The heralded, award-winning 28-year-old franchise will begin to chronicle not only American masters but also “emerging American masters,” Michael Kantor said in a New York Times interview — industry speak for “targeting younger viewers.” The franchise will stop emphasizing important cultural figures important to the baby boom generation, Kantor told NYT, which got first crack at the news. The series will redefine the word “masters” to include profiles of people in industry. Ditto science. That said, the series already has profiled Albert Einstein, as well as I.M. Pei, Billie Jean King, Walter Cronkite, etc. — in addition to more traditional subjects such as Arthur Miller, Georgia O’Keeffe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Poitier, Judy Garland, John James Audubon, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
Susan Lacy, who created American Masters in 1986, left to join HBO in September.
Related: ‘American Masters’ Creator Susan Lacy Departs PBS For HBO
Read More »
On Thursday, Thierry Frémaux will unveil the lineup for the 67th running of the Cannes Film Festival. Speculation, comme d’habitude, has been rife for at least the past month as to which titles may make the trip to the Croisette. While one exec with movies in contention says, “It’s going to the wire this year,” some contenders are coming into sharper focus. Although nothing is confirmed until Frémaux says so, among the titles I hear consistently cited as near faits-accomplis are DreamWorks Animation‘s How To Train Your Dragon 2; the Dardenne brothers’ Two Days, One Night with Marion Cotillard; Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher; Mike Leigh‘s Mr Turner; Tommy Lee Jones‘ The Homesman; and David Cronenberg‘s Maps To The Stars. There are many, many more required to fill the Competition, Out-of-Competition, Un Certain Regard, Special Screenings and other sections. Here’s a primer for what’s looking likely, and what isn’t, to make the cut in an official category on Thursday:
Related: Cannes: 67th Fest Poster Celebrates Marcello Mastroianni In Fellini’s ‘8 1/2’
We know that Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco is the opening-night film. French distributor Gaumont is planning a classic Cannes soirée which will follow the official screening and dinner on May 14. In other certainties, French debut feature Party Girl is opening the Un Certain Regard sidebar; a less showy title than 2013’s Bling Ring, but one that fits with UCR jury president Pablo Trapero’s take on the section this year. Jane Campion, the only woman ever to win a Palme d’Or (for The Piano in 1993), is president of the Competition jury whose other members will be revealed shortly.
Among the high-profile Hollywood titles expected is DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon sequel, which I hear is getting a special screening. The studio isn’t commenting, but DWA and Cannes have a long history – going back to when Frémaux took over the selection in 2001 and caused a stir by putting Shrek in the Competition. We’ve heard that Frémaux has put a full-court press on Paul Thomas Anderson to get Inherent Vice (Warner Bros) to the festival. But with a release date at the end of 2014, this could be a long shot, and some I’ve spoken with believe it won’t be ready for next month. Some wonder if Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys could make the trip. Eastwood has been to Cannes several times before and is esteemed by Frémaux who gave him the inaugural Lumière Prize in 2009 at the October festival he oversees in Lyon with Bertrand Tavernier. Although I’m told Jersey Boys isn’t a typical Cannes film, I wouldn’t fully rule it out — it’s also got a timely June release. Read More »
Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society, and Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, today completed the sweeping changes at the top of the National Geographic Channels that started yesterday with the announcement that the channels’ president Howard Owens will be leaving in June. “Today, the worst kept secret is over — I am taking my leave as CEO of National Geographic Channels,” David Lyle, who had served as National Geographic Channels CEO since 2011, wrote in an internal memo (read it in full below the post.). “I am exhilarated but somewhat saddened also.” Lyle will be replaced by a marketing executive, Courteney Monroe, who has served as Chief Marketing Officer for National Geographic Channels’ domestic networks since 2012 and is now being upped to CEO. She will report to the Board of Directors of the National Geographic Channels. Additionally, David Hill, Senior EVP of 21st Century Fox and a member of the National Geographic Channels Board of Directors, will now add the title of Chairman of National Geographic Channels U.S. His role is described as “providing counsel to the executive and programming leadership team.” Coming from marketing, Monroe has no production experience. Hill, who had an oversight of NGC prior to Lyle’s 2011 hire, will remain a member of the NGC Board and also continue to oversee production of American Idol.
The moves continue to expand the domain of Hill, who is one of Rupert Murdoch’s trusted lieutenants. In 2012, the long-time chairman and CEO of Fox Sports was elevated to senior EVP for News Corp. Then last summer, following the departure of Fox alternative chief Mike Darnell, he was put in charge of the network’s The X Factor and American Idol. Since then, X Factor has been cancelled while American Idol is finishing up its lowest-rated season. Meanwhile, the National Geographic Channels have done very well under Lyle and Owens. “I’m exhilarated that NGC and NG WILD are in rude health with EBITDAs (profits) at all-time highs, and with programming featuring the most watched specials, series and year in the channels’ history,” Lyle wrote in his memo. That makes the executive housecleaning puzzling. It follows speculation about a discord between Hill and NGC’s leadership team of Lyle and Owens who turned the network around in the past three years. When Hill gave up direct oversight of NGC in 2011, the move was explained with a clash of cultures between him and the team at National Geographic.
Read More »
TV in general pretty much underperformed Sunday night, but the season premieres of Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock Inside Man both surged over their previous season bows by double digits. The 9 PM Season 3 opener of Bourdain’s hybrid foodie travelogue — which visited Punjab, India — posted 325,000 persons 25-54, according to Nielsen’s Live+SD numbers, up 34% over last season’s September 15 bow. Parts Unknown was up against competition that included HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which snagged 6.3M viewers, Oscar nominee Spurlock’s episode at 10 PM, which saw him step into the role of paparazzo, drew 244,000 viewers in the demo — topping last year’s series premiere by 11%. The time slot wins are some welcome good news for CNN, which had which just suffered through one of the worst primetime quarters in its history. The network said last week that Parts Unknown and Inside Man are among the docu-type original series that are replacing Piers Morgan in the 9 PM weeknight slot.
Related: ‘SNL’: The CNN Breaking News Pregnancy Test
EXCLUSIVE: TV Land has given a 12-episode series order to Younger, the single-camera comedy pilot written and executive produced by Sex And the City creator Darren Star. The show, starring Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff, Debi Mazar and Miriam Shor, will premiere in the fall. It will be the first TV Land series to be produced in New York where Star’s signature HBO series also was set and filmed. “There’s nothing better than making a single-camera film comedy in New York – and I’m thrilled to be doing this one with TV Land,” Star said.
Based on the novel by Pamela Redmond Satran, Younger follows 40-year old Liza (Foster), a suddenly single mother who tries to get back into the working world, only to find it’s nearly impossible to start at the bottom at her age. When a chance encounter with a young guy at a bar convinces her she looks younger than she is, Liza tries to pass herself off as 26 – with the help of a makeover, courtesy of her best friend Maggie (Mazar). Armed with new confidence, she lands a job as an assistant to the temperamental Diana (Shor) and teams up with her new co-worker and twentysomething Kelsey (Duff) to make it in the career of her dreams. Now she just has to make sure no one finds out the secret only … Read More »
Aasif Mandvi is expanding his role on the new HBO half-hour comedy series The Brink. The Daily Show correspondent has a co-starring role on the show, directed by Jay Roach and executive produced by Jerry Weintraub. In addition to that, he now will serve as a writer/co-producer on the series. Additionally, his memoir No Man’s Land, an account of a second-generation immigrant’s search for meaning and identity in an increasingly confusing world, will be published in October.
Related: 2014 HBO Pilots Read More »
Hell On Wheels alumna Dominique McElligott is set for a starring role in ABC’s 10-episode drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s non-fiction book and directed by Nick Cassavetes, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. CAA-repped McElligott will play Louise Shepard, a real life “Sabrina” whose father was the head of maintenance at the Duponts’ Longwood Gardens estate. She struggles to uphold her “perfect” image and her complicated marriage once her husband Alan becomes the first American in space. Louise and Alan had one of the few marriages that survived the space program, staying together for 53 years. Originally scheduled to launch this summer, the series was recently pushed to midseason as its scope has been expanded from covering only the wives of the astronauts from the Mercury missions to also including the Gemini and Apollo missions, which also are profiled in the book.
UPDATE: Our commenters have been beating on me like I owe them money for spoiling the ending of this episode and not immediately blaring spoiler alerts. I had this thing mostly written, meant to store it when a Brad Pitt break came over the transom but hit publish before it was properly polished with disclaimers. I am truly sorry if I spoiled the episode for anyone. I thought it was fair game after reading recaps all over about the events of this episode (and every other hot show such as The Good Wife, Vikings, Sons Of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, take your pick) after a major character is axed. But I’ll know better to be more careful next time.
Related: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Draws 6.3 Million Viewers To Shocker; ‘Silicon Valley’ & ‘Veep’ Steady
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of Sunday’s episode of Game Of Thrones.
When I first saw the death of the cruel in-bred King Joffrey on Game Of Thrones a month ago, I paused it after that final scene, high-fived my son, and then we watched the scene again three times. When I told this last week to show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (the architects of the George R.R. Martin book adaptation), they tried to temper my enthusiasm going into last night’s episode. We were talking about their feature deal at Fox to write/direct the Stephen Hunter novel Dirty White Boys, but I had to start with Joffrey, and how they played his shocking, and shockingly satisfying, demise. “Didn’t you feel at least a little badly for him,” Benioff asked. “No,” I said. “I could have watched his death scene last the whole episode.” Said Weiss: “But the way we look at it, the actor who plays Joffrey, Jack Gleeson, is such a good guy, and now we don’t get to work with him anymore.” Me: “Sorry for Jack, but that last shot, the bulging eyes, spittle and snot and blood coming out of that nasty little face, I’d wear that on a T-shirt.” They warmed to this idea: “You could do that, and the front could say ‘Spoiler alert,’ and then you have the picture of a dying Joffrey on the back,” Benioff said. Added Weiss: “You could make a whole line of those spoiler T-shirts.”
Related: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Director Talks Shocking Episode, Teases Season 4 Finale
Read More »
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s episode of Game Of Thrones.
If you’re searching for an understatement, rock royalty Queen’s “another one bites the dust” could sum up the events of tonight’s Game Of Thrones. But it wasn’t just anyone who bites the dust: it was a King who was killed on the second episode of the blockbuster HBO series’ fourth season. Granted it was a crazed sadistic boy King whom no one besides his mother/sister loved, but it was a death early in the season that most shows would have saved for a finale. However, as fans familiar with the books by George R.R. Martin on which the HBO fantasy drama are based know, the blood soaked Red Wedding that served as the shocking penultimate episode of Season 3 of GoT was just the opening act for the poisoning of Joffrey at the Purple Wedding in tonight’s episode. Joffrey’s death is quickly succeeded by the accusation that his uncle Tyrion Lannister (played by Peter Dinklage) is the murderer and from that, the fallout will follow for the rest of the season – a season that started on April 6 with record high viewership. In short, intrigue and bloodshed have been taken to a whole new level on a show already drenched in both.
Spoiler Alert: Was ‘Game Of … Read More »
Only Lovers Left Alive held sway among Specialty newcomers this weekend, scoring the weekend’s highest average in a fairly crowded box office. The film starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston grossed nearly $97K in four theaters, averaging $24,244. Crowds packed the 268-seat Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center Friday night where director Jim Jarmusch took part in a Q&A for the 7pm screening of the film (he gave a rather interesting theory on William Shakespeare not being the author of his work). The weekend results for Lovers outperformed Jarmusch’s previous 2009 feature The Limits Of Control, which averaged $18,607 in three theaters when it opened in May of that year. It went on to cume over $426K domestically. Broken Flowers which starred Bill Murray, Sharon Stone and Julie Delpy had a slightly higher PTA launch, averaging $28,904 in 27 theaters when it opened in August 2005. The Focus Features release went on to total over $13.744M in the U.S.
“It’s a great start, people really seemed to love the film,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker Sunday. SPC will open Only Lovers Left Alive in New York and L.A. this weekend, expanding to San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C. the following week before heading to the top 50 markets through spring.
TWC opened The Railway Man in several locations, grossing $64,506 for an so-so $16,127 average. “We’re off to a respectable start on Railway Man,” said TWC president of Theatrical Distribution Erik Lomis Sunday. “Our exit information confirmed [what we thought]. It was a mostly an older audience. There’s some images that are disturbing, but it’s very relevant today with current events in Fort Hood. What we learned from the U.K. and Australia was that the midweek grosses were about as good as the weekends. So we’re just going to let it roll. Read More »
The 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were held tonight at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, honoring 12 of their 29 media categories, with comedian Ross Mathews hosting. Previously announced honorees include Jennifer Lopez, who received the Vanguard Award, a kudo that honors artists and media professionals whose work has increased the profile and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions is behind the ABC Family series The Fosters, which portrays a blended family with lesbian parents. Also Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox was presented with the Stephen F. Kolzak award by Oscar-nominated actress Ellen Page. The honor, named after a casting director who was a LGBT crusader, is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. The GLAAD Media Awards honor those who display a fair, accurate and inclusive representation of the LGBT community and their issues. Additional awards will be presented at the org’s New York City event on Saturday, May 3.
Related: The 25th Annual GLAAD Media Award Nominees
Announced winners tonight include:
Pioneer Award (presented by Wilson Cruz)
Vanguard Award (presented by Rita Moreno)
Stephen F. Kolzak Award (presented by Ellen Page)
Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black
International Advocate for Change Award
Manny de Guerre, founder of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia
TIE: Bridegroom … Read More »
With less than a month until the upfronts, we’re kicking off our annual Pilot Buzz series. As usual, the first edition only includes a limited number of projects that have been garnering early attention as many pilots are still filming. So, if a pilot is not mentioned, it probably means it is too early to weigh in or the feedback I’ve received is inconclusive at this time.
Shonda Rhimes. Viola Davis. Need we say more? ABC’s sexy suspense legal thriller How To Get Away With Murder, executive produced by Rhimes and starring Davis, is packing some heat early on. Secret & Lies starring Ryan Phillippe also is getting encouraging early response. It also has a seven-figure penalty and is directed by Charles McDougall, whose strong pilot record includes Desperate Housewives, The Good Wife and most recently, Resurrection last season. Then there is Marvel’s stealth Agent Carter project. Last year, the company went into Fort Knox mode on its Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, which was kept under lock and key. They took that a notch further this year with Agent Carter. Because there is a prototype — the project is inspired by a one shot, which was featured on the Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3 — word has been that it would forgo a pilot and go straight to series. The script was finished more than three months ago (“the script is great,” ABC’s Paul Lee said back in January), the option on one-shot’s star Hayley Atwell came up and was extended, but the green light never came. Now there is talk that a pickup for Agent Carter may come along with a renewal for Marvel’s freshman Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the new series possibly serving as a bridge between the fall and spring portions of S.H.I.E.L.D. Also getting various level of early traction at ABC is mystery Sea of Fire and several dark horses, alien drama The Whispers (aka The Visitors), medical drama The Warriors and mystery Clementine. Read More »
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. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ann Peacock is staying in Africa for her next writing gig, signing on to pen the feature adaptation of Asher Naim‘s 2003 book Saving The Lost Tribe: The Rescue And Redemption Of The Ethiopian Jews. First Born Films has optioned the book and life rights to Naim, the one-time Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia. The book tells the true story of the rescue and redemption of the black Jews of Ethiopia, known as the Falashas, who in May 1991 with the country devolving into a brutal civil war were airlifted to Jerusalem by the Israeli air force in a plan Naim helped hatch that involved paying off brutal Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Meriam and raising cash mostly from the U.S. Jewish community. About 14,000 Falashas made the trip over the course of 25 harrowing hours in a coordinated effort known as Operation Solomon. The book’s main themes focused on the Falashas’ struggle to endure more than 3,000 years in Ethiopia amid famine and tribal wars and the true meaning of faith and identity.
Peacock, who is South African, has a diverse set of adaptations on her resume that includes her first pic, HBO’s A Lesson Before Dying, which won the Outstanding TV Movie Emmy in 1999 as well as the writing Emmy for her. She also adapted the first Chronicles of Narnia film based on the C.S. Lewis book series, Nicolas Sparks’ novel Nights In Rodanthe starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane and Valerie Tripp’s Kit Kittredge books into the 2008 feature starring Abigail Breslin. Peacock’s latest credit is also set in Africa: 2011′s The First Grader, the BBC Films pic based on the true story of an 84-year-old Kenyan and ex-Mau Mau freedom fighter who goes to school for the first time. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Voltage Films has set Jane Fonda and Bruce Greenwood to join Fathers And Daughters, the Gabriele Muccino-directed film that stars Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Kruger, Quvenzhané Wallis and Octavia Spencer. Production just got underway in Pittsburgh. The film is a love story between a troubled father and his daughter who lives in New York 25 years after him, Crowe plays a famous novelist suffering from depression as he tries to raise his 5-year-old daughter. Seyfried plays the girl as an adult, who has struggles of her own, shrapnel from that childhood. Fonda will play the novelist’s longtime friend and literary agent while Greenwood will play the writer’s brother-in-law, who with his wife (Kruger) wages a legal battle to forcibly adopt the young daughter (Kylie Rogers). Read More »