EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winner Tom Hanks is set as the on-camera host, historical commentator and narrator of Killing Lincoln, National Geographic Channel‘s two-hour historical thriller from Ridley and the late Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods. It’s based on Bill O’Reilly best-selling book with co-author Martin Dugard that chronicles the conspiracy behind Lincoln’s assassination.
Hanks joins director Adrian Moat (Gettysburg), Emmy-winning writer/executive producer Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers) and producer Mark Herzog’s Herzog & Co. (Gettysburg) on the film, which combines drama with CGI — in the signature style of the Scott brothers — with rare historical archives. “The murder of Lincoln is not a passage of our history — it was a signpost of our American character, then, now and forever,” said Hanks, who has been involved in a number of historic TV projects including the HBO miniseries Band Of Brothers and The Pacific, which he exec produced, and the PBS docu-series Freedom: A History Of Us.
In Killing Lincoln, Billy Campbell plays Lincoln, Jesse Johnson plays John Wilkes Booth and Geraldine Hughes is Mary Todd Lincoln. Graham Beckel appears as Edwin Stanton (who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln administration) and Shawn Pyfrom portrays Private John W. Nichols. READ MORE »
Weaving together home video, passenger and staff stories, National Geographic Channel will air a one-hour documentary February 13th recounting the recent Costa Concordia ship disaster off the coast of Italy. Titled Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories, … Read More »
Jeremy Clarkson Strikes Again, Fry’s A Gentleman
The BBC has put an episode of Stephen Fry’s game show QI on the shelf following remarks made by Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson last week. The episode of the intellectual comedy quiz show, which Clarkson taped this past summer, was due to air tonight in the UK. But appearing on the BBC’s The One Show last week, Clarkson prompted outrage when he commented on the recent public workers strike in Britain, “I would have them taken outside and executed them in front of their families.” Clarkson apologized in due course, but he’s no stranger to this kind of controversy. Earlier this year Top Gear was criticized over comments about Mexicans which were perceived as racist. The Guardian has a compilation of Clarkson’s most famous flubs titled “Jeremy Clarkson: big mouth strikes again.” Meanwhile, I checked Stephen Fry’s Twitter feed to see if he’d made any comment about the network’s decision to shelve the show, but he’s been busy promoting the Sherlock Holmes sequel in which he plays Holmes’ brother Mycroft and which premiered last night in London. He did, however, point to a new poll in which Winston Churchill was voted the greatest British gentleman of the 20th century, followed by filmmaker Richard Attenborough and … Stephen Fry.
New Appointments At Sky, National Geographic
Phil Edgar Jones has been named head of entertainment for Sky. He will have oversight on the bouquet of channels that includes Sky 1, Sky Arts and Sky Living. He will also commission shows for Sky Movies and the recently launched Sky Atlantic which is airing a host of HBO shows. Edgar Jones was previously creative director of independent producer Running Bare and creative director of Remarkable Pictures where he exec produced Big Brother on Channel 4. In related news, Hamish Mykura has been named executive vice president and head of international content for National Geographic Channels International. The former head of documentaries for Channel 4 will also become the London head of global development for National Geographic Channel. Mykura will oversee editorial development and production for the company and will supervise NGCI’s networks NGC, Nat Geo Wild and Nat Geo Adventure. Read More »
Following marathon negotiations, and with only a few hours to spare before the midnight deadline tonight, Fox and DirecTV have reached a new carriage agreement. The deal covers not only all Fox Networks that were in danger of going … Read More »
With a November 1 deadline looming, News Corp. today purchased a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times sports section warning DirecTV customers that the satcaster was poised to drop nine networks if Fox’s … Read More »
Another major carriage dispute threatens to pull Fox’s cable networks from DirecTV systems on November 1. The affected networks include FX (including its hit Sons Of Anarchy and hot newcomer American Horror Story), National Geographic Channel, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Soccer, Fox Movie Channel, Fox Deportes, and the 19 Fox regional sports networks. Fox Networks’ previous carriage agreement with DirecTV expired on September 30. After extending the talks, no progress was made, leading to a standoff between the two sides that may lead to the blackout. Exactly a year ago, the same networks went dark on DirecTV’s rival satcaster Dish Network before the two sides finally reached a new agreement. Like in previous carriage fights, both sides released dueling statements and launched competing websites — KeepMyNets.com (Fox) and OurPromiseToYou.com (DirecTV). In its statement, DirecTV claims that Fox is seeking a 40% license-fee increase. Here are the two statements: Read More »
CBS topped the news and documentary Emmys, handed out in a ceremony tonight at the Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York. The network took home 10 awards, 7 of which were for 60 Minutes. National Geographic Channel followed with 7 total, and PBS won 6, with 2 of its Emmys going to the documentary Food Inc.
A list of winners follows:
OUTSTANDING COVERAGE OF A BREAKING NEWS STORY IN A REGULARLY
Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN), Haiti in Ruins
OUTSTANDING CONTINUING COVERAGE OF A NEWS STORY IN A REGULARLY SCHEDULED NEWSCAST:
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (CBS), Afghan Bomb Squad
OUTSTANDING FEATURE STORY IN A REGULARLY SCHEDULED NEWSCAST
BBC World News America (BBC America), Inside the North Korean Bubble
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After recently signing on to reboot one classic TV show, Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones, Seth MacFarlane is taking on another iconic TV series, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Fox has greenlighted Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, a 13-part docu-series from Family Guy creator MacFarlane and late Sagan’s original collaborators – his widow, writer/producer Ann Druyan and astrophysicist Steven Soter. Envisioned as a successor to the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original 13-part program, which was hosted by Sagan, the new Cosmos series will be hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Underscoring MacFarlane’s commercial appeal, Cosmos will air on Fox in primetime, something pretty unprecedented these days for a science documentary series on commercial American television. (The original series aired on PBS.) Fox will air Cosmos: A Personal Voyage in 2013, which is also when the network will launch MacFarlane’s Flintstones reboot. National Geographic Channel, which will co-produce Cosmos, will air a same-night encore of the episodes following their broadcast on Fox. The project is being done outside of MacFarlane’s overall deal with 20th Century fox TV. “Never more than at this moment in the modern era have we needed a profound reminder of the colossally important and exciting role that science, space exploration and the human quest for knowledge must continue to play in our development as a species,” MacFarlane said. “We should be vigorously exploring the solar system by now, and who better to inspire us to get there than Ann Druyan, Steven Soter, Neil deGrasse Tyson and, of course, Carl Sagan.”
A self-professed geek, MacFarlane hit it off with Druyan after the two met at a function some time ago. When she shared with him the idea for a new Cosmos series, MacFarlane immediately sparked to it and set up a meeting with Peter Rice, entertainment chairman of Fox where MacFarlane has 3 series on the air, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and American Dad. That happened about a year ago, and after lengthy negotiations, Fox just closed all deals for the project to go forward. In September 2010, MacFarlane and Druyan appeared together on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher where they shared their concern about the growing anti-science sentiment in American society, something Druyan attributed to “the failure of public education,” which has “compartmentalized science to 20-40 boring minutes a week, maybe taught by a gym teacher.” That is a far cry from the way her late husband approached science. “Carl believed that science belongs to all of us,” Druyan said now in reference to the Fox series. “He wanted to convey the thrill of its cosmic perspective to the widest possible audience. I wish I could tell Carl what Seth’s leadership on this new Cosmos has made possible. Besides, I know how much they would have liked each other.” Read More »
Veteran Fox executive David Lyle, former president of the now defunct Fox Reality cable channel and international reality format licensing division Fox LOOK, has been named CEO for National Geographic Channels. The co-venture of Fox Networks Group and the National Geographic Society includes National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, which … Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
UPDATE, 2:30 PM: With the landmark 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks coming up, National Geographic Channel plans a full week of programming commemorating the event from Aug. 28-Sept. 3. At the network’s TCA session this afternoon, Nat Geo detailed its special week that will include turning over primetime to 9/11-themed programs nightly from 8-11 PM. Headlining the programming is an exclusive hourlong interview with former President George W. Bush that finds Bush offering a rare glimpse into his thoughts about the events of that fateful day. The interview, conducted over a two-day period, will premiere on the channel Aug. 28 at 10 PM, encoring on Aug. 29 and Sept. 3. Speaking to critics today about the interview — cobbled into a narration-free hour special in which Bush’s is the only face seen on camera — executive producer and director Peter Schnall said that Bush required no ground rules in terms of discussing what would be asked in advance. “The president and his staff asked that no questions be provided beforehand,” he said.
PREVIOUS, 11:53 AM: At the National Geographic Channel/Nat Geo Wild session this afternoon at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, the adventure-themed channels made several announcements to critics while trotting out panels to discuss new shows including Rocket City Rednecks and Mad Scientists. The news included announcements of several National Geographic Channel premieres:
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UPDATE: Fox Networks and Dish Network are yet to start talks about restoring FX, National Geographic Channel and 19 regional sports networks on Dish systems. The cable networks were pulled at midnight after the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on a new carriage deal, with talks breaking off shortly before the midnight deadline. In the meanwhile, accusations are flying from both sides. “Fox is demanding a new contract with an unprecedented rate increase of more than 50 percent,” Dish said in a statement. “Fox has flatly refused DISH Network’s request to allow customers to continue to watch these Fox channels during the negotiations.” Fox is vigorously disputing both claims, calling the 50% figure “absurd” and stating that it was Dish that refused to keep the networks on while negotiations continue and it never asked for an extension of the two sides’ existing deal. “The proposal we’ve offered DISH is fair and in line with the tremendous value we provide,” Fox Networks said in a statement. With the carriage dispute on the cable side escalating, Fox and Dish have not even started discussing a new retransmission consent agreement for the Fox stations as the current one expires at the end of the month. Those talks will certainly include a demand for retransmission consent fees by Fox, something that put the company at odds with Time Warner Cable in December and threatened the network’s coverage of the college football championship games. Similarly, the end of Fox stations’ agreement with Dish will coincide with the network’s coverage of the World Series. Read More »