‘The Mentalist’ Explores New Network Homes In Case CBS Does Not Renew Series

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 2:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The Golden HammerWith The Mentalist‘s future at CBS in serious doubt, I hear the studio behind the veteran drama, Warner Bros TV, has been quietly shopping the series to other networks, garnering some preliminary interest from broadcast and cable. Taking in a 6-year-old high-end drama is not an easy proposition, but WBTV is ready to explore every possible avenue — that’s how important a property The Mentalist is to the studio with its $2 million-plus-per-episode off-network deal at TNT and big international sales including France, where it is the No. 1 scripted series.

Related: On The Bubble: Where Endangered Broadcast Series Stand

In a situation like that, having a sibling network comes in handy. CBS stepped in when NBC cancelled CBS Studios-produced drama Medium after five seasons, keeping the series and its lucrative off-network deal alive for two more years. When NBC was exploring ending Law & Order: Criminal Intent after six seasons, the series, produced by NBCUniversal, instead moved to sibling USA, which already was carrying CI reruns. The Law & Order spinoff ended up going for four more seasons. The Mentalist wouldn’t be a fit for the only WBTV-affiliated broadcast network, the young skewing CW, making cable sibling TNT the best possible option. Like with L&O: CI and USA, TNT already is the off-network home of The Mentalist and has a slate of crime procedurals. However, the net has been pulling away from the genre lately, putting an emphasis on action-adventure fare in the vein of Falling Skies with such shows as the upcoming The Last Ship and Legends, and I hear it might not be interested in picking up The Mentalist originals (though parent Time Warner could conceivably intervene if the larger company’s financial interest is at stake). Among the major broadcast networks, ABC is said to be open to considering a pickup though it is expected to evaluate its own development first. The network has had success with a similar comedic procedural, Castle, and it also has struggled launching dramas at 10 PM for the past couple of seasons.

Related: CBS Renews 9 Drama Series, 5 Comedies; No ‘Mentalist’ Or ‘Crazy Ones’

When The Mentalist premiered in 2008, it drew comparisons to USA‘s Psych, also a light crime procedural about a fake psychic helping the police. Psych just ended its eight-season run, so there is a vacancy there. But, like TNT, USA too has been moving away from character-based procedurals as it has been showing affinity for edgier dramas, and I hear it likely would not be pursuing The Mentalist. Read More »

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MTV Orders 3 New Reality Series, Renews ‘Snooki & JWOWW’, ‘Real World’, ‘Girl Code’

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 2:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

mtvAs part of unveiling its slate to advertisers at its upfront presentation in New York today, MTV has announced the pickup of three new unscripted series, the Alaska-based Slednecks, from the producers of the network’s Buckwild; extreme dancing competition Beyond Dance; and the based-on-true-stories One Bad Choice. Additionally, the network has ordered new seasons of Snooki & JWOWW, Real World and Girl Code and has set premiere dates for new family drama series Finding Carter (watch the first trailer below) and  Rob Dyrdek’s cooking show The Snack-Off as well as return dates for Teen Wolf and Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness. MTV2 will debut a second season of Nick Cannon Presents: Wild ‘N Out this summer. On the music front, MTV is rolling out a new documentary series, 9 Days and Nights, that tells the story of one artist at a turning point in their life and career. The first 60-minute installment, set to a June launch, will feature British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, with appearances by Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams. MTV sibling Logo TV is partnering with Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos’s Milojo Prods. for The Secret Guide to Fabulous Living (working title), a 30-minute comedic “how to” series, which will premiere this summer. Here are details on MTV’s new series: Read More »

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NBC News Chief: Reports About ‘Meet The Press’ Host David Gregory “Ludicrous” And “Vindictive”

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 1:35pm PDT

gregoryNBC News chief Deborah Turness sent a memo to her staff today today, dismissing as “quite ludicrous,” “vindictive” and “untrue, ” the press coverage of a news report about a consulting firm hired to help fix ratings on NBC’s Sunday Beltway show. “I wanted to reach out to reiterate my support for the show and for [show host] David [Gregory], now and into the future, as we work together to evolve the format,” she wrote in her memo (see entire memo below).

The Washington Post wrote Monday that NBC had hired a “psychological consultant” to look at Gregory, including interviews with his friends and his wife. The reaction in the media is what is known in journalism circles as Pirahna Discovering Raw Meat.  A frenzy of NBC Hires Psychologist to Evaluate David Gregory, and NBC Thinks David Gregory Requires Psychiatric Help press reports ensued. Columnists mulled why Gregory was so hated; Cenk Uygur (aka The Guy Formerly Let Go By NBC) gleefully advised Gregory, “Dude, read the writing on the wall, you’re a goner”; websites ruminated on the death of the Sunday Beltway shows; Rush Limbaugh clucked that NBC should perform psychological tests on its execs rather than on Gregory, and a good time was had by all.

Though NBC News has said it did not dispute the Post’s use of “psychological consultant” at the time, it subsequently issued a statement saying,  “Last year Meet the Press brought in a brand consultant — not, as reported, a psychological one — to better understand how its anchor connects. This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.” The company — New York-based Elastic Strategy — was hired by NBC News’ marketing team a year ago, before Turness was named NBC News chief. On its Web site, that firm says its “expertise is in gaining an objective understanding of the current and potential value of your brand to its various stakeholders.”

Meet the Press is ranked No. 3 among the Sunday Beltway shows,  with a season-do-date average of 2.933 million viewers — behind CBS’s Face the Nation (3.320 million) and ABC’s This Week (3.007 million). In the news demo, MTP (849,000) also trails Face The Nation (949,000) and This Week (874,000). MPT used to be No. 1 in the ratings and held on to that spot for many years, back when it was hosted by Tim Russert, who died at  the studio in summer of ’08. Tom Brokaw took over for Russert and anchored the program through the presidential election cycle, after which Gregory — NBC News’s chief White House correspondent — was named Russert’s replacement in December of that year.

Read the memo here:
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Rob Wade To Succeed Conrad Green As ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Showrunner

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 1:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

dancingRob Wade has been tapped to take over as showrunner of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars starting with the next 19th cycle, which has not been formally picked up but is fully expected to. Wade, a DWTS veteran, will succeed … Read More »

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Stephen Monroe Taylor Joins History’s ‘Texas Rising’; Sam Trammell In Amazon’s ‘Cocked’

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 12:59pm PDT

Stephen Monroe Taylor stephentaylorhas been cast in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Taylor, repped by House of Reps and Main Title, will play Texas Ranger Gator Davis, a drawling good ol’ boy from Louisiana who can strum a guitar and sing with the best of them. He’s also a fearless fighting man who meets danger head on. Taylor currently recurs on Anger Management. Fern Champion Casting is handling casting for Texas Rising.
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Ex-Sony PR Stalwart Steve Elzer Hangs New Shingle

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 12:11pm PDT
Mike Fleming

elzerSteve Elzer, the longtime corporate communications vet for the movie divisions of Sony Pictures and New Line, has launched Elzer & Associates, Inc, a boutique PR firm that will build clientele consisting of corporations, production companies, execs, filmmakers and philanthropists in the entertainment community. He starts the company with ex-Imageworks  exec Rachel Falikoff, who will become an SVP.

Elzer, who left the studio late last year, launches with several clients that include Newscard, a start-up built around social media and how consumers comment on professional news photographs taken at entertainment and sporting events; and Court Five, the production company hatched by Jane Fleming and Mark Ordesky, who worked with Elzer at New Line and oversaw production on The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. They are about to launch the ABC fantasy-based reality series The Quest. Also aboard is Stradella Road, the company created by marketing exec Gordon Patterson to develop global marketing campaigns for studios and networks, specializing in the digital space. Read More »

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John Oliver Interviews Former NSA Director In Sunday’s HBO Debut

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 11:21am PDT

John Oliver Keith Alexander NSA InterviewJohn Oliver will interview Gen. Keith Alexander (Ret.) — former director of the National Security Agency and head of U.S. Cyber Command –  when he debuts his new HBO late-night topical comedy show Last Week Tonight. HBO says it’s Alexander’s first since retiring as NSA director. The news comes the week Oliver took the NBC package deal to promote the launch of his new HBO late-night show, stopping by The Tonight Show show to poke fun at Jimmy Fallon‘s interview style and talk about friends’ reaction to his final The Daily Show appearance, in which he wept. Read More »

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California Official Dodges Governor’s Stance On Film & TV Tax Credit

california-tax-credits3__120901092343__120929195413__131031165021__131112185634__140109040050__140219155328Even as new legislation to expand and evolve California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program weaves through the state Assembly, Governor Jerry Brown’s administration today refused to unequivocally come out in support of the effort. “I realize the … Read More »

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‘Friday The 13th’ Scares Up Hourlong Series

Mike Fleming

jasonvEXCLUSIVE: After slicing and dicing his way through a dozen feature films, Jason Voorhees is ready to slash his way to small-screen stardom. Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films and Crystal Lake Entertainment have set a deal to produce a new hourlong dramatic series based upon the characters and settings of Friday The 13th. Sean S. Cunningham, who helmed the 1980 original, will be executive producer along with EFO Films principals Randall Emmett & George Furla, Mark Canton of Atmosphere Entertainment MM, Steve B. Harris of Diversion3 Entertainment, and Ted Fox of Fox Entertainment. Also producing is Horror Inc. president Robert Barsamian, who produced the features.

Bill Basso (Terminator) and Jordu Schell (Avatar) have been set to script a storyline that re-imagines Jason in multiple time periods. Roy Knyrim (Gods And Monsters) of SOTA FX will coordinate the special make-up effects for the series. If you recall, the original was set at a summer camp, closed because of the drowning of an unattended child. Promiscuous counselors tried to re-open the place, but they began dying. Jason actually took root as the indestructible villain in the second film, with his signature hockey goalie mask coming later. The series is contemporary, focusing on the eclectic characters of Crystal Lake who are forced to confront the return of the killer, as new secrets about his wacky family are revealed. Read More »

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Stephen Colbert Breaks News Of Departure To Jon Stewart: Video

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 10:46am PDT

The day after making his first appearance on CBS’ Late Show since the network announced he’s taking it over when David Letterman retires, Stephen Colbert paid a surprise visit to The Daily Show last night to break it to Jon Stewart that he’s leaving Comedy Central. … Read More »

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Maker Studios Forges Alliance With Jukin Media

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 10:40am PDT

makerstudios__140311194353-275x177Disney‘s in the process of spending potentially $1B for Maker Studios, and today’s agreement means that — when the deal closes — it will also indirectly manage YouTube channels and videos from Jukin Media, described as … Read More »

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UTA Gets In Wrestling Ring, Signs TNA Entertainment

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 10:39am PDT
Mike Fleming

TNA_Wrestling_CorpEXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed the Nashville-based TNA Entertainment. That is the company behind IMPACT Wrestling, which has become one of Spike TV’s top-rated shows, and which is broadcast in 120 countries worldwide. TNA also produced more than 100 … Read More »

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Premiere Dates Set For Netflix’s ‘The Killing’, A&E’s ‘Longmire’

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 10:00am PDT

The-Killing-season-2-AMCNetflix has set August 1 for the premiere of the six-episode final installment of The Killing, and A&E has slotted Monday, June 2 (10 PM) for the third-season premiere of Longmire. The Killing stars Mireille Enos and … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘American Idol’ & ‘Modern Family’ Rise

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 9:52am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NOLAN GOULD, AUBREY ANDERSON-EMMONS, ED O'NEILL, SARAH HYLAND,  TY BURRELL,With the Top 6 performing, Fox’s American Idol (2.1) last night reversed the recent downward ratings trend, up 11% from last Wednesday’s fast nationals. The singing competition closed the gap with CBS’ Survivor (2.2, even with last week’s fast national) but the CBS reality veteran kept its two-month winning streak over the Fox singing show alive.

ABC’s returning Wednesday comedies came back to originals after a two-week break. Fast nations to fast nationals, The Middle (1.8) was down a tenth from its most recent original on April 2, while Suburgatory (1.6) held steady. Going out of town once again worked for Modern Family. After its Las Vegas episode delivered a ratings bump last month, last night’s Australian episode (3.4) too posted an uptick, +6% from the series’ last original. After being left to fend for itself with no original support for the past two weeks, new comedy Mixology (1.5) perked up with an original lead-in, up 25% from last week but a tenth below its last episode that followed a new Modern Family. ABC aired a Nashville concert special (1.0) at 10 PM, with CBS’ and NBC’ dramas also in repeats. Fox won the night in 18-49 and total viewers.
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George Stephanopoulos Signs New Deal To Remain With ‘GMA’ And ‘This Week’

2012-05-21-GoodMorningAmerica_2012Good Morning America has secured George Stephanopoulos as part of a long-term deal with ABC News that also includes his continued duties as host of the Sunday Beltway show This Week.

George Stephanopolous“We are thrilled that the team is locked in and that the [Stephanopoulos] deal was done so quickly,” ABC News said this morning. That in marked contrast to the long-running storyline about the division’s talks with GMA regulars Josh Elliott and Sam Champion — both of whom wound up being poached by NBC. Elliott went to NBC Sports and Champion to NBC co-owned The Weather Channel. Lara Spencer, whose contract came up around the same time as Elliott’s and Champion’s, re-signed to GMA in March, and recently was promoted to co-anchor. Elliott and Champion were replaced by Amy Robach and Ginger Zee, respectively.

Stephanopoulos’ contract was not set to expire until the end of the calendar year. But, given the GMA talent churn, the deal was an important one to close for new ABC News chief James Goldston, who is in his second week on the job. Terms of the deal, which sources said locks in Stephanopoulos for more than three years, were not disclosed. “We expect him to remain with us for many, many years,” ABC News said coyly of  the anchor, who has been with GMA since 2010. Robin Roberts signed a lucrative deal to remain with GMA last December. Read More »

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TLC Adds VPs To West Coast Production & Development Teams

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 9:30am PDT

Tlc_logo_discoveryTLC is bolstering its West Coast Development and Production operations with the hires of two new vice presidents. Jack Tarantino has been named VP Production West Coast and Elvia Van Es Oliva joins as VP Development West Coast. Both … Read More »

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FCC Chairman Circulates Net Neutrality Proposal Barring “Commercially Unreasonable” Practices

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 9:07am PDT

The term is key: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says in a blog post that the ability to bar “commercially unreasonable” practices empowers the agency — in a plan he will begin to circulate — to crack down on Internet service providers that discriminate against some content providers. Tom Wheeler 2But open Internet advocates fear it’s too squishy, and could allow ISPs to create tiers of service that enable some content providers (Netflix or HBO GO, perhaps) to pay for speedy transmissions. Wheeler hopes to “conclude this proceeding and have enforceable rules by the end of the year.” The plan he will begin to circulate will look at net neutrality violations on a case-by-case basis, an adjustment needed to meet the objections that the D.C. Court of Appeals raised in January when it remanded the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules. FCC Net NeutralityBut he vigorously objects to the “great deal of misinformation” that characterized his proposal as an effort to gut the principle of open Internet by allowing companies to pay for speedier service. His plan “would establish that behavior harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet will not be permitted,” he says. The court said that the FCC could stop practices it deems not ” commercially reasonable” — and he says that his plan will “establish a high bar for what is ‘commercially reasonable.’” Read More »

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NBC & USA To Develop English-Language Versions Of Telemundo Telenovelas: Video

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 7:47am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

seniorSo far, the symbiotic relationship between Telemundo and its NBCUniversal siblings had gone mainly in one direction — with Telemundo doing Spanish-language versions of programs on its English-language counterparts, like La Voz Kids (The Voice Kids), Top Chef Estrellas and Access Hollywood Al Rojo Vivo. Now the flow will start moving the other way too, with NBC committing to develop an English-language version of El Señor de los Cielos (The Lord Of The Skies), Telemundo’s highest-rated novela last season, and USA Network putting in development Telemundo’s upcoming novela NBCUniversal_logo__130703185055Mujer de Acero (Woman Of Steel). The adaptations will be produced by Universal TV and Universal Cable Prods., respectively. This marks the first time that NBC and USA have optioned content from Telemundo. The move comes a year after the Spanish-language network was placed under the purview of NBCUniversal’s Bonnie Hammer, who also oversees USA, and Joe Uva was put in charge of it. NBC had been interested in cracking the telenovela genre. Last fall, the network inked a deal with Electus to develop three telenovelas with an eye toward airing one as a 13-episode series — with multiple episodes running each week, following telenovelas’ traditional air pattern.

Inspired by true events, the action-filled El Señor de los Cielos tells the story of Aurelio Casillas (Rafael Amaya), one of the most prominent Mexican drug lords from the ’90s, whose ambition was to become one of the richest and most powerful men in Mexico (watch the English-language trailer below.) It ranked as Telemundo’s #1 novela last year averaging 2.3 million total viewers and nearly 1.5 million adults 18-49. The season finale averaged over 3.6 million viewers and beat Univision among adults 18-49 and 18-34 in its period. Read More »

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BBC’s ‘Jamaica Inn’ Mini Prompts 2,000+ Complaints Over “Mumbling”: Video

By | Thursday April 24, 2014 @ 7:44am PDT

jamaica innJamaica Inn, the highly-anticipated three-part BBC One adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1936 gothic novel, kicked off to strong ratings on Monday night – and got a lot of people talking. But much of the chatter has come in the form of complaints – nearly 2,200 so far, according to BBC News. British viewers are decrying sound issues, and what people have called “mumbling” by the cast of the Origin Pictures production. (The Twittersphere is referring to it as #MumbleInn.) Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay stars with Joanne Whalley, Sean Harris and Matthew McNulty in the drama that’s set in 1820s Cornwall (a West Country county that has a very particular accent). But there’s been some debate as to whether the sound troubles were technical or artistic. Here’s the trailer:

After initial complaints, the BBC on Tuesday apologized, saying there were “issues with the sound levels” which would be adjusted for episodes 2 and 3. (Screenwriter Emma Frost also tweeted: “None of the production team knew what happened with the (transmission) sound. It was fine before.”) Even so, folks continued to gripe and after Monday’s first installment averaged 6.09M viewers, the mini shed 2M viewers by its last on Wednesday. When asked about actors’ delivery, BBC Drama Controller Ben Stephenson told BBC News, Read More »

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