PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Small Fortune, an unscripted competition series from Youngest Media, scored a six-episode order from NBC. Based on a format that launched in February on UK’s ITV, teams of friends compete in challenges on fields scaled down to the size of a dollhouse.
Mark Burnett, Chairman of the Worldwide Television Group at MGM, and MGM Television are launching a new division, MGM Global Formats and Unscripted Content. Former Mark Burnett Productions execs C. Scot Cru and Patrice Choghi are onboard. “I’ve known Scot for more than 20 years,” said Burnett. “He is a consummate dealmaker who has a stellar reputation with broadcasters and producers around the world. I’m so happy to be working with him and Patrice again as we move to grow our business internationally.”
Lifetime ordered two new movies for its “Ripped From the Headlines” slate of films based on true stories. 53 Days: The Abduction of Mary Stauffer (wt), starring Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother) and Daphne Hoskins (The Detour), follows a teacher and her daughter abducted by a former student, while and Saving Alex (wt), with Addison Holley (Annedroids), Ian Lake (Mary Kills People) and Sarah Booth (American Horror Story), recounts the story of a 15-year-old held against her will in a gay conversion home.
Netflix ordered a six-episode second season of dark comedy After Life, created by and starring Ricky Gervais. “I have never had a reaction like this before. It’s been insane,” said Gervais. “And heartwarming. But now I have to make sure the second season is even better so I’ll probably have to work much harder than usual. Annoying really.
Should guilty parties in the college admission scandal face jail time? Let us know in the Cynopsis poll: http://www.cynopsis.com/.
Nickelodeon has ordered 10 more episodes of its live-action show Henry Danger, for a series total to 127 episodes to date. The show is currently in season five.
Skydance Television has entered into an exclusive multi-year overall production agreement with Lewaa Nasserdeen (Daredevil). Under the deal, Nasserdeen will create, develop and produce original scripted series for the studio, which currently has multiple projects in development with the actor-writer-producer.
NEW & RETURNING SERIES
The Employables, a docu-series following struggling job seekers with conditions such as autism or Tourette Syndrome, premieres on A&E on Wednesday, May 8 at 10p. With the help of specialists, each job seeker uncovers their talents and works to show potential employers that their perceived disabilities can often provide unexpected benefits in the workplace.
Family casting for HGTV’s revival of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is underway, for 10 episodes airing in 2020. What’s the network’s spin on the series, which aired on ABC from 2003-2012? “The new HGTV episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will highlight what we do best – showcasing home renovation and design experts as they create dream homes for families,” Loren Ruch, SVP, HGTV Programming and Development, tells Cynopsis. “Each deserving family will be surprised with the makeover of a lifetime that gives them a comfortable, customized home that meets their needs.”
In more HGTV news, renovation series Good Bones is back for more drastic overhauls starting Tuesday, May 14 at 9p.
Preschool platform Hopster has launched original animation series Saturday Club, made up of six three-minute episodes designed to nurture empathy. Accompanying the series is a game that helps young children further explore their emotions.
Season five of Line of Duty premieres on Acorn TV on Monday, May 13. All six episodes of the BBC One cop thriller will be available to binge.
AXS TV’s The Big Interview returns for season seven on Tuesday, April 16 at a new time: 8p. The season kicks off with Dan Rather taking a journey down memory lane with rock star Steve Perry.
One of the least understood periods in American history is explored in PBS’s Reconstruction: America After the Civil War, starting Tuesday, April 9 at 9p. The two-part doc takes a broad view of Reconstruction and its aftermath, beginning with the hopeful moment of war’s end and emancipation in 1865 and carrying through to 1915, when the nation was fully entrenched in Jim Crow segregation
Turner Classic Movies will honor its founder, Ted Turner, on opening night of the 10th annual TCM Classic Film Festival on April 11. TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz sat down for an exclusive interview with Turner, and the chat, as well as a video tribute, will premiere on opening night of the festival with Turner in attendance.
In CNBC original documentary The Profit: My Roots, airing Tuesday, April 9 at 9p, entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis (The Profit) travels to the land of his birth. Adopted out of a Beirut orphanage at age nine months, Lemonis embarks on a search for his birth parents.
Former Fox News journalist Gretchen Carlson is partnering with SeriesFest for a special screening of her documentary, Gretchen Carlson: Breaking the Silence, followed by a candid conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace. The event takes place on Thursday, April 11 as part of the Denver Film Society’s Women + Film Festival in Denver.
Have you seen the list of inspiring women who made the cut for Cynopsis’ Top Women in Sports awards? These female trailblazers are pushing the industry forward, while empowering and inspiring others. Honorees in the categories below will be celebrated with their peers at our inaugural Top Women in Media Awards event, taking place this August in NYC (more to come on that soon).
In what it called an evolution in its journey to build a new agency model, consulting firm Accenture Interactive has agreed to acquire ad agency Droga5. “Joining forces with Droga5 will be a game-changing milestone for us and the industry as we continue to assemble the right mix of capabilities for the modern-day marketer,” said Brian Whipple, global CEO of Accenture Interactive. Droga5 will keep its name and management team.
Of the $60 billion spent on local digital advertising last year, 70% went to Facebook or Google, according to Borrell Associates’ “2019 Benchmarking Local Media Digital Revenues” report. “Those expecting the social media juggernaut to collapse due to data breaches, fake news and reports of click fraud may have more hope than reality in their expectations,” said the report, adding that surveys showed 74% of local ad buyers found Facebook was moderately to extremely effective.
Digital advertising technology company Amobee announced an agreement with Univision Communications to be the linear television optimization platform of record. The Amobee platform sets the foundation to support Univision across linear, digital and social channels. “Bringing data to the top of the marketing funnel provides better targeting and addressability to television investments, with overall television advertising spending slated to surpass $200 billion by 2020,” said Kim Perell, CEO of Amobee. “
Imagine Communications’ ad inventory optimization platform has been updated to ease the transition to impression-based ad buys. Launched in 2017, xG GamePlan offered improved efficiency to audience-based campaigns to reach target goals with less inventory; the latest update gives customers the ability to blend both spot and audience-based campaigns so they can gradually ease brands toward impression-based buying. “We know that our broadcaster and MVPD customers globally want to move to impression-based ad models to more strategically optimize their inventory, but most markets are built so heavily around ‘the spot’ that it’s not as easy as flipping a switch,” said Ronnie Bell, VP of Global Product Management, Imagine Communications Ad Tech. “xG GamePlan helps start to solve that problem by making it simple for our customers to transition to audience-based strategies at a pace that’s right for them and the brands they work with.”
Magnolia Pictures has become a member of the Entertainment Identifier Registry, the source of universal unique identifiers for digital distribution of movies and television assets. Magnolia Pictures is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies. “With Magnolia Pictures joining EIDR, we see the world of traditional MVPDs (Multichannel Video Programming Distributors) evolving towards becoming Multi-Platform Distributors, embracing OTT/streaming models for delivering the content their customers are demanding – and at the same time, needing to simplify the identification of that content,” Will Kreth, Executive Director of EIDR, tells Cynopsis. “It is because EIDR IDs are becoming a requirement at these corporations that Magnolia has aligned itself with EIDR, and the benefits for optimizing their asset title management only multiply from there.”
Seinfeld alum Jason Alexander will voice Mr. Mouse in Fox animated comedy pilot Richard Lovely…Lily Collins (To the Bone) landed the lead in Paramount Network’s Emily in Paris, arriving in 2020…Catherine Bell will reunite with her JAG co-star, David James Elliott, in a recurring role on CBS’s NCIS: Los Angeles…Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog), Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul), and Tobin Bell (Saw) have been cast in Shudder anthology series Creepshow, in the Stephen King story “Gray Matter.”
Onboard for season two of Hulu’s Light as a Feather: Katelyn Nacon (The Walking Dead), Froy Gutierrez (Teen Wolf), Adriyan Rae (Atlanta), Alisa Allapach (The 15:17 to Paris), Kira Kosarin (The Thundermans), Alex Wassabi (Wassabi), Robyn Lively (Teen Witch) and Alan & Alex Stokes (Brobot).
Added to the cast of HBO limited series I Know This Much Is True, starring and exec produced by Mark Ruffalo: Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Rosie O’Donnell, Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), Imogen Poots (Green Room), Juliette Lewis (Camping) and Kathryn Hahn (Happyish).
Paramount Network International announced a strategic move into the experiential events space, with the launch of a Mean Girls-themed event in London over five days this summer. Mean Girls: The Movie and More will be the international network’s first live event based on a film from Paramount’s content library. The strategy is being led by Jill Offman, EVP of Paramount Network International, who has spearheaded Comedy Central International’s successful steer into live events with the launches of FriendsFest, Comedy Central Live and Comedy Central Fest.
The Preview Channel, a free ad-supported OTT, linear and AVOD streaming TV channel, has launched nationwide on streaming TV service XUMO TV. The Preview Channel features first run movie trailers, video game trailers, star and director interviews as well as other original and archival short form movie, TV and video game related programming.
Multi-platform video distribution company Future Today is launching YayToons, a new Cyber Group Studios free app featuring animated content for children ages 3-8. Nearly 300 episodes from series are available in the U.S. on OTT platforms including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV.
New performance updates and innovations for video and audio tools in Adobe Creative Cloud include Content-Aware Fill for video, powered by Adobe Sensei, the company’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, along with new capabilities for titles and graphics, crafting animations, refining audio mixing, and organizing and preparing project media. Performance improvements include faster Mask Tracking for effects and color workflows, dual GPU optimization and improved hardware acceleration for HEVC and H.264 formats in Premiere Pro. In After Effects, enhancements include GPU-accelerated effects, such as Change Color and Roughen Edges.
AMC Networks has turned to Arris Intertnational and its video compression and transcoding solutions to serve as the foundation for the media company’s satellite distribution architecture. The ARRIS ME-7000 leverages the latest HEVC compression technologies to increase video capacity over satellite transmission channels, enabling next-generation entertainment experiences for viewers, while the ARRIS DSR-7400 family of transcoders allows AMC Networks to efficiently deliver services through its existing QAM networks and transcode HEVC services to MPEG-2/4 HD and SD in support of legacy set-tops. Its multi-tuner capability can simultaneously receive and process up to four input satellite transponder multiplexes enabling flexibility in service selection across networks.
Independent video technology company JW Player announced the launch of OTT apps aimed at empowering brands to create customized viewing experiences as well as maximize reach and revenue with monetization and audience engagement tools. The OTT product “will get clients up and running in weeks, not months, while also supplying media companies with better reporting and monetization,” said Neil Deiter, VP Global Partner & Product Alliances. “Over the next few years, there will be a massive opportunity for media companies to get their content into audiences’ living rooms while controlling their brand and revenue streams.”
InnoValor announced that its flagship software product ReadID is being used by the UK Home Office to enable EU citizens obtaining UK immigration status after Brexit by using a smartphone app. The new digital service will support the EU Settlement Scheme by allowing identity verification to be done remotely using a smartphone app, including ePassport chip verification, biometric facial matching and liveness detection. ReadID provides the functionality for reading and verifying the chip present in epassports and identity cards. European banks such as ING, Rabobank, Volksbank, and the Norwegian bank DNB already use ReadID for mobile onboarding.
Comedy Central is adding two new podcasts to its Global Podcast Network: Stand-Up w/ Chris Distefano, launching April 18, and Your 2 Dads w/ Sean and Julian, hosted by Sean O’Connor and Julian McCullough, launching May 20. Both will post weekly on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other major podcast outlets.
Cadence13 has partnered with veterans advocate Paul Rieckhoff and his Righteous Media, kicking off with Angry Americans. In the weekly podcast, Rieckhoff will explore important issues facing the country with a wide range of influential guests, from Capitol Hill to Hollywood to Silicon Valley.
Viacom has launched a production center in Manchester, England and rebranded its UK division, Elephant House Studios, as Viacom International Studios. “Broadcasters and streamers are in a global ‘arms race’ for the best content, which represents a significant growth opportunity for Viacom with our international studio capacity and in-built creative expertise,” said David Lynn, CEO, Viacom International Media Networks.
ITV has commissioned a new series, Planet Child, offering an exploration of global childhood development in 2019. Children’s reactions to different challenges are tested to offer an insight into their attitudes, behavior and what they are capable of when left unchecked by parental supervision. Produced by The Garden Productions, the series observes children in Japan, Africa and America, and sets out to compare and contrast their development to children across Britain.
Endemol Shine Group acquired the format rights for Japanese cookery format The Rolling Kitchen from Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation. Endemol Shine Group will be the exclusive distributor of the format across all platforms outside of Japan.
UK’s CBS Reality announced two CBS Reality Original commissions: 10-part The Real Prime Suspect, and the company’s first production exclusively based and produced in Poland, Zawod: Profiler.
Production company Essential Media Group is opening a production base in New Zealand, alongside the commission of a second factual entertainment TV series starring British comedian and travel enthusiast Griff Rhys Jones, Griff’s Kiwi Adventures.