The premiere of CNN Original Series: Death Row Stories ranked No. 1 among cable news networks in the news demo last night in the 9 PM hour, averaging 255,000 demo viewers, besting MSNBC (117,000) and FNC (103,000). In overall audience, FNC’s Justice with Judge Jeanine won the hour with 990,000 viewers, to CNN’s 719,000 and MSNBC’s 243,000 with Caught on Camera. CNN noted the launch of its Death Row Stories jumped 99% in the news demo compared to prior four-week average (355,000 versus 128,000). Each in the series of one-hour documentaries follows a different capital murder case; the series is exec produced by Alex Gibney and Robert Redford, and narrated by Susan Sarandon. The project is part of a CNN programming shift to documentary storytelling — the most success of which remains the docu-film Blackfish which, last October, opened with an impressive 1.36 million viewers and 472,000 demo viewers. Two weeks later, CNN’s next docu-film, Pandora’s Promise scored a deflated 345,000 total viewers and 145,000 demo viewers, demonstrating the difficulty of documentary films that each has to be sold to viewers. Death Row Stories, on the other hand, has an eight-episode order.
In prime time last night, CNN was top-rated in the news demo, with 201,000 viewers, to MSNBC’s 175,000 and FNC’s 139,000.
If you want better privacy and security, you’d better pay for it instead of relying on ad-financed search, social media and other online companies most of us use, said a SXSW Interactive Conference panel featuring Edward Snowden, the former intelligence analyst making his first public video appearance since he blew the whistle on massive U.S. government surveillance. Snowden, still living in an undisclosed Russian location while he seeks asylum, took part in the panel long distance by way of a Google+ Hangout chat room. The irony of using such a free service while criticizing Google’s data security was not lost on Snowden or the ACLU specialists who joined him on the panel. The event has been criticized by politicians including Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He wrote a letter to SXSW last week urging the fest to uninvite Snowden, saying his inclusion rewarded him and “undermines the very fairness and freedom that SXSW and the ACLU purport to foster.” The appearance went off without a hitch.
Snowden — perhaps predictably for a long-time computer specialist — focused his remarks today on the technical and legal tools that could protect an average user from mass surveillance. Snowden said putting those protections in place, both in how government oversight works and in how we use our favorite online services, is essential to the Internet’s long-term viability. ”This is a global issue,” Snowden said. “(The U.S. mass-surveillance efforts are) setting fire to the future of the Internet. And the people in this room now, you’re all the firefighters. Changes in technical standards can make mass surveillance more expensive and less practical.” Read More »
This was expected, and needed, as evidenced by last week’s announcement that the online video service that targets gamers (read: teenaged boys and young men) axed about 30% of its workforce. But it’s interesting to see how much today’s release plays up the potential partnerships between Machinima and Warner Bros. Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise says that there are “myriad opportunities” to connect their audiences. And Warner Bros Television Group President of Business and Strategy Craig Hunegs says he’s “excited” about the ability “to reach new audiences, create new original content, and discover new talent.” Don’t be surprised if they look for projects outside of Google’s YouTube, which collects about 45% of the ad revenues it sells for Machinima. No word here about the terms of the financing arrangement, although the companies say that current investors MK Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Google Capital have also upped their stake. Machinima is said to have raised $67M, including $35M from Google. Here’s today’s official announcement:
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5TH UPDATE, MONDAY 12:20 PM PT: Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures’ 300: Rise Of An Empire is now tracking up 11% over the original 300 internationally. Revised numbers have just come in from Warner which says the movie took $88.8M in 58 markets. Some of the major territories were slightly down, but the overall cume was up. The Lego Movie was slightly lower than predicted at $9.6M on 5,585 screens, however the overall overseas cume is $135.4M, a small bolt off the originally estimated $135.6M. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug added a confirmed $7.5M internationally — down from the estimated $8M — and with $679.7M total; again, a breath away from the previously reported cume of $680M. As ever, numbers are updated in the territory sections below, with more to come as they roll in. Read More »
Gabourey Sidibe is set as a recurring in Fox’s hip-hop industry drama pilot Empire, from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong and Brian Grazer. It centers on Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), a charismatic, savvy music superstar who is about to take his company, Empire Entertainment, public. Sidibe, repped by UTA, Jill Kaplan and Fred Toczek, will play Becky, Lucious’ (Howard) hard-working assistant. The role marks a reunion for Sidibe with Daniels, who directed her in Precious, and with 20th Century Fox TV, for whom she recently starred in American Horror Story: Coven. Read More »
HBO’s True Detective finale bagged a series high of 3.5 million viewers Sunday at 9 PM — a 50% spike from the crime anthology’s premiere of 2.3 million. With an average gross audience of 11 million viewers season to date, True Detective becomes HBO’s most watched freshman series since Six Feet Under’s 11.4 million viewers in 2001. Across the night’s three telecasts, the series also hit a high — 4.9 million viewers. Last night, demand for tonight’s season finale of True Detective was so great online, the network’s streaming service HBO GO temporarily crashed, which may have helped drive viewers to the TV viewing. “Due to overwhelmingly popular demand for #TrueDetective, we’ve been made aware of an issue affecting some users. Please try again soon,” HBO GO tweeted earlier in the evening. Service eventually was restored. The disruption played into True Detective‘s pop culture phenom image over its eight episodes. While the first season of True Detective was conceived as a closed-ended arc with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, creator Nic Pizzolatto is already working on a premise for a second season with new characters and a new storyline in a new locale.
Two weeks earlier, an average of 2.6 million viewers watched the drama anthology, which this season stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, at 9 PM, besting the premiere’s previous high of 2.3 mil on January 12. Across its three plays for … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It’s the end of the road for Fox‘s quirky family comedy Raising Hope, with the upcoming fourth-season finale serving as series finale. The blue-collar sitcom will bow out with an hourlong farewell on Friday, April 4, featuring back-to-back episodes from 9-10 PM.
Created by Greg Garcia, Raising Hope was the first comedy series in a while to stick at Fox. It proved a good utility player, doing well behind New Girl but also as a 8 PM anchor of the Tuesday comedy block last season. “Getting to know and love the Chance family on Raising Hope has been a sweet, hilarious ride,” said Fox chairman Kevin Reilly and COO Joe Earley. “Thanks to the incredibly talented cast — along with Greg, Mike and the entire crew — for making us laugh for four fantastic seasons.”
Raising Hope had the odds stacked against it going into Season 4. Creator Greg Garcia left the series as part of his move from 20th TV, which produces Raising Hope, to CBS TV Studios. He was succeeded on showrunner duties by Mike Mariano. Then the show was sent to Fridays where it has languished, most recently pulling in a 0.5 18-49 rating this past Friday. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Following the success of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, a series project at Fox TV Studios is taking an inside look into the Wall Street culture of greed and excess, this time from the vantage point of its newest recruits. FtvS has optioned journalist Kevin Roose’s bestselling nonfiction book Young Money: Inside The Hidden World Of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits, an exposé, which chronicles the lives and exploits of young Wall Street bankers after the crash of 2008. Burn Notice‘s Alfredo Barrios will write the adaptation, which will be shopped shortly. He is executive producing alongside Alan Gasmer (Vikings) and Peter Jaysen of Veritas Entertainment, who brought the book to FtvS.
Published by Grand Central Publishing on Feb. 18, Young Money already has landed on several top bestseller lists. Shadowing first and second-year bankers at renowned Wall Street firms, Roose was allowed unprecedented (and unauthorized) access to their 100-hour work weeks, drug-fueled all-nighters, Occupy protests, top-secret fraternity parties, and dating mixers. The book reveals not only their media-magnified exploits and excesses, but also the doubt and introspection that crept into the financial sector post-recession. Also serving as executive producers are The Shuman Co.’s Larry Shuman (Devious Maids) and David Wolthoff. Barrios is with CAA and The Shuman Co. The book and Roose are repped by ICM Partners.
The series premiere of TNT‘s action drama The Last Ship from Michael Bay will premiere on Sunday, June 22 at 9 PM, followed by the Season 4 bow of the network’s sci-fi drama Falling Skies at 10 PM. TNT’s other new drama, Legends, has been given a 9 PM Wednesday, August 20 launch date. The trio join returning summer runs for Major Crimes, Rizzoli & Isles, Perception and Franklin & Bash, new episodes of Dallas, and the launch of Stephen Bochco’s new crime drama Murder In The First — those dates have yet to be announced. Today’s news was announced during TNT’s panel at SXSW, which includes a sneak peek of Last Ship, which stars Eric Dane and Rhona Mitra and centers on a Navy vessel that may be humanity’s last hope in the wake of a worldwide catastrophe. Check out the sneak below as well as trailers for the other two series: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In the world of film score composition, musician-composers usually resort to Avid’s Pro Tools and plug-ins. As a pianist-composer myself and a lover of film scores, I found this quite innovative from 300: Rise Of An Empire composer Tom Holkenborg, known as Junkie XL. He is a former Dutch producer-engineer and former DJ and multi-instrumentalist who took apart a piano and re-purposed it to create the sounds of 300. He is not unlike Harry Partch who began making his own instruments in an experiment to generate different sounds in the 1940s to the late 1960s and was very interested in pre-classical, in particular the music of ancient Greece. Junkie XL also did the music on the upcoming film, Divergent. Have a look:
The most camera-ready opponent of Comcast’s merger plans with Time Warner Cable — who, ironically, owes his big break to Comcast-owned NBC — went on CBS This Morning to once again blast the proposed merger, saying “consumers will end up paying more, there will be less competition, there will be less innovation and, worse, even worse service.” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) this morning told CBS This Morning he sent out an email to his constituents to get their “feelings about what kind of service they get from Comcast” and whether they think the proposed deal “will be good.” “I got 60,000 responses, and believe me, people don’t like their service from Comcast, and they don’t think this deal is going to help them,” said Franken — who, before entering politics in a big way was a writer and performer on the now Comcast-owned NBC’s Saturday Night Live from its launch in the mid 70′s until 1980, returning in ’85 for another decade.
Franken matters because he sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee which, later this month, will hold hearings on the reported $45 billion deal that would give Comcast 30 million subscribers in 43 of the nation’s top 50 markets — a.k.a about 30% of pay TV customers. Franken reminded CBS This Morning anchors this morning he hadn’t been any too happy about the Comcast/NBCU merger either.
Franken laughed when CBS News’s Senior Business and Economics Correspondent Anthony Mason brought up Comcast’s argument that it and Time Warner Cable don’t overlap in markets, explaining, “I’m laughing because we’re supposed to take great comfort from the fact that this is the No. 1 cable company and the No. 2 and they don’t compete in any market, so they’re saying you should be happy that we have these monopolies and now we’re going to be one company with twice as much of a monopoly.” Watch Franken here:
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Bromance is out, romance in. With USA dramedy Psych wrapping its eight-season run this month, star James Roday has set his followup series project, signing on as the male lead of CBS’ single-camera comedy pilot Good Session. Written by John Hamburg and Matt Miller and directed by Hamburg, the project revolves around a happy couple, Joel (Roday) and Lindsay, who go to a therapist to help them decide if they should have a baby but quickly discover they have more to discuss. Roday’s Joel is a dedicated middle-school guidance counselor who thinks his marriage to Lindsay (TBD), a jet-setting executive, is a happy one — but when they disagree about whether the time is right to start a family, they begin the painful, funny, embarrassing and, ultimately, rewarding, road of couples counseling. For the past eight years on Psych, Roday played faux psychic detective Shawn Spencer who, with the help of sidekick Gus (Dule Hill), solved police cases. Roday was an early social media adopter and, along with Hill, helped make Psych one of the first TV series to engage its fans digitally and make it a multi-platform phenom. Roday, repped by CAA and Principal Entertainment, recently wrote and directed feature Gravy.
Law & Order alumna Alana de la Garza has been tapped as the female lead opposite Ioan Gruffudd in ABC’s drama pilot Forever, written by Matthew Miller and directed by Brad Anderson. It centers on Dr. Henry Morgan (Gruffudd), New York City’s star medical examiner. But what no one knows is Henry studies the dead for a reason — he is immortal. His investigative work with recently widowed Detective Jo Martinez (de la Garza), a recovering alcoholic, and relationship with best friend Abe (Judd Hirsch) will peel back the layers of Henry’s colorful and long life. De la Garza, repped by SDB Partners, most recently co-starred on NBC’s Do No Harm. Read More »
Josh Duhamel is returning to television with a lead role in Battle Creek, CBS’ high-profile series written by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and House creator David Shore and directed by Bryan Singer. The straight-to-series drama centers on Detective Russ Agnew (Dean Winters) and FBI agent Milton Chamberlain (Duhamel), who have different worldviews but are teamed up to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, MI. Duhamel’s Milton is a clean-cut FBI agent; a sincere, humble, even naive guy who heads from Detroit to Battle Creek to set up a satellite FBI office. Gilligan, who created Battle Creek several years ago, and Shore, who will serve as showrunner, will executive produce with Singer and Mark Johnson, with Janet McTeer and Kal Penn co-starring. ICM Partners-repped Duhamel started in daytime, on staple All My Children, before segueing to primetime with Crossing Jordan and Las Vegas, in which he played the co-lead opposite James Caan, and then features.
CEO Philippe Dauman just disclosed his plan to add Spike to Viacom‘s overseas pay TV offerings, joining a portfolio that includes MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and the Paramount Channel. “We’re doing a little bit of proof of concept,” he said today at the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference. He’s optimistic because “we have been creating a lot of original programming on Spike itself,” and much of it — especially scripted shows — is “able to travel.” Overseas expansion is “a big, big opportunity” for Viacom and he sees distribution deals in countries including Brazil, Italy, and Russia helping to “fuel long-term growth” for the cable operation. In addition, “we look at India and think of our company a quarter century ago. It’s a great value creation opportunity.” Dauman also is taking a global view for Paramount. Read More »
Among the passengers missing and believed to have perished on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is Ju Kun, the veteran martial arts expert and assistant martial arts choreographer on Marco Polo, the Netflix/The Weinstein Company series pilot that is scheduled to begin production in three weeks. The 35-year old stuntman had completed a day of training and choreography and made a quick trip from Pinewood Studios in Malaysia to his home in Beijing, which was why he boarded the flight that disappeared 35,000 feet over Vietnam.
This sad news comes to me from Marco Polo series creator John Fusco, who provided the below photo he took with Ju Kun the day he boarded the flight. Fusco first worked with Ju Kun on The Forbidden Kingdom and made sure that Ju Kun’s close friend, Marco Polo‘s head fight choreographer Brett Chan, brought him in for both choreography and stunt work on the ambitious series. He said Ju Kun has worked at Jet Li’s stunt double and been in films like Fearless, The Expendables, The Grandmaster and The Forbidden Kingdom, and Fusco said Ju Kun’s mastery of several martial arts styles made his choreography distinctive. Right now, they are all waiting for answers.
“All of us on location in Malaysia are devastated as we go through this agonizing wait,” Fusco told me. “Ju Kun is an integral and beloved member of our Marco … Read More »
Comcast is fast becoming a powerful challenger to Apple and Amazon when it comes to selling downloaded movies and TV shows — the long-awaited replacement for DVDs and Blu-ray discs known in the industry as electronic sell through (or EST). And today’s deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will help, bringing movies including American Hustle and Captain Phillips and TV series Breaking Bad and House Of Cards to the cable company’s offerings. Comcast already has carriage deals with Fox, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal (which the cable company owns), and Warner Bros — but not Disney, Paramount, DreamWorks Animation, or MGM. Comcast doesn’t yet support UltraViolet, so consumers who buy movies or shows from it can’t access them from the entertainment industry’s cloud-based storage lockers. Comcast has its own infrastructure that makes it possible for buyers to access the content they buy, even if they move or stop subscribing to the cable video service. Last month, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said that since Comcast began offering EST in November it “has captured 15% of the EST market and expanded the business.” He said that other cable operators likely will soon follow because “it’s been too successful for Comcast.” Consumers spent $424.8M on EST in Q4, up 44% from the period in 2012, according to Digital Entertainment Group data.