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Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Wednesday December 9, 2020

Today’s Premieres
ABC: “The Great Christmas Light Fight” at 8p
MTV: “The Challenge: Double Agents” at 8p
Nat Geo: “Narco” at 10p

Today’s Finale
Fox: “I Can See Your Voice” at 9p

IN THE NEWS

A major TV ratings overhaul is under way at Nielsen, which plans to have a new system in place by 2024 to reflect the impact of streaming and digital viewing. Nielsen ONE will begin to roll out by the end of 2022 with the goal of providing stakeholders who contribute to the $60 billion tally spent annually on traditional television ads “a single, deduplicated view of… audiences across all platforms and mediums.” Nielsen CEO Karthik Rao said the new system will offer “a single, comparable metric for TV and digital that will provide video consumption across all platforms, services and devices. For media buyers and sellers, this means better monetizing their assets and maximizing their investments.”

HBO Max has reached 12.6 million subscribers as of early December. The streamer added 4 million subscribers since the end of Q3, said AT&T CEO John Stankey during a keynote at the virtual UBS Global TMT Conference. Stankey noted total hours of engagement also shot up 36 percent during the past 30 days.

He also offered commentary on the heated topic of theatrical windows in light of the company’s decision to release Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 movie slate day and date on HBO Max day and at theaters. Legendary Entertainment, which co-financed “Dune” and “Godzilla vs. Kong,” has threatened legal action against Warner Bros. over the studio’s decision, and filmmaker Christopher Nolan has been vocal in his opposition. Stankey said, “I know there’s a lot of noise out in the market, people with different viewpoints. Anytime you’re going to change a model, it’s going to create a degree of noise.”

Over at NBCUniversal, CEO Jeff Shell said streaming service Peacock passed 26 million signups as of December 7, up 4 million from October. Speaking at the UBS event, Shell said of theatrical windows: “I think theatrical is a critical part of the movie business… But there is also going to be a growing segment of the population that want to watch movies in a nonpremium way, which is at home. I think that theatrical will survive and the more windows collapse, the more money that will be made in the movie business,” he said.

Netflix canceled adult animated series “Hoops” after one season. The basketball-themed show from Ben Hoffman, Phil Lord, Chris Miller and 20th Television premiered in August.

John Legend will host NBC’s “Global Citizen Prize Awards on Saturday, December 19 at 8p. The telecast will honor those making extraordinary efforts to lift up the world’s most vulnerable, inspire others, help end extreme poverty and make the world a better place. Alessia Cara, Carrie Underwood, Common, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, JoJo and Tori Kelly are slated to perform, and John Oliver, Nick Jonas, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Priyanka Chopra Jonas will make appearances. The special will re-air on MSNBC Sunday, December 20 at 10p.

The Oscars are getting a new trio of producers. Emmy-nominated producer Jesse Collins, Oscar-nominated producer Stacey Sher and Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh are set to produce the 93rd incarnation of the awards show, slated to air live on ABC on Sunday, April 25.

Charter Communications in January will launch the AccuWeather TV Network for Spectrum TV Select and higher video tier subscribers across all Charter markets. Charter will offer the national weather feed with regionalized weather data.

The WGA West released a set of standards to better protect writers. Bias, bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace are among areas covered in the new standards, which, if not adhered to, could result in job loss, lawsuits, and career changes, WGA leadership said.

For the first time in its history, National Geographic published its “The Year in Pictures” campaign in print. The issue, available online now at natgeo.com/photos, is presented through four themes: the year that tested us, the year that isolated us, the year that empowered us and the year that hope endured.

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PRODUCTION & DEVELOPMENT

Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Recreation”) and Ayo Edebiri (“Big Mouth”)
will voice “We Lost Our Human,” a new interactive animated special for Netflix. From Rikke Asbjoern and Chris Garbutt, who will serve as exec producers, the special will feature a choose your own adventure format. Audiences can experience the plot from the perspective of a self-involved cat (Pud) or a hyperactive dog (Ham), who wake up one day and discover their human and all humans have disappeared from Earth.

Streaming service Acorn TV and TVNZ commissioned six-part romantic comedy “Under the Vines,” to star Rebecca Gibney (“Wanted”) and Charles Edwards (“The Crown”). From Libertine Pictures and EQ Media Group, the series was created and co-written by Erin White and follows two unlikely city slickers who inherit a failing vineyard in rural New Zealand.

Painless Productions set a partnership with LooseWorld, run by former MTV exec Dane Reiley, and the companies are working with author Brian McCullough to develop a nonfiction series set in Silicon Valley that’s said to take a dark look at the Internet.

Katherine Heigl (“Firefly Lane”) is set to exec-produce and star in a limited series about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president. “Woodhull,” from Oakhurst Entertainment, is based on multiple biographies acquired by Oakhurst, founded by Jai Khanna and producer Marina Grasic.

Skydance Television snatched up rights to P. Djeli Clark’s novella Ring Shout, and brought in Kasi Lemmons (“Harriet”) as showrunner. Lemmons also will write and direct the fantasy series that takes place in the ‘20s south and is set to star Kiki Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”).

Author Rebecca F. Kuang’s fantasy novel series is being adapted for TV by Peter Luo’s Starlight Media. Starlight optioned the books, including The Poppy War, Dragon Republic and The Burning God, and teamed with production shingle SA Inc. to develop and finance the fantasy drama. Allen Fischer is serve as showrunner.

Space race drama “For All Mankind” picked up an early renewal at Apple TV+. The streamer ordered a third season of the show, from Ronald D. Moore and Sony Pictures Television.

Katy Wallin and Stephanie Bloch Chambers, heads of unscripted-focused studio Wallin Chambers Entertainment, extended their three-year-old deal with Lionsgate. The extension precedes the launch of the duo’s “House of Ho” reality show on HBO Max.

Mike McMahan, who created “Star Trek: Lower Decks,” signed a two-year overall deal with CBS Studios, where his animated comedy is based. CBS Studios will have exclusive rights to produce TV content created and developed by McMahon, who also co-created and is showrunner on Hulu’ animated series “Solar Opposites.”

Gaumont and Mexican production house Redrum are developing Spanish-language crime drama series “Kolonie,” starring Marina de Tavira (“Roma”) and written by Carlos Rincones. The story centers around an emotionally complex special agent who’s tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a Mennonite boy in rural Chihuaua, Mexico.

Children’s entertainment company Sutikki inked a new pact with educational tech company Digital Dream Labs to create and distribute animated and live action content based on the company’s robot duo Cozmo and Vector.

NEW & RETURNING SERIES

The second season of “The Christmas Caroler Challenge premieres Friday, December 11 at 9p on the CW.

TLC is ringing in the new year with the return of three series. “My 600-Lb Life” is back Wednesday, December 30 at 8p, “1,000-Lb Sisters” premieres Monday, January 4 at 10p and “Unpolished” returns Tuesday, January 12 at 10p,

More Discovery+ debuts at launch: Headed to the streaming service on Monday, January 4 are “Cakealikes,” a comedic cake competition shows (say that 5x fast!) that features cakes that look like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, RuPaul, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and more… “Gold Rush” spinoff “Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue” also drops January 4, featuring the “gold guru” on the road helping struggling mine owners… And the “art” of watching and commenting on “House Hunters” gets a new twist in “House Hunters: Comedians on Couches Unfiltered.”

COMING UP

The eighth edition of “The Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown” airs on the CW tonight (December 9) at 9p. “Holiday commercials are comfort food for viewers during these unsettling times, and we’ve curated a batch of 30 Christmas commercials from around the world to help do the trick,” JUMA president/exec producer Robert Horowitz tells Cynopsis. “While there’s a mixture of entertaining and heartfelt commercials in the hour, this year we decided to tug on a few more heartstrings by including commercials which evoke emotions.”

ABC’s Localish this week launches limited digital series “OUTstanding,” exec-produced and hosted by “Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson on Localish.com. The five eps focus on LGBTQ individuals making major contributions to their communities.

Barbra Streisand, and Antonio Banderas with the Spanish cast of “A Chorus Line” have joined the roster for Tina Fey-hosted “One Night Only: The Best of Broadway,” airing Thursday, December 10 at 8p on NBC.
 
All this week, “Entertainment Tonight” will air a Wonder Woman Week promo, featuring new interviews and behind-the-scenes footage with cast. The film releases December 25 in theaters and on HBO Max.

Disney+ dropped a behind-the-scenes featurette for its new film “Safety.” Inspired by the real story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McELrathBey, “Safety” will debut exclusively on the service on Friday, December 11.

E! will air a “Saved By the Bell” marathon Friday, December 11 through Sunday, December 13.

“The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” debuts Saturday, December 12 on HBO and HBO Max. Aside from offering a deep dive into the Brothers Gibb, the authorized doc features new interviews with music artists including Noel Gallagher, Nick Jonas and Justin Timberlake. “We put together our dream list of interviews,” director Frank Marshall tells Cynopsis. “And I expected to get maybe 30 to 40 percent of the interviews because people are busy and it’s a documentary. But everybody wanted to do it. They were so excited and passionate to talk about how the Bee Gees influenced them.”

Several holiday specials are headed to PBS this season. “Christmas With the Tabernacle Choice Featuring Lelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas” premieres Monday, December 14 at 9p; “Ella Wishes You A Swinging Christmas With Vanessa Williams” debuts Tuesday, December 15 at 8p, and “Call the Midwife Holiday Special” debuts Friday, December 25 at 9p.

OWN unwrapped three holiday specials. Following last night’s “A Christmas for Mary,” “Cooking for Christmas” debuts Tuesday, December 15 and “First Christmas” premieres December 22.

Tubi will premiere Mexican film “Consciencia” on Wednesday, December 16 in Mexico, the US and Canada. The Spanish-language romantic drama written and directed by Sergio Pena won the WorldFest-Houston International Film Fest and Spain’s 30 Girona Film Fest.

It’s a very nostalgic holiday at Antenna TV, which will air holiday-themed classic episodes and a crackling Yule log all day December 24-25. “Christmas Through The Years” features eps in chronological order from nearly 50 years of TV, from 1954’s “The Jack Benny Program” to 1999 with “Murphy Brown.”

As we prepare to slam the door on 2020, a two-hour ABC special looks at one of the most unforgettable years in modern history. “The Year: 2020,” airing Tuesday, December 29 at 9p, is anchored by Robin Roberts and marks the 10th anniversary of the franchise.

SVOD service True Royalty TV will debut hourlong doc “Prince Philip: An Extraordinary Life” on Monday, December 28. The streamer acquired exclusive rights in the US and the UK to the project from Abacus Media Rights and Quiver Entertainment.

Billy Porter, who hosted the New Orleans festivities last year, will join Ryan Seacrest and Lucy Hale in NY’s Times Square for ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021.” Showtime is Thursday, December 31 at 8p.

Iconic literary figure Ernest Hemingway is the subject of a new Ken Burns-Lynn Novick PBS documentary. “Hemingway,” slated to debut Monday, April 5, is a three-part, six-hour project that paints an intimate picture of the writer while also penetrating the myth of the “man’s man” to reveal a deeply troubled and ultimately tragic figure.

HBO Documentary Films’ “Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street will debut on HBO and HBO Max in 2021. The film takes audiences inside the minds and hearts of the “Sesame Street” creators, artists, writers and educators who together established one of the most enduring children’s programs in television history.

TECH TALK

Music video platform Vevo is expanding its reach in the connected TV space with a deal that will see it included in Vizio SmartCast TVs. Vevo’s catalog of 450,000-plus music videos and content already are available via partners including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku and YouTube.

Genius Brands International’s Kartoon Channel! is now available for free across all LG Smart TVs. With its second TV manufacturer deal in place, Kartoon Channel! and Kartoon Classroom! now reach nearly 100 percent of US television households and are available on 300 million devices.

HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology Co., launched the HyperX Partner Program for influencers and streamers in the US. The program enables partners to earn commissions and incentives through their online activities that lead to sales on the HyperX Shop.

STREAMING SNIPPETS

Redbox is bolstering its free streaming platform with the launch of Redbox Free On Demand. The AVOD service debuts with hundreds of titles, with more added weekly. Free On Demand is available on Roku, iOS, Android mobile and TVs, and Vizio with more devices including LG, Xbox and Samsung to come. Earlier this year, Redbox launched Free Live TV, its first free streaming offering.

AMC Networks’ UMC, the streaming service focused on Black television and film, is getting a rebrand. The Robert L. Johnson-created service in January will become ALLBLK… In related news, UMC and Sundance Now inked a deal for the North American, Caribbean, Canadian and UK rights to South African horror series “Dead Places.”

Free ad-supported service Pluto TV is expanding its empire with launch this week in Brazil. The ViacomCBS Networks International service has a global audience of nearly 36 million monthly active users, and an international footprint that spans three continents and 24 countries.

KIDS NEWS

Nickelodeon’s “Baby Shark’s Big Fishmas Special,premiering Friday, December 11, at 12:30p, marks the series debut of animated series “Baby Shark’s Big Show!”. The series is based on the pop culture phenom.

From creators and exec producers Traci Paige Johnson and Jennifer Twomey, DreamWorks’ “Gabby’s Dollhouse” debuts on Netflix on Tuesday, January 5. The mixed-media preschool series features Gabby unboxing a surprise before jumping into a fantastical animated world.

CASTING

Alicia Coppola (“Empire”), Marwan Salama (“Lethal Weapon”) and Marisela Zumbado (“The Affair”) scored recurring roles on “Generation, HBO Max’s Lena Dunham-produced series.

OWN is casting up season 2 of of “David Makes Man.” Ten actors— Patrice Arenas, Bobbi Baker, Trinity Cidel, Rodney Gardiner, Brittany S. Hall, Brandi Huzzie, Zsane Jhe, Erica Luttrell, Tony Plana, and Janmarco Santiago—are in for recurring roles. Kiel Adrian Scott (“The Bobby Brown Story”) will return to direct five eps and Erica Watson (“The L Word, Claws”) will also direct.

Idara Victor (“Shameless”), Oscar Montoya (“Reno 911”), Jessica Lowe (“Wrecked”), Lennon Parham (“Bless This Mess”) and Michael Angarano (“This Is Us”) are in as series regulars in HBO Max’s comedy pilot “Minx.”

GLOBAL GOINGS-ON

The BBC is undergoing an overhaul, ditching TV channel controller roles in favor of emphasizing streaming-first commissioning. Beginning in April, the BBC will no longer have controllers overseeing BBC One, BBC Two, and BBC Four. Portfolio editors will instead be appointed to handpick shows commissioned largely for digital distribution, according to BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore.

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RATINGS

The post-NFL Thanksgiving telecast of Fox’s “The Masked Singer” delivered 15.2 million multiplatform viewers and a season best 4.2/24 Live + 7 Day rating, Fox’s highest-rated Thursday night entertainment telecast in nearly seven years.

TV Time’s Shows on the Rise for the week of November 30
Selena: The Series (Netflix) – 99.9%
Big Mouth (Netflix) – 96.9%
The Prince and Princesses of Love (W9) – 96.5%
SEAL Team (CBS) – 75.9%
Magnum P.I. (CBS) – 67.6%
Jeopardy! (ABC) – 64.9%
Rick and Morty (Adult Swim) – 58.3%
MacGyver (CBS) – 57.5%
Euphoria (HBO) – 53.7%
Blue Bloods (CBS) – 53.1%
*Shows on the Rise is calculated by determining the week-over-week growth in episodes watched for a given program.

Broadcast Nielsen Ratings for Monday, December 7
Show, P2+ 0000s, (A18-49)
ABC: “NFL Monday Night Football” 5.01 (1.0), “NFL Monday Night Football” 5.82 (1.4), “NFL Monday Night Football” 5.04 (1.2)
CBS: “The Neighborhood” 5.16 (0.7), “Bob Hearts Abishola” 5.17 (0.7), “All Rise” 4.11 (0.4), “Bull” 3.55 (0.3)
CW: “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 0.74 (0.1), “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” 0.73 (0.2), “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” 0.57, (0.1)
FOX: “I Can See Your Voice” 6.78 (2.0), “Cosmos” 1.38 (0.4)
NBC: “The Voice” 6.92 (0.8), “The Voice” 6.60 (0.7), “Nurses” 3.65 (0.4)
Telemundo: “Domo Del Dinero” 0.72 (0.2), “Todo por mi Hija” 1.48 (0.2), “Falsa Identidad” 0.76 (0.2)
Univision: “Vencer al Desamor” 1.70 (0.5), “Imperio de Mentiras” 1.24 (0.4), Dulce Ambicion 1.24 (0.4)
Source: Nielsen live + same day time period averages

EXECUTIVE MOVES

Exec shuffle at Netflix. Sarah Bowen will leave her exec post at the streamer in January to join Eric Newman (“Narcos”), who’s re-starting Grand Electric with an overall deal for film and TV at Netflix. Newman and Bryan Unkeless will dissolve their Netflix-based Screen Arcade production company, with Unkeless reviving his Clubhouse Pictures.

Trilith Studios appointed Barry Williams as its first creative director of virtual production. Williams, a 20-year visual effects veteran whose credits include “The Avengers” and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” previously served as a key creative for 15 years at Industrial Light & Magic.

Platform One Media is rebranding as Boat Rocker Studios, Scripted. As part of the move, Katie O’Connell Marsh, formerly chair/CEO of Platform One Media, has been elevated to vice chair of Boat Rocker Studios, and Boat Rocker Media co-executive chairmen Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier will assume additional roles of co-Chairmen, Boat Rocker Studios. Michel Pratte, Boat Rocker Media president, will take on the additional title of GM, Boat Rocker Studios.

Advertising management tech outfit Operative hired Jamie Calandruccio as its first SVP of product marketing & business development. Calandruccio most recently was SVP, advanced advertising solutions, at Channel Media Solutions.

UK producers group PACT appointed See-Saw Films’ TV head Hakan Kousetta as chair for the next two years. Kousetta succeeds All3Media COO Sara Geater.

Marc Kamler, formerly an exec in APA’s alternative and factual programming department, joins A3 Artist Agency as partner in alternative programming, digital media, licensing and branding.

IN MEMORIAM

Veteran Warner Bros. syndicated sales executive Mark O’Brien died November 9. He was 63. O’Brien also founded TV production and distribution company Mighty Oak Entertainment and created the “Whacked Out” series franchise. He sold first series “Whacked Out Sports” to NBC owned and operated stations, which included the show on the feed following “NFL Sunday Night Football. “

This Day in History
1854 – Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” was published in England.

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
What short-lived series was inspired by the same two undercover NYC detectives who inspired “Starsky & Hutch” (1975-79)? “The Sugar Cops.” This one stumped a lot of you! Kudos to: David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank

Today’s Trivia Question
What was the first Rankin/Bass Christmas special to use traditional, vs. stop-motion animation? (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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WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 9
ABC: The Great Christmas Light Fight, For Life
CBS: The Amazing Race, SEAL Team, S.W.A.T.
CW: Devils, The Greatest Holiday Commercials Countdown
FOX: The Masked Singer, I Can See Your Voice
NBC: Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch Musical!, Nurses
PBS: Nature, NOVA, NOVA
Telemundo: El Domo Del Dinero, Todo Por Mi Hija, Falsa Identidad
Univision: Vencer el Desamor, Imperio de Mentiras, Dulce Ambicion

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01/15/21: OWN renews “Queen Sugar” for season 6, ahead of season 5 debut

queen sugar

    Friday January 15, 2021 Today’s Premieres Disney: “Bunk’d” at 7:30p, “Secrets of Sulphur Springs” at 8p Disney+: “WandaVision” HBO: “Real Time with Bill Maher” at 10p Hulu: “Endings” ID: “Onision: In Real Life” at 10p Netflix: “Bling Empire,” “Carmen Sandiego,” “Disenchantment” OWN: “Belle Collective” at 10p Oxygen: “An Unexpected Killer” at 8p, “Framed […]

01/14/21: “Insecure” to end with season five

HBO's "Insecure" to end with season five

    Thursday January 14, 2021 Today’s Premieres ALLBLK: “Double Cross” BET+: “American Gangster: Trap Queens” discovery+: “UFO Witness” HBO Max: “Search Party,” “The Event” Peacock: “Cleopatra in Space” Today’s Finales CW: “World’s Funniest Animals” at 8:30p truTV: “Top Secret Videos” at 10:30p IN THE NEWS Tom Hanks will host “Celebrating America,” an inauguration special […]

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