Cable vs. Broadcast TV: Learning to Love the Low End of the Dial

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Originally posted on Variety:

I’ve recently rekindled a strained professional relationship: I’m watching scripted series on the Big Four networks again.

This development surprises no one more than me, since I had admittedly become a cable and pay TV snob. Like so many others in the biz, I was convinced that quality shows reside deep on my TV channel grid and beyond: “Homeland” on Showtime, “Veep” on HBO, “Breaking Bad” (dearly departed) on AMC and “Orange Is the New Black” on Netflix.

Why bother with the low end of the dial?

On cable and premium series, there is violence (ouch), sex (ooh), and profanity (f@#$ yeah). For someone with an edgier aesthetic like myself — I do wear a lot spiked accessories — cable and pay TV have been the bad-ass kids at the party, the Big Four serving as the butt of jokes as they struggle to mimic the sensibilities of programs like…

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TV Networks’ Pilot Spending Reflects Cable Competition

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Originally posted on Variety:

On paper, it appears that each of the Big Four networks is on track to shoot about 40 to 50 pilots for the 2014-15 development cycle — numbers that are, of course preposterous.

For the past decade, the major broadcast nets have produced 20-25 pilots apiece. ABC and NBC have been on the high end of that range in recent years.

But this year, the Big Four have been on a tear in handing out lofty-sounding commitments to projects. The designations are meant to be public declarations of a network’s adoration for a project — and a leverage point in landing it, in the event of competitive bidding.

A simple script order, the first rung of the development ladder, has become tantamount to the once-coveted “put pilot” deal. This year, however, the status symbol for scribes and showrunners is a “pilot production order,” or at the very least a “pilot…

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‘Mr. Peabody and Sherman’ Time-Travel To Egypt, Italy In First Trailer

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Originally posted on Variety:

Fox has released the first trailer for DreamWorks Animation’s “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” four months prior to its March 7 opening.

As was the case with the 1960s cartoon, wackiness abounds as the genius dog, voiced by Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”) and his adapted boy Sherman (Max Charles) journey back to the Pharaoh era in Egypt and the Renaissance era of Leonardo da Vinci to fix history — after Sherman and his classmate Penny misuse the WABAC time machine.

The film is directed by Rob Minkoff and includes the voices of Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, Lake Bell, Zach Callison and Dennis Haysbert.

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‘Charmed’ is Being Rebooted by CBS

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Originally posted on Variety:

CBS may be casting a spell in its development offices just in time for Halloween, as the Eye is  working on a reboot of witch drama “Charmed.”

Variety has confirmed the reboot is in its early stages with just a script deal, but has “Party of Five” co-creator Chris Keyser and Sydney Sidner co-writing the show. Keyser will exec producer, and Sidner will co-exec produce. CBS TV Studios is producing with Tannenbaum Company.

The reboot is described as a “re-imagining of the original series centered around four sisters who discover their destiny – to battle against the forces of evil using their witchcraft.”

Vulture was the first to report the news.

“Charmed” ran on the WB from 1998 till 2006, and was created by Constance M. Burge. Aaron Spelling produced the series through Spelling TV. Program starred Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs, Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan and averaged around…

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London Film Review: ‘Hide Your Smiling Faces’

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Originally posted on Variety:

American independent cinema hasn’t wanted recently for sun-baked meditations on male adolescent angst in scenic rural surroundings. Still, while Jeff Nichols’ “Mud” and Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ “The Kings of Summer” may boast more audience appeal, Daniel Patrick Carbone’s hushed but assured debut feature, outdoes them both for elegance and insight. Narratively oblique yet emotionally acute, this richly lensed mood piece about two brothers plunged into a state of nascent death anxiety by the strange passing of a friend has already received significant exposure on the festival circuit, though its low-key solemnity seemingly remains a challenge to distributors. VOD may be the best route to ensure that “Faces” isn’t hidden for too long.

Carbone opens his film on the arrestingly unpleasant image of a snake digesting a half-swallowed fish, setting the tone for the disquieting, quasi-dreamlike proceedings. It may also unwittingly put audiences in mind of reptile-related climaxes in Nichols’ and Vogt-Roberts’…

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Hulu Hires Disney’s Elaine Paul as CFO

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Originally posted on Variety:

Newly appointed Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins has made his first senior hire: Elaine Paul, previously head of strategy and business development at Disney, has joined the Internet TV company as chief financial officer.

Hulu’s current CFO, Tom Fuelling, will leave the company. Paul, who starts Oct. 28, was previously senior VP of corporate strategy, business development and technology at Disney.

Hopkins, previously president of distribution for Fox Networks, was officially named CEO of Hulu last week. He replaced interim chief Andy Forssell, who is leaving Hulu.

“I’ve known Elaine for many years, and I can tell you she is one of the most tenacious, disciplined and passionate executives I have ever worked with,” Hopkins wrote in a blog announcing her hire.

Paul was involved in Disney’s original investment in Hulu back in 2009 and “has played a continuing role through her work at Disney on their corporate strategy team,” Hopkins…

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