Revealed today at A&E’s Comic-Con panel for Bates Motel is that season 3 will dive more into the story of Norma’s brother, Caleb, as Kenny Johnson is made a regular on the show. Also, executive producers Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin revealed that posh damsel in distress Bradley (Nicola Peltz) — aka the girl who Norman will do anything for — will be returning. “There’s a huge revelation for Norman as he realizes he can do these terrible things,” said Cuse. For the most part the EPs were tight-lipped about major storylines for season 3. Of note, we’ll learn more about Sheriff Romero’s backstory. Rather than treat the crowd to season 3 spoilers, panel organizers found it amusing to have members of the audience arm wrestle Johnson since he’s a champion in the raw sport. The Bates Motel panel featured a couple of silly clips: an Arrested Development-like opening credits sequence for the series as well as a number of offbeat, unhinged auditions of the actors, which are to be featured on the season 2 DVD. Sitting on the Comic-Con panel were Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Olivia Cooke, Nestor Carbonell and Johnson.
A+E Networks today announced it had promoted several execs to roles in its newly established A+E Research & Analytics Team.
Marcela Tabares will be promoted to Senior Vice President, Revenue Research, A+E Networks. Marcela and her team will continue to “translate audience insights into compelling stories” and to position the company’s brands to “maximize the value of our audiences.”
Tom Pellegrino will be promoted to Senior Vice President, Brand Research, A+E Networks, overseeing research for the company’s portfolio of six networks, A+E Studios, and A+E Networks’ International division.
Lee Boykoff will take on the expanded role of Vice President, Digital Analytics and CRM, where he will continue to lead Digital Audience Development, Digital Measurement and Digital Analytics. He will also now oversee both Digital Ad Sales Research and the growth of the A+E Networks’ CRM program, supporting all brands in the A+E Networks’ portfolio.
Julya Fridman also takes on an expanded role, as Vice President, Multiplatform & Distribution Analytics. She will now lead the Multiplatform efforts for A+E, including the measurement and valuation of content across all platforms, TV Everywhere reporting and set-top-box analyses. She will continue her work in Distribution to inform business strategy and pursue new distribution opportunities
“Today we require the largest event space in Manhattan,” A+E Networks President and CEO Nancy Dubuc told the crowd tonight at New York’s vast (and packed) Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “I’m here to tell you that TV is not dead. We are in the next Golden Age of content,” she added, zinging that it’s TV content that drives the business at competitors Amazon, Netflix, Yahoo, and others. Surrounded by stars from the multichannel network group — including Duck Dynasty‘s Willie and Korie Robertson; Devious Maids leads Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez and exec producer Susan Lucci; Nick and brother Drew Lachey, stars of their own new series about a bar in Cincinnati; and superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson, among many others — Dubuc ribbed introducer Mark Wahlberg, another linchpin of the network, saying “I love it when a man knows his place — right, ladies?”
Dubuc emphasized A+E’s expanding commitment to original programming, to the current tune of $1 billion per year. New shows in the coming season include History’s Texas Rising, about the wild and sometimes violent history of the Texas Rangers; a Lifetime miniseries based on The Red Tent, a popular novel that reworked Old Testament stories through the eyes of women; and A&E’s Dogs Of War, a series about a couple who pair veterans struggling with postwar trauma with canine companions.
EXCLUSIVE: History wants to get its motor running this summer. The A+E Networks channel will debut new series Biker Background Phoenix on July 1 at 10PM. Produced by Da Vinci’s Demons producers and BBC Worldwide label Adjacent Productions, the 9-episode unscripted series aims to take viewers inside the world of custom bike building. With the original American Chopper off the air since 2010, BBP hopes to grab the market on the genre. Sure to be discussed by A+E at their NYC upfront tomorrow, Biker Battleground Phoenix will focus on five of the top shop owners in the desert metropolis as they battle to build the baddest and best bikes possible. Bryn Freedman is serving as executive producer. Julian Hobbs and Elaine Frontain Bryant will be as the EPs for the home of Pawn Stars while Phil Lott, Travis Shakespeare and Jane Tranter serve as EPs for Adjacent.
“I think the film business is going to be a tremendous growth business,” said Jeff Shell today. Speaking at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference in Beverly Hills, the Universal Filmed Entertainment chairman rebuffed Jeffrey Katzenberg’s proclamation earlier this week at the same conference that “movies are not a growth business.” “Domestic ticket sales are flat but if you look internationally most of the markets are growing like crazy,” Shell said, noting that globally is where the vast majority of box office comes from now. The studio boss’ comments came just hours after Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes slapped down the DreamWorks Animation CEO’s remarks. DWA shares are down around 11% today after it took a $57M writedown for Mr Peabody & Sherman.
Shell was joined on the Entertainment: The Big Picture panel today by A+E Networks president and CEO Nancy Dubuc, CBS boss Les Moonves and Activision Blizzard boss Bobby Kotick.
Veteran investment banker David Granville-Smith has been named EVP and Chief Financial Officer for A+E Networks. He will succeed Gerard Gruosso, who is retiring after a 30-year stint. In his new role, Granville-Smith will lead key financial functions across the company and provide strategic and operational thought leadership to help drive the company’s overall growth. Granville-Smith comes to A+E Networks from J.P. Morgan, where he most recently served as Managing Director and Head of the Media Group in the company’s Investment Banking Division. He joined J.P. Morgan in 2008 when it acquired Bear Stearns, where he worked in the Investment Banking Division for 17 years. Prior to that, he worked at Smith Barney in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group.
A+E Networks‘ new lifestyle channel FYI has picked up two hourlong unscripted pilots as it ramps up for its July 7 launch. You’re The One (working title), hosted by journalist and documentarian Cherry Healey, follows men and women as they embark on a mission to find a lost love. Through social and mass media, communities around the world are mobilized to engage in the hunt, leading up to the final face-to-face meeting. Marry Me … Today (working title) is described as a breakthrough wedding concept for the modern generation. The show partners with website The Knot to follow an ambitious groom-to-be as he surprises his girlfriend with a proposal, engagement and marriage all in one day, using his girlfriend’s online wish list to plan and execute her fantasy wedding.
A+E Networks‘ Lifetime Films and A+E Studios have partnered with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Prods. and Sara Risher’s ChickFlicks to produce the independent feature Lila And Eve, starring Davis and Jennifer Lopez. Directed by Charles Stone III from a script by Pat Gilfillan, Lila And Eve is now filming for a festival premiere and theatrical release in late 2014/early 2015. Lifetime network-affiliated Lifetime Films is dedicated to developing, producing and acquiring female-focused indie movies. Its first effort, The Last Of Robin Hood, featuring Kevin Kline, Susan Sarandon and Dakota Fanning, premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released in theaters in early Summer 2014. When A+E Networks in June 2013 launched in-house production arm A+E Studios, Lifetime Films became a division of the studio. Lifetime network’s Rob Sharenow and Tanya Lopez as well as Lisa Hamilton Daly and Molly Thompson will executive produce Lila And Eve for A+E Studios alongside Viola Davis and Julius Tennon of JuVee Prods. and Damian Ganczewski. Sara Risher of ChickFlicks and Darrin Reed.
A+E Networks has tapped Thomas Moody as SVP Programming, Planning & Acqusitions for FYI and LMN and Laura Fleury has been upped to VP Programming and Development, LMN. Jana Bennett, President of FYI and LMN announced the new positions today which are effective immediately. Both will report to Bennett.
Moody has been with A+E Networks since 2001. In his new role, he will oversee program planning, strategy and acquisitions for both FYI and LMN. He was previously responsible for developing and implementing the scheduling and acquisition strategies for A&E and BIO. In addition, Moody has also developed and/or served as an executive producer on A+E Networks shows including Hoarders, Private Sessions, Biography, and Celebrity Ghost Stories.
As VP Programmming and Development for LMN, Fleury will oversee all original programming for the network. She has been with A+E Networks for over 15 years. In her previous role, Fleury developed and served as executive producer for Emmy-nominated Beyond Scared Straight, The First 48, Parking Wars, The Killer Speaks, and Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force, among others. She has also developed and executive produced several series for the BIO channel.
UPDATE, FRIDAY 6:20 PM: Earlier this week, TV industry sages forecast that if A&E wanted the Robertson family to continue starring in the network’s cash cow Duck Dynasty, after the network put patriarch Phil on indefinite hiatus over incendiary comments he’d made in a GQ interview (the family issued a statement saying they were standing with Phil) the network would have to “eat crow” — and forecast A&E would “do it right after Christmas.”
Which, of course, is exactly what happened! And here’s what the industry is saying about that, via Twitter:
- Thomas Roberts, MSNBC anchor: Just dialing into #DuckDynasty update. Homophobia will not be conquered overnight & certainly not aided by A&E execs.
- Joe Scarborough: As predicted early. Biggest bias in LA is $$$.
- Dan Abrams: But talk about trying to bury the #DuckDynasty news. . after 5p on the Friday before New Years.
- W. Kamau Bell: “Hardest 9 days of my gay hating life.” – Phil Robertson on A&E lifting his suspension from Duck Dynasty.
- Billy Eichner, creator of Funny Or Die’s Fuse TV game show Billy on the Street: Very excited A&E is resuming Duck Dynasty with Phil Robertson. We need more ignorant homophobic racists who probably hate women on the air.
- Andy Lassner, Ellen exec producer: A&E has lifted its suspension of Phil Robertson. Family & friends are said to be gathering tonight to celebrate inside his beard.
- Justin Stangel, Late Show with David Letterman exec prod: A&E lifts Phil Robertson’s suspension from #DuckDynasty. Thank God! I can finally leave my Y2K bunker
More to come…
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY, 10:30 AM: Five Things A&E Did Wrong has become the hot parlor game among TV industry execs at holiday get-togethers. Cable news network execs, meanwhile, are giving thanks for the cultural warfare that has erupted, during this traditionally slow news period, over A&E’s decision to suspend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson for comparing homosexuality to bestiality in a GQ interview even Phil’s family has acknowledged was “coarse.”
A&E has been dazedly dog paddling since the interview came out and its hit show suddenly stopped quacking like all those other homespun reality series on TV and began Bible-thumping like the religious parable it actually is.
In case you’re one of the many who spend the holiday season hiding under a flat rock: A conservative Christian group has hit 210,000 signatures and counting on its petition demanding A&E immediately reinstate Phil, one retailer has reversed its decision to yank Duck Dynasty products off its shelves because of customer blowback, and a big-box retailer can’t keep up with customer demand for Duck Dynasty merchandise. Conservative possible presidential candidates are taking Phil to their bosom, and he invited the Daily Mail to his church on Sunday to witness him preaching: ‘Jesus will take sins away. If you’re a homosexual, he’ll take it away. If you’re an adulterer, if you’re a liar, what’s the difference? If you break one sin, you may as well break them all.”
“A rookie mistake.” That’s how one TV industry veteran who’s put in time dealing with rogue reality stars described A&E’s handling of its Duck Dynasty nightmare.
4TH UPDATE, 7:15 PM: The Robertson family is standing firmly behind its patriarch and is willing to pull the plug on the biggest reality show on television. In a strongly worded post on its DuckCommander.com website, the family reacted to A&E Network‘s decision yesterday to suspend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson over his pointed comments about homosexuality and religion in a GQ profile. The Robertsons made it clear that Duck Dynasty would only continue if Phil is in it because “we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm.”
We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.
3RD UPDATE, 1:30 PM: Conservative special-interest groups wasted no time jumping on board A&E‘s Duck Dynasty disaster train. “Declaring God’s perspective on God’s design for human intimacy has now become a career-ending offense in America,” bemoaned the American Family Association — Donald Wildmon’s group, which puts out a journal that reviews the content of primetime TV shows, based on profanity, sex, violence, homosexuality, substance abuse, “anti-Christian” content, or “political correctness.” Meanwhile, the Parents Television Council took the opportunity to again lobby for a la carte network signup: “No matter your feeling on Mr. Robertson’s comments and A&E subsequent decision to suspend him, there is no doubt that millions of fans of the show are upset with A&E’s decision on this case,” PTC said. “Now imagine if those consumers had the ability to make a free market-based economic decision to no longer subscribe to A&E today. In a free market, consumers can ‘vote with their wallets’ rather than have to resort to postings on social media to make their feelings known. Conversely, in a free market, those who agree with A&E’s decision could actively seek out more of their programming and pay for it.”
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.
A+E Networks announced today that Henry Hoberman has been named EVP and General Counsel and Douglas Jacobs was been appointed to a new role as EVP and Senior Counsel. Both will report to President and CEO Nancy Dubuc and their appointments take effect on January 13 next year. As general counsel, Hoberman will oversee all legal and business affairs teams for A&E and will spearhead all production and talent contracts, among his duties. The new General Counsel will also oversee the legal and business affairs work for acquisitions made by the newly formed A+E Networks Studios and A&E IndieFilms. In his role as Senior Counsel, Jacobs will be in charge of content compliance and risk management for A+E, including vetting for Constitutional issues, as well as Standards & Practices and rights management, among others duties.
The longtime A+E Networks communications chief, one of Nancy Dubuc’s most trusted executives, has been elevated to EVP Corporate Communications. Michael Feeney continues to report to Dubuc, A+E Networks’ President and CEO. Feeney has been overseeing A+E Networks’ global and corporate communications, corporate marketing and philanthropic and community outreach since 2006, when he was appointed SVP Corporate Communications for predecessor A&E TV Networks. Following the group’s merger with Lifetime Networks, Feeney oversaw the logo design and corporate rebrand of the company to A+E Networks. “Michael has been the architect of A+E Networks’ successful communications strategy for the past decade,” said Dubuc. “He is one of the most effective communicators in our industry.” Feeney has been in the A+E family for more than a decade. The one-time NBC page joined the company in 2001 as Director of History Publicity and Public Affairs and was promoted to VP Publicity for A&E Network and Bio three years later. His current communications portfolio includes all A+E brands, which include A&E, Lifetime, History, LMN, Bio and H2.
Time Warner Cable is coming off a bruising renewal with CBS that led to a lengthy blackout and major loss of subscribers. The long-term, multi-platform agreement covers A+E’s A&E, Lifetime, History, LMN, Bio, H2, History en Espanol, Crime & Investigation Network, Military History and Lifetime Real Women. It includes the offering of VOD content, “TV Everywhere” content for TWC TV out-of-home platforms and authenticated access to various A+E Networks apps including History, A+E and Lifetime.
The four-hour two-part Bonnie & Clyde mini is set to air Sunday, December 8th and Monday, December 9th at 9 PM simultaneously on A&E, Lifetime and History. Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) star in the title roles of outlaw couple Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The killer cast also includes Holly Hunter as Bonnie’s mother, Emma Parker, and William Hurt as Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger pursuing the Barrow gang. Bonnie & Clyde follows Barrow, Parker and the notorious Barrow Gang as they sweep through the Central and Southern United States committing small-time robberies and daring bank heists, leaving murdered police officers and civilians in their wake. Cast also includes include Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Lane Garrison (Prison Break), Elizabeth Reaser (The Twilight Saga), Austin Hebert (True Blood) and Dale Dickey (Winter’s Bone). The miniseries is produced by Sony Pictures Television and executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. John Rice and Joe Batteer penned the script and Oscar-nominated Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies, Breaker Morant) directed.
The Chief Historian at A+E Networks is going to help America commemorate The Great War. President Obama today appointed Dr. Libby O’Connell to the World War I Centennial Commission. The exec has been at A+E since 1993 and in her present post of Chief Historian and Senior Vice President of Corporate Outreach since 2005. Originally brought on to consult on the creation of what became the History Channel, the former Long Island University prof now serves as the primary advisor to History’s programming department. O’Connell also oversees the A+E’s educational and community initiatives such as the Intervention town halls addressing issues of addiction. O’Connell won a 2007 Daytime Emmy and has received two Governors Awards from the TV Academy. “I am proud to appoint such impressive men and women to these important roles, and I am grateful they have agreed to lend their considerable talents to this Administration. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead,” said Obama in a statement accompanying the appointment of O’Connell and five others to various administration positions. ESPN wrestling analyst Anthony Marc Robles was also appointed to a post today. He will take up membership on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Kris Kristofferson Pic ‘Joe’s Mountain’ Gets Backers; A+E Nets Takes Over AETN All Asia; More
Breakthrough, Dutch Features Board Kristofferson Pic ‘Joe’s Mountain’
Toronto-based Breakthrough Entertainment has joined with Dutch Features Global Entertainment to co-executive produce Joe’s Mountain, starring Kris Kristofferson. Dutch Features will team with Breakthrough to secure European distribution partners for the film to be directed by Chuck Rose, who also wrote the script. The producers say they are in discussions to cast Helen Hunt opposite Kristofferson, who plays a former ladies man who becomes a local celebrity when his dreams of future events start coming true. His powers are put to the test when he meets a younger woman and her dying son and embarks on a road trip to find a mysterious lake that will change their lives. Production will take place in Canada. Henry Boger produces.
A+E Networks Assumes Full Control of AETN All Asia Networks
A+E Networks has concluded a transaction with Astro Overseas Limited to assume full ownership of AETN All Asia Networks, the Singapore-based company formed as a joint venture in 2007. AETN All Asia Networks will be rebranded as A+E Networks Asia. “The transition to full ownership of A+E Networks Asia is a first for our company and marks an important milestone,” said A+E president and CEO Nancy Dubuc. The announcement comes on the heels of the recent launch of Lifetime and H2 in the region. A+E Networks Asia also operates History, Crime & Investigation Network and bio in the region.
Bad tattoos and bad times in Sin City are coming to A&E. The channel’s new Bad Ink series is set to debut on August 11, A+E Networks announced today. The series will premiere with a double shot of back-to-back episodes at 10 PM and 10:30 PM on the Sunday night. The unscripted show features tattoos artist Dirk Vermin and his friend Ruckus as they go on the hunt for Las Vegas’ worst ink jobs. Some Vermin tries to fix himself while discovering how the victim in question got such bad ink, as the title says. Matt Sharp and Dan Adler for Sharp Entertainment are the EPs on Bad Ink. Randy Jones is co-executive producer. Executive producers for A&E are Elaine Frontain Bryant, Lily Neumeyer and Evan Lerner.