Bart-weary and rather randy fourth-grade teacher Edna Krabappel made her debut during the first season of The Simpsons nearly a quarter-century ago. Last night, the character and actress behind her were given a final farewell. Marcia Wallace, who died …
Fox hopes to “create some precedents” with its digital plans for The Simpsons later this year when the long-running animated series will become “the face” of FXX, COO Chase Carey told analysts this morning in a call to discuss fiscal Q2 earnings. No specifics yet — but the exec says that it’s one of the reasons why Fox decided to keep the re-run rights instead of licensing to someone else. “There are times when our distribution businesses have a unique ability to take advantage of a set of rights. And The Simpsons is a perfect example.” The show will “help brand…and help drive” FXX, Carey adds, but Fox isn’t “turning it into The Simpsons Channel.” Would a similar strategy also make sense for, say, FX’s The Americans? Not necessarily, Carey says. “When you get to a one-size-fits-all [strategy], I don’t think that’s the way to go….What we’re not going to do is undersell the content” when others “see values that exceed what it’s worth to us.”
Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) has named The Simpsons co-developer, Emmy-winning television writer/director/producer, and philanthropist Sam Simon as its 2014 Valentine Davies Award honoree in recognition of his humanitarian efforts and community service on behalf of writers. Simon will be feted, along with other honorees, at the WGAW’s 2014 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.
“The work of Sam Simon’s life has entertained and humbled us, in equal measure. And while this Guild has often honored his wit and skill, today we honor his generosity and love – his understanding that we are, in the end, all caretakers of each other. Sam has dedicated himself to the cause of at-risk animals and people who have no other protector. A friend to them, he has become an inspiration to us, his grateful colleagues,” said WGAW President Chris Keyser.
A Writers Guild, West member since 1980, in November Simon also received the WGAW’s Animation Writers Caucus (AWC) 16th Annual Animation Writing Award, a lifetime achievement honor recognizing his contributions to the craft of animation writing.
Twenty-four seasons into its run, The Simpsons is finally headed to cable. In a competitive situation with five networks bidding, FXX has landed the exclusive cable as well as VOD/non-linear rights to the longest-running comedy series in TV history. The deal also is set to make TV history as the priciest off-network pact ever, expected to fetch at least $750 million, and the first one to include full digital rights. The enormous size of the deal — which some say could potentially reach $1 billion if the series keeps producing new seasons — stems from the staggering volume of Simpsons episodes available: 530 when the show starts airing on FXX in August 2014 and growing to 574 by September 2015. At the start, FXX will have access to the first 24 seasons, with another season added when it gets off-circulation on Fox, which recently greenlighted a 26th season. For instance, Season 25 will become available on FXX when Season 26 premieres on Fox next September.
Exact terms of the deal have not been disclosed but insiders estimate that FXX would be paying about $1.25 million per week, with the length of the agreement said to be about a decade (at least eight years, possibly 10). “The Simpsons is indisputably one of the greatest shows in television history,” said FX Networks CEO John Landgraf. “This was a very long, hard and complicated negotiation and I credit the relentlessness and diligence of Chuck Saftler for getting it done.” Said FX Networks COO Saftler, “Woo Hoo!” He called the back-and-forth “the longest negotiations that I am aware of for an off-network series” that took a month from the first offer to sealing a “landmark” deal. “This is a historic deal for FXX and FX Networks and I don’t believe there will ever be another one like it,” Saftler said. Besides the sheer volume, unprecedented is the granting of full VOD/non-linear rights to a cable network in conjunction with an off-network agreement, which normally gives nets rolling 5-6 episodes. In this case, FXNOW, the soon-to-be-launched authenticated mobile viewing app of FX Networks, will offer all seasons of The Simpsons that are available on FXX. As for that staggering volume of 574 episodes and counting? While a typical syndicated show that has produced 100 episodes is on a 5-week repeat cycle — meaning that the cable network goes through all of the episodes in 5 weeks after which it starts again from the pilot — it will be months and months before The Simpsons will have to repeat an episode on FXX, giving it a feel of an original run. Saftler expects The Simpsons to expand FXX’s “reach and frequency,” broadening its audience to include everyone from today’s teenagers who watch the show on Fox, to their parents who were teenagers when the show first premiered. Because of the virtual lack of repeats, he expects fans to check back often.
It took two decades, but The Simpsons producer 20th Century Fox TV had pretty good timing when it finally took The Simpsons to the cable marketplace. Several years ago, 21st Century Fox COO Chase Carey suggested that the company could launch a Simpsons cable channel (the volume of the Simpsons library could sustain that). Instead, the longest-running scripted series will serve as a backbone of another upstart Fox cable network, FXX. Given the benefits an asset like The Simpsons provides, FXX went very aggressively after the property in an already competitive marketplace. The network had been considered the frontrunner from the get-go with its vast shelf space that can easily accommodate a 600-episode off-network series and properly run and amortize it, something established cable networks with a full dance card of syndicated fare would find harder to do. That, combined with the financial windfall for 20th TV is making observers call the deal a “win-win” for both sides, and the ideal scenario parent 21 Century Fox had been hoping for. “The Simpsons long ago crossed over from ‘brilliant award-winning comedy series’ to ‘full-fledged cultural phenomenon,’ and this landmark deal is a testament to its enduring power and relevance,” said 20th TV chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden.
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On the eve of its Treehouse Of Horrors XXIV, Fox announced it has picked up The Simpsons for an historic 26th season. The announcement was made by Kevin Reilly, Chairman of Entertainment at Fox. Meanwhile, fate of the voice cast — almost always a bone of contention at series-pickup time, apparently is not this time — they’re all expected to return, an informed source says. Here’s the announcement:
Fox‘s The Simpsons will be pushing Showtime‘s Homeland tonight in “Homerland,” the toon’s 25th season premiere episode. Kristen Wiig guests as an FBI agent who taps Lisa to investigate Homer’s suspicious behavior after he returns from a nuclear power plant operating convention. An hour after “Homerland” airs, Homeland‘s Season 3 debuts on Showtime opposite Fox’s post-Simpsons Family Guy/American Dad block. Here’s a full preview clip of tonight’s unusual crossover (beware autoplay):
Listen to (and share) episode 50 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s executive financial editor and host David Bloom take a last, lingering look at who got hurt in the Time Warner-CBS fight and what a new report suggests will be coming in the future;. They also talk about whether The Simpsons is truly the world’s greatest TV asset, even as a little known value investor buys nearly 12 percent of Rupert Murdoch’s other company; buyback fever among media companies hits Disney again this year; and Wall Street’s chilly reception to Apple’s latest iPhone announcements.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘The Simpsons’ Getting the Lego Treatment; Locarno Fest Opens With ’2 Guns’ This Week
Woo-Hoo! ‘The Simpsons’ Lego Set Coming Next Year
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