|PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Nicole Kidman is attached to star in and executive produce
, via her Blossom Films, a series for Amazon Studios based on the Norwegian film “Hope.” The project is being adapted by Alice Bell, who will also EP.
Cream Productions announced the commission of “Bathsheba” from Blue Ant Media. The horror documentary special traces paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren back to the 1970s, and their encounters with Bathsheba Sherman, a 19th-century ghost. “Bathsheba” is helmed by an all-female creative team with Sunny Grewal (“History Erased”) as series producer, director and writer; Alexandra Pozdeeva (“Psycho Goreman) as production designer; and documentary filmmaker Robin Bicknell (“Haunted Hospitals”) as consultant. “Women are prime consumers of content, but they’re woefully underrepresented behind the camera,” said Kate Harrison Karman, President of Cream Productions. “With ‘Bathsheba,’ we are committing to change that narrative.”
Noah Baumbach inked a deal with Netflix that will have him exclusively write and direct films for the streamer. “When I started in the film industry I dreamed of having a home. It took me about 25 years but it was worth the wait,” said Baumbach, whose “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)” and “Marriage Story” were Netflix projects.
Robert Irvine (“Restaurant: Impossible”) and Tom Farrell are co-producing “Hell or High Seas,” a 90-minute documentary film following a Navy veteran and an author in search of healing. Irvine and Farrell will also serve as executive producers; the film’s primary production and post-production company is FreshFly.
UK filmmaker Philippa Goslett (“Mary Magdalene”) has taken over as showrunner for HBO sci-fi drama “The Nevers,” replacing Joss Whedon. Whedon left in November, saying he was unable to meet “the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic.”
Casting notes: Tim Robbins (“Mystic River”) will take over the lead role in Amazon thriller “The Power” that was originally cast with Rainn Wilson. Filming delays caused by the pandemic forced Wilson to drop out…Jaime Ray Newman (“Little Fires Everywhere”), Andrea Frankle (“Irresistible”) and Will Chase (“Nashville”) will recur on Hulu limited series “Dopesick.”…Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) is joining Gabrielle Union (“Being Mary Jane”) in Kenya Barris family comedy “Cheaper by the Dozen,” in the works at Disney+.
Global nonfiction streaming platform Documentary+ launched Thursday, as a home for feature-length and short documentary films. Documentary+ is a joint venture between nonfiction studio XTR and the late Tony Hsieh. “There has never been a more exciting time for nonfiction – we’re seeing visionary new directors emerge and streaming has given documentary films wide new global audiences,” said Bryn Mooser, co-founder of Documentary+ and CEO of XTR. “Not only are we building a home for some of the best documentary films of our time, but we’re giving filmmakers another option for distribution as competition continues to increase.”
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,” bumped from a summer theatrical opening due to the pandemic, will be available at the launch of Paramount+ on March 4. Also available will be the first six episodes of prequel series “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.” Paramount+ is a rebrand and expansion of ViacomCBS SVOD CBS All Access.
Cricket Wireless and WWE struck a multi-year sponsorship that makes Cricket the co-presenting sponsor of “Royal Rumble,” streaming live at 7p on Sunday, January 31 on WWE Network. The deal will provide Cricket Wireless visibility and consumer engagement as the sponsor and exclusive wireless provider for WWE’s premier pay-per-view events, including “WrestleMania,” “SummerSlam,” “Survivor Series,” and “Royal Rumble.” Cricket also becomes the new presenting partner of the live Kickoff Shows, which take place prior to all four flagship events.
Digitas and Weber Shandwick are the first ad agencies to join the Global Video Measurement Alliance, a coalition of companies that agree to a consistent approach to social media measurement using a standard-time, de-duplicated standard based on Tubular Audience Ratings. BBC Studios and WildBrain Spark have also come aboard, joining companies including Vice, GroupNine, Viacom, Discovery and Ellen Digital Network. “As media companies and brands alike navigate media disruption and seek younger audiences, we’re able to provide uniform metrics by which transparent comparison and performance evaluation can lead to increased investment and scale within digital video which is particularly popular with young adults – especially adults 18-34,” said Neil Patil, Chief Commercial Officer at Tubular Labs.
Lotame, provider of data enrichment solutions, reported 117.07% growth in US third-party data sales from 2Q20 to 3Q20. Q1 vs Q3, third-party data in the US had 76.24% growth. “The revenue growth shows that the shade and accusations of third-party data’s demise are false,” said Alexandra Theriault, Chief Customer Officer at Lotame. “Instead, third-party data thrives as a necessary complement to first-party data that simply doesn’t scale.” The most popular US audience segments that were purchased in Q3 2020 included in-market for computers and electronics; B2B C-suite; Hispanics or Spanish speakers; declared parents; and parents of teenagers. “The top five segments align with how consumer’s lives were changing in the US during Q3,” said Theriault. “With COVID surging, marketers pivoted to reach folks settling into a new routine of working at home and juggling childcare.”
The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement released a study identifying best practices for integration of Set Top Box and Smart TV data, designed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of Smart TV and STB data and identify best practices for combining them at the household level. The research was conducted in two phases. Phase 1 findings included:
* General application of data beyond TV currency: At this time, virtually all applications of Set Top Box and Smart TV ACR are geared for attribution, measurement, optimization and campaign management versus the creation of new audience measurement currency.
* Sample size versus representativeness: Some providers and processors in the analysis make data available from the matched portion of their data sets without modeling the remaining consumers. The rationale offered for this approach is that matched sample sizes are sufficiently large and representative to assess results, but the study found this assumes that demographics account for viewing differences between matched sample and unmatched sample.
* TV data processing, while not standardized across data providers and third-party firms, is far more systematized within individual organizations versus 3-5 years ago. Procedures for data ingestion, integration and formatting are in place as well as are editing rules.The study was conducted for CIMM by Pre-Meditated Media and Janus Strategy and Insights.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
New Kids on the Block member Jonathan Knight will star in HGTV’s “Farmhouse Fixer,” debuting Wednesday, March 3 at 9p. “Restoring the American farmhouse is not just a hobby for me – it’s my passion, my obsession and I’ve been doing it for more than 25 years,” said Knight. “It’s so easy to just go knock down an old house. It’s way harder to renovate them so that families can enjoy them for years to come.”
The second half season one of Netflix hit “Lupin” will arrive this summer. About 70 million households are projected to have watched the French series since its January 8 debut.
Showtime’s “City on a Hill” starts its sophomore run on Sunday, March 28 at 10p, sliding to the 9p timeslot on April 18. Season two of the drama focuses on a federal housing project plagued with violence and a distrust of law enforcement.
Mystery thriller “The Head” premieres on HBO Max on Thursday, February 4. Originally produced in Spain, the six-episode drama is set in an isolated Antarctic research station with a killer on the loose.
The 20th and final season of E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” premieres Thursday, March 18 at 8p. The reality show first aired in 2007.
Disney+’s first original series, “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers,” premieres Friday, March 26. Emilio Estevez is reprising the role he played in the 1992 film; Lauren Graham (“Parenthood”) also stars.
“Ryan Doesn’t Know,” hosted by Ryan Reynolds, premieres on Snapchat on Saturday, January 30. Reynolds will attempt activities like ice sculpting, latte art, and axe throwing.
Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg (“Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party”) will host “Puppy Bowl XVII,” streaming on discovery+ and airing Sunday, February 7 at 2p on Animal Planet.
In partnership with Showtime and L’Oreal Paris, Black Beauty Roster will host a virtual event to discuss topics facing Black creatives working in beauty and entertainment. Gabrielle Union, founder of haircare line Flawless by Gabrielle Union, will share her experiences in the industry during a fireside chat at the event, taking place February 28.
Spectrum is celebrating Black History Month with an On Demand collection of movies, musical and comedy specials and documentaries highlighting African American cinema and culture. The On Demand categories begin February 1 with Black Musicians, featuring Jennifer Hudson’s performance in “Dreamgirls,” “Hustle & Flow,” and Spike Lee’s “Mo’ Better Blues,” as well as Black Heroes, featuring documentaries “MLK/FBI” and “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” and the “12 Years A Slave,” among others.
“OWN Spotlight: (In)Visible Portraits” from thought leader, artist and storyteller Oge Egbuonu, premieres Tuesday, March 2 at 9p. The documentary is a celebration of Black women sharing their stories of struggle and resilience.
Documentary “Tuskegee Airmen: Legacy of Courage” premieres Wednesday, February 10 at 8p. Executive produced and narrated by “GMA” anchor Robin Roberts, the History Channel special explores the legacy of America’s first Black military pilots.
The CW and Meredith Corporation are royally re-teaming for two new one-hour specials. “People Presents: Harry & Meghan’s American Dream,” following you-know-who’s first year in America, premieres Tuesday, March 30 at 9p. “People Presents: William & Kate’s Royal Anniversary,” celebrating the Cambridges’ 10-year anniversary, is set for Thursday, April 29 at 8p.
Norman Lear is set to receive the Carol Burnett Award at the 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, airing Sunday, February 28 at 8p on NBC. “His career has encompassed both the Golden Age and Streaming Era, throughout which his progressive approach addressing controversial topics through humor prompted a cultural shift that allowed social and political issues to be reflected in television,” said Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Ali Sar. “His work revolutionized the industry.”
Nat Geo WILD special “Pristine Seas: The Power of Protection,” following a team of scientists as they travel the globe to save the ocean, premieres Monday, February 22 at 8p.
The Decades Network is honoring Cloris Leachman with episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” featuring her character, Phyllis, on Monday, February 1 at 2p and 2:30p. At 9p, Decades will air an interview from Leachman’s 1971 appearance on “The Dick Cavett Show.” Leachman died January 27 at age 94.
Also remembering Cloris Leachman is Antenna TV, with a marathon of episodes of “The Facts of Life” featuring the actress, from noon-6p on Saturday, January 30.
Special “Reddit Revolt,” focused on Redditors and retail investors taking Wall Street by the horns, airs on Cheddar today at 11a. Legal experts will discuss the class action lawsuits taken against financial services companies like Robinhood, and a roundtable of market experts will offer updates from Wall Street and predictions for the future of stock shorting and retail investing.
Digital MIPTV is expanding access to its One-to-One Online Distribution Market, adding Drama and Kids genres to Doc, Factual and Formats. Reed MIDEM says the move is in response to increased demand for an online sales platform during the traditional MIPTV market week due to the ongoing restrictions on physical gatherings.
AMC Networks International Southern Europe will launch a new channel, Selekt, in Spain on February 4. Available at no additional cost for subscribers to Vodafone TV and Orange, Selekt will offer premieres, original productions, exclusive programming and simulcasts.
Starzplay, the international premium streaming service from Starz, is joining Canal+ offerings. All the content in the service will be available as OTT for Canal+ Series subscribers.
Synchronicity Films (“The Cry”) has signed an exclusive first-look deal with All3Media International for all upcoming scripted television projects. The agreement gives All3Media International a first look option to deficit finance and distribute Synchronicity’s upcoming slate of scripted television projects.
Hat Trick International agreed to a first look distribution deal with Seadog TV and Film Productions, to represent the Devon-based indie’s forthcoming factual series internationally.
Julien Leroux has announced the launch of Paper Entertainment, a new London-based company focusing on developing, financing and producing TV content in partnership with talent and producers around the world. Paper Entertainment is onboard as a co-producer on the recently announced second season of AppleTV+ hit “Tehran.”
WildBrain has acquired worldwide distribution to animated kids’ show “Alva’s World” outside the UK, Ireland and Finland.
Australian prodco WTFN announced that it has gone into production on “Sydney Harbour Force,” jointly commissioned by Discovery UK and Discovery Australia and New Zealand.
Blue Ant Media gave a series of greenlights for its suite of lifestyle and factual TV channels: Cottage Life, T+E, Love Nature and Smithsonian Channel Canada. The lineup includes four world broadcast premieres with several series available for licensing globally by Blue Ant International.
YouNeek Studios secured VC investment from Impact X Capital to develop an animation series based on a world of superhero and fantasy stories inspired by African history and mythology. Former SVP of co-productions at DreamWorks, Doug Schwalbe, has joined as executive producer and will oversee distribution.