UPDATED: Chris Conroy has booked a series regular role on ABC’s The Club (fka untitled Susannah Grant) from CBS TV Studios and ABC Studios. The drama, already greenlighted straight to series with a 13-episode order, is an upstairs/downstairs soap set at a private country club. Gersh-repped Conroy will play rich and handsome Forty Holbrooke, who was doing OK until his mother killed herself, leaving him everything. Since then he’s been staggering through life with too much money and too little real support.
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Comedy Central resident roastmaster Jeff Ross and Jayson Blair (The New Normal) has signed on to ABC‘s multi-camera untitled Kevin Hart comedy pilot. Written by Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan based on Hart’s life and stand-up, the project takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple, Derek (Romany Malco) and Lorraine (Bresha Webb) Read More »
There may be lots of speculation about the future of DreamWorks in its current incarnation at Disney as my colleague Mike Fleming wrote earlier this week, but you would never know it from last night’s rip-roaring premiere of its latest film, Need For Speed, at the Chinese Theatre. I went in expecting a poor man’s Fast & Furious and instead got a riveting and fun entertainment with lots of heart and emotion in addition to all the stunt driving. The film, which opens Friday and stars Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as a street racer out for revenge after being framed for a death of a young street-racing rookie, has all the requisite action you would expect from this kind of movie, but there’s so much more. The fact that it marks the second feature directed by former stuntman Scott Waugh (the son of another stuntman, Fred Waugh, who passed away while his son was in preproduction) would lead one to believe it would be all pedal-to-the-metal and no soul, but that’s not the case. Waugh’s first feature behind the camera, Act Of Valor, proved he knew how to put humanity into a genre film. What he’s made here is a good old-fashioned movie that doesn’t rely on CGI, has a genuine story to tell with three-dimensional characters (in 3D, no less), and great locations. It also presents yet another reason the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences needs to re-consider its decision not to create a 25th category for stunt work. Come on, these people deserve the recognition on a regular basis. I do understand the ticklish situation with the Actors branch, the Academy’s largest and most powerful, but this kind of work is definitely Oscar worthy. The Television Academy has a stunt peer group and recently even split comedy and drama stunt coordination into two separate Emmy categories. Veteran stuntman-director Hal Needham got an Honorary Oscar in 2012, and I suppose the Academy feels that’s enough recognition for now (Needham passed away several months after getting that Oscar). But it’s not.
Related: Hot Trailer: DreamWorks’ ‘Need For Speed’
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The journalist-turned-PR man who went on to serve two terms as president of the TV Academy died Wednesday in Oceanside, Calif. Hank Rieger was 95. In 1977, he became the first elected president of ATAS following the split between the East and West Coast factions of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He is one of only 11 recipients of the Academy’s Syd Cassyd Award, presented in recognition of long and distinguished service. “Hank Rieger worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the Television Academy,” ATAS Chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum said in a statement. “He believed in the Academy’s ability to have a positive impact on the entire entertainment industry, and we are deeply grateful for all he contributed.” The Kansas City, MO, native served in World War II before beginning his career as a journalist with United Press International, playing a key role in breaking the news of Marilyn Monroe’s death. In 1965, he joined NBC’s public relations department, where he worked with many of the biggest stars and execs in television — from Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson and Milton Berle to Bob Kintner, Grant Tinker, Herb Schlosser and Brandon Tartikoff. He traveled with Hope as the comic entertained U.S. troops overseas and led the publicity team during The Tonight Show‘s move from New York to Los Angeles in 1972. When NBC News writers and reporters went on strike, Rieger filled in for two weeks as an on-air correspondent and host of a weekend political talk show. Read More »
Joanna Going (House Of Cards) has been tapped for a series regular role in DirecTV’s gritty drama series Navy St. From Byron Balasco and Endemol Studios, the dark family drama is set against the backdrop of Navy Street, a Venice, CA-based mixed martial arts gym owned by Alvey Henderson (Frank Grillo), a former fighter who never made it big due to a drug addiction but is now sober. Going will play Christina Hyatt, Alvey’s ex wife and mother to Jay (Jonathan Tucker) and Nate (Nick Jonas). Going, repped by AKA and Vanguard Management, co-stars in the upcoming Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy.
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The premiere of CNN’s new Chicagoland didn’t get totally whacked last night but it certainly didn’t make a ratings killing either – in fact it came a distant third in terms of total viewership compared to its cable news time slot rivals. The 10 PM debut Thursday of the cable news network’s heavily promoted 8-part documentary series drew 227,000 viewers among adults 25-54 with 629,000 total viewers. That was a drop in total viewership of 7% from the 673,000 that the second hour of CNN’s much less hyped And The Oscar Goes To… documentary pulled in on February 27. That also leaves Chicagoland in third place behind the 1.43 million total viewers who watched Fox News Channel’s Hannity and the 816,000 who tuned into MSNBC’s Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.
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In terms of the key news demo, Chicagoland was up 58% from the weak 144,000 viewers who watched the Oscars docu in the same time slot last week. Yes, that’s up just over 100% from the limbo low 113,000 viewers among the 25-54s that CNN has averaged on the previous four Thursdays in the time slot. However even with the full marketing efforts of CNN both on and off-air, Chicagoland was not that much ahead of the 207,000 among the 25-54s that MSNBC got last night with The Last Word– a show that was … Read More »
HBO has unveiled its promo for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which unveils on April 27 (see below). The new weekly satire current events show from the former The Daily Show With Jon Stewart correspondent (and stand-in host) will air at 11 PM on Sundays. Last November, HBO announced it had snagged Oliver to do a weekly show. Oliver took his final Daily Show bow in December, and Stewart had him in tears as he surprised the Brit comic with his own retrospective, on his last day. During the ambush, Oliver, who’d been with the Comedy Central late-night program for more than seven years, was mostly speechless and fighting tears.
Oliver got rave reviews covering for Stewart over the summer on Comedy Central while Stewart took time off to direct his first film, Rosewater. And though Oliver told PBS’ Charlie Rose in an interview, “I don’t think it’s going to change my life”, and that his goal had been only “not to destroy that machine” during his brief tenure, it proved to be a game changer for Oliver — and for Viacom Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog, whose empire includes Comedy Central, and who learned from the experience that there can be life after Stewart — unless HBO comes to the same realization and is looking for another topical late-night show. Watch Oliver’s HBO promo here:
CBS, Disney, Fox, and Time Warner are the easy answers — and the ones that many financial types believe are eyeing the independent programming network companies following Comcast’s $45.2B agreement to buy Time Warner Cable. But Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger takes the conversation a step further today with an intriguing report that suggests several less obvious potential buyers for AMC Networks, Scripps or Starz. Distributors including DirecTV, Dish Network, Charter, AT&T and Verizon might want to take a page from Comcast’s playbook when it bought NBCUniversal. DirecTV doesn’t offer broadband, so it has “additional motivation to take some action to future-proof the business,” possibly by offering exclusive access to certain networks, Juenger says. Charter and Dish are long shots: Charter probably could only afford AMC. And Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen seems intent on acquiring airwave spectrum, although “nobody really knows Mr. Ergen’s potential plans, and they could change.” AT&T and Verizon’s corporate cultures are “a step (or three) further removed from the content business.” Yet here, too, they might take a leap since “their historical core businesses are not exactly growing, and they could amass the financial resources.”
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In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom look at the big Dish-Disney deal and what it might mean for other media companies and even a possible sports-free online pay-TV service. They also discuss Disney’s continuing headaches with its Interactive unit, whether FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s new rules for local broadcast alliances go far enough and look at the speculation about Carmike, the big exhibitor whose strong quarter fueled speculation that it will be a fat takeover target.
Deadline Big Media podcast 75 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 75 (.M4A version)
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Larry Kudlow‘s 7 PM ET CNBC program, The Kudlow Report will end its run at the end of this month, with Kudlow staying on as a senior contributor to the business network’s business-day programs. No word yet as to a replacement program. Kudlow, who has been a part of CNBC for its 25-year history, had headlined The Kudlow Report since January of ’09, after hosting Kudlow & Company from ’05 to 0’8., and partnering with Jim Cramer in Kudlow & Cramer before that. “In my career, I have encountered few television hosts with Larry’s range,” CNBC president Mark Hoffman said in a memo to staff, a copy of which was obtained by TVNewser. “As an interviewer, he is unfailingly polite and energetic, skillfully grilling guests but always ending a segment graciously. Larry has always brought great enthusiasm to every program and appearance.”
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Rake co-star Bojana Novakovic is finalizing a deal for the title role in ABC’s drama pilot Agatha, from ABC Studios and Mark Gordon Co. It centers on former convict-turned-big-city criminologist Agatha (Novakovic), who is brought in to help local police crack a case involving a perplexing disappearance. The casting is in second position to Fox’s midseason series Rake, which has done poorly on Thursdays and is being moved to Fridays starting next week en route to likely cancellation. Rake marked the first US series for Serbian-born Australian actress Novakovic, repped by CAA and Management 360.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
The sci-fi thriller that screened at Sundance will hit theaters June 13 before expanding the following two weekends. In the Focus Features pic, three college students on a road trip across the Southwest experience a detour: the tracking of a computer genius who has already hacked into MIT and exposed security faults. The trio find themselves drawn to an eerily isolated area when suddenly, everything goes dark. When one of the students, Nic, regains consciousness, he is in a waking nightmare. The Signal, from director William Eubank, stars Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, Beau Knapp and Laurence Fishburne. Cutting Edge Group boarded the project during the Baja Film Festival in November.
EXCLUSIVE: Resolution has signed new directors Nadav Schirman and Mike Tully. Schirman’s first film, the Israel-Germany co-production The Champagne Spy, won the Israeli Academy Award for Best Documentary, was nominated for the European Film Prize, and won the John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding First Feature. It is being remade by Bille August and producer Uli Limmer. Schirman followed with In The Darkroom, a feature length docu that is part of a trilogy that continues with The Green Prince, based the nonfiction book Son Of Hamas. Schirman is produced by Schirman through his Frankfurt based A List Films GmbH, in collaboration with Oscar winning producers John Batsek (One Day In September) and Simon Chinn (Man On Wire).
Also signed is Tully, whose Sundance film Ping Pong Summer came out of that festival with a deal from Gravitas.The film stars Susan Sarandon, and centers on an awkward teen who attempts to become a master breakdancer, ping pong player and ladies man all before the end of a summer break in 1985. The film is based on Tully’s own childhood experiences.
Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters, 666 Park Avenue) has nabbed a series regular role in Fox’s Red Band Society, from Amblin TV and ABC Studios. It is a coming-of-age drama that explores with dark humor the daily lives of a group of teenagers living in a hospital who become unlikely friends. Annable, repped by CAA and Barking Dog Entertainment, will play Dr. William McAndrew, a rock star pediatric oncologist and surgeon who tries not to get too attached to his young patients.
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EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director Mike Flanagan and Intrepid Pictures’ Trevor Macy are reteaming on the supernatural thriller Diver, setting a summer production start. Flanagan will direct a script by Diane Ademu-John and Carter Blanchard with revisions by Flanagan and writing partner Jeff Howard. Macy will produce the film, with Marc D. Evans, Asha Kurian, and Julie Wilke also serving in various producing capacities.
Diver revolves around a secret project based in New Orleans that involves a team sent to enter the minds of the recently dead to experience their final memories in order to solve the most heinous crimes. When the Divers breach the barrier between the living and the dead, they must contend with the supernatural force they unleash. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Level 1 Entertainment, which had set Michael Steinberger’s wine counterfeiting Vanity Fair article A Vintage Crime as a dramatic feature, is being rebottled. The story will be told as a documentary to be helmed by Barry Avrich. His docus include The Last Mogul on Lew Wasserman, Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story and Show Stopper: The Theatrical Life Of Garth Drabinsky.
A Vintage Crime focuses on the exploits of wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan, who drove the elite and secretive world of rare-wine collectors into a frenzy with his extravagant showmanship and record-setting deals. Kurniawan conned the biggest players in the fine wine market, including prominent tycoons and entertainment moguls, before he made the mistake that ultimately led to his arrest and the discovery of a wine counterfeiting factory in his suburban Los Angeles home. Charged with mail and wire fraud in connection with the sale of fake rare wines, Kurniawan was convicted in a Manhattan federal court last month and is now facing up to 40 years in jail.
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The documentary about the notorious Mexican drug lord is particularly timely now that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been captured after more than a decade on the run. The Legend Of Shorty chronicles the hunt for the near mythical figure who is alternately described as a brilliant business visionary, an amoral and ruthless murderer, a revolutionary hero and a latter-day Robin Hood. Directors Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos venture into Mexico, where they gained access to El Chapo’s inner circle. The pic from Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching For Sugar Man, Man On Wire) is having its world premiere today in the Documentary Spotlight section at SXSW. Here’s an exclusive look:
EXCLUSIVE: Mexican actor-singer-heartthrob Jaime Camil is making his US pilot debut with a co-starring role opposite Gina Rodriguez in the CW‘s drama Jane The Virgin. Based on the successful Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, Jane The Virgin centers on Jane (Rodriguez), a hardworking religious girl who, due to a series of outrageous events, is accidentally artificially inseminated. International telenovela star Camil will play the series regular role of Rubio, who happens to be a world-famous telenovela star with a surprising connection to Jane. Camil, who is coming off back-to-back hit Spanish-language series in Mexico and the U.S. with Que Pobres Ran Ricos and Poy Ella Soy Eva, is currently seen on Univision’s new rom-com novela, Qué Pobres Tan Ricos. He made a successful feature debut in the US as the star of bilingual Patelion/Lionsgate hit Pulling Strings, which ranked as the third highest-grossing foreign language film of 2013. Additionally, a recent guest appearance by Camil on Devious Maids delivered strong ratings for the Lifetime series, which also has Latin roots. Jane the Virgin, from CBS Studios, is written by Jennie Snyder Urman and directed by Brad Silberling. Camil is with ROAR, WME and attorney James Mandelbaum.
20th Century Fox Television has promoted Jennifer Carreras to VP Comedy Development and Mandy Summers to VP Current Programming. Additionally, former Glamour editor Jen Weinberg has joined the studio as VP Talent Relations and Events. Carreras reports to EVP Development Michael Thorn, Summers to EVP Current Programming Jeffrey Glaser, and Weinberg to SVP Corporate Communications and Publicity Chris Alexander.
Carreras, who joined 20th TV in July 2007 as assistant to Chairman and CEO Dana Walden, most recently had been Director of Comedy Development, shepherding the development of this season’s high-concept new series Enlisted for Fox broadcast network. She oversees a roster of producers, writers and directors for the studio including Mike Royce and The Walcott Co. (Jake Johnson and Max Winkler). She has been working on a broad slate of development this season, including projects from Neil Goldman and Garret Donovan with Kevin Hart, Phil Rosenthal, Joe Port and Joe Wiseman with Mike White, Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser, Wendy and Lizzie Molyneux with Jenny Bicks and Jay Baruchel.
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Former Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman is back at ABC with a lead role in another hourlong project, pilot American Crime. Huffman has closed a deal to play the female lead opposite Timothy Hutton in the drama, written and exec produced by 12 Years A Slave‘s John Ridley. It centers on the racially charged murder of a war veteran and the subsequent trial, which are examined through the personal lives of the players involved. Huffman will play Barb Skokie, Russ’ (Hutton) stoic ex-wife and mother of the killed young man, Matt. She raised her two sons alone in public housing while her husband was off gambling. She still resents living as the only single white woman in a racially charged environment and being treated accordingly by the other occupants. Determined to hold someone accountable for Matt’s murder, Barb plans to stay close to the investigation and get answers.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots