The day after CBS’s bombshell announcement that Stephen Colbert would replace David Letterman on Late Show, when things calmed down a bit and reason returned to her throne, industry pundits began to contemplate the deeper meaning of the shift in the late-night landscape. Practically speaking, it means Comedy Central is now one late-night show short — and CBS may be as well, if Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson, or the network, decides to call it a day now that Craig’s for sure not getting the 11:35 PM timeslot. We’ve all been brought up to speed on the clause in Craig’s contract that landed him a pot of cash if the network settled elsewhere on its Letterman replacement. But Ferguson was quick to tweet his congratulations to Colbert the morning the news broke. That night, Ferguson opened his show with another shout out to Colbert, after which he teased viewers with cracks about resigning — but only for the length of a commercial break.
Comedy Central’s Late-Night: From Minor Leagues To Major Player & Innovator With Deep Bench Of Talent Competitors Vie For
For years in the 1990s, Comedy Central was considered nothing more than an incubator for late-night talent. Its first notable weeknight late-night show, Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher, originated there and ran for three years — from 1993-96 — before ABC snatched it to get into the late-night talk-show game. Maher’s successor at ABC, Jimmy Kimmel, also is a Comedy Central discovery, having gotten his start as host on the network’s Win Ben Stein Money and then The Man Show. Before Politically Incorrect left Comedy Central, it helped launch The Daily Show, which premiered behind PI at 11:30 PM before moving to the tentpole 11 PM slot. Back then, the Daily Show had Craig Kilborn as a host. In 1998, he was poached by CBS as a host of the Late Late Show. Sixteen years later, CBS once again is reaching out to Comedy Central’s Daily Show franchise to replenish its late-night ranks, this time drafting the former Daily Show regular and current host of spinoff The Colbert Report to succeed David Letterman on the Late Show.
A lot has changed over those 16 years. Since Jon Stewart replaced Kilborn at the helm of The Daily Show in January 1999, the show has risen to become a late-night leader. It became a top late-night choice for younger viewers and, with the addition of spinoff The Colbert Report in 2005 to form a 11 PM-midnight block, Comedy Central evolved from a late-night poaching ground to a force to be reckoned with. The two shows became pop culture phenomenons and strengthened their hold on the younger crowds by embracing the Internet and social media before most of their late-night competitors. They have enjoyed buzz as well as critical acclaim, with their Emmy dominance nothing short of staggering. The Daily Show won the best variety series category for a record 10 consecutive times before its streak was ended last year by The Colbert Report to give Comedy Central 11 consecutive victories. (It’s worth mentioning that it was the man Colbert is replacing, David Letterman, who ruled the top variety category before Comedy Central’s dynamic duo kicked off their dominant run with five consecutive trophies.) In the variety series writing category, The Daily Show and Colbert Report have won 10 of the past 11 years.
Heading into the Mip-TV market next week, the UK’s DCD Rights has sealed deals on six-part thriller The Code with DirecTV in the U.S., Sundance Channel Latin America and Denmark’s DR. Produced by Australia’s Playmaker, the drama premieres Down Under on ABC1 later this year. Set in the Oz outback, The Code centers on two very different brothers — one a journalist, the other a hacker — who unearth information that those at the highest levels of political power will kill to keep secret. Lucy Lawless stars with Adam Garcia (Camp), David Wenham (Top Of The Lake) and Aden Young (I Frankenstein). DirecTV acquired the series for Audience Network. It was created by Shelley Birse and written by Birse, Blake Ayshford and Justin Monjo. Shawn Seet directs and Playmaker’s David Maher, David Taylor and Birse are producers. DCD, which works with high-profile Aussie titles like The Slap, Rake and A Moody Christmas, is launching The Code at Mip next week.
Comedian David Brenner died today at his home in New York, NY. He was 78. A favorite of Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson, Brenner made over 150 appearances as a guest and substitute host on the NBC latenight show, starting in the ’70s. A contemporary of such stand-up legends as Andy Kaufman, Freddie Prinze and Gabe Kaplan, Brenner made a name for his observational comedic styling accentuated by his toothy grin, wavy hair and lanky demeanor. Brenner was born on Feb. 4, 1936 in Philadelphia, the son of a vaudeville singer and comedian who went under the stage name “Lou Murphy”.
TVGN has picked up Alan Thicke’s faux-reality series Unusually Thicke and will premiere it on Wednesday, April 16 at 10 PM ET/PT. The series stars the Growing Pains patriarch and his real-life family including wife Tanya and teenaged son Carter. Also showing up in the 14-episode run: Thicke’s son Robin, David Hasselhoff, Bob Saget, Jon Stamos, Bill Maher, Tom Green, Magic Johnson, and Wayne Gretsky, according to Toronto-based Peacock Alley Entertainment, which is producing. Canadian press has said the first season also will include cameos by Jay Leno, the entire cast of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, and Minnie Driver.
Jay Leno was inducted last night into the Television Academy’s Hall Of Fame along with Rupert Murdoch, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David E Kelley, Ray Dolby and Brandon Stoddard. Here is Leno’s acceptance speech — if you’re missing his Tonight Show stand-ups, this will do nicely.
Jay Leno Reminds Bill Maher Of Israel As He’s Inducted Into TV Academy Hall Of Fame With Rupert Murdoch, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David E Kelley, Ray Dolby & Brandon Stoddard: Video
Jay Leno, being inducted into the TV Academy’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, said he’s glad he left NBC’s Tonight Show when he did because he was the oldest person on the show. Everyone else was 20 to 40 years younger than him and, while you may think you’re holding your own with them, “they’re really just laughing at you,” he explained. “You can’t be hip past a certain age. You have old guy gestures.” And when you make references to The Dick Van Dyke Show they think it’ s “a lesbian joke or something” — and they don’t understand what you’re talking about when you say the time is “Half past 2.”
Leno told the Beverly Wilshire Hotel gathering his favorite book is Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol — a searing indictment of 19th century industrial capitalism — and his favorite character in that classic work of literature, Mr. Fezziwig, who treated a young Ebenezer Scrooge like a son. Leno mentioned this by way of saying how proud he was that his Tonight Show was a place where people came to work hard during the day and, at 6, they went home to be with their family.
Even though he’s now “jobless and penniless” Leno still is a “fantastic stand-up,” said Bill Maher, who inducted Leno into the Hall, and the fact people are wondering what he will do next proves he’s still relevant, the HBO show host said. He described Leno’s more than two decades hosting Tonight as a drive down a highway in “some giant gleaming pristine luxury car with the competition far in the rearview mirror — except one time when NBC,” driving some beat-up clunker, “blindsided him and beat the sh*t out of his beautiful car.” Maher blamed TV critics for rewriting history to make Leno’s predecessor, Johnny Carson, out to be some guy who did a “rebellious, edgy, film noir version” of Tonight Show that by comparison made Jay look like a milquetoast. “That’s all bullsh*t — and I say that as a fan of Carson,” Maher said. Leno is the victim of “some bad publicity over the years” that he did not deserve — most famously how America got it into its head that “Jay Leno stole Conan O’Brien’s dream,” Maher complained, calling it, “the most hysterical thought I’ve ever heard, in a business known for bullsh*t.”
“Jay reminds me a little of Israel,” Maher continued. “He isn’t perfect but he’s held to standard I don’t think anybody in the world is expected to live up to but him,” he said, calling Leno “the most Machiavellian and also the most morally upright person I know in show business. He will hide in a closet but never needs a confessional booth.”
Sundance: Bruce Willis Takes Stand On Egypt’s Struggle For Democracy, Lends Weight To Docu ‘The People Demand’
EXCLUSIVE: Bruce Willis has signed to produce and narrate The People Demand, a feature documentary detailing the aspirations of protesters around the world in their pursuit of democracy, free speech and human rights. Willis will spearhead the film with Station 18 CEO and Lord of War exec producer Michael Mendelsohn and Michelle McElroy, exec director and Willis’s partner in the Bruce Willis Foundation. The story centers around the current crisis in Cairo, where pro-democracy activist and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee (for founding the April 6 Movement) Ahmed Maher was sentenced to three years of hard labor for violating harsh anti-protesting laws meant to quell dissent in a country where peaceful protests led to the ouster of two governments in three years. Maher and his co-defendants get their appeal tomorrow.
The documentary looks at the political motivations for suppressing free speech and democratic movements, while taking an unflinching look at leadership in international activist movements and the practice of street politics. Maher’s journey exemplifies this trajectory: as one of the leaders of Egypt’s January 25, 2011 Revolution he harnessed the power and imagination of Egyptians for a better future. But since that time he has also been at the epicenter of the messy work of democratic change as Egypt went from the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak to the repression of SCAF to the polarizing figure of President Morsi. Hopes for …
For those who were wondering what HBO‘s recent announcement of a new weekly show with The Daily Show‘s John Oliver would mean for incumbent Real Time With Bill Maher — HBO just extended the veteran talk show for a 35-episode 13th season to launch in January 2015. “Bill Maher has been a treasured member of the HBO family since the late ‘80s, and his irreverent wit and fearless insights make him the perfect observer for these unpredictable times,” HBO Programming president Michael Lombardo said. Added Maher, “It’s a pleasure to be returning for a 13th season on HBO. It’s something you rarely see in Hollywood: an on-again, on-again relationship.”
The renewal comes ahead of Real Time‘s 12th season debut this Friday. The program, which takes on politics and current events, averages a gross audience of 4.1 million viewers per show. Maher headlined his first special on HBO in 1989, starring in nine solo specials. In addition to Real Time, he is also an executive producer of the HBO news magazine show Vice, which returns for its second season March 14. The executive producers of Real Time are Maher, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Brad Grey and Billy Martin.
The Producers Guild of America has selected (in alphabetical order) American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years A Slave, and Wolf Of Wall Street for its top feature film honor, the Darryl F. Zanuck award, in its nominations announced today. The PGA announced its movie and long-form TV noms for its 25th annual PGA Awards, with winners to be announced during a ceremony January 19 at the Beverly Hilton. (The episodic TV and documentary film nominees were announced earlier). Here are the 2014 nominated films and TV programs listed in alphabetical order by category, along with producers in alphabetical order:
The Producers Guild of America announced today the Television Series/Specials and Digital Series nominees that will advance in the voting process for the 25th annual PGA Awards. Nominees for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama are Breaking Bad (AMC), Downton Abbey (ITV-United Kingdom; PBS-U.S.), Game Of Thrones (HBO), Homeland (Showtime) and House Of Cards (Netflix). Nominees for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy are 30 Rock (NBC), Arrested Development (Netflix) pending eligibility, The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Modern Family (ABC) and Veep (HBO). All other nominations for the categories will be announced January 2, along with the names of the eligible producers for the nominated documentary motion pictures. Winners will be announced January 19 at the Beverly Hilton. Here’s the complete list of TV nominees:
So much for any Daily Show succession plan talk. On the heels of his impressive stint as The Daily Show fill-in host this past summer, the program’s veteran correspondent John Oliver is jumping ship, landing his own topical comedy talk show on HBO and leaving the Emmy-winning Comedy Central program that made him a star. His last regular Daily Show appearance is expected to be on Dec. 19. The HBO show, which like the Daily Show will take a satirical look at the week in news, politics and current events, will debut in 2014, airing on Sunday nights. It joins HBO’s long-running Real Time With Bill Maher, which airs on Fridays. “We weren’t otherwise searching for another weekly talk show, but when we saw John Oliver handling host duties on The Daily Show, we knew that his singular perspective and distinct voice belonged on HBO,” said HBO’s Michael Lombardo. Added Oliver, “I’m incredibly excited to be joining HBO, especially as I presume this means I get free HBO now. I want to thank Comedy Central, and everyone at The Daily Show for the best seven and a half years of my life. But most of all, I’d like to thank Jon Stewart. He taught me everything I know. In fact, if I fail in the future, it’s entirely his fault.”
EXCLUSIVE: Rachel McAdams is in talks to join Keanu Reeves in Passengers, the science fiction film that The Weinstein Company bought in one of the biggest deals of the last Cannes. The film, scripted by Prometheus scribe Jon Spaihts and to be directed early next year by Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire helmer Brian Kirk, was sold with Reese Witherspoon as the female lead. Because they will shoot the movie in Germany, she was unable to work out the schedule, and that opened the door for McAdams, whose deal is in the process of being negotiated right now.
What a fortuitous time it is for this film, prepping for production in the wake of the grosses of the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Gravity. Like that film, this is set in space, and it is primarily the interaction between two lead characters. The plot: A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger (Reeves) is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger (McAdams), marking the beginning of what becomes a unique love story. I read the script back when buyers were bidding on it, and it was east to see why the bidding got heated among three distributors. TWC won it, committing to a multimillion-dollar minimum guarantee and a P&A commitment in the $25 million range, and at the time they were looking at a 2014 wide release late next year.
Alec Baldwin has endured no small number of “very frustrating and unsatisfactory” interviews, so he’s eager to get it right when his MSNBC show launches Friday. “I want to do a show that was more like how I would like to be treated if I were the guest on a show,” he told Politico in an interview. Griping about those half-hearted sit-downs, he said: “It was a very tedious format, and the entertainment press is just the worst of all. Ninety percent of them are just going through the motions.” The 30 Rock alum vows that won’t be the case when he asks the questions on Up Late With Alec Baldwin, his new weekly current events and culture talk show. Baldwin’s going up against HBO’s Bill Maher at 10 p.m. ET Fridays but says he doesn’t really see him — or many other nighttime hosts – as a competitor. “I don’t think it’ll ever be a show you’d see on Comedy Central. We’re not going to go for those laughs,” he told Politico. “[Jon] Stewart. Bill Maher. [Stephen] Colbert. … They dominate that world, and I have no desire to compete with that at all.” Baldwin said his initial idea was to do a network show in the vein of his podcast Here’s The Thing. He said …
(Editor’s Note: This report originally was posted Friday.)
Predicting Primetime Emmy winners was such a cushy assignment back when broadcasters had the field to themselves. The takeover of edgy, FCC-scoffing cable shows really gummed up a good thing, and bright shiny Netflix is now proving such a headache for Emmy forecasters, the best they can hope to achieve is the same accuracy rate as that of TV news talking heads forecasting presidential races — which puts Emmy forecasters in pretty mixed company. Will this be The Year of Louis C.K.? (He copped nine noms this year, shattering his 2012 record of most nods for an individual in a single year.) Will Kerry Washington make history and drag this industry into 2013’s multi-racial world? Will House Of Cards open the floodgate for digital competitors to come? Will House Of Cards star Kevin Spacey get to chastise industry execs to their face onstage, the way he did in countless interviews and TV-fest speeches plugging the Netflix series?
Favored to Win: Yes, Hollywood is having a love affair with Washington D.C. these days, and with new systems of distribution, which would point to a House Of Cards win. And yes, it would make for great TV if Mad Men won, making it five in all for the AMC series, breaking the show’s four-way best-ever tie with Hill Street Blues, LA Law and The West Wing. But tea-leaf readers are making much of the fact Breaking Bad is nominated for its fifth year and The Sopranos won its first best-drama Emmy with its fifth season. Maybe more to the point, Breaking Bad headed into its critically lauded home stretch right smack in the midst of Emmy-voting season.
Nominees: The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Girls (HBO), Louie (FX), Modern Family (ABC), 30 Rock (NBC), Veep (HBO)
Favored to Win: Conventional wisdom has Modern Family winning a fourth consecutive Emmy, though there are hints Louie stands a chance to become only the second cable series to win this derby, following in the Louboutins of HBO’s Sex And The City. A Modern Family fourth would put it in company with The Dick Van Dyke Show, All in the Family, and Cheers, and behind only winningest Frasier, with five.
Deadline’s Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and ENTV host Melana Scantlin discuss Pete’s predictions in the reality and variety categories in this weekend’s Primetime Emmys, along with his wish list. Will The Amazing Race dominate once again and, after 32 nominations, will this finally be Bill Maher’s year for Real Time?
The rushed nature of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be addressed at a Governors meeting I am assured by someone who said, quite correctly, “we need to stop turning this thing into a track meet”. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the Board of Governors repping the Writers Branch). Certainly there was concern during last night’s 3 hour and 40 minute marathon in which winners were given 45 seconds from the time they left their seat in the cavernous Nokia Theatre to reach the stage and make a speech. For many the orchestra started playing them off even before they could get comfortably into the thrust of their thank-yous. One female winner changed her shoes just so she could charge the stage. One poor overweight winner for The Voice had a choice of either pulling up his loose tux in a confused moment where the clock was ticking or dropping his Emmy. He did the latter and broke it, but at least didn’t reveal his underwear. It was that kind of night.
You can’t envy Executive Producer Spike Jones Jr who has to edit this show down to about an hour and 40 minutes plus commercials for its broadcast next Saturday on the 3-week-old FXX. And considering the very dirty material of some presenters such as (a hilarious) Triumph The Insult Comic Dog (voiced by SNL‘s Robert Smigel) and particularly a very unfunny and out-of- control Gilbert Gottfried, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences had better hope there are a few more X’s after the FXX logo to accommodate the blue humor.
Listen to (and share) episode 41 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about several terrific films coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival with strong awards momentum, including Rush, August: Osage County, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Fifth Estate, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena and Parkland. Pete says a couple of smaller films debuting at Toronto may have a chance for Golden Globe recognition, including One Chance and Enough Said, where, at its Toronto screening, Julia Louis-Dreyfus took to the stage to remember her late co-star James Gandolfini. Just a couple of days ahead of this weekend’s Creative Emmys ceremony, Pete looks at the ultimate no-win situation for durable TV stars who can’t quite snag a statue, including Bill Maher, Bob Newhart and Angela Lansbury.
Pete also looks at the weekend’s film debuts, including likely box-office winner Insidious: Chapter 2 from horror auteur James Wan, and The Family, a fish-out-of-water comedy featuring a prominent cast, and Wadjda, an excellent specialty release from Saudi Arabia’s first female director.
It’s an awards-season cliché to say that it’s an honor just to be nominated, but going to the Emmy ceremony year after year and never taking home a statuette can be excruciating. Just ask Bill Maher, Emmy’s current “biggest loser.” Despite 32 nominations (including three for this year alone) for Politically Incorrect, Real Time and various standup specials, Maher seems cursed when it comes to the golden girl. At least he retains a sense of humor about it: “I am OK with it. In fact, winning now would only fuck things up. I would lose all my street cred,” he told Deadline a few seasons ago, adding that he’s proud he has been nominated every single year since his shows started in 1995. “It comes down to people voting their taste, and I’m not the taste preference of a majority. Maybe that’s a good thing.”
Nevertheless, Maher is in good company, considering the caliber of talent that has also gone Emmy-less over their careers. Susan Lucci was the poster child for Emmy losers, striking out 19 times at the Daytime Emmy Awards before finally taking her one and only win for All My Children in 1999. It must give hope to others like Angela Lansbury, the reigning queen of the Tonys, who has managed to lose the Primetime Emmy 18 times. That includes 12 consecutive nominations for every single season of Murder, She Wrote. She even lost the Emmy for hosting her beloved Tonys.