The financial and technological proposals are incredibly complicated, but they provide the kinds of details that broadcasters have wanted to see before they decide whether to let the federal government auction to broadband providers some of the airwaves now used for TV. The process being circulated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler includes a reverse auction, where station owners would indicate how much cash they want for their spectrum and can drop out if the bidding is too low. There’s also a forward auction, where wireless companies would raise their offers in successive rounds. When it’s all done, the FCC will repack the spectrum — making usage efficient by assigning new channels to the broadcasters who stay on the air. There’s also a plan to accommodate low-power TV, translators, and wireless microphones that will be affected by the changes. “Whether television broadcasters participate in the Incentive Auction will be purely voluntary, but participation in the Incentive Auction does not mean they have to leave the TV business,” Wheeler says in a blog post. “New channel-sharing technologies offer broadcasters a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an infusion of cash to expand their business model and explore new innovations, while continuing to provide their traditional services to consumers. We will ensure that broadcasters have all of the information they need to make informed business decisions …
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Fading Gigolo’, ‘The Final Member’, ‘Cesar’s Last Fast’, ‘That Demon Within’, ‘Tasting Menu’, ‘Small Time’
After making a mega-splash at the box office last year, Woody Allen gets some time in front of the camera with John Turturro‘s comedy Fading Gigolo, which he also stars in along with Sharon Stone. Millennium Entertainment will open the title in limited release. Two docs are among this weekend’s crop of new Specialty releases, including Sundance title Cesar’s Last Fast as well as penis documentary The Final Member from Drafthouse Films. China Lion is opening action-crime feature That Demon Within, which co-stars Nick Cheung who recently won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in Unbeatable. Magnolia is rolling out Tasting Menu, hoping to re-create a recipe of lofty box office returns from its previously released food-oriented fare. And Anchor Bay will open Small Time from first time filmmaker Joel Surnow in just over a dozen locations.
John Turturro directed Woody Allen’s one-act play Honeymoon Hotel in 2011. “I was thinking it would be interested to do something with Woody, but I didn’t know if we’d have chemistry,” said Turturro about the beginnings of what would become Fading Gigolo. The comedy centers on Fioravante who decides to become a Don Juan as a way of making money for his cash-strapped friend, Murray. The pair wind up in the sex business. “I didn’t know how I’d approach it but we exchanged notes,” said Turturro. “I did research on living that kind of life and on the Hasidic community. I wanted to make a human comedy and [Woody Allen] encouraged me to take that route.”
Per terms of his new multiyear deal, the veteran newsman will continue as anchor and moderator of Fox News Sunday. Since joining Fox News Channel in 2003, Chris Wallace has served as moderator of the one-hour public affairs program presented on the Fox Broadcasting Co. and replayed on FNC. He also has contributed to FNC’s political and election coverage. This year marks Wallace’s 50th year in the broadcasting industry; he began his TV career at 16 as a gofer for Walter Cronkite at the 1964 Republican National Convention.
EXCLUSIVE: Punk rock journalist-turned-American Psycho director Mary Harron has signed with APA. Harron is attached to direct the Salvador Dali biopic Dali And I and is currently co-adapting the script from art dealer Stan Lauryssens’ book. Harron made her feature screenwriting and directorial debut with the award-winning 1996 Sundance and Cannes entry I Shot Andy Warhol, which nabbed her an Indie Spirit nomination. Her next film, the polarizing 2000 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, went on to achieve cult status and garnered Harron a Director of the Year nod from the London Film Critics’ Circle. She reteamed with American Psycho co-scribe Guinevere Turner for 2005′s pinup biopic The Notorious Bettie Page, which she also produced, and adapted Rachel Klein’s novel The Moth Diaries in 2011 for her most recent feature of the same name.
After 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:
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.
Joey King (The Conjuring, Oz The Great And Powerful) has been cast in Lifetime’s original movie Outlaw Prophet from Sony Pictures Television. It focuses on the true story of Warren Jeffs, the leader of a Fundamentalist Mormon polygamist sect who spent more than a year on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List, eluded authorities and was ultimately caught by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper. Based on Stephen Singular’s book When Men Become Gods, the movie chronicles Jeffs’ rise to power after the death of his father, Rulon Jeffs (Martin Landau). King will play Elissa Wall, the battered young woman who brings Jeffs (Tony Goldwyn) to justice. King, repped by Dan Spilo at Industry Entertainment and Meredith Fine at Coast to Coast Talent Group, will next be seen in FX’s Fargo and Zach Braff’s indie Wish I Was Here.
EXCLUSIVE: It’s the end of an era at ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Conrad Green, who has been executive producer/showrunner of the veteran reality series since its launch, will depart after the end of the current 18th season. He is leaving to join Fox‘s upcoming Utopia as executive producer. Also joining the upcoming social experiment reality series as executive producer is Jon Kroll (Big Brother, The Amazing Race). Green was part of the original BBC Worldwide Prods. team of Dancing that pitched the format to ABC. His nine-year, 18-cycle stint will come to an end at the May 20 season finale. “I’m enormously proud of everything we’ve achieved on Dancing With The Stars,” he told Deadline. “This has been the job of a lifetime and I’m thankful for every performance, every dancer and every colleague I’ve worked with over the years, and to ABC and BBC Worldwide Prods. for these past eighteen seasons. What was once a small dancing show has thrived and become a cultural phenomenon. But after almost 10 years, the opportunity to take on a project with the immense potential of Utopia was simply too good to pass up. The ambition and scale of the challenge is thrilling. I’ll miss everyone I’ve worked with on Dancing With the Stars and look forward to this next exciting chapter.”
CNN Gives Former Fox Star John Walsh New Home To Continue Hunting Most Wanted, Replaces Piers Morgan With Anthony Bourdain And Morgan Spurlock, Delves Into ‘Jesus Code’
Two weeks after Piers Morgan signed off CNN with another blast at the NRA, network chief Jeff Zucker announced he would fill Morgan’s timeslot with Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock, among others, and that he has given former Fox star John Walsh a CNN platform from which to hunt down most-wanted. CNN also unveiled plans to tap into the current fervor for religious programming with The Jesus Code — a forensic and archaeological journey through the Bible. At its upfront presentation to advertisers today in New York, CNN also detailed plans to bring back Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe to series TV in Somebody’s Gotta Do It, and Lisa Ling (Our America With Lisa Ling) will also join CNN with an original series.
Lifetime Films has made a sale on its first pic, with Samuel Goldwyn Films acquiring U.S. rights to the Kevin Kline-starrer The Last Of Robin Hood. A fall theatrical bow is planned for the biopic, which bowed at Toronto last fall. Co-written and co-directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, the biopic focuses on the final years of Errol Flynn (Kline) and his May-December romance with starlet Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), and the role of Aadland’s mother (Susan Sarandon) in encouraging the relationship. Bryan Batt, Max Casella, Jason Davis, Matt Kane, Patrick St. Esprit, Ric Reitz, and Justina Machado co-star. “The Last Of Robin Hood captures a very unique aspect of Hollywood and celebrity,” Samuel Goldwyn Films SVP Peter Goldwyn said in announcing the pickup.
“The film takes place in 1959, but it might as well be 2014. You have an aging superstar struggling to maintain his fame, a starlet chasing her big break, a manipulative ‘stage’ mother, and the public’s timeless curiosity, almost obsession with, ‘celebrity.’ The non-stop, sensational tabloid coverage of Errol Flynn’s life and relationship mirrors exactly the kind of coverage this story would receive in Hollywood 55 years later.”
Lifetime network-affiliated Lifetime Films was launched as a division of A+E Studios in June 2013 and develops, produces and acquires female-focused indie movies. Robin Hood was its first project. It since has partnered with Viola Davis, Julius Tennon’s JuVee Prods. and Sara Risher’s ChickFlicks to produce Lila And Eve, starring Davis and Jennifer Lopez.
MacKenzie Porter Joins AMC’s ‘Hell On Wheels’; Salli Richardson-Whitfield In BET’s ‘Being Mary Jane’
Canadian country music singer and actress MacKenzie Porter has been cast as a series regular in AMCs Western drama series Hell On Wheels, from Entertainment One, Endemol USA and Nomadic Pictures. Porter, repped by Red Management in Canada and KLWGN Entertainment, will play Naomi, Cullen Bohannon’s (Anson Mount) wife and mother of his child who is torn between the restrictive Mormon way of life (all she’s ever known), and the exotic adventure promised by life with her gentile husband outside the Mormon fort. Principal photography on the series’ fourth season begins later this month in Calgary. Porter was last seen in the features Tom, Dick & Harriet and Killer Among Us.
Tom Wheeler gave as good as he’s gotten today when he addressed a potentially hostile audience of TV and radio station owners at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. “Trust me. I get the skepticism,” he told the group which has been irked by his efforts to block local station cooperative agreements, among other things. “Here’s the former head of the cable AND the wireless industry at the NAB Show telling you he’s your friend….There is no more ridiculous metaphor.” But he assured the audience that now “I have the American people as my client.” And they would be best served if broadcasters think differently about their medium.
“We are at an inflection point where broadcast licensees can move from being the disrupted, to being the disruptor,” much like Netflix, the FCC chairman says. Instead of just hitting up pay TV providers for retransmission fees, local stations can create vibrant local news and entertainment online services. “It can be the basis for a fixed and mobile-delivered cable-like service. You possess the two most important components of a successful digital strategy: compelling content – specifically, the most important content: local content – and the means to promote it. …For all the wonderful things the Internet has done, one place that it has yet to deliver on its promise is local content.” Net neutrality would ensure that these services are carried online. But “your window of opportunity won’t stay open forever,” he says, nothing that others including Yahoo and Verizon are preparing deals to offer competitive content.
Syfy‘s Sharknado 2: The Second One is similar to the original Sharknado — but in New York, director Anthony C. Ferrante told reporters at NBCU’s Summer Press Day. “We never stopped making the first movie,” he told a reporter who asked how the second would differ from the first. “This thing never stopped…If it stayed in Los Angeles it would have been boring,” he said, but the sequel will feature the Statue of Liberty and Broadway, which, of course, the original could not. In the sequel, killer sharks get caught up in a massive tornado that invades Manhattan, making life a living hell for the locals. “This to me is the most important film ever made about climate change,” snarked cast member Judah Friedlander today at the NBCU Summer Press Day in Pasadena.
Bravo Media has unveiled its slate of original programming at its upfront including 15 new series (two scripted), 16 returning series and three new projects in development. That includes Bravo’s first scripted comedy, Odd Mom Out, a half-hour series based on the life of author and fashionista Jill Kargman which captures the outrageous world of uber-wealthy momzillas of New York’s Upper East Side. It joins Bravo’s first scripted series, the recently greenlighted hourlong dramedy Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce. The upcoming unscripted slate includes offshoots of Bravo mainstays Real Housewives and Top Chef. Among returning series, the network has confirmed a second season of Below Deck, a third season of Don’t Be Tardy, a seventh season of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and Season 6 for The Real Housewives Of New Jersey. Returning this fall also is a 12th season of the Emmy Award-winning culinary competition series Top Chef, season 8 of The Millionaire Matchmaker, The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 7, and The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills Season 5. Here are descriptions of Bravo’s new series and projects in development:
Jerry Seinfeld, Aaron Paul and Batkid were among the big winners tonight as the 6th annual Shorty Awards for the best in social media were handed out in New York. The trophy show, which this year added a category for best Vine video, honors various online video, business, entertainment, journalism and social-media stars. Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee was voted best web show, while Paul was tapped as favorite actor Parks And Recreation‘s Retta took the actress prize. Other winners included Patton Oswalt, Paul Feig and Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson. Will Ferrell picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award. Here’s Seinfeld’s taped acceptance speech. The full list of winners is after the jump:
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. II’, ‘The Unknown Known’, ‘The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden’, ‘Afflicted’, ‘Alan Partridge’, ‘Ilo Ilo’, ‘Frankie & Alice’
This is a jam-packed weekend of new releases, many hoping to be the perfect counter-programming pick against Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Magnolia is opening Nymphomaniac: Vol II just weeks after releasing Vol. I in theaters. The film is the continuation of the much talked about Lars von Trier two-parter that has fascinated fans of the Danish filmmaker for well over a year. Documentaries are also on tap this weekend, including Errol Morris’ The Unknown Known and Zeitgeist’s The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden. CBS Films is bowing Afflicted, a title it became involved with early on, while Magnolia will open comedy Alan Partridge. Cannes Camera d’Or winner Ilo Ilo from Singapore is opening in limited release, while Codeblack/Lionsgate will launch Frankie & Alice in over 150 theaters. Other titles not profiled in depth but also among this weekend’s packed list of theatrical openers include Searchlight’s Dom Hemingway, Anchor Bay’s In The Blood and TWC’s On The Other Side Of The Tracks. And A24 will open Jonathan Glazer’s experimental sci-fi Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson in limited release.
Magnolia opened the first part of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac duo theatrically March 21 (it was available via digital/VOD beginning March 6) and is now following up with the second part of the film, which follows the saga of sex addict Joe (she prefers the term ‘nymphomaniac,’ however). Charlotte Gainsbourg is featured more prominently in Vol. II, depicting the older Joe in the final installment of the film, following up Vol. I in which Stacy Martin is seen primarily as the younger Joe (porn stars are used for Joe’s sex scenes). Though both parts are currently available via digital/VOD (Vol. II launched on demand March 20), there will be some theaters that will screen both films for audiences preferring to see both parts back to back.
Animal Planet Details First Dive Into Scripted Programming With ‘Moby Dick’ From Whale’s Point Of View
Animal Planet is plunging into scripted territory with a retelling of the story that inspired the novel Moby Dick, in Revenge Of The Whale (working title). Starring Martin Sheen, this two-hour film tells a dramatic story of a time when whales were hunted for their oil. The BBC co-production re-imagines what happened when the magnificent sea creature finally turned on its killers. Here’s a complete look at Animal Planet’s new slate:
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AM: The behind-the-scene drama on Sam & Cat is not subsiding. I hear the show has been put on a “permanent hiatus” a few episodes early, with everyone on the crew let go except for those working in post-production.
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: Nickelodeon‘s comedy Sam & Cat has been a runaway success by any measure. The series, from proven hitmaker Dan Schneider, brought together two popular characters from two popular Nick series – iCarly’s Sam Puckett and Victorious‘ Cat Valentine — played by two of the network’s best-known stars and best friends, Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande, respectively. The series has been a ratings hit, quickly becoming Nickelodeon’s highest-rated series. In July, only a month into Sam & Cat’s run, Nick doubled its freshman order from 20 to 40 episodes. Its hourlong January 18 episode drew 4.8 million total viewers and ranked as Nick’s highest-rated telecast with kids 6-11 in two years.
But as Sam & Cat is wrapping production on its 40-episode first season, there is no word on Season 2 — a very unusual development for such a successful series. There has been talk about discord on the set, with emotions running high and McCurdy and Grande sometimes showing up late. The grueling, 40-episode shoot has been taxing on everyone. Additionally, McCurdy had been going through a difficult time in her personal life for the past six months and recently had to deal with the leak of racy photos, while Grande’s music career has taken off a big time. Both have been at Nickelodeon for a long time, McCurdy for more than seven years and Grande for more than four. Both are entering adulthood, and word is both feel constrained at kids-focused Nickelodeon and are ready to move on.
“We can officially announce we shot cameos Tuesday,” Today co-anchor Matt Lauer announced this morning on the program, of his appearance with Today weatherman Al Roker in Syfy‘s upcoming Sharknado sequel, Sharknado 2, debuting July 30 on the fellow NBCUniversal network. Lauer’s co-host Savannah Guthrie, giving the performance of her lifetime, responded that she is “wildly jealous.” Today played a clip in which Roker, on the Today set, explains to Lauer, “This is a twister with teeth.” Lauer contributes: “Enough said indeed, Al, Thank you very much.” The cameo was shot yesterday. Lauer also showed a clip in which he uses a Today orange umbrellas to stab something that looked like it came from the fish department of Whole Foods, only wrapped in green fabric. “I can’t believe we gave away the whole climax of the movie,” Lauer said. “I’ll remind you the Golden Globes are next January — who are you wearing?” Guthrie snarked.
In Sharknado 2, “a freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a ‘sharknado’ on the city’s population and its most iconic sites,” Syfy has said of the sequel. The original orgy of bad special effects and even worse acting had triggered a social media feeding frenzy among journalists and celebrities when it premiered last July.
‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,’ ‘Iron Man 3′ Win Top Honors At First Annual Location Managers Guild Awards
Game Of Thrones and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty won top honors for its location managers at this evening’s first Location Managers Guild of America Awards, which was held at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. The black-tie event, which was presented by the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward Office of Film & Entertainment, honors “outstanding and creative contributions of location professionals in six categories of film, television and commercials. In addition, filmmaker Alexander Payne (Nebraska, The Descendants, Sideways) was given the Eva Monley Award for his dedicated understanding of the power of quality locations to enhance a story.” Billy Crystal presented the Humanitarian Award to cinematographer Haskell Wexler, who won Oscars for his work on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Bound for Glory. Wexler was named one of the 10 most influential cinematographers in movie history by an International Cinematographers Guild survey for his body of work, which also includes In the Heat Of The Night, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (with Bill Butler), Matewan, Blaze and *61. Commercial location scout Scott Dewees was given the Lifetime Achievement Awards, and Sheri Davis, Director of the Inland Empire Film Commission, received the Trailblazer Award. LMGA President Nancy Haecker presided over the ceremony with comedian Jamie Kaler serving as host.