Feb 22, 2017
3:51 pm

Paramount Chief Brad Grey Is Out, and the Studio Has a Plan in Place to Replace Him (Variety, LA Times)

Studio chief Brad Grey made it official today that he’s stepping down at Paramount Pictures, and Variety reports that the studio plans to put an interim committee of insiders in charge to run the studio until Grey’s successor can be found.

The committee includes film group chief Marc Evans and TV boss Amy Powell, the story reports.

“He has three years to go on the five-year contract he signed in 2015, so a financial settlement has to be consummated before he formally resigns under pressure from Viacom’s new CEO, Bob Bakish,” Variety notes. “Grey’s departure had long been expected in the industry amid the top-to-bottom shakeup at Viacom and the continued poor performance of Paramount.”

The interim committee also includes Andrew Gumpert, who joined Paramount as chief operating officer in November from Sony; and Megan Colligan, Paramount’s president of distribution and marketing, Variety reports. Other names are also expected to be added to the committee.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Grey made it official today that he has left the company after 12 years running the studio. Grey sent out a memo to staffers today, writing: “It has been my privilege to be a part of Paramount’s storied history, and I am grateful to Sumner Redstone for giving me this opportunity.”

He added that he would “remain engaged” for an unspecified period of time to help with the transition, The Times notes.

“Grey’s departure, which was telegraphed last week and announced Wednesday, takes effect immediately,” The Times adds. “It comes as Viacom’s new chief executive, Bob Bakish, aggressively shakes up the management ranks of the New York media company controlled by ailing media mogul Sumner Redstone.”

Feb 22, 2017
3:01 pm

Amid Turmoil at Paramount, Scorsese’s New Gangster Movie — with De Niro, Pesci and Pacino on Board — Lands at Netflix (THR)

With Brad Grey resigning as chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, the studio suffered another blow as Martin Scorsese’s upcoming A-list gangster movie, which had been set up at Paramount, moved to Netflix, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The movie, “The Irishman,” reunites the legendary director with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. THR cites sources confirming that Netflix has obtained the rights to the project, which was first announced back in 2008.

A start date has not yet been set for the movie.

“Steve Zaillian adapted ‘The Irishman’ from Charles Brandt‘s book ‘I Heard You Paint Houses,’ which chronicles the exploits of Frank Sheeran, a high-ranking Teamsters official with ties to the Bufalino crime family,” THR notes. “Shortly before his death in 2003, Sheeran confessed that he killed fellow Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, whose body has never been found. He also claimed that it was Hoffa who wanted John F. Kennedy killed.”

Feb 22, 2017
2:47 pm

Who’s on Top in Late-Night? CBS and NBC Each Have Their Own Spin, But Here Are the Actual Numbers (TVWeek)

To hear CBS tell the story, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” is now the No. 1 show in late-night. But NBC’s take has “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon” on top.

The truth is they’re both right, with CBS winning total viewers while NBC takes the key demos — not an unfamiliar breakdown for the two networks, who often see similar ratings comparisons in prime time.

CBS announced the late-night ratings news for the week of Feb. 13-17 with a release this morning under the headline “‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ #1 in Late-Night for the Third Straight Week.” The network also noted: “‘The Late Show’ Extends Its Winning Advantage to +296,000 Viewers.”

The numbers are based on Nielsen Media Research Live+Same Day data, focusing on the figures for total viewers.

Analyzing the same data, NBC puts the focus on key demos, especially 18-49. NBC’s announcement runs under the headline: “‘Tonight Show’ Wins the Week of Feb. 13-17 in Every Key Demographic, Taking Five of Five Nights in Adults 18-49.”

The NBC release adds: “‘Tonight’ Tops ‘Late Show’ by +24% in Adults 18-49, ‘Kimmel’ by +60%.”

So who’s on top? Both CBS and NBC have a claim to No. 1, so you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Here are the numbers for late-night for the week of Feb. 13, 17, based on Nielsen L+SD:

ADULTS 18-49

11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET

NBC “Tonight,” 0.67 rating, 4 share

CBS “Late Show,” 0.54/3

ABC “Kimmel,” 0.42/2 *

12:35-1:05 a.m. ET

ABC “Nightline,” 0.28/2

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET

NBC “Late Night,” 0.36/3 *

CBS “The Late Late Show,” 0.30/2 *

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET

NBC “Last Call,” 0.22/2 *


11:35 p.m.-12:35 a.m. ET

CBS “Late Show,” 3.004 million viewers

NBC “Tonight,” 2.708 million viewers

ABC “Kimmel,” 2.110 million viewers *

12:35-1:05 a.m. ET

ABC “Nightline,” 1.410 million viewers

12:35-1:35 a.m. ET

NBC “Late Night,” 1.427 million viewers *

CBS “The Late Late Show,” 1.341 million viewers *

1:35-2:05 a.m. ET

NBC “Last Call,” 0.791 million viewers *

* Friday’s “Kimmel,” “Late Night,” “Late Late Show” and “Last Call” were encores.

Feb 22, 2017
2:44 pm

Former AMC Networks Exec to Run New SVOD Service (TVWeek)

A new SVOD service set to launch next month in the U.S. announced today that former AMC Networks digital exec Jen Robertson has been hired as general manager. The new service, Walter Presents, is a joint venture between the U.K.’s Channel 4 and Global Series Network.

The streamer will launch in mid-March on multiple platforms, with Robertson to run U.S. operations out of New York. She will report to the management team at Global Series Network in London.

“Robertson joins Walter Presents from AMC’s WE tv, where she led the team responsible for extending the network via advanced media platforms, including social media, content development and the vision for all digital properties and initiatives including online, video on demand, mobile, EST and TV Everywhere,” the company’s announcement notes. “Her leadership and innovative execution led to award-winning digital initiatives including WE-D, the first-ever second screen app for TV to utilize 360-degree camera technology, and the WE Insider Panel, the network’s first crowd-sourced consumer insights tool.”

Robertson is responsible for day-to-day operations and partnership development for Walter Presents, which is described in the announcement as “a carefully curated SVOD that will deliver award-winning, top rated, exclusive and original first-run drama series from around the world to U.S. audiences.”

The service is founded and managed by Jason Thorp, Jo McGrath and Walter Iuzzolino.

Thorp, CEO of GSN International Ltd., commented: “We are very excited to have Jen leading the launch and operations of Walter Presents in the U.S. As an experienced marketer and digital brand strategist, her extensive market insight and operational prowess will be key in establishing Walter Presents as a must-have SVOD service in the States.”

Jen Robertson

Feb 22, 2017
2:01 pm

Famed Tech Columnist Tells Why Traditional TV Delivery Is Changing Too Slowly for His Tastes (Recode)

Television is changing way … too … slowly … for at least one noted tech writer. In a column today on Recode, Walt Mossberg, executive editor of The Verge and editor at large for Recode, expresses frustration at the pace of innovation.

“A huge number of households in the U.S. — over 90 million — are still stubbornly sticking to buying big bundles of mostly unwatched networks, with shows primarily presented in linear fashion and interrupted by interstitial ads, even if they also use the newer devices and services,” Mossberg writes. “Their numbers are declining, but not yet collapsing. For these viewers, it might as well be 20 years ago.”

Mossberg notes that “the upending of traditional TV” was a hot topic at the recent Code Media conference in Dana Point, Calif. “I came away from the event convinced that more change is coming, but impatient that a fundamental reworking of TV looks like a slow process.”

The column goes on to offer a rundown of just what’s holding up the process, offering observations from Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue and tech analyst Ben Thompson, along with a look at Caavo, which Mossberg describes as “a cool new universal set-top box.”

Thompson, Mossberg notes, foresees “a future where Amazon and Netflix could be ‘giants’ in most genres of TV, and cable one day may consist mainly of live sports at a stiff price.”

Mossberg cites Caavo, co-created by Blake Krekorian, who also co-created Slingbox, as “a workaround to the systemic problems of reinventing TV. It physically links together everything plugged into your TV — cable boxes, streaming boxes, game consoles — and presents all their contents in one interface with both visual and voice control, down to the individual show level.”

But Mossberg adds: “It says a lot about the state of TV that the most promising near-term path to the solution is a clever hack that sits on top of everything else, not a tightly integrated new product.”

We encourage readers to click on the link to Recode near the top of this story to read Mossberg’s full analysis.

Feb 22, 2017
1:19 pm

‘Live With Kelly’ Announces Guest Hosts for Two Upcoming Weeks (TVWeek)

Just when some fans of “Live with Kelly” thought they had figured out who the new permanent co-host would be, the show today delivered a surprise announcement.

The previous guest host announcement gave the impression to a number of fans handicapping the selection process that actor Jerry O’Connell had the job, after O’Connell was named co-host for five shows over a two-week span. But today’s announcement has actor Christian Slater landing the guest spot for a solid week, from March 6-10, placing Slater back among the apparent front-runners.

The following week, March 13-17, will see the guest host spot open up more, with four different personalities slated to take a seat alongside Kelly Ripa — including Chris Hardwick for two days, March 16 and 17.

Here’s the schedule for the weeks of March 6-10 and March 13-17:

Monday, March 6 – Friday, March 10 – Actor CHRISTIAN SLATER

Monday, March 13 – Actor MICHAEL WEATHERLY

Tuesday, March 14 – Actor JOSH GAD

Wednesday, March 15 – TV Personality JASON SILVA

Thursday, March 16 – TV Host CHRIS HARDWICK

Friday, March 17 – TV Host CHRIS HARDWICK

Feb 22, 2017
11:57 am

Steven Spielberg’s Mother — Owner of L.A.’s The Milky Way Restaurant — Dies at 97
(Variety, Eater L.A., Facebook)

Leah Adler, who was Steven Spielberg’s mother but may have been better known as the owner of the kosher restaurant The Milky Way in Los Angeles’ Pico-Robertson district, has died. Variety reports that Adler died Tuesday at her home in Los Angeles, surrounded by her children. She was 97.

Eater L.A. reports: “For many years, The Milky Way restaurant was synonymous with Adler, owing in part to her celebrity son director Steven Spielberg. But Adler herself was a near-constant presence at the quiet neighborhood eatery, and could often be found dancing among the tables during service.”

Adler reportedly kept up her daily visits to the restaurant until she began cutting back last year, after turning 96. She was also an accomplished pianist and owned an art gallery in Phoenix before relocating to California.

“Spielberg mentioned his mother in his acceptance speech for winning the Academy Award for Best Director in 1994 for ‘Schindler’s List,’ calling her ‘my lucky charm,'” Variety notes.

Since news of her death, the restaurant’s Facebook page has been flooded with well-wishes and photos of Adler greeting customers over the years.

Leah Adler at The Milky Way Restaurant
with customer Andrew Aidman (Facebook)

Feb 22, 2017
11:44 am

FX Takes Wraps Off Details, Premiere Date for Next Installment of ‘Fargo’ (TVWeek)

FX announced today that its acclaimed crime anthology “Fargo” will return for its third cycle on Wednesday, April 10.

Production on the series is currrently under way in Calgary, with a cast that includes Ewan McGregor (in dual roles), Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and David Thewlis.

“Set in 2010, the third installment of ‘Fargo’ centers on ‘Emmit’ and his slightly younger brother ‘Ray Stussy’ (Ewan McGregor),” FX notes in its announcement. “Emmit, the Parking Lot King of Minnesota, sees himself as an American success story, whereas Ray is more of a cautionary tale. Forever living in his more successful brother’s shadow, Ray is a balding and pot-bellied parole officer with a huge chip on his shoulder about the hand he’s been dealt — and he blames his brother. Their sibling rivalry follows a twisted path that begins with petty theft but soon leads to murder, mobsters and cut-throat competitive bridge.”

Carrie Coon plays “Gloria Burgle,” chief of the local police department. “A newly divorced mother, Gloria is trying to understand the new world around her, where people connect more intimately with their phones than with the people around them,” FX notes. “Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Ray’s girlfriend, ‘Nikki Swango,’ a crafty and alluring recent parolee with a passion for competitive bridge. David Thewlis stars as ‘V.M. Vargas,’ a mysterious loner and true capitalist whose bosses plan to partner with Emmit, whether ‘The Parking Lot King’ likes it or not.”

“Fargo” hails from executive producers Noah Hawley (creator/showrunner/writer/director), Joel & Ethan Coen, Warren Littlefield and John Cameron. The series is produced by MGM Television and FX Productions, with MGM Television serving as the lead studio.

“‘Fargo’s’ first installment won three Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries, two Golden Globe Awards, including Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, and a Peabody Award,” FX notes. “The second installment received two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie or Special. Both installments were honored as an AFI Television Program of the Year, by the Critics’ Choice TV Award for Best Miniseries (2014) and Best Movie Made for Television or Limited Series (2016), and by the PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television.”

Feb 22, 2017
11:09 am

Poll: What Clinton Supporters and Trump Supporters Do When Awards Shows Become Political (THR)

With the Academy Awards ceremony coming up this Sunday, a new poll finds that the awards season, like so many other things in today’s world, has become politicized.

The survey by The Hollywood Reporter and National Research Group reveals big differences in how Hillary Clinton supporters and Donald Trump supporters feel about awards shows — and in particular, how they feel when those shows get political.

The survey “reveals that two-thirds of Trumpsters have turned off their TV sets because of an actor giving a political speech at the podium, compared to just 19 percent of Clinton voters,” THR reports.

THR adds: “Even if they don’t hit the off button, 44 percent of Trump voters find awards speeches ‘too political’ while Clinton supporters want more politics at the Academy Awards; 43 percent say they want winners to reference Trump’s temperament in their speeches (compared to 8 percent of Trump voters), 39 percent would like more discussion of women’s rights at the Oscars (8 percent for Trump voters) and 34 percent would like more talk about Trump’s seven-nation travel ban (7 percent for Trump voters).”

The report notes that 68% of Trump voters indicate they “dislike” political speeches at the Oscars, vs. only 23% of Clinton voters.

We encourage readers to click here to go to THR to see the full report, which features a breakdown of the survey results in a series of graphics — including which Best Picture nominees are favored by Trump voters vs. Clinton voters.

Feb 21, 2017
4:57 pm

‘Twin Peaks’ Actor Dies (Newsday, TVWeek, YouTube)

An actor who was a part of the original ABC series “Twin Peaks” that aired in 1990-1991 has died. Newsday reports that Warren Frost died Friday at his home in Middlebury, Vt., after a lengthy illness. He was 91.

Frost played Dr. Will Hayward on “Twin Peaks,” and reprised the role for the upcoming Showtime sequel. He had a number of TV and film roles going back to the ’50s, including playing Henry Ross, the father of George Costanza’s fiancee Susan Ross, on “Seinfeld” in the ’90s.

His many TV guest appearances included “Goodyear Playhouse,” “Death Valley Days,” “Perry Mason,” “Quantum Leap,” “L.A. Law” and “The Larry Sanders Show.”

Here’s a “Seinfeld” clip featuring Frost as Mr. Ross …

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