Discovery Communications announced this morning Holzman will oversee strategy and all day-to-day operations for Animal Planet. Previously, Holzman served as EVP Programming and Scheduling for Animal Planet and Science Channel. He will continue to report to Marjorie Kaplan, Group President of TLC and Animal Planet.
From today’s announcement:
“Rick Holzman is one of the most brilliant minds in the media industry and a key driver of Animal Planet’s significant growth as an entertainment destination over the last several years,” said Kaplan. ”His leadership, knowledge and incredible passion for this brand make him the perfect General Manager for Animal Planet.”
Holzman has been with Animal Planet since November 2007, during which time he has been instrumental in the network’s rebrand and breakthrough growth, guiding Animal Planet’s programming by overseeing the network’s commissioning, acquisitions, co-productions and scheduling strategy. The best-performing series in network history – including RIVER MONSTERS, TREEHOUSE MASTERS, WHALE WARS, FINDING BIGFOOT and CALL OF THE WILDMAN – have all come to fruition during his strategic tenure, as did MONSTER WEEK, the week-long programming event that propelled Animal Planet to rank among the top-five, ad-supported cable networks.
Prior to joining Animal Planet, Holzman served as Vice President, Programming and Scheduling at Discovery Channel from 2004 to 2007. Under his guidance, the network launched a Tuesday-night slate of programming which included two of Discovery’s most popular franchises ever, DEADLIEST CATCH and DIRTY JOBS. He also commissioned the network’s first-ever game show, the Emmy®-winning CASH CAB, as well as the popular series, STUNT JUNKIES and
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Animal Planet has ordered six new episodes and a special on The Pool Master after the franchise’s unveiling scored 1 million viewers, and 408,000 demo viewers in its unveiling last Friday. The series opener helped Animal Planet rank fourth among all ad-supported cable networks in the time slot among men 25-54 and men 18-49, excluding movies and sports. The network’s initial order on the series, featuring pool designer Anthony Archer-Wills, was for three episodes and a special. The show is now casting for homeowners who want their yard transformed by Archer-Wills. What does this have to do with animals? Nothing.
Animal Planet today announced it had renewed Ice Cold Gold for a third season. The Greenland-set gem-seeking series clocked about 800,000 viewers in its second season and helped the network boost its performance by 25% among 18-49 year old guys. Here’s how Animal Planet describes Ice Cold Gold:
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Animal Planet is plunging into scripted territory with a retelling of the story that inspired the novel Moby Dick, in Revenge Of The Whale (working title). Starring Martin Sheen, this two-hour film tells a dramatic story of a time when whales were hunted for their oil. The BBC co-production re-imagines what happened when the magnificent sea creature finally turned on its killers. Here’s a complete look at Animal Planet’s new slate: Read More »
Martin Sheen will star in The Whale, a two-hour film from BBC Factual Productions and Animal Planet that’s set to premiere in December on BBC 1 and in summer 2014 on Animal Planet. Based on true events, Sheen portrays Old Thomas Nickerson, who served as cabin boy on the ill-fated voyage of the whaling ship the Essex. The two-hour drama is inspired by real-life accounts of the ship’s sinking; those accounts are said to have inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The Whale is written by Terry Cafolla (Holy Cross, Messiah). Filming took place on location in Malta this past spring and wrapped up outside of London last summer.
Sheen, repped by ICM Partners, leads the cast as the elder Nickerson with Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood, The Street) as First Mate Owen Chase; Adam Rayner (The Hunted) as Captain Pollard; Paul Kaye (Game Of Thrones, Stella) as Joy; David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas, War Horse) as Peterson; and Jolyon Coy (The Hollow Crown) as Lawrence. It also stars Jassa Ahluwalisa, John Boyega and Ferdinand Kingsley, and Charles Furness as the young Nickerson. The Whale is executive produced by Eamon Hardy and Ruth Caleb with Mike Dormer as producer; for Animal Planet, Mick Kaczorowski is EP.
Animal Planet has given a six-episode order to Alaska Gold Diggers, a fish-out-of-water reality series about five Orange County women transplanted to Alaska, to premiere on October 10. Produced by T Group Productions in association with Henry Island Prods, the series centers on Newport Beach resident SaraJane “SJ” Bartholomae, who inherits two gold mines from her self-made oil and gold tycoon father, William “Popper” Bartholomae, who was brutally murdered when she was a child. With gold prices at an all-time high, SJ and her four grown daughters decide to revitalize the family mines in Nome and Fairbanks, which have remained abandoned since Popper’s death. With their pooled savings, they race against time, hiring local mining crews to try and get the mines up and running with only six weeks before the start of the Alaskan winter. “It’s more than just a fish-out-of-water story — these women have grit and gumption, and will stop at nothing until they realize their father and grandfather’s dream of striking it rich in one of the harshest terrains on the planet,” said T Group president Jenny Daly, who executive produces the series with Henry Island’s Brian Neal and Debbie Shepard.
Because there is seemingly no end to cat lovers, and no end to cats from hell, Animal Planet announced this morning it has renewed its series of the same name for a fifth season. My Cat From Hell will return in early 2014 with 16 episodes in which “cat listener” Jackson Galaxy visits homes to solve feline issues. The series recently completed its fourth season among Animal Planet’s top 10 series with women 18-49 and 25-54. The fourth season’s third, epic episode, “Penny Hates Puck” – both cats, BTW – clocked series highs, including 1.2 million viewers, more than a quarter million of whom were men 25-54. Of that 1.2 mil, 607,000 were 18-49 (363 of whom were women 18-49). In rough numbers: Penny hated Puck, Penny attacked Puck so often and so viciously, poor Puck was left utterly terrified, completely clawed up, and peeing on herself after every fight. MCFH is produced for Animal Planet by Eyeworks USA.
The monstrous outrage over Shark Week’s opening-night fake documentary does not appear to have taken a bite out of the franchise’s performance. Wednesday, Great White Serial Killer clocked an average of 3.2 million viewers at 10 PM, to become Shark Week’s most-watched Wednesday program in the franchise’s 26 years. (Top Ten Sharkdown delivered 2.78 million viewers at 9.) Interestingly, Wednesday’s Serial Killer netted a bigger crowd than either of Shark Week’s Tuesday programs: I Escaped Jaws (2.71 million) and Spawn of Jaws (2.77 million).
Discovery’s Shark Week Facebook page was swamped Monday with self-described longtime viewers who raged against Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives – the opening-night premiere, in which actors playing scientists bloviated about the “return” of a monster shark that became extinct 1.5 million years ago. It appears that Shark Week fans are not regular viewers of Discovery’s Animal Planet channel, or they’d be wise to the whole fake docu programming thread that’s taking hold at the company. Just this past June, after Animal Planet’s fake docu, Mermaid: The New Evidence (a follow-up to its earlier fake docu, Mermaids: The Body Found) snagged that network’s biggest haul in its history (nearly 4 million viewers), the mermaid show’s creator was promoted to oversee a newly created Original Content Group for Discovery’s whole company of networks. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Animal Planet has acquired the one-hour special The Hero Dogs Of 9/11 to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The special first ran on Animal Planet in Canada two years ago to mark the attack’s 10th anniversary. The project, from Toronto-based Kelencontent, details the stories of three World Trade Center survivors, and the working dogs that saved lives at Ground Zero. More than 300 dogs were used in the rescue and recovery operation. One of the survivors profiled, who is blind, was led out of the building by his seeing eye dog. Another, who’d been working at the scene with a bomb-sniffing dog, was pulled from the rubble by a rescue dog. The third was the last survivor to be discovered by a dog and pulled from the rubble, 27 hours after the center collapsed.
Discovery Communications has promoted the guy behind Animal Planet’s controversial mermaid documentaries to oversee a newly created Original Content Group for the whole company of networks. As EVP, Charlie Foley will create, write and exec produce scripted content and nonfiction series and formats for all Discovery networks in this country and internationally. He will report to Marjorie Kaplan, group president and General Manager of Animal Planet, Science Channel, and Velocity. Foley’s the guy behind Animal Planet’s highest-rated program ever: Mermaids: The New Evidence, which averaged 3.7 million viewers in its premiere. That was a sequel to the network’s Mermaids: The Body Found, which was no slouch either in the ratings department, averaging 3.6 million viewers in its premiere. The first mermaid “documentary” resulted in so many inquiries to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the department decided to post something on its websites stating: “No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.” Foley, who started his career at National Geographic, also created and wrote Animal Planet’s previous ratings record-holder Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real. He’s also the guy behind that networks’ River Monsters, Whale Warriors, etc.
At Discovery Communications’ upfront today, the company’s Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Investigation Discovery presented their slates of new and returning series. (See Discovery/Harpo-owned OWN’s announcement here). Discovery Channel, which had its highest-rated January ever in total viewers and adults 25-54, is putting an emphasis on live events with specials Fast N’ Live and the Grand Canyon tightrope walk Wallenda Live as well as scripted TV with its first scripted project, miniseries Klondike. The network’s unscripted slate features 10 new series, including The Huntsmen, Rock Raiders, two Naked shows, Hidden Kingdom and Survival.
Related: Discovery Shows Off Star Power At Upfront Presentation
TLC’s slate features 52 new and returning series, including the return of pop culture hit Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Breaking Amish and its spinoff. Animal Planet returns 20 series and new ones like Eel Of Fortune, about hunting prized eels off the New England coast. Its best-performing series ever, River Monsters, returns April 7. Investigation Discovery, meanwhile, is offering up its second original newsmagazine Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall and the Jerry Springer-hosted Tabloid.
Here are details for all the Discovery networks: Read More »
Animal Planet has promoted Charlie Foley to SVP and head of development. He will continue to report to Animal Planet president and general manager Marjorie Kaplan. Additionally, the network has brought in two development executives as VP to work under Foley: Kurt Tondorf from Optomen Prods. and Andy Berg from A&E/Bio.
The joint-venture channels — OWN with Oprah Winfrey, and The Hub with Hasbro — aren’t included. What’s more, “there is not any specific content that Netflix is entitled to,” Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav told investors this morning at Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia Conference. He wouldn’t talk about the economics of the deal but says that they will “become apparent” the next time the company reports its quarterly earnings. He adds that while “we don’t know what’s going to happen with Netflix” — which is grappling with consumer fury after it raised prices 60% for those who want to stream video and rent DVDs –”right now we think that will not create an issue for us.” Here’s the release about Discovery’s new Netflix agreement:
Los Gatos, Calif. and Silver Spring, Md. — Netflix, Inc. and Discovery Communications today announced a two-year non-exclusive licensing agreement that allows Netflix members to instantly watch prior-season series and specials, including an expanded selection of additional seasons of popular series from Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet, as well as Investigation Discovery, Science and Military Channel. Among the highlights are Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild, TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, and Animal Planet’s River Monsters and other titles from Discovery’s rich program library.
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