The penultimate season of the Kurt Sutter-created biker drama came to a roaring and even more fatally bloody ending than usual last night with 5.2 million viewers watching. That’s a season-finale record for FX’s Sons Of Anarchy and the third-most-watched episode in the show’s six-cycle history. Airing at 10 PM, last night’s 151-minute season closer also pulled in 3.54 million adults 18-49. Overall, SOA drew 6.4 million viewers in total and 4.3 million in the key demo with its first run and encore shows Tuesday. The first-run episode of last year’s Season 5 ender on December 4 drew 4.66 million viewers and 2.99 million in 18-49s in Live+Same Day ratings. SOA’s most-watched episode ever remains the Season 6 opener , which aired September 10. That 90-minute telecast had 5.87 million viewers with 3.94 million adults 18-49. Beating the 3.51 million demo viewers result of the Season 5 premiere of September 11, 2012, by a hair, last night’s finale also now stands as SOA’s second most successful result among 18-49s ever. Overall Season 6 has averaged 7.3 million viewers, making it the show’s much successful ratings-wise ever. Sons Of Anarchy is expected to return for its seventh and final season in fall 2014.
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, reigning Emmy winner 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:
Related: R.I.P. Thomas T.S. Cook
Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West has named the late OscarTM and Emmy-nominated and Writers Guild Award-winning writer Thomas S. Cook as its 2014 Morgan Cox Award honoree in recognition of his Guild service. The WGAW’s honorary award will be presented posthumously to Cook at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE.
“Tom was a beloved member of this Guild, renowned both for the remarkable work he produced and for his unending commitment to give something of himself back. His service touched on every corner of our mission and lasted over three wonderful decades. Even in his final days, as a Trustee of our Health and Pension Fund, he never forgot the needs of his fellow writers, and we, in turn, will never forget him,” said WGAW President Christopher Keyser.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 25, 1947, Cook passed away on January 5, 2013 at his home in Hollywood after a battle with cancer at age 65.
The studio today said that Bob and Harvey Weinstein made a big “blunder” over the rights to The Hobbit movies and now they’re trying to fix their own mistake through the courts by suing over profits from upcoming sequels. ”This is about one of the great blunders in movie history,’ said WB in a statement today after the brothers and Miramax filed a $75 million in damages lawsuit in NY Superior Court Tuesday. “Fifteen years ago Miramax, run by the Weinstein brothers, sold its rights in The Hobbit to New Line. No amount of trying to rewrite history can change that fact. They agreed to be paid only on the first motion picture based on The Hobbit. And that’s all they’re owed.” The Weinsteins of course see it very differently. “This case is about greed and ingratitude,” says the filing (read it here) against Warner Bros Entertainment and New Line Cinema about the studio’s approach. “Warner’s position is simply an improper attempt to deprive the people originally responsible for hugely successful films being made from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien of their right to share in revenue from two of the three filmed installments of Tolkien’s The Hobbit,” it adds. As always in these things, it all depends how you look at the deal. For Bob and Harvey, the fact that there are three movies being made out …
Mike Flanagan directs the horror pic about a pair of grown siblings who set out to expose and destroy the haunted mirror they believe was responsible for their parents’ murder ten years prior, starring Karen Gillen (Doctor Who), Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent), Rory Cochrane (Argo), and Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Relativity and Blumhouse Productions acquired Oculus out of Toronto’s Midnight Madness selection where it premiered in September. They’ve set an April 18, 2014 theatrical release for Oculus which was written by Flanagan and Jeff Howard from a short story by Flanagan and Jeff Seidman and developed/produced by Intrepid Pictures. Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans also produced the film. Flanagan is at work on his next horror film, Somnia, starring Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane.
Showtime‘s Episodes has been renewed for a fourth season ahead of its Season 3 premiere. The comedy, a co-production with the BBC, has been picked up for a nine-episode fourth season to film next year. The third season of the series, starring Matt LeBlanc as a fictionalized version of himself, premieres January 12. It picks up with Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig) — the English couple whose hit UK sitcom is remade for U.S. audiences and corrupted beyond recognition — back together but they soon discover it’s not so easy to heal old wounds. Things get no easier for Matt this year as his career and ego continue to be pummeled.
EXCLUSIVE: Spike TV has put in development Basket Case, a drama with a comedic bent based on the best-selling novel by author and journalist Carl Hiaasen, with Rob Reiner on board to direct and executive produce. The project, from FremantleMedia North America in association with Random House Television Prods. and Castle Rock Entertainment, will be written by Alex Taub (Drop Dead Diva). It centers on a great investigative reporter who has trouble dealing with authority, change, women, success, and most of all, corruption. After he savages his paper’s powerful new owner, he is demoted to the obituary desk, which gives him a unique window into suspicious deaths and weird goings on in crime-ridden Miami. Using an unusual team of friends, relatives, an ex-wife, newspaper misfits, and his beautiful new boss, he strives to regain his investigative credibility and a saner life. “Corruption, murder, and laughs. I can’t think of a more satisfying combination,” Reiner said. “Carl Hiaasen strikes the perfect balance. I’m so looking forward to entering his twisted world.” Added Hiaasen, “Among writers of satire, Spinal Tap stands as a work of genius. I’m excited to see what Rob will do with my twisted little novel.”
When it signaled a return to scripted series in April, Spike bet heavily on event series, which made up its entire spring scripted development slate. The deal for Basket Case does not mean a change of course. “Though our primary focus has been on finding marquee Limited Event Series, we have vowed that when an unbelievable opportunity for a series presents itself, we will be ready to pounce,” said Spike TV’s EVP Sharon Levy: “It doesn’t get much better than Hiaasen and Reiner for Spike.”
Two days after announcing it had hired New Yorker editor (and former Washington Post Moscow bureau chief) David Remnick to provide guest commentary on the network’s air during its coverage of the upcoming Sochi Winter Games, NBCUniversal announced it had hired Moscow-based TV journalist Vladimir Pozner as a correspondent for its Olympics coverage in Sochi. Pozner will appear with Bob Costas on a late-night program, offering a Russian perspective of the Games, the company said.
“With his deep Russian roots and American upbringing, Vladimir Pozner is uniquely qualified to provide a Russian outlook to our audience during the Sochi Olympics,” said Jim Bell, Executive Producer, NBC Olympics, in this morning’s announcement, calling this “another significant moment in Russia’s history.” Costas, know for his outspoken commentary, recently told The Associated Press he won’t comment on Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” law that’s causing people to protest NBC’s participation in the upcoming Games because he’s hoping to land an interview with what AP called “responsible people.”
Pozner’s a controversial guy. About a year ago, Radio Free Europe reported he’d blasted the state of justice in Russia, over the abduction and alleged torture of opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev, as well as the prison sentences of Pussy Riot members. He’s not controversy-free in this country either. Pozner’s U.S. media experience, NBCU noted, includes co-hosting Pozner/Donahue – a syndicated weekly, issues-oriented roundtable program that aired on CNBC from 1991-1996 – and numerous appearances across the landscape, including NBC’s Today, and ABC’s Nightline.
Here’s what Nightline’s original anchor, Ted Koppel had to say, in 2004, about Pozner’s first appearance on the newsmag on January 23, 1980, ” the night of what would turn out to be Jimmy Carter’s last State of the Union Address.” when the Soviet Army had recently invaded Afghanistan…and Carter had some tough things to say about that.
“We turned to someone who was described to us as a Radio Moscow Commentator. His name … Vladimir Pozner,” Koppel said. His comments, on ABC’s website, are followed by an excerpt of Pozner’s appearance on Nightline that night:
POZNER: You realize that I do not agree with what you call an invasion. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to say our viewpoint, and I want to thank you for it.
TED KOPPEL: Please do.
POZNER: The Soviet Union, as you know, has agreements with Afghanistan and sent in military aid at request of the Afghanistan government. We do not see that at all as an invasion. But, as simply, honoring our commitment. And I’d like to make that absolutely clear.
Koppel added, in 2004: “It used to drive my colleague George Will crazy when I introduced Vladimir Pozner as a Soviet Journalist. ‘It’s a contradiction in terms,’ George would insist. ‘The Soviet Union doesn’t have journalists in the sense that we do.’ And he was right.”