Posts Tagged ‘television’

HBO Built Fun, Intricate Escape Rooms at SXSW for Veep, Silicon Valley and Game of Thrones

March 14, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Veep, "Oval Office" If there's one thing HBO does well, it's creating an environment that's rich in detail on your television screen. At South by Southwest this year, the network is giving attendees a real treat--HBO: The Escape, an activation that turned the famous sets of Veep, Silicon Valley and Game of Thrones into intricate...

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ABC Won’t Rest Until Everyone Knows Scandal (and TGIT) Is Finally Back Tonight

January 26, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

After an excruciating eight-month hiatus for ABC, the network tonight finally gets to welcome back its TGIT lineup of Shonda Rhimes-produced Thursday-night dramas: Grey's Anatomy, Scandal (which was delayed until midseason due to Kerry Washington's pregnancy) and How to Get Away With Murder. And ABC's marketing department is making sure its viewers, who abandoned the network on Thursdays at 9 p.m. during the fall, return. ABC's fall replacement for Scandal, freshman drama Notorious, flopped immediately, averaging just a 0.9 rating in the 18-49 demographic, which is less than half of the 2.1 that Scandal brought in last season. It also drained the network's usually robust Thursday-night ad revenue.

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There’s a High Bar for Trump’s Inauguration to Beat Previous TV Ratings

January 19, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Ratings are the currency of TV, and President-elect Donald Trump knows it. A TV star for the past decade and a publicity aficionado long before that, Trump, during his presidential campaign, based his cultural relevance largely on Nielsen numbers. The higher the ratings, the better he was doing. In fact, his fascination with ratings is rivaled only by the most passionate of network executives. Trump has been known to use Twitter to boast when programs or networks he's involved with deliver strong ratings. One of the best produced, including the incredible stage & set, in the history of conventions. Great unity! Big T.V. ratings! @KarlRove — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2016 The president-elect has also been known to gloat when programs he's not directly involved with struggle or when he's portrayed in what he believes to be a negative light. Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got "swamped" (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT. So much for...

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Gus Fring Was Behind That Clever Los Pollos Hermanos Ad for Better Call Saul

January 15, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When AMC's Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul returns for Season 3 on April 10, the show will feature another familiar face from Breaking Bad: ruthless drug lord Gus Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito. AMC teased Esposito's appearance last week by releasing a clever ad for Los Pollos Hermanos—the fictional fast-food fried chicken chain that Fring operates as a drug front—featuring Fring himself, which caused Breaking Bad fans to lose their minds. Esposito confirmed his return at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., when he appeared in character as Fring during AMC's panel for Better Call Saul, and handed out boxes of Los Pollos Hermanos chicken to reporters. The actor told Adweek that he came up with the idea for last week's pitch-perfect Los Pollos Hermanos spot himself. It's been gestating for years, Esposito said, since he first appeared on Breaking Bad in 2009. "I always say it was divinely guided, because it came out of a meditation. I always knew from the time I first started working at Pollos Hermanos that there might be some juice in doing something that was centered in the restaurant, that was commercial-like," said Esposito. "But when I thought of it earlier on, with Breaking Bad, it just didn't fit" with that show's dramatic tone. The idea resurfaced again as he began filming Better Call Saul. "It came back to me two or three weeks ago, and I thought, this is the perfect way to tease a Gus Fring return. Because this show has some comedy in it. It's a little funnier than Breaking Bad was," said Esposito. But still, the actor hesitated to share his vision with the show's co-creators Vince Gilligan (who also created Breaking Bad) and Peter Gould. "We're dealing with Sony [which produces Saul] and Vince Gilligan, who's a genius, and AMC, and I thought, 'Will they ever accept that idea? And then I thought, it doesn't matter whether they do or not, it came to you; put it out there!' So I did, and I even guided them as to what it might look like." Gilligan and Gould were on board. "We loved it, and fortunately, AMC decided to make it," said Gould. "We just sat back and enjoyed it." Added Gilligan, "I thought that was brilliant.

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Why CBS Is Airing Its First Saturday Drama Series in 13 Years

January 13, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

For decades, Saturday was an essential component of each broadcast network's prime-time schedule, but in recent years the networks have thrown in the towel on the night, which has the week's lowest HUT (homes using television) levels. That includes CBS, which for years has programmed two hours of drama repeats—called Crimetime Saturday—and newsmagazine 48 Hours to fill the evening. But this winter, CBS is doing something it hasn't attempted in 13 years: airing an original drama, Ransom, on Saturdays. The series, about a crisis and hostage negotiator who tackles kidnappings and ransom cases, is a Canada-France co-production, from independent studio eOne, and cost CBS a fraction of what the network usually spends on its dramas. "We're always looking for opportunities to improve the numbers on the schedule," said CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller. "Crimetime does just fine, but we had a unique opportunity with Ransom, because it was an international production, and we said, let's see what we can do on Saturday nights." Traditionally, "The night is the last priority for most networks as you're setting your schedule," said Kelly Kahl, senior evp of CBS Primetime. While CBS has used Saturdays to burn off remaining episodes of canceled shows like Made in Jersey and Three Rivers, the network hasn't scheduled dramas on Saturday since the 2003-04 season, when Hack (starring David Morse and Andre Braugher) and The District (with Craig T. Nelson) aired on the night. More recently, CBS tried airing a comedy on Saturday, programming the David Spade sitcom Rules of Engagement there in 2011. But the network abandoned the experiment after just a few weeks, shifting Rules to Thursday to replace the DOA sitcom How to Be a Gentleman (which was burned off on, yes, Saturdays). Because CBS audiences responded to freshman fall series Bull, Kevin Can Wait, Man With a Plan and The Great Indoors, "we're sitting pretty good the other nights of the week," said Kahl. "Every night of the week counts, and as you look at your weekly numbers, an hour on Saturday counts exactly the same as an hour on Monday. So we saw an opportunity there for us." CBS gave Ransom a Sunday launch on Jan. 1, where it drew 6.7 million viewers, and a 0.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. Last week, in its first regular airing on Saturday at 8 p.m

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As a Producer, Bryan Cranston Knew the Best Way to Save His Pilot Sneaky Pete Was to Act In It Himself

January 12, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When his iconic TV series Breaking Bad went off the air in 2013, Bryan Cranston wasn't looking to dive back into another series role. But in May 2015, when CBS passed on Sneaky Pete, the drama pilot he had co-created, co-written and executive produced, Cranston knew there was one surefire way to help the show find a second life: hire himself as an actor on the show. His instinct paid off: Amazon (and its viewers) loved the retooled pilot— significantly improved by the addition of a riveting scene with Cranston in the closing moments—and gave the show a series order. The full season, one of this year's most anticipated shows, debuts on the streaming service Friday, with Cranston appearing in all 10 episodes (he also directs an episode). Sneaky Pete stars Giovanni Ribisi as Marius, a con man who has just been released after three years in prison, where his cell mate, Pete, talked incessantly about his idyllic childhood. On the run from Cranston's Vince, Marius decides to assume Pete's identity and hide out with his family (including Margo Martindale as his grandmother), who run a struggling bail bonds business, and haven't seen Pete in 20 years. The tension escalates after Vince tracks down Marius, and threatens to remove one of his brother's fingers each week until Marius repays his debt. Cranston told Adweek that Sneaky Pete refers to his family nickname growing up. "I was raised in a lower income household, with a fractured family: I didn't have a father in my life when I was 11 to when I was an adult, and my mother become an alcoholic," he said. "What happens is you start to self-parent, and you're making mistake after mistake and just weaving your way through, looking for shortcuts," Cranston said. "So my family was even calling me Sneaky Pete: a guy who was looking for shortcuts. A guy who was circumventing responsibility and striving for mediocrity. That's fine when you're in that condition, but at some point, something has to break." It did for Cranston in his early 20s, when he embarked on a two-year motorcycle trip and realized he wanted to be an actor. When he accepted his fourth and final acting Emmy for Breaking Bad in 2014, Cranston dedicated his award to "all the Sneaky Petes out there." The day after the Emmys, Cranston received a congratulatory phone call from Sony Pictures Television co-president Zack Van Amburg: "He says, 'I think there's a series there: Sneaky Pete.' I said, 'What's the series?" And he goes, 'I don't know! But I do know this'—and he left me with this little nugget—'What happens if you didn't mature and change when you were 20 years old

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David Lynch Finally Talks—Very Enigmatically—About Reviving Twin Peaks

January 10, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Hours after Showtime finally revealed the premiere date for Showtime's Twin Peaks revival —Sunday, May 21—reporters at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour were given another big Twin Peaks scoop: a surprise appearance by David Lynch, who talked about the series for the first time. But in true David Lynch fashion, he answered almost all of the reporters' questions in his typical enigmatic style—i.e. not really at all, peppered with Lynch-isms like, "always we're filled with doubts." A sampling of his responses: On how he and writer Mark Frost work together on Twin Peaks: "We work together on Skype." On how his directing approach has changed since making Twin Peaks in 1990: "It was just the same as all the others. I see it as a film, and a film in parts is what people will experience." On Showtime Networks CEO and president David Nevins' earlier comments that the episodes are "the pure heroin version of David Lynch" : "I hear heroin is a very popular drug these days." On what caused him to briefly leave the revival in 2015 : "I would rather not discuss that. [But] I loved working with [Showtime's execs] very, very much. We've got a great working relationship. I'm very happy being at Showtime." On what it was like to shoot Twin Peaks in the Pacific Northwest again: "Both the same and different." On making Twin Peaks the first time: "I didn't really know about television. We just were telling the story." On why Twin Peaks only lasted two seasons: "Who killed Laura Palmer was a question that we never really wanted to answer. [It was like] the goose that laid those golden eggs. We were told we had to wrap that story up. It never really got going after that." On whether the 1992 Twin Peaks film Fire Walk With Me factors into the events of the revival: "I could say the story of Laura Palmer's last seven days, very much important for this" On whether he's aware of the hype around Twin Peaks: "I'm too in the middle and I don't go out much." On whether he remembers the catalyst for what made him become a storyteller: "No, I don't.

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Stay-at-Home Moms Watch One More Hour of Media Per Day Than Working Mothers

January 3, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Stay-at-home mothers don't have as many devices in their homes as their working counterparts, but they make the most of those that they do have: they spend around seven and a half more hours each week watching TV and TV-connected devices than working mothers do. In Nielsen's Q3 2016 Total Audience Report, released this morning, the company focused on the media habits of mothers: working and those who stay at home. (Previous reports spotlighted millennials and the extent to which consumers are using all options available to them .) According to Nielsen's national TV panel, there are 25.1 million females in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 49 who have one or more children under the age of 12. Nearly three-quarters of those women are working, and the older a woman is, the more likely she is to be in the workforce: Seventy-one percent of mothers between 18 and 34 are working, but that jumps to 77 percent of those between 35 and 49. While working mothers are more affluent and more likely to live in high-tech homes with several devices, stay-at-home moms spend an average of 36:26 (in hours: minutes) each week on live TV viewing and connected TV devices, which include DVR, DVD/Blu-ray, game consoles and other devices like Roku and Apple TV. That's seven and a half hours more than working mothers, who spend an average of 28:49 each week. Live TV viewing accounts for the biggest discrepancy between the two groups, with stay-at-home moms watching more than five hours of live TV each week (25:37, versus 20:08 for working mothers). While working mothers spend less time consuming media, they have access to more devices than their stay-at-home counterparts. Seventy-four percent of working moms subscribe to SVOD services like Netflix and Hulu, while just 65 percent of stay-at-home moms do. Eighty percent of working moms have tablets, compared to 72 percent of stay-at-home mothers. However, both groups have an almost identical access to smartphones: Ninety-eight percent of working moms, 96 percent of stay-at-home moms. On the social media front, stay-at-home mothers gravitate toward PCs and smartphones, while working moms use tablets. Across all devices, radio reaches the greatest number of working moms, who average 13:45 per week (stay-at-home mothers listen for an average of 12:07 each week). But stay-at-home moms spend more time with all other devices, led by smartphones: stay-at-home mothers average 22:43 per week of smartphone time, versus 20:41 for working moms. Live TV drop-off In overall viewing numbers, U.S. adults spent an average of 4:06 (in hours: minutes) tuning into live TV each day in Q3 2016, which is one minute less than the previous year

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How to Revitalize Beloved Pop Culture Brands Like Star Trek, Hannibal and American Gods

December 28, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

These days, one of the safest bets for attracting TV or movie audiences is to rely on existing brand or franchise and try to revitalize it. When it's successful—like the recent Star Wars films or Fox's X-Files revival—it brings in both diehard fans and a fresh audience. Two of the best writers involved in resuscitating beloved pop culture properties are Bryan Fuller (who breathed new life into the stale Hannibal Lecter franchise by turning Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon into an audacious NBC series) and Michael Green (who worked on Smallville, putting a new spin on the Superman story). Now those two are teaming up for a new, high-profile adaptation, turning Neil Gaiman's acclaimed novel American Gods into a series for Starz, debuting this spring. But American Gods is just one of several major brand refreshes that Fuller or Green are overseeing in 2017. Fuller also co-created the first Star Trek series in 12 years, Star Trek: Discovery, for CBS All Access (though he has since departed the show) and is developing an updated version of the '80s anthology series Amazing Stories for NBC. Meanwhile, Green co-wrote three major franchise films: Logan (a darker, grittier spin on the Wolverine franchise), Alien: Covenant (the follow-up to Prometheus, which more directly ties into Alien) and Blade Runner 2049, which brings back Harrison Ford and whose first trailer generated enthusiastic buzz last week: As they prepare to launch American Gods in the spring, Fuller and Green sat down with Adweek to talk about their approach to breathing new life in beloved pop culture brands, and what they've learned about trying to make fans happy—or not: Adweek: What has to stand out for you when you're looking at an existing brand or a franchise, and trying to make it your own? Bryan Fuller: It has to be about something more than just its own plot, to start with. And you have to be able to isolate your own memory of what it is you loved about it. Because if you take something as broad as a superhero character, everyone came at it at a different time and a different incarnation and a different run of a different artist, and so there are different aspects of the character that are in the soul of it for you. That's the core of adaptation, is you have to be able to dive into those things and celebrate that particular aspect of it. It's about taking those core values of what the piece is and making sure that you can now re-present those things to other people, and hopefully they'll appreciate it in the same way that you did

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With 455 Scripted Series Released This Year, ‘Peak TV’ Has Yet to Actually Peak

December 21, 2016  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The phrase "peak TV" was coined by FX Networks CEO John Landgraf last year to describe the "overwhelming" increase in scripted series, but it seems as if the glut of scripted television shows still hasn't peaked yet. An estimated 455 scripted series aired this year on broadcast, cable and streaming services, according to FX Networks Research. "This estimate reps an 8 percent increase over just last year (421 in 2015)―but an astonishing 71 percent increase over five years ago (266 in 2011) and 137 percent over a decade ago (192 in 2006)," said Julie Piepenkotter, evp, research, FX Networks, in a statement. While the number of broadcast, premium cable and basic cables shows all fell in 2016, that decline was more than surpassed by the output from streaming services. That number doubled in one year, from 46 shows last year to 93 shows in 2016. Expect that trend to continue in 2017, as Netflix plans to double its output once again. In August, Landgraf estimated that 2016's scripted series output would probably top out at 450, while 2017 could see an astounding 500 scripted shows. That's in addition to the 750-some unscripted shows that also air. The television business is "probably unsustainable" for more than 500 scripted series, Landgraf said at the time. Landgraf, who last month was named Adweek's Television Executive of the Year, told Adweek that the number of scripted series will finally start to drop off by 2019. But despite the deluge of scripted shows, his greatest challenge is the same as when he took charge of FX in 2005. "For FX to be relevant to people as a brand—for there to be a reason for people to continue to pay attention to what we do and to seek us out—we have to give them an experience they just can't get somewhere else," he said. "You have to continually replenish your brand equity." And that requires big swings like The People v. O.J. Simpson and Atlanta, both of which became commercial and critical hits this year. "You can't just be different," Landgraf said. "You have to be different and good."

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