The risks of a deal are becoming more apparent as 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch prepares to sweeten the $80B offer that Time Warner rejected, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson observes in a thought-provoking report this morning. With memories of the AOL Time Warner debacle still fresh in their minds, Time Warner execs won’t accept a non-cash bid “unless it is wildly generous,” the analyst says. He hopes Fox draws the line at $100 a share, up from $85, but notes that Murdoch could go to $105 without losing his company’s investment-grade debt rating. Yet if he prevails at that price, then Fox would have little margin for error. And Nathanson warns that mega-mergers “are more complicated than the simplicity of adding two Excel spreadsheet models together.”
The bottom line is that Fox’s stock “is in purgatory”as long as Murdoch’s interest in Time Warner remains alive. And the legendary dealmaker may not be able to pull it off. “After initially believing that this deal gets done at $100 per share, we have our doubts that it will be done at all,” Nathanson says. Among his concerns:
What’s up with Chase Carey? The Fox COO is highly regarded on the Street, but his contract expires in mid-2016. Some shareholders “are nervous that this deal — and the value of [Fox's] stock — will fall short of expectations if Chase was to leave.” Read More »
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month. And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.
Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.
And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.) Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.
The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to … Read More »
With a giant banner looming over Comic-Con from the nearby Marriott and marketing all over the San Diego International Airport, Legends made a splash in its geekfest debut before a word was spoken or a clip was played on today’s panel. Not that the upcoming TNT spy thriller didn’t seal the deal with the 1,000 plus fans in Room 6A of the Convention Center – especially when the star Sean Bean showed up, kind of.
Before the short panel got under way, the audience was treated to a full preview of the first episode of the TNT show introduced by Bean himself. Via video, the actor apologized for not being at Comic-Con but joked that “maybe that’s a good thing” for the crowd’s safety as the former Game Of Thrones and Lord Of The Rings star is of course one of the most killed off actors around. “If you were me, one does not simply avoid death on a daily basis,” Bean deadpanned to howls from the fans in the room.
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Comic-Con 2014 officially opens today and tens of thousands are descending on San Diego to pick up their passes and prepare for four days of special screenings, studio and network panels, and previews. Having already hit the ground running, Deadline is here with Mike Fleming Jr leading our film coverage along with Jen, while Dominic and Anthony D’Alessandro handle the TV side. (Dominic will also be moderating FX’s Archer panel this year.)
Of course, veteran heavyweights like HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead will be packing the mammoth Hall H on the TV side. HBO’s True Blood, a longtime fave in its final season, is set to make its Comic-Con bow Saturday in Ballroom 20, as is Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which just wrapped its first season and has its panel this evening. Repping the big screen side, studios are putting their tentpole wares out there with presentations by Marvel and Warner Bros with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Mad Max: Fury Road among others.
Below we spotlight a few special events on the schedule that you don’t want to miss. (For the full TV and film lineups, go here and here.) Read More »
Once again it’s the networks that have poured big money into blanketing downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter in promo materials, with a few exceptions. Besides Showtime’s Penny Dreadful being on all the lanyards for the more than 130,000 attendees, here’s what’s greeting Comic-Congoers on the ground as Wednesday’s Preview Night kicks into gear ahead of the Thursday-to-Sunday rush (check back for more glimpses from geek ground zero throughout the week):
Related: Comic-Con 2013: TV Outrunning Film As Race To Blanket San Diego Hits High Gear (PHOTOS)
NBC’s Constantine (above) has a blazing standee of star Matt Ryan on display to get audiences used to seeing the Welsh thesp as DC Comics antihero John Constantine. Show debuts October 24. Elsewhere around Comic-Con’s downtown HQ, a massive banner for TNT’s August-premiering series Legends, starring Sean Bean and Ali Larter, has taken another chunk of prime eyeball real estate. Read More »
Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development) has joined the fourth season of ABC’s D.C. drama Scandal in a “top secret” recurring role. Her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, first tweeted the news. We’ll have to wait until Scandal returns on September 25 to find out what the role is.
De Rossi’s other TV credits include Better Off Ted, Nip/Tuck, and Ally McBeal.
Chance Kelly (Generation Kill) has been cast as recurring in NBC‘s upcoming series Aquarius, a gritty 1960s drama about a cop (David Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. Kelly, repped by Abrams Artists Agency, will play Officer Ed Cutler who works with Duchovny’s character at the LAPD. Kelly will also be recurring on TNT series Legends starring Sean Bean slated to premiere in August.
TLC is rolling out a new multimillion-dollar brand campaign and tagline, “Everyone needs a little TLC”, via print spreads and on-air spots across key media outlets nationwide, the network said today. They include People magazine, US Weekly, USA Network, E!, A&E, TNT, TBS, ABC Family, Dish and DirecTV as well as Discovery Communications’ portfolio of networks.
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Writer/producer/director John Fasano, best known for his work in the horror genre, died in his sleep Saturday night at the age of 52, his attorney Craig Baumgarten confirmed. No cause of death was available.
Fasano was nominated for a Writers Guild Award in 1996 for writing the teleplay for The Hunchback for TNT. He also had a hand in more than 40 other film and TV projects, including writing the hit Tom Selleck TV movie Stone Cold, Iraq war TV docudramas Saving Jessica Lynch and The Hunt for Saddam, and films including Alien 3, Meggido: The Omega Code 2, Darkness Falls and Another 48 Hours. Fasano also worked as a script doctor and screenwriting guest lecturer at AFI and the Writer’s Boot Camp. He was president of the screenwriting seminar at the Sony/Canal+ Equinoxe screenwriting seminar in France. He produced and directed several independent films, typically in the horror genre, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, Black Roses and The Jitters, all released in the 1980s.
Fasano, who was born Aug.24, 1961, had his first taste of filmmaking when his father, a friend of director John Cassavetes, brought him along on a visit to the set of Husbands, according to a frequently quoted story in articles about him. In high school, he worked on industrial films for IBM and other companies, and graduated from SUNY-Purchase with a degree in film. He initially worked as an editor or freelance editor for a variety of specialty magazines, but his work creating posters for exploitation films led … Read More »
TNT’s summer sci-fi drama Falling Skies has been renewed for a fifth and final season, and the network also gave a second-season order to freshman hit The Last Ship and a fourth-season pickup to Major Crimes. Falling Skies‘ final run will be for 10 episodes. TNT has ordered 13 episodes of Last Ship, an increase over its first-season order of 10 episodes. The network is also ordering 15 episodes of Major Crimes. Negotiations on a renewal of TNT’s top drama Rizzoli & Isles are underway, with that pickup expected soon. No decision yet on TNT’s other freshman drama, Murder in the First, which has not been as strong as Last Ship
I hear it was the producers’ wish to finish Falling Skies after five seasons as they felt that was the time they needed to wrap the story in the best possible way. For TNT, the pending loss of the demo rating dynamo would have been a big blow had it not been for the arrival of another breakout adventure drama, Michael Bay’s The Last Ship, which this summer, much like Rizzoli & Isles, came on just before previous TNT flagship, The Closer, wrapped its run. Falling Skies helped launch Last Ship much like The Closer launched Rizzoli & Isles. Last Ship has averaged more than 7.2 million viewers in Live + 7 and ranks as basic cable’s #1 scripted series this summer with adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 as well as also cable’s #1 new series for … Read More »
It’s a foregone conclusion now that something big will happen with Time Warner. Its stock wouldn’t be up 20% since yesterday morning — when Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s $80B June offer came to light – if investors thought that Time Warner’s rejection of it was the last word on the matter. Indeed, the stock closed today at $86.12, which means a lot of people are betting that Fox or someone else will top the $85 a share stock-and-cash proposal that Time Warner shunned.
But here’s the problem: Some of Wall Street’s top analysts don’t know who has the desire and wherewithal to wage a bidding war with Fox. If Time Warner seriously wants to escape Murdoch’s embrace, it might have to make a deal of its own — perhaps to buy CBS. Even if it did, “Time Warner would still have to make the argument that more value would be created by merging with CBS than by accepting Fox’s tender offer,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says.
What about other usual suspects who might covet Time Warner? Comcast and AT&T are out of the running as they pursue their acquisition deals with, respectively, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. Here are others that might conceivably kick the tires:
Disney: Hard to find anyone who thinks the company will jump in. Disney doesn’t need a big deal, especially with a “clear strategy that should play out over the last two years of Bob Iger’s contract,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. The CEO likes properties that appeal to targeted audiences that he can coax to attend Disney … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: TV and film director Carl Franklin, who’s up for an Emmy for helming the Season 2 opener of Netflix drama House Of Cards, has signed with Paradigm. He won the Indie Spirit Award for helming 1992 crime pic One False Move from a script by Billy Bob Thornton; last week Franklin earned his first Emmy nod for Outstanding Direction for House Of Cards episode “Chapter 14.” He was most recently on ICM’s client roster. Read More »
Peter Shinkoda has been tapped for a major recurring role in Netflix’s Marvel drama series Daredevil set to premiere in 2015. The series was written by executive producer Drew Goddard, with Steven S. DeKnight as executive producer/showrunner. Daredevil is the first of four 13-episode superhero series set in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. Shinkoda, repped by D2 Management and Characters Talent Agency, will play Hachiro. Shinkoda was a regular on TNT’s Falling Skies and recently guest-starred on Hawaii Five-O. His big screen credits include I Robot, Godzilla and Paycheck.
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Rupert Murdoch’s $80B offer for Time Warner makes two things clear: The much anticipated round of content company merger mania is here — and likely will include Time Warner even though it rejected the proposal from Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. And virtually no deal idea is too big or outlandish. One major question at this point is whether a large digital company such as Google will seize the opportunity to buy a major content company. Giants such as Fox and Time Warner want to defend the pay TV status quo — the lucrative bundle that requires subscribers to buy channels they don’t watch. If they become more powerful, then it could slow efforts by Internet companies to claim a piece of the giant ad pie that goes to TV.
Content company stock prices today reflect their new popularity. In addition to Time Warner (+15.6% at mid-day) we see Discovery +6.6%, Viacom +4.3%, Lionsgate +3.7%, AMC Networks +3.4%, and Scripps Networks +3.4%. “The urgency to find a ‘dance partner” will increase across the sector,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says. “Nobody wants to be the company that gets left out of the consolidation wave, and companies would rather control their own destinies.” What’s more, every investment banker in the world now smells opportunities to collect millions in fees if they can propose and facilitate deals.
Time Warner has two things that make it especially attractive. Read More »
They’re not quite ready to declare the production state of emergency in the City of Angels over, but today even the notorious pessimistic FilmLA saw things looking up – especially in the TV categories. A Q2 2014 report released by the nonprofit permitting group this morning said total on-location television production in LA County roared up 33.7% over the same quarter last year to 5,761 PPD. The report attributes the “ unseasonably strong” results to shifting production schedules as broadcasters get episode of shows like the upcoming TNT series, Legends in shape for summer airing. The news was nowhere near as good today when it came to feature film production in L.A. County this quarter compared to Q2 2013 but minimal ground was lost, which is a victory unto itself as the region as been hit so hard by runaway production in recent years. Quarter-to-quarter, year-to-year, Q2 2014 dipped 5.3% from Q2 2013 to 1,665 PPD. That reasonably steady result gets a bit sour when you look at Q1 2014. That quarter saw a 24.2% rise compared to the year before for features. However, this quarter, both features and TV production exceed their respective 5-year quarterly average with the former up a mere 0.1% while the latter rocketed up 34.0%.
Of course, doing a little bit more math, those 5-year quarterly averages hold extra significance when they’re noted in this latest report. It was half a decade ago back in 2009 … Read More »
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s 24: Live Another Day finale.
Amidst a near-war with China, a sword-induced beheading, a time shift and the loss of a longtime character, tonight’s finale on Fox of 24: Live Another Day could have seen the final curtain come down on Kiefer Sutherland’s anti-terrorism agent, says the series’ former showrunner. “We certainly tried out a lot of different endings and we rearranged the furniture every which way in the room,” reveals LAD EP Howard Gordon of the limited-event series and Jack Bauer’s fate. “So we knew what it looked like for other characters to have met with different ends and we tried them all on, up to and including Jack himself. This has always been a show that is really about the days and the life of this man and no day is probably as intense as a person’s last day. So killing Jack was something that was intriguing to us all but it had to be done just right. And that didn’t present itself to us,” the EP adds.
Related: Photo Gallery: The Best Of ‘24’ & Jack Bauer
What ultimately did present itself for the one-hour finale was the death of Audrey Boudreau, a character on the show since its fourth season in 2005 played by Kim Raver. “This was a really challenging decision to make and a difficult one to make because she was a such a … Read More »
Wednesday, July 23 — Preview Night
6-10 PM, Ballroom 20
Warner Bros. TV Pilot Screening: Constantine, The Flash, iZombie, Teen Titans Go!
Thursday, July 24
10-11 AM, Ballroom 20
Fox’s 24: Kiefer Sutherland, EP Jon Cassar returns to Comic-Con to show off highlights from 24: Live Another Day.
10:30-11:30 AM, Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront
Legends Of TV Land: Betty White (The Golden Girls, Hot in Cleveland) and other TV celebs will answer questions about their work and making history on television. Sneak peek of animated episode of Hot in Cleveland, airing July 30th.
Related: ‘Star Wars – Episode VII’ Not Presenting at Comic-Con 2014
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Morning Report, Friday, July 11
'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is off to a strong start with more than $4 million in Thursday late-night showings, J.C. Chandor is in talks to helm a movie about the 2010 oil rig disaster off the Gulf Coast, and in a Comic-Con first, TNT is plastering images of its new series 'Legends' all over San Diego's airport. Deadline's Dominic Patten reports.
Box Office Preview: ‘Boyhood’ Playing Strong As ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Grabs $4.1M In Thursday Late Nights
J.C. Chandor To Helm ‘Deepwater Horizon’, Gulf Oil Rig Explosion Survival Tale
Comic-Con: San Diego Airport White Zone For Loading, Unloading And TNT’s ‘Legends’ Only
Network and studio marketers have been buying up every bit of space they can in San Diego to promote their wares at Comic-Con. TNT has managed to find a pristine place though to promote its new Sean Bean-starring drama series Legends: the airport. The takeover of San Diego International Airport the week of July 21 will include Legends imagery and messaging at baggage claim carousels, escalators and skyway bridges. That will be in addition to traditional promos including Gaslamp Quarter billboards.
Last year’s marketing blitzes around town during Comic-Con included a massive Helix banner from Syfy that wrapped around the Marriott Hotel next to the San Diego Convention Center, and ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. signage on train cars.
TNT’s confab lineup this year includes summer hit The Last Ship – that marketing push includes a party aboard the USS Midway at the city’s Navy Pier — and Falling Skies. The former’s panel is July 24 at 1:45 PM in Room 6A of the convention center and the latter’s is the next day at 4:30 PM in Room 6BCF.
The Legends panel Thursday at the convention center includes cast Ali Larter, Morris Chestnut and Tina Majorino with executive producers Howard Gordon and David Wilcox. The session will open with a screening of the first episode of the series ahead of its August 13 premiere.
Sean Bean may be the most killed off actor working today. By some accounts, he’s been hanged, shot, and otherwise whacked about 25 times. He’s even compiled a list of My Top 5 Death Scenes. Now, he’s starring in a new TNT series, Legends, debuting next month, playing an undercover agent working for the FBI’s Deep Cover Operations division. TV critics attending a Q&A session for the show at Summer TV Press Tour 2014 naturally wondered how long he’d last on the series– especially given that TNT had distributed T-shirts with the hashtag #DoneKillSeanBean before he took the stage.
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