Things we know – the Olympics are long done, the Oscars have come and gone and awards season is over (for now) and ABC dominates Fridays. However, even though the network won the night among adults 18-49 with a 1.6/6 rating, ABC still stumbled a bit compared to last week – both down from its season demo high and with individual shows. With pitches for bicycle lighting and one for the baby knee pads Shark Tank (2.0/7) easily led the night as the highest rated show. With a 5% dip from its February 28 show, the entrepreneurial reality series basically stayed steady with last week. Though with 7.49 million watching it was down from its second best viewership result ever of 7.7 million from last week. Among the rest of ABC’s night, the only show to stay total even with last week was 20/20 (1.8/6) Comedies Last Man Standing (1.3/5) and The Neighbors (0.9/3) were up 8% and down 10% respectively from their February 28 shows.
UPDATE, 10:38 AM: Unsurprisingly, Aereo is not happy with the denial today of its attempt to overturn the six-state injunction against the Barry Diller-backed service. “We are disappointed in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals 2:1 decision …
FX is sticking with Archer for at least another two seasons. Seeing the animated spy series through to 2016 and syndication possibilities, the cable channel today said it has ordered 13 episodes for each of Archer’s’ sixth and seventh seasons. The double pickup comes with a lot of confidence from FX. “Archer is one of the best comedies on television and has played a significant role in the growth of the FX comedy brand,” Eric Schrier, one of the presidents of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions, said today in a statement. ”We’re grateful to Adam Reed, Matt Thompson and their team at Floyd County, and also our incredible voice cast, and are looking forward to supporting their work for at least two more seasons.” (Archer voice actor H. Jon Benjamin snagged an Outstanding Voice-Over Performance Emmy nom in 2010).
EXCLUSIVE: Four days after returning to the negotiating table, the WGA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are near an agreement on a new three-year contract, I’ve learned. “We’re not there yet and there are still a few more I’s to dot and T’s to cross, but we’re very close,” one insider told me today. With many of the bulky points already coming together in the first two weeks of talks, the two sides spent some of their two-week temporary recess fine-tuning the agreement, sources on both sides say, before sitting down again at AMPTP’s Sherman Oaks HQ. An official announcement could come as early as the beginning of next week. If you take out the downtime, this year’s talks pretty much follow the timeline of the placid 2011 negotiations, which started on March 3 that year and were all done by March 20.
In a study released today on feature film production in California in 2013, FilmL.A. has added its voice to the chorus wanting an increase to the entertainment industry tax incentives the Golden State offers. While the opinion is nothing new for the nonprofit local-permitting organization, the basis of its latest argument is: We need more blockbusters. According to FilmL.A.’s 6-months-in-the-making report, California is tied for second place with the entire country of Canada for the location where most feature films released last year were made. Introduced in 2009, California’s current $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit program does not allow pics with budgets of more than $75 million to be eligible for its annual lottery. “For a program intended to help reverse runaway production, California’s incentive entirely ignores film projects carrying the greatest economic value with the greatest propensity to run away: big‐budget features,” says the 2013 Feature Film Production Report. Even with an increase in overall feature production in California last year, the only 2014-released pics with budgets of more than $100 million that were partly made in the state are Interstellar and Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Solder. Removing the cap on blockbusters is one of the elements of new legislation introduced on to expand the state’s program.
The union’s new voluntary Personal Managers Code of Ethics and Conduct really isn’t going over well with some managers. Just a day after the code was unveiled, SAG-AFTRA today sent an email to members over the “uninformed lobbying” against the new scheme by the Talent Managers Association. SAG-AFTRA claimed that its former partners in crafting the code had “reached the level of direct misrepresentations being sent to union members in an attempt to frighten them about the true intent of this Code.”
“Managers have been asked by SAG-AFTRA of the guild if we intend to help them get work,” reads one email from a personal manager obtained by Deadline. “I’m afraid that if we want to stay in the guild’s good graces we must turn away all guild members who approach us with agency representation.” The latter sentence refers to state labor laws in California and New York that limit personal managers’ ability to procure employment for their clients. SAG-AFTRA said today that the verbage in their code “closely mirrors” the laws of the Golden State and the Empire State – something the TMA obviously wants to use as wedge.
Half a dozen years in the making, the new ethics and conduct code marks the first time the union has attempted to exercise some control over managers even though it has, as do other guilds, long mandatorily regulated talent agents.
Here is the email SAG-AFTRA sent to its members today:
UPDATE, 5:02 PM: Changes are coming to the historic Culver Studios, but job losses are not going to be part of them. “The 40 employees employed by Culver Studios have been retained and business continues as usual,” said a …
2nd UPDATE, 5:42 PM: Trust The Simpsons to go for the big picture when they weighed in on Ellen DeGeneres‘ mega-retweeted Oscars selfie – literally. Today, Homer’s official Twitter feed threw up this perspective on the now famous pic (retweeted more than a record-breaking 3.209 million times so far) from the front row of the 86th Academy Awards. “The ugly true story of that Oscar® selfie can finally be told! Let’s break Twitter again. Look for Bart,” said the tweet. All we can say is Bradley Cooper, be kind. BTW – Ellen and fellow selfie star (and Oscar winner) Jared Leto are helping Homer in his goal: Both retweeted the pic.
UPDATE, SUNDAY PM: In less than an hour, Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres beat President Obama‘s Twitter record for Twitter retweets. Ellen’s on-the-fly pic with Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, and more is racking up the Twitter love with over 1M RTs and over 720K favorites and counting.
With mere weeks until the big guy is back in theaters May 16, the Godzilla battle between Legendary Pictures and producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison over the upcoming Warner Bros-released reboot looks more likely than ever to be heading to trial. A California Appeals Court judge today rejected Legendary’s attempt to have the matter dealt with in private arbitration (read it here). Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst said that “substantial evidence supports the trial court’s finding that the parties never had a written agreement to arbitrate their dispute.” On January 9 last year, Legendary filed a complaint to remove Lin, Lee and Davison from the blockbuster project with a puny $25,000 payout. According to Legendary, the tiny sum was all the three were entitled to under the March 2011 Producer Loan Agreement between them and the company. Today’s ruling was in response to a May 10, 2013 ruling by Judge Abraham Khan of the LA Superior Court denying Legendary’s desire for arbitration in the potentially multimillion-dollar lawsuit.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Godzilla’
Not that Legendary is breaking a sweat publicly after fighting so hard to keep things behind closed doors. “The Court of Appeals decision today decided nothing more than where Legendary’s dispute with Roy Lee and Dan Lin will be litigated,” the company’s lawyer Dale Kinsella said today after the ruling. “Irrespective of the location of the forum, Legendary is confident it will prevail on the merits of the case, for which this recent ruling has no bearing whatsoever. Kinsella is with Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP. (UPDATE, 2:59 PM - “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has agreed with our legal and factual position,” said the three producers’ lawyer Stanton L. Stein in a statement. “We look forward to presenting our case in a court of law before a jury. We are confident the jury will find in our favor.”)
It’s totally voluntary and the Talent Managers Association is against it but SAG-AFTRA today introduced a Personal Manager Code of Ethics and Conduct. The new code (see below) is the first time the union has attempted to exercise some control over managers even though it has, as do other guilds, long mandatorily regulated talent agents. The union also announced that it would change the name of its Agency Relations Department to the SAG-AFTRA Professional Representatives Department. Years in the making the new Code doesn’t jibe with some of the people who were initially involved in crafting it. “After thoughtful review and consultation with legal counsel, our position is to advise members against signing the SAG-AFTRA code in its current highly restrictive and regulatory form,” said the TMA board in a statement. The announcement today by SAG-AFTRA comes just weeks before the union is expected to announce the beginning of talks with the studios and networks for a new 3-year contract. DGA members approved their deal with AMPTP in January and the WGA, who started negotiations on February 3, returns to talks today after break of a couple of weeks
The big boys came out today on the side of the broadcasters in their upcoming appearance in front of the Supreme Court in the Aereo case. The solicitor general’s office put the Obama administration solidly in the anti-Aereo camp with a 40-page amicus brief (read it here) filed with the SCOTUS today. The broadcasters say that Aereo infringes on their copyrights by streaming their over-the-air signals without licenses or compensation. Aereo says that it simply leases out antennas and technology that consumers can already use to watch broadcast TV for free.
“The proper resolution of this dispute is straightforward,” the brief states. “Unlike a purveyor of home antennas, or the lessor of hilltop space on which individual consumers may erect their own antennas … respondent does not simply provide access to equipment or other property that facilitates customers’ reception of broadcast signals. Rather, respondent operates an integrated system—i.e., a ‘device or process’—whose functioning depends on its customers’ shared use of common facilities. The fact that as part of that system respondent uses unique copies and many individual transmissions does not alter the conclusion that it is retransmitting broadcast content ‘to the public.’ Like its competitors, respondent therefore must obtain licenses to perform the copyrighted content on which its business relies. That conclusion, however, should not call into question the legitimacy of businesses that use the Internet to provide new ways for consumers to store, hear, and view their own lawfully acquired copies of copyrighted works.”
The high court agreed in January to hear the case, and briefs from the broadcasters were due on February 24 and today. Aereo must submit its response to the petitioner’s brief by March 26 and send in an amicus curiae brief of its own by April 2.