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Spike TV Names Ted Gold Senior Vice President of Scripted Originals

41 minutes ago

Ted Gold has been named senior vice president of scripted original series at Spike TV, announced Sharon Levy, executive vice president of original series.

In the newly created position, Gold will lead a new scripted development team, overseeing all scripted programming for Spike from the development stages through production and devising a competitive and creative strategy to further Spike’s presence in the scripted arena.

“Ted’s eye for great material, strong relationships and competitive tenacity, makes him perfectly suited to lead our new scripted development team,” said Levy. “Ted will play an integral role on my team as we continue to create programming for our ever-broadening audience.”

Gold previously served as president of television and executive produce at Parkes + Macdonald/Universal Television where he developed projects for HBO, Showtime, Amazon and other networks under an overall deal with NBCUniversal.

As part of the development team, Justin Lacob, vice president of original series, »

- Shelli Weinstein

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‘Breaking Bad’ Piracy Rates Soar Fivefold After 2014 Emmy Wins

50 minutes ago

The strong showing by “Breaking Bad” at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards — including its win for best drama series — prompted thousands of pirates to take to their computers and illegally download full seasons of the show.

The number of unique users illegally sharing “Breaking Bad” on the Internet jumped 412% last week, following the Emmys telecast Monday, according to data from antipiracy firm Ceg Tek Intl. For the week of Aug. 17-22, the average daily users sharing episodes of the show was 27,587 — climbing more than five times that to 141,334 last week, according to the company.

Meanwhile, HBO’s “Game of Thrones” retained the crown as the No. 1 pirated show, with an average of 296,734 daily users pirated the series last week (up 36% from the week before the Emmys), despite being shut out in major categories.

The surge in “Breaking Bad” piracy is notable particularly because the entire series is currently available on Netflix »

- Todd Spangler

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HBO’s ‘The Wire’ Will Be Remastered, Rebroadcast

51 minutes ago

The Wire” fans can start saying their favorite expletives: Creator David Simon’s beloved drama about the gangs, police and other factions that make Baltimore tick is getting a facelift before a marathon viewing.

HBO has confirmed that is in the process of re-mastering the series that ran from 2002 to 2008 and starred Dominic West, Wendell Pierce, Idris Elba, Michael K. Williams and others. HBO had planned a September launch for the marathon, but the episodes are still in review. However, the cat got out of the bag in August when a viewer noticed a promo ad with the wrong premiere date for the marathon. The marathon’s start date is still to be determined.

Binge-watching marathons of favorite programs are increasingly becoming popular promotional tools for networks. Fxx is currently seeing ratings success with its non-stop Every.Simpsons.Ever. marathon. Tvgn is trying a similar, but less intense, strategy by »

- Whitney Friedlander

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‘MasterChef,’ ‘American Ninja Warrior’ Lead Monday Ratings; ‘Under the Dome’ Hits Low

1 hour ago

CBS’ “Under the Dome” seems to be running out of gas as it nears the end of its second season, falling to a series low on Monday, a night that saw NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” and Fox’s “MasterChef” log the top demo scores.

NBC and Fox tied as the night’s No. 1 broadcaster in 18-49, while CBS led the way in total viewers.

According to preliminary national estimates from Nielsen, “Under the Dome” averaged a 1.2 rating/4 share in adults 18-49 and 6.3 million viewers overall — down 14% (0.2) from last week (1.4), which had been its low. It remains summer’s top scripted series, and continues to be popular in DVR playback, but it’s clear that “Dome” has lost some of its heat this summer.

Under the Dome” had a distant fourth-place lead-in among the Big Four, with a repeat “Two and a Half Men” settling for a 0.7/2 in 18-49 while »

- Rick Kissell

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Key Art Revealed

2 hours ago

AMC has released the key art for Season 5 of “The Walking Dead,” featuring Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the tagline “Hunt or Be Hunted.”

Based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, “The Walking Dead” tells the story of a group of survivors led by Grimes after a zombie apocalypse.  The series stars Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Michael Cudlitz, Emily Kinney, Chad L. Coleman, Sonequa-Martin Green and Lawrence Gilliard Jr, and is executive produced by Scott M. Gimple, Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero and Tom Luse.

Check out the key art below.

The fifth season of the drama premieres October 12 at 9 p.m. on AMC.


- Shelli Weinstein

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Nickelodeon To Delve Further Into Sports Programming

2 hours ago

Nickelodeon said it would move deeper into sports-themed programming for kids by launching a new primetime block on its NickToons network that will feature a mix of original and acquired longform and shortform content from the NFL, Major League Soccer and Nascar along with other shows.

The new block, to be known as NickSports, will air on Nicktoons on Wednesdays starting September 3 between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. eastern.

“More than 70 percent of kids ages 7-14 in the U.S. play two-to-three organized sports a year, so the interest and enthusiasm is already there,” said Keith Dawkins, senior vice president and general manager of Nicktoons, TeenNick and Nick Jr., in a prepared statement. “Our NickSports block will bring kids and families into the huddle by giving them an all-access pass to their favorite athletes, teams and leagues.”

The move follows the debut of Nickelodeon’s launch of its Michael Strahan »

- Brian Steinberg

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Joan Rivers Remains on Life Support Amid Reports of ‘Positive’ Steps

2 hours ago

Comedian Joan Rivers is slowly emerging from a medically induced coma and making positive steps toward recovery, according to published reports.

Entertainment Tonight” reported Tuesday that Rivers was slowing being brought out of the coma induced after she stopped breathing on Aug. 28 during what was described as routine vocal chord surgery at a Manhattan clinic. She is hospitalized at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital in critical but stable condition.

In a statement Tuesday, Rivers’ daughter Melissa confirmed that the 81-year-old comedian is still on life support. “I know my mother would be overwhelmed by the continued outpouring of kindness and I want to thank everyone for keeping us in their prayers,” she said.

On Monday, E! Online cited a source close to the situation in reporting that Rivers was “on the road to recovery” and making “small, but positive steps” to improving her condition. Joan and Melissa Rivers »

- Variety Staff

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Piers Morgan Exits CNN After Turning Down 2-Year Deal

3 hours ago

Piers Morgan, the CNN primetime host whose efforts to provide the network with a new type of celebrity-interview show met with ratings headwinds, has officially left the cable news channel after declining a new two-year deal that would have made him the host of  a sporadic interview series.

“I was offered a new 2-year deal by CNN boss Jeff Zucker to host 40 big interview ‘specials,'” Morgan said via Twitter. “But after considerable thought, I decided not to accept it – and to try pastures new.”

Morgan began anchoring the network’s 9 p.m. slot starting in January of 2011, replacing the durable “Larry King Live” with a celebrity-interview show that did not always hit the target with CNN viewers.  The program, in which Morgan could be seen breaking away from conversations with perplexed guests like Gregg Allman to ask if they had inadvertently given him a scoop in their responses, proved »

- Brian Steinberg

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Digital Audience Ratings: ‘Kimmel’ Snags Top Spot With a Little Help From His ‘Friends’

3 hours ago

Each week Variety publishes ListenFirst Digital Audience Ratings (Dar), a measurement of fan engagement across all the major digital platforms as it relates to TV shows (the Film version launches this Thursday). Provided by ListenFirst Media, Dar measures what entertainment content is resonating most across Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia combined. For more on the methodology behind Dar, scroll to the bottom of the article.

Digital Audience Ratings (Dar) Weekly Top 10 Monday Aug 25, 2014 – Sunday Aug 31, 2014 Rank Last Week Program Rating(000) 1 7 Jimmy Kimmel Live 23,920 2 – The Simpsons 20,134 3 1 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 14,494 4 4 Pretty Little Liars 9,749 5 3 America’s Got Talent 8,341 6 2 Conan 5,067 7 9 The Voice 4,366 8 – SportsCenter 4,293 9 10 Sesame Street 4,002 10 – Top Gear 3,795 -

Trending Monday Aug 25, 2014 – Sunday Aug 31, 2014 Program Rating(000) % Change Transparent 54 +2,220% The Bachelor 220 +1,346% The Simpsons 20,134 +1,248%



Jimmy Kimmel Live” topped the charts this week, driven by 13Mm views, thumbs ups and comments on his “Friends” reunion skit, featuring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow. »

- Jason Klein

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CBS, Fox Affiliates in Major Markets Go Dark on DirecTV Amid Retrans Dispute

4 hours ago

The carriage standoff between DirecTV and Raycom Media has blacked out Big Four network affils on the satcaster in major markets including Cleveland, Cincinnati, Charlotte, N.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla.

The stations went down as of Sept. 1 after what Raycom described as three months of negotiations on a new agreement. The blackout affects 53 stations in 37 markets, covering about 13.1% of U.S. TV households. The dispute has taken out CBS affils in Cleveland and Charlotte; Fox affils in Cincinnati. West Palm Beach and Birmingham, Ala., and the NBC affil in Louisville, Ky., among others.

“This is frustrating for DirecTV customers who rely on Raycom stations for information and entertainment. We share their frustration and are committed to doing everything we can to resolve this issue and have been for the last 12 weeks of discussions,” said Raycom Media president-ceo Paul McTear.

DirecTV said Raycom was seeking “more than double” the »

- Cynthia Littleton

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TV Review: ‘My Friends Call Me Johnny’

4 hours ago

Since its rebranding, Esquire is hardly the highest-profile network around, but it’s making a pretty strong bid to be one of the more obnoxious. Pushing a jet-setting lifestyle, the channel and movie producer Joel Silver have turned to Jean “Johnny” Pigozzi, an investor in high-tech firms — born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth — who has parlayed that into friendships with famous people. Their casual conversations provide the foundation for “My Friends Call Me Johnny,” but other than eliciting boorishness from the likes of director Brett Ratner and American Apparel’s ousted CEO Dov Charney, seldom has a half-hour felt this long.

Pigozzi describes his outlook on life as follows: “Never go to the office before 12. Business can be fun. And women like to have sex.” Setting the third aside, the first two would fall squarely into the “Nice work if you can get it” column.

Unfortunately, nothing »

- Brian Lowry

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HBO Asia Finalizes Multi-Platform Launch for ‘Grace’

10 hours ago

Hong Kong – HBO Asia will next month air “Grace,” its second original series made in the region.

The four-part horror mini-series stars Russell Wong (“Romeo Must Die,” “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”) and Pamelyn Chee (“Serangoon Road”) in a contemporary tale of a man who is an unfaithful but loving husband, and whose dirty secret threatens all around him.

HBO says the series, directed by Australia’s Tony Tilse, relies on the psychology of fear, and “takes a western approach towards the horror conventions of Asia, blending aspects of Asian supernatural mythology and traditions in the context of modern real-life scenarios.”

First broadcasts will be on Friday Oct. 17, with the two-part finale finishing on Halloween (Oct. 31). Episodes will also play on HBO Go one hour after broadcast and on HBO On Demand the Monday after.

Non-hbo subscribers in eight territories will be able to watch the first episode »

- Patrick Frater

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Weinsteins Board Dustin Hoffman Starrer ‘Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot’

10 hours ago

London — The Weinstein Company has taken all non-theatrical rights in the U.S. to Red Arrow Intl.’s “Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot,” which stars Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench.

Dearbhla Walsh (“Little Dorrit”) directed the 90-minute film, which was commissioned by the BBC and produced by Hilary Bevan Jones (“The Girl in the Café”) at Red Arrow’s Endor Prods.

Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Love Actually”) and Paul Mayhew-Archer (“The Vicar of Dibley”) adapted Roald Dahl’s story, which centers on Mr. Hoppy (Hoffman) and his ingenious plot to win the heart of his neighbor, Mrs. Silver (Dench), involving a cryptic riddle and more than a hundred tortoises.

TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein commented: “Roald Dahl is one of the most revered children’s authors in history, so needless to say we’re delighted to be on board with this project. Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench will »

- Leo Barraclough

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TV Review: ‘The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story’

12 hours ago

So it turns out “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story” is really just Lifetime for “Sharknado.” The network opted not to screen the movie in advance, presumably assuming the nostalgia/live-tweeting factor would only be undermined by the realization this wasn’t so much a movie as a music montage interrupted by reenactments from a mediocre but improbably long-running ‘90s Saturday-morning show. Told primarily from the perspective of Dustin Diamond (who doubles as a producer), the project explores the age-old insecurities of young actors and challenges of sudden stardom, but in such a tedious, empty way the bell couldn’t come soon enough.

Diamond’s memoir about the show (which he later disavowed) was said to have provided only partial inspiration for this account, but since Diamond (as played by Sam Kindseth) narrates the movie, periodically breaks the fourth wall to address the camera and generally guides us through this not-so-magical history tour, »

- Brian Lowry

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Watch: ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5 First Trailer

18 hours ago

Downton Abbey” is heating up, according to the first trailer for the drama’s upcoming season five.

It teases some new mysteries, shows Jimmy Kent getting caught in bed with a mystery woman, dinner table arguments and even an actual fire that adds in some action. Lady Mary Crawley also seems to get a new love interest in the clip.

Additionally, the trailer gives a look at newcomer Richard E. Grant, who appeared in the most recent season of “Girls,” as Simon Bricker.

“Downton is catching up with the times we live in,” says Mrs. Hughes.

Season five of  “Downton Abbey” premieres in the U.S. Jan. 5, 2015 on PBS. In the U.K., it will premiere Sept. 21 on ITV.


- Alex Stedman

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North Korea Condemns U.K. TV Series as ‘Despicable Burlesque’

1 September 2014 10:05 AM, PDT

London — The government of North Korea has condemned a TV political thriller about the country that has been commissioned by U.K. public broadcaster Channel 4.

The series, “Opposite Number,” centers on a British nuclear scientist who is taken prisoner in North Korea. It has been penned by British playwright and screenwriter Matt Charman, who wrote the original script for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Cold War movie.

See Also: U.K.’s Channel 4 Detonates North Korean Thriller ‘Opposite Number’

In a statement, North Korea’s National Defense Commission spoke about the drama as “malignantly slandering” the country, and said it was “a conspiratorial charade painting a wrong picture” of the country.

It said the country’s nuclear weapons — referred to as the “treasured sword for self-defense” — were produced due to its “own efforts, technology and resources from A to Z.”

The statement said the TV series “is based on »

- Leo Barraclough

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Venice Film Review: ‘Olive Kitteridge’

1 September 2014 8:25 AM, PDT

She’s “Ollie” to her husband and “Mrs. K” to the students in her middle-school mathematics class, and her daughter-in-law insists on calling her “Mom.” But audiences will forever know this unforgettable, irascible woman as “Olive Kitteridge,” thanks to the remarkably complex portrayal Frances McDormand delivers over the course of a four-hour HBO miniseries she optioned and developed herself, bringing aboard her “Laurel Canyon” helmer, Lisa Cholodenko, to direct. Even more so than 2011’s “Mildred Pierce,” .

Elizabeth Strout wrote “Olive Kitteridge” not as a traditional novel, but rather as a collection of 13 short stories — a portrait of small-town Crosby, Maine, with its minor crises and major hypocrisies, interlinked by the presence (sometimes peripheral) of Olive’s character. Such a format makes it all but impossible to reduce the Pulitzer-winning book’s nonlinear quarter-century span to an efficient two-hour narrative. Besides, the feature format is better suited to heroes with clearly »

- Peter Debruge

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TV Review: ‘The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic’

1 September 2014 8:00 AM, PDT

What could easily play like another synergistic infomercial or glorified electronic press kit somehow trumps that with “The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic,” an ABC special touting its parent company’s valentine to warm the hearts of shareholders. Perhaps that’s because “Frozen” qualifies as a legitimate cultural phenomenon, plus the recollections of those involved – and how the film found its voice – are personal and enlightening enough to overcome the obvious fluff factor. Parents, in particular, should let their kids see the hard work underlying such an enterprise, since nothing here will spoil the magic.

For those unfamiliar with how labor-intensive the genre is, it’s stated right off the bat that the movie – now the highest-grossing animated film of all time – employed 600 people for 2 ½ years. More notable, though, are the contortions through which the story went before the signature song, “Let It Go,” “fundamentally changed the entire movie, »

- Brian Lowry

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Lars Von Trier Set To Direct English-Language TV Skein

1 September 2014 4:38 AM, PDT

Twenty years after creating Danish hit mini-series “The Kingdom,” Lars von Trier (“Nymphomaniac”) will head back into TV with “The House That Jack Built,” an English language series.

The TV project was unveiled by Zentropa producer Louise Vesth during the press conference for “Nymphomaniac Volume 2 – Director’s Cut” (pictured above) at Venice.

Von Trier is expected to start writing the script this fall. The plot of the series and cast have yet to be unveiled.

Sold by TrustNordisk, the show will be produced by Vesth. Peter Aalbæk Jensen, Zentropa’s founder and von Trier’s longtime producer, will exec produce . The series will be developed in association with Denmarks Radio and executive producer Piv Bernth.

Aalbæk Jensen is looking to build anticipation for the series, claiming “it will be a TV series without precedent.”

Zentropa will be casting high-profile talent for “The House,” which is due to start lensing in 2016.

“The Kingdom, »

- Elsa Keslassy

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Yellow Bird Execs Launch Scandi Shingle Good Company Films

1 September 2014 3:07 AM, PDT

Paris– As Scandinavia’s film and TV industry gets more competitive and continues to consolidate, four topnotch Scandi producers have joined forces to launch Copenhagen-based shingle, Good Company Films.

Led by Vibeke Windelov, Stinna Lassen, Anni Fernandez and Ole Sondberg, “Good Company Films” will deliver fiction TV and films for the Danish and international markets, developing talent and content for new distribution platforms.

The company’s first slate includes an adaptation of Lene Kaaberbol’s popular fantasy novels, a psychological thriller directed by up-and-comer Milad Alami and a political mini series based on real events.

“Scandinavian film has during the past years enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, and it is our mission to continue strengthening this position. For us this means working closely with creatives, investing in new talent and focusing on developing first class content for future distribution platforms,” said the producers in a joint statement.

Sondberg and »

- Elsa Keslassy

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