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‘Descendants 2’ Rises to 21 Million Viewers in Delayed Viewing

30 minutes ago

Disney’s original TV movie “Descendants 2” has risen to 21 million viewers in delayed viewing, according to Nielsen data.

On a Live+3 basis, the sequel rose from 13 million viewers from its original airing on July 21, airing simultaneously on ABC, Disney Channel, Disney Xd, Freeform, Lifetime and Lifetime Movies.

The movie also bested two years of cable TV ratings set by the original “Descendants” in 2015. The sequel ranked as the number one cable TV telecast among all major youth demographics: kids 2-11 (3.9 million/10.0 rating), kids 6-11 (3.1 million/12.8 rating), tweens 9-14 (2.8 million/11.7 rating), and kids 6-14 (4.2 million/11.6 rating).

It also broke social media records for Disney Channel, with 174.1 million video views, 90.8 million impressions, and 14.6 million engagements, making it the biggest social campaign in the network’s history.

The original “Descendants” drew 6.6 million viewers in Live+Same Day when it first aired in 2015. However, it aired only on the Disney Channel. The original eventually rose to 12.2 million viewers in Live »


- Joe Otterson

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‘Mindy Project’ Star Ike Barinholtz Recovering From Broken Neck After Movie Stunt Accident

48 minutes ago

Ike Barinholtz broke his neck while filming his upcoming movie “The Pact.”

While shooting a falling stunt from a high platform on set five weeks ago, Barinholtz fractured cervical vertebrae in his neck on impact. Per doctor’s orders, he has to keep his neck stabilized until the fractures heal.

Conveniently for Barinholtz, the brace has been incorporated into his storyline as ex-con and nurse Morgan Tookers on the next season of “The Mindy Project.” The look should easily fit in with the essence of his eccentric oddball character.

“After the accident, I talked to Mindy [Kaling] and we agreed that the only option was writing it into the show,” he told People. “Luckily, on ‘The Mindy Project,’ I play a character who could break his neck falling out of his bunk bed and it’s completely believable.”

Barinholtz directed an episode of the show’s sixth and final season, which has already begun filming. “I »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Nielsen Strikes Out-of-Home Measurement Pact With CNN, Turner Sports

1 hour ago

Time Warner’s CNN and Turner Sports will take part in Nielsen’s service that measures so-called “out of home” viewership, the latest signal that the media industry is working to capture audiences watching video programming in ways that have not been counted as seriously in the past.

Under terms of the agreement, the Turner units will get viewership credit for both program and commercial ratings for up to seven days of viewing of various pieces of content. CNN is the first news network to make use of the Nielsen technology. Time Warner joins Disney’s Espn and 21st Century Fox’s Fox Sports in subscribing to the service.

Out-of-home viewing, defined as video consumption that takes place in offices, hotels, bars, gyms, and other venues that are not a viewer’s home is important in particular to sports and news outlets, which derive  a major part of their audience from people working in offices or watching »


- Brian Steinberg

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‘American Idol’: Charlie Puth, Lionel Richie in Advanced Talks to Join as Judges

1 hour ago

The “American Idol” revival may be close to rounding out its panel of judges.

Charlie Puth and Lionel Richie are in advanced talks to join Katy Perry on the judges’ panel, sources confirm to Variety. Country singers Luke Bryan and Keith Urban, an “Idol” veteran, are being considered as well.

ABC is also deliberating whether to have four judges on its panel. The series has traditionally had only three, with the exceptions of Seasons 8, 9, and 12.

This isn’t the first time Richie has been in talks with ABC to judge a singing competition show. In 2012, he dropped out of the network’s short-lived “Duets” before it premiered, being replaced by John Legend.

ABC’s revival of the long-running Fox series has been slowly taking shape since it was announced in May. Perry was revealed to be a judge shortly after the deal at ABC was made, and is currently the only official judge announced.

Ryan Seacrest »


- Alex Stedman

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‘Mr. Mercedes’ Stars on Adapting Stephen King’s Novel: It’s About ‘Every One of Us’

1 hour ago

When “Mr. Mercedes” — an adaptation of Stephen King‘s best-selling novel — premieres on the Audience Network, viewers can expect a much more grounded story than many of King’s other stories.

“I don’t think we have to go into the supernatural to find horror and terror,” the show’s star Brendan Gleeson said at the “Mr. Mercedes” premiere, held Tuesday night at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. “What it’s about is something that could be in every one of us.”

Harry Treadaway, who plays the villainous Brady Hartsfield, echoed Gleeson’s sentiment on the supernatural-less horror story.

“What’s more terrifying to me is what’s going on on your street and in your neighborhood,” Treadaway said. “It’s that sort of cul-de-sac, documentary horror that Stephen King is brilliant at doing. He finds the horror in the lies between people who think they are telling the truth, or »


- Jacob Bryant

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Verve Taps Sarah Shulman to Head New Communications Department

2 hours ago

Verve has brought on Sarah Shulman to head the agency’s new communications department, Variety has learned.

Shulman hails from ICM where she was in the corporate communications department for the past five years.

In her newly-created role at Verve, Shulman will oversee external and internal communications, media strategy, advertising, special events and corporate philanthropy. She will also oversee the publicity for the agency’s social impact initiatives.

“We are excited for Sarah to dive into the world of Verve’s culture and clients by designing creative ways for Verve Voices to be heard,” said Verve’s partners in a joint statement. “As Verve continues to expand, this is the perfect time Sarah to join our team.”

Since Verve launched in 2010, the agency has continued to grow, now with a roster of 20 agents specializing in the television, film, digital and virtual reality spaces.

At ICM, Shulman worked closely with longtime communications exec Michelle Suess, who »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Science Channel Travels ‘Path of Totality’ to Capitalize on Eclipse Fever

2 hours ago

Eclipse fever is building in TV.

On Aug. 21, the first total solar eclipse to cast a shadow across the continental United States in nearly 100 years is set to become a programming event for numerous TV outlets, none more so than Discovery’s Science Channel.

Science is planning a host of “Great American Eclipse” pre- and post-eclipse programming, as well as live coverage of the big blackout expected to begin around 1:20 p.m. Et and conclude about 2:50 p.m. Et. The eclipse should be visible throughout the contiguous states, but the “path of totality” — the places where the sun will be entirely blocked out — will cover a slice of the country stretching from the coast of Oregon to the coast of South Carolina.

“This is the most amazing natural phenomenon that happens for the surface of the Earth,” said Angela Des Jardins, director of the Montana Space Grant Consortium. Des »


- Cynthia Littleton

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Fox TV Stations Will Offer Programmatic Buys

2 hours ago

The TV-station unit of 21st Century Fox said it would allow advertisers to buy advertising inventory from its stations with programmatic technology, giving new momentum to a method of ad buying with which many marketers have experimented.

Fox Television Stations said it would use WideOrbit, an ad-tech firm, to help clients buy inventory controlled by the stations and automate transactions with specific buying partners, among other things. Fox’s Television Stations Group operates 28 stations in 17 markets and covers 37% of U.S. homes.

“Based on our tests over the last year, we are convinced that programmatic advertising will be a complementary additional sales channel for our stations,’ said Jim Burke, president of sales for Fox Television Stations, in a statement. ” Opening a programmatic sales channel is a clear win for everyone involved in the media buying process and we’re proud to be the first network owned-and-operated group to offer it to our buying partners.”

Programmatic »


- Brian Steinberg

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Viacom, Discovery Battle to Win Scripps – and a Place in Media’s Future

3 hours ago

Discovery Communications chief David Zaslav and Viacom leader Bob Bakish have both clearly been watching a lot of Hgtv. Each media mogul wants to borrow a storyline from that cable outlet’s home improvement shows and build a new wing for its corporate parent, Scripps Networks.

Viacom and Discovery are both engaged in negotiations for Scripps, according to people familiar with the situation, a purchase that could be worth as much as $10.6 billion. A final decision could be reached as soon as next week, but there’s also a chance no deal will take place.  Each company sees transformative potential in nabbing the owner of Food Network, Travel Channel and a small suite of cable networks whose mainstay programming is documentary-style series like “Flip or Flop” and “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

The maneuvering could light a fire. “Given what seems like real competition over Scripps Networks, it seems like the company (and Scripps family) could demand a »


- Brian Steinberg

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Pay-tv Sector Faces a Meltdown Heading Into a Rough Earnings Season

3 hours ago

“Whoever is winning at the moment,” George Orwell noted, “will always seem to be invincible.”

For years, the pay-tv biz was an unassailable empire, impervious to encroaching internet invaders. Now it’s on the verge of what could end up its worst quarter yet — and just as rumblings grow louder regarding consolidation among media companies looking for greater scale and negotiating power against distributors.

The extent of the damage to the pay TV ecosystem in the quarter will become apparent with earnings reports starting to arrive this week. On Tuesday, At&T posted a record loss of 351,000 traditional TV subs, including 156,000 DirecTV satellite customers. The telco also netted 152,000 subscribers for DirecTV Now, but the internet-delivered service is sold in cheaper, smaller bundles — and with the rise of over-the-top TV, many networks are getting left out.

If other operators report similarly ugly results, the urge to merge could intensify as media companies look to increase shareholder value.

Scripps »


- Todd Spangler

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TV Review: ‘The Last Tycoon’ on Amazon

3 hours ago

“The Beautiful and the Damned” is not the F. Scott Fitzgerald work that Amazon has chosen to adapt, but it could serve as an alternate title to the handsome and romantic drama “The Last Tycoon,” a lovely period piece that contains several top-notch performances.

Featuring Kelsey Grammer, Matt Bomer and Jennifer Beals doing some of their best work, “The Last Tycoon” wraps its most unforgiving truths expensive satin and drapes them in softly lit diamonds. At its best, the series recalls the melancholy elegance of some of the best films of the 1930s, which is when this story is set. The drama chronicles the desperation that seeps into every corner of Brady American Pictures, a film studio trying to survive the Depression as well as creative infighting, oafish bankers and dissatisfied employees. Just about everyone on the screen is either rich, famous or both.

From camera techniques to costumes to the yearning music, the »


- Maureen Ryan

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Walk of Fame Honoree Jason Bateman Reflects on His Career, From ‘Silver Spoons’ to ‘Ozark’

3 hours ago

If you grew up in the 1980s, and you were a connoisseur of small-screen culture, then you remember Jason Bateman as the preppy, freckled and precociously winsome Derek Taylor, the comic foil to Ricky Schroder’s tow-headed teenage heartthrob on the NBC sitcom “Silver Spoons.”

“I was still just a little kid, kind of a wise ass in my normal life and kind of troubled around school, and there was a natural mischievousness to me, and I remember that character sort of lent itself to that part of me,” says Bateman, who is receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 26. “I enjoyed that role, because I could be that kind of kid and not get in trouble for it. I could actually get compensated for it, which was kind of nice. I was like, ‘Ok, maybe I’ll be a character actor, I’ll be in comedy.’ I »


- Malina Saval

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Electus Partners With Former Crime Boss for New Mafia Series (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

Electus has partnered with former crime boss Michael Franzese and producers Moshe Diamant and Michael Tadross Jr. for a new scripted series about the Mafia, Variety has learned exclusively.

The series, currently titled “American Royalty,” will put modern spin on the crime genre that takes viewers back to a time when mobsters were bigger than life, often bringing politicians and corporate executives to their knees. The golden age of the mob took place in New York City from the 1950s through the 1980s, with nearly every notorious mobster reigning during that time.

“’American Royalty’ presents a modern take on a beloved genre, and its unflinching look at life inside the Mafia will captivate viewers around the world,” said John Pollak, president of worldwide television and Electus International. “The series will be comprised of tales spanning decades and generations, using real accounts to tell the story.”

Based on the true story, “Quitting »


- Joe Otterson

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Ann Curry to Host New PBS Series ‘We’ll Meet Again’ (Exclusive)

3 hours ago

Ann Curry will host a new PBS series next year called “We’ll Meet Again.”

The six-part program will feature reunions between people who have been affected by real-life events, like a Japanese-American woman who sought to find a classmate who helped her when she was a girl at the outbreak of World War II. After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese-American girl was bullied in school, but the classmate reached out to become friends with her. The girl and her family were interned during the war.

In an interview, Curry said she quickly boarded the series after hearing its concept. “I had a sense of the potential depth of the stories,” she said. “What I wasn’t prepared for is how much things that happened so long ago could rise to the surface and be so powerful.”

The show comes from Blink Films in partnership with Curry’s production company. It is produced by Simon Harries, and »


- Ted Johnson

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TV Ratings: ABC’s ‘Somewhere Between’ Sinks in Episode 2

4 hours ago

ABC’s new summer drama “Somewhere Between” suffered a significant drop in the overnight ratings in its second episode on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen data.

Airing at 10 p.m., the series averaged a 0.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.8 million viewers. The series opened to a soft 0.5] and 2.9 million viewers on Monday of this week, meaning last night’s episode saw a drop of 20% in the key demo and almost 40% in total viewers.

ABC aired only repeats for the rest of primetime, while CBS, Fox, and The CW aired nothing but repeats.

On NBC, “America’s Got Talent” (2.6, 12.9 million) and “World of Dance” (1.7,7.2 million) both ticked up across the board.

NBC easily won the night with a 2.3 and 11 million total viewers. CBS was second with a 0.6 and 5.5 million viewers. ABC was third with a 0.5 and 2.1 million viewers. Fox was fourth with a 0.4 and 1.4 million. The CW averaged a 0.3 and 1.2 million. »


- Joe Otterson

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‘Queen Sugar’ Renewed for Season 3, Ava DuVernay Inks First-Look TV Deal With Harpo Films

4 hours ago

Queen Sugar” has been renewed for Season 3 at the Oprah Winfrey Network (Own), while series showrunner Ava DuVernay has signed a first-look television and digital media deal with Winfrey’s Harpo Films, Variety has learned.

“I’m so proud of Ava and her ability as a filmmaker to challenge the status quo and push for inclusiveness on screen and behind the camera. I love, love, love the work we have been able to create so far. I am looking forward to developing many more meaningful projects together,” Winfrey said.

Queen Sugar” follows the Bordelon siblings in Louisiana. Season 2 of the series debuted on June 20 with its highest-rated episode ever in key adult and female demos. It is currently averaging 2.4 million viewers per episode in delayed viewing. In addition, Michael Michele, Roger Guenveur Smith and Beverly Todd will join the series in recurring roles later in Season 2. Michele and Smith will play Darla’s (Bianca Lawson) estranged parents »


- Joe Otterson

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Fox Vows to ‘Vigorously Defend’ Olivia de Havilland ‘Feud’ Lawsuit

4 hours ago

The producer of “Feud: Bette and Joan” has fired back at Olivia de Havilland, vowing to “vigorously defend” the series against the lawsuit filed last month by the screen legend.

On Tuesday, de Havilland asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to speed up the trial schedule for her suit, given her age. The 101-year-old Oscar winner maintains the FX miniseries from Ryan Murphy Productions about the longstanding rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford damaged her reputation through Catherine Zeta-Jones’ portrayal of her. De Havilland’s complaint maintains she was not consulted for the production, which has grabbed 18 Emmy nominations.

On Wednesday, “Feud” producer Fox 21 Television Studios issued a statement defending the limited series and asserting it had every legal right to depict de Havilland as producers saw fit.

“Our project was a meticulously researched dramatization of the well-documented feud between actresses Bette Davis and Joan Crawford,” the statement said. “The »


- Cynthia Littleton

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ITV in Advanced Negotiations to Buy Majority Stake in Cattleya (Exclusive)

5 hours ago

British broadcaster ITV is in advanced negotiations to acquire a majority stake in Cattleya, the Italian film and TV production company behind internationally successful TV dramas such as Sky Italia’s “Gomorrah” and Netflix’s upcoming “Suburra” (pictured), sources say.

The move is in line with ITV’s aggressive expansion into international production and its stated mergers and acquisitions strategy. Italy is one market in which the British TV giant hasn’t yet made any acquisitions.

French media investment consortium Mediawan had also been pursuing Cattleya, but those talks broke off several months ago, sources say.

ITV and Cattleya declined to comment. Sources say the deal is expected to close by September.

Cattleya, which does both film and television, is Italy’s top indie production shingle. The company more than doubled its revenues to $82 million in 2015, the last year for which its results have been disclosed.

Currently, Cattleya is a three-way partnership between Tozzi and producers Marco Chimenz »


- Nick Vivarelli and Stewart Clarke

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Imagine Sets $100 Million TV Financing Venture With Hong Kong’s Tvb (Exclusive)

9 hours ago

Imagine Entertainment has set a $100 million television production financing venture with a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Television Broadcasts Limited. The joint venture promises to expand Imagine’s TV operations on a global scale and allow the company to retain ownership of its content for the first time.

Brian Grazer, who runs Imagine Entertainment with partner Ron Howard, said the funding earmarked for TV content will open up vast opportunities for the company that is already bustling with production. The deal took more than eight months to hammer out.

“This gives us the money and flexibility to align ourselves with ‘A talent’ and to co-finance series for any platform,” Grazer told Variety. “It gives us the ability to own much more of the negative than we have before. We are trying to adapt our businesses to the new world order and how content is created. There are so many different applications for all of the things we want »


- Cynthia Littleton

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ITV Revenues Down 3% Amid Drop in Profit for ITV Studios

12 hours ago

ITV recorded a 3% drop in revenues of £1.5 billion ($1.95 billion) and an 8% fall in adjusted Ebita profit of £403 million in the first half of 2017, weighed down in part by a decline in profits at its production and distribution arm, ITV Studios.

Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster blamed the decline at ITV Studios on its investment in its budding U.S. drama business and the absence of revenues from “The Voice of China.” Revenue at ITV Studios rose 7%, to £697 million, but profit went down 9%, to £110 million.

ITV executive chairman and interim CEO Peter Bazalgette said Wednesday that the overall numbers were in line with expectations and that the strategy of re-balancing the business is working.

“ITV’s performance in the first six months of the year is very much as we anticipated and our guidance for the full year remains unchanged,” Bazalgette said. “We are confident in the underlying strength of the business as we continue to invest both »


- Stewart Clarke

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