Lionsgate And Summit Combining Film Marketing Teams; Summit’s Nancy Kirkpatrick Out

palen kirkpatrickLionsgate is the latest studio to shake up its marketing operations, saying today it is combining operations under Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen that will give him oversight of film marketing for Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment product as well as its Pantelion Films joint venture with Televisa and urban Codeblack Films label. With the consolidation, Summit’s president of worldwide marketing Nancy Kirkpatrick is resigning at month’s end (although she doesn’t appear to be in her office now). As the company streamlines its operations — it currently releases about 12 to 15 movies a year now — the question is if others might follow Kirkpatrick out the door.

Kirkpatrick, who is well-regarded, ends her tenure after shepherding the marketing efforts for all five Twilight Saga films as well as the recent launch of the first pic in the Divergent franchise, which bowed last month with a $56.4 million opening weekend and has grossed $175M-plus to date worldwide. Draft Day was the last picture to open and it didn’t do well, grossing only $9.7M this past weekend, but the last three Kevin Costner film openings have been soft.

Lionsgate_newlogo__130418225246-200x107“Nancy has done a great job and has been an important part of this company,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Rob Friedman, “And Tim has done an amazing job and has great relationships with both staffs.” One source noted that the word ‘integration’ has been talked about for awhile in the hallways of Lionsgate and Summit.

In fact, one of the biggest question marks since Lionsgate merged with Summit in 2012 was what would happen to their two veteran marketing heads. Eventually, Lionsgate’s Palen was given a new long-term deal to remain Chief Marketing Officer and it was decided Summit’s Kirkpatrick would continue in her role separately since the two entities had their own big slates to shepherd. As part of that structure, Palen was tasked with overseeing all of Lionsgate Films’ North American theatrical marketing campaigns and strategy, media, creative advertising and digital media initiatives as well as continuing to supervise the company’s corporate branding activities — he oversaw the marketing campaign for Lionsgate’s signature franchise The Hunger Games while Kilpatrick guided Twilight pics. As part of today’s moves, Palen now has expanded responsibilities for merchandising, theme park attractions and new business opportunities generated by the company’s franchises. He joined Lionsgate in 2002 as VP Theatrical Marketing. Read More »

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Drafthouse Films’ Evan Husney Departing Creative Director Post

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 9:00pm PDT

Evan Husney DrafthouseDrafthouse Films‘ Evan Husney is stepping down from his post as Creative Director after nearly three years at the upstart distribution label. New York-based Husney, 27, will be shifting focus to producing and is working with directors Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) and Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm) on their next features. Husney helped develop the specialty distro arm of Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas from the ground up when company founder Tim League tapped him to run creative ops in 2011. Shortly thereafter Drafthouse Films scored an Academy Award nomination with one of its first acquisitions, director Michaël R. Roskam’s Belgian drama Bullhead, which vied for Best Foreign Film at the 2012 Oscars. Last year Husney and the Drafthouse team mounted their second Oscar campaign in three years for Best Documentary nominee The Act of Killing, director Josh Oppenheimer’s critically-acclaimed documentary about Indonesian death squad leaders.

Related: Drafthouse Films Embracing Risks With Genocide Doc ‘Act Of Killing’

Since its inception the label has acquired a variety of specialty releases spanning genre, action, drama, comedy, foreign, and repertory titles, plucking often-challenging fare from the lineups of Austin’s Fantastic Fest (which League founded) and SXSW. “When [Drafthouse Films] started we wanted to acquire movies we loved and films we thought are great, utilize our backgrounds as programmers and approach distribution with a curatorial quality – a real cinephiles for cinephiles label,” Husney told me. Read More »

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Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin Exits To Become CEO Of Atlanta Hawks

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 4:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

kooninAfter 14 years as Turner Broadcasting, Tuner Entertainment Networks president Steve Koonin is leaving for what he describes as a dream job, to become CEO of NBA team Atlanta Hawks. A native Atlantan, Koonin has spent his career so far holding top positions at two blue-chip Atlanta-based companies, Coca-Cola and Turner, spending 14 years at each. He now plans to finish his career in his hometown with the post at Atlanta Hawks. The gig stemmed from conversations he recently had with the sports organization about coming in as an investor which grew into Koonin joining as CEO and Part-Owner. Koonin has had a 28-year association with the NBA, including his stint at TEN, whose network TNT carries the league’s games.

Koonin’s departure comes a month before TEN’s upfront presentation where he has been a staple. (Who can forget his memorable improv when the network’s video system temporarily shut down three years ago). In a memo, Turner Broadcasting Systems president David Levy said a search for Koonin’s replacement will start right away with both internal and external candidates expected to be considered. He indicated that the company would use the changeover at the top to bring in “fresh eyes” for evaluating TEN’s positioning in a rapidly changing media landscape. The process needs to be relatively quick so the networks have a leadership in place for the important upfront buying process when advertisers make the bulk of their commitments for the next year.

Koonin joined Turner in February 2000 as a head of TNT, eventually taking over the entire entertainment division, which also includes TBS, TruTV and TCM. He led both TNT and TBS into original scripted programming and spearheaded their rebrands with slogans “We Know Drama” (TNT) and “Very Funny” (TBS). He leaves the division in good shape. TNT traditionally has commanded the highest ad prices in basic cable and has produced a string of major hits in the past decade with The Closer, spinoff Major Crimes and Rizzoli & Isles, while TBS has been running high with off-network Big Bang Theory. TruTV is going through some rough times, with Koonin last year tapping MTV’s Chris Linn to lead a turnaround. Here is Koonin’s internal memo announcing the departure, in which he quotes Green Day’s Time Of  Your Life, as well as the memo by Levy:

Steve Koonin:

I set my guiding principle as a very young man that living in Atlanta, the home of my family and friends for multiple generations, was the key for lifetime happiness. For the past 28 years, I have been able to live and work in a senior leadership role in my hometown for two fantastic companies. I was very lucky to be a part of Coca-Cola’s incredible global growth in the 80′s and 90′s.

In February 2000, I walked into Turner Broadcasting after being invited to run TNT. I was 42 years old, had a full head of brown hair and dreams of taking the consumer lessons I learned from Coca-Cola and apply them to TV. I am truly gratified in saying that TNT, TBS, TCM and truTV have become familiar and beloved brands to TV viewers all over the USA.

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TNT Greenlights ‘The Librarian’ Offshoot Series Starring Rebecca Romijn; Noah Wyle Closes Deal To EP, Recur As Flynn Carsen

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 9:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Librarian TV Series TNTWith all producing deals closed and a cast in place, TNT has given the green light to The Librarians, a 10-episode series follow-up to the network’s hit movie trilogy The Librarian, for a premiere in late 2014. The series will have a female lead played by Rebecca Romijn, returning to TNT where she played one of the leads in King & Maxwell. Noah Wyle, who toplined the movies, is executive producing aromijnnd reprising his role in a recurring capacity because he is the star of another TNT series, Falling Skies. Romijn leads a cast that includes Christian Kane (TNT’s Leverage), Lindy Booth (Copper) and John Kim (Neighbors) as well as John Larroquette. Joining Wyle from the movies are Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin, who also will reprise their roles, with Matt Frewer (TNT’s Falling Skies) also set to recur. The series, which will be produced by the company behind the movies, Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment, is part of TNT’s continued expansion into the action-adventure genre and will likely run in the TNT-logo__120721000844__121002154527network’s popcorn entertainment Sunday slot where Falling Skies airs. “The Librarian movies have been a huge success for TNT, and we jumped at the opportunity to build a series around the incredible world Dean Devlin and his creative partners created,” said TNT’s head of programming Michael Wright. Read More »

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NBC News Unveils New Guest Booking Unit

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 12:50pm PDT

Deborah Turness NBC News chief Deborah Turness today officially announced that streamlined booking has come to the division. NBC has been working for months to streamline guest booking across its various programs — news and entertainment. Here’s Turness’ memo about the new unit: Read More »

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Wil Wheaton To Host Summer Comedy Series On Syfy

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 2:19pm PDT

syfylogo1Syfy has greenlighted The Wil Wheaton Project (working title), a 12-episode summer series hosted by actor, blogger and geek culture expert Wil Wheaton. Chris Hardwick Book Release Party For "The Nerdist Way"The 30-minute weekly comedy show is slated to premiere May 27 at 10 PM. Each week, Wheaton will dissect the week’s most popular and trending topics across science fiction film, television and pop culture, video games, viral videos and news. “Wil Wheaton’s rock star status within the genre fan base, along with his insatiable passion for all things pop culture, make him the ideal arbiter of what’s hot and what’s not in the genre space,” said Syfy President Dave Howe. Recently, Wheaton has recurred on Syfy’s Eureka, TNT’s Leverage and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. He played Axis of Anarchy leader Fawkes in Felicia Day’s web series The Guild and currently hosts Falling Skies: Second Watch for TNT. Wheaton also is the creator, producer, and host of web series Tabletop, which is in its second season. Wil Wheaton Project is a production of Pilgrim Studios, with Craig Piligian and Mike Nichols (Ghost Hunters) executive producers.

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Netflix & Amazon Slapped With Multimillion-Dollar Lawsuit By Former Exec

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 8:29pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGENetflix and Amazon are streaming-service rivals, but today the two were united as defendants in a multimillion-dollar defamation and wrongful-termination lawsuit by a former employee of both companies. In his suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), which also names top Netflix execs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos as defendants, Jerry Kowal is seeking at least $1 million — and damages potentially worth millions more. netflixThe former Director of Content Acquisition for Netflix claims he was “blacklisted” by the company after he left to join Amazon’s streaming business and that Netflix falsely accused him “of stealing confidential information, disclosing confidential information to Amazon, and using confidential information to compete against Netflix.” In what the suit refers to as “theAmazon logo proverbial David and Goliath,” Kowal says Netflix “did everything it could to dissuade him” from leaving to join Amazon. And when he did exit in June after a year on the job, Netflix “proceeded to interfere with Kowal’s employment with Amazon in a malicious attempt to ruin his reputation and prevent him from working there and leverage its substantial business relationship with Amazon to guarantee that Kowal would be terminated from his position at Amazon and would be substantially hindered in his efforts to secure comparable replacement employment.” Read More »

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Writers Rail As Talks Resume – Third Question In A Deadline Survey

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 5:21pm PDT
Mike Fleming

coronaAs talks are about to resume Monday on the final elements that many hope will lead to a new deal for the Writers Guild Of America, we wanted to lend some perspective and give voice to the TV and feature writers whose fortunes will be tied directly to the deal their union makes. This is the third in a quick succession of five questions we asked a panel of 10 writers. Here are their responses, and hopefully other writers will be moved to comment about the issues that worry them most as their work is monetized in this fast-changing digital age.

Related: WGA: Why Gains, Lessons From 2008′s Strike Will Keep Hollywood From Another War

DEADLINE: How are you feeling about the deal that the WGA is considering, and what concerns do you have that aren’t addressed in it?

WRITER #1: I trust that small gains will be made and a strike will be averted and at this stage of the business that’s all that can really be expected. That is actually a success in 2014.

Related:
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #1
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #2
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #4
Deadline Writers Survey – Question #5

qtwritingWRITER #2: Writers on short-­order shows now find themselves working for half a year or less, stuck on unpaid hiatus for open-­ended periods while waiting to see if their show -­- and their contract -­‐ will be renewed. During this period they are virtually unemployable because studios demand “exclusivity” and “first position,” preventing writers from seeking other work, their ability to make a living cut off.

WRITER #3: I personally don’t have a lot of hope for any kind of decent deal these days. The companies have consolidated so much power and the Writers Guild is a two-tiered union. During the last strike, the super-A-list-high writers (who also function as TV producers on many things) decided that they had enough of the strike and called it (In a secret meeting at Aaron Sorkin’s house!). If we had held out until the actors’ contracts were up and then they joined us, it’s possible we’d be looking at much better splits for streaming, DVD and digital downloads. But if the top of the union doesn’t have the interests of the mid and lower levels in mind then we can’t get anything. So we might get thrown a few scraps, but I don’t think we have the leverage to demand anything significant. Read More »

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Josh Wiggins Tapped To Star In MGM’s ‘Max’

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 2:02pm PDT

Josh Wiggins Max MGMJosh Wiggins has nabbed a lead role in MGM‘s Max, the family adventure film being directed by Boaz Yakin. The original pic is inspired by true events. A Belgian Shepherd working in Afghanistan alongside Marines returns from service after his handler is killed. The man’s devastated family adopts the dog — erratic and still suffering from the traumas of war — who ends up bonding with and helping their troubled 14-year-old son, Justin (Wiggins). Together they unravel the secret behind his brother’s death and pull the family together again. Production is expected to start in May in North Carolina. Wiggins, repped by UTA and Leverage Management, starred in the Sundance family drama Hellion opposite Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis. That pic was acquired by Sundance Selects after it premiered at this year’s fest.

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Study: Viewers Love Their TV Stars On Twitter Too

Twitter-Logo__130513233830-150x150

Turns out people love their stars on Twitter almost as much as they love their stars on TV, according to a new study by companies with an intense interest in the results.

Just as importantly for the TV business, fans also like the brands that back the shows they tweet about, according to the study by Twitter, Fox and industry-backed group the Advertiser Research Foundation.

More generally, the TV-related tweets most likely to motivate a viewer to watch will come from an actor on the show or other cast member (40%). That’s well ahead even of tweets from the user’s friends and family (26%), the social-media source that conventional wisdom suggests would be most influential. Perhaps less surprising is the finding that tweets from a show’s official Twitter account motivate barely more than one in six users (just 18%). 

Twitter users and TV tweets graphicMore than 90% of those who see show-related tweets have at some point taken immediate action to watch, search for, or share content, the study says. The majority of those exposed to TV-related tweets immediately take action around the show, are highly likely to watch a show they’ve never watched before, or to resume watching a show that they’d previously stopped watching.

That finding would significantly bump up the importance of Twitter as a way to market and build audience for TV shows, presuming that the program’s stars are engaged in that effort. A few shows have been particularly effective in this regard, such as ABC’s Scandal, whose cast members routinely live tweet and respond to fans through Twitter as each week’s show plays.

Related: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Spring Finale Tuesday’s Top TV Show With Females 12-34 And Most Tweeted Show Of 2014 To Date

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Media General, LIN Media Announce $1.6B Merger

By | Friday March 21, 2014 @ 6:00am PDT

mediagenRICHMOND, Va.–Media General, Inc. (NYSE:MEG) and LIN Media LLC (NYSE:LIN) today announced a definitive merger agreement that will create the second largest pure-play television broadcasting company in the U.S. Under the terms of the agreement, and based on Media linmediaGeneral’s trailing 20-day volume weighted average price on March 19, 2014, the shareholders of LIN Media will receive aggregate consideration valued at $1.6 billion in a combination of stock and cash, or approximately $27.82 per share if prorated ratably, which represents a 28% premium to LIN Media’s trailing 20-day volume weighted average price on March 19, 2014. Based on LIN Media’s pro forma net debt balance of $968 million at December 31, 2013, the transaction enterprise value is approximately $2.6 billion.

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Netflix CEO Says Comcast Imposed An “Arbitrary Tax” In Interconnection Deal

Will Netflix end up challenging Comcast’s $45.2B deal to buy Time Warner Cable? It didn’t look that way last month when they made what they described at the time as a “mutually beneficial” interconnection deal that involved Netflix payments to Comcast. NetflixHastingsBut the streaming video company’s chief Reed Hastings cast the agreement in a different light in a blog post today. He called the payments an “arbitrary tax” that he had to pay to improve the quality of transmissions which had slowed on the cable company’s systems. “If this kind of leverage is effective against Netflix, which is pretty large, imagine the plight of smaller services today and in the future,” he says. He also called this a net neutrality issue, even though it involves Netflix transmissions to Comcast — not the ones the cable company sends to subscribers. Without what he calls “strong net neutrality,” major Internet providers including Comcast “can demand potentially escalating fees for the interconnection required to deliver high quality service.” That will drive up consumer costs: “For any given U.S. household, there is often only one or two choices for getting high-speed Internet access and that’s unlikely to change. Furthermore, Internet access is often bundled with other services making it challenging to switch ISPs. It is this lack of consumer choice that leads to the need for strong net neutrality.” Comcast, he says, “has been an industry leader in supporting weak net neutrality.” Netflix … Read More »

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A&E Pulls Mark Wahlberg-Produced Series ‘Breaking Boston’

By | Thursday March 20, 2014 @ 3:57pm PDT

A&E has pulled its other Wahlberg AE_logo__131009145106docu-series, Breaking Boston from its lineup after just one episode because…well, 311,000 viewers. The series, about four working-class women coming of age in hardscrabble Boston, was inspired by the tough, hard-as-nails female characters in Mark Wahlberg‘s Oscar-nominated movie The Fighter. A&E ordered the pilot in November 2012 and picked up the series last May. It debuted Thursday, March 13.

A&E Network already was home to Wahlberg‘s family restaurant docu-series Wahlburgers which, last month got an order for 18 additional episodes. But that project, from 44 Blue, Closest to the Hole and Leverage, has averaged 3.5 million total viewers since its debut last month in the post-Duck Dynasty slot. News of Breaking Boston’s cancellation was first reported by Variety, which said it noticed the show was missing from newspaper and interactive program guides for tonight.

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MyNetworkTV Acquires Off-Network Rights To AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’

By | Wednesday March 19, 2014 @ 1:33pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Walkers - The Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 11 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMCThe Walking Dead is headed to MyNetworkTV. The network has acquired off-network rights to the blockbuster AMC drama. The Walking Dead, currently the highest rated scripted series on TV in adults 18-49, will make its debut on MyNetworkTV in the fall, with two episodes from Seasons 1-3 airing back-to-back on one night a week. The network is later expected to get access to subsequent seasons of the zombie drama. “This agreement extends the reach of the number one show on television among adults 18-49 by giving viewers primetime access to The Walking Dead with back-to-back episodes on broadcast television one night a week,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. “The Walking Dead has grown in each of its first four seasons on AMC, and we look forward to exposing this compelling story and these unforgettable characters to new fans on MyNetworkTV.” The last statement refers to the fact that many series get a ratings boost in their primary run after they launch in syndication, though that usually happens with major cable networks, like TNT TBS or USA, as the off-network partner.

This will be by far the highest profile series on MyNetworkTV, whose lineup features repeats of Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: CI, House, Bones and Monk. “It’s not often you get to add the hottest show on the planet to your lineup,” Frank Cicha of the … Read More »

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UPDATE: Paul Greengrass To Brits: Use UK Tax Break Windfalls To Strengthen Unions

By | Wednesday March 19, 2014 @ 10:25am PDT

UPDATE, 10:25 AM: BAFTA has made the audio of Paul Greengrass‘ David Lean Lecture available. Check it out:

PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: Paul Greengrass tonight greengrassdelivered BAFTA’s David Lean Lecture — the London-based org’s annual talk for the world’s leading filmmakers — and issued stark warnings for the health of the UK’s directing industry. The British filmmaking scene was in good shape, he said, thanks to the area’s “simple and transparent tax breaks” which encourage Hollywood studios to invest. But he warned the industry must leverage the studios’ buying power to encourage some of that Hollywood money back into UK content.

To a full house that included British talent like Richard Curtis, Miranda Richardson and Mat Whitecross, Greengrass offered a wide-ranging talk that covered his first steps into filmmaking and his vision of the future of the business. He heaped praise on Hollywood, and said “a lot of baloney” was talked about bafta1__130805162028the U.S. industry’s priorities. Hollywood is not a place run entirely by cynical hacks, he said. “It’s full of smart and committed people, who understand filmmakers… And it also has guilds and trade unions with power and voice. That’s why the studios are looking for places that don’t, and that’s why they come [to the UK].”

But he warned that UK directors have a hard time making follow-up features at home after their debuts, and that the situation in British TV is especially dire. He claimed directors earn less in residuals for helming the likes of Doctor Who and Downton Abbey than stunt performers.

Related: Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK, And Why He’ll Never Make Another Bourne Film

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Is This Hollywood’s Next Major Studio? Bob Simonds & TPG Growth’s Venture Fully Financed, JP Morgan Says; Hiring, Deals To Start In Earnest

China-And-Hollywood__130605112955-150x150__130925193515There has been a fair amount of speculation since producer Robert Simonds, TPG Growth, Gigi Pritzker and Chinese concern Hony Capital announced their plans for “a next generation film studio” to finance, produce and self-distribute eight to 10 star-driven films every year. The group has already gone around the traditional business model in making deals for screen plays directly with the nation’s exhibitors and it will also make other output for home video, pay and other ancillaries. It also boldly announced that they would spend $1B over the next five years. When folks around town heard that, they rolled their eyes. After all, there is a history of largess announcements with Chinese investors only to find out later that it’s not real. So who better to confirm than with the bankers.

Related: Robert Simonds, Gigi Pritzker, China’s Hony Capital Partner On Indie Studio Venture

Producer Robert SimondsAccording to JP Morgan’s David Shaheen, the head of the financial institution’s entertainment banking team for the past 18 years, the deal is closed. “The funding is in place. We’ve been working with them for the past year and in earnest the last several months,” he said. “We were engaged from the beginning evaluating their business strategy and helped structure the financing. David Shaheen JP MorganThe combination of the equity capitalization that has been funded, the subordinated debt capital, the prints and advertising facility, and the senior debt revolving line of credit are sufficient to fund the production and releasing of film (and television content) for the term of the deal.” Which is? “Five to six years.” The prints and advertising facility is being handled by a separate company. But a billion dollars? “It’s fair to say that the capital is there,” says Shaheen. The Raine Group also served as the financial adviser to the studio.

Shaheen added that he was impressed with “the quality of the shareholders — all blue-chip players — including their exhibition partners and how they were able to pull the ingredients together. The capital is in place and ready to go. I’ve gotten some calls on this, too, from people around town wondering if this was real. I don’t know what else to tell you but it’s real.” It’s basically a revolver financial structure, which means that they can tap into larger resources if needed.

Also, the exhibitors — AMC Theaters, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark and Carmike — have all negotiated separately with the joint venture. In order to agree, they also needed assurance, which was provided. They all put a conditionality on the agreement that they had to see the capital to produce the films before they would make an agreement to offer them a certain amount of screens each year. By making deals directly with the theater owners, it is a major shift away from the traditional way of doing business with exhibition. Read More »

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Keke Palmer Joins Showtime’s ‘Masters Of Sex’; Annie Thurman In TNT’s ‘Proof’

By | Wednesday March 12, 2014 @ 9:19am PDT

Keke Palmer is set as a recurringkekepalmer2 for the second season of Showtime’s drama series Masters Of Sex, produced by Sony Pictures Television. Series centers on the pioneers of the science of human sexuality Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), whose research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a mid-western teaching hospital in St. Louis to the cover of Time magazine. Palmer will play Coral, the nanny hired by the Masters’ to care for their new baby. Palmer, repped by WME and Laron Entertainment, can next be seen in Flower Films horror/thriller Animal, and indies Brotherly Love and Imperial Dreams.

thurman2Annie Thurman (The Hunger Games) is set as a series regular in TNT pilot Proof, a supernatural medical drama executive produced by Kyra Sedgwick. Written by Rob Bragin and directed by Alex Graves, Proof centers on Dr. Carolyn Tyler (Jennifer Beals), a skeptical, hard-science, brilliant female surgeon with a caustic edge who has been struggling with the devastating loss of her teenage son and a growing estrangement from her surviving daughter. She is persuaded to investigate cases of reincarnation, out-of-body experiences, hauntings — all of it looking for verifiable proof to answer one of life’s greatest questions: Is death truly the end, or is there something else beyond? Thurman, repped by CESD and Treadwell Entertainment, will play Sophie, the surviving daughter.
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‘The Big Bang Theory’ Gets 3-Year Pickup; Chuck Lorre’s Other Series In Renewal Talks

By | Wednesday March 12, 2014 @ 8:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Big Bang Theory Renewed CBSBazinga! CBS and Warner Bros. Television have reached a deal for a three-year renewal of broadcast TV’s top entertainment series, The Big Bang Theory, that would keep the hit comedy on the air through the 2016-2017 season, the series’ 10th. No one is commenting, but I hear the license fee is in the $4 million-$5 million range per episode (closer to $4 million), a high number for a comedy series. This marks Big Bang‘s second consecutive three-season pickup, a commitment reserved only for the biggest shows on television. While it is the biggest deal by far, Big Bang is not the only WBTV comedy in renewal talks with CBS. I hear the network and the studio also are in discussions on the other three Chuck Lorre series, with a 13-episode final season of Two And A Half Men eyed along with renewals for next season of Mike & Molly and freshman Mom.

Related: Warner Bros TV Readies Offers To ‘Big Bang’ Cast, In Talks With CBS For New 3-Year Deal

cbs4With the Big Bang license deal secured, WBTV and CBS will turn their attention to the cast. There had been some overtures but no real negotiations so far with original cast members Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, whose contracts are up at the end of this season. (Big Bang’s other regulars, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch, closed new deals last fall.) Put on hold while license fee negotiations were going on, talks with Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco are expected to kick into gear soon. Currently at about $350,000 per episode, the three leads are projected to get to the Friends cast mark of $1 million an episode. Read More »

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Time Warner Cable CEO Expects Last Minute Deals To Carry L.A. Dodgers

So far Time Warner Cable and closely allied Bright House Networks are the only pay TV distributors that have agreed to carry TWC’s new SportsNet LA which will feature the Dodgers. SportsNet LA logoBut TWC chief Rob Marcus says he isn’t worried: “Not surprisingly all of the action happens on the eve of opening day,” he told the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference this morning. “It’s the typical game that occurs.” He assured investors, though, that TWC won’t have to shell out big bucks if others play by different rules. “Our license fee to the Dodgers is not driven by subscriber volume,” he says. The deal that TWC signed last year requires it to pay $8.5B over a 25 year period to offer the channel and handle distribution.

As you might expect, most of the questions Marcus fielded dealt with Comcast’s $45.2B plan to buy his company. He disputed the claim that the combination of the two largest cable companies would give Comcast too much leverage in negotiations with programmers. “I find that whole line to be ironic given the experience we’ve had over the last dozen years or so” — including the black eye TWC ended up with last year when it tangled with CBS in a carriage contract dispute. Some small cable operators worry that programmers that have to cut prices for Comcast will make up for Read More »

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