NBC’s and ABC’s lineups followed a similar pattern last night, with a two-hour reality series posting declines from last week to hit lows and a 10 PM drama returning to originals on par. NBC’s The Voice made a bumpy transition to live shows last night with the first performance edition suffering a mic malfunction in addition to a 15% week-to-week ratings drop. The singing competition (2.9) logged its lowest Monday rating to date, matching a series low. Meanwhile, ABC’s Dancing With The Stars (2.1) was down 9% from last week to a season low. But compared to the same night last spring, the veteran ABC dancing competition was even, while The Voice was down 41%. NBC’s The Blacklist (2.8) and ABC’s Castle (1.8) were both flat with their most recent originals three and four weeks ago, respectively. NBC still won the night in 18-49 (2.9) with Voice and Blacklist as the top two programs, while ABC was tops in total viewers (12.2 million).
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Pushes Back Previews; Quentin Tarantino To Present Honorary Cesar To Scarlett Johansson; More
‘X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Delays Previews By Two Days
Previews of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor musical, I Can’t Sing, have been postponed by two days at the London Palladium. Stage Entertainment and Syco Entertainment are producing the show and say they’ve decided to start previews on March 1 as opposed to February 27 due to “technical issues caused by the ambitious staging of the new musical comedy.” Rebecca Quigley, producer for Stage Entertainment, said, “As audiences will soon see, the production is hugely ambitious, and the volume of installation and scale of the set means that technical work has taken slightly longer than could have been anticipated to make the show audience-ready.” Nigel Harman (EastEnders, Downton Abbey) is playing a character based on Cowell in the musical that’s directed by Olivier Award-winner and Tony nominee Sean Foley. British comedian Harry Hill wrote the show.
Quentin Tarantino To Present Scarlett Johansson’s Honorary Cesar
Quentin Tarantino has been enlisted by France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma to present Scarlett Johansson with this year’s honorary César Award. The director will hand the award to Johansson this Friday at the 39th César Awards ceremony in Paris. Tarantino himself received the prize in 2011.
OSCARS: ‘Gravity’s Special Effects Wizard Tim Webber’s Unforgettable Epic, A Blend of Physics and Art
Tim Webber, who is Oscar-nominated for Best Achievement in Visual Effects on the Alfonso Cuaron-directed space epic Gravity, received his education in math, physics and art – and all were all put to good use on film. “I got to use my physics education. It helped me understand the way things move in zero gravity. It gave me a good, theoretical understanding,” said Webber, who added that from his art education, he learned how to look at things differently. “Physics taught me how the way things work, how energy doesn’t dissipate but changes, and that was useful in getting it real and have a feeling of reality.” And looking at things differently was a necessity for Gravity’s success.
This was a movie, he said, where the normal filmmaking process had to be put aside. Gravity, which required a significant amount of planning and preproduction, was a project like no other. “Everything about this film was a different filmmaking process. The way people had to work together was different,” said Webber. “We actually lit the film before we went to shoot it. The set dresser, when she did it, she was doing it next to a visual effects artist who was moving props around with a mouse on a computer screen. The language was different.” The reasons behind the differences was that Gravity was made almost entirely in CG and, of course, there were those notable long shots. For instance, the opening scene was 12-minute single-take. “You couldn’t talk about continuity in the normal way,” he said. “If you were talking about a moment in the film, we had to divide the film up in completely different ways to a normal film. We had to find new ways of working together because each department couldn’t work on its own.
EXCLUSIVE: After numerous attempts by Warner Bros to make a new version of the King Arthur legend, I’m hearing that Guy Ritchie is again looking to make the movie. This one is a tentpole fantasy retelling of the Arthur legend, meant to span six films. It was created by Joby Harold, who wrote the script for the first film. Producing is Akiva Goldsman through Weed Road, Harold and Tory Tunnell through Safehouse Pictures, and Ritchie’s partner Lionel Wigram. Ritchie and Wigram previously developed a version of the King Arthur saga based on a script by Trainspotting scribe John Hodge, but it lost steam when it looked like the one by David Dobkin was going to happen.
Warner Bros got closest to a production start with Dobkin’s Arthur & Lancelot, with Colin Farrell most recently at the center of talks to revive the project as Lancelot, and they chased Gary Oldman for the Merlin role. Warner Bros paid $2 million to acquire Dobkin’s script, but unplugged the film the first time because its $130 million budget was $20 million too high, with Game Of Thrones’ Kit Harington to play Arthur and Robocop‘s Joel Kinnaman to play Lancelot. Those young upstarts were unproven screen commodities. Other projects previously considered by Warners was a remake of the 1981 John Boorman pic Excalibur that had X-Men helmer Bryan Singer attached; there is also a Harry Potter-style take being produced by Donald …
The sports and entertainment attorney died late Wednesday at his home in Beverly Hills of natural causes. Edward Gregory Hookstratten was 83. The general counsel for the L.A. Rams for several years, Hookstratten’s 50-year career including repping some of the biggest names in front of the camera and on the field. Johnny Carson, Elvis Presley, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, and Joey Bishop were clients along with newscasters Bryant Gumbel, Tom Brokaw, Tom Snyder and Jessica Savitch. In the world of sports, Hookstratten represented Vin Scully, Pat Reilly, Marcus Allen, Dick Enberg, Merlin Olsen, Dick Stockton, Don Meredith, Jim Hill and Pat Haden. On the big screen, Hookstratten was a producer on the 1996 news drama Up Close & Personal starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. He was also name-dropped in Rob Reiner’s classic rock mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, where Fred Willard’s Air Force colonel was named “Lt. Bob Hookstratten.” A California native, Hookstratten was born in Whittier in 1930 and attended USC on a baseball scholarship. Graduating in 1952, Hookstratten went on to earn his law degree from Southwestern School of Law in 1957 before setting up shop.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Matthew Lewis Joins ‘Bluestone 42′ Cast; ‘Next Top Model’ Done On Sky Living; More
Matthew Lewis Joins ‘Bluestone 42′; ‘Peaky Blinders’ Renewed
Matthew Lewis, best known for playing Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies, has joined the cast of Bluestone 42, the BBC Three comedy/drama about a fictional bomb-disposal detachment in Afghanistan. Lewis will play an ammunition technician from Leeds with a penchant for danger. The second season of Bluestone 42 starts filming later this month and returns to BBC Three with a Christmas special, followed by a six-part series in early 2014. In other BBC News, BBC One has ordered a second season of Atlantis, the fantasy adventure series that has been the biggest new Saturday night drama series launch across all channels since 2006. The 13-part series is co-produced by BBC America and is set in the mythical city of Atlantis where it re-imagines Greek myths and legends for a new generation. It was created by Merlin writer Howard Overman. Also, BBC Two has recommissioned Cillian Murphy starrer Peaky Blinders. The period gangster drama hails from Caryn Mandabach Productions and Tiger Aspect Productions. It has had an average 2.4M viewers across Season 1 and will return in 2014 with six new episodes. Peaky Blinders is created by Steven Knight and also stars Sam Neill and Helen McCrory.
‘Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model’ Off The Sky Living Runway
The CW last week officially said it had ordered a 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model. But the British version of the competition series will not be returning to Sky Living in the UK. Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model concluded its ninth cycle earlier this year. Sky said today: “After nearly a decade on air, BINTM won’t be returning to Sky Living next year. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the talent who have been involved in the series, with particular thanks to Thumbs Up Productions, exec producer and host Elle Macpherson and this final season’s judges Dannii Minogue and Tyson Beckford.” Sky Living is not without a model competition show, however. It’s airing the British version of The Face, co-produced by Princess Productions and Shine TV.
Mipcom Briefs: Keshet’s ‘Rising Star’ In Russian Redo; ‘Dining With The Enemy’ In Canada; UK TV Exports Reach £1.2B; More
Keshet International‘s hot format Rising Star is headed to Russia. Broadcaster Rossiya 1, part of media group VGTRK, will air a local version of the interactive primetime show which France’s M6 acquired earlier this week. Keshet DCP, a joint venture with DC Media, is also shopping a U.S. version to American broadcasters. Keshet debuted a live screening of Rising Star from Israel last night in Cannes. The singing competition integrates home viewers who vote in real-time via an app that also posts their photos to the TV screen. The app has now been downloaded more than 1.2M times. The show is a big hit at home where it’s produced by Tedy Productions for Keshet Broadcasting.
Canada’s TV5 is prepping war-zone/foodie hybrid A Table Avec L’Ennemi, an adaptation of Norwegian format, Dining With The Enemy. The six-part series will be hosted by journalist and author Frédérick Lavoie and chef Charles-Antoine Crête. It will travel to conflict areas around the world including Mexico, Rwanda and Afghanistan, and see two representatives from opposing factions share a meal and discuss their views and vision of ongoing strife. “We forget that, in war zones or risk areas, life goes on. People try to live a normal life and their main concerns are much like ours… We hope the dinner table will serve as a meeting place, a place for dialogue and hope between two cultures”, says TV5 Programming Director Pierre Gang. Media Ranch president Sophie Ferron will produce with the series to air in fall 2014. Canadian production and distribtion outfit Media Ranch has an option to produce local adaptations of Dining With The Enemy in English-speaking Canada and the UK, and is in discussions on a Canada-U.S. co-production.
BBC America has come on board to co-produce BBC One’s upcoming fantasy drama Atlantis to premiere as part of Supernatural Saturday in Fall 2013. The 13-episode Atlantis, created by Howard Overman (Misfits), Julian Murphy (Merlin) and Johnny Capps (Merlin) revisits Greek myths and legends re-imagined for a new generation. Atlantis is an Urban Myth Films production for BBC Cymru Wales co-produced with BBC America. The cast includes Mark Addy (Game Of Thrones), Jemima Rooper (Hex), Juliet Stevenson (The Hour), Sarah Parish (Hatfields & McCoys), Robert Emms (War Horse), Aiysha Hart (About Time) and Jack Donnelly (Dancing On The Edge). Executive producers are Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy and Howard Overman for Urban Myth Films. The series is currently filming in Wales and Morocco.
YouTube‘s paid content slate is getting an infusion of classic miniseries and made-for-TV films via Sonar Entertainment, which today launched new subscription channel MINIS + MOVIES. Popular small screen properties like 1989′s Emmy-winning Lonesome Dove starring Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall lead Sonar’s catalogue of over 500 titles viewable on the online video site starting today. The dense Sonar library is also packed with retro telefilm gems from the filmographies of Hollywood’s brightest, like Jennifer Garner’s 1999 disaster pic Aftershock: Earthquake in New York and the 1997 sorority thriller Dying to Belong with Hilary Swank, with new titles added each month. Also included in the channel’s initial launch are Merlin with Sam Neill and Isabella Rossellini, Tin Man with Zooey Deschanel, Good Fences with Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg, The Yearling with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and True Women with Angelina Jolie. Users can subscribe for $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year.
2013-14 NBC New Series
About A Boy – Based on the best-selling Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity,” “An Education”) novel, writer Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) and director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Revolution”) present a different kind of coming-of-age story. Will Freeman (David Walton, “Bent,” “Perfect Couples”) lives a charmed existence as the ultimate man-child. After writing a hit song, he was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. He’s single, unemployed and loving it. So imagine his surprise when Fiona (Minnie Driver, “Good Will Hunting,” “Barney’s Version”), a needy single mom and her oddly charming 11-year-old son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham, “1600 Penn”), move in next door and disrupt his perfect world. When Marcus begins dropping by his home unannounced, Will’s not so sure about being a kid’s new best friend, until, of course, Will discovers that women find single dads irresistible. That changes everything and a deal is struck: Marcus will pretend to be Will’s son and, in return, Marcus is allowed to chill at Will’s house. Before he realizes it, Will starts to enjoy the visits and even finds himself looking out for the kid. In fact, this newfound friendship may very well teach him a thing or two that he never imagined possible — about himself and caring for others. Writer Jason Katims, director Jon Favreau, Tim Bevan (“Les Misérables,” “About a Boy”), Eric Fellner (“Les Misérables,” “About a Boy”), Liza Chasin (“Les Misérables,” “About …
NBC’s 2013-14 Schedule: ‘Revolution’ Moves To Wednesday, ‘Parenthood’ To Thursday, ‘Blacklist’ Gets Post ‘Voice’ Slot
Family comedies and action dramas dominate NBC‘s new series additions for next season. NBC is introducing six series in the fall — comedies Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World, and The Michael J. Fox Show; and dramas The Blacklist, Ironside and Dracula; with five more set for midseason– comedies The Family Guide and About A Boy, and dramas Believe, Crisis and Crossbones. (Dracula and Crossbones were carried over from last upfront/off-season). Not scheduled yet are newly picked up dramas Chicago PD and The Night Shift and comedy Undateable as well as last-minute renewal Community. On the returning series side, missing from the announcement are long-time reality staple Celebrity Apprentice and well reviewed freshman drama Hannibal as NBC is yet to make a pickup decision on both. Here is NBC’s fall and midseason schedules with analysis and new series descriptions underneath. As expected, the network is spreading its launches between the fall and spring, tied to its Winter Olympics coverage:
NBC FALL 2013-14 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)
8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE BLACKLIST”
8-9 p.m. – “The Biggest Loser” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – “The Voice” (New time)
10-11 p.m. – “Chicago Fire” (New Day and Time)
8-9 p.m. – “Revolution” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. – “IRONSIDE”
8-8:30 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation” (New time)
8:30-9 p.m. – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY”
9-9:30 p.m. – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD”
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW”
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood” (New Day and Time)
8-9 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “DRACULA”
7:00-8:15 p.m. – “Football Night in America”
8:15-11:30 p.m. – “NBC Sunday Night Football”
NBC & Sony Make Deal: ‘Community’ Renewed; ‘Blacklist’, ‘Night Shift’ & ‘Welcome To The Family’ Picked Up
After a couple of days of intense and complex negotiations between NBC and Sony TV, all four projects that were part of the talks received orders by NBC. That includes The Blacklist, the highest testing NBC drama pilots in 10 years, blended family comedy pilot Welcome To The Family and off-cycle medical drama pilot The Night Shift, all picked up to series. (Sony’s fifth pilot at NBC this year, comedy Brenda Forever, remains in contention.) And of course, Community. A day after the cult comedy ended its fourth season, it got a fifth. The renewal is for 13 episodes. Here are descriptions of NBC’s newly picked up Sony series:
For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader, “The Office,” “Boston Legal”) has been one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The Concierge of Crime.” Now, he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: He will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone, “Law & Order: Los Angeles”), an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it’s going to be one hell of a first day on the job. What follows is a twisting series of events as the race to stop …
Pop culture icon Annette Funicello, who began her TV and movie career as a 13-year-old member of the original Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s and grew into a movie star and singer and a teenage boy’s fantasy, died today at Mercy Southwest Hospital in Bakersfield. She was 70. The Walt Disney Company said she passed peacefully from complications due to multiple sclerosis, a disease she battled for over 25 years. Disney CEO Bob Iger commented: “Annette was and always will be a cherished member of the Disney family, synonymous with the word Mousketeer, and a true Disney Legend. She will forever hold a place in our hearts as one of Walt Disney’s brightest stars, delighting an entire generation of baby boomers with her jubilant personality and endless talent. Annette was well known for being as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and she faced her physical challenges with dignity, bravery and grace. All of us at Disney join with family, friends, and fans around the world in celebrating her extraordinary life.”
According to Disney’s official obituary, Funicello was born October 22, 1942, in Utica, NY and was 4 years old when her family moved to Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. She was discovered by Walt Disney at age 13 while dancing the lead in Swan Lake at the Starlight Bowl …
Additionally, FX president John Landgraf announced several high-profile limited/miniseries projects in development as the genre will become a cornerstone for FX’s sibling FXM (Fox Movie Channel): Grand Hotel from Sam Mendes, about a fictional terrorist plot in Paris; Sutton, from Alexander Payne and Michael De Luca, about the infamous bank robber; Mad Dogs, from The Shield‘s Shawn Ryan, based on the British black comedy/psychological thriller miniseries; and Mayflower, from producers Paul Giamatti and Gil Netter (Life Of Pi). (See their descriptions below.)
With Merlin casting its final spell on BBC One last Christmas, the team behind the fantasy-adventure series is getting to work on its latest fantasy project, Atlantis. Shooting starts next month in Wales and Morocco on the 13-part BBC One drama series created by Merlin writer Howard Overman and exec produced by Overman and Merlin creators Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy. The ambitious project is set in the mythical city of Atlantis, and re-imagines Greek myths and legends for a new generation. Mark Addy (The Syndicate, Game Of Thrones), Juliet Stevenson (The Hour, Truly Madly Deeply), Sarah Parish (Mistresses), Robert Emms (War Horse), Jemima Rooper, Jack Donnelly and Aiysha Hart star. Atlantis will begin airing in Merlin‘s old BBC One timeslot on Saturday nights in the fall. Bethan Jones is exec producing for Doctor Who producer BBC Cymru Wales.
BBC One/BBC America co-production The Musketeers is a 10-part drama that puts a new spin on the classic Alexandre Dumas tale. My Week With Marilyn scribe Adrian Hodges is penning the series that’s due to air next year. The ensemble cast now includes Peter Capaldi (The Hour, The Thick Of It) as the shadowy Cardinal Richelieu and Luke Pasqualiano (Skins, The Borgias) as D’Artagnan. Santiago Cabrera (Merlin, Heroes), Tom Burke (The Hour) and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Howard Charles are the titular Musketeers. Also starring are Hugo Speer (next up in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac), The Inbetweeners Movie and Being Human’s Tamla Kari and Maimie McCoy. Shooting starts next month.
The Musketeers is a contemporary take on the classic story about a group of highly trained soldiers and bodyguards assigned to protect King and country. It’s set on the streets of 17th century Paris and will feature a fresh story each week, kicking off when skilled fighter D’Artagnan meets Musketeers Athos, Aramis and Porthos while on a mission to avenge his father’s death. Hodges said, “This series is all about passion, romance, heroism and action.” The most recent screen adaptation of The Three Musketeers was Paul W.S. Anderson’s 2011 feature that starred Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich and Luke Evans.
Harry, He’s Here To Help and Lemming director Dominik Moll has come aboard to helm the The Tunnel, the Franco-British adaptation of Scandinavian series The Bridge. Shooting starts this month on the Sky Atlantic/Canal Plus co-production from Kudos Film and TV and Shine France Films in association with Filmlance. As I reported last week, the 10-part drama stars Harry Potter actress Clémence Poésy and Game Of Thrones‘ Stephen Dillane as detectives investigating the death of a French politician who are forced into an uneasy partnership as they seek out a politically-motivated serial killer. Also joining the cast are Game Of Thrones‘ Joseph Mawle, Da Vinci’s Demons‘ Tom Bateman, Dancing On The Edge and Merlin‘s Angel Coulby, Silent Witness‘ Tobi Bakare, French actors Jeanne Balibar, Thibault de Montalembert and Mathieu Carrièrre and British actor Jack Lowden. The second episode will also feature Upstairs Downstairs‘ Keeley Hawes and veteran British actress Liz Smith.
Merlin star Katie McGrath and Nonso Anozie (The Grey) have been cast opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the upcoming NBC/Sky Living HD 10-episode drama series Dracula. The series re-introduces Dracula (Meyers) as he arrives in London, posing as American entrepreneur Alan Grayson who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, he hopes to wreak revenge on the people who ruined his life centuries earlier but falls hopelessly in love with Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw) who appears to be the reincarnation of his dead wife.
Merlin will cast its final spell on BBC One this Christmas. The fantasy-adventure show that’s loosely based on Arthurian legend airs on Syfy in the U.S. and will end after five seasons. Co-creators and exec producers Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy say the series is bowing out at its natural climax, with the finale bringing an end to the battle for Camelot. Capps and Murphy have also announced they are leaving Shine TV, producer of the show, at the end of the year to start their own production company. Shine and FremantleMedia Enterprises, which handles the show internationally, are in the early stages of developing potential Merlin spinoffs using the universe created in the series. Any future shows would be produced by Shine’s Kudos in partnership with FME. Merlin debuted in 2008 and stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, Richard Wilson and the voice of John Hurt. Its other international broadcast partners include Germany’s Super RTL, France’s Canal+ and Australia’s Network Ten.