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 …
Foyle’s War has been greenlit for an eighth season, scheduled for release in 2015. Acorn Productions, ITV, and Eleventh Hour Films this morning announced another three-episode season, starring Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks, and written by screenwriter Anthony Horowitz. No word from PBS as to whether it will pick up the new season of 3 X 120 episodes, on which filming is scheduled to begin in January. PBS ran the most recent three-episode season in September, as part of its Masterpiece Mystery franchise.
In 2010, Silver Spring, Md.-based Acorn, a company best known for its DVD releases of British crunchy-gravel dramas, announced it had bought the British franchise Foyle’s War from UK production indie Greenlit Rights, which had gone into so-called “administration.” It marked the first time Acorn had bought ownership rights to one of its British series. Foyle’s War had been one of Acorn’s top-selling franchises on DVD for many years, and had last aired on PBS in May of ’10. The original series was set during WWII in Hastings, on the south coast of England — starring Kitchen as methodical Det. Christopher Foyle, a widower who, assisted by his driver Samantha, catches criminals by taking advantage of the confusion created by the war.
Marking the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination continues to cough up good numbers for TV networks, though, as with that old Fox one-off reality hit Alien Autopsy, it’s unclear whether viewers flocked to the “JFK” — he being our very first made-by-TV president – or the “assassination.” PBS tastefully went with “John F. Kennedy’s legendary charisma” by way of explanation this morning, while discussing the fact its early JFK-assassination programming has cumed nearly 12 million viewers.
Across Monday and Tuesday last week, JFK — a two-night, four-hour American Experience special that focused on the president’s life and achievements, reached 8.6 million viewers and averaged 2.7 million of them, PBS said.
But a Wednesday night Nova broadcast, Cold Case JFK, in which viewers watched contemporary forensic techniques applied to the 50-year-old murder, performed at a whopping 40% over the 9 PM season-to-date average. That program averaged about 2.6 million viewers.
UPDATED, 9:30 AM: Benedict Cumberbatch, fresh off his feature film flop The Fifth Estate, will return in the better-reviewed Sherlock starting January 19 in the 10 PM time slot following Downton Abbey, PBS announced this morning. In the UK, BBC has not yet announced Sherlock’s return date, but promises the three episodes will launch there before the PBS debut. PBS also confirmed Downton Abbey’s January 5 return. Scheduling Sherlock’s three 90-minute episodes to follow Downton, PBS said in its first-quarter scheduling news, “reinforces PBS’ move into 10 PM programming on several key nights.”
In this morning’s flurry of PBS announcements, the network made a special fuss over “Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate, Star Trek Into Darkness) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Office UK) returning as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in the contemporary reinvention of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic, created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss. In a separate announcement, Masterpiece exec producer Rebecca Eaton cooed, “The genius Sherlock team has done it again,” adding, “These people are GOOD!” The Fifth Estate, in which Cumberbatch received good reviews playing WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, has nonetheless gone into the books as having the worst opening weekend this year to date.
PBS also said it was announcing a number of new programs, though we’ve known for ages that American Masters had gotten its hands on the much-ballyhooed biopic Salinger. Anyway, in this morning’s announcement, PBS also says per Nielsen that its 2012-13 primetime programming saw an overall average ratings increase of 7% over the previous season and that PBS now ranks eighth among all broadcast and cable networks “in overall general audience content.” We’ll get back to when we figure out what PBS is talking about, and we advise you not to hold your breath while you wait for numbers. PBS also claimed this morning it is now surpassed, in this PBS metric, by only the four major broadcast networks, USA, Univision, and Disney — overtaking ESPN, History and TNT in the ratings. Previously, PBS says, it ranked No. 11.
PBS’s upcoming primetime schedule is, per usual, thick with Brit on Sundays, science and nature shows on Wednesday, and arts and performance programming on Fridays:
It’s always fun when attending a live trophy-show ceremony in Washington to try to figure out which controversial bits will get cut for the subsequent broadcast on TV. Last night’s awarding of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to TV veteran Carol Burnett in Washington was filled with gags tied to the recent government shutdown. But PBS won’t air the ceremony until November 24, at which point the lines may seem stale — or still too controversial for PBS, which relies on Washington to provide a good-ish chunk of its financing. Lines to watch for while watching the November 24 broadcast:
Burnett: “This is very encouraging. I mean it was a long time in coming, but I understand because there are so many people funnier than I am, especially here in Washington. With any luck, they’ll soon get voted out, and I’ll still have the Mark Twain Prize.”
Tina Fey: “Enough politics. We are here tonight to celebrate the First Lady of American Comedy, Ted Cruz.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: PBS Giving U.S. Peek At ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4; Last Of ‘The Office’ Coming To Comedy Central UK; More
PBS To Air ‘Downton Abbey’ Recap/Preview Special Ahead Of Season 4
In an effort to appease anxious U.S. viewers, PBS is planning a behind-the-scenes special sneak peek at Downton Abbey‘s upcoming Season 4. The period drama is pulling record ratings on the UK’s ITV but doesn’t bow Stateside until January 5. So, on December 1, PBS will air Return To Downton Abbey, a recap of previous seasons and a look at the upcoming trials and tribulations of the Crawley clan. Susan Sarandon will host the special that’s set around three themes: The Changing World of Downton Abbey, The Women of Downton Abbey and Love and Other Relationships at Downton Abbey. Cast members interviewed include Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Joanne Froggatt, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter, Shirley MacLaine, Sophie McShera and Laura Carmichael. Creator Julian Fellowes and exec producers Gareth Neame and Rebecca Eaton also take part.
Final Seasons Of U.S. ‘The Office’ Coming To Comedy Central UK
Comedy Central UK is bringing the final two seasons of the U.S. version of The Office to Britain. Under a deal with NBCU International TV Distribution, Seasons 8 and 9 will air on Comedy Central starting this month. The series, based on Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s original UK version, has been a staple of Comedy Central UK’s schedule and a strong performer.
CBS was the big winner at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards ceremony last night, bagging 12 statuettes — more than CNN (3), NBC (2), and ABC (1) combined. PBS was CBS’ closest competition with 9 Emmys, followed by HBO’s 6. Sunday newsmag 60 Minutes scored half of CBS’ statuettes. CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley won 3 Emmys last night, the total wins for CBS Sunday Morning is 3 and it shared an award with CBS This Morning. (An earlier academy tally had incorrectly placed one of the newscast’s wins in the CBS Sunday Morning column). CBS’ award-winning reports covered a wide range of topics, from SEAL Team 6 to congressional lobbying to Glen Campbell’s farewell tour, to the front lines of Syria’s civil war.
Discovery Channel announced this morning it will air a two-part special, NFL In Season, in which the network goes on the road with the NFL as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Jacksonville Jaguars prepare for two “critical regular season games” — in London. It will be produced by NFL Films. The two-part special will premiere Friday, October 4, and Friday, November 1. In this way the special will book-end PBS’ Frontline special about head injuries sustained by NFL players, League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis, which is now scheduled to debut on PBS on October 8. The Frontline project was originally scheduled to debut as a two-parter October 8 and October 15, but that was before ESPN pulled out of that documentary, calling it a “branding” issue. Anonymous sources in August told the New York Times that ESPN, which reportedly pays the NFL upwards of $1 billion a year for Monday Night Football rights, succumbed to pressure from the NFL, which the NFL denied. This morning’s announcement:
2ND UPDATE, 10:46 AM: Looks like there will be some last-minute editing to PBS‘ two-hour Frontline special League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis. This morning the league announced a settlement worth $765M has been reached in Philadelphia federal court between the NFL and more than 4,500 former players. If approved by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody, the deal would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research. The proposed settlement comes after months of mediation between the sides and probably guarantees that the NFL wouldn’t be required to disclose internal files about what it knew about concussion issues and whether it hid findings of internal committees to protect the the league. The timing is right for an agreement: The NFL’s regular season starts in a week, and the Frontline special airs on PBS stations October 8. It previously had been scheduled to air in two parts over two weeks.
UPDATE, AUGUST 23 AM: PBS’ upcoming Frontline two-parter about head injuries sustained by NFL players appears to have hit the motherlode with the pullout of ESPN from the joint project. League Of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis exec producers announced last night on the program’s website that ESPN had withdrawn as a partner with Frontline on the docu. ESPN says it’s a “branding” issue. Anonymous sources tell The New York Times — you know it’s coming — that ESPN, which reportedly pays the NFL upwards of $1 billion a year for Monday Night Football rights, succumbed to pressure from the NFL. Not so, says the NFL. Viewer awareness of the upcoming docu, which debuts on PBS stations on October 8 and October 15, just went up 1,000%.
PREVIOUS, AUGUST 22 PM:ESPN has pulled out of its joint investigation with PBS’ Frontline into the NFL’s response to head injuries among players. “You may notice some changes to our League Of Denial and Concussion Watch websites,” the documentary producers said this evening in a statement on the Frontline website. From now on, at ESPN’s request, we will no longer use their logos and collaboration credit on these sites and on our upcoming film League Of Denial,” Frontline exec producer David Fanning and deputy exec producer Raney Aronson said in the statement.
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend stood for no phonusbolonus during a Summer TV Press Tour 2013 discussion about her uncle, President John F Kennedy. Earlier in the day, PBS announced details of a series of primetime programs airing November 11-13, commemorating the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Among them, American Experience franchise is airing a four-hour, two-part JFK biography, which takes a new look at the enigmatic president. During that program’s Q&A, historian Tim Natfali said JFK “was a very smart man who was not an ideologist. He was a problem solver” and that “given that our world today is so ideological, it’s refreshing to meet a self assured leader who didn’t have to pretend to be an ideologue.”
Townsend, appearing via Skype, objected in a pretty big way, saying Natfali’s description makes her uncle sound as though he didn’t have a view of the world in which he had “a moral vision.” “He had a real vision,” she insisted, ticking off his work and positions about building democracy in Latin America, the “moral issue” of civil rights, etc. Naftali wilted. “That’s a very good point to raise,” he said obsequiously, adding, “We ‘ve forgotten you can be a pragmatist with values. In my humble estimation, Kennedy was a pragmatist with values.” That seemed to settle Townsend down. But, a few minutes later, a TV critic in the room said he was taken aback by reports of Kennedy’s womanizing and asked the panel on stage, “Can you put any of that in perspective in terms of how common or uncommon that was, and what impact it did or did not have on his presidency?”
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Two of today’s PBS panels at TCA focused on documentary projects about the Latino experience: The Graduates/Los Graduados (two parts, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4) and Latino Americans (Tuesdays Sept. 17-Oct 1). On both panels, Latino actors who are part of the projects said Hollywood needs to better engage the Latino community.
The Graduates focuses on the experience of Latino high school students struggling to make it to graduation day. Featured students Eduardo Corona and Chastity Salas sat on today’s panel with senior series producer Lois Vossen. The panel also included two young actors who are project participants: Wilmer Valderrama (That ‘70s Show) and Aimee Garcia (Dexter).
Said Valderrama: “When I first joined That ‘70s Show I was the only Latino on the Fox network. For many years, I wasn’t considered Latino, I was just a comic actor.” He believes that was not because of a deliberate attempt to keep Latinos off the air but the fact that network chiefs are still predominantly white, middle-aged and male.