Entertainment News Report: June 4th – 8th

HBO

HBO Says No Go To “Take My Money, HBO”
(Deadline June 6th)
How much would you pay to receive HBO without having to first shell out about $50 a month for basic cable or satellite service? The range for most fans seems to be $10 to $20 a month — with a lot of people settling on $12 — according to a web site, Take My Money, HBO, introduced last night to highlight consumer interest in receiving HBO outside the pay TV ecosystem.

HBO GO To Light Up Amazon’s Kindle Fire
(Deadline June 6th)
A milestone announcement today for HBO’s streaming platform. The new HBO GO app, available at the Amazon Appstore for Android, should significantly expand the number of HBO subscribers who’ll be able to use a mobile device to watch the premium channel’s 1,400 titles including original series such as The Sopranos, Sex And The City, and True Blood. It also suggests that it won’t be long before HBO GO will be ready for other Android tablets.

‘Game Of Thrones’ Hits Series High In Season Finale With 4.2 Million Viewers
(Deadline June 4th)
The second-season finale of HBO’s Game Of Thrones last night drew a series-high 4.2 million viewers at 9 PM, up 38% from the Season 1 closer’s 3 million. With an additional 910,000 viewers tuning in for the 11:10 PM replay, the combined gross audience for the night was 5.1 million viewers.

SHOWTIME

Showtime Orders Larry Wilmore Political Comedy Special
(Deadline June 7th)
Showtime is getting into an election mode with Larry Wilmore’s Race, Religion And Sex, a one-hour comedy special starring Larry Wilmore, in which he explores issues dealing with race, religion and sex through comedy, satire and political commentary. The pay cable network has ordered one special with a possibility for more, and I hear a potential second show is eyed to air before the November Presidential elections.

FX

FX To Run Preview Episode Of ‘Wilfred’ On Multiple Platforms Ahead Of Season 2 Bow
(Deadline June 7th)
FX is the latest network to offer a preview of a series ahead of its premiere. In the vein of what its sibling Fox did with New Girl before its launch last year, FX will preview its breakout hit comedy series Wilfred across multiple platforms over a two-week period beginning June 14 in advance of the series’ Season 2 premiere June 28.

A&E

‘Longmire’ Most-Watched A&E Scripted Series Debut Ever With 4.1M Viewers
(Deadline June 4th)
It was a strong night for cable dramas last night. After the second-season finale of HBO’s Game Of Thrones posted a series high 4.2 million viewers at 9 PM, the series premiere of A&E’s Longmire at 10 PM drew 4.1 million total viewers to become the network’s most-watched scripted series debut of all time and the highest-rated new cable scripted drama of 2012 among total viewers and adults 25-54 (1.4 million viewers).

SYFY

Syfy Acquires Third Season Of ‘Lost Girl’
(Deadline June 5th)
Syfy has acquired a third season of Canadian drama series Lost Girl, which is currently in production. The first two seasons of the Canadian import have done well for Syfy — during Season 2 to date, Lost Girl is averaging 895,000 adults 18-49, 930,000 adults 25-54 and 1.64 million total viewers in Live+7 data. It is the No. 1 cable drama among adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 in its Monday time period.

DISH NETWORK

Dish Network Toys With Hoak Media In New Retransmission Consent Dispute
(Deadline June 6th)
Talk about an unfair fight. Dish Network — which has gone toe-to-toe with some of the biggest companies in media — now is swatting around Hoak Media, a little-known Dallas-based broadcaster with 14 TV stations concentrated in rural markets in the mid-west and south.

Dish Network Kicks AMC Networks Channels To Nosebleed Section Of The Dial
(Deadline June 4th)
It would be funny if it didn’t inconvenience so many of the satellite company’s subscribers. Last night, Dish sent AMC Networks’ viewers scrambling to find AMC, WEtv, and IFC as tensions between the companies intensified. The No. 2 satellite company moved AMC from channel 130 to 9609 (for standard definition) and 9610 (for HD), WeTV from 128 to 9608, and IFC from 393 to 9607.

MISCELLANEOUS

Documentary About Andy Whitfield’s Final Days Reaches Out To Fans For Funding
(Deadline June 8th)
When Spartacus star Andy Whitfield was battling cancer in the last months of his life, he had a camera crew with him every step of the way. The result is Be Here Now, a feature-length documentary project about the late actor, which is launching a campaign to raise money for its completion.

EMMYS: Farhad Safinia, The Man Who Keeps The ‘Boss’ Machine Running
(Deadline June 7th)
Farhad Safinia has done quite well for a guy testing the rocky waters of series television for the first time. With only one other previous gig (co-writing the 2006 feature Apocalypto with star-producer-director Mel Gibson), the Iranian-born Safinia was not only able to persuade Kelsey Grammer to transform himself into a dramatic lead, he also talked Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht into giving his political drama Boss a series order.

China’s Bona Film Group Talking With Hollywood Studios About Co-Prods: WSJ
(Deadline June 4th)
The Chinese distributor that recently secured a strategic investment from News Corp said it is in discussions with Universal, Sony, Paramount and News Corp’s Fox about co-producing movies for global distribution. Bona CEO Dong Yu told the Wall Street Journal that the company hopes to do two movies a year through such co-productions, with an eye toward kicking off the first project in 2013.

Charter Communications To Open Big Apple Office For Top Brass
(Deadline June 4th)
Most companies help newly hired top execs to relocate themselves and their families to live near the company headquarters. But it looks like Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge would prefer to relocate the top echelon of the St. Louis-based company to his stomping grounds in or around New York City.

SPIKE Reality TV Series: Last Family on Earth

Just in time for the potential end of the world later this year, Spike TV has greenlighted Last Family On Earth, a new competition reality series in which families vie for a spot in an underground fortified Vivos bunker. Produced by Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Studios, the six-episode one-hour series will premiere this fall, with the finale, in which the winning family move into their bunker, airing just before December 21 — when some expect potential cataclysmic demise as allegedly predicted by the Mayan calendar.

(Click here to read more)

Entertainment Report: May 19th – 25th

HBO

Mark Hudis To Succeed Alan Ball As ‘True Blood’ Showrunner, Inks HBO Overall Deal
(Deadline May 22nd) True Blood co-executive producer Mark Hudis will take the reins of the hit HBO vampire drama if it gets renewed for a sixth season. With True Blood creator/executive producer Alan Ball stepping down as showrunner at the end of the upcoming fifth season, Hudis would be upped to executive producer/showrunner for Season 6 as part of an overall deal he has signed with HBO. The two-year pact also includes a development component.

HBO, ‘Valentino’ Helmer Matt Tyrnauer Plan Pic On Socialite Wife Of Johnny Carson’s Producer Freddie De Cordova
(Deadline May 22nd) On the 20th anniversary of Johnny Carson’s final Tonight Show, HBO has optioned Once Upon A Time In Beverly Hills, an article Matt Tyrnauer wrote in the March 2011 issue of Vanity Fair. HBO will develop it into a movie about the long, unusual relationship between Beverly Hills socialite Janet de Cordova and her longtime housekeeper Gracie Covarrubias.

HBO Developing Comedy Series Starring Catherine Keener And Written & Directed By Charlie Kaufman
(Deadline May 21st) Frequent feature collaborators Charlie Kaufman and Catherine Keener are teaming for a TV series project. In a competitive situation, a half-hour comedy starring Oscar nominee Keener and to be written and directed by Oscar winner Kaufman has landed at HBO, which has put it on fast-track development.

SHOWTIME

Showtime Launches Free Weekend Promotion Targeting TV Academy Members
(Deadline May 23rd) Several years ago Showtime was the first network to send full seasons of its series to TV Academy members. Now it is the first to make full seasons of its Emmy hopefuls available for free to anyone including academy members for three days. During one of the busiest Emmy weekend voting periods — from Friday, June 15 to Sunday, June 17 — Showtime will be available for free nationwide via DirecTV and in New York and Los Angeles on the Time Warner Cable systems. Titled Best in SHO, the Emmy Free Weekend promotion, the first ever for a pay cable network, will feature marathon runs of the network’s original programming: series Homeland, Shameless, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, House Of Lies, The Borgias, The Big C, Weeds and Californication, and documentary Rebirth. The free preview weekend also will give viewers access to the season finales of Nurse Jackie, The Big C and The Borgias on that Sunday.

TV LAND

TV Land Orders Comedy Pilots Produced By Ben Silverman And Scott Stuber
(Deadline May 24th) TV Land has given cast-contingent orders to two new comedy pilots, the single-camera I’m Not Dead Yet from Ben Silverman’s Electus and the multi-camera Brothers-In-Law, executive produced by Scott Stuber.

REELZChannel

ReelzChannel Acquires U.S. Rights To ‘Pillars’ Follow-Up ‘World Without End’
(Deadline May 22nd) ReelzChannel has snagged U.S. premiere rights to the eight-hour miniseries World Without End, the sequel to Scott Free Films and Tandem Communications’ mini The Pillars Of The Earth that aired last year on Starz and garnered seven Emmy nominations.

 

ONE THREE MEDIA

Mark Burnett’s Company Launches Scripted Unit, Taps Anne Thomopoulos To Run It
(Deadline May 22nd) One Three Media, reality heavyweight Mark Burnett’s joint venture with Hearst, is expanding into scripted television. It has hired HBO veteran Anne Thomopoulos to start a new scripted division for drama series and miniseries and run it.

AEREO

Will The Judge In The Aereo Case Tip Her Hand On Broadcasters’ Copyright Claims?
(Deadline May 24th) Everyone interested in the potentially precedent-setting dispute between broadcasters and the fledgling Aereo streaming service will be watching what happens at the U.S. District Court in New York beginning on Wednesday. Judge Alison Nathan will hold a hearing to consider a request by broadcasters to bar Aereo from selling subscriptions while the courts determine whether it infringes on copyrights.

HULU

Hulu Unveils Summer Slate Of Original And Exclusive Shows
(Deadline May 21st) Proving that summer doesn’t have to mean the start of rerun season, Hulu today announced a full slate of new original and exclusive TV shows that begin premiering on June 4th on Hulu and the Hulu Plus subscription service. Hulu’s summer lineup offers new TV shows for all kinds of entertainment fans, from comedy, sci-fi, travel, reality and even a little magic.

NATPE

Longtime TV Exec Rod Perth Named NATPE President & CEO
(Deadline May 22nd) Rod Perth, a former president of USA Network and co-founder of ReelzChannel, has been appointed president and CEO of the National Association of Television Programming Executives. He will oversee the vision, strategic evolution, marketing, programming and financial/administrative operations of the organization and replaces Rick Feldman, who stepped down in February after nine years in the post.

MISCELLANEOUS

UPDATE: Dish Network And Broadcasters Ask Courts To Decide Whether Ad-Zapping DVR Is Legal
(Deadline May 24th) The legal actions are flying. Dish Network filed a complaint of its own this afternoon to protect its Hopper DVR (read it here). And now NBC and CBS have joined the fray with suits against Dish, similar to the one Fox filed earlier. Dish asked the U.S. District Court in New York for a jury trial and declaratory judgement that the Auto Hop ad skipper is “in full compliance with copyright law and its re-broadcast agreements” with ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBCUniversal.

Adam Mazer Signs On To Write Miami Nightclub Owner Biopic
(Deadline May 23rd) Atlas Entertainment has made a pre-emptive pitch sale to New Line Cinema and is currently developing a script based on the life of Chris Paciello, the nightclub impresario who transformed the Miami club scene. Emmy® winning writer, Adam Mazer (HBO’s You Don’t Know Jack) has been tapped to write the original screenplay.

Big Media Chiefs Tell Cable Operators To Speed Up ‘TV Everywhere’
(Deadline May 23rd) Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and News Corp COO Chase Carey took the message to The Cable Show this morning, urging attendees to jump on the Internet video bandwagon — even if it means relaxing their grip on the relationship with their customers. “We’ve just got to do it faster,” Bewkes says about TV Everywhere, the service that enables subscribers to watch TV shows on mobile devices. Carey agreed that “it should go faster,” adding that “we get too hung up on protecting the rules of the past.”

Verizon Wireless Unveils “Viewdini” Mobile Entertainment Search Portal
(Deadline May 22nd) Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead says this is  ”one of our most important announcements of the year.” The service will be in the market within a month, he told attendees at The Cable Show in Boston. It initially will be available to Verizon Wireless customers with 4G LTE Android devices, but other systems will be added “soon.” Comcast Xfinity is the first partner, Mead says.

Cable Execs Warn That Dish Network’s Ad-Zapping DVR Could Lead To Higher Costs
(Deadline May 21st) Broadcasters received moral support this morning from cable in the looming battle against the new Auto Hop feature on Dish Network‘s Hopper DVRs, which enables the machines to automatically recognize and skip over ads on recorded shows. “In the end a technology like that could create real carnage for the industry,” Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav said in a panel opening this week’s annual Cable Show.

Cable Operators Open Public WiFi HotSpots To Each Other’s Customers
(Deadline May 21st) The change could give cable operators a powerful edge in their competition with phone company broadband services — Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett calls the strategic implications “profound.” It will enable broadband subscribers at Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Cox, and Bright House Networks to access the Web for free at about 50,000 hotspots.

Interactive Trailers the way of the future?

Hot Interactive Trailer: ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

(Posted on Deadline May 22nd, 2012) Movie trailers are almost a commodity now, turning up in numerous places online, so movie companies must do something special to make theirs stand out. Having compelling footage helps, but Universal‘s Snow White And The Huntsman has gone a further step, releasing an interactive trailer that offers viewers behind-the-scenes clips, trivia about the movie and various features. Of course there’s an upsale at the end too, encouraging viewers to buy advance tickets. The movie opens wide June 1.

Entertainment Report: May 12th – 18th

HBO

HBO To Develop 1980s Wall Street Comedy Starring Rob Riggle With Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg And Chris Henchy
(Deadline May 14th) The Other Guys gang is back together, this time on HBO. The pay cable network is developing a comedy project for Rob Riggle to star and produce. The single-camera comedy, based on an idea by Riggle, is being written by Adam McKay and Chris Henchy. Set in the world of bond traders in 1980s Wall Street, it revolves around a successful, hard-living boss (Riggle) who lives a dark, self-centered, unhealthy life.

STARZ

Kirk Douglas Aboard For ‘Spartacus’ Panel At TV Academy
(Deadline May 14th) Kirk Douglas will join Spartacus: Vengeance creator-producer Steven S. DeKnight and star Liam McIntyre at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on May 31 to discuss the cultural impact of Spartacus then and now. Douglas, who starred in the 1960 feature film, just had his book I Am Spartacus! Making A Film, Breaking The Blacklist published by Open Road Media.

COMCAST

Comcast’s New Broadband Price Tests Raise Questions For Video Streaming
(Deadline May 17th) This is a subject that chills web video companies and customers — especially the day after Verizon Wireless announced that it will eliminate its unlimited data subscriptions for 4G customers. Comcast, the No. 1 broadband provider, said in a blog post that it’s “time to begin to move to a new plan” for its Internet service.

Comcast’s XFinity Launches Skype Service
(Deadline May 16th) Comcast today announced that Skype™ on Xfinity®, a new widescreen HD video calling experience, is now available in Boston and Seattle as the company begins its nationwide rollout of the service. Before the end of the week, the service will also be available in the following metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Augusta, Ga., Chicago, Detroit, Harrisburg, Pa., Indianapolis, Miami and Pittsburgh. With Skype on Xfinity, customers are able to make and receive video calls from their TV in HD picture quality, as well as send and receive instant messages via Skype while watching TV at the same time.

BBC

BBC Greenlights ‘Ladies’ Paradise’ Series Based On Emile Zola Novel
(Deadline May 16th) BBC One is moving ahead with The Ladies’ Paradise, an eight-episode series loosely based on Emile Zola’s novel Au Bonheur Des Dames. Set in England’s first department store, the series tells the rags-to-riches story of Denise Lovett (Joanna Vanderham, Above Suspicion), a young girl who works in the store and gets caught up in the charms of the modern world.

USA

USA Nears Deals For 2 Comedy Pilots, Picks Up Reality Pilot & Unveils Development Slate
(Deadline May 17th) USA Network, which is holding its first upfront presentation during the traditional broadcast upfront week this afternoon, has announced a couple of greenlights and a slew of drama, comedy and reality projects in development from the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Dick Wolf, Bryan Fuller, Doug Liman & David Bartis, Howie Mandel, Mark Gordon, Kelsey Grammer and Mark Burnett.

TNT

TNT & Lifetime Looking At Cancelled CBS Drama Series ‘Unforgettable’: Will It Live On?
(Deadline May 17th) The cancellation of CBS’ freshman drama Unforgettable was one of the closest calls this upfront season. Now the procedural starring Poppy Montgomery and Dylan Walsh is exploring a move to cable.

TNT & TBS Announce Development Slates
(Deadline May 16th) Ahead of their upfront presentation later this morning, TNT and TBS have unveiled their development slates, which include projects from David Baldacci, Michael Bay, Shane Brennan, Steven Bochco, Tom Clancy, James Duff, Howard Gordon, Norm MacDonald, Matthew McConaughey, Conan O’Brien, Michael Ovitz, Robert Port, Michael M. Robin, Ron Shelton, Greer Shephard, Don Todd, Dick Wolf and Nigel Lythgoe.

TBS

Turner Broadcasting Forges Ad Sales Alliance With Funny Or Die
(Deadline May 16th) Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., including multi-platform entertainment networks TBS and Adult Swim, is joining forces with Funny Or Die in a strategic partnership that links three of the biggest brands in comedy. TBS, the highest-rated comedy network on television, and Adult Swim, TV’s leader with young adults, along with select Turner digital properties, will collaborate with Funny Or Die to accelerate the digital content provider’s sales and cement all three brands’ position as the leading multi-platform destinations for great comedy.

FX

Tim Roth & Alexander Cary Create FX Bank Robbery Family Drama For Roth To Star
(Deadline May 18th) FX has put in development a drama project created by Oscar-nominated actor Tim Roth and Homeland co-executive producer Alexander Cary as a starring vehicle for Roth. The untitled project, from Fox21, is described as a drama about addiction, bank robbery, and an extremely volatile family dynamic.

A&E

A&E’s ‘Breakout Kings’ Cancelled After Two Seasons
(Deadline May 17th) I’ve learned that A&E has just cancelled drama Breakout Kings two weeks after the show’s second season ended its run. The series was co-created/executive produced by Matt Olmstead

MTV

Doug Liman Reacts To ‘I Just Want My Pants Back’ Cancellation: “I’m Not Done Fighting’
(Deadline May 17th) A day after MTV‘s surprising cancellation of freshman comedy I Just Want My Pants Back, the series’ driving force, executive producer/director Doug Liman says the news still hasn’t sunk in because no one at the show saw it coming.

NBC

Betsy Sodaro Upped To Regular On New NBC Comedy ‘Animal Practice’
(Deadline May 18th) Up-and-comer Betsy Sodaro has been upped to a regular on NBC’s new single-camera comedy series Animal Practice, which stars Justin Kirk as a House-like veterinarian, who loves animals but usually hates their owners.

It’s Official: NBC Announces Pirate Series From Neil Cross, Parkes/MacDonald And Reliance
(Deadline May 14th)  NBC said production will begin in the fall on Crossbones, which features “an unexpected moral center where one can’t be sure whether the pirates or the British crown are the villains,” the network says. It will center on Tom Lowe, an undercover assassin who is sent to the pirates’ haven to take down the brilliant and charismatic Blackbeard.

TELEMUNDO

Telemundo Upfront: 800 Hours — A 40% Boost — Of Original Programming
(Deadline May 14th) Telemundo Media lays claim to being the fastest-growing broadcast network in primetime among adults 18-49. At its programming upfront presentation this morning in New York, the Spanish-language service said it is seeking to build on that success significantly, with more than 800 hours of new content in the 2012-13 season — a nearly 40% increase in original programming.

MISCELLANEOUS

2012-13 Fall Broadcast Primetime Grid
(Deadline May 17th) With all five English-language broadcast networks reporting, here is how they stack up against each other in the fall. New shows in red. (Click on the chart for larger view.)

Is Redbox Preparing To Sell Movie Tickets At Its Disc Rental Kiosks?
(Deadline May 17th) Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter thinks so after attending Redbox parent company Coinstar’s briefing yesterday for Wall Street analysts. Although the company only referred cryptically to its plan for a “new Redbox venture,” Pachter says this morning he believes that Coinstar “intends to sell movie tickets through its Redbox kiosks, helping its studio partners to drive higher-margin theatrical exhibition sales, while driving awareness of films that will ultimately come to DVD.”

National CineMedia Adds Comedy And Music To Pre-Movie Programming
(Deadline May 16th) Moviegoers will soon be able to see comedy clips from Funny Or Die, music videos from VEVO, and food preparation techniques from celebrity chefs in First Look — the pre-movie programming that National CineMedia provides to theaters — the company said today. It will be up to advertisers to decide what content they want to include or create and selections can vary by region, film, and genre.

Viacom And Time Warner Cable Resolve Mobile Streaming Dispute
(Deadline May 16th) The fight began last year: Viacom charged that Time Warner Cable violated its licensing agreement and Viacom’s copyrights when it streamed the company’s programming to customers’ iPads and other mobile devices. Time Warner Cable said that it was within its rights to just offer the shows in subscribers’ homes, likening the iPad to another TV screen.

Advertisers Aren’t Ready Yet To Move Lots Of TV Spots To Online Video: Analyst
(Deadline May 16th) AOL, Hulu, Yahoo, and Google’s YouTube are among the companies that provided so-called “newfront” presentations to advertisers this year — sales pitches urging them to divert to Web video platforms some of the billions that they plan to spend on conventional TV.