Miniseries are coming of age again, at least according to the Television Academy, whose Board of Governors voted this year to once again give it a category of its own. This has been done from time to time depending on the health and general welfare of the miniseries format. For example, in 2011, the TV Academy felt longform television was dying on the vine and that there was just not enough entries to meet its “Rule of 14” (the minimum number of possible contenders needed to trigger a category). The networks were downsizing the form and, outside of the BBC and HBO, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest. But now, minis are exploding again and a new golden age seems to be on the horizon.
With minis roaring back on their own—they are still combined with movies in the acting, writing and directing categories—what will the landscape look like when nominees are announced July 10?
Not a Shoo-In
Going into the competition, many pundits thought it was all wrapped up. HBO—which has had a streak of miniseries winners with John Adams, The Pacific, Band of Brothers and Angels in America—looked as though it had another slam dunk with its eight-part True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It won near-unanimous raves and appeared unbeatable, particularly since, with the mini/movie split, it would not be competing with … Read More »
Emmy Campaigning Heats Up
The inclusion of HBO's 'True Detective' into the Best Drama Series race has ratcheted up the tension in the category -- especially for fellow high-profile hopefuls like AMC's 'Breaking Bad' and 'Mad Men'. Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and Dominic Patten discuss.
One of the bigger challenges facing the Television Academy’s Emmy Awards the past few years is keeping up with the constantly shifting TV landscape. In fact, in March the organization announced it was dropping the formal name by which it always has been known, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The powers that be chose to unload all that “arts and sciences” stuff and even considered dropping “television” altogether until it was decided the word can be used as a brand name to encompass all the delivery systems that are part of modern entertainment. Change is good and the TV Academy has a primetime awards committee working year round to address the latest needs and trends of the medium it represents.
One of the biggest changes this year is that the miniseries/movie category has been split in two, though the mini/movie acting, writing and directing contests will remain combined. It recognizes the renewed interest in the miniseries format thanks to such hits as History’s juggernauts Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible, among many others. “We had a situation where there was a lack of minis and so we had a consolidation. But then the Board (of Governors) decided there would be a split in 2014 since it looks right now like they are solidly back,” says the TV Academy’s senior vp of awards John Leverence, who adds that this year the number of minis well exceeds the TV Academy’s “Rule of 14” (the number required to trigger a category). Read More »
Jonathan Keltz has been promoted to regular for Season 2 of the CW period drama Reign. Keltz recurred throughout the first season as Leith, the kitchen love interest to lady-in-waiting Greer. Keltz, repped by Stone Manners Salners, Wright Entertainment, and Characters Talent Agency, most recently appeared on Necessary Roughness and had a series of arcs as Ari Gold’s whipping-boy assistant on Entourage. His film credits include Prom and 21 & Over.
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History has added cast to its drama series Vikings and miniseries Texas Rising. Ben Robson (Dracula: The Dark Prince) has landed a series regular role in Season 3 of Vikings. It centers on Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), a restless young warrior and family man who longs to find and conquer new lands across the sea and claim the spoils as his own. Robson, repped by UTA and Management 360, will play Kalf, the trusted second-in-command to Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick). Produced by MGM Television, Vikings Season 3 begins production this summer for a 2015 premiere.
Related: Rhys Coiro & Joe Egender Join History’s ‘Texas Rising’
Rob Morrow has joined the cast of Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ThinkFactory Media. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Morrow, repped by Gersh, Berwick & Kovacik, and Jackson Tyerman, will play Col. Fannin, a passionate member of the Texas Army who follows his heart instead of orders. He next will be seen in the upcoming John Carney film Begin Again.
Skydance Television has hired former Sony Pictures TV exec Jake Rose as EVP Production. Rose will oversee all television production including comedies, dramas, limited series and mini-series in the newly created post, and will report to Marcy Ross, President of Skydance Television. Rose is coming off a a ten-year stint as head of production for Sony Pictures Television Movies, Mini and Limited-Series Division where he oversaw projects such as Hatfields & McCoys, Coma, and The Company. Before Sony, Rose led Skylark Entertainment, an independent film and television production company in Los Angeles where he produced films including Jim Carrey starrer Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Street Fighter, Election, and several television mini-series including Blonde, about the life of Marilyn Monroe based upon the Joyce Carol Oates novel. Rose previously held executive positions at Walt Disney Studios and motion picture finance and bond company CBC.
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TVGN‘s 2014-2015 upfront slate unveiled today includes six new and returning original series and four primetime event specials along with exclusive cable premieres of event programming airing on CBS. TVGN also announced three new original series in development, including a new project with Lionsgate Television. New series include Rock This Boat: New Kids On The Block, an eight-episode series featuring the hot boy band of the same name as they board a cruise for a week-long party on the high seas with a group of die-hard fans. Band member Donnie Wahlberg exec produces. TVGN will debut previously announced The Sorrentinos, featuring Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore fame, whose life came crashing down after a battle with addiction. The docu-comedy follows life after reality as Mike makes a comeback and shares the spotlight with his family—mom Linda (mother), Marc (middle brother), Melissa (sister) and Frank (older brother). Series in development include Soap Town (working title), from the producers of Hatfields & McCoys and Gene Simmons Family Jewels. The docu-series follows a group of former daytime and primetime soap stars as they attempt to produce a new primetime serial drama to star in. Here’s TVGN’s complete slate with descriptions: Read More »
Pulling back the curtain, History Channel announced this morning it will work with the White House Correspondents’ Association to produce a special video commemorating the centennial celebration of the organization as well as its annual White House Correspondents Dinner. The video will be screened at that annual Beltway bash/Hollywood petting zoo, which will again be held at Washington’s Hinckley Hilton on Saturday, May 3. President Obama and former President Clinton will participate in the video chronicling the origin of the WHCA in 1914 and its evolution over the century.
Related: Joel McHale To Host White House Correspondents’ Dinner
In addition to Obama and Clinton, among those scheduled to be interviewed include historians; press secretaries Marlin Fitzwater, Mike McCurry, and Dana Perino; and the WHC Dinner’s past and current celebrity hosts. In theory the latter means Stephen Colbert, who scorched the ballroom with his in-character indictment of then-president George W. Bush, and Craig Ferguson, who pronounced VPOTUS Dick Cheney “funny for an evil guy” after Cheney told him “enjoy your audit” following a Ferguson joke that Cheney had to start his move out of his official residence before the end of Bush’s second term because “it takes longer than you think to pack up an entire dungeon.”
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With popularity of Bible-themed projects showing no signs of subsiding, Fox has put in development Nazareth, an event series written/executive produced by David Franzoni (Gladiator) and executive produced by Bob Cooper. Nazareth is the first project under an overall deal for event series that Fox has signed with Cooper and Tyler Mitchell’s Landscape Entertainment. It follows the formative years of Jesus of Nazareth. There had been a lot of interest recently in Jesus’ so called “lost years,” a lesser known period in his life because 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. Lifetime in February started development on The One, a TV movie from Hatfields & McCoys producer Leslie Greif and writers Frank DeJohn and David Alton Hedges, which 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. Another project, which was briefly in development at History, took a more unconventional approach to the same period in Jesus’ life, exploring a theory about his origins as an exorcist. Nazareth hails from FX Prods., which produces most of Fox’s event series, and Entertainment One, where … Read More »
Stephen Monroe Taylor has been cast in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Taylor, repped by House of Reps and Main Title, will play Texas Ranger Gator Davis, a drawling good ol’ boy from Louisiana who can strum a guitar and sing with the best of them. He’s also a fearless fighting man who meets danger head on. Taylor currently recurs on Anger Management. Fern Champion Casting is handling casting for Texas Rising.
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Jeremy Davies (Justified) and Robert Knepper (Prison Break) have been cast in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Davies, repped by Paradigm, Silver Lining Entertainment and attorney Karl Austen, will play Sgt. Ephraim Knowles, a shifty rogue whose only thought is for his own survival who reluctantly joins the Rangers to avoid being executed for desertion. Knepper, repped by Innovative Artists and Kramer Management, will play Empresario Buckley, an unshaven bombastic slob. He is the only law in the town of Victoria, and he abuses his position to further his own agenda and make himself rich in the process. Read More »
Rhys Coiro (Hostages) and Joe Egender (Hunger) have landed lead roles in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Coiro will play Vern Elwood opposite Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta, Brendan Fraser and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Egender will play Beans Wilkins, a Ranger who is always hungry and looking for his next meal. Read More »
Jake Busey has been cast in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Busey will play the older brother of “Big Foot Wallace”, Samuel Wallace, who recites the legendary admonition “Remember the Alamo.” Busey, repped by TalentWorks and manager Steven Jensen, also can be seen in Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn on El Rey Network.
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With the openings of Draft Day and Joe this weekend we suddenly re-discover two Oscar winners from the ’90s who have found their groove again after years of cinematic disappointments. I can’t remember the last time either Kevin Costner and especially Nicolas Cage delivered performances worthy of their prime as Costner does in Summit’s Draft Day and Cage does in Roadside Attractions’ Joe. Both come from companies associated with Lionsgate and hopefully both will find some sort of audience this weekend as they reaffirm the power of great actors in the right role.
Costner, who won Oscars for directing and producing Dances With Wolves in 1990, is right in his wheelhouse playing the general manager who has the opportunity to turn a hapless Cleveland Browns football team around with a No. 1 draft pick of a hot Heisman Trophy winner. It’s reminiscent not only of Moneyball but more importantly, of the kind of sports-oriented movies like Bull Durham and Field Of Dreams that made him a star in the first place. And Cage, is playing a combustible ex-con who becomes a surrogate father figure to a troubled teen (Tye Sheridan) in the Southern-set drama Joe. Cage turns down his usual volume of late to deliver a performance of power and poignancy in a film that has much in common with last April’s surprise indie hit Mud (also from Roadside and also co-starring Sheridan) but even more akin to the 1953 George Stevens classic Shane. It is perhaps his best screen acting since winning the Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas almost 20 years ago. And from what I can tell, both these stars clearly know they have again hit their mark. Read More »
Geoffrey Blake (Forrest Gump) and Dillon Lane (Bucket And Skinner’s Epic Adventures) have joined the cast of History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Blake, repped by Michael Levine of Levine Management, will play Colonel George Hockley, Sam Houston’s most trusted confidant and adviser, who senses the unrest among the men before the Alamo, but supports Houston even as others question his leadership. Lane will play Yancey Burns, one of the youngest Rangers who goes on a dangerous mission to help rescue his friend Truett Fincham’s family.
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Adam Hicks (Lemonade Mouth) has been cast in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Roland Joffé will direct. Hicks, repped by Paradigm, Gilbertson Entertainment, and Myman Abel Fineman Fox Greenspan Lights, will play Turett Fincham, the youngest Ranger who faces his first skirmish with a group of murdering Indians. Hicks will next be seen in the upcoming feature Boy Next Door.
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There is a second reality series project devoted to chronicling a mission to the Red Planet. Leslie Greif’s Thinkfactory Media (Hatfields & McCoys, Gene Simmons: Family Jewels) has partnered with The Mars Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the exploration and settlement of the Red Planet, on an unscripted TV project that would document Mars Society’s year-long Mars simulation in the Canadian Arctic. Thinkfactory had been working with the Mars Society on the project for the past four months. It took the series out to networks last week, with two outlets interested and currently in discussion with the production company. Tentatively titled Mission To Mars, the series is one of two Mars colonization reality projects in the marketplace, along with Lionsgate TV’s untitled series done in collaboration with Lansdorp’s Mars One, the international Mars mission backed by Dutch billionaire entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp.
Related: Reality Series From Lionsgate TV & Roy Bank To Chronicle Mission To Colonize Mars
According to Thinkfactory EVP Adam Reed, their project is further along, with a six-person habitat already built on Canada’s Devon Island in the Arctic, and it has NASA’s cooperation. After a lengthy location search, with its harsh climate the deserted island, which features a 14-mile crater, was deemed the closest environment to Mars that can be found … Read More »
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Spartacus: War Of The Damned) has been cast as the female lead in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Roland Joffé will direct. Robinson, repped by Innovative and Liebman Entertainment, will play Emily West, a mythic historical figure, later dubbed “the Yellow Rose of Texas,” who gets caught in a love triangle between Houston (Bill Paxton) and Santa Ana (Oliver Martinez). Robinson currently recurs on CW’s Arrow and also recurred on The Vampire Diaries. Texas Rising is slated to premiere in 2015.
A rash of acquisitions of European and U.S. independent production companies has been steadily spreading over the past year and a bit. One exec says, “We joke that there’s a transaction a day.” Leading the charge is the UK’s ITV, which has been on a shopping spree since it first bought a controlling stake in Duck Dynasty maker Gurney Productions in late 2012. Also acquisitive has been the Pro Sieben-owned Red Arrow, which recently bought Say Yes To The Dress maker Half Yard Prods. But it’s a two-way street: NBCUniversal already owns Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films in the UK as well as Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media, among others. Warner Bros last month entered an agreement to take over the global interests, outside the U.S., of Dutch company Eyeworks, and has a majority stake in UK production group Shed Media. Core Media is also known to have its eyes open to UK purchases. What’s more, many of these outfits also own companies in the hot Nordic region. And now there’s word that giant FremantleMedia may be moving in on vast group All3Media. A TV industry exec says, “We had the super-indies and now there’s a new breed of mega-indies.” If FremantleMedia acquires All3Media, it would create what an observer describes as “a very big beast.” Fremantle is a large group with significant turnover and some of their properties are getting older, an exec suggests. “It’s very difficult to replace that scale just through new productions.” However, I’m cautioned that should a deal be done, it won’t be in the imminent future.
So what’s been driving all this consolidation and cross-pollination? For one, with TV channels proliferating in the U.S., whether it be via basic cable or digital platforms, foreign outfits see a prime opportunity to establish a foothold and build scale. In the reverse, U.S. companies moving into the booming UK production sector know that broadcasters are doling out a lot of cash for original content. Read More »
Christopher McDonald (Requiem For A Dream) and Trevor Donovan (90210) have joined the killer cast of History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Roland Joffé will direct. McDonald, repped by Gersh and Brillstein, will play Henry Karnes, a grizzled, tough taskmaster of the ranging company. Donovan, with APA and Michael Yanni Management, will play Kit Acklin, a handsome, wise-ass, expert horseman whose chivalry and equestrian skills are matched only by his gun-fighting prowess. Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Thomas Jane, Olivier Martinez, Chad Michael Murray, Michael Rapaport and Max Thieriot round out the all-star cast.
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