Pivot Picks Up Sky Series ‘Fortitude’, Sets Development Slate, Revamps ‘TakePart Live’

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 9:02am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

pivotParticipant Media‘s network Pivot today announced the pickup of Sky Atlantic’s 12-episode drama series Fortitude starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. The series became available in the U.S. in December when Starz, which originally had committed to the project, pulled out. Pivot is designed as a younger skewing network than Starz, with its target demo being 18-34. As part of its upfront presentation, Pivot also announced an overhaul of its nightly topical series, TakePart Live. Beginning Monday, May 12, the hour-long late-night program will move to primetime (10 PM) with a new producer, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row, which is behind Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and AMC’s Talking Dead/Bad. Also undergoing makeover is the hosting team of Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria, with only Soboroff coming back, joined by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain and comedian Eddie Huang.

Pivot also unveiled a development slate that includes eleven projects from production companies including IAC’s Electus, Universal Cable Prods., FremantleMedia North America/Pukeko Pictures, Funny or Die, and Eyeworks, and revealed premiere 2014-15 dates, including an August 8 debut for the sophomore season of coming-of-age comedy, Please Like Me, and the comedy Human Resources. “Our second slate demonstrates our significant investment in, and commitment to, groundbreaking content for the thought-leading segment of Generation Y we call ‘Upstanders,’” said Pivot president Evan Shapiro. Here is Pivot’s full slate: Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Participant Media Boards Malala Yousafzai Docu; ‘Rising Star’, ‘Master Class’ Headed To Asia; More

Participant Media Boards Docu About Pakistani Girl Wounded By Taliban
Malala YousafzaiParticipant Media has come aboard as a co-financing partner on the Parkes + MacDonald Productions documentary about Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. An Inconvenient Truth’s Davis Guggenheim is directing. In 2012, student activist Yousafzai gained international recognition when she survived a brutal assassination attempt by the Taliban at age 14. Shot in the head and neck when gunmen opened fire on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, she was targeted for speaking out on behalf of girls’ education in her community. Production starts in early July 2014, in association with Image Nation Abu Dhabi. Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald are producing, with a release eyed for early next year. In addition to its financial commitment, Participant will collaborate with Image Nation to launch a social action and advocacy campaign to expand the reach and impact of the film. Read More »

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‘Cesar Chavez’ Screens For Farm Workers At Labor Union’s Historic Birthplace: Photos

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 8:32pm PDT

Diego LunaThree days before the movie’s national release, an audience of about 1,000 farm workers is seeing Diego Luna‘s biopic about the legendary civil rights leader and union organizer at the site where their union began in the 1960s. Cesar Chavez is getting an outdoor screening tonight at the Forty Acres outside Delano, CA, which is depicted in the film and now is a National Historic Landmark. Luna introduced the movie, which stars Michael Pena as Cesar Chavez alongside America Ferrera — who is at the screening — Rosario Dawson, Gabriel Mann and John Malkovich. The film scripted by Keir Pearson and Timothy J. Sexton won an Audience Award at SXSW this month after premiering at Berlin. It also screened at the White House last week. Lionsgate is releasing the pic from Pantelion, Participant Media, Televisa Cine and Image Nation. Participant is advocating for a national day of service on Cesar Chavez Day, March 31, which is a state holiday in California, Texas and Colorado. Here’s how the scene looked tonight:

Chavez screening Read More »

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Summit, Participant Media Acquire ‘The Burglary;’ The Story Of 8 Whistleblowers Who Stole Hoover’s FBI Secrets

Mike Fleming

burlEXCLUSIVE: Decades before Julian Assange and Edward Snowden became the scourge of U.S. intelligence organizations by leaking secret documents, an unheralded group of eight anti-war activists broke into an FBI branch office one night in Philadelphia and made off with a treasure trove of classified documents they fed to newspapers that bared the ruthlessness displayed by the FBI in spying on and blackmailing those it considered troublemakers. Summit Entertainment has teamed with Participant Media to acquire the rights to tell the story of those bandits, acquiring the Betty Medsger book The Burglary: The Discovery Of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, which was published in January by Knopf, and an accompanying article by Mark Mazzetti published in The New York Times the same month.

hoover__140319224839-275x154They’ve set Scott Z. Burns to write the script and produce with Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar, with Todd Hoffman exec producing. Ashley Zalta is a co-producer. Burns’ script work includes The Bourne Ultimatum, the Steven Soderbergh-directed Contagion and Side Effects and Fox’s summer sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. The project was championed by Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group President Erik Feig, who’ll oversee with Meredith Milton and Participant’s Jonathan King. Read More »

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Participant, Paramount Home Media Pact On CNN Education Docu ‘Ivory Tower’

By | Wednesday March 19, 2014 @ 11:25am PDT

ivory-towerParticipant Media, Paramount Home Media Distribution, and Samuel Goldwyn Films will jointly release CNN Films’ documentary Ivory Tower, the Sundance Film Festival pic chronicling crisis within the American education system. Directed by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), Ivory Tower questions the value of higher education among spiraling tuition fees and student debt. Pic will hit theaters in June via Samuel Goldwyn with Paramount handling DVD and home entertainment. Paramount is also handling distribution outside of the U.S. Participant previously released Rossi’s Page One and teamed up on education-focused campaigns for Paramount Vantage’s Waiting For Superman and CBS/Pivot’s Teach. The company will spearhead a social action campaign for Ivory Tower this summer. Read More »

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Focus Makes $20 Million P&A Deal For River Road, Participant And Lionsgate Intl-Funded Juan Antonio Bayona-Helmed ‘A Monster Calls’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In the third huge pre-buy deal this year,bayona Focus Features is committing $20 million in P&A to release A Monster Calls, a film that will be financed by River Road Entertainment and Participant Media. The film will be the next directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who helmed the tsunami film The Impossible and made his breakthrough on The Orphanage. The film is an adaptation of the children’s fantasy novel series by Patrick Ness and it is already on course to begin production this fall for release in 2016. The novel focuses on a young lad who tries to deal with school bullies and his mother’s illness by losing himself into a vivid world of monsters and fairy tales. Ness adapted his own prize-winning work.

monstercIn the configuration taking shape, Focus releases the film wide domestically and Universal Pictures International releases in Spain. Lionsgate International is a key piece of this puzzle, as Patrick Washsberger’s troops will sell all other world territories. Producing is Belen Atienza, who teamed with Bayona on his films and produced Pan’s Labyrinth. Bill Pohlad’s River Road is coming off the Best Picture for 12 Years A Slave, and I’m told Pohlad and his team will exec produce with Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and his team, along with Wachsberger.

This becomes the first major deal for Peter Schlessel since James Schamus and Andrew Karpen left Focus and Schlessel merged his FilmDistrict shingle in the company and took the reins. While Bayona is separately attached to helm a sequel to the zombie saga World War Z 2, this film will come first. Read More »

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SXSW: Participant And FilmBuff Team To Acquire Aaron Swartz Docu ‘The Internet’s Own Boy’

InternetsOwnBoyA June theatrical and VOD release is tentatively planned for Brian Knappenberger’s documentary The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz followed by a broadcast TV premiere on Participant-owned Pivot during the the fourth quarter. Knappenberger made the hacker … Read More »

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Sundance: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and ‘HITRECORD’ Cohorts Pivot Into First Look Deal With Participant

Mike Fleming

jg;lEXCLUSIVE: Just after previewing the first three episodes of his TV series HITRECORD ON TV, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his HITRECORD exec producer Jared Geller have set a first-look deal with Participant Media and its youth-centric TV station Pivot. This comes after the show Gordon-Levitt created got an 8-episode order for a second season. The series debuted yesterday on the upstart Pivot cable channel, for which Gordon-Levitt also is a creative adviser.

Sundance2014_badge__140109214059__140116020608Said Pivot President Evan Shapiro: “Joe is the kind of artist we envisioned when we created Pivot. He is a director, actor, writer and disruptor who understands how to use every form of media to engage our audience.”

It’s only the second time that a TV series was featured on the Sundance program, but this series is directly intertwined with the festival. I watched the first episode and noticed a stylistic symmetry to other anthology shows, most particularly Sesame Street, which Gordon-Levitt allowed was one of the references for how to string together disparate segments for a variety show that stresses global subject matter and involves a worldwide audience on the web. Perhaps that intention was best underscored with the musical number that closes the first episode, which was devoted to the word “one.” The song is grounded by Gordon-Levitt’s own musical chops — watch the trailer below and it’s understandable why he’s mentioned for Fox’s Guys and Dolls redo — but the song was a much bigger undertaking in that it features songwriting and singing from participants from all over the world. (Watch the song performance below). Read More »

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Sundance: Participant Media, Univision Team For Deal On Chavez Docu ‘Cesar’s Last Fast’

Mike Fleming

cesarUPDATE: Participant Media has confirmed Deadline’s scoop on the Cesar Chavez pic. Release appears below the original story.

EXCLUSIVE: In a mid-six figure deal, Participant Media’s TV network Pivot is teaming with Univision to acquire Cesar’s Last Fast, the documentary about Cesar Chavez that will make its Sundance premiere tomorrow in the U.S. Feature Documentary category. The deal is the first major one after Participant and Univision last year formed a venture to acquire smart properties to air on both networks.

SundanceThe film covers the 36-day fast undertaken by Cesar Chavez to bring attention around the world to the dangers of the liberal use of pesticides on farm workers, their families and communities. The 1988 fast, in which Chavez only consumed water, was captured on film by filmmakers James Chressanthis, Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee. It was one of the courageous acts that made Chavez an iconic advocate for farm workers. Read More »

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Participant Media Taps Former Sony Exec Ann Boyd As EVP Communications

By | Tuesday January 7, 2014 @ 7:25pm PST

Ann BoydThe newly created post includes oversight of the communications strategy and operations of Participant Media‘s film and documentary units, the new Pivot TV network and its digital lifestyle brand TakePart. Ann Boyd is joining the company as … Read More »

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Participant Picks Up Thriller Script ‘From Here To Albion’

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 4:22pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: British/American writing duo Rory Haines and Sohrab Noshirvani have sold their thriller script From Here To Albion to Participant Media. The story is set in a coastal English town, where a tragic accident sets a … Read More »

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Participant Media Reteams With DreamWorks On ‘Hundred-Foot Journey’

By | Friday September 6, 2013 @ 8:37am PDT

Following their successful collaborations on The Help, Lincoln and upcoming The Fifth Estate, Participant Media is joining DreamWorks studios on the drama, The Hundred-Foot Journey, starring Oscar winning actress Helen Mirren and rising star Manish Dayal. Lasse Hallstrom will direct the film, from a screenplay by Steve Knight based on the best-selling book by Richard Morais. Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake are producing, with Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King serving as executive producers. In The Hundred-Foot Journey, when an Indian family moves to Southern France and opens an Indian restaurant a hundred feet across the street from a Michelin starred French restaurant, a culinary battle ensues between the two. Participant COO Jeff Ivers negotiated the deal with Chris Floyd, EVP of Business Affairs for DreamWorks. Participant EVP of Production Jonathan King will supervise the production for Participant, working alongside DreamWorks President of Production Holly Bario.

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Participant PanAmerica Backing ‘El Ardor’ With Gael Garcia Bernal And Alice Braga

By | Monday April 29, 2013 @ 12:10pm PDT

Participant Media launched Participant PanAmerica to develop and co-finance 10-12 Spanish-language films a year with Mexico’s Canana, Chile’s Fabula and Colombia’s Dynamo, at the Berlin Film Festival in February. The entity has now identified its first project with El Ardor. Directed by Pablo Fendrik (Blood Appears, The Mugger), the film is currently shooting in Argentina and stars Gael García Bernal and Alice Braga. Fendrik, whose previous features were both Cannes Critics’ Week selections, wrote the screenplay about a mysterious man who emerges from the Argentinian rainforest to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a poor farmer after mercenaries murder her father and take over his property. Read More »

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Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman Inhabit Haunted House Pic ‘Out Of The Dark’

By | Thursday April 25, 2013 @ 10:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman and Stephen Rea are starring in Out Of The Dark, a supernatural thriller just getting underway in Bogota, Colombia under Spanish … Read More »

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DreamWorks, Participant Movie Focuses On Catholic Church Sex Scandal Uncovered By Boston Globe

By | Tuesday April 2, 2013 @ 10:45am PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: DreamWorks Studios and Participant Media have acquired feature film rights to the story of the Catholic Church’s decades-long cover-up of its pedophile priests in Massachusetts. The scandal was uncovered by a year-long investigation by the … Read More »

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Participant Media Unveils Launch Date And Slate For New Cable Network Pivot

By | Wednesday March 27, 2013 @ 10:29am PDT

Pivot will launch August 1 with 40 million-plus subscribers and feature more than 300 hours of original programming in its first year. The cable network was hatched in December after film producer Participant Media acquired the Documentary Channel and then the distribution assets of emerging cable net Halogen TV. The plan is to target millennials via Participant’s brand of socially relevant entertainment — its film credits include An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc, The Help, Lincoln and Promised Land — catering to adults 18-34. Among the greenlighted series announced today at the network’s upfront presentation in New York is a live nightly talk show, a variety show from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Brian Graden, a docu-talk series from Meghan McCain, and the drama Will from Craig Pearce (The Great Gatsby). Last month, the network hired FremantleMedia North America exec Holly Hines as SVP Scripted Programming. “Over the past 9 1/2 years, through 43 films, Participant has built a reputation for content that is entertaining, commercial and high quality, while at the same time, inspiring and empowering to audiences”, said Participant CEO Jim Berk. “pivot marks a seminal moment for us with the launch of a channel for people who care about the world around them.”’

Here are the network’s descriptions of series that have been greenlighted for 2013 launch: Read More »

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Participant Media Hires Robert Kessel As Senior Veep Of Production

By | Tuesday March 26, 2013 @ 10:14am PDT
Mike Fleming

Robert Kessel has joined Participant Media as SVP Production. He’ll report to EVP Production Jonathan King and help manage the development, production, and acquisition of narrative films for the company. Kessel most recently was SVP Production at Sony-based Matt Tolmach Productions, working on such films as the upcoming genre mash-up Kitchen Sink. Prior to that he was an exec at Overture Films, and before that was a partner and production head for seven years at Hart Sharp Entertainment, where he oversaw production and development for numerous high-profile projects. He served previous roles at Miramax and New Line. Read More »

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Participant Sets Jake Eberts UCLA Fellowship

By | Wednesday February 20, 2013 @ 6:04pm PST

Los Angeles, CA – Participant Media announces the formation of a distinguished fellowship, “The Jake Eberts Fellowship for Social Impact Filmmaking”, in honor of acclaimed producer Jake Eberts at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television for graduate students. It is to focus on feature film development,

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Holly Hines Joins Participant Media As SVP Scripted For Company’s Cable Network

By | Wednesday February 13, 2013 @ 9:13am PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Film producer Participant Media is beefing up its TV ranks as the company gears for the summer 2013 launch of its cable network targeting millennials. FremantleMedia North America executive Holly Hines has joined the new network as SVP Scripted Programming. She will spearhead all scripted development and production and be based in Los Angeles, reporting to Evan Shapiro, President, Participant Television. “Holly is a talented programmer with a keen eye for talent and a great understanding of the millennial audience,” Shapiro said.

Participant Media in December purchased the Documentary Channel, distributed on satcasters DirecTV and Dish, and entered into an agreement to acquire the distribution assets of emerging cable network Halogen TV from The Inspiration Networks. The company is combining and will rebrand the assets into a TV network targeting millennials that is expected to reach an estimated 40+ million subscribers on cable and satellite. The new network will  carry Participant’s brand of socially relevant entertainment with a slate of original and acquired programming catering to adults 18-34, including live cross-platform news and events as well as scripted and unscripted series. The company’s films conveying similar message include An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc., The Help, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Promised Land.

Related: Participant Media, Doha Film Institute Launch $100M Feature Film Fund Read More »

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