UPDATE, 6:45 AM: In this morning’s analyst call, NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke subtly dinged General Electric for its management of NBC until January, when Comcast took charge. He says the conglomerate hadn’t supplied the cash that’s “necessary to compete.” Burke says Comcast is changing that: “In general we see this year, and next year probably, as investment years.” The turnaround at primetime’s No. 4 broadcast network could take as long as four years, but “I’m confident we’ll get there.” Burke says Comcast has an initiative called Symphony to market NBCU programming across company assets including VOD and online. It increased the production and marketing budgets for The Voice several times after the company realized the talent contest would be a hit. The next season will debut right after the Super Bowl in February. Meanwhile, NBCU’s cable networks are ordering more original series including USA’s Suits and Necessary Roughness and Syfy’s Alphas. Comcast also is beefing up its TV stations’ local news. It’s adding 135 people at 10 stations including 40 reporters and 20 producers; five markets are building investigative units. Burke says the investments will pay off: With growing revenue from retransmission consent deals and license fees from online streaming services such as Netflix, “content is more valuable today than it was” when Comcast agreed to buy NBCU. He adds that despite the weak economy “we don’t see any signs of deceleration” in ad sales. CEO Brian Roberts echoed Burke’s enthusiasm but warned analysts that “we have to have realistic expectations.” Roberts added that while “there’s economic news that’s rattled the markets,” Comcast is still “investing and getting good financial results.”
PREVIOUS, 4:20 AM: Comcast generated 2Q net income of $1.02B, up 15.6% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $14.3B, up 50.5%. But earnings, at 37 cents a share, missed the 41 cent target among analysts who follow the company. They expected revenues to come in at $13.8B. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Star Trek veteran Ira Steven Behr has joined Syfy’s newly picked up series Alphas as executive producer/showrunner. Alphas, from BermanBraun, Universal Cable Prods. and writers Zak Penn and Michael Karnow, stars David Strathairn and follows a team of ordinary citizens who possess extraordinary and unusual mental skills. Behr will serve as an executive producer alongside Penn and BermanBraun’s Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein. The series’ 90-minute pilot was directed by Lost director-producer Jack Bender. Behr has an extensive sci-fi background. He worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. On Deep Space Nine, he rose to executive producer/showrunner and wrote a total of 53 episodes, more than any other numbers. Behr also served as executive producer/showrunner on USA’s sci-fi drama The 4400 as well as on the second season of Starz’s series Crash, based on the Oscar-winning feature. Syfy had ordered 2 pilots set in the world of real-life superheros, Alphas and 3 Inches. Alphas has been picked up to series while 3 Inches is being reworked and remains in contention.
Monique Curnen has landed a major recurring role on Fox’s drama series Lie To Me next season, while Warren Christie is set to co-star opposite David Strathairn in SyFy’s action-adventure 90-minute pilot Alphas, directed by Jack Bender.
On Lie To Me, Curren (The Unusuals) will play the attractive Detective Wallowski, a great cop with a street edge and a fast subversive mind who becomes a sexual interest for Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth), and drives a wedge between him and Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams).
Alphas follows a team led by Leigh Rosen (Strathairn) that includes ordinary citizens possessing extraordinary and unusual mental skills who take the law into their own hands and uncover what the CIA, FBI and Pentagon have not been able or willing to solve. Christie (Happy Town) will play Christian Hicks, a new recruit on the team with a history of psychological problems, drug abuse and an anti-authoritarian streak whose Alpha skill is hyperkinesis – near-perfect dexterity and hand/eye coordination.
EXCLUSIVE: David Strathairn is in negotiations for the lead in SyFy’s action-adventure 90-minute pilot Alphas, directed by Jack Bender. Additionally, Ryan Cartwright is set to co-star in the pilot, from BermanBraun and writers Zak Penn and Michael Karnow. Alphas follows a team of ordinary citizens possessing extraordinary and unusual mental skills who take the law into their own hands and uncover what the CIA, FBI and Pentagon have not been able or willing to solve. ICM-repped Strathairn would play the overseer/team leader/prescribing doctor and all around mother hen to the team: an eccentric, absent-minded professor at times, who is also a cunning and manipulative power-player willing to bend the rules in pursuit of his objectives. Cartwright will play a member of the team who has Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. His Alpha ability allows him to “read” wireless transmissions passing through the ether – e-mails, cell phone communications, television signals, etc. Read More »