PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Fox is adapting graphic novel Talent into a series, with Justified showrunner Graham Yost onboard. Fox partnered with the comic book publisher Boom! Studios on the project, with Neil Moritz and his Original Films and Sony Pictures Television.
Smokehouse Pictures brought in Focus Features’ production executive Rebecca Arzoian to serve as President of Television, overseeing all aspects of television development and production for the TV division of George Clooney and Grant Heslov‘s company.
Fox Entertainment launched SideCar, billed as a “content development accelerator” and headed by industry veteran Gail Berman, whose studio The Jackal Group (Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, Fox’s Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life) has been based at Fox. Sidecar will focus on identifying and incubating scripted and unscripted programming both for the Fox network and third-party platforms. Berman currently serves as President of the Producers Guild of America.
Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, who in 2001 co-founded Magical Elves, the production company behind a heap of content including Top Chef, Project Runway and Nailed It, are exiting the company. Magical Elves will remain a part of Tinopolis USA, the subsidiary of UK-based Tinopolis Group, which acquired the company in 2014; Cutforth and Lipsitz are expected to launch a new independent production shingle.
The Cynopsis Short Form Video Festival will take center stage at NYC’s SVA Theatre on March 6, showcasing outstanding, attention-grabbing storytelling across platforms. Click here to view finalists and grab your tickets!
Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz, who co-wrote Spike Lee’s Oscar-nominated BlacKkKlansman, are teaming with studio Gunpowder & Sky to develop Madness, a drama series set in the world of college basketball.
LA-based content studio and commercial production company Stun launched Digital 360, to focus on cross-platform branding, and hired Renee Samms to head the unit. Clients include Fox Searchlight/Fox Home Entertainment, HBO Social, NBCU Snapchat Integrations, NFL and Warner Bros. Samms has been a consultant working on behalf of clients including UnInterrupted with Lebron James’ Spring Hill, Captiv8, Utopia, De Mille Group, The NoiseHouse and Trap Nation.
Skybound North/Wind Sun Sky and Com2uS tapped Kevin Burke and Chris “Doc” Wyatt to expand the Summoners War universe as writers/producers for an animated television adaptation. The series will be based on the Summoners War Friends & Rivals short, debuting on YouTube (@summonerswarapp) February 11.
Vice Studios scooped up The Brexit Storm, a one-hour documentary for the BBC. It’s the latest in a string of third-party commissions for Vice’s burgeoning production arm. Doc will go behind-the-scenes following BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg as she reports on Britain’s exit from the EU.
Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group acquired The Works Entertainment, the production company behind The Illusionists stage magic franchise and other variety shows.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Oxygen Media kicks off the second season of In Ice Cold Blood on Monday, February 25 at 8p with Ice-T returning as host and executive producer, guiding viewers through shocking true stories involving sex, money and obsession.
Procrastinator’s alert: Cynopsis Sports is gearing up to spotlight exceptional initiatives on behalf of networks, leagues and brands, saluting work that drove audiences and turned sports viewers into fans. Entries for the Sports Media Awards are due tomorrow, February 8th, so get started today.
Paramount Network unleashed the 2019 film slate for the net’s I Am documentary franchise. Produced by Derik Murray’s Network Entertainment, the three new chapters of the franchise will feature Richard Pryor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Patrick Swayze. First installment I Am Richard Pryor will premiere at SXSW on Tuesday, March 12, and will debut on Paramount Network on Friday, March 15 at 10p. It includes interviews with Sandra Bernhard, Ron De Blasio, Dr. Todd Boyd, Michael Epps, Tiffany Haddish and others.
Culinary competition Spring Baking Championship returns to Food Network for a new season on Monday, March 18 at 9p. Series, in which host and lifestyle expert Clinton Kelly tests the resolve of 10 talented bakers, netted its highest-rated season-to-date last year, delivering a .9 A25-54 and 1.3 W25-54 L3 rating, and was seen by nearly 7.5 million viewers.
The 61st Annual Grammy Awards, airing Sunday, February 10 on CBS, will be down one superstar. Ariana Grande pulled out of performing – and attending – the event after a disagreement with producers over which songs she would sing.
Meanwhile, Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic will return at 4p Sunday to headline E! Live From the Red Carpet: The 2019 Grammy Awards, which will also include an exclusive peek at singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow” music video, fashion commentary and live fan interaction. Post-ceremony, the network will air its After Party: The 2019 Grammy Awards segment…. CBS will air its own Grammys Live from the Red Carpet on Facebook as its exclusive social platform. The livestream will begin Sunday, at 5p live on Facebook Watch, on the Grammy Awards Facebook Page, CBS Facebook page and Grammy.com. Red carpet coverage is co-hosted by ET Live’s Cassie DiLaura and Dana Blair.
The special short film One Red Nose Day and a Wedding, which reunites Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas from the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral for the first time in 25 years, will air exclusively as part of The Red Nose Day Special on Thursday, May 23 at 8p on NBC. Richard Curtis, who wrote the original film and is the co-founder of fundraising campaign Red Nose Day, wrote the short for the 2019 edition of Red Nose Day.
Motown legends Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder will be joined by Boyz II Men, Chloe X Halle, Ciara, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Pentatonix and more for the CBS Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration, airing April 21 at 8p.
HEARD AT TCA
Fox Entertainment chairman Charlie Collier applauded the company’s “open canvas” startup-like modus operandi, noting, “There will be expansion. There will be acquisitions. I assure you the Murdochs and the management team are as curious, strategic and aggressive as they’ve ever been.” Among programming specifics, Collier said “there are no plans right now” regarding Ryan Murphy-created series Scream Queens, but “we take Ryan Murphy seriously when he wants to build something.” The former AMC president/GM lamented the attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett, noting there is an ongoing criminal investigation, but did not say whether the series was being renewed, noting, “We don’t have any pickups to announce today.” Collier also said neither of two 24 offshoots under consideration were moving forward at the network, but Fox is open to bringing the franchise back (and he did not wear a The Masked SInger hippo mask, as we reported this morning – that was his friend, Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks).
Newly appointed ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke got an introduction by ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel during her first TCA appearance, where she detailed her plans to better support content that draws female viewers. Noting the network’s longstanding connecting with women, she said, “We lost that mantel this season, and I am determined to get it back… It’s always been my personal goal to create the best opportunities for women in front of and behind the camera, and I know what’s possible when women come together and share their vision. That’s a big part of what’s going to lead us back to the top.”
Netflix is stepping up its already robust investment in Spanish programming. The streamer yesterday trotted out five new projects slated to launch worldwide in 2020. Content, in various stages of development and production, are: superhero comedy El Vecino (The Neighbor), based on the graphic novels by Santiago Garcia and Pepo Perez; El Desorden Que Dejas (The Mess You Leave Behind), a drama from Carlos Montero based on his novel; Valeria, based on the novels by Elisabet Benavent, and Dias De Navidad (Christmas Days) starring Veronica Echegui (Fortitude); and an anime adaptation of the novel Memorias De Idhun by Laura Gallego and produced by Endemol Shine’s Zeppelin.
Some good news for Snap Inc. on Wall Street at last. Shares of the Snapchat parent rose nearly 22 percent today to close at $8.56, their highest level since last September. The activity follows the company’s Q4 earnings report after the close of trading yesterday, which showed overall performance in the quarter exceeded expectations despite the company having yet to turn a profit.
Hollywood agency CAA participated in the $88 million Series B round of hot meditation app Calm. The funding brings Calm to $116 million raised to date and values the company at $1 billion. The app has been downloaded 40 million times worldwide and counts 1 million subscribers.
Swedish game company Three Gates acquired game rights for the recently debuted series Project Blue Book from A+E Studios and is developing Project Blue Book: The Game to challenge players’ observation and deduction tactics, along with the characters of the History series, created by David O’Leary and Robert Zemeckis to explores the historical, previously classified UFO investigations conducted by the US Air Force between 1952-69.
Digital publisher Pub Ocean released revenue platform LiveYield, which provides publishers with the same real-time insights that advertisers have access to. LiveYield collects and synthesizes hundreds of dimensions and metrics that impact publisher revenue per session, and separates it into role-specific views.
Exclusive: Online gaming platform Star Stable is launching a music label, Star Stable Music, with distribution on nearly 40 music sites including Spotify and Apple Music, to make in-game music accessible to fans any time. First single, “I’ll Be There,” by Star Stable character Lisa Peterson, launches tomorrow (February 8).
Adam Bonnett, former Disney Channels Worldwide EVP of original programming, has landed at Mattel Television as executive producer. Bonnett in October departed Disney after a 21-year career at the Mouse House, where he helped built hits including Hannah Montana, Good Luck Charlie, The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody, That’s So Raven, Lizzie McGuire and Even Stevens. At Mattel, he’ll oversee global episodic content development and production for live action and animation based on the company’s brands; he’ll report to Richard Dickson, Mattel president/COO.
Season 3 of The Dude Perfect Show will premiere on Nickelodeon Friday, February 8, at 7:30p featuring more stunts and adrenaline-inducing challenges… In other Nick news, the Nickelodeon Slimefest will return to UK beach resort Blackpool for a fourth year on October 19-21.
An adaptation of Hercules based on the 1997 Disney animated film and set to feature additional music by Alan Menken and David Zippel, will be the closer for this summer’s season of the Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare In The Park in NYC’s Central Park.
Cake is partnering with Atomic Toybox Entertainment on the forthcoming Captain Action series, based on the ‘60s action figure brand. Series, aimed at 6-11-year-olds, will feature Captain Action, his nemesis Dr. Evil and other characters. John Derevlany (Legends of Chima, Nexo Knights, Endangered Species) serves as lead writer.
Spotify is cranking up its audio platform. The music streaming giant acquired Gimlet Media, the company behind popular podcasts Homecoming, StartUp, Reply All and Crimetown, as well as startup Anchor, which brings a podcasting platform of tools for creators and a rapidly growing creator base. The moves are the first under new Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff. The company yesterday during its Q4 earnings call said it’s reached 96 million premium subscribers and 207 million monthly active users. It also netted its first-ever quarterly operating profit with the equivalent of $107.1 million. The Gimlet and Anchor transactions are expected to close by mid-year.
Add Himalaya Media to the growing ecosystem of podcast producers. The San Francisco startup podcast platform, audio content network and original production studio launched yesterday with $100 million in funding from investors including General Atlantic, SIG and Ximalaya FM. The company counts among partners with the Dallas Mavericks, Starburns Industries, Studio71, Acast and Panoply Media’s Megaphone; its free app is available in the App Store or via Google Play.
Decoding the Music Experience, a new podcast launched by Advertising Week AW 360, shares insights, observations and perspectives at the intersection of music, audiences and brands. Created by marketing and music industry leaders Kenny Ochoa and Joe Belliotti, former head of global music at the Coca-Cola Co., podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Music and Stitcher, among other platforms. Episode 1 features Lyft’s Ari Avishay; ep 2 features a Daniel Glass, founder/president of Glassnote Records.
Cassandra Scerbo (Sharknado) scored a recurring role on ABC drama Grand Hotel, where she’ll portray a professional football cheerleader vacationing at the hotel… Adwin Brown (Heathers) will recur opposite Victoria Pedretti on the upcoming second season of psychological thriller You on Netflix… American Horror Story’s upcoming ninth installment will feature Olympic medalist and actor Gus Kenworthy and series alum Emma Roberts, creator Ryan Murphy teased on Instagram.
Newsmax TV signed with Altice USA to launch its 24/7 cable news channel to Optimum and Suddenlink customers nationwide. Newsmax TV initially will launch in the expanded basic package to Altice USA’s Optimum customers in the NY metropo area and within one year on its Suddenlink systems.
Red Arrow Studios International scored a trio of sales for crime drama Bosch with TNT Serie (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), SRF (Switzerland) and France 3.