EXCLUSIVE: Rob Juster, Esquire Network‘s head of digital, has left the NBCUniversal cable net, a co-venture with Hearst. Juster was a 10-year G4 veteran before segueing to Esquire after NBCUniversal made the decision last summer to rebrand Style as male-oriented Esquire and stop programming game-themed G4. Juster was named head of digital, reporting to Esquire head of marketing Deena Stern, who also oversees other areas, including digital.
Related: Esquire Network Names Three New VPs
It has been a slow build for Esquire, which lost more than 60% of the Style audience after the September 2013 switch. As it has been adding originals, the channel has made inroads in young demos, posting three consecutive quarters of growth among adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 and logging its best month yet in June in demos and total viewers. It has turned around the network’s gender skew, from 20% male at Style a year ago to 64%. But it has yet to reach the overall viewership levels of predecessor Style. In the second quarter, Esquire averaged 85,000 viewers in primetime compared with 126,000 for Style and 120,000 for G4 for the same period last year. Esquire may be able to close the gap in July, having just posted a week that was up from Style’s averages in both 18-49 and total viewers. The network’s top series in the adult demos is G4 import American Ninja Warrior.
Two days after its panel at Comic-Con, ABC’s Once Upon A Time unveiled two more actors joining the series for its Frozen-themed storyline. Veteran character actor John Rhys-Davies, known for roles in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Raiders Of The Lost Ark, will voice Pabbie the Troll King, and Tyler Jacob Moore (Shameless, GCB) will play the scheming Prince Hans. OUAT producer Adam Horowitz tweeted the news of both castings today. At the San Diego Convention Center on Saturday, the crowd was shown a clip of OUAT’s new season with Frozen characters Elsa and Anna (Georgina Haig and Elizabeth Lail) leaving flowers at the grave of their parents. The ensemble fantasy series returns for Season 4 on September 28.
EXCLUSIVE: Carlton Cuse is officially the hardest-working drama showrunner in town with three series and two pilots on his plate. USA Network has handed a pilot green light to Colony (working title), from Lost alum Cuse and Hercules co-writer Ryan Condal, who co-created the project and will executive produce. It hails from Legendary Television, marking the first scripted pilot for the company, and Universal Cable Prods.
Written by Condal, Colony was featured on USA’s development slate in May. It is described as a naturalistic drama set in the near future in Los Angeles, which exists in a state of occupation by a force of alien intruders. Some collaborate with the authorities and benefit from the new order, while others rebel and suffer the consequences. The project centers on a family torn by opposing forces and making difficult choices as they balance staying together with surviving the struggle of the human race.
Related: 2014 USA Pilots
“Colony is a gripping story that brilliantly weaves together an intense family drama in an authentic, yet unknown, world,” said USA President Chris McCumber. USA had been looking to return to the alien genre space, which the network tackled with the 2007 sci-fi series The 4400. Its most previous batch of pilots included World War II alien drama Horizon, which didn’t go to series.
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Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller returned to Comic-Con with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, the next month’s sequel to their 2005 graphic novel-based groundbreaker — and already began stumping for a threequel. “Robert and I are already talking about Sin City 3. so you’d better show up to 2,” Miller told the Hall H crowd, with most fans waiting for today’s late-afternoon Marvel presentation.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Sin City: A Dame To Kill For’
Not that Comic-Con doesn’t love Sin City. Con-goers first glimpsed the pair’s first film a decade ago. By now they’ve been hearing Rodriguez and Miller talk up their DIY greenscreen process for years. While nobody lost their geek marbles over Saturday’s subdued panel conversation with Rodriguez, Miller, and stars Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, and Rosario Dawson, it wasn’t until they screened new dazzling footage from the film’s opening sequence and a “montage” teaser reel that Hall H-ers woke up.
The original Sin City won the Technical Grand Prize from Cannes when it screened there in 2005, and in the nine years since Rodriguez and Miller have added more crispness to the series’ black-and-white comic book aesthetic. They screened an opening sequence tracking the bloody shenanigans of returning character Marv (Mickey Rourke) … Read More »
UPDATED WITH TRAILER below.
PREVIOUS, 11:43 AM: At the Once Upon A Time Comic-Con panel this morning, series executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis showed a clip from the Season 4 premiere, where the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) enters a hospital, goes to a holding cell, and demands that her Mirror (Giancarlo Esposito) return. It was announced earlier in the month that Esposito was returning to the show. The executive producers mentioned that they are still working on the season premiere. Also shown from the premiere was a clip with Frozen characters Elsa and Anna (Georgina Haig and Elizabeth Lail, respectively) leaving flowers at the grave of their parents. Of course, the crowd here in Ballroom 20 went absolutely nuts.
ABC also revealed the Season 4 trailer. Check it out:
Whether there will ever be a musical version of Once Upon A Time, Kitsis said, “Problem with doing a musical, is we don’t know how.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is setting Edgar Wright to direct Grasshopper Jungle, the acclaimed Andrew Smith YA novel that is being adapted by Beautiful Girls scribe Scott Rosenberg. Rosenberg is producing with Amazing Spider-Man‘s Matt Tolmach and they will be joined by Nira Park, who is at the center of all Wright’s films. Wright, you’ll remember, recently squashed his participation in Ant-Man, the Marvel Studios film that has Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas still starring, because he and Marvel clashed over visions for the wannabe franchise. Wright is staying in insect mode, but moved onto a project that suits his sci-fi sensibility and teams him with Rosenberg, as distinctive a dialogue writer as Wright is a visual director of popcorn films.
Wright’s importance here at Comic-Con wasn’t lost on me yesterday as I walked among the throng and noticed that right between the two men holding the bright yellow signs reminding us we should repent and are going to hell, a guy held an equally bold sign on a wooden stake that read “Edgar Wright Was Right.” Whether that was for him sticking to his guns on his version of Ant-Man or something else, the filmmaker is beloved here. I’ve seen him speak in years past at Marvel panels as the difficult visual effects that will shrink Ant-Man were being harnessed, and last year he was here vamping The World’s End, the alien-attacks-pub-crawlers film that was the third in the Cornetto Trilogy he made with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.
Grasshopper Jungle, which is best described as Stand By Me meets Attack The Block, seems right in Wright’s wheelhouse. It’s a coming-of-age story that focuses on an Iowa teen trying to come to grips with his own raging hormones and sexual feelings as he and his cohorts cause a deadly genetically engineered plague that unleashes an army of 6-foot-tall praying mantises. Those bugs live the life these guys wish for, acting on an insatiable appetite for fighting, food, and fornicating. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a whopping deal, Tom Rothman’s TriStar Pictures has won the right to finance and release the $30 million budget Money Monster, a Jodie Foster-directed thriller that will star George Clooney as a Jim Cramer-like TV stock tout who is held hostage on air by a man who followed the huckster’s advice, lost his money and put his young family in precarious straits. Jamie Linden wrote the script. The thriller takes on a Network-like sensibility in that the hostage-taker warns he’ll execute the smooth-talking stock tipper the moment cameras are turned off, and the nation becomes obsessed with the drama that unfolds on their TV screens. The film begins production in the spring after Clooney completes the Coen brothers-directed Hail Caesar.
The film was packaged independently and is being produced by The Allegiance Theater’s Daniel Dubiecki, Lara Alameddine and Smokehouse’s Clooney and Grant Heslov. Drafts of the script were also done by Jim Kouf and Alan DiFiore. The huge deal was spearheaded by CAA, which reps Smokehouse and Dubiecki, and UTA on behalf of Foster. Linden is repped by Paradigm.
This becomes the latest example of a major Hollywood studio being aggressive on a fully percolated movie with star elements that is instantly ready to be added to a release slate. The budget doesn’t really seem that high, considering the star power of Foster and Clooney, and their upside will come in the film’s success from the back-end. It is also another high-profile project for Rothman’s TriStar. Much is being written about Sony Pictures, but as usual its long-term success will be determined by its picture pickers. Read More »
NBC has shipped pirate drama Crossbones to Saturday for its last two airings, with this Friday’s episode the last to air in the series’ regular Friday 10 PM slot. The John Malkovich starrer will then be replaced by an NBC News special and Dateline for the following two weeks. Crossbones, which had been in the works for a long time, having been announced at NBC’s 2012 May upfront, started slow and has since lost half of its premiere rating, most recently drawing a 0.5 in 18-49 and 2.7 million viewers last Friday. NBC often sends underperforming dramas to end their runs on the low-trafficked Saturday night, something it previously did with Smash and Crisis.
UPDATED 2:55PM: On the day its first smartphone hit the market, Amazon is smarting from a hit it took from investors. The company’s shares plunged a wince-inducing 9.7% today in the wake of Thursday’s disappointing Q2 earning report — losing about $15 billion in net worth in just a few hours. It was the worst performer on the S&P 500, which fell 9.6% today, and Amazon’s worst stock day since October 2011. Shares closed at 324.01, rebounding from an intraday low of 314.76, but continued lower in after-hours trading. UBS analyst Eric Sheridan told CNBC that investors going forward will be looking for a “continuation of growth in [Amazon's] media business and stickiness of its Prime base.” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Pope said in a research note: “With growth not accelerating, Amazon could become a show-me stock.”
PREVIOUSLY July 24: Shares are down 10.2% in post market trading after the e-retailer reported a far bigger Q2 loss than investors expected. Amazon lost $126M, up from a $7M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $19.3B, +23.2%. The top line was right on target with analysts’ consensus forecast. But the loss at 27 cents a share far exceeded the 15 cent loss the Street anticipated. What’s more, Amazon warns that it could lose as much as $810M on an operating basis in Q3, up from last year’s $25M loss.
The shortfall comes from Amazon’s big investments in new products and services, including video. The company says … Read More »
The comics legend’s reps say he was hit with a bout of laryngitis and isn’t making the trip to San Diego after all. Twitter was abuzz about Stan Lee‘s sudden pullout today, with folks speculating about the 91-year-old Spider-Man and X-Men co-creator’s health. But a spokesman tells Deadline that Lee simply lost his voice and otherwise is “well and healthy”. He was set for a meet-and-greet and DVD signing on Friday afternoon to promote his Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 franchise. It’s definitely a bummer, but on with the Con.
When BSkyB reports its full-year results tomorrow, it is expected to announce a deal to acquire 57% of Sky Deutschland and 100% of Sky Italia from 21st Century Fox. Speculation has swirled that this deal is near since it emerged that Rupert Murdoch’s behemoth had bid $80B bid for Time Warner. In May, UK pay-TV giant BSkyB confirmed it had initiated preliminary discussions with Fox to evaluate a potential acquisition of the latter’s pay-TV assets in Germany and Italy. Fox also owns 39.1% of BSkyB. A combination of the businesses would have about 20M subscribers, and could also provide a payday to Fox of an estimated $13B. I’ve been cautioned that these funds are not necessary for Fox to be able to up its bid for TW, but it would put extra money in the coffers while creating a huge pan-European group. “It could just be that 21st Century Fox sees it as a useful way of generating funds and eases management time to concentrate on other things. But the reason for doing it would exist on its own merits,” Enders Analysis’ Toby Syfret tells me. It’s worth remembering that English Premier League soccer rights are coming to auction again in 2015 and extra cash could certainly come in handy. Read More »
The Weinstein Company has kicked off production today on Adam Jones, the culinary pic that stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller about a bad-boy Michelin chef who must turn it around. The project was originally titled The Chef until Jon Favreau’s food truck pic Chef came along; there was confusion among buyers that led to a cease-and-desist order and eventually a resolution.
Adam Jones has added Uma Thurman as the final ingredient in an ensemble that includes Daniel Bruhl, Riccardo Scarmacio, Emma Thompson, Lily James, Omar Sy, Jamie Dornan, Sam Keeley, Sarah Greene and Alicia Vikander. The plot: Chef Adam Jones (Cooper) had it all – and lost it. A two-star Michelin rockstar with the bad habits to match, the former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene did everything different every time out, and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. To land his own kitchen and that third elusive Michelin star though, he’ll need the best of the best on his side, including the beautiful Helene (Miller). Read More »
Comic-Con 2014 officially opens today and tens of thousands are descending on San Diego to pick up their passes and prepare for four days of special screenings, studio and network panels, and previews. Having already hit the ground running, Deadline is here with Mike Fleming Jr leading our film coverage along with Jen, while Dominic and Anthony D’Alessandro handle the TV side. (Dominic will also be moderating FX’s Archer panel this year.)
Of course, veteran heavyweights like HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead will be packing the mammoth Hall H on the TV side. HBO’s True Blood, a longtime fave in its final season, is set to make its Comic-Con bow Saturday in Ballroom 20, as is Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which just wrapped its first season and has its panel this evening. Repping the big screen side, studios are putting their tentpole wares out there with presentations by Marvel and Warner Bros with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Mad Max: Fury Road among others.
Below we spotlight a few special events on the schedule that you don’t want to miss. (For the full TV and film lineups, go here and here.) Read More »
Fox has pulled the plug on its planned live special that was going to feature professional stuntman Eddie Braun and daredevil Big Ed Beckley trying to jump across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon to mark the 40th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s failed attempt to leap over the 2,300-foot-deep canyon. Jump Of The Century was supposed to feature the two rivals re-creating the 1974 stunt — one on a rocket and one on a rocket-powered motorcycle. The special, announced at Fox’s upfront presentation in May, was on a tight schedule as the anniversary of Knievel’s stunt is September 8. I hear preparations were moving slow, with some of the contraptions taking a long time to design and build, and the budget was poised to go significantly above the original estimate due to growing production expenses.
The target date for the special was October 27, when the days are shorter and weather often is unpredictable, making lighting and other logistics for a primetime special difficult and expensive to pull off. Some of that was built into the premise — setting such dangerous stunts safely live on TV is hard and expensive. Word is Discovery lost millions and millions of dollars on its Mount Everest jump special, which was cancelled after a deadly avalanche at the summit.
Related: Discovery Cancels Everest Jump In Wake Of Avalanche Deaths
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The Golden State saw a loss of production spending to other states and countries more than double last year from the year before, the California Film Commission said today. According to the CFC’s annual Progress Report (read it here), more than 40 projects that applied for but did not receive a piece of California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program last year ended up spending $1.062 billion outside the state in territories that offered incentives. That’s a record loss to the state since the tax credit program was introduced in 2009 and a $722 million leap over the $370 million spent outside California in 2012-2013 on projects that missed being picked in the tax credit lottery. And here’s the thing: that $1 billion plus figure doesn’t take into account projects that didn’t even apply for the incentive last year – like tentpoles with budgets over $75 million, which are ineligible for the current program.
Still the report wasn’t all bad news — though there was a lot of that within its pages. With $700 million in tax credits allocated since California introduced its incentive program, today’s report estimates that has led to $5.39 billion in total aggregate direct spending. The CFC document adds that includes about $1.72 billion in below-the-line wages. But as anyone in the industry who has seen a friend or family member relocate to Georgia or up to B.C. for five months, it is not stopping the flood. Read More »
Because Rupert Murdoch wants to buy Time Warner, and journalists have reported Murdoch would sell off Time Warner‘s cable news network CNN, Jon Stewart last night launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10 billion in order to buy the network “and do…something with it. Not quite sure what yet.” ”CNN, America’s first 24-hour cable news network, has been terrible for many, many years. Does it have to be that way? Who knows, maybe it does,” The Daily Show host’s campaign explains. “So let’s find out for ourselves! This $10 billion, all-cash bid for CNN would secure control of a massive television network reaching over 100 million homes in the US alone, which we could then use to rebuild a news organization befitting this proud land. Or more likely we’d use it to make a lot more poop jokes. Either way, you get to watch!”
A mere $10 contribution gets your photo in an on-screen “21 box” of talking heads. For $15,000 it’ll be just you and Carol Costello in a “2 box”, with 5 minutes of freestyling. And for $5 million, CNN will initiate a 24-hour, 2-week hunt for your lost car keys. Watch here:
In an exclusive interview with Deadline, a crew member who suffered serious injuries on an earlier film by Midnight Rider director-producers Randall Miller and Jody Savin has called their “safety first” claims “a lie.”
Katie Dover, a costumer who was hurt on the set of Miller and Savin’s 2013 film CBGB during pre-production, says Miller and Savin’s recent statements regarding safety on their films don’t jibe with her experience.
Days ago, Midnight Rider director Miller and his wife-producer Savin — two of the three filmmakers charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones — went on the record stating that since they began in the business in 1990, “We have always emphasized the safety of the crew. In all those years we have never had a significant injury or accident of any kind.”
“That’s a lie,” said Dover, who is going on the record about the injury for the first time. “My injury was significant. I lost 6 months of work because of it.” After a table sliced the back of her hand open from little finger across to her forefinger, Dover underwent two surgeries, was in a cast and had to endure months of physical therapy. “I’d call that significant,” she said.
Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Say “This Was Not A Crime”
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Well, they are coming hot and heavy now. With Toronto International Film Festival announcing 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations this morning in what is really just the first wave of their upcoming lineup, and on top on New York Film Festival’s confirmation of their Opening (Gone Girl), Centerpiece (Inherent Vice) and Closing (Birdman), BFI London’s opener of The Imitation Game and Venice Film Festival’s opener (also Birdman) the awards season landscape is starting to fill in a bit more significantly. Venice in fact will announce their entire lineup tomorrow but today’s TIFF list gives us some further clues as to how the Oscar game is being played on the fest circuit. Of course Telluride is another factor, but they won’t officially announce anything until their fest begins just before Labor Day weekend.
One player that I hear won’t be going to Telluride this year, or it seems Venice, is Warner Bros which has used both fests significantly in the past (Warners had Oscar winners Argo and Gravity at the past two Tellurides and Gravity opened Venice last year). But, as predicted here, they are going to Toronto in a BIG way with World Premieres of three of their Fall films, The Judge, This Is Where I Leave You and The Good Lie. Will TIFF mean the launch of an Oscar campaign for the trio, or is it just an effective way of getting the most media bang for your buck in releasing these early Fall titles? Certainly The Judge would seem to have acting potential for … Read More »