EXCLUSIVE: Grimm co-creators David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf have signed a new overall deal with Universal TV. Under the pact, the writing partners will continue as executive producers on the NBC drama, produced by Universal TV and Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills. Grimm, which Greenwalt and Kouf co-created with Stephen Carpenter, was recently picked up for a third season with an early renewal. Grimm, inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales, has been an unsung hero at NBC. It is the only series from the 2011-12 season, the first overseen by NBC’s current regime, to make it to season 3. A rare success story on Friday, Grimm is the night’s No.1 series in adults 18-49. Its most recent second season (6.9 million viewers, 2.4 in 18-49 in Live+7) was up 14% in 18-49 and 12% in total viewers vs. Season 1. Greenwalt and Kouf exec produce the series with Hayes, Milliner and Norberto Barba.
Greenwalt, repped by APA and attorney Alan Hergot, previously co-created cult series Profit, executive produced Buffy The Vampire Slayer and co-created and executive produced its spinoff, Angel, on which Kouf served as a writer-producer. WME-repped Kouf also co-exec produced CBS’ Ghost Whisperer and co-wrote the features National Treasure and Rush Hour.
Cupid’s annual arrow barrage will suit Hollywood just fine next year: Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday in 2014, and Universal today slotted its remake of Endless Love for that ultimate date night. The drama stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde in the roles played by Martin Hewitt and Brooke Shields in Franco Ziffirelli’s 1981 film. The Shana Feste-helmed update will have a third wheel on its opening weekend in the form of another ’80s remake, Sony/Screen Gems’ About Last Night. Fox also will target couples-fueled cash will its sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner while the Weinstein Company deploys its franchise-hopeful Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters.Written by Feste and Josh Safran, Endless Love co-stars Robert Patrick, Bruce Greenwood, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi, Emma Rigby and Joely Richardson. Scott Stuber and Pamela Abdy of Bluegrass Films are producing the redo with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage of Fake Empire.
The fallout from Digital Domain Media Group’s bankruptcy continues with investors in the troubled special effects and 3D conversion firm taking the former CEO, the company’s auditors and other executives to court for fraud. Having lost millions in the James Cameron-founded company just before it went under last September, Iroquois Master Fund and Kingsbrook Opportunities Master Fund late last week filed a six claim complaint (read it here) against John Textor, his wife Deborah, various DDMG directors and auditors SingerLewak LLP. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages as well as interest, legal fees and “such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.” The complaint in New York State Supreme Court alleges common law fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, negligent misrepresentations and omissions, negligence, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and civil conspiracy.
“The Director Defendants’ assurances that DDMG had sufficient cash and available borrowings to support its operations through 2012 and into 2013 and that Company was likely to turn cash-flow positive in the latter half of 2012 were materially false and misleading,” says the 61-page complaint. DDMG filed for Chapter 11 protection last fall with less than $50,000 on hand. Soon afterwards the Oscar-winning company, which was working on several Hollywood features when it collapsed, saw its assets sold off for nearly $37 million plus various patents.
However, it was in the months just before the plug was pulled at DDMG that Iroquois and Kingsbrook say they were scammed by cooked books and smooth talkers. Early last summer the investment companies purchased 142,858 shares of the company’s common stock and 57,143 warrants as well as call options covering 209,524 shares of Digital Domain stock for an aggregate price of $1,000,006 each. This 2012 offering raised more than $10.5 million from the plaintiffs and other investors but even that wasn’t enough to save DDMG. To add insult to injury, in the May 17 filed complaint the plaintiffs also allege that in a scheme to pump up DDMG’s “essentially worthless” stock, as the filing says, CEO Textor had secretly taken out a $10 million loan to manipulate the company’s stock. The previously hidden loan was from Palm Beach Capital. Textor used the money to buy 25% of DDMG’s IPO offering to inflate its worth as the company sought to expand into animated features and other new ventures. Palm Beach Capital are named as defendant in the complaint. In a further twist on the money trail, the filing alleges that Textor, who quit as CEO as the company headed towards Chap. 11, defaulted on the loan. The plaintiffs are represented by Arthur Abbey, Karin Fisch, Jeremy Nash and Nancy Kaboolian of NYC firm Abbey Spanier.
Rachael Harris has signed with ICM Partners. She was with UTA. Harris most recently starred opposite David Spade in the ABC comedy pilot Bad Management, which remains in serious contention for a series pickup. She also recurs on USA drama Suits and did an arc on Fox comedy New Girl. On the feature side, Harris is probably best known for role as Ed Helms’ girlfriend in The Hangover. She also starred in the indie Natural Selection, earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination, as well as the Diary of A Wimpy Kid trilogy. She next will be seen in the Yahoo! comedy series We Need Help opposite Cheryl Hines. Harris is managed by Principato Young Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Writer-producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts have inked a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios where they have been since 2010. At the studio, the duo served as executive producers on ABC’s medical drama Off The Map, as executive producers/showrunners on ABC’s GCB and most recently as consulting producers on another soapy ABC series, Revenge, this past season. Under the new pact, Berg and Harberts will serve as executive producers on the upcoming third season of Revenge, which is undergoing a showrunner transition, with executive producer Sunil Nayar replacing creator Mike Kelley.
ICM Partners-repped Berg and Harberts previously served as executive producers/co-showrunners on the NBC medical drama Mercy, as co-exec producers on the ABC dramedy Pushing Daisies and created/executive produced the WB dramedy Pepper Dennis.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has snapped up life rights for the true crime project Narc, based on the actual story of an All-American college kid-turned-police informant. Zac Efron is attached to star as a student, frat president, and lacrosse team captain who’s busted for drugs intended for a party, then secretly turns narc and helps the cops bust criminals while carrying on his BMOC campus life. Efron’s manager and producing partner Jason Barrett will exec produce with Underground-repped Doug Banker. They’ve got a familiar friend in Fox exec Jason Young, who briefly departed the studio to help Efron establish Ninjas Runnin’ Wild in 2010 before returning as Fox’s VP of Production.
Narc joins a raft of Efron projects in the works which include Einstein Theory, Art Of The Steal, and the Snabba Cash remake, all set up at WB. As for Narc - described as a “college Donnie Brasco,” Fox is tapping a scribe from its writers program. Julie and Rick Yorn are producing for LBI and Matthew Reilly will co-produce. Efron will next be seen in Open Road’s JFK drama Parkland and Treehouse Pictures’ Are We Officially Dating? He is repped by CAA and Alchemy Entertainment.
Disney Channel is not backlash intolerant. After catching flak over an episode of its sophomore comedy Jessie that made fun of a young character’s gluten intolerance in two scenes, the cable outlet has offered a mea culpa — apologizing and pulling the half-hour titled “Quitting Cold Koala.” “We are removing this particular episode from our regular programming schedule and will re-evaluate its references to gluten restrictions in the character’s diet,” Disney Channel said on Facebook. “Please accept our apologies for the upset this episode caused you and your family.”
Nashville became the only ABC freshman drama to get a renewal after spending most of the spring on the bubble. And now that Season 2 is a go, the show will undergo some changes. For now, they appear to be limited to the production/post-production areas. Line producer Loucas George, who ran the operation on the ground in Nashville, where the series is filmed, announced on Twitter shortly after the renewal 10 days ago that his contract had not been renewed. That also applies to his team, including production supervisor Don Bensko, as the new line producer is expected to bring in his/her crew.
Changes on Nashville were expected following a rocky freshman season, with the show going through growing pains and struggling with its creative direction as well as the ratings. I’ve reported accounts of tension between co-producers ABC Studios and Lionsgate and other behind-the-scene issues, including star Connie Britton being unhappy with the experience. In an editorial for The Santa Clarita News, Bensko’s wife Micaela, lamenting the decision not to pick up her husband’s option, spoke about “14-20 hour days with an unrelenting schedule due to issues beyond their control” and “a string of endless and exhausting shoot days” as “a string of delayed scripts and tripping storylines kept everyone on edge.” She also recounted an on-set accident, in which “one of our crew lost his footing while rigging for a huge arena shoot at The Bridgestone. He fell twenty feet and almost died.”
Part of the issue has been the fact that Nashville is filmed in Nashville while the show’s writers as well as producers and studio executives are in Los Angeles. But the location helps Nashville stay authentic, and Lionsgate TV and ABC Studios are lobbying the state of Tennessee for better tax incentive terms. I hear the intention is to keep the production in Nashville but the economics will factor into the final decision.
Creatively, most problems seems to have been resolved, and Dee Johnson is expected to continue as showrunner on the series created by Oscar winner Callie Khouri. In addition to the solid response from critics (Britton is a major awards contender), Nashville draws important young viewers and also generates sizable revenue from digital music downloads.
Barry Levinson has come on board to direct a love story loosely based on the best-selling novel The Cursed Piano by Chinese author Bei La. It takes place across Leningrad and Shanghai over the course of 40 years. Shanghai Film Group is teaming with Mike Medavoy, Levinson and Oscar-winning scribe Ronald Harwood on the project. Producing with Medavoy are Raffaella De Laurentiis and Edward McGurn. Shanghai Film Group is fully financing the pic, which starts production in Shanghai in February.
As everyone knew they would, CBS has taken the top spots for the 2012-2013 TV season for the first time in over 20 years. However, ABC topped adults 18-49 for the final full week of the season and is tied for top spot in the May sweep.
Strong showings from veterans NCIS and The Big Bang Theory, sporting events like the NCAA Tournament and The Masters plus airing the Super Bowl this year, put CBS on top for the season in both viewers and among adults 18-49 for the first time since 1991-1992. With just a couple of days until the season wraps, that breaks Fox’s eight consecutive season hold on the prized demo.
There were a numbers of factors that contributed to Fox slipping into second place among adults 18-49 but certainly the network was plagued by a sharp more than 20% decline for American Idol, which hit an all time finale low last week. Add to that disappointing X-Factor season 2 numbers, Mob Doctor cratering, a lack of traction among its comedies, a lackluster baseball post-season and plethora of preemptions in the fall and Fox was lucky it was muscular enough to only tumble to second place. For all that change, some things have stayed the same. This season is the second year in a row that sees ABC in the fourth place spot despite a second-season surge for Scandal, which was more than offset by a declining Dancing With The Stars and soft freshman series. With a rare November sweep win pushed by NFL Sunday Night Football and The Voice and then a terrible winter that saw it fall behind Univision for the first time, NBC also ended up again in third place among adults 18-49. This season’s results also see CBS as the first network to simultaneously top viewership and the key demo since Fox took the double Gold back in 2007-2008, the year of the writers’ strike. CBS’s victory this year was in part due to the network running Super Bowl XXLVII but as Les Moonves has bragged and other networks concede, CBS would have won the demo even without the big game this year as its schedule was the only one to deliver multiple night victories week after week. Having said that, the Super Bowl moves over to Fox next year so we could see a swing result from this year in the key demo. In terms of its viewership win, CBS was easily No. 1 this season with a 4 million spread between it and second place ABC in total viewers. That’s the biggest total viewership difference between the two top nets since the 1988-1989 season.
BROADCAST NETWORK PRIMETIME RATINGS
SEPT. 24, 2012 TO MAY 19, 2013
1. CBS 2.9/8 (Down 3% from 2011-2012 season)
2. FOX 2.5/7 (Down 22% from 2011-2012 season)
3. NBC 2.4/7 (Down 4% from 2011-2012 season
4. ABC 2.2/6 (Down 8% from 2011-2012 season)
5. Univision 1.5/4 (Even with 2011-2012 season)
5. CW 0.7/2 (Down 13% from 2011-2012 season)
1. CBS 11.85M (Up 1% from 2011-2012 season)
2. ABC 7.85M (Down 6% from 2011-2012 season)
3. FOX 7.06M (Down 21% from 2011-2012 season
4. NBC 6.96M (Down 6% from 2011-2012 season)
5. Univision 3.7M (Up 2% from 2011-2012 season)
6. CW 1.780M (Up 4% from 2011-2012 season)
1. CBS 3.8/9 (Down 3% from 2011-2012 season)
2. FOX 2.9/7 (Down 19% from 2011-2012 season)
3. NBC 2.8/7 (Down 3% from 2011-2012 season)
4. ABC 2.8/7 (Down 10% from 2011-2012 season)
5. CW 0.8/2 (Even with 2011-2012 season)
1. CBS: 56.2 (Up from 55.6 in 2011-2012)
2. ABC: 53.2 (Up from 52.3 in 2011-2012)
3. NBC: 49.5 (Up from 49.3 in 2011-2012)
4. FOX: 46.6 (Up from 46.2 in 2011-2012)
5. CW: 41.7 (Up from 37.1 in 2011-2012)
6. Univision: 39 (Up from 36 in 2011-2012)
CBS may have won the season but it got knocked off the top demo spot for the final full week and was matched by ABC among adults 18-49 in the May sweep. Fueled by strong results from Modern Family, Shark Tank, the Billboard Awards and a series high for Scandal, Week 34 of the season saw ABC take the demo prize for Week 34 of the 2012-2013 season. That result saw ABC becoming the first network to beat Fox during the Idol finale week since 2003. With ABC’s rise of 5% in the demo over the previous frame and a 2.0/6 result, Fox (1.9/6) remained in second place while CBS and NBC tied for the third spot with a 1.7/5, according to Nielsen. The CW stayed even with Week 33 with a 0.5/2. That’s the best ABC has done in the key demo since the 3.4 it got during the week of February 18 to 24 when it broadcasted the Academy Awards and the 2.1 it received during the week starting November 26 last year.
Unlike the full season, the May sweep is a tight race in the core demo. With Monday’s ratings taken into account, ABC and CBS are essentially matched with a 1.8 rating for No. 1 with two more nights to go in the 25-night period that started on April 25. CBS has a 1.8/6 with ABC garnering a 1.8/5 among adults 18-49. Fox and NBC are tied for a close second with a 1.7/5 each. Unlike the other broadcast nets who are down double digits from last year’s sweep, NBC is actually even with its May 2012 result right now. And those numbers could see some shifts in the rankings with the Dancing With The Stars season finale on ABC tonight and the Modern Family season finale on Thursday, a live Voice results show on NBC, the second week of a new season of So You Think You Can Dance on Fox and CBS showing NCIS and NCIS: LA repeats
Listen to (and share) the latest episode from the Cannes Film Festival of our audio podcast Deadline Festivals & Markets Watch, featuring Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione. She talks with host David Bloom about which distributors and projects are making a splash so far; whether Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut, with considerable Chinese backing, can move beyond China to a worldwide hit; how a film starring Sean Penn managed to sell its international rights even before it has been shot; and the crime wave hitting the Croisette.
The M4A version of this podcast is designed to run on any device using Apple’s iTunes software, and includes enhanced graphics and links to stories and other resources. The MP3 version of this podcast is designed to play on virtually any device capable of playing digital audio.
EXCLUSIVE: Mike Lobell, the veteran producer whose 14-years of persistence helped make the remake Gambit happen, is getting close on three other projects with strong elements. He has re-teamed with former partner, writer-director Andrew Bergman, on A Film By Alan Stuart Eisner, an ensemble comedy which so far has Project X‘s Oliver Cooper, Shirley MacLaine and Robin Williams attached, with Rob Reiner making a cameo. Lobell reports that the film has added Sienna Miller, Isla Fisher and Audra MacDonald. Eisner is a comedy dealing with a young man making a documentary to learn what happened to his family during WWII. He is out looking for financing.
Gambit, by the way, ended up with Michael Hoffman directing a script by Joel and Ethan Coen. Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman star and CBS Films releases October 12.
At the same time, Lobell is getting traction on This Man This Woman, the adult love story written by Frederic Raphael. The project has gotten a boost with the attachment of Richard Gere, who long ago sparked to a film which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a marriage. This was the picture that once nearly went into production with Meg Ryan and Sean Penn. Lobell and Gere will now look for a director and their female lead.
That project has been in development for 17 years, but that is nothing compared to Man On Spikes, the first novel from Eight Men Out author Eliot Asinof, that now has Billy Crystal in line to direct it, with talks underway with New York playwright Gabe McKinley to adapt the book. It is a complex story dealing with a young man’s struggle to make it to the big leagues during the 1940′s. The book has been hailed by the likes of Roger Kahn and late New York Post sports columnist Jimmy Cannon. Lobell was a neighbor of Asinof in New York, when Lobell was trying to become a baseball player. Before the book was published in 1955, the author gave Lobell a copy and urged him to keep hustling. Who knew that years later, that advice would manifest itself in a different way, with Lobell the producer still hustling to turn Asinof’s book into a movie.
LOS ANGELES, May 21, 2013 – Veteran research executive Julie Piepenkotter has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Research for FX Networks, it was announced today by FX Networks President and General Manager John Landgraf, to whom she will continue to report. In her new role, Piepenkotter will oversee all facets of program and consumer research for FX, FXM and the new network, FXX, which will debut on September 2. Based in Los Angeles, Piepenkotter joined FX as Senior Vice President, Research in 2009. During her tenure at the Network, she has overseen all aspects of program and consumer research for FX and Fox Movie Channel. She also worked with Fox National Cable Networks on special research projects. Prior to joining FX Networks, Piepenkotter spent 20 years working at The Walt Disney Company, most recently as Senior Vice President of Research for the Disney ABC Television Group in charge of program research for ABC Family, SOAPnet and consumer insights across the Disney ABC television portfolio. She began her career as a media buyer and planner with The Leo Burnett Company in Chicago.
Spike Jonze wrote and directed Her, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Samantha Morton and Olivia Wilde. The film is about a guy who falls in love with the voice of a computer, a la the iPhone’s Siri. Warner Bros will open the pic November 20, 2013 in limited release, two days before fellow specialty pic Nebraska from Alexander Payne and Paramount, Disney’s Delivery Man and of course Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Her has been percolating for a while, with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures coming aboard to finance it in March 2011. Jonze’s last feature was 2009′s Where The Wild Things Are. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has international rights.
The company’s U.S. stock closed +9.3% today — at $22.91, the highest it’s been since late 2011 — in unusually heavy trading after Japan’s Nikkei news service reported that Sony‘s board will explore the proposal from billionaire Daniel Loeb‘s Third Point. Sony was noncommittal last week when the hedge fund disclosed that it had paid $1.1B for a 6.4% stake in the electronics giant, and wanted it to create a separate stock for the movie, television, and music production and distribution operations. Loeb proposed that Sony sell as much as 20% of the entertainment unit, and use the cash to shore up the core electronics businesses. Sony shares have appreciated about 16% since then. (Third Point partnered with Deadline’s parent Penske Media Corp in its acquisition last year of Variety.)
New Falling Skies showrunner David Eick has started to put together a strong writing staff for the hit TNT drama’s fourth season. Veteran showrunner Carol Barbee has joined the alien-invasion series as a consulting producer. She recently worked with Eick on Fox’s Touch where she was an executive producer and he was a consulting producer. Season 3 of Falling Skies, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Noah Wyle, kicks off with a two-hour premiere June 9. It is yet to be renewed for a fourth season though that is considered a formality as Falling Skies is TNT’s #1 scripted series in the younger demos. WME-repped Barbee previously served as executive producer/showrunner on cult CBS drama Jericho which, similarly to Falling Skies, was set in a post-apocalyptic world.
The freewheeling head of FilmOn has to stop using names including Aereokiller and BarryDriller.com for his broadcast streaming service according a settlement overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins. The decision appears to end three lawsuits: Last year IAC chief Barry Diller — a major investor in Aereo — sued David for creating a site called BarryDriller.com. In February, David returned fire, suing Aereo for trademark infringement after he bought the naming rights to a product called Aero. And in March, Aereo sued David for creating a site called Aero.tv. Like Aereo, FilmOn streams programming taken from over-the-air signals — and has also incurred the wrath of broadcasters who say that it violates their copyrights. A New York court has allowed Aereo to expand while it weighs the broadcasters’ challenge. But in December a California court granted a temporary injunction that applies locally against David’s service. Even so, he says that with the trademark settlements FilmOn now “can continue rolling out our service nationwide. We are currently in 45 markets compared to Aereo’s two.” He adds in a statement: “So eat s*it Barry.”
The Season 1 finale of Bates Motel last night on A&E got 2.7 million viewers with 1.5 million among adults 18-49 and 1.4 million among adults 25-54. That’s up 15% in the 18-49 demo from last week’s show and up 8% in total viewers and among Adults 25-54. The finale was down from the show’s March 18 premiere that was the most-watched original drama in the demos in A&E’s history. The debut of the Psycho prequel garnered 3 million total viewers and 1.599 million viewers among adults 18-49 and 1.633 million viewers among adults 25-54. Those numbers made it a no-brainer that A&E announced on April 8 that it had renewed Bates Motel for a 10-episode second season to air in 2014. Overall, Bates Motel averaged 2.7 million viewers in its first season with 1.5 million in both the 18-49 and 25-54 demos. Those results are the best any A&E drama has performed in the demos. The numbers place Bates Motel as the No. 2 top new cable drama of the season behind History’s Vikings.
The series, whose first season ran for 10-espisodes, details the dark backstory of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and how deeply intricate his relationship is with his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga). Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) executive produce.
JS Communications has finally settled for a reduced break-up fee in the drawn-out Rhythm & Hues bankruptcy saga. It’s been two months since troubled VFX house R&H sold out of bankruptcy to Prana Studios-led Holdings, LLC following a roller-coaster closed-door auction. At issue was the court-approved $425K fee promised to JS Communications as stalking horse bidder if a qualified rival beat them out for the Life Of Pi company, which JS was eyeing to buy. But in a hotly contested development, JS failed to meet a deadline to submit its bid (exec David Shim told me then that his dealings with Fox and Universal left him less than optimistic about buying R&H without future work assurances). Per a court document filed this week (read it here), JS will receive a $300K break-up fee. If approved in court June 4, that should put the R&H saga to bed for the time being; multiple class action lawsuits against R&H filed by former employees have yet to be settled.