TNT has cancelled Leverage but the show might not be dead after all says Dean Devlin. “We’re going to try to shop it around now and see if there is any other interest elsewhere,” the executive producer told Deadline today. That elsewhere could include a feature film version of the drama. “That would be fun to do. That’s definitely a possibility,” said Devlin, who is scheduled to make his own feature directorial debut with a global disaster film written by himself and Paul Guyot. “Look, it’s a long shot but we have a lot of love for the show and the fans have been tremendously supportive. If we can find a way for it to continue we’ll pursue,” he added of Leverage’s future. Produced by Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, the Timothy Hutton-led ensemble was formally cancelled by TNT after five seasons on December 21. The series finale aired four days later on December 25. Two weeks earlier Devlin had told a fan site for the show that he and co-creator John Rogers would be wrapping things up for season five in the anticipation there might not be a season six. Not that the producer and Independence Day co-writer is out of Leverage ideas. “I have a giant pile of stories we still wanted to tell. Creatively the show was far from exhausted.” Devlin says of the …
After dragging its decision for months, TNT has pulled the plug of drama Leverage four days before the series’ fifth season finale. The news comes two weeks after the series’ executive producer Dean Devlin announced in an open letter to fans that he and co-creator John Rogers decided to end the current Season 5 finale they way they envisioned the series would end — in case there was no Season 6. Leverage, which is independently produced by Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, has been on the bubble the past couple of years but has managed to secure last-minute renewals. The Season 5 finale is set for Christmas, December 25. Here are TNT’s statement and Devlin’s letter on Leverage‘s cancellation:
TNT’s Leverage has thrilled audiences with its delightfully intricate plots, its “stand up for the little guy” attitude and its terrific performances from stars Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf and Aldis Hodge. But after five wonderful years, it’s time to say goodbye. Leverage will come to a close on Christmas, Tuesday, Dec. 25, at 10 p.m., with a series finale that stands as one of the show’s best episodes.
We are honored to have worked with executive producer Dean Devlin, Electric Entertainment, creators John Rogers and Chris Downey, and all the cast and production crew on Leverage. We look forward to exploring new opportunities to work with them again in the future. We also want to thank
With the future of TNT‘s drama Leverage still in limbo, the executive producer took to the show’s fan site to post an open letter saying he and co-creator John Rogers decided to end the current Season 5 finale they way they envisioned the series would end — in case there was no Season 6. There had been speculation that Leverage may be cancelled after Season 5, but the network has yet to officially weigh in on the drama series’ future. Leverage, which is independently produced by Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, has been on the bubble the past couple of years but has managed to secure last-minute renewals. The Season 5 finale is set for Christmas, December 25.
Dear LEVERAGE Fans,
As of the writing of this letter, we still do not know if there will be a season six of our show. Just as we didn’t know when we created the last three episodes which are about to air. Because of this uncertainty, John Rogers and I decided to end this season with the episode we had planned to make to end the series, way back when we shot the pilot. So, the episode that will air on Christmas is, in fact, the series finale we had always envisioned.
This is not to say we would not do a season six should we get the opportunity. Everyone involved with the show, from the cast, the crew, the writers and producers,
TNT Sets Winter Premiere Dates For ‘Dallas’, ‘Rizzoli & Isles’, ‘Southland’, ‘Leverage’ And Two New Series
As part of its strategic expansion to year-round original programming, TNT is set to burn brightly this winter with a slate of six original series. The lineup includes the return of three hit dramas, a new season of one of the most acclaimed series on television and the premiere of a brand new medical drama from David E. Kelley and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Among TNT’s winter highlights, hit dramas Rizzoli & Isles and Leverage will return for a run of episodes beginning Nov. 27.
TNT’s hot new series Dallas will return for its second season on Jan. 28, followed on Feb. 4 by the debut of Monday Mornings, the new David E. Kelley-Sanjay Gupta medical drama starring Ving Rhames, Alfred Molina and Jamie Bamber.
ION Television is adding a TNT drama to its mix of CBS and USA off-network shows. The network has acquired off-network rights to TNT’s drama series Leverage from Electric Entertainment. Leverage will begin airing on ION in summer 2012. Leverage, which has been renewed by TNT for a fifth season, has averaged more than 4.8 million viewers in Season 4, up 10% over last season, with 1.9 million adults 18-49 (+6%) and 2.3 million adults 25-54 (+9%).
TNT has renewed its light caper drama Leverage for a fifth season with a 15-episode order. Season 5 will launch next summer. The series, starring Timothy Hutton as the leader of a gang of grifters, hackers and thieves out to settle scores against the rich and powerful, will wrap its summer run Aug. 28 and return with the conclusion of its fourth season in November.
Leverage is the latest TNT series to be renewed this summer following the recent pickups of Rizzoli & Isles, Falling Skies and Franklin & Bash. Men of a Certain Age has been canclled and there is still no word on Hawthorne and Memphis Beat. Leverage premiered in 2008 and has grown its audience each of its four seasons. This summer, it has averaged 4.8 million viewers, up 10% over Season 3, with 1.9 million adults 18-49 (+6%). Leverage is produced by Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, with Dean Devlin and creators John Rogers and Chris Downey serving as executive producers.
Sony About To Recapture James Bond #23; UPDATE: MGM Leverages 007 For Deal On Sony’s ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’
2ND UPDATE: The new MGM brass, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum managed to leverage the James Bond #23 film for a piece of Sony’s in-the-works big movie based on the Stieg Larsson bestseller, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which has already been shooting in Sweden under director David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara. Deadline has learned that Sony Pictures bosses Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton agreed to give MGM a co-financing deal for the big title and possibly other films already shooting, too, to help the reconstituted studio generate quick cash flow. This allows MGM to have revenue which it hasn’t had in a long time, so the books look better, and more funds for production could be forthcoming. (That’s exactly how Birnbaum and Barber built their Spyglass Entertainment in the first place: by investing in films it didn’t make, like the recently rebooted Star Trek.)
UPDATE: We’re told Paramount dropped out of the Bond bidding when MGM insisted on bringing the distribution fee under 8% and when MGM got “grabby” in wanting a piece of a Paramount established franchise that studio didn’t want to give up.
EXCLUSIVE 5 PM: Deadline hears that Sony Pictures is close to landing distribution rights to MGM’s James Bond franchise again, and specifically for the next untitled Bond #23, even though several studios are still very much in the hunt. Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton distributed both Daniel Craig 007 pics, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, and now have moved into first position to recapture 007. That’s because Sony is agreeing to allow MGM’s new leadership to leverage the next Bond pic, and indeed the Bond franchise, to create more cash flow for the reconstituted studio post-bankruptcy. The new brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen andCEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, are finishing negotiations to co-finance a number of films with Sony. Deadline has learned that Pascal and Lynton have already found a title on the Sony slate for MGM to co-finance. That’s exactly how Birnbaum and Barber built Spyglass in the first place: by investing in films it didn’t make, such as The Sixth Sense and the recently rebooted Star Trek.
There’s no doubt this is a shrewd move by MGM, but Deadline also learned it wasn’t sitting well with the majors. Top execs at Sony and Fox and Paramount and Warner Bros were increasingly frustrated with the way that the Spyglass duo were playing one studio off another — “and enjoying it,” in the words of one exec involved. Sony at the time even described its strategy to win Bond #23 as ”pleading”. Now it looks like that worked along with agreeing to much of MGM’s negotiating terms.
Even though MGM holds sway on where Bond #23 lands, a 007 return to the Sony fold would please EON partners Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. Amy Pascal in particular has developed a strong personal and professional relationship with Broccoli when they were making the transition from Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig. Broccoli and Wilson found Craig among a list of possible 007s, and the choice wasn’t popular at first. But Pascal supported Craig. Also Sony has a reputation for spending big to market Bond: for Casino Royale, Sony spent a humongous sum worldwide to introduce the new Bond. MGM was supposed to distribute the 23rd Bond film itself, until the studio was pushed into bankruptcy.
No surprise here: freshman Rizzoli & Isles and veteran The Closer have been on fire since getting paired on Monday earlier this month. Leverage also has been a solid performer for the network, showing growth in its new Sunday slot. No word yet on freshman Memphis Beat and Hawthorne. Here is TNT’s release.
TNT has ordered new seasons of three of the network’s hit series. The Closer, which continues to rank as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, will return for its seventh season. Rizzoli & Isles, which currently ranks as cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date, will return for a second season. Leverage, which is performing exceptionally well in its new Sunday timeslot, will be back for a fourth season. TNT has ordered 15 episodes each of The Closer and Leverage, along with 13 episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, with all three slated to start their new seasons in 2011.
The heavily hyped TNT series just concluded its first season last night. Here, the writers, creators and executive producers ”glimpse” what Season 2 will be like:
UPDATE: Financial news outlets are reporting that Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone is starting to try to unravel his financial mess. He sold his 87% stake in video game maker Midway Games for a mere $100,000. Why so low? To help restructure debts that threaten his family business. Bloomberg says Redstone, the owner of CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc authorized the sale to private investor Mark Thomas because it will provide tax benefits as Redstone negotiates new lending terms for an $800 million loan to his National Amusements Inc. holding company. As part of the deal, Thomas will also assume a separate $70 million debt Midway owes to National Amusements, according to a regulatory filing today.
Tax benefits should help Redstone refinance the National Amusements debt coming due this month and avoid selling more shares of Viacom and CBS. (Redstone already sold $233 million in non-voting shares of CBS and Viacom in October to meet debt covenants.) Bloomberg reported that, with the sale of Midway, National Amusements will realize a 2008 tax loss of more than $800 million. The company can use a portion of the loss to offset income earned this year and receive a tax refund. National Amusements can carry forward any unused balance of the loss for five years to offset future taxable income. The 85-year-old Redstone keeps shedding assets in an effort to refinance the $800M loan, which comes due this month, that’s half the $1.6 billion in debt he’s incurred because of losses …
Good Morning America weatherman Sam Champion, who has been with ABC‘s morning program since 2006, is leaving the network to join the Weather Channel as the host of a new morning show to launch in Q1 2014 and managing editor for the channel. His last day is Wednesday. Champion’s departure comes as GMA has been enjoying a ratings resurgence as the No. 1 morning program. It also comes as the show has been going through contract negotiations with several other members of its anchor team including Robin Roberts, Josh Elliott and Lara Spencer. Is Champion’s departure a precursor for more talent shakeups or will it give his colleagues leverage in their negotiations? “While there is no replacing Sam, we are in excellent hands with his storm chasing partner of the last few years, meteorologist Ginger Zee, who will take over his weather responsibilities at GMA and across ABC News,” ABC News president Ben Sherwood wrote in an internal email. In addition to his role on GMA, Champion was Weather Editor for ABC News.
Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl), Beth Riesgraf (Leverage), Demetrius Grosse (Justified) and Lauren Stamile (Burn Notice) will co-star opposite Jason O’Mara in USA Network‘s pilot Complications, from Burn Notice creator Matt Nix and Fox TV Studios. The project centers on John Ellis (O’Mara), a disillusioned suburban ER doctor who finds his existence transformed when he intervenes in a drive-by shooting, saving a young boy’s life and killing one of his attackers. When he learns the boy is still marked for death, he finds himself compelled to save him at any cost, and discovers that his life and his outlook on medicine may never be the same.
Twenty-four seasons into its run, The Simpsons is finally headed to cable. In a competitive situation with five networks bidding, FXX has landed the exclusive cable as well as VOD/non-linear rights to the longest-running comedy series in TV history. The deal also is set to make TV history as the priciest off-network pact ever, expected to fetch at least $750 million, and the first one to include full digital rights. The enormous size of the deal — which some say could potentially reach $1 billion if the series keeps producing new seasons — stems from the staggering volume of Simpsons episodes available: 530 when the show starts airing on FXX in August 2014 and growing to 574 by September 2015. At the start, FXX will have access to the first 24 seasons, with another season added when it gets off-circulation on Fox, which recently greenlighted a 26th season. For instance, Season 25 will become available on FXX when Season 26 premieres on Fox next September.
Exact terms of the deal have not been disclosed but insiders estimate that FXX would be paying about $1.25 million per week, with the length of the agreement said to be about a decade (at least eight years, possibly 10). “The Simpsons is indisputably one of the greatest shows in television history,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. “This was a very long, hard and complicated negotiation and I credit the relentlessness and diligence of Chuck Saftler for getting it done.” Said FX Networks COO Saftler, “Woo Hoo!” He called the back-and-forth “the longest negotiations that I am aware of for an off-network series” that took a month from the first offer to sealing a “landmark” deal. “This is a historic deal for FXX and FX Networks and I don’t believe there will ever be another one like it,” Saftler said. Besides the sheer volume, unprecedented is the granting of full VOD/non-linear rights to a cable network in conjunction with an off-network agreement, which normally gives nets rolling 5-6 episodes. In this case, FXNOW, the soon-to-be-launched authenticated mobile viewing app of FX Networks, will offer all seasons of The Simpsons that are available on FXX. As for that staggering volume of 574 episodes and counting? While a typical syndicated show that has produced 100 episodes is on a 5-week repeat cycle — meaning that the cable network goes through all of the episodes in 5 weeks after which it starts again from the pilot — it will be months and months before The Simpsons will have to repeat an episode on FXX, giving it a feel of an original run. Saftler expects The Simpsons to expand FXX’s “reach and frequency,” broadening its audience to include everyone from today’s teenagers who watch the show on Fox, to their parents who were teenagers when the show first premiered. Because of the virtual lack of repeats, he expects fans to check back often.
It took two decades, but The Simpsons producer 20th Century Fox TV had pretty good timing when it finally took The Simpsons to the cable marketplace. Several years ago, 21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey suggested that the company could launch a Simpsons cable channel (the volume of the Simpsons library could sustain that). Instead, the longest-running scripted series will serve as a backbone of another upstart Fox cable network, FXX. Given the benefits an asset like The Simpsons provides, FXX went very aggressively after the property in an already competitive marketplace. The network had been considered the frontrunner from the get-go with its vast shelf space that can easily accommodate a 600-episode off-network series and properly run and amortize it, something established cable networks with a full dance card of syndicated fare would find harder to do. That, combined with the financial windfall for 20th TV is making observers call the deal a “win-win” for both sides, and the ideal scenario parent 21 Century Fox had been hoping for. “The Simpsons long ago crossed over from ‘brilliant award-winning comedy series’ to ‘full-fledged cultural phenomenon,’ and this landmark deal is a testament to its enduring power and relevance,” said 20th TV chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden.
A&E announced today it will premiere its latest homage to the Wahlberg brothers on January 22; Wahlburgers will show brothers Mark and Donnie heading back to Boston to join forces with brother Paul in a hamburger restaurant that’s already working on its second location, and serves as home base for the gang from the old neighborhood, including, A&E says, the real Johnny “Drama” Alves, Henry “Nacho” Laun, Mark’s chidhood pal Billy Leonard, and family matriarch Alma.
This is not to be confused with the teamsters reality-series pilot A&E had ordered from Mark Wahlberg, the Boston-set six-episode reality series about four female friends struggling to break through their blue-collar surroundings that A&E ordered from Mark Wahlberg, or Donnie Wahlberg’s reality series Boston Finest that somehow escaped A&E’s notice and wound up on TNT.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the entire Wahlberg family as they graciously lift the curtain to share this new side of their story,” said A&E exec vp and GM David McKillop of the series, on which Mark and Donnie Wahlberg are among the executive producers.
Wahlburgers is produced for A&E Networks by 44 Blue Productions, in association with Closest to the Hole Productions, Leverage Entertainment and Donnie D Productions. In addition to the two Wahlberg’s Stephen Levinson is exec producing. For 44 Blue Productions, exec producers are Rasha Drachkovitch and Jym Buss. Executive Producers for A&E are Lily Neumeyer and Devon Graham.
High Rolling Gambler Archie Karas, Who Turned $50 Into A Fortune — And Lost It — To Get Biopic Treatment In ‘The Run’
EXCLUSIVE: Archie Karas made headlines with the biggest streak in gambling history when he turned $50 into $46M over three years in the 1990s — and then lost it all in spectacular fashion. Now First Born Films is betting on his life story to fuel a feature biopic titled The Run. Poker, blackjack, pool, craps — you name it, Karas gambled it while carving out a reputation for playing exorbitant stakes. His famous run started when the waiter-turned-rounder drove to Vegas one night with $50 in his pocket, built up a $7M bankroll from poker and pool, and then turned that into $17M within six months.
A fixture at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino, Karas was known for challenging big-name card sharks to high-stakes heads-up games; he even took to rolling dice for as much as $100,000 a pop. But the roller coaster dipped as much as it soared, and Karas, born Anargyros Karabourniotis, lost his fortune as he continued to work the circuit. His latest gamble came this summer when Karas was caught marking blackjack cards at a San Diego County casino and charged with burglary, winning by fraudulent means and cheating.
Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt’s popularly seen as a cerebral numbers guy. But he showed his heart as well this morning in his company’s Q3 earnings call with analysts. It’s his last, as he plans to retire at year end, turning the top job over to COO Rob Marcus. Britt also disclosed this week that he has cancer. He used the opportunity today to say farewell to the investment community and reflect on some lessons he has learned in his 41 years in the cable business. He covered a lot of ground; I’ve posted his entire remarks below. He says that he was attracted to cable after graduating from business school in 1972 because “I thought it represented a new industry with new technology that had a chance to challenge old incumbent ways and transform the media and communications industries by adding to entertainment choices and the diversity of voices in the public policy debates that are so important to our form of government.” Although “the odds of pulling it off were slim” he says that he was ”young and like many others took a chance.” And “by any measure, this industry has fulfilled those dreams.” Several of Wall Street’s toughest analysts were clearly choked up as they pressed on with their questions about TWC’s income statement, and strategy. I was too, having covered Britt since Time and Warner were separate companies. Whatever you think about the company or cable — they’re controversial, I know — Britt is the industry’s statesman. He’s a straight-shooter who loves what he does, stands up for his beliefs, feels a sense of public mission, and never seemed bothered by tough questions. I wish him well.
Here are Britt’s reflections:
UPDATE 6:30 AM PT: IMAX has released full details of its joint venture with TCL, including that their new premium home theater system is expected to launch in China and other select markets in 2015. A full press release follows the earlier story below.
PREVIOUS: IMAX is due to announce later today that it has set up a joint venture with China’s TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Limited to develop and manufacture $250,000 home theater systems in the booming country. IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond tells The New York Times the decision to partner with TCL was primarily because IMAX expects China to be its largest market. Low production costs were also a factor, but not the driver, he said. China is especially ripe for premium home-entertainment given it does not have a window restriction on the release of films in formats suitable for the systems. Also, despite the quota on foreign movies that are distributed theatrically, the latest Hollywood movies are widely available on DVD and in other formats, which, the NYT says, prompts families “to spend heavily to see them at home in style.” Gelfond said the new systems would not hurt box office. “The cost of this is not at a price point that threatens the theatrical community,” he said. TCL and IMAX have a pre-existing relationship: TCL bought naming rights to Hollywood’s Chinese Theater earlier this year and IMAX has its largest auditorium there. On Monday, IMAX said it had acquired a stake in PRIMA Cinema Inc to expand its home entertainment offering. As part of the deal IMAX will have a five-year window of exclusivity to distribute and resell PRIMA systems in China.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 28, 2013 — As part of a broader strategy to expand The IMAX Experience® in the home, IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX) today announced it has acquired a stake and a significant option position in PRIMA Cinema Inc., whose proprietary systems transmit current theatrical releases from powerhouse studios like Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures in a highly encrypted, location-sensitive fashion for secure home viewing.
IMAX plans to integrate the PRIMA Cinema technology into the IMAX® Private Theatre and other potential platforms, enhancing the image and sound of the content through its digital re-mastering (IMAX DMR®) process, which enables IMAX customers to access current theatrical releases of the highest possible quality.
Talk about profit taking. The billionaire investor just made about $800M after selling nearly 3M Netflix shares that Icahn Enterprises says was done “in view of the 457% increase in the price of those shares since the original investment at approximately $58 per share.” Netflix hit an all time high of $389.16 early today after it unveiled stronger than expected Q3 results. But it closed at $322.52, -9.2% — with much of the decline likely due to Icahn’s sales. He still has nearly 2.7M shares, equal to about 4.5% of the company votes. He bought his holdings about a year ago, and briefly tangled with CEO Reed Hastings after Netflix adopted a poison pill – a takeover defense designed to prevent Icahn from engineering an unwanted sale. Today Icahn thanked Hastings and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos “for a job well done.” He added that “last but not least, I wish to thank Kevin Spacey” who starred in Netflix’ series House Of Cards. Icahn says that as “a hardened veteran of seven bear markets” he knows that “when you are lucky and/or smart enough” to make such a big profit “it is time to take some chips off the table.” But his son, Brett, and another fund manager at Icahn Enterprises, David Schechter, elected to tie some of their compensation to the performance of Netflix shares. They call the $7.99 a month streaming service “one of the great consumer bargains of our time” and say that it “could ultimately raise prices to $9.99 per month over the course of the next five years.” They also are confident that Netflix can enlist as many as 90M domestic subscribers. Between that and growth opportunities overseas “we believe Netflix’s valuation is still relatively low.” Carl Icahn said in a July interview on CNBC that he wanted to sell his shares “100 points ago, and my son threatened to leave” the company. Netflix is down 2.2% in post-market trading following the Icahn announcement
Here’s the release from Icahn Enterprises: