Lionsgate has come on to develop Epic Fail, a comedy from producer Nicky Weinstock and Ed Helms, who co-developed the original idea. Helms is now attached to star in the pic, which centers on an elite but unorthodox Special Forces team that takes their dysfunction and excessive firepower on a desperate mission to save America — led by the only soldier more badass and more mustachioed than a Navy SEAL: The Walrus.
Mike Arnold and Chris Poole will pen the screenplay. The duo has several scripts in development including the Black List script The Grackle. Weinstock is producing via his Invention Films banner along with Helms and Michael Falbo’s Pacific Electric Picture Company shingle. Invention’s Whitney Thomas will executive produce. Lionsgate’s Erik Feig, Matthew Janzen and James Myers will oversee for the studio.
Helms, Arnold and Poole are repped by CAA and Principato Young.
The performer who now just calls himself Diddy would use the music channel to boost distribution for his Revolt TV, another music service that launched in October, Bloomberg reports citing “three people with knowledge of the situation.” Comcast helped to launch Revolt to fulfill its agreement, in return for government support for its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, to add minority-owned networks. But it’s been hard to secure distribution: Revolt only reaches about 22.8M homes, while Fuse is in 74M. Madison Square Garden put Fuse on the block in September retaining JP Morgan to “explore all strategic alternatives.” Distributors pay an average of 8 cents per month for each home Fuse reaches. Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil noted at the time that Fuse could command a healthy price because its deals with distributors enable a buyer to reprogram the network to offer “anything other than live sports.” Many MSG shareholders are eager to see the company return cash to them, possibly by repurchasing shares. The stock has stagnated in recent months. In a call with analysts in February, Vice Chairman Hank Ratner — who was CEO at the time — declined to discuss MSG’s progress with the Fuse sale. Tad Smith, a former exec at Cablevision, took the top job at MSG last month. Cablevision CEO James Dolan is MSG’s executive chairman; his family controls about 69% … Read More »
Tom Verica (American Dreams) has joined the cast of ABC drama pilot How To Get Away With Murder starring Viola Davis and executive produced by Shonda Rhimes. The sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor, Annalise Dewitt (Davis), who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their entire university and change the course of their lives. Paradigm-repped Verica will play Annalise’s husband Tom, a psychology professor who comes from a long line of academic royalty. Read More »
Lindsay Lohan’s rehab reality series Lindsay on OWN opened in a highly crowded Sunday 10 PM time slot with about 200,000 fewer viewers than caught Lohan’s highly touted sit-down with Oprah Winfrey on OWN last August. That, in turn, had been a substantially smaller audience than some other Oprah-exclusive sit-downs on her cable network. This, just a few days after Lohan’s visit to Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s Tonight show to plug the launch of the OWN series logged a preliminary 3.2/9 household rating, which will likely translate to about 4 million-ish viewers when Nielsen gets them crunched.
Even so, OWN president Erik Logan calls the launch a success, noting Lohan’s opener achieved his network’s highest rating in the Sunday hour in 27 weeks with women 25-54 and that the series launch posted triple-digit gains in key demos versus the time slot’s prior six-week average (+178% in total viewers; +300% in women 25-54; +478% women 18-49), and double-digit gains versus the tim eslot one year ago (+57% in total viewers; +37% women 25-54; +73% women 18-49). Read More »
UPDATE 1:20: Cosmos‘ premiere totals came in. Across the 10 Fox-owned US networks, led by FBC, the science program drew 8.5 million total viewers and a 2.9 in adults 18-49.
PREVIOUS: This is the type of premiere ratings ABC had been praying for. After a string of disappointments – Lucky 7 and Betrayal in the fall and most recently The Assets, Killer Women and Mind Games – new drama Resurrection last night opened to a 3.6 rating in adults 18-49 and 13.3 million total viewers, the highest rating for a midseason drama launch in two years and the highest-rated and most-watched broadcast program last night. A lot had been riding on Resurrection, with ABC going all in on promoting the supernatural drama it considered its last and best hope for a ratings success. (Had it failed, all those Am I Dead? #ABC billboards would’ve taken on a whole new meaning.)
The best news for Resurrection was that it broke out on its own at 9 PM, spiking from its lead-in, Once Upon A Time (2.3 in 18-49, 7.3 million), whose midseason premiere was up 21% in the demo from the fall finale on December 15. That is a great number given that it fell on the first night of daylight savings time when viewers are still adjusting. At 10 PM, Revenge (1.9, 6.5 million) didn’t take advantage of its big Resurrection lead-in, though riding its coat tales was enough for a 46% jump in 18-49 from the show’s most recent original on January 19. Resurrection‘s strong premiere marks another success for the pilot’s director Charles McDougall, who previously helmed the pilot for another ABC Sunday 9 PM series that helped changed the network’s fortunes, Desperate Housewives (as well as CBS’ The Good Wife). McDougall is back at ABC this season, helming pilot Secrets & Lies. Resurrection also marks a successful first series launch for Brad Pitt’s Plan B, which is producing with Brillstein Entertainment, just a week after the company landed a Best Picture Oscar for 12 Years A Slave. Paced by Resurrection, ABC posted rare Sunday night ratings wins in 18-49 and total viewers with regular programming for a second Sunday victory in a row, following the Oscars the previous week. Read More »
The premiere of CNN Original Series: Death Row Storiesranked No. 1 among cable news networks in the news demo last night in the 9 PM hour, averaging 255,000 demo viewers, besting MSNBC (117,000) and FNC (103,000). In overall audience, FNC’s Justice With Judge Jeanine won the hour with 990,000 viewers, to CNN’s 719,000 and MSNBC’s 243,000 with Caught On Camera. CNN noted the launch of its Death Row Stories jumped 99% in the news demo compared to prior four-week average (355,000 versus 128,000). Each in the series of one-hour documentaries follows a different capital murder case; the series is exec produced by Alex Gibney and Robert Redford, and narrated by Susan Sarandon. The project is part of a CNN programming shift to documentary storytelling — the most success of which remains the docu-film Blackfish which, last October, opened with an impressive 1.36 million viewers and 472,000 demo viewers. Two weeks later, CNN’s next docu-film, Pandora’s Promise scored a deflated 345,000 total viewers and 145,000 demo viewers, demonstrating the difficulty of documentary films that each has to be sold to viewers. Death Row Stories, on the other hand, has an eight-episode order.
In prime time last night, CNN was top-rated in the news demo, with 201,000 viewers, to MSNBC’s 175,000 and FNC’s 139,000.
EXCLUSIVE: It’s the end of the road for Fox‘s quirky family comedy Raising Hope, with the upcoming fourth-season finale serving as series finale. The blue-collar sitcom will bow out with an hourlong farewell on Friday, April 4, featuring back-to-back episodes from 9-10 PM.
Created by Greg Garcia, Raising Hope was the first comedy series in a while to stick at Fox. It proved a good utility player, doing well behind New Girl but also as a 8 PM anchor of the Tuesday comedy block last season. “Getting to know and love the Chance family on Raising Hope has been a sweet, hilarious ride,” said Fox chairman Kevin Reilly and COO Joe Earley. “Thanks to the incredibly talented cast — along with Greg, Mike and the entire crew — for making us laugh for four fantastic seasons.”
The most camera-ready opponent of Comcast’s merger plans with Time Warner Cable — who, ironically, owes his big break to Comcast-owned NBC — went on CBS This Morning to again blast the proposed merger, saying “consumers will end up paying more, there will be less competition, there will be less innovation and, worse, even worse service.” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) this morning said he sent out an email to his constituents to get their “feelings about what kind of service they get from Comcast” and whether they think the proposed deal “will be good.” “I got 60,000 responses, and believe me, people don’t like their service from Comcast, and they don’t think this deal is going to help them,” said Franken — who, before entering politics in a big way was a writer and performer on the now Comcast-owned NBC’s Saturday Night Live from its launch in the mid 1970s until 1980, returning in 1985 for another decade. Watch his appearance here:
Law & Order alumna Alana de la Garza has been tapped as the female lead opposite Ioan Gruffudd in ABC’s drama pilot Forever, written by Matthew Miller and directed by Brad Anderson. It centers on Dr. Henry Morgan (Gruffudd), New York City’s star medical examiner. But what no one knows is Henry studies the dead for a reason — he is immortal. His investigative work with recently widowed Detective Jo Martinez (de la Garza), a recovering alcoholic, and relationship with best friend Abe (Judd Hirsch) will peel back the layers of Henry’s colorful and long life. De la Garza, repped by SDB Partners, most recently co-starred on NBC’s Do No Harm.Read More »
This morning, Good Morning America unveiled the #socialsquare, which it says is a “groundbreaking new digital studio” engaging viewers on a daily basis with the broadcast and social conversation. An expansion of the morning infotainment series’ current Times Square studio, #socialsquare is the new social “nerve center” for the broadcast, featuring installations developed with the leading social media platforms allowing GMA guests to interact with viewers throughout the broadcast, ABC News says. ”This will revolutionize how our show is produced in the morning and its all about engaging directly with our viewers from beginning to end,” GMA senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski said this morning.
More than one person this morning has noted NBC’s Today, which is in a ratings death match with GMA, debuted its like-minded digital space, Orange Room, last September. But, of course, Orange Room is orange, whereas Social Square is pink, and blue — and it has foosball. ”If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we are deeply and sincerely flattered — and not surprised given our ratings gains, specifically in younger viewers,” Today responded. Here’s GMA‘s reveal this morning:
Comcast is fast becoming a powerful challenger to Apple and Amazon when it comes to selling downloaded movies and TV shows — the long-awaited replacement for DVDs and Blu-ray discs known in the industry as electronic sell through (or EST). And today’s deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will help, bringing movies including American Hustle and Captain Phillips and TV series Breaking Bad and House Of Cards to the cable company’s offerings. Comcast already has carriage deals with Fox, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal (which the cable company owns), and Warner Bros — but not Disney, Paramount, DreamWorks Animation, or MGM. Comcast doesn’t yet support UltraViolet, so consumers who buy movies or shows from it can’t access them from the entertainment industry’s cloud-based storage lockers. Comcast has its own infrastructure that makes it possible for buyers to access the content they buy, even if they move or stop subscribing to the cable video service. Last month, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said that since Comcast began offering EST in November it “has captured 15% of the EST market and expanded the business.” He said that other cable operators likely will soon follow because “it’s been too successful for Comcast.” Consumers spent $424.8M on EST in Q4, up 44% from the period in 2012, according to Digital Entertainment Group data.
NBC News will present a two-day cross-platform event, Forgotten? Syria’s Children Of War: A Live Documentary, on Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 5 million Syrian children have had their lives scarred by conflict, the news division says, including children displaced inside the country, another million living under seige and a million who are now refugees. The project will span Today, NBC Nightly News, NBCNews.com and social media, creating what the division is calling a “live documentary” — aka a continuous stream of reports from inside and outside Syria’s borders. From the announcement: Read More »
Pilot Locations 2014: New York Production Rises, Los Angeles Plummets, Texas Hot By Nellie Andreeva – 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. New York, which also lured The Tonight Show franchise away from Los Angeles, returns this year as the most popular drama location and reinforcing its strong position in comedy.
Dish And Disney Finalize Output Deal That Ends Their Ad-Hopper Dispute By David Lieberman – The companies have officially announced a “wide-ranging” deal, which “will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop.” The agreement calls for Dish to disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The pact also for the first time allows Dish customers to access Disney’s authenticated live and VOD products.
White House Backs Broadcasters In Aereo Case By David Lieberman and Dominic Patten – The Solicitor General’s office put the Obama administration solidly in the anti-Aereo camp with a 40-page amicus brief filed with SCOTUS.
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:
EXCLUSIVE: In the grand tradition of Borat and recent Paramount hit Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, prank comedy hybrid May The Best Man Win combines narrative storytelling with hidden camera stunts pulled on real folks, starring Drew Tarver of the upcoming sitcom spin-off How I Met Your Dad, Whitmer Thomas of Comedy Central’s pilot Crazy House, and Rosa Salazar of NBC’s pilot The Pro. Directed by That Awkward Moment producer and Brit comedy vet Andrew O’Connor (Balls of Steel, Peep Show), the hard-R gotcha-comedy tracks YouTube pranksters Whit and Drew who recruit a girl into their team and then compete for her affections in a series of embarrassing and outrageous challenges. Last summer the What If It Barks Films production made headlines in L.A. with one of their pranks, in which dozens of actresses were asked to audition in blackface and impersonate Hitler for a bit that left a number of would-be starlets upset. Pic is scripted by O’Connor, Matthew Robinson, and Lee Hupfield and world premieres tonight in SXSW‘s Visions program. O’Connor, Robinson, Lee Hupfield, and Ray Marshall are producers and Andrew Newman, Oliver Obst, and Manu Gargi exec produced. Here’s an exclusive taste:
Things we know – the Olympics are long done, the Oscars have come and gone and awards season is over (for now) and ABC dominates Fridays. However, even though the network won the night among adults 18-49 with a 1.6/6 rating, ABC still stumbled a bit compared to last week – both down from its season demo high and with individual shows. With pitches for bicycle lighting and one for the baby knee pads Shark Tank (2.0/7) easily led the night as the highest rated show. With a 5% dip from its February 28 show, the entrepreneurial reality series basically stayed steady with last week. Though with 7.49 million watching it was down from its second best viewership result ever of 7.7 million from last week. Among the rest of ABC’s night, the only show to stay total even with last week was 20/20 (1.8/6) Comedies Last Man Standing (1.3/5) and The Neighbors (0.9/3) were up 8% and down 10% respectively from their February 28 shows. Read More »
I’ve learned that NBC’s comedy pilot Fifth Wheel is not going forward, at least for now, after difficulties with casting. With the number of original scripted series on cable and digital platforms exploding, there were major concerns going into this broadcasting season that the depleted talent pool would put extra strain on casting, leading to a number of pilots folding over problems finding the right actors. So far, those concerns have not materialized, with Fifth Wheel the first pilot this season to be pushed. There will not be a noticeable void left as NBC already had ordered the most comedy pilots, 14, as well as two series, Tooken and Mr. Robinson, for next season. Fifth Wheel, from ABC Studios and the Mark Gordon Co., was written on spec by Heidi Niedermeyer & Elena Crevello. It an ensemble comedy of a tight-knit group of friends that centers around a young woman who confronts her new reality after her last single friend gets engaged. Gordon and Andrea Shay executive produce, with Niedermeyer and Crevello as supervising producers.
Tony winner Harriet Harris (Desperate Housewives) has been cast in NBC’s multi-camera pilot Lifesaver. The odd couple comedy centers on the uptight, controlling and a bit neurotic Dr. Graham Permenter (Cgristian Borle) and loose cannon Leon (Jonathan Ryland), who become inextricably linked after Leon saves Graham’s life by giving him a kidney. Harris, repped by BRS/GAGE, plays Christian’s mother Liz Parmenter. She recently finished a run in the original cast of Cinderella on Broadway.