EXCLUSIVE: Masters Of Sex standout Annaleigh Ashford, who did an arc on the Showtime drama’s first season, is being promoted to regular for Season 2. As a result, Ashford will depart her Tony-nominated role in the hit Broadway musical Kinky Boots sometime in March. On Masters Of Sex, about the pioneers of the science of human sexuality Dr. William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan), Ashford plays Betty Dimello, the ravenous young prostitute only too happy to get paid to help Dr. Masters in his research (which includes how women fake orgasms). On Kinky Boots, which won the Tony for best musical in June, Ashford plays scrappy factory worker Lauren. Last week, the musical smashed the all-time house record at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre with a gross of $1,912,568. Ashford is with APA and Beth Rosner Management.
EXCLUSIVE: Last week, we scooped that Woody Allen would not attend the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards on January 12 where he will be the recipient of the 2014 Cecil B. DeMille Award. Now we can reveal that his longtime friend and muse Diane Keaton will accept the award on his behalf. I have learned that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the decision to honor Allen with the knowledge that the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker would not attend. Keaton was then approached about receiving the award on his behalf. Keaton and Allen met in 1968 when she auditioned and was cast in his Broadway play, Play It Again, Sam. They were a couple for 5 years and are still very good friends today. Keaton appeared in eight Allen films spanning two decades, winning an Oscar and Golden Globe for 1976′s Annie Hall.
Allen is notorious about shunning awards shows. He wasn’t present to receive any of his four Oscars out of 23 nominations and has shied away from the Golden Globes despite 13 nominations and two wins. In fact, the only awards show he ever attended was the 2002 Academy Awards as an ambassador of New York, thanking Hollywood for its support of his beloved city post-9/11. “There is no one more worthy of this …
History Eyes Drama About Jesus’ “Lost Years” From Eli Roth, Eric Newman & Scott Kosar That May Involve Exorcism
EXCLUSIVE: History scored big with its blockbuster The Bible miniseries. Now the cable network is exploring another project about Jesus that would portray him in a more controversial light. I’ve learned that the network is finalizing deals for the project, from feature writer Scott Kosar (The Machinist) and producers Eli Roth (the Hostel franchise) and Eric Newman (The Thing). Titled The Lost Years, the drama explores the undocumented years of Jesus’ life as a young adult. There is very little information about Jesus’ life from about the age of 13, following a pilgrimage to Jerusalem he took with his parents, to age 30, when he began his ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist. Because the project is in very early stages, it is unclear whether it would be developed as a regular series or a miniseries.
The Lost Years is based on an original idea by Kosar who developed it with Roth and Newman. All three have strong horror pedigree — Kosar co-wrote The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror and The Crazies, and Roth and Newman jointly produced The Last Exorcism franchise in addition to their other horror credits. That is not a coincidence — nor is Roth and Newman’s exorcism connection.
The Craig Ferguson-hosted Celebrity Name Game is set to launch on 58 Sinclair stations, four CBS O&Os and others, pushing clearances for the fall 2014 syndicated pop culture game show past 80% of the U.S — up from 40% in less than a month. Tribune Broadcasting previously came aboard, acquiring Celebrity Name Game for all 25 of its stations. The half-hour strip, based on the board game Identity Crisis, was developed by Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods with Scott St. John (Deal Or No Deal), who will serve as showrunner. The show teams celebrities with contestants to identify famous names, including actors, singers, athletes, pop culture figures, politicians and even cartoon characters. Celebrity Name Game is co-produced and co-financed by FremantleMedia North America and Debmar-Mercury, and is distributed domestically by Debmar-Mercury and internationally by FremantleMedia.
Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden has joined the cast of Universal and Focus Features’ erotic adaptation of EL James‘s Fifty Shades Of Grey. She’ll play Dr. Grace Trevelyan Grey, the adoptive physician mama of emotionally damaged billionaire Christian Grey and his siblings Mia and Elliot. Dr. Grace Grey is the pediatrician who cares for 4-year-old Christian when his birth mother (or “the crack whore,” as Fifty Shades readers may know her) dies. She’s also the one who inadvertently introduces Christian to his cougar lover Elena from whom he learns his BDSM ways. Harden recently wrapped Woody Allen‘s Magic in the Moonlight and stars on HBO’s The Newsroom and ABC’s Trophy Wife. Jamie Dornan has been set to play Christian opposite Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in the pic directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, which will now hit theaters February 13, 2015.
The effort to craft the first major revision of the Communications Act in 18 years could be interesting but probably will end up to be a politically factious mess. House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said today that he plans hearings and studies for “a multi-year effort to examine our nation’s communications laws and update them for the Internet era.” Upton was joined in a Google Hangout announcement by Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., who says that they “plan to look at the Communications Act and all of the changes that have been made piecemeal over the last 89 years and ask the simple question: ‘Is this working for today’s communications marketplace?’” For example, he says that cable operators complained to him that they have to pay franchise fees but Netflix doesn’t. The GOP leaders didn’t include Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., who’s also on the Communications subcommittee — and says he helped to write “every major telecommunications statute for the past three decades.” He urged his colleagues to proceed “with great care and attention to detail” and “in a bipartisan manner.”
Awards Roundup: NY Film Critics, Gothams, And Oscar Docu Shortlist Get Season Rolling – So Who’s On Top Now?
The actual “awards” part of awards season is finally off and running with first results out of the East Coast with today’s New York Film Critics Circle choices and last night’s Gotham Awards. And the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences even got into the act earlier today narrowing the intense Documentary Feature competition from 151 entries to a shortlist of 15 finalists. Stuff is happening.
The NYFCC went whole hog for David O. Russell’s American Hustle (Best Picture, Screenplay, Supporting Actress) today, while Gotham unexpectedly crowned The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis over heavy favorite 12 Years A Slave. Those results are an early indication (or even confirmation) that this could turn out to be an extremely unpredictable year — one with no frontrunner. The fact that the powerful critical favorite 12 Years, an early favorite to sweep the critics awards and use that to begin its march to Oscar (it leads most pundit polls), was shut out at the Gothams and only took Best Director for Steve McQueen at the NYFCC perhaps means this year won’t turn into a repeat of 2010. That’s when The Social Network swept the numerous critics groups Best Picture honors (and even the Globes) only to be upended by The King’s Speech when the Producers Guild turned the race. The King’s Speech became the industry favorite all the way to the Best Picture Oscar. I think dominance among the critics is important for a picture like 12 Years. That kind of awards pedigree could force reluctant Academy voters (and I know of a few resisting it because they fear it’s too brutal) to see the film and give it a shot. A lack of that kind of consensus could just bust this race wide open and turn it into a free-for-all. Of course there are many, many more of these groups to go, and 12 Years could still dominate, but the initial picture is cloudy. It’s an extremely competitive year and likely to continue to be if today’s results are an indication.
As for American Hustle‘s triumph at the NYFCC, it’s a bit unexpected but completely deserving. Sony Pictures , which releases the film December 13, has had a very good run with the NY Critics Circle — winning Best Pic in 2010 with Social Network and again last year with Zero Dark Thirty only to be stopped cold at the Oscars. Will Hustle be able to ride farther this early wave for the studio? Time will tell. With more Academy friendly-type films like Saving Mr. Banks, Gravity, Nebraska, Philomena and others going unmentioned, there are plenty of places for Oscar voters to drift including the wild card of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, which was a last-minute screening for NYFCC.
On the heels of a strong ratings finish of its fall run last night, NBC‘s hit freshman drama The Blacklist has been given an early second season renewal with a 22-episode order. The Sony TV-produced series starring James Spader is the No. 1 drama and the No. 2 scripted series on the Big 4 networks in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 4.9 rating/13 share (most current). It is the No. 1 new show in 18-49 and total viewers and NBC’s most watched new drama in 19 years, since Earth 2 in 1994. In addition to a strong Live showing, The Blacklist is a monster DVR gainer. Its November 4 episode delivered the largest total-viewer increase from Live+Same Day to Live+7 ever, growing by 6.589 million (from 10.337 million to 16.926 million). The Blacklist, which commanded the highest ad price for a new series this fall, now holds the top three L+SD to L+7 rises among total viewers in U.S. TV history. “The success of ‘The Blacklist’ demonstrates that inspired storytelling is alive and well in broadcast television,” NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “With gratitude to both our partners at Sony Pictures Television and our NBC development executives who took a great script and shepherded it into a great series, I hope that Red Reddington never runs out of names to bring down on his list!”
The Blacklist, produced by Davis Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures TV, …
Fox Business Network announced today it will debut The Independents, a new primetime program hosted by Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, on Monday, December 9. The program, which will appear Monday through Wednesday and Friday nights at 9 PM ET, will feature a roundtable discussion on the news of the day “with a special emphasis on the protection of economic and civil liberties..”
Kennedy will be joined by co-hosts: Reason magazine’s Matt Welch and America’s Future Foundation’s Kmele Foster, as well as a rotating panel of experts. The new program replaces the rerun showing of The Willis Report (FBN’s Stossel, hosted by John Stossel, will continue to appear at 9 PM ET on Thursdays). With the addition of The Independents, FBN will now be live each weekday from 6 AM to 10 PM.
Kennedy joined FBN as a contributor and special correspondent to Stossel in 2012. She is the author of two books: The Kennedy Chronicles: The Golden Age Of MTV Through Rose-Colored Glasses (She got her start in television as an MTV VJ in the early 90′s) and Hey Ladies! Tales And Tips For Curious Girls. She is also the host of Music In The Morning w/ Kennedy on 98.7FM Los Angeles Alternative radio and serves as a contributor to Reason.com.
Just over three months after the Motion Picture Association of America won an important legal victory finding file-sharing service Hotfile and its founder Anton Titov liable for copyright infringement, the site today took a fatal double blow. A federal court in South Florida on Tuesday awarded the studios and the MPAA $80 million in damages and ordered the file-sharing site to shut down unless it puts copyright filtering technologies in place. Coming just days before a trial was to start next week, today’s settlement brings to an end the MPAA and the studios’ nearly three-year legal action against Hotfile, says the Hollywood lobby group. “This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone,” MPAA boss Chris Dodd said in a statement Tuesday. “Sites like Hotfile that illegally profit off of the creativity and hard work of others do a serious disservice to audiences, who deserve high-quality, legitimate viewing experiences online.”
With a list of the thousands of TV shows and films that Hotfile allegedly had infringed, the original 2011 complaint had Disney Enterprises, Universal City Studios Productions, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros as its plaintiffs. As other file-sharing sites have tried to do in similar cases, Hotfile employed the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a defense. It was obviously …
The Curb Appeal carpenter and co-host was hit by a car while driving his motorbike in San Francisco on Monday night and died later of at a local hospital. Bill Beckwith was 38. The accident occurred around 8:30 PM when Beckwith’s bike was hit by a car turning the corner of Oak and Steiner in SF’s Lower Haight neighborhood. The HGTV home improvement series co-host was knocked from his bike and suffered a head injury, and was pronounced dead later at San Francisco General Hospital, the city’s medical examiner confirms. “My love, so kind and bright, adventurous and strong. You are loved by so many good people! I wish you could stay with us for way longer,” wrote Beckwith’s girlfriend Yulia Korneeva, on a Facebook memorial page set up today by family and friends. Curb Appeal has been running on HGTV since 2002. Beckwith, the founder of BB Design Build, joined the show in 2010 and co-hosts with John Gidding and Kimberly Lacy.
Elizabeth Olsen starrer Thérèse Raquin has a new name and an official trailer courtesy of Roadside Attractions. Now titled In Secret, the period drama stars Olsen as Thérèse, the young sexually repressed heroine of Émile Zola’s 1867 novel who finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage to her cousin Camille (Harry Potter‘s Tom Felton). When Camille’s artist pal Laurent (Oscar Isaac) comes to visit, adulterous sparks fly hurtling Thérèse down a path of obsession, love, and madness. Roadside has set a post-Valentine’s Day release for February 21, 2014:
Netflix‘s march into the major TV awards circles continues. After an impressive showing at the Primetime Emmy nominations, the streaming service, which has been an original programming player only since January, today received two Producers Guild Awards nominations: for best drama series, House Of Cards, and best comedy, Arrested Development. The double nomination puts Netflix in the same category as awards juggernaut HBO as the only two outlets with multiple scripted PGA nominations. (HBO’s contenders are drama Game Of Thrones and comedy Veep.) For House Of Cards, this is a first PGA nom, while Arrested Development continued its streak of four consecutive PGA nominations for each of its seasons — three on Fox and one on Netflix. Ironically, Netflix’s most buzzed about original series, Orange Is The New Black, didn’t make the cut, exposing again the PGA Awards’ outdated eligibility window — which includes series that aired between June 1, 2012-May 31, 2013, a month before Orange premiered.
Related: PGA Awards TV Nominees Unveiled
House Of Cards provided the only change from last year in the best drama series field. But it was a significant one as the newcomer replaced AMC veteran Mad Men, which had been nominated every year it had been eligible so far and won twice. Once the most dominant drama awards contender, Mad Men also was shut out from winning Emmys the past two years. Joining House Of Cards are returning PGA nominees Showtime’s Homeland, which won the award in January; AMC’s Breaking Bad, hot off winning the best drama Emmy; PBS’ Downton Abbey; and Game Of Thrones. U.S. commercial broadcasters were shut out completely for a second straight year, underlining the awards struggle for network drama.
There were no snubs on the comedy series side, with Arrested Development and Veep taking the spots vacated by Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louie, both not eligible this year. They join last year’s nominees, ABC’s Modern Family, which is aiming at a fourth consecutive PGA win; NBC’s departing 30 Rock; and CBS’ mega hit The Big Bang Theory.
EXCLUSIVE: Three months after APA launched a Physical Production department with the hire of Paradigm agents Jay Gilbert and Gil Harari, the agency is expanding the department in a big way by bringing in virtually the entire staff of the Montana Artists Agency, whose sole focus is representing below-the-line talent. Montana toppers Matt Birch and Ralph Berge will serve as SVP and co-heads of APA’s physical production department alongside Gilbert and Harari. Coming with them from Montana are VP Brady Torgeson, agent Julian Savodivker, agent Amanda Pecora-Sutphen, and business affairs executive Larry Sheffield. While this is not an agency acquisition, it is unclear what the future holds for Montana, whose staff has been gutted by the exodus to APA, with only two agents remaining, Karen Berch (TV & features) and Nick Malkin (commercials). “I could not be more pleased to have Matt, Ralph and their team join our new Physical Production division launched earlier this year with Jay and Gil,”said APA president and CEO, Jim Gosnell. “These new hires make our division one of the largest of its kind in the industry, where we now represent some of the successful names in below-the-line feature and television production worldwide.” Montana’s clients include Matthew Jensen, Director of Photography for The Fantastic Four, Paul Harb, editor for The Expendables 3, Denise Pazzini, production designer for Fox pilot Fatrick and Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko, costume designer for Fox series Hieroglyph.
New York Film Critics Circle Awards: ‘American Hustle’ Best Film; Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett Top Actor Honors
UPDATED WITH ALL WINNERS: The New York Film Critics Circle has voted David O Russell’s ensemble crime drama American Hustle as its film of the year, one of three awards bestowed today on the Sony/Columbia film by the critics group. The pic is set for a December 13 release. The NYFCC also picked Robert Redford as Best Actor for his stand-alone role in JC Chandor’s All Is Lost and Cate Blanchett as Best Actress for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, while Steve McQueen was named Best Director for 12 Years A Slave. American Hustle, which stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremey Renner and Jennifer Lawrence, also won for Lawrence as Supporting Actress and for Russell and Eric Singer’s screenplay. Last year, the NYFCC tapped Zero Dark Thirty for Best Film and helmer Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director, starting that pic’s path to a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
The NYFCC is one of the earliest groups to vote on the year’s best performances in film, kicking off a slew of critics organizations whose results can serve as if not Oscar predictors then maybe Oscar leaners. Like last year, this year’s NYFCC vote from its membership of NY critics from daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and online publications comes one day before the National Board of Review makes its picks. Here are the final results of today’s voting:
Robert Redford, All Is Lost
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Foreign Language Film
Blue Is The Warmest Color
Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Animated Film
The Wind Rises
That’s the story of our times, isn’t it? Some 68% of media and entertainment executives say that the global economy is improving — up from 26% who felt the same way a year ago — according to consulting firm EY’s latest Capital Confidence Barometer for the industry. But just 32% said that they plan to create jobs or hire talent over the next 12 months, a slight drop from last year’s 35%, in the September survey of a panel of 56 execs representing all global regions. The silver lining is that just 13% said that they’d reduce their workforce, half the number who anticipated layoffs in 2012. What will execs do, then, if they have extra cash? Some 30% plan to pay down debt (vs 39% last year), 24% will pay shareholders dividends (vs 4%), 22% will invest in organic growth (vs 40%), 15% will do deals (vs 13%), and 9% will repurchase stock (vs 4%). Although execs expect to play things safe, 74% anticipate an increase in mergers and acquisitions. The biggest risks to the industry: increased global political instability (42%), continuation of the Eurozone crisis (24%), continued slow growth in China (19%), and a failure to manage the withdrawl of U.S. quantitative easing (15%).
EXCLUSIVE: Prospect Park’s multi-million dollar legal battle with ABC over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live isn’t the only courtroom drama the production company is now facing. Co-Founder Jeff Kwatinetz has filed a complaint against the company and ABRY Senior Equity IV, L.P., ABRY Investment Partnership, L.P., and ABRY Senior Equity Co-Investment Fund IV. The producer and talent manager is seeking a declaratory judgment over non-compete clauses in a December 31, 2012 employment agreement he signed with Prospect Park when the Boston-based investors came on board late last year. Long story short, Kwatinetz wants a judge to decide if the “unenforceable non-competition and non-solicitation provision” would actually prevented him from working for another company for 5 years and if Prospect and ABRY could get an injunction to force him to work for them for 5 years if he attempted to leave. “In addition, the Guarantee contains what is essentially a $5,000,000 liquidated damages penalty for a ‘breach’ of the unenforceable non-competition provision and employment term requirements in the Agreement,” the 10-claim complaint filed on November 21 in LA Superior Court adds (read it here).
Twentieth TV-distributed syndie strip Dish Nation has been renewed for Season 3 on the Fox Television Stations. The announcement was made today by Paul Franklin, EVP & General Manager of Broadcast Sales, Twentieth TV. The half-hour entertainment news program features drive-time radio personalities from various markets riffing on what’s hot and happening that day in pop culture. According to Twentieth TV, Dish Nation ranks No. 1 with Adults 18-34 and Adults 18-49 among all freshmen and sophomore first-run syndicated programs. Additionally Dish Nation, the youngest skewing first-run program in all of syndication, has grown to 1.3 million viewers daily this season – an +8% increase over a year ago. Dish Nation is produced by Studio City and distributed by Twentieth Television. Matt Blanock and Michael Bachmann serve as Co-Executive Producers.
Los Angeles – The Directors Guild of America today announced that it will honor Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers of Shondaland with the Guild’s 2014 Diversity Award. The Award is being given for their commitment to diversity hiring, their long record of providing jobs and opportunities to women and minorities in DGA-covered categories, and for the example they set for the rest of the industry. The Award will be presented at the 66th Annual DGA Awards on Saturday, January 25, 2014.