British independent production company Nerd TV specializes in documentaries and non-scripted entertainment. Its LA-based operation will open this month following commissions from OWN, Discovery and A+E. The office will be managed by Nerd co-founder and creative director John Farrar and will focus on creating high-end non-scripted series for U.S. channels. Nerd is developing three pilots for three undisclosed networks, including its first factual entertainment series and a presenter-led documentary with former street boss for the New York mob, Lou Ferrante. That is a separate show to the five-part hourlong series Inside The Gangsters’ Code, which Ferrante fronted and which went out on the Discovery Channel in 217 countries this past February. Nerd is also producing 10-part series Dogfellas, which is set in a dog grooming parlor run by former notorious mobster James “Head” Giuliani. A+E also picked up Nerd’s 12 Year Old Lifer, a documentary that recently aired on UK broadcaster Channel 4, about one of America’s youngest convicted killers who is now serving a life term for murder. Nerd was founded by Jago Lee and Farrar in 2010. Last year, Red Arrow Entertainment Group took a majority stake in the shingle. Red Arrow International handles distribution rights for Nerd’s content.
Turns out Tyler Perry’s For Better Or Worse is definitely the former and not the latter on its new home on OWN. Having left TBS and moved over to OWN now, the Season 3 premiere of the Perry produced and directed sitcom gave the Oprah Winfrey Network its most watched Wednesday night in the outlet’s almost three-year history with 1.124 million. That was driven mostly by the 9 PM third cycle debut drew 1.5 million total viewers and the 9:30 PM episode pulled in 1.6 million viewers with 1.23 and 1.29 ratings respectively among women 25-54. The previous Wednesday high for OWN was May 29, 2013 when the network got 1.092 million. That was the same night Perry’s comedy Love Thy Neighbor debuted on OWN. For Better Or Worse joins Perry’s drama The Haves And The Have Nots as well as Love Thy Neighbor on the network.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav says that OWN beat his forecast that it would begin to generate cash in the second half of this year. He told analysts this morning, in his Q2 report, that Discovery’s joint venture with Oprah Winfrey is “now cash flow positive and starting to …
TCA: OWN Orders Deion Sanders Reality Soap; Oprah To Chat With ‘The Butler’ Notables, Lohan Chat Date
Oprah Winfrey Network has ordered a new docu-series about “the crazy and chaotic family life” of former NFL star Deion Sanders. The network also announced this morning the next crop of celebs sitting down with Oprah for her Next Chapter franchise. The reality docu-series about Sanders – described by OWN as “football legend, baseball great, broadcaster, Hall of Famer, international superstar, businessman, educator and father” – is called It’s Prime Time and will premiere in early ’14.
Oprah’s Next Chapter chatters in August include the cast of The Butler – a.k.a. Lee Daniel’s The Butler – will undergo the Next Chapter treatment on August 11. Oprah herself is in the movie about Cecil Gaines, who served as head butler at the White House under eight presidents. She will sit down with fellow cast members Forest Whitaker, who plays Gaines in the film, and with David Oyelowo, as well as director Lee Daniels. The movie is set to open on August 16. One week after her sit-down with The Butler notables, OWN will unveil Oprah’s much-ballyhooed TV tete-a-tete with Lindsay Lohan, who is looking for yet another career re-boot after the Lifetime Liz Taylor flick thing didn’t work out so well. Other upcoming Next Chapters will pair O with Gloria Estefan and Tina Turner.
Online soaps All My Children and One Life To Live have found a network home. OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has acquired the first 40 episodes of The OnLine Network’s revivals for a 10-week limited engagement that will bring the cancelled ABC daytime dramas back to daytime. Half-hour episodes of each show will air Monday through Thursday beginning Monday, July 15 with All My Children at 1 PM and One Life to Live at 3 PM. “These shows have proven to be very popular with a significant, loyal fan base, not to mention Oprah herself is a big fan,” said Erik Logan, president, OWN. Added Jeff Kwatinetz, CEO of the soaps’ producer Prospect Park, “We are really excited to bring OWN viewers and our audience at large an opportunity to catch up on All My Children and One Life to Live on traditional television.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: Éclair Group Raises $16.6M; OWN Heads To Oz; Depardieu Breaks Silence; LoveFilm Streams Dis Pics
France’s Éclair Group Raises $16.6M Digital Switch, Development
Here’s some good news for France’s troubled postproduction sector. The Éclair Group has raised €12.4M ($16.6M) to complete its digital transition and speed up development across all of its businesses. The recapitalization was financed by the company’s current management, France’s Fonds de Consolidation et Développement des Entreprises, and by Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications. (Ben Ammar had acquired 43% of Éclair back in 2007 and was keen to merge it with his LTC Laboratories but was blocked by the competition authority at the time.) Éclair will also use the funds to strengthen its restoration business and to equip French cinemas in partnership with Deluxe and HP.
OWN Programming Heading Down Under
OWN and Discovery Networks International are planning a weekly block of OWN programming for Discovery Home & Health in Australia. Starting August 4, Aussie viewers will have access to shows that include Oprah’s Next Chapter, Super Soul Sunday, America With Lisa Ling and The Oprah Winfrey Show: Behind The Scenes. The Australia bow will follow the recent UK launch of OWN programming on TLC.
EXCLUSIVE: Wanda Sykes Presents Herlarious will air Saturday, July 13 and Saturday, July 20 at 10 PM on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN. The one-hour original comedy specials will be hosted and produced by Sykes and Page Hurwitz’s Push It Prods., in conjunction with Harpo Studios. The shows will be taped in front of a live studio audience at Harpo Studios in Chicago, the former home of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Scheduled to appear are emerging female stand-ups Andi Smith, Gloria Bigelow, Marina Franklin, Tracey Ashley, Carmen Lynch and Dominique Witten. Kym Whitley from OWN’s Raising Whitley is among those scheduled for a guest appearance. Sykes also will appear with her guests in a series of comedy shorts that will air throughout each hour. Sykes, Hurwitz and Harpo’s Jill Barancik executive produce. Longtime Sykes collaborators Lance Crouther (Wanda At Large) and Alyson Fouse (The Wanda Sykes Show) are writers on the project.
Listen to (and share) episode 37 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive editor talks with host David Bloom about who’s likely to buy Hulu; whether OWN will pencil out for Discovery this year; Netflix plans to triple spending on original content; and whether the new News Corp. will scoop up the LA Times or other print publications.
Up to now the company promised that its joint venture network with Oprah Winfrey would break even on a cash flow basis in the second half of 2013. But CEO David Zaslav slightly raised the stakes this morning, promising those attending Sanford C. Bernstein’s Strategic Decisions Conference that “we’ll be making money on OWN.” The channel — which stumbled out of the gate in 2011 — is “ahead of where we thought it would be” and “finding enormous success for us.” For example, on Saturday night, when it runs original programming without Winfrey, “we’re the No. 1 network for African American women.” The comment buttressed Zaslav’s broader argument that the pay TV business is in good shape, and Discovery is doing especially well in that environment. Zaslav is unfazed by the seemingly growing number of consumers who say that they’re fed up with rising pay TV rates, and want distributors to offer channels a la carte or on low-priced tiers. “This is a very sturdy system,” he says. “Viewers really enjoy the basic package…I don’t see that being challenged.”
MIPTV Briefs: Keshet Int’l; AMC/Sundance; ‘Big Brother’; ‘Restless’; Bear Grylls; OWN UK; Warner TV Distribution
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Keshet International‘s UK office has hired producer Amelia Hann as head of unscripted programming to oversee a new factual production venture. Hann was most recently executive producer on Channel 4’s The Undateables and her other credits include the BAFTA winning Ross Kemp On Gangs, Wife Swap USA, Baby Bible Bashers, Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars and The Hunt For Britain’s Sex Traffickers.