They knew what they had was dynamic. They were smart, did their research and worked hard — and the result was the Son Of God big-screen version that is expected to gross anywhere from $25.7M to $26.7M in its debut weekend. People in this world achieve great success for a reason, but not all get the reason why — whether it be George Clooney, who has used his celebrity to bring well-needed attention to the horrors of Darfur, or Angelina Jolie, whose humanitarian work is also well needed and appreciated, or Mel Gibson, whose The Passion Of The Christ brought the word of God beyond borders anyone had ever seen before ($611M worldwide — that’s a lot of eyes). These are the kings of charity, who understand their responsibility in the world. Mark Burnett — the reality TV entrepreneur behind such phenoms Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank, and The Apprentice — understands the reason why, too. He and wife Roma Downey know in their core that they are on that path now — to spread the word to as many people as possible, he said.
Related: HOLY MOLY! Late-Night Showings ‘Son Of God’ Rises With $1.2M; ‘Non-Stop’ Also Strong Thursday
On the wings of angels (and butterflies) and in many languages — the marketing behind this film is very interesting: The team wisely dubbed a Spanish version for this weekend’s movie debut, and it was put in 200 theaters; they also did a subtitled Korean-language version and placed it in 15 select theaters. “Because we are a small organization, we don’t have to ask permission — we just do it,” Burnett said. The theaters playing Spanish-language Son Of God grew in a just few days as they were booking theaters and 4% of the gross came from those theaters; 22% of the audience was Hispanic. In addition, the film had a phenomenal 91% rating on PostTrak and was heavily weighted to excellent with an impressive 72%. In addition, it has an incredible 80% recommend and played 62% female to 38% male with 82% of moviegoers over age 25.
Related: Hot Trailer: Fox’s ‘Son Of God’
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As expected, the Television Academy’s Board of Governors voted tonight to split the merged best TV movie and miniseries category into two, reverting to the long tradition of separate top longform Primetime Emmy categories, which was ended by the TV Academy vote in 2011 to merge the two fields because of the dwindling number of miniseries entries. Ironically, as the decision was made, miniseries already had started their resurgence, which was cemented by the blockbuster success of the 2012 History mini Hatfields & McCoys. Several months ago, a movement started within the TV Academy in support of splitting the top longform categories again. It gained momentum, leading to a recommendation that passed through the February 4 Awards Committee meeting and was sent to the board, which approved the move tonight. Also recognizing the proliferation of longform programming, the combined miniseries/TV movie categories for writing, directing and performing categories will all be expanded from five to six nominees, with the final voting switched from a preferential vote to a ratings-score vote.
Related: TV Movie & Miniseries Emmy Poised To Get Their Own Top Categories Again
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The telepic based on Diana Lopez’s novel Choke follows a teenager who flirts with disaster after being introduced to the “game” of intentionally cutting off oxygen to the brain to get high. Freya Tingley (Hemlock Grove) stars in The Choking Game as Taryn, who is just starting her senior year when a charismatic new girl claims her as a “breath sister” as they take “flights” together. Frasier alum Peri Gilpin also stars in the Lifetime Original as Taryn’s mom, who tries to help after sensing that something is seriously wrong with her daughter. Directed by Lane Shefter Bishop and written by Jen Klein, the telefilm from Orly Adelson Productions is executive produced by Jonathan Eskenas, Bishop, Marilyn R. Atlas and Adelson.
Related: Lifetime Develops Movie About Jesus’ Early Life With ‘Hatfields & McCoys’ Producer Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Following the success of The Bible miniseries on History, A+E Networks sibling Lifetime too has put in development a longform project about Jesus. Titled The One, the movie hails from Leslie Greif, the producer of History’s blockbuster Hatfields & McCoys miniseries, and his Thinkfactory Media. Written by 2013 Nicholl Fellowship Winners Frank DeJohn and David Alton Hedges, The One is described as a coming-of-age story exploring Jesus’ early life and formative years as he comes to learn he is the Son of God and is destined for greatness. The project is poised to shed light on a lesser known period in Jesus’ life as there is very little written about him from the age of 13, following a pilgrimage to Jerusalem he took with his parents, to age 30, when he began his ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist. The One is expected to stay true to the spirit of Jesus’ image as chronicled in The Bible. Another project about Jesus’ so called “lost years,” which was briefly in development at History, took a more unconventional approach, exploring a theory about Jesus’ origins as an exorcist. DeJohn and Hedges are with UTA and BenderSpink.
Matt Barr, who played the title character in Lifetime’s Romeo Killer: The Chris Porco Story, has been cast as the male lead opposite Ahna O’Reilly in the CW drama pilot Identity, exec produced by Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. It centers on Mia (O’Reilly), a young New Yorker who learns she needs an organ transplant to survive and her only living relative is a newfound half-brother, Davis (Barr), the charming, privileged only son of a wealthy and powerful Charleston family. She connects with them only to find they’re the target of a CIA investigation for involvement in domestic terrorism, and the agency wants her as their newest informant. Read More »
The unscripted series will focus on the inaugural season of the LA Kiss Arena Football League team and owners Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, bass guitarist/lead vocalist/co-founder of heavy metal band Kiss, and longtime manager Doc McGhee. The 10-episode series will follow the dedicated players and coaches as they try to turn LA’s first professional football team in years into a winning franchise. Produced by Thinkfactory Media (Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Hatfields & McCoys), the series will premiere on AMC this summer. Executive producers of the as-yet-untitled show are Adam Freeman, Adam Reed and Leslie Greif. Goldberg, Marco Bresaz and Andrea Beckerman will oversee the series for AMC.
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Writer-director Paco Cabezas’ heist thriller Men With No Fear is coming to Berlin’s European Film Market this month, with Nicolas Cage in negotiations to star and The Exchange setting a deal to finance and sell worldwide rights. Bryan Singer and Jason Taylor of Bad Hat Harry Productions are producing. The movie centers on Marty ‘The Mule,’ newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss Frank, a smalltime neighborhood crook. While Mule was locked up, Frank went big time and became a ruthless drug kingpin. But Frank also took Mule’s most precious item — his son, raising him like his own. But now Mule is back on the streets and ready for revenge. Read More »
It was 1999, the height of the cold war among the broadcast networks. Following the 1995 elimination of the fin-syn rules, which allowed networks to begin producing their own series, ABC, CBS and NBC started building up their in-house production arms with one mandate – to churn out product the nets would own. Cross-pollinating was considered almost heretic. Then in 1999, an ABC-based company, Jerry Bruckheimer TV, didn’t fold after getting a “no” from the network on its CSI pitch, instead setting the forensic drama at rival CBS. But vertical integration got in the way, with ABC deciding it wouldn’t be prudent to subsidize a rival by deficit financing the newly picked-up series — a $1 billion blunder for Disney as CSI went on to become a global hit. The last-minute pullout by ABC that left CBS scrambling put extra chill on the networks’ willingness to buy from the in-house production company of another network. (Fox sibling 20th Century Fox TV had long established itself as a major studio selling to everyone.)
Related: The Challenges Of Bypassing Pilot Season
Fast forward to 2014 when a whopping 10 projects from ABC Studios (5), Universal TV (3) and CBS TV Studios (2) have received series or pilot orders at rival broadcast networks so far, with pickups still underway. Here is how we got here. The ice among the broadcasters started to thaw a little in the mid-2000s. ABC’s in-house studio landed another hit on CBS with drama Criminal Minds, which it stayed with, and NBC’s production arm fielded a couple of short-lived series including Worst Week for CBS and Sons And Daughters for ABC. During the 2011 pilot season, there were two pilots from ABC’s, CBS’ or NBC’s production arms at rival networks: Weekends At Bellevue at Fox from Universal TV’s predecessor Universal Media Studios, and Ringer at CBS from ABC Studios. (Fox and UMS had an existing relationship via Fox’s hit drama House, sold by then-independent Universal Television just before its merger with NBC, while ABC Studios pulled out when Ringer moved to CBS sibling the CW.) Read More »
The ill-timed consolidation of the best TV movie and miniseries Emmy categories will likely be short lived. The TV Academy has started a procedure for the two longform categories to be restored for this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards, putting an end to the category’s two-year merger. “The recommendation has been made to split Outstanding Miniseries or Movie into separate program categories,” a TV Academy spokesperson said in a statement. “This is on the agenda to be discussed at the February 4th Awards Committee meeting.” The move, first reported by TVLine, is the first in a two-step process, with a recommendation first going to the awards committee and then to the Board of Governors for a vote. It was triggered by the so-called “rule of 14″ where more than 14 submissions in a category prompts a discussion of creating a new category and fewer than 14 opens a consolidation conversation. The dramatic drop in miniseries production at the end of the last decade — which resulted in only 2 getting nominated in the best miniseries Emmy category in both 2009 and 2010 — invoked the rule of 14, leading to the February 2011 vote to merge the best TV movie and miniseries categories.
One can argue that when made, that decision was already outdated because by early 2011 the miniseries genre was already coming out of the collapse with a number of solid Emmy contenders that year, including the opening installments of PBS’ Downton Abbey, which started off as a limited series; PBS’ Sherlock and BBC America’s Luther; as well as HBO’s Mildred Pierce, ReelzChannel’s The Kennedys, Sundance Channel’s Carlos and Starz’s The Pillars Of The Earth. But the TV Academy continued combining longform categories.
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The miniseries’ second night viewership across A+E Networks‘ History, A&E and Lifetime, was down 24% from Night One. Of the 7.4 million viewers, 3.1 million fell into the 25-54 age bracket. On History, the miniseries, starring Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger in the title roles, logged 2.8 million viewers overall; Lifetime and A&E networks each averaged 2.3 million.
Related: ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ Miniseries Draws 9.8 Million Viewers Across Three Networks
Overall, the two-part miniseries averaged 8.6 million viewers — 3.6 million in that age bracket. That secures Bonnie & Clyde‘s status as basic cable’s third most watched miniseries since ’06, behind History’s mega hits Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible. Bonnie & Clyde had grossed 9.8 million viewers and 4.2 million demo viewers during its world premiere on Sunday. History also led the simulcast that night, with 3.7 million viewers, followed by Lifetime (3.1 million) and A&E (3 million).
The project, which also starred Holly Hunter and William Hurt, marked A+E Networks’ first-ever simulcast across the three networks. Sony Pictures Television produced the mini, from executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, based on the script byJohn Rice and Joe Batteer, directed by Bruce Beresford.
Four months after NBC signaled a push in the longform arena with a development slate of several miniseries and event series, the network has greenlighted the first project from that slate, four-hour miniseries Rosemary’s Baby, an adaptation of the 1967 best-selling suspense novel by Ira Levin. Agnieszka Holland, who has been nominated for both an Oscar (Europa, Europa) and an Emmy (Treme), has come on board to direct the mini, written by Scott Abbott (Introducing Dorothy Dandridge) and James Wong (American Horror Story). Casting begins immediately, with filming set to begin in January in Paris. Lionsgate Television is producing, with Joshua Maurer, Alix Witlin and David Stern serving as executive producers. “Ira Levin’s mesmerizing book was a groundbreaking reflection on how effective and influential a psychological thriller could be,” said Quinn Taylor, NBC’s EVP, Movies, Miniseries and International Co-Productions, who has been shepherding NBC’s longform strategy since joining the network from ABC in June. Added NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, “As we move into the event movie and miniseries space, Rosemary’s Baby represents the kind of attention-getting, surprising project that will make noise for us. The story has been updated and moved to Paris, but it’s faithful to the spirit of Ira Levin’s classic novel.”
Rosemary’s Baby centers on a young married couple who move into a Paris apartment that has a haunted past. After getting pregnant, the wife becomes … Read More »
It is a big week for producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. They have the live staging of The Sound Of Music starring Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer on NBC tomorrow night, and four-hour miniseries Bonnie & Clyde starring Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger airing Sunday and Monday on History, A&E and Lifetime. While most producers abandoned the longform genre when it went out of fashion over the last five years, Zadan and Meron stuck with it through their longform deal at Sony TV, producing mostly movies for Lifetime, including the highly rated Steel Magnolias reboot with an all-black cast. Their loyalty has paid off and the two now are at the forefront of longform’s resurgence. (Zadan and Meron just sold a high-profile Eliot Ness miniseries to NBC.) Coming up for the duo next year is the launch of their new MTV comedy series Happyland, the return of Lifetime dramedy Drop Dead Diva and the filming of E! pilot Songbyrd. Oh, and they also are returning as producers of the Oscars in March. I caught up with Zadan and Meron to talk about Bonnie & Clyde and The Sound Of Music — find out why they call them “historic”, how Underwood traveled to Austria to prepare for playing Maria in SOM and how close Miley Cyrus came to playing Bonnie in B&C — as well as the Oscars, Smash and a possible Steel Magnolia sequel.
DEADLINE: Were you surprised by the longform genre’s resurgence?
ZADAN: We did expect it would come back. Everything is cyclical and we thought that event television had become so scarce between all the reality shows and all the other things that were going on (and also the fact that there were still great movies on HBO and a few other places), that eventually everybody would catch on to bring it back if there was a big hit that warranted it. I think Hatfields & McCoys was so enormous that no one could ignore it anymore; they had to bring it back at that point. Read More »
Tom McKay today started a legal feud with the Hatfields & McCoys. In a suit (read it here) filed Friday in LA Superior Court alleging reckless misconduct and breach of contract, McKay is going after the producers of the hit 2012 History Channel miniseries and their insurance companies for injuries he suffered after being thrown from a horse on set. The incident occurred on November 11, 2011, “when the subject horse became uncontrollable again during filming of a scene, bolted, and subsequently threw Plaintiff into a tree, resulting in serious and permanent injuries and harm to Plaintiff.” The seasoned actor is seeking unspecified damages for suffering and anguish, medical costs, and loss of earnings and earnings capacity. He wants to make an additional monetary point too. “The reckless, careless, callous, and oppressive acts of defendants, and each of them, as set forth herein-above, are sufficient to warrant the imposition of punitive and exemplary damages against said defendants in an amount sufficient to punish and make an example of them. The exact amount of such damages are presently unknown to Plaintiff, but will be subject to proof at trial,” reads the 38-page, 8-claim complaint. McKay is also seeking interest, legal costs and a declaration from the court that OneBeacon America Insurance Company and Ace USA are liable under the insurance policy the production had with them for all benefits due to him and for all and any damages claimed by him.
McKay, whose recent credits include the Starz/BBC series The White Queen, played Jim McCoy on the miniseries that ran over three nights at the end of May 2012. Hatfields & McCoys star and producer Kevin Costner is not named as a defendant nor mentioned in the suit, but several others high up in the production are including director Kevin Reynolds and executive producer Leslie Grief. The defendants formally named are Hatfields & McCoys Productions, ThinkFactory Media, OneBeacon and Ace USA. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: History is taking on one of most celebrated TV programs of all time, blockbuster 1977 miniseries Roots. The cable network is planning a new eight-hour Roots miniseries after acquiring rights to the 12-hour original from Mark Wolper, son of Roots executive producer, the late David L. Wolper, and to the book the mini was based on, Roots: The Saga Of An American Family, from the estate of author Alex Haley. Mark Wolper is on board as executive producer. The network is about to start discussions with writers for the project, which will draw both on the book and the original mini from a contemporary perspective. “We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience,” said History EVP and GM Dirk Hoogstra. The project originated with a remark by one of Hoogstra’s executives, VP Development and Programming Michael Stiller, who suggested the network should try to remake Roots. The idea was put into motion, and meetings were set up with Mark Wolper and the attorney representing the Haley estate. As talks progressed, it emerged that there was a second Roots remake project out there from different original auspices that had been eyed by FX. In the end, History stepped up and secured rights, clearing the way for a new Roots mini on the cable network.
The timing couldn’t be better — the topic of slavery is very much … Read More »
Following its June sale to Britain’s ITV, Thinkfactory Media has reshuffled its exec ranks. Founder and CEO Leslie Greif has promoted 12-year company veteran Joanne Rubino to SVP of production, continuing to oversee all Thinkfactory production and additionally handling biz dev duties and all corporate finance oversight. Adam Freeman, who started with Thinkfactory in 2006 as showrunner on Gene Simmons Family Jewels and worked on productions including Sinbad: It’s Just Family, Dogg After Dark, Marriage Bootcamp: Bridezillas, Kissteria, Hatfields & McCoys: White Lightning and The Great Santini Brothers, is now creative director overseeing unscripted development and productions. He’ll also consult on scripted programming for Thinkfactory. Aaron Fishman currently oversees the R&B Divas franchise and has been named executive producer. The team will report to new EVP Adam Reed, who was promoted to the post in September.
LD Entertainment has committed to produce/finance Resurrection, with Kevin Reynolds directing a film about the first 40 days after the death of Jesus Christ. Patrick Aiello is producing with LD Entertainment CEO Mickey Liddell, and the film is eyeing an Easter Weekend 2015 berth. This joins the growing volume of films derived from the New and Old Testaments. Scripted by Paul Aiello, The Resurrection is told through the eyes of an agnostic Roman Centurion charged by Pontius Pilate to investigate rumors of a risen Jewish Messiah and to locate Christ’s missing body in order to subdue an imminent uprising in Jerusalem. Along Centurion’s mission, his doubts of such a supernatural occurrence peel away as he encounters the Apostles and other historic Biblical characters and reviews the events following the Resurrection. Liddell described the film as Gladiator in tone. Read More »