Jan 19, 2020
2:23 am

TV Week Holiday Schedule (TVWeek)

TVWeek will not publish its regular e-newsletters on Monday, Jan. 20, in honor of the federal holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. We will resume our regular publishing scheduling on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.

Jan 17, 2020
5:03 pm

The End of an Era: Disney Scraps ‘Fox’ Name, Rebrands Film Studio (CNN)

On the heels of its landmark acquisition of the 20th Century Fox brand, Disney is dropping the “Fox” from the iconic name. CNN reports that Disney is renaming the film studio “20th Century Studios.”

The report notes that 20th Century Fox’s “epic fanfare title card has appeared in front of ‘The Sound of Music,’ ‘Star Wars’ and other major films over the past 85 years. But in 2020, that name is no more.”

The studio’s art house production company, Fox Searchlight, will now be known as Searchlight Pictures.

“Disney closed a $71 billion deal to acquire the studio and other Fox assets last year. The iconic logo, title card and its fanfare will stay the same, minus the name Fox,” CNN reports. “The new branding will first be seen on Searchlight Pictures’ ‘Downhill,’ a drama/comedy starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which hits theaters on February 14.”

The report adds that “The Call of the Wild,” an adventure film starring Harrison Ford that’s due in theaters Feb. 21, will be the first film with the 20th Century Studios name.

CNN adds: “The name change does make sense considering that the remaining assets from Fox such as the Fox Entertainment, Fox Sports and Fox News are a part of Fox Corporation, which has nothing to do with Disney.”

Jan 17, 2020
4:59 pm

Steve Martin and Martin Short to Star in Comedy Series (TVWeek)

Comedy icons Steve Martin and Martin Short received a series order for a sitcom about three strangers who are obsessed with true crime and suddenly find themselves involved in one.

Hulu revealed plans for the series Friday at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena. The series comes from 20th Century Fox Television.

Steve Martin and John Hoffman (“Grace & Frankie,” “Looking”) are co-creators and writers on the untitled project. Martin and Hoffman will executive produce along with “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman, Jess Rosenthal (“This Is Us”) and Martin Short.

Hulu also announced that “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” and “Dollface” will return for second seasons, and announced a batch of new originals including “Little Fires Everywhere,” “High Fidelity,” “Normal People” and “The Great.”

Premiere dates were unveiled for upcoming shows “The Great,” “Ramy” and “Solar Opposites,” and the streamer discussed plans to strengthen its lineup of kids programming. Click here for all the details in the full Hulu announcement.

Jan 17, 2020
4:57 pm

Disney and Chernin Part Ways (Variety)

Disney and Peter Chernin are terminating their longtime partnership in a move that is described by Variety as “mutual and amicable.” The split ends Chernin Entertainment’s long-running film production deal with 20th Century Fox, which has just been rebranded as 20th Century Studios. (See separate story.)

Variety reports that the split was “driven by the simple fact that Disney rarely brings on third-party partners to finance its feature films.”

Chernin is quoted telling the publication: “I have nothing but praise for Disney. They were gracious, classy and paved the way for me to continue to build the company however we want.”

Variety adds: “Chernin Entertainment will retain 70 of the 80-plus movie projects that it had in development at 20th. The projects remaining at Disney — like a new ‘Planet of the Apes’ film with director Wes Ball (‘The Maze Runner’) — are based on Disney-held intellectual property, and Chernin will remain attached as an executive producer.”

Jan 17, 2020
3:59 pm

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Signs Exclusive Deal
(NY Post)

“Coming off her seven-season run on HBO’s ‘Veep,’ Julia Louis-Dreyfus has signed a sweeping multiyear overall deal with Apple, her first-ever overall deal with a streaming service,” The New York Post reports. “Under the pact, Louis-Dreyfus will develop new projects exclusively for Apple TV+ as both an executive producer and star.”

The report notes that Louis-Dreyfus has the rare of having starred on three successful prime-time comedy series, all of which have earned her an Emmy Award: “Seinfeld,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “Veep.” She has also won a total of 11 Emmy Awards out of 24 nominations and nine SAG Awards, more than any other performer.

“Eight of her Emmy Awards were for acting, tying Cloris Leachman for the most acting wins,” The Post reports. “She won her sixth consecutive lead actress in a comedy series Emmy in 2017 for ‘Veep,’ setting the record for most wins by a performer in the same role, in the same series. She also has multiple Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice awards for her work as an actress and producer, and is a recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.”

Louis-Dreyfus is quoted saying of the Apple deal: “I am thrilled about this new partnership with my friends at Apple. Also, many thanks and kudos to my representatives for structuring the deal in such a way that I am paid in AirPods.”

Jan 17, 2020
1:11 pm

Jury Set in Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial (AP)

A jury of seven men and five women was selected Friday in the New York rape trial of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the AP reports.

The report notes that the selection wraps up a two-week process in which scores of potential jurors were dismissed because they had already made up their minds about Weinstein.

“Opening statements are expected Wednesday in the case against the 67-year-old executive who has come to be seen as the archvillain of the #MeToo era,” the story reports. “The once powerful and feared studio boss behind such Oscar winners as ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Shakespeare in Love’ is charged with raping a woman in a New York City hotel room in 2013 and forcibly performing a sex act on another at his apartment in 2006.”

Weinstein, who faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted, has said any sexual activity was consensual.

Jan 17, 2020
12:57 pm

Hulu Unveils Slate of New Originals, Renews Two Series (TVWeek)

Hulu presented a lineup of upcoming original programming Friday at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, with Craig Erwich, the company’s senior vice president of Originals, making a number of key programming announcements.

New originals unveiled included “Little Fires Everywhere,” from Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington; “High Fidelity,” starring Zoë Kravitz; the television adaptation of Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel “Normal People”; and Catherine The Great comedic drama “The Great,” featuring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult.

Erwich also announced an upcoming comedy series starring Steve Martin and Martin Short that puts a spin on the true crime genre. (See separate story.)

“Hulu’s success in original content is driven by highly curated programming from world-class talent,” said Erwich. “From the Steve Martin project, second series orders of ‘Ramy’ and ‘Dollface,’ to shows like ‘Little Fires Everywhere,’ our momentum in original content is stronger than ever.”

Hulu also announced that “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” and “Dollface” will return for second seasons. Premiere dates were unveiled for “The Great,” “Ramy” and “Solar Opposites,” and the streamer discussed plans to strengthen its lineup of kids programming. Click here for all the details in the full Hulu announcement.

Jan 17, 2020
11:37 am

Acclaimed Drama Series to Wrap (TVWeek, AMC)

A series that is among the most acclaimed of the current crop of dramas on television will end its run with a sixth and final season. AMC and Sony Pictures Television announced the renewal of “Better Call Saul” for a sixth season, which will be the show’s last.

The final 13-episode season of the “Breaking Bad” prequel will go into production later this year and is scheduled to run in 2021.

The announcement, made during the Television Critics’ Association Press Tour in Pasadena, comes ahead of the highly anticipated season five two-night premiere event on Sunday, Feb. 23, and Monday, Feb. 24. Season five will consist of 10 episodes.

“From day one of ‘Better Call Saul’ my dream was to tell the complete story of our complicated and compromised hero, Jimmy McGill — now AMC and Sony are making that dream come true,” said showrunner and executive producer Peter Gould. “We couldn’t be more grateful to the fans and critics who are making this journey possible. Next month we start work on the sixth and final season — we’re going to do our damnedest to stick the landing.”

Added Sarah Barnett, president of AMC Networks Entertainment Group and AMC Studios: “Greenlighting a prequel to one of the most iconic series in television history is one of the boldest swings that AMC has ever taken. But thanks to the creative genius of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould, it has also been one of the most rewarding. It has been an absolute joy to collaborate with the extraordinarily talented team on ‘Better Call Saul,’ which — five seasons in — continues to deliver some of the best storytelling and most beautifully nuanced performances on television today. We congratulate Vince, Peter, our producers, writers and cast on a remarkable run and look forward to sharing this final chapter with fans.”

Produced by Sony Pictures Television, “Better Call Saul” stars Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Michael Mando, Tony Dalton and Giancarlo Esposito and is executive produced by Gould, Gilligan, Mark Johnson, Melissa Bernstein and Thomas Schnauz.

Over the span of its first four seasons, “Better Call Saul” received a 2018 Peabody Award and earned 32 Emmy nominations, three Golden Globe nominations, two Writers Guild Awards, three Critics’ Choice Awards, two Television Critics Association Awards and three AFI Awards for “TV Programs of the Year.”

Jan 17, 2020
9:51 am

Just Ahead of Grammys, Head of Recording Academy Hit With Allegation, Placed on Leave (NBC News)

Deborah Dugan, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, was placed on administrative leave just 10 days ahead of the 62nd Grammy Awards, NBC News reports. The move came after “a formal allegation of misconduct by a senior female member” of the organization, the Recording Academy said in a statement.

The group did not reveal the nature of the alleged misconduct. Dugan, who took the helm of the organization in August, is the first woman to hold the post.

The organization’s Board of Trustees has retained two independent third-party investigators to examine the allegations, the report notes, citing the group’s statement.

In the statement, the academy says: “The Board determined this action to be necessary in order to restore the confidence of the Recording Academy Membership, repair Recording Academy employee morale, and allow the Recording Academy to focus on its mission of serving all music creators.”

The report quotes a statement from Dugan’s attorney, Bryan J. Freedman, in which he suggests important details have yet to surface, stating: “What has been reported is not nearly the story that needs to be told.”

Freedman adds: “When our ability to speak is not restrained by a 28-page contract and legal threats, we will expose what happens when you ‘step up’ at the Recording Academy, a public nonprofit.”

Jan 17, 2020
8:57 am

Weinstein Lawyer Wants to Know Whether Potential Jurors Watch a Certain TV Show (Variety)

An attorney representing Harvey Weinstein in his rape trial in New York questioned prospective jurors Thursday about whether they watch “Law & Order,” Variety reports.

The report quotes Weinstein lawyer Damon Cheronis saying during jury selection: “I have a great question. I wrote it myself. Does anybody watch ‘Law & Order’?”

Variety notes that as Cheronis posed the question he approached the prospective jurors “with a smirk on his face and a charming laugh.“

“When a prospective female juror said she did watch the television series, the lawyer mentioned that he’s never seen the show, quipping, ‘I think there’s like 20 of them,'” Variety reports. “Then he asked the woman, ‘But do you watch them regularly?’ She said she typically watches ‘Law & Order: SVU,’ but then she admitted her favorite procedural is actually CBS’ ‘Criminal Minds.’”

Asked by Cheronis whether she roots for the prosecution or the defense when she watches “Law & Order,” the juror reportedly replied, “I root for the jury.”

Cheronis also engaged other jurors in a discussion of “Law & Order,” Variety reports, including asking an open question, “Is it a good show?,” for any of the panel of 20 potential jurors to answer. The replies reportedly included “It’s mindless” and “It’s background noise.”

“After two panels of prospective jurors were questioned by Weinstein’s defense and the D.A.’s office, seven jurors were chosen to serve on the two-month rape trial,” Variety reports. “None of the ‘Law & Order’ fans were ultimately selected for the jury.”

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