The crowd at Dodger Stadium gave their Hall of Fame announcer a standing ovation when the team revealed during tonight’s game that he’ll be back in the booth next season. Vin Scully will return to announce Dodger games for a 66th season, more than any other broadcaster with a single team. The announcement was flashed on the scoreboard during the second inning. “Naturally there will come a time, when I will have to say goodbye” Scully, 86, said in a statement, “but I’ve soul-searched, and this is not the time.” The timing is good for Time Warner Cable, which could use a shot of positive PR right now. Earlier today, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler blamed the cable net for the impasse that is keeping most of Los Angeles-area pay TV customers from seeing the Dodgers — whose local TV rights are controlled by TWC’s SportsNet LA. Right after the announcement, TWC sent out a press release touting a postgame interview with Scully that will be available exclusively on — you guessed it — SportsNet LA.
The fanboy Super Bowl is over. Who made the most of San Diego Comic-Con and who spit the bit? Here’s the view from Deadline staffers who endured endless movie and TV show presentations. We’ll start with features:
WARNER BROS: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
The best Comic-Con panels show fans things they’ve never seen before. From that standpoint, Warner Bros changed the game by making the Hall H experience seem larger. It turned the dark curtains covering 450 feet down the sides of the auditorium into a wraparound multimedia visual experience that left jaded geeks looking left and right in wonder at images that complemented the onstage presentation. Expect others to rip this off. For star power: Zack Snyder introduced his Batman v Superman stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot and offered glimpses of the film. Warner Bros also wowed with explosive footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that looks like it could be the answer someday to this Trivial Pursuit question: What movie transformed Tom Hardy from a great actor into a big fucking movie star? Warner Bros also brought Middle Earth excitement to Hall H with a lengthy Hobbit: The Five Armies panel and footage that had LOTR fans aflutter.
MARVEL: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Marvel is always the must-see panel; not so much this year. Maybe it was DC Comics’ turn to shine, and maybe being a sequel factory imposes limits on the surprise front. They trotted out the superstar Avengers lineup — been there, done that! — with additions Josh Brolin, Aaron Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen. No Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, who was busy bitch-slapping Hercules at the box office in the Luc Besson film Lucy. Footage was OK, but Kevin Feige set a high bar for himself in past Cons, and this year he couldn’t clear it. Ant-Man brought Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (already knew they were in the movie), and plans for a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel were greeted by a collective “Duh!’ Feige could have told us what movies will fill all those release dates he recently staked out. He didn’t. Better luck next year, Marvel Man.
It’s been a rough week for one of the Worldwide Leader’s most prominent voices. But the next seven days should be easier for Stephen A. Smith now that ESPN has suspended him for on-air comments he made women provoking domestic violence. ”Stephen A. Smith will not appear on First Take or ESPN Radio for the next week,” the sports giant said in statement today. “He will return to ESPN next Wednesday.” (Read ESPN President John Skipper’s statement to employees below.) On Friday morning’s episode of First Take, Smith was debating with archfoil Skip Bayless about the NFL’s two-game suspension of Ray Rice after the star running back was seen on video dragging his then-fiancée out of an elevator. “There’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman,” the often polarizing analyst said at one point in his nearly 2 1/2-minute monologue (watch it below). But later he added: “We also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.”
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that British actor Simon Kassianides (Quantum Of Solace) has joined the second season of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a major recurring role. He will play Bakshi, a confident right-hand man who’s not afraid to do the dirty work. Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres September 23. Kassianides, repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and Sanders.Armstrong.Caserta Management, is one of several new cast additions, along with Lucy Lawless, who will play longtime S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Isabel Hartley; British actor Nick Blood, playing a mercenary; and Reed Diamond. Kassianides will next be seen in Relativity’s Desert Dancer.
UPDATE: 5:37PM: The company behind SportsNet LA isn’t getting any sympathy from the country’s top satellite TV provider regarding the impasse over Dodgers telecasts in Los Angeles. DirecTV issued an unambiguous statement today in the wake of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler blaming Time Warner Cable for the mess and threatening to take action if it isn’t resolved soon. And the satcaster believes it speaks for a number of pay TV rivals: “We agree with Congressman Sherman that any loyal Dodger fans deserve the opportunity to see games,” DirecTV said, “yet not at the expense of the millions of other AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications, Verizon FiOS and other families who have little or no interest in paying for Time Warner Cable’s excess. Rather than force everyone to bail Time Warner Cable out, the simplest solution is to enable only those who want to pay to see the remaining Dodgers games to do so at the price Time Warner Cable wants to set.”
Earlier today, TWC said it was open to having an arbitrator settle the matter, but DirecTV has shown no interest in that idea. “We are willing to enter into binding arbitration with DirecTV, and we appreciate the Congressman’s concern for Dodger fans,” TWC spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi said in a statement. “We prefer to reach agreements through private business negotiations, but given the current circumstance, we are willing to agree to binding arbitration and to allow DirecTV customers to watch the Dodgers games while the arbitration is concluded
PREVIOUSLY: 1:17PM: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has had it with the disputes that have kept most Los Angeles area pay TV customers from seeing the Dodgers — whose local TV rights are controlled by Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA. “Inaction is no longer acceptable,” Wheeler says in a tough letter today to TWC chief Rob Marcus. “I strongly urge you to end the impasses that are depriving Los Angeles consumers from being able to watch their home baseball team.” He adds that the FCC “intends to monitor this situation closely in order to determine whether intervention is appropriate and necessary.”
Announced early last year, SportsNet LA was born out of the 25-year, multibillion-dollar deal Time Warner Cable inked with the Dodgers for broadcast rights. Sources say TWC is seeking $4-$5 per subscriber per month for channel in the first year of the contract. Roughly 70% of LA remains without SportsNet including DirecTV, which has close to a 30% share of the market with more than 1.2 million subs.
EXCLUSIVE: To Tell The Truth is eyeing a comeback. FremantleMedia North America has teamed with Jeff Gaspin and George Moll on a new version of the classic celebrity panel game show. Eyed for primetime on the broadcast networks, the new To Tell The Truth is described as an update of the familiar format with a surprising new twist that adds action and suspense and raises the stakes. It will be taken out to buyers shortly.
Created by Bob Stewart, To Tell The Truth launched in the U.S. in 1956 and has gone through several incarnations on network TV and in syndication, airing a total of 25 seasons to date, with its most recent run ending in 2001. The original format features a panel of four celebrities who are introduced to three people who all claim to be the same person with the same incredible talent. One of them is telling the truth, and the other two are lying. After asking questions, the celebrities take turns identifying who they believe is telling the truth.
AT&T customers should start to see fewer buffering delays when they watch Netflix as a result of the new interconnection deal. The actual agreement was made in May. Since then they’ve “been working together to provision additional interconnect capacity to improve the viewing experience for our mutual subscribers,” the companies say. “We’re now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days.”
Netflix has complained that the deals that require it to pay to improve the quality of its transmissions effectively run afoul of the FCC’s goal to promote net neutrality. It has agreements with Comcast and Verizon similar to the new one with AT&T. Comcast, for one, has countered that Netflix is one of the biggest users of Internet bandwidth. What’s more, net neutrality rules apply to the links between an Internet service provider and the consumer, not the ones connecting content providers to ISPs.
Related: The ABCs Of Net Neutrality
The FCC is investigating these so-called peering arrangements as part of its effort to craft new net neutrality rules.
James L Brooks, who created iconic TV series including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi and The Simpsons and who three Oscars as writer, director and producer of Terms Of Endearment, has inked with WME. The 20-time Emmy winner is founder of Simpsons producer Gracie Films and has 10 Academy Award nominations overall including for writing and producing Broadcast News (1987), producing Jerry Maguire (1996) and producing and co-writing As Good As It Gets (1997). He will continue to be represented by Sam Fischer at Ziffren Brittenham.
WME also recently signed writer-producers Ian Goldberg (Once Upon A Time) and Patrick Harbinson (Homeland).
The Originals‘ Claire Holt is set as one of the leads opposite David Duchovny in NBC‘s upcoming series Aquarius, a gritty 1960s drama about a cop (Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. Holt, repped by CAA and Affirmative Entertainment, will play Officer Charmain Tully, a beautiful young officer who is dying to be taken seriously, but in the male-dominated world of the LAPD in 1967, that’s not easy. Holt’s credits also include the movie Messengers II: The Scarecrow and a recurring role on Pretty Little Liars.
Nickelodeon has ordered 26 episodes of 100 Things To Do Before High School, a new live-action comedy series from Big Time Rush creator/executive producer Scott Fellows. The half-hour, single-camera series follows three best friends as they navigate the highs and lows of middle school using a bucket list of adventures that help them overcome class cliques, bullies and clueless teachers. The series begins shooting in LA in the fall. It’s the kids network’s latest live-action play: It also has Henry Danger and Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, both of which premiere in September, and Bella And The Bulldogs.
Fellows, most recently a staff writer on The Fairly OddParents, also created and executive produced Nickelodeon’s Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide and DHX Media’s Johnny Test. The pickup of 100 Things comes after the departure of Nickelodeon‘s SVP Live-Action Development Brian Wright in May; he ended up at Netfilx. Wright originally shepherded Big Time Rush at the network among other hit series.
EXCLUSIVE: Maverick TV, producer of USA’s breakout docu-comedy Chrisley Knows Best, has teamed with Serious Business, the creators/executive producers of another breakout comedic program, Comedy Central‘s late-night entry @midnight, to develop #ThrowbackThursday, a new panel comedy series that taps into the hugely popular social-media phenomenon of sharing “throwback” photos and videos from the past every Thursday.
Funny and nostalgic #TBT pictures and videos will be presented by a host to a panel of top comedians, who will riff and poke fun at the embarrassing things people used to wear, say, and do. Adam Greener and Jim Sayer will executive produce for All3Media‘s Maverick TV, along with All3Media America’s Eli Holzman and Stephen Lambert and Serious Business principals Alex Blagg, Jason Nadler, and Jon Zimelis. The project is expected to be pitched to networks soon.
To quote the Thing from the Fantastic Four – “It’s clobberin time!” Just two days after Jack Kirby was honored at Comic-Con, lawyers for the heirs of the comic legend have replied to Marvel and Disney with a pummeling brief filed at the Supreme Court. “Respondents, although called to respond, do not address the legal issues. Instead, they focus on the wrong questions and the wrong court,” say lawyer Marc Toberoff and Tom Goldstein, a new attorney on the case, today. After failing repeatedly in lower courts, Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby petitioned the High Court on March 21 for a hearing. The heirs want SCOTUS to rule in favor of their assertion that they had the right in 2009 to issue dozens of termination notices to Marvel and others on the artist’s characters under the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act.
EXCLUSIVE: The six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic War And Peace is beginning to cast up. I hear that Downton Abbey’s Lily James and Prisoners’ Paul Dano have offers for lead roles and are seriously circling. The mini hails from BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Co and Ripper Street‘s Look Out Point. Described as one of the most ambitious event series ever made for the BBC, it will be produced by BBC Cymru Wales and scripted by Andrew Davies. James would play Natasha Rostova, one of the novel’s central characters, who ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov, the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. Dano would play Pierre. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.
The notoriously expansive novel begins in 1805 Russia and revolves around five aristocratic families set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Executive producers on the mini are BBC Cymru Wales drama chief Faith Penhale, BBC Wales’ George Ormond, Davies, Look Out Point’s Simon Vaughn and Harvey Weinstein.
The miniseries is due for air in the UK in 2015 and was a first sign of The Weinstein Co’s ambitions to forge into the European TV arena when it was announced in October. The company subsequently teamed with the BBC and Look Out on upcoming TV movie Stan And Ollie, which is being scripted by Philomena’s Jeff Pope. TWC also acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons of BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders.
Stating that “the future of California’s creative culture and economy depends on it,” 28 members of the California Democratic congressional delegation weighed in on runaway production, urging the state legislature to approve, and Gov. Jerry Brown to sign, an enhanced tax credit to keep film and TV production from fleeing the state. “We fear a day, not too far off, when the film industry in California is hollowed out and it becomes easier to produce a movie or television show in New York or Louisiana than in California,” the delegation said in a statement sent to California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. “As production moves out of our state, skilled human capital will relocate along with it, and our greatest competitive advantage, our talented workforce will move elsewhere. If that happens, it will be a tragedy for our state’s economy and our cultural history.”
I’ve learned that TV Land has opted not to renew comedy Kirstie for a second season. The decision comes five months after the show ended its freshman run. Kirstie was not a ratings or critical hit but it featured a dream cast of sitcom stars: Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards. The show revolved around Madison “Maddie” Banks (Alley), a Broadway star who finds her life turned upside down when Arlo (Eric Petersen), her long-lost son, turns up looking to connect after his adopted mother dies. Perlman played Maddie’s assistant and best friend; Richards played Maddie’s outlandish driver. Possibly factoring into TV Land’s decision was the fact that Kirstie creator/executive producer/showrunner Marco Pennette left at the end of Season 1 for personal reasons and the network had to search for a new showrunner.
VH1 definitely is rah-rah about its NBA cheerleader soap, giving it a third season pickup-and-roll two weeks before its Season 2 finale. Hit The Floor will return for 10 episodes starting in May. According to the network, the ensemble series about the fictional Los Angeles Devils Girls cheer squad is the No. 1 ad-supported scripted drama on cable among women 18-49. It stars Dean Cain, Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige, Logan Browning, Valery Ortiz, Katherine Bailess, Jonathan McDaniel, McKinley Freeman, Rob Riley, Adam Senn, Brent Antonello, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe and Don Stark. “Hit The Floor delivered again with fantastic ratings and social media engagement in season two, especially among women,” said Susan Levison, EVP Original Programming & Production at VH1. “We look forward to seeing what kind of trouble the Devil Girls will get into next season.”
EXCLUSIVE: Emily Hampshire (Rookie Blue) and Tom Noonan (Hell On Wheels) have been cast in major recurring roles on Syfy‘s adventure thriller series 12 Monkeys, inspired by Terry Gilliam’s 1995 movie starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. The 13-episode show centers on Willis’ character Cole, played in the series by Aaron Stanford. Utilizing a dangerous and untested method of time travel, Cole journeys from 2043 to the present on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a deadly plague that will all but annihilate the human race.
Canadian actress Hampshire, repped by Intellectual Artists Management and Canada’s Creative Drive Artists and K.L. Benzakein Talent, will play Jennifer Goines, a female version of the Jeffrey Goines character played in the movie by Pitt. Jennifer is a dangerous, unstable mental patient who might have the key to unraveling the 12 Monkeys mystery locked away in her head. Noonan, repped by Vanguard Management and AKA Talent Agency, plays a newly created character, a mysterious villain who is the face of the enigmatic Army of the 12 Monkeys. Imposing and intelligent, Noonan’s character will be at the center of the conspiracy. The series, which also co-stars Amanda Schull (Dr. Cassandra Railly), Kirk Acevedo (Ramse) and Noah Bean (Aaron Marker), starts production on August 6 in Toronto. Showrunner Natalie …
The CW today unveiled a new two-hour special titled The World Dog Awards for January 2015, which promises to combine Hollywood award season and man’s best friends. The gist: dogs will be celebrated for their work in entertainment, health services, the military, and the Internet (sample category: Best Actor in a Supporting Role to a Dog). The location of the show? Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar, of course. There will be viewer voting, edible trophies and musical performances from some of today’s biggest acts (Snoop Dogg, anyone?).
Also for noting on network TV schedules: NBC said it will again air a three-hour block for its American Ninja Warrior international competition. USA Vs. The World, featuring five of the top U.S. competitors against a group from Japan and Europe on the show’s finals course, will air Monday, September 15 from 8-11 PM. It will encore the next night on NBCU sibling Esquire Network. Among the names not on the U.S. roster: Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to make the show’s finals. Her Dallas run has more than 8 million views on YouTube. Maybe they’ll make an exception?
Sons of Anarchy hunk Charlie Hunnam couldn’t make the show’s final panel, ahead of its final season, at Comic-Con this weekend, thanks to a Vogue magazine photo shoot. So with some help from his suddenly servile show colleagues, the SOA people put together this hugely entertaining video showing what Hunnam was really doing on Sunday instead. The video drew big laughs from the audience at the Hall H panel. Check it out here: