PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Mediawan and Miramax TV are teaming to develop and produce high-end programming, including series and straight-to-platform feature films. “Mediawan has proven to be one of the most innovative and sought-after studios in Europe, with excellent taste in content,” said Miramax’s Global Head of Television Marc Helwig. “We are grateful and excited to partner with them to bring more stories to a larger audience.” Out of the gate are a series based on Miramax’s 2000 film “Chocolat” and an adaptation of sci-fi novel “Le Grand Secret.”
Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis (“Giada at Home”) has signed a multi-year unscripted production deal with Amazon Studios. “With her charismatic passion for food, and commitment to making extraordinary culinary experiences accessible to the home chef, Giada De Laurentiis has remained at the forefront of her industry for nearly two decades,” said Lauren Anderson, Head of AVOD Original Content and Programming, Amazon Studios. “We look forward to developing an exciting slate of projects with Giada, as she expands into new areas and we broaden our portfolio of cooking and lifestyle content.”
Former HBO execs Ben Wasserstein and Richard Plepler have reunited, with Wasserstein signing an exclusive first-look deal with Plepler’s Eden Productions. Wasserstein will develop new comedy, drama and limited series for Eden, which has an exclusive deal with Apple TV+.
Toonz Media Group and Nuttery Entertainment have teamed to produce and distribute new comedy adventure “Super Brakan & Ice Bella: Defenders of Imagination” for kids 6 to 9 years old. The comedy adventure shows ordinary moments viewed through the exaggerated lens of a child facing down the uninteresting, unimaginative, and stressed world of grown-ups.
Beginning March 10, season 15 episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will expand from 60 minutes back to their former 90 minutes on MTV. The new format, which debuted in January, drew criticism from fans as the show featured its largest cast ever.
Casting notes: Sam Neill (“Jurassic Park”) will star opposite Annette Bening (“American Beauty”) in Peacock’s upcoming drama series “Apples Never Fall.”…Jeff Hephner (“Chicago Fire”) has joined Netflix’s “Eric,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
True-crime series, “Someone They Knew With Tamron Hall” is back for a sophomore run starting Sunday, February 19 at 9p on Court TV. The stories are told from the point of view of the people impacted by the case, including the lawyers, jurors, members of law enforcement and the victim’s family and friends.
MTV and Smithsonian Channel announced the premiere of “The Exhibit: Finding The Next Great Artist,” a docu-competition series in which seven diverse artists compete for a $100,000 cash prize and an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. Each rising artist is tasked with creating a museum exhibit based on the Hirshhorn’s mission to feature art that “responds to history in real time.” The series premieres Friday, March 3 at 9p on MTV and Tuesday, March 7 at 9p on Smithsonian Channel.
“Star Wars: Young Jedi Adventures” will premiere on Disney+ and Disney Junior on May 4. Set during The High Republic era, the animated series follows Jedi younglings.
Outdoor competition series “Race to Survive Alaska” launches Monday, April 3 at 11p on USA, following “WWE Monday Night RAW.” Over the course of six weeks and six races, the eight teams of two will traverse through the harshest Alaskan landscapes, having to source their own food and water while charting their own path on previously unexplored terrain.
Rock talk series “Power Hour” launches Wednesday, February 15 at 10p on AXS TV. Rock experts and enthusiasts Matt Pinfield (MTV, VH1), Josh Bernstein (Revolver Golden Gods, Loudwire), and Caity Babs (SirusXM’s Octane) host.
Season two of Circle Network’s “Road Stories” premieres Friday, February 17 at 11p.
Love in the metaverse: “Parisland,” an in-game reality show hosted by Paris Hilton in The Sandbox’s metaverse platform, debuts February 13 and will run for a month. “I can’t think of a better way to light up the winter months than a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway to Paris Hilton’s tropical island in the metaverse,” said Sebastien Borget, COO and Co-Founder of The Sandbox.
“The Madame Blanc Mysteries” returns to Acorn TV on February 20. In season two, Jean White begins setting up shop in the scenic Saint Victoire but continues to be drawn into mysteries, from minor offenses to murder investigations.
Disney Branded Television announced the launch of Disney Channel series, “Saturdays,” on Friday, March 24 at 9p. The series follows teen Paris Johnson and her roller-skate crew, We-B-Girlz, on their journey to becoming the top skaters in Chicago. Additionally, “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” returns for a third season with two new episodes starting at 8p.
Stand-up special “Lavell Crawford: Thee Lavell Crawford” starts streaming February 24 for Showtime subscribers ahead of its linear debut on Sunday, February 26 at 10p. In addition to his comedy career, Crawford is known for his role in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.”
Better for You Media, a media network focusing on wellness, has partnered with Information Resources Inc. to be the official data sponsor of BFY Media’s web series “Battle of the Brands” along with how-it’s-made show “Behind the Wrapper,” set to air on a streaming platform this year. As part of the sponsorship, IRI will provide its proprietary sales metrics to be featured in BFY programming.
Screen Media has acquired North American rights to the true-crime-inspired thriller “Maggie Moore(s).” Directed by John Slattery and written by Paul Bernbaum, the film reunites Slattery with his “Mad Men” co-star, Jon Hamm. The film also stars Tina Fey. Screen Media is planning a theatrical release in June, followed by a digital release later that month.
Dana Walden and Alan Bergman, now heads of Disney Entertainment, a new division that’s part of Disney’s restructuring, will oversee the company’s global streaming businesses. Michael Paull, who was previously President, Direct to Consumer, Disney Media and Entertainment and Distribution, will continue to oversee Disney+ and Hulu, reporting to Walden and Bergman.
Dish-owned Sling TV has launched a free ad-supported service offering more than 210 channels. Now available on Roku devices, Sling Freestream will be added to select LG, Samsung and Vizio TVs. The announcement was made on February 9, Sling TV-created National Cut the Cord Day.
Hulu has acquired the rights to British horror comedy “Wreck. The cruise ship-set series, which premiered last year in the UK on BBC Three, will debut on the streamer Wednesday, March 1.
Yahoo plans to lay off over 20% of its total workforce as it restructures its ad tech division. About half of the company’s ad tech employees will be affected by the end of the year, including 1000 this week. “These decisions are never easy, but we believe these changes will simplify and strengthen our advertising business for the long run, while enabling Yahoo to deliver better value to our customers and partners,” said a Yahoo spokesperson.
GumGum has earned the Media Rating Council’s first accreditation for measurement of content-level classification and URL reporting through the Verity API for CTV. “The addition of accredited content-level classification for CTV to GumGum’s existing MRC accreditations, which had already included classification and reporting for desktop and mobile web, is a noteworthy achievement,” said George W. Ivie, Executive Director and CEO of the MRC. “It speaks to GumGum’s commitments to both transparency and innovation, and we’re pleased that advertisers and others now have the benefit of an MRC-accredited solution to help them navigate this critical emerging space.”
As it enters the upfront season, The Africa Channel reports it is offering brand partners and agencies new opportunities to engage its audience by embracing its core mission to engage, educate and entertain viewers about contemporary Africa, its people and the role the continent is playing in shaping Black communities both in the U.S. and around the world. “What some in the media sector fail to realize is that Black audiences are not a monolith,” said The Africa Channel’s principal owner Paula Madison. “The Africa Channel’s business activities are driven by a clear-sighted vision of this community and the very diverse and multicultural interests of this audience.” A sampling of TAC’s programming includes morning show “Expresso” and news show “Focus on Africa”; reality series “African Royale”; travel series “World Wide Nate: African Adventures”; and cooking show “Amah Knows Best.”
NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin has been cut from Super Bowl coverage following an unspecified complaint about his behavior with a woman in a hotel lobby, where he had checked in to begin Super Bowl duties. “Michael Irvin will not be part of the NFL Network’s Super Bowl 2023 week coverage,” said an NFL Network spokesman. During a radio interview on “Shan & RJ,” Irvin said, “It was a minute meeting somewhere in the lobby. I don’t even remember it really because I had a few drinks to tell you the truth.”
In the first national media spot immediately following the Super Bowl broadcast, Verizon will debut a 30-second commercial showcasing its newest innovation for the NFL, a private wireless solution across each of the 30 U.S. NFL stadiums for on field coach-to-coach communication. The new spot demonstrates how Verizon technology supports the football experience even after the big game ends, as Verizon’s team of network engineers implements this new solution across the country’s NFL stadiums.
African football is set to embark on a new era, with greater investment in football development and the chance for more teams on the global stage, FIFA President Gianni Infantino told a workshop for African Member Associations. Gianni Infantino said that the decision to expand the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams, with nine guaranteed spots for CAF as opposed to the previous five, would encourage investment.
Gym Class, the VR basketball app, announced a licensing relationship with the National Basketball Association. Expanding its immersive gaming experience, the enhanced Gym Class app will be available for all 30 NBA teams this winter, the NBA bundle includes a virtual replica of an NBA team’s court, two different sets of team-branded apparel, and a team-branded basketball. Additional NBA and team-branded basketballs and accessories will also be available for purchase separately.
FOX Sports unveiled its 39-match broadcast schedule for the 2023 Concacaf Men’s U-17 Championship with matches airing live across the FOX family of networks, including FS1, FS2, FOX Soccer Plus and Tubi. Beginning Saturday, February 11, twenty teams will compete in the two-week long tournament that will see all four semifinalists qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2023. Nineteen matches will air on FS2, including Quarterfinals, Semifinals and the Final on Sunday, February 26 at 5p. Tubi will live stream select matches from the Concacaf tournament for the first time, including four Round of 16 matches. The United States U-17 Men’s Youth National Team opens play Saturday vs. Barbados at 8p on FS2, while their second match vs. Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, February 13 kicks off at 8p on FS1. The U.S. U-17 squad’s final group stage match vs. Canada on Wednesday, February 15 airs at 8p on FS2.
The National Hockey League announced the attractions and hockey interactives planned for the Truly Hard Seltzer NHL PreGame fan festival for the Saturday, February 18 outdoor game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. Among the offerings are Bubble Hockey Games; trick shot challenges; a slapshot booth and more.
Scottish indie Freedom Scripted has signed a first look distribution deal with All3Media International. Having secured investment from C4 Indie Growth Fund last summer, the deal will see Glasgow based Freedom partnering with All3Media International on its scripted slate. The focus of which is on character-led drama.
All3Media International also announced Lingo Pictures’ (part of ITV Studios) drama series “The Messenger,” based on Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel of the same name, has found a German co-production partner in FabFiction, a scripted co-production initiative between ARD’s public broadcasters NDR, SWR and WDR.
Fremantle and Kansai TV announced the launch of new entertainment format “Quiz Pong” following a co-development deal initially revealed at MIPCOM 2022. Kansai TV saw a successful launch for Quiz Pong in Japan last month. Fremantle will handle the production and global distribution of the format.
Banijay Rights has extended its first-look development deal with UK factual specialist Proper Content for a further two years. Under the new agreement, both parties will further develop and produce series for the UK and international markets, building on their deal signed at the IndieLab Accelerator program in 2019.