Related: Yahoo Board OKs Deal To Acquire Tumblr — Analysis
SUNNYVALE, Calif. & NEW YORK– Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) and Tumblr announced today that they have reached a definitive agreement for Yahoo! to acquire Tumblr.
Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business. David Karp will remain CEO. The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.
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Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
IFC Films‘ Frances Ha had the last laugh this weekend, opening solid in a pair of theaters each in New York and Los Angeles. The critically well-received feature directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig grossed $134K, averaging $33,500. It came fairly close to his last feature, Greenberg, which averaged $39,384 when it opened in March 2010 in three locations. But that film, which also starred Gerwig, also included Ben Stiller, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Juno Temple. Frances Ha inched out Baumbach’s acclaimed 2005 Best Screenplay Oscar-nominated The Squid And The Whale in terms of first weekend PSA. That film opened in four runs, averaging $32,461. Frances Ha‘s fellow newcomers, however did not fare nearly as well.
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Epic Pictures is launching sales on animated action-adventure Space Dogs 2, the sequel to 2010′s canine astronaut pic Space Dogs 3D. Vadim Sotskov of Kinoatis and Sergei Sernov are producing alongside exec producers Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson of Epic Pictures Group. The US-Russian project is currently in production in stereoscopic 3D. Epic is also repping global sales on action-thriller The Patrol: Operation Herrick, written and directed by Tom Petch, who is producing with Tom Stuart for AFG Film Ltd. The story of a British Army patrol battling the Taliban in Afghanistan stars Owain Arthur, Nicholas Beveney, Daniel Fraser, Alex Mcnally, Oliver Mott, Ben Righton, and Nav Sidhu.
Spotlight Pictures has come aboard to sell Tar, the biopic of Pulitzer-winner poet CK Williams that stars James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Zach Braff, Henry Hopper and Bruce Campbell. The pic follows the life of Williams (Franco) as he recalls the experiences that shaped the man he became and the writer he was destined to be. It was directed by 12 NYU film students and premiered last year at the Rome Film Festival. The sales deal was negotiated by Vince Jolivette for Rabbit Bandini Productions with Carlos Rincon at Spotlight. Read More »
This is a — and possibly “the” — key question for Big Media investors coming out of the major broadcast and cable networks’ upfront programming presentations this week. As the sales pitches wore on it became clear that execs plan to spare no expense to recover from a year of dreary ratings. There’ll be 25 new programs on the Big Four networks, up from 18 planned this time last year. What’s more, “all of the broadcast networks are moving toward year-round original schedules, less re-runs [and] more frequent ‘mini-events’,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says. He adds that networks continue to depend on star power — for example CBS landed Robin Williams for its sitcom The Crazy Ones and Turner enlisted off-camera help from Michael Bay (Transformers), Dick Wolf (Law & Order), Howard Gordon (Homeland), Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), and Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI). “These guys don’t come cheap, and we presume they must participate significantly in the back-end,” Juenger says. Execs no doubt feel confident that their bets will pay off. For example, hit dramas could play well in international syndication. Mini-series also should appeal to streaming services including Netflix and Amazon where subscribers like to binge view.
But domestic advertisers still provide lions’ share of revenues for TV shows. And if networks are optimistic about that market, it has as much to do with whether they believe consumers will buy lots of cars as with the merits of what programmers put on the screen. “Auto represents about 13% of annual TV ad spend and is seen as a pivotal player in this year’s upfront,” says Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible. That may be good news for the networks: Car companies appear to be headed for a big year as the economy improves and consumers take advantage of today’s low interest rates. As a result, Wible says “the tone of the upfront was more in favor of the sellers than we had anticipated” — leading him to forecast “substantial CPM [unit cost] increases that will offset recent ratings losses.” UBS Investment Research’s John Janedis forecasts that cable CPMs will be up as much as 7% with the major broadcasters “slightly better,” although some advertisers will just shift dollars for late this year from the scatter market to the upfront “which will make the total dollars look a little better.” Read More »
Peter Webber, helmer of Girl With A Pearl Earring, Hannibal Rising and Emperor, has come attached to Bedlam Productions’ Happy Camp. The noir thriller is set to shoot in North America at the end of 2013. Scripted by Zayd Dohrn and produced by Stella Nwimo, Happy Camp follows a drug-addled former Deputy Sheriff, Cal, searching for his missing daughter amongst the complex politics of a rural Californian logging community. Taking place just off-reservation, the story exists where several worlds collide, with drug dealers, Native Americans, and corrupt officials all coming to blows. Meanwhile Cal grows increasingly desperate as he unearths a major conspiracy involving his daughter and a devastating forest fire rages, threatening to destroy the town of Happy Camp.
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
After co-writing last summer’s animated box office hit Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, Noah Baumbach returns to the Specialty realm with Frances Ha, which debuts this weekend theatrically. Baumbach co-wrote with Greta Gerwig, who also stars in the film. Also opening is veteran TV director Craig Zisk’s The English Teacher, starring Julianne Moore. French period drama Augustine joins Friday’s newcomers, starring Chiara Mastroianni, while Sundance Midnight thriller Black Rock also joins the fray along with Venice Golden Lion winner Pieta and Guy Pearce starter, 33 Postcards.
The English Teacher
Director: Craig Zisk
Writers: Dan Chariton, Stacy Chariton
Cast: Lily Collins, Julianne Moore, Michael Angarano, Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane
The feature, directed by Craig Zisk had its World Premiere at the recent Tribeca Film Festival, though distributor Cinedigm caught a private sneak of the film last fall in New York. “We fell in love with the playful wit of the screenplay, the polished direction by Craig Zisk and the terrific performances by the stellar cast, including Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Nathan Lane, Michael Angarano and Lilly Collins”, noted Cinedigm’s co-president entertainment Susan Margolins. “We chose this weekend to follow closely on the heels of the film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.” The comedy-drama stars Moore as a high school English teacher who lives in a small town living a simple existence. A former pupil (Angarano) returns after failing to succeed as a playwright in New York, and she convinces him to produce his play at the school. But his overbearing father has other plans. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 2:15 PM: Sony doesn’t slam the door on Third Point‘s proposal for it to sell up to a 20% stake in its entertainment assets — but doesn’t encourage the idea either. Sony “welcomes investment in the company,” SVP Corporate Communications Shiro Kambe says. But he adds: “We are focused on creating shareholder value by executing on our plan to revitalize and grow the electronics business, while further strengthening the stable business foundations of the entertainment and financial service businesses. As President and CEO Kazuo Hirai has said repeatedly, the entertainment businesses are important contributors to Sony’s growth and are not for sale, and we look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with our shareholders as we pursue our strategy.”
UPDATE, 10:28 AM: The CBS speculation has taken on new life following this morning’s news that hedge fund Third Point wants the electronics company to create a public stock for its entertainment assets. Third Point proposed that Sony keep at least an 80% stake in the studio and music properties. Still, the plan “will concentrate investor attention” on the businesses and “the synergies that potential acquirers such as CBS might eventually realize,” says Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser — who likes the idea. Sony shares are +10.5% in mid-day trading and CBS is +2.6%. Late last year Sony firmly rejected a sale after CBS’ Les Moonves mused that he “would want to look at them” if the properties were for sale. Sony execs might start to think differently if they take the movie, TV, and music assets public. The stock would give them a clearer sense of how much the properties are worth and, therefore, how much they could collect from a buyer. And Wiser believes that CBS could show that it would do a better job than Sony — which he says “has never bridged a significant cultural gap nor overcome its hierarchical bureaucracy to work better with the U.S.-centered operations.” CBS will be flush with cash soon as it prepares to sell and restructure its billboard ad properties. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Winter’s Discontent is the 2008 Black List script by Paul Fruchbom which Sony acquired for Atlas Entertainment a few years back. The well-liked project, which taps into the current zeitgeist of adult comedies, is moving forward with Billy Crystal attached to star as a widower who moves into a reputed, active mature community in an attempt to reinvigorate his sex life. Frank Oz, director of such pics as In & Out and Death At A Funeral, has come aboard to helm. Sony Pictures will distribute domestically and has taken rights in select foreign territories. Atlas is producing and Sierra Pictures is financing. Sierra/Affinity starts foreign sales in Cannes. Charles Roven and Alex Gartner are producing. Exec producers are Nick Meyer, Marc Schaberg, Kelly McCormick and Jake Kurily. Crystal recently starred in Parental Guidance and is next up in Monsters University from Pixar. He’s repped by CAA and managed by David Steinberg and Larry Brezner. Oz is repped by CAA. Read More »
NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt jumped right into the late-night controversy during the network’s upfront presentation this morning in NY, announcing a change in the network’s late-night plans as he took the stage at Radio City Music Hall. “I will be stepping down in 2014 to take over The Tonight Show, and Jay Leno will be taking my job”, he said. The presentation opened with a video featuring Parks And Recreation stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. “Hi, I’m Shakira,” Poehler said, shelling out advice on what show Middle America likes. “There is no bigger show on TV than The Voice“, she said. Deadpanned Offerman, “I prefer a show called The Silence where you have a black screen and no sound”. Poehler also touted the success of Revolution, a show about people living in the wilderness with no electricity or power. “I’d watch it, provided it’s not a show and is called Camping“.
Related: NBC’s 2013-14 Schedule
Greenblatt acknowledged NBC’s ratings woes this past season. “It’s been a roller-coaster season”, Greenblatt said. “We made progress”, he added, noting the network’s finish as No. 1 in the fall for the first time in nine years. But then, “we had challenges in the first quarter and our share of midseason disappointments” before “bouncing back in April”.
Related: Jay Leno To “Pass The Baton” To Jimmy Fallon During Winter Olympics; Seth Meyers To Start Feb. 24
The NBC boss also said that once again there will be two cycles of The Voice, with the fall one launching on September 23, the opening night of the season. Cycle 2 will start immediately following the Winter Olympics.
Related: NBC Execs: Corporate Synergy And Olympics Will Help Next Season
The first applause of the day came for Greenblatt’s announcement that Community is coming back for 13 episodes. The second one? For Michael J Fox, whose new series will air on Thursdays. It was the first new NBC show introduced by Greenblatt before he handed things off to NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke.
Related: NBC’s New Show Trailers Read More »
Oxygen Media is partnering with Lemuel Plummer (Vindicated, The Sheards) and Holly Carter (106 & Gospel) on Pastors Of L.A. (working title), set to debut this fall. The docu-series will center on six mega-pastors in Southern California who are willing to share diverse aspects of their lives, from their work in the community and with their parishioners to the very large and sometimes provocative lives they lead away from the pulpit. The cast includes Bishop Noel Jones, Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Wayne Chaney, Bishop Ron Gibson, and Pastor Jay Haizlip. Pastors of L.A. is produced by L. Plummer Media in association with Relevé Entertainment, with Lemuel Plummer, Holly Carter and Chris Costine serving as Executive Producers.
Family comedies and action dramas dominate NBC‘s new series additions for next season. NBC is introducing six series in the fall — comedies Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World, and The Michael J. Fox Show; and dramas The Blacklist, Ironside and Dracula; with five more set for midseason– comedies The Family Guide and About A Boy, and dramas Believe, Crisis and Crossbones. (Dracula and Crossbones were carried over from last upfront/off-season). Not scheduled yet are newly picked up dramas Chicago PD and The Night Shift and comedy Undateable as well as last-minute renewal Community. On the returning series side, missing from the announcement are long-time reality staple Celebrity Apprentice and well reviewed freshman drama Hannibal as NBC is yet to make a pickup decision on both. Here is NBC’s fall and midseason schedules with analysis and new series descriptions underneath. As expected, the network is spreading its launches between the fall and spring, tied to its Winter Olympics coverage:
NBC FALL 2013-14 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)
8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE BLACKLIST”
8-9 p.m. – “The Biggest Loser” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – “The Voice” (New time)
10-11 p.m. – “Chicago Fire” (New Day and Time)
8-9 p.m. – “Revolution” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. – “IRONSIDE”
8-8:30 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation” (New time)
8:30-9 p.m. – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY”
9-9:30 p.m. – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD”
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW”
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood” (New Day and Time)
8-9 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “DRACULA”
7:00-8:15 p.m. – “Football Night in America”
8:15-11:30 p.m. – “NBC Sunday Night Football” Read More »
UPDATE SUNDAY 2 PM: Warner Bros Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara is finally confirming internally my news that Warner Bros Television Group Bruce Rosenblum is exiting. This, after Tsujihara for months and even in recent weeks has told almost everyone there that Rosenblum was staying.
BREAKING … SATURDAY 10 PM… EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood always fires people in success, or so the saying goes. I’ve learned that the announcement by Warner Bros Entertainment CEO (and soon-to-be-chairman) Kevin Tsujihara is planned for 7 to 14 days after next week’s TV upfront presentations. Despite Tsujihara’s claims for months that he hadn’t made up his mind what to do about the brilliant but sharp-elbowed Bruce Rosenblum, I can tell you Tsujihara declared from Day One of his new job that “Bruce is an unnecessary layer of management”. This, even though Rosenblum’s Warner Bros Television Group consistently contributes half of Warner Bros Entertainment’s profits year after year. I’m told that Rosenblum won’t be replaced as President of the Warner Bros Television Group now that he’s quietly settled out his contract which expires in August. (Tsujihara never made a move to negotiate a new one for him.) Some already expect Rosenblum not to turn up at next week’s upfronts. Instead Bruce is sitting on a fat severance package in recognition of his more than two outstanding decades at Warner Bros and for keeping his mouth shut during the humiliation of losing the WB CEO job and then getting kicked to the curb on top of that. Many in Hollywood thought Tsujihara might keep Rosenblum in place rather than bust up what is so obviously a winning formula atop the TV group. Instead Tsujihara proved that, just like his Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes, he is more obsessed by politics and personality than profit. (“It would have been pretty awkward, quite frankly,” Tsujihara told the TV community about keeping Rosenblum on.)
Warner Bros Television President Peter Roth has just been signed to a new long-term deal and will report to Tsujihara for the first time. Roth reps the increasing power of content and the executives directly responsible for its creation. ”As I look at the key people that exist, Peter comes at the top of the list. He’s at the top of the game right now creatively,” Tsujihara enthused privately on Day One of his new job. But Rosenblum’s roles will be assumed by a new WBTV leadership mix including Warner Bros TV Group EVP Craig Hunegs, Warner Bros International Distribution President Jeffrey Schlesinger, and Warner Bros Television EVP Brett Paul. (“Peter is the big teddy bear but Brent was sent in to beat you up,” notes one exec.) These guys are some of what Bewkes was referring to back on January 28th when he talked about the “very strong benches of people beneath”. All will become the TV group’s new sharp-elbowed negotiators who won’t rub people the wrong way like Rosenblum did.
It’s been a professional and emotional roller-coaster for Rosenblum ever since he expected the top job and didn’t get it. Read More »
UPDATE SUNDAY 9 AM: Happy Mother’s Day! I’ve learned more about what still is in play at CBS. The network is considering possible additional series pickups. The pilots in contention are dramas Backstrom, Reckless and NCIS: Red and comedies Friends With Better Lives and Bad Teacher. So far, CBS has picked up four comedies, two multi-camera (Mom, The Millers) and two single-camera (We Are Men, Crazy Ones). The pilots under consideration are one of each, multi-cam (Friends) and single (Bad Teacher). Additionally, I’ve learned that CBS is in discussion with Sony TV about both Jim Gaffigan and the Irish American family comedy pilot The McCarthys, which could undergo retooling/some reshots for future consideration. Sony TV also produces Bad Teacher, so, like at NBC, where the studio successfully completed a complex negotiations involving three pilots and Community, the indie studio is in another round of multi-project talks. Sony had the Beverly Hills Cop pilot at CBS, which didn’t go. It had a big penalty, which I’d guess would be factoring into the conversations. Of the other pilots, Backstrom and Friends are from 20th, NCIS: Red and Reckless from CBS TV Studios. Read More »
NBC faces the task of scheduling six new comedies for next season with only two returning half-hour series: Community, which received an eleventh-hour 13-episode renewal, and Parks & Recreation. The network may just have the right man for the job. This is head of scheduling Jeff Bader‘s first turn at bat after moving to NBC last summer. As a long-time scheduling topper at ABC, he was presented with a similar challenge four years ago when the network picked up five new comedy series and returned two. Like Parks & Rec and Community, those two returning comedies, Scrubs and Better Off Ted, were quirky cult shows and not anchors that could launch new series. What Bader and ABC brass did back then was let Scrubs and Ted be, pairing them together for what became both series’ final season. Then they took four new comedies and launched a new two-hour comedy block on Wednesday. It worked – three of the four comedies are still on the air: Modern Family and The Middle on ABC and Cougar Town on TBS. (The fourth, Hank, was quickly cancelled.)
Bader may take a similar approach at NBC. Like at ABC in 2009, the two returning NBC comedies are workplace, while most of the new series are family or family-esque (Michael J. Fox, Welcome To The Family, The Family Guide, Sean Saves The World, About A Boy). Coincidentally, the last new comedy series this year, Undateable, is a multi-camera show about dating, which was also the case at ABC in 2009 with Romantically Challenged, which was scheduled behind Dancing With The Stars. Read More »
Clues had been coming in for the past couple of weeks. After last fall failed to produce a single breakout new comedy series, the networks stepped up their comedy development efforts. That resulted in a glut of hot comedy pilots that made network executives giddy. It was clear that, with the nets fawning over their comedy development, they would likely bet heavily on new half-hour series. But they went further — an almost complete redo of last season on the comedy side, as if it never happened. Out of 16 new comedies picked up last May, only one, Fox‘s The Mindy Project, has been renewed. Another one, ABC‘s The Neighbors, is expected to join it after a deal is completed. Compare that to 7 freshman half-hour series who made it to Year 2 last May.
So far, 19 new comedy series have been picked up for next season by the broadcast networks. One to two more will likely be added by Monday, with NBC‘s Craig Robinson and CBS‘ Friends with Better Lives among those talked about. (Fox’s To My Assistant and NBC’s Assistance also have a shot down the road after possible retool.) Not surprisingly, NBC leads the pack with 6 half-hour series already ordered. With The Office leaving, NBC pretty much wiped the slate clean, only bringing back Parks & … Read More »
In a repeat from last year, NBC‘s perennial bubble comedy Community just snagged a 13-episode renewal. There have been some significant changes on the show over the past 12 months though. When NBC renewed the show last May, it still had creator Dan Harmon as showrunner and Chevy Chase as co-star. Immediately after the upfronts, Harmon was replaced with David Guarascio and Moses Port. Then in November, Chase too departed. The bitter feud between Chase and Harmon was a major factor in destabilizating of the show for a couple of seasons, leading to public outbursts and profane voice messages. Now that Chase is gone, emotions have cooled down and all sides involved have had time to reflect, there is speculation that Harmon may come back, especially if this turns out to be Community‘s final chapter. (I’d heard that, with the show’s future at NBC in limbo, there were a number of suitors clamoring to pick up Community for a final installment.) There are no deals in place but I hear there certainly is interest in bringing Harmon back in some capacity.
The last piece has fallen into NBC‘s comedy puzzle, with the network canceling Ryan Murphy‘s freshman comedy The New Normal. To recap, of all current NBC comedy series, only two, Parks & Recreation and Community, made it to next season as the network is betting heavily on its half-hour pilots. The New Normal has garnered a lot of attention (and some controversy) with its subject of a gay couple having a baby. It recently won a GLAAD Award but largely failed to gain traction with viewers.
Related: NBC & Sony Make Deal: ‘Blacklist’, ‘Night Shift’, ‘Welcome To The Family’ All Picked Up, ‘Community’ Renewed
Related: NBC Pilot Update: Projects That Are Not Going Forward Get Notified