Drafthouse Films‘ Evan Husney is stepping down from his post as Creative Director after nearly three years at the upstart distribution label. New York-based Husney, 27, will be shifting focus to producing and is working with directors Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) and Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm) on their next features. Husney helped develop the specialty distro arm of Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas from the ground up when company founder Tim League tapped him to run creative ops in 2011. Shortly thereafter Drafthouse Films scored an Academy Award nomination with one of its first acquisitions, director Michaël R. Roskam’s Belgian drama Bullhead, which vied for Best Foreign Film at the 2012 Oscars. Last year Husney and the Drafthouse team mounted their second Oscar campaign in three years for Best Documentary nominee The Act of Killing, director Josh Oppenheimer’s critically-acclaimed documentary about Indonesian death squad leaders.
Related: Drafthouse Films Embracing Risks With Genocide Doc ‘Act Of Killing’
Since its inception the label has acquired a variety of specialty releases spanning genre, action, drama, comedy, foreign, and repertory titles, plucking often-challenging fare from the lineups of Austin’s Fantastic Fest (which League founded) and SXSW. “When [Drafthouse Films] started we wanted to acquire movies we loved and films we thought are great, utilize our backgrounds as programmers and approach distribution with a curatorial quality – a real cinephiles for cinephiles label,” Husney told me. Read More »
“Precious Salem — caught up in the stinking witch panic.” Indeed. Here’s the loud and violent two-minute trailer for WGN America‘s first scripted series. The producers took some flak over the fuzzy math in its reinterpretation of the actual events of 1692, but what Salem imagines is simply this: The witches were real. And they were in charge. The series from Fox21 and creators Brannon Braga and Adam Simon premieres at 10 PM Sunday. Have a look — if you dare (evil laughter):
CBS is understandably over the moon that it’s landed Stephen Colbert as its new late-night star. With Colbert as its date, the network so long treated by the media as a dinosaur, an afterthought or a curiosity (as in, “Golly gosh, can you believe how many people watch NCIS?”) has, overnight become the hottest girl at the whole damned dance.
Related: Stephen Colbert Reacts To ‘Late Show’ Hire
Colbert will retire his Comedy Central conservative windbag character — who he has previously described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” — and become Actual Stephen Colbert when he takes over as host of Late Show With Stephen Colbert. It’s devastating news for Bill O’Reilly and other conservative TV and radio talking heads who counted on Colbert for material about which to fume and foment. The character looms so large in the talk-show world that Colbert today felt compelled to issue a statement about Faux Colbert’s coming demise, saying: “I won’t be doing the new show in character, so we’ll all get to find out how much of him was me. I’m looking forward to it.” CBS Corp chairman Leslie Moonves said it’s unclear how the CBS late-night show will be configured with Colbert as host; in an interview with Deadline today, he expressed no concern about the fictitious character his new star has been playing on the comedy network since 2005.
Related: David Letterman On Stephen Colbert’s Hire
Asked when would be David Letterman‘s last day as Late Show host and Colbert’s first day, Moonves said no decision had been made and reiterated that the end date was Dave’s to decide.
Related: CBS’ Late-Night Drama Not Over Yet Despite Practically Perfect Stephen Colbert Hire
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FX Networks CEO John Landgraf today threw his hat in the debate over what constitutes a drama series and a miniseries for Emmy consideration and whether an hourlong series can enter as a comedy, challenging the TV Academy to stiffen its criteria and create stricter category guidelines.
FX anthology series American Horror Story shook up the Emmy landscape three years ago when it opted to submit itself as a miniseries, not a drama series. The race was jolted again this year when HBO’s True Detective took the opposite stance, identifying itself as a drama series. “In our minds this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Deadline last week.
Landgraf today defended the network’s decision to submit AHS as a miniseries, objected to HBO’s decision to have True Detective compete as drama series, and called on the TV Academy to better define its categories. “I don’t think it’s cynical to enter AHS as a miniseries,” he said. “I don’t look at it that way. The definition should be a miniseries has a story that ends, a series has a story that continues on.” Landgraf argued that limited series have the advantage to attract bigger-caliber actors, like True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as well as Billy Bob Thornton who toplines FX’s limited series Fargo. “It’s unfair for HBO to get actors that you can’t normally get to do a series who would do a close-ended show and pack the (drama actor) category. That is patently unfair to people like (The Americans’) Matthew Rhys who signed for seven years.” Right now, TV Academy defines shows like AHS and True Detective as having “dual eligibility,” with the series producers left to decide in which of the two categories they are eligible for they would compete.
Related: FX & FXX To Double Original Output, ‘Simpsons’ To Debut On FXX With A Bang, ‘Americans’ Nears Season 3 Renewal
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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.
Related: EMMYS: John Landgraf Calls For Tougher Category Rules, Says ‘True Detective’s Entry As Drama Series “Unfair”
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.”
Related: Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton & Charlie Day Ink Big New 3-Year Deal With FX Prods
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More than two dozen network-affiliated Hearst Television stations went dark on the satcaster tonight after the sides hit a wall in their retransmission talks. Dish Network‘s carriage deal with Hearst TV expired March 1, but the parties had extended the deadline to tonight at 7 PM Pacific. The blackout affects more than two dozen Hearst stations including ABC affil WCVB in Boston, the nation’s No. 7 TV market, and outlets in top 25 markets Sacramento, Pittsburgh and Tampa, FL. It comes the same day that the Weather Channel and satellite giant DirecTV settled their carriage dispute and seven months after Time Warner Cable and CBS settled their bitter retrans fight.
Related: FCC Chairman Eyes Limits On Local TV Alliances For Retrans Deals
EXCLUSIVE: Will Les Moonves have to install a party line? One day after getting a call from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio urging the CBS boss to keep Late Show in the City That Never Sleeps after David Letterman steps down next year, I’ve learned that Moonves got a call today from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Film Czar Ken Ziffren imploring him to bring the late-night franchise to the West Coast. The three spoke this afternoon, I’m told.
Related: NYC Mayor Called Les Moonves Directly To Keep Post-Letterman ‘Late Show’ In Big Apple
Of course, this isn’t the first time Garcetti has tried to persuade Moonves to put the City of Angels in his late-night future. On the day Letterman announced that he would be retiring in 2015, the SAG-AFTRA card-carrying mayor wrote to the CBS chief on the matter of Letterman’s successor and where that show would be located. “I am excited for the opportunity to encourage you to bring CBS’ next late-night show to our city — the entertainment capital of the world,” Garcetti wrote to Moonves on April 3.
Related: David Letterman Through The Years: Video
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Fourth in a series.
Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia
With all its car crashes, explosions, and hair-raising stunts, the film and TV industry is a notoriously dangerous business. But your chances of getting killed while making a movie go up dramatically the minute you step foot inside a helicopter. Indeed, helicopter crashes have taken more lives on film sets than any other type of accident in modern times. Since 1980, 33 film and TV workers — nearly one a year — have been killed in helicopter accidents around the world, 14 in the U.S. and 15 more for American companies shooting abroad.
Related: Safety On Set: Camera Crew Outnumber Stunt Personnel 4-To-1 In On-Set Deaths
In the 1980s, two crashes alone — both being shot on the cheap in the Philippines by the same production company — claimed nine lives in the span of just two years. The ’80s were by far the deadliest decade for helicopter crashes on movie sets, accounting for all but five of the 31 helicopter-related film and TV production fatalities in the last 34 years. The list:
Related: Safety On Set: Three Workers Speak Out
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After three seasons in Charlotte, NC, Showtime drama Homeland is leaving the US to film its fourth season in Cape Town, South Africa. The end of Season 3 found Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) taking a job as a station chief in Istanbul. Showtime wouldn’t specify where exactly Mathison would work as the new season is still being mapped out, only saying that she is being “assigned to one of the most volatile and dangerous CIA stations in the Middle East where she is back on the front lines in the war on terror.” At TCA in January, Showtime president David Nevins already shed light on the setup for Season 4 with Mathison in the field overseas. “Homeland is a show that is deeply about a field operative (Carrie), and we haven’t seen her much in the field,” he said. “In Season 4 you will likely see her on the ground in a foreign capital doing her job,” adding that co-star Mandy Patinkin will continue to be “central and important” to the show. Read More »
Burbank may have recently lost NBC’s The Tonight Show to NYC after 40 years, but LA’s mayor now wants CBS to make the City of Angels the home of the replacement to Late Show With David Letterman. In a letter today to CBS boss Les Moonves after David Letterman announced that he will retire next year, Mayor Eric Garcetti urged him “to bring CBS’ next late night show to our city.” With shows and features deserting LA in droves in the past decade, Garcetti has made stabilizing and increasing film & TV production in the city a top priority for his still fairly new administration. The mayor created a Film Czar office and has been advocating an expansion of California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program. Having said that, LA still has some late-night skin in the game with Letterman’s lead-out Craig Ferguson, Conan O’Brien’s TBS show, Arsenio Hall, and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, but getting CBS to set down more post-primetime roots here would be a real though unlikely coup for the city post-Letterman. Here is Garcetti’s full letter to Moonves:
L.A. Mayor, Production Alliance Cheer New Film/TV Tax Credit Legislation
Watch David Letterman Announce His Retirement
David Letterman Through The Years: Video
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This was a subtle contrast to last year when the company also highlighted scripted fare and trotted out a parade of celebrities including Mariel Hemingway, Morgan Freeman, William Hurt, LaToya Jackson, and NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon. Filmmaker Ron Howard was perhaps the biggest new name showing up this year: He told Discovery advertisers that New Form — the online content production venture he and Brian Grazer are launching with the pay TV company — expects to “generate great scripted programming for today’s digital viewers.” They’re already weighing “several series” as they delve into “shortform content and all its possibilities.” Howard also intends to encourage other creative types to “bring their talent to New Form.” Oprah Winfrey returned, of course, to promote OWN. With its recent ratings success, “no one is happier than we are right now about what is happening to OWN.” She says the network is heading toward its “next evolution” with its first original scripted movie with Toni Braxton playing legendary studio singer Darlene Love, the focus of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. She also brought out Tyler Perry for a second year; he talked up his soap opera The Haves And The Have Nots.
Related: Discovery Channel Unveils New Slate
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The Weather Channel doesn’t think so, even though the No. 1 satellite service dropped it on January 14.“We have resumed discussions with DirecTV and hope to resolve our differences,” says Weather Channel rep Shirley Powell. But DirecTV strengthened its bargaining position today by reaching a multi-year agreement to offer WeatherNation. The deal “ensures our customers will have a service that is fully committed to providing all weather related information all the time,” DirecTV Chief Content Officer Dan York says. “The overwhelmingly positive comments we’ve been receiving from customers made the decision to extend our agreement easy and expedient.”
Related: TWC Pushing Public Safety Image After DirecTV Blackout
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SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s episode of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
We knew S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Sitwell was in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but tonight on ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. we learned how he got there. Is this the crossover between the TV series and the about-to-be-released big-screen sequel that Marvel’s been teasing fans about for weeks? Nobody’s talking in secretive Marveland, but in a sense the truth was already out there – though probably only the hardcore fanboys picked up on it tonight. Amidst all the usual S.H.I.E.L.D. high-tech shenanigans and drama, tonight’s episode, titled “End Of The Beginning,” opened with a number of agents from the superspy org gathering along with the show’s regular team. Among them is Agent Hand, who was on the series earlier in the season; Agent Blake, who was introduced in the direct-to-video Marvel One-Shot Item 47; and the bespectacled Agent Sitwell.
Related: PaleyFest: ‘S.H.I.E.L.D’ Teases ‘Captain America’ Crossover
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DirecTV will be adapting Peter Ackerman‘s play Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight as its first original comedy series. The satcaster has given a 10-episode order to the project, which will start filming in May for a premiere on Audience Network later this year. This is DirecTV’s third original series, following dramas Rogue, which returns for Season 2 next month, and Full Circle, which was based on Neil LaBute scripts. Penned by Ackerman, Things You Shouldn’t Say is set in Los Angeles and examines a variety of modern-day relationships through the conceit that nothing good happens after midnight. It comes from DirecTV’s go-to producer, Nick Hamm of Momentum TV, who also was involved in Rogue and Full Circle.
On How I Met Your Mother‘s last day of production a month ago, Dana Walden — chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox TV, which produces the long-running series — was meeting with the big boss, 21st Century Fox chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, in his office. She mentioned HIMYM was wrapping that day and, in the middle of their meeting Murdoch said, “I want to go over and say hallo.” He walked to the set and thanked creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the cast and the crew “for all of the great work they have done.” “For a show to provoke that kind of response from Rupert, it speaks to how important that show has been to the company,” Walden said.
If such a gesture from the head of a global conglom might come as a surprise, it is probably because HIMYM, which wraps its nine-season run tonight on CBS, has flown largely under the radar. HIMYM hasn’t been a blockbuster ratings hit like The Big Bang Theory, hasn’t made headlines with a record-breaking syndication deal like 2 Broke Girls, and hasn’t been an awards darling like Modern Family, never landing an Emmy in the major categories. But it broke ground, pushing the limits of the traditional multi-camera sitcom with a new production model and heavy serialization that helped it attract younger (18-34) viewers, something very few multi-cam comedies have been able to do in the past decade as young audiences have been largely shunning the format in favor of edgier single-camera fare.
Multi-camera comedies had tried employing shorter scenes before, most notably NBC’s Seinfeld. But Bays and Thomas’ pilot script for How I Met Your Mother called for a pace that had not been achieved before. It included a whopping 59 scenes, plus freeze frames with narration, whip pans, a split screen scene and a montage. That’s not how you normally see in a multi-camera sitcom, which is what CBS had bought in HIMYM. But then, Carter and Bays didn’t quite know normal. The young writers were recent transplants to Los Angeles and primetime after a stint at CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman. They had only worked for a couple of very short-lived comedy series and had never developed before HIMYM. “This was new to them, and they didn’t know the limitations of what they can and cannot do, so they wrote what was in their heads,” Walden said. Read More »
ABC has pulled the plug on midseason drama Mind Games after five low-rated airings. For the next two weeks, the network will use the Tuesday 10 PM slot for extra sampling of its promising midseason Sunday drama Resurrection, which will air repeats in the slot. Beginning April 15, ABC will launch Season 3 of utility player Celebrity Wife Swap in the q0 PM hour. The writing has been on the wall since Mind Games debuted to a 1.1 demo rating only two days after ABC’s Oscar telecast, where the procedural starring Christian Slater and Steve Zahn was promoted. It dived to a 0.6 in its second week, matching that rating again this Tuesday when it was hampered by the the lack of original lead-in. Mind Games became the third ABC drama casualty in the Tuesday 10 PM slot this season, joining cancelled freshmen Lucky 7 and Killer Women.
TCA: ‘Mind Games’ Challenges TV Critics
2014 ABC Pilots
Community creator and exec producer Dan Harmon told Deadline tonight at the PaleyFest that there’s still no word about a sixth-season order from NBC, but it’s conceivable the cult comedy could have a future via new VOD models such as Netflix and Hulu should the Peacock not include it as part of its 2014-2015 season. “I think that we’re old reliable, like a Tupperware in the fridge,” Harmon said about NBC’s silence about a renewal. “We’ll find out when the network is the hungriest.” Harmon said he’s heard “whispers from dark corners” about the possibility of Community being resurrected through a streaming format, should NBC completely deep-six the comedy series. The creator gives props to Sony, the studio that fired him after Season 3 then brought him back for Season 5, for recognizing the cult appeal of Community should this occur: “No one is better than Sony when it comes to recognizing a property. If they have something that’s worth anything, that has an opportunity to recoup and profit, it’s Sony.”
TCA: Harmon Sure NBC And Sony “Meant No Harm” When They Sacked Him
Harmon Apologizes for Slamming ‘Community’ Season 4 and Sony Bosses
He added: “There seems like there’s a space where we could do something; one can go to Hulu or Netflix. It’s a new business model. Should Community continue on a streaming platform, well, that’s an adjustment Harmon will need to make. “Whether [streaming] is the best for Community, I don’t know. It’s a network sitcom. It’s like, ‘Let’s take this sonnet that didn’t work for everyone and turn it into a limerick,” he said.
Related: Harmon Rallies for Season 6 And A Movie At Comic-Con Read More »