02/02/15: HBO to launch Lewis and Clark miniseries; Al Jazeera reporter released from Egyptian prison; new study confirms what we already knew about Super Bowl ads


Good morning. It’s Monday, February 2, 2015, and this is your first early morning briefing.

Tonight’s Premieres:
Cooking: Unwrapped 2.0 at 10p
Food: Kids Baking Championship at 8p
Golf: Big Break Palm Beaches at 9p
History: Swamp People at 9p, Appalachian Outlaws at 10p

Tonight’s Finale:
DIY: Kitchen Crashers at 9p

HBO is setting sail with six-hour miniseries Lewis and Clark, based on the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen A. Ambrose. Exec producers include Tom Hanks, Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Tim Kelly and Adam Leipzig. Casey Affleck (Good Will Hunting) and Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone) star as the explorers in the six-parter, to start filming this summer.


Australian Peter Greste, one of three Al Jazeera journalists convicted on terrorism charges and imprisoned in Egypt, was released and deported Sunday under a new law allowing convicted foreigners to return to their home countries for trial. It is expected Mohamed Fahmy will be deported to Canada; Baher Mohamed has only Egyptian nationality. “Peter’s integrity is not just intact, but has been further enhanced by the fortitude and sacrifice he has shown for his profession of informing the public,” saidMostefa Souag, acting director general of Al Jazeera Media Network. “We will not rest until Baher and Mohamed also regain their freedom.”

Comcast and Time Warner Cable agreed to a six-month extension to the end date of their merger agreement. The companies informed the SEC their new timeline gives them until August 12, 2015 to complete the deal, first announced in February 2014.

HBO grabbed U.S. rights to 3½ Minutes, a documentary about the 2012 Florida shooting death of black teen Jordan Davis. The film from director Marc Silver will have its TV premiere in the fall, following a theatrical release.

It’s official: Almost half (47 percent) of people watching the Super Bowl are just there for the ads, according to Horizon Media’s Finger on the Pulse survey. “It’s clear support for why advertisers continue to make big investments in the Super Bowl," said Kirk Olson, VP of TrendSights at Horizon. "On top of the enormous reach, Americans still very much believe in the event as a sports and advertising tradition.”

So what did you think of this year’s Super Bowl ads? Vote in the new poll at Cynopsis.com.

Eddie Murphy will be on hand for Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special on February 15 at 8p. Murphy was a regular on the NBC sketch comedy series from 1980-84; his last appearance was as host in December 1984.

Top 10 Weekend Domestic Box Office Estimates: January 30-February 1, 2015
American Sniper (Warner Bros.) $31.9, cume revenue $248.9 million
Paddington (The Weinstein Company) $8.5 million, cume revenue $50.5 million
Project Almanac (Paramount) $8.5 million, opening weekend
Black Or White (Relativity Media) $6.6 million, opening weekend
The Boy Next Door (Universal) $6.1 million, cume revenue $24.7 million
The Wedding Ringer (Sony) $5.7 million, cume revenue $48.1 million
The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company) $5.2 million, cume revenue $67.9 million
Taken 3 (20th Century Fox) $3.7 million cume revenue cume revenue $9.9 million weekend
Strange Magic (Disney) $3.4 million, cume revenue $9.9 million
The Loft (Open Road), $2.9 million, opening weekend
Source: Rentrak Corporation


What does it mean to win a Sports Media Award?
Here are just some of the benefits: Crystal award trophy, recognition at awards breakfast in New York, editorial coverage in Cynopsis Sports eNewsletter, editorial coverage on Cynopsis.com, award logo to use for marketing on your site, and most importantly, winning a Sports Media Award positions your program & your people as industry leaders.

The deadline is now extended to Thursday, February 5, 2015.

Who Should Enter? | Eligibility Period | Enter Now | Cost & Deadlines.


ABC is going for laughs with seven comedy pilots. From ABC Studios: Delores & Jermaine, based on the life of comedian Jermaine Fowler; a project with the NBA set in the world of basketball; a family comedy based on the life of Johnny Knoxville and The King of 7B, focused on an agoraphobic recluse. 20th Century Fox Television offerings include a comedy centered on a couple surprised when their son turns out to be an athlete, and The Brainy Bunch, about a pair raising a socially limited genius. Warner Bros. Television’s The 46 Percenters tells the stories of couples who choose to stay married.

Turning to drama, ABC ordered pilots for Kingmakers, centered on an Ivy League university; Boom, set in oil fields of the Bakken, and The Adversaries, about a troubled legal family, from ABC Studios. The Advocate, about a health care advocate, comes from Vendetta Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.

Pilot pickups for CBS include medical drama LFE, from The Dan Jinks Co. and CBS Television Studios, about second-year residents at an NYC hospital; Sneaky Pete, written and produced by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and David Shore (House), from Sony Pictures Television, and crime drama For Justice, from Tribeca Productions, Rene Balcer (Law & Order) and author James Patterson, who wrote the novel on which the show is based.

Production has started in New Orleans for new thriller Zoo, another CBS show based on a novel by James Patterson. Brad Anderson (The Machinist) is directing the episode, a CBS Television Studios production.

Will CNBC start developing scripted and game shows? The net’s alternative programming exec Jim Ackerman has the answer in today’s Cynsiders.


AXS TV premieres concert special Colt Ford: Crank it Up! Live at Wild Adventures on Tuesday, February 10 at 10p. Show follows the country artist’s appearance on docu-series Discovering Lucy Angel at 9p.

The Africa Channel has designated February Elders Month. “Not every life well lived ends up in history books,” said Lee Gaither, net GM/EVP.“The purpose of Elders Month, and our ongoing elders initiative, is to recognize everyday heroes and encourage people to make a difference in their communities.”

Al Jazeera America is marking Black History Month with themed on-air content and a month-long social media campaign, #Branding Black, raising questions about multicultural marketing and “the commercialization of blackness.” Programming includes new episodes of Talk To Al Jazeera, special episodes of Real Money with Ali Velshi, America Tonight’s new three-part series, “Young Revolutionaries,” and numerous Race In America stories.

Sony Movie Channel’s Black History Month programming includes a Mondays-at-10p block featuring African-American action heroes. Tonight: Wesley Snipes in The Detonator and The Contractor.


Idina Menzel (Wicked) will star in comedy Happy Time, a project from Ellen DeGeneres’ A Very Good Production and Warner Bros. Television, reports Deadline.

Garret Dillahunt, onboard the final season of FX’s Justified, will also guest star on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine as a detective who shows romantic interest in Amy.

Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad) stars opposite Gary Sinise in CBS’s Criminal Minds planted spinoff, about FBI agents helping American citizens in trouble abroad.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Magic City) landed a series regular role in season two of CBS summer drama Extant.

CASTING CALL: OXYGEN & FremantleMedia (American Idol) are seeking Entrepreneurs who are ready to quit their day jobs and turn their concepts into millions! If you have invention, new product, or startup – but need financial backing to take it to the next level – our team of investors can help! Contact The Casting Firm to apply at [email protected] (2/3)

CASTING CALL: ABC’s hit series Extreme Weight Loss is back for season 6 and seeking celebrities who want to use their influence to nominate & support a friend, relative or even a fan along their weight loss journey. If you are a public figure and want to pay it forward, contact Casting Director, Lindsay at [email protected] (2/5)


TV entries taking home American Cinema Editors Awards on Saturday included HBO’s True Detective, The Normal Heart and Veep, UK’s Sherlock,  CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and PBS documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. For a complete list of winners, go here.

Nominations were announced for the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, airing Sunday, April 19 at 8p on CBS. Miranda Lambert earned the most nods with eight; Dierks Bentley followed with seven.

Sarah Silverman, Clive Owen and Andre Holland join the celebs presenting at the 2015 Writers Guild New York Ceremony on Saturday, February 14. Freshly-minted late-night talk show host Larry Wilmore presides.

Disney Television Animation was a big winner at Saturday’s 42nd Annual Annie Awards, honoring work in animation, with nine wins. Fox’s The Simpsons took home the trophy for general audience broadcast, and Fox/NatGeo’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey nabbed special production honors. For more, click here.

Coming out winners from Sunday’s Art Directors Guild 19th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards were FX’s American Horror Story: Freak Show, HBO’s Silicon Valley, ABC’s 86th Annual Academy Awards, CBS’s Big Bang Theory and IFC’s Portlandia


2015 Cable Hall of Fame Celebration
Presented by The Cable Center
May 5, 2015 at the Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
2015 Honorees
Chris Berman, Sportscaster, ESPN
William H. Roedy, Global Health Ambassador & former Chairman/CEO of MTV Networks
Steve Simmons, Chairman, Patriot Media and Communications
JC Sparkman, Retired COO, TCI
Tony Werner, EVP and CTO, Comcast Cable
Eleanor Winter, SVP, NCTA
www.cablehalloffame.com, 720-502-7500


Thursday’s series finale of NBC drama Parenthood was up 31 percent among A18-49, to 1.7/5, with a 24 percent lift in viewers versus last week.

All was well in Shondaland Thursday. The return of Grey’s Anatomy hit 2.8/9, up .4 from its fall finale, Scandal got a .5 lift to 3.6/11, and How to Get Away With Murder had a .1 uptick, to 3.1/10 in the demo.

ABC’s 20/20 shot up 36 percent among A18-49 versus the prior Friday, to 1.5/5, according to early Nielsens. The net won the nigh in the demo, with a 1.5/5 average. CBS won in total viewers with 10.31 million.

HGTV scored its highest-rated Wednesday ever among P25-54 with a .75 rating and among W25-54 with a 1.07 rating. Property Brothers at 9p garnered a .85 P25-54 rating, the second highest rated prime episode for the series; House Hunters at 10p posted its best rating since January 2010 with a 1.05 among P25-54.The night grew 39 percent over last year and 42 percent over the prior 13 week average.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live averaged a 4.3 HH rating and 2.1 among A18-49 in early Nielsens, down 9 percent in households and 5 percent in the demo versus last week. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) was host.

TV One had its best January delivery ever in Total Day among P25-54, the net’s third consecutive month of growth in the demo and HH in both Total Day and Primetime.  In January 2015 versus December 2014, P25-54 grew 27 percent to 104,000 in primetime, and HH increased 18 percent to 145,000. In total day, P25-54 grew 23 percent to 79,000 while HH saw a 15 percent lift, to 110,00.

Thursday A18-49 Analysis: ABC won the most A18-49 viewers Thursday with 3.2/10, according to Nielsen. CBS was first at 8p with a 3.7/12 average for Big Bang Theory and Mom, followed by 2.8/9 for ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. ABC took the lead at 9p with 3.6/11 for Scandal, versus a 2.0/6 average for CBS’s Two and a Half Men and The McCarthys. ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder topped 10p with 3.1/10, followed by 1.7/5 for Parenthood.

A18-49: ABC 3.2/10, CBS 2.3/7, FOX 1.8/6, NBC 1.5/6, UNI 1.3/4, TELE .6/2, CW .5/2, ION .2/1

Live + Same Day Household Ratings: January 29, 2015 – time period averages. Source: NTI, Galaxy as dated. Live+SD.
CBS: 6.3/11
Big Bang Theory 10.4/17, Mom 7.2/12, Two and a Half Men 6.0/10, The McCarthys 4.4/7, Elementary 4.8/9
ABC: 6.2/10
Grey’s Anatomy 5.8/9, Scandal 6.9/11, How to Get Away With Murder 6.0/11
FOX: 4.4/7
American Idol 5.6/9, Backstrom 3.2/5
NBC: 3.5/6
The Biggest Loser 3.4/5, Parenthood 3.6/6
Mi Corazon Es Tuyo 1.8/3, Hasta Fin del Mundo 1.7/3, Que te Perdone Dios…Yo No
ION: 1.2/2
Blue Bloods 1.2/2, Blue Bloods 1.3/2, Blue Bloods 1.2/2
TELE: .8/1
Los Miserables .9 /1, Tierra de Reyes .7/1, Duenos del Paraiso .9/2
CW: .8/1
Vampire Diaries .9/1, Reign .7/1


Actress Geraldine McEwan died January 30 following a stroke in October. She was 82. McEwan was best known to television audiences for her role in Agatha Christie’s Marple.


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This Day in History: 1979 – The Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious died of a drug overdose at age 21.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question Which sitcom character’s “fake name” was Ken Adams? Joey on Friends (1994-2004). Kudos to: Smiti Kumar-Merrill Lynch/Bank of America/NYC, David Woolfson-Screenvision/NYC, Jamie Biesiada-Star News Group/Manasquan, NJ, Tracy Chernoff-BizBash Media/NYC, Michael Myers-Starcom MediaVest Group/Chicago, Jessica Harris-NCC Media/Chicago, Lori James-Charter Media/St. Louis, MO, Cynthia New-Charter Media/Cape Girardeau, MO, Suzy Shoup-Moroch/Dallas, Lindsay Garber-Splash Entertainment/Woodland Hills, CA, Bob Gillan-Brownstone Entertainment/LA, Adam Deverell-CMG-REP/LA, JK Barrow-HooHoo Entertainment/Burbank.

Today’s Trivia Question: Which short-lived series featured a detective reliving the same day over and over? (Email [email protected]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.).
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ABC: The Bachelor, Castle
CBS: 2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, Scorpion [r], NCIS: Los Angeles
CW: The Originals, Jane the Virgin
FOX: Gotham, Sleepy Hollow
NBC: The Celebrity Apprentice, State of Affairs
PBS: Antiques Roadshow, Antiques Roadshow [r], A Path Appears
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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