Who Wants To Be A Millionaire host Terry Crews will host the 30th Annual Television Critics Association Awards on Saturday, July 19 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Crews, who also stars in Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, will kick off the un-televised trophy show in which awards are handed out in such categories as news and information; youth; drama; reality; and comedy, as the TV critics in North America honor the best television programs of the 2013-2014 TV season.
Past TCA Awards hosts include Bryan Cranston, Conan O’Brien, Drew Carey, Craig Ferguson, Wanda Sykes, the Smothers Brothers, Nick Offerman and Dax Shepard.
The i’s have been dotted, the t’s have been crossed, with actor, Old Spice pitchman and former NFL player Terry Crews sealing a deal to become the new host of the syndicated Who Wants To Be A Millionaire for the next 13th season, which launches in the fall. He succeeds Cedric the Entertainer, who hosted the show this season. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is going through a number of changes, some of them cost-saving, heading into the 2014-15 season. Veteran game show and TV producer James Rowley is joining as new executive producer, and production is being moved to Stamford, Connecticut where it is expected to benefit from a tax break. I hear Crews, who co-stars n Fox’s comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, had been exploring doing a syndicated show and met with several studios, with Disney-ABC jumping in with the Millionaire offer. “Terry is engaging, endearing, smart, and quick on his feet — the perfect combination to lead one of the longest-running franchises in game show history,” said Janice Marinelli, president, Disney-ABC Domestic TV.
Related: Terry Crews Poised To Become New Host Of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’
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Expect Who Wants to be a Millionaire to be “more energetic, a lot more fun” and have “a lot more excitement – that’s what I plan on bringing to it,” Cedric the Entertainer told TV critics this morning. Cedric’s replacing Meredith Vieira who, in turn replaced Regis Philbin on the ABC-hit-turned-syndicated-daytime-game-show. Vieira announced in January she was leaving Disney’s syndicated game show after 11 years (she’s hosting a syndicated daytime talk show for NBCU that debuts in fall of ’14). Cedric joins a long line of comics hosting game shows, including Steve Harvey, Jeff Foxworthy, Wayne Brady, and Drew Carey. “Those guys motivated me to look at this as a great opportunity…to be a standup, to be engaged with the contestant — to keep the show energetic. That’s what most comedians find attractive about this form of entertainment,” he explained.
Tweaks in the format over the years are responses to contestant patterns, show exec producer Rich Strop explained. After the first five questions, he explained, contestants tend to immediately plow through all their lifelines and then stop playing, because “people are very risk averse.”
Following some chatter during NATPE last week, I have learned that Cedric The Entertainer has closed a three-year deal to replace Meredith Vieira as host the syndicated version of quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I hear the multi-million pact will pay Cedric close to what Vieira was making in the final years of her 11-season stint on the Disney-ABC show, which she’s hosted from its launch in 2002. Millionaire, which tapes in advance, will continue to air Vieira-hosted originals through May and repeats through the summer, with Cedric expected to take over in September. The Millionaire gig won’t interfere with the actor-comedian’s TV Land comedy series Soul Man, which is slated to begin filming its second season in March. Cedric will shoot his first season of Millionaire in September. CAA-repped Cedric is the second member of The Original Kings Of Comedy standup troupe to be recruited to host a syndicated game show, joining Steve Harvey who has been on Family Feud since 2010.
Meredith Vieira recently opted not to renew her contract for syndicated quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire so she could “move on and do other things.” Those other things may be a new daytime talk show. According to the NY Times, Vieira is in talks with NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution about hosting a syndicated talk show for fall 2014. That would maintain Vieira’s daily presence in daytime/fringe while keeping her in the NBCU family. Vieira got the gig on the ABC-Disney syndicated Millionaire while she was on ABC’s daytime talk show The View, which Vieira co-hosted for nine years. If she headlines a daytime talk show, Vieira will follow in the footsteps of her Today predecessors Jane Pauley, whose NBCU-produced show was a bust, and Katie Couric, whose ABC-Disney freshman talker is doing OK. NBC Domestic TV Distribution is currently without a top executive as Barry Wallach just announced his departure as president.
Looks like Disney has hit a legal brick wall in the $319 million Who Wants To Be A Millionaire case. The company today was denied a new trial in the matter by the three-judge 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In their order Monday, the trio rejected efforts of “the Disney affiliates” — ABC, Buena Vista TV and Valleycrest Productions — to appeal U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ initial December 2010 denial of an appeal in the case. “We are extremely disappointed with the decision, as ABC and Buena Vista Television continue to believe that they fully adhered to the Millionaire agreement,” a Disney spokesman told Deadline. ”I’m extremely pleased for the client Celador, my team of lawyers and I’m gratified that the Court of Appeal saw fit today to affirm a carefully crafted trial,” attorney Roman Silberfeld said today.
Citing “a cascading series of errors” in the original 2010 case, Disney was seeking a new trial in hopes of overturning the $319 million Millionaire creators Celador was awarded. In 2010, a jury agreed with Celador that Disney breached the contract between the company and the company’s TV divisions. Despite the likes of Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger taking the stand, the Riverside, CA jury awarded Celador $269 million in damages; Phillips added $50 million in pre-judgment interest. Disney lawyers said from the very beginning they would appeal. Read More »
Disney is asking a federal appeals court to overturn a $319 million judgment awarded two years ago to the British production company behind Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Lawyers for Disney’s ABC Network and Buena Vista Television are scheduled to argue their case today before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Bloomberg reports. “The district court committed a cascading series of errors that yielded a verdict radically transforming the parties’ carefully negotiated allocation of risks and rewards,” according to a court filing by the Disney units. Celador originally filed suit against Disney in 2004, claiming that Disney and its TV subsidiaries ABC, Buena Vista Television and Valleycrest Prods. involved in shady dealmaking to deny Celador its fair share of profits from its show. A jury in July 2010 agreed that Disney units breached the contract and awarded Celador $269 million in damages. U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips then added $50 million in pre-judgment interest. Phillips later refused Disney’s bid to overturn the verdict, leading to today’s federal appeals court hearing.
Related: Disney’s Initial Appeal Of $319M ‘Millionaire’ Verdict Denied
Disney’s bid to overturn the $319 million verdict to Celador, the company behind the Who Wants To Be a Millionaire format, was denied today by Judge Virginia Phillips. Phillips, who oversaw the trial that resulted in the massive award for the British production company, issued a 54-page final order explaining her decision Tuesday. Celador, which originally filed suit against Disney in 2004, claimed that Disney and its TV subsidiaries ABC, Buena Vista Television and Valleycrest Prods. involved in shady dealmaking to deny Celador its fair share of profits from its show. Disney is next expected to appeal the verdict at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
Every Hollywood screenwriter knows that the way to ratchet up tension is to introduce a ticking clock. And that’s just what ITV is doing with the next series of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire over here. Contestants will have just 15 seconds to answer the £500 and £1,000 questions. They’ll have 30 seconds to answer every question after that, including the £1 million jackpot. The US introduced a looming ticking clock in 2008. Other tweaks include a new feature called “Switch” where contestants can swap a question they don’t like for another. Will the Millionaire reboot help the show’s declining ratings? I dunno. I guess I’d better phone a friend.
The London-based production company Celador that created Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? tells me it may go after the Hollywood talent agency with a lawsuit. Celador has just won a $269 million court case against Disney/ABC, which aired the U.S. version of Millionaire. Celador successfully persuaded a California jury that Disney owed it 50% of the show’s profits.
In court, Disney argued that if Celador was unhappy with its deal, it should be suing the agent which brokered it, not them. Celador appears to have taken Disney’s advice to heart. Celador says, “We are considering our options regarding the William Morris Agency.”
Of course, ABC bought the rights to Millionaire 11 years ago. The statute of limitations on Celador suing WMA should have expired after 4 years. But WMA signed a “tolling agreement”, putting off any dispute between it and Celador until the Disney case was decided. That stopped the clock on any legal action, and that’s why Celador can pick up where things were left off.
Many of the WMA agents involved in the deal -– like Ben Silverman who was the lead William Morris rep for Millionaire – have since left the agency which in 2009 merged with Endeavor to create WME. Celador wouldn’t say if it plans to sue any individuals.
The jury in the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? lawsuit returned a verdict for UK-based Celador today finding that the show’s producer was harmed by Disney’s self-dealing actions. The panel awarded damages totalling $269.2 million for the fair market value of broadcast licensing fees, and revenue from Millionaire merchandise. That just shy of the $405M which Celador was seeking. Immediately, the Walt Disney Company issued this statement: “We believe this verdict is fundamentally wrong and will aggressively seek to have it reversed.” The month-long Riverside trial followed six years of legal maneuvering over profits from the hit game show in a rare look into TV network and studio accounting practices. Celador convinced the jury that the producer earned millions of dollars less than it could have from the success of the show because Disney-owned ABC and co-producer Buena Vista TV brokered sweetheart deals with themselves.
After a 6 year legal maneuvering and a month-long trial, the $250 million case of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? producer Celador v. Disney over profits from the hit game show is now in the hands of the jury. Throughout the parade of witnesses, Celador seemed to prove that it earned less than it could have from the success of the show on ABC. The question is whether it was able to convince the jurors that it was the result of Disney-owned ABC and co-producer Buena Vista TV brokering sweetheart deals among themselves, thus allegedly cheating Celador out of millions — and not because it just made a bad deal. Read More »