It’s the end of the road for thriller, suspense and horror-themed FEARnet. Comcast has bought out its partners in the joint venture — Sony Pictures Entertainment and Lionsgate Entertainment — to take 100% ownership. Following the transaction, which closed this morning, FEARnet will no longer be a stand-alone brand but will be folded into Comcast’s NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment division. “NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment has acquired all remaining interests in FEARnet from its productive venture with Lionsgate and Sony,” the company said in a statement to Deadline through a spokesman. “FEARnet, along with its popular content, will be integrated into NBCU Cable Entertainment. This process will take place over a yet to be determined period of time.”
FEARnet is expected to be folded mainly into Comcast/NBCU Cable Entertainment’s similarly thriller, suspense and horror-focused Chiller, though some content could also migrate to Syfy. I’ve learned that 10 of FEARnet’s 25 employees will stay on through the transition. The other 15 are being let go today. NBCU would try to find job opportunities for some of them across the company. FEARnet president Peter Block will stay at least through the transition. Read More »
This was one of a few interesting tid-bits that CEO Jon Feltheimer dropped in his conference call with analysts this morning. The studio’s been “approached in two territories about potential theme park opportunities” for the action film franchise, he says. “We’re pursuing them.” The company has no additional info.
Separately, Feltheimer says that a major cable operator is about to sell downloads of movies to consumers “in a short period of time.” When that happens the electronic sell-through business “is really going to open up.”
The CEO also says that we may see some changes soon at FEARnet, the VOD and broadband horror movie and TV outlet it co-owns with Sony and Comcast. The partners “continue to be mystified that FEARnet isn’t being picked up by more” pay TV companies, Feltheimer says. “We’re trying to figure out how to make FEARnet a more important part of our business or some other way to deliver value, so stay tuned.”
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a clip from Season 2 of FearNet‘s original comedy series Holliston, which premieres at 10 PM Tuesday, June 4. Starring Adam Green and Joe Lynch, Holliston is set in Green’s real-life hometown of Holliston, MA, and follows the daily exploits of Adam and Joe — two aspiring horror filmmakers, dealing with the struggles of post-college life and relationships while trying to make their big break in the business. Check it out:
EXCLUSIVE: In its first off-network deal, FEARnet has licensed cult CW comedic drama Reaper. In addition to picking up the entire two-season, 31-episode run, FEARnet will produce a half-hour special reuniting some of the original cast and crew of the show, on which they will discuss the series’ continuing popularity post-cancellation, its finale and their rabid community of fans in a round-table format. Set to appear in the special are Reaper stars Bret Harrison, Tyler Labine and Ray Wise, among others. Reaper will premiere June 4 on FEARnet and anchor the horror-themed cable channel’s Tuesday night Twisted Comedy Block at 9 PM, leading to FEARnet’s original comedy series Holliston, whose second season will premiere the same night. “Many “Reaper viewers feel the show left too early, so we hope that they will enjoy our plans for the series and our Reaper reunion special,” said Sarah Shannon, VP Programming and Network Operations at FEARnet.
Created by Michelle Fazekas and Tara Butters and produced by ABC Studios and the Mark Gordon Co, Reaper, whose pilot was diected by Kevin Smith, centers on Sam Oliver (Harrison), a college dropout who on his 21st birthday learns that he must work as a bounty hunter for the Devil (Wise) as part of a deal made many years ago when Sam’s parents offered up their first-born son in exchange for good health for the ailing father. Labine … Read More »
In FearNet’s first off-network series acquisition, the horror-themed cable channel/VOD service/Web portal has picked up classic horror anthology seriesTales From The Crypt. The series will launch on the linear channel October 5, with the 93 produced episodes playing in order — beginning with Season 1 and continuing through its seventh, and final, season — in a two-hour block Friday nights from 10 PM-midnight ET/7-9 PM PT. The cable channel will air the version of the episodes that had been edited for a run on basic cable and in syndication. The original, unedited version of the series as it ran on HBO will be available on VOD beginning October 10. Four episodes will be added to the VOD library every Wednesday. “Tales From The Crypt was the first time that horror writers, directors and actors came together in one place to produce a TV series to celebrate the genre,” FearNet president and GM Peter Block said. “Tales had everything — comedy, gore, splatter, slash, thrill and suspense — and it quickly became appointment television.” Tales From The Crypt was exec produced by Joel Silver, Richard Donner, Robert Zemeckis, Walter Hill and David Giler.
EXCLUSIVE: Two weeks into its freshman run, FEARnet’s first original series Holliston has been renewed for a second season. The offbeat, 1980s-throwback horror-comedy, starring genre filmmakers Adam Green (Hatchet 1 & 2) and Joe Lynch (Knights Of Badassdom), will return in summer 2013. Created by Green and produced by ArieScope Pictures, Holliston marked the first original production for the linear network. (FEARnet has done original digital series for the Web.) “Holliston resonates with both genre junkies and more mainstream comedy fans alike, making our first push into original programming a successful attempt for diversifying our schedule and showing the breadth of our audience,” said FEARnet GM and president Peter Block. Returning alongside Green and Lynch for Season 2 are co-stars Laura Ortiz; Corri English, the lead singer of Brokedown Cadillac; Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider; and Oderus Urungus, lead singer of GWAR. Green said he has been “overjoyed” by the audience’s reaction to the show. “It’s amazing to watch the characters be embraced so quickly and to see fans quoting it on Twitter, Facebook and at conventions around the country,” he said. Holliston premiered April 3 and airs as part of FEARnet’s Twisted Comedy Block. Its third episode airs tonight. Here’s a preview:
Broadway actor Will Chase has joined NBC’s upcoming Broadway-themed drama Smash as a recurring. On the show, which chronicles the mounting of a Broadway musical and stars Debra Messing as the musical’s lyricist, he will play Steven, who has a history with Messing’s character. Chase, repped by Gersh and AC Management, has appeared in such Broadway productions as Billy Elliot, High Fidelity and Rent. On TV, he recurred on Rescue Me.
Another veteran Broadway actor, Raul Esparza, will do an arc on another new series, CBS’ medical drama A Gifted Man, about a neurosurgeon (Patrick Wilson) whose dead wife (Jennifer Ehle), the former head of a free clinic, starts appearing to him. Esparza will play Ehle’s boyfriend, who is on the board of the clinic. Esparza, repped by ICM and Elin Flack Management, recently starred in Arcadia on Broadway.
Judy Greer has been tapped for an arc on CBS’ revamped Two and a Half Men, playing new lead Ashton Kutcher’s soon-to-be-ex wife. This is the second time Greer plays a love interest on the show. She once played a squeeze of the former lead character, Charlie Sheen’s Charlie Harper. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Horror-themed cable channel FearNet has greenlighted its first original series, Holliston, an offbeat half-hour, multicamera buddy comedy series starring genre filmmakers Adam Green (Hatchet 1 & 2) and Joe Lynch (Knights of Badassdom). The six-episode series, created by Green, is scheduled to start production later this year. It marks the first original production for the linear network. (FearNet has done original digital series for the Web.) Holliston is expected to join FearNet’s Tuesday night Twisted Comedy block, a horror-comedy lineup that launched earlier this month with two acquired scripted series, Todd & the Book Of Pure Evil and Psychoville.
Set in the town of Holliston, Mass., Holliston is described as “Wayne’s World meets Saw” and stars Green and Lynch as lesser versions of themselves. They will play Adam and Joe, two friends chasing the dream of becoming successful horror movie filmmakers while struggling to make ends meet and dealing with life and the opposite sex in their post-college jobs at a cable access station where they also host a late-night movie program called The Movie Crypt. “This show has just the right amount of wrong, and you really can’t imagine it ever making it on to TV. That’s where FearNet comes in,” said FearNet president Peter Block. “Adam came to us with a truly off-the-wall series that was overflowing with a supporting cast of misfits and I-don’t-know-whats, and we knew it was a perfect fit for our Twisted Comedy block.” The ensemble cast of the series includes Laura Ortiz (The Hills Have Eyes) and singer Corri English (Unrest), with well-known genre figures expected to make cameos. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate wants to unload TVGuide.com and, even more importantly, is at least considering an ownership change at TV Guide Network, which has been ordered to balance its books in anticipation of a potential sale. We hear that the studio has begun to interview investment bankers who can quietly sell the consumer website which, like the cable channel, is a 50-50 joint venture with JP Morgan Chase’s global private equity investment arm One Equity Partners. The website is thought to be worth anywhere from $50M to $100M. Lionsgate is intent on shedding what it considers to be non-core assets (just like Lionsgate recently sold its stake in Maple Pictures). TV Guide Network’s owners just secured long-term carriage agreements with the major cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter, further increasing its value. But putting a dollar figure on the TV Guide Network suggests that Lionsgate and One Equity Partners want to at least begin a discussion that could lead to one of the partners buying the other out.
Lionsgate would seem to be the more likely buyer if things go that far: It has said that it wants to build its presence in TV channels; it also owns major stakes in Epix, FearNet, and Asia’s Tiger Gate. ”They’ve made it clear that they have a TV channel strategy,” says Hudson Square Research’s Marla Backer. Lionsgate paid $241.6M for the TV Guide website and network in February 2009. Three months later, One Equity Partners teamed up with investor and producer Allen Shapiro and paid $122.4M for half of the combined operation. Shapiro is chairman of TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com and is now taking on leadership of the network’s programming. (He initially was buying TV Guide from Macrovision until Lionsgate swooped in at the last minute. Ultimately, Shapiro secured a sizeable chunk of it.) Read More »
Today the website Fearnet had an interview with film producer Wyck Godfrey about the Twilight Saga, and the subject of a long-in-the-works Janis Joplin biopic came up. Godfrey mentioned in passing that Amy Adams would play the 1960s singer. I can tell you that Amy is indeed confirmed in the role for the film to be directed by Fernando Meirelles (City Of God). There’s no studio involved yet, and the script has been through several drafts. Many have tried and failed to get a Janis Joplin biopic off the ground. I recall Pink delivered an impressive screen-test for Penelope Spheeris on an earlier and different Joplin project.