After all the twists and turns on the Shane Salerno-directed docu Salinger that began with a January 2010 Deadline reveal that the film had been shot, how did the documentary do? The American Masters version totaled 2 million viewers, including repeat broadcasts and DVR viewers. This was strong considering the film had been released by The Weinstein Company and was in the top 10 of the year’s theatrical docus, and that it was viewable on Netflix at that time. The Simon & Schuster companion book written by David Shields and Salerno hit both the New York Times and LA Times bestseller lists. And Salerno more than made back the $2 million he invested to make the film, after he made three 7-figure deals with TWC, S&S and American Masters. It didn’t hurt the Salinger estate either, as Catcher In The Rye hit the bestseller charts again, 62 years after its publication in 1951.
“When combined with the incredible sales figures and national social media conversation, it demonstrates the true impact of public television,” said Stephen Segaller, the WNET programming veep in charge of Salinger. “The fact it was the 200th episode of American Masters makes the accomplishment even sweeter.” Read More »
In a move that was expected, ITV officially announced today that it has ordered 10 new episodes of period drama Mr Selfridge. The Jeremy Piven-starring series is currently in its 2nd season … Read More »
PBS has named Ira Rubenstein new general manager of PBS Digital. He will report to PBS chief operating officer Michael Jones and serve as a member of PBS’ senior leadership team, starting March 24. Rubenstein will lead … Read More »
An average of 8.5 million viewers tuned in for Downton Abbey‘s fourth season finale last night. That’s a personal finale best for the period drama on PBS. The Season 3 finale drew 8.2 million viewers on February 17 last year, a 50% surge from the Season 2 ender in 2012.
This season opened on January 5 with 10.2 million tuned in – up 22% compared to the Season 3 debut of 7.9 million which, in turn had been a leap from the series Season 2 launch crowd of 4.2 mil. Even before this latest cycle started, Downton Abbey has been the highest-rated drama in PBS history. Read More »
While an estimated 111.5 million viewers watched the Seattle Seahawks pulverize the Denver Broncos on Fox on Sunday (up from last year’s 109 million Super Bowl viewers) , 6.8 million viewers opted instead to watch some actual … Read More »
“He ‘stood by me’ even though our ratings were blockbuster and we kicked Fox’s ass? Thank you for ‘standing by me’,” Kathy Griffin snarked at Winter TV Press Tour 2014 when asked about CNN chief Jeff Zucker saying at the tour he was committed to having Griffin back with Anderson Cooper to host CNN’s New Year’s Eve show.
Griffin came to the final session of Winter TV Press Tour 2014 to participate in a Q&A for PBS’s second round of Makers: Women Who Make America documentaries. She was joined by former CIA agent Valerie Plame, and NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson — all three women are part of the next batch of six one-hour documentaries looking at women’s roles in war, comedy, space, business, Hollywood and politics.
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Among the ancillary markets for producers of TV series with rabid followings: selling props and scraps of sets to fans. “It was not surprising to me Sony sold off a number of Breaking Bad props, and they did … Read More »
PBS is partnering with AOL for six new one-hour documentaries as part of its Makers: Women Who Make America franchise. Scheduled to premiere in June and August 2014, the docus build on the multi-platform initiative founded by filmmaker Dyllan McGee, which launched in 2012. The new series expands on the three-hour PBS documentary of same name, which premiered in February 2013 and told the story of the American women’s movement over the last half-century. Kathy Griffin, former CIA agent Valerie Plame, former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson and the producers of Makers are scheduled to discuss the project at the press tour tomorrow. Among those profiled in the docu-series are Lena Dunham, Chelsea Handler, Shonda Rhimes, and Sarah Silverman. Each of the new documentaries tackles a different sphere of influence, including business, war, space, Hollywood, politics and comedy. Read More »
PBS Kids has ordered a new live-action series, Odd Squad, in which two agents, Olive and Otto, are on a mission to save the day using math. Odd Squad is created by Tim McKeon (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Adventure Time, The Electric Company) and Adam Peltzman (The Electric Company, The Backyardigans, Wallykazam!), and produced by Canadian kids TV producer Sinking Ship Entertainment and The Fred Rogers Company. The new series is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Each episode of Odd Squad includes two 11-minute cases in which the agents use math to recapture a gallon-sized blob that has separated into smaller pieces, deal with a slew of unicorns, dinosaurs and wizards that have escaped from books, etc. Read More »
“I’m a pig in shit,” Ken Burns said of his quantity of documentary films in the pipeline. First up: The Address is extremely short by Burns’ standards – under two hours long. It follows a school in Vermont that has students each year memorize the Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Lincoln on November 19, 1863 at the dedication of a cemetery on the site of the bloodiest battle ever fought on U.S. soil. It was, Burns noted, not universally embraced at the time – a Chicago newspaper’s review said, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.” The Address airs April 15 at 9 PM on PBS. Read More »
PBS‘ Britcom Vicious is retro in form, contemporary in subject matter and could not have been made on a U.S. network owing to the age of its actors, the creator and stars said today at TCA. Vicious stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as Freddie and Stuart, a gay couple who have been together for nearly 5 decades. The comedy, which already has aired its first season in the UK on ITV, would not have been done in the U.S. at this time, because both stars are in their 70s, all parties discussing the show at the Winter TV Press Tour agreed. This came the morning after NBC announced it was developing a sort of Golden Girls update — because, NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt said, it’s something he’s not seeing on the primetime TV landscape. While TV critics marveled at the show getting made at all — and PBS’ courage in broadcasting it, starting in July — McKellen, appearing via satellite, insisted it’s still much easier for actors in their 70s to get work than for actresses. Jacobi, also via satellite, said the public is clamoring for programming about older characters, without elaborating. He did say how good it is to be in his 70s and still be asked to perform (he also stars in the British series Last Tango In Halifax, also airing on PBS, which earlier today made official its second-season pickup). Read More »
PBS has announced the premiere date of the Britcom Vicious, starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as a gay couple who have been together nearly half a century. The six-part series, which PBS acquired from Shine International in October, will air on Sundays and premiere July 6 at 10:30 PM. Meanwhile, Jacobi’s drama Last Tango In Halifax has been ordered for a second season, returning June 29, PBS chief Paula Kerger announced this morning at TCA. Also unveiled: Ken Burns is working on a a documentary series about country music — though it won’t air until 2018, Kerger said this morning. Country Music will follow its evolution of over the course of the 20th century as it “eventually emerged to become America’s music,” PBS claimed in its announcement.
And, PBS will never, ever air Downton Abbey seasons closer to its UK run, Kerger indicated — hopefully putting a stake in that debate for press tours ever after. Kerger cited this month’s Season 4 debut audience – 10.2 million viewers, which was a 22% jump compared to the Season 3 opener (7.9 million), which itself had been a leap from the series Season 2 launch crowd of 4.2 mil. Downton is PBS’ highest rated drama ever. ”It’s become a bit of tradition after the holidays to come together to watch Downton,” Kerger said happily. “The audience build over the years…argues to keep the January time frame,” she said. And, of course, a fall launch coinciding with the UK’s Downton season would put it in the teeth of the commercial broadcast network’s fall-season rollout, which, she noted, TV critics in the room had criticized PBS for doing in the past. Not to mention that the series’ UK broadcaster determines its debut date not terribly long before it actually happens — no weeks and weeks of promotions, as is the norm in the U.S. PBS cannot upstage the show in the UK. Read More »
Benedict Cumberbatch came back to life as Sherlock Holmes in The Empty Hearse, the first episode of Season 3 of Sherlock which aired on BBC One on New Year’s Day. The 90-minute installment was the … Read More »
Sherlock returns to the BBC on New Year’s Day and to PBS on January 19 for three new 90-minute installments of the detective drama. As a pre-holiday treat, the BBC has posted a seven-minute mini-episode that provides some exposition for the new go-round. (The … Read More »
The BAFTA-winning drama has been renewed a day ahead of the December 24 sophomore-season finale on BBC One. Last Tango In Halifax stars Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid as widowed seventy-somethings who rekindle a passion … Read More »
Earlier this year, ITV and PBS both ordered a second season of the Jeremy Piven-starring department store drama Mr Selfridge. The promo below for the much-anticipated new 10-episode series has aired on British TV in the past few weeks, but had somehow … Read More »