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Hot Off The Press: The Latest TV News and Information - Page 2952

post #88531 of 93649
TV Notes
TV doesn't get much better than 'Broadchurch'
By Robert Bianco, USA Today - Jul. 25, 2013

Murder most foul, TV most fabulous.

That's Broadchurch.

Debuting on BBC America on Aug. 7, this British import follows the murder of a young boy in a small, sea-side English town. Written by Chris Chibnall, the series stars David Tennant as a new chief inspector, Olivia Colman as his local assistant, and Jodie Whittaker as the boy's mother.

The series is a self-contained, eight-hour mystery: At the end of the run, you will know who the murderer is. For Colman, that was essential — anything else, she says, would have been cheating.

If solving the mystery was a game, the actors got to play along. They didn't learn who the murderer was until the last script came out, and spent much of the shoot trying to guess. 'We were obsessed with it."

Like her character, Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, Colman has children. But she does not feel that having children is essential for playing a role like Ellie, who is devastated by the murder of her best friend's son.

"I maintain that you don't have to be a mother to imagine. Everyone has some children in their lives. ...This is the worst thing you can imagine, and it's fairly easy to imagine how awful that is. ...There were many scenes where it says 'Ellie doesn't cry,' and I said 'Good luck with that.' "

Happily, she says, she was able to leave those tears on the set. "At the end of the day, you let it go and you carry on."

Colman assumed she would be letting go of the role, as the end of the story does not seem to leave a lot of room for a second season. And then, she says, when the show concluded on British TV, a card flashed on the screen saying Broadchurch would return — which she took as both good and bad news.

"We're all going 'How? How will that happen?' It is going to go again, but that's as much as we know/ ... The premise, we're not sure about. Who's in it, we're not sure about. We're a bit nervous."

post #88532 of 93649
TCA Summer 2013 Notes
HBO Brass On Future Of ‘Criminal Justice’, ‘The Newsroom’, ‘Game Of Thrones’, ‘True Blood’ & ‘Family Tree’
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com Team - Jul. 25, 2013

The recent death of James Gandolfini reverberated through the HBO executive session at TCA today. “Jim’s passing took the wind out of our sails,” HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said when asked about the future of the recently greenlighted limited series Criminal Justice, which Gandolfini executive produced and was to star in. “I can’t imagine airing the pilot with James in it,” Lombardo said, noting that the network is in discussions with director Steven Zaillian about how to proceed. “Conversations would be about reshooting the portion in the pilot with Jim and recasting the role.” The project, written by Richard Price, was originally piloted as a traditional drama series last year. HBO passed on the pilot in February but then picked it up as a limited series in May. Price and Zaillian continue to work on scripts, Lombardo said.

There will be a third season of The Newsroom. “The odds are excellent – we’re enormously happy with the show,” Lombardo said. “Conversations with (creator) Aaron Sorkin are all about scheduling as he he has other commitments. If we can figure the scheduling, I will be shocked if you would not be hearing about a renewal soon. The numbers this season are surpassing last season.” Things are not as certain about a second season of Family Tree, which just finished its freshman season. ”It is a co-production with the BBC, and they’re interested in doing another season,” Lombardo said.” It didn’t find as robust an audience as we’d hoped for but we’re proud of it.”

As for how long Game Of Thrones and True Blood would go, “they can go as long as there is story,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said, noting that no end-game conversation on GOT, originally envisioned for a seven-season run, has started. And on True Blood, which changed showrunners early in the season with Brian Buckner taking the reins, “It feels like there is a new energy this season, and the show still has a large fan base,” Lombardo said. Both series have been renewed.

However, Mike White’s dark comedy Enlightened was not, receiving an Emmy nomination for star Laura Dern post-cancellation. “The show didn’t grow in the second year,” Lombardo said about the decision not to proceed with the series. “The most important element is we felt creatively the story of Amy had come to a natural resting place.”


* * * *

TCA Summer 2013 Notes
HBO’s ‘Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight’ Writer Defends Show’s White Cast
By Lisa De Moraes, Deadline.com Team - Jul. 25, 2013

HBO’s movie Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight has a lily-white cast because it’s a Supreme Court drama set in 1971, the show’s creators explained today at TCA Summer TV Press Tour. This was in response to a TV critic who asked them why the movie had so many white characters and didn’t “go into what black people were thinking” when the heavyweight champ refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military to fight in Vietnam on religious grounds. The movie spans just a few weeks — about six months before Roe v Wade. Ali does appear in the movie, but it’s Actual Ali, 100 percent archival footage.

“We were making a Supreme Court drama,” explained screenwriter Shawn Slovo, noting that all but one of the justices and all of the clerks were white men. “There were no black clerks and woman clerks,” Slovo explained patiently, adding, “That’s the drama we were telling. We chose to make a Supreme Court drama about the Ali case.” For refusing to be conscripted into the military, Ali was arrested, found guilty on draft evasion charges and stripped of his boxing title. In 1971 the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. This movie is about the justices coming to that decision. One critic asked Slovo to compare that Supreme Court with today’s. “There seemed to be more of an independence then than what I know about how the Supreme Court operates today. It was an extremely courageous decision; obviously there was pressure from the chief of the Supreme Court to keep the status quo there. It’s that independence of judgment that has resonance in comparison to today’s Supreme Court which seems more politically tied.”

post #88533 of 93649
TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
FRIDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Network late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - Shark Tank
(R - Apr. 5)
9PM - Would You Fall For That? (Series Premiere)
10PM - 20/20
* * * *
11:35PM - Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Maggie Gyllenhaal; Dean Norris; Empire of the Sun perform)
(R - Jul. 18)
12:37AM - Nightline

8PM - ACM Presents: Tim McGraw's Superstar Summer Night (120 min.)
(R - May 19)
10PM - Blue Bloods
(R - Jan. 11)
* * * *
11:35PM - Late Show with David Letterman (Bruce Willis; MLB Commissioner Bud Selig; Valerie Simpson performs)
(R - Jul. 15)
12:37AM - Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Lisa Kudrow; comic Michael McDonald)

8PM - Camp
(R - Jul. 24)
9PM - Dateline NBC (120 min.)
* * * *
11:34PM - The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (Singer Katy Perry; former pro football player Cris Collinsworth; Kacey Musgraves performs)
12:36AM - Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (Liev Schreiber; Anthony Anderson; Imagine Dragons perform)
1:36AM - Last Call with Carson Daly (Singer Pete Wentz; No Place on Earth; Tift Merritt performs)
(R - Apr. 2)

8PM - Bones
(R - Feb. 25)
9PM - The Following
(R - Mar. 18)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Washington Week
8:30PM - Charlie Rose: The Week
9PM - Great Performances - Dancing at Jacob's Pillow: Never Stand Still
10PM - David Phelps Classic

8PM - Porque el Amor Manda
9PM - Amores Verdaderos
10PM - Qué Bonito Amor

8PM - The iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party (120 min.)
(R - Jul. 15)

8PM - Dama y Obrero
9PM - Marido en Alquiler
10PM - El Señor de Los Cielos

10PM - Real Time with Bill Maher (LIVE; Women's rights activist Sarah Slamen; theologian Jim Wallis; author Reza Aslan; former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio); former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D-N.Y.))

11PM - Chelsea Lately (Snoop Lion is promoting; Thomas Dale; Kerri Kenney-Silver; James Davis)
(R - Jul. 18)
post #88534 of 93649
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TCA Summer 2013 Notes
HBO Brass On Future Of ‘Criminal Justice’, ‘The Newsroom’, ‘Game Of Thrones’, ‘True Blood’ & ‘Family Tree’
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com Team - Jul. 25, 2013

As for how long Game Of Thrones and True Blood would go, “they can go as long as there is story,” HBO CEO Richard Plepler said, noting that no end-game conversation on GOT, originally envisioned for a seven-season run, has started.

I imagine that conversation was attempted like this:

"Hey, George, any idea when you might finish writing the final book?"


Followed by lots of sad faces in HBO accounting.
post #88535 of 93649
Critic's Notes
Streaming Scorecard: Is Hulu Plus Still the TV King?
By Josef Adalian, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Jul. 24, 2013

This morning, a few hundred entertainment journalists and bloggers began their initial descent into Beverly Hills for the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour, a two-week gathering where those of us in attendance will huddle in sunless hotel ballrooms and listen to dozens of pitches for the many new shows scheduled to roll out over the coming months. All six broadcast networks will hawk their wares, as will more than twenty cable outlets. But a medium-size shadow will also be cast at this year’s festivities by the comparatively new form of television known as subscription streaming video services, and in particular by the three major players in that upstart category: Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.

In the past year, these SVOD outlets have emerged as legitimate competitors to the traditional television networks that have hogged the press tour spotlight since the inaugural TCA event back in 1978. Last week, Netflix broke through the linear ceiling, snagging fourteen Emmy nominations and becoming the first digital video service to land nominations in major categories. Earlier this year, as broadcasters blindly threw themselves into an ancient and secretive pilot process that typically results in more than half of all green-lit shows failing after just one season, Amazon was involving its customers in the process of deciding the fates of a handful of comedy and kiddie programs. And next week, Hulu will make its third appearance at the TCA press tour to tout a slate of original series headlined by an animated series from Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers. While none of these up and comers is yet anywhere near as big as a broadcast network or even most cable outlets, it's clear that these digital networks are well out of their beta stage and have arrived as serious players in the TV marketplace. So just as we did with the broadcast networks during upfront week last May, Vulture will use the occasion of the TCA press tour to take a detailed look at the new Big Three of streaming: Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime. We've grilled the top executives who call the shots at each of the services about their programming plans and business strategies. We've dug into their content libraries to see where they're strongest and weakest. And we've also quizzed a few Wall Street media analysts to get their take on the trio and how the services compare to each other.

First up: Hulu Plus, which launched in late 2010 as a subscription companion to the free online service. The company has already been put up for sale a couple of times, but earlier this month, its owners deemed the property more valuable than the offers it received and instead infused the venture with $750 million "to propel future growth." Hulu Plus has found its niche as the go-to streaming service for anyone looking to catch up with recent episodes of broadcast and cable shows. But will that be enough going forward?


4 million (as of April), up from 2 million a year ago

Library: 2,700 TV series, 4,400 movies (61,700 total hours of content)

Hit TV shows: 53 percent of Nielsen's most-watched broadcast TV shows from the 2012–13 season are available to stream

Content pipeline: Originals currently airing or in production include The Awesomes and the half-hour Western comedy Quick Draw (from the team behind 10 Items or Less).
The big picture: Hulu began life back in 2007 as a way for its owners — the corporate giants behind ABC, NBC, and Fox — to better expose their TV programming on a single digital platform. And that's still one of the service's biggest selling points, even six years after launch. "If you want [current] seasons of TV shows still on the air, Hulu is the best place to find them," says Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG. And often, it's the only place to watch, at least on a subscription basis. If one of your summer goals, for example, is to catch up on ABC's red-hot Scandal, you currently aren't able to watch season two on Netflix, and ABC's website will only let you watch the five most recent episodes. You could head over to Amazon or iTunes — but you'll have to pay $2 an episode, or $25 for the full season, to view them (and that includes Amazon Prime members). At Hulu Plus (but not at regular Hulu), though, every single episode from the 2012–13 Scandal season is there for the streaming, each made available the day after it airs on ABC. The same is true of most NBC and Fox shows. While having access to so much programming from major cable and broadcast networks gives Hulu a big marketing hook, there's a limitation: Its exclusive window for those shows is often pretty brief. Season two of Scandal, for example, will pop up on Netflix late next month, just three months after the show's ABC season finale. And as DVR capacity gets bigger — you can now record hundreds of hours of programming on DirecTV's Genie and DISH's Hopper, for example — it's becoming increasingly easy for viewers to record full seasons of shows themselves and stash them for offline binge-watching (although that isn't a factor for the not-insignificant segment of the Hulu Plus subscriber base without cable or satellite service). Another issue for Hulu: While it has deep access to next-day network content, that access is not universal. Some shows that stream on the free Hulu can't be watched on Hulu Plus; other shows can be seen on computers, but not iPads or an Internet-connected TV. It's enough of an issue that Hulu has posted a full explainer in the support section of its website.

Acquired content: Realizing that network reruns wouldn't be enough if it wanted to grow, Hulu began adding exclusive content a couple of years ago, starting with a heavy dose of imports. By the middle of 2011, the service was striking deals to become the only U.S. home for international shows such as the British sci-fi action comedy Misfits and the ominous Canadian drama The Booth at the End. It also helped fund production for the fourth season of Veep creator Armando Iannucci's BBC comedy The Thick of It. Right now, it boasts 450 international titles, nearly half of which are Korean-language dramas and comedies, with more than 13,000 hours of content, quite a few of which aren't available to stream on Netflix or Amazon Prime. A big reason why there are so many non-U.S. shows: Hulu often snags these series for a fraction of the usual license fees, instead offering international content creators a chance to share in the ad revenue the service brings in. Andy Forssell, acting CEO of Hulu, wouldn't talk specifics, but did say that being able to offer producers a cut of ad revenue "gives us a lot of flexibility" when it comes to making deals for shows that otherwise might never get exposure in the U.S. "There's also a lot of content on the service where we've said to content providers, 'Let's put it on and see how they do,'" Forssell explains. "We have some shows that are [straight] license fees, some that are revenue shares, and some that are something in the middle. We're not religious about the model. Much of the licensing from the U.K. has been a hybrid model. There's a fixed fee they lock in, but then there's an upside" if the shows become hits. These shows just don't get added to Hulu's vast catalogue, either. Watch back-to-back episodes of Scandal, for instance, and you'll soon be able to quote lines from imported British dramedy Pramface owing to Hulu's nonstop promos for the show. Beyond the wide international selection, Hulu also has a deal with CBS for older programs (I Love Lucy, etc.); an agreement with WWE for next-day streaming of its content; and exclusive arrangements with the Criterion Collection, a few documentary production companies, and the makers of resurrected soaps All My Children and One Life to Live.

Original content: More recently, Hulu has followed Netflix by commissioning its own original series. In August 2011, six months after its rival announced plans for House of Cards, Hulu hired Morgan Spurlock to do the interview series A Day in the Life. And early last year, Hulu green-lit its first scripted show, Battleground, from producer Marc Webb (The Amazing Spider-Man). In 2013, Hulu has gotten even more aggressive: Before the year's over, the service will have added the aforementioned The Awesomes and Quick Draw, as well as The Wrong Mans, a thriller from Doctor Who alum James Corden. Hulu has also bought in shows it didn't develop internally, ensuring that they won't air anywhere else in the U.S., such as East Los High and an upcoming Eva Longoria comedy dubbed Mother Up! Forssell says the combination of only-on-Hulu acquisitions, co-productions and original productions is an important part of the service's strategy, but not the biggest element. "It's good to have a chunk of programming where you're the only place that has it," he says, admitting that "about 5 to 6 percent" of the service's content is exclusive. "I could see that doubling … [but] it's not a quota we have to fill," he says. As for how much Hulu spends on its originals, "We're in the middle range of most cable budgets," Forssell says. "We're not chintzy by any means … [but] we don't want to double down on the usual Hollywood model. Not because that's wrong, but because it's not in our DNA … We think constraints are good."

Charlotte Koh, a former film exec whose résumé includes Fox Searchlight and Marvel, heads up Hulu's original series development, working with a team of execs she calls "modest in size." Hulu's programming strategy, like its streaming rivals, is heavily influenced by the vast amount of data it gets from studying how and what viewers watch on the service. "We're big believers in data-driven things," Forssell concedes, but insists creative decisions aren't a result of simply crunching numbers. "We're also big believers in editorial voice," he says. Koh says some projects have come from the usual Hollywood channels, "through reps and producers." Others, such as the upcoming 'toon The Awesomes, sprang from an evolution in a preexisting relationship Hulu had with a content provider, in this case, Lorne Michaels's Broadway Video (whose entire SNL catalogue is streamable on Hulu Plus). Koh and Forssell refuse to attach any labels to the kinds of programming they're looking to do. While strongly defined brands are common on linear TV — you don't have to be a TV expert to spot a CBS drama or an FX comedy — Hulu right now isn't looking to assemble a collection of shows with any common through line. "We don't have to have a show conform to a network personality," Koh explains.

What analysts say: Mike Olson, a media analyst at Piper Jaffray, echoes Greenfield's assessment that Hulu excels when it comes to shows still airing. "If you're looking for current shows, it's Hulu," he says. The biggest weakness of the service? "It's just that: They mostly have TV content," Olson says. "They don't have any major blockbuster movies." Also, as Greenfield notes, even though networks such as ABC have an ownership stake in Hulu (in ABC's case, via common parent Disney), those same networks push viewers to watch their shows not on Hulu but on branded apps such as Watch ABC. At least in terms of buzz, Netflix is leaps and bounds ahead of Hulu Plus (and Amazon Prime) where its original content is concerned, as last week's Emmy nominations underscored. There are some interesting acquired shows exclusive to Hulu Plus, like the all-Latino cast East Los High or the charming British teen drama Pramface. But as of yet, none of Hulu's originals or true exclusives have become must-see. One reason Hulu might not have come on so strong and is playing a bit of catch-up is that, behind the scenes, there has been conflict between its main owners about the future of the service. (Longtime CEO Jason Kilar, perhaps sick of all the drama, left the service in January.) Indeed, until earlier this month, Hulu was up for sale. For now, its owners have retained the service and have funneled three quarters of a billion dollars into the business and take Netflix on in the original content department. And Hulu is already making a bigger push to promote its small slate of upcoming originals: The company is alone among the SVODs in showcasing its programming — including The Awesomes — at the TV Critics Association press tour.

Bottom line: Hulu rivals Netflix in terms of brand awareness, and its relationship with so many big TV companies gives it a ton of content with wide appeal. But it needs to dramatically bulk up its exclusives, while also hoping one of its upcoming originals generates the sort of buzz that now seems to come easily to Netflix.

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Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jul. 26, 2013

Public Television, Check local listings

Bill Moyers’ guest this week, helping Moyers commemorate and evaluate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, is Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), the last surviving speaker from the day Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech from the Lincoln Memorial. The hour – a must-see, engrossing TV history lesson – begins with Moyers and Lewis chatting with young students at the base of Lincoln’s statue, and ends with Moyers thanking Lewis for “your work and your witness.” The same goes for you, Bill. For a full review, see Bianculli’s Blog. Moyers & Company is televised Friday through Sunday on local TV stations. To find when and where it airs in your area, see the Moyers & Company website.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

In 1973, Francois Truffaut directed this head-spinning exercise in life imitating art becoming art imitating life imitating… and so on. The movie is about a director, played by Truffaut himself, working against strong odds, and strong-willed actors and actresses and assistants, to complete a movie that’s behind schedule and beset with production problems. Co-stars include Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese and Jean-Pierre Aumont.

The Movie Channel, 8:00 p.m. ET

In this 2011 romantic comedy directed by the lyrical Lasse Hallstrom, a sheikh wants to bring sport fishing to the deserts of Yemen – and with an almost unlimited budget, and an enterprising scientist, the attempt is made. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt star, which is good news. If there’s one thing that’s crucial to the success of a movie about salmon fishing, it’s the casting.

WNET-Ch. 13 NY, 10:00 p.m. ET

Less than six weeks after the horrifying shooting at Sandy Hook, CT, the theater communities in nearby Newtown, elsewhere in Connecticut and throughout New York City combined to donate their services and put on a Broadway-level benefit show at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, CT – “about 20 minutes,” says my longtime friend Jeffrey Saver, the show’s music director, “from where the shootings occurred.” All involved donated their services, and donations are solicited during the public TV broadcast as well. The two-hour event, condensed here as a one-hour special, is described as follows: “Composers, musicians and more than 100 stars of Broadway came together with over 300 students from several Newtown dance groups, the Sandy Hook Elementary School 3rd and 4th grades and the Newtown High School Chamber Choir. This commercial-free broadcast version of the concert features Brian Stokes Mitchell, Linda Eder, Stephen Schwartz, Micky Dolenz, Marc Shaiman, Michael Cerveris, Frank Wildhorn, Nikki Blonsky, Alan Muraoka, Robin de Jesus, Ashley Blanchet and Capathia Jenkins, along with Muppets and cast members from Sesame Street. Check local listings.

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

Francois Truffaut directed this haunting 1980 film, which provided memorable and complicated roles for two of France’s most iconic movie stars: the impulsive Gerard Depardieu and the gorgeous Catherine Deneuve.

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Critic's Notes
Streaming Scorecard: Is Amazon Prime Really the Underdog in the SVOD Race?
By Josef Adalian, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Jul. 25, 2013

All this week, as broadcast and cable networks present their upcoming shows to a gathering of television critics, Vulture will be taking a look at what's going on in the rapidly growing world of subscription video streaming services. Yesterday, we looked at the TV-centric Hulu Plus, and tomorrow we'll wrap things up with Netflix. But today we're zooming in on Amazon Prime Instant Video, an SVOD service from the online retail goliath whose dirt-cheap prices and great customer service helped hasten the demise of brick-and-mortar bookstores. Amazon is nowhere near as dominant in the SVOD space, but it is quickly making strides.


Subscribers: "We don’t disclose the number of Prime members (or the number of members that use Prime Instant Video)," an Amazon spokeswoman tells Vulture. "But I can tell you we have millions of Prime customers."

Library: 41,000 movies and TV episodes, with Amazon counting all episodes of a show in its total tally; Vulture found 14,561 individual movies available to stream, along with 2,113 standard definition TV series.

Hit TV shows: 9 percent of Nielsen's top 75 shows from last season are in Prime's streaming library, according to a June study by Piper Jaffray.

Content pipeline: Originals in production include the comedies Alpha House (with John Goodman) and Betas (about a tech start-up), as well as three kiddie shows.

The big picture: The youngest of the Big Three subscription streaming services, Prime Instant Video is rapidly catching up to its older subscription video siblings. When it launched in February 2011, only 5,000 movies and TV episodes were available. Barely two years later, that figure, as noted above, has increased eight-fold. And, like Hulu and Netflix, Amazon is diving into the original production business, making a big splash earlier this year by putting a handful of pilots online and then giving users a hand in selecting which ones got green-lit to series. It's also invested in outside projects, providing a big chunk of the budget for CBS's summer hit Under the Dome in exchange for getting a digital distribution window on episodes just four days after they air on TV. Where Amazon stands apart from its chief rivals is in its business model. For one thing, it's actually not a stand-alone service with a monthly subscription fee. Instead, it's a fringe benefit of Amazon Prime, the $79-per-year membership plan that gives shoppers unlimited, free two-day shipping, a service the company began offering in 2005 to give consumers even more incentive to buy its wares. You can't yet pay the roughly $6.50 a month to get Prime Instant Video on its own (although Amazon tested just such a stand-alone option last winter). What's more, Amazon is the only one of the Big Three streamers which offers an à la carte option as part of its service. As with Netflix and Hulu Plus, Prime gives you unlimited access to a set number of shows and movies (the aforementioned 40,000 videos). But it also easily lets subscribers (and non-subscribers) rent or buy over 150,000 other titles, just the way iTunes does. Netflix and Hulu Plus curate their programming, much the way HBO or Showtime have for decades. "Amazon wants to deliver every piece of content that exists," says BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield.

Original content: Right now, there isn't any — save for the pilot episodes of the two comedies (including Alpha House, with John Goodman) and three kids' shows Amazon green-lit to series in late May. (The pilots that didn't get ordered — including the biggest title of the bunch, a spinoff of Zombieland — have disappeared.) By the end of the year, however, at least one of the new Amazon shows will be streaming. And in the interim, Amazon's development process has served as a brilliant method to market its entry into the originals game. Putting all of its pilots online at once, and inviting user feedback, generated enormous buzz in both tech and entertainment media, even if none of the individual pilots themselves greatly impressed. Instead of a network dictating what viewers should watch, Amazon came off as a Hollywood disrupter, blowing up pilot season in favor of crowdsourcing. In truth, Amazon never promised to let consumers make the final call, and Price confirms that they didn't — at least not completely. "There were a lot of different metrics and sources of feedback," he explains. "I wouldn't say there were two top shows where it was obvious you had to go with these ... We went with the ones [where] the customers' response predicted the best possible outcome." The crowdsourcing wasn't a gimmick, however. Price says it was simply a way to expand upon the pilot testing process broadcasters have used for years. "Networks have a lot of data, too," he says. Amazon's method was simply "a much larger scale than with typical research."

While Amazon is a data-driven company, and interpreting data played a role in determining which scripts should be piloted (and then ordered to series), Price is careful to stress that he and his development team are not soulless numbers crunchers picking shows based on some sort of formula. "You look at the data [and] that gives you a general idea that [one] kind of thing has promise," he explains. "But even armed with that info, you have to find the particular idea, or script, and read it and respond. It's a hybrid of the two models." Price believes crowdsourcing's biggest benefit might be in helping the Amazon team consider shows that might normally not get a shot, and thus come up with a breakout. "Often it's a rule-breaking show that defies the wisdom of bright TV execs," he says "Typically a certain group of people working together think, 'This will never work.' And then you get shows like Hill Street Blues or Breaking Bad that are game-changing shows that break all the rules — and succeed. So if you think game-changers are rule-breakers, you want to be open to ideas. You want the ultimate decision to come from the audience. That's not a group that will fall into some conventional wisdom."

Despite some cries that the pilots looked cheap, Price says Amazon isn't being chintzy about its spending on the new scripted comedies, though he wouldn't discuss exact dollar figures. "The show and pilot budgets are comparable to premium cable scripted TV," he says. "If you saw a list of budgets for those shows, ours would all fit within the same range." He also said it's too soon to define a brand for Amazon shows. "Any broader creative characteristic would have to emerge over time," Price says. "It would be led by one or two successful shows. That might shape the brand." And while Amazon Studios' parent company has deep, deep pockets and has shown a willingness to invest, Price isn't yet ready to predict a massive wave of new shows for Prime. Not yet, at least. "To a large extent, it's up to how customers respond to the shows," he says. "If they're great, and everyone loves them, there will be more. We have to learn from what happens. We look forward to original content being a major part of Prime Video. That'll be determined by how they do." For now, however, Price is planning on success. "We are just about to dig into a new round of pilots," he says.

Acquired content: The company's expected to spend $1 billion snatching up movies and TV shows this year, according to multiple media and Wall Street analysts' reports. That's impressive — at least until you consider that Netflix spends double that. Nonetheless, $1 billion is a lot of money, and it signals Amazon is very serious about evolving Prime Instant Video from a perk to a peer of Netflix and Hulu. This summer's blockbuster deal with Viacom also underscored this: The agreement gives Prime exclusive rights to past seasons of a slew of shows, including Tosh.0, Dora the Explorer, and Workaholics. Prime also recently stole away Downton Abbey from Netflix, and it has deals in place for a number of USA Network, History, and TNT shows. (Again, these are library deals: Episodes from the current season require users to pay $2 an episode.) Amazon's splashiest content agreement, however, has been the aforementioned deal with CBS for Under the Dome. For under $10 million — about $750,000 an episode — Amazon has landed same-week repeat rights for the summer's biggest scripted show, not to mention untold amounts of PR for Prime Instant Video.

Brad Beale, who's the head of video content acquisition for Amazon, echoes colleague Price when explaining the rationale for the Dome deal: It was the data, stupid. "We sell a few books, and we knew about our customers' love of Stephen King," he says. (Steven Spielberg's connection to the show, plus Amazon's long relationship with CBS, were also factors.) Beale, like his peers at Hulu and Netflix, won't discuss exactly how Dome is doing on Prime, but did say it's been "the most successful show premiere" for the service. (Suck it, Downton Abbey!) Network and studios are salivating over the possibility of Amazon (or other streaming services) becoming early investors in shows, since it greatly reduces their exposure to risk if the programs flop. But Beale isn't ready to give any indication as to whether he'll keep his wallet open for more such deals. "It's too early to tell whether this kind of unique model … is something that can be replicated often," he says. But, "the earlier our customers get access, that's a good thing. It's absolutely our desire to have the freshest content on the service."

While another Dome-like deal may or may not happen soon, Beale indicated that Amazon is not yet done bulking up its content library as it attempts to catch up with Hulu Plus and Netflix. "You'll find many more interesting things to come in terms of the content on Amazon Prime," he says, pointing to feature films as one area that has recently been bulked up (via this month's deal to add hundreds of Miramax titles to Prime on a nonexclusive basis, including Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting). And a late 2012 pact with EPIX delivered a ton of Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate titles, albeit ones that are available on Netflix as well, including The Hunger Games, The Avengers, and, perhaps most important, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. "Selection is absolutely one of the most important tenets at Amazon," Beale says. "And with video, we take the same philosophy."

What analysts say: BTIG's Greenfield says Amazon's recent buying spree has started to yield benefits. "Their content has gotten substantially better," he says. And Mike Olsen, a media analyst at Piper Jaffray, says Prime Instant Video "offers consumers maybe the best value proposition," since Prime also includes unlimited free shipping and the ability to digitally borrow books on Kindle. But while Prime has caught up, it's still not there, Olsen says. "They're kind of okay in all categories, but they don't lead in any category," he argues. And then there's the matter of how Prime mixes video on demand with subscription video on demand. Beale thinks giving users the ability to watch just about anything that's online on a pay-per-view basis is a good thing, since it makes Prime one-stop steaming. "What we find is that customers love having all these options," he says. But Greenfield isn't sold: "As a streaming experience, it's a lesser experience," he says. And Olson agrees that the blending of the two formats, while perhaps attractive to some users, "also confuses people. With Amazon, if you search for something, it's there. And you think, 'That's great. The subscription comes with this. But then you find out it doesn't ... It can frustrate customers."

Bottom line: Prime Instant Video has gone from almost an afterthought in the streaming space to a real player in barely two years. It's a perfect starter drug for the many million of entertainment consumers looking for a cheap way to experience what streaming video is all about, particularly older ones who'd never consider cord-cutting. The original content on tap also looks compelling, and Amazon Über-boss Jeff Bezos has proven again and again he can't be counted out. And yet: As of right now, Prime still feels like a laggard compared to Netflix and Hulu. In a year or two, however: Who knows?

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It takes a 'war room' to launch Netflix's series
AP Technology Writer

LOS GATOS, Calif. Netflix's Internet video subscription service works around the clock, but it's unusual for more than two dozen of the company's engineers and top managers to be huddled in a conference room at 10:30 on a midsummer Wednesday evening.

This is a special occasion. It's near the end of a grueling day that will culminate in the premiere of "Orange Is The New Black," the fourth exclusive Netflix series to be released in five months. The show's first episode is called "I Wasn't Ready," and everyone in the room has been logging long hours to ensure that the title doesn't apply to the debut.

Netflix Inc. invited The Associated Press to its Los Gatos, Calif., headquarters for an unprecedented glimpse at the technical preparations that go into the release of its original programming. The shows have become the foundation of Netflix's push to build an Internet counterpart to HBO's premium cable channel.

"This is Silicon Valley's equivalent of a midnight movie premiere in Hollywood," says Chris Jaffe, Netflix's vice president of product innovation.

Netflix made a name for itself as a DVD-by-mail provider and an Internet video streaming business mainly by offering content from other companies. Lately, the company has been releasing its own content as a way to hook new customers on its $8-per-month streaming service.

The company promised its 37.6 million worldwide subscribers that they can start watching all 13 episodes of its latest original series at the stroke of midnight, Pacific Time, on July 11. So Jaffe and Netflix engineering director Bob Heldt have summoned a battalion of key employees to a conference room named after "Dark Passage," a 1947 film noir starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

On this night, the setting has been transformed into Netflix's version of a war room. The engineers are flanked by seven flat-screen televisions on one side of the room and two giant screens on the other. One big screen is scrolling through Twitter to highlight tweets mentioning "Orange Is The New Black," an offbeat drama set in a women's prison. The other screen is listing some of Netflix's most closely guarded information — the rankings of videos that are attracting the most viewers on an hourly basis.

If all goes well, the pizza and snacks that Netflix's bleary-eyed workers have been munching will be washed down with a champagne celebration after the show starts streaming.

"This will be a successful night if we are here at midnight and it turns out that we really didn't need to be because there were no problems," says Yury Izrailevsky, Netflix's vice president of cloud computing and platform engineering.

The mission is to ensure each installment of "Orange Is The New Black" has been properly coded so the series can be watched on any of the 800 Internet-connected devices compatible with Netflix's service.

It's a complex task because Netflix has to account for viewers who have different Internet connection speeds, various screen sizes and different technologies running the devices. About 120 variations of code have been programmed into "Orange Is The New Black" to prepare it to be streamed on Netflix throughout the U.S and 39 other countries. Another set of engineers had to ensure foreign-language subtitles and dubbing were in place and streaming properly.

Others are still checking to make certain that the English dialogue properly syncs with the video being shown at different Internet connection speeds. Just before another Netflix series, "House of Cards," debuted in February, engineers detected two minutes of dialogue that was out of sync with video played on iPhones at certain speeds, prompting a mad scramble to fix the problem before the series was released to subscribers.

Netflix typically doesn't have to go through all these steps when it licenses content that has previously been shown in theaters or on TV networks. Much of the technical work already has been done on the recycled video, leaving a minimal amount for Netflix's internal team to do. Not so with the original programming being made expressly for Netflix.

"We have to start from scratch with these original series," Heldt says.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is so confident that his team will get it right that he doesn't feel a need to show up in the war room, or even bother to stay up late to make sure everything is going smoothly. "They know what they are doing and I know everything will be working great, so I can see the episodes in the morning," he said.

The stakes and anticipation surrounding Netflix's original series are much higher than with non-original programming from Netflix's library.

Netflix hasn't revealed how much it paid for each series, but Hastings has estimated the company will spend about $200 million annually during the next few years on original programming. That represents about 10 percent of Netflix's roughly $2 billion budget for video licensing.

The original series also are being given a bigger piece of Netflix's $450 million annual marketing budget as the company tries to exploit the shows to boost subscribership. Netflix gives newcomers a month to test the service for free, which gives the company a chance to impress viewers with the quality of programming in its library. Any kind of technical glitch with a new series such as "Orange Is The New Black" would likely be a quick turn-off.

At the same time, Netflix is counting on the original programming to reduce the number of subscribers who drop the service. This is important because Netflix charges by the month, making it easy for its subscribers to drop the service as soon as they conclude there's nothing interesting to watch. Netflix's cancellation rates usually hovered between 4 percent and 5 percent until the company stopped disclosing the figures last year.

Subscribers keep Netflix afloat because, like HBO, the company doesn't subsidize its programming with commercials.

As part of its efforts to keep customers on board, Netflix tries to target promotions about its original series at subscribers most likely to enjoy the themes and approach, based on an analysis of their past viewing habits.

Netflix believed "Orange Is The New Black" would have wide appeal because the series is the handiwork of Jenji Kohan, the creator of critically acclaimed "Weeds," which aired for eight seasons on the Showtime cable channel. All 102 episodes of "Weeds" are now available on Netflix, providing valuable information about the number of subscribers who are likely to be interested in "Orange Is The New Black." Netflix has been pitching the new series to all subscribers who watched all or most of the "Weeds" episodes. The new series also is linked with other shows that share its characteristics, such as "strong female leads."

This matching system has become so finely attuned to the tastes of Netflix's audience that the company estimates its recommendations now steer its subscribers to three-fourths of the video watched on the service.

Netflix's emphasis on original programming has worked out well so far. "House of Cards, a political drama starring Kevin Spacey, became the first made-for-the-Internet series to be nominated for multiple Emmys in major categories. The series received nine nominations, including outstanding dramatic series and best actor and actress in a drama. "House of Cards" also helped Netflix add more than 2 million subscribers during the first three months of the year.

Two other Netflix exclusives, "Hemlock Grove" and a revival of "Arrested Development," rolled out in April and May. On Monday, Netflix said those series helped its service add 1.2 million global subscribers during the three months ending in June. Investors had been hoping for even bigger customer gains, increasing the pressure on the "Orange Is The New Black" to help Netflix deliver on its projection of about 2 million additional subscribers worldwide during the July-September quarter.

Investors clearly like the way things have been going. Since the end of last year, Netflix's stock has nearly tripled in value to about $250. The rally has recovered most of the losses from a sell-off that began two years ago after the company imposed service changes that raised its prices by as much as 60 percent and triggered mass customer cancellations. The stock had peaked at around $305 at the time of the backlash.

About a half-hour before the debut of "The Orange Is The New Black," many subscribers are eagerly awaiting the series' release.

The activity on Twitter has accelerated and includes some messages from subscribers on the East Coast who mistakenly thought "Orange Is The New Black" would be available starting at midnight in their time zone. Netflix's rankings of its most-watched video lists the series trailer as number eight in the pecking order. The company wouldn't allow the AP to reveal the titles of the other top-ranking videos as a condition of being allowed in the war room.

Finally, midnight strikes and the engineers are scurrying to different devices to see if "Orange Is The New Black" is streaming without glitches.

One employee reports that it's working fine on Apple TV, one of the world's most popular ways to stream Internet video to flat-screen televisions. Similar reports come in about how the series is appearing on the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii video game consoles, other major conduits. No issues on the Netflix application for the iPad either, but one employee raises concerns, saying the series trailer is the only thing available on the iPhone app. The warning turns out to be a false alarm. The app just needed to be refreshed.

All the subtitles in different languages are working fine, too.

"Anyone seeing any issues, anything at all?" Jaffe yells across the war room as he looks around at all the employees gazing into their devices and staring at big-screen TVs. "It sounds like we are in good shape."

Just how smoothly things are going becomes apparent on the list of Netflix's most-watched shows.

Just seven minutes after its release, the first episode of "Orange Is The New Block" has grabbed the No. 9 slot. It takes less than a half-hour for it to move up to Netflix's third-most watched video, even though it's way past prime time in the U.S., where 29 million of the company's subscribers are located. Without specifying the total viewership, Netflix revealed on Monday that more subscribers watched "Orange Is The New Black" during its first week on the service than any of its other original series.

About 35 minutes after the series' debut, Jaffe and Heldt uncorked the champagne raised a toast to their co-workers to celebrate the successful start.

Before the summer is over, they'll return for another late night in the war room to troubleshoot the Sept. 12 debut of Netflix's next original series, "Derek."

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THURSDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
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Nielsen Overnights (18-49)
‘Hell’s Kitchen’ finale pushes Fox to No. 1
Two-hour episode averages a 2.2 in 18-49s, up 10 percent
By Toni Fitzgerald, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 26, 2013

The two-hour season finale of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” led the network to a first-place finish Thursday night among viewers 18-49.

“Kitchen” averaged a 2.2 overnight rating in the demo from 8 to 10 p.m., according to Nielsen, up 10 percent from a 2.0 rating last week.

However, the season finale was off 12 percent from last year’s season-ender, which posted a 2.5 overnight rating. It should be noted that last year’s finale was only an hour long, and it aired several weeks later, on Sept. 10.

Elsewhere last night, CBS’s reality show “Big Brother” posted a 2.4 in 18-49s at 9 p.m., a season high and up from a 2.3 last week.

And NBC’s new game show “Hollywood Game Night” finished first in the 10 p.m. timeslot with a 1.3 rating among 18-49s, up 8 percent from last week’s 1.2.

Fox finished first for the night among 18-49s with its 2.2 average overnight rating and a 7 share. CBS was second at 1.7/6, Univision third at 1.4/5, ABC fourth at 1.0/3, NBC fifth at 0.9/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.6/2 and CW seventh at 0.3/1.

As a reminder, all ratings are based on live-plus-same-day DVR playback, which includes shows replayed before 3 a.m. the night before. Seven-day DVR data won’t be available for several weeks. Forty-eight percent of Nielsen households have DVRs.

At 8 p.m. Fox led with a 2.0 for the first hour of “Hell’s Kitchen,” followed by CBS with a 1.8 for reruns of “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.” Univision was third with a 1.4 for “Porque el Amor Manda,” ABC fourth with a 1.0 for “Wipeout,” NBC fifth with a 0.6 for a repeat of “And the Winner Is…,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “Dama y Obrero” and CW seventh with a 0.3 for a repeat of “The Vampire Diaries.”

CBS took the lead at 9 p.m. with a 2.4 for “Big Brother,” while Fox was a close second with a 2.3 for more “Hell’s Kitchen.” Univision was third with a 1.7 for “Amores Verdaderos,” NBC fourth with a 0.9 for a new “Winner,” ABC fifth with a 0.8 for “Motive,” Telemundo sixth with a 0.5 for “Marido en Alquiler” and CW seventh with a 0.2 for a “Beauty and the Beast” rerun.

At 10 p.m. NBC was first with a 1.3 for “Hollywood Game Night,” with ABC and Univision tied for second at 1.1, ABC for “Rookie Blue” and Univision for “Que Bonito Amor.” CBS and Telemundo tied for fourth at 1.0, CBS for a repeat of “Elementary” and Telemundo for “El Señor de los Cielos.”

CBS finished first for the night among households with a 4.0 average overnight rating and a 7 share. Fox was second at 3.3/6, ABC third at 3.0/5, NBC fourth at 2.4/4, Univision fifth at 1.8/3, Telemundo sixth at 0.8/1 and CW seventh at 0.5/1.

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Critic's Notes
Streaming Scorecard: Can Netflix Prevent an Emmys Hangover?
By Josef Adalian, Vulture.com (New York Magazine) - Jul. 26, 2013

Vulture has spent a good chunk of this midsummer week examining the rapidly growing Big Three subscription streaming "networks": We've analyzed Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video, and today we wrap up by turning our eyes to the oldest and biggest of them all, Netflix. And while complaining about what's not on Netflix is something of a national pastime, its dominance in the streaming space cannot be denied: On most days, Netflix accounts for fully one third of all video streaming usage, more than doubling No. 2 YouTube. But as we've seen this week, Hulu and Amazon are starting to make strides against the top dog. So, despite the fact that Netflix earned more major Emmy nominations for its original programming than all but eight broadcast and cable networks, its execs can't afford to sit on their lead. Here's where the service stands.


29.8 million in the U.S.; 7.6 million worldwide (up from 20 million at the start of 2011).

Library: Like Amazon, Netflix won't detail exactly what's in its digital lockers. "There are thousands of hours of TV shows and movies to watch on Netflix," a Netflix rep told us. "We don't disclose the exact number because our offering changes all the time as titles go in and out of window."

Hit TV shows: Netflix streams 27 percent of Nielsen's top 75 shows from last season.

Content pipeline: Its roster of originals includes the Emmy-nominated House of Cards; season four of Arrested Development; Jenji Kohan's prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black; Eli Roth's supernatural mystery series Hemlock Grove; plus upcoming offerings from Ricky Gervais (the comedy Derek) and Andy and Lana Wachowski (the sci-fi series Sense8).

The big picture: Just a few years ago, Netflix looked like it was in trouble. Despite amassing an army of loyal users since launching in 1999, the groundbreaking DVD delivery service had become vulnerable to the increasing popularity of instant streaming, which was suddenly making even Blu-ray discs look as dated as eight-tracks. And while Netflix had anticipated the effect that high-speed Internet service would have on its original business model when it debuted the site’s "Watch Instantly" feature way back in 2007, the company’s early streaming library was decidedly meh. The titles improved steadily, and subscribers arrived in droves. But in 2011, Netflix made a major blunder by spinning off the streaming part of the site into its own entity. Just type "Netflix fiasco" into your browser’s search bar if you’ve somehow forgotten the New Coke–level disaster that was Qwikster.

Barely two years later, all that drama seems a distant memory. Under the leadership of CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos, Netflix has reinvented itself as the dominant subscription streaming service, one with seven times as many paid subscribers as Hulu Plus and ambitions to become the HBO for the digital generation. It's the only player with original series generating sizable buzz, and last week, it became the first to snag Emmy nominations in the major categories. As we've reported this week, it has rivals intent on giving it a challenge, but for now, it's playing a different level of ball than the others. Mike Olson, a media analyst at Piper Jaffray, says Netflix is benefiting from what he calls a "first-mover advantage." For a while, Netflix was "the only one with good content and also integrated with all major digital devices," he says. That's no longer the case, but because "Netflix has the biggest subscriber base, they can afford premium content," Olson explains. "It's a cycle. If they can keep attracting more subscribers, they can afford more content, which lets them get more subscribers. It's a good place to be in."

And while Netflix is not yet in the same ballpark in terms of profits or programming mass, it doesn't seem far-fetched to think of them as having the same sort of brand appeal to streaming consumers that HBO has to potential premium cable subscribers. "In a world of increased clutter and fragmentation, the only thing that lets anyone stand out is high-quality original content," says BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield. By making an early splash with premium cable-level shows so early, Netflix "is following a time-worn model," the same one which transformed HBO, Showtime, and AMC from movie channels to Emmy magnets. Netflix is also trying to ensure its survival: As studios and networks demand more and more for their programming, and in some cases choose to retain streaming rights for themselves, there's no guarantee Netflix's content pipeline won't be affected in future years. Shows such as Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards are a way to make sure Netflix has something of value to offer subscribers going forward. Execs at the company are also fully aware of the fact that HBO could dramatically shake up the streaming space were it to ever decide to let consumers bypass cable and satellite companies and buy access to its HBO GO service. “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us," Sarandos told GQ in February.

Acquired content: As Netflix subscribers know all too well, the service's library lately has been very much in flux. In May, for example, more than 1,000 (some reports say closer to 2,000) movie titles (from Goldfinger to Big Daddy) simply vanished after a licensing deal with pay TV network Epix expired. Kiddie Netflix addicts jonesing for their Dora the Explorer fix had to quit cold turkey when Viacom and Netflix went through a messy breakup in late spring. Title churn is a fact of life with all streaming services (and with cable networks such as Showtime, for that matter), but there'll be more of it on Netflix in coming months as the service continues its rapid evolution from distributor to curator. "When we first started licensing content for streaming, we were trying to figure out what customers wanted to watch," Sarandos tells Vulture. "We were testing the waters in terms of rights that had not been exploited yet." Back in the early days, that meant lots of experimentation and even some risk-taking. "One of our first big movie breakthroughs was Pan's Labyrinth," Sarandos says. "HBO passed on it because it was foreign language, so we made the deal for it. And it ended up being an Oscar nominee, and it did huge viewing for Netflix." The same was true with TV: "We licensed big swaths of content from each supplier, trying to figure out what worked and didn't," Sarandos explains. "In that process, Netflix was kind of a distributor, versus what really are, which is a programmer." As Netflix continues its push into originals, it will continue to reallocate some its resources, taking money that might have gone to acquiring library content and putting it into the next House of Cards. "We're less interested in big bundles of content, and far more interested in curating the best shows from any given network," Sarandos says. "We're not striving to get everything, because in a pure subscription model, it's not really economically feasible. If he'd been able to, Sarandos said he would've jumped on a deal to keep Spongebob on Netflix. But Viacom wanted Netflix to "do a deal … to basically take all their output."

But while lots of blog posts get written whenever movies and TV shows disappear from Netflix, the service still has a massive library of content, with new fare coming online all the time (as many as 500 titles every month, the company has told reporters). Yes, Viacom content from networks such as Nickelodeon and MTV is no longer streaming. Those Epix movies are gone. But Netflix will be adding content from Disney/Pixar and DreamWorks over the next three years as massive output deals recently struck with those studios come online. A deal in January brought Adult Swim titles such as Childrens Hospital and Robot Chicken to Netflix, as well as TNT's reboot of Dallas and older shows such as The West Wing. And earlier this month, CBS renewed and bulked up its Netflix deal, keeping Star Trek and Cheers while adding CSI: NY and other series. A Piper Jaffray analysis shows that Netflix streams a higher percentage (14 percent) of the top 50 highest-grossing movies released over the past three years than Amazon Prime (10 percent) and Hulu Plus (none) combined. Overall, the analysts we spoke to said that while Hulu dominates with current episodes of TV shows, Netflix has the deepest catalogue of back seasons. "If you're looking for a way to watch a show from start to finish, the only option for most shows is Netflix," Piper Jaffray's Olson says. And looking at both TV shows and movies, "They have many more significant titles in their library," he adds. Sarandos also argues that, despite Hulu's strength with international series, Netflix's global content is just as strong, if not stronger, citing acquisitions such as the BBC 2–produced Gillian Anderson drama The Fall as backup.

Original content: Netflix debuted its first original series, Lilyhammer, in February 2012. A co-production with Norway's Norwegian Rubicon TV AS, the Steven Van Zandt dramedy was a hit with Norwegians, but didn't cause much of a stir Stateside (though it's been renewed for a second season). Most TV historians will likely cite the debut of House of Cards as the start of the Netflix original production era. Unless you don't pay attention to pop culture at all, you know the basics of the show: Spacey, Wright, Fincher, good review, Emmy nominations. Sarandos is not shy in his description of how far out of the park Netflix hit it with House. "It really took The Sopranos to define HBO as a gold standard of original content," he says. "We kind of came out of the box with The Sopranos, and that's a good thing." We'll leave it to critics to debate whether or not House is anywhere near the same level of Sopranos, but the Netflix show absolutely feels like it would be right at home on either Showtime or HBO. And the subsequent content to come from Netflix in the past year — the gory Hemlock Grove, the boundary-redefining season four of Arrested Development, the amazing Orange Is the New Black — all feels like it could work on at least one of the major pay cable networks (including Starz). While Sarandos hasn't hidden his aspirations to be the HBO of streaming, he's not ready to declare just what a "Netflix show" is. "I'm not looking to find a single show to define Netflix," he says. "That's almost the opposite of what we're trying to do. Our brand is all about personalization." He points to the diversity of the current slate as a strength. "The beauty of the first four shows is, there isn't much crossover with any of them," Sarandos says. "The people who watched Hemlock Grove? Very few of them watched House of Cards. But they're both successful." He was also nothing but positive in describing how well rebooting Arrested has gone. "It's an unqualified hit in every way," he says, repeating recent comments by producers and other Netflix execs that season five will happen once scheduling can be worked out.

As was well-documented in the publicity run-up to House, Netflix is taking a hands-off approach to its creators; that doesn't mean it doesn't give any notes at all. "The mandate that I have is that there are no arbitrary notes," he says. "If it's a question of, 'Should someone have a mustache?,' I leave that to creators ... [But] when we can really add value, we do. We did shows with three [creators] whose m.o. historically is they're difficult to work with. We found them spectacular to work with. We only argued with things that mattered. And they loved having those discussions." What's more radical to Netflix's development process is its decision to do away with the usual piloting process. Yes, Sarandos does take meetings, a "very high volume of pitches," he says. (Netflix is spending lots and lots of money; it's no surprise Hollywood wants some that money.) While the meetings are "very traditional pitches" in that talent comes in and walks through an idea, the rest of how Netflix does things is very different. Its shows have gone straight to series, with no templates filmed in advance. Even HBO makes pilots for most of its shows. "I think it's much lower risk to ask the producers to put a little bit of their own development into a project, and we'll go straight to seasons … instead of playing the odds game, where we make twenty pilots and make two and one sticks," Sarandos says. "That's a good business? I don't think it is. I'd much rather end up with twenty hours of programming that people can watch."

Sarandos doesn't act like he's found the Solution to making good TV; in fact, he admits his whole approach is something of an experiment. "What we're testing the waters on is, without the protection of the pilot system and the development system, can we keep producing high-quality programs? I'm betting that you can," he says. "I'm betting that there are great stories and great storytellers. And as long as we do a great job of matching them up well, then we're going to keep doing this. By going straight to series, the people have a great story to tell will bring it to us first." Analysts have predicted that Netflix will soon devote up to 10 percent of its overall budget to originals, but Sarandos says he's not there yet. "Right now, we don't have a stated goal for how many shows we want," he says. "That said, I could definitely see us doubling our current output. Over the next couple years, I could see us taking it has high as twenty." Earlier this week, Sarandos and Hastings said Netflix was looking to get into documentary production and stand-up specials, further copying the premium cable playbook. When asked, he also told Vulture he could even see experimenting with telenovelas or soaps, given Netflix's growing international presence and relationships with Latin American broadcasters. Overall, the mandate for Netflix original content seems to be: more, and all kinds. "The more we're exclusive and original, the less I'm worried about any particular competitors," he says. "You might love Showtime because you love Homeland. But you can't get it if you switch to HBO. Competitive differentiation becomes more and important for us, like it has for those guys."

What analysts say: Both of the analysts we spoke with, Olson and Greenfield, were very bullish on Netflix's status relative to the other streaming players. "We think Netflix can reach 40 million domestic subscribers by the end of 2015," Greenfield says. He says Netflix is far ahead of its rivals with "iconic programming," which is what he says "drives people to sign up for" streaming services. "They're the only one who have it," he says. "Amazon is starting to do it, Hulu is starting to do it. But they're just starting. Netflix is the trailblazer. If you have an [Internet-connected] device, you want Netflix." (Netflix, by the way, replaced its usual quarterly analysts' call this week with a streaming Google Hangout in which Greenfield and CNBC's Julia Boorstin grilled company execs for a half-hour.) Olson is equally blunt about Netflix's lead over rivals. "In all three categories — movies, TV shows, originals — Netflix has the best offerings," he says.

Still, Greenfield notes that, even while it's got a head-start on other streaming services, "there's very little original programing relative to an HBO." And for all the buzz and good reviews and Emmy nods, Greenfield says there's just no comparing a show such as House of Cards to an HBO blockbuster such as Game of Thrones or True Blood. "They don't have that breakout hit yet," Greenfield says. What's more, Michael Pachter, a senior analyst at Wedbush Securities, told CNBC in May that he believes that, in the long-term, Netflix could be in for rough times in coming years. "The fact is these guys don't control their expense structure at all," he told CNBC. "The content owners want more money and Netflix's only recourse is going to be to raise prices. When they do that, their growth is going to slow." He also thinks Netflix will be in trouble if it doesn't start owning its content, rather than leasing it. "Someone else produces content, Netflix buys exclusive rights for a very limited period of time, and then Netflix doesn't own the content anymore," Pachter said. "This is not the same as the HBO model. They are nothing like HBO. They have a three-year window to show House of Cards. After that, nothing. They don't own it; they can't exploit it further unless they pay more. That's not ownership of content."

Bottom line: Netflix may not be HBO, but it is the closest thing to HBO in the streaming space (at least until HBO decides to make HBO GO a stand-alone product). No one service will ever satisfy every user, but for most people looking for a mix of first-run movies and TV shows, as well as a smattering of compelling originals, Netflix is a very compelling choice. The biggest question remains whether it can scale up the number of its original offerings quickly while matching the quality of its early efforts.

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TCA Summer 2013 Notes
NickMom’s Development Slate Includes Whoopi Goldberg Project; Greenlights Season 2 Of Docu-Comedy ‘Take Me To Your Mother’
By The Deadline.com Team - Jul. 26, 2013

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

NickMom is busy. Nickelodeon’s nighttime (10 PM-2 AM) comedy block aimed at mothers on its Nick Jr. channel announced four projects in development this morning at TCA, including Lounge, a talk/variety series exec produced by Whoopi Goldberg. NickMom has also greenlit a second season of its docu-comedy Take Me To Your Mother and this fall premieres its first scripted comedy, Instant Mom, starring Tia Mowry-Hardrict. Descriptions of the four new projects:

– Lounge, a talk/variety series exec produced by Goldberg featuring conversations between real, everyday moms who are given an opportunity to get pampered and have their dreams fulfilled.

– Country Mom, City Mom, from executive producers Relativity Real, a docu-comedy that follows mom Tanya McQueen as she splits time between raising her two teenage boys in small-town Texas and living in LA with her second husband and his kids.

– Undercover Cupid, a hidden camera series from executive producer Scott Stone that follows single parents whose teens and young adult children help pick dates for them.

– Untitled Vinnie Brand Project, a docu-comedy that follows comedian Brand — a father of five daughters who all tell him what to do. Brand exec produces along with Jim Breuer and Entertainment One.


* * * *

TCA Summer 2013 Notes
Sean Combs Wants Revolt To Be The CNN Of Millennial Music
By Lisa De Moraes, Deadline.com Team - Jul. 26, 2013

CNN got a ringing endorsement this morning from the unlikeliest of places — Sean Combs. Talking to TV critics at the TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013 about the fall launch of his new cable network Revolt, Combs said that if cable networks were unbundled and viewers got to decide what channels they’d hang on to, “You’d keep CNN – or you’d keep Fox if you were a Republican — you would keep ESPN and probably keep The Weather Channel. Why would you keep those four? Because they are focused, live…they give you what you want. If it’s news you wanted, you went to CNN. If it’s sports, you went to ESPN. If it’s music you want, and you are a millennial, you are homeless. You have nowhere to go. You are out there all alone…But that is no more. I’m here to be the new No. 1 name in music. I would love to be humbled one day to be come compared to ESPN or CNN.”

Last month, Sean Combs’ Revolt TV finalized a national carriage agreement with Time Warner Cable ahead of its fall launch, putting it on track to launch in 25 million homes, though talks with other distributors are ongoing. This morning, Combs worked the breakfast room at the tour like a seasoned campaigner, shaking hands with critics and making pleasant small talk. Up on stage, he apologized to those seated in the left side of the ballroom whose hands he had not had time to grab.

Revolt, which Combs leads with MTV veteran Andy Schuon, is one of four minority-owned independent networks Comcast pledged to distribute as a condition of getting FCC approval of its NBCUniversal merger. Combs is convinced he can bring millennials back to television, explaining that that generation keeps telling him “television is about to be nowhere” to which he says he responds, “Television is about to be everywhere — it’s about to be on your toilet…My mission is to get kids back to television.”

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TV Notes
Best tube bets this weekend
The top draws on broadcast and cable and in sports
By Louisa Ada Seltzer, Media Life Magazine - Jul. 26, 2013


Best bet on broadcast
: ABC, “Would You Fall For That?” 9 p.m. Series premiere.
Another ABC News program that places people in uncomfortable situations.

Best bet on cable: TNT, “72 Hours,” 10:30 p.m. Season finale. The teams finish the season looking for cash in the Rocky Mountains.

Top sporting event: MLB Network, “Major League Baseball,” 7:30 p.m. Battle between two division leaders, the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.


Best bet on broadcast
: Fox, “Axe Cop,” 11 p.m.
The 15-minute animated comedy makes its regular timeslot debut, followed by “High School USA!,” after a sneak preview last Sunday night.

Best bet on cable: OWN, “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” 9 p.m. Season premiere. Grammy-nominated R&B singer Syleena Johnson and her family make an appearance.

Top sporting event: ABC, “WNBA,” 3:30 p.m. It’s East versus West in the 11th annual WNBA All-Star Game from Uncasville, Conn.


Best bet on broadcast
: CBS, “Unforgettable,” 9 p.m. Season premiere.
Al and Carrie tackle a kidnapping case after they join the major crimes unit. The show returns after being canceled last year, then revived for a summer run in its second season.

Best bet on cable: National Geographic Channel, “Inside the American Mob,” 9 p.m. Series premiere. New mob show starts with a look at the New York mafia in the 1970s.

Top sporting event: Fox, Univision, “Soccer,” 3:30 p.m. The Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Panama in Chicago.

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Just wondering if anyone has heard from Fredfa lately?
post #88545 of 93649
Good question, DoubleDAZ.

I haven't seen him in several months. He popped into this thread maybe 5 months ago to post something. Maybe send him a PM if you would like to get in contact with him. Perhaps somebody is friends with him and can give you his email/contact information.
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Originally Posted by DoubleDAZ View Post

Just wondering if anyone has heard from Fredfa lately?

I got a PM from Fred last April. I don't think he'd mind me posting some of what he wrote me (excluding the 'good job' remarks):

But when did the pageview count method change? AVS must have gone to a new system a year ago or so, because you should have had about three million page views in the past year...not the somewhat measly million or so you got credit for.

(To answer your question of last June, I moved to San Antonio in January of last year. My wife has family here, and my 95-year-old Dad seemed -- and still seems -- to be in good enough shape for me to move, though I am only a two-hour plane ride away in an emergency.)

So Fred's still lurking. He's just into the Johnny Carson retirement portion of his "HOTP" life while we enjoy the fruits of his labor. I guess that kind-of makes me Jay Leno (shudder!). tongue.gif
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TCA Summer 2013 Notes
AMC Orders 'Halt & Catch Fire' and 'Turn' to Series
By Tim Molloy, TheWrap.com - Jul. 26, 2013

For the first time, AMC has ordered two series in the same cycle: the 1980s computer drama "Halt & Catch Fire" and the Revolutionary War drama "Turn."

Set in the early 1980s, “Halt & Catch Fire” follows the personal computing boom through the eyes of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy who must deal with greed and ego in Texas' Silicon Prairie. The series was created by Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers from a pilot directed by Juan Campanella. Jonathan Lisco will be the showrunner and "Breaking Bad" and "Rectify" veterans Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein will serve as executive producers. Lee Pace, Joe McMillan and Scoot McNairy star.

Based on the book “Washington’s Spies,” by Alexander Rose, “Turn” begins in the summer of 1778 and tells the story of New York farmer Abe Woodhull, who brings together the spies called the The Culper Ring, which turns the tide of the Revolutionary War. The series is developed and written by Craig Silverstein (“Nikita”) who also serves as showrunner. The pilot was directed by Rupert Wyatt, and Barry Josephson is executive producer. Jamie Bell, Kevin McNally and Burn Gorman star.

Both shows are from AMC Studios.

The network also recently ordered the pilot “Line of Sight,” a co-production from Fox Television Studios and AMC Studios. Next month it will premiere its newest original series, ‘Low Winter Sun,” from writer, executive producer and showrunner Chris Mundy.


* * * *

TCA Summer 2013 Notes
'Breaking Bad' 2-Hour Documentary Coming Soon

The making of "Breaking Bad" will not be lost to history: Show creator Vince Gilligan says Sony has commissioned a two-hour documentary about the show.

The documentary will likely be released exclusively as a DVD and Blu-Ray extra on future "Breaking Bad" releases, Gilligan said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Stu Richardson, who has made behind-the-scenes features for the show in the past, is making the film.

Richardson is using archival footage from Sony, and was also on hand for the last sixteen episodes of the show, including when Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul read the final script.

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Critic's Notes
Why Aereo’s Free Ride Will Ultimately Crash
By Todd Spangler, Variety.com - Jul. 26, 2013

Broadcast TV execs are apoplectic that Aereo — the Internet streaming-video startup they see as blatantly stealing their content — has received several stays of execution and continues to expand to new markets.

But one way or another, the road for Aereo will come to an end, at least with respect to getting its hands on valuable TV programming without paying for it.

Last week, a federal appeals court turned down broadcasters’ request to reconsider a decision that continued to allow Aereo to stream their TV stations online. It was the third legal victory for the startup.

How can that be? By any common-sense standard, Aereo is retransmitting local TV signals to devices over the Internet, reselling them to subscribers for a monthly fee. In that sense, it’s identical to cable or satellite TV operators, which under federal law must pay a fee to the broadcaster (unless the latter opts for “must-carry” designation).

Aereo crafted a clever legal defense, around which it carefully designed the entire service. The company claims it isn’t itself pulling down the TV signals or recording them — instead, its customers are the ones performing these actions, albeit remotely and using equipment owned and operated by Aereo.

Aereo has successfully relied on a ruling upholding the legality of Cablevision Systems’ RS-DVR network service, and has prevailed by arguing that a consumer could jury-rig a home antenna, DVR and Slingbox to get content in the same way Aereo enables access to it.

So Aereo has been deemed to meet the letter of law, if not the spirit.

But Fox Broadcasting said it may appeal the latest decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court may be left to choose between the most recent Aereo judgment and a ruling in December 2012 by a California federal court that found the charmingly named Aereokiller — which was offering a service identical to Aereo’s — was illegally rebroadcasting copyrighted TV signals.

However, even if Aereo were to win in the Supreme Court, broadcasters won’t give up the fight. With billions of dollars at stake, they see the real threat not necessarily in customers who sign up for Aereo’s service, but in the potential loss of retransmission-consent dollars: In the U.S., TV broadcasters generated $2.36 billion in retrans fees in 2012 — a figure projected to nearly triple to $6 billion by 2018, according to SNL Kagan.

If Aereo’s approach gets the Supremes’ blessing, those retrans fees could evaporate. You can bet pay TV operators would quickly try to emulate the Aereo fee-dodging system.

Broadcasters could try to modify the law to explicitly cover services like Aereo’s (which could take years). They also have threatened to shift their most popular TV shows and sports programming to pay TV, or even convert broadcast stations to cable channels. Those are moves rife with political risk, given that the basic bargain of the government’s spectrum licenses to broadcasters is that they make TV free over the air.

But if push comes to shove and Aereo and others are permitted to redistribute “free TV” at no cost, CBS or Fox would certainly put NFL games or popular primetime dramas on cable nets instead. On cable, they could get a higher return on their investment from subscriber fees as well as advertising. Broadcast TV schedules would gravitate toward cheaper programming.

In press coverage, Aereo often is portrayed as David to the broadcasters’ Goliath. But count on the giants to strike back. The scrappy startup may be a compelling storyline, but building a content-distribution business by thumbing your nose at your most important content sources isn’t a recipe for long-term success.

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TCA Summer 2013 Notes
AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’ Creator On Possible Series Spinoff & ‘BB’s Ending
By The Deadline.com Team - Jul. 26, 2013

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

Even as AMC sets to premiere the final eight episodes of its iconic drama series Breaking Bad beginning August 11, plans for a series spinoff starring Bob Odenkirk’s sleazy lawyer character Saul Goodman continue to move forward. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan confirmed during an afternoon TCA session that it remains his “fervent wish” that there be a Goodman spinoff, adding the caveat that he speaks “for no one except maybe Bob and Peter Gould, the staff writer who created the character in season two.” Gilligan said he’s been working with Gould to shape what a Saul Goodman series would look like as well as perhaps a pilot script. But as of now, the potential show isn’t attached to either a production company or network, at least that Gilligan can divulge.

“I speak for no company or professional entity when I say I really hope it happens,” he said. “It’s for powers bigger than me to figure out if it can come to fruition, but I’d very much like that to be the case.” Gilligan said a few weeks ago that he is working on nothing else in his post-Breaking Bad life except the potential Goodman series, which presumably would be an hour but could be a half-hour. Odenkirk, who was on the TCA panel along with Gilligan and castmates Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Betsy Brandt, seconded his boss’ hope about the show. “I would do it in a second,” he said. “I would do it because if Vince wrote it, it’s going to be awesome.”

Gilligan admitted earlier in the panel that he honestly couldn’t remember what his initial plan was for how Breaking Bad would wrap up. It’s often been cited that his sales pitch to AMC was crafting a drama that would “turn Mr. Chips into Scarface.” “I’m not trying to be glib here, but I honestly don’t remember what the original ending was,” he admitted. “Honest to God, except for the broad strokes, I forgot.” However, now that the conclusion has been shot, Gilligan is confident that viewers “are going to really dig” the way the series wraps. “I may be wrong, but I think it’s going to go over well.”


* * * *

TCA Summer 2013 Notes
AMC’s New ‘Hell On Wheels’ Showrunner Dumping Revenge Storyline
By Lisa De Moraes, Deadline.com Team - Jul. 25, 2013

“We’re telling better stories, better this year,” Hell On Wheels showrunner John Wirth (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), who is new to the show, told TV critics this afternoon at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013. Wirth’s the guy who came to the show after the creators’ contracts were not renewed and the guy who took their place took a powder three days later. Naturally press-tour attendees were eager to hear what the new guy had to say. Addressing the ballroom full of TV critics, reporters, bloggers, and tweeters, Wirth said he’s kept “virtually the same writing staff” but is taking a very different approach than that of creators Joe and Tony Gayton. “The show kicked off with revenge being the motivation. That gets wearisome for people over time,” Wirth said. “So we shifted gears…shifting more into an area of redemption, or as we call it, ‘reconstruction’. It’s opened the show, and made the characters more embraceable.”


Throw your mind back to late October when when AMC announced, on a Monday, it had picked up Hell On Wheels for a third, 10-episode season. The network may have omitted to mention creators/exec producers Joe and Tony Gayton,’s contracts were not renewed on the drama about the mid-19th century construction of the first transcontinental railroad, referred to as “Hell on wheels” by the company men, surveyors, support workers, laborers, mercenaries and prostitutes who called it home. But exec producer/showrunner John Shiban, who’d been with Hell On Wheels since its start, was on board to keep the show humming along — until three days later, when Shiban announced he would not return to the show.

Terse statements issued all around — AMC insisting Shiban had informed the network and show producers he was “fully on board” when the network informed him about their intent to pick up the show for a third season. Shiban admitting he’d been “thrilled” with the pickup, but had “since made the difficult decision that the time has come” for him to bail. AMC noted, ominously, that “like all of our shows, network pickups are always conditioned on an approved showrunner.” And there we were, until mid-December, when AMC announced Wirth (V, Fallen Skies) had been crowned Hell showrunner and the 10-episode third season order had been un-derailed.

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TV Notes
Hollywood Producer Pleads Guilty in Sports Betting Case
By Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg.com - Jul. 26, 2013

A Hollywood producer pleaded guilty to his part in an illegal sports gambling network that led to the indictment of 34 people including alleged members and associates of two Russian-American organized crime groups.

Bryan Zuriff, 44, was the first defendant to plead guilty in the case, according to a statement yesterday from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York. He faces a sentence of as long as five years in prison and he has agreed to forfeit $500,000 as part of his plea agreement, according to the statement.

“Bryan Zuriff spanned the coasts with his crimes, by operating his own illegal gambling enterprise in Los Angeles, and helping to operate a vast illegal gambling enterprise in New York,” Bharara said. “With his plea, he becomes the first defendant, but not the last, to be convicted in this sprawling script of criminal conduct.”

Zuriff, of Brentwood, California, operated his own sports book and assisted other defendants who ran their own illegal gambling business in New York that catered to millionaires and billionaires, according the U.S. attorney’s statement.

Zuriff was an executive producer of the Showtime television series “Ray Donovan,” according to the IMDb website.

Charles Clayman, a lawyer for Zuriff, didn’t immediately respond after regular business hours to a phone call to his office seeking comment on the guilty plea.

The case is U.S. v. Tokhtakhounov, 13-cr-00268, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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TV Notes
'Duck Dynasty' creators center new show on Hoosiers
'Porter Ridge' to showcase bears, beards and broken-down cars in Southern Indiana
By David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star - Jul. 26, 2013

America, you may or may not be ready to meet Jeff the Bear Man, Dirty Andy and Elvis Larry.

But you’ll probably love the true-life cast members of “Porter Ridge” if they’re as entertaining as “Duck Dynasty’s” Si and Jase Robertson.

“Porter Ridge,” set in rural Spencer, 15 miles west of Bloomington, is the new brainchild of “Duck Dynasty” creator Gurney Productions.

In contrast to a duck-call empire built in West Monroe, La., “Porter Ridge” is a comedic documentary series centered on Terry Porter and his Country Auto Parts company. The show will premiere on the Discovery Channel at 10:30 p.m. Aug. 13.

A tight-knit circle of friends in Owen County sought out the limelight of cable television, according to Discovery Channel executive producer Joe Weinstock.

Jeff Watson, otherwise known as Jeff the Bear Man because of the eight brown bears he owns, watched an episode of “Duck Dynasty” and found contact information for that show’s co-creator, Scott Gurney.

“(Watson) literally cold-emailed (Gurney), saying ‘I have some great neighbors who surround me in this little rural community in Southern Indiana. You need to come check them out,’ ” Weinstock said. “You can imagine Scott getting many of these types of emails. For some reason, he responded to this one.”

On Porter Ridge Road, Gurney discovered salvage yard owner Porter, described as a “fast-talking, shirtless, wild man” in Discovery promotional material.

Does Porter have an aversion to shirts?

“He does not wear a shirt, and he probably has one of the most beautiful tans known to man,” Weinstock said.

“Porter Ridge” viewers will meet Dirty Andy, a bearded deal maker, and Elvis Larry, a garbage man who loves to share gossip.

“This is so real, so visceral, so authentic,” Weinstock said. “You can’t put a better group of characters together. It’s amazing how all these individuals just live by each other.”

While “Duck Dynasty” is based on the Robertson family, owners of lucrative outdoor company Duck Commander, no cast members of “Porter Ridge” live in a mansion.

“Money is not the most important object for these individuals,” Weinstock said. “It’s family, religion and fun.”

In addition to Porter being shirtless and Watson keeping bears on leashes, “Porter Ridge” features demolition derbies, pumpkins launched from cannons and rivals who live on nearby Dog Killer Ridge.

Weinstock said “Porter Ridge” isn’t designed to make Hoosiers look bad.

“When people see the show, I believe they’re going to come away feeling pretty darn good,” said Weinstock, an Oklahoma native who worked for MTV Networks, Spike TV and Gurney Productions before being hired by Discovery in 2012. “It has a lot of heart. In the end, these neighbors who all unite and live on Porter Ridge Road love each other.”

When MTV aired “Buckwild,” a “Jersey Shore” successor set in rural West Virginia, the 2013 show wasn’t well-received in its home state. “This show plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of West Virginia,” Sen. Joe Manchin said in December, before the first episode aired.

“Buckwild” ceased production following a cast member’s death. Shain Gandee died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in April after stranding his Ford Bronco in deep mud.

“Duck Dynasty,” meanwhile, is a runaway hit. The premiere of its third season on cable network A&E attracted 8.6 million viewers in February, making it the year’s No. 1 “nonfiction” cable series.

“Porter Ridge” will air on 12 consecutive Tuesdays, and the show is expected to receive promotion throughout “Shark Week” — the signature Discovery Channel programming that begins Aug. 4.

Weinstock said the likelihood for a second season of “Porter Ridge” should be known after a month of episodes air, depending on the show’s popularity with viewers.

“I feel like this is something really special,” he said. “It’s bottled and packaged like no other show you’ve seen.”

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TCA Summer 2013 Notes
'Low Winter Sun' tackles corrupt Detroit cops
By Gary Levin, USA Today - Jul. 26, 2013

Breaking Bad isn't the only AMC series in which good people do bad things.

Low Winter Sun, adapted from a British series, centers on a pair of corrupt Detroit cops with underworld ties. They murder one of their own in the pilot episode, which follows the final-season premiere of Bad on Aug. 11; the reasons why and the aftershocks are revealed through the 10-installment season.

Mark Strong, who also played the same role in the 2006 two-part series, says he relished re-creating the role. "The idea you can resurrect a character seven years later and move it from Edinburgh to Detroit is too great an opportunity to pass by." He and his co-star Lennie James (The Walking Dead, Jericho) are both British, and executive producer Chris Mundy calls the set "this strange little British theater group" plunked down in Detroit, where the 10-episode season is being filmed on location.

"It's a crime drama and it's about the shared humanity between criminals and cops in Detroit," Mundy says.

The pair has a complicated, sometimes violent relationship, as an internal-affairs investigation into the murder boils over into back-stabbing and secret-keeping. "We're trying to unsolve a case; we're not trying to solve one," James says.

AMC Friday picked up two period dramas to join its lineup, which will see Bad end this fall and Mad Men wrap up next year. Halt & Catch Fire stars Lee Pace as a 1980s PC wizard, and Turn is about 1778 farmers turned spies.

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TV Notes
On The Air Tonight
SATURDAY Network Primetime/Late Night Options
(All shows are in HD unless noted; start times are ET. Late night shows are preceded by late local news)

8PM - Zero Hour
9PM - Movie: Norbit (2007)

8PM - 48 Hours
9PM - Movie: The Longest Yard (2005)

8PM - American Ninja Warrior
(R - Jul. 22)
9PM - Crossing Line
(R - Jul. 22)
10PM - Do No Harm
* * * *
11:29PM - Saturday Night Live (Host and musical guest Justin Bieber; 93 min.)
(R - Feb. 9)

8PM - UFC: Johnson vs. Moraga (LIVE)
* * * *
11PM - Axe Cop (Time Slot Premiere)
11:15PM - High Schol USA! (Time Slot Premiere)
11:30PM - Axe Cop
(R - Jul. 21)
11:45PM - High School USA!
(R - Jul. 21)
Midnight - The Cleveland Show
(R - Apr. 21)

(check your local listing for starting time/programming)
8PM - Austin City Limits: The Head and The Heart; Gomez (R - Jan. 7, 2012)

8PM - Sábado Gigante (3 hrs.)

6:30PM - La Voz Kids
8:30PM - Movie: Shooter (2007)
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Business Notes
Is Redbox’s Impact On Video Rentals About To Peak?
By David Lieberman, Deadline.com - Jul. 26, 2013

A lot of people are asking that question today after the company behind the DVD rental kiosks reported disappointing results for Q2. Shares of Outerwall (formerly Coinstar) closed down 13.2% after it said that Redbox revenues increased just 4% compared with the same period last year — even though the total number of kiosks was up 13%. Redbox came up short as bargain-hunters took advantage of promotions and only kept discs out for one night, resulting in a 9.9% decline in average revenue per kiosk. (DVDs go for $1.20 a night with Blu-ray discs $1.50.) The company also cut its forecast for the number of kiosks it will add this year while the experiment to sell sports and entertainment tickets at the kiosks “did not meet expectations”, CEO J. Scott Di Valerio told analysts. These developments will “accentuate concerns that the DVD rental market is quickly approaching saturation, and we believe that this is probably true”, says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. He also has soured on the Redbox Instant By Verizon streaming joint venture, saying the rollout “is moving at a very slow pace” and “revenues and profitability remain elusive.”

But optimists say Redbox’s prospects are brighter than they might seem now. It accounts for 50.6% of physical home video rentals, and that should grow as Blockbuster closes stores and Netflix‘s DVD business atrophies. In Q3, studios will release DVDs for eight films that generated at least $100M at domestic box offices, up from three in the period last year, when studios didn’t want to compete with the London Olympics. Di Valerio says that his company’s getting better at figuring out how to jolt sales by sending discount offers via email and text messages to key customers. Blu-ray rentals are up, and Redbox’s relationships with studios “have never been better, with Universal extending in Q1 and Fox agreement continuing on till April 2015″. Due to these and other trends, B. Riley’s Eric Wold says that his optimism remains “unabated.”

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TCA Summer 2013 Notes
Michael Bay's 'Black Sails' Gets Early Second-Season Renewal at Starz
By Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter's 'Live Feed' Blog - Jul. 26, 2013

More than five months before its series premiere, Starz has granted an early second-season renewal to pirate drama Black Sails.

The Michael Bay-produced drama will premiere in January, with production on a second season of 10 episodes resuming in November 2013, the premium cable network announced Friday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour.

Launching in 2014, the eight-episode first season follows Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and his men two years before the story of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island takes place. Described as a brilliant and feared pirate captain, Flint takes on a fast-talking addition to his crew, John Silver (Luke Arnold). They fight for the survival of New Providence Island, an infamous criminal haven teeming with pirates, prostitutes, thieves and fortune seekers, a place defined by ideals and brutality.

The series was created by Jonathan Steinberg (Jericho) and season-two executive producer Robert Levine (Touch). The drama had a major presence at San Diego Comic-Con.

The network used the pop culture confab to screen the pilot at a fan-only event outside of the convention center. The series also had a massive pirate ship on the convention floor.

"Michael Bay, Jon Steinberg and their teams delivered a spectacular first season of Black Sails, and we are incredibly proud of everyone's work," Starz CEO Chris Albrecht said.

"Based on the strong fan response to the preview screening at last week's Comic-Con, we felt an early order for a second season would allow the writers, cast and crew enough time and space to continue crafting such unique and epic storytelling."

For Starz, the early renewal marks a sign of confidence in the series, which films on elaborate sets in South Africa. The network previously has granted early second-season orders to shows before their series premieres, most recently for Kelsey Grammer starrer Boss.

The series joins a roster that includes Ron Moore's Outlander, Fortitude and the second season of Da Vinci's Demons. The network is in development on a slew of original dramas including recently announced series Power, from Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, as the network looks to ramp up its scripted programming by 50 percent in 2014.

post #88556 of 93649
Critic's Notes
Bianculli's Best Bets
By David Bianculli, TVWorthWatching.com - Jul. 27, 2013

BBC America, 7:00 p.m. ET

As BBC America works its way through the history of the various Doctors – while working its way towards the show’s upcoming 50th anniversary in November – it’s now up to The Seventh Doctor, the title of tonight’s special. It’s a profile of the incarnation of the Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy, who embodied the doctor for a brief run from 1987 to 1989. The tribute also includes a taste of Doctor Who episodes of the McCoy vintage.

Oxygen, 8:00 p.m. ET

This 2006 movie is most remembered for its star turn by Meryl Streep, who was nominated for an Oscar (but did not win) for her role as an imperious fashion editor, and for Anne Hathaway’s star-making turn as her new assistant. But the supporting cast is worth a second look. In addition to Stanley Tucci, who’s always great, there are key roles by actors who would attain greater fame after this film was released: Emily Blunt, Simon Baker and Adrian Grenier.

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

What a delight. Dustin Hoffman is a revelation as Dorothy, the woman he pretends to be to further himself as an actor – but he’s no less impressive as Michael, the passionate actor so dedicated to his craft. His on-screen arguments with Sydney Pollack, who also directed this film, are classic. And Bill Murray, Jessica Lange, Geena Davis, Dabney Coleman, Teri Garr, Charles During – all of them add something special to this breezy, witty comedy, which has heart as well as laughs. Larry Gelbart co-wrote the screenplay, so that’s no surprise.

TCM, 10:00 p.m. ET

This 1982 movie, a thinly veiled behind-the-scenes look at TV’s classic Your Show of Shows variety series, was produced by Brooksfilms. That’s Mel Brooks’ company, and Brooks, of course, was one of the writers on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows through its entire run. Richard Benjamin directs this wild comedy, which stars Joseph Bologna in the Caesar-type role, Mark Linn-Baker as the wide-eyed young comedy writer, and Peter O’Toole as a wild and crazy actor, a former matinee idol signed as the week’s guest star. I love TV history, and this movie gets it so right, I love this movie, too.

TCM, 12:00 a.m. ET

Barry Levinson arrived, big time, with this 1982 character study, a smart and tender look at a bunch of friends in Baltimore at the end of the 1950s. Levinson both wrote and directed this movie, and deserves equal credit for both. He also deserves praise for his eye for casting, because the group of actors he assembled here is top-notch, and catches most of them at the start of their careers. Daniel Stern. Mickey Rourke. Kevin Bacon. Steve Guttenberg. Paul Reiser. Ellen Barkin. Tim Daly. And the whole hang-out-at-the-diner, argue-about-insignificant-things approach? Wecome to the clear prototype for Seinfeld.

post #88557 of 93649
FRIDAY's fast affiliate overnight prime-time ratings -and what they mean- have been posted on Analyst Marc Berman's Media Insight's Blog
post #88558 of 93649
TCA Summer 2013 Notes
NBC’s Bob Greenblatt Declares “Flat Is The New Up” In TV Ratings, Laments The Lack Of Respect For Broadcast Shows
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com Team - Jul. 27, 2013

At NBC‘s executive session, entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt touted the network’s rocky performance this past season, which he called “The year of improvement.” After a dominant fall, NBC’s ratings took a dive in the first quarter before rebounding somewhat in the spring to finish No.3 among adults 18-49. “Season to date, we are the only network that is flat,” Greenblatt said. “At this point in our business, flat is the new up.”

Greenblatt, who headed Showtime before moving to NBC in 2011, took an issue with a comment about the Emmy drought for broadcast drama series and the notion that quality scripted programming can only be found on cable these days. “If I was putting on one show a year, it would be the best show you can do; we have 85 million people working on that one show,” he said, noting the big disparity in output between the broadcast and cable networks. “Those [critically praised cable] shows on our platforms with those numbers would be canceled,” Greenblatt said. “Broadcast now is the bastard child…. I wish we get more respect for the work that we do.”

On another subject, Greenblatt confirmed that Fashion Star has been cancelled and won’t return for a third cycle. NBC has not made a decision yet on ordering another cycle of Celebrity Apprentice but is looking into casting. NBC’s alternative chief Paul Telegdy stressed that the decision will be made strictly ”based on our considerations if it still rates… [Donald Trump's] opinions are not reflective of anyone sitting on this panel.”

Greenblatt also shared his “frustration with comedy” as the network cancelled most of its half-hour series heading into next season. Greenblatt and entertainment president Jennifer Salke both shared their regrets that freshmen Go On and The New Normal did not work. “We loved The New Normal, (co-creator) Ryan Murphy had a vision and passion for the show,” Salke said. “It was a smart, original show and got people talking.” As for why it didn’t work, “I don’t believe it didn’t work because it had gay characters,” Greenblatt said. “We think the country is moving in the right direction,” he added, referencing the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. “It may have been slightly ahead of its time, the focus was on gay marriage and a baby.”


* * * *

TCA Summer 2013 Notes
NBC Trying To Keep Jay Leno In The Fold Post February

NBC brass are not just buying Jay Leno a watch, sending him off to retirement. “We have been having conversations, talking about various ideas” for Leno to stay on NBC after he ends his run on The Tonight Show in February,” NBC topper Bob Greenblatt said today. “Nothing would make us happier for Jay ala Bob Hope to have presence at the network, we’re really hoping to do that post February.” Greenblatt disclosed that the discussions about the late-night transition had started when he joined NBC at the beginning of 2011 and the timing after the 2014 Winter Olympics was decided “to give Jimmy Fallon the best chance of succeeding. We really believe in Jimmy Fallon.” As for Leno’s continuous late-night ratings dominance, Greenblatt dismissed any second thoughts about making the change at the helm of The Tonight Show. “We predicted that we would see a boost when we announced this would be Jay’s final year,” Greenblatt said, adding, “The same happened with Johnny Carson and Jay’s previous final year” to laughs from the audience.

As for NBC’s other late-night show in transition, Saturday Night Live, which is undergoing a major cast overhaul, Greenblatt said he was not worried. Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader have departed, to be joined by Seth Meyers who will segue to Late Night in midseason. The show’s female star Kristen Wiig left last year.”Would I have preferred to keep them longer? Of course,” Greenblatt said but he noted that most of the departing cast members had been on the show for about a decade and had career and family reasons to move on. “SNL goes through those upheavals every year, and larger ones every few years. There is no one better than Lorne Michaels in combing the country finding the next great comedy stars. We’re confident he is going to do this again.”

post #88559 of 93649
Originally Posted by dad1153 View Post

TCA Summer 2013 Notes
NBC’s Bob Greenblatt Declares “Flat Is The New Up” In TV Ratings, Laments The Lack Of Respect For Broadcast Shows
By Nellie Andreeva, Deadline.com Team - Jul. 27, 2013

Greenblatt, who headed Showtime before moving to NBC in 2011, took an issue with a comment about the Emmy drought for broadcast drama series and the notion that quality scripted programming can only be found on cable these days. “If I was putting on one show a year, it would be the best show you can do; we have 85 million people working on that one show,” he said, noting the big disparity in output between the broadcast and cable networks. “Those [critically praised cable] shows on our platforms with those numbers would be canceled,” Greenblatt said. “Broadcast now is the bastard child…. I wish we get more respect for the work that we do.”


* * * *

Here's a clue for not being the "bastard child":

1) Make better shows. Instead of lazy, derivative shows full of stupid people doing silly things. Take a clue from cable where smart shows actually exist. Stop aiming for the gutter just because you think that's where the viewers are. If you want shows to be recognized for quality, you'll have to take hit on the eyeballs of Joe Sixpack and hope that the smart viewers will show up. You won't get American Idol numbers, but a show with an Emmy nod can still get good ad rates at lower viewership.

2) Stop cancelling shows so quickly. Cable lets them ride unless they are a complete dog right out of the gate. If you believe in a show, let it find an audience - or figure out how to find the audience for the show. The broadcast networks have gotten so cancel happy, the audience can no longer assume that a high concept show will make it past episode 5. Why bother watching if you'll be left hanging?
TCA Summer 2013 Notes
NBC Trying To Keep Jay Leno In The Fold Post February

NBC brass are not just buying Jay Leno a watch, sending him off to retirement. “We have been having conversations, talking about various ideas” for Leno to stay on NBC after he ends his run on The Tonight Show in February,” NBC topper Bob Greenblatt said today. “Nothing would make us happier for Jay ala Bob Hope to have presence at the network, we’re really hoping to do that post February.” Greenblatt disclosed that the discussions about the late-night transition had started when he joined NBC at the beginning of 2011 and the timing after the 2014 Winter Olympics was decided “to give Jimmy Fallon the best chance of succeeding. We really believe in Jimmy Fallon.” As for Leno’s continuous late-night ratings dominance, Greenblatt dismissed any second thoughts about making the change at the helm of The Tonight Show. “We predicted that we would see a boost when we announced this would be Jay’s final year,” Greenblatt said, adding, “The same happened with Johnny Carson and Jay’s previous final year” to laughs from the audience.


...and here we go again.

What's the over/under on how long until Fallon is out and Leno is back in?
post #88560 of 93649
Originally Posted by NetworkTV View Post

Here's a clue for not being the "bastard child":

1) Make better shows. Instead of lazy, derivative shows full of stupid people doing silly things. Take a clue from cable where smart shows actually exist. Stop aiming for the gutter just because you think that's where the viewers are. If you want shows to be recognized for quality, you'll have to take hit on the eyeballs of Joe Sixpack and hope that the smart viewers will show up. You won't get American Idol numbers, but a show with an Emmy nod can still get good ad rates at lower viewership.

2) Stop cancelling shows so quickly. Cable lets them ride unless they are a complete dog right out of the gate. If you believe in a show, let it find an audience - or figure out how to find the audience for the show. The broadcast networks have gotten so cancel happy, the audience can no longer assume that a high concept show will make it past episode 5. Why bother watching if you'll be left hanging?
...and here we go again.

What's the over/under on how long until Fallon is out and Leno is back in?

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