Oct 20, 2016
4:27 pm

Time Warner and AT&T Discuss Possible Merger (Bloomberg)

“Senior executives at AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc. have met in recent weeks to discuss various business strategies including a possible merger, according to people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg reports. “The talks, which at this stage are informal, have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private.”

Neither side has hired a financial adviser yet, according to the sources.

“Acquiring Time Warner would give AT&T, one of the biggest providers of pay-TV and of wireless and home Internet service in the U.S., a collection of popular programming to offer to subscribers, from HBO to NBA basketball to the Cartoon Network,” Bloomberg notes.

The report adds: “AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has been looking to add more content and original programming as part of his plan to transform the Dallas-based telecommunications company into a media and entertainment giant.”

time warner logo

Oct 20, 2016
3:19 pm

The Toughest Ticket on Broadway Comes to PBS (TVWeek)

It’s the toughest ticket on Broadway, but now all of those who want a seat at “Hamilton” can get an inside look at the groundbreaking musical and the journey to bring it to the stage in PBS’s “Hamilton’s America.”

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin talked with the documentary’s director, Alex Horwitz, and got the inside story on the movie that gives the inside story on the “Hamilton” phenomenon.

The documentary premieres Friday, Oct. 21, on PBS.

Click here to read Hillary’s insightful report.


Oct 20, 2016
3:01 pm

Wednesday’s Presidential Debate Ranks High Among Most-Watched Debates in History (AP, Nielsen)

The third and final debate of this election cycle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, which aired on multiple networks Wednesday night, reached 71.6 million total viewers, the AP reports. That means two of the three most-watched presidential debates in history have taken place during the current campaign.

“The debate from Las Vegas, moderated by Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace, exceeded the 66.5 million people who watched the second debate,” the AP reports. “The first time these two candidates met on stage in September, the audience of 84 million set a viewership record, the Nielsen company said.”

Also ranking among the most-watched debates of all time is the 1980 debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, which was seen by 80.6 million people to place No. 2 on the all-time list. The candidates debated only once during that campaign.

“By contrast, both of the debates that Clinton’s husband Bill had while running for re-election in 1996 against Bob Dole reached a little over 36 million people,” the AP notes.

Network by network, Fox News Channel led the way with 11.3 million viewers for Wednesday’s debate, followed by ABC with 11 million, NBC with 10.4 million, CBS with 10.1 million, CNN with 8.7 million, Fox broadcasting with 6.6 million and MSNBC with 5.5 million, according to Nielsen.

Oct 20, 2016
2:27 pm

Another Anti-Trump Documentary Surfaces (Deadline, YouTube)

Just hours after Michael Moore’s new anti-Donald Trump movie came to light, another documentary attacking the GOP presidential nominee has surfaced.

Deadline.com reports that “You’ve Been Trumped Too” will open in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 28, followed by a national release. It has been acquired for U.S. broadcast by Participant Media, the story notes.

The movie arrives on the heels of Moore’s “Michael Moore in TrumpLand,” which we reported on earlier this week.

“You’ve Been Trumped Too” is a sequel to the 2011 film “You’ve Been Trumped” from that movie’s director, Anthony Baxter. Like its predecessor, it focuses on the battle over Trump’s controversial golf course in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Here’s a teaser …

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
11:27 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
11:17 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
10:59 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
10:47 am

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
10:44 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.


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