Nov 24, 2015
9:36 pm

Amazon Pulls Controversial TV Ads From New York Subway (And be forewarned—the second sentence of this item is a doozy!) (Variety; EW)

A special shout out to our former Crain Commjunications colleague Brian Steinberg for his clever wordplay in the first sentence of this story he wrote for Variety:

“A furor appears to have stopped the Führer. Amazon Studios will pull ad signage from New York City subways that used insignia suggesting Nazi control to promote the streaming-video service’s new drama series, ‘The Man in the High Castle.’”

According to the story, “The ads were part of a ‘wrap’ of the New York City Shuttle, a subway line that runs between Grand Central Station and Times Square. ‘The Man In The High Castle’ is an Amazon drama that has gained critical acclaim since Amazon released ten episodes earlier this month. Based on a 1962 novel by Philip K. Dick, ‘Castle’ tells the story of people in the United States struggling in an alternate future in which the Axis powers won World War II.

Although Steinberg wrote that Amazon decided to pull the ads, according to Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the New York City Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Later, Entertainment Weekly, in a follow-up story to Steinberg’s reporting, wrote “EW can confirm that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked to have the ‘Man in the High Castle’ ads pulled. ‘The governor asked the head of the MTA this afternoon to make sure they were pulled,’ [a different] MTA spokesperson, Adam Lisberg, [told] EW, adding that the wrapped train will be pulled from service as soon as possible to remove the ads.”

To read more about this item please click on the links, above, to the Variety and EW stories.

Nov 24, 2015
1:41 pm

Cable Network Chief Exits Amid Programming Refocus (Variety, Deadline)

The top executive of a cable network is out the door as the channel rethinks its programming strategy. The channel is HLN, sister channel of CNN.

“Albie Hecht, a longtime Viacom programming executive, arrived at HLN in the fall of 2013 as the network’s new general manager, and set to work on transforming the cable outlet once known as ‘CNN Headline News’ into a place that focused on trending topics and the chatter emerging on social media,” Variety reports. “Now he will depart as CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker sees a new way to move the network forward.”

Zucker reportedly wants to increase the blocks of CNN programming running on HLN.

In a memo today to staffers, published by Deadline.com, Zucker praised HLN’s recent progress. “HLN is the second-fastest growing network in all of cable, and this year had its highest share of the cable news market in its history,” Zucker wrote. “‘Morning Express’ has surged to the number two spot in cable morning news. ‘The Daily Share,’ the social lifestyle video network that launched less than a year ago, is number one in engagement among cable news and its competitive set. And the prime-time lineup features some of the biggest personalities in cable, and they are integral to HLN’s success story.”

Zucker also talked about his plans for HLN in the memo, writing: “As we look towards 2016, I now believe that by driving HLN’s programming during the daytime and overnight hours closer to CNN’s, and by utilizing a much stronger library of content that has been built in the last three years, we can take that success to even greater heights.”

The memo announces that longtime CNN exec Ken Jautz will take over HLN on an interim basis.

Variety notes: “Jautz is extremely familiar with the network. He was the executive who led its initial transformation from ‘Headline News’ to its current nameplate, placing personalities like Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck in opinion-driven hours during prime time.”

Zucker praises Hecht in the memo, saying that Hecht “has decided it makes sense for him to move on. With the support of an incredible team at the network, he has done a terrific job running HLN. And it hasn’t been easy. His vision, creativity, persistence and commitment have been unwavering and he has been instrumental to HLN’s progress.”

hln logo

Nov 24, 2015
1:29 pm

The Latest Form of Programming to Feel the ‘Netflix Effect’ (THR)

After rewriting the business model first for film distribution, then for scripted television, Netflix is now flexing its muscles in another genre: stand-up comedy.

According to an in-depth report in The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming service is “contributing to a growing arms race to land top comics in the increasingly competitive world of stand-up specials. By year’s end, Netflix, which debuted John Mulaney’s ‘The Comeback Kid’ on Nov. 13, will have released 18 original stand-up specials, with comics including Aziz Ansari, Chris Tucker and Chelsea Peretti.”

With Netflix driving the market, other outlets, such as Amazon, Vimeo and the upcoming NBCUniversal OTT service Seeso, are also getting involved. One big reason, according to the report, is that the programming is inexpensive to produce.

“With the exception of porn, there’s nothing cheaper to do,” says Brian Volk-Weiss, whose company Comedy Dynamics produces comedy specials. THR says the company “has produced 40-plus specials this year, nearly doubling its output from two years ago.

Adds Volk-Weiss: “We’ve been selling specials since 2007, and for the first five years or so, the buck slip I have taped to my desk said Comedy Central, Showtime and HBO. Now, it says Netflix, Comedy Central, Epix, Showtime, HBO, Seeso, Amazon, Vimeo and a few others.”

THR notes that the comics themselves are also enjoying boom times.

“According to one industry veteran, roughly 80 percent of comics are making between $50,000 and $500,000 for an hourlong special; 15 percent make between $500,000 and $2 million; 4 percent make between $2 million and $6 million; and 1 percent (think: Kevin Hart) make more than $6 million,” the story reports.

Please click on the link near the top of this story to read THR’s full report.

john mulaney the comeback kid netflix


Nov 24, 2015
1:17 pm

Broadcast Net Wins Its Fourth November Sweeps in a Row in Key Demo (TVWeek)

One of the Big 4 broadcast networks will win the November sweeps period for the fourth consecutive year in the key demo of adults 18-49.

The network is NBC, which has been paced by “Sunday Night Football,” the broadcast networks’ top program in prime time. With strong results for “The Voice” and “Blindspot” as well, NBC announced that it leads November in all key demos.

With three nights left to count in the sweeps period, NBC held a 21% margin over its closest competition in 18-49, the largest advantage for any network in November sweeps in 19 years.

The win this year marks NBC’s longest streak since it won the period four years in succession from 2000 through 2003.

NBC ranked second to CBS in total viewers for the period from Oct. 29-Nov. 22, based on Nielsen live+same day data, and was No. 1 in adults, men and women 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.

“NBC currently leads the sweep in 18-49 by a +21% margin (with a 2.3 rating vs. a 1.9 for #2 Fox, ‘live plus same day’), which, if it stands in final sweep results, will be the biggest percentage win for any network in a November sweep in 19 years (since 1996, +22% for NBC over #2 ABC),” the network announced. “Last year’s NBC margin for the full 28 nights was +15% (2.3 vs. 2.0 for #2 ABC).”

November sweeps averages through 25 of 28 nights, Oct. 29-Nov. 22, Nielsen Live+Same Day figures:

NBC — 2.3 average rating in 18-49; 8.134 million total viewers

Fox — 1.9 average rating in 18-49; 6.120 million total viewers

CBS — 1.8 average rating in 18-49; 9.566 million total viewers

ABC — 1.7 average rating in 18-49; 6.606 million total viewers

CW — 0.6 average rating in 18-49; 1.475 million total viewers

Nov 24, 2015
1:09 pm

ABC Family Breaks Out Winter Premiere Dates, Closes In on Relaunch (TVWeek)

ABC Family unveiled a set of premiere dates for new and returning series as the channel closes in on its January relaunch as Freeform.

The new series “Recovery Road” will premiere Monday, Jan. 25, the same night returning series “The Fosters” has its winter premiere.

The Monday premieres join previously announced Jan. 12 premieres for “Pretty Little Liars” and the new show “Shadowhunters,” and Feb. 3 premieres for “Young & Hungry” and “Baby Daddy.”

The new series “Recovery Road” is based on the popular young adult novel by Blake Nelson. ABC Family says the show “focuses on a teenage girl dealing with addiction. Maddie has a reputation as a party girl who doesn’t think she has a problem, until she’s confronted one day by her school guidance counselor and is forced to choose between expulsion and rehab. Maddie makes the difficult decision to live with other recovering addicts at a sober living facility while facing the daily pressures of her teenage life.”

The show stars Jessica Sula, Alexis Carra, Sebastian De Souza, Daniel Franzese, Sharon Leal, Kyla Pratt, and David Witts.

Here’s a summary of the ABC Family winter premiere dates:

Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 8-9 p.m. ET/PT — Winter premiere of “Pretty Little Liars”

Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 9-10 p.m. ET/PT — Series premiere of “Shadowhunters”

Monday, Jan. 25 at 8-9 p.m. ET/PT — Winter premiere of “The Fosters”

Monday, Jan. 25 at 9-10 p.m. ET/PT — Series premiere of “Recovery Road”

Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 8-8:30 p.m. ET/PT — Winter premiere of “Young & Hungry”

Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 8:30-9 p.m. ET/PT — Winter premiere of “Baby Daddy”


Nov 24, 2015
9:29 am

Acclaimed Drama Series Gets a Third Season (TVWeek)

A drama series that has been chalking up Emmys, Golden Globes and critical acclaim will be back for a third season. FX announced that it has ordered a third cycle of “Fargo.”

Executive producers Noah Hawley, Warren Littlefield, Joel & Ethan Coen, and John Cameron will all be back for the new installment.

The show won three Emmys in 2014, including outstanding miniseries, and picked up two Golden Globes this year, for best miniseries or motion picture made for television and best performance by an actor in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, for Billy Bob Thornton. It has chalked up a number of other awards and nominations and has been a favorite among critics.

The series’ 10-episode second season is currently airing on Monday nights, with the finale set for Dec. 14.

Announcing the third-season pickup were Eric Schrier and Nick Grad, Presidents of Original Programming for FX Networks and FX Productions.

“The second installment of ‘Fargo’ currently ranks as the most critically acclaimed television [program] of 2015, according to Metacritic, with a score of 96 out of 100, and it also scored 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and had the highest average critics’ rating of any show on TV this year with 9.1 out of 10,” FX noted in its announcement.

Said Schrier: “Year two of ‘Fargo’ is an extraordinary achievement and, given Noah Hawley’s masterful storytelling, we can’t wait to see where the third, all-new version of ‘Fargo’ takes us. Our thanks to Noah, Warren, Joel & Ethan, John and our partners at MGM Television for making ‘Fargo’ such a memorable and rewarding journey.”


Nov 24, 2015
8:57 am

Check Out This Twist in the Bidding for the NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ Package (NY Post)

There’s an interesting twist in the bidding for the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” package, according to our friend Claire Atkinson in The New York Post.

Writes Atkinson: “The NFL is talking to networks about buying a stake in its cable channel as part of the bidding for the rights to broadcast ‘Thursday Night Football’ games, The Post has learned.”

The story adds: “The league is shopping an extended 16-game package, along with a stake in the NFL Network, in a potential move that could protect its cable network and score a big payday, sources said.

“The NFL is concerned about the NFL Network’s future in an era in which even Disney’s cable powerhouse ESPN is seeing subscriber declines.”

CBS has been broadcasting the NFL’s Thursday night games this season and last season.

To read more details about this item please click here, which will take you to Atkinson’s story.

thursday night football-nfl network

Nov 24, 2015
7:59 am

EW Names Its Entertainer of the Year (EW)

Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainer of the Year “swears like a sailor,” according to the cover of the magazine’s Dec. 4 issue, and at age 25 already has an Oscar and two huge movie franchises under her belt.

She’s actress Jennifer Lawrence, who has had a lot to do with the success of both the “Hunger Games” movies and the “X-Men” series.

Lawrence won an Academy Award for “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2013 and has two other Oscar nominations, for “American Hustle” and “Winter’s Bone.”

“Hollywood’s most bankable actress,” as the magazine calls her, has also chalked up a ton of other awards, including two Golden Globes, and just as she’s apparently bidding farewell to the “Hunger Games” franchise with the arrival of “Mockingjay — Part 2,” she’s regrouping for “Joy,” due in theaters this Christmas. The movie reunites Lawrence with director David O. Russell, who was behind the cameras on “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.”

entertainment weekly-jennifer lawrence-2015Photo credit: Robert Trachtenberg for EW

Nov 24, 2015
7:44 am

Did the TV News Networks’ Trump Strategy Fizzle? (TVNewser, Politico)

Five major TV news operations convened Monday to discuss the Donald Trump situation via a conference call, but according to media reports, the initial call ended without consensus on a plan. A follow-up call was reportedly planned for later Monday.

TVNewser reports that the coordinated effort, which includes representatives of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News and CNN, “may lead to no formal action of any kind.”

The networks reportedly discussed the treatment of reporters covering the Trump campaign, including the campaign’s insistence on confining members of the media to “pens.” As we reported Monday, the relationship between the campaign and the media has become increasingly confrontational.

Politico reports: “The plan, according to one network news executive familiar with the discussions, is to have a call with Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and work through their issues. The issues being discussed, the executive said, involve access to attendees at Trump events. Often reporters are able to speak with attendees before an event is set to begin, but lately reporters have found themselves confined to media-only areas by Trump staffers.”

The executive told Politico that the discussions are being handled by the various news operations’ political units, and have not risen to high executive ranks.

The executive is quoted saying: “There’s no crisis with the Trump campaign and there’s no senior-level summit that’s going on; these are issues we run into all the time.”

Nov 24, 2015
7:33 am

Video Invokes ‘Star Wars’ Theme to Pump Up New Late-Night Show (TBS, YouTube)

A new entry in the late-night wars is on the way, and the network went all out to create a video promoting the show. TBS took the wraps off a new teaser this week for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” with the video taking place in a setting that will resonate with “Star Wars” fans.

The show starring the former “Daily Show” correspondent is slated to premiere in 2016.

Check out the clip:

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