07/14/23: Reality king Mike Darnell exits WBTG

Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Friday July 14, 2023

Today’s Premieres
Apple TV+: Foundation
Crunchyroll: Link Click
Max: Time Zone
Netflix: Five Star Chef; Too Hot to Handle
Showtime: Goliath
Prime Video: The Summer I Turned Pretty
The Roku Channel: Lincoln Log Masters

Today’s Finale
WEtv: Mama June: From Not to Hot at 9p

Saturday’s Premieres
Max: A Scent of Time
Netflix: Country Queen; Kohrra

Sunday’s Premieres
Bravo: The Real Housewives of New York City at 9p
Cooking Channel: Carnival Eats at 8p
CW: The Chosen at 8p
discovery+/Max: 90 Day Fiance UK
HGTV: Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge at 8p


The SAG-AFTRA board voted yesterday to proceed with the actors’ guild’s first TV and film strike since 1980. Negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers broke off on Wednesday. “The AMPTP’s responses to the union’s most important proposals have been insulting and disrespectful of our massive contributions to this industry,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “The companies have refused to meaningfully engage on some topics and on others completely stonewalled us. Until they do negotiate in good faith, we cannot begin to reach a deal.” Responded the AMPTP, “The AMPTP presented a deal that offered historic pay and residual increases, substantially higher caps on pension and health contributions, audition protections, shortened series option periods, and a groundbreaking AI proposal that protects actors’ digital likenesses for SAG-AFTRA members. A strike is certainly not the outcome we hoped for.”

Mike Darnell is leaving his post as President of Unscripted Television, Warner Bros. after 10 years. “Letting yourself go is always difficult…I took a deep breath, called myself on Zoom and told myself it was time to leave. I took it surprisingly well,” joked Darnell in a statement. The influential exec, whose credits include “American idol,” “Temptation Island,” “MasterChef” and “The Real,” among many others, said he was offered the chance to stay, but “it would have meant more changes for both my personal deal and to the general structure of the division,” adding that “a couple of new ventures have come my way.” Said Darnell’s boss, Channing Dungey, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. Television Group, “I had hoped we would continue to work together, but I understand Mike’s decision to leave. If there’s such a thing as a genius in this business, Mike definitely qualifies.”

Discovery Channel ordered a second season of “Naked and Afraid: Last One Standing.” The reality show spinoff has reached 15.7 million viewers and is pacing to be the net’s highest-rated freshman series in five years. “We knew audiences resonated with ‘Last One Standing’ as ratings continued to build week after week,” said Howard Lee, President of Discovery Networks and TLC. “We are giving viewers more of what they crave.”

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating OpenAI for “risk of harm to consumers, including reputational harm” from ChatGPT. In a 20-page investigative demand reported by The Wall Street Journal, the FTC asked OpenAI to respond to requests for information, including ChatGPT’s “capacity to generate statements about real individuals that are false, misleading, or disparaging.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger – fresh off having his contract extended through 2026 – suggested the company’s linear TV business could go on the block. “They may not be core to Disney,” Iger told CNBC’s David Faber. Since he returned to Disney last year, Iger said, “We’ve gotten a lot done very quickly, significant cost reductions and significant realignment of the company.” As for cable net ESPN, Iger said Disney is open to finding a strategic partner.

“Fight to Survive,” a reality series ordered by The Roku Channel in January, will first premiere on The CW on Thursday, August 10 at 8p, with all episodes available to stream on The Roku Channel and The CW app the day after the broadcast finale. “By bringing together the best of The CW and the best of The Roku Channel, ‘Fight To Survive’ will be able to reach the largest audience possible across both broadcast and streaming,” said Brad Schwartz, President of Entertainment, The CW Network, and Brian Tannenbaum, Head of Originals, Roku. “By working together in all aspects of distribution, marketing, press and advertising, we will expose this edge-of-your-seat series to millions of fans in brand new ways.”

Black Tech Week announced a new media division, BlackTechWeekly, that includes a partnership with NBCUniversal. At Black Tech Week’s conference July 18-20 and beyond, audiences will have access to content produced by NBC’s Brand Studio across NBCU’s One Platform ecosystem, as well as Black Tech Week’s Channel on the Apple News app. “BlackTech Weekly is an incredible organization, whose marquee event has become a transformative place to discuss content, connection and culture,” said Barrett McCree, VP, Advertising and Partnerships, NBCUniversal. “We are thrilled to partner with them, and to further extend the reach and impact of BlackTech Weekly’s community across NBCUniversal’s One Platform.”

Cynopsis BIG TV Conference

This is a BIG deal

The BIG TV Conference is the media industry’s can’t miss event of the fall season. Join at us at the Hotel Edison on September 27th and 28th to explore what’s trending, and what isn’t talked about enough. Will we see you there?



True Crime specialist indies Avalon, First Look TV, ITN Productions, Monster Films, Peninsula Television, Phoenix Television, Rare TV, Revelation Films, Title Role and Woodcut Media, have launched the Association of True Crime Producers in the UK and Ireland to establish best practice guidelines for the genre, which put victims and their families at the center of the production process. “As true crime producers, we care deeply for those impacted by the stories we tell and have a duty of care to look after all those involved – from the contributors through to the production teams,” said Kate Beal, Chair, Association of True Crime Producers and Founder, Woodcut Media. “The creation of the ATCP is the first step, allowing us to join forces under the one umbrella to take collective responsibility, share ideas, assess protocol, and maintain the reputation of the genre.”

As part of Shout! Factory’s 20th anniversary, the company is changing its name to Shout! Studios, to better reflect its strategic direction. The anniversary will also be celebrated with special programming and streaming events on Shout’s digital entertainment service Shout! TV, highlighted home entertainment releases, screening events, and fan-focused activations.


TLC’s “Sister Wives” is back for a new season Sunday, August 20 at 10p. The reality show follows a now-fractured polygamist family.

True crime docuseries “The Heiress and the Heist,” focused on Englishwoman Rose Dugdale, who transformed from heiress to art thief in 1974, drops Thursday, July 27 on Sundance Now and AMC+.

Season eight of E!’s “Botched” debuts Thursday, August 3 at 10p, as doctor duo Terry Dubrow and Paul Nassif take on cases of surgery gone wrong, birth defects and accidents.

Skilled chefs face off in a culinary competition that puts their perspectives on food and pop culture to the test in “Battle of the Decades,” premiering Wednesday, August 16 at 10p on Food Network. Teams comprised of two chefs from different generations tackle challenges in which they must use popular ingredients and gadgets from the past, while bridging the generational gap with their approach and techniques.


In conjunction with LG Ad Solutions’ expansion into the Canadian marketplace, the company released findings from its latest study of perceptions and behaviors related to CTV among Canadian consumers. “The Big Shift: Canada Wave II” found that 26% of those surveyed said they are watching less linear television than a year ago. FAST services are growing in popularity, with 61% preferring to stream free, ad-supported content rather than pay for a subscription. Additional findings from the report include:
· Economic concerns are impacting subscriptions as over one in three viewers have canceled a streaming service to save money.
· 87% of Canadian CTV users pay for one or more streaming apps, and 55% are willing to cancel a subscription after watching the desired content.
· While recommendations from family and friends (52%) are the top source for new content, nearly half (45%) of consumers use the homepage of their TV screen for new content. This is 16% more than the number for US consumers.

BrightLine announced the launch of the Proteus Experience Engine, a platform extension enabling streamers to overlay dynamic, interactive, and shoppable moments within shows, films, and sports content outside of traditional ad pods. “From day one, our mission has been to transform the viewing experience by incorporating advertising that leverages the full potential of new viewing technologies,” said BrightLine President & Co-Founder, Rob Aksman. “We recognize that ad revenue plays a crucial role in funding diverse and captivating programming, as creating exceptional content often requires substantial budgets. With Proteus XE, streamers now have innovative avenues to engage audiences through interactive and sponsorable enhancements.”


“Metal Monsters: The Righteous Redeemer” premieres Sunday, July 30 on Max, the same day as the season three finale of “The Righteous Gemstones.” The special looks at the team at The Metal Shop that built a monster truck for “Gemstones” creator and star Danny McBride.

“Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” will film five shows during BravoCon, taking place November 3-5 in Las Vegas. Tickets go on sale July 21 for the event, which will feature over 150 Bravolebrities.

Paramount+ doc “Mixtape,” exploring how the creation of mixtapes launched hip hop into mainstream culture, will premiere Tuesday, August 1 in the US and Canada and Wednesday, August 2 in the U.K., Australia, Latin America and Brazil, with further international markets to follow later in the year.


The CW scored exclusive broadcast rights to 50 Atlantic Coast football and basketball games each season through 2026-27. The net’s first ACC football game is slated for Saturday, September 9, with games airing every Saturday during the season in the afternoon and primetime. Raycom Sports will produce all games. “We are thrilled to be adding The CW to our weekly television lineup for ACC football and basketball games,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, Ph.D. “The CW’s national distribution will directly benefit our student-athletes, teams, alumni and fans.”

The Landmark Conference will become the first Division III Conference to sign a multi-year agreement with sports streaming FloSports, beginning with the 2023-24 academic year. “Even in these early stages of our partnership, they have shown a commitment to our conference and individual institutions to enhance our current streams and continue to build the Landmark brand,” said Landmark Conference Commissioner Katie Boldvich. “This partnership puts our institutions and student-athletes on the national stage.”


Fremantle true crime series “Shadow of Truth” will air in the UK on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer. The series will also be coming soon to ntv and RTL Crime in Germany.

A Stark Production and WildBrain, together with Infinite Studios, confirmed new international broadcast partners for animated hit series “The Deep.” Deals include Rockbot (US) for season one; Club Illico (Canada) for seasons one and two; RTE (Ireland) for seasons three and four; NRK (Norway) for seasons one, two and four; and France Télévisions for season four.

Off The Fence has pre-sold “The Future From Above” to TF1-owned French nature broadcaster Ushuaïa TV, which has also acquired an additional 80-hour package of OTF programming. Under the deals, the package rights are split for linear and standalone SVOD.

Best of the Best & Rising Star Awards

For the first time ever…

…winners of the Best of the Best & Rising Star Awards will be celebrated the first night of the BIG TV Conference. This is a chance to give outstanding people, platforms and programming a chance to shine on
September 27th.



Warner Bros. Discovery has named Katie Martin Kelley as EVP of Communications for Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group. Martin Kelley joins from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she served as Chief Communications Officer.

Authentic Brands Group appointed Kevin Wills as Chief Financial Officer. Wills most recently served as Chief Financial Officer and member of the Executive Committee at Pilot Company.

Iris.TV has promoted Rohan Castelino to Chief Marketing Officer and appointed of Jim Heinzen as VP of Finance and Operations. Rohan joined IRIS.TV in 2014 as Director of Business Development and Marketing; Heinzen served as VP of Finance at Onclusive Inc.

American Documentary has promoted Opal H. Bennett to Executive Producer, POV Shorts and Senior Producer, POV. Bennett joined American Documentary | POV in 2019.

This Day in History
1933 – All German political parties except the Nazi Party were outlawed.

Friday Fun Fact
Alfred Hitchcock was frightened of eggs

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
Which 1980s late night series and 2000s sitcom had the same name? “One on One” was a late-night series in 1983, and a sitcom from 2001-2006. We’ll accept “Up All Night” as an answer, too – it aired from 1989-98 on late night; a sitcom by the same name aired from 2011-12. Kudos to: Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; John Kukla-KDFW Fox 4/Dallas; Kevin Moran-Blarney Productions/Pasadena, CA

Today’s Trivia Question
Which actress had roles on “ER,” “Boston Legal” and “Lost” before landing the role that won her two Emmys? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company, city and time zone. Unofficial rules: a limit of four answers per time zone.)

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ABC: Will Trent, 20/20
CBS: Tough as Nails, Fire Country, Blue Bloods
CW: Family Law, Moonshine
FOX: WWE Friday Night SmackDown
NBC: Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge, Dateline NBC
PBS: Washington Week, Firing Line with Margaret Hoover, The Great American Recipe, La Frontera with Patti Jinich
Telemundo: Top Chef VIP, Secretos de Sangre
Univision: Eternamente Amandonos, El Amor Invencible, Mujer


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