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News Corp.’s Fox Sports Australia, Telstra’s Foxtel to Merge

22 minutes ago

Foxtel and Fox Sports Australia are set to be combined into a new premium pay-tv sports and entertainment company Down Under, a move designed to pave the way for an eventual Ipo.

Parent companies Telstra and News Corp. announced the merger Thursday, saying the combined entity would align ownership and management and offer Australian consumers greater choice. The companies aim to complete the transaction in the first half of 2018, subject to the necessary regulatory approval.

News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said the proposed restructuring of the two companies would “unlock value for News Corp. shareholders and provide a clearer vision into the depth and strength of our Australian assets.”

“The new structure will simplify management control and ensure that the company is best placed to leverage the skills of its talented Australian employees and program makers,” Thomson said in a statement. “There is no doubt that the world of content is becoming more complicated and competitive, and »


- Robert Mitchell

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Turner Sets U.S. Rights Deal for European Soccer Rights, Plans Streaming Service

2 hours ago

Turner has grabbed U.S. rights to UEFA European soccer league games with plans to launch a direct-to-consumer streaming service next year. The deal marks the latest push by a major media conglom into the premium subscription streaming content arena.

Turner said Thursday it has set a multi-year deal for English-language rights to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League games starting with the 2018-19 season. The games will air on Turner’s various linear TV platforms — TNT, TBS and TruTV — and will be the basis of a subscription digital offering. Turner said it would carry more than 340 games per season with the linear and digital offering combined.

Turner will use its Bleacher Report digital sports news hub as the launching pad for the streaming service. Pricing is still being determined, Turner said.

“The launch of Turner’s new Ott sports platform and partnership with UEFA aligns with the company’s continued strategy to further expand the »


- Cynthia Littleton

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HBO Social Media Accounts Hacked (Exclusive)

10 hours ago

Way to kick HBO while it’s down.

As if the Time Warner-owned cable network didn’t have enough problems to worry about with cyberattacks, a notorious hacking group took over the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts Wednesday night.

“Hi, OurَMiَne are here, we are just testing your security ,HBO team please contact us to upgrade the security – ourmine .org -> Contact,” read a message on both social platforms at approximately 8 p.m. Pt.

OurMine is well known for taking over Twitter accounts of a wide range of media accounts in recent years including Netflix, Marvel and Google. The damage doesn’t seem to ever extend beyond just demonstrating the group’s ability to take over the account.

In addition to taking over the main accounts at HBO, the Twitter account for “Game of Thrones” was also exploited. HBO managed to scrub the offending tweets shortly after they were posted.

Breaking: »


- Andrew Wallenstein

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Fox News Host Eboni K. Williams on Receiving Death Threats After Segment Criticizing Trump

13 hours ago

Eboni K. Williams had never received anything like the responses she garnered after she aired her grievances with President Trump while on-air on “The Fox News Specialists.”

The co-host addressed Trump on Monday in her “Eboni’s Docket” segment, which she writes herself, berating him for failing to specify white nationalist groups in his condemnation of the violence that occurred at Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend. She told Variety in an interview on Wednesday that her personal website, which usually receives an average of 10-15 emails after each segment, was inundated with over 150 emails, only three of which were anything other than “seething, scathing” takedowns.

“I should meet my maker soon, I shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets of New York,” she cited as some examples of the type of comments she received. “They heard that I live in Harlem — Harlem needs to watch out.” Her book publisher became so concerned that he asked her »


- Erin Nyren

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Supernatural Crime Thriller Project Wins HBO Europe Award at Midpoint TV Launch Program

13 hours ago

The Sarajevo Film Festival is proving fertile ground for TV projects thanks to the Midpoint TV Launch international script and development program, which on Wednesday culminated with the HBO Europe Award for “The Midnight Shift,” a supernatural crime thriller project.

The Midpoint TV Launch program began in November with seven projects in development, mostly from Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe. After three workshops over the past nine months, the initiative concluded in Sarajevo.

The Midnight Shift,” a Cyprian-Greek-Maltese project, follows a small-time criminal cursed to be a modern version of the ancient mythical ferryman Charon, who transports the dead from this world to the next. In this incarnation, however, he is a taxi driver on the midnight shift rather than a boatman on the River Styx.

The first residential workshop took place in Slovakia, focusing on series concepts and pilot scripts. The second workshop, dedicated to the creation of the projects’ pitch books, took »


- Ed Meza

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TV News Roundup: Joy Nash to Star in AMC Series ‘Dietland’

14 hours ago

In today’s roundup, Joy Nash joins the cast of AMC’s “Dietland,” and Masterpiece announced the air date of “Victoria’s” second season.

Casting

AMC has announced that Joy Nash has been cast in the lead role for the network’s upcoming project “Dietland.” The original 10-episode drama series is based on Sarai Walker’s 2015 novel of the same name, and explores society’s obsession with weight loss and beauty. Nash plays Plum Kettle, obese all her life and preparing for lap band surgery when her world is upturned by two rival feminist factions. Caught between old ideas and radical new extremes, Plum must decide for herself what it means to be a revolutionary as the ‘war of the sexes’ becomes literal. Marti Noxon serves as writer, showrunner, and exec producer in addition to directing several episodes. “Dietland” is a co-production between AMC Studios and Skydance Television. Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg »


- Erin Nyren

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Nicole Kidman, Ava DuVernay and Reese Witherspoon to Host Variety’s Television Nominees Celebration

16 hours ago

Variety has announced the host committee for the annual Variety & Women in Film Television Nominees Celebration, which will take place Friday, Sept. 15 at Gracias Madre in West Hollywood.

The cast of “Big Little Lies” will make a big showing at the event, with Laura Dern, Reese Witherspoon, and Nicole Kidman all part of the committee. Emmy-nominated actresses Thandie Newton of “Westworld” and Claire Foy of “The Crown” will also make appearances, as well as Ava DuVernay, who received three Emmy nominations this year, and network and streaming executives like Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu and Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer at Netflix. Lena Waithe, who became the first black woman to be nominated for outstanding writing for a comedy series this year for “Master of None,” will also attend.

“We are excited to be partnering once again with Women In Film on our annual party that celebrates all the inspiring work female actors, executives »


- Variety Staff

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‘Bachelor’ Host Chris Harrison on ‘Paradise’ Scandal, What Happens Next, and Why ‘Journalism Is Dead’

18 hours ago

After two months of speculation, statements from lawyers, and tight-lipped teasing, Monday and Tuesday’s episodes of “Bachelor in Paradise” finally addressed the scandal involving DeMario Jackson and Corinne Olympios that shut down production.

On Tuesday’s episode, the show’s host, Chris Harrison, had a conversation with the cast after an internal investigation found “allegations of misconduct” to be invalid. Full recap here.

The next day, Variety caught up with Harrison — who had not seen Tuesday’s final cut — to debrief his thoughts on the franchise’s ability to take on complex social issues, how the scandal was handled in the media (his thoughts skew Trumpian), and how the show handled and will continue to address the scandal. For one, sit-down interviews with Jackson and Olympios are expected to air during the next two weeks.

On Tuesday night’s episode, you sat down with the cast. What were your goals for that segment?

First »


- Seth Kelley

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‘How to Get Away With Murder’ Boss on Season 4: Annalise Has to Get Her Fight Back

18 hours ago

How to Get Away With Murder’s” third season finale may have answered the question of who killed Wes (Alfred Enoch), but there’s still much more to the story — namely, why was he killed? And how will Annalise (Viola Davis) pick up the pieces after being accused of his murder? That’s what the fourth season will set out to explore, executive producer Pete Nowalk tells Variety.

“We’re jumping a little bit in time, a month or two, which is actually a lot of time in our show, so we’ll see how things have settled a little bit for everyone,” Nowalk says. “Annalise will have had some time to figure out what she wants to do with her life now, and really the first episode is very heavy on Annalise putting her life back together and seeing what step one is for her to redeem herself.”

Here, Nowalk »


- Danielle Turchiano

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‘Agent Carter’ Alum Andi Bushell Developing Gender Discrimination Drama at CW (Exclusive)

18 hours ago

Former “Agent Carter” writer and co-executive producer Andi Bushell is developing a new workplace drama at The CW, Variety has learned exclusively.

Currently titled “The She Word,” the series would follow four driven female assistants who discover they have been victims of gender discrimination at their boys’ club of a company. They vow to work together to take over by whatever means necessary.

Bushell will write and executive produce, with Deborah Spera also executive producing. The two previously worked together on “Criminal Minds,” where Spera was an executive producer and Bushell was a supervising producer and writer. CBS Television Studios will produce.

In addition to her work on “Agent Carter,” Bushell wrote for and produced series like “Chicago Fire,” “The Mentalist,” “Alias,” and “Crossing Jordan.” Spera has served as an executive producer on series including “Criminal Minds,” “Reaper,” and “Army Wives.” Bushell is repped by Paradigm and Ron Levin of Levin Law Corp. Spera »


- Joe Otterson

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OWN Orders Drama Series From ‘Moonlight’ Co-Writer, Michael B. Jordan

18 hours ago

The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has given a straight-to-series order to a new drama from “Moonlight” co-writer and executive producer Tarell Alvin McCraney with Michael B. Jordan also executive producing, Variety has learned.

Marking his first television series, McCraney will create, write, and executive produce the new coming-of-age drama, with Mike Kelley and Melissa Loy also serving as executive producers under their Page Fright production banner. Jordan will executive produce through his Outlier Productions. The series, which is yet to be titled, will be produced for OWN by Page Fright and Outlier Productions in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. It follows a 14-year-old prodigy from the projects haunted by the death of his closest friend who must choose between the streets that raised him or the higher education that may offer him a way out. Set in South Florida at the end of the Obama era, the series was inspired by events in McCraney’s own life. »


- Joe Otterson

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Gaumont Signs First-Look Deal with ‘Mission: Impossible 6’ Director/Co-Writer Christopher McQuarrie

19 hours ago

Gaumont (“Narcos”) has signed a first-look deal with Christopher McQuarrie, the director, co-writer and co-producer of “Mission: Impossible 6,” and his producing partner and wife, Heather McQuarrie, to write, direct and produce multiple scripted drama projects.

Under the agreement, McQuarrie will first direct “Stl” (working title), a TV drama series based on Gaumont’s “36 Quai des Orfèvres,” the gritty French crime drama depicting the ruthless competition between cops at the Criminal Investigations Division. McQuarrie will be executive producing, along with Heather McQuarrie and Ben Ripley (“Source Code”), who will also write the series.

“Chris is an industry icon – he is a master storyteller, world-class director, and hugely talented producer, and he and Heather are a pivotal partnership for Gaumont as we increase our investment into new productions for the global market,” said Gaumont’s president of television in the U.S., Gene Stein.

“We’re thrilled to be adapting ’36 Quai des Orfèvres’ from our French library, and »


- Elsa Keslassy

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FCC Censorship Rules Vary for Broadcast, Cable, and Streaming

20 hours ago

It’s about halfway through the fifth season of “Orange Is the New Black” when Elizabeth Rodriguez’s recently un-incarcerated, always opinionated Aleida sums up the plight of female-forward broadcast television writers everywhere with one simple, well-crafted exchange.

“Can I say ‘bitches?’” she asks a local newscaster and then, when she gets the green light, immediately and involuntarily exclaims, “s—.” The journalist, played by Thea McCartan, responds she can’t say that, to which Aleida replies, “What kind of f—ing bulls— rule is that?”

Although the writers may have simply been trying to show that Aleida was not as media savvy as she was street smart in this episode, which was written by co-exec producer Lauren Morelli, “in a lot of ways, we’re all like Aleida,” says writer-producer Carolina Paiz.

After years of working on broadcast TV, Paiz understands Aleida’s frustrations. On network shows, she notes, “We’re constantly censoring or told to self-censor »


- Whitney Friedlander

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Emmys 2017: Will ‘Atlanta’ or ‘Veep’ Take the Top Comedy Trophy?

20 hours ago

The seven contenders for the comedy series trophy are a perfect illustration of how the peak TV phenomenon has transformed the business. The humor mined in the observational time-and-place storytelling of “Atlanta” and “Master of None” is quite different from the situational hijinks that drive “Modern Family” and “Silicon Valley.” “Black-ish” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” come with big dollops of heart, and in the case of “Black-ish,” occasionally a social message that is deftly communicated. And those pottymouths on “Veep” make us howl even as we struggle to keep up with the fusillade of filth.

The Odds

The frontrunners are FX’s “Atlanta,” the only new series to land in the category this year, and the reigning champ, HBO’s “Veep.” Emmy voters have clearly become more attuned in recent years to recognizing breakthrough shows early, and by any measure “Atlanta” was heralded as a singular achievement in its debut last fall. Donald Glover »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Media Titans Look to Engage Consumers Directly With Bold New Strategies

20 hours ago

More than any other media giant, the Walt Disney Co. is endowed with a corporate brand name that means something to consumers. The goodwill that the Disney moniker brings is the foundation of the Mouse’s bold attempt to challenge Netflix at its own game with the launch in 2019 of a stand-alone streaming service featuring Disney- and Pixar-branded theatrical releases, as well as other film and TV productions.

But as much as Disney sees a chance to capitalize on its unique position, the company has also been under more pressure than any of its media peers to make a big move to combat the steady drumbeat of negative news surrounding its single biggest driver of earnings, Espn.

Disney’s market-shaking Aug. 8 announcement of the Disney-Pixar service and an enhanced Espn streaming offering came on the same day the Mouse reported fiscal third-

quarter earnings. The numbers for Disney’s cable group again demonstrated the erosion of Espn »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Fashion Flashback: Kathryn Hahn on Going From Emmy Date to Nominee

21 hours ago

Kathryn Hahn, star of Amazon comedy series “I Love Dick” and a supporting actress nominee for her role on “Transparent,” is “still in a place of being so excited to be able to get dressed up” for the Emmys. She’s come a long way from the girl who first attended as a friend’s plus-one, but staying true to who she is remains her utmost style goal. “My favorite looks are the ones that feel like a woman is just rooted into herself,” says Hahn, whose Emmy fashion choices veer toward the “pared-down” vs. “screaming-look-at-me.” “If I could just feel authentic, I would be really psyched. Just to feel like myself but sexier.”

2002 

A newly transplanted New Yorker, Hahn — who quickly landed a role on NBC’s “Crossing Jordan” after training at Yale School of Drama — first attended the Emmys as the date of friend and casting director Steven O’Neill. “I »


- Jasmin Rosemberg

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Tensions Between U.S., North Korea Could Impact NBC’s Investment in Winter Olympics

21 hours ago

It’s not hard to imagine a tension-filled scenario on Feb. 9, the first day of opening ceremonies of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

President Donald Trump and the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un might well still be exchanging harsh, rhetorical threats, as they did last week, while the U.S. military ratchets up strength and Kim’s government continues to test-launch missiles.

In six months, the prospects of nuclear brinksmanship will likely still be hanging over an event meant to bring the world together. The 2018 Winter Games are being staged just 40 miles from Korea’s demilitarized zone, the area that separates the north and the south.

Olympic officials express concern over what’s transpiring, while NBC, in the midst of a massive investment for the telecast rights to the Games, keeps a watchful eye on the escalating situation.

“No sports event in the world comes without some security concerns, and »


- Ted Johnson

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‘Black Mirror’ Dp Seamus McGarvey Talks About Finding the ‘Photographic Heart’ of ‘Nosedive’

21 hours ago

Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey worked with director Joe Wright on a number of feature film projects through the years. So when his “old pal” signed on for the “Nosedive” episode of Charlie Brooker’s “Black Mirror” and asked McGarvey to join him, there really was no question he would say yes. “The main reason I was excited to work on this episode was that it was Joe directing,” McGarvey says. “But I’d always admired Charlie as a writer [too], first as a journalist and then as a writer of the series. ‘Black Mirror’ really gripped my imagination in a way that I haven’t felt in television since ‘The Twilight Zone.’”

As the first episode of the third season of “Black Mirror,” “Nosedive” sets the tone for the batch of episodes. Did that offer extra incentive to sign on or present additional challenges?

I didn’t know it would be [the first]. I don’t think that even Netflix knew »


- Danielle Turchiano

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Madison Avenue Predicts Football Viewership Will Drop Again This Year (Exclusive)

21 hours ago

With just a few weeks to go before the kickoff of football season, advertisers may be questioning whether primetime NFL games can still score as many marketing touchdowns as it has in the past.

A Variety survey of commercial-ratings projections for the 2017-18 broadcast-network TV season finds that ad buyers believe fewer people than last season will watch commercials during such primetime stalwarts as NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and the “Thursday Night Football” broadcasts on both NBC and CBS. To be sure, the games remain TV’s top draw, with higher ratings expected for football than almost anything else on next season’s grid. But NFL games are proving just as vulnerable to audience erosion as their scripted counterparts. Advertisers’ commercial ratings predictions are culled by using estimates from three top media-buying agencies, which negotiate prices for and placement of billions of dollars in TV commercials each year.

TV’s Biggest Commercial-Ratings Programs Show 2017-18 C »


- Brian Steinberg

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Inside the Collector’s Paradise of David Mandel’s ‘Veep’ Office

21 hours ago

Walking into David Mandel’s second-floor office on the Paramount lot, where he writes HBO’s political comedy “Veep,” is like stepping into a museum of pop culture memorabilia. From posters and original prop portraits from his show on the walls to shelves of action figures, toy cars, and DVDs, Mandel lets his collector’s flag fly. “Among the things I collect are TV and movie props. I have a Lot of stuff,” he laughs. “So to actually have stuff from the things that I’ve worked on is extra enjoyable. It has a double meaning.”

Judgmental Eyes are Watching You

Hanging over the couch perpendicular to Mandel’s desk is the portrait of Mee-Maw, the imposing matriarch of Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) “Veep” family who famously passed away in the fourth episode of the fifth season — Mandel’s first season. “Selina, who is not particularly good with her emotions, needs »


- Danielle Turchiano

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