Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month. And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.
Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.
And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.) Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.
The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to … Read More »
From the clips they showed today at Comic-Con, the second season of Under The Dome is about to get a lot harsher. Big Jim is on the warpath, Barbie is on the move and what’s underneath Chester’s Mill might turn out to be as deadly as the dome that’s over top of it. ”No one is safe under the dome,” said executive produce Neal Baer today about whether more characters would die on the CBS summer drama.
“We kept the body count down for the beginning of the season so we can rev it up towards the end,” Baer added during today’s panel discussion. “There are no set rules,” the EP also remarked about whether killed-off characters could come back.
A five-minute clip of Episode 7 was shown during the panel, hinting with Mike Vogel’s character Dale “Barbie” Barbara falling into a deep cavern that the dome may prove not to so impregnable. “One of our characters might get out of the dome this season, literally,” said Baer. “We just finished shooting last week and we know the ending but we won’t tell you.” The episode airs August 11. Read More »
On the eve of Comic-Con, where The Big Bang Theory has always been a top draw, the uncertainty surrounding the production of the mega-hit CBS comedy’s eighth season intensifies. With only one week left until the actors on the Warner Bros TV-produced show are scheduled to convene for the first table read of Season 8 on July 30, none of the Big Bang original cast members are close to new deals. The contracts of Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar all expired at the end of last season, and no one would go to work without a contract in place. Modern Family co-creator/co-showrunner Christopher Lloyd was in a similar position recently and sat out the first week of work in the writers room until his reps reached a new deal with producer 20th Century Fox TV. In both cases, talks between the studio and talent started pretty late, leading to the missed deadline.
While the Modern Family writers proceeded without Lloyd, with fellow co-creator/co-showrunner Steve Levitan at the helm, keeping up production on Big Bang with only the two cast members who have contracts — Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik — would be impossible. Read More »
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves officially announced that the Late Show With Stephen Colbert will remain in New York and continue broadcasting from the historic Ed Sullivan Theater. The agreement includes a commitment by CBS for approximately 200 New York-based jobs to support the daily program’s year-round production schedule. Here’s how CBS spun it this morning: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Elisabeth Rohm, who played Assistant DA Serena Southerlyn on NBC’s Law & Order, is taking on a other DA role, this time on the new CBS drama Stalker. Rohn will play a series regular on the Kevin Williamson series, which stars Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q as detectives from the Threat Assessment Unit who investigate cases of stalking. Rohm will play Amanda, a Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney who works with the Threat Assessment Unit and a mother to a 10-year-old boy, whose attempt at a new life in L.A. suddenly is derailed when she discovers her past (aka McDermott’s Jack Larsen) has followed her cross-country. The role was listed as a lead on the pilot’s breakdown, but the character only briefly appears in the pilot and ended up as a guest spot played by Elizabeth Bogush. Rohm, who co-starred in American Hustle, is with Mavrick Artists, Untitled, Hilary Shore and Felker, Toczek,.
UPDATE, 8:57 AM: ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC as well as the cable networks have just broken away from normal programming to cover President Obama‘s remarks live from the White House on the latest from yesterday’s Malaysia Airlines disaster over the Ukraine. Obama said one U.S. citizen was among the 298 passengers killed from what is suspected to be a surface-to-air missile launched by pro-Russian rebels. He called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and demanded a credible investigation, saying a UN investigation is already underway with Ukraine and Russia expected to cooperate fully. Read More »
Maybe it was because the preceding panel dealt with NFL football, but TV journalists butted heads repeatedly at today’s TCA panel with executive producer Kevin Williamson, asking how his new series Stalker is different from his older show on another network that features many similar elements. The EP/creator appeared with stars Maggie Q and Dylan McDermott, but Williamson spent most of his time on the panel explaining why the drama about detectives tracking stalkers is different from his Fox series The Following, which is about an FBI agent tracking a serial killer and his murderous cult (Williamson said Jennifer Johnson has taken over as showrunner of the Fox series).
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Vince Gilligan wrote the pilot for CBS’s new cop drama Battle Creek so long ago – 12 years – that he can’t remember why he decided to call it Battle Creek. Star Josh Duhamel reminded Gilligan he’d told him that when he was a kid he was eating breakfast cereal and saw the name on the side of the box.
Gilligan let it stand, adding, “I’m fascinated by the name — it’s got ‘Battle’ and yet it’s cereal.”
Duhamel plays FBI agent Milton Chamberlain, who teams up in the series with Detective Russ Agnew (Dean Winters) to clean up the semi-mean streets of Battle Creek, Mich.
CBS is selling Battle Creek to viewers as the Next Big Series from the creator of Breaking Bad. Gilligan is selling it as the pilot he wrote 12 years ago and does not have time to bring to series at CBS because of his commitment on his AMC Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul. He said as much last week when he appeared at the tour to plug the spinoff. Today’s version went like this: “I’m sorry I’m not a bigger part of [Battle Creek] as I would like to be because of my duties on Better Call Saul,” adding, “I’m lucky to be up here on this stage” with the cast and exec producers, “who do a great job.”
Critics seemed disappointed too, which, in turn, seemed … Read More »
“This is the program we know is going to be on the air for many, many years,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said of his network’s new Thursday NFL package, to TV critics he noted have slogged through about two weeks of Q&A’s for new TV series, almost all of which will die quick deaths — “even ours.”
“This, however, is a sure thing,” Moonves boasted at his Q&A session at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014. “This is the single best product on television anywhere.”
That said, the deal is a one-year pact only, after which the NFL could take all that increased awareness CBS has ginned up for the franchise and slap it back on NFL Network exclusively. “We have not made a determination beyond one year,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when asked this afternoon if he’d commit to more. “We made the decision knowing it’s a short term, for what we think is a long-term strategy to build Thursday night [for NFL]. We believe the awareness of Thursday football will go up significantly,” he said, stating the obvious.
“We knew going in this was a one-year deal,” Moonves jumped in. “It’s our job to show the NFL what we can do. And we’re confident they’re going to feel like CBS did a tremendous job; we’re confident after this year is over they’ll sit down and hopefully give us a longer deal than that,” he said. Read More »
Does network TV really need more jargon? Just in case, producers of CBS’ new drama series Scorpion offered a new one at today’s TCA: Fun-cedural.
The series — based on the true story of genius Walter O’Brien (IQ 197) who created a company to defend the world against high-tech threats — has a “procedural engine” but is not really a procedural, said executive producer Nick Santora. “It’s a fun-cedural”, he said.
There was a lot of talk on today’s Scorpion panel about how the socially-awkward geniuses of the company, including O’Brien, would connect with an audience. The real Walter O’Brien, who serves as executive producer with Santora, Orci, Nicholas Wootton and director/EP Justin Lin, appeared on the panel along with the other EPS and cast members.
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Gary Glasberg, executive producer/creator of CBS’ new drama NCIS: New Orleans, said at the new series’ TCA panel today that Rob Kerkovich (Cloverfield, The Rebound) will join the cast as a forensic scientist. Glasberg, who appeared on the panel with co-EPs Jeffrey Lieber and Mark Harmon and cast members Zoe McLellan, Scott Bakula, CCH Pounder and Lucas Black, said the series will begin shooting in New Orleans on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler called NCIS and its spinoffs a “billion-dollar franchise.” The newest member of the club was introduced as a planted spinoff via two episodes of NCIS earlier this year. Read More »
Brian Gallivan began a Q&A for his semi-autobiographical CBS sitcom The McCarthys by announcing his family never actually had a DUI, and never carried a dead man’s baby. Addressing TV critics at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, Gallivan said he’d explained to his family that a TV comedy requires the characters have flaws – so he had to add them, and “that sitcoms also require heartwarming moments so I had to add those.” His family has not yet seen the pilot, and won’t until the series debuts on CBS because, he said, he’d like to continue his relationship with his family until then.
The McCarthys revolves around a big, sports-crazed Irish Catholic family in Boston, and the gay son (Tyler Ritter) who is anxious to spend less time with them.
The series was first shot as a single-camera pilot for the season previous to the one that just wrapped, Gallivan said “because my family expresses love through insulting each other and being hateful….” The single-cam format wound up being too dark.
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CBS‘ new drama series Madam Secretary, in which Tea Leoni plays the Secretary of State, came about because of Hillary Clinton and Benghazi, exec producer Lori McCreary told TV critics today at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014.
McCreary said she and Morgan Freeman had lunch with CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler about producing a scripted series for the network, after which, McCreary says, they set about “trying to come up with a great character…And then, guess what happened — the Benghazi hearings,” McCreary said. They went back to Tassler with the idea of a series about what it’s like to be the female Secretary of State, “and how it translates overseas when rights for women are not what they are here,” she said. Tassler introduced them to Joan Of Arcadia creator Barbara Hall, who “took that kernel of an idea” and ran with it.
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With only two weeks until The Big Bang Theory is slated to go back into production, the entire original cast, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, have no contracts and are not close to signing one. But CBS Entertainment chairman is not worried. “We’re feeling very confident that everything will work out,” she said. “These deals always get miraculously done.”
Flagship CBS comedy series The Big Bang Theory is slated to go into production on its upcoming eighth season on July 30. But with only two weeks to go, the entire original cast of the hit comedy is still without contracts. I hear the two sides are still far apart and there has been little dialogue.
The situation resembles the 2010 salary renegotiations when Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar too faced the start of production in the midst of talks with producing studio Warner Bros. TV. The difference is that back then, they had existing contracts and were obligated to show up for work, which they did while their teams were negotiating big pay bumps behind the scenes. This time around, none of the five have deals in place as their contracts on the show expired at the end of last season. Big Bang‘s newest cast members, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik, who renegotiated their contracts last fall with substantial salary increases, are the only actors currently under contracts.
That means that, if new deals with the Original Five are not reached in the next two weeks, production on Season 8 may be pushed. I hear that even if Big Bang doesn’t start start production until after Labor Day, it still is expected to be able to deliver an hourlong season premiere for September 22 but insiders do not think things would go that far. (Big Bang‘s 2010 salary renegotiations didn’t wrap until September.) Warner Bros. TV is known for going down to the wire but being able to close big cast deals on time, including multiple negotiations on Two And A Half Men. Read More »
NCIS alum Cote de Pablo has been tapped to star in CBS’ The Dovekeepers, a four-hour miniseries from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to air in 2015. The project is based on Alice Hoffman’s acclaimed historical novel about four extraordinary women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada. De Pablo, repped by Paradigm, Management 360, and attorneys Melanie Cook and Jamie Asifi, will play Shirah, one of the four women, who is a sensual, mysterious and fiercely independent single mother with uncanny insights and a quiet and mysterious power. She is derided by many as the “Witch of Moab,” as she covertly practices forbidden ancient rites of magic and is keenly knowledgeable about herbal remedies. However, those in need don’t hesitate to approach her for her help and generosity of spirit.
Related: Cote De Pablo To Depart CBS’ ‘NCIS’
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The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences unveiled nominations for the 35th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards. They will be presentedSeptember 30 during a ceremony at Frederick P. Rose Hall at Lincoln Center. PBS led networks with 43 nominations followed by CBS with 42. The New York Times led newspapers with seven noms. Check out the full list here.
Migrating movie stars did very well in today’s Emmy Awards nominations, so this time next year might be very bright for Halle Berry and her new sci-fi thriller Extant (1.7/6). However, sticking to the present for now, while the best debut of the summer so far and the highest rated show of the night, the launch last night of the Steven Spielberg executive produced CBS astronaut series didn’t exactly soar in a 9 PM time slot with only the second hour of So You Think You Can Dance (1.2/4) as original competition.
Compared to CBS’ last big summer drama debut, Under The Dome, Extant was down 48%. Also produced in part by Spielberg and also straight to series, Dome got a 3.2/9 preliminary rating and 13.14 million viewers for its June 24, 2013 premiere. That went up to a 3.3/9 and 13.53 million in the final numbers. Having said that, while similar in many ways to the debut of Extant, which got 9.424 million viewers last night, Under The Dome’s 10 PM premiere also faced off against a much more competitive schedule of the last hour and a bit of the last game of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final on NBC. Scoring a 3.3/10, the Chicago Blackhawks winning Game 6 hockey match up against the Boston Bruins was a big win for the peacock and helped make the finals the most watched on ice series since 1994. Compared to the 2.1/7 Adults 18-49 final numbers of Dome’s Season 2 … Read More »