This has been an ongoing back-and-forth process over the last several years, with the broadcast networks at different times opting to fold current programming into their drama and comedy departments or re-establish standalone current operations. Fox now is doing the former, promoting head of drama Terence Carter and head of comedy Suzanna Makkos to EVPs, with both adding oversight of respective current series to their development duties. Under the previous structure, Carter and Makkos ran drama/comedy development and then paired up with their current programming counterparts to shepherd their newly picked-up series for the first season. Both will report to Fox COO Joe Earley. In their previous roles, Carter and Makkos had reported to Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly, while current programming had reported to Earley. Earley now is taking over more day-to-day responsibilities at the network, with Reilly pulling away from those to focus on big-picture issues, like the network’s new pilot model.
Fox’s Abolishment Of Pilot Season: Practical Guide To How Will It Work
The Challenges Of Bypassing Pilot Season
As part of the restructuring on the comedy side, Lauren Levy Neustadter has been promoted to SVP, and Samata Narra has been a VP for the past several months, both serving as Makkos’ senior lieutenants. On the drama side, … Read More »
At last October’s Mipcom, Israeli interactive talent show Rising Star, was the hot property, selling local versions around the globe. At the Mip-TV market next month, The Big Picture, a new interactive entrant from Israel, is aiming to be the next big thing. The game show hails from Israeli format company A Cappella, which recently made U.S. and UK deals with eOne for religion-themed drama Reaching For Heaven. Big Picture is created by TV host and mentalist Nimrod Harel, whose first scripted series, The Believer, has been sold to Fox International Channels. A budget of $1M went toward developing and producing an English-language Big Picture pilot hosted by Andrew Günsberg (Australian Idol, Live To Dance), which A Cappella will shop at Mip-TV (see promo below). The trivia-based show asks a contestant to identify photographs projected on a 20-meter-high screen in the studio; the pictures can be of celebrities, political figures, events and such. There are 12 stages to the game with the ultimate possibility of winning $1M. The contestant can opt out at any time and take the money they’ve amassed, or continue vying for the top prize. If they get an answer wrong, they leave empty-handed. The interactive element in Big Picture is the participation of the viewing audience. Via a specially-designed app that uses technology created in Israel’s booming start-up community, and with consultants who have worked with the Israeli military, viewers can answer questions by text and potentially become the partner of the onscreen contestant, eventually splitting the purse. In a twist, the show will be pre-recorded in studio, but viewers will participate on the day of broadcast. Those selected will have their image projected on screen, and play along via the technology.
A Capella CEO Einat Shamir says, “The audience at home wants to be an active participant and influence what they watch on the screen in real time. The beauty of our format is the very unique production formula, which allows to overcome a lot of traditional obstacles many TV producers were facing when trying to cater to the new interactivity trend in the business.” Read More »
The Society of Camera Operators held an in memoriam tribute to assistant camerawoman Sarah Jones as part of its annual awards ceremony tonight at the Skirball Cultural Center. The tribute was the second to be held for the 27-year-old this weekend following Friday’s Sunset Boulevard candlelight walk and vigil in her honor, which counted nearly 1,000 local union members. Attending both events were Jones’ parents Richard and Elizabeth from South Carolina. Jones was killed in an on-set train accident during the production of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider on February 20 in Jesup, GA. Jones’ death has spurred an industrywide outcry for improved safety standards.
Related: Anger, Impassioned Pleas For Safety At Tribute For Sarah Jones
As part of the ceremony, her parents were presented with a plaque accepting her as an honorary member of the SOC. Former SOC president Dan Kneece, who cut together the moving tribute video of Jones as the Hall & Oates song “Sara Smile” played, said he was crying as he put together the presentation. Although he didn’t know Jones personally, he was friends with her on Facebook because of a mutual friend, Amanda Etheridge, who spoke at Friday night’s memorial about her friend and mentor. The tribute was part of the SOC’s annual awards ceremony tonight in which Gravity‘s Peter Taylor won the Camera Operator of the Year-Feature Film award and Mad Men‘s Don Devine the Camera Operator of the Year-TV award. The event took place before an audience of 500, including Society of Camera Operators and International Cinematographer Guild members. (See the full list of winners an honorees below.) Read More »
Director Wladyslaw Pasikowski’s Jack Strong has taken the box office in Poland by storm since its release on February 7. The Polish, English and Russian-language film made about $1.5M in its debut and increased over the next two frames. It’s now passed the coveted 1M admissions mark, according to the Polish Film Institute, and has about $6M in takings. It’s the top film of the year and is expected to continue to have legs. The Cold War period thriller stars Marcin Dorocinski who was in last year’s top Polish grosser Drogówka (Traffic Department), American actor Patrick Wilson and Maja Ostaszewska. It’s based on the true story of Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, a high-ranking officer in the Polish army. Privy to the most classified operations of the Warsaw Pact, he become a CIA asset and from 1971 to 1981, Kukliński provided the West with over 40,000 pages of classified documents. Helmer Pasikowski (Aftermath) wrote the screenplay based on CIA documents, interviews with witnesses and never-before-seen materials from the archives of the Institute of National Remembrance. The Glos Wielkopolski newspaper called Jack Strong, “a very good thriller” somewhere in between “the intellectual complexity of Tomas Alfredson and the lightness of James Bond.” The film was produced by Scorpio Studio and co-produced by Vue Movie Distribution (formerly ITI Cinema), Orange Polska, and Tauron Polska Energia with co-financing from the Polish Film Institute. A limited run in the UK and Ireland … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Screen Gems has signed on to distribute The Last Of Us, a live-action adaptation of the PlayStation 3 vidgame from Naughty Dog. Neil Druckmann, the Creative Director for the game, will write the script. The creative architects will be Naughty Dog co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, as well as Druckmann and Game Director Bruce Straley. They’ll team with Sam Raimi and his Ghost House Pictures banner.
The logline: Hardened survivor Joel teams with young and capable companion Ellie to journey through a radically transformed world some 20 years after an infectious pandemic ravages humanity. The game has won numerous awards and has been a big seller since its release last summer.
Related: Warner Bros Acquires Rights To Video Game Sensation ‘Minecraft’
“Screen Gems’ Brian Dukes and Eric Ling brought this game to my attention insisting we go after it, and when I saw the quality of the storytelling, I knew the audience for this project was far greater than just the gaming community and that Neil Druckmann must write the screenplay,” Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper said. “I am thrilled that SCEA’s Riley Russell was able to get me in front of Neil and Evan Wells to plead my case. Sam and his team at Ghost House round out the perfect team to help realize Neil’s vision.” Read More »
The Tribeca Film Festival continues to roll out its lineup for this year’s 13th edition, which kicks off April 16. Here is the program slates for the Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings and Storyscapes sections. The fest’s shorts program will be unveiled Tuesday. Here are today’s films, which include Spotlight spots for Roman Polanksi’s Venus In Fur, the Robin Williams-starrer Boulevard from Dito Montiel, world premieres of films directed by actors Chris Messina and Courteney Cox, and of course the horror comedy Zombeavers:
Related: Tribeca Film Festival Unveils Competition Slate
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Next Games and AMC today said the Finnish games company is in production of a mobile game based on The Walking Dead. The game’s worldwide launch will coincide with the Season 5 launch of the series that, for a second year, is No. 1-ranked in the demo in the U.S. “We chose to team up with Next Games because of their outstanding creative and technical talent, as well as a willingness to re-imagine the unique and compelling world of The Walking Dead, which has built a significant and passionate global fan community,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. Read More »
The digital studio that specializes in scripted female dramas is partnering with the script site to find a writer to develop a YouTube series. The Black List will solicit teleplays to be evaluated by its community of industry pros and readers and deliver a shortlist of five writers to be considered for a script. Submissions are being accepted through May 6. WIGS, the digital studio created by TV and feature producers Jon Avnet and Rodrigo Garcia, inked a multiyear deal with Fox last year.
Black List Teams With TNT & TBS For Diversity Initiative
WIGS YouTube Dramas Added To Hulu
The union’s new voluntary Personal Managers Code of Ethics and Conduct really isn’t going over well with some managers. Just a day after the code was unveiled, SAG-AFTRA today sent an email to members over the “uninformed lobbying” against the new scheme by the Talent Managers Association. SAG-AFTRA claimed that its former partners in crafting the code had “reached the level of direct misrepresentations being sent to union members in an attempt to frighten them about the true intent of this Code.”
Related: SAG-AFTRA Sets New Ethics Code For Personal Managers
“Managers have been asked by SAG-AFTRA of the guild if we intend to help them get work,” reads one email from a personal manager obtained by Deadline. “I’m afraid that if we want to stay in the guild’s good graces we must turn away all guild members who approach us with agency representation.” The latter sentence refers to state labor laws in California and New York that limit personal managers’ ability to procure employment for their clients. SAG-AFTRA said today that the verbage in their code “closely mirrors” the laws of the Golden State and the Empire State – something the TMA obviously wants to use as wedge.
Half a dozen years in the making, the new ethics and conduct code marks the first time the union has attempted to exercise some control over managers even though it has, as do other guilds, long mandatorily regulated talent agents.
Here is the email SAG-AFTRA sent to its members today: Read More »
Both the International Cinematographers Guild and the Society of Camera Operators will honor the late Sarah Jones, the 27-year-old assistant camerawoman who was killed two weeks ago on the train tracks of the set of Midnight Rider in Jessup, GA. First, the ICG will hold a candlelight vigil and memorial Friday that will be attended by her parents Elizabeth and Richard Jones, who are flying in from South Carolina for the event. In addition to the Local 600′s memorial, she was also honored at the Publicist’s Guild luncheon last Friday and will be honored again Saturday by the Society of Camera Operators at the Skirball Cultural Center as they hold their Lifetime Achievement awards.
Jones was tragically killed February 20 on the set of director Randall Miller’s Midnight Rider, a film based on the life of singer Greg Allman, when she was caught on the tracks and hit by a train as the production crew was filming a dream sequence. The picture was to be distributed in the states by Open Road Pictures. Production has since been shut down until further notice. Jones’ death has spawned a flurry of commentary and calls to action regarding film safety. She has become the symbol of a rising movement in the production community, and several black ribbons were seen during Sunday’s Oscar ceremony including by Best Sound Editing winner Glenn Freemantle of Gravity. She was mentioned during the Oscarcast following the In Memoriam segments in a graphic pointing viewers to the Academy’s website.
Related: OSCARS: In Memoriam Includes ‘Midnight Rider’s Sarah Jones
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The 2014 Tribeca Film Festival unveiled 47 of its 89 feature-length films in its lineup today in the World Narrative and Documentary Competition selections as well as the out-of-competition Viewpoints pics. Thursday will see the remainder in the Spotlight, Midnight, and Special sections. The fest kicks off April 16 with the already announced opening-night film, the Nas documentary Time Is Illmatic. Dior And I will screen opening night for the World Documentary competition, the Rory Culkin-starrer Gabriel from U.S. writer-director Lou Howe will open the World Narrative competition, and Summer Of Blood will open Viewpoints — all world premieres and all to screen April 17. The fest runs through April 27. Here’s the lineups in the three sections: Read More »
It’s totally voluntary and the Talent Managers Association is against it but SAG-AFTRA today introduced a Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct. The new code (see below) is the first time the union has attempted to exercise some control over managers even though it has, as do other guilds, long mandatorily regulated talent agents. The union also announced that it would change the name of its Agency Relations Department to the SAG-AFTRA Professional Representatives Department. Years in the making the new Code doesn’t jibe with some of the people who were initially involved in crafting it. “After thoughtful review and consultation with legal counsel, our position is to advise members against signing the SAG-AFTRA code in its current highly restrictive and regulatory form,” said the TMA board in a statement. The announcement today by SAG-AFTRA comes just weeks before the union is expected to announce the beginning of talks with the studios and networks for a new 3-year contract. DGA members approved their deal with AMPTP in January and the WGA, who started negotiations on February 3, returns to talks today after break of a couple of weeks
Related: Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit By Managers Challenging Talent Agencies Act
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You can bet that government officials and opponents of Comcast’s $45.2B planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable will scrutinize its just-released third annual report describing how it has fulfilled the promises it made in 2011 to win FCC approval for the deal to buy NBCUniversal. Opponents already say the cable giant can’t be trusted. ”To the extent that Comcast has a history of breaching its legal obligations to consumers, such history should be taken into account when evaluating Comcast’s proposal for future market expansion,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said last week in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. But Comcast says the new 90-page report shows that it has “continued to meet and in many cases exceed our obligations.” For example, it says that its Internet Essentials program has provided home broadband service to more than 250,000 low income families, and has exceeded by 64 the requirement to provide courtesy video and broadband to an additional 600 schools, libraries and community institutions in underserved areas. (The company says that tomorrow it will “make an important announcement about the future of the [Internet Essentials] program.”) For online video Comcast says it has “new or renewed agreements with Amazon and Netflix, among others” resulting in a third year in which it has made these deals to provide programming to potentially competitive services without having to go to arbitration.
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The robocalls and emails apparently did the trick. Academy CEO Dawn Hudson reports the 86th Oscar contest is responsible for another significant high mark in the Academy’s efforts to turn out the vote.”As we head toward Oscar Sunday, I am thrilled to report how engaged our members have been this voting season. Your efforts resulted in another record turnout. And we are so happy to see that members have embraced our online voting system, and are voting from all over the world easily and securely. Thank you for participating in this historic year – when all members were able to vote in all categories – and for honoring the brilliant artists in our community,” she wrote in an internal Friday memo. The Academy doesn’t reveal actual numbers but I was told by reliable sources that the turnout for the nominating phase was over 90%, and with a huge last-minute surge (and that effort to get members engaged in the process) the total for the final voting phase which ended last Tuesday may have exceeded that number. But what does it all mean? It’s been said before, but I will say it again, this is one of the tightest and most unpredictable Best Picture races I can remember and I am not sure what the massive turnout of the Acad’s 6028 eligible voters says other than there was obviously a lot of interest within Oscar’s ranks. I have talked to numerous members over the past few days at various Oscar-related events, and while the results vary, it is clear this has all finally turned into a real seesaw race between 12 Years A Slave and Gravity. It appears to be a divide so sharp between those two that Sony’s American Hustle has a fighting chance to be the real beneficiary in what has been widely acknowledged the past few weeks to be a three-way contest.
Related: OSCARS: Pete Hammond’s Absolute FINAL Predictions In Every Category In One Of The Most Competitive Races Ever
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Big Sony is opening Russian epic Stalingrad in a record number of IMAX theaters this weekend. The roll out may be a watershed for Russian filmmaking in the U.S. and it marks another blending of “specialty” and “Hollywood” though that isn’t really new as the grey areas have mounted for years. Hollywood’s biggest stars have long had indies intervals between studio cash cows. Cinedigm will open The Bag Man with Robert De Niro and John Cusack theatrically, while the Universal acquisition will remain with the studio’s non-theatrical lineup. Lionsgate/Codeblack will bow Repentance with Anthony Mackie and Forest Whitaker in over 150 theaters, targeting its primarily African-American audience. On the traditional end, Sony Classics will platform Cannes debut The Lunchbox this weekend, while Velvet Films will open an exclusive engagement at Film Society of Lincoln Center for Raoul Peck’s Fatal Assistance.
The Bag Man
Director-writer: David Grovic
Writers: Paul Conway, James Russo, Marie-Louise von Franz (inspired by her short story, The Cat)
Cast: John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa, Robert De Niro, Crispin Glover, Dominic Purcell
First-time feature filmmaker David Grovic landed quite a cast for his crime thriller The Bag Man. Starring John Cusack, Rebecca Da Costa and Robert De Niro, the title centers on a criminal who bides his time at a seedy motel, waiting for his boss after killing several men and making away with a mystery bag. “We were incredibly fortunate to get essentially first choices in all the roles,” said Grovic. “Unless you’re a studio paying huge money, I think the only way you can get this quality of cast is by making it a passion project.” Grovic said that the cast responded to the script’s non-stereotypical traits including De Niro’s hair and eccentric dialog as well as Da Costa’s wonder woman outfit for starters. Read More »
The Peacock network’s tie-ins with the Obama administration continue. NBC said today that Michelle Obama will do a cameo on the season finale of Parks And Recreation. Her scene in the episode titled “Moving Up” celebrates healthier out-of-school programs as part of her “Let’s Move” initiative against childhood obesity. The First Lady’s appearance continues a recent trend of NBC team-ups with D.C. heavyweights. She helped goose the ratings for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last week in a sleepover skit with the host and Will Ferrell. And earlier this week Vice President Joe Biden was the second guest on Seth Meyers’ first night hosting Late Night; the Veep followed Parks And Rec star Amy Poehler, whose character famously idolizes Biden. (He also did a cameo on the sitcom that aired shortly after the 2012 elections.) And on February 14, Community star Joel McHale was tapped as host of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in May. Then there was pre-pinkeye Bob Costas’ pre-Olympics interview with President Obama on February 6. Michelle Obama’s Parks And Rec episode airs April 24.