22 episodes, followed by a two-month unpaid hiatus before writers start work on the following season. In cable/digital, 10-13 episodes a season is the norm, though shorter orders — as few as eight or even six (HBO’s Getting On) — also are accepted.
“Writers on short-order shows now find themselves working for half a year or less, then stuck on unpaid hiatus for open-ended periods while waiting to see if their show — and their contract — will be renewed,” Johannessen and Ray wrote. According to a standard cable contract, because of the long lag time between seasons, shows have an option on a writer for up to six months after the previous season finale airs or up to 9 months after the season premiere. During that time, they are not getting paid. What’s more, “during this period they are virtually unemployable because studios demand ‘exclusivity’ and ‘first position,’ preventing writers from seeking other work, their ability to make a living cut off,” the letter said. That often involves not only inability to staff on another show, but also write a pilot or work as a producer on one, and, in some cases, even write a feature. The exclusivity is strictly enforced by many studios, and any side gig usually requires an exhaustive process of seeking the studio’s permission, which may or may not be granted.
Tonight at the the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, chairman Bruce Rosenblum will detail plans of a major makeover for the organization, including an expansion of its North Hollywood headquarters, a $40 million fundraising drive, a spiffing up of its Emmy statuette logo – the org is even changing its name to the more straightforward “Television Academy.”
The Academy says it will break ground on a dramatic expansion of its NoHo Arts District campus the day after this year’s Emmycast on August 25. This state-of-the-art facility will enable the Academy to host “even more events with television’s game-changers,” Rosenblum said in this morning’s announcement (see his letter to members bel0w). In addition to the construction, the fundraising will be put to use boosting educational work and scholarship program.
Beyond simplifying its name, the TV Academy also retained brand-strategy firm Siegel+Gale to revise its logo. The Emmy trophy itself will not change, but its graphic depiction will. The new look is “a symbolic representation of where we’re headed,” Rosenblum told Deadline. ”If you look at the new image – it’s cleaner, a bit tighter and more contemporary. It was in alignment with an evaluation of our name. We looked at the name Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and it was a bit dated, a bit old fashioned.” The Academy even mulled dropping “television” from its name. “After a lot of thought and discussion what became clear to all of us that while the word ‘television’ means something different than it did 70 years ago when our academy was founded, the word continues to haves significant resonance and importance among people who enjoy what television is – it’s a reference to the content itself,” Rosenblum said. “When you talk about ‘watching television’ you’re talking about watching Breaking Bad or Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory – you’re not talking about the box you used to watch in your living room.”
Here’s Rosenblum’s letter to members today:
Fox and Nat GEO‘s reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series is getting some White House lift-off. President Obama will be introducing the series premiere episode this Sunday, March 9 at 9pm ET/PT. A preview of the series screened at the White House as part of their inaugural White House Film Festival on Friday, February 28. Release is below:
Sky Arts HD is getting ready for its annual Playhouse Presents series which returns to the channel this May. The showcase is devoted to one-off comedies and dramas with talent lined up this year to include Matthew Perry, Billie Piper, Ben Wishaw, Mark Strong, Jo Brand, Simon Callow, Cara Delevingne, Lindsay Duncan, Kevin Eldon, Jane Horrocks, Daniel Mays, Sylvia Syms, Ashley Walters, Jason Watkins and Richard Wilson. Previous editions have had such names as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson, Idris Elba and David Tennant. This year also involves the writing talents of Oscar-winner Peter Straughan, among others. Perry, who’s prepping his Odd Couple pilot at CBS, will make his UK TV comedy debut with The Dog Thrower, the story of a man who finds fame, then infamy, when he starts throwing his dog. It’s produced by Runaway Fridge. Among the other offerings, Piper and Whishaw will star in Foxtrot from Sprout Pictures, about a gang heist gone wrong; Syms and Delevingne play unlikely friends in Timeless, a story of love, loss and hope, written by Tim Firth (Calendar Girls) and produced by Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow; and Strong will star as a tormented movie actor in the Straughan-penned Nosferatu In Love from Bonafide Films.
Disney To Film Marvel Series For Netflix In New York As Part Of Multimillion-Dollar Incentive Package
New York was “our first choice” to film four NYC-based Marvel “Defenders” series and a miniseries planned for Netflix beginning in 2015, Disney CEO Bob Iger said today during a press event in NY announcing the deal. But the Empire State’s taxpayers had to help seal the deal for what officials say is the biggest film or TV production commitment ever for New York: The state provided the entertainment giant with undisclosed breaks and incentives estimated at $4M for the project that’s projected to create 3,000 jobs including 400 full time ones in the Big Apple. They’ll work on 52 one-hour live action episodes and a miniseries built around Marvel characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage in what Disney calls “the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.” Taxpayers had to sweeten the terms for Disney because there was “a lot of competition from different cities” to land the production, Iger says. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the commitment is “exciting,” and a win for his efforts to broaden the economic base which heavily depends on financial institutions. The economic downturn in 2008 “was a wake-up call for the state of New York…you have to diversify,” he said at announcement with Iger. The Disney chief says that no decision has been made with Netflix about whether the series’ episodes will be released all at once or individually.
Here’s the release from Disney and New York state:
UPDATE, 4:09 PM: Warner Bros has filled another slot in its early 2015 release date calendar, saying today it will drop the Liam Neeson-starrer Run All Night, the Brad Ingelsby actioner, on February 6, 2015. Jaume Collet-Serra is directing in a reteam with Neeson who combined to make Unknown and the upcoming Non-Stop. Neeson plays a mob hitman who, in a single night, is forced to take on his former boss. The guy also has to protect his son and family, and winds up on the run from the mob and the authorities. Joel Kinnaman, Ed Harris and Vincent D’Onofrio co-star.
PREVIOUS, THURSDAY AM: Guy Ritchie’s Man From U.N.C.L.E will be released January 16, 2015, which is the start of the Martin Luther King Jr holiday weekend, Warner Bros said today. Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander and Luca Calvani star in the pic, a big-screen update of the 1960s TV series. This is the project that forced Warners to go back to Square 1 a couple of times, first when Steven Soderbergh was ready to direct and George Clooney to star. After Soderbergh and Clooney left, Warner Bros recruited Ritchie and then landed Tom Cruise for the lead alongside Hammer. Cruise departed last May to focus on Mission: Impossible 5. Cavill then came aboard as CIA agent Napoleon Solo opposite Hammer’s KGB operative Illya Kuryakin, who team amidst the Cold War to stop a global criminal organization. Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant co-star.
Fox Networks Group today announced its first ever cross-network global premiere event — for Seth MacFarlane‘s passion project, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, on Sunday, March 9, 9-10 PM ET/PT. In addition to premiering on the 10 U.S. networks simulcasting the premiere episode — Fox Broadcasting Company, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and FOX Life — and on the Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels International, as previously announced, Cosmos will premiere on all 90 National Geographic Channels in 180 countries, as well as 120 Fox-branded channels in 125 countries, making this the largest global launch ever for a television series. Rolling out immediately after the U.S. premiere, international markets will begin airing the premiere episode day and date on both Fox-branded and National Geographic Channels, concluding within one week of the domestic premiere event. The additional 12 episodes will air exclusively on National Geographic Channels outside the U.S.
This first multi-network launch event for Fox Networks Group, along with the series debut on Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels International, will make Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey available on 220 channels in 181 countries, with an overall footprint of more than half a billion homes.