EXCLUSIVE: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart executive producer/showrunner Rory Albanese is leaving Comedy Central’s popular late-night program to pursue a career in primetime comedy. Albanese, who also is a standup comedian, has signed a double blind script development deal with Warner Bros TV and has sold one project under the pact — a father-son multi-camera comedy — to CBS. Albanese’s last day at the Daily Show will be Thursday. The departure had been in the works for a while, with Albanese preparing for his cross-country move from to Los Angeles and the Daily Show working on a succession plan. I hear the show will promote within in naming a new showrunner. Albanese spent the past seven years at The Daily Show, the past five as executive producer, sharing in nine of the show’s Emmys for best variety series and best writing for variety series. Daily Show‘s 10-year streak as best variety series came to an end last month.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation with multiple networks chasing, Fox has landed Chasing Skips, an hourlong action-comedy project from Cougar Town executive producer/showrunner Blake McCormick and the series’ co-creator Bill Lawrence. Written by McCormick, Chasing Skips centers on two down-on-their-luck guys in search of a way to improve their lives who decide to enter the world of bounty hunting, despite having no experience and very few skills. Warner Bros TV and Lawrence’s studio-based Doozer are producing, with McCormick, Lawrence and Jeff Ingold executive producing. Chasing Skips stems from a blind script deal McCormick inked with Warner Bros TV through Doozer in May in conjunction with his appointment as new showrunner of Cougar Town for its upcoming fifth season.
‘Big Bang’ Co-Stars Mayim Bialik & Melissa Rauch Get Major Salary Bumps As Show Faces License Fee & More Cast Negotiations
EXCLUSIVE: The newest additions to the cast of CBS‘ hit comedy The Big Bang Theory have scored nice salary bumps. I’ve learned that Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch — regulars on Big Bang since fall 2010 having started off as guest starring-turned-recurring players on the popular comedy — have both renegotiated their current salaries, which have been in the $20,000-$30,000 range per episode. No one is commenting but I hear the duo will be making about double that, in the neighborhood of $60,000, this coming season, with their pay steadily increasing every year to reach close to $100,000 an episode by the end of their contracts. As a result of the renegotiation, I hear Bialik and Rauch, who play Sheldon and Howard’s brainy better halves Amy and Bernadette, respectively, also have added a year to their current deals.
The Bialik/Rauch deal is the first in what is going to be a big season behind-the-scenes at Big Bang, which, six years into its run, is firing on all cylinders creatively and commercially. Over the next eight months, Big Bang faces license fee negotiations as the series is currently renewed by CBS through this season, as well as contract negotiations with the entire original cast, whose deals also are all up at the end of this season. With the series doing so well and eying a potential strong showing at the Emmys this weekend, none of these is going to be easy. Like the salary renegotiations in 2010, leads Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco are expected to negotiate in one group and Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar in another. Observers expect Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco, currently at $350,000 an episode, to land north of $500,000 when it’s all said and done.
After tapping into the social media zeitgeist last year with a campaign built around the popular “Keep Calm” Internet memes, Warner Bros TV is going low-tech, grassroots and green for its 2013 Emmy campaign. Starting next week, the studio will distribute 11 different show-specific reusable tote bags for some of its top series at farmers’ markets in Sherman Oaks (May 14), Beverly Glen (May 18), and Brentwood (May 19). The series featured are The Big Bang Theory, The Following, 2 Broke Girls, Arrow, The Mentalist, The Middle, Mike & Molly, Person Of Interest, Revolution, Suburgatory and Two And A Half Men. The farmers’ market campaign, which will have a strong fan element, will be anchored by a fully wrapped Airstream trailer where episodes of select WBTV series will be screening. Additionally, it will include artists applying glitter tattoo and nail art featuring staples from Warner Bros series, including Soft Kitty and the atom logo from The Big Bang Theory, a raven from The Following, the Revolution power button, and cupcakes from 2 Broke Girls. Visitors also can have their photo as their favorite WBTV character taken at the SocialPix station and upload images to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. using the hashtag #WBFYC.
Every studio with something to push books pricey space a year or more in advance at Comic-Con, which last year packed 130,000 fans into a downtown San Diego papered with promotional branding. But this year’s SXSW saw a sign of things to come as film and television brands took that strategy to Austin, targeting the festival’s estimated 64,000 registered attendees. Universal, Warner Bros Television, A&E Network, Showtime, and Syfy jumped ahead of the pack with marketing blitzes sure to multiply by next year as other entertainment brands set their sights on the plugged-in, social media-active demographic of influencers that pour into the annual multimedia festival. This year’s edition wraps this weekend.
Growth here has accelerated rapidly in the past three years in terms of attendance and prestige, thanks to distribution deals and buzz-building debuts in the film festival portion and the hot tech conference on the Interactive side. But thanks to its unique overlap of Film and Interactive components, SXSW this year attracted the attention of studio marketers with no films in the program. All of the major companies I spoke with made their first-ever trips to SXSW in 2013 and reps tell me they’d return next year if they had the right property to promote.
Warner Bros. TV has locked in comedy heavyweight Chuck Lorre for four more years. The Presidential term length of the deal fits Lorre’s position as the studio’s biggest money maker with three sitcoms that have been sold in syndication, Two And A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly.
The just-finalized new development and production deal includes a component for feature films Lorre would write, develop and/or direct for Warner Bros. Pictures. But its main focus will remain television, where Lorre also plans to expand his turf with forays into drama series and longform projects in addition to developing new comedy shows. Lorre will be targeting both broadcast and cable networks with his new development through his Chuck Lorre Prods., Warner Bros. TV and Warner Horizon TV. Additionally, Lorre will continue as executive producer of Two And A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly.