Pilot Locations 2014: New York Production Rises, Los Angeles Plummets, Texas Hot
By Nellie Andreeva – While California Gov. Jerry Brown is still “not committed” to expanding the state’s film and TV tax credit, Los Angeles is seeing another drop in broadcast pilot production to what appears to be an all-time low. New York, which also lured The Tonight Show franchise away from Los Angeles, returns this year as the most popular drama location and reinforcing its strong position in comedy.
Dish And Disney Finalize Output Deal That Ends Their Ad-Hopper Dispute
By David Lieberman – The companies have officially announced a “wide-ranging” deal, which “will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop.” The agreement calls for Dish to disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The pact also for the first time allows Dish customers to access Disney’s authenticated live and VOD products.
White House Backs Broadcasters In Aereo Case
By David Lieberman and Dominic Patten – The Solicitor General’s office put the Obama administration solidly in the anti-Aereo camp with a 40-page amicus brief filed with SCOTUS.
‘The Wire’s David Simon Takes On Oprah-Produced HBO Mini On Martin Luther King
By Mike Fleming Jr. – I’m hearing that David Simon, the architect of the HBO series The Wire, Homicide and most recently Treme, will spearhead the HBO six-hour MLK miniseries adaptation of America: In The King Years, based on the celebrated book trilogy by Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch. Read More »
The journalist-turned-PR man who went on to serve two terms as president of the TV Academy died Wednesday in Oceanside, Calif. Hank Rieger was 95. In 1977, he became the first elected president of ATAS following the split between the East and West Coast factions of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He is one of only 11 recipients of the Academy’s Syd Cassyd Award, presented in recognition of long and distinguished service. “Hank Rieger worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the Television Academy,” ATAS Chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum said in a statement. “He believed in the Academy’s ability to have a positive impact on the entire entertainment industry, and we are deeply grateful for all he contributed.” The Kansas City, MO, native served in World War II before beginning his career as a journalist with United Press International, playing a key role in breaking the news of Marilyn Monroe’s death. In 1965, he joined NBC’s public relations department, where he worked with many of the biggest stars and execs in television — from Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson and Milton Berle to Bob Kintner, Grant Tinker, Herb Schlosser and Brandon Tartikoff. He traveled with Hope as the comic entertained U.S. troops overseas and led the publicity team during The Tonight Show‘s move from New York to Los Angeles in 1972. When NBC News writers and reporters went on strike, Rieger filled in for two weeks as an on-air correspondent and host of a weekend political talk show. 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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Warrior Poets, the New York-based production company founded in 2004 by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and his producing partner Jeremy Chilnick, has promoted Matthew Galkin to partner. Galkin will continue to executive produce, direct and develop original content. Since joining Warrior Poets more than four years ago, Galkin has worked closely with Spurlock and Chilnick to grow the company and has worked om such documentary films, TV and Web series as One Direction: This Is Us, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope, ESPN Films’ 30 For 30 documentary The Dotted Line, CNN series Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man and Web series A Day In The Life for Hulu and Failure Club for Yahoo! “During his tenure at Warrior Poets, Matthew has brought his unique energy, creative experience and storytelling mastery to projects in both the top-tier documentary film world as a director and producer and in the reality/non-fiction TV world as a show runner, producer and director,” Spurlock said. Galkin’s previous credits include HBO’s Kevorkian and Family Bonds and Style’s Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane.
It’s definitely a set-back for those who fantasized about such a service based on what we know from the wide-ranging program carriage agreement the companies announced last night. Many industry watchers thought that someone might be able to compete with cable and satellite by charging a lower price for a package of Internet-delivered pay TV channels that didn’t include sports — the leading contributor to rising programming costs. The Dish-Disney deal is the first to publicly address the terms of a potential online, or over-the-top (OTT), service that Dish has been mulling (similar to what Sony and Verizon appear to be planning). And while Disney wouldn’t require the satellite company to offer all of its channels, it would insist on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ABC Family, and Disney Channel. That represents “the worst of all worlds,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. A service that includes ESPN, but not regional sports channels, “has too many missing networks to appeal to families who care about sports and is too expensive to be differentiated for families who don’t. Time to shovel the dirt on this idea.” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger also says that the agreement only allows subscribers to a hypothetical OTT service to access one stream which means it’s “not suitable for a traditional household with multiple TVs/viewers.”
If anything, the deal strengthens the power of sports programmers to thrive with subsidies from non-sports fans. Among the channels that Dish agreed … Read More »
UPDATE, 5:20 PM: The companies have officially announced a “wide-ranging” deal, which “will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop.” The agreement calls for Dish to disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The pact also for the first time allows Dish customers to access Disney’s authenticated live and VOD products. The full release is below the original story.
PREVIOUS, 3:59 PM: They both made big concessions as part of a new — and long-awaited — program carriage deal that Dish Network cut with Disney, The Wall Street Journal reports. It says that Dish Network has agreed to disable the Hopper DVR’s “Auto Hop” feature for ABC shows for the first three days after they air. Disney, in return, will drop out of broadcasters’ suit against Dish. They’ve said that the DVR’s feature that automatically jumps past ads on some recorded shows infringes on their copyrights and violates carriage contracts. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has steadfastly cast himself as a champion for his customers’ interests, saying that Hopper simply automates what DVR owners already can do with their remote controls. Now that Dish and Disney have agreed to allow ad zapping after three days, we’ll have to see whether other broadcasters can accept similar terms. CBS chief Les Moonves said in November that he’s “very flexible. We’re willing to negotiate.” Last month Ergen said that he was “cautiously optimisic” about striking a deal with Disney, in part because CEO Bob Iger — who’s also a member of Apple’s board – “has looked at [terms] in ways that others have not.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ross Katz, who produced The Laramie Project and the superb HBO pic Taking Chance, has signed on to write Out At Home: The Glenn Burke Story. He joins Juma Entertainment’s Jamie Lee Curtis and Robert Horowitz as producers of the film that tells the story of Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s player Burke, who was honest with his teammates and management that he was gay at a time in the 1970s when such a revelation was unheard of. It’s still perilous today, though the Brooklyn Nets’ Jason Collins just became the first openly gay player to play on a major pro sports roster, and 2013 SEC co-defensive player of the year Michael Sam is preparing to enter the NFL draft as football’s first openly gay player.
I have been surprised by the level of discussion on ESPN, where some ex-jocks expect Sam’s draft stock to fall simply because of the awkwardness in the locker room and the prospect that some athletes won’t accept him. Seems to me that skeptical players might want to watch the Jackie Robinson movie 42 before they decide whether they want to be on the right or wrong side of this issue when it is judged half a century down the road. I just don’t see much difference between Robinson’s struggle against racists and a player like Sam as they try to overcome bigotry to be accepted for their outsized athletic skills, and the right to be comfortable in their own skin.
All this brings a timely context to Out At Home, which is based on a 1995 memoir Burke wrote with Erik Sherman. Drafted by the Dodgers in 1972 and hailed as baseball’s next superstar, Burke played in the majors from 1976-79. He was the only rookie to start in the 1977 World Series, when the Yankees defeated the Dodgers in 6 games. A larger-than-life character both on and off the field, Burke unexpectedly was traded to Oakland in 1978. He retired after his second season with the A’s. Although his teammates and management knew the truth, Burke didn’t go public with his sexuality until 1982, in an appearance on NBC’s Today with Bryant Gumbel. It was still an act of courage, because Burke was the first ballplayer to do so. Read More »
The companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes. Read More »
This morning, in the walk-up to its broadcast of the 86th Annual Academy Awards, ABC brought out ESPN’s FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chiefNate Silver and its general editor Walter Hickey to share results of their controversial number crunching about Best Picture Oscar winners through the ages on the network’s Sunday Beltway show This Week. Here are their six big takeaways:
1. It’s All About Adaptation
Silver and Hickey calculated that nearly 40% of best picture nominees originate from books, while about 18% originate from plays.
2. Oscar Hearts NYC
The Big Apple is an Oscars favorite, with about 20% of nominees taking place there. Next in popularity are London and Paris, while Washington D.C. and Los Angeles just barely make the top five.
3. 1930s or Bust
The 1930s turned out to be the most common decade to have a film set. “Since 1939, about one in seven best picture nominees have involved World War II in some way, shape, or form,” Hickey told ABC News’s Lara Spencer, best known as Good Morning America‘s lifestyle anchor. Overall, time periods filled with dramatic events are more likely to be seen in best picture nominees. “Decades that were more tumultuous – the ’30s, the ’40s, the ’60s probably – create more ground for really fertile, rich topics than happy decades like the ’90s, or the ’50s,” Silver said.
Related: OSCARS: Pete Hammond’s Final Predictions In Every Category
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ABC says this is the first year when it will stream the full Oscar telecast, pre-show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live: After the Oscars — though they’re just for pay-TV customers in certain markets. But anyone will be able to check out programming designed for tablets and smartphones to complement the TV broadcast, something that the network began offering in 2011. As for the telecast itself: It’ll be available live and, for three days beginning Monday, on demand online at Oscar.com, ABC.com, and WatchABC.com – and mobile users can tune in through the Watch ABC app. The streams will only go to markets where ABC owns the local station (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, and Fresno), and they’ll only be accessible to those who subscribe to pay TV services that support the app (Comcast, Cablevision, Cox, Charter, Midcontinent, Verizon FiOS, Google Fiber, and AT&T U-verse).
Related: OSCARS: Pete Hammond’s Absolute FINAL Predictions In Every Category In One Of The Most Competitive Races Ever
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Dish chairman Charlie Ergen had little new to report about his company’s negotiations for a broad, long-term deal to carry ABC, ESPN and other Disney-owned channels. “It’s taken longer than any of us would like,” he said in a call to discuss his company’s Q4 earnings — adding that he’s “cautiously optimistic” they’ll have a deal before his company’s next quarterly conference call. There’s been no material change in the discussions, “just changes in technology and what might happen. Slight changes in strategy. It’s just a complex deal trying to look out into the future.” But he’s encouraged because Disney CEO Bob Iger, as a member of Apple’s board, “has looked at it in ways that others have not.”
Related: Dish Says Comcast-Time Warner Cable Deal Will Create “Seismic Shift”
UPDATE, 2:07 PM: ESPN responded to a question asking what is the plan while Keith Olbermann is out sick with a statement from Olbermann: “I’m day to day. We’re all day to day.” We hear Quinn is filling in — at least tonight.
PREVIOUS, 11:50 AM: First Bob Costas was felled by pink eye – now Keith Olbermann has succumbed to shingles. Viewers who learned the ESPN host was out Wednesday night may have thought “here we go again” but Olbermann took to Twitter today to assure them he’s not engaged in another death match with his employer – he’s suffering from shingles, suggesting it was fate’s way of punishing him for falling out of the 25-54 demographic last week when he celebrated his 55th birthday. Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash and that is itself caused by the chickenpox virus that stays in the body for years. In 2003, CBS late night star David Letterman was out for about a month with shingles.
Olbermann’s tweets: Read More »
The ESPN tennis analyst and Hall of Famer is expanding his role to include year-round, non-tennis appearances on television and radio. In addition to his work on tennis, John McEnroe will serve as an analyst on SportsCenter talking major topics of all sorts and conducting sit-down interviews with top sports stars. He also will make regular appearances on ESPN2’s Olbermann and on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, also seen weekday mornings on ESPN2. In addition, he will also be heard on ESPN Radio New York (98.7 FM). McEnroe has worked the U.S. Open for ESPN since 2009 and Wimbledon since 2012.
Dwayne Johnson is headed to HBO‘s primetime. The pay cable network has picked up to series half-hour pilot Ballers toplined by the wrestling and movie star in his first major series gig. He is executive producing the series with his Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg; Wahlberg’s manager/frequent producing partner Steve Levinson, on whose original idea the project is based; showrunner Even Reilly; and Peter Berg, who directed the pilot. Written by Levinson in his pilot-writing debut, Ballers is exploring the lives of a group of former and current football players. Johnson stars as Spencer Strasmore, a retired athlete. The cast includes Omar Benson Miller as Charles, an affable former pro athlete who is searching for his next career; Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington as Ricky, a highly competitive and highly spiritual pro athlete; Rob Corddry as Joe, a financial advisor who tries really hard to fit in; Troy Garity as Jason, a top-tier sports agent; Donovan Carter as Vernon, a deeply family-oriented pro athlete; Jazmyn Simon as Julie, wife of an ex-pro athlete; Taylor Cole as Michaels, an ESPN sideline reporter who is romantically involved with Spencer; and LeToya Luckett as Tina, widow to one of Spencer’s closest friends.
The series pickup for Ballers, which will start production later this year, comes on the heels of the series order on Tuesday of another half-hour project with marquee stars from a top director and producer, The Brink, starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins. Jay Roach, who directed the pilot, and Jerry Weintraub are executive producing. Both series have been touted as capable of attracting broad audiences, something Johnson already has done in primetime as his WWE alter ego The Rock and on the big screen. He next reprises his role on the Fast & Furious 7 movie, whose production has been delayed by the death of star Paul Walker, and also has feature Hercules and TNT reality series Wake Up Call coming up. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Two highly respected advertising/marketing shops that helped launched some of the most successful and memorable campaigns — Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, Lee Daniels‘ The Butler, Silver Linings Playbook, Ted, Wolverine, Avatar, Despicable Me, The King’s Speech, Forrest Gump, Slumdog Millionaire, and Black Swan, to only name a few — are merging. In Sync Advertising and Bemis Balkind have joined together under a new moniker that merges their names with In Sync’s Smitty as CEO and Peter Bemins and Aubry Balkind serving as co-presidents. It will be known as In Sync Bemis Balkind.
The troika will continue with audio/visual, print, digital and branding campaigns for film, broadcast, home entertainment and other mediums with offices both in New York and Los Angeles. In other words, a one-stop shop. The move combines In Sync’s A/V motion picture advertising expertise with Bemis Balkind’s print, digital and web ad talent. Read More »
A keynote session with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 helmer Marc Webb leads the final lineup for the 2014 SXSW Film Conference slate which also includes chats with filmmakers Jason Bateman (Bad Words), Mike Myers (Supermensch) moderated by Jon Favreau, Ralph Steadman (For No Good Reason), and actors Robert Duvall and Tilda Swinton. The SXSW Film Festival runs March 7-15:
SXSW 2014 Features Lineup, New TV Section Unveiled
SXSW Midnighters & Full Shorts Slate Unveiled
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If you have a fledgling consumer media or entertainment product company, then this is for you: The media giant says its new Los Angeles-based program — called Disney Accelerator — will pick 10 companies to receive $120,000 in investment capital and three months of mentoring help from execs including CEO Bob Iger. The initiative will be “powered by” Techstars, which runs similar programs to identify investment opportunities at companies including Barclays, Nike, and Sprint. Disney has an April 16 deadline for applications to its program (check here), which begins June 30, and ends in September with an Investor Demo Day where teams introduce themselves to industry leaders and investors. “Disney Accelerator offers a unique collaboration between some of the best creative minds in the entertainment industry and the modern-day visionaries who are starting businesses on the strength of exciting new ideas,” says Disney EVP of Corporate Strategy and Business Development Kevin Mayer. Innovation SVP Michael Abrams will oversee the program. In addition to Iger, Disney’s mentoring team will include execs from Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering.
UPDATE, 3:28 PM: Bob Iger continued to tubthump for the red-hot Studio Entertainment division during the company’s analyst call– and specifically Disney Animation’s runaway hit Frozen. While not going so far as to say that potential includes another feature film, the Disney CEO noted the pic, which is up for a pair of Oscars, has made $864.4M worldwide since its late November release, passing The Lion King as the company’s biggest animated hit ever — and that’s with China just opening and Japan to come in mid-March. “This has real franchise potential” across Disney’s businesses, Iger said, adding that in Disney’s parks “we will see Frozen in more places” along with Marvel properties including Iron Man. CFO Jay Rasulo said Frozen is the top-selling brand in Disney’s stores (followed by Disney Junior properties), which helped Consumer Products to gains in revenue and operating income.
Related: ‘Frozen’ Becomes Shining Star For Disney: Is Broadway Next?
Several analysts asked about Disney Interactive, a day after the unit said it would lay off about 200 employees. Iger touted the success of the Infinity business, which increased revenue and operating profit during the quarter, and said the next phase of Disney Interactive’s rollout will involve mining new iterations of characters. Iger said to look for more licensing deals as the division moves off more traditional platforms and zeroes into the mobile space “where the users are.” Rasulo said Q2 will see “downdraft” as there are no big names due out during the quarter.
PREVIOUS, 1:18 PM: The stock is up, CEO Bob Iger is talking up the fiscal Q1 numbers on CNBC — and at first glance it looks like there’s enough in the results to justify all of that enthusiasm. Disney reported net income of $1.8B, +33% vs the period last year, on revenues of $12.3B, +9%. Analysts thought that the top line would come in a little lower, $12.2B. Diluted earnings at $1.04 a share handily beat expectations for 92 cents. Unlike at most Big Media companies, the Studio Entertainment unit was the star for Disney’s year-end quarter. Revenues rose 23% to $1.9B, with operating income +75% to $409M, as Frozen and Thor: The Dark World hammered last year’s results with Wreck-It-Ralph. The studio also benefited from sales to overseas streaming services. Media Networks revenues increased 4% to $5.3B with operating income +20% to $1.5B. ESPN and Disney’s 50% stake in A&E helped to drive a $325M increase in operating income to $1.3B for the cable networks unit. But ABC struggled with revenues falling 2% to $1.5B and operating income down 32% to $178M. Ad sales were hurt by lower ratings. Read More »