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So Who Comic-Conquered San Diego?

So Who Comic-Conquered San Diego?The fanboy Super Bowl is over. Who made the most of San Diego Comic-Con and who spit the bit? Here’s the view from Deadline staffers who endured endless movie and TV show presentations. We’ll start with features:

WARNER BROS: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Mad Max Comic ConThe best Comic-Con panels show fans things they’ve never seen before. From that standpoint, Warner Bros changed the game by making the Hall H experience seem larger. It turned the dark curtains covering 450 feet down the sides of the auditorium into a wraparound multimedia visual experience that left jaded geeks looking left and right in wonder at images that complemented the onstage presentation. Expect others to rip this off. For star power: Zack Snyder introduced his Batman v Superman stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot and offered glimpses of the film. Warner Bros also wowed with explosive footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that looks like it could be the answer someday to this Trivial Pursuit question: What movie transformed Tom Hardy from a great actor into a big fucking movie star? Warner Bros also brought Middle Earth excitement to Hall H with a lengthy Hobbit: The Five Armies panel and footage that had LOTR fans aflutter.

Related: Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con

MARVEL: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Avengers 2 at Comic-ConMarvel is always the must-see panel; not so much this year. Maybe it was DC Comics’ turn to shine, and maybe being a sequel factory imposes limits on the surprise front. They trotted out the superstar Avengers lineup — been there, done that! — with additions Josh Brolin, Aaron Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen. No Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, who was busy bitch-slapping Hercules at the box office in the Luc Besson film Lucy. Footage was OK, but Kevin Feige set a high bar for himself in past Cons, and this year he couldn’t clear it. Ant-Man brought Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (already knew they were in the movie), and plans for a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel were greeted by a collective “Duh!’ Feige could have told us what movies will fill all those release dates he recently staked out. He didn’t. Better luck next year, Marvel Man.

Related: Marvel Sets ‘Guardians 2′ For 2017; ‘Avengers 2’ Footage Draws Standing O

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UPDATE: DirecTV Says Pay TV Rivals “Have No Interest In Paying For Time Warner Cable’s Excess”

UPDATE: DirecTV Says Pay TV Rivals “Have No Interest In Paying For Time Warner Cable’s Excess”UPDATE: 5:37PM: The company behind SportsNet LA isn’t getting any sympathy from the country’s top satellite TV provider regarding the impasse over Dodgers telecasts in Los Angeles. DirecTV issued an unambiguous statement today in the wake of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler blaming Time Warner Cable for the mess and threatening to take action if it isn’t resolved soon. And the satcaster believes it speaks for a number of pay TV rivals: “We agree with DirecTV logoCongressman Sherman that any loyal Dodger fans deserve the opportunity to see games,” DirecTV said, “yet not at the expense of the millions of other AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications, Verizon FiOS and other families who have little or no interest in paying for Time Warner Cable’s excess. Rather than force everyone to bail Time Warner Cable out, the simplest solution is to enable only those who want to pay to see the remaining Dodgers games to do so at the price Time Warner Cable wants to set.”

Related: Time Warner Cable, DirecTV In Stalemate Over Dodgers Channel

Earlier today, TWC said it was open to having an arbitrator settle the matter, but DirecTV has shown no interest in that idea. “We are willing to enter into binding arbitration with DirecTV, and we appreciate the Congressman’s concern for Dodger fans,” TWC spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi said in a statement. “We prefer to reach agreements through private business negotiations, but given the current circumstance, we are willing to agree to binding arbitration and to allow DirecTV customers to watch the Dodgers games while the arbitration is concluded

Time Warner Cable logoPREVIOUSLY: 1:17PM: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has had it with the disputes that have kept most Los Angeles area pay TV customers from seeing the Dodgers — whose local TV rights are controlled by Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA. “Inaction is no longer acceptable,” Wheeler says in a tough letter today to TWC chief Rob Marcus. “I strongly urge you to end the impasses that are depriving Los Angeles consumers from being able to watch their home baseball team.” He adds that the FCC “intends to monitor this situation closely in order to determine whether intervention is appropriate and necessary.”

Related: DirecTV CEO Says He’s Seen “Immaterial” Sub Loss Without Dodgers Channel

Announced early last year, SportsNet LA was born out of the 25-year, multibillion-dollar deal Time Warner Cable inked with the Dodgers for broadcast rights. Sources say TWC is seeking $4-$5 per subscriber per month for channel in the first year of the contract. Roughly 70% of LA remains without SportsNet including DirecTV, which has close to a 30% share of the market with more than 1.2 million subs. Read More »

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TV Land’s ‘Kirstie’ Cancelled After One Season

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 1:18pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

TV Land’s ‘Kirstie’ Cancelled After One SeasonI’ve learned that TV Land has opted not to renew comedy Kirstie for a second season. The decision comes five months after the show ended its freshman run. Kirstie was not a ratings or critical hit but it featured a dream cast of sitcom stars: Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards. The show revolved around Madison “Maddie” Banks (Alley), a Broadway star who finds her life turned upside down when Arlo (Eric Petersen), her long-lost son, turns up looking to connect after his adopted mother dies. Perlman played Maddie’s assistant and best friend; Richards played Maddie’s outlandish driver. Possibly factoring into TV Land’s decision was the fact that Kirstie creator/executive producer/showrunner Marco Pennette left at the end of Season 1 for personal reasons and the network had to search for a new showrunner.

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CNBC And Fox Now Added To Apple TV Lineup

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 9:43am PDT

CNBC And Fox Now Added To Apple TV LineupYou need a pay TV subscription to see the CNBC and FOX NOW programming  – and not all providers have deals to offer the business news and entertainment services online to their customers. Still, these are big additions to Apple’s streaming platform, which the tech giant is eager to promote after initially characterizing it as a mere hobby.

Apple TV becomes the first TV-connected streaming platform to offer a “full-featured CNBC TV Everywhere experience,” says NBCUniversal TV Everywhere GM Alison Moore. Users can watch the channel live, and see shows or clips on demand.  CNBC President Mark Hoffman says that makes it possible for viewers “to be in control of their experience.” Pay TV providers authenticating the service include AT&T U-verse, Cablevision’s Optimum TV, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DirecTV, Dish Network, RCN, Suddenlink, Verizon FiOS and Wide Open West.

Those accessing FOX NOW will be able to see full episodes of shows including Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Sleepy Hollow, The Simpsons, Family Guy, New Girl and Glee beginning the day after they first air. FOX NOW will offer bonus interviews and clips from its music shows including So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol. The Apple-based service can tap user preferences to recommend programming. Its Post-Play feature can facilitate binge viewing by automatically showing the next episode in a series. FOX Now is also available on iPhones and iPads as well as Android devices, Xbox, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs, and Windows 8. All of the major pay TV providers, except DirecTV, authenticate FOX NOW on Apple TV.

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Toronto Adds Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’, Frederick Wiseman & Ethan Hawke Docus; Vanguard & Midnight Madness Lineups

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 8:59am PDT

Toronto Adds Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’, Frederick Wiseman & Ethan Hawke Docus; Vanguard & Midnight Madness LineupsUPDATED: The Toronto Film Festival announced several additions to the 2014 lineup this morning including the documentary pics and the lineups for The Masters, Vanguard and Midnight Madness. The docu lineup features pioneers of BASE jumping in Sunshine Superman; Los Angeles sex workers in Tales Of The Grim Sleeper; survivors of the Indonesian genocide in The Look Of Silence; and, in Red Army, a hockey captain’s transition from national hero to political enemy during the rise and fall of the Soviet game.

Tusk 1The Midnight Madness section includes the world premiere of Kevin Smith’s Tusk, the wacky horror thriller that dropped its first trailer during Comic-Con. Set in the Canadian wilderness, it stars Justin Long as a podcaster who’s assigned to interview a mysterious seafarer (Michael Parks) who happens to have a strange obsession with walruses. Haley Joel Osment and Genesis Rodriguez also star. The pic hits theaters just after the fest on September 19; the Toronto fest runs September 4-14.

Here are the sections announced today: Read More »

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‘Chef’ Re-Title Sent Back To Kitchen As Harvey Weinstein Cooks Up Something Tastier

By | Monday July 28, 2014 @ 4:48pm PDT
Mike Fleming

‘Chef’ Re-Title Sent Back To Kitchen As Harvey Weinstein Cooks Up Something TastierThe latest dish on the John Wells-directed cooking project with Bradley Cooper once called Chef: Harvey Weinstein has sent the just-announced title Adam Jones back to the kitchen. They’ll call it Untitled John Wells project until they whip up something tastier. All this arose when they were beaten to the table by Jon Favreau’s food truck film, and their plan to call the film Chef deflated like a bad souffle.

Lee-Daniels-The-Butler-poster__130723170234-275x308“Even though our writer Steven Knight claims we had the rights first, Jon Favreau killed us and made a great movie that we all love,” Weinstein told Deadline but wouldn’t say what potential titles were now on the menu. “And while our film deals with cooking it’s about different things… We tried to get Lee Daniels’ Chef Movie but Warner Brothers got there first and didn’t give it to us, so now we’re calling it the Untitled John Wells project.”

Weinstein was joking about last summer’s drama, when Warner Bros lawyers blocked TWC’s ask to use the title The Butler because WB had an early 20th century silent black and white short film in its library. It seemed like an apparent attempt to leverage  Weinstein into surrendering his claim to first dollar gross points on The Hobbit trilogy (like that would ever happen). Weinstein had the last laugh when he used the title Lee Daniels’ The Butler which, helped by the attention from the title fight, grossed $160 million worldwide on a $30 million production budget. Read More »

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Time Warner Shares Could Match Fox’s Offer Without A Deal: Analyst

Time Warner Shares Could Match Fox’s Offer Without A Deal: AnalystTime Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes just won an indirect endorsement for his argument that his shareholders would be better off letting him lead the company instead of accepting a cash and stock offer from Rupert Murdoch. Without a deal, Time Warner shares should hit $95 within a year, and there’s “a credible stand-alone bull case valuation of $105,” Morgan Stanley Research’s Benjamin Swinburne says today. The numbers are important: Time Warner rejected Murdoch’s $85 a share bid, and many analysts say that he could go as high as $105 before choking on the cost. That probably wouldn’t impress shareholders if they believe that they’ll see that price without the risk that would come with such a big deal.

Swinburne’s analysis begins by accepting Bewkes’ forecast that cable and satellite company payments to Time Warner’s Turner networks will grow at double digit rates each year over the next five years. “Given 7 out of the top 10 distributors have already renewed (as of early ’14), we see limited downside risk to [the] guidance,” the analyst says. Those payments now account for 20% of Time Warner revenues.

HBO also could grow subscriptions and revenues by tinkering with its pricing and deals with pay TV distributors. It has about 30M domestic subscribers, but the below-average penetration rates at Time Warner Cable and Dish Network suggest that there are “key opportunities for HBO to drive further revenue-generating subscriber growth.” Along that line, Bloomberg reported today that HBO is considering expanding a test with Comcast, introduced last year, that offers broadband service, basic TV, and HBO … Read More »

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Quentin Tarantino Prepping Early 2015 Start On ‘Hateful Eight;’ Will He Dish At Panel?

Mike Fleming

Quentin Tarantino Prepping Early 2015 Start On ‘Hateful Eight;’ Will He Dish At Panel?Is there a better Comic-Con closing act than Quentin Tarantino? He’s here today to launch a Django Unchained comic book sequel, but I’m sure the crowd will prod him for details on his next movie, and you never know what you’ll hear when you put a microphone in front of Tarantino and ask the right question, or any question, really.

Here’s what I’m hearing, that he’s locking in everyone from cast to producers for an early 2015 shoot on The Hateful Eight, the Western which has had perhaps the most unusual journey to the start gate for a Tarantino film. That goes back to last January when he revealed to Deadline that he would shelve the movie because he felt so betrayed it got leaked by a rep for one of the handful of actors he showed an un-watermarked first draft script to. At the time, I spent half our phone call trying to talk Tarantino into not shelving it. After watching Inglourious Basterds for the umpteenth time last night, I’m sure glad his creative instincts overtook his feelings of betrayal.

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Comic-Con: Fox Brings The Biz For ‘Book Of Life’ As Two Jedis Boost For ‘Kingsman’

Comic-Con: Fox Brings The Biz For ‘Book Of Life’ As Two Jedis Boost For ‘Kingsman’It wasn’t an A-list star or surprise announcement that scored the biggest reaction during Fox‘s mammoth Comic-Con panel — it was rapper Biz Markie, who joined producer Guillermo del Toro‘s Book Of Life gang onstage belting his 1989 anthem “Just A Friend” in a moment of random pop-culture mishmash. The song is covered in the 3D animated feature from director Jorge Gutierrez, a dazzlingly designed romantic adventure inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday and produced by Reel FX that Fox will open on October 17.

Channing MarkieThe original story follows Manolo (Diego Luna), who must fight for his lady love when spirits La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) meddle in the world of the living. A trailer introduced to the Hall H crowd gave fans their first taste of Book, filled with Latin-inspired designs, a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” sung by lovesick matador Manolo, and the voice work of Ice Cube dropping his wink-wink line, “Today was a good day.”

Related: Guillermo Del Toro Comes Aboard Animated ‘Day Of The Dead’

The Day of the Dead holiday, celebrated around the world in various forms such as All Saints Day, served as a springboard for award-winning animator Gutierrez to fold in many elements of his Mexican heritage. “The Day of the Dead is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “Got married on the Day of the Dead because I wanted my best friend who passed away to be my best man, and I knew he would be there. The core belief of the holiday is that as long as we tell stories of those came before us, sing their songs, and cook their dishes, they’re with us.” Read More »

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Comic-Con: ‘Penny Dreadful’ Showrunner John Logan Teases Season 2 & New “Human” Villain

By | Thursday July 24, 2014 @ 4:47pm PDT

Comic-Con: ‘Penny Dreadful’ Showrunner John Logan Teases Season 2 & New “Human” VillainSan Diego is about to get a Gothic horror visit from Victorian England today and John Logan is about to let Penny Dreadful get truly uninhibited. “A lot of Season 1, for me, was actually putting the playing pieces on the board,” says the Oscar nominated scribe of the Showtime series of 19th century iconic supernatural misfits he created. “Now I feel we’ve had 8 hours to do that, to establish the landscape and so now I really get to play,” the first time showrunner adds with a laugh. “I can create more and more complex patterns of the relationships of the characters and of the supernatural element as well,” the Gladiator and Skyfall writer says. “In terms of the second season, I’ve written all but two of the episodes. So, the last two are yet to be written. So I’m well ahead of the game there, and the actors will all be getting it the end of this month.

Penny Dreadful Comic-ConIn just over a month since Dreadful’s rather spectacularly blood soaked Season 1 finale, Logan will be taking the stage in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center this evening with cast members Harry Treadaway, Reeve Carney and Josh Hartnett. If he returns next year, he may be bringing a few more people with him and not just absent leads Timothy Dalton and Eva Green. “I’m teasing out from the characters I really love … Read More »

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Google Buys Gamer Video Site Twitch.TV For $1 Billion: Report

By | Thursday July 24, 2014 @ 4:34pm PDT

Google Buys Gamer Video Site Twitch.TV For $1 Billion: ReportThe Google deal for Twitch.TV, rumbled around in Silicon Valley for months, now finally is cinched at around $1 billion — but not officially announced, according to the tech investor site VentureBeat. If true, the deal would bring into the Google fold one of the biggest sources of online video traffic that isn’t already Google’s YouTube division, which is spearheading the deal. The acquisition also would reinforce how hot the videogame sector has become for online entertainment, as millions of fans watch others play, and sometimes grab their own bit of notoriety by streaming their performances on Internet-connected PCs, the Sony PS4 or the Microsoft Xbox One.

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‘Dragon Tattoo’ Helmer Niels Arden Oplev Revs ‘Kahaani’ Remake

By | Thursday July 24, 2014 @ 10:25am PDT
Mike Fleming

‘Dragon Tattoo’ Helmer Niels Arden Oplev Revs ‘Kahaani’ RemakeYRF Entertainment will remake the hit 2012 Indian film Kahaani, and the company has landed Jose Rivera and Richard Regen to script it for Niels Arden Oplev, helmer of the Swedish trilogy that began with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Written and directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Kahaani was a big hit in India that grossed 16 times its budget in that country alone. The remake is titled Deity, and it’s described as a thriller about an American woman who goes to Calcutta in search of her missing husband. As she gets closer to the truth, she finds herself at the center of a dangerous conspiracy. The story unfolds in the context of a colorful, week-long Hindu festival.

“Niels is the perfect director to transform the appeal of Kahaani to Deity,” said Uday Chopra, CEO, YRF Entertainment. “Niels has an elevated understanding of both international thrillers and strong female characters and his vision for capturing the vibrancy and energy of contemporary Calcutta will appeal to audiences in the US and worldwide.” Chopra will be producer and YRF’s production and development head Jonathan Reiman will be exec producer. Financing comes from YRF, which just backed the Cannes opening film Grace Of Monaco. Upcoming for that label is Seducing Ingrid Bergman, scripted by Grace’s Arash Amel from the Chris Greenhalgh novel about Bergman’s affair with war photographer Robert Capa.
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Venice Film Festival Lineup Announced: ‘Manglehorn’, ‘Good Kill’ In Competition; Bogdanovich, Franco, Levinson, Von Trier Also In Official Selection

Venice Film Festival Lineup Announced: ‘Manglehorn’, ‘Good Kill’ In Competition; Bogdanovich, Franco, Levinson, Von Trier Also In Official SelectionI’m here at Rome’s St Regis Hotel where Biennale president Paolo Baratta and Venice chief Alberto Barbera are announcing the lineup for the 71st edition of the world’s oldest international film festival. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman world premieres in competition as the opener on August 27 and we’ll see 55 movies across the Official Selection through September 6. Yesterday, I wrote a primer for today’s reveal with such films as David Gordon Green‘s Manglehorn and Peter Bogdanovich‘s Squirrels To The Nuts expected to be announced today; and they have been.

Manglehorn (1)Twenty films will compete in the main competition, 19 of which are world premieres with one international premiere. There are an abundance of titles from Italy, France, the U.S. and the UK. Among the U.S. titles in competition are Manglehorn with Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine and Chris Messina, and Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill with Ethan Hawke, Bruce Greenwood, January Jones and Zoe Kravitz. Both of those will move on to Toronto next. Gonzalez Inarritu’s opener Birdman is in competition with a starry cast that includes Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts. The closing-night movie, as previously announced, is Ann Hui’s The Golden Era. Among the other expected players that are turning up in competition are Fatih Akin with The Cut starring Tahar Rahim (Carlos); Xavier Beauvois’ La Rançon De La Gloire; Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini with Willem Dafoe; Benoït Jacquot’s 3 Hearts and David Olehoffen’s Loin Des Hommes with Viggo Mortensen. Also particularly of note is The Act Of Killing director Joshua Oppenheimer with documentary The Look Of Silence. Ramin Bahrani, Roy Andersson and Andrei Konchalovsky are also in the mix (see full list below). Read More »

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Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find You

Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find YouEXCLUSIVE: The Screen Actors Guild exists to collect wages and benefits and disperse them to dues-paying members, but a Deadline investigation begs a multimillion-dollar question: Why are so many living and deceased thesps owed unclaimed residual checks worth $40 million, money that is drawing interest for the union’s general fund? The roll call of Who’s Owed is a Hollywood Who’s Who, including more than 75 Oscar-winning actors or their estates and dozens of Emmy winners who likely are unaware they are owed residuals. A union spokesperson tells Deadline the union is working to locate those members, but it is difficult because people change agents and don’t notify the union, or they move and mailed checks are returned by the post office and never cashed.

Still, could it really be that hard to find some of these performers? Deadline found that if you threw a rock on the red carpet of any major industry event, chances are you’d hit somebody SAG owes money to.

Jodie Foster Warren BeattyLike: reigning Best Actress Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, and Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, David O. Russell, and former Oscar host Steve Martin. Or Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Jodie Foster, Warren Beatty, Jay Leno, Sally Field, Sean Connery, Christopher Plummer, Channing Tatum, James Franco, Jim Carrey, Sharon Stone, Owen Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Melissa McCarthy, Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Zac Efron and Andrew Garfield.

The music side of the ledger of Who’s Owed reads like a wing … Read More »

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TLC Unveils New Brand Campaign And Tagline

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 3:50pm PDT

TLC Unveils New Brand Campaign And TaglineTLC is rolling out a new multimillion-dollar brand campaign and tagline, “Everyone needs a little TLC”, via print spreads and on-air spots across key media outlets nationwide, the network said today. They include People magazine, US Weekly, USA Network, E!, A&E, TNT, TBS, ABC Family, Dish and DirecTV as well as Discovery Communications’ portfolio of networks.
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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Hotel Hell’ Returns Down, ‘Under The Dome’ Cracks, ‘Ninja Warrior’ & ‘MasterChef’ Rise, ‘Bachelorette’ Steady

RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Hotel Hell’ Returns Down, ‘Under The Dome’ Cracks, ‘Ninja Warrior’ & ‘MasterChef’ Rise, ‘Bachelorette’ SteadyHe’s back, not that he ever really went away. Fox’s favorite multitasker Gordon Ramsay returned with a new season of Hotel Hell (1.5/5) last night. Which of course meant that Fox was all Ramsay on Monday with the second-cycle debut of the reality series following his own MasterChef (2.1/7). Hotel Hell was a big hit for the network when it launched two years ago, if for no other reason than it was comfortingly reminiscent of Ramsay’s now-shuttered Kitchen Nightmares. The then-new Hotel Hell saw the often acerbic chef going into establishments in need of serious help and delivering it in his distinct fashion. Monday saw Ramsay in Las Cruces, NM, working on desert retreat that really isn’t working. The show was debut down a hard 21% from its August 13, 2012 Season 1 premiere. But don’t shed a tear for Gordon: Lead-in MasterChef shot up 17% among adults 18-49 from last week’s dip to hit a season high. It was also easily the top-rated show of the night, which helped Fox winthe night in the demo with 1.8/6 rating and among total viewers with 4.93 million.

All of the Big 4 and the CW aired originals last night. Once again CBS’ only new show of the night was Under The Dome (1.5/6). Like Hotel Hell, the 10 PM Steven Spielberg-produced drama also fell 21% from its July 14 show to hit a series low. Last week, Dome rose double digits from the previous series low of its July 7 episode. Read More »

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Toronto Film Fest Will Close With World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get Perches

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:40am PDT

Toronto Film Fest Will Close With World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get PerchesUPDATED, 8:40 AM: The 39th Toronto Film Festival, running September 4-14, will close with the world premiere of Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Stanley Tucci. The opening-night film was not announced at this morning’s press conference.

Alan Rickman Kate WinsletA Little Chaos is the perfect closing-night film – it transports audiences to another time, another place, full of beauty, complexity, rivalry, politics and romance,” said Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey. “Alan Rickman’s film will wind audiences up just as our festival is winding down.”

In this sumptuous historical drama Sabine De Barra (Winslet)  —  a landscaper with a taste for the unconventional — is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn inescapably closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her.

Of the 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations announced, the initial lineup includes 37 world premieres from directors including Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, David Dobkin, Philippe Falardeau, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ning Hao, François Ozon, Christian Petzold, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock. Here’s the list: Read More »

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Deadline Q&A: Can Matt Strauss’ Hollywood Deals Help Comcast Defend Cable?

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 11:34am PDT

Deadline Q&A: Can Matt Strauss’ Hollywood Deals Help Comcast Defend Cable?Matthew Strauss isn’t a household name in Hollywood yet. But he should be, and possibly will be soon. As Comcast Cable’s GM of Video Services, Strauss oversees the cable colossus’ Xfinity cloud-based X1 platform, video on demand, TV Everywhere, and — starting last year — sales of digitally downloadable movies and TV shows (known as Electronic Sell Through). In other words, he leads the cable industry’s counter-offensive as digital services led by Netflix and ad-zapping DVRs make inroads with pay TV consumers.

Studios and networks are taking notice, and striking deals with Strauss that push the boundaries of technology, and traditional business practices. For example, Comcast and FX have just begun to let VOD customers watch episodes of The Bridge a week before they appear on the channel itself. Deadline caught up with Strauss to find out the latest about that experiment and others that could reshape the medium. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.

DEADLINE: VOD has been one of Comcast’s top initiatives. Where do things stand?
STRAUSS: I have a long history with VOD. I’ve been working on this for almost 13 years now. About 70% of our digital subscribers use on demand every single month, and by the end of this year we’ll have 200,000 hours of on-demand content available. We surpassed our 30 billionth program viewed on demand last year. So this is something that has gone from almost an infancy, novelty kind of product and now is deeply entrenched. For the first time we now have the top 100 rated Nielsen shows … Read More »

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Fox-Time Warner News Colors Senate Committee Look At Online Video; Netflix’s Reed Hastings Declines Invite

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT

Fox-Time Warner News Colors Senate Committee Look At Online Video; Netflix’s Reed Hastings Declines Invite“We’re in an arms race,” Public Knowledge CEO Gene Kimmelman told the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing to explore the prospects for broadband video. It’s “no surprise, content companies bulk up” as Fox wants to do with its $80B bid for Time Warner, which was rejected by the company but disclosed today. Following Comcast’s deal to buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T’s with DirecTV, “consumers are between a rock and a hard place….They started the ball rolling and as we’ve seen from today’s stories, we don’t know where it’s going to end.”

Representatives from Comcast and AT&T indirectly debated with execs from Dish Network, the WGA, and Kimmelman over whether online video providers have to fear mergers or need strong net neutrality rules. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W Va) ended the proceedings by arguing for municipal broadband to provide a low-cost option for poor residents. He also said that he invited Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who declined to show. “I can’t figure [it] out because I’m trying to help them, I think. But he didn’t want to be here.”

Dish says that later this year it plans to introduce a low-priced online video service that will include live streams of ESPN, and could be threatened by the union of the two largest cable companies. “Comcast doesn’t necessarily want us to succeed because we’re competitors,” says the satellite company’s Deputy General Counsel Jeffrey Blum. “We are very concerned that a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable will have an incentive and ability to stifle our service.” Read More »

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