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.
The animated series is “the greatest television asset of all time, and certainly of the generation,” 20th Century Fox Television chairman Gary Newman told investors today at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. He adds that “there will be one of the media companies that will want to identify with this in a big way.” Fox is telling cable networks that the 25-year-old The Simpsons has “only been on broadcast stations; it hasn’t been on Netflix or on cable yet. It hasn’t been as exploited as one might think.” And with more than 530 episodes in the can, ”a cable channel could play the series for 52 weeks and not have to repeat.” The studio also is telling potential buyers that they can be creative: For example there are enough “Treehouse Of Horror” episodes to run all through October, and sufficient episodes featuring Marge to surround Mother’s Day all through May. With new episodes continuing to appear on Fox’s broadcast network, the franchise is “stronger than ever,” Newman says. He notes that Electronic Arts’ The Simpsons: Tapped Out is “the No. 1 game in the mobile space. We’re going to be releasing another one.” Universal Studios also is doing well with its Simpsons Land …
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
Lego said Monday that it will launch its first set based on The Simpsons next year. A spokesman for the privately held Danish toymaker wouldn’t single out which characters will be Lego-ized, but he said the company hopes the set will “appeal to fans of the Simpsons family”. Fox’s The Simpsons, which starts its record 25th primetime season in the fall, joins such big-name Lego properties as Star Wars and The Hobbit.
Locarno Film Festival Kicks Off Wednesday With ’2 Guns’ International Premiere
The 66th Festival del film Locarno, the first edition with Carlo Chatrian as Artistic Director, begins Wednesday with the Piazza Grande Opening Ceremony. The evening will begin with the presentation of the official juries and preview extracts from films taking part in the Concorso internazionale. The Moët & Chandon Excellence Award then will be presented to Christopher Lee, followed by the international premiere of the Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg action-comedy 2 Guns — which topped the domestic box office this past weekend — introduced by director Baltasar Kormakur. The festival, which runs through August 17 in the Swiss city, will screen 250 films from 40-plus countries across 10 venues. Among the boldfaced names set to appear are Werner Herzog, Faye Dunaway, Jacqueline Bisset, Brie Larson and Moritz Bleibtreu. Special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull will …
Twenty four years after its premiere, The Simpsons is finally going to get an off-network syndication sale on cable. Twentieth Television, the syndication arm of 20th Century Fox TV, is preparing to take out the monster property to cable networks. The plan, first reported by TVGuide, would allow the longest-running entertainment series currently on TV for the first time to air simultaneously in cable and broadcast syndication. When The Simpsons, a rare broadcast animated series, was sold in broadcast syndication in 1993 as cable TV was still in its infancy, the stations that bought it were in position to secure exclusivity while the show was on Fox’s air. Other series with similar deals are long gone, but The Simpsons has kept going, periodically raising the issue of lost revenue from a potential cable sale in a time where a combo broadcast and cable off-network sales is the norm. I hear Twentieth TV’s pacts with broadcast stations have been gradually tweaked over the years to allow the carving out of a cable window that will not impact the broadcast syndie run. A cable sale, which could fetch as much as $1 billion for the 530 episodes and counting, also won’t have an impact on Fox’s future plans for The Simpsons, which can continue on the network while airing in broadcast and cable off-network syndication. The plan to take The Simpsons out to cable networks comes on …
Call it Animation Domination Integration. Fox said today that a fall 2014 episode of Family Guy will feature those venerable Springfieldians visiting the Griffin family. In the episode, titled “The Simpsons Guy”, Peter Griffin and his clan get out of dodge and end up in Springfield, where they are greeted by a friendly stranger named Homer Simpson, who welcomes his new “albino” friends with open arms. The regular Simpsons cast (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria) has been set. Both series are part of Fox’s Sunday animation block, which returns with new episodes September 29. The 20th TV-produced Family Guy will be kicking off its 11th season — a baby compared to The Simpsons, the longest-running series in TV history, which is in production on its 25th season.
OK, Simpsons fans, remember that one where Homer finds out he has a half-brother? Said relative Herb (unmistakably voiced by Danny DeVito) runs a car company in Detroit and asks Homer to design a vehicle for the average American. Result: The Homer, a monstrosity in every way, including its $82,000 sticker price. It never got past the drawing board, until now. The guys at Porcubimmer Motors built a Homer — “in a home garage with all the wrong tools,” they say — and raced it this weekend in the 24 Hours of LeMons north of Bakersfield. More than 150 cars started in triple-degree weather, and the Simpsons-mobile finished fifth, according to Porcubimmer’s Facebook page, also taking the race’s trophy for best theme. (Deadline was unable to verify whether the DIY crew celebrated with ice-cold bottles of Duff Adequate.) Here’s a look at the Homer:
He produces and voices a good chunk of Fox’s Sunday animation block but Seth MacFarlane has never been on The Simpsons until now. The multitasking MacFarlane will make his debut on TV longest running scripted series’ season finale on May 19. He will guest voice as “Ben,” a married man who Marge gets to know online on a swingers site. Lisa Lampanelli is also guest voicing on The Simpsons’ one-hour Season 24 ender. Oscar host and The Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show creator, EP and voice actor MacFarlane joins a long long line of exalted Simpsons guest stars including Thomas Pynchon, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Buzz Aldrin, John Waters and News Corp boss himself Rupert Murdoch, who appeared in Season 10.
The Simpsons‘ famed couch bit in the Fox series’ opening credits will be replaced this Sunday with a Breaking Bad-inspired version ahead of the AMC series’ final episodes airing this summer. It’s a nice tip of the hat from one team to the other, but it begs the question: which is better, this or Stephen Colbert’s Breaking Bad riff via Downton Abbey?
Don Payne, whose screenwriting credits include 2011′s Thor, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer and My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and who was an award-winning writer/producer on The Simpsons, has died. He had been battling cancer. Payne started out in TV, hooking up with writing partner John Frink before graduating with a screenwriting master’s from UCLA. They penned episodes for such series as Hope & Gloria, The Brian Benben Show and Veronica’s Closet. Payne and Frink eventually joined The Simpsons in 1998, sharing in four Emmys for Outstanding Animated Program. In 2005, Payne received the WGA’s Paul Selvin Award for penning the Simpsons episode “Fraudcast News”, which skewered the TV news business. Another Simpsons episode — co-written as was the usual case with Frink — was “The Bart Wants What It Wants,” was nominated for a WGA Award for animation in 2003. Among his projects in the works, Payne, who described himself in a LA Times interview as “superhero geek”, wrote the first draft of Thor sequel Thor: The Dark World. He also was in development on Maximum Ride, based on the James Patterson books. In addition, as consulting producer he penned two Simpsons episodes that will air this fall: this year’s Christmas show “White Christmas Blues” and ‘Labor Pains”, which is set to air November 3. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Glee will be back on January 24, 2013, Fox announced today. The musical comedy-drama’s return for more of its fourth season was just one of many Fox series the network set Winter 2013 premiere dates for. The Simpsons is back for more of its 24th season on January 6, along with new episodes of Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad. A week later, on January 13, The Cleveland Show returns to the network’s Sunday animation block. The Mindy Project and New Girl are back on January 8, as are Raising Hope and Ben And Kate. The network also announced a half hour behind the scenes Inside The Following special on Saturday January 19, two days before the new Kevin Williamson-produced serial killer drama series debuts.
Seth MacFarlane can add another credit to his resume. He’s set to guest star in the season premiere of The Simpsons that will air on Fox in fall 2013. MacFarlane will voice the character of a married man who pursues Marge Simpson after the two meet online. MacFarlane’s animated Fox series Family Guy featured Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, in a recent episode. MacFarlane will host the Oscars on February 24th.
The Simpsons creator will receive the WGA West Animation Writers Caucus’ annual Animation Writing Award at the group’s annual meeting tomorrow in Los Angeles. His Futurama co-developer David X. Cohen will present the award to Groening, with WGA West president Christopher Keyser set to introduce the evening at WGAW headquarters. The award recognizes Matt Groening‘s outstanding contributions to the craft of animation writing, as well as his assistance in organizing primetime animation with the WGAW. Founded in 1994, the WGAW’s Animation Writers Caucus represents over 600 animation writers and works to advance economic and creative conditions in the field.
Karl Rove‘s live, on-air reluctance to accept his own Fox News’ call of Ohio and thus the presidential race for Barack Obama has been fodder for many since Election Night, with everyone from Jon Stewart to Brian Williams and David Letterman taking their pokes at the GOP strategist-turned-Fox News pundit. Although oddly Saturday Night Live mostly took a pass, The Simpsons picked up the slack Sunday night in its opening credits:
Fox and The Simpsons has posted Montgomery Burns’ endorsement of Republican Presidential nominee Mitt (or “Meat” as Burns calls him) Romney.
In the words of Homer Simpson, “We are looking for a brilliant, original way to get my butt on a davenport.” Now The Simpsons fans can contribute their own ideas for the iconic “couch gag” that appears during the opening credits. The winner will have his or her submission aired during the season finale in May. Producers will choose up to three submissions to be announced in January, with an illustration of each to be posted to thesimpsons.com/couchgag. Fans will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorite, with the winning idea animated by Film Roman. Deadline for submission is November 15. Send ideas here.
If the first three days of Comic-Con look to be a whirlwind of previews and panels, the last two days don’t slow down at all. There’s more exclusive sneak peeks, blood-sucking star-crossed lovers, the new show from JJ Abrams and Jon Favreau, Showtime’s family of drunks, a double shot of Seth MacFarlane, a high school singing club, outlaw bikers, Bart Simpson, a Time Lord and Kevin Smith. Like the first few days, some stuff will likely change and unexpected stuff will emerge, but Deadline has the breaking small-screen news covered. Here’s what to look out for at the convention on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday, July 14
11-11:45 AM — Once Upon A Time
Reality and myth mix on the ABC series, so let’s see if they do at Comic-Con. Executive producers and co-creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are joined by the breakout drama’s cast members Ginnifer Goodwin, Emilie de Ravin Jennifer Morrison, Lana Parrilla, Meghan Ory and Josh Dallas to discuss their upcoming second season. Ballroom 20
UPDATE, 5:48 PM: The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences issued a statement in responsed to today’s letter from The Simpsons’ Al Jean, Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane and 50 other animation producers and writers over Community’s eligibility in Emmy animation categories.
It is a general rule of the Emmy competition that producers, writers and directors enter separately in their own program or individual achievement categories, e.g., comedy series writers enter the Writing for a Comedy Series category, drama series directors enter the Directing for a Drama Series category, etc.
Eligibility in animation programming is an exception to this general rule, because the animation producers, writers and directors enter the Animated Program category together as a team. There is no separate category for the individual achievements of animation writing and directing. (However, if an animated series opts to enter in Comedy Series rather than Animated Program category, then the individual achievement categories are open to them, e.g., writers can enter Writing for a Comedy Series category.)
“Community” is a Comedy Series that for the last two years has included an animated “special episode.” The competition includes a rule that a special episode can enter as a stand-alone special, “if it involved a significant and substantive format change throughout e.g. from whole-episode live action to whole-episode animation.” The “Community” producers followed that rule when they entered the producer-writer-director team for the animated episode in the Animation category and the regular, live-action episodes in the Comedy Series program and Comedy Series