The company says the cash will go toward the catch-all “general corporate purposes” and will come from two transactions. Time Warner will raise $500M from notes due in 2023 that pay 4.05% in interest, and another $500M from debentures due in 2043 that pay 5.35%. Moody’s Investors Service rates them Baa2, indicating that they’re safe with just a moderate degree of risk. “We believe that Time Warner is taking advantage of the low but rising interest rate environment,” Moody’s says. “The company has no public debt maturities in 2014 and $1 billion maturing in 2015.” Fitch Ratings offers a similar rating, BBB+, saying that the borrowing ”enables Time Warner to moderately de-risk its business profile while increasing strategic focus on its Networks, and Film and TV Entertainment segments.” Time Warner had about $17.6B in net debt at the end of September.
EXCLUSIVE: MTV and the network’s SVP scripted programming Justin Levy have parted ways. The decision was mutual and not unexpected given all the changes at MTV over the past few years. Levy joined the network in 2008. Two years later, David Janollari came over as head of scripted. When Janollari was elevated two years later, Levy and Clay Spencer, who had been brought in by Janollari, were made co-heads of scripted and upped to SVP in August 2012. Three months later, Susanne Daniels replaced Janollari and Spencer exited. Levy flew solo on the scripted side for a couple of months until Daniels brought in Mina Lefevre as SVP and head of scripted programming. During his tenure at MTV, Levy has been closely involved in the network’s most successful scripted franchises. He championed MTV’s breakout comedy Awkward and also played an integral part in the development and production of the other successful MTV series, Teen Wolf. Levy comes from a producing background, having joined MTV from Peter Berg’s company Film 44, where he oversaw development and produced Friday Night Lights, among other series.
The 16-year company veteran will oversee film music production at all Fox movie divisions: 20th Century Fox Film, Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000 and Fox Animation. Rebecca Morellato, who was bumped up from VP, has supervised music production for such Fox pics as Avatar, Life Of Pi, Walk The Line and the upcoming The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and Rio 2. “Rebecca is the best in the business, and her expertise will continue to lead our department to new ground,” said Fox Music Head Danielle Diego.
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of Blumhouse Productions‘ supernatural hit Insidious: Chapter 2 crossing $150M worldwide, Blumhouse and Universal are beefing up their sequel to this summer’s micro-budget horror-thriller The Purge. Frank Grillo (The Grey) will lead the cast of The Next Chapter of The Purge under returning Purge helmer James DeMonaco who is also writing and producing. Plot details are under wraps but there’s plenty of opportunity to explore the dystopian world established in the first film, which starred Ethan Hawke as a security system designer protecting his family from home invasion on the one night each year when the cops take a day off to let crime run rampant. The movie opened in June and grossed roughly $90M worldwide on a $3M budget. Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum, Sébastien K. Lemercier and Platinum Dunes’ Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form will produce The Purge 2, which marks the latest Blumhouse project in Blum’s first-look deal with Uni. The sequel is already set for a June 20, 2014 debut.
Exactly a year after FX landed the spec for Tyrant in a competitive situation, the cable network has given the drama project from Homeland co-creators Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff and Six Feet Under alum Craig Wright a series order for a minimum of 10 episodes to debut next summer. Search is underway for a showrunner. The series pickup for Tyrant comes on the heels of FX’s series order to Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse’s The Strain. Along with American Horror Story a couple of years ago, Tyrant and The Strain were the only projects to land FX pilot orders off a pitch/spec. All three had such big commitments that a series order was all but certain and all three had received orders for backup scripts in anticipation of a series pickup. Tyrant, produced by Fox 21 and FX Prods., was the riskiest of the three with its Middle Eastern setting. It did hit several bumps along the way — original director Ang Lee exited, with David Yates stepping in. There were questions about where the series would be filmed (It will be shot in Tel Aviv after the pilot was done in Morocco.) I hear FX brass had reservations about the first cut of the pilot but loved the final one. “With Tyrant, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff and Craig Wright have produced a beautiful television pilot that will be a groundbreaking television series,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. “Tyrant introduces characters and a world that have never been explored in a dramatic television series format. There is a reason a bidding war broke out over this project: it grabs you as all great epics do and simply refuses to let go!” Added 20th TV chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman, “This is one of the most ambitious series we’ve ever set out to make and we couldn’t be more grateful to John and everyone at FX who believed in its potential since the very first pitch.”
The longest-running theatrical release of 2013 and will more than triple its screen count Friday — two weeks before Oscar nom balloting begins. Twenty Feet From Stardom, which puts a spotlight on backup singers for some of music’s biggest acts, will expand from 10 to 32 theaters for its 28th week of release. The Oscar-shortlisted documentary, which Radius-TWC picked up at Sundance, is directed by Morgan Neville and stars Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill and Darlene Love.
Talk about a Discovery-Scripps Networks deal appears to be premature. Discovery execs are engaged in what-if conversations about the idea of bidding for the owner of HGTV and Food Network. But the company hasn’t prepared an offer, and doesn’t have bankers working on one, as it focuses on opportunities to expand its clout overseas, I’m told. Are Discovery execs intrigued by Scripps? Sure — its lifestyle programming could complement Discovery’s. And everyone’s weighing M&A at a time when interest rates are so low. So never say never. But there’s been no fundamental change recently. That may disappoint investors who became excited by Variety‘s report that Discovery’s considering a play for Scripps. Its shares rose 7.6% today to $81 — after touching an all time high of $85.73. Analysts had mixed reactions to the deal talk. Citigroup’s Jason Bazinet downgraded Scripps to “sell,” saying that Discovery’s focus on international expansion makes the excitement about a bid ”unwarranted.” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says that there’s a “persuasive strategic rationale” for a combo if Discovery can help open doors overseas for Scripps’ networks. Moffett Nathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says that both companies have been grappling with soft ratings, so a deal “could help change the near-term U.S. narrative” to potential cost synergies. Wunderlicht Securities’ Matthew Harrigan is intrigued by Discovery’s “heft for affiliate fee wrangles” with cable and satellite distributors. And Macquarie Securities’ Amy …
Fox‘s sequel to its hit 2011 franshise reboot was given another new release date yesterday: this time from July 18, 2014, to July 11, allowing it a bit of breathing room between other summer tentpoles. Here’s the new one-sheet for the 3D Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, which certainly appears to have retained the menace factor of its predecessor. Check it out:
It’s the end of an era as one Time Lord becomes another but yet stays the same. BBC America today released a full trailer for the Time Of The Doctor special set to run on Christmas Day. After over three years as Doctor Who, the special will mark the last appearance of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor is regenerated into Peter Capaldi as the 12th Time Lord. The Scottish actor was unveiled as the new Doctor on a live global special on August 4 this year. The Christmas special, which was first teased late last month during the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who, will also will also feature Fringe‘s Orla Brady in a new role for the series. The annual holiday telecast comes just over a month after The Day Of The Doctor smashed records on November 23rd for BBC America, which traditionally airs the Christmas special in sync with the UK broadcast. Check out the snowy trailer here:
‘Jane Got A Gun’ Scribe Sets Directorial Debut ‘Vivien Hasn’t Been Herself Lately’ For Aldamisa & Before The Door
Aldamisa Entertainment is teaming up with Neal Dodson, Corey Moosa, and Zachary Quinto’s Before The Door Pictures to produce horror romance Vivien Hasn’t Been Herself Lately, from writer-director Brian Duffield. The project marks Duffield’s directorial debut after penning Black List script Your Bridesmaid’s A Bitch and Relativity’s Jane Got A Gun starring Natalie Portman. Vivien tracks a married couple struggling to survive against a supernatural entity and will be exec produced by Nicki Cortese, who brought the script to Aldamisa and Before the Door. Gersh and Circle of Confusion client Duffield is also writing Insurgent for Red Wagon and Summit and last year sold spec script Monster Problems to Paramount for Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps banner. Meanwhile, the Before the Door gang is up for four Indie Spirit Awards for JC Chandor’s All Is Lost and are reteaming with Chandor on his third pic, A Most Violent Year. The banner’s foray into genre includes horror pic Banshee Chapter, due out in January. Aldamisa productions Sin City 2 (The Weinstein Co.) and Chef (Open Road) will hit theaters in 2014. The company’s Jere Hausfater and Philip Elway negotiated the Vivien deal and EVP of Sales Eric Min will handle worldwide presales out of Berlin. Before the Door is repped by CAA and attorney …
TLC loves programming threads. It used to have lots of shows about families with boatloads of children, though it has slimmed down on that thread. It also has its wedding-dress thread, its hoarders thread, its Amish thread. And, The Weinstein Company hopes, it will soon have a trailer park thread. Today, TWC announced it is renaming its doing-okay-but-not-a-hit TLC reality series Welcome To Myrtle Manor, which will henceforth be known as Trailer Park: Welcome To Myrtle Manor, starting with its second season. TWC says it’s making this change in order to spawn lots of trailer park spinoffs, set in other U.S. locations. Ginning up more ratings would help too, but that’s another story, and we hear they’ve tweaked the show for next season.
“The Trailer Park spinoffs that we’re developing promise to bring new twists on the same types of lovable, zany characters and entertaining scenarios,” TWC TV president Meryl Poster said in this morning’s announcement, noting they did something similar with Project Runway All Stars, Project Accessory and the recent Under The Gunn — all Project Runway spinoffs.
From TWC’s announcement:
Turner Classic Movies last night premiered its annual In Memoriam video, TCM Remembers, in advance of the crush of In Memoriams that are unveiled during trophy-show season. Unlike those often controversial televised in memoriam segments – including, most loudly, this year’s Emmycast – TCM’s is not subject to the same time constraints, or politics. That said, it’s already been chided, in comments made by YouTube viewers, for not including Cory Monteith or Paul Walker. This year’s video was shot at The Lyric Fine Arts Theatre in Birmingham, Ala, which was built in 1914 and is currently undergoing a major restoration, for which a fundraising campaign just reached its $7 million fundraising goal, TCM reports.
ABC Family‘s new president is Tom Ascheim. Ascheim, who has served as EVP and General Manager of Nickelodeon Television and CEO of Newsweek, will start immediately. He succeeds Michael Riley, who announced his departure in September to relocate to the UK. The hire of Ascheim comes after an exhaustive search led by Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, that included vetting a number of internal Disney candidates (Riley also came from within the company) as well as outside ones. Those considered included Riley’s No. 2, EVP Original Programming and Development and Chief Creative Officer Kate Juergens, though, like she did when Riley’s predecessor Paul Lee left, she is expected to remain focused on the network’s programming as Sweeney reportedly searched for an executive with a strong business background. Ascheim certainly is a surprising choice. He wasn’t on people’s radar and is better known for his rocky tenure as Newsweek CEO than his TV experience. But he was on Sweeney’s radar from working together at Nickelodeon, leading to his dark-horse hire in the top ABC Family position over established TV executives who met for the job. “I knew Tom during my time at Nickelodeon, and always thought he was an incredibly smart, strategic executive,” said Sweeney, to whom Aschem will report. “Since then, he has only reinforced my opinion of his abilities. Whether in print, television, or the financial sector, Tom has gone from success to success.”
This could provide an important boost for the effort that Comcast and Twitter announced in October to strengthen social media users’ bond with TV shows. The companies say that as early as Q1 content suppliers ABC Entertainment, A+E Networks, AMC Networks, Crown Media, Discovery, and Fox Networks will join the initiative — as will distributors Cablevision, Charter, and Time Warner Cable. (Comcast-owned NBCUniversal is already on board, of course.) Here’s the way it’s supposed to work: When a Twitter user discusses a TV show, a “SEEIt” button will show up on the tweet. Readers using a mobile device who click on the button can instruct the set top box to take them directly to the show (live or on demand) — just as they would with a remote control — or watch online if available, set a DVR to record it, or simply create a reminder to watch. Comcast is “encouraged by the early results during our ‘preview’ period,” says Chief Business Development Officer Sam Schwartz. “These new partners will help enhance the experience by allowing more consumers to conveniently tune, record, or watch their favorite shows and movies from the places they’re discovering them.”
A+E Networks‘ long-gestating plan to convert Bio Channel into a lifestyle cable network has been made official today with the announcement that Bio will be rebranded as FYI next summer. (this is the network’s new logo on right)
One of Nancy Dubuc’s top priorities after becoming president and CEO of A+E Networks earlier this year has been revamping the group’s emerging networks: Bio, LMN and H2. As part of her turnaround plans, Dubuc tapped BBC executive Jana Bennett, who helped usher TLC into mainstream programming in the early 2000s, to run LMN and Bio. Bennett will now oversee FYI as president of FYI and LMN. The hire indicated Dubuc’s desire to add a lifestyle brand to her cable portfolio, led by History, A&E and Lifetime. Since she put the plan into motion in the spring, the lifestyle cable space opened up surprisingly when NBCU rebranded Style as male-focused Esquire. In preparation for Bio’s transformation, the network quietly started re-airing A&E’s house-flipping shows. It also had been actively developing new projects to fit Bio’s new identity, with 30 potential series in the works.
Prison Break‘s Robert Knepper will play President Snow’s minister Antonius in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts 1 & 2, Lionsgate announced today. Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss opposite Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta in the final two franchise sequels. Julianne Moore also joined the cast as Alma Coin along with Natalie Dormer, Stef Dawson, Lily Rabe, Patina Miller, and Wes Chatham and Elden Henson. Knepper is repped by Innovative Artists and Kramer Management.
The SAG Awards are traditionally late to recognize new series — the guild failed to give Showtime’s Homeland a single nomination for the first season, which won Emmys for both of its stars (Claire Danes and Damian Lewis) as well as best drama series. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Julia Louis-Dreyfus, coming off two consecutive Emmy wins for her role on HBO’s Veep, landed her first SAG Award nominations for the show this morning — for best actress in a comedy series and best comedy ensemble. (Louis-Dreyfus has been nominated before for Seinfeld and The New Adventures Of Old Christine and has won individuals and ensemble honors for Seinfeld.) Also landing their first SAG TV nominations are Emmy nominees Kerry Washington for ABC’s Scandal and Don Cheadle for Showtime’s House Of Lies. And Emmy winner Peter Dinklage and Emmy nominee Mayim Bialik nabbed their first individual SAG noms for their hit series, Game Of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory, respectively, with both also earning ensemble noms.
Related: SAG Awards Nominations Announced
Of the new series creating buzz in 2013, only Netflix’s House Of Cards was recognized with a nom for star Kevin Spacey. Nothing for Showtime’s Ray Donovan or Masters Of Sex, both big actor showcases; FX’s The Americans; or Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. And Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany continues to be shunned by the major awards races. Another “newcomer,” Netflix’s Arrested Development, returned to the SAG Awards field after a long hiatus. The series earned its third ensemble SAG nom and star Jason Bateman his second individual one, with the previous noms coming in 2005 and 2006 when the comedy aired on Fox. Arrested Development’s reunion season made for a SAG Awards first — an actor, Tony Hale, getting two best ensemble nominations for two concurrent series — Arrested and HBO’s Veep.
Even more than the Emmys, the SAG Awards continue to nominate the same performers year after year. Alec Baldwin is on his eighth consecutive nomination for 30 Rock, his co-star, series creator Tina Fey, on her seventh, as is the series’ ensemble. (Baldwin has won all seven times so far; Fey, four; the show’s entire cast, one). Like Baldwin, actresses Edie Falco, Jessica Lange and Maggie Smith have been nominated every year their shows have been eligible, with Falco getting a fifth consecutive nomination for Nurse Jackie and Lange and Smith landing third consecutive noms for American Horror Story and Downton Abbey, respectively. (Lange and Smith have won once, though Smith’s win was in the drama ensemble category last year.) Ditto for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and star Steve Buscemi, on their fourth consecutive noms for best drama ensemble and actor (with two wins in each category). But, surprisingly, another perennial SAG Awards favorite, The Good Wife‘s Julianna Margulies, who had been nominated for each of the series’ first four seasons, winning twice, was snubbed despite the series and Margulies getting praise for what is considered the series’ strongest season. Also failing to make the cut for the first time since the launch of her latest series was Hot In Cleveland star and SAG Awards darling Betty White, who had been nominated for three straight years, winning twice.
Coming off April’s Oblivion, Tom Cruise stars in Doug Liman‘s futuristic sci-fier as an officer in a brutal alien war who becomes stuck in a time loop and is forced to re-live the same combat mission over and over. Emily Blunt is the lethal soldier who helps Cruise become a warrior while he’s trapped in his Groundhog Day-style existential crisis. WB and Village Roadshow release Edge of Tomorrow on June 6. Check out the first trailer for the pic formerly known as All You Need Is Kill: