For the Saturday, Aug. 23 season launch of Doctor Who, BBC America is pulling out all the stops with a slew of televised and theatrical events. It’s all a part of celebrating actor Peter Capaldi’s first season as the mysterious, time-travelling Doctor. Similar to his respective Walking Dead and Breaking Bad fan/guest chat shows, Talking Dead and Talking Bad, Chris Hardwick will host Doctor Who: Live Pre-Show at 7:30 PM ET prior to the 8PM ET premiere and Doctor Who: After Who Live at 11:00 PM ET following the first episode of BBC America’s new Mira Sorvino series Intruders. The pre-show and post-show will feature an array of guests in the studio including writer and actor Mark Gatiss as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.
Spell M-E-R-G-E-R: E.W. Scripps, Journal Communications Will Create TV-Station Powerhouse, Spin Off Newspapers
Here’s the latest installment in the media merger mania saga: Journal Communications shares are up 26.6% with E.W. Scripps +10.6% today after the companies unveiled a plan to merge TV operations and spin off their newspapers. The TV company will retain the E.W. Scripps name and be controlled by the Scripps family (which will retain control of the popular Scripps National Spelling Bee).
The company will become the No. 5 independent TV group, reaching 18% of all households with stations in 27 markets including eight political battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. Scripps will own affiliates for all of the Big Four networks, but will be especially important to ABC with 15 of its affiliates.
EXCLUSIVE: Emily Ratajkowski, the model who parlayed a risque appearance in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video into a GQ cover stamping her the next big thing, and a lead role opposite Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, will star alongside Zac Efron in We Are Your Friends, a film that will be directed by Max Joseph, co-star of MTV’s Catfish series. Joseph makes his directing debut on a script he wrote with Meaghan Oppenheimer from a story by Richard Silverman. Working Title Films partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner will produce. Studio Canal is financing, and at this point the company is hanging on to domestic rights. Silverman is exec producer.
Efron and Ratajkowski are set and Insurgent‘s Jonny Weston, Shiloh Fernandez and Alex Shaffer are also in various stages of negotiations for a film that starts shooting August 18 in the San Fernando Valley. The film is a coming-of age-drama about finding your voice. It’s set in the worlds of electronic music and the Hollywood nightlife, where an aspiring 23-year-old DJ named Cole spends his days scheming with his childhood friends and his nights working on the one track that will set the world on fire. All of this changes when he meets a charismatic but damaged older DJ named James who takes him under his wing. Things get complicated, however, when Cole starts falling for James’ much …
EMMYS: TV Academy To Honor Casting Queen Marion Dougherty With Governors Award; Announces Juried Winners
Casting director Marion Dougherty will be posthumously awarded the 2014 Governors Award, the Television Academy said today. It will be presented, along with the Juried Award winners (also announced today) during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday, August 16 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.
Dougherty, who passed away in 2011, is being recognized for defining the role of the Casting Director, changing the profession for both television and film. She broke the mold of traditional casting, which commonly involved bringing in a large number of the same type of actors to read for a role. Instead, she would bring three or four very different actors to provide the director with casting options, and performers who could bring unique shadings to the roles. She used that approach in casting Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Martin Sheen, William Shatner, Christopher Walken, Robert Duval, Glenn Close and James Caan in some of their earliest roles.
Among her many achievements: suggesting to Norman Lear that Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton play Archie and Edith on Lear’s pilot for a new series called All In The Family; convincing Richard Donner to cast Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon even though his part was written for a white male; and casting Robin Williams in Garp, his first dramatic role.
There was a push in 1991 to get Dougherty the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar — with the likes of Warner Bros’ Mark Rosenberg, Paula Weinstein, Newman, Woody Allen and Sydney Pollack behind the campaign — but that lobbying effort failed.
UPDATE, 10:24 AM PT: Here’s the deal on Mike Pavlic, who takes that top post as president of Worldwide Creative Advertising, the one beloved vet Tommy Gargotta relinquished yesterday. Pavlic had been EVP Creative Advertising, and he will report to Dwight Caines, President of Domestic Theatrical Marketing for Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. Pavlic will oversee domestic and global creative advertising team in all films released under the Sony umbrella. “Mike is a talented and passionate creative executive whose instincts are as strong as his commitment to great work,” said Caines. “I am thrilled that he will be mentoring and leading the team as we rebuild for the future.”
Pavlic worked at Big Picture Entertainment as editor and producer after an early stint at Sony as manager of Creative Advertising. He rejoined Sony SPE in 2009, and Pavlic has worked on the campaigns for 22 Jump Street, American Hustle, Zero Dark Thirty, Grown Ups 2, Moneyball, Zombieland, Julie & Julia and a lot of other hits.
VH1 is bolstering its New York programming team with the hire of Jennifer McGovern as VP, Development, East Coast and Ken Martinez as VP, Current Production, East Coast. They will report to Nina L. Diaz, SVP, East Coast Production and Development. In addition, Vivian Gomez has been promoted to Director, Current Production.
McGovern will be responsible for the development of all East Coast original unscripted programming and lead the East Coast development team. She comes from Oxygen where she was Director of Development and Production since August 2010, working on such series as The Glee Project, I’m Having Their Baby and the upcoming Funny Girls and Nail’d It! Before Oxygen, McGovern was Manager of Alternative Series at TLC, working on Sarah Palin’s Alaska, Brace For Impact: The Chesley B. Sullenberger Story and Police Women Of Broward County, and worked as manager of development at Fox TV Studios.
Martinez will head up production on all East Coast original programming and manage the network’s slate of current unscripted series. He comes from Big Fish Entertainment, where he was an executive producer on the VH1 series Black Ink Crew. He also worked as a producer on Celebrity Wife Swap for ABC and From G’s To Gents on MTV as well as VH1′s Rock Of Love, Gotti’s Way, Flavor Of Love and My Fair Brady. In her new role, Gomez will executive produce multiple series, including Love …
Dimension Films said it will release the supernatural thriller Demonic on December 12. Maria Bello and Frank Grillo star in the pic based on an original idea by Saw and Insidious co-creator James Wan, who’s becoming a go-to guy in the genre and most recently directed Fast & Furious 7 for Universal. Wan and Lee Clay are producing and Will Canon directed. Pic centers on the aftermath of a massacre where five college students/amateur ghost-hunters were murdered inside an abandoned home and a pair of detectives try to figure out what went down.
Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz are partnering with Fields Corporation and All Nippon Entertainment Works on a live-action English-language adaptation of Japanese manga Soul ReViver. The supernatural action series was originally created in 2012 by Tohru Fujisawa and Manabu Akishige and has featured in Hero’s, a monthly Japanese comic magazine. The story centers on Jin and Clara, two soul revivers who have the ability to move between the worlds of the living and the dead and to bring certain people back whose mission on Earth was not complete at the time of their demise. There are currently four editions of the manga.
Herskovitz and Zwick will write the screenplay, and Zwick will direct. Their Bedford Falls will produce with Japan-based entertainment companies Fields and All Nippon. There’s currently no timeframe on the project. Zwick recently directed chess drama Pawn Sacrifice which is running in Toronto. He and Herskovitz are also producing Ron Howard’s upcoming Heart Of The Sea. The longtime partners have a history with Japanese culture, having made The Last Samurai in 2003.
Lyvers comes from Television 360, a division of Management 360, where she oversaw the department’s development and production slate including Avenues Of Spies, Heartland Trucking and The Terror, among others. She previously served as VP Development & Production at Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions where for more than 10 years she oversaw the feature film and television slate.
Bennett joins CBS from Fox where she was Director, Drama Development, working on Sleepy Hollow, The Following, Gang Related, Almost Human and the upcoming Red Band Society, Empire and Backstrom. This marks her return to CBS TV Studios where she worked as an assistant in comedy development before joining the CW as a drama development coordinator.
Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine star in Disney‘s adaptation of James Lapine’s Broadway musical Into The Woods. It follows the classic tales s of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel, all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them. Rob Marshall directs the pic that bows on December 25. Check out the first trailer that dropped this morning:
The company that sensationalizes pain seemed to feel a lot of it in Q2: The bold $9.99 a month streaming video venture that World Wrestling Entertainment launched in February only had 700,000 subscribers at the end of June, it says today. That’s half of the 1.4M that the company said in May it needs to offset lost pay-per-view TV sales, much of it from fans watching online. The growth rate is nothing to brag about. WWE Network only added 33,000 subs in Q2. In April the company boasted that it was “well on its way to reaching its goal of 1 million subscribers by the end of 2014.”
Now it’s bracing for the point in a few weeks — after SummerSlam on August 17 — when initial subs’ six-month commitment expires. SummerSlam “will likely be the biggest draw through the remainder of the year,” Benchmark Co’s Mike Hickey observed yesterday. As a result, “We suspect subscribers will wrestle with the decision to immediately renew their six month subscription.”
So why is the stock up 7.9% today? Some investors believe that WWE’s been beat up enough; even with today’s uptick, shares are down 36% over the last three months. And WWE employees are sharing some of the pain. The company says it will slash its staff by 7%, contributing to a $30M improvement in its cash flow outlook for this year.
The Q2 numbers also weren’t as bad as analysts expected. Revenues at $156.3M, +2.6% from last year, came close to projections for $156.8M. The net loss, at 14.5M vs …
Tentpole director-producer Michael Bay has extended and expanded his first-look agreement with Paramount Pictures. The new deal, just announced, extends the current agreement with Bay’s production company Platinum Dunes for an additional three years, and also expands it to cover Bay Films. The pact begins immediately. This seems like a no-brainer for the studio: Bay’s pics have made more than $6 billion at the global box office, and his hits for Paramount include the Transformers series, the latest of which, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, is at $966.4 million worldwide since its release a month ago. In all, the four pics have grossed $3.7 billion.
“With an ever-growing, worldwide fan base, Michael is truly one of the most inspired and beloved filmmakers of our time,” Paramount chairman and CEO Brad Grey said. “We take great pride in the fact that Michael is part of the Paramount family and we look forward to growing our productive and successful partnership.”
Bay’s other popcorn pics include The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, The Island, the Bad Boys movies and Pain & Gain. Platinum Dunes partners Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form are next up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in August, horror pic Ouija and Project Almanac and a Friday The 13th reboot due in 2015.
Platinum Dunes is having a good run on the TV side too, with The Last Ship debuting this summer as cable TV’s top new series, and Starz’s swashbuckling pirate adventure series/Treasure Island prequel Black Sails, which seems destined for a third-season pickup.
UPDATE with casting, schedule info below: Playwright A.R. Gurney’s romantic two-hander will return to Broadway for a star-fueled revival beginning September 13 at the Nederlander Theatre. Among the pairings for the run are Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow, launching the show, followed by Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Carol Burnett, Anjelica Huston, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg and Martin Sheen. Rigg is appearing with the support of Actors’ Equity Association.
The director is two-time Tony winner Gregory Mosher. Producers are Nelle Nugent, Barbara Broccoli, Fredrick Zollo, Olympus Theatricals, Kenneth Teaton and Colleen Camp.
Show was earlier reported as a possible tenant for the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. “The Nederlander had more weeks available and was available so we grabbed it,” Mosher told Deadline.
Love Letters has an all-Tony-winner design team of John Lee Beatty (set), Jane Greenwood (costumes) and Peter Kaczorowski (lighting). Casting is by Telsey + Company’s William Cantler and Andrew Femenella.
Here’s the schedule so far:
Saturday, September 13, 2014, through Friday, October 10, 2014: Brian Dennehy & Mia Farrow
Saturday, November 8, 2014 through Friday, December 5, 2014: Alan Alda & Candice Bergen
Saturday, December 6, 2014, through Friday, January 9, 2015: Stacy Keach & Diana Rigg
Saturday, January 10, 2015, through Sunday, February 1, 2015: Anjelica Huston & Martin Sheen
The first reading of Love Letters took place at the New York Public Library, performed by Gurney and Holland Taylor. The original full production was directed by John Tillinger and opened November 3, 1988, at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut starring Joanna …
Legendary Hollywood makeup artist Dick Smith has died at the age of 92. His protege and fellow makeup genius Rick Baker tweeted the sad news this morning.
“The master is gone. My friend and mentor Dick Smith is no longer with us. The world will not be the same.”
Smith’s iconic transformations appeared in films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The Exorcist, in which he created the device that allowed Linda Blair to projectile vomit. He also transformed the look of F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus, as he aged in the film from his 40s to his 80s. In 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences presented Smith with an honorary Oscar (Smith’s second, his first was for Amadeus) at the Governors Awards. It was presented by Baker who called Smith “my idol, mentor, and friend for over 40 years, the greatest makeup artist of all time”. On accepting the award, an emotional, tearful Smith said ”When I watch the wonderful films they just showed, I thought, ‘What a wonderful career this fellow has had.’ I have loved being a makeup artist. To have had so much kindness is just too much.”
Earlier in his career, he worked on the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, a project he credited with being valuable preparation for the 1970 film Little Big Man. In Dark Shadows, vampire Barnabas Collins was undergoing medical treatment to change him into a living human being. …
In a world … that’s not underwater, the denizens of Bikini Bottom must recover a mysterious book that — oh, forget about the plot. Just go get your kids and behold the first trailer for SpongeBob: Sponge Out Of Water, the second big-screen romp for the Nickelodeon stalwart and his briny chums. The 3D pic from SpongeBob SquarePants vet and rookie feature director Paul Tibbitt follows the CGI adventures of our porous hero along with Patrick, Squidward, Sandy, Mr. Krabs and Plankton, as they venture onto terra firma for the first time. Look for bikini babes and Slash, listen for “Welcome To The Jungle” and Antonio Banderas as Alameda Jack. Paramount opens it February 6:
In 2012, China relaxed its feature film import quota, upping the total number of foreign movies eligible for a 25% revenue-share slot to 34. In the meantime, online has been a pretty freewheeling space where American culture has been given a large window to be exploited in the country. In the past few months, however, there has been an increase in cracking down on online content. And today, Chinese media says a plan may be afoot to impose a quota system on the licensing of overseas programs by video websites. The idea being mulled over by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television would have implications for video giants like Sohu, Youku Tudou and Tencent who collectively stream about 400 American and British TV shows — with audiences rabid for the likes of Sherlock, The Vampire Diaries and others.
I’m cautioned that there has been talk for a long time about applying stricter censorship enforcement to online content, and China specialist Rob Cain tells me, “It would be no surprise to see it enacted.” He says the Communist party “wants to set the rules of morality and proper conduct in China — essentially to keep people behaving in ‘appropriate’ ways that support, or at least don’t threaten, the (party)’s rule or legitimacy — and foreign programs are generally perceived as a threat, often referred to as ‘cultural pollution.’ ”
Here is a look at Netflix‘s next original series, the irreverent (and a little trippy) adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman, which premieres August 22. The PSA-style promo introduces BoJack (Will Arnett), the failed legendary star of the favorite ’90s family sitcom Horsin’ Around, who has been trying to find his way through a muddle of self-loathing, whisky and failed relationships. Now, in the presence of his human sidekick Todd (Aaron Paul) and his feline agent and ex-paramour Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), BoJack is primed for his comeback. The cast of the 12-episode series, which marks Arnett’s return to Netflix following last year’s installment of Arrested Development, also includes Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins and Patton Oswalt. Raphael Bob-Waksberg created the comedy, from Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Co., and executive produces with Arnett, Paul, Steven A. Cohen and Noel Bright. BoJack was designed by graphic artist Lisa Hanawalt and animated by ShadowMachine.
Sara Just, a 25-year ABC News veteran, is leaving the network to become executive producer of PBS NewsHour and SVP at WETA, the public television station in Washington, DC. Just, who has been ABC News’ Deputy Washington Bureau Chief since April, will join News Hour on September 2, succeeding Linda Winslow, who is retiring. During her tenure at ABC News, Just also served as Senior Washington Producer for Good Morning America and spent 17 years as a producer at Nightline, working with longtime anchor Ted Koppel.
Just’s hire comes on the heels of WETA taking over NewsHour from MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, the company named after former anchors Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, on July 1.