03/09/15: Andrew Lack taking the reins NBC News; big change for Homeland’s Carrie; Melanie Griffith co-stars in ABC pilot



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Good morning. It’s Monday March 9, 2015, and this is your first early morning briefing.

Tonight’s Premieres:
A&E: Bates Motel at 9p, The Returned at 10p
AHC: Forbidden History at 9p
Food: Food Fortunes at 10p
Travel: Hotel Amazon at 10p

Tonight’s Finale:
ABC: The Bachelor at 8p


(take a look at how truTV’s audience is changing):
38 (down 4 years)
$62K (up $14K)
69% (up 5%)
EDUCATION (4+ years college): 22% (up 5%) source

Upfront planning made easy. Courtesy of truTV
The New truTV: All New Line-Up.

It’s official: Andrew Lack is returning to NBC as chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, announced NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke in a staff memo on Friday. Lack, who ran the news division from 1993-2001, begins in April. “Andy’s experience and familiarity with our company and specifically the news division will be critical to our growth and future success,” said Burke. Lack replaces Pat Fili-Krushel, who will move to a new corporate role; NBC News president Deborah Turness and MSNBC president Phil Griffin will remain in their positions, reporting to Lack.


NBC pulled low-rated Allegiance from its Thursday sked, and moved The Slap from 8p to 10p. Leading into The Blacklist at 9p will be Blacklist-themed Dateline specials. Allegiance and The Slap scored .8 among A18-49 on Thursday; sandwiched in between, once-mighty The Blacklist drew 1.7 in the demo.

The peacock net also announced summer premiere dates for new Charles Manson drama Aquarius, launching Thursday, May 28 at 9p and settling into its regular Thursday slot on June 4; competition series American Ninja Warrior and America’s Got Talent, back Monday, May 25 and Tuesday, May 26, respectively, at 8p, and drama Hannibal, starting season three June 4 after Aquarius.

Minister and civil rights activist Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., has joined Fox News as a contributor, to provide social and cultural commentary across the net’s programming. “Alveda has brilliantly carried the legacy of the King family to the next generation and has been a source of inspiration for many Americans,” said Fox News chairman Roger Ailes on Friday. “Her passion and mission for social change will be a valuable contribution to our network.”

Season five of Homeland will jump ahead two and a half years, and Claire Danes’ Carrie will no longer be a CIA officer, revealed showrunner Alex Gansa at Paleyfest on Friday. The Showtime drama, returning in September, will shoot in Europe, Gansa revealed.

Zombies are invading the NAB Show. Walking Dead cast member Steven Yeun, comic book creator and series exec producer Robert Kirkman and AMC president Charlie Collier will be on hand for “More of What You Crave: The World of ‘The Walking Dead,’” scheduled for Tuesday, April 14 at 9a.

The merging of E! and Esquire’s marketing teams led to two SVP exits last week. “To more fully align the E! and Esquire Marketing department we have restructured the team and as a result Leigh Anne Gardner and Tim Rosta are leaving the company,” said NBCUniversal. “We thank them for their contributions and wish them the best.”

Top 10 Weekend Domestic Box Office Estimates: March 6-8, 2015
Chapple (Sony) $13.3 million, opening weekend
Focus (Warner Bros.) $10.0 million, cume revenue $34.6 million
Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) $8.6 million, opening weekend
Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox) $8.3 million, cume revenue $98.0 million
Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water (Paramoung) $7.0 million, $149.0 million
Fifty Shades of Grey (Universal) $5.6 million, cume revenue $156.4 million
McFarland, USA (Disney) $5.3 million, cume revenue $29.4 million
The Lazarus Effect (Relativity Media) $5.1 million, cume revenue $17.4 million
The DUFF (Lionsgate) $4.9 million, cume revenue $26.1 million
Unfinished Business (20th Century Fox) $4.8 million, opening weekend
Source: Rentrak Corporation

Join us on Thursday, April 23 at the Astor Center in NYC for The Cynopsis Digital Business Summit. Speakers from Citi, GroupM, IAB, Marriott, Alex and Ani, NBCUniversal, Rebelmouse and others will be on hand for an information-packed day of learning, networking and discovery. Register by March 27 to receive the early bird rate: http://j.mp/CynDMS.


Join us on Thursday, April 23 for Cynopsis Media’s Top Women in Digital Awards, honoring those who excel in digital content, marketing, advertising, and social media,.

The event space is very limited, and tables sell out quickly. Register yourself and your team today.

Registration/Tickets: Pete Romas; 203.899.8483
Mike Farina; 203.218.6480


It’s back to the Bering Sea, and great risks come with even greater rewards on season 11 of Discovery’s Deadliest Catch. Original Productions Emmy winner premieres Tuesday, April 14 at 9p.

Putting angelfish under anesthesia is all in a day’s work for Dr. Scott Sims, star of Nat Geo WILD’s Aloha Vet. Hawaii-set series launches Saturday, March 21 at 9p.

Lifetime is expanding its Little Women franchise with Little Women: NY, premiering Wednesday, March 25 at 10p. One Big Apple face will look familiar: Lila Call, who first made waves on Little Women: LA, the net’s number one original series in its Wednesday-at-9p time period.

Showtime documentary Knock Knock, it’s Tig Notaro premieres Friday, April 17 at 9p, following its debut at the South by Southwest Film Festival on Monday, March 16. 

Is Andrew Lack just what the doctor ordered for NBC News? Let us know what you think in the new Cynopsis poll.


Disney Channel gave a direct-to-series order to Best Friends Whenever, starring Landry Bender (Crash & Bernstein), newcomer Lauren Taylor and Gus Kamp (Deadtime Stories: The Beast of Baskerville). Series centers on time traveling teens.

A live body painting demonstration is on the agenda at GSN’s Upfront event tomorrow at 8:30a, celebrating the second season of Skin Wars. Series host Rebecca Romijn will be on hand, along with Jerry Springer (Baggage on the Road), Brooke Burns and Mark “The Beast” Labbett (The Chase) and a few surprise guests, including a 2015 Oscar-nominated producer whose new pilot for GSN will be announced.Ben Gleib, host Idiotest, will serve as emcee for the breakfast event featuring presentations from net EVP, ad sales John Zaccario and Amy Introcaso-Davis, EVP, programming and development. Also promised: “possibly the best frittata” the audience will ever experience.


With its syndicated shows overwhelmingly viewed live, Twentieth Television has a new option for 2015 Upfronts: a C1 ratings guarantee. “Our entire presentation and offering focuses on advertiser benefits,” Twentieth’s ad sales EVP Michael Teicher tells Cynopsis. “Under the right circumstances if C1 is the right option we are open to that discussion.” Feedback so far? “The reception to this concept and other unique benefits we offer has been very warmly received.”


Melanie Griffith will co-star in ABC’s untitled comedy pilot written and exec produced by Wendy & Lizzie Molyneux about parents raising extremely gifted children. Griffith will play a former beauty queen who invites her daughter’s family to move in with her.

Saved by the Bell’s Mark-Paul Gosselaar is set as the lead in NBC comedy pilot People Are Talking as a neurotic college ethics professor, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) will star in ABC drama pilot Broad Squad as a type-A mom and rookie cop.

Matthew Lillard (The Bridge) landed the male lead in NBC comedy pilot Problem Child, inspired by the 1990 film.

Joy Bryant (Parenthood) was cast as co-lead in ABC drama pilot The Advocate, opposite Kim Raver (24), about women who launch a patient advocacy firm.

Chris Chalk (12 Years a Slave) guests on Gotham as tech genius Lucias Fox, with an option to return during the Fox drama’s sophomore run.


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ABC limited series American Crime debuted Thursday to a timeslot-winning 2.0/7 among A18-49, dipping .3 from its first half hour to its second in the 10p slot.

Its third week, CBS’s The Odd Couple added 1.4 million viewers versus last week (to 12.5 million), and was up 7 percent among A18-49 (to 3.0/9). 

Sunday’s season finale of TLC’s Sister Wives was the series’ most watched episode ever, with 3.4 million P2+ viewers in Live+3. The tell-all special that aired immediately following the finale averaged 2.7 million P2+.

The premiere of USA’s DIG delivered 1.83 million viewers Thursday night and a .6 rating among A18-49. Lead-in for the new event series was an airing of 2011 film Fast Five, which drew 1.5 million viewers and .6 in the demo. Dig featured a trailer for the action film franchise’s upcoming Furious 7.

Thursday A18-49 Analysis: ABC and CBS tied for the most A18-49 viewers Thursday with 2.5/8, according to final primetime national ratings from Nielsen. CBS was first at 8p with a 3.9/13 average for Big Bang Theory and The Odd Couple, followed by 2.4/8 for ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. ABC grabbed the lead at 9p with 3.0/9 for Scandal, versus a 2.3/7 average for CBS’s Big Bang Theory repeat and Mom. ABC was back on top at 10p with 2.0/7 for the premiere of American Crime; CBS was second with 1.3/4 for Elementary.

A18-49:ABC 2.5/8, CBS 2.5/8, FOX 1.6/5, UNI 1.2/4, NBC 1.1/4, TELE .6/2, ION .3/1, CW .2/1

Live + Same Day Household Ratings: Thursday, March 5, 2015  time period averages. Source: NTI, Galaxy as dated. Live+SD.
CBS: 6.7/11
Big Bang Theory 10.617, The Odd Couple 7.3/12, Big Bang Theory [r] 6.5/10, Mom 5.9/10, Elementary 4.9/9
ABC: 5.7/10
Grey’s Anatomy 5.3/9, Scandal 6.4/10, American Crime 5.5/10
FOX: 4.0/7
American Idol 5.6/9, Backstrom 2.4/4
NBC: 3.3/6
The Slap 2.6/4, The Blacklist 5.1/8, Allegiance 2.2/4
Mi Corazon Es Tuyo 1.9/3, Hasta Fin Del Mundo 1.8/3, Que to Perdone Dios 1.5/3
ION: 1.1/2
Blue Bloods 1.1/2, Blue Bloods 1.2/2, Blue Bloods 1.0/2
Los Miserables .8/1, Tierre de Reyes .7/1, Duenos del Paraiso .9/2
CW: .4/1
Vampire Diaries [r] .5/1, Supernatural [r] .4/1


Cartel Entertainment hired Claire Abramowitz as Director of Development. Previously, Abramowitz was at Random House Studio and the Penguin Development Group.

Pivot promoted Jennie Morris to Executive Vice President, Acquisitions, Research, and Network Operations. Morris will continue to be based out of Pivot’s LA office, reporting to Pivot General Manager Kent Rees.

Keshet International appointed Sebastian Burkhardt as Head of Business Development and Acquisitions. Prior to joining Keshet, Sebastian was SVP International Distribution at Banijay International.

This Day in History:
1959 – The Barbie doll was introduced at the Toy Fair in NYC.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question: Characters from which series made guest appearances on Adam-12 and Sierra? Emergency (1972-1979). Kudos to: Larry Kahn-Golf Channel/Orlando, FL, Ed Goode-Connelly Partners/Boston, Linda Grillo-Viacom/NYC, Richard Yokley-TVF Productions/Tucson, Matt Sautter-Imagine Communications/Denver, John Kukla-KDFW-KDFI/Dallas,Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/LA, David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA/LA, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA, Chris Faulds-Bell Media Digital/Toronto.

Today’s Trivia Question: Which star of two long-running sitcoms guested on Dave’s World, Malcolm in the Middle and Curb Your Enthusiasm? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: Only the second four correct answers from each time zone will be mentioned; and once you’ve been mentioned in any of the Cynopsis editions, you can’t be mentioned again that calendar week.).
Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey

Roberta Caploe: Editorial Director @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group 

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ABC: The Bachelor [f], The Bachelor: After the Final Rose
CBS: 2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, Scorpion, NCIS: Los Angeles
CW: The Originals, Jane the Virgin
FOX: Gotham [r], The Following
NBC: The Voice, The Night Shift
PBS: Antiques Roadshow [r], The Ghost Army [r], Independent Lens [r]
Telemundo: Los Miserables, Tierra de Reyes, Duenos del Paraiso
Univision: Mi Corazon Es Tuyo, Hasta el Fin del Mundo, Que te Perdone Dios…Yo No

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