Posts Tagged ‘network’

After a Bumpy Fall, ABC Retools for Midseason With Four New Shows

January 9, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

ABC had a mixed fall, with a fledgling hit in Quantico, as well as the season's first canceled series in Wicked City. But ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee said today that the best is yet to come this season for the network. Speaking at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, Lee touted "four incredibly powerful shows" that are coming to the network in midseason: dramas The Family (which we think is the best broadcast pilot this season ; it premieres March 3), Of Kings and Prophets (March 8) and The Catch (March 24), along with comedy The Real O'Neals (which Lee said is "absolutely on brand for what an ABC comedy is" and debuts March 8). For a network to keep its momentum building, "you have to add a couple of assets" each year, said Lee, pointing to freshman hit Quantico, which is "a real asset for ABC," especially given its strong delayed viewing growth. Lead Priyanka Chopra "is a quintessential ABC star," he said. Two of those four midseason shows, The Catch and Of Kings and Prophets, have undergone significant recasting and retooling since ABC ordered them last spring. Lee won't see the revised pilot for The Catch, which is executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, until next week, but said, "if you like TGIT , you'll like The Catch." He explained that The Catch wasn't a "fully-formed" pilot like How to Get Away With Murder, but its retooling "certainly has paid off in terms of the scripts I've seen." Also returning at midseason is Season 2 of anthology series American Crime, which debuted earlier this week and "is becoming a distinct and powerful brand," said Lee. He added that he wasn't concerned about FX's similarly named "American Crime Story" anthology series, which will focus on O.J. Simpson's murder trial during its first season. Lee said American Crime "stands on its own, but there's probably room for both, to be honest." There wasn't room on ABC for the quickly-canceled Wicked City, which might have been off-brand for the network, admitted Lee. "I love taking big swings, and that was a big swing. …It didn't work, but I was proud to have done it." Wicked City was yet another Tuesday 10 p.m. failure for Lee, who will try and reverse his time slot problems with Of King and Prophets, which he called "a muscular, theatrical, fascinating piece." In addition to reworking Of Kings and Prophets and The Catch, Lee is also making changes to The Muppets, which arrived to great fanfare last fall , yet disappointed audiences. "The expectations were very high; we ran a great campaign for that," he said

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Starz Plans Its Own Stand-Alone Service to Compete With HBO and Showtime

January 8, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After previously insisting that it was "far away" from developing a stand-alone service to reach viewers without a cable subscription, Starz has reversed course. The premium cable network is now following HBO and Showtime's lead in preparing its own OTT app. "Yeah, we're in the midst of doing it," Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "Nothing to really talk about right now. To have your own app is the opportunity to be distributed, either by our current distribution partners in different ways … or potential other portals. It is early days with that stuff, but it seems as if the new and the old are willing to exist side by side for a while.

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Discovery Will Try to Capitalize on People’s Sudden Obsession With ‘Making a Murderer’

January 7, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As the country's enthusiasm for Netflix's Making a Murderer continues to grow, Investigation Discovery is jumping on the bandwagon, fast-tracking a special on Steven Avery, the man whose case is the focus of the riveting true-crime series. "As the country's most experienced true-crime network, we feel compelled to address what we believe are missing from the case as presented in Netflix's current documentary series, Making a Murderer," Henry Schlieff, group president for Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America, said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. Investigation Discovery has partnered with Peacock Productions (a division of NBC News) to produce a special, Front Page: The Steven Avery Story, which started production this week and will air later in January. Hosted by Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison, the program is "an attempt to provide critical, crucial evidence and testimonies that answer many of the questions surrounding Steven Avery," said Schlieff. Making a Murderer, which Netflix released Dec. 18, has left the country buzzing about Avery, who along with his nephew, was convicted of murdering photographer Teresa Halbach. Avery had previously served 18 years in prison for rape when he was released in 2003 after DNA evidence exonerated him. He was arrested and convicted of Halbach's murder two years later, after he had filed a civil suit over his false conviction. More than 360,000 people have signed online petitions calling for Avery's pardon as a result of Making a Murderer, which raises serious questions about the case against Avery. A year ago, Investigation Discovery quickly developed its own true-crime podcast to take advantage of the frenzy around the first season of Serial. But ID isn't the only Discovery network looking to get in on the true-crime craze sparked by Making a Murderer, Serial and HBO's The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. On Tuesday, Discovery launched its first true-crime series, Killing Fields, which the network said is shot in "real time" as an investigation unfolds. Executive produced by Barry Levinson, the show follows a cold case from June 1997 in Iberville Parish, La., where a Louisiana State University graduate student, Eugenie Boisfontaine, disappeared. Her body was discovered two months later. Detective Rodie Sanchez, who was assigned to the case in 1997, has come out of retirement and reopened the case. In Killing Fields, he is paired with a younger detective, Aubrey St. Angelo, as they reinvestigate the murder.

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Here’s How Viceland Plans to Lure Millennials Back to TV

January 6, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The conventional wisdom is that millennials are fleeing TV, but as usual, Vice is playing the role of disrupter. On Feb. 29, the company will take over History offshoot H2 and launch a new network called Viceland. "As a company, to get this kind of production budget can still only be done in television," said Spike Jonze, Viceland's creative director, speaking at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "The idea of a TV channel seems like a fun medium to explore and play with," said Jonze.

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Netflix’s Content Chief Just Perfectly Summarized How the TV Industry’s Been Broken Since Birth

January 6, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Netflix execs had a lot to say at the streaming giant's CES keynote today, but amid all the flashy trailers and big global news, one compelling tidbit was largely overlooked. CEO Reed Hastings was clearly the star of the show, where he announced Netflix's sudden surge into more than 130 new countries today. But also on stage was chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who talked not only about Netflix's popular programming but also about the company's role as a consumer advocate of sorts. Here's how Sarandos beautifully summarized the profits-first, viewers-second mentality that has frequently driven decision making in Hollywood and across the entertainment and broadcast industries: "Over the last 70 years, consumers have been at the mercy of others when it comes to television. The shows and movies they want to watch are subject to business models that they do not understand and they do not care about. All they know is frustration

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T.J. Miller Warms Up for Critics’ Choice Awards Hosting Gig With Booze-Soaked Promos

January 5, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Actor and comedian T.J. Miller was "dumb, and not in a funny way," in the big-screen flop Yogi Bear in 3D. And he's game for trotting out the memory of that critical drubbing if it means driving viewers to a presumably better use of their time—his hosting gig at the 21st annual Critics' Choice Awards. The show, airing live Jan. 17 on A&E, Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, launches the year's award-season broadcasts, so expect a steady stream of Hollywood backslapping to follow. And Miller, currently hot for his role on HBO's biting satire Silicon Valley, shows off his self-deprecating loveable loser persona in several promos from L.A.-based Stun Creative. He's hapless but in a funny way. (He wore cut-off tux pants under that sophisticated black tie, execs at Stun say, and destroyed about 50 champagne glasses in his attempt to serve a cocktail). For those interested in the awards themselves, which combine movies and television for the first time into one three-hour self-congratulatory extravaganza, the year's most nominated film is Mad Max: Fury Road, and on the TV and streaming side, FX's Fargo and Amazon's Transparent lead the pack.

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How Canceling a Critically Acclaimed Drama Helped Mr. Robot Succeed

December 30, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

USA made a bold move in 2012 by shaking up its "blue skies" formula (which yielded hits like Burn Notice and White Collar) and debuting a dark summer series. Political Animals, a drama starring Sigourney Weaver, attracted lots of attention, critical accolades and several awards nominations. What it didn't draw was viewers, and the network pulled the plug a few months later. History repeated itself again this year with significantly different results: USA gambled on another edgy summer drama, Mr. Robot, which became a critical darling—I picked it as the best new show of 2015 . But instead of being an outlier as Political Animals was, Mr. Robot seems to represent a new path for the network, which renewed it for a second season even before the first one debuted. Bonnie Hammer, chairman of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group, said that Political Animals' premature demise set the network along the path that led to Mr. Robot. The political drama starred Weaver as a thinly-veiled version of Hillary Clinton: a former First Lady who served as Secretary of State after coming up short in her own presidential bid. But if Political Animals hadn't been so short-lived, the network may never have been in a position to take a chance on the hacker drama Mr. Robot. "Political Animals was before its time: a little darker, a little edgier," said Hammer. "The audience wasn't ready for it. Those who were coming for Royal Pains and Suits were not ready for cocaine-addicted kids, a heavier hand in politics and for cloudier, edgier [material]. They weren't anti-heroes, but they weren't all nice and pretty and 'blue skies.'" So USA retreated, canceled the show and retrenched. "[We] realized that we had to figure out: 'What does it mean to have some clouds in the sky, and how cloudy and edgy can we go?'" said Hammer. "We took a few swings at bat, we didn't nail it with the first couple, to be honest," said Hammer, citing Rush, USA's 2014 medical drama that quickly came and went. "It was an interesting, dark character in the medical world, but so what? Been there, done that before." Instead, Hammer and her USA team realized that "we wanted to nail something in the zeitgeist," she told Adweek last month .

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Streaming Services, and Mr. Robot, Elbow Broadcasters Out of Golden Globes Nominations

December 10, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If last year's Golden Globe Awards heralded the streaming services' arrival as major television players, this year's list of nominees shows streaming networks have suddenly become the dominant forces. Netflix led all TV networks with 8 nominations , while Amazon had 5 and Hulu landed its first nomination. Those picks came at the expense of the broadcast networks, which managed just 11 nominations in all—4 for ABC, 4 for Fox, 2 for The CW and 1 for CBS—while NBC, which will broadcast the Golden Globes on Sunday, Jan. 10, was shut out completely. (NBC's cable sibling, USA, landed three nominations for Mr. Robot.) The streaming services accounted for four of the six shows nominated for best TV series, musical or comedy: Casual (Hulu), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon), Orange is the New Black (Netflix) and last year's winner, Transparent (Amazon). The other two nominees were for HBO shows Silicon Valley and Veep. No broadcast TV series made the list. On the best drama side, a single broadcast show—Fox's Empire—made the cut. It will compete with three cable shows (HBO's Game of Thrones, USA's Mr. Robot and Starz's Outlander) and one Netflix series (Narcos)

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Here’s How Syfy Plans to Hook Viewers on Skippable Ads

December 10, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

You know how the old psychological theory goes: Someone tells you not to think of a white bear, and then that's all you can think about. To help promote its miniseries, Childhood's End, which premieres Monday night, Syfy is testing the phenomenon in the hopes it's all wrong. Using YouTube's TrueView skippable ad format—which allows viewers to clickthrough after five seconds—Syfy created three custom spots that implore viewers to watch the ads in full, telling them, "Don't skip the ad." "We're getting somebody's attention because we're saying, 'I'm paying attention to you right now and what you're doing,'" Sara Moscowitz, Syfy's svp of brand and strategic marketing, told Adweek. Based on Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 novel of the same name, Childhood's End centers on an ostensibly benevolent alien race that rules the earth. In one of the spots , Syfy incorporates that theme by telling viewers (within the first few seconds) they don't need to be afraid of the ad. In another, which you can see below, Syfy plays on viewers' familiarity with the actors by referencing their previous roles ( Tywin Lannister , anyone?). The third spot also plays on familiarity with the actors but in a more subtle way. It serves quick shots of all of them before showing footage from the new show

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How Superproducer Greg Berlanti Juggles 6 (and Counting) TV Shows

November 29, 2015  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Anybody who thinks broadcast television is dying obviously hasn't met Greg Berlanti , the talented and prolific writer and superproducer behind this fall's two biggest freshman series among viewers 18-49. First, there's NBC's Blindspot , which the network has already renewed for a second season. Then, there's Supergirl on CBS, Berlanti's third superhero series along with the CW's The Flash (that network's most-watched show ever) and Arrow. (A fourth superhero project, the Flash/Arrow spinoff DC's Legends of Tomorrow, will debut Jan. 21.) As if that weren't enough on his plate, he's also got The Mysteries of Laura, NBC's sole freshman series from last season to make it to a second year. Berlanti, Adweek's TV Producer of the Year, never intended to oversee six TV shows at once (he serves as co-showrunner on the four superhero series and is executive producer of Blindspot and Laura). "It's a combination of a lot of past relationships coming to fruition—and, as always in this business, luck," says Berlanti, who delegates many duties to key allies like Sarah Schechter, who runs his production company, but maintains strict control over each show's essential elements. "I find I can affect the quality of an episode if I focus on the things that I've always enjoyed the most: What are the stories, who's acting in them and the finished cut," he says. Juggling six TV shows requires "a lot of time management," notes Berlanti, who begins every day writing scripts ("My morning time is my most creative," he relates) before transitioning to making notes on other writers' scripts and "breaking" story arcs for upcoming episodes. After that, he shifts his attention to casting and budget matters, before ending the day in the editing room "because I don't have to use my brain in quite the same way," he says. "It's more reactive than trying to generate something." Berlanti employs the same mantra for all his projects: "Heart. Humor. Spectacle." "My favorite episodes of TV as a viewer, and certainly as a writer or producer, have those elements," he explains. "The humor keeps the episodes enjoyable and reminds you that not everything has to be deadly serious. Heart is something that I've always led with when I've written, or responded to in other people's stories. And the spectacle can be the emotional spectacle, or it can be the visual effects and action of it all." The producer, who previously worked on the WB's Dawson's Creek and Everwood and ABC's Brothers and Sisters, continues to create smashes for broadcast television even as many of his writer-producer peers have turned to cable channels and streaming sites. "To me, there's still nothing more thrilling than, every week, people getting to see another chapter in this story that you're telling," says Berlanti, who recently extended his lucrative TV deal with Warner Bros. through 2020. Berlanti's phenomenal success seems to surprise him as much as anyone.

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