Sony has its eye on television, telling investors that it will become more central to its entertainment strategy. That’s a change from a few years ago, Sony Pictures Television president Steve Mosko says: The Japanese company couldn’t buy television stations in the U.S. and had “no cohesive global strategy.” But he says Sony has turned that around and now benefits from its freedom to produce TV shows for anyone, and seize opportunities in growing overseas economies. Echoing the theme of the day, Mosko says that his operation “will keep a close eye on controlling costs.” That shouldn’t affect its ability to attract talent: People know that “we will make the success of their show our top prioritiy,” says Zack Van Amburg U.S. programming and production chief. For example, Breaking Bad likely will generate 10 times the revenues originally expected. Production has already begun on a sequel for AMC, Better Call Saul, and “it will be profitable from year one.” Execs also say that The Blacklist is the No. 1 show worldwide, including in Australia, Canada, Latin America, and the UK. To underscore the range of opportunities, the company pointed to direct-to-series orders from Netflix (for a family murder mystery series), Starz (for Outlander, created by Ron Moore), SyFy (Helix, also from Moore), and CBS (Battle Creek from David Shore and Vince Gilligan.
Will Obamacare become plot fodder for CBS’ Hostages and Under The Dome? A $500,000 grant awarded this week to USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center’s Hollywood Health & Society program certainly suggests it’s a possibility. In the latest push to get Tinseltown to promote President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, the decade-old program has received the money from the private California Endowment to give Hollywood producers, writers and execs details about the newly launched health insurance initiative. “Our experience has shown that the public gets just as much, if not more, information about current events and important issues from their favorite television shows and characters as they do from the news media and online resources,” said Hollywood Health & Society’s Martin Kaplan in a statement today. “This grant will allow us to ensure that industry practitioners have up-to-date, relevant facts on health care reform to integrate into their storylines and projects.” Hostages’ co-EP Jennifer Cecil sits on Hollywood Health & Society’s Advisory Board as does Under The Dome EP Neal Baer. So does Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins EP Chris Nee among others. The grant comes just over a week after Jennifer Hudson appeared in a pro-Obamacare Scandal parody video produced by Will Ferrell’s Funny Or Die.
Mipcom: Jeffrey Katzenberg Talks DreamWorks Animation TV & Offering $75M For 3 Extra ‘Breaking Bad’ Episodes
Jeffrey Katzenberg told a packed audience at Mipcom today that he offered the folks behind Breaking Bad $75M to produce three additional episodes of the hit series. But he had one criteria: They would have to be delivered in 30, six-minute chapters. The DreamWorks Animation chief said he would have used the content to create “the best pay-per-view scripted TV event ever” by releasing the snippets over 30 days on VOD platforms like iTunes for 99 cents per. “There’s no doubt people would buy it every day, everyone would be there waiting for the next six minutes,” he said. The self-confessed fan said he came up with the idea prior to learning how the show would end. Given the ultimate demise of its central character, it was “not a very good idea, as we now know,” Katzenberg laughed. But, he shared the story to exemplify his vision of the potential of short-form entertainment.
Katzenberg is Mipcom’s Personality of the Year and was delivering a keynote this afternoon in Cannes when he made the comments. “I have the courage of my convictions in this, I just think there is a whole new platform” for short-form entertainment to fill up “waiting time.”
[SPOILER WARNING!] Not every Breaking Bad-watcher had glowing praise for last week’s historic, ratings-grabbing finale. Oliver Stone jumped on the Bad wagon just in time to see Walter White’s saga conclude in its fifth season. “I happen to not watch the series very much, but I happened to tune in and I saw the most ridiculous 15 minutes of a movie — it would be laughed off the screen,” he said while promoting his Showtime docu series The Untold History of the United States. Per Forbes the director went off in detail on the episode’s violent culmination.
Catch up with the best of Deadline’s Top TV stories you may have missed this week:
BROADCAST PREMIERE WEEK: How Did The Networks Do, What Did We Learn?
By Nellie Andreeva — The broadcast premiere week started off with fireworks as several breakout hits emerged Monday and Tuesday — The Blacklist, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Sleepy Hollow — and some veteran series returned up year-to-year. But the euphoria subsided as the days went on and the week ended on a whimper, with a weak series launch (ABC’s Betrayal) and across-the-board ratings losses for everyone on Sunday.
Kevin James To Topline 10/90 Comedy Series For Lionsgate & Debmar-Mercury
By Nellie Andreeva — The King of Queens star Kevin James is returning to his sitcom roots. I’ve learned that as part of the overall film and TV deal James just signed with Lionsgate, he will star in and executive produce a multi-camera comedy under the 10/90 model crafted by the Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury.
Golden Age Of TV Still Directed By White Guys
By Lisa De Moraes — This Golden Age of Television we keep hearing about is — just like the un-Golden Age before it — directed almost entirely by white guys, according to the Directors Guild of America‘s latest study about director diversity in episodic TV.
Broadcasters Ambushed By Hysteria Around ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale
By Lisa De Moraes — It may be too much to say last night was the night cable overtook broadcast TV for good — as some media have claimed – but it sure felt that way today. It’s not like broadcasters have never competed on Sunday against numbers like the 10.3 million Breaking Bad attracted in its series finale, but they definitely did not anticipate the media hysteria over the Breaking Bad wrapup.
The series finale of Breaking Bad Sunday officially laid to rest the AMC hit and drew a record 10.3 million viewers — though apparently it didn’t offer quite enough closure for some. The Albuquerque Journal ran a obituary on Bryan Cranston‘s anti-hero in today’s edition, appearing on Page A4 and paid for by the Facebook group “Unofficial Breaking Bad Fan Tour” and its leader David Layman. The series was shot in Albuquerque, which has become a tourist destinations for avid watchers of the show. Click over for the obit, in case you don’t want any spoilers…
Stephen Colbert, who has had a Very Special Relationship with Breaking Bad — Colbert’s ice cream made a cameo appearance in the penultimate episode, after which Colbert described the government shutdown as a Washington version of Breaking Bad (sympathetic star is changed into an egotistical self-destructive maniac over many episodes. And, last night, he snagged BB creator Vince Gilligan’s first solo interview since the show shuttered Sunday night. Gilligan noted he’d partied until midnight before hopping on a cross-country flight to guest on The Colbert Report, adding “I’d fly 10,000 miles for you, Stephen.” Here’s the video (beware autoplay):
It may be too much to say last night was the night cable overtook broadcast TV for good — as some media have claimed – but it sure felt that way today. It’s not like broadcasters have never competed on Sunday against numbers like the 10.3 million Breaking Bad attracted in its series finale — HBO’s The Sopranos used to log those crowds on a weekly basis. But broadcasters definitely did not anticipate the media hysteria over the Breaking Bad wrapup, to which they had contributed mightily — most recently in the form of a big fat plug on NBC’s highly hyped Saturday Night Live season debut the very night before BB’s swan song. Breaking Badsteria first erupted one week earlier with the series’ Best Drama Emmy win. Sucks to be CBS, which aired the trophy show that launched AMC’s monster Breaking Bad marketing campaign that did so much to send CBS’ Premiere Week Sunday into double-digit declines in the ratings. (CBS didn’t suffer alone; ABC and Fox experienced same.) Between Breaking Bad‘s Emmy win and Sunday’s finale, AMC unspooled a weeklong full-run-of-series marathon while TV critics scattered role petals in its path. (After the finale aired, the critics got down to the serious business of arguing as to whether Bryan Cranston’s Walter White was TV’s ultimate winner or loser, an American hero or Ebenezer Scrooge on Christmas morning — and if the show’s wrap meant the end, or the dawn of a bright new day, for the economy of Albuquerque, where the show was shot.)
The Breaking Bad series finale went out with a bang last night, clocking 10.3 million viewers – a record for the iconic AMC series. The finale skyrocketed 300% over last year’s finale in the demo, capping a historic run for the basic cable network. After that, an expanded Talking Bad delivered 4.4 million viewers. “Breaking Bad is simply unique,” said Charlie Collier, AMC president. “It all starts with Vince Gilligan who really only ever asked for one thing – the opportunity to end the show on his own terms. That is exactly what Vince did last night and, as always, brilliantly so. Congratulations to Vince and to every single person involved in this remarkable journey. We’re proud that AMC will forever be known as the birthplace and home of this iconic show and, at the same time, we tip our Heisenberg hat to the fans who made this a truly shared experience.”
The show – a media darling, but considered something of a niche show based on ratings — had been clocking in the 3-4 million range during its run. But, heading into the final few episodes, the show’s ratings shot up. One week earlier, the penultimate episode premiered to nearly 7 million and the week before that pushed past 6 mil. Expect broadcasters to cite Breaking Bad’s record highs (not to mention Showtime’s Homeland and Masters Of Sex launches) when explaining last night’s Premiere Week Sunday launch lows. Clever advertisers had anticipated the ratings spike; AMC told out its ad inventory for the finale and some of those 30-se spots you saw in the show last night cost as much as $400,000, which puts them in Modern Family range. The network did a masterful job revving up the show’s super-fans, with a full-run-of-the-series marathon last week – which played out nicely right after the TV academy crowned BB the year’s best drama series.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
It’s difficult to imagine a more celebrated scenario than that AMC’s Breaking Bad will enjoy on Sunday night as it wraps up six seasons (or 5 ½, take your pick) and 62 brilliant episodes with a 75-minute, presumably cataclysmic finale. The gritty, dark, meth-laced drama is generating live viewer numbers exceeding 6 million, or roughly 500% greater than viewership for its maiden season in 2008. AMC was able to sell out its ad inventory for the final episode while reportedly asking between $300,000 and $400,000 for a 30-second spot. And the network has been running every episode of the series as a marathon this week leading into the climax. The TV Academy just last Sunday crowned it as television’s outstanding drama series while critics fall all over themselves in declaring Breaking Bad as one of the greatest – if not the greatest – shows in the medium’s history. Meanwhile, the series has become perhaps the definitive game-changing phenomenon in terms of binge-viewing on DVD and over Netflix, Amazon and iTunes and as a social media marvel over Twitter. Anyone who dares try to divulge an ill-timed spoiler has risked cyber wrath on a grand scale, if not outright physical harm.
Related: Emmys 2013: ‘Breaking Bad’ Triumphs On Night Of Upsets
And yet in the rush to venerate the show as a pop culture sensation throughout its final eight-episode campaign, it’s easy to forget that the series that’s earned stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn a combined six Emmy statuettes (half of them for Cranston) was in the beginning a cult diversion at best. Breaking Bad debuted in 2008 with an underwhelming 1.2 million total viewers and rarely exceeded 2 million through its first four seasons. The critics raved like they rarely rave, but mostly noted that this was the finest show no one was watching. In fact, during tense negotiation with the cost-conscious AMC in 2011, Sony Pictures TV reportedly sent out feelers to three other networks to see if they might be interested in picking up BB past season four. AMC apparently was interested in renewing it for only 6 or 8 episodes rather than what would become a total of 16 for the supersized, two-pronged fifth season.
UPDATE, 9:30 AM: Apple are breaking out their wallet today and breaking good it seems. Just days before Breaking Bad ends forever, the company is refunding the fans over their iTunes purchase of the last episodes of the AMC show. This iTunes $22.99 credit on Apple’s part doesn’t come cheap being that Breaking Bad was one of the most popular TV series on the online store. And it comes over two weeks (see below) after one irate fan began a class action suit against the tech company for its double dipping charges on Season 5 of the drama on iTunes. Back in mid-2012, AMC announced that the final season of Breaking Bad would be split up. However people who had bought a Season Pass to that season of the show on Apple’s music and video service didn’t discover until the second part of the cycle debuted on August 11 this year that they would have to pay another fee on top of their Season 5 Season Pass fee to watch the last 8 episodes. Those shows were now called “The Final Season” on iTunes. Needless to say, the fans were not happy and it looks like Apple or AMC or both heard them loud and clear. Check out the email that Apple sent out today to customers:
We apologize for any confusion the naming of “Season 5″ and “The Final Season” of Breaking Bad might have caused you. While the names of the seasons and episodes associated with them were not chosen by iTunes, we’d like to offer you “The Final Season” on us by providing you with the iTunes code below in the amount of $22.99. This credit can also be used for any other content on the iTunes Store. Thank you for your purchase.
Death became the Primetime Emmy Awards last night, which enjoyed the franchise’s biggest crowd in eight years with a major show of mourning. With the Emmy Awards now almost completely morphed into the old CableAce Awards, the broadcast networks that take turns airing it are constantly on the prowl for ways to include more broadcast-TV moments in the ceremony — you may have noticed presenter Allison Janney plugging her new CBS sitcom’s debut. This year’s Emmycast cleverly focused on one industry category that broadcast TV still completely dominates: death. A good chunk of last night’s Emmycast was devoted to it. In addition to the traditional In Memoriam segment, five Very Important Dead People were singled out for individual tributes. And four of them were best, or entirely, known for their work on broadcast — Gary David Goldberg, Jonathan Winters, Jean Stapleton and the controversial Cory Monteith. CBS execs didn’t mind the kerfuffle about Monteith’s tribute — they know that more people are tuning in to trophy shows these days for the social aspect of it all — aka The Snarking. Oh, and make that five out of six special tributes going to broadcast TV figures, counting Elton John’s musical tribute to Liberace. Congratulations broadcasters!
Another of the Emmy dirges, rolled out a few VIP memorial tributes after the show’s lackluster opening, looked at role broadcast TV played in covering a slew of historic events that happened 50 years ago, in 1963. Viewers were treated to footage surrounding the assassination of JFK and its aftermath, including the on-air killing of his accused assassin, followed by footage of the Beatles who performed on the Ed Sullivan Show less than three months later and gave America permission to move on with its life, said CBS’ Showtime star Don Cheadle. That may have worked in ’63, but not in ’13, because we all know Beatle John Lennon was subsequently murdered outside his home in 1980. Also included in the segment: footage of the historic March on Washington, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered his memorable “I Have A Dream” speech — five years before he was assassinated, in Memphis.
“This may be the saddest Emmys ever but we’re happy,” Modern Family exec producer Steve Levitan apologized when he picked up up the penultimate award of the night, for best comedy series.
Related: Nikki Finke Live-Snarks 65th Emmys