"Sony Pictures Animation has set Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions on 'Manimal,' the feature based on the cult 1980s TV show about a man who fights crime using his ability to morph into animals," reports Deadline in an exclusive story.
The story continues, "The original 1983 series starred Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, a dashing and wealthy man raised in Africa who was also 'master of the secrets that divide man from animal.' It was cancelled after eight episodes, only to live on in the hearts of a devoted cult fandom.... Sony Pictures Animation’s live-action/animation hybrid will reinvent that concept as an action-comedy with heavy visual effects and animated elements."
TV Guide once did a list of the 50 worst series ever on TV, and "Manimal" was listed at No. 15. (No. 1 on the list was "The Jerry Springer Show," and No. 2 was "My Mother the Car.")
"Manimal" was part of the infamous 9 new series that NBC introduced in the fall of 1983, none of which made it to a second season. Both critics and viewers alike seemed to hold a special distain for "Manimal." The series quickly fell into the bottom 10 in the weekly ratings, and that's where it resided when it was cancelled. The other eight series NBC introduced that season were "Bay City Blues," "Boone," "For Love and Honor," "Jennifer Slept Here," "The Rousters," "Mr. Smith," "We Got It Made," and "The Yellow Rose."
The late Brandon Tartikoff, who was NBC's Entertainment chief at the time, and who introduced many, many hit shows, from "The Cosby Show" to "Miami Vice," when he was complimented for being such a great programmer, would often self-effacingly say that he was also the guy who put "Manimal" on the air.
With tongue clearly planted firmly in his cheek, Will Ferrell's business and writing partner Adam McKay said, according to Deadline, "Like 'The Catcher In The Rye' or 'The Sound And The Fury,' 'Manimal' has always been one of those elusive projects every producer dreams of taking to the silver screen. I know the movie will be funny and entertaining, but will it be the first film to win a Pulitzer? We’ll just have to see.”
Nat Geo Continues to Overhaul Top Executive Ranks, Picks Emmy Nominee as New Head of Original Programming
National Geographic Channel announced it has selected a new president of original programming. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Pastore will take the position.
"The Emmy-nominated producer will transition from his role as exec vp production and development from National Geographic Studios and start his new position Aug. 18," the story reports.
Pastore has shared in two Primetime Emmy nominations, for "Deadliest Catch" for outstanding nonfiction series in 2007, and for "Dirty Jobs" for outstanding reality program in 2010.
"In his new role, Pastore will assume oversight of all development, production and production management for Nat Geo Channel U.S., where he'll be responsible for about 400 hours of content annually," the report notes. "Heather Moran, exec vp programming and strategy, and Alan Eyres, senior vp programming and development, will now report to Pastore. Geoff Daniels will remain exec vp and GM for Nat Geo Wild, reporting to Nat Geo Channels CEO Courteney Monroe. Moran will continue to manage the network’s production team, while Eyres will spearhead the development team."
Pastore, who will be based in New York, will also oversee the channel's teams in Washington and L.A., and will work closely with Hamish Mykura, executive VP and head of international content for National Geographic Channels International, along with the NGCI team in London, the report notes.
"The news comes two months after NGC President Howard Owens and CEO David Lyle exited and the company overhauled its top-level management," THR notes. "David Hill was named chairman in April, when Monroe was promoted to CEO."more »
The Fox Network rode a surge in one of its summer series to a prime-time ratings win Monday night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.
TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "MasterChef" rose 17% from a week ago to a 2.1 average rating in viewers 18-49, coming in as the highest-rated episode of the summer and the top show on broadcast prime Monday night. Even with Fox's "Hotel Hell" premiering with a 1.5 average -- 21% below the 1.9 the show delivered for its series premiere two years ago -- Fox had enough to win the night in the demo.
Second-place NBC rested its fortunes mainly on its two-hour "American Ninja Warrior," which equaled its season high with a 1.9 average in 18-49, up 12% from a week ago. A repeat of "Last Comic Standing" settled for an 0.8.
ABC's two-hour "The Bachelorette: Men Tell All" ticked up 6% from last week to a 1.8 in the 18-49 demo, while "Mistresses" remained at a 1.0.
CBS settled for a tie for fourth place on the night with Univision as two hours of comedy repeats could do no better than a 1.0 in adults 18-49 (with "2 Broke Girls," "Mike & Molly" and "Two and a Half Men" all hitting that mark), and the network's lone fresh program, "Under the Dome," fell 21% from last week to a series-low 1.5.
For prime time overall, Fox's 1.8 average rating was the best on broadcast in viewers 18-49, followed by NBC (1.6 average), ABC (1.5) and Univision and CBS (both 1.2). Total viewers was competitive across the big four broadcast nets, with ABC coming out on top with 5.735 million viewers, followed by CBS (5.121 million), Fox (4.925 million), NBC (4.907 million) and Univision (3.044 million).more »
A cable series today became the second TV production this week to pull out of Israel in response to the worsening military situation in Gaza. Deadline.com reports that the USA event series "DIG" is exiting the country.
In a statement, USA said: “Given the current situation and after careful consideration, we are relocating the production of 'DIG' partly to Albuquerque and are continuing to explore other locations. Our experience filming in Israel was very positive and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to capture such an authentic landscape that will be threaded throughout the series.”
The move comes one day after the FX series "Tyrant" announced that it is permanently relocating its production from Israel to Turkey.
"As the Gaza attack started a week ago, 'DIG' extended its planned hiatus by week while the network and producers were exploring alternatives and holding conversation with the project’s insurance company," Deadline reports. "The series, starring Jason Isaacs as an FBI agent investigating a troubling murder of a young woman archaeologist in Jerusalem, took a break after filming the first episode of its six-episode order. The pilot episode was shot throughout Israel, including Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem."
The decision comes amid a 24-hour ban on flights to Israel by the Federal Aviation Administration, in response to reports of a Palestinian rocket attack. The State Department has also warned Americans not to travel to Israel or the Gaza Strip.
"In September, the Showtime series 'Homeland,' from 'Tyrant' producer Fox 21, moved third-season scenes that were planned to be shot in Israel to Morocco over concerns about the situation in Syria," the story notes. The piece also notes that Israeli writer-producer Gideon Raff is a co-creator of "DIG," "Homeland" and "Tyrant."more »
While announcing the premiere date for season five of "Downton Abbey," the president and CEO of PBS took the opportunity to take a few shots at cable.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the period drama will roll out in the U.S. on Jan. 4, with PBS breaking the news today at the TCA press tour in Beverly Hills.
"PBS President and Chief Executive Paula Kerger defended, as she has in the past, the decision to run 'Downton' months after it has aired in Britain, which has meant that many U.S. fans uncover spoilers online before getting a chance to watch the episodes. This has led to much criticism of PBS, but Kerger remains undaunted," the Times reports.
Kerger indicated that January, when the weather is cold across much of the U.S., works well for the show -- and she noted that viewership for the series grew by 16% during the past season.
"Meanwhile, the usually circumspect Kerger took a few whacks at cable networks, which she says have abandoned their original mission and are chasing reality hits," the report notes.
One target was A&E, which once focused on fine arts but these days features reality programming such as "Duck Dynasty." Said Kerger: "Most people forget A&E once stood for 'Arts & Entertainment.'"
"As for History, the onetime home of endless World War II documentaries now has a 'broader portfolio and a different definition of history, I guess,' Kerger cracked. Among History's top shows is 'Pawn Stars,' set in a family-run Las Vegas pawn shop," the story reports.
"'We're not necessarily in the same business,' Kerger said, referring to the public broadcaster's programming lineup, which beyond 'Downton' also includes the British hit 'Sherlock' as well as the customary documentaries and educational programming," the article adds.
Referring to quality arts and educational content, Kerger said: "We see ourselves as really standing alone in that space."
The Times report adds: "In addition to the 'Downton' premiere news, Kerger came to the press tour with announcements for several new shows, including a film biography of Walt Disney that will air on 'American Experience' in the fall of 2015. Also coming: 'The Brain With Dr. David Eagleman,' six one-hour episodes exploring neuroscience.
In other programming notes, PBS member stations will stream the Ken Burns doc "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History" starting one day after its September premiere, and the British drama "Call the Midwife" will return for a fourth season.more »
An upcoming series on Fox is adding a veteran to the writers' room. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the hospital drama "Red Band Society" is bringing in Rina Mimoun, fresh off a stint as a writer and executive producer on "Mistresses."
"Mimoun will serve in the same capacity and work alongside series creator Margaret Nagle," the story reports.
THR reports: "'Red Band Society,' from ABC Studios, focuses on the daily lives of a group of teenagers living in a hospital who become unlikely friends. The depth of the unexpected friendships allows them to survive the challenges of growing up under such intense circumstances. Octavia Spencer stars as a snarky yet caring nurse alongside 'hot doc' Dave Annable."
For Mimoun the move is part of an overall deal with ABC Studios.
"Should 'Mistresses' earn a third season, she would resume work on that series as well," THR notes. "She brings years of experience -- on series including 'Hart of Dixie,' 'Eastwick,' 'Privileged,' 'Gilmore GIrls,' 'Jack & Jill' and more -- to the series overseen by first-year showrunner Nagle."
"Red Band Society" is set to premiere Sept. 17 on Fox.more »
A prolific writer, director and producer whose career in feature films and television spanned more than 25 years has died. Variety reports that John Fasano, 52, died in his sleep Saturday night.
"In television, Fasano wrote more than 17 movies, including TNT’s 'The Hunchback,' for which he received a Writers Guild Award nomination in 1996; the Tom Selleck hit 'Stone Cold'; the Iraq war docudrama 'Saving Jessica Lynch'; and Westerns such as 'The Legend of Butch and Sundance' and 'Hannah’s Law,'" the story reports.
Among Fasano's feature film credits are “Another 48 Hrs.,” “Tombstone,” “Universal Soldier: The Return” and “Alien 3.”
"In the digital space, John created and wrote 'Woke Up Dead,' a series for Sony’s Crackle site featuring Jon Heder and Josh Gad," the Variety report adds. "He also worked as a script doctor and screenwriting guest lecturer at AFI and the Writer’s Boot Camp. He was president of the screenwriting seminar at the Sony/Canal+ Equinoxe screenwriting seminar in France."more »
Time Warner appears to be digging in its heels as it braces to fend off a potential buyout attempt by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.
B&C reports that the company implemented changes to its corporate bylaws that could make a takeover more difficult.
"In a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, Time Warner said its directors voted on Monday to remove bylaw provisions that enabled stockholders to cause the board to call a special meeting of stockholders. The new rules say the CEO or a majority of directors may call a special meeting," the story reports.
The company reportedly said it plans to reinstate the bylaw provisions at the annual shareholders meeting in 2015.
"The move signals that Time Warner is looking to fight a takeover by Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch. Although the first offer was rejected, Wall Street analysts expect a new, higher-priced offer to follow," B&C reports. "Under the old rule 15% of Time Warner stockholders could call a meeting. At such a meeting a takeover offer, such as Fox’s, could have been considered and approved.
"Under the new rules, no proposal not favored by the board could be considered until the next annual meeting."
The idea of the move is apparently to give company shareholders additional time to evaluate the company's current strategy, as well as time to examine a takeover proposal by Fox, the report notes, citing a source with knowledge of the company.more »
While Its Rivals Feast on Malaysia Airlines Disaster, One of the Big 3 Cable News Channels Fails to Get a Bump
When news breaks, cable news channels typically see a surge in viewers. But on the first full day of coverage of the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet, one of cable's big three news channels, MSNBC, seems to have missed out.
Deadline.com reports that CNN was up 16% and Fox News Channel rose 13% from comparable year-ago numbers in the key news demo of adults 25-54 for total day on July 18, when the news was dominated by coverage of the Malaysia Airlines disaster along with the breaking story of Israeli troop movement into Gaza. MSNBC, however, was down 38%, pulling a feeble 87,000 in the metric.
"Take a look at prime time, the numbers get even harsher for MSNBC with a 46% fall in the demo to 118,000 from July 19, 2013, compared to a rise of 16% and 30% for FNC and CNN," the report adds. "Winning in all categories on Friday and benefiting from the breaking news, FNC had 268,000 among 25-54s for total day and 323,000 during prime time. Seeing an uptick as it commonly does during breaking news, the often ratings struggling Time Warner-owned network [CNN] got 208,000 in the demo total day and 263,000 in prime time."
The report notes that MSNBC joined its rivals in providing wall-to-wall coverage of the breaking news stories. "The network devoted its entire night to the plane crash and the situation in the Middle East from 'The Ed Show' at 5 p.m. to a guest-hosted 'Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell' at 10 p.m.," Deadline notes.
In total viewers on the same day, July 18, the picture wasn't quite as bleak for MSNBC, although its numbers remained well below those of CNN and Fox News. "MSNBC saw a 3% slip in total day to 427,000 and a mere 2% growth in prime time to 602,000," the story reports. "FNC beat CNN and MSNBC put together among total viewers for both the total day and primetime with 1.473 million (up 16% from a year ago) and 1.905 million (up 21% from a year ago)."more »
A change of leadership has taken place in the top ranks at CBS Films. According to The Hollywood Reporter, one of the unit's two co-presidents, Wolfgang Hammer, is out, leaving Terry Press in the top leadership position as president.
Citing insiders at the company, the piece reports that Hammer made a transition in recent weeks to a "digital content consulting role" for CBS.
"Press was the former marketing head of DreamWorks while Hammer was the banner’s COO and acquisitions head. The two were named co-presidents in 2012. The fusion was made after the top post was left vacant by the departure of Amy Baer," THR reports.
The report notes: "The company’s slate has performed modestly at the box office but it did succeed with the breakout horror movie 'The Woman in Black,' which starred Daniel Radcliffe. Last year’s comedy 'Last Vegas' also did well and the banner was behind 'Inside Llewyn Davis.'"more »