Sep 18, 2014
2:09 pm

California Hikes Tax Breaks for Film and TV Production (Reuters)

California enacted legislation today providing massive increases in the state’s tax breaks for film and television production. Reuters reports that Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that more than triples tax breaks for entertainment companies.

The move is aimed at stopping the flight of productions to venues outside California.

In a press release sent out after the signing ceremony at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theater, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said: “This legislation targets the heart and soul of this industry and our middle class — people who swing hammers, run cable and serve food on set so they can pay the bills and spend money in our economy.”

The measure “won approval just days after Nevada persuaded electric car maker Tesla Motors to build a massive battery factory near Reno with $1.3 billion in tax credits and other incentives,” the report notes.

The story adds: “The state’s economy has taken a $2 billion hit from runaway production in the past four years as producers sought cheaper places to do business, according to the California Film Commission.”

The measure increases the funding of tax credits for movie and television production to $330 million per year, up from about $100 million. The credits will be given out via a lottery, with priority given to those firms that create the most jobs in the state and help the state’s economy the most, according to Gov. Brown’s office.

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Gov. Jerry Brown

Sep 18, 2014
2:08 pm

Video: Craig Ferguson Says He Used to Drop Acid With Doctor Who (YouTube)

Late-night fixture Craig Ferguson, who is in the endgame with his CBS talker “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” made a stop on Seth Meyers’ NBC show “Late Night” to promote his upcoming game show “Celebrity Name Game,” and let slip a juicy tidbit or two from his wild past in Scotland.

Among the highlights, Ferguson dished about being in a band with Peter Capaldi, who now plays Doctor Who, and … well, here’s the clip:

Sep 18, 2014
2:07 pm

ABC Doubles Down on the Quiz Show Genre — Will Its Newest Effort Be Another ‘Millionaire’? (Deadline)

ABC has its sights set on a return to its quiz show glory days — when “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” became a ratings juggernaut and helped establish an era of unscripted programming that continues to this day on the broadcast networks. reports that the network has joined forces with a couple of heavyweights in the unscripted space to come up with what it hopes will be another game changer.

The Alphabet Network placed a straight-to-series order for “500 Questions” (working title), from Mark Burnett — who has had a hand in “Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” “The Voice” and many other successful unscripted shows — and Mike Darnell, president of unscripted TV for Warner Bros.

Said Darnell: “Mark and I have done many shows together over the years, but one of our best experiences (both professionally and personally) was ‘Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?,’ and ever since, we have been trying to come up with another game show that would break new ground. I think we have finally cracked it with ‘500 Questions,’ and with Mark and his team on board, I have no doubt this is going to be the next international game show hit.”

Deadline reports: “’500 Questions,’ which marks the first big network reality series order for Warner Bros. TV since Darnell joined the studio in summer 2013, is described as a ‘genius game show.’ The producers are not giving out many details but the show will be testing contestants’ knowledge with a series of questions, with those who are winning being able to move from one episode to the next until they answer correctly all 500 questions.”

Adds Burnett: “It is the first network game show to combine what audiences love about serialized unscripted hits with a huge game show event. It has ongoing characters and huge stakes.”

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Mark Burnett

Sep 18, 2014
2:06 pm

FX Renews Drama Series (EW)

A drama series has been picked up for another season by FX.’s Inside TV reports that the cable channel ordered a 13-episode second season of “Tyrant.”

“The Howard Gordon drama stars Adam Rayner as the son of a dictator who returns to his homeland and finds himself thrown back into the family business when his father passes. The first season averaged 5.1 million viewers,” the story reports.

Said Nick Grad, one of FX’s presidents of original programming: “We’re so proud of ‘Tyrant’s’ performance throughout its first season. Howard Gordon is one of the best and most successful producers in this business. His ability to combine intelligent, edge-of-your-seat storytelling with events from the current geopolitical climate is truly groundbreaking. We look forward to seeing how Tyrant grows in season two.”

The show is due to begin production on its second season, with a target of premiering in summer 2015.



Sep 18, 2014
2:01 pm

TNT Orders Cocaine Project From Heavyweight Producers (TVWeek)

TNT announced today that it has ordered a pilot for a serialized character drama focusing on cocaine and the Florida drug trade of the 1970s.

The untitled project has some Hollywood heavyweights behind it, including executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer (“CSI”) and Michael Bay (“Transformers,” TNT’s “The Last Ship”). The project comes from Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Bay Films in association with Warner Horizon Television.

Also on board are executive producers Jonathan Littman (“CSI”), Billy Corben (“Cocaine Cowboys”) and Alfred Spellman (“Cocaine Cowboys”). Michelle Ashford (“Masters of Sex”) will executive produce and write the teleplay.

jerry bruckheimer

Jerry Bruckheimer

Sep 18, 2014
10:21 am

Live, From New York, It’s a New Era for ‘SNL’: A Popular Cast Member From the Past — the Longest-Tenured Performer in the History of ‘Saturday Night Live’ — Is the Show’s New Announcer (NY Times)

“Saturday Night Live” dipped into its own history to find a replacement for legendary announcer Don Pardo, who died last month after working as the show’s announcer for virtually its entire run.

Writing in The New York Times, Bill Carter reports that the venerable NBC late-night show named Darrell Hammond, who was a performer on “SNL” from 1995 through 2009, as Pardo’s replacement. Hammond ranks as the longest-serving performer in the history of the show, the story adds.

“He also had the distinction of quietly subbing for Mr. Pardo on several occasions when the announcer could not do the show for health reasons. Mr. Hammond, who was among the best impressionists in the history of ’SNL,’ read … the introductions in the famous Pardo voice,” the story adds.

Replacing the longtime announcer was something that Lorne Michaels, the show’s creator and executive producer, said he never wanted to do.

“There were a lot of sweet ideas about carrying on with Don somehow,” Michaels told the publication. “Because everyone has a Pardo impression. But he had the greatest run and he’s a completely beloved figure. So I thought: Don’t turn this into something else. That period ended.”

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Darrell Hammond

Sep 18, 2014
10:19 am

Warner Bros. Bracing for Layoffs, as Work Force May Be Cut by More Than 10 Percent; One Unit Is Expected to Be Hit Hardest (Variety)

Warner Bros. Entertainment is gearing up for a hefty layoff as the studio seeks to cut costs. Variety reports that the company will cut as many as 1,000 jobs, with the Home Entertainment unit to be hit hardest.

That would represent more than 10% of the studio’s 9,000-person workforce, the story notes. The cuts are expected to be made in late October or early November. The studio had been widely expected to cut jobs, after Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara warned in a Sept. 4 memo that layoffs were coming.

“Senior managers are currently assessing their businesses to come up with ways to trim overhead. Only at the end of that process will an exact reduction figure be known. It could be somewhat lower than the current numbers being speculated, but cuts are expected to be substantial,” the story notes.

Movie and TV production units will be the least impacted by the cuts, the story reports.

“There is no head count target or percentage reduction target,” said the studio’s executive vice president of corporate communications, Dee Dee Myers. “This is a budget issue, not a head count issue.”

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Sep 18, 2014
10:17 am

How’s the New Lineup on ‘The View’ Getting Along? Not Very Well, According to Report (NY Post)

While ABC’s daytime talk staple “The View” returned this week with its best ratings in eight years, two of its new co-hosts are already clashing on-air and behind the scenes, reports the New York Post’s Page Six.

Rosie O’ Donnell and Nicolle Wallace reportedly had an “off-air spat after clashing on-air,” the publication notes.

The story reports: “On Tuesday, token Republican Wallace, a former George W. Bush spokesperson, and human wrecking ball O’Donnell clashed on-air after Wallace claimed President Obama ‘doesn’t love people.’ O’Donnell swung back, ‘When Kanye West says, ‘I don’t think President Bush cares about black people,’ it’s like an international incident. But you can say that you don’t think Obama likes people?’”

Their argument reportedly continued behind the scenes, with executive producer Bill Wolff stepping in the get them to calm down.

Executives at ABC also have reportedly been getting worked up over the show. The story quotes an inside source saying: “ABC News head James Goldston and Daytime head Lisa Hackner are fighting over who gets control of ‘The View.’ The situation has become so fraught that [Disney/ABC senior VP] Abra Potkin had to step in. It is a monumental clash of egos.”

A rep for the network poured cold water on the rumored clashes, attributing the story of the Wallace-O’Donnell blowup to someone “just trying to stir up controversy,” and noting that “The View” comes under the purview of ABC Entertainment boss Paul Lee, with Hackner reporting to Lee.

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Sep 18, 2014
10:09 am

Marathon to Mark 20th Anniversary of One of TV’s Most Popular Sitcoms of All Time (TheWrap)

A programming marathon is in the works for next week to celebrate the 20th anniversary of “Friends,” one of the most popular comedy series in TV history. reports that TBS has set the marathon for Monday, Sept. 22, to mark the date when the hit NBC comedy first aired two decades ago.

The run will start at 10 a.m. on Monday and end at 8 p.m., with 20 episodes of the show airing, the story notes.

“The TBS marathon coincides with the Warner Bros. — which produced the show — and Eight O’Clock Coffee pop-up replica of Central Perk, the neighborhood coffee shop frequented by the characters on the sitcom,” the story notes. “The shop is located at 199 Lafayette Street in SoHo, New York City, and will be open through Oct. 18.”



Sep 18, 2014
10:07 am

TiVo Survey Identifies Fall’s Most Eagerly Anticipated New Comedies and Dramas (TVWeek)

A new survey conducted by TiVo names the new dramas and comedy series that the company says viewers are looking forward to the most.

The survey cites CBS’s “NCIS: New Orleans” as the most eagerly anticipated new drama, with Fox’s “Gotham” coming in second.

Among the new crop of comedies, NBC’s “Bad Judge” ranked as the most highly anticipated, followed in second place by CBS’s “The McCarthys.”

“Awareness remains low for many of the new fall series, with the exception of the familiar ‘NCIS’ franchise’s adding ‘NCIS: New Orleans,’ a title 47 percent of respondents already know well,” TiVo notes in its announcement. “Twenty-six percent of the respondents report they are not familiar with any of the new broadcast series, while 31 percent are familiar with ‘Gotham,’ 26 percent with ABC’s ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ and 24 percent with CBS’s ‘Madam Secretary.’ CW’s new superhero entry, ‘The Flash,’ had only an 18 percent awareness overall, but 25 percent among men and among persons ages 18-34.”

Please click here to read the full press release from TiVo.

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