CNBC announced today its New Year’s Day marathon of off-net Shark Tank repeats drew its largest average audience in the news demo in six years — something you’d think CNBC would scarcely admit unless it knew it could be provided against it. And yet, there CNBC was, boasting its New Year’s Day marathon had drawn more than 4.2 million unique viewers, averaging more than 540,000 total viewers and 240,000 adults 25-54 from 8PM-2AM ET. During its peak hours, CNBC said with pride, it averaged nearly 700,000 total viewers and 300,000 adults 25-54, ranking No. 1 during the 10 PM hour among all cable news networks in 18-49, 25-54 and 35-64 demos. The 10 PM telecast was CNBC’s most-watched program in three years, while the 9 PM telecast was CNBC’s highest-rated among adults 25-54 in three years, the network bragged.
A Texas federal jury took less than four hours to reject the SEC‘s claim that the sports and media entrepreneur, and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, had engaged in insider trading in 2004 when he sold his stock in Canadian search engine Mamma.com. “The SEC regulates through litigation, and that’s its own problem,” Dallas Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban said at a news conference after the decision was announced. “This is a horrific example of how the government does work.” The government said that Cuban broke the law — and saved himself $750,000 in potential losses — when he made the sale after Mamma.com CEO Guy Faure told him that he planned to dilute the public shares with a private stock offering. The SEC said Cuban had promised to keep the information secret; the exec said he made no such vow. Jurors had to sort through that question, and whether — if Cuban had made a promise — it also meant that he couldn’t sell his stock. The trial started September 30, just 10 days after Shark Tank returned for a fifth season. The decision today to side with the billionaire who controls cable network AXS TV, Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures, and the the NBA team is a setback for SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s effort to show that her agency can effectively attack white-collar crime.
For one side or the other, it looks like a Shark is going to take the stand in his own insider trading trial this fall. Both Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban’s lawyers and attorneys for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late last week named the entrepreneurial reality series judge as a witness in the upcoming trial. The trial is set to start on September 30 in Texas, 10 days after Season 5 of Shark Tank debuts. Cuban was one of six “will call” individuals named by the SEC (read it here). After naming seven certain witnesses, the Dallas Mavericks and AXS TV chairman’s lawyers said “Mr. Cuban may call the following witnesses if the need arises” including himself in the list of eight (read it here). The federal court trial emerges out of the federal government’s contention that on June 29, 2004 Cuban avoided more than $750,000 in losses by selling 600,000 shares in search engine Mamma.com Inc. The sale allegedly came the day after the CEO of the Canadian-based company confidentially told Cuban that a planned public equity offering on June 29 would dramatically dilute the worth of his stock. Cuban made the sale before the announcement and the nearly 10% drop in the company’s share price. The billionaire denied the charges, saying it was all above board and public.
EXCLUSIVE: Back when Shark After Dark was announced — from after-show impresario Michael Davies (The Talking Dead, Watch What Happens Live) and CBS late-night host/avid Shark Week fan Craig Ferguson — Discovery Channel said it was lining up guests for its first late-night Shark Week after-show who were Shark Week-passionate or had shark connections. Mark Cuban, of course, stars in ABC’s Shark Tank. Close enough. Lost fave Dominic Monaghan now stars in BBC America’s nature show, Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan which that network announced is returning for another season in 2014. And Tara Reid is enjoying a career resuscitation as one of the two-legged scenery chewers in Syfy’s flick/media darling Sharknado! which, in its third run on the network, snagged its biggest audience yet — 2 mil plus.
Related: Syfy Orders ‘Sharknado 2′
EXCLUSIVE: After a three-year battle waged to determine ownership of sequel and separated rights on the CBS sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, creators Albert S. Ruddy and the late Bernard Fein have been granted all rights. Ruddy will work with Fein’s estate to develop a feature film ensemble comedy using the show’s clever WWII German POW camp premise. The duo was granted rights that include movies, publication, merchandising, radio and live rights, as well as TV sequel rights. The judgment was made by arbitrator Joel M. Grossman on March 1. The creators went up against Bing Crosby Productions, which produced the show, and whose rights are now owned by Mark Cuban. Ruddy and Fein were represented by Greenburg & Traurig’s Vince Chieffo and Alan Schwartz, and WGA’s Heather Pearson and Anthony R. Segall.
Hogan’s Heroeswas a top-rated show on CBS that spanned 168 episodes that ran from 1965-1971, starring Bob Crane as Col. Robert Hogan, Werner Klemperer as Col. Wilhelm Klink, Richard Dawson as Cpl. Peter Newkirk and John Banner as Sgt. Hans Schultz. Ruddy and Fein created the show and wrote and developed the pilot.
UPDATE, 3:16 PM: Is Les Moonves now, once again, Dan Rather’s boss? Well, a little: Turns out CBS isn’t simply partnering with AXS TV– as the companies framed the arrangement in their announcement today. The network giant has an equity stake in the channel formerly known as HDNet, Moonves told analysts this evening. He didn’t say how much CBS owns of the network which airs Dan Rather Reports or how much it paid, if anything. “Having the power of CBS I’m sure we’ll be able to increase [AXS TV's] affiliate fees, but it won’t be part of our negotiations,” he said. Moonves added that entrepreneur Mark Cuban’s channel will be able to offer “shoulder programming” for live events CBS airs; for example it could have had a show featuring backstage scenes at the Grammy Awards. “It’s a very exciting new prospect for us.” Cuban’s partners at AXS include AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media and Creative Artists Agency.
Here’s the release:
Listen to episode 21 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. This week Deadline Executive Editor Lieberman and host David Bloom discuss the red hot News Corp. stock, Moody’s moody take on the theatrical exhibition business, Mark Cuban‘s on the future of TV, and Blackberry‘s effort to ensure it has a future.
Live television is more vital a platform than digital and new media, said Mark Cuban during a session on the opening day of the 50th anniversary NATPE/Content First conference. “The Internet is designed for everything but video. Television is designed for video,” Cuban said this morning in his keynote speech, moderated by CNN’s Poppy Harlow, during which he staked his ground in television over YouTube, smart TV and other emerging platforms and emphasized the growing role of “social television”.
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29, 2012 – NATPE President & CEO Rod Perth today announced that prominent investor Mark Cuban, owner-chairman of AXS TV (formerly HDNet) and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, will serve as the opening keynote speaker at the organization’s milestone 50th anniversary market and conference, to be held Jan. 28-30 at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Resort. Mr. Cuban’s session will kick off the three-day event built around the theme of moving “Beyond Disruption.” Mr. Cuban’s keynote conversation with CNN’s Poppy Harlow will headline the Game Changers track at NATPE||Content First, which spotlights leaders from some of the world’s top companies that have continually challenged mainstream thinking.
The social network company’s shares are down 1.7% at midday to about $17.74, and at one point touched $17.58 — a new personal worst for the stock that sold for $38 when the company went public in May. The drop comes as many Wall Street investors debate a scathing New York Times column by Andrew Ross Sorkin this morning that fingers CFO David Ebersman as the exec who was “more responsible than any other for the staggering mispricing” of the IPO, which resulted in a $50B decline in Facebook’s market value over the last three months. “To put that in perspective, that’s more market value than Lehman Brothers gave up in the entire year before it filed for bankruptcy” in 2008, Sorkin writes. He adds that in addition to the misery that’s created on Wall Street, it is “quickly creating real questions inside the company about its ability to retain and attract talented engineers, the lifeblood of any technology company.” Ebersman also infuriated major investors when he recently visited New York to address their concerns. Several invitations for Friday meetings “were oddly, and somewhat imperiously” sent out the night before. “Given that it was summer, some investors sent their junior analysts,” Sorkin says.
Freelance writer Cari Lynn is a Deadline contributor based in Los Angeles.
“Television is an undervalued medium,” Marc Cuban declared today at the PGA’s Produced By Conference. It’s a different stance than earlier this decade when he launched HDNet to provide then-state-of-the-art high definition programming. Now, with the upcoming soft launch of AXS TV, a partnership among Cuban, Ryan Seacrest, AEG and CAA (which originated as a rebranding of HDNet/HDNet Canada), Cuban is far more optimistic about the boob tube than he is about online content. “Bits are bits,” he said. “Everything is digital…the Internet has no inherent value over TV. None, zippo. People forget that satellite, DirectTV, Dish, they’re all digital, they can do everything the Internet can do.” But Cuban did acknowledge that the next step for television is the network DVR, which he says “is going to happen.” He said he believed Dish Network’s much-contested Hopper DVR challenges traditional TV providers to take advantage of digital opportunities. “Dish is trying to get ahead of curve on user experience. If Dish reduces the risk to pay a premium for no commercials, why not?”
Ryan Seacrest, AEG and CAA’s year-long quest to launch a cable network has come to an end. The trio have partnered with Mark Cuban’s HDNet to launch a joint venture and rebrand HDNet/HDNet Canada as AXS TV (pronounced “access”). It will launch in June, replacing HDNet in 35 million homes.
Seacrest’s Ryan Seacrest Media will hold an ownership stake in AXS TV. As part of the deal, his Ryan Seacrest Prods will also develop and produce new programming for AXS TV. While actively working behind the scenes, Seacrest will not have an on-air presence on AXS TV. His participation in the joint venture also won’t interfere with his pending new NBCUniversal deal that will likely include on-air responsibilities, a first-look deal for Ryan Seacrest Prods and a continuing relationship with E!. ”Over the last year, we’ve been diligently working with our partners AEG and CAA to strategize and explore how we could deliver quality live entertainment and lifestyle programming to a large audience. HDNet is the perfect partner to help us translate our vision into a reality,” the CAA-repped Seacrest said. “Mark Cuban and (AEG’s) Tim Leiweke bring a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial experience and spirit to this venture, and I’m confident our collective collaboration will make AXS a success.” Cuban said that in the the new venture, he will work with “Ryan the entrepreneur, Ryan the mogul and Ryan the producer. We will pick his brain because AXS is about pop culture, and there is no one who has their finger on the pulse of pop culture more than Ryan,” he said.
L.A. Lakers icon Magic Johnson is the latest big entertainment name to throw his hat in the ring to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, which are currently in bankruptcy protection and could be about a month away from holding an auction to sell the franchise. The NBA Hall of Famer probably won’t be the latest high-profile star to attach himself to a potential ownership group — Johnson’s team, confirmed today, is a Santa Monica-based group of private investors known as Guggenheim Baseball Management, which includes Mark Walter, CEO of financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, and veteran baseball exec Stan Kasten — as bidders jockey for position in an auction in which the team will likely fetch more than $1 billion. (Johnson and his Magic Johnson Enterprises sold his ownership stake in the Lakers last year and also is part of the group that is trying to bring the NFL to downtown Los Angeles, so he’s definitely a serious player.) Other big names being bandied about as part of separate possible Dodgers ownership groups include Dallas Mavericks and HDNet’s billionaire owner Mark Cuban — he tried to buy the Chicago Cubs from Tribune a year ago — and former CNN host Larry King. Those kind of high-profile figures also don’t hurt in boosting the Dodgers’ profile as networks prepare to take a crack at landing the team’s lucrative local TV rights, which could mean a $3 billion windfall to the financially strapped team — if the courts can ever decide how that process will unfold.
Toronto: As Magnolia Turns 10, Owner Todd Wagner Says It’s Not For Sale And That VOD Strategy Is Thriving
EXCLUSIVE: Along with everything else about the 2001 Toronto Film Festival, the launch of Magnolia Pictures was quickly forgotten on September 11, as co-founder Eamonn Bowles and other indie film execs scrambled to find ways to get home. Magnolia marked its 10th anniversary at 2011 Toronto. While the company still doesn’t carry the profile of some other indie distributors, Bowles and co-owner Todd Wagner said their model — mixing traditional indie theatrical distribution with emerging digital technology — has made them distinctive and profitable. VOD revenues now often outpace theatrical for Magnolia films, and they return profit to filmmakers because of low P&A spends. Bowles and Wagner have been honing the VOD model since they were branded charlatans by theater chains in 2005 when Steven Soderbergh’s micro-budget film Bubble was released simultaneously on movie screens, VOD and DVD. Wagner and partner Mark Cuban put Magnolia and other film assets under the 2929 Entertainment banner on the selling block earlier this year, but pulled them back when they didn’t get a high price. Wagner said he’s staying.
Magnolia releases 35-40 films each year now, with upcoming releases that include the 2011 Toronto title Melancholia (which got Lars von Trier banned by Cannes for making dumb pro-Nazi comments). Some Magnolia efforts follow a theatrical release cycle, others go direct to DVD. But VOD has increasingly become the distributor’s calling card and Wagner said proof of its viability came when Harvey Weinstein poached Magnolia execs Tom Quinn and Jason Janego to start a VOD venture for The Weinstein Company.
“Harvey’s been in the industry forever, and he thought it was a good enough model to hire some of our folks away,” Wagner told me. “I’m flattered. There are other people doing this now, from IFC to John Sloss. To me, it’s validation that we’ve hit on something. But we’ve got an advantage, a unique collection of assets in the Landmark Theater chain, a home video division, and HDNet. The big theater chains still absolutely won’t play Ultra VOD titles, so having a theater chain is helpful. As is having the television network for the relationships it has made us with all the MSO’s. These synergies allow us to be freewheeling in how we license content. And producers are coming back to us with films because we are cutting them checks. That rarely happens elsewhere because of all the P&A that stands in front of them.”
Mark Cuban told Bloomberg today that he is “just testing the waters” by putting his distribution company Magnolia Pictures and exhibition chain Landmark Theatres up for sale. Regardless, there will be an auction for two of the divisions in Cuban and Todd Wagner’s 2929 Entertainment, which also houses the pair’s cable channel HDNet. Bidders are expected to file offers next week, a source told Bloomberg. “We won’t sell unless the offer is very, very compelling,” Cuban said. Landmark has 55 theaters and 245 screens in 21 cities. Magnolia distributes indie films in theaters and via video-on-demand.
Will Forte has booked his first full-time TV gig since leaving Saturday Night Live last summer, joining Fox’s upcoming animated series Allen Gregory as a regular voice cast member. On the show, about an accomplished 7-year-old boy embarking on elementary school, Forte will voice characters alongside co-creator/executive producer Jonah Hill and French Stewart. Forte has had a frequent presence on Fox’s animated comedy block. He has voiced recurring characters on American Dad! and The Cleveland Show and was a regular on Sit Down Shut Up.
On the feature side, Forte has signed on to star in Run and Jump. The indie, from Samson Films (Once), was written by Ailbhe Keogan and Steph Green, with Green directing. It was developed by the Irish Film Board and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, with Tamara Anghie producing. Maxine Peake, Brian F. O’Byrne and Sharon Horgan have also been cast in the movie, which will be filmed on location in Ireland in May.
Additionally, Forte recently boarded Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, which just landed financing from Mark Cuban’s 2929 Prods. Forte, repped by UTA and Mosaic, last year headlined his first movie, MacGruber, an extension of his SNL skits.
2929 Productions Funds ‘Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie’; Here’s Hoping The Movie’s Funnier Than The Press Release
2929 Productions is financing Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, a comedy by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim that’s being produced by Funny Or Die creators at Gary Sanchez Productions. The film company sent out a press release with what I felt was a lame attempt to humorously paint itself as the priciest film ever. There are interesting details, like that 2929 money men Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner will appear in the film. I invited them to furnish some serious details this morning, but they never came. So Deadline readers can eyeball the original knee-slapper of a press release and decide: Funny or Die?
2929 Productions with Gary Sanchez Productions and Funny or Die Begin PRODUCTION ON Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
MAGNOLIA PICTURES WILL DISTRIBUTE THE EPIC FILM, GREAT JOB!
Los Angeles – March 14, 2011 – 2929 Productions announced today it is financing Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, the feature film debut of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, with Gary Sanchez Productions and its Funny or Die Films banner co-producing. Heidecker and Wareheim will write, direct and star in what is undoubtedly the most expensive production in cinematic history. In addition, 2929’s sister company Magnolia Pictures has acquired the U.S. distribution rights to the film, which is shooting throughout the month of March in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California.
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is a star-studded comedy created by the prolific team of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, best known for their five seasons of
Charlie Sheen says a lot of things these days about shows, books and other projects he allegedly has in the works. But unlike the HBO show, Sheen’s Corner, that the cable network didn’t know about, a potential project for Mark Cuban’s HDNet may be real. Cuban confirmed to RadarOnLine that he has been in talks with the Two and a Half Men star for a week for what he called “a great show.” Because of the nature of HDNet, which doesn’t do scripted series, and the fact that Sheen is still under a deal with Warner Bros. TV for such programming, the talks are likely for a reality or talk show. Over the past week, Sheen proved he could be great at both in a bizarrely fascinating way, coining more catch phrases and influencing pop culture more than all top reality stars/talk show hosts combined.