PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT
Dan Harmon (Rick and Morty) signed a broadcast network-only exclusive direct animation deal with Fox Entertainment, to create and develop a comedy series targeted to debut in spring 2022. Fox Entertainment will produce the series, with its Bento Box Entertainment as the animation studio.
HBO Max gave a greenlight for adult animated series 10-Year-Old-Tom, about a boy grappling with being corrupted by grownups. Steve Dildarian (The Life and Times of Tim) will write and executive produce; Nick Weidenfeld (Rick and Morty) will executive produce. Kevin Reilly, Chief Content Officer HBO Max and President TNT, TBS, and TruTV, and Suzanna Makkos, EVP Original Comedy and Animation, have a history with both Dildarian and Weidenfeld – Reilly and Makkos had a development deal with Dildarian during their tenure at Fox and during that same time Reilly created the animation studio ADHD run by Weidenfeld.
Warner Bros. Television signed a deal with director Matthew A. Cherry (Hair Love), to develop comedies, dramas and event series via his Cherry Lane Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. “I am beyond excited to be joining the Warner Bros. Television family in this exciting new capacity,” said Cherry. “It’s an important time to be a Black creative working in this industry, and I look forward to creating impactful projects and partnering with other talented marginalized voices in our community.”
Hulu gave a straight-to-series order to Dopesick, based on the bestseller by Beth Macy, starring Michael Keaton as an old school doctor who finds himself embroiled in the opioid crisis. Barry Levinson is set to direct the project, from Danny Strong (Empire), Warren Littlefield (The Handmaid’s Tale) and Fox 21 Television Studios.
The Bold and the Beautiful is going back into production, in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines that include masks (except for actors filming), regular testing and staggered call times. The CBS soap, which appears to be the first scripted network series to go back to production, has been dark since mid-March.
Crackle Plus announced a curated Sounds of Summer Channel launching on Wednesday, July 1. Spanning pop, rock, and R&B, content will include a selection of music documentaries and concert films from artists including Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Tom Petty and more. “When concerts and festivals are otherwise cancelled or worrisome to attend, we’re thrilled to bring footage of some of the most influential musicians of all time right into the living rooms of our viewers,” said Philippe Guelton, President of Crackle Plus. “We know that our audience wants to see their favorite artists, and Crackle is working to make it happen.”
Crackle Plus’ Philippe Guelton will be part of the discussion in the June 24 free webinar, “How AVODs Can Get a Competitive Edge,” outlining the challenges and opportunities in the AVOD world. To register, go here.
AVOD Haystack TV has rebranded its curated streaming news service from Haystack TV to Haystack News. With nearly 300 US broadcast stations supplying Haystack News with local news content, Haystack offers local news coverage of more than 90 percent of all local U.S. markets. The streamer reports audience growth is accelerating with millions of new users signing up year-to-date and 145% audience growth year over year (May 2020 vs. May 2019). “This is a period of remarkable growth for Haystack, with downloads and usage surging as we accelerate our performance across all platforms. Haystack has extended our leadership with more premium news partners and support for more OTT platforms than anyone,” said Daniel Barreto, CEO and Co-Founder of Haystack TV. “The importance of free access to news could not be more apparent as we battle a global pandemic, economic dislocation and social unrest.”
“So far, so good,” said AT&T CFO John Stephens of HBO Max yesterday. Speaking at the CSFB Media conference, Stephens said WarnerMedia is “optimistic” about its new streamer, launched May 27, and planned for 50 million subscribers over five years. As for the launch of an AVOD version by 2021, it’s too soon to say, said Stephens: “There’s a lot of talk over how fast we come out, how long a recovery will take, and we are still very carefully analyzing it.”
Blue Ant Media has launched three new linear channels on The Roku Channel: Wildlife and nature brand Love Nature and Love Nature Español, as well as ZooMoo, a children’s offering devoted entirely to the animal world.
Coastal Elites, a Paul Rudnick satire produced entirely under quarantine, will debut on HBO in September. The special stars Bette Midler, Dan Levy (Schitt’s Creek), Sarah Paulson (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story), Issa Rae (Insecure) and Kaitlyn Dever (Unbelievable) in stories about living through the pandemic of summer 2020.
Comedian Jim Gaffigan sets out to for a new country with no material and no experience of the culture and food, and write and perform new material, all in one visit. The journey is covered in Amazon two-part special, Jim Gaffigan: The Pale Tourist, premiering Friday, July 24.
Former national security advisor and author of tell-all The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir John Bolton is slated to appear on CBS’ The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, June 23, the day the book is set to be published – though the Justice Department is attempting to block publication. “Telling people they can’t have something just makes them want it more,” noted Colbert on his show. “That’s why the Disney vault exists; I don’t give a damn about it but now I’m hellbent on owning The Aristocats on Bluray.”
The Council of Fashion Designers of America’s awards ceremony was indefinitely postponed this year, so E! turns to past highlights in E!’s CFDA Awards: Ultimate Fashion Moments, airing Tuesday, June 23 at 11p. E! style correspondent Zanna Roberts Rassi and celebrity stylist Brad Goreski will delve into ceremonies of years past and discuss diversity in the fashion industry.
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Western movie The Warrant makes its TV debut on INSP on Saturday, June 20 at 8p. Neal McDonough, Casper Van Dien and Steven R. McQueen star.
Tamika Palmer, the mother Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was shot in her home by police in March, is interviewed by radio host Angie Martinez and Angela Yee from 105’s Breakfast Club on Untold Stories of Hip Hop In Quarantine at 10p tonight, June 18 on WE tv.
Science Channel special Lost Pyramids of the Aztecs follows archaeologists at work on rarely seen ancient sites on Sunday, July 28 at 8p.
Facing criticism for its hands-off policy on political ads, Facebook said users will soon be able to opt out of seeing social issues, electoral or political ads from political action committees or candidates in their Facebook and Instagram feeds. “Everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say – and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content,” wrote Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, in a USA Today op-ed piece. “For those of you who’ve already made up your minds and just want the election to be over, we hear you – so we’re also introducing the ability to turn off seeing political ads. We’ll still remind you to vote.” Facebook also introduced a voting information center with information on how and when to vote.
The CEOs of Amazon Facebook and Google have agreed to testify before Congress this summer as part of an investigation into whether the power of the big four tech companies threatens competition and harms consumers. Facebook and Google agreed on the condition top execs at other big tech companies also testified; Apple CEO Tim Cook has not yet signaled cooperation.
A study from Viamedia found 83% of companies have changed their marketing strategies in response to the pandemic, and 46% are offering incentives and promotions to drive sales. Additional findings from the research reveals new opportunities for local business advertising:
* Continued Investment in Marketing: 40% of respondents from various industries including auto, furniture, healthcare, non-profits, retail, real estate, and entertainment among others, reported an annual marketing budget of at least $75,000 – 39% of which was allocated to advertising.
* Intent to Advertise: Business owners indicated a continued need for advertising, with 45% looking for creative incentives for advertising, and 28% wanting tips and insights to improve the effectiveness of their marketing.“The survey results clearly indicate that the prospects for advertising can be strong despite some conventional wisdom,” said Becky Jones, CMO and People Officer at Viamedia. “For many respondents, the need to power through the pandemic far outweighs the anxiety. And as we’ve experienced in the past, businesses that take the courageous path to advertise during a crisis often find great success on the other end.”
The ARF has established ARF WIDE: Workforce Initiative for Diversity and Excellence, a program to improve the quality and diversity of the future workforce of the advertising, media and research/analytics industries. ARF WIDE will use donations to provide scholarships to economically-disadvantaged college and junior college students interested in research/analytics. “ARF WIDE has been under development for a number of months, but the COVID-19 pandemic, which has especially hit low-income families, has heightened the urgency of getting this program up and running now” said Scott McDonald, president and CEO, the ARF. “As recent events have made clear, our industry needs to grow and benefit from the contributions of a more diverse workforce.”
Roku is focused on delivering advertisers agility, control and value – the three core focus areas of its inaugural NewFront presentation on Monday, June 22. As well as launching its new OneView ad platform last month, the streaming platform is offering brands an incremental reach guarantee. “This is a game changer for marketers. Roku will offer incremental reach guarantees to brands for the first time,” Dan Robbins, VP of Ad Marketing and Partner Solutions, tells Cynopsis. “Simply put, if a Roku home has already seen the ad on linear TV, the advertiser does not pay for that Roku impression.” For more on Roku’s offering to brands and the effect of the pandemic disruption on streaming, check out our complete Cynsiders interview with Robbins here.
New research from Mindshare looks at questions around racial inequality and corresponding brand actions. Among those surveyed:
· 68% agree that brands have an important role to play to speak out against racial inequality and injustice – but 60% agree that “I don’t think brands who speak out are genuine about the cause but are being opportunistic.”
· Men are more likely to be wary of brand’s authenticity when speaking out about BLM and racial inequality (66% of Men agree “I don’t think brands who speak out are genuine about the cause but are being opportunistic” vs. 53% of Women).
· Millennials and Gen X’ers are more likely to say brands have an important role to play to speak out against racial injustice and inequality (79% of Millennials and 80% of Gen X agree vs. 71% of Gen Z and 45% of Boomers).
Ad fraud is spiking in the CTV ad ecosystem, according to DoubleVerify, the software platform for digital media measurement, data and analytics. Between January and April of 2020, DV detected a 161% increase year-over-year in fraudulent CTV traffic. In 1Q20, DV detected more than 500 fraudulent apps, exceeding what they detected across the entirety of 2019, and the company currently detects over 500,000 fraudulent CTV devices a day. “Advertisers usually don’t know what apps or content they advertise in,” notes DV. “While programmatic deals typically include app information in the form of BundleIDs, this information usually doesn’t follow any industry standards and is highly unreliable. Any one app can have up to 15 IDs, and each could be a random number like ‘1234’. In fact DV has detected that only 23% of CTV auctions have app names that adhere to IAB conventions.”
The IAB unveiled the final schedule for next week’s NewFronts. Presentations will provide attendees with content on streaming video, lifestyle, news and audio, esports, and gaming – for the Cynopsis NewFronts Calendar, go here.
NEW, RETURNING & ACQUIRED SERIES
Limited series The Comey Rule, starring Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom) as former FBI Director James Comey and Brendan Gleeson (Mr. Mercedes) as President Donald J. Trump, will premiere on back-to-back nights in late November on Showtime. The four-hour event series was adapted for the screen and directed by screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, Shattered Glass) and executive produced by Shane Salerno, Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin and Ray. CBS Television Studios produced in association with Home Run Productions, The Story Factory, and Secret Hideout.
Five new couples take a leap of faith when season 11 of Lifetime’s Married at First Sight launches Wednesday, July 15 at 8p. All 17 episodes are supersized to two hours. On July 8, the net is offering Married At First Sight Matchmaking Special at 8p, to explain how the couples were paired.
UK hit The Salisbury Poisonings will make its US debut on AMC this fall. Based on the true story of the 2018 nerve agent poisonings and the impact it had on a local community, the four-part drama stars Anne-Marie Duff (Sex Education, His Dark Materials), Rafe Spall (Trying), MyAnna Buring (The Witcher, Ripper Street) and Johnny Harris (Jawbone).
The CW added four acquired series to its summer lineup: horror competition Killer Camp, launching Thursday, July 16 at 9p; game show Taskmaster and cooking competition Fridge Wars, premiering Sunday, August 2 at 8p and 9p, respectively; and docu-series Being Reuben, debuting Friday, August 7 at 9p.
AXS TV acquired season one of nationally syndicated The Song – Recorded Live @TGL Farms. The artist profile series debuts Thursday, July 9 at 8:30p.
NENT Studios UK has signed a new deal with UK indie Crackit Productions that sees NENT acquire 40 hours of new programming for international distribution, including Shoplifters: At War With The Law and A&E: After Dark, both produced by Crackit for Channel 5.