12/02/20: Walt Disney Television restructures under Dana Walden

 

Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday December 2, 2020

Today’s Premieres
A&E: Court Cam at 9p, Rescue Cam at 10p
CBS: SEAL Team at 9p
HGTV: Property Brothers: Forever Home Unpacked at 8p
Nat Geo: Trafficked With Mariana van Zeller at 9p
Netflix: Alien Worlds

Today’s Finales
CW: Coroner at 9p
Science Channel: Impossible Engineering at 10p

IN THE NEWS

A major restructuring is underway at Walt Disney Television, as Dana Walden, Chairman of Entertainment, reorganizes TV production and original content businesses under her purview. The number of Disney Television Studios will reduce to two, sunsetting the Touchstone label. Original content teams at ABC and Hulu Originals will be consolidated under one leader, and 20th Animation and Unscripted Programming teams will be spun out into separate units. The restructure follows the strategic reorganization at The Walt Disney Company to accelerate growth in the company’s direct-to-consumer businesses.

“I am proud of our exceptional leadership team and all we have accomplished, but the media landscape is changing and this reorganization better positions us for the future,” said Walden. “The changes we are announcing today are in service of three goals: rightsizing our organization, streamlining functions across our studios and original content teams, and strengthening our partnerships.” Karey Burke will become President of 20th Television, moving from her role as President of ABC Entertainment, and Bert Salke will transition from President of Touchstone Television to a new multi-year overall producing deal with Disney Television Studios.

Also in reorg mode is NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, which has realigned several of its divisions in an effort to maximize content across platforms, and strengthen collaboration between the company’s creators and the revenue and distribution team. The move includes the elevation of Ronald Day to President of Entertainment and Content Strategy, and the promotion of Romina Rosado to EVP, Entertainment and Content Strategy. A redesigned Revenue Strategy and Distribution unit will be led by Peter Blacker in a broader role as EVP, Chief Commercial Officer, Head of DTC Licensing.

NBC’s “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” kicks off season two on Monday, January 11 at 1:35a, with a new look. “During the first season of ‘A Little Late,’ I was thrust into a whole new world that admittedly consisted of 90% learning and 10% being creative,” said Singh. “For this second round, I know the ropes and plan to bring more of my creativity to the table. It’s time to get goofy, be imperfect and bring my full authentic self to late night.” Neil Punsalan takes over as showrunner from Aliyah Silverstein, and Chelsea Davison has been bumped up to head writer, replacing Sean O’Connor.

Netflix canceled “Queen Somo” after one season, despite having renewed it for a sophomore run in April. “A huge thank you to our fans across the world for the love shared for our first African Original series,” said the streamer. “Netflix is also grateful to the amazing efforts shown by the cast and crew for their stellar efforts in creating this show for our members around the world. We’ll continue to work closely with South Africa’s creative industry to keep producing more compelling ‘Made-in-South Africa’ stories.” Creator and director Kasigo Lediga chalked up the cancellation of the series, centered on a spy who takes on challenges in both her personal and professional lives, to “trying times.”

Daytime has become a “second prime time,” according Nielsen, thanks to the rise in work-at-home viewing and kids viewing during the pandemic. During a typical work week, workers now consume two hours and ten minutes more TV than they did a year ago; peak periods are the noon, 1p and 2p hours. During the month of October, TV usage was up 40% to 80% for kids 6-11 and 12-17 during the hours of 11a, noon, 1p and 2p.

Verizon Media is giving Fios TV customers refunds due to the reduced number of televised sports events on local stations’ RSNs. “Verizon has reiterated its commitment to supporting Fios TV customers who were impacted by the reduction in live sporting events due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the company. “Verizon worked with Regional Sports Networks who did not broadcast the full slate of live sporting events last season, and secured refunds from them.” Customers will begin to see refunds on their December bill.

Nexstar Media Group’s WGN America inked a multi-year agreement with YouTube TV that puts the cable network – and its live daily newscast, “NewsNation” – on the streaming service starting January 19, just in time for the presidential inauguration. “We expect to continue the strategic expansion of WGN America to even more viewers in the months ahead,” said Sean Compton, President of the Networks Division of Nexstar Inc. “We look forward to bringing WGN America’s programming and NewsNation’s fact-based, unbiased reporting to YouTube TV subscribers.”

NATAS is keeping its awards shows virtual for 2021. “The current timetables articulated by manufacturers project mass availability of vaccinations for the entire US population by mid-summer 2021, potentially permitting a return to more traditional in-person ceremonies later in the fall,” said NATAS chairman and CEO Adam Sharp. “However, we have determined that delaying our 2021 events to possibly allow for a compressed calendar of in-person Emmy ceremonies late in the year would result in unacceptable delays to our awards cycle for 2022.” NATAS’ awards shows include the Daytime Emmys, Sports Emmys. News & Documentary Emmys and Technology & Engineering Emmys.

Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Elaine Welteroth and fitness trainer Amanda Kloots, who chronicled her husband Nick Codero’s unsuccessful battle against COVID-19, will join the panel of CBS daytime’s “The Talk” on Monday, January 4. They replace Marie Osmond and Eve.

Newmax, touted by President Trump on social media, is being regularly watched by 20% of Americans, according to a McLaughlin & Associates survey of voters conducted in November cited by the cable news net. “More and more Americans are watching and they have a positive view about us,” said Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, adding that Nielsen data, which tracks Newsmax’s linear cable ratings only, reports that 26.9 million viewers tuned into the network during the month of November.

The TEGNA Foundation, the charitable foundation sponsored by TEGNA in partnership with location stations, is awarding 170 Community Grants in 48 markets to address COVID-19 relief, social justice initiatives and other community needs. 2020 Community Grant awards total $1.85 million.

Tumblr announced its launch of LOUDR, a program that pledges 10% of its top advertising unit to amplify the voices of advocacy-focused nonprofit organizations. With a focus on Black, indigenous and people of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and mental health advocacy groups, the initiative launched with Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and the National Alliance for Media Literacy Education. Selected partner organizations will have their ad placed on one of Tumblr’s most viewed advertising components; for organizations that don’t have the means to develop creative, Tumblr will tap its community of Creatrs to create bespoke creative art for the ads

Dr. Thomas Bellut, Director General of German European public broadcaster ZDF, will receive the International Academy’s 2021 Directorate Emmy Award. Academy’s Special Emmy will be presented to at the 49th International Emmy® Awards Gala, on Monday, November 22, 2021 in NYC.

UPtv launched a new Christmas anthem, “Christmas Together,” inviting people to unite and embrace the spirit of the holidays. “UPtv wanted people to know that the true hope in this Christmas was bigger than just being physically together,” said the network. “The spirit of this special holiday is in belief in each other and uplifting one another in tough times.”

PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT

Netflix gave a series order to workplace comedy “God’s Favorite Idiot,” from Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy, who will star and exec produce via their On The Day production company. Falcone will play a tech support employee who falls in love with a co-worker (McCarthy), just as he becomes the unwitting messenger of God.

Showtime landed screen rights to a book John Heilemann (“The Circus”) is writing about Joe Biden’s ascent to the presidency. Heilemann’s book Game Change was adapted by HBO for a show starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. “I first met Joe Biden in 1986 when I was in college and he was getting ready to run for president the first time, and I’ve been following his ups and downs, his triumphs and tragedies, ever since,” said Heilemann. “The story of how, against all odds and against the apocalyptic backdrop of America in 2020, Biden rallied in the winter of his life to defeat Trump – and, in the eyes of many, to save the country – is one of the great political tales of this or any age, and I’m thrilled to have a chance to tell it.”

The end of “Arrow” wasn’t the end of David Ramsey’s time on The CW – or as his character, John Diggle. Ramsey is reprising Diggle on episodes of “Superman & Lois,” “Supergirl,” “The Flash,” and “Batwoman.” He’s also set to direct five episodes in the Arrowverse, and appear in a mystery role on “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” “I remain in awe of the imprint these shows have had on television and I’ve been blessed for the better part of a decade to be a part of them both in front of and behind the camera,” said Ramsey. “I can’t wait to continue telling these stories.”

Charlize Theron inked a first-look TV deal with HBO and HBO Max. The “Bombshell” actress and her producing partners, Beth Kono and AJ Dix, will develop projects via their Denver & Delilah production company.

Gunpowder & Sky sci-fi label DUST has teamed with Balboa Productions, helmed by Sylvester Stallone and Braden Aftergood, to develop and executive produce “Meshed,” a sci-fi sports drama to be written by Edward Ricourt (“Wayward Pines”). Based on the short story by Rich Larson, the series is centered around Mesh technology, which allows for an immersive experience of professional basketball through the eyes of its athletes.

The History Channel has two scripted miniseries in the works. “The Plague Year,” set in 1665 London, is being developed at A+E Studios, and “The Donner Party” (wt), exploring the 1846 pioneer tragedy, comes from Cineflix Media, Steeplechase Films and Augusta Films. “We’ve been evolving our scripted business model for the brand, with a shift in focus to our legacy in big event limited-series, including both fully commissioned and co-produced projects,” said Eli Lehrer, EVP and GM for History.

BlackBoxMultimedia and Italian production company Leader Produzioni and LatAm’s EO Media Distribution have teamed for a TV adaptation of the novel Diary of a Sentimental Killer, about an assassin who becomes intrigued by his latest assignment.

Musician Benjamin Earl Turner, Atticus Woodward and Jaylen Barron (“Shameless”), and Candace Nicholas-Lippman (“Good Trouble”) will star in a Starz spin-off of the 2018 film “Blindspotting.” Reprising their roles from the movie will be Rafael Casal, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Justin Chu Cary. Casal will also serve as showrunner. Lionsgate Television is producing.

Talent management and production company Circle of Confusion has launched a Writers Discovery Fellowship, to accelerate the diversification of voices in Hollywood by mentoring aspiring TV and film writers. “We are always striving to have a greater representation of all voices among our clients and within our productions so as to foster the most robust, dynamic and inclusive next generation in entertainment,” said Circle of Confusion partners Lawrence Mattis, David Alpert, Frank Frattaroli and Brad Mendelsohn. “This program will hopefully strengthen the voices of writers who haven’t already been discovered and propel them to industry success.”

COMING UP

“Under the Grapefruit Tree: The CC Sabathia Story” premieres on HBO on Tuesday, December 22 at 9p. The doc from HBO Sports in association with Major League Baseball tells the story of the New York Yankees pitcher. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to give viewers an inside look into my career and to share my unfiltered story,” said Sabathia. “I struggled for a long time with alcohol addiction and anxiety, which I pretty much hid from everyone I knew. It’s my hope we can inspire athletes and non-athletes alike to open up and let their friends, family and teammates know that there is a path through this. You are not alone.”

Lifetime’s “Little Women: Atlanta” returns for season six on a new night, Friday, January 22 at 9p, with a two-hour kickoff special.

Nat Geo’s “Trafficked With Mariana van Zeller” takes viewers on a journey inside the most dangerous black markets on the planet, gaining access to places where cameras are almost never allowed, starting tonight, December 2. Geoff Daniels, EVP, Global Unscripted Entertainment, National Geographic, explains how they get the job done – and make it out alive – in Cynsiders.

Nickelodeon, TIME and TIME for Kids’ “Kid of the Year” special is set to simulcast on Friday, December 4 at 7:30p across Nickelodeon, TV Land, TeenNick and Nicktoons. Hosted by Trevor Noah (“The Daily Show”), the special will also air on Comedy Central on Friday, December 11 at 7p and CBS on Monday, December 21 at 9p.

Season three of ID’s “Murder in the Heartland” premieres Tuesday, December 8 at 10p, with the story of a North Dakota town shocked by the death of a college student.

TECH TALK

Verizon Media announced the launch of its unified identity solution, Verizon Media ConnectID, designed to help advertisers buy, measure and optimize ads while enabling publishers to manage, monetize and navigate audiences, without third-party cookies. “We are uniquely positioned to drive scaled, consumer-first identity solutions to help advertisers and publishers navigate the evolving digital landscape,” said Iván Markman, Chief Business Officer, Verizon Media. “Our trusted, premium global properties used by hundreds of millions of people, our identity graph built around billions of daily, consent-based data signals, and the only independent ad platform with a full-stack DSP and SSP to protect data integrity across demand and supply, all come together to solve this new landscape for our customers.”

Video discovery platform Primis, part of Universal McCann and Interpublic Group, announced new technology to promote video content discovery and consumption. “Contextual Targeting for Advertisers” provides a solution for advertisers to reach audiences in a cookie-less world, with brands able to target ads according to content provider, keywords, category of video and more. “Privacy has become the defining issue of our time in this industry,” said Primis co-CEO Eyal Betzalel. “Between the fall of the third party cookie and the rising skepticism regarding user tracking, we had to adapt and provide a big solution for our demand partners. Contextual targeting is the only realistic solution to this problem that provides both highly focused targeting and respectful treatment of user privacy.”

Hear this: “Wonder Woman 1984” will become the first title on HBO Max available in 4K Ultra HD, HDR 10, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos when it premieres December 25. The viewing experience will be available on supported devices including Apple TV 4K, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, Amazon Fire TV Cube and 4K Fire TV Edition smart TVs, Chromecast Ultra, AT&T TV and supported Android TV devices. HBO Max will expand these capabilities to other films and series, as well as adding support for additional devices, throughout 2021.

STREAMING SNIPPETS

Pluto TV is launching three new channels: The Price Is Right: The Barker Era; Showtime Selects, a curated sampling of dramas, comedies and documentaries from Showtime; and December cooking channel Home for the Holidays (Campbells). The announcement comes on the heels of Pluto TV launching home shopping channels HSN and QVC.

fuboTV is betting on the online sports wagering market with the acquisition of Balto Sports, a Y Combinator company that develops tools for users to organize and play fantasy sports games. fuboTV intends to leverage its own proprietary technology along with Balto’s contest automation software to launch a free to play gaming offering.

HBO Max snapped up US SVOD rights to “The Middle,” produced by WarnerMedia cousin Warner Bros. TV. The comedy aired on ABC from 2009-2018.

Netflix showed its support for “The Umbrella Academy” star Elliot Page (formerly Ellen Page), who yesterday shared on Instagram that they are transgender and identify as non-binary. “So proud of our superhero!” tweeted the streamer. “WE LOVE YOU ELLIOT! Can’t wait to see you return in season 3!”.

Litton Entertainment, in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies’ IF/THEN Initiative, announced that beginning this week, “Mission Unstoppable” will debut as Snapchat’s newest Discover publishing partner. Part of the CBS Dream Team’s Saturday morning programming block, “Mission Unstoppable” will have weekly episodes hosted by Miranda Cosgrove.

GOING GLOBAL

Beauty World Search announced Spice Girl Mel B (“Dancing with the Stars,” “X Factor” UK/ Australia, “America’s Got Talent”) as the host of season two of “The Fashion Hero.” The series will be produced by BBC Studios-owned Rapid Blue and shot at the Sun City Resort in South Africa in the spring of 2021.

Abacus Media Rights closed sales of a number of documentary features and non-fiction series, among them “Rhys Darby: Big in Japan,” “Griff’s Great Kiwi Road Trip,” “Griff’s Great Australian Rail Trip” and “The Helper” to National Geographic, and “Outback Lockdown,” “Alone Across the Arctic” and “Surviving the Outback” to The Outdoor Channel (Asia).

GoQuest Media concluded a package deal through its HD Spanish-language and English-language premium television networks in the US, Olympusat, for exclusive TV and digital rights for Latin America, Puerto Rico, the US and Canada “Eclipse,” “Secrets,” and “Rainflower.”

Studiocanalhas sold a package of mixed language dramas to South Korea’s streaming service WATCHA. The deal includes two Canal+ Creation Originale series, “Possessions” and “War of the Worlds.”

WarnerMedia announced the second season of the HBO Asia Original horror anthology series, Folklore. Principal photography for the seven-part hour-long series will commence early next year in seven Asian territories including Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Each episode will be directed by a local director from each territory.

Blue Ant International, announces has secured multiple sales for its premium crime-themed content. Among the deals: Pan Asian broadcaster A+E Networks Asia and True Visions (Thailand) as well as Chinese streaming service, Huan Xi Shou Ying, have picked up titles including “BTK: A Killer Among Us” and “The Killer in My Family.”

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RATINGS

Six-part “The Undoing” was HBO’s first original series to grow every week, hitting a series high 3 million viewers across platforms for Sunday’s finale. Linear numbers were up 42% from the week prior, and up 168% from the series premiere.

ABC’s “The Disney Holiday Singalong” topped Monday among A18-49 with a 1.2 rating, and 5.73 million viewers. The first Disney singalong, in April, drew 10.3 million viewers and 2.6 in the demo, while the second, in May, delivered 5.74 million viewers and 1.3.

TV Time’s Shows on the Rise for the week of November 23
Saved by the Bell (Peacock) – 99.9%
The Flight Attendant (HBO Max) – 98.2%
Lekko Stronniczy (YouTube) – 94.6%
Virgin River (Netflix) – 93.4%
Sugar Rush Christmas (Netflix) – 89.2%
BANGTAN BOMB (YouTube) – 87.6%
Vite in fuga (Rai 1) – 83%
Great Pretender (Netflix) – 79.8%
New Amsterdam (NBC) – 62.9%
Motherland: Fort Salem (Freeform) – 55.9%
Methodology: Every week, millions of viewers useTV Time to track their favorite series. “Shows on the Rise” is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program. 

TV Time’s Binge Report for the week of November 23
The Crown (Netflix) – 3.21%
The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) – 2.14%
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) – 2.04%
Virgin River (Netflix) – 1.69%
Modern Family (ABC) – 1.67%
How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) – 1.53%
Friends (NBC) – 1.48%
The Office (NBC) – 1.47%
One Piece (Fuji TV) – 1.43%
Supernatural (The CW) – 1.20%
The weekly Binge Report ranks shows with the most binge sessions. A binge session is when four or more episodes of a show are watched and tracked in the TV Time app within a given day.

Broadcast Nielsen Ratings for Friday, November 27
Show, P2+ 000s, (A18-49)
ABC: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” 2.93 (0.6), “20/20” 2.41 (0.4)
CBS: “Frosty the Snowman” 3.19 (0.6), “Frosty Returns” 2.37 (0.5), “Sunday Morning” 2.20 (0.3), “Blue Bloods” 2.75 (0.3)
CW: “World’s Funniest Animals” 0.99 (0.1), “World’s Funniest Animals” 1.0 (0.1), “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” 0.82 (0.2)
FOX: “WWE Friday Night Smackdown” 2.14 (0.6)
NBC: “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” 3.92 (0.7), “Illuminations Minions” 3.39 (0.7), “Dateline Classic” 3.21 (0.5)
Telemundo: “Power Rangers” 0.87, “Todo por mi Hija” 1.60, “Falsa Identidad” 0.87
Univision: “Vencer al Desamor” 1.33 (0.4), “Imperio de Mentiras” 1.15 (0.4), “Dulce Ambicion” 1.11 (0.3)
Source: Nielsen live + same day time period averages

EXECUTIVE MOVES

The Paley Center for Media appointed Jamitha Fields to the new position of VP, Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement. Fields was previously the Paley Center’s Vice President of Development and Client Services.

David Solomon has been promoted to President and CEO of Viamedia, from CRO. He succeeds Mark Lieberman, who will remain a director on Viamedia’s board.

IN MEMORIAM

Actress Abby Dalton died November 23. She was 88. In addition to acting roles on series including “Hennessey,” “The Joey Bishop Show” and “Falcon Crest,” Dalton appeared on game shows like “Hollywood Squares” and “Match Game.”

A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM DISNEY
 

This Day in History
1976 – Fidel Castro became President of Cuba.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
In which Hallmark Channel Christmas movie did Ernest Borgnine play a retired actor? “A Grandpa for Christmas” (2007). Kudos to: Gerry Bixenspan-TV Marketing Inc./NYC, Rev. Mark Wajda/Clermont, FL, Charles Lore/NYC, Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station, TX, Veda Williams-WTTV CBS4/Indianapolis, Indiana, Paul Blutter-Walk and Talk Production Rentals/Burbank, Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA, Ken DuBow-Bob’s Your Uncle/LA, Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg-M and S Entertainment/LA

Today’s Trivia Question
On “Soap” (1977-1981), who murdered Mary Campbell’s first husband? (Email trivia@cynopsis.com 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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JUKIN MEDIA/NEW YORK, NY:Seeking an individual who can combine creativity and strategy with a deep understanding of the digital media sales process. Must be able to work with clients, with a min of 2 yrs in advertising/media and a proven track record of building strong client relationships. Full info HERE (12/7)

VP, SCRIPTED SALES & CO-PRODUCTIONS >>
BBC STUDIOS/LA, CA: Resp for managing sales/co-prod activity in the fiction genres, with clients across both TV/digital. Need to deliver against a stretching bus plan and budget, maximizing the BBC Studios Catalogue through licensing and co-producing programme rights in the US for TV/VOD. 5yrs exp in programme dist, with an understanding of the UK TV industry. Full info HERE (12/7)

WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 2
ABC: The Goldbergs, American Housewife, The Conners, black-ish, for Life
CBS: The Amazing Race, SEAL Team [p], SEAL Team
CW: Devils, Coroner [f]
FOX: The Masked Singer
NBC: 88th Annual Christmas at Rockefeller Center, Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes
PBS: Nature, NOVA, Nazi Mega Weapons
Telemundo: El Domo Del Dinero, Futbol Estalar Chivas,Futbol Mexicana Primera Division
Univision: Vencer el Desamor, Imperio de Mentiras, Dulce Ambicion

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