Oct 6, 2015
4:01 pm

Producer Steps Away From HBO Porn Industry Project Amid Questioning Over Woman’s Death (Deadline)

An Emmy-nominated producer is stepping away from his production role on a new HBO project while he deals with issues stemming from the death Sunday of a woman in New York. Deadline.com reports that Marc Henry Johnson will step away from work on the David Simon series pilot “The Deuce.”

Shooting is scheduled to begin Wednesday, Oct. 14. The report quotes a source with knowledge of the situation saying Johnson is distancing himself from the project for now.

“Johnson has been questioned by investigators in connection with the death of dermatologist Kiersten Cerveny, a married mother of three who was found unconscious in a Chelsea apartment building Sunday morning; police have been quoted as saying her death is consistent with a cocaine overdose and is not being treated as a homicide,” Deadline reports.

Johnson is not expected to be charged in Cerveny’s death, according to media reports. But Deadline notes: “Johnson and Cerveny ended up at the five-story walk-up in Chelsea very early Sunday morning. Investigators have security camera video from inside the building showing Johnson and another man carrying her downstairs hours later, police are quoted as saying in various news reports.”

Johnson reportedly tried to perform CPR on Cerveny and called 911, remaining with her until emergency personnel arrived.

“The Deuce” focuses on the porn industry in Manhattan in the 1970s and 1980s. The report notes that Johnson, who received an Emmy nomination as a producer of the 1999 Michael Moore series “The Awful Truth,” played a key role in documenting the story of twin brothers who became the inspiration for “The Deuce.”

The brothers, described as mob fronts in New York’s sex industry, are both played by James Franco in the pilot.

Oct 6, 2015
3:47 pm

Barry Diller Rips Into ‘Self-Promoting Huckster’ Donald Trump, Says Trump Is Capitalizing on a ‘Vein of Meanness and Nastiness’ — Watch the Video Now (Bloomberg)

Veteran media executive Barry Diller, the founder and chairman of IAC Interactive and one of the co-founders of the Fox Broadcasting Co., let his feelings be known about presidential hopeful Donald Trump, calling the GOP contender “a self-promoting huckster” and “a nasty, mean person criticizing people and doing silly showman stuff.”

Diller made the comments during an appearance at the Bloomberg Markets Most Influential Summit. A clip of his appearance, posted by Bloomberg, can be seen below.

Oct 6, 2015
3:29 pm

First Telecast of Live Brain Surgery Booked (THR)

The first live brain surgery to be televised is all set, to be hosted by Bryant Gumbel. The two-hour program is booked for Sunday, Oct. 25, on the National Geographic Channel, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

The program will also be carried on Nat Geo Mundo and will be televised in 171 countries and 45 different languages.

The show “will take viewers inside an awake deep brain stimulation surgery via handheld and robotic cameras in the operating room,” the story reports.

The program is titled “Brain Surgery Live With Mental Floss.”

“Filming will take place via two handheld cameras as well as several robotic cameras with inputs directly in the doctors’ surgical equipment, allowing viewers to see live images as the brain is being operated on in real time,” THR reports. “The special will mix live coverage from the operating room at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, with pre-produced informative packages on the brain.”

The program will air live on both coasts — at 9 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. PT. Neurosurgeon Dr. Rahul Jandial and neuroscientist and podcast host Cara Santa Maria will be on hand to provide commentary.

Produced by Leftfield Pictures, the program will be helmed by Emmy-winning director Joe Michaels and news producer Robert Wheelock.

brain surgery live with mental floss-nat geo

Oct 6, 2015
3:11 pm

CBS Working on Series Based on Famous Female Detective (THR)

A much-loved female detective character is at the center of a project that’s in development at CBS.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the network is developing a Nancy Drew project, part of a trend that finds broadcasters seeking out established brands to help them gain a foothold on a crowded TV landscape.

The CBS project involves “Grey’s Anatomy” veterans Joan Rater and Tony Phelan.

“The potential series is described as a contemporary take on the character from the iconic book series,” THR reports. “Now in her 30s, Nancy is a detective for the NYPD, where she investigates and solves crimes using her uncanny observational skills, all while navigating the complexities of life in a modern world. CBS Television Studios-based Dan Jinks will exec produce alongside Rater and Phelan, who also have deals with the studio.”

The report notes that network boss Nina Tassler has made female empowerment a top priority for CBS, where “Supergirl” is among the high-profile projects being readied.

nancy drew mystery stories-book cover

Oct 6, 2015
2:44 pm

Ashley Judd Reveals She Was Sexually Harassed by a Powerful Studio Boss (Variety)

Actress Ashley Judd opened up about an incident that took place several years ago in which she says she was sexually harassed by a studio mogul. Declining to name the executive, Judd talked about the incident in an interview with Variety.

“When she was filming Paramount’s ‘Kiss the Girls’ in the late 90s, Judd was sexually harassed by a mogul from a rival studio, who kept summoning her to his hotel room under the pretense of talking about roles in his movies,” Variety reports. “The situation escalated until the mogul, who Judd declined to name, tried to get Judd to watch him take a shower.”

Judd called the executive “one of our industry’s most famous, admired-slash-reviled bosses.” She said that while she believed herself even then to be empowered, “I did not recognize at the time what was happening to me. It took years before I could evaluate that incident and realize that there was something incredibly wrong and illegal about it.”

Judd added: “He was very stealth and expert about it. He groomed me, which is a technical term — Oh, come meet at the hotel for something to eat. Fine, I show up. Oh, he’s actually in his room. I’m like, Are you kidding me? I just worked all night. I’m just going to order cereal. It went on in these stages. It was so disgusting.”

The actress said she eventually talked her way out of the situation, but she added, “I’ve never been offered a movie by that studio. Ever.”

Oct 6, 2015
2:29 pm

Novel in the Works About the Wife of Jesus (AP)

The author of a number of high-profile books — including one that was an Oprah Winfrey selection — is working on a new novel focusing on the wife of Jesus.

The AP reports that Sue Monk Kidd, whose bestsellers include “The Secret Life of Bees” and the Oprah’s Book Club selection “The Invention of Wings,” is writing a novel with the working title “Ana, the Wife of Jesus,” to be published by Viking Penguin.

The book, which is narrated by Jesus’ wife, does not yet have a release date.

“According to the publisher, Kidd will tell of a ‘devout yet rebellious young woman’ who meets Jesus when he’s 18,” the AP reports. “The novel will cover Jesus’ life from 18 to 30 and will be a story of ‘longing, attachment, separation, exile and reunion.'”

the invention of wings-book cover

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

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
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
9:44 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

Older Articles