Oct 21, 2016
12:27 pm

Time Warner-AT&T Merger Talks Heat Up (WSJ)

The rumored Time Warner-AT&T merger is suddenly on the fast track, with a deal possible as soon as this weekend, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“AT&T Inc. is in advanced talks to acquire Time Warner Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would create a new hallmark in the rapidly converging realms of media, communications and the Internet,” WSJ reports. “A deal, which could happen as early as this weekend, would unite AT&T’s portfolio of wireless, broadband and satellite TV services with Time Warner’s entertainment empire, which includes cable networks such as TNT, TBS, CNN, the coveted premium channel HBO, and the Warner Bros. film and TV studio.”

The talks have come together quickly, the report notes, and a deal could still fall apart or be delayed.

“Time Warner shares rose 6.7% to $90.94 in early-afternoon trading after The Wall Street Journal reported the advanced talks, while AT&T fell 2.6% to $37.65,” WSJ notes.

The report adds: “A merger of the companies would be the most ambitious marriage of content and distribution in the media and telecom industries since Comcast Corp.’s 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal and would create a behemoth to rival that cable giant. A transaction would be far and away the biggest media deal of recent years. Time Warner has a market capitalization of $71 billion, while AT&T’s was $231.7 billion.”

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Oct 21, 2016
11:59 am

How the Current ‘Golden Age of Television’ Is Bad for Business (Bloomberg)

The current TV environment is being widely hailed as a new “Golden Age of Television,” with a proliferation of acclaimed shows across broadcast, cable and digital platforms. But the scenario is bad for business in off-network syndication, which has traditionally been one of the industry’s most profitable segments.

“Reruns are under pressure because cable networks, which have been the deep-pocketed buyers of old shows, are making more original series to stand out in the crowd,” Bloomberg reports.

The Bloomberg analysis notes that the number of shows airing reruns on cable has been dropping — from 159 in 2013 to 128 last year, based on Nielsen data — while the number of original series on basic cable has surged — from 70 in 2010 to 181 last year.

“Time Warner’s Turner unit, owner of the TBS and TNT cable channels — comfortable retirement homes for recycled network series including ‘Friends,’ ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Law & Order’ — will boost its original programming by 80 percent by 2018 as ratings for its reruns weaken,” Bloomberg notes.

As audiences increasingly steer clear of cable repeats in favor of original programming, the report also cites this stark example: “The cable network WGN America paid more than $1 million per episode for reruns of ‘Elementary’ and ‘Person of Interest.’ Both dramas drew an average of 10 million to 12 million viewers in their debut seasons on CBS, but last season neither got more than 260,000 viewers on WGN. Earlier this year, WGN’s parent, Tribune Media, took a $74 million charge after those shows failed to win audiences.”

We encourage readers to click on the link to Bloomberg near the top of this story to read the full analysis.

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Oct 21, 2016
10:57 am

Cable Drama Series Canceled (Deadline)

A cable drama series has been canceled, with the show’s recent season finale to stand as the last episode for the series. In an exclusive, Deadline.com reports that Freeform pulled the plug on the mystery thriller “Guilt.”

The show, which starred Daisy Head, Emily Tremaine, Cristian Solimeno and Naomi Ryan, wrapped its 10-episode freshman in August. The series premiered to just under a half-million viewers on June 13, and the numbers went down from there, settling around the 300,000 mark.

“While the August 22 Season 1 finale revealed who the killer was, it set up several new cliffhangers, including who shot Prince Theo and will he survive,” Deadline notes.

The program was created and executive produced by Kathryn Price and Nichole Millard, with Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer as executive producers and showrunners. Stephen McPherson also executive produced.


Oct 21, 2016
9:51 am

Comedy Legend — the Winner of 6 Emmys and 5 Golden Globes (!) — to Star in New ABC Comedy (Deadline, YouTube, TVWeek)

A TV comedy legend who has been nominated for a staggering 23 Primetime Emmys and 17 Golden Globes — winning six Emmys and five Globes — is returning to network television. In a coup for ABC, Deadline.com reports that the Alphabet Network has landed a high-profile Carol Burnett project that sparked a bidding war among the broadcast and streaming outlets.

ABC made a put pilot commitment to the multi-camera comedy, which will star Burnett, with Amy Poehler — part of a long line of TV women heavily influenced by Burnett — to executive produce through her Paper Kite banner, Deadline reports. The Universal TV production will be written and executive produced by Michael Saltzman.

“The untitled comedy is about a family who gets a chance to buy the house of their dreams — a house they’d never be able to afford under normal circumstances, but is able to under extremely abnormal circumstances,” Deadline reports. “They must live with the current owner, an older actress (Burnett) — until she dies.”

Also executive producing are Paper Kite’s Brooke Posch, 3 Arts’ Dave Becky and Comedy Dynamics’ Michael Pelmont.

Oct 21, 2016
9:44 am

‘Live With Kelly’ Names Winner of Viewer Co-Host Search (TVWeek, ABC)

The “Live with Kelly and You” co-host search contest is over, with the morning show “Live with Kelly” revealing today on the air that the winner of the viewer contest is Richard Curtis.

Curtis, a high school teacher from Perkasie, Pa., joined Kelly Ripa as the co-host of today’s show.

“The big reveal was made this morning when he walked out hand-in-hand with Kelly Ripa to co-host the show,” the program announced in a press release today. “Curtis was a co-hosting natural, from shooting the breeze with Ripa during the opening ‘Host Chat’ segment, to interviewing actors Elijah Wood and Sullivan Stapleton, to ‘meeting’ America’s Biggest Pumpkin.”

The release notes that “Live” received thousands of entries in the search contest, adding that “Curtis’ creative video submission and written pitch, in which he described himself as ‘positively positive’ and a ‘motivational madman,’ stood out. After making it to the top five, he competed on-air all week long for his chance at snagging the coveted co-host spot for the day.”

Meanwhile, the permanent co-hosting position remains open, and the show continues to bring a rotating lineup of guest hosts on board.

102116-kelly-ripa-richard-curtis-live-with-kelly-abcKelly Ripa and Richard Curtis on this morning’s “Live with Kelly”

Oct 21, 2016
9:31 am

Did the Koch Brothers Just Kill the Film and TV Business in Florida? (Deadline)

The film and TV industry in Florida is in a state of “free-fall” and the billionaire Koch brothers and their political allies are responsible, according to a new report by Deadline.com. Productions, vendors and workers are fleeing the state, the story reports, after Florida scrapped its tax incentive program earlier this year, the story reports.

The production-friendly tax program was dumped “in the wake of a concerted and well-financed campaign by the billionaire Koch brothers and their conservative allies in the state Legislature to kill the Sunshine State’s incentives,” Deadline reports. “It’s an exodus of epic proportions, but if a movie were ever to be made about it, it would probably have to be shot in Georgia.”

The report quotes Fred Moyse, business manager of southern Florida-based IATSE Local 477, saying: “The industry here is one step away from dead. We’ve lost a third of our members. It’s been devastating to the men and women who work in this industry, and crippling to the small businesses that support it.”

We recommend that readers click on the link to Deadline near the top of this report to read the full article.

Oct 21, 2016
8:39 am

Jerry Bruckheimer-Will Smith Movie Getting the TV Reboot Treatment (Variety)

ABC is developing a series based on a hit movie starring Will Smith and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Variety reports that the 1998 spy thriller “Enemy of the State” is getting the reboot treatment.

Will Smith is not attached, the report notes, but Bruckheimer is on board as an executive producer.

“Budding scribe Morgan Foehl is writing the script for the television adaptation,” Variety notes. “Based off the movie, the show is set two decades after the original film. When an elusive NSA spy is charged with leaking classified intelligence, an idealistic female attorney must partner with a hawkish FBI agent to stop a global conspiracy that threatens to expose dark secrets and personal mysteries connecting all three of their lives.”

The network gave a put pilot commitment to the project, which is being produced by ABC Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer Television. “Along with Bruckheimer, exec producers are Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed and Foehl,” Variety notes.


Oct 21, 2016
8:19 am

P&G Exec Says It’s Time to Ease Up on Agencies (Ad Age)

Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer held out an olive branch to creative and media agencies, talking about the pressure that marketers — including P&G — put on agencies and saying it’s time to ease up.

In Thursday’s keynote address at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Marc Pritchard said marketers have become caught in a content “crap trap,” and need to start treating agencies better, Ad Age reports.

Said Pritchard: “Let’s also remember that advertising is a creative business, and our agencies are made up of people. The last few years have been admittedly tough on agencies, P&G included. And it’s time to turn the page.”

Ad Age notes that Pritchard’s talk, titled “Raising the Creative Bar,” follows a two-year period in which P&G has cut its agency and production fees by $570 million to $1.4 billion.

Added Pritchard: “Our patience has run out. It’s time to insist that all media partners adopt common, transparent measurement standards and accept third-party verification.”

“What sounded like a peace offering may take on added weight given that Mr. Pritchard, now vice chairman of the ANA, is expected to be announced as chairman [today], succeeding former Subway CMO Tony Pace,” Ad Age notes.

ANA-Association of National Advertisers

Oct 21, 2016
8:11 am

The Funniest Line at Last Night’s Al Smith Dinner Was Delivered by Donald Trump: Watch It Now (NBC News)

On a night when both major party presidential candidates did stand-up, the best line at the annual Al Smith charity dinner in New York may have been delivered by Donald Trump.

Here’s the clip, posted by NBC News …

Oct 21, 2016
7:19 am

Good Grief! After 30 Years of Fun TV Commercials — Not to Mention the Blimp — MetLife Has Fired Snoopy (Boston Globe)

MetLife has done what the Red Baron tried in vain for years to do: It has grounded Snoopy. “After more than 30 years of appearing in print ads, TV commercials, marketing materials, and on the sides of MetLife’s blimps at sports events, the company is showing the door to the ‘Peanuts’ character, one of the most recognizable figures in American pop culture,” the Boston Globe reports.

The company, which is one of the largest insurers in the world with 100 million customers, said parting ways with its spokesbeagle is part of an initiative to update its corporate emblem to compete internationally.

“The global chief marketing officer for MetLife, Esther Lee, announced the change on Thursday, saying that Snoopy was adopted as a symbol in 1985 to make the company seem ‘more friendly and approachable during a time when insurance companies were seen as cold and distant.’” the Globe reports.

In the announcement, Lee said: “We have great respect for these iconic characters. However, as we focus on our future, it’s important that we associate our brand directly with the work we do and the partnership we have with our customers.”

The company unveiled its new logo (seen below), along with a new tagline: “MetLife: Navigating life together.” The tagline replaces the company’s venerable “Get Met. It Pays.”


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