EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director Martha Stephens, whose road-trip comedy Land Ho! premiered at Sundance and was picked up by Sony Classics before the fest closed, has signed with UTA. Stephens (Pilgrim Song, Passenger Pigeons) collaborated with Aaron Katz (Cold Weather) to co-direct and co-write the film about two former brothers-in-law who go traveling on a youthful adventure through Iceland. Land Ho! is slated to be released July 11 and also screens at Tribeca this month and LA Film Fest in June. David Gordon Green is an exec producer alongside Julie Parker Benello, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, and Wendy Ettinger of Gamechanger Films on the pic, which was produced by Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy, and Christina Jennings.
FX & FXX To Double Their Original Output, ‘Simpsons’ To Debut On FXX With A Bang, ‘The Americans’ Nears Season 3 Renewal
FX Networks had been ramping up development, with some dozen pilots ordered in the past year. It is part of a major original expansion. At an upfront press event in New York, CEO John Landgraf said the company will go up from 11 originals to 20 across FX and FXX during the next year. FX Networks’ $750 million acquisition, The Simpsons, will make its debut on FXX in August with 12-day marathon. “It will be the longest continuous marathon in the history of television,” Landgraf said.
On the renewal front, a formal third-season renewal of The Americans is expected soon, he said. “We look forward to it being on our schedule for quite some time,” he said, later adding that he was “confident in the [show's] long-term prospect.” While the series’ live numbers may have dipped, it has been a DVR growth story. The Americans‘ DVR numbers are “unlike anything I have ever seen,” Landgraf said. “Live viewing is essentially just 20% of whole.”
Landgraf and his team will wait for the seasons of Legit and Chozen to end before making a decision on their future but that would be coming soon. Landgraf also touted the new season of Louie as being “amazing” and upcoming limited series Fargo as being “so good I can’t close the door” on another installment. “If it comes back, it will once again be located in North Dakota or Minnesota but telling a different story with different characters.” However, “the bar is high, it has to be an extraordinarily good story.”
NBC Press Day: ‘Undateable’ Pushes No Envelope Because Broadcast Can’t Compete With Cable On That Front, Bill Lawrence Says
Undateable is a “classic throwback sitcom, it cracks me the frick up,” executive producer Bill Lawrence told reporters at NBC Press Day. Though the show is about a bunch of mostly young single guys, it does not push any content envelope, Lawrence said. “One of the things I’m really proud of is, it’s laugh out loud funny without being crass. This feels reminiscent of the shows I grew up loving, like Cheers. I didn’t try to push the envelope too much…If you’re a on a network its hard to compete with shows like Louie or Veep that have no language standards, or nudity standards, or content standards,” he said. Lawrence said he set out to do a multi-camera comedy because it’s “where the networks can compete with cable. I enjoy watching Veep, and Silicon Valley is funny as balls — check it out,” he said. “Multi-camera comedies — I grew up with NBC being the king of them,” he said.
Land Ho! the bawdy road trip comedy from Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz will be released on July 11 in New York and Los Angeles Sony Pictures Classics announced today. The film made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January where it was acquired by SPC and will make two more festival stops before its U.S. bow: at Tribeca this month and Los Angeles Film Festival in June. Land Ho! tells the tale of two retirees who vie to relive their youthful days in Reykjavik, Iceland’s spa and nightclub scene.
Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton & Charlie Day Ink Big New 3-Year Deal With FX Prods. That Includes 2-Year Renewal Of ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’, Series Pickup Of Tracy Morgan Comedy, Pilot & Script Orders
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia masterminds Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton have cemented their status as FX‘s MVPs with a massive new three-year deal at FX Prods for their RCG Prods. It is said to surpass the trio’s previous $50-million three-year deal with FX, signed in 2011. Like that deal, the new agreement, which will keep the trio at FX until 2017, includes a two-year renewal of Sunny In Philadelphia, which has received 10-episode orders for Season 11 and 12, to not only solidify its status the longest-running live-action comedy series in cable history but also tie My Three Sons for the second-longest-running live-action comedy in television history.
Last year, FX flagship comedy series It’s Always Sunny successfully migrated to FXX, helping to launch the new comedy-focused channel and become its cornerstone program. The upcoming 10th season of Sunny will not launch in the fall as previous ones but unspool in January 2015, paired with RCG’s newest series, a comedy created by McElhenney, Day, Howerton, and Sunny writer Rakhe and starring Tracy Morgan. The untitled project, which has received a 10-episode, straight-to-series order, is not related to Morgan’s FX pilot Do Or Die (aka Death Pact), which is not going forward. RCG will serve as executive producers and showrunners on the series along with with Rakhe. Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, who also exec produced Do Or Die, and Nick Frenkel are executive producers.
Unlike NBC, with its Tonight Show host training camp (aka SNL) and clear heir apparent in Jimmy Fallon, CBS does not have as evident a line of succession for David Letterman‘s late-night throne — though Craig Ferguson hosts CBS’ other late-night program which, like Late Show, is produced by Letterman’s Worldwide Pants (it’s now a co-production with CBS). He has a succession clause in his contract, but that contract is set to expire this summer. Presumably, he’d seek the same in his next contract. Should CBS balk, the network might find itself looking for two late-night hosts within months of each other — which would be tough, and not the image of stability CBS has so carefully cultivated. Additionally, Ferguson has won a Peabody Award for his show and has hosted the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and that kind of prestige appeals to Moonves. Regardless, almost immediately after Letterman announced on his show tonight he’s stepping down sometime in 2015, The Reporters Who Cover Television began playing The Replacement Game. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert name keeps popping up; he’s said to be well-liked by CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves and, with his contract coming up in mid-2015, Colbert could be available if his network does not sign him to a new contract by the time Letterman bows out. Ditto Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, whose contract also is set to expire at around the same time and who, years ago, was under option at CBS as that network was looking for a Late Late Show host – CBS went instead with then-Daily Show host Craig Kilborn. (Ferguson won the companion-show gig, from a slew of auditioners, after the network threw in the towel on Kilborn.) Some sources speculated the April Fools’ Day job-swap of Ferguson and CBS’ Price Is Right host Drew Carey might actually have been Carey’s first late-night audition at the network. Others on the list are known to be looking for employment elsewhere – like E!’s Chelsea Handler, who has said her show will be toast at the end of the year because the network has become a “sad, sad place.” Another name that popped up this afternoon: Neil Patrick Harris, the versatile How I Met Your Mother star who has demonstrated a knack for talk shows when he sat in with Kelly Ripa on her syndicated daytime talker and is highly regarded at the network for his stints hosting the Tony and Emmy Awards. And don’t forget Louis C.K., who during the third season of his FX series was offered a chance to take over Letterman’s show by the head of CBS (played by Gary Marshall) — until everything goes wrong for Louie, and Letterman re-ups for 10 years and declares his wannabe replacement persona non grata.
For the first time in a decade, the Peabody Awards has a TV home. Pivot, Participant Media’s TV network targeting millennials, has signed a deal to telecast the University of Georgia’s George Foster Peabody Awards through 2016, which marks the Peabody’s 75th anniversary. Broadcasting the awards, which honor excellence in TV, radio and webcasting, is challenging since winners traditionally are announced well in advance of the trophy ceremony. This year’s winners, for instance, will be announced April 2, but the medallions will be dispensed May 19 at a luncheon ceremony at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria. The 2014 Peabody Awards special, the two parties announced, will “blend highlights from the presentation ceremony with exclusive interviews with featured award winners. A date for that telecast was not announced.
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CNN To Test Michael Smerconish, Jake Tapper, Bill Weir & Don Lemon In Piers Morgan’s Time Slot; Morgan’s Last Day March 28
By Lisa DeMoraes – EXCLUSIVE: Piers Morgan’s last day hosting Piers Morgan Live will be March 28, after which CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker is going to try out Michael Smerconish as well as Jake Tapper, Bill Weir, and Don Lemon in the time slot for a few weeks, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Deadline.
R.I.P. Comedian David Brenner, Johnny Carson’s Favorite on ‘Tonight Show’
By The Deadline Team – Comedian David Brenner died today at his home in New York, NY. He was 78.
Nick D’Agosto & Andrew Santino To Star In CBS’ ‘HIMYM’ Spinoff ‘How I Met Your Dad’
By Nellie Andreeva – Masters of Sex‘s Nick D’Agosto and Mixology‘s Andrew Santino have been cast as leads alongside Greta Gerwig, Drew Tarver and Krysta Rodriguez in CBS’ comedy pilot How I Met Your Dad, rounding out the How I Met Your Mother spinoff’s primary cast.
Meet television’s new Odd Couple. Reno 911! co-creator/star Thomas Lennon is set to play Felix opposite Matthew Perry‘s Oscar in CBS’s multi-camera comedy pilot The Odd Couple, a take on the Neil Simon classic. Co-written and executive produced by Perry, Odd Couple centers on two mismatched roommates — the messy Oscar Madison (Perry) and neat freak Felix Unger (Lennon). The Felix role was played by Art Carney in the original Broadway production of Neil Simon’s play, by Jack Lemmon in the 1968 movie and by Tony Randall in the 1970 ABC/Paramount TV series. The Odd Couple reunites Perry and Lennon, who co-starred together in the feature 17 Again. Before that, Lennon had a recurring role on NBC’s Friends, which starred Perry. Written by Perry and Frasier veteran Joe Keenan, The Odd Couple pilot hails from CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman-Beverly and The Tannenbaum Co.
Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
The offbeat comedy that won a writing Emmy in 2012 and scored the first Outstanding Comedy Series nom for a basic cable show finally is heading back to a TV screen near you. There was no Emmy love for FX’s Louie last year, however, because the cable net said in October 2012 that series was taking a year off. But today FX said Season 4 of the acclaimed series will premiere May 5 with back-to-back new episodes. The network ordered a 13-episode season of the single-camera show, but series creator-director-writer-star Louis C.K. delivered a 14th. In announcing the hiatus in 2012, he and FX President John Landgraf referred to the first three seasons of Louie as the first act of a trilogy, with Louis C.K. noting he hoped the show could go to nine seasons. The multihyphenate has kept busy during the series’ time off, inking an overall deal with FX Productions in December, co-writing a comedy with Zach Galifianakis that FX ordered to pilot in January; touring with his stand-up acts and offering $5 downloads of an old indie pic he did way back in 1998. He also has been tapped for a voice role in Illumination Entertainment’s untitled Pets Movie and is set to host Saturday Night Live for a second time March 29.
Related: NY PaleyFest: Louis C.K. Sounds Off
With his FX series kicking off its delayed fifth season in May, Louis C.K. will make a second appearance as host of Saturday Night Live on March 29. The writer-actor-comedian first hosted the NBC late-night show in November 2012, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when highlights included this spoof of Louie featuring Louis CK as Abraham Lincoln. Check it out:
The Tribeca Film Festival continues to roll out its lineup for this year’s 13th edition, which kicks off April 16. Here is the program slates for the Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings and Storyscapes sections. The fest’s shorts program will be unveiled Tuesday. Here are today’s films, which include Spotlight spots for Roman Polanksi’s Venus In Fur, the Robin Williams-starrer Boulevard from Dito Montiel, world premieres of films directed by actors Chris Messina and Courteney Cox, and of course the horror comedy Zombeavers:
While California Gov. Jerry Brown is still “not committed” to expanding the state’s film and TV tax credit, Los Angeles is seeing another drop in broadcast pilot production to what appears to be an all-time low. Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been doing photo ops with Disney and Marvel execs to celebrate their commitment to film some 60 episodes of Marvel’s four Netflix series and a miniseries in the Big Apple. And now New York, which also lured The Tonight Show franchise away from Los Angeles, has more reasons to celebrate after another very strong pilot performance, returning this year to the top as the most popular drama location and reinforcing its strong position in comedy.
A record 15 broadcast pilots will be filming in New York this year, including 10 — almost a third — of the 34 drama pilot/direct-to-series projects filming within the regular cycle that have set their locations (two remain TBD). That is up from 13 total and eight dramas last year and just shy of the city’s all-time drama record of 11 in 2012. (Keep in mind that the number of NY-based was zero just four years ago, before the state implemented its aggressive tax break program.) New York is chipping away at Los Angeles’ comedy dominance. LA used to own the comedy space, with virtually every pilot filming here. Just two years ago, it housed 100% of the broadcast comedy pilots. The percentage dropped to 89% last year and is at 85% (39 out of 46) this season. New York made a big move in the arena in 2013 after seven years of no major broadcast comedy pilot presence there. A whopping five broadcast half-hour pilots were filmed in the city last year, including straight-to-series The Michael J. Fox Show. Proving that that wasn’t a fluke, New York matched its comedy haul this year with another five pilots, including NBC’s straight-to-series Tooken. Like last year, all five are single-camera. What’s more, a hybrid comedy, How I Met Your Dad, which is filming the pilot in Los Angeles, will move to New York if it goes to pilot. In most cases, the NY location is talent-driven (Irreversible star David Schwimmer, Dead Boss‘ Jane Krakowski, How I Met Your Dad star Greta Gerwig, Lowell and Gaffigan are all based in NY). But studios wouldn’t have been as open to setting shop in New York had the tax incentives not been strong enough to rein in production costs on comedies, especially the expensive single-camera format, which are still higher than a Los Angeles-based half-hour pilot but not by much. One drawback of comedy series filming in New York has been the shortage of writing talent as broadcast shows have to compete with such cable comedies as Louie and Girls, but with New York-based comedy production appearing to be here to stay, more writing talent may relocate there to support them.
Here we are again after the Golden Globes, Mike Fleming and Anita Busch taking on the task of play by play during the most wide-open Oscar race we can remember. Even on the party circuit, industry insiders who usually have a grasp of who’ll walk away with Oscars were evenly torn between Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D masterpiece Gravity and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave. Then again, there were so many terrific films that got Best Picture nominations, and all of them have at least a puncher’s chance at an upset.
That includes American Hustle, where David O Russell co-wrote the Best Original Script nominee with Eric Warren Singer and got tour de force performances and nominations for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Perfs so strong there was no room on the nomination roster for perennial Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner. The film is up for 10 awards, and has grossed over $240 million on a $40 million budget.
Then there is The Wolf Of Wall Street, with Leonardo DiCaprio giving the most emphatic and complete performance of a great career, and Jonah Hill right there with him as his crazy con man sidekick. The film is up for five nominations, including Martin Scorsese for directing a terrific adaptation from The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire vet Terence Winter.
WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards; ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Veep’ & ‘House Of Cards’ Score On TV Side
UPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS: The 66th annual WGA Awards were handed out tonight in “simultaneous” ceremonies on both coasts — the WGA West is at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE and the WGA East at the Edison Ballroom. Like last year, the NY crew announced its main awards well ahead of the LA ceremony. In the end, Billy Ray was the somewhat surprising winner of the Adapted Screenplay award for Sony’s Captain Phillips while Spike Jonze took the Original Screenplay honor for Warner Bros’ Her. If the time snafu sounds familiar it is; last year the LA event lagged NYC’s by almost an hour, meaning award winners were being announced first by WGAE and then trickled into the WGAW audience to ruin the suspense. Tonight, word began filtering into the JW Marriott of the main winners about 2 hours into the show. Ray and Jonze, who were in LA, came to the podium a good 40+ minutes after their awards were unveiled at the Edison and pretended to look surprised — all of the final big awards seemed to lose steam as most in the room new the winners.
On the TV side, Breaking Bad won both the Best Drama and Episodic Drama categories for the second time in three years and the third consecutive Best Drama trophy for the series’ final installment. House Of Cards picked up the first WGA Award for Netflix, taking the New Series honor. The streaming service led the network pack this year with six nominations as the guild amended its rules this year to allow eligibility for Netflix series that have been produced for initial exhibition in New Media. Veep won its first major series award with its Comedy Series win tonight over the likes of Modern Family, which was looking to take back the crown after losing last year to FX’s Louie. The fellow HBO comedy Veep launched, Girls, won the New Series award last year.
“Every writer deserves the kind of luck I’ve had. I owe quite a debt to Captain Richard Phillips,” said Ray, who was also nominated for an Oscar. “Capt. Phillps wrote this story, I just wrote it down.” The feature film competition this year was almost as interesting for what’s not in the running vs. what is. The most notable absences were Oscar Adapted Screenplay favorite John Ridley for 12 Years A Slave and fellow nominees Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena – the guild only includes screenplays that were produced under its signatory agreements. Ray’s win probably vaults him into the conversation with 12 Years.
Said Jonze, also an Oscar nominee: ”This is a high honor coming from the Writers Guild. … It’s a high honor coming from writers. In a way this is like an award for pain. A specfic pain that writers know. The highs and lows of sitting there by yourself. I thank you guys for that.”
Related: 2014 WGA Award Nominations
Rob Schneider Challenges TV Biz Model With Independently Produced Comedy Series He Co-Created, Financed & Stars In
Rob Schneider is returning to series television, this time on his own terms. In a endeavor he hopes “shakes up Hollywood”, the actor-comedian is self-financing and starring in an eight-episode independently produced comedy series he co-wrote with his wife, Mexican writer-producer Patricia Azarcoya Schneider, who will co-star on the show, and his friend, comedian Jamie Lissow. “I want to do my own Fawlty Towers,” said Rob Schneider, referring to the popular British sitcom, which John Cleese co-wrote and starred in with his then-wife Connie Booth. Like his 2012 comedy Rob on CBS, where his wife was played by a professional actress, the new show will be loosely based on Schneider’s life. But the similarities end there. Rob, which is the subject of a joke in the pilot of the new series, was a traditional multi-camera, multi-generational sitcom about a guy, his Mexican wife and his in-laws. As the title of the new series, Real Rob, indicates, it is a more honest portrayal of “an exaggerated version of my life,” Schneider said. “I’m not afraid to expose aspects of my life; this is close to the bone.” The single-camera, documentary-style half-hour is edgier, geared to cable networks. It centers on Rob, playing a version of himself, his Mexican wife Patricia, also playing herself, Rob’s incompetent assistant whom he cannot fire because he is his friend, and Rob’s personal stalker. The narrative is punctuated by Schneider doing stand-up bits in the vein of FX’s Louie and the early years of Seinfeld. The Schneiders and Lissow have written all eight scripts. Casting of the remaining roles is underway with filming slated to begin March 3 in Los Angeles (exteriors) and Florida’s Full Sail University studio facilities (interiors).
As an independent production, Real Rob is being made for less than a network show by keeping costs down. “The biggest expense on Rob was Rob Schneider, and we managed to cut that cost down to zero,” quipped Schneider, who is not getting paid for his services. To mount a series production without the backing of a studio, the Schneiders have relied on help from friends. Schneider is footing most of the bill as “the majority shareholder on the show” — “I’m putting my money where my mouth is,” he said — but he also has silent financial partners. Also helping out are veteran casting director and former Disney head of casting Marcia Ross, who is doing the casting, and Mexican cinematographer Carlos Hidalgo Valdes, who is behind the camera.
Sixteen years after its Sundance premiere, Louis C.K.‘s feature directing debut Tomorrow Night is getting a release – and the wait could pay off for the Louie star. He wrote and directed the black and white 16mm dark comedy, about a photo shop owner obsessed with ice cream, and took it to festivals back in 1998. But according to C.K., distributors balked and the movie sat fading into obscurity in his storage locker. (Three years later C.K. directed the underrated Pootie Tang, his only other helmed feature to date.) Since then the once-struggling comedy and TV writer has hit success with his stand-up specials and FX series. He also notably put out his 2011 comedy special Live At The Beacon Theater on his own website for $5 a pop, trusting fans not to pirate it, and took in $1M with the self-release strategy. Today C.K. followed suit with Tomorrow Night which is now available for download for $5. The film stars comedians Robert Smigel, Chuck Sklar, Rick Shapiro, Heather Morgan, Nick Diapolo, Martha Greenhouse, Greg Hahn, Carey Prusa and Joseph Dolphin and features a number of future comedy stars in small roles including Amy Poehler, J.B. Smoove, Steve Carell, Wanda Sykes, and Conan O’Brien. C.K. recently hit the promo circuit and stopped by The Daily Show with old pal Jon Stewart, who lent C.K. money to make the movie years ago as did Chris Rock, Denis Leary, Spike Feresten and Brett Butler. Take a peek at Tomorrow Night‘s trailer and take a guess if they’ll make their investment back:
Park City, Utah (January 22, 2014) – Sony Pictures Classics announced this morning that it has secured worldwide rights to Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz’s bawdy road trip comedy LAND HO!, which premiered on Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival. SPC plans to release the film nationwide in 2014.
The film is produced by Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy, and Christina Jennings, and executive produced by David Gordon Green, and Julie Parker Benello, Dan Cogan, Geralyn Dreyfous, and Wendy Ettinger of Gamechanger Films. LAND HO! is the first film to be financed by Gamechanger, which launched last fall to exclusively finance features directed and co-directed by women.
Starring Paul Eenhoorn (THIS IS MARTIN BONNER) and newcomer Earl Lynn Nelson, LAND HO! follows a pair of retirees who set off to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth through Reykjavik nightclubs, trendy spas, and rugged campsites.
Lost ad revenue is the biggest threat to the cable industry, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf told TV critics this morning. Sons Of Anarchy, he noted, averaged more than 5 million demo viewers in Live +7, but only 2 million who watched live and only 3 million who watched the ads. “We need to find new opportunities to mitigate those losses,” he warned. FXNow, an ad-supported on demand service offering FX Networks’ programming, “will allow us to begin rebuilding our advertising business,” Landgraf said.
Also critical: stacking rights, he said. Loosely translated: the rights to make available to viewers all current-season episodes of a series on VOD or authenticated streaming. Those stacking rights are “absolutely vital” he said. “People have been talking about the promise of TV Everywhere for a long time now… It’s been a jerky-jerky process but I’m confident that the industry has achieved the key breakthrough. I think a year or two from now people will really have access to a lot of content.” He noted “ownership of content has bailed us out,” in an evolving advertising universe, acknowleding “It’s a nice thing to have long-tail revenue that undergirds a more volatile thing like advertising sales.”
Landgraf thinks the next season of American Horror Story probably will be another period piece and most of the Coven cast will be back. “Ultimately I’m waiting for Ryan [Murphy] to tell me” what’s going to happen. Other than that, he’s not sure what the next season of one of his most important franchises has in store.