“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 really well,” appraiser Laura Woolley told surprised TV critics during PBS‘ Q&A for Antiques Roadshow at Winter TV Press Tour 2014. “Some are stunned at how quickly markets have developed for some of these shows,”she said, when TV critics in the room seemed just that. Woolley added that many people assume it’s only “vintage Hollywood” were the real money is, but the market has changed radically during the past few years. “Fans are ready to get their hands on stuff the minute a show wraps — anything that has a cult following on television. … If it’s big at Comic-Con, there’s a big market for props.”
Related: From Cult Series To Game-Changer: ‘Breaking Bad’ Goes Out On A High
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 series’ most-watched episode ever in the UK. Overnight ratings show that 9.2M viewers tuned in to learn how the high-functioning sociopath faked his own death in the last episode of Season 2, The Reichenbach Fall — and to witness his reunion with Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman). The Empty Hearse drew a 33.8% share to be yesterday’s most-watched program, peaking at 9.7M viewers, while provisional figures also make it the the most-watched drama of the whole holiday period in the UK. The run-up to Sherlock‘s return has been frenzied, with the BBC providing a host of goodies to fans who have waited nearly two years to revisit the character. A mini-episode titled Many Happy Returns was released by the BBC online on Christmas Eve and as of December 31st had been viewed over 1.5M times across the BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button with millions more watching on YouTube. The next 90-minute Sherlock Season 3 episode, The Sign Of Three, airs in the UK on January 5th. Season 3 begins in the U.S. on PBS on January 19th. Until then, beware abundant spoilers around the Web. Here’s another look at the interactive trailer for S3 that … 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 move is similar to the BBC’s tease of the 50th anniversary Doctor Who movie Day Of The Doctor last month.) The network also offers a new blog post by Dr John Watson promising it will be his last, as it’s time for him to “move on” (read it here). Watson (Martin Freeman) and Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves) feature in the mini-ep, titled “Many Happy Returns”, as does Benedict Cumberbatch‘s titular high-functioning sociopath — with a wink. Check it out:
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 from their teenage years. The third season of the show, which won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama in May, will begin production in 2014 for broadcast later in the year. The series from RED Production Company is created, written and executive produced by Sally Wainwright. It airs stateside on PBS.
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 flown under the online radar until ITV gave it a little nudge today. The show is based on the life of flamboyant American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge (Piven) who founded the London shopping mecca Selfridges in 1909. Season 2 picks up in 1914 as the store celebrates its fifth anniversary. With talk of war in Europe, Selfridge prepares his staff for challenging times ahead. The store must play its own part in the war effort and help keep morale high on the home front. Mr Selfridge is produced by ITV Studios for ITV. A debut date has yet to be set on either side of the Atlantic.
The BBC has let loose an interactive trailer for the upcoming 3rd series of Sherlock. It includes goodies in the form of onscreen messages – reminiscent of the series’ use of flashing texts – that when clicked upon, delve deeper into what’s in store. This is the most revealing look so far at the upcoming season of the detecitve series that stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The new installments begin airing in the UK on BBC One on January 1st and follow in the U.S. on PBS on January 19th. Have fun below with the new clues:
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. Read More »
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.
Related: The Day JFK Was Shot: 50 Years Later, Hollywood Remembers
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.
Related: ‘Killing Kennedy’ Draws Record Viewership For Nat Geo
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Less than a month after announcing the end of his 2-year-old weekly PBS program Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers pulled a “not so fast” today. Here’s his announcement that includes a January 10 return date: Read More »
UK network ITV has commissioned a fifth season of hit period drama Downton Abbey from producer Carnival Films, which also has been picked up by PBS in the U.S. Production on a new set of trials and tribulations for the Crawley family and below stairs staff will begin in 2014 for later air on ITV and PBS’ Masterpiece. Masterpiece is a co-producer with Carnival Films. Season 5 will again be written by Julian Fellowes and exec produced by Carnival chief Gareth Neame, as well as Liz Trubridge and Fellowes. The news comes just as the final episode of the regular fourth season of Downton concluded in the UK tonight (there’s still the Christmas episode to come). Season 4 debuted on ITV this year on September 22nd, and grabbed its best-ever premiere ratings. It went on to average 11.8M viewers making it Britain’s highest-rated TV drama in 2013. The U.S. will see Season 4 starting on Masterpiece on January 5th. Coming off of the demise of Dan Stevens’ Matthew Crawley at the end of Season 3, Season 4 is set in the Roaring Twenties and adds a bevy of guest stars and new regulars. There’s no word yet on air dates for Season 5, but if the show sticks to tradition, it will go first in the UK next fall, followed by Masterpiece in January 2015. Neame promised “all … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Shine International has closed a deal with PBS on Will & Grace exec producer Gary Janetti’s British sitcom Vicious. The public broadcaster will air Vicious in the U.S. next year. The initial six-part series premiered on ITV in April and at the time was the highest-rated comedy launch on any UK channel in 2013. It went on to hold an average of about 3.4M viewers. Veteran British thesps Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi play a constantly bickering couple who’ve lived together in a small Covent Garden flat for nearly 50 years. But underneath all their vicious co-dependent fighting, they deeply love each other. Harry Potter‘s Frances de la Tour and Game Of Thrones‘ Iwan Rheon also star. The show was given a second-season order by ITV in August and Shine America has been exploring a U.S. version. Vicious is a Brown Eyed Boy production in association with Shine’s Kudos and Nickelby Inc. The deal was brokered by Matt Vassallo, Bill Gardner, and Jack Dougherty on behalf of PBS.