Like The Game, which set ratings records when revived by BET, another comedy series targeting black audiences came back roaring after a lengthy break from television. Last night’s Season 4 bow of the Sony Pictures TV-produced animated series The Boondocks on Adult Swim set series highs across all key demos, including adults 18-34 (1.40 million) and adults 18-49 (1.9 million), up 50% from the show’s previous season averages. It was Adult Swim’s most-watched primetime telecast among key adult demographics in at least five years. The Boondocks premiere was the No. 1 TV program in all of television last night — broadcast or cable — among Adult Swim’s target 18-34 demographic, topping NBC’s The Voice (1.36 million) and TNT’s NBA Playoffs coverage (1.16 million).
Related: Adult Swim Greenlights Live-Action Comedy Series ‘Black Jesus’
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A huge slug of option awards propelled the Starz CEO to a compensation package that’s close to what Jeff Bewkes made at Time Warner, a much bigger company. Chris Albrecht benefited from a new contract that coincided with the premium cable channel company’s spinoff from Liberty Media in January 2013, according to the company proxy just filed at the SEC. His package: $1.3M salary, $27.9M option awards, $1.3M non equity incentives, and $16,134 in other compensation. Not much commentary in the proxy about Albrecht’s achievements, but Starz shares basically doubled in value in 2013 following the spin off. His compensation accounted for 71% of the pie for the company’s five top execs, up from 63% in 2012. Corporate governance watchdogs also would consider it way out of whack for the company. Albrecht’s pay was 9.9 times the median for his closest lieutenants, up from 6.7 times in 2012. Many governance specialists flash a warning sign about a CEO’s power when he or she makes more than three times the median for other execs.
Jeremy Davies (Justified) and Robert Knepper (Prison Break) have been cast in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Davies, repped by Paradigm, Silver Lining Entertainment and attorney Karl Austen, will play Sgt. Ephraim Knowles, a shifty rogue whose only thought is for his own survival who reluctantly joins the Rangers to avoid being executed for desertion. Knepper, repped by Innovative Artists and Kramer Management, will play Empresario Buckley, an unshaven bombastic slob. He is the only law in the town of Victoria, and he abuses his position to further his own agenda and make himself rich in the process. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: JJ Abrams, Matthew Carnahan, Jane Espenson, Hart Hanson, Ronald D. Moore, Kurt Sutter, and Joss Whedon are just some of the powerhouse television creators who appear in new docu Showrunners, from writer/director Des Doyle. Pic is the first feature length film to explore the rising power of the TV showrunner and the behind the scenes process that goes into making a hit show. Doyle brought the WonderCon crowds a taste over the weekend, appearing alongside Steven Molaro (The Big Bang Theory), Espenson (Once Upon a Time, Husbands), Steve Callaghan (Family Guy), John Rogers (Leverage, The Librarians), Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow), Rockne S. O’Bannon (Revolution), Marc Guggenheim (Arrow), Chris Carter (The X-Files, The After), and Showrunners co-producer Ryan Patrick McGuffey to unveil a clip from the film, which you can check out exclusively on Deadline below. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Morgan Spurlock‘s production company Warrior Poets has partnered with indie distributors Virgil Films and Abramorama to form the label Morgan Spurlock Presents. The plan is to acquire and release distinctive fiction and documentary features theatrically and on cable VOD. Two films are first up under the new venture and will be released this year: A Brony Tale, the docu that premieres Saturday at Tribeca and centers on the cultural phenomenon of men obsessed with Hasbro’s My Little Pony, the magical talking horse toys. It is set for a July bow. The other is Two: The Story Of Roman & Nyro, from Heather Winters, the exec producer of Spurlock’s Oscar-nominated breakout docu Super-Size Me. It follows rock songwriter Desmond Child and his longtime partner Curtis Shaw Child as they raise their two sons.
Related: Tribeca Trailer: ‘A Brony Tale’
Under the model, films the companies discover that have targeted audiences but that otherwise might be overlooked will be released via the label in 20-30 theatrical markets just before cable VOD bows. Read More »
“Kidnap? Crashing a wedding? Stealing a diamond? All right, we’re in.” Well, that and Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan as a divorced couple who head to Paris after being screwed out of their pension by their company’s new owners. Will the City of Light charm the former spouses as they try to right the corporate wrong? Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Louise Bourgoin and Laurent Lafitte co-star in the pic from writer-director Joel Hopkins. Ketchup Entertainment, which acquired the comedy after its Toronto premiere last year, will open it May 23. Here’s a peek:
Hot off her Best Supporting Actress Oscar win, Lupita Nyong’o has signed with CAA. The 2012 Yale School of Drama grad made her feature debut in the Steve McQueen-helmed Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave playing cotton plantation slave Patsey opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender. Nyong’o was a darling of Oscar season, storming red carpets and media appearances in what marked her breakthrough year during which she racked up numerous critics’ awards, a SAG Award, and Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. The Kenyan-Mexican actress also appeared in Universal’s airborne thriller Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. She’s also repped by D2 Management and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.
EXCLUSIVE: When seasoned agents leave one major percentery for another, the tale is told by how many clients change addresses with them. Back in March, Stuart Manashil made the leap to WME after spending the past 6 1/2 years at CAA and before that spent six years at UTA. In what marks the third case — Dan Aloni and Warren Zavala were the first two — where agents pried their clients away from CAA, Manashil has strengthened WME’s writer-director roster quite a bit.
Related: Selena Gomez Signs With WME
Here’s who he brought with him: Read More »
FX Productions has closed an overall production deal with Noah Hawley, the writer, executive producer and showrunner of Fargo, FX‘s first limited series as part of the cable network’s push in event programming. The two-year agreement for Hawley and his 26 Keys banner covers development for all television, both cable and broadcast. “As is evident by the universal acclaim and extraordinary reviews pouring in for Fargo, Noah Hawley is one of the most talented writer/producers in this business,” said FX Networks and FX Prods President of Original Programming Eric Schrier. Inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers movie, Fargo tells a new story. Hawley wrote all episodes of the limited series, which earned great reviews. It launched to so-so premiere audience of 2.65 million but has grown in time-shifted viewing, amassing 6.3 million viewers in Live+3. “Making Fargo for FX has been the highlight of my career,” Hawley said.”A writer can search his or her whole career for a network partner who truly understands and encourages their vision. For me, the search is over. When John Landgraf announced ‘at FX, we’d rather make something great for somebody, than something good for everybody,’ I knew I’d found a home.”
The long road of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher to the big screen finally has a finish line. Sony Pictures Classics has set a November 14 release date for the pic starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, which last week landed a competition berth at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a prime awards-season spot for the drama, which tells the true story of Olympic wrestling champion brothers Mark Schultz (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and their relationship with the eccentric John du Pont (Carell), heir to the DuPont Chemical fortune, that led to murder. Right now it will share the November 14 date with Universal’s Dumb And Dumber To, Sony/Columbia’s Brad Pitt war drama Fury and Relativity’s Blackbird.
Foxcatcher was being primed for a big AFI Fest bow and an Oscar-season splash last fall before pulling out at the last minute. SPC said the move was so filmmakers “can have more time to finish the film.” It had been set for a December 2013 release. AFI Fest later set August: Osage County for the gala premiere spot. Read More »
Food Network and Cooking Channel today unveiled 35 new series that will roll out during the next several months. Among the new additions on Food Networks’ slate, announced during Scripps Networks Interactive‘s upfront in New York, is The Valerie Bertinelli Project (wt) set for a September premiere. It features the Hot In Cleveland star and bestselling cookbook author and her husband preparing dinners for family and celebrity friends in their Los Angeles home. Bunim/Murray is producing. Also on the slate is an expansion of the Chopped franchise set for a July premiere. The five-episode Chopped Teens Tournament features 16 talented teenage chefs who must create the perfect appetizer, entree and dessert as they navigate through each round. The winner from each episode heads into the finale with a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize and culinary school scholarship. Notional is producing for Food Network. New Food Network and Cooking Channel series include: Read More »
The comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will hit theaters on December 18, 2015. Pitch Perfect helmer Jason Moore directs The Nest, about two disconnected sisters cleaning out their parents’ family home who throw one last high school rager for their now-grown former classmates. Universal hopes it’ll serve as a counterprogramming option to Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode VII, which also opens that weekend along with Sony’s thriller Inferno. Jay Roach is producing The Nest alongside Fey, with Poehler exec producing. SNL and 30 Rock scribe Paula Pell penned the script.
EXCLUSIVE: Josh Berman tenure at Sony Pictures Television will be crossing the decade mark with a fourth consecutive overall deal. Under the new, three-year pact, Berman continues as executive producer and showrunner of Sony TV’s Lifetime series Dead Drop Diva. He created the dramedy, now in its sixth and final season, under his first overall pact at the studio. He also will continue to develop projects for network and cable. Berman began his career as a junior writer on the first season of CBS’ CSI. He remained on the long-running procedural for six years, rising to executive producer. He went on to create the Fox drama Vanished and spent four years on the network’s veteran procedural Bones. While at Sony TV, Berman, repped by CAA and attorney Ken Richman, also co-created and executive produced the Fox drama Mob Doctor.
UPDATED: CBS investors apparently became more comfortable with the Aereo news from the Supreme Court as the afternoon wore on. The broadcasters’ shares edged back into positive territory, closing +0.1%, and narrowed the striking gap with the S&P 500 that opened right around the time justices began questioning lawyers in the case.
PREVIOUS, 11:00 AM: Can’t say for sure, but the timing leads me to think that there’s a connection. CBS has the most at stake in the Aereo case among Big Media companies because it’s so dependent on broadcasting — including retransmission consent fees which, in theory, could be jeopardized if the streaming service can tap over-the-air transmissions without payment. CBS was up about 0.8% this morning, in line with the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500, until shortly after noon ET — during the court’s questioning period — when it fell sharply to -0.8% without a corresponding change in the S&P. Shares have begun to creep back up, but are still -0.2% in afternoon trading. This should be a good day for the broadcaster: This morning Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne reiterated a “buy” recommendation for CBS, saying that even a loss at the Supreme Court would have “no impact” on existing retransmission consent deals. The analyst added that a loss also “likely leads to a legislative response in ’15 ultimately confirming the networks’ ability to … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: New Regency, RatPac Entertainment and Plan B have acquired 3 Videotapes, a pitch by Ian McCulloch that puts both companies in the low-budget genre game. The film is an elevated thriller with aspects of The Ring and Memento. RatPac’s Brett Ratner is executive producer. New Regency’s Arnon Milchan and Brad Weston brought in Plan B last fall after they collaborated on Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave. They recently acquired The Operators, which will be developed as a star vehicle for Brad Pitt with Animal Kingdom helmer David Michôd to write and direct The latter project is also being done with RatPac, with Pitt producing with his Plan B partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, and Ratner exec producing. WME reps McCulloch.
Len Wiseman (Total Recall, Sleepy Hollow) is set to direct Black Chapter, about an FBI agent drawn into a top secret military program in which spies train in paranormal abilities. Skydance Productions is co-financing and producing the science fiction thriller, scripted by Zak Penn (X-Men: The Last Stand) from a story conjured up by Penn and Wiseman. “Black Chapter is a science fiction story that draws from our own history,” said Len Wiseman. “I’ve always been fascinated by the mysteries surrounding the CIA’s astral projection program during its MK-ULTRA era. What if those experiments had actually worked? Would we even know?” Wiseman will also produce for his Sketch Films banner alongside Skydance’s David Ellison and Dana Goldberg. Skydance’s Paul Schwake is exec producing alongside David Bernardi for Sketch Films. Wiseman is repped by CAA and Behr & Abramson. Penn is repped by CAA and McKuin Frankel Whitehead, LLP.
Cannes? Who needs Cannes?
Last night in Hollywood, COLCOA, the “biggest” French film festival got underway with the North American premiere of legendary director Claude LeLouch‘s 44th film, We Love You, You Bastard to an overflow audience at the Directors Guild Theatre. Actually it should be noted organizers call this the “biggest” French film fest held outside of France. No, it’s not bigger than that one that happens in May that we keep talking about but with a record 61 French films of all shapes and sizes it’s a nice alternative until we can get to the South of France in 3 weeks.
This is the 18th year for Colcoa, which stands for City Of Lights, City Of Angels and is produced by the Franco-American Cultural Fund which is a partnership of the DGA, WGAW, MPA and French Society for Authors, Composers and Music Publishers. 20,000 French film fans are expected to hit the DGA all week through closing night next Monday with the North American Premieres of a new Catherine Deneuve film In The Yard, which doesn’t even open in France until this week, and a thriller, Mea Culpa. That announcement was held until last night’s opening. According to Francois Truffart (not to be confused with Truffaut, the great French director who died 30 years ago and has a theatre named in his honor during the fest) there are 37 U.S., North American and International Premieres this week, many of them without U.S. distribution so this could be a rare chance to see what he calls a real “cocktail” of French cinema. Read More »