EXCLUSIVE: Community co-executive producer Andy Bobrow has signed a new two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures TV, which produces the cult NBC comedy, which is on the bubble for renewal. In addition to his work on Community, where he has been for the past three seasons, Bobrow has developed multiple projects for Sony TV, including the script Iceland, which went to pilot at Fox in 2011 with Will Gluck directing and executive producing, and this cycle’s cop comedy script Rookie, which was bought by ABC and also had Sony TV-based Gluck attached as executive producer. In addition to his duties on Community, Bobrow recently consulted on Sony TV’s NBC series Save Me. He is with UTA and attorney Ken Richman.
EXCLUSIVE: Despite ratings hardship and real and clear danger of cancellation, Happy Endings may live up to its title even if ABC opts not to order a fourth season. I hear that Sony TV, the leading studio behind the underrated comedy series, has quietly reached out to a couple of networks, including USA Network and NBC, about the possibility of continuing the comedy there if ABC does not renew it. I hear USA, which has been looking to break into the half-hour original series space, has expressed interest and has had discussions about picking up Happy Endings in case of a cancellation by ABC.
If the financials can be worked out, a Happy Endings pickup would be fortuitous for USA, which has been actively developing half-hour comedies and has ordered several pilots but has yet to greenlight a half-hour series. USA had been looking to have an original comedy on tap for the fall premiere of its marquee off-network series Modern Family. Happy Endings would be a suitable companion for Modern Family as it already spent two seasons on ABC paired with the Emmy-winning family comedy. Happy Endings did well behind Modern Family, but its fortunes changed this past fall when it was moved to Tuesday to form a comedy block with Don’t Trust The B—- At Apt. 23 in a crowded comedy hour. Despite strong cult following and critical praise, Happy Endings struggled mightily on Tuesday and was recently relocated to Fridays. ABC brass had been strongly supporting the show from Day 1, but they will likely won’t be able to keep the series on broadcast TV at these ratings levels. In a last-ditch effort, the network recently launched a Save The Show-themed promo campaign for Happy Endings‘ move to Friday. The call to arms didn’t help, with the two back-to-back Friday originals drawing a 0.9/3 and a 0.7/3 in adults 18-49, down 25% and 46% from the show’s last Tuesday airings on January 29.
EXCLUSIVE: Emmy-winning comedy writer-producer Alex Reid has signed an overall deal with Sony Pictures TV. Under the two-year pact, which starts June 1, Reid will be joining the studio’s new NBC comedy series starring Michael J. Fox as executive producer. On the untitled project, which has a 22-episode order, Reid will serve as co-showrunner alongside creator Sam Laybourne. Reid, Laybourne and Will Gluck, who directed the pilot, will executive produce, with Richard Schwartz co-executive producing. Gluck’s Olive Bridge Entertainment co-produces the series, loosely based on Fox’s life, with Sony TV. It stars Fox as a husband and father of three in New York City dealing with family, career, and challenges — including Parkinson’s disease. Reid’s overall deal also calls for him to develop new projects, though he will initially focus exclusively on the Michael J. Fox series. Reid, who is finishing up a deal at Universal TV, most recently served as co-executive producer/director on the NBC/Uni TV comedy series Up All Night, reuniting with star Christina Applegate after serving in the same capacity on the actress’ previous series, ABC’s Samantha Who?
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Television/Overbrook’s new daytime talk show The Queen Latifah Show has assembled its senior producing team under executive producer/showrunner Corin Nelson. Todd Yasui will serve as co-executive producer, while Jack Mori, Catherine McKenzie, David Harte and Sierra Lindsey will be supervising producers. “These producers bring tremendous experience, diversity of background and some of the most creative minds in this business to our show,” said Holly Jacobs, EVP, Syndication and Reality Programming, Sony Pictures TV.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Savile Claims Hit BBC, Sony TV In Russia, TLC’s ‘Bizarre ER’, Fremantle’s ‘Family Harmony’ And More
BBC Hit With Civil Claims In Jimmy Savile Scandal
A lawyer acting on behalf of 31 victims of the late Jimmy Savile has lodged civil claims for compensation in the high court against the disgraced host’s estate and the BBC over allegations of sexual abuse. Attorney Alan Collins told The Guardian that all claims are against Savile’s estate with “seven or eight” against the BBC itself, which the suits allege has “vicarious liability” in the case. Another lawyer working on behalf of a further 62 victims told Bloomberg that the action was premature, because parties involved had agreed to wait for the results of the police investigation into Savile. “We do not believe the commencement of litigation at this stage to be either necessary or in our clients’ best interest,” she said. – Joe Utichi
London Film Fest Dates Set
The British Film Institute has set the dates for this year’s London Film Festival. The 57th go-around will take place from October 9-20 this year, head of exhibition and festival director Clare Stewart announced. Last year’s festival saw banner local and international premieres for the likes of Frankenweenie, Great Expectations, Argo, Amour, Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook. The festival is currently accepting submissions for 2013. - Joe Utichi
ITV Licenses Additional Deals For ‘The Audience’
ITV Studios and ITV Studios Global Entertainment have signed new deals for The Audience, created by indie The Garden originally for Channel 4 in the UK. ITV Studios Nordic will produce 8 x 45-minute episodes for Viasat’s TV 3 in Norway, while ITV Studios Global Entertainment has secured a deal in Hungary, where Paprika Latino will produce 6 hourlong episodes for Viasat 3. ITVS GE represents the format internationally for The Garden. The Audience is from the creators of One Born Every Minute and the producers of 24 Hours in A&E at The Garden. In each episode, the show introduces someone with a life-changing decision to make who opens up their lives to The Audience – 50 ordinary people who follow them for a week and draw on their collective life experience to solve the person’s problem.
Sky and Sony Pictures Television have signed a new multi-year agreement giving the News Corp-controlled group first window rights to the studio’s new and classic movies in the UK and Ireland. BSkyB made the announcement this morning as it reported better-than-expected fiscal first half results. Operating profit for the six months ended December 31 was up 8% to £647M ($1.02B) versus £601M ($951M) in the last comparable period. The leading satcaster noted this morning that, “In a tough economic environment, more customers are taking more products and spending more money with Sky.” In the three months to December 31, the company added 615,000 products and 88,000 new subscribers for a total base of 10.7M. The period saw particular growth of weekly On Demand downloads, up 150%, and users of the recently-launched Sky Go service also increased by 46% to 3.1M. Chairman Jeremy Darroch commented, “Although we expect the consumer environment in 2013 to remain challenging, we have a strong set of plans for the year ahead.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Sony LondonTV Deal, Rebekah Brooks Severance, Jimmy Savile Crimes, Berlin Film Mart
Sony Backs UK Consortium Bidding For LondonTV License
A group known as the Channel 6 Consortium has announced that Sony Pictures Television Networks in the UK has agreed to support LondonTV, the Consortium’s proposed local channel. There are currently 6 groups bidding for the license that regulator Ofcom will grant by February 2013. Under the agreement, SPT Networks will be a program schedule provider and deliver creative services for LondonTV in the event of a successful bid. SPT Networks’ UK advertising partner would also handle all advertising sales for LondonTV. The consortium is backed by London newspaper groups Archant, Tindle and Trinity Mirror. LondonTV’s mission is to produce thousands of hours of high quality local news and current affairs programming on an annual basis. Sony’s involvement would add series and films. Chief exec of the Channel 6 Consortium, Richard Horwood, said Sony’s “expertise in the multichannel sector will significantly strengthen LondonTV from the outset.” SPT Networks already operates Sony Entertainment Television and Sony Movie Channel in the UK.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures TV‘s The Queen Latifah Show is now a go for a fall 2013 launch. I’ve learned that, in a competitive situation, the daily syndicated talk show, executive produced by Latifah, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, has gone to the CBS TV Stations in a premium deal that will have the strip on the 16 CBS Owned & Operated stations.
The Queen Latifah Show will feature celebrity interviews, human interest stories, comedy, pop culture and musical performances. It is expected to showcase Queen Latifah’s talents, blending comedy and music into her hosting duties.
Shortly after the dust settled on this fall’s syndicated daytime talk show launches that failed to produce a breakout hit, Sony TV began conversations with station groups about the Queen Latifah talker, garnering interest from multiples places. I hear negotiations went down to the wire with the CBS and NBC station groups. The sale comes exactly a year after Sony TV, Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit and Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment closed a deal to develop a daytime talk show for the Oscar-nominated actress to host. In May, Corin Nelson was tapped as executive producer.
This is a rare major syndicated talk show acquisition for the CBS TV Station group that involves the flagship CBS stations. (The group includes duopoly stations in a number of major markets that are independent, the CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates). What is even more rare is the group going for a show not produced/distributed by its sister company CBS TV Distribution.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Steve Mosko has quietly renewed his deal as president of Sony Pictures Television. This year marks Mosko’s 20th anniversary at Sony, where he oversees the entire global TV business: production, distribution and channels. I hear he was a frontrunner for the CEO of Tribune job but chose to stay. The exact length of Mosko’s new multiyear deal is unclear; his most recent contract was for four years. He reports to Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal.
Mosko, who joined Sony in 1992 as a syndie sales executive, was named domestic TV president in 2001 when Sony’s chief executive Howard Stringer had dramatically downsized the company’s U.S. operation to a point of almost ceasing TV production. Over the past decade, Mosko has rebuilt the company’s domestic TV business. Sony became the first major studio to embrace cable with FX’s The Shield, Rescue Me, Damages, followed by AMC’s Breaking Bad and FX’s Justified among others. It has Masters Of Sex coming up on Showtime.
Additionally, Sony is the only major studio that produces all forms of TV programming — primetime network and cable scripted series (Rules Of Engagement, Community, Happy Endings, upcoming Last Resort and Made In Jersey), daytime talk shows (Dr. Oz, upcoming Queen Latifah talker), daytime soaps (Days Of Our Lives, The Young And The Restless), syndicated game shows (Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy!), reality shows (Shark Tank), TV movies (History hit Hatfields & McCoys, Lifetime’s upcoming Steel Magnolias), as well as digital programming (multi-platform video network Crackle). In 2009, Mosko added oversight of Sony TV’s international TV division, including Sony’s 120 international TV channels and local production (Sony TV has been the most active in setting up local versions of U.S. comedy hits like Married… With Children, The Nanny and Everybody Loves Raymond).
EXCLUSIVE: One of the world’s greatest inventors of all time, Thomas Edison, is the leading man of a new period crime drama project in the works at NBC. Titled Edison, the drama is produced by Sony Pictures TV and Mark Johnson’s Gran Via Prods. Written by Daniel C. Connolly (A&E’s Longmire), it is described as a big, fun, genre-driven show about young Thomas Alva Edison. John Shiban (Breaking Bad, Hell On Wheels), who worked on the Johnson-produced Breaking Bad, is overseeing the script for the project, set in 1880s Manhattan.
EXCLUSIVE: In his first foray into television, Baz Luhrmann, writer-director-producer of such movies as Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!, has signed a rich two-year deal with Sony Pictures TV. Under the pact, he will develop broadcast and cable projects through his company Bazmark Films. The company has offices in New York, Luhrmann’s native Australia and Los Angeles, with New York expected to be the main hub for TV operations. Luhrmann will work with Buzmark co-founder Catherine Martin, his creative and producing partner, long-time production/costume designer and wife; as well as Anton Monsted, general manager of Bazmark and a producer on Luhrmann’s projects. Luhrmann sees his role as “the creative director, encouraging others” to think outside the box and bring in fresh ideas. He also has a few TV ideas of his own, which he is ready to tackle right away.