UPDATE, 10:55 AM: Nigel Lythgoe just released a statement following Fox’s naming of Per Blankens as his replacement as American Idol‘s new executive producer. In it, Lythgoe called his tenure on Idol “one of the highlights of my entire career” and a “a great ride,” adding that “if the executives that are now in charge of American Idol believe that the ratings will improve with my departure, I have no complaints.” Read full statement below the Per Blankens announcement.
PREVIOUS: Fox is moving quickly on setting the pieces for an expected overhaul on American Idol following a season that hit all-time lows. After David Hill was put in charge of the show Wednesday, the network officially dismissed longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick over the weekend. And this morning, it set Per Blankens as new executive producer for the upcoming 13th season. Blankens comes from Sweden, where he most recently executive produced the local version of Idol. “Per is a creative and experienced executive who has been the showrunner on the blockbuster Swedish Idol for more than 5 seasons,” said Trish Kinane, American Idol executive producer for FremantleMedia North America. “He is extremely passionate about Idol and I’m very excited about his ideas and vision for keeping Idol creatively vibrant.” Read More »
Previous: Craig Cegielski Joins Fremantle Media As EVP Scripted, Stefanie Berk As SVP
Burbank, CA – FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) has named Craig Cegielski to the newly created position of Executive Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development. The announcement was made today by Thom Beers, CEO, FremantleMedia North America to whom Cegielski reports. Stefanie Berk has also joined the company as Senior Vice President, Scripted Programming and Development, reporting to Cegielski.
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EXCLUSIVE: FremantleMedia North America is assembling a new scripted programming team. I’ve learned that former Lionsgate TV and GK-tv executive Craig Cegielski has been tapped as EVP Scripted Programming and Development. He’s being joined by Playtone’s Stefanie Berk, who is expected to serve as SVP Scripted. FremantleMedia has been without a scripted team since February when SVP Tony Optican’s contract was not renewed and VP Holly Hines left to head scripted development and production for Participant Media’s new cable network Pivot.
Veteran TV exec Cegielski most recently served as president of Graham King’s GK-tv, a post he left in January. There, he shepherded Camelot, the company’s series for Starz. Before that he served as EVP Programming and Sales, International TV, at Lionsgate. Prior to joining Lionsgate, Cegielski worked for CBS/Kingworld International, specializing in local production and programming. Berk comes from Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, where she was SVP Development.
The Mariah Carey-Nicki Minaj American Idol rivalry carried over to the divas’ departure from the show, with Minaj stepping on Carey’s toes and announcing her own departure on Twitter shortly after Carey had done the same, also on Twitter. “Thank you American Idol for a life changing experience!,” Minaj wrote. “Wouldn’t trade it for the world! Time to focus on the Music!!! Mmmuuuaahhh!!!”
Minaj joins fellow judges Carey and Randy Jackson on the list of Idol departures as the veteran series wrapped its lowest-rated season. We’ve yet to hear from judge Keith Urban and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, both of whom are rumored to also depart. Fox and Idol producers seem to have already moved on, with Jennifer Hudson in talks for a spot on the judging panel next season, possibly alongside other well-known Idol alums. Read More »
And then there were two. Mariah Carey confirmed today that she is leaving American Idol, joining original Idol judge Randy Jackson. “W/ global success of #Beautiful (#1 in 30+ countries so far) @MariahCarey confirms world tour & says goodbye 2 Idol,” said a tweet Carey retweeted from her publicist PMK BNC. The exit by the multi-platinum singer after just one season on the judges’ panel doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Hubby Nick Cannon essentially said she would be leaving the veteran Fox singing competition series back in May because of the on- and off-screen drama with fellow rookie Nicki Minaj. Also, with the once dominant Idol seeing double-digit ratings declines and an all-time finale low this year, change seemed to be in the air on the show going into a 13th season. There’s still no official word yet whether Minaj and fellow freshman Keith Urban also will depart. (UPDATE: Minaj is now gone too). Jackson announced earlier this month he was leaving.
Related: Fox Unscripted TV Czar Mike Darnell To Exit
As for Carey, Fox and producers FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment said today: “Mariah Carey is a true global icon — one of the most accomplished artists on the planet — and we feel extremely fortunate that she was able to bring her wisdom and experience to the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The alternative financing sector is getting some new cash reserves thanks to a partnership between Virginia-based Washington Global Investors and Mark Sennet Entertainment. Their $100M Allied Film and Television Partners film and television fund will launch later this year developing longform and limited series scripted television programs as well as 4-6 feature films annually, with 60% of its slate dedicated to TV. The fund will open a new LA office as part of the deal. Sennet Entertainment currently focuses on TV and has several projects in development with London-based FremantleMedia. Those include the one-hour Le Mans drama The Drivers, produced with Headline Pictures and Scott Free Productions. Read More »
Tom Felton (Harry Potter), Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights), Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck), David Boreanaz (Bones), Keke Palmer (Akeelah And The Bee), Devon Gearhart (The Wait), Billy Campbell (The Killing, Killing Lincoln), Kate Walsh (Private Practice), Noah Silver (The Borgias), Ally Sheedy (Welcome To The Rileys), Cheyenne Jackson (Behind The Candelabra) and Robin Weigert (Sons Of Anarchy) have been cast in Full Circle, DirecTV announced today. The 10-episode series marks the TV debut of screenwriter/playwright Neil LaBute. It examines the human condition and relationships through a series of conversations between 11 people whose lives, unbeknownst to them, are intertwined. Nick Hamm will executive produce for Momentum TV, the scripted division of Momentum Entertainment Group. Series creator LaBute will serve as writer and co-executive producer. FremantleMedia International will handle global distribution.
BBC Three Takes ‘Orphan Black’
In a west-to-east move, Britain’s BBC Three has acquired the BBC America original series Orphan Black. The 10-part drama, co-created by Graeme Manson (Flashpoint) and John Fawcett (Spartacus), centers on a street-wise chameleon whose life changes dramatically after witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks just like her. Taking on the woman’s identity, boyfriend and bank account, she is thrust into a kaleidoscopic mystery. Tatiana Maslany stars. BBC America just renewed the series in the U.S. It’s produced by Temple Street Prods in association with BBC America and Space.
‘The Face’ UK Names Models To Join Naomi Campbell
Sky Living has added supermodels Erin O’Connor and Caroline Winberg alongside Naomi Campbell for the UK version of model reality show The Face. The U.S. version, produced by Shine America, launched on Oxygen in February. The local UK format will be co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV. The three models will mentor three teams of four girls over eight weeks as they compete in photo shoots, runway shows and commercials. The last girl standing will be crowned the face of a globally known brand. Production starts in the spring. Campbell is exec producing. Read More »
UPDATE: Reign and Oxygen from CBS TV Studios also just got picked up, bringing the total number of new CW series for next season for five, including The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals. The only remaining question is whether The Selection, which never found its footing, is dead. (UPDATE: It is. Click here for more.)
PREVIOUS: The CW also entered the pickup fray with series orders to drama pilots The Tomorrow People and The 100. Both have been frontrunners, coming from Warner Bros TV. The Tomorrow People is executive produced by Julie Plec and Greg Berlanti, meaning that Plec will have three series on the CW next season, The Vampire Diaries, spinoff The Originals and The Tomorrow People. Berlanti will have two, The Tomorrow People and Arrow.
‘The Selection’ Dead At The CW
CW’s ‘Carrie Diaries’ & ‘Nikita’ Renewed
Here are the network’s descriptions of the new shows: Read More »
Mosey Upped To Editorial Director At BBC
The BBC has appointed Roger Mosey as editorial director. He’ll oversee the BBC’s editorial standards and handle major editorial issues as they arise in the new role that’s being created following a series of scandals that have hit the pubcaster in the past several months. Said BBC director general Tony Hall, “It is crucial that the BBC dedicates the right amount of time, skill and expertise to addressing the myriad of editorial challenges that we face across the BBC’s output.” Mosey was instrumental in the BBC’s coverage of the London Olympics last year and also will be charged with overseeing the planning of significant pan-BBC events.
Fremantle Sweden Taps Kalsson-Lamm As Managing Director
FremantleMedia has named Magnus Karlsson-Lamm as managing director of its Swedish production arm, FremantleMedia Sweden AB. He will start the job in September and be responsible for managing all development and production operations in Sweden. The exec previously was acting head of entertainment and deputy head of the program department at Swedish broadcaster TV4. He began his career as a host for Sweden’s SVT and also has been an executive producer on the Swedish versions of the Idol and Let’s Dance formats.
FremantleMedia International is continuing its push into event drama with a six-hour miniseries based on the true story of T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence Of Arabia. Roland Emmerich will produce with Marc Frydman. Author Michael Korda, who wrote 2010′s Hero: The Life And Legend Of Lawrence Of Arabia, is historical consultant on the project. British screenwriter Clive Bradley will write. The as-yet untitled series plans to follow the journey of British Army officer Lawrence during World War I. Lawrence was an exceptional diplomat who was an invaluable resource for both Britain and the Arab insurgents he fought with in the war against the Ottoman Empire. He was also the subject of David Lean’s classic 1962 Oscar-winning film. Fremantle’s move into scripted programming began in 2009. Among its current projects under development are Joan Of Arc story The Maid, with Craig Pearce and Pukeko Pictures as well as a Berlin-based drama series project inspired by the book Hitlerland with writer-producer Marshall Herskovitz.
Coogan, Brydon & Winterbottom To Take Another ‘Trip’
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are reteaming with Michael Winterbottom for a second series of The Trip. The BBC Two comedy, released theatrically in the U.S. by IFC, set Coogan and Brydon off on a road trip to tour the UK Lake District’s best restaurants. Memorable for the duo’s attempts to best one another at celebrity impressions, the first season was highly improvised. The second season will be set in Italy on a road trip that retraces the footsteps of the Romantics, Coogan told Empire Magazine.
UK Touts Tax Incentive For High-End TV Productions
The British film industry celebrated the UK’s new Creative Sector Tax Reliefs this morning in London. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey were on hand to outline the importance of the new incentives which will see qualifying high-end TV and animation productions receive up to 25% in tax relief. The scheme came into effect on April 1. Vaizey said “The UK’s creative industries are a real success story, worth more than £36 billion a year. We know that the television and animation sectors make a real difference to the UK economy and these new tax reliefs will be instrumental in expanding our potential.” Iain Smith, producer and chair of the British Film Commission, encouraged the industry to “continue to fight rigorously to maintain our position as a leading center of production.” There was also a case study of HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which is shooting its fourth season in Northern Ireland. HBO SVP Jay Roewe noted the new measures “will make filming in the UK an even more viable proposition.” The BFC recently hosted events in Los Angeles and New York to educate studios, broadcasters, producers and agents on the incentives. Read More »
Fox sibling MundoFox will produce El Factor X, an original Spanish-language version of The X Factor, which will premiere this summer. Produced by FremantleMedia Latin America for MundoFox, El Factor X will feature aspiring singers from 8 to 15 years old, both solo artists and vocal groups. El Factor X joins Telemundo’s La Voz Kids, a Spanish-language version of The Voice for kids.
E! today at its upfront presentation unveiled a slate of new unscripted series, specials and projects in development. Newly greenlighted shows include Total Divas, about the women behind the WWE Divas; Love And Other Contact Sports: Eric And Jessie, chronicling the pending nuptials of singer Jessie James and Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker; and Hello Ross, an interactive talk show hosted by Chelsea Lately‘s Ross Mathews and produced by Chelsea Handler’s production company. Hello Ross stems from a development deal E! signed with Mathews two years ago. Additionally, E! officially announced a June 2 premiere date for The Wanted Life, its new half-hour unscripted series about the personal and professional lives of pop group The Wanted, which is executive produced by Ryan Seacrest under his production deal with E!. The Wanted Life debut will follow the eighth-season premiere of E!’s top-rated series, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, also exec produced by Seacrest. To further hype his new show, Seacrest also will do a special with The Wanted to air a few days before the premiere.
E!’s unscripted development slate include The Soup Investigates, a spinoff series of E!’s The Soup, a pop culture-themed spoof of the investigative TV genre featuring The Soup host Joel McHale and a team of reporters. E! also has put in development a sketch comedy show starring comedian James Davis and produced by Funny Or Die, a comedic show exploring pop culture stereotypes produced by Jack Osbourne, and Vin Di Bona and a parlor game-style game show from Shine America. E!’s new slate comes a month after E! president Suzanne Kolb tapped Jeff Olde as head of programming. Here are details about all E! unscripted new series and specials as well as projects in development: Read More »
TruTV said today as it meets with advertisers that it is shifting half its lineup to comedic reality series by year’s end, and has greenlighted three new original series and ordered seven pilots to go with current hits Impractical Jokers and Killer Karaoke. The network says the move targets “funseekers” — a demo evenly split between males and females with a median age of 35 “who look for comedic reality shows that are exciting to watch and prefer humor that is suspenseful, edgy and irreverent. They also look for mood-elevating shows that provide an escape and feature compelling twists and turns”. TruTV also officially renewed four series: Impractical Jokers, Guinness World Records Gone Wild, Upload With Shaquille O’Neal and the previously announced Hardcore Pawn: Chicago. Here are the network’s descriptions of the new offerings: Read More »
For its second original drama series, DirecTV will be keeping company with Neil LaBute. The satcaster formally announced a 10-episode order to drama Full Circle, which is described as a modern day La Ronde meets My Dinner With André. The director, screenwriter and playwright’s unconventionally structured TV series debut will examine the human condition through conversations between 11 people whose lives, unbeknownst to them, are intertwined. The project, which had been in the works at DirecTV for months, was developed as a low budget miniseries, and is expected to be made for under $1 million total for all 10 episodes.
Nick Hamm of Momentum TV, executive producer of DirecTV’s first original series, Rogue, also exec produces Full Circle. LaBute is series creator and serves as writer and co-executive producer. Production will start in LA this summer for air on DirecTV’s Audience in the fall. FremantleMedia International is handling global distribution.
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ITV Studios Global Entertainment has secured pre-sales for the 13th and final series of ITV Studios’ iconic detective drama Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Based on crime writer Agatha Christie’s famous novels, series 13 of Poirot has been acquired by eight broadcasters worldwide: TMC (France), ABC (Australia), Prime (New Zealand), Chungwa (Taiwan), Latvian Television, RTV (Slovenia), HRT (Croatia), Sanoma (Hungary) and Digiturk (Turkey). WGBH in the US will co- produce and air two of the Poirot films – The Big Four and Dead Man’s Folly. The deals were brokered by David Wilcox, VP North West Cluster; Jennifer Ebell, VP South East Cluster; Nancy Wang, Senior Sales Executive, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; Dan Edwards, Senior Sales Executive, Australia and Jemma Losh, Sales Executive, New Zealand for ITV Studios Global Entertainment. Read More »
FremantleMedia has acquired global distribution rights to the follow-up to Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity. Inspired by the books of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the first series followed the authors and a host of celebrity advocates on a journey across 10 countries to showcase stories of female resilience in the face of adversity. The new untitled series will be set in the Americas and airs in the U.S. on PBS in late 2014. Maro Chermayeff, Jamie Gordon, Jeff Dupre, Mira Chang and Joshua Bennett are exec producing the program from Show of Force Productions.
Germany’s Beta Film will handle international sales on HBO Europe’s three-part mini The Burning Bush. Directed by Agnieszka Holland and based on real events, the series follows the plight of Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest of the Soviet occupation of Prague in 1969, and his family’s legal fight to clear his name. HBO Europe’s most ambitious project to date, the series had a successful rollout across Europe this year. It’s based on a script by Stephen Hulik and was produced by HBO Europe’s Antony Root and Tereza Polachova and Nutproducke’s Tomas Hruby and Pavla Kubeckova. Read More »