With the proliferation of content coming from Hollywood, Scandinavia has been facing a linear scheduling issue, exacerbated over the past couple of years under volume deals with the studios. In a first-of-its-kind partnership, Modern Times Group and Sony Pictures Television are looking to address the situation with an exclusive multi-year content cooperation deal. The agreement will give MTG’s 10 Nordic free-TV channels, Viasat movie channels and Viaplay online platform the ability to offer Sony movies and TV series across the region.
MIPTV: MTG, Sony Pictures Television In Content Deal For Scandinavia That Addresses Region’s Scheduling Issues
Kyle Chandler To Star In Netflix’s Thriller Drama Series From Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman, Glenn Kessler & Sony TV
EXCLUSIVE: Sought-after TV leading man Kyle Chandler is off the market for this coming pilot season. I’ve learned that the Friday Night Lights alum, who already had received a ton of pilot offers, has signed on to star in Netflix‘s 13-episode psychological thriller from Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler and Sony Pictures TV. Written and executive produced by the Kessler brothers and Zelman in their follow-up to the acclaimed FX/DirecTV legal thriller starring Glenn Close, the untitled series centers on a family of adult siblings whose secrets and scars are revealed when the black sheep oldest brother returns home. Netflix and Sony would not comment, but I hear Chandler will play the married middle brother who takes care of the family. The deal comes after a lengthy courtship, with the project landing Chandler for the role that he had been considered the prototype for. Filming is slated to begin in late March in the Florida Keys.
With NATPE fast approaching, syndicators are firming up plans for next fall. Like Katie last season, Sony Pictures Television‘s freshman talk show The Queen Latifah Show had a two-year deal, so its renewal was considered a formality. It is now official, with the talker renewed by the CBS Station Group for a second season and cleared across 97% of the country through 2015. “We are proud to have the CBS stations as our partners as we continue to build The Queen Latifah Show into a franchise brand,” said John Weiser, SPT’s President, U.S. Distribution. The Queen Latifah Show, produced by Flavor Unit, Overbrook Entertainment and SPT, has not been a breakout, and its ratings have been so-so, but it still ranks as this season’s #1 new talk show. It has improved its time period in New York where Queen Latifah delivered the best 9 AM time period rating in adults 25-54 on WCBS in 14 years this November.
In October 2001, then-Sony Corp of America CEO Howard Stringer declared that the network production business “doesn’t make any sense anymore,” effectively closing the studio’s primetime TV division, Columbia TriStar Television. Overall deals were dissolved, executives were let go, and the development slate was trashed in a move Sony projected would save it more that $100 million a year. Sony‘s syndication TV chief Steve Mosko was tapped to head a stripped-down TV unit, Columbia TriStar Domestic Television (renamed Sony Pictures TV in 2002), which consisted primarily of syndication/daytime and modest international operations.
Today, 12 years later, Stringer’s successor Michael Lynton announced that the company will make “a significant shift in emphasis from motion pictures to higher-margin television.” This is Sony’s biggest public acknowledgement to date of the growing significance of its TV business, which has been rapidly expanding during the past decade, mainly under the radar. Sony does not separate its movie and TV revenues, but it has been well known that TV has contributed well over 50% of Sony Entertainment’s operating income for the past couple of years, with some indicating that the TV group’s contribution may be over 60%, especially with the film division going through a rough time. While there have been profit stalwarts, like Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!, Days Of Our Lives, The Young & The Restless and the Seinfeld off-network rights, there also have been new areas of growth. The biggest revenue driver has been Sony’s international TV networks, which have expanded to 127 channels in 150 countries, up from 78 and 83 a decade ago.
As the biggest profit generator likely for the entire Sony Entertainment, the international network group is likely to get the lion’s share of the additional resources the company will be committing to its TV operations, to go toward new investments and growing the existing channels. But TV production also is expected to get a boost. After the bloodbath of 2001, it took awhile for Sony to get back in the network business. The studio took a different approach than the one that got it into financial trouble in the first place — signing a lot of pricey overall deals and spending a ton on development and pilots to support them with little to show for it in terms of on-air series. Burned by the volume network business, Sony forged its way into the then-uncharted world of basic cable original programming with FX’s The Shield, which it distributed internationally, Rescue Me, Damages and Justified and AMC’s Breaking Bad. It gradually returned to network TV with modest hits such as Rules Of Engagement and Community.
EXCLUSIVE: Friends and How I Met Your Mother alum Greg Malins has teamed with former Fox co-head of comedy Marcus Wiley for Odd Couple Families, a half-hour project that has sold to Fox with penalty. The comedy — produced by Sony Pictures TV, where Malins is under an overall deal — landed at Fox as part of Wiley’s first-look development deal at the network where he was an executive for more than five years until departing in July to segue to producing. Written and exec produced by Malins, Odd Couple Families explores the reality of people spending the most time with the parents of their kids’ friends whether they like it or not. It revolves around two couples and two divorced parents who are forced together, inextricably linked by the connection created by their kids. This marks the most significant sale thus far for Wiley’s new production company, which has set up several broadcast comedy and drama projects. It represents Malins’ third sale this season, joining comedies The Worst Best Thing at Fox and Half at NBC. He is is repped by WME and Hansen, Jacobson. While at Fox, Wiley was instrumental in the development of New Girl, The Mindy Project, Raising Hope, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Bob’s Burgers.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The Wind Rises’ No. 1 Again In Japan; Syfy Bringing ‘The Originals’ To UK; More
‘The Wind Rises’ Makes It Eight Straight Weeks At No. 1 In Japan
Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises is still No. 1 at the Japanese box office after eight consecutive weekends. The Studio Ghibli release was up 13.6% this weekend after the director made his retirement official at a press conference in Tokyo last week. Per FilmBizAsia, the movie has taken in $97.2M to date. The website says that the last domestic movie to stay atop the box office for more than seven weeks in a row was Bayside Shakedown 2 in 2003. Miyazaki’s Oscar winner Spirited Away was tops for 16 consecutive weeks in 2001. Disney said Wednesday that it will open the film February 21 in North America after an Oscar-qualifying run in November.
EXCLUSIVE: Sheldon Turner and Jennifer Klein have signed a first-look deal at Sony Pictures Television for their Vendetta Prods. Under the pact, the two will continue to develop and executive produce series for the broadcast networks while also expanding into cable, with Turner set to write some of the projects. Since launching Vendetta in 2011, Turner and Klein had been based at ABC Studios where they most recently set up Skindeep, written by Sheldon, and Black Friday, penned by Ken Nolan, at ABC this past season.