IDW Entertainment, the recently launched division of comic book publisher IDW, has partnered with George Lopez and his Travieso production company to develop Wormwood, an animated television series based on the IDW comics created by artist Ben Templesmith. …
Fox News’ New Take On Female Panelist Daytime Talker Will Feature One Guy And Be Called ‘Outnumbered’
Fox News Channel finally announced the replacement program with which it will fill the void left when Megyn Kelly moved to primetime — Outnumbered. It’s kind of like The View, in that it’s a panel of women taking on the day’s top news/pop culture headlines — only with an FNC spin in that it’s got one rotating slot for a guy, who’s, you know, outnumbered. The announcement comes the same day The View announced it had talked all of its current and former co-hosts — including the ones who left under a cloud — to return to the show May 15 to say so-long to Babs Walters, who is retiring as show on-air Den Mom, though she’s continuing as show exec producer.
Outnumbered debuts Monday, April 28 at 12 PM ET; Fox Report Weekend anchor Harris Faulkner and Fox Business Network’s Sandra Smith are among the panelists named today. Additional personalities to be featured include co-hosts of The Five, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Andrea Tantaros; along with FNC contributors Jedediah Bila, Katie Pavlich and Kirsten Powers. Each of the panelists maintain their respective roles on FNC and FBN.
The heralded, award-winning 28-year-old franchise will begin to chronicle not only American masters but also “emerging American masters,” Michael Kantor said in a New York Times interview — industry speak for “targeting younger viewers.” The franchise will stop emphasizing important cultural figures important to the baby boom generation, Kantor told NYT, which got first crack at the news. The series will redefine the word “masters” to include profiles of people in industry. Ditto science. That said, the series already has profiled Albert Einstein, as well as I.M. Pei, Billie Jean King, Walter Cronkite, etc. — in addition to more traditional subjects such as Arthur Miller, Georgia O’Keeffe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Poitier, Judy Garland, John James Audubon, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
More National Geographic Shakeup: David Lyle Exits, Courteney Monroe Upped To CEO, David Hill Named Chairman
Gary E. Knell, President and CEO of the National Geographic Society, and Peter Rice, Chairman and CEO of Fox Networks Group, today completed the sweeping changes at the top of the National Geographic Channels that started yesterday with the announcement that the channels’ president Howard Owens will be leaving in June. “Today, the worst kept secret is over — I am taking my leave as CEO of National Geographic Channels,” David Lyle, who had served as National Geographic Channels CEO since 2011, wrote in an internal memo (read it in full below the post.). “I am exhilarated but somewhat saddened also.” Lyle will be replaced by a marketing executive, Courteney Monroe, who has served as Chief Marketing Officer for National Geographic Channels’ domestic networks since 2012 and is now being upped to CEO. She will report to the Board of Directors of the National Geographic Channels. Additionally, David Hill, Senior EVP of 21st Century Fox and a member of the National Geographic Channels Board of Directors, will now add the title of Chairman of National Geographic Channels U.S. His role is described as “providing counsel to the executive and programming leadership team.” Coming from marketing, Monroe has no production experience. Hill, who had an oversight of NGC prior to Lyle’s 2011 hire, will remain a member of the NGC Board and also continue to oversee production of American Idol.
The moves continue to expand the domain of Hill, who is one of Rupert Murdoch’s trusted lieutenants. In 2012, the long-time chairman and CEO of Fox Sports was elevated to senior EVP for News Corp. Then last summer, following the departure of Fox alternative chief Mike Darnell, he was put in charge of the network’s The X Factor and American Idol. Since then, X Factor has been cancelled while American Idol is finishing up its lowest-rated season. Meanwhile, the National Geographic Channels have done very well under Lyle and Owens. “I’m exhilarated that NGC and NG WILD are in rude health with EBITDAs (profits) at all-time highs, and with programming featuring the most watched specials, series and year in the channels’ history,” Lyle wrote in his memo. That makes the executive housecleaning puzzling. It follows speculation about a discord between Hill and NGC’s leadership team of Lyle and Owens who turned the network around in the past three years. When Hill gave up direct oversight of NGC in 2011, the move was explained with a clash of cultures between him and the team at National Geographic.
‘The Insider’ Exec Producer Brad Bessey To Also Oversee ‘Entertainment Tonight’; ‘ET’ EP DJ Petroro Out
Brad Bessey, executive producer of CBS TV Distribution’s Entertainment Tonight spinoff The Insider, also is taking the reins of the mothership series, adding executive producer duties for ET. ET‘s current executive producer DJ Petroro, who had been groomed to take over from long-time ET and The Insider executive producer Linda Bell Blue, is departing. Bell Blue is transitioning into a new role as president of ET Studios in May. Also as part of the reshuffling, Monique Chenault joins The Insider as co-executive producer. Linda Fuller continues with ET as an Executive Producer. “After more than 15 years in the ET-Insider family, Brad knows ET inside and out and is the perfect person to continue to grow the brand and keep the show on top,” Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of creative affairs for CBS TV Distribution said.
UPDATED: Maker says Relativity is too late. The online studio’s deal with Disney “has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.” Oh, it also notes that the effort to block he deal in court “was denied today by The Superior Court of California; County of Los Angeles, Central District.” Relativity responds that it “made a compelling offer” and will “continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”
PREVIOUS, 8:58 AM: Is $1B in stock from Relativity worth more than $950M in cash from Disney? That’s the proposition Relativity is offering online multichannel company Maker Studios today. It sent a letter of intent last night that it says “is superior to the current offer from Walt Disney” that the Maker board accepted last month. The plan developed with help from Jefferies and Barclays includes $500M in Relativity shares, $400M in stock when Maker hits “certain financial milestones,” plus $100M in stock to go to “key talent and executives” who also “are not existing stockholders of the Company.” Relativity says that both it and Maker “are natural partners” because both “share a commitment to challenging the status quo, breaking down old models that don’t work and inventing new ones that do.” Disney believes that the deal it struck with Maker last month — $500M upfront and $450M with milestones — is binding, so we’ll see where this goes.
The proposal does not appear to be directly related to an effort by former Maker execs including co-founder Danny Zapplin to persuade the LA Superior Court to block the deal with Disney. The application for a temporary restraining order wants to put things on hold while the plaintiffs try to demonstrate that current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” Disney isn’t named as a defendant in the matter.
UPDATED WITH NEW DETAILS: A week after David Letterman announced his retirement, CBS has named his successor. Stephen Colbert has inked a five-year deal to take over Late Show, a move that is effective as soon as Letterman officially steps aside from the late-night show he has headlined since its launch on CBS in 1993. CBS will own Late Show With Stephen Colbert, unlike Late Show With David Letterman, which is owned by Letterman’s Worldwide Pants. CBS Corp Chairman Leslie Moonves said no dates have been set and reiterated that Letterman’s last day is the host’s to choose. Colbert is host of Comedy Central‘s faux-news show The Colbert Report, which airs in the east at the same time as Late Show, 11:30 PM. Colbert had been on the radar of top CBS brass for awhile and was Moonves’s top choice. Colbert too had had an eye on the job for a long time, synching up his Comedy Central contracts with Letterman’s. His current one is coming up at the end of this year, making him available for the Late Show host transition, slated for sometime in 2015. “Stephen Colbert is one of the most inventive and respected forces on television,” said Moonves in today’s announcement. “David Letterman’s legacy and accomplishments are an incredible source of pride for all of us here, and today’s announcement speaks to our commitment of upholding what he established for CBS in late night.”
Fourteen years after he greenlighted Project Greenlight at HBO, Chris Albrecht has picked up a followup as Starz‘s first original unscripted series. The pay cable network will air the 10-episode The Chair, created by Project Greenlight executive producer Chris Moore. The competition documentary series follows two directors through the process of bringing their first feature to the screen. The up-and-coming directors, Shane Dawson and Anna Martemucci, are provided with an identical screenplay How Soon Is Now, which they must craft as their own film using the same budget and filming in the same city. The series documents the creation, marketing and theatrical release of both adaptations, which will also air on Starz.
CNN Gives Former Fox Star John Walsh New Home To Continue Hunting Most Wanted, Replaces Piers Morgan With Anthony Bourdain And Morgan Spurlock, Delves Into ‘Jesus Code’
Two weeks after Piers Morgan signed off CNN with another blast at the NRA, network chief Jeff Zucker announced he would fill Morgan’s timeslot with Anthony Bourdain and Morgan Spurlock, among others, and that he has given former Fox star John Walsh a CNN platform from which to hunt down most-wanted. CNN also unveiled plans to tap into the current fervor for religious programming with The Jesus Code — a forensic and archaeological journey through the Bible. At its upfront presentation to advertisers today in New York, CNN also detailed plans to bring back Dirty Jobs’ Mike Rowe to series TV in Somebody’s Gotta Do It, and Lisa Ling (Our America With Lisa Ling) will also join CNN with an original series.
Paramount TV Unveils First Development Slate That Includes Series Takes On ‘Narc’ & ‘Truman Show’, Firms Up Executive Team
A year after Paramount Studios signaled its re-entry in TV with the relaunch of Paramount Television, the start-up division has set its first development slate. As expected, it includes mining well-known properties from the Paramount movie library. That includes a crime drama with roots in Joe Carnahan’s Narc, with Carnahan writing and directing the pilot, and a re-imagination of the Jim Carrey hit The Truman Show. Additionally, Paramount has boarded the Terminator TV series, joining Skydance Television and Annapurna Pictures, who announced the project back in December. Paramount TV also has in the works an adaptation of hit feature Ghost with filmmakers Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner.
Other projects on Paramount TV’s inaugural slate include a drama series inspired by Caleb Carr’s best-selling novel The Alienist, with Anonymous Content (True Detective) executive producing; a limited series event based on A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer-winning biography Lindbergh; and an adaptation of Peter Moffat’s BBC series The Village with Sundance Productions and All3Media. They join previously announced mutli-project deal with Craig Brewer for original scripted dramas. “While we are just getting started, there has been a terrific amount of momentum at Paramount TV as we look to develop new ideas as well as harness some of the studio’s most iconic titles,” said Paramount TV president Amy Powell.
FX & FXX To Double Their Original Output, ‘Simpsons’ To Debut On FXX With A Bang, ‘The Americans’ Nears Season 3 Renewal
FX Networks had been ramping up development, with some dozen pilots ordered in the past year. It is part of a major original expansion. At an upfront press event in New York, CEO John Landgraf said the company will go up from 11 originals to 20 across FX and FXX during the next year. FX Networks’ $750 million acquisition, The Simpsons, will make its debut on FXX in August with 12-day marathon. “It will be the longest continuous marathon in the history of television,” Landgraf said.
On the renewal front, a formal third-season renewal of The Americans is expected soon, he said. “We look forward to it being on our schedule for quite some time,” he said, later adding that he was “confident in the [show's] long-term prospect.” While the series’ live numbers may have dipped, it has been a DVR growth story. The Americans‘ DVR numbers are “unlike anything I have ever seen,” Landgraf said. “Live viewing is essentially just 20% of whole.”
Landgraf and his team will wait for the seasons of Legit and Chozen to end before making a decision on their future but that would be coming soon. Landgraf also touted the new season of Louie as being “amazing” and upcoming limited series Fargo as being “so good I can’t close the door” on another installment. “If it comes back, it will once again be located in North Dakota or Minnesota but telling a different story with different characters.” However, “the bar is high, it has to be an extraordinarily good story.”
NBC wants to find fresh comedic voices. NBC’s Entertainment President Jennifer Salke today announced “NBC Comedy Playground,” which the network is calling a “grassroots” initiative designed to invest in new “cutting-edge comedy” through a national campaign that offers aspiring comedy writers from across the country the opportunity to pitch ideas with the winners getting a show on the NBC schedule. Salke made the announcement at NBCU Press Day — a sort of itty bitty Summer TV Press Tour — in Pasadena. “In our quest to break new comedy at the network in addition to our team doing great work, I felt it was time to push forward a marriage between what’s happening on the internet and the network,” Salke said.
It was a very short stay in primetime graveyard for the Queen Latifah-produced Single Ladies. A month after the hourlong scripted series was cancelled by VH1 after three seasons, it has been picked up by BET Networks’ Centric. The 24-hour music and entertainment network, which targets African-American women, has inked a production deal with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment, which produces Let’s Stay Together for BET. Under the pact, Centric has ordered a fourth season of Single Ladies. The hourlong romantic comedy series, set in the world of Atlanta fashion, music, and celebrity, is still airing its third season on VH1, with the upcoming May 24 season finale no longer serving as a series ender.
UPDATED THROUGHOUT, 7:35 PM: CBS late-night star David Letterman surprised his studio audience this afternoon when he announced he is retiring in 2015. “The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring,’” Letterman told his Ed Sullivan Theatre crowd, who reacted with stunned silence. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Letterman only notified Moonves this morning.
OWN Orders ‘Belief’ Series That Explores Search For Meaning & First TV Film Starring Toni Braxton As Darlene Love, Picks Up More Tyler Perry, Sets Octavia Spencer Mini
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today six-time Grammy-winning artist and actress Toni Braxton is set to star as Darlene Love in the network’s first scripted TV film My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story. In addition, superstar Justin Timberlake will kick off a star-studded new season of Oprah’s Master Class on May 11, and Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer will star in a two-night event mini-series Tulsa (working title) currently in development.
The network also announced today a groundbreaking seven-part television event Belief presented by Oprah Winfrey, which explores humankind’s search for meaning and connection. Also, Tyler Perry’s popular drama series The Haves And The Have Nots and previously announced new series Single Moms Club (working title) each have received 20-episode orders. Here’s a look at the shows:
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AM: The behind-the-scene drama on Sam & Cat is not subsiding. I hear the show has been put on a “permanent hiatus” a few episodes early, with everyone on the crew let go except for those working in post-production.
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: Nickelodeon‘s comedy Sam & Cat has been a runaway success by any measure. The series, from proven hitmaker Dan Schneider, brought together two popular characters from two popular Nick series – iCarly’s Sam Puckett and Victorious‘ Cat Valentine — played by two of the network’s best-known stars and best friends, Jennette McCurdy and Ariana Grande, respectively. The series has been a ratings hit, quickly becoming Nickelodeon’s highest-rated series. In July, only a month into Sam & Cat’s run, Nick doubled its freshman order from 20 to 40 episodes. Its hourlong January 18 episode drew 4.8 million total viewers and ranked as Nick’s highest-rated telecast with kids 6-11 in two years.
But as Sam & Cat is wrapping production on its 40-episode first season, there is no word on Season 2 — a very unusual development for such a successful series. There has been talk about discord on the set, with emotions running high and McCurdy and Grande sometimes showing up late. The grueling, 40-episode shoot has been taxing on everyone. Additionally, McCurdy had been going through a difficult time in her personal life for the past six months and recently had to deal with the leak of racy photos, while Grande’s music career has taken off a big time. Both have been at Nickelodeon for a long time, McCurdy for more than seven years and Grande for more than four. Both are entering adulthood, and word is both feel constrained at kids-focused Nickelodeon and are ready to move on.
UPDATED: Michael Strahan, one half of Live! With Kelly & Michael, also soon will be seen on ABC‘s morning infotainment program Good Morning America. Strahan will continue to co-host his daytime talker with Kelly Ripa. Ripa also had been approached about joining GMA, but she declined, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Talks with Strahan began about a month ago, which predates news anchor Josh Elliott’s decision to depart GMA, announced over the weekend. Expect to see Strahan on GMA a couple days a week, initially. Elliott, formerly of ESPN, left the show to join NBC Sports. The addition of Strahan gives GMA an anchor with a sports background to take over that responsibility from Elliott — Strahan having spent 15 years playing for the New York Giants.
Live! With Kelly & Michael is having its best season in seven years, ratings-wise, averaging nearly 4 million viewers — up 13% versus same time last season.