PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Sony Pictures Television struck a deal with young adult specialist Komixx Entertainment to co-develop and co-produce content for YA audiences. First out of the gate are projects based on Captured, the Kelly Anne Blount series, and teen spy novel Cherub. “The number of young-adult book titles has more than doubled in the last decade and the popularity of self-publishing sites, like Wattpad, have created a surge in original young-adult content,” said Wayne Garvie, president, international production at SPT. “It’s an excellent time to be adapting these characters and stories for video.”
Atlas Media, producer of non-fiction television programming and feature documentaries, inked an exclusive development deal with New York Times bestselling author, former federal prosecutor and television legal analyst Lis Wiehl. “Hired killers, murderous femme fatales, homicidal spouses – Lis came up against the most diabolical criminals during her years as a federal prosecutor – she knows this world better than anyone” said Bruce David Klein, Atlas president & executive producer.
Epix gave a straight-to-series order for ABC Signature Studios drama, Godfather of Harlem. Ten-parter telling the story of crime boss Bumpy Johnson will star Forest Whitaker, who will also produce through his Significant Productions. Epix is eyeing a 2019 premiere.
“We are heading into this year’s upfront with an ever-growing linear television audience, a premium slate of original content with A-list talent, and carriage across all major distributors and almost every over-the-top service,” said Brad Schwartz, president of Pop, as the CBS/Lionsgate net makes the upfront rounds. “Building on this momentum, we’re introducing more premium scripted content than ever before.” Original programming premieres for April-December 2018 includes just-launched season two of Hollywood Darlings, as well as sophomore seasons of Swedish Dicks and Wolf Creek; after-show Big Brother After Dark; the debut of Clique, a limited series following a college student drawn into a clique of alpha-girls; and a special Schitt’s Creek holiday episode. Coming in 2019 are season five of Schitt’s Creek, along with newcomer Flack, starring Anna Pacquin (True Blood) as a PR exec who excels on the job but is a self-saboteur in her personal life.
The Pop upfront message also includes research. “We know more about our audience than ever before, and that’s great for advertisers,” said Schwarz, who also pointed to unduplicated reach with Pop’s competitive set. Also a plus for advertisers: Pop’s branded solutions. “We work with the casts of our shows to really integrate brands,” said Schwartz, “and that’s really different.”
Reelz announced its summer 2018 programming slate, including six new documentary specials, new true crime series Sex, Lies & Murder, debuting Saturday, June 30 at 10p, and premiere dates for six new and returning series. The new specials include the story of a pop idol in George Michael’s Lonely Life (debuting Saturday, June 2 at 9p), along with three new Behind Closed Doors specials with host Natalie Morales following the stories of Phil Hartman, Paul Walker and the you-know-you-watched-it-more-than-once movie musical Grease, which marks its 40thanniversary in June. Additional specials include a look at daring prison breaks in Alcatraz: The Greatest Escapes (Tuesday, August 21 at 9p), and the two-part Ted Bundy: Serial Monster (Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12 at 9p). New original series Breaking the Band (Sunday, June 10 at 10p) reveals the true stories of how some of the biggest bands broke up.
NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises revealed its 2018 Upfront theme: “Beyond Language. Powerful Consumers,” underlying the value of the U.S. Hispanic consumer. “Telemundo has set a new standard in Spanish-language television, delivering unique and original content across all platforms,” said Cesar Conde, Chairman, NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. “Our company has transformed Hispanic media permanently, satisfying the evolving Hispanic appetite for fresh and relevant content.” In addition to joining the NBCUniversal portfolio of brands at the NBCU Upfront presentation on May 14 at Radio City Music Hall, Telemundo is hosting a concert with J Balvin for advertising clients and business partners that evening at The Park Avenue Armory Conservancy in New York City.
For details on Pop TV, Telemundo and Reelz upfront news and more, check out the Cynopsis Upfronts and NewFronts 2018 portal here.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
Revolt announced a May slate that includes the return of The Breakfast Club with a new format starting Monday, May 7, airing Monday-Friday at 6a, and The Breakfast Club Power Hour Monday-Friday at 8p. Daily airings will now include The Breakfast Club Extra, a behind the scenes look at what happens when the mics are turned off at the morning show. Upcoming new series include edgy R News, launching Monday, May 7 at 7:45p; Revolt Justice, spotlighting people using their platforms to address social issues impacting today’s youth, arriving Tuesday, May 8 at 9p; and Revolt Hijacked, which hands control of the network to artists and celeb for a full day, on Thursday, May 10.
Evidence of Innocence debuts on TV One Monday, June 4 at 10p. Limited crime and justice series focuses on wrongfully accused people faced with the challenge of maintaining faith while awaiting the opportunity to prove their innocence.
Chef Roger Mooking continues his search for the most innovative and outrageous ways people across the country cook with fire when 13 new episodes of Man Fire Food kick off Wednesday, May 30 at 9p on Cooking Channel.
TLC’s Lost in Transition debuts Sunday, May 20 at 10p. Docu-series chronicles the lives of four couples; in each relationship, the wife has recently found out that her husband made the brave decision to become the woman he is inside.
Termites? Check. Third-generation race car champion and NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy, an interior designer, will transform a dilapidated 150-year-old historic home in Key West, Florida in DIY Network’s new series Renovation Realities: Dale Jr. & Amy. The redo will take four episodes, starting Saturday, June 2, at 9p.
Lifetime spin-off series Live PD Presents: Women on Patrol launches Monday, June 4 at 9p, followed by the season four premiere of Escaping Polygamy.
Monster Week returns to Animal Planet starting Sunday, May 27 at 8p with the 100th episode of Finding Bigfoot. The week will also bring new episodes of World’s Scariest Animal Attacks, Deadliest Places on Earth, River Monsters and Expedition Unknown.
Decades Network gives 2017 documentary film Wait for Your Laugh, the story of Rose Marie, its TV premiere on Tuesday, May 1 at 9p. Best known for her role on The Dick Van Dyke Show, the entertainer’s 90-year career spanned vaudeville, radio, film and television. Marie died in December at age 94.
With the person believed to be the Golden Gate Killer in custody, ID will air an updated episode, Golden State Killer Caught: People Magazine Investigates on Friday, April 27 at 10p and again on Sunday, April 28 at 8p.
VIDEOS IN SHORT
Netflix short film Father Knows Best?, following three newly engaged daughters and their fathers at Saks Fifth Avenue’s Bridal Salon in New York City, will promote the premiere of new original film, The Week Of, starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. Streaming begins on Netflix Friday, April 27.
BuzzFeed News is investing in programming, and its latest partner is Netflix. Weekly series Follow This tracks BuzzFeed reporters as they delve into a variety of topics, from cultural phenomenons to social issues. First 15-minute episode airs Monday, July 9.
NBA superstar Stephen Curry is re-launching his YouTube channel this month, anchored by short-form series, 5 Minutes From Home, premiering Tuesday, May 1. In the show, Curry and a revolving set of guests grab a late-night bite after a home game and discuss a wide variety of topics.
ReachMe TV’s network of airport, retail and hotel channels, will soon offer a selection of short films from the Tribeca Film Festival. “We’re always looking for new ways to grow the Tribeca Film Festival and reach new audiences. This new relationship with ReachMe TV allows us to do just that,” said Tribeca founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal in a joint statement.
BRANDS & ADVERTISING
Unilever CEO Paul Polman will receive the Cannes LionHeart at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June. Polman has led the charge to increase Unilever’s positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. “It is becoming increasingly clear that sustainable, purpose-led growth is the best way to meet the long-term needs of consumers and society,” said Polman. “Brands with purpose are at the heart of our approach.”
You can join the celebration for other civic-minded execs and companies at the Cynopsis Social Good Awards, honoring excellence in the TV and entertainment industry. Details are here.
Snapchat is going to start testing a new ad format called Commercials. Six-second nonskippable spots will air in select Snapchat shows (but not in Discover or personal stories), starting in mid-May, reports Digiday. It’s a new direction for the messaging app, now part of a public company that has to figure out to make money.
The IAB released a guide offering standards for the creation and distribution of branded content, with detailed definitions of terms like brand-owned content, publisher-hosted content and native advertising (branded content is the same as sponsored content, per the IAB). “With content marketing and native advertising’s use projected for significant future growth, we felt it was important to prepare a guide that is designed to help brand marketers and their agencies identify the various branded content creation and distribution options available today and, importantly, understand the key factors which should be considered upfront to make sure that all branded content/native advertising buy meets strategic objectives/KPIs,” said the IAB.
Hulu spent $1.2 million on TV commercials from April 16-22 in support of The Handmaid’s Tale, days before its premiere. Main outlets were ABC and NBC, which each received about $300K.
Borrell Associates lifted its estimate for political advertising spend around midterms to $8.8 billion, up 3.8%, with broadcasting raking in $3.4 billion and cable $1.1 billion. Anticipated digital spend, however, is expected to dip 12.4%, to $1.8 billion, due to negative press about Facebook and a drop in political spending on social media in 1Q18.
Video ads on Roku’s OTT platform were 67% more effective than ads on linear TV, according to a study, “Under the Hood of Over-the-Top Measurement,” from Magna Global and IPG Media Lab. Reduced ad load helped explain why ads on Roku were more memorable, according to the study, which also found that campaigns on Roku for Applebee’s, H&M, Truvia and McCormick saw bigger lifts in intent to purchase.
OUTtv and Breaking Glass Pictures struck an output agreement that grants OUTtv the linear and streaming rights to films released by the producer and distributor. Current and future films released by Breaking Glass Pictures will air exclusively on OUTtv in Canada, following their theatrical runs. Titles will also stream exclusively on OUTtvGo.com, OUTtv’s SVOD platform.
fuboTV has added 16 more local stations, giving the live streaming TV service for sports fans (with something for their families, too) a total of 276. These include stations owned & operated by or affiliated with CBS, FOX, NBC or The CW, plus access to FOX network programming in 40 additional local markets.
William Baldwin (Gossip Girl) will recur on upcoming USA and Syfy series The Purge, about one day each year when murder and mayhem is legalized.
All set for TV One film Dinner for Two, in production in Georgia, are Tristan “Mack” Wilds (90210), Chaley Rose (Nashville), Prince Hammond (Claws) and Shaun Baker (House Party).
Lauren Cohan will return to AMC’s The Walking Dead for season nine, she reported at CinemaCon. “There’s a lot more Maggie story to tell,” the actress told EW. Cohan also has lead role in ABC dramedy pilot Whiskey Cavalier.
Don’t cry for Mark Zuckerberg. Despite Facebook’s privacy breach debacle, the social media giant sailed past analysts’ projections, with 1Q18 revenue of newly $12 billion, versus estimates of $11.4 billion, and a 13% boost in daily and monthly active users in March. “Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018,” said CEO Zuckerber. “We are taking a broader view of our responsibility and investing to make sure our services are used for good.”
Twitter also exceeded analysts’ expectations for 1Q18, with $665 million in revenue versus a forecast of $605.4. Daily active users grew by 10%. “We grew our audience and engagement, marking another quarter of double digit year-over-year (daily active user) growth, and continued our work to make it easier to follow topics, interests, and events on Twitter,” said CEO Jack Dorsey.
Cinedigm is partnering with Gatherer Entertainment to launch a female-first OTT service. The channel, expected to launch in 4Q18, will offer viewers a one-stop-shop of topics ranging from news, beauty and fashion, to important midlife women’s health and wellness tips, food, wine and cooking profiles, financial insights and planning, DIY, technology updates, travel and more. Original scripted content will feature episodes with breaks suited to fit viewers’ lifestyles, while unscripted series will present news and information uninterrupted in two-minute formats, hosted by experienced, relatable women. Target demo: W35-54.
Spotify update: Users will be able to listen to songs on demand on the mobile music streaming service’s free ad-supported tier, as long as the songs are included in the 750 chosen for that day’s playlist. Regular shuffled music playlists will still be available. Another offering: low-data mode, to cut data use by about three quarters.
Comedians Paul Scheer (Veep) and Michael Ian Black (Another Period) are launching new podcasts with Midroll Media. Scheer’s Unspooled focuses on great films, while in Obscure, Black reads every line of Thomas Hardy Jude the Obscure, with commentary.
Guests at Hilton hotels can get their Billions fix through Connected Room technology that now includes complimentary Showtime streaming. Via the Hilton Honors App, guests’ phones can be used as an in-room remote for TV, as well as to control lighting and temperature.
Preschool learning app Hopster completed a growth funding round led by Sony Pictures Television and Networks. “We will use our latest funding to keep doing what we pledged: provide a safe, ad-free and nurturing digital environment for pre-schoolers,” said Nick Walters, Hopster CEO and founder.
LiveXLive Media, a global digital media company focused on live entertainment, partnered with AEG Presents to add two music festivals to its slate of live music programming: Global Dance Festival and Decadence NYE. The multiyear agreement grants LiveXLive the exclusive opportunity to record, film and distribute the festivals’ content, including live performances, audio and video on demand rights across LiveXLive’s digital platforms.
Amazon ordered a second season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Drama starring John Krasinki premieres on Prime Video on August 31.
UK VR start-up Parable signed an exclusive first-look deal with all3media international. The news follows Parable’s expansion into TV production with its first commissions for the BBC and Channel 4.