“America has always been a nation of fearless explorers who dream big and reach farther than others imagine,” President Obama said as he introduced the series premiere episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey tonight on 10 Fox Networks Group Channels, …
Fox Networks Group today announced its first ever cross-network global premiere event — for Seth MacFarlane‘s passion project, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, on Sunday, March 9, 9-10 PM ET/PT. In addition to premiering on the 10 U.S. networks simulcasting the premiere episode — Fox Broadcasting Company, National Geographic Channel, FX, FXX, FXM, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Mundo and FOX Life — and on the Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels International, as previously announced, Cosmos will premiere on all 90 National Geographic Channels in 180 countries, as well as 120 Fox-branded channels in 125 countries, making this the largest global launch ever for a television series. Rolling out immediately after the U.S. premiere, international markets will begin airing the premiere episode day and date on both Fox-branded and National Geographic Channels, concluding within one week of the domestic premiere event. The additional 12 episodes will air exclusively on National Geographic Channels outside the U.S.
This first multi-network launch event for Fox Networks Group, along with the series debut on Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels International, will make Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey available on 220 channels in 181 countries, with an overall footprint of more than half a billion homes.
Seth MacFarlane directs, produces, co-wrote and stars in the Western comedy as cowardly sheep farmer Albert, whose fickle girlfriend leaves him for another man after he backs out of a gunfight. When a mysterious and beautiful woman rides into town, she helps Albert find his courage and they begin to …
In describing Seth MacFarlane, the king of such lowbrow fare as the hit series Family Guy and blockbuster feature Ted, “educator” is hardly a word that comes to mind. But he is taking on such a role with Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a reboot of the popular PBS series by the late Carl Sagan. In addition to his love for the original, which he had been a fan of since childhood, MacFarlane is bringing a lot of expertise to the Fox project. That includes animation, which will be an important component of the new 13-episode series he described the show as a “visual feast.” Scientists will get the animated treatment, and it will be used to “bring history sequences into the new millennium,” he said. MacFarlane also is lending lead-in supports to Cosmos, which premieres March 9, with his Family Guy serving as launching pad for it on Sunday nights. He sees a lot of cross-over audience from animated comedies to Cosmos and dismissed a suggestion that it would be for sci-fi fans only — or, as one critic described them, “nerds tuning in on Friday night.” MacFarlane jumped in, “And f**k you.” He said that was the reason the show was pitched to Fox. “National Geographic and Discovery are great networks, but instead of pleading to the converted, wouldn’t it be nice to broaden [the reach]?”
During his Q&A session at TCA today, MacFarlane had another quick comeback when someone suggested that he may have had to withhold some of his shows from Fox to force them to pick up Cosmos. “What do you think happened to The Flintstones?” he deadpanned, referring to his aborted reboot. Every episode of Cosmos will profile a hero from the world of space exploration, which will bring a welcome change from the current entertainment environment. “We are in the age of the anti-hero where everything has to be dark and dystrophy and depressing,” he said.
Well, we never bought that “Brian is dead” hysteria because it made no creative and business sense (read A Dog Mystery: Is ‘Family Guy’s Brian Gone?) But many did. And just …
UPDATE, 8:30 AM: “The producers have confirmed that the ‘special announcement from Brian’ website is a hoax and was not created by anyone connected to the show, studio or network,” Family Guy studio 20th Century Fox TV said this morning, in response to questions about the site.
PREVIOUSLY: 6:47 AM: Did grieving Family Guy viewers get punked by Seth MacFarlane and gang? Did 20th TV fake Brian’s death to sell merchandise during the holiday buying season and goose the show’s ratings? Two days after the “shocking” death of the Fox animated show’s talking dog Brian, a countdown clock has appeared that promises a “special announcement from Brian” on the way — in 10 days and counting at time of posting — with the suggestion same grieving viewers should “spread the word.”
PTC Blasts ‘Family Guy’ For Jokes About Rape, Sexual Exploitation Of Kids, And “Internal Defrosting Of Frozen Hot Dogs”
The FCC will get a mess of complaints about the November 10 episode of Fox’s animated Seth MacFarlane comedy Family Guy after Parents Television Council encouraged members today to file broadcast indecency complaints with the commission. PTC says it sprang into action because the episode contained explicit jokes about rape, molestation, sexual exploitation of children — and the “sexualized use of food and perverse ‘internal defrosting’ of frozen hot dogs.” PTC sent out word of the campaign this morning to the media, with a helpful partial transcript of the episode:
- Upset at being threatened by a bully and challenged to a fight, teenage Meg runs into the girl’s restroom. She finds pedophile Quagmire inside.
Meg: “What are you doing in here?”
Quagmire: “This is my base of operations.”
Quagmire’s phone beeps. Voice on phone: “Mr. Quagmire, the girl’s gym class will be in the showers in twenty minutes.”
- Quagmire recounts being bullied by a girl when he was in high school: “That was the beginning of a long, abusive relationship. It’s one thing if you put your penis inside-out in the safety of your own bedroom. But to have it done in the cafeteria? To this day, I can’t have sex with a woman against her will without thinking about rape.”
Seth MacFarlane is taking on immigration and the undergoing cultural shift in America. Seriously. With American Dad! moving to TBS and The Cleveland Show quietly getting cancelled, MacFarlane‘s animated presence on Fox had gone down to one show, flagship Family Guy. It will now be joined by a new animated comedy series next season, as Fox has given a 13-episode order to Bordertown, from MacFarlane and Family Guy‘s Mark Hentemann. Set in a fictitious desert town near the U.S.-Mexico border, Bordertown centers on the intertwining daily lives of neighbors Bud Buckwald and Ernesto Gonzales. Bud, a married father of three, is a Border Patrol agent who feels threatened by the cultural changes that have transformed his neighborhood. Living next door is Ernesto, an industrious Mexican immigrant and father of four, who is proud to be making it in America. As Bud and Ernesto’s paths begin to cross, their families become bound by friendship, romance and conflict. Judging by MacFarlane’s track record, the series is sure to skewer Southern and Mexican immigrant stereotypes with a ton of offensive jokes.
UPDATE, 6:50 AM: Fox has declined the Media Action Network for Asian Americans’ suggestion it re-shoot its Dads pilot in order to remove the scene it finds most offensive. In the scene, business partners Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi have Brenda Song’s employee character dress up in sexy Asian Schoolgirl costume and giggle demurely to please Chinese businessmen.
Down the road, Fox execs promised the organization, “You will see that Brenda Song’s character is a strong, intelligent, empowered young woman who basically runs the company, and who almost always gets the upper hand.” They also said the show, from Seth MacFarlane and team, “is a show that will be evocative and will poke fun at stereotypes and bigotries — sometimes through over-the-top, ridiculous situations,” adding, “The series is based heavily on the executive producers’ own lives, and the relationships between the fathers and sons on Dads will continue to be the main driver of show’s comedic sensibility. Everyone involved with Dads is striving to create a series with humor that works on multiple levels and ‘earns’ its audaciousness.”
PREVIOUS, AUGUST 15: The Media Action Network for Asian Americans says it’s waiting to hear back from Fox execs in response to a letter it sent Monday asking the network to reshoot some “racist” scenes in the pilot of Fox’s new Seth MacFarlane live-action comedy series, Dads. Fox says it has been in the process of responding. Word of the kerfuffle got out this afternoon when MANAA took the issue to the press. In case you didn’t get the screener MANAA saw back in July, Dads is about two video game developers (Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi) with cranky old dads (Martin Mull and Peter Reigert) who move in to their place. Sometimes the dads say stupid racist things. Mull’s character, for instance, calls Asians “Orientals,” and says, of Chinese people, “There’s a reason ‘Shanghai’ is a verb.” TV critics don’t like the show much either, and said so at the recent Summer TCA Press Tour. Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly placated them somewhat by telling them the show will need to recalibrate and find the right comedic balance. MANAA wants the pilot recalibrated before it premieres.
BREAKING … TBS continues to boost its slate to provide better primetime lead-ins to its flagship talk show Conan. The network announced today that has picked up Fox’s animated comedy American Dad! and will air it beginning in 2014 — the Turner net has ordered 15 episodes of the 20th Century Fox TV-produced series’ 11th season. The Seth MacFarlane comedy premiered on Fox in 2005 and has been a long-standing member of that network’s Sunday animation block. American Dad! will kick off its 10th (and now last) season on Fox on September 29. Under the new deal, fellow Turner network Adult Swim will present encores of each episode after initial airings on TBS. TBS and Adult Swim already air reruns of American Dad! and MacFarlane’s Family Guy throughout the networks’ lineups.
“American Dad! is a great fit for TBS, a favorite of comedy fans who like smart, irreverent humor with ample doses of biting wit and skewering satire,” said Michael Wright, president, head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movie, in announcing the deal. “We look forward to welcoming Seth MacFarlane and the rest of his team as they bring this iconic show to TBS.”
First off, congratulations to all writers, producers, actors and agents who landed new series this week. I know it wasn’t easy. Here is Deadline’s annual list of those who excelled at the upfronts. I tried to be inclusive, but if I’ve missed anyone who’s had a banner week, let me know. I’ve also compiled a list of pods and independent producers with multiple broadcast series.
Cougar Town co-creator Bill Lawrence and his Doozer banner had three new series unveiled at the upfronts this week: comedies Undateable on NBC, Surviving Jack on Fox and Ground Floor on TBS. Also, TBS recently renewed Cougar Town for a fifth season.
J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot claimed one of the top new drama series last season with NBC’s Revolution and one of the hottest sophomore shows with CBS’ Person Of Interest. The company is keeping the momentum with two new series orders for next season: Almost Human at Fox and Believe at NBC.
Independent producer Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment received two new series orders from the broadcast networks: Back In The Game at ABC and Friends With Better Lives at CBS. Additionally, his freshman ABC comedy The Neighbors was renewed and his ABC pilot Bad Management is in serious contention for a series pickup. Kaplan also received two cable series orders in the past month, for Chasing Life on ABC Family and Instant Mom on NickMom, and also has comedy series Wendell & Vinnie on Nick at Nite and pilot HR at Lifetime.
Writer-producer Julie Plec also landed two new series this week, both at the CW: She wrote/executive produces the planted Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals and executive produces The Tomorrow People. Additionally, she executive produces TVD, giving her three series on the air next season. (Fellow Tomorrow People executive producer Greg Berlanti has two, including returning CW hit Arrow.)
Today’s first-ever Academy membership meeting was deemed a success by both Acad President Hawk Koch and CEO Dawn Hudson, as well as a random sampling of several members with whom I spoke immediately following. Certainly the turnout was stellar with the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre (which has about 1000 seats) nearly full with members only (no guests) which Koch told me was the first time since it was built that the audience was near-SRO with only Academy members. Koch says New York and Bay Area venues were also well-attended which bodes well for continuing this as an annual event. “On a scale from one to ten, I give it a twelve”, said Koch who according to several attendees I talked to got lots of plaudits from those who asked questions in the audience. ”We’ll hear from our members. But in that room there was a lot of love for this event. I don’t think there has ever been an occasion where we just invited members. It was historic in that way. This kind of came out of the branch mixers we have done, and people asked about doing something cross-branches which was sort of the impetus for this meeting”, Hudson told me in a joint call with Koch shortly after the 12:35PM (PT) conclusion of the event.
Listen to (and share) episode 23 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Our awards columnist and host David Bloom talk about the call the Motion Picture Academy made to Seth MacFarlane to host the 2014 Oscars; what makes a major film studio now that Lionsgate has joined the $1 billion box-office club; and the highlights of this weekend’s TCM Classic Movie Festival in Hollywood. They also preview the week’s movie debuts, including Michael Bay‘s “small” film Pain & Gain, the big mystery that is The Big Wedding and two indie winners in Mud, featuring Matthew McConaughey, and the Oscar-nominated dramatized version of Kon-Tiki.