In a first for a Hollywood star, Kevin Spacey will deliver the keynote MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in August. The influential speech traditionally focuses on serious issues facing the UK TV business. It has in the past been delivered by three members of the Murdoch family: Rupert, James and Elisabeth, who gave last year’s address. Other previous speakers include Ted Turner, Eric Schmidt and former BBC chief Mark Thompson.
Spacey’s involvement comes on the heels of exec producing and starring in House Of Cards, which Netflix positioned as a game-changer by releasing all 13 episodes of the drama’s first season at once. Season two is currently filming. On giving the MacTaggart, Spacey said, “Clearly this has been an exciting period for me personally, but also I believe this is a time of huge opportunity, innovation and creativity for all of us who live to tell stories and engage audiences. I’m excited to share my thoughts and meet players from across the media industry. I’m also an Edinburgh TV Festival virgin so have no idea what I am letting myself in for!” READ MORE »
“There has been no decision yet if Season 2 will be released simultaneously like Season 1,” said House Of Cardsexecutive producer Beau Willimon tonight. There has also been no discussion yet if the Netflix series will go on to a Season 3, the showrunner added. And that is all Willimon or star Kevin Spacey (who was emphatic with a “No!” when asked for details about the upcoming season) or anyone else from House Of Cards would say Thursday about the future of the series, which is now filming in Maryland. What they did say was how House Of Cards has set out to change the game and succeed. “What we set out to prove is that the film and TV industry can learn what the music industry failed to learn: Give people what they want when they want it and at a good price and they won’t steal it,” said Spacey on the decision for Netflix to release all 13 episodes of the political drama’s first season. simultaneously when it debuted on the streaming service February 1. It’s a decision that the star/EP thinks has paid off. “Netflix’s recently announced they’ve had 2 million more subscribers, in large part to House Of Cards…they’re making money,” Spacey told TV Academy members tonight at an Emmys “For Your Consideration” panel at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre.
Critics didn’t particularly like the 13-episode horror series that Netflix introduced Friday. But CEO Reed Hastings told analysts today that Hemlock Grove is “getting viewed by even more subscribers in its first couple … Read More »
The streaming video company did it again. Netflix shares are up nearly 25% in post-market trading after it reported that Q1 earnings per share came in at 31 cents not including a one-time loss from a debt payment — … Read More »
Oliver Cooper (Project X) has joined the cast of the upcoming seventh season of Showtime‘s Californication. He will play Levon, a budding writer who wants to emulate Hank (David Duchovny), so he insinuates himself into Hank’s life to comic results. The CAA-repped Cooper, who next appears in The Hangover Part III, joins fellow new Californication recurring players Michael Imperioli, Heather Graham and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
There will be more of the President on the second season of Netflix’s House Of Cards. Michel Gill, who recurred on the first season of the Washington DC drama series as President Garret Walker, has been upped to a regular for Season 2, which just began production. The promotion is not surprising given that the President had increasingly relied upon Rep. Frank J. Underwood (Kevin Spacey). Gill is with Harden/Curtis. Read More »
Francis Underwood is about to resume his fictional House of Cards climb up the greasy pole of political power in Washington D. C. “We start shooting Season 2 of #houseofcards in 2 weeks,” actress Constance … Read More »
Film and TV production in Maryland just got a big boost — a $17.5 million boost to be specific. Earlier this week, the state’s House of Delegates passed a bill increasing Maryland’s film tax credit program from its current $7.5 million for the fiscal year 2014 to $25 million. It now heads to Gov. Martin O’Malley to sign. The Democratic Governor was a big supporter of the bill and, according to a spokesperson from his office, “could sign the bill as early as Tuesday.” Intended to bring out-of-state production to Maryland, the bill also extends the state’s program for another two years until June 30, 2016; the current tax credit program was set to expire on July 1 this year. The legislation benefits productions that spend at least $500,000 in Maryland. In recent years, the state has been a destination for political-themed productions, with Netflix’s House Of Cardsand HBO’s Veepshooting there. Game Change, the Emmy-winning HBO movie about the 2008 Presidential election, also filmed there.
Distributor Sony Pictures Home Entertainment isn’t talking yet. But the basic story is right there on Amazon: It’s taking pre-orders for the first season of the 13-episode series produced by Media Rights Capital and starring Kevin Spacey that … Read More »
CEO Reed Hastingssays the original series “met all of (our) expectations” in becoming “a great success”, although he offered no concrete data to analysts today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference. House Of Cards, the political drama from Media Rights Capital, should be seen as “confirmation of the thesis that we can build something really important.” Its full value in leading people to subscribe to Netflix will become evident when the next season is available. “In the beginning you’re developing a foundation,” Hastings says. Still, he urged investors not to focus too much on House Of Cards‘ performance. “It’s our most viewed content today, but it’s not the center of the company. It may be the center of the PR for a while. That’s OK.” While he doesn’t want people to “think of us as the original content company,” Hastings made it clear that originals will be key to its growth. He talked up Hemlock Grove, a horror show that Netflix will offer in April. “It’s completely different” than House Of Cards, he says. “For many people in this audience, you’ll be grossed out. We’re going to push the boundaries.” Read More »
Here’s an early indication that Netflix‘s high-profile bet on original programming will pay off. About 86% of subscribers say that political drama House Of Cards starring Kevin Spacey makes them less likely to cancel, according to a survey last week conducted by investment firm Cowen and Co. That could be important for Netflix. It’s easy to cancel the service, so execs know they have to keep customers excited. But be sure to take the survey results with at least a little grain of salt: the sample size is small. Only 346 of the 1,229 U.S. consumers surveyed on February 12-13 are Netflix customers, although another 223 are classified as non-subscribers who have access to a Netflix subscription. About 10% of subscribers and those with access to Netflix viewed at least one episode of House Of Cards in the first 12 days after it became available. The average person who tuned in watched six episodes over that period, but 19.4% watched all 13.Viewers were impressed: 36% called the series “exceptional” while 43% deemed it “good.” Despite the small sample size, “if future original programs are as successful asHouse Of Cards, it likely leads to a stickier subscriber base over time,” says company analyst John Blackledge.Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: This is a big deal — both because it’s a new line of business for Media Rights Capital, and because the company was able to raise the cash at a time when the lending markets remain tight. P… Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Netflix and MRC are beefing up the upper ranks of drama House Of Cards going into Season 2. David Manson has come on board as executive producer to work alongside showrunner Beau Willimon. The David … Read More »
Several analysts are scratching their heads over today’s 6% gain in Netflix‘s stock price on a day when the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 1.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.9%. Could it be a reaction … Read More »
This is a clever marketing move for the streaming service, which costs $7.99 a month in the U.S. Netflix says this morning that for the month of February it will enable non-subscribers to see the first episode of its … Read More »
About $225M of the proceeds from the $500M offering it announced today — senior notes due in 2021 paying interest at 5.375% a year — will be used to retire the company’s $200M in 8.50% senior notes that are due in 2017. But with Netflix‘s new original series, House Of Cards, making its debut on February 1, some investors wonder whether the company needs the remainder to help it handle its steep content payment commitments. Some $2.3B of Netflix’s $5.6B in streaming content obligations will come due in the current fiscal year, Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter says. The new debt, he believes, “is necessary to solve near-term cash flow problems, and indicates the low likelihood of positive cash flow for the year.” Netflix’s debt, along with its investments to expand overseas, make it “a risky investment.” Moody’s Investors Service also considers Netflix’s new debt to be risky, giving it a Ba3 rating. The debt assessment firm believes that some of the cash will be used to pay for “investments in original programming, which require more up-front cash payments” than library titles. Despite their concerns, shares in the home video company closed today at $169.12, +4.3%. They’re up 63.8% since last Wednesday, when Netflix reported better than expected year-end earnings. Read More »
Netflix just released first trailer for its first original series, the big-budget David Fincher-Kevin Spacey political drama House Of Cards. Based on the British miniseries, the MRC-produced House Of Cards centers on ruthless and cunning Rep. Francis Underwood (Spacey) and his wife Claire (Robin Wright), who … Read More »
Television is where it’s at. That’s a refrain that I’ve heard not only – and not surprisingly – from the TV execs on the ground here in Cannes as Mipcom revs up, but also one I heard from movie execs when I was in Los Angeles last week. With fewer mid-range budget pictures being made by the studios and tentpoles trying to establish the stars of tomorrow from a well of unknowns, marquee names are increasingly looking to the small screen for traction in global event-style programming. Even Cannes Film Festival fixture Harvey Weinstein will grace the Croisette again this year when he unveils The Weinstein Co’s new TV slate on Tuesday. In the meantime, minis and limited series are all the rage. In just the past week, NBC picked upThe Slap, an eight-episode limited series from Brothers & Sisters’ Jon Robin Baitz and Universal TV-based Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald based on the award-winning Australian short-form. And, Fox and FX Networks moved into the long-form event programming arena, teaming for a new production unit that will supply the sibling networks with high-profile limited and miniseries.
NBC this summer announced its plans for a live broadcast of The Sound Of Music from Smash executive producers (and Oscar show producers) Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. In a TV universe steadily taken over by time-shifted viewing, sports and event programming’s importance is on the rise. A U.S. TV exec told me on Sunday they wouldn’t be surprised if star-studded primetime event TV started to resemble the days of yore with miniseries becoming the must-see appointment, non-DVR wave of the future.
A movie exec in LA lamented to me last week the lack of film roles for serious actors who are mid-career. But Kevin Costner’s Emmy-winning turn in hit History miniseries Hatfields & McCoys had the knock-on effect of reinvigorating the star’s career, scoring him some key roles in major Hollywood features. “Everyone wants miniseries from networks to cable companies. You can drop a star into a mini giving them back-end potential… and there’s less pressure than with a feature if it doesn’t open at $30M,” a TV exec says. Not so coincidentally, A+E Networks’ president of entertainment and media Nancy Dubuc, riding high after Hatfields & McCoys, is in Cannes this week to deliver a keynote address. Read More »