EXCLUSIVE: A&E Network has put in development a high-concept drama from Immortals writers Charley & Vlas Parlapanides and producer Michael London. The project’s title, The 36, stems from the mystical Jewish concept of the Righteous 36, which stipulates …
Breaking Boston will premiere Thursday, March 13 at 10 PM on A&E Network, which already is home to producer Mark Wahlberg‘s family restaurant series Wahlburgers. The new docu-drama will center on four working-class women coming of age in hardscrabble Boston and was inspired by the tough, hard-as-nails female characters in Wahlberg‘s Oscar-nominated movie The Fighter. A&E ordered the pilot in November 2012 and picked up the series last May. “These are real women telling their original stories of trying to break out of what’s expected of them,” said Wahlberg who himself was raised in Boston and just earned his high school diploma at age 42. “The odds are difficult, but I believe they can make it.” The series is from 44 Blue Prods, Wahlberg’s Closest to the Hole Prods, Leverage Entertainment and Bill Thompson Prods. Wahlberg, Stephen Levison and Thompson are executive producers. Executive producers for 44 Blue are Stephanie Drachkovich and Jennifer Colbert. Lily Neumeyer and Devon Graham are exec producing for the network.
UPDATED: Facing a firestorm of criticism that has shown little signs of subsiding, A&E parent company A+E Networks just issued a statement (read it below) announcing that the flagship A&E reality series Duck Dynasty will resume filming in the spring with the entire Robertson family — including patriarch Phil Robertson. The company put him on an “indefinite hiatus” on December 18 following the controversial comments he made in an interview to GQ. Duck Dynasty had been on a scheduled hiatus when the bombshell comments were made public. It had been slated to resume production in the spring, so today’s decision, which A+E said was made “after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups,” reverts to the show’s original filming schedule. The groups whose cooperation A+E sought are said to include GLAAD, which blasted Robertson’s initial anti-gay comments, and NAACP.
Duck Dynasty has nine of the 10 episodes for the upcoming fifth season with Phil in the can. It will film the final 10th episode before proceeding with production on the following cycle. In its statement today, A+E referred to the December 19 statement by the Robertson family in which they admitted that “some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible” but stressed that “Phil would never incite or encourage hate.” In the same statement, the family stood firmly behind their patriarch, indicating they would rather walk away from the show then film without Phil.
The stakes in the stand-off were high, with both A&E and the Robertsons poised to lose tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars, though the family had already amassed a fortune, emboldening them to make a stand. Since the controversy erupted, Phil Robertson has been defiant, reiterating his stance on gay relationships at a Bible study group. He has drawn massive support from conservatives, both politicians and regular folk, with a petition asking for his reinstatement amassing more than 250,000 signatures as of this morning. Cracker Barrel’s attempt to pull some items carrying the Phil Robertson brand Duck Commander created such strong backlash that the stores quickly restocked the items. The controversy pitted religious believes vs. tolerance and equality. It exposed the deep divisions in the country, and A+E said it wants to come out of it “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people” with a campaign across all of its networks that the company hopes the Robertsons will be part of. The brouhaha further raised awareness for Duck Dynasty, already a monster hit, some two weeks before its fifth-season premiere, which would likely shatter more ratings records. Here’s A+E’s statement:
As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.
UPDATE, 8 AM: After hitting its goal of 200,000 signatures on its petition calling for A&E Network to immediately reinstate Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson in just a few days, the organization that calls itself Faith Driven Consumers set a new goal of 250,000. Which it hit the night after Christmas. Christmas, not coincidentally is the day the extremely press-savvy Phil decided to illustrate one of his comments to GQ and a subsequent church group meeting that “If you’re a man, find yourself a woman. Marry them and keep your sex right there…Common sense says we are not going to procreate the human race unless we have a man and a woman. From the beginning Jesus said, ‘It is a man and a woman.’” In a photo tweeted Christmas Day by his granddaughter, Phil is seen pointing to an apparently new wedding ring on the finger of his wife, Miss Kay, with the caption: “After 50 years of marriage Papaw Phil finally gave Mamaw Kay a wedding ring for Christmas ??”
A&E Network yanked the star of its reality hit over comments he made about homosexuality in the January edition of GQ, specifically his having compared homosexuality to bestiality. The petition demands A&E cease its “discriminatory censorship of Mr. Robertson and to treat people of faith with equality, fairness, and true tolerance.”
Remember the good ratings for David Blaine’s ABC magic special a couple of weeks ago that we felt would spur more magic programs? A&E Network picked up Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne, a new unscripted series featuring magician Andrew …
EXCLUSIVE: A&E Network’s upcoming drama Those Who Kill doesn’t debut until March, but this weekend there’ll be sneak peek shown during the network’s two-part Bonnie & Clyde miniseries. Why wait until then to see Chloë Sevigny as police detective Catherine Jensen in the series from Imagine TV and Fox 21. …
It took awhile but A&E and Warner Horizon finally closed a deal for a 10-episode third season of the network’s most-watched drama series ever, Longmire. The announcement comes after Longmire executive producer John Coveny tweeted back in August, shortly after the series’ second-season finale: “The call just came: SEASON 3 for .” is a GO!In its second season, Longmire averaged 3.7 million total viewers with the season finale episode August 26 delivering a season high of 4.4 million total viewers. “Longmire has become one of the most compelling dramas on television with a devoted audience and we are so proud of the show,” said A&E GM David McKillop.
A&E Network announced today it will roll out a new brand identity and new tagline: “Be Original” on December 11, during its Duck Dynasty Christmas special. In its announcement, the network noted its programming is 100% original in primetime — compared to, say, USA Network (11% original), TNT (20% original), FX (14% original) and TBS (7% original). “As the A&E brand continues to evolve, it has become increasingly important to let both the consumer and trade know what A&E stands for,” said Guy Slattery, EVP Marketing, A&E Network. “Our new tagline embodies who we are and not just what we do,” chimed in David McKillop, General Manager & EVP of A&E Network. “From Duck Dynasty to Bates Motel, we are 100% original with the most unique characters and content in television. ‘Be Original’ is much more than a tagline, it’s a rallying cry for our programmers and marketers to always take creative risks, perpetually innovate, inspire and engage the next generation of viewers.” Wish we had a buck….
Anyway, see if you can remember which networks had these taglines:
EXCLUSIVE: Hit French series The Returned (Les Revenants) is getting an American remake. A&E Network has nabbed rights to the supernatural/suspense drama, which will be developed as a co-production between A+E Studios and FremantleMedia North America. There is no writer in place but I hear the network is in discussions with Carlton Cuse, executive producer/co-showrunner of A&E’s breakout hit Bates Motel to take on the adaptation.
Created by Fabrice Gobert, Les Revenants was inspired by the 2004 feature film by the same name directed by Robin Campillo (English-language title They Came Back). It focuses on a small town that is turned upside down when several local people who have been long presumed dead suddenly reappear, having not aged and unaware of their own fatality. As they attempt to resume their lives, strange phenomena and gruesome murders begin to occur. “The Returned takes an incredibly unique approach, filled with suspense and twists and turns, to the subject of the living dead,” said A&E’s EVP and general manager David McKillop. Added FMNA CEO Thom Beers, “Having seen Fabrice Gobert’s original version and the success the series has had in France, we’re thrilled to be partnering with the team at A+E to bring this enigmatic thriller to U.S. audiences.”
Fans’ prayers seem to have been answered. A&E‘s most-watched drama series, Longmire, is getting a third season. “Thanks to the 5 million plus weekly fans (live+7),” Longmire executive producer John Coveny wrote on Twitter this afternoon. “Young and older skewing alike! The call just came: SEASON 3 for ” A&E and producing studio Warner BrosTV had no comment, though insiders cautioned that the two sides have yet to finalize a deal for a third season. There had been speculation that such a deal could include A&E taking ownership in the show. However, everyone seems to agree that Longmire will return to A&E for a third season. The renewal buzz comes on the heels of is a GO!big ratings for Longmire‘s second-season finale earlier this week, which posted a season-high 4.4 million total viewers, 1.1 million adults 18-49 and 1.5 million adults 25-54. For the season, Longmire averaged 5.4 million viewers (Live+7, most current) and, while older skewing than A&E’s other series, it was up from Season 1 in the key younger demos.