Oct 20, 2016
12:11 pm

Fox and Netflix Sue Each Other, Wage Legal Battle Over ‘Involuntary Servitude’ (THR)

After 21st Century Fox sued Netflix, the streaming service countersued, with the legal battle focused on Netflix’s alleged poaching of executives from Fox.

The Hollywood Reporter’s THR, Esq., reports that Netflix is alleging Fox has created “a form of involuntary servitude” with its employment contracts. Along with the Netflix countersuit filed Wednesday, the streamer advised a judge that it intends to continue recruiting Fox employees, the report notes.

“In response to a 21st Century Fox lawsuit that claims Netflix has brazenly poached two executives under contract, the streaming giant on Wednesday filed a cross-complaint that expands the scope of the dispute to Fox’s employment force at large, alleging that Fox is bullying employees with ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ deals that amount to ‘involuntary servitude,'” THR reports. “Netflix demands a declaration that Fox’s fixed-term employment agreements are unenforceable and wants Fox enjoined from using such agreements.”

The Netflix countersuit follows a lawsuit filed by Fox in September over Netflix’s hiring of programming executive Tara Flynn and marketing executive Marcos Waltenberg. “Seeking an injunction to prevent contractual interference, Fox alleged that Netflix was aware of employment agreements before inducing the two executives to breach their deals,” THR reports.


Oct 20, 2016
11:57 am

Whaat? Is This Classic Kids’ Story Worth Yet Another Adaptation? Warner Bros. Thinks So (Variety, TVWeek)

A widely adapted children’s story that has already surfaced as two feature films, at least two video games, a theme park attraction, an opera, a radio production and countless stage versions is poised for yet another adaptation.

The material is Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” perhaps most successfully adapted in 1971 for the Gene Wilder film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” A 2005 feature adaptation, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” starring Johnny Depp, was less well-received than the “original” movie.

The story has also been widely parodied, including spoofs by “Family Guy,” ‘Futurama,” “Robot Chicken” and “Dexter’s Laboratory.”

In an exclusive, Variety reports that Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to Willy Wonka from the Dahl estate and plans to make a new movie based on the oddball character.

Producer David Heyman, whose impressive track record includes the “Harry Potter” franchise, is behind the project.

“Heyman will produce with Michael Siegel, who is the manager of the Dahl estate,” Variety reports. “Kevin McCormick is exec producing. ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ scribe Simon Rich is penning the script. Courtenay Valenti and Jon Gonda are overseeing the project for the studio.”

The reports cites sources saying the project will be a standalone movie, not an origin tale, and will focus on Wonka’s early adventures.



Oct 20, 2016
11:31 am

Viacom-CBS Merger to Be Set by Thanksgiving? That’s What They’re Saying; Also: a Top Candidate to Lead Viacom (NY Post)

The reunion of Viacom and CBS appears to be on a fast track, with Viacom shareholders expecting a merger agreement by Thanksgiving, The New York Post reports.

“National Amusements Inc., the controlling shareholder of both Viacom and CBS, said on Sept. 29 that it sees the deal as an all-stock transaction with an at-market price,” The Post reports. “Still, some Viacom shareholders are holding out hope for an extra serving of a sweetener for the deal — with the continuing possibility that China’s Wanda Group might still be waiting in the wings with a big check for Paramount or at least give the studio some financing on the upcoming slate.”

The report also notes that controlling shareholder Shari Redstone is looking for someone to lead Viacom after acting CEO Tom Dooley exits in mid-November, with Bob Bakish, the president of Viacom international, one of the top candidates.


Oct 20, 2016
11:09 am

CBS Orders Event Series (TVWeek)

CBS gave a straight-to-series order to a suspense thriller that the network has slotted for broadcast in summer 2017. The project is “Salvation,” about an asteroid on a collision course with planet Earth.

The network ordered 13 one-hour episodes of the project from Alex Kurtzman’s Secret Hideout and CBS Television Studios.

Glenn Geller, President, CBS Entertainment, commented: “‘Salvation’ is the type of fast-paced, dramatic ride that viewers look for in a summer event series. We’re excited to launch another high-concept, highly promotable show with great auspices that adds to our roster of year-round, original scripted programming.”

Executive producers are Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro, who wrote the script based on a story by Matt Wheeler; Alex Kurtzman; Heather Kadin; and Peter Lenkov.

The drama series joins season three of “Zoo,” along with a new installment of “Big Brother,” in the summer 2017 lineup for CBS.


Oct 20, 2016
10:39 am

Pioneering Record Exec Who Helped Make Stars of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Others Dead at 95 (NY Times, YouTube)

A record label founder who profoundly influenced the evolution of American music has died. The New York Times reports that Phil Chess, who founded Chicago’s Chess Records with his brother Leonard and helped usher obscure blues artists to mainstream recognition, died Tuesday at his home in Tucson, Ariz. He was 95.

The Chess label played a part in the creation of rock ‘n’ roll, shepherding influential artists including Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry.

“Chess Records was one of the most prominent of the independent labels — Atlantic in New York and Sun in Memphis were among the others — that became successful in the 1950s by finding little-known performers, recording them and persuading radio stations (not infrequently with the help of cash payments) to play their records,” The Times reports. “Their goal was profit, but their lasting influence was suggested by the first ballot of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which consisted almost entirely of artists who had recorded for independent labels.”

The Chess roster became a who’s who of what came to be known as Chicago blues, with Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and many others joining Muddy Waters on the label.

“The legacy of the tough-talking, cigar-chomping brothers can be seen not just in the records they made but also in the many songs recorded first by Chess artists and later by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and others,” The Times notes.

Here’s an unusual clip about Bo Diddley’s meeting with the Chess brothers, mostly told by Bo Diddley …

Oct 20, 2016
10:17 am

Marketing Industry Is ‘Unproductive, Unsustainable and Undesirable,’ Says Association of National Advertisers CEO (TVWeek)

The head of the Association of National Advertisers painted a grim picture of the state of the marketing industry as the organization unveiled a new initiative aimed at transforming the industry.

ANA President and CEO Bob Liodice introduced the ANA Masters Circle at the organization’s annual Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla. In his opening remarks he said the organization was compelled to initiate the Masters Circle as a growing number of industry challenges — including talent supply, privacy, ad fraud, ad blocking, viewability and transparency —  have left the overall marketing industry “unproductive, unsustainable and undesirable.”

The initiative, Liodice said, is designed to bring chief marketing officers together to pursue an aligned agenda aimed at enabling them to “take back the industry.”

“Marketers command the marketing decision-making process, but they’re not engaged or leading the industry’s agenda,” Liodice said. “It’s abundantly clear that marketers must take their industry back. CMOs can no longer let others do the heavy lifting. If they want something, they have to lead the way.”

Please click here for details in an announcement by the ANA, including a discussion of the Masters Circle initiative’s four primary objectives.

ANA-Association of National Advertisers

Oct 20, 2016
10:01 am

Cable Channel Goes Retro With New Programming Block — We’re Betting Some of Your Favorite Classic TV Shows Are in the Lineup (TVWeek, YouTube)

A new daytime programming block coming to cable will feature a lineup of classic TV shows consisting of  “M*A*S*H,” “All in the Family,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Andy Griffith Show.”

The new block was announced today by SundanceTV. The programming block, branded “The Set,” has the tagline “Timeless. Timely, TV,” and celebrates groundbreaking shows that inspired much of today’s “Golden Age of Television.”

The block will air weekdays from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. ET starting Monday, Nov. 7. The shows will air back-to-back episodes each day, in chronological order, starting with the pilots of all five series.

To kick things off, SundanceTV has set a 48-hour “M*A*S*H” marathon to begin Sunday, Nov. 6, at 6 a.m. ET.

Please click here for all the details, including blurbs on each of the shows.

Oct 20, 2016
9:17 am

Fox News Loses Favor Among Republicans (Ad Age, BrandIndex, TVWeek)

While Republicans as a whole are not fans of Fox News rivals CNN and MSNBC, their appreciation for Fox News also appears to be diminishing, at least by one consumer-focused measure.

Citing new data from YouGov BrandIndex, Ad Age reports that Fox News has been slipping among Republicans in the BrandIndex rankings, a consumer perception index derived from ongoing surveys sorted by political party.

The report comes even as Fox News continues to dominate ratings among the cable news channels.

Fox News ranked No. 50 among Republicans in the 2016 survey, which just came out. That’s a big drop from No. 15 last year, which was already off from FNC’s No. 10 ranking in 2014.

But the other cable news networks remain well below Fox News in the rankings among Republicans — CNN is at No. 1,470 on the 2016 list, followed by MSNBC at No. 1,471.

Craftsman was No. 1 among GOP consumers in 2014, with Band-Aid moving into the top spot in 2015 and remaining at No. 1 in the new rankings.

Whether the enthusiasm for the toolmaker in 2014 was related to an interest in Band-Aids in subsequent years was not noted.


Oct 20, 2016
9:01 am

Coming Next Year: Barbie in a Streaming Series (Ad Age)

Get ready for Barbie the TV show. The iconic doll will embark on a new initiative in 2017 featuring Barbie and her sisters in a streaming series.

Juliana Chugg, Mattel executive VP and chief brand officer, dropped the news in an interview with Ad Age, revealing that two series of 52 11-minute episodes are in the works for streaming in the second half of 2017.

Barbie and her sisters will talk about their careers and adventures in the series, Chugg said. She did not provide other details.


Oct 20, 2016
7:09 am

Great Fun: Watch Tom Cruise Act Out His Career With James Corden (CBS)

Tom Cruise had a memorable appearance this week on CBS’s “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” joining with the show’s host to act out scenes from Cruise’s movie career — including “Top Gun,” the “Mission: Impossible” films, “Minority Report” and many others.

Check it out …

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