TVGN has picked up Alan Thicke’s faux-reality series Unusually Thicke and will premiere it on Wednesday, April 16 at 10 PM ET/PT. The series stars the Growing Pains patriarch and his real-life family including wife Tanya and teenaged son Carter. Also showing up in the 14-episode run: Thicke’s son Robin, David Hasselhoff, Bob Saget, Jon Stamos, Bill Maher, Tom Green, Magic Johnson, and Wayne Gretsky, according to Toronto-based Peacock Alley Entertainment, which is producing. Canadian press has said the first season also will include cameos by Jay Leno, the entire cast of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, and Minnie Driver.
Corporate synergy with 50% owner CBS already has done well for TVGN, which saw triple-digit ratings increases from last fall’s broadcasts of CBS properties Big Brother After Dark and The Young & The Restless. Now it is adding exclusive encores of the most current episodes of CBS competition series The Amazing Race and Survivor back-to-back Saturdays at 8 PM and 9 PM beginning this week. Amazing Race kicked off its 24th season last Sunday opposite NBC’s Sochi Olympics Closing Ceremony, and Survivor‘s 28th cycle debuted last night. TVGN, in more than 80 million homes, is 50/50 co-owned by CBS and Lionsgate.
CBS is quickly integrating basic cable network TVGN into the company. In a corporate synergy move, Big Brother: After Dark, the late-night companion show to CBS’ summer reality staple Big Brother, will now air on TVGN. The move comes two months after CBS acquired 50% of the network. Big Brother: After Dark previously aired on CBS’ other cable sibling, premium network Showtime, for seven seasons. It became an increasingly odd duck in Showtime’s lineup as the pay cable network expanded into noisy, awards-winning scripted series, but corporate synergy kept it there. Now there is another cable alternative within the CBS family, and Big Brother: After Dark should be a better fit for pop culture-focused TVGN. Big Brother: After Dark will feature a curated live feed from inside the Big Brother house for two hours, seven nights a week (12-2 AM, live ET/delayed PT) for 13 weeks beginning Wednesday, June 26. Big Brother: After Dark telecasts on TVGN will be cross-promoted on-air within the Big Brother broadcasts on CBS.
In TV Guide Network‘s first programming announcement since CBS Corp acquired 50% of the cable network to partner with Lionsgate, TVGN has acquired exclusive basic cable rights to CBS soap The Young And The Restless. The deal, brokered by Sony TV, which produces the popular daytime drama, will start in the summer when Y&R will move from SoapNet, where it has done well in the ratings, to TVGN, keeping its 7 PM time slot. Y&R will continue to air day-and-date with its broadcast on CBS. Y&R is the first daytime drama to lock in a new cable home as SoapNet continues its transformation into Disney Jr. One of the most popular franchises in daytime television history, Y&R recently celebrated 40 years on the air on CBS. It has been the top-rated daytime drama for more than 24 years and continues to be the No. 1 network TV soap among total viewers and key demos, including women 18-49 and 25-54. Y&R has also been SoapNet’s No. 1 series for five consecutive years, delivering a significant audience share among women 18-49 and 25-54 — two key demos for TVGN. Y&R, which is produced by Bell Dramatic Serial Co. in association with Sony TV, has received 119 Daytime Emmy Awards, more than any other daytime drama, and 412 Emmy nominations.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS Corp, which already owns/co-owns broadcast networks CBS and the CW, pay cable network Showtime, and international TV channels, is adding a domestic basic cable network to its portfolio. I’ve learned that it is nearing a deal to acquire JP Morgan’s One Equity Partners’ interest in TV Guide, the company that encompasses the TV Guide Network, recently rebranded as TVGN, and TVGuide.com. With the deal, which could close as early as next week, CBS will become a 50-50 partner with TV Guide co-owner Lionsgate Entertainment, which originally acquired TV Guide in February 2009 for $241.6 million. I hear CBS will play slightly less than the $122.4 million One Equity Partners shelled out for 49% of TV Guide in June 2009 with an option to increase its stake by 1%.
TV Guide had been on the block for years. CBS surfaced as a potential suitor more than a year ago, along with other companies. CBS kicks the tires of potential acquisition targets all the time but rarely makes a move. After a thorough evaluation, I hear CBS concluded that TVGN is a fully distributed cable network (it is currently in 80 million homes) with a lot of upside. Also attractive was the prospect of partnering with another top Hollywood content producer, Lionsgate. …
EXCLUSIVE: Mike Mahan will be leaving his post as President of TV Guide, the company that encompasses the TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com. Mahan will make the transition in the coming month, with Dennis Miller, strategic adviser of TV Guide co-owner Lionsgate Entertainment, stepping in as interim president as the network and the website continue to mull a potential sale. Mahan just made the announcement in an internal email, which you can read below the post.
In one of Mahan’s last major initiatives at the company, he is shepherding a name change of the TV Guide Network to TVGN, which, along with a new logo, will be introduced at the end of March. The new name eliminates the Guide reference in the network’s moniker, underlying its transition from a TV listings utility to a full-screen programming cable network. Other cable networks that have switched to abbreviations as their programming direction had evolved from what their original names stood for include AMC, GSN and TLC.
I hear that several months ago Mahan informed the TV Guide parent companies of his decision to step down from his full-time management position in order to pursue other opportunities. He was offered to stick around in another capacity and will now join the company board. In addition to that, I hear Mahan is eyeing another high-level TV executive position. No one would comment, but a top post at Dick Clark Productions seems logical as it would reunite Mahan with longtime business partner Allen Shapiro, who became chairman of Dick Clark Prods following the company’s recent acquisition by Guggenheim Partners, Mandalay Entertainment and Shapiro’s Mosaic Media Investment Partners.
LOS ANGELES – July 16, 2012 – TV Guide Network announced today that it has hired Michael DuPont as its new Executive Vice President, Advertising Sales. Following a successful 10-year run at NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, DuPont joins TV Guide during a new era of growth for the Network, as it continues to significantly invest in Hollywood-centric originals and aggressively expand HD and full-screen programming across its 80 million households. DuPont begins his new role immediately and will head TV Guide Network’s national advertising team from New York.
TV Guide Network is adding comedy to its programming mix with StandUp in Stilettos, an original stand-up series hosted by The Office‘s Kate Flannery, and Rove LA, a talk show hosted by Australian comedian Rove McManus which originates from Los Angeles. StandUp in Stilettos, which has received an order for 10 half-hour episodes, will feature up-and-coming as well as established female comedians. Each show will include three stand-up comediennes whose acts feature material for, by and about women and will be shot in front of a live audience in a comedy club. Casting begins immediately, with production slated for late-April and premiere for June 16. Rove LA is a one-hour Australian weekly talk show hosted by McManus, who interviews Hollywood stars. TV Guide has acquired 10 existing episodes, which have aired in Australia but not in the U.S., as well as 13 all-new episodes which will begin filming in September. Rove LA premieres July 21.
UPDATED: Four weeks into its freshman run, Spike TV’s unscripted series Ink Master has been renewed for a second season with a 13-episode order. Hosted by rock veteran and tattoo aficionado Dave Navarro and judged by tattoo artists Chris Nunez and Oliver Peck, Ink Master debuted on Jan. 17 and through its first four episodes has averaged 1.4 million viewers for its premiere Tuesday airing and 5.2 million cume viewers a week. The show, part of Spike TV’s effort to broaden its audience by bringing in older males, has improved the Tuesday 10 PM slot by 102% in Men 18-49. The series, produced by Original Media, features 10 tattoo artists competing for a $100,000 cash prize, an editorial feature in the tattoo magazine Inked, and the title of ‘Ink Master.’
Also today, TV Guide Network renewed its own hit reality series Nail Files, for an eight-episode second season to air this summer. The series, from exec producer SallyAnn Salsano, launched in June to TV Guide’s best ever premiere ratings for an original series. It follows the personal and professional life of nail salon owner Katie Czorla.
TV Guide Network has picked up to series Hollywood Moms Night, starring Alison Sweeney and Ali Landry, and Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On, starring the vocal trio. Both reality series started off as specials/backdoor pilots, which aired on the network last month. Hollywood Moms Night, which has received a five-episode order, will air in March. Wilson Phillips: Still Holding On, which has been picked up for eight episodes, will air in April in conjunction with the release of the group’s new album, Dedicated. Here are detailed descriptions of the 2 series:
Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns had to disappoint analysts who wanted him to open up about the big question of the day for his company: What’s going on with its reported merger talks with Summit Entertainment? “I’m not going to talk about any specific deal,” he said at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. He noted, though, that a consolidation of independent film and TV companies is “a natural thing to happen.” He assured the group that Lionsgate is only interested in deals that add to its value, and don’t require it to either issue stock or take on additional debt. “We’re looking to delever, not lever up,” he says.
With that out of the way, he spoke candidly about the company’s plans for next year where he says “you’ll see us steady state for the first time” cranking out about a dozen movies and about three new TV shows. He’s encouraged about a plan to develop a TV series for ABC based on The Lincoln Lawyer – and Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management. ”I’ve known Charlie a long, long time,” Burns said. “Our goal is to keep Charlie working, keep him healthy — and we have a great partner in FX.” Burns says that a series it’s developing for
The film and TV company had a net loss of $24.6M, an improvement from its $29.7M loss in the quarter last year, on revenues of $358.1M, down 21.5%. That revenue figure was far below the $421.5M that analysts expected. And the net loss, at 18 cents a share, was below the 13 cent loss the Street had forecast. The bottom line could have looked even worse: Lionsgate included the $11.0M it collected from its sale of Maple Pictures. The company also was able to add $6.1M from its 31.2% stake in EPIX vs a $19.8M loss from last year’s quarter. Lionsgate says that it suffered from “underperformance of theatrical films in the quarter” — where releases included the Conan The Barbarian remake, Warrior, and Abduction – as well as “timing of DVD releases which offset gains in the Company’s television and digital businesses.” The movie operation generated $218.9M in revenues, down 36%.
EXCLUSIVE: Two decades after bursting onto the music scene with mega hit Hold On, Wilson Phillips is looking to return to the spotlight. The trio’s music comeback efforts will be chronicled on a reality series for TV Guide Network. The cable network has ordered a pilot for a show starring the band’s members — sisters Carnie Wilson and Wendy Wilson and best friend Chynna Phillips — as they juggle husbands and children in a quest to get back on top of the charts, a feat that challenges their friendship and sisterhood. “Between touring, recording a new CD and raising nine children, the show promises love, laughter and head bumping!” Carnie Wilson said. The pilot, produced RelativityREAL, is slated to premiere later this year. After reuniting for a Christmas album last fall, Wilson Phillips has been touring and recently made a cameo in the summer comedy hit Bridesmades. Two of the group’s members are already on reality series: Chynna will compete in the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars and Carnie is a judge on the ABC summer singing competition series Karaoke Battle USA.
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer sure talks as though the company’s looking to create a TV channel around Tyler Perry — Tyler TV – even though he says he “can’t comment” on a report about it. He told analysts this morning that “we strongly support” the idea of bringing Perry to “exciting new platforms.” That could include a “not fully distributed (cable) channel that we could buy” or nesting Perry at “a channel we already have. … We have a lot of options if we choose to go down that path.” The New York Times says this morning that the company is considering rebranding its struggling TV Guide Network, buying a channel such as Gospel Broadcasting Network, or teaming with Comcast, which promised federal officials who approved its acquisition of NBCUniversal that it would beef up programming for minority audiences.
Also on the call, Lionsgate executives talked up their plans for The Hunger Games. The first film in what’s likely to be a four-film series completes principal photography on Labor Day weekend ahead of a March 2012 release. But the studio says it won’t release the second film until Thanksgiving 2013 because it wants to take advantage of the big holiday season audiences — and to give itself time to work on the script and marketing plans. The productions won’t necessarily be filmed back-to-back, although there’s a chance that the second and third installments will be.
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate wants to unload TVGuide.com and, even more importantly, is at least considering an ownership change at TV Guide Network, which has been ordered to balance its books in anticipation of a potential sale. We hear that the studio has begun to interview investment bankers who can quietly sell the consumer website which, like the cable channel, is a 50-50 joint venture with JP Morgan Chase’s global private equity investment arm One Equity Partners. The website is thought to be worth anywhere from $50M to $100M. Lionsgate is intent on shedding what it considers to be non-core assets (just like Lionsgate recently sold its stake in Maple Pictures). TV Guide Network’s owners just secured long-term carriage agreements with the major cable operators, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Charter, further increasing its value. But putting a dollar figure on the TV Guide Network suggests that Lionsgate and One Equity Partners want to at least begin a discussion that could lead to one of the partners buying the other out.
Lionsgate would seem to be the more likely buyer if things go that far: It has said that it wants to build its presence in TV channels; it also owns major stakes in Epix, FearNet, and Asia’s Tiger Gate. ”They’ve made it clear that they have a TV channel strategy,” says Hudson Square Research’s Marla Backer. Lionsgate paid $241.6M for the TV Guide website and network in February 2009. Three months later, One Equity Partners teamed up with investor and producer Allen Shapiro and paid $122.4M for half of the combined operation. Shapiro is chairman of TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com and is now taking on leadership of the network’s programming. (He initially was buying TV Guide from Macrovision until Lionsgate swooped in at the last minute. Ultimately, Shapiro secured a sizeable chunk of it.)
TV Guide Network Cancels Newsmagazine ‘Hollywood 411′, Allen Shapiro Takes Programming Reins After Diane Robina Exits
EXCLUSIVE: TV Guide Channel has canceled its entertainment news show Hollywood 411. The last edition of the weekly celebrity newsmagazine anchored by The Bachelor host Chris Harrison will air this Sunday. As a result of the cancellation, 25 production staff positions associated with the show are being eliminated. The network is in discussions with Harrison, who also has hosted TV Guide red-carpet coverage, about possible future hosting and producing opportunities. The cancellation comes a couple of weeks after programming head Diana Robina quietly exited TV Guide Network after a year-and-a-half stint as EVP Programming and Marketing, though I hear the two are not related. TV Guide Network did try different formats with Hollywood 411, which started off as a weekly magazine, then switched to a daily and then to a weekly again while also alternating between a one- and two-host model. But the show never quite found an audience in the crowded entertainment/celebrity news space (though its ratings were consistent with TV Guide’s averages). Despite that, TV Guide still plans to keep its toe in the arena — a new entertainment news show is now in active development. It is unclear if it would utilize the new set build for Hollywood 411 a few months ago.
Robina had come from the Lionsgate side of the partnership that owns TV Guide Network (and TVGuide.com) along with One Equity Partners and former Dick Clark Prods CEO Allen Shapiro. I hear TV Guide Network chairman Shapiro — who had focused on shoring up the channel’s distribution for the past year or so, recently signing a new long-term carriage deal with Time Warner Cable — will now oversee programming hands-on, working with the team Robina put in place. Her position is not expected to be replaced, at least for now.
This weekend, the 2011 National Association of Latino Independent Producers Conference is meeting in Newport Beach. Now in its 12th year, the confab is attended annually by Latino actors, executives, producers, and those interested in Latino film and television content. This year’s theme is “The New Now: Defining the Future Together”. But the most recent TV report card from the National Latino Media Council accused the four major TV networks of declining Latino diversity both in front of and behind the camera. “This was a terrible year for Latinos at the networks,” summed up NMLC president Alex Nogales. And among broadcast pilots for the 2011-2012 season, there’s only the CBS pilot starring Rob Schneider as a confirmed bachelor who has just married into a tight-knit Mexican-American family, and Fox’s Little In Common which includes a Latin family. The last Latino show on a network was ABC’s telenovela adaptation Ugly Betty which debuted to critical acclaim in 2006 but never enjoyed the network’s full support. When it was cancelled a year ago, Deadline TV contributor Diane Haithman first talked with its 36-year-old showrunner Silvio Horta and then again after the NLMC report card came out:
DEADLINE: What are your thoughts about the National Latino Media Council’s network report card?
SILVIO HORTA: Look, I think there are 50 million Latinos in the U.S. To have more Latino faces and more Latinos working in the industry would seem not just good for diversity, it seems like good business. Personally, I’d rather see accurate and well-done portrayals, and a …
TV Guide Network has greenlit its first original reality docu-soap, The Nail Files, created and executive produced by Jersey Shore co-creator/executive producer Sally Ann Salsano through her 495 Prods. The Nail Files stars Katie Cazorla, a 32-year-old budding entrepreneur who juggles owning and operating Hollywood’s fast growing celebrity-filled nail salon, The Painted Nail, and her relationship with 52-year-old Grammy-winning music producer Walter Afanasieff. “The producers of Jersey Shore have once again come up with a highly entertaining, non-scripted series capturing the fascinating lives of colorful individuals, this time against the backdrop of Hollywood,” said TV Guide’s EVP Diane Robina. Added Salsano, “I love working with entertaining, raw, everyday people with some sass and a point of view.”