Philip Marshak, who wrote and directed several cult classic films in the late ’70s and ’80s, including Night Train To Terror, Cataclysm and Dracula Sucks, has died. He passed away last night surrounded by his family at his Los Angeles home after a long battle with leukemia, diabetes and heart disease. his son, talent manager Darryl Marshak said. He was 80. Philip Marshak began his Hollywood career as an actor studying with Lee Strasberg, but then took a turn as an underground/guerrilla filmmaker in the late 60’s/70’s.
The TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 has wrapped its 16-day run. Here is what we learned:
Most Searing Description Of Hollywood
David LaChapelle, who famously became a photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in his teens, has been called The Fellini of Photography, and has photographed the likes of Hillary Clinton, Lady Gaga, Tupac Shakur, Madonna, Eminem, Warhol, Lil’ Kim, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Muhammad Ali, was asked yesterday to discuss the “ebb and flow” of depictions of sex and nudity; he’s featured in PBS’ American Masters broadcast The Boomer List.
“Growing up in New York City, when I was very young, pre-AIDS, it was very hedonistic, and sexuality was, you know, the revolution. I remember working at [Studio 54] and straight guys would say they were bi, to pick up girls because it was cool. And then, AIDS happened, and everything changed. Things got very, very conservative and segregated. Now…we are sort of in this Dark Ages where the body is considered shameful…yet violence, and torture, and these films — the Saw series, The Hunger Games — you look at Netflix, what’s going on, and every other new show is extreme violence, and this is our entertainment. We applaud that. And our kids are playing these video games, but yet the human body is somehow shameful. And God forbid a kid sees a nipple, you know.”
TV programs such as HBO’s Sex And The City (Kim Cattrall also was a panelist), he said, have “been replaced by so much ultra-violence in this torture form. I find that really interesting because all our popular culture reflects the society in which it was created. So what does that say about us? Why are we so obsessed with watching other human beings suffering? We don’t get enough of it on the news that we — that’s our entertainment, too? I think that’s the real pornography. That’s the real evil, and that’s the real darkness.”
Most Changed Executive
NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt — last Press Tour’s Mr. Flat Is The New Up — spoke happily this tour about Up Being The New Up: “We had a pretty great season so far this year. We’re No. 1 in the demo. We’re the only network up, year to year, almost 10% to date. Even if you take the Olympics out of our numbers, we would still be No. 1 for the year…We’re also leading in the 25-54 demo, and all key adult female demos as well. We also had a huge growth in total viewers where we’re running No. 2 season to date. In fact, we’re up 27% year over year, which is our strongest performance this far into the season in eight years.”
CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves, telling reporters after his Q&A for the network’s new Thursday night football that he’s interested in buying CNN should Rupert Murdoch prevail in his bid to by the cable news network’s parent Time Warner and spin off CNN. “We’ve always talked about doing things with CNN in the past… It’s something I’m sure we’ll look at if it becomes available,” Moonves said. Last month, when CBS took the final step in the spinoff of its billboard company, “that was our intent, to get rid of billboards and potentially buy more content,” Moonves said, adding, “We’re in a very advantageous position.”
Matthew Strauss isn’t a household name in Hollywood yet. But he should be, and possibly will be soon. As Comcast Cable’s GM of Video Services, Strauss oversees the cable colossus’ Xfinity cloud-based X1 platform, video on demand, TV Everywhere, and — starting last year — sales of digitally downloadable movies and TV shows (known as Electronic Sell Through). In other words, he leads the cable industry’s counter-offensive as digital services led by Netflix and ad-zapping DVRs make inroads with pay TV consumers.
Studios and networks are taking notice, and striking deals with Strauss that push the boundaries of technology, and traditional business practices. For example, Comcast and FX have just begun to let VOD customers watch episodes of The Bridge a week before they appear on the channel itself. Deadline caught up with Strauss to find out the latest about that experiment and others that could reshape the medium. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.
DEADLINE: VOD has been one of Comcast’s top initiatives. Where do things stand?
STRAUSS: I have a long history with VOD. I’ve been working on this for almost 13 years now. About 70% of our digital subscribers use on demand every single month, and by the end of this year we’ll have 200,000 hours of on-demand content available. We surpassed our 30 billionth program viewed on demand last year. So this is something that has gone from almost an infancy, novelty kind of product and now is deeply entrenched. For the first time we now have the top 100 rated Nielsen shows …
As Deadline was first to reveal, Focus Features has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Race. with Stephan James playing Olympian Jesse Owens, opposite Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons, in the Stephen Hopkins-directed. Mister Smith Entertainment is handling worldwide sales on Race. The film starts production this month, and it is one of several films about the sprinter who ruined Hitler’s plans to showcase the superiority of German athletes in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. This film has the support of the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group.
Meredith Vieira, who came to TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014 to plug her new NBCUniversal daytime talk show debuting on September 8, got asked if, were she not launching her own daytime show, would she be interested in returning to ABC’s daytime talker The View. Vieira served as that show’s original moderator from its debut on August 11, 1997, until June 9, 2006.
“No,” Vieira responded firmly. “I knew after nine years it was time to leave The View; I have a pretty good sense of timing and I always like to get out before something bad happens.” Having since appeared on The View several times during which she said she was treated “lovingly,” she came to realize “you can’t go back.” Going back, she said, would have seemed “crazy aunt going back.”
That’ll be news to Rosie O’Donnell, who in fact is going back to the show she famously left after one short, acrimonious season. ABC confirmed Rosie’s hire in a tweet, ending a mad media chase of this The View Is Out Of New Ideas story.
Comedy Series Inspired By Openly Gay Soccer Player Robbie Rogers In Works At Universal TV With Producers Craig Zadan & Neil Meron
EXCLUSIVE: The story of professional soccer player Robbie Rogers, who became the first openly gay man to compete in a top North American professional sports league, is headed to television. Universal Television has optioned Rogers’ story rights for Craig Zadan and Neil Meron’s Storyline Entertainment to develop and produce a comedy series inspired by the young athlete’s experiences.
Rogers spent one season at the University of Maryland, helping the college team win an NCAA Championship. He quickly turned pro, joining the Dutch team Heerenveen. He then spent five seasons with Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew, winning the MLS Cup, and competed in the 2008 Olympics. Following a stint with English team Leeds United, on February 15, 2013, Rogers announced his retirement from professional soccer at age 25 and revealed he was gay. He said he was retiring to avoid the scrutiny from the press and fans, but after speaking at an LGBT youth event two months later, he decided that stepping down is a cowardly thing to do and he should use his platform to be a role model. The next month, he joined the LA Galaxy, becoming becoming the first openly gay man to play in a top North American professional sports league (NBA player Jason Collins, who had come out earlier that year, was a free agent at the time of his announcement).
Sony/MGM’s 22 Jump Street, which has done well during the height of the World Cup and has proven to be a good comedy option and counter-programming, had a $1M opening in Russia. The number is significant because in one day it surpassed 21 Jump Street‘s full weekend gross in the territory. That puts the sequel on track to pull in almost $4.5M during the weekend which would also best the lifetime projection in the market of Neighbors, another R-rated comedy. Of course, two kids with badges can’t beat the monster: Transformers: Age Of Extinction is No. 1 and is crushing everything in sight as it dominated China and now is boldly going (er, wait, wrong Par movie franchise) … as it plows into Europe.
What sad pre-holiday news: American Olympian track star and WWII hero Louis Zamperini passed away last night at age 97, just one day short of Independence Day. It’s somehow poignant that Zamperini’s shadow hovers over the July 4th holiday; it comes half a year before the Universal Pictures release of Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed adaptation of the Laura Hillenbrand bestseller about a man whose unwillingness to break despite the most difficult of circumstances in a Japanese POW camp made him the personification of struggle and heroism. Part of that struggle included getting a movie made on his extraordinary life; imagine, Universal’s first attempt at a Zamperini film came in the 1950s, when Tony Curtis sparked to playing Zamperini as his follow-up to Spartacus.
Many know Zamperini’s story because of the superb book by Seabiscuit author Hillenbrand, and the world will celebrate him at year’s end when Universal releases the film in Oscar season, with Jack O’Connell playing Zamperini. I have been obsessed with Zamperini since I saw a segment on his ordeal broadcast by CBS during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and have written about the movie at Variety and Deadline since then at the slightest provocation, because it seemed such a worth screen story. When CBS chronicled his story, Zamperini returned to Japan to run with the Olympic torch, covering ground not far from where he spent an unimaginably brutal stretch in a Japanese prison camp …
UPDATED: Louis Zamperini, the World War II hero and former Olympic long distance runner, has died. The subject of Angelina Jolie‘s upcoming sophomore directorial effort Unbroken, Zamperini was 97. Universal, which announced his passing this morning, had developed the Unbroken project for close to 55 years when it finally got off the ground with Jolie signed to direct in December 2012. The script is based on Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand. Zamperini was a Depression era kid who became a track prodigy and was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic team that traveled to Berlin for the 1936 games. He didn’t medal, but was so impressive that Hitler asked to meet him. The 1940 Olympics in Tokyo were cancelled due to the war, and in 1941, Zamperini enlisted in the Air Force. When his plane went down in the Pacific during a rescue mission, Zamperini and two other crew mates survived on a raft in the hot sun for 47 days. They were ultimately caught by the Japanese Navy, beginning a terrifying term of captivity that lasted until the end of the war in 1945. Universal first bought Zamperini’s rights back in the 1950s.
As Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr has written, “Few movies gestate as long as this one, but it’s clear from Hillenbrand’s remarkable book that it …
NBC Upfront is wrapping with about $2.52 billion in primetime and late-night advertising commitments. That’s about a 15% increase compared to last year’s 2.25 billion. Across all its properties — broadcast, cable and digital — NBCUniversal brought about $6 billion this upfront – up from $5.4 billion last year. At NBCU, broadcast moves as one with cable and digital upfront sales; other networks handle the annual exercise differently. NBCU is “done – its whole portfolio,” explained one exec with knowledge of the situation.
The NBC broadcast network won the recently wrapped TV season in the demo for the first time in a decade with a 13% ratings spike — the biggest year-to-year gain for any Big 4 network in nine years. Even without its 18 nights of Sochi Olympics coverage, NBC boasted the season’s biggest demo audience, topping Super Bowl-boosted Fox. NBC’s gains blanketed the entire week, including double-digit year-to-year demo gains on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Its most talked about improvement: the 39% gain at 10 PM Mondays with The Blacklist originals – Blacklist being the season’s No. 1 new series and No. 2 drama, and NBC’s Monday being the top-rated regular schedule on any broadcast network in the demo, with an average 4.3 rating for regular programming.
FINAL Intl Box Office: ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ Rides To $43.2M; ‘Maleficent’ Casts $21.8M China Spell; More
Highlights: Maleficent (DIS) crosses $500M global led by China bow; How To Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX) scores No. 1s in 30+ markets; Edge Of Tomorrow (WB) adds $21.3M; The Fault In Our Stars (FOX) shines bright with $19.9M; Godzilla (WB) cumes $67.7M in China; 22 Jump Street (SONY) shows muscle in World Cup markets; Jersey Boys (WB) plays to upscale crowds for $1.6M.
FINAL UPDATE, MONDAY, 6:03 PM: All final numbers in for Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, Disney’s Maleficent, Fox/DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 and X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Sony’s 22 Jump Street and Heaven Is For Real, the Tom Cruise sci-fi actioner Edge of Tomorrow and Godzilla from Warner Bros., Fox’s tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars, the Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, the female-centric comedy The Other Woman and the billion-dollar grosser Frozen, which is still at No. 1 for a 15th week in a row in Japan and Paramount’s final grosses for Noah (which debuted in Japan last weekend). Transcendence added on Tuesday at 10:45 AM.
UPDATE, SUNDAY, 7:04 PM PT: This weekend was ultimately pretty stable against last with just a 5% drop across the top 10 titles internationally. That’s not altogether surprising given last weekend was largely a Hollywood holdover frame with some new market plays and only one major new entry in How To Train Your Dragon 2. That movie rolled into a further 28 markets this weekend, but with Maleficent hitting China in its 4th frame, HTTYD2 missed the top overseas spot by a scant $1.2M in the estimates. Disney’s fairy tale spin starring Angelina Jolie earned $21.8M in China and an overall $47.9M extra this weekend. HTTYD2 grossed $43.5M, notably scoring the second-biggest animated opening ever in Brazil with $6.8M and the No. 1 spot. Given that Fox also has the No. 2 film in that market, teen romance The Fault In Our Stars, the World Cup counterprogramming strategy there is paying off. The latter was even up 6% this weekend with a local cume of $18.26M after three frames. See the original post below for the other pics still running notable plays.
EXCLUSIVE: Appian Way, which has broadened its slate in features and moved into television, has promoted Michael Hampton and Nathaniel Posey to co-vice president status and has named James Ward to be creative executive to help handle the volume. They report to Appian Way principal Leonardo DiCaprio and president of production Jennifer Davisson Killoran.
Hampton and Posey are homegrown talent. Hampton worked at LBI Entertainment before moving to Appian Way two years ago and has steered development of Graveland, which Brian koppelman & David Levien are directing for New Regency; the adaptation of A. Scott Berg’s biography of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson at Warner Bros; and Home, which Dennis Iliadis wrapped for Blumhouse. Posey got his start at Silver Pictures and Brillstein before moving to Appian Way six years ago and working his way up. He’s worked on the live-action adaptation of Akira that Appian Way is producing with Andrew Lazar and which Jaume Collet-Serra will direct, as well as the viking epic King Harald which is a star vehicle for DiCaprio, and Live By Night, the Dennis Lehane novel that Ben Affleck has scripted and will direct, star in and produce with Appian.
ABC News has snagged NBC News’s Subrata De to become VP of Multi-Platform Newsgathering. ABC News President James Goldston announced De’s hire this morning in a memo to staff. De most recently had been exec producer of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports since January of ’12. Before that, she was producer for NBC News’s Brian Williams. In her new gig, De will have oversight of ABC News’s domestic, foreign, digital and social media newsgathering; the new post is intended to unify the division’s editorial operation—”expanding cooperation across our broadcast and digital platforms to improve our reporting and to use our resources more effectively,” as Goldston explained. The job is an expansion of the one held by Kate O’Brian, until she departed ABC News last year to become president of Al Jazeera America. Today’s announcement also includes news of expanded roles for David Reiter and Wendy Fisher.
More from Goldston’s memo after the jump:
With outstanding drama series being the Powerball/Mega Millions of the Primetime Emmy Awards, any change in this particular competition is bound to cause a certain amount of eyebrow raising in the TV industry. And, sure enough, the Television Academy’s decision this year to let HBO enter True Detective as a drama series, which is how HBO says it always envisioned the program, is being viewed by some rivals as an introduction of a large grain of sand in their spiritual spinach. Non-fans of the decision complain that the program has an unfair advantage and belongs in the miniseries race. True Detective, which will reboot with a new cast and storyline each season, is able to attract Hollywood heavyweights such as Matthew McConaughey because it only asks of them a one-season, eight-episode commitment. Ironically, that also might be the best explanation yet as to why the TV Academy did not balk when HBO submitted it as a drama. The program also stands to benefit from the TV Academy’s loosening of the “2 percent” rule for the drama series competition, which could open up the race to allow for seven nominees.
Twitter lights up during big TV events such as the Super Bowl, Olympics and the Oscars, but can the social-media platform deliver users directly to the tube? Comcast and Twitter are betting it can with SEEiT, a button embedded in tweets that actually can change the channel from a user’s smartphone or tablet or set a DVR to record a show. The platform works with shows from ABC, A&E, AMC, Fox, NBC and others as well as set-top boxes from Comcast, Cablevision, Charter and Time Warner Cable. “If you’re between 13 and 24, (social media) is probably the primary way you’re discovering things,” says Erik Flannigan, executive VP of multiplatform strategy and development for the Viacom Entertainment Group. That’s why Flannigan considers initiatives such as SEEiT to be “the tip of an iceberg.”
Programmers are intrigued: Nearly half of viewers under 30 use computers, smartphones or tablets to visit social networks during their TV time, research from Deloitte recently reported. A separate study from the Council for Research Excellence found that viewers of specials, sci-fi shows, sports and movies are especially eager to simultaneously chat online with others. “TV networks fully understand, top to bottom, that their mission is to deliver that (social media experience) to you in a relationship that’s 24/7/365, and it …
Reality Check: Trish Kinane On ‘American Idol’ Ratings, Simon Cowell & Harry Connick Jr & The Next Big Thing
Some people truly love a challenge. When FremantleMedia named Trish Kinane the President of Entertainment Programming, North America in July 2012, the Brit reality veteran not only took over executive producer duties on Fox’s American Idol but also The X Factor and NBC’s America’s Got Talent. In short, mega-properties each. Since then Idol has gone through a number of changes, Simon Cowell’s X Factor has closed up shop in the U.S., and AGT has come back this season solid. Formerly Fremantle’s president of worldwide entertainment and based in the UK, Kinane comes from both the indie and network world with tenure at Action Time and Channel 4. The EP of two of the heavyweights of reality TV believes Idol took a hit from the Winter Olympics on NBC, that honestly is the best policy for judges, and that tech made Idol possible. She also has something new cooking, maybe the next big thing.
DEADLINE: Last year at a speech at NAB, you spoke of Idol as being the gold-standard show in terms of format and how the series was one of the first to adapt interactivity with viewers since it debuted in the summer of 2002. A lot has changed since Idol premiered.
TRISH KINANE: I think Idol is the, sort of, classic gold-standard format, in terms of these music shows, and I still do. It’s the simple story, it’s the simple transition of a kid from nowhere who comes through the process, and ends up, hopefully, not always, but often, in the case of Idol, having a career. Having said that, you know, you’ve got to do things, you’ve got to keep it fresh, you’ve got to try to keep it relevant. Last year, there were problems with the panel, which I think were fairly public, so we put a new panel in place. The panel for the last season has been incredibly successful. We wanted people who knew what they were talking about, people who had a right to be there, people who could offer genuine advice to these kids, people who really cared about these kids, and I think in Harry, Keith, and Jennifer, we’ve absolutely got that.
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NBC stood by Matt Lauer during the controversy over the dismissal of Ann Curry as Today co-host in 2012. Two years later, the network has reaffirmed its commitment to the long-time Today host, signing him in a new multi-year contract extension, according to the New York Times. “I consider this the best job in broadcasting,” Lauer told the paper in a statement. The new deal will take Lauer’s tenure on Today to two decades, the longest ever on the morning program. After the ratings meltdown two years ago when Today lost its decades-long ratings lead to ABC’s Good Morning America, the NBC show had been clawing its way back up, recently narrowing the gap with GMA in the 25-54 demo. In addition to his duties on Today, Lauer subbed for Bob Costas in Sochi earlier this year while NBC’s Olympics anchor was sidelined with pink eye.