Oct 6, 2015
10:59 am

One of the Most Successful Cable Channels of the Past Decade Is About to Undergo ‘Radical Rebranding’ (NY Times)

A cable channel that has been a major success story is about to go away. “One of the most successful cable channels of the last decade, ABC Family, will get a new name and undergo a radical rebranding as it stops chasing millennials and pushes toward even younger viewers it calls ‘becomers,'” The New York Times reports.

ABC Family will become known as Freeform beginning in January. The Times notes that the name beat out another contender, “Ink.”

“Freeform,” the story notes, “reflects the ‘fluid’ way that teenagers and young adults — now and tomorrow — consume media, said Tom Ascheim, the channel’s president.”

In a phone interview, Ascheim commented on the channel’s traditional target audience of millennials, telling the paper: “We looked up from our research and said, ‘Oh, golly. They’re turning 40.’ ” The report notes that ABC Family sells advertising aimed mainly at the 18-34 demo.

“Freeform, which was announced on Tuesday, does not yet have a logo, but early marketing materials veer sharply away from the restrained imagery that ABC Family has long used,” the story reports. “A Facebook video created to introduce the new name and look, for instance, relies on a rapid patchwork of fonts and images — appearing much more like MTV than Disney.”

Ascheim commented: “There is a brand opening in the house of Disney, between the kids brands [and] the bigger adult brands.”

Here’s the clip announcing the rebranding:

Oct 6, 2015
10:44 am

ABC Notches a Milestone Ratings Win in Evening News (NY Post)

ABC’s flagship evening news broadcast just chalked up a first in its history, winning the evening news ratings battle for a full year in the key C3 metric.

The New York Post reports that ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” came out on top of “NBC Nightly News” — albeit by a slim margin — in C3 for the key news demo of adults 25-54.

Nielsen’s C3 ratings, also known as “Commercial Ratings,” are a measure of commercial viewing in the live broadcast along with DVR playback up to three days later.

Some disclaimers may be in order. Nielsen first rolled out the C3 measurement in 2007, and the past year was a turbulent period for NBC’s “Nightly News,” with Brian Williams suspended from the program and Lester Holt filling in for six months — temporarily at first, until he was recently given the anchor’s chair on a permanent basis.

“Muir, who recently racked up an interview with Pope Francis, notched 1.972 million viewers in the category, while NBC came in at 1.967 million for the year through Sept. 20,” the Post reports. The story notes that insiders at ABC, which is about to debut an ad campaign trumpeting the ratings victory, report that ad revenue for “World News Tonight” is up 11% from a year ago.

“The 41-year-old Muir, who took the reins from Diane Sawyer in September 2014, is in an all-out dog-fight with Holt, who draws the most total viewers each evening,” the Post notes.

Holt, 56, appears to have righted the ship since being named permanent anchor. NBC News says Holt has been on top in C3 since June 22.

abc world news tonight with david muir

Oct 6, 2015
10:31 am

Marketing Firm Names Media Veteran as Its First CEO (TVWeek, MediaPost)

A well-known media executive has been named as the first-ever CEO of the integrated marketing services company Water Cooler Group. The company announced Monday the appointment of Christina Norman, the former CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, to the newly created position.

Norman will oversee “all creative and business operations for [the group’s] offerings in media, social/digital, advanced analytics and creative delivered through its divisions  Media Storm, 3Degrees, Juba Plus and Maude,” the company announced. Norman begins her new duties this week.

The media veteran “will lead the company’s growth strategy, bringing experience as an accomplished brand builder and content creator,” the announcement adds. “A veteran media executive who has led iconic brands VH1, MTV and OWN, Christina most recently served as head of her own company, Gemini Entertainment, providing strategic insights to media companies and producing original multi platform content.”

Craig Woerz, co-founder and Managing Partner at Water Cooler Group, commented in the announcement: “The media agency I created and the integrated marketing-service business we have grown into today are very different. We have evolved into a holistic communications company working with iconic brands across industry verticals, all partnering with us to help them better understand and reach their core consumer. And Christina will bring to our non-entertainment brands deeper access to intersect with entertainment and our media clients in a marketplace seeking this connective tissue. She is the world-class leader the company needs today, and really sets on fire our ability to provide brands with unparalleled access to media and media brands.”

Before leading OWN through its launch in January 2011, Norman spent 17 years at Viacom Media Networks, “leading some of the world’s biggest media brands. As President of MTV she provided leadership, strategy and management for MTV, MTV2, mtvU, and mtv.com and led the launch of MTV Tr3,” the announcement notes. “During her tenure as President of VH1, she garnered widespread praise for rejuvenating the brand, helming a diverse programming slate and leading the network to record viewership levels.”

Commenting on her new appointment, Norman said: “As the world of marketing continues to change, being at a company on the forefront of innovating solutions to deliver an increase in profitability for brands is very exciting. Water Cooler Group and I were both nurtured in the world of entertainment and media, we share the same passion for unlocking the power within this unique heritage for all brands … an approach proven out by their growth within retail, hospitality, energy, healthcare and travel. Having been a client of Water Cooler Group over the years, I am thrilled to now be part of the team.”

MediaPost reports that Norman “effectively replaces Antony Young, who held the role of President of the group, and who is leaving the company to return to his native New Zealand.”

water cooler group

Oct 6, 2015
10:21 am

NBC Wins Monday Night Among Big 4 in All Key Measures; One Broadcast Drama Series Appears to Be in Trouble (TVbytheNumbers)

NBC’s Monday night lineup continues to show strength, with the network winning prime time last night in all key measures among the big 4 broadcast networks, based on Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” delivered a 3.2 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, second only to CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” with a 3.7. Leading out from “The Voice,” NBC’s new drama series “Blindspot” averaged a 2.5 rating in the demo, with both “The Voice” and “Blindspot” essentially retaining their 18-49 audience from a week ago. “Blindspot” retained 96% of its 18-49 rating, based on fast-affiliate data, while “The Voice” retained 97%, according to NBC.

NBC reported that it won prime time by a 53% margin over its closest competitor, CBS, in the 18-49 demo, while “Blindspot” won its 10 p.m. time slot by 92% over ABC’s “Castle” and equaled the combined ratings of “Castle” (1.3 average) and CBS’s “NCIS: L.A.” (1.2).

The news wasn’t as good for Fox, where the new drama series “Minority Report” is off to a less-than-stellar start in the fall ratings. Leading out from “Gotham,” which pulled a 1.5 average rating in 18-49, “Minority Report” fell to a 0.7 average.

Leading out from “Big Bang,” CBS’s comedy “Life in Pieces” scored a 1.9 average in adults 18-49; at 9 p.m. “Scorpion” delivered a 1.8.

ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” had a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo.

For prime time overall, NBC led the broadcast nets with a 2.9 average rating in 18-49, followed by CBS (1.9 average), ABC (1.6), Fox (1.1) and CW (0.4). The results were closer in total viewers, where NBC led with 10.95 million to place just ahead of ABC (10.3 million), followed closely by CBS (9.93 million); well behind were Fox (3.25 million) and CW (1.16 million).


Oct 6, 2015
9:37 am

Nick Gordon, Boyfriend of Bobbi Kristina Brown, May Be Charged With Murder (Us, People)

A number of media outlets are reporting that Nick Gordon, the boyfriend of the late Bobbi Kristina Brown, faces a possible murder charge in connection with the death of the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown.

Bobbi Kristina Brown was found by Gordon and a friend face down in a bathtub in her Georgia home in January, and was later placed in a medically induced coma. She died July 26 at age 22.

Her mother, Whitney Houston, died in a hotel bathtub in 2012.

In the months since Bobbi Kristina Brown’s death, Gordon, 25, has been accused of wrongful death and has been targeted by a civil lawsuit filed by a conservator for Brown.

“In the lawsuit, which seeks at least $10 million in damages, Gordon is accused of giving Brown a ‘toxic cocktail’ the night of Jan. 31, which left her ‘unconscious’ and ultimately led to her … death,” Us magazine reports, noting that the suit also accuses Gordon of beating Brown and withdrawing funds from her accounts.

In the latest development, Us cites an inside source saying the D.A. in Georgia has convened a secret grand jury with the idea of exploring murder charges against Gordon.

“The D.A. does not know what the charges will be yet, but they want to go for murder charges, the source explains to Us, adding that Gordon will be charged with criminal charges ‘very soon.'” the publication reports. “The D.A. is also consulting with legal experts to see if murder charges would stick, the insider continues.”

Gordon’s legal team has vigorously denied the accusations in the lawsuit against him. People magazine reports that his team recently issued a statement in which it said: “The recent lawsuit against Nick is slanderous and meritless. Nick has been heartbroken and destroyed over the loss of his love, and it’s shameful that such baseless allegations have been presented publicly.”

The statement adds: “Nick has engaged civil counsel and intends to defend the lawsuit vigorously and expose it for what it is: a fictitious assault against the person who loved Krissy most.”

Oct 6, 2015
8:51 am

ABC Sets Up New Legal Drama (Deadline)

ABC has a new legal drama in the pipeline, and is working on it with Mark Gordon, an executive producer on the network’s new thriller “Quantico.”

Deadline.com reports that the network gave a put pilot commitment to the project, “Conviction.” Gordon’s indie banner the Mark Gordon Co. is producing, backed by Entertainment One.

Gordon has been behind a string of TV series, including executive producing Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” along with ABC’s “Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“‘Conviction’ is co-created by Liz Friedman (‘Elementary,’ ‘Marvel’s Jessica Jones’), who will write the project, and Liz Friedlander (‘The Following’), who will direct the potential pilot,” Deadline reports. “It tells the story of Carter Morrison, the brilliant but rebellious daughter of a Clinton-like political family who is forced into taking a job as the head of Los Angeles’ newly created Conviction Integrity Unit. She, along with her team of lawyers, investigators and forensic experts, has two weeks to examine cases where there’s credible suspicion that the wrong person may have been convicted of a crime.”

ABC Studios may join in financing the project, which has Gordon and the Mark Gordon Co.’s Nick Pepper on board as executive producers along with Friedlander and Friedman.

mark gordon company

Oct 6, 2015
2:18 am

Is Lionsgate About to Merge with Starz? Well, Depends Upon Who You Read and Believe (Variety)

“It’s starting to feel inevitable that Lionsgate and the Starz premium cable channels will merge operations, brought together by the command bond of investor John Malone,” reports our good friend Cynthia Littleton for Variety, where she is managing editor for television.

She adds, “But how quickly the companies will tie the knot is still the subject of much speculation. The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that the two entities were in advanced merger talks. That was downplayed by insiders at both companies and a senior Lionsgate investor, all of whom acknowledge that the concept of merging has been discussed in abstract but disputed that talks to unite the companies are under way at this time.”

Furthermore, as we reported just 21 days ago, the AMC Networks supposedly were in “preliminary discussions” to acquire Starz, according to Bloomberg.

Oct 6, 2015
1:59 am
Oct 6, 2015
1:55 am

Legendary John Woo to Produce Limited Episode TV Series (THR, Variety)

“John Woo is returning to his Hong Kong roots as he teams with Catalyst Global Media to executive produce a new TV drama,‘Cognition,’” reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The story says “The neo-noir crime thriller covers two serial killer investigations set in America’s declining mid-West and the thriving Far East. ‘Cognition’ will center on an American ex-detective who travels to the Far East for a cancer cure, only to recount his memories of a failed ten-year serial killer investigation as part of his treatment.”

According to the Variety account, “The show has been created by Alex Garcia Lopez, director of cult British TV drama series ‘Utopia’ and ‘Misfits.’ He is writing and will direct the series, which begins production next year. Woo will executive produce the series, which comprises eight one-hour episodes, alongside his long-term producing partner Terence Chang and Lori Tilkin.”

A legendary martial arts/action director/producer, Woo is best known in the U.S. for directing “Face/Off” in 1997, and “Mission Impossible II” in 2000.

No network or streaming service was mentioned in the story as having the rights to show the series.

To read more about this item please click on the links, above, which will take you to the stories in The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Oct 5, 2015
3:37 pm

Relativity Studios’ President Steps Down (B&C)

With the TV, film, sports and music production firm Relativity Media in bankruptcy and looking for a buyer, Relativity Studios President Tucker Tooley has stepped down, B&C reports. Tooley will leave the company following a 30-day transition period.

“Tooley joined Relativity Studios in 2007 and oversees its film division, which is part of Relativity Media,” the story reports. “He said he will focus on filmmaking and ‘the creative side of the business.’”

Relativity Studios is the company’s largest division, and “has produced, distributed or structured financing for more than 200 films,” B&C notes. Among its properties is the CBS drama “Limitless.”

General manager Ramon Wilson takes over the post on an interim basis.

Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh said: “Tucker has been instrumental in building Relativity Studios and in the growth of our company. I am proud to call him one of my most trusted colleagues and friends. He has overseen and was the creative force behind some of the company’s biggest hit films. This is the beginning of a new chapter, and we expect to have a long-term relationship moving forward.”


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