In case you missed this hysterical story from Chris Pratt on Late Night With Seth Meyers Wednesday night, the Parks And Recreation actor recounted when he opted to take a nude scene — a little too far. Pratt told Meyers, ”It’s kind of funny now because they’re not going to fire me — I don’t think, because we’re going to be done this year. Wait! They could. They sent me a letter saying that I’m not suppose to make a joke about this, so just so you know, this is really serious.” Unlike other comedians whose bad jokes ran afoul with the NBC suits in the past (i.e. Norm MacDonald’s Saturday Night Live Weekend Update stint and then NBC West Coast Executive Don Ohlmeyer), Pratt luckily lived to see another day. He stars in Disney/Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, opening Friday. Take a look at Pratt’s sitdown with Meyers:
Summer turned out to be the place to launch for midseason NBC series. Multi-camera comedy Undateable has been picked up for a 10-episode second season, following a similar renewal for drama The Night Shift. Both found a way to transform themselves from summer burn-offs to solid performers to returning series. Airing back-to-back originals, Undateable premiered with a 1.3 rating in adults 18-49, almost doubling the debut of NBC’s 2013 comedy series Save Me to post the highest-rated summer comedy premiere on the Big 4 networks in five years (since ABC’s toon The Goode Family on 5/27/2009). It even edged one of NBC’s fall Thursday comedy debuts, Welcome To The Family (1.2 on 10/2/13). Undateable‘s numbers slipped but largely stayed above the original broadcast comedies that aired last summer and kept clear of the lows posted by several NBC fall comedies last season, like The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World and Welcome to the Family. Undateable, whose first season consisted of 13 episodes, also regularly topped Fox drama Gang Related. “Overexcited to do 2nd season of Undateable on NBC,” executive producer Bill Lawrence tweeted tonight. The renewal of Undateable, from Warner Bros. TV and Lawrence’s Doozer, bodes well for NBC’s midseason entry One Big Happy which was going to be the single multi-camera comedy on the network’s schedule next season. Created by Adam Sztykiel based on the book by Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle, Undateable stars Chris D’Elia as a carefree single thirtysomething who befriends a group of …
Though videogames can be massive sellers (witness those billion-dollar debuts last fall for Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: Ghosts), every title faces rapid obsolescence, at least in gamers’ eyes. Three years after hitting the shelves, even the hottest titles can look woefully quaint compared to the latest stuff. That creates a wildly different set of economic realities compared to Hollywood, where so much money is made from library titles, produced (and paid for) years ago and the sold, repackaged, and sold again on various distribution platforms around the globe.
But Sony’s game unit is now trying to make a similar library play with its deep collection of titles stretching back to the launch of the first PlayStation 20 years ago. Today Sony Computer Entertainment launched the open beta test of its PlayStation Now network, which will feature more than 100 updated, rentable versions of its older titles, including hits such as Spyro the Dragon from L.A.-based Insomniac Games.
With some Frank Underwood-esque delivery help from a virtualized Kevin Spacey, the “reveal” trailer for the next installment of Activision Blizzard’s behemoth game franchise, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, easily topped YouTube’s charts of the second quarter’s most-watched trailers. COD’s 20.9 million views were nearly 3 million more than the No.2 trailer, for X-Men:Days of Future Past, and two to three times the views of No. 3, the game Mortal Kombat X, and No. 4, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.
Though it’s difficult to be definitive, the trailer’s massive audience, accrued between its May 1 debut and the end of the quarter on June 30, suggests Activision will have yet another massive hit when COD: Advanced Warfare arrives on Nov. 4.
That said, betting on a big COD launch isn’t a reach: after all, last fall Call of Duty: Ghosts sold more than $1 billion worth of units in its first DAY.
You can watch the trailer here, especially if you’re interested in seeing Spacey voice one of his most cynical and calculating characters ever (and after House of Cards, that’s saying something):
Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Daniel Petrie, Jr. (Beverly Hills Cop) will be serving as the executive producer and showrunner of Hallmark Channel‘s 10-episode original scripted series, The Good Witch, based on the network’s telefilm franchise. Series will air in the first quarter of 2015, following the debut of the seventh movie in the franchise, The Good Witch’s Wonder on October 25. The Good Witch stars Catherine Bell as the raven-haired enchantress Cassie Nightingale. The Good Witch is executive produced by Orly Adelson, Jonathan Eskenas, Frank Siracusa and Craig Pryce, who directed the films based on characters by Rod Spence. Bell also serves as co-executive producer. ITV Studios America will The Good Witch outside North America.
Petrie is the former two-time President of the WGAwest. Recently, he sold his comedy pilot Siberia to Gaumont International Television for TF1, which centers around two odd couple police officers who are serving in a faraway precinct where all department misfits get sent. He also finished directing the indie film Dawn Patrol for Enderby Entertainment, which stars Scott Eastwood, Rita Wilson and Jeff Fahey. Petrie’s scribe and producing credits also include Shoot to Kill and Turner & Hooch. He also co-wrote and directed Toy Soldiers, the TNT telefilm Framed and executive produced The 6th Day and the series Combat Hospital. He is repped by APA, manager Jeff Field, and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller, L.L.P.
After three decades of futility, The Normal Heart figures to be at the center of the Primetime Emmy Awards. It received 16 nominations, including one for its director Ryan Murphy, and for the performances of Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Joe Mantello (who starred in the original play), Jim Parsons, and Alfred Molina. And one for Larry Kramer, who turned a roman a clef version of his fight against indifference to the AIDS crisis into the play on which the movie is based. Between The Normal Heart and his series American Horror Story and Glee, Murphy’s productions racked up 34 Emmy noms, more than some networks. Here, he discusses the groundbreaking movie, the long battle to get it to the screen and how Barbra Streisand helped keep The Normal Heart beating all those years.
DEADLINE: For me and anyone else in their 50s who lived in a city like New York, The Normal Heart brought back that Twilight Zone nightmare period when we watched friends die and were powerless to help, amidst rampant political apathy because most of those stricken were gay. Larry Kramer’s refusal to go quietly made him a true screen hero, though he was equally vocal that his heartbreaking play took three decades to get made. How long did this movie burn in you?
MURPHY: I was in college when the play came out and had seen productions of it through the years, and I always deeply admired it. I grew up in that era where things were very scary. I lost 10 friends to AIDS and so it was always an important piece of art in my life. I followed the project’s trajectory starting in 1987, and was always very sad that it was not made into a movie. I always felt that the current generation, so many young people, didn’t know what happened, was unaware of the nightmare we lived through back then.
DEADLINE: How did that translate to action?
MURPHY: It was pretty simple. I woke up one day in 2009 and thought, why has this movie not been made? My producing partner Dante Di Loreto knew Larry and called him. The rights were lapsing and Larry agreed to meet with me. He didn’t know who I was, or any of my previous work. I think he was taken by my passion.
That may be the only way to break the impasse between Time Warner Cable‘s SportsNet LA, which controls the team’s TV rights, and pay TV distributors, DirecTV CEO Michael White said today. His comment followed a conference call this morning where TWC CFO Arthur Minson urged analysts to “assume we do not sign additional affiliate agreements for the Dodgers network this year.” Indeed he helped them to compute the potential impact, saying that the lack of an agreement could shave 50 basis points [or 0.5%] from TWC’s expected revenue growth this year and 125 basis points [or 1.25%] from its expected cash flow growth.
White said, in a separate meeting with analysts, that he feels no business pressure to back down from his view that SportsNet’s just too expensive with terms for about $5 per subscriber per month. Even without Dodgers games ”we’re actually positive net adds” for subscriptions in the LA area in the three months ending in June. Now he has little hope of a resolution “without the active and constructive participation of the ownership of the Dodgers.” White says that in June his company made an offer that would have given the team more than it collected from all distributors last year. “It was rejected out of hand by Time Warner Cable.”
He won’t back down because the terms that TWC accepted to handle the Lakers and Dodgers TV rights “creates stratospheric pricing…If you did it for all of the sports team you’d be at $26 per subscriber per month in the …
The first trailer has dropped for DirecTV’s 10-episode drama series Kingdom. From creator Byron Balasco and Endemol Studios, Kingdom (previously titled Navy St) takes place in Venice, California, and is set against the backdrop of Mixed Martial Arts. Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas and Joanna Going star. Kingdom premieres October 8. Check out this first look:
Brooklyn Sudano has booked a lead role in Lifetime’s original movie With This Ring, slated to debut this year. Written and directed by Nzingha Stewart (The Game), the romantic comedy revolves around three single best friends, who after attending the lavish wedding of their best friend on New Year’s Eve, make the vow to be married within the year. Sudano, repped by APA and Greenlight Management, will play Elise, the bride-to-be getting married who relies on her best friends to get her down the aisle when she gets a little case of cold feet. Sudano most recently starred in the ABC pilot, Westside. Other TV credits include ABC’s My Wife And Kids, and CW pilot, Dakota. Her film work includes 5 Star Day and Sinners And Saints.
Teri Polo (The Fosters) is set for a lead role in original movie The Christmas Shepherd, set to debut on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel later this year. Polo will play Sally Browing, a children’s book author and illustrator who’s devastated when her beloved German Shepherd, Buddy, runs away during a thunderstorm. Buddy miraculous ends up in Boston with Mark Green (Martin Cummins) and his teenage daughter who are recovering from losing his wife and her mother three years ago. Browing connects with Mark and Emma in her search for Buddy and everyone is given the best Christmas present possible, the gift of Love. Polo, repped by Gersh and Bob McGowan, just wrapped feature Isn’t It Romantic and will return to her role on …
For the Saturday, Aug. 23 season launch of Doctor Who, BBC America is pulling out all the stops with a slew of televised and theatrical events. It’s all a part of celebrating actor Peter Capaldi’s first season as the mysterious, time-travelling Doctor. Similar to his respective Walking Dead and Breaking Bad fan/guest chat shows, Talking Dead and Talking Bad, Chris Hardwick will host Doctor Who: Live Pre-Show at 7:30 PM ET prior to the 8PM ET premiere and Doctor Who: After Who Live at 11:00 PM ET following the first episode of BBC America’s new Mira Sorvino series Intruders. The pre-show and post-show will feature an array of guests in the studio including writer and actor Mark Gatiss as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.
Spell M-E-R-G-E-R: E.W. Scripps, Journal Communications Will Create TV-Station Powerhouse, Spin Off Newspapers
Here’s the latest installment in the media merger mania saga: Journal Communications shares are up 26.6% with E.W. Scripps +10.6% today after the companies unveiled a plan to merge TV operations and spin off their newspapers. The TV company will retain the E.W. Scripps name and be controlled by the Scripps family (which will retain control of the popular Scripps National Spelling Bee).
The company will become the No. 5 independent TV group, reaching 18% of all households with stations in 27 markets including eight political battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. Scripps will own affiliates for all of the Big Four networks, but will be especially important to ABC with 15 of its affiliates.
EMMYS: TV Academy To Honor Casting Queen Marion Dougherty With Governors Award; Announces Juried Winners
Casting director Marion Dougherty will be posthumously awarded the 2014 Governors Award, the Television Academy said today. It will be presented, along with the Juried Award winners (also announced today) during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday, August 16 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.
Dougherty, who passed away in 2011, is being recognized for defining the role of the Casting Director, changing the profession for both television and film. She broke the mold of traditional casting, which commonly involved bringing in a large number of the same type of actors to read for a role. Instead, she would bring three or four very different actors to provide the director with casting options, and performers who could bring unique shadings to the roles. She used that approach in casting Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Martin Sheen, William Shatner, Christopher Walken, Robert Duval, Glenn Close and James Caan in some of their earliest roles.
Among her many achievements: suggesting to Norman Lear that Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton play Archie and Edith on Lear’s pilot for a new series called All In The Family; convincing Richard Donner to cast Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon even though his part was written for a white male; and casting Robin Williams in Garp, his first dramatic role.
There was a push in 1991 to get Dougherty the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Oscar — with the likes of Warner Bros’ Mark Rosenberg, Paula Weinstein, Newman, Woody Allen and Sydney Pollack behind the campaign — but that lobbying effort failed.
VH1 is bolstering its New York programming team with the hire of Jennifer McGovern as VP, Development, East Coast and Ken Martinez as VP, Current Production, East Coast. They will report to Nina L. Diaz, SVP, East Coast Production and Development. In addition, Vivian Gomez has been promoted to Director, Current Production.
McGovern will be responsible for the development of all East Coast original unscripted programming and lead the East Coast development team. She comes from Oxygen where she was Director of Development and Production since August 2010, working on such series as The Glee Project, I’m Having Their Baby and the upcoming Funny Girls and Nail’d It! Before Oxygen, McGovern was Manager of Alternative Series at TLC, working on Sarah Palin’s Alaska, Brace For Impact: The Chesley B. Sullenberger Story and Police Women Of Broward County, and worked as manager of development at Fox TV Studios.
Martinez will head up production on all East Coast original programming and manage the network’s slate of current unscripted series. He comes from Big Fish Entertainment, where he was an executive producer on the VH1 series Black Ink Crew. He also worked as a producer on Celebrity Wife Swap for ABC and From G’s To Gents on MTV as well as VH1′s Rock Of Love, Gotti’s Way, Flavor Of Love and My Fair Brady. In her new role, Gomez will executive produce multiple series, including Love …
Lyvers comes from Television 360, a division of Management 360, where she oversaw the department’s development and production slate including Avenues Of Spies, Heartland Trucking and The Terror, among others. She previously served as VP Development & Production at Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal’s Tribeca Productions where for more than 10 years she oversaw the feature film and television slate.
Bennett joins CBS from Fox where she was Director, Drama Development, working on Sleepy Hollow, The Following, Gang Related, Almost Human and the upcoming Red Band Society, Empire and Backstrom. This marks her return to CBS TV Studios where she worked as an assistant in comedy development before joining the CW as a drama development coordinator.
The company that sensationalizes pain seemed to feel a lot of it in Q2: The bold $9.99 a month streaming video venture that World Wrestling Entertainment launched in February only had 700,000 subscribers at the end of June, it says today. That’s half of the 1.4M that the company said in May it needs to offset lost pay-per-view TV sales, much of it from fans watching online. The growth rate is nothing to brag about. WWE Network only added 33,000 subs in Q2. In April the company boasted that it was “well on its way to reaching its goal of 1 million subscribers by the end of 2014.”
Now it’s bracing for the point in a few weeks — after SummerSlam on August 17 — when initial subs’ six-month commitment expires. SummerSlam “will likely be the biggest draw through the remainder of the year,” Benchmark Co’s Mike Hickey observed yesterday. As a result, “We suspect subscribers will wrestle with the decision to immediately renew their six month subscription.”
So why is the stock up 7.9% today? Some investors believe that WWE’s been beat up enough; even with today’s uptick, shares are down 36% over the last three months. And WWE employees are sharing some of the pain. The company says it will slash its staff by 7%, contributing to a $30M improvement in its cash flow outlook for this year.
The Q2 numbers also weren’t as bad as analysts expected. Revenues at $156.3M, +2.6% from last year, came close to projections for $156.8M. The net loss, at 14.5M vs …
Legendary Hollywood makeup artist Dick Smith has died at the age of 92. His protege and fellow makeup genius Rick Baker tweeted the sad news this morning.
“The master is gone. My friend and mentor Dick Smith is no longer with us. The world will not be the same.”
Smith’s iconic transformations appeared in films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver and The Exorcist, in which he created the device that allowed Linda Blair to projectile vomit. He also transformed the look of F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus, as he aged in the film from his 40s to his 80s. In 2011, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences presented Smith with an honorary Oscar (Smith’s second, his first was for Amadeus) at the Governors Awards. It was presented by Baker who called Smith “my idol, mentor, and friend for over 40 years, the greatest makeup artist of all time”. On accepting the award, an emotional, tearful Smith said ”When I watch the wonderful films they just showed, I thought, ‘What a wonderful career this fellow has had.’ I have loved being a makeup artist. To have had so much kindness is just too much.”
Earlier in his career, he worked on the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, a project he credited with being valuable preparation for the 1970 film Little Big Man. In Dark Shadows, vampire Barnabas Collins was undergoing medical treatment to change him into a living human being. …
In 2012, China relaxed its feature film import quota, upping the total number of foreign movies eligible for a 25% revenue-share slot to 34. In the meantime, online has been a pretty freewheeling space where American culture has been given a large window to be exploited in the country. In the past few months, however, there has been an increase in cracking down on online content. And today, Chinese media says a plan may be afoot to impose a quota system on the licensing of overseas programs by video websites. The idea being mulled over by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television would have implications for video giants like Sohu, Youku Tudou and Tencent who collectively stream about 400 American and British TV shows — with audiences rabid for the likes of Sherlock, The Vampire Diaries and others.
I’m cautioned that there has been talk for a long time about applying stricter censorship enforcement to online content, and China specialist Rob Cain tells me, “It would be no surprise to see it enacted.” He says the Communist party “wants to set the rules of morality and proper conduct in China — essentially to keep people behaving in ‘appropriate’ ways that support, or at least don’t threaten, the (party)’s rule or legitimacy — and foreign programs are generally perceived as a threat, often referred to as ‘cultural pollution.’ ”