Now you’ll know why characters will drink Miller High Life on The Americans, Coors Light on The Strain, Leinenkugel’s in Fargo, and Miller Lite on The Bridge. The three-year deal will make MillerCoors brands the “official beers” for FX, FXX, and FXM giving the brewer exclusive rights to program integrations and first look placement rights for shows that FX is developing. The beers also will have “a strong presence” on FX’s digital app, FXNOW. The agreement — which the companies call “groundbreaking” — expands on an existing relationship that gives MillerCoors exclusive product placement rights to Sons Of Anarchy and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The new terms make this “the most comprehensive advertising deal ever for the FX suite of channels,” says FX Networks Ad Sales SVP Michael Brochstein. MillerCoors’ Marketing Connections VP Jackie Woodward says that “our objective is to make sure our brands are woven throughout the entertainment programming that matters most to beer drinkers” especially men from 21 to 35. “This partnership underscores our commitment to telling our brand stories with the right message, in the right places and at the right time.” Media strategy company Initiative helped to ferment the alliance.
Warner Bros Animation’s EVP Creative Affairs Sam Register has been promoted to President, Warner Bros Animation and Warner Digital Series. The second part of the title refers to Register’s role as head of a newly formed live-action digital content production unit where he will oversee the development and production of original live-action digital series, working with both Warner Bros TV-based creative talent as well as outside writers and producers. The studio already has such a division in Studio 2.0, which has spawned series like Childrens Hospital, which migrated to TV via Adult Swim. It is unclear whether Studio 2.0 will be absorbed by the new unit or remain autonomous. Register also will continue to run Warner Bros’ television animation unit as president, after having served as EVP Creative Affairs for the past six years. He will continue to report to Warner Bros Television Group President and Chief Content Officer Peter Roth.
BREAKING: William Hurt, who was set to play Gregg Allman in the feature film Midnight Rider, has pulled out of the movie. The exit of its star casts even more doubt over whether the Randall Miller-directed biopic will move forward following the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones during filming in February in Georgia. A source close to the production tells Deadline the filmmakers “were already looking to recast some roles,” including the Gregg Allman character.
Most recently, Miller and his production company Unclaimed Freight were looking to restart pre-production on the movie in LA in a few weeks, even as investigations are ongoing over who is to blame for the February 20 accident in Wayne County, GA where a film crew was struck by a train while shooting on a trestle.
Disney said today that it has added sneak previews of its Jon Hamm-starring baseball pic Million Dollar Arm on the night of Saturday, May 10. Those screenings come ahead of the planned May 16 wide release, which is unchanged. The move comes as the marketing ramps up for the based-on-a-true-story pic, about a fading sports agent (Hamm) who hatches a plot to turn a pair of Indian cricket players into major league baseball players. Disney boss Alan Horn said at CinemaCon last month that the movie scored higher than any other movie he has ever tested — either at Disney or his former home Warner Bros — and exhibitors were talking it up after a screening. Tom McCarthy wrote the script and Craig Gillespie directed.
El Rey Network has begun production on eight hourlong episodes of Cutting Crew, the network’s first unscripted original series. It has been been set to premiere in the fall. The series centers on award-winning barber Amit Corso and his raucous team at their shop on the outskirts of Philadelphia, where they execute cutting-edge cuts while finding plenty of time to bicker, debate and joke around. Production kickoff comes on the heels of El Rey’s success launching its first original scripted series, From Dusk Till Dawn, which was picked up for a second season last month two weeks after it bowed. (The network’s second scripted series, the Roberto Orci- and Alex Kurtzman-scripted Matador, is in production for a July bow after the World Cup.) Cutting Crew is produced by BIG VIDA Entertainment for El Rey Network. Sergio Alfaro, Flavio Morales, John Ehrhard and FactoryMade Ventures executive produce with El Rey co-founders John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa.
This is the first pick-up of a series developed by CC: Studios, Comedy Central’s in-house creative initiative for the development of original digital comedy. The eight-episode season of This Is Not Happening, executive produced by Ari Shaffir, Eric Abrams, Sam Saifer and Jeff Tomsic, will premiere in the fall. Hosted by Shaffir and based on his long-running live show, This Is Not Happening features Shaffir and his comedian friends telling hilarious and true stories in front of a live audience at LA’s gentlemen’s club, Cheetahs. Comedians that have appeared on the first two seasons include Kurt Braunohler, Joey Diaz, David Koechner, Bobby Lee, Natasha Leggero, TJ Miller, Trevor Moore, Kumail Nanjiani, Jay Oakerson, Steve Rannazzisi and Joe Rogan. Shaffir is repped by Gersh and Sam Saifer Management.
EXCLUSIVE: Allen Iverson was one of the most controversial players the NBA has ever had. He was also one of the best shooters to ever hit the court, an 11-time All Star and the 2001 MVP. Now officially retired, the former Philadelphia 76er is the subject of a docu making its sold out world premiere on April 27 at the Tribeca Film Festival. From first time director Zatella Beatty, Iverson features the man himself telling his own story in his own words with appearances from the Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade and former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw among others. Beatty’s 214 Productions produces alongside Ted Faye with Mandalay Sports Media and Moore Entertainment as EPs. If you didn’t get a ticket to Sunday’s 9:30 PM screening in NYC, check out the game of this exclusive Iverson clip here:
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has found what the studio believes will be its next global franchise. The studio has closed a partnership with Mattel and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation on a live-action comedy built around Barbie, the top-selling fashion doll. This is no development deal, it’s all moving very quickly. Studio chief Amy Pascal oversaw this deal herself, along with production president Hannah Minghella, and this movie is getting made. Jenny Bicks is writing the script and the intention is to begin production before year’s end.
The film will be produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who are also rebooting Men In Black for the studio. The exec producers are Parkes+MacDonald president Marc Resteghnini and Julia Pistor for Mattel’s Playground Productions.
Studios prize franchises more than ever, and it is particularly a priority at Sony. The key to turning these brands into successful films comes down to execution, as was particularly evident in the way that Warner Bros turned The Lego Movie into something with a high cool factor for kids. The plan for Barbie is also clever. Some of the doll’s appeal has been cool clothes and of course Ken, but beyond accessorizing, the toy has always been about female empowerment. Barbie has been part of merchandise packages that span over 150 careers, and Bicks and Parkes and MacDonald won the rights from Mattel when they plugged into that with their pitch for a contemporary tale. It allows the character Barbie to use her personal and professional skills to step into the lives of others and improve them, almost like a modern-day Mary Poppins. That storyline allows for the discovery of a young actress to play the title character, and young cast to play Ken and Barbie’s best friend, putting stars around them that can change in subsequent movies. Much the way that Marvel has managed its costs with deals that call for options on future films as they create stars with their superhero movies, this seems a way to keep costs manageable for another live-action series meant to span multiple films.
HBO has come on board as co-producer of BBC’s miniseries adaptation of novel The Casual Vacancy, from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. The three-hour mini, written by Sarah Phelps (EastEnders), produced by Ruth Kenley-Letts (The Hour) and to be directed by Jonny Campbell (In the Flesh), will begin production this summer in South West England. Published in 2012, Casual Vacancy centers on Pagford, a seemingly idyllic English village with a cobbled market square and ancient abbey. Behind the pretty façade, however, is a town at war: Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils. The three-part mini is produced by Bronte Film and Television, the independent production company run by Rowling and Neil Blair, who is executive producing with Paul Trijbits (Saving Mr. Banks) and Rick Senat.
After agreeing in principle to support the conclusion of a co-production treaty last December, the UK and China have finally put pen to paper. British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and Vice Minister Tong Gang of state authority SAPPRFT signed the pact in Beijing today. The treaty, which is subject to ratification, is being touted by Britain as welcome news. It could ease access to the world’s second-largest box office market: Films will have to qualify for true co-production status, which eliminates the quota barrier on foreign movies. The exact qualifying criteria have yet to be laid out, but would be expected to include financial and cultural elements. Importantly, if a film is granted the co-production seal, it will be able to access “national benefits including sources of finance” the parties said today. That means the lucrative UK film tax relief system as well as the BFI Film Fund. BFI CEO Amanda Nevill called the treaty “hugely significant for UK film as it will open the door for our filmmakers to collaborate and contribute to each other’s success.” The BFI has been pushing hard to enhance its relationship with China. In January, it established the Electric Shadows initiative encompassing a year of business, trade, and creative and cultural collaborations between the countries.
USA Network is shaking things up this summer with a schedule that features four returning series moving to new time slots, joined by two new shows, dramas series Rush and Satisfaction, paired together. This is a rare new drama series launch on USA where the newbies are not slotted behind established series. Rush and Satisfaction (formerly untitled Sean Jablonski) will premiere July 17, airing Thursdays at 9 PM and 10 PM, respectively. Rush, from writer-director Jonathan Levine and Fox 21, examines the world of renegade physician Dr. William Rush (Tom Ellis), a “medical fixer” who privately caters to LA’s elite. Satisfaction, from Universal Cable Prods, stars Matt Passmore and explores modern marriage at its midpoint. (watch the first trailer below).
Entertainment One will continue to distribute The Weinstein Co‘s feature films in Canada through December 31, 2019 under an extended output deal. Following its acquisition of rival Alliance Films last year, eOne released TWC titles including Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook and The Butler across all media in the territory. Upcoming titles include Paddington, St Vincent De Van Nuys, The Giver and The Railway Man. The new agreement also includes Radius-TWC’s premium VOD slate in Canada. EOne has about 23% of the local market and a series of 10 output deals with U.S. indies whose films make up roughly half of its annual slate. Nelson Kuo-Lee, Richard Rapkowski and Patrice Théroux brokered the TWC extension for eOne with David Glasser, Irwin Reiter and Andy Kim for TWC.
UPDATED with video of Colbert’s appearance: Viewers curious to know what Actual Stephen Colbert is like, and what might his upcoming CBS late-night show be, got a good look Tuesday when the Comedy Central star made his first visit to David Letterman‘s Late Show since being named as his replacement. After telling Dave he’d been offered a gig with Dave’s old NBC show but turned it down because it was an unpaid internship – “It’s an expensive city,” Colbert explained. “The next job I’m taking here, that pays? Cause I’ve already signed” — Dave asked Colbert if he vacations well:
Fox is saving an extra original of Bones to run with 24: Live Another Day. In the most recent summer schedule announced last month, veteran Bones was to air its penultimate episode of Season 9 on April 28, leading to the second season finale of The Following. After a week-long break for the two-hour debut of 24: Live Another Day, Bones was slated to air its season finale on May 12, followed by the time slot premiere of 24, with MasterChef taking over the Monday 8 PM slot the following week. Now, Bones will air a repeat on April 28, the night of The Following finale, with the last two episodes for the season paired with the first two regular-slot episodes of the 24 event series on May 12 and May 19. Season 5 MasterChef will debut on May 26.
John Oliver took the NBC package deal to promote the launch of his new HBO late night show, Last Week Tonight this coming Sunday. Oliver stopped by Tonight show last night, where he made fun of Jimmy Fallon‘s interview style and talked about friends’ reaction to his final The Daily Show appearance:
Earlier this week, Oliver so deftly explained to Today show’s Matt Lauer why his satirical show would not bother to cover a report that had just been featured on Today, that Lauer barely noticed he’d been dinged:
Take that, Netflix. Beginning on May 21 the multi-year agreement will enable Amazon Prime subscribers to stream series including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and later — about three years after episodes initially air — Girls, The Newsroom and Veep. In addition, by year end Amazon will offer HBO GO on its new Fire TV platform. (It’s already available to HBO subscribers on other devices including Google’s Chromecast.) The shows will still be available on HBO’s platforms, but the companies say that this is the first time the premium pay TV channel’s shows have been licensed to an online-only streaming service. “As owners of our original programming, we have always sought to capitalize on that investment,” HBO EVP Business and Legal Affairs Glenn Whitehead says.
Amazon shares are up 1.4% pre market, and Netflix is down 2.7%, following the announcement. That suggests investors didn’t fully accept Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ claim on Monday that the streaming video providers can peacefully coexist. “It’s a very much not a zero-sum game and we are building this ecosystem together that’s about Internet video and the more players there are in Internet video, the bigger that ecosystem gets,” he said. “The big theme is Internet video is taking share away from linear video. So we are all participating in that transformation.” He has more mixed feelings about HBO: In January he joked that HBO chief Richard Plepler’s Netflix password was probably: “Netflix bitch.”
Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil says HBO probably made its deal with Amazon, instead of Netflix, because there’s less overlap among their subscribers. Still, it’s “clearly a negative for Netflix, given the high profile nature of the HBO content” and could “somewhat limit” the streaming company’s just-announced plan to raise its prices for new customers. He notes, though, that HBO and Amazon released few details about the deal terms and that it doesn’t include all HBO shows.
Here’s today’s announcement from HBO and Amazon:
EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel wants to stay in business with Rob Lowe. After starring as President John F. Kennedy in last year’s Killing Kennedy and narrating The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us last spring, NGC has signed Lowe to narrate the sequel. The ’90s: The Last Great Decade? will premiere over three nights in July on NGC in the U.S., followed globally in 171 countries and on Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo “I’m excited to be back working with the team at National Geographic Channel, who continue to show their commitment to creating great, entertaining and thought-provoking television programming,” said Lowe. “No one has really examined the ’90s like this before, and I think viewers will be fascinated by the dramatic changes we’ve seen in even the small amount of time that’s passed since Y2K.”
Cannes Film Festival Competition title Jimmy’s Hall is expected to be the last narrative feature from veteran helmer Ken Loach. This year will mark British director’s 12th time in Competition. He won the Palme d’Or in 2006 for The Wind That Shakes The Barley, and has taken the Jury Prize three times, for The Angel’s Share (2012), Raining Stones (1993) and Hidden Agenda (1990). This time around, Loach settles on a 1930s period film based on the true story of a man who built a dance hall on a rural crossroads in Ireland where young people could gather to learn, argue, dream, and above all, dance and have fun. But problems arise when the meeting place runs afoul of the church. Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Jim Norton and Sherlock‘s Andrew Scott star. Loach’s longtime collaborator Paul Laverty wrote the script. Entertainment One is releasing in the UK on May 30. There is currently no U.S. distributor; Wild Bunch has international sales.