Friday, May 31, 2013

Robin Roberts' Name Floated for Daytime Show

Robin Roberts courtesy of
By Michael Malone and Paige Albiniak, Broadcasting & Cable
May 30, 2013

Robin Roberts has been key to elevating Good Morning America ahead of Today, and keeping it there. But does the a.m. anchor have the star power to make her own daytime show fly? That's what execs in the station and syndication community have been buzzing about in recent days since word spread quietly that Disney/ABC might consider a Roberts-led syndicated talk show as one of the next possible GMA spinoff projects, according to multiple sources.

ABC News has made no secret of its desire to elevate its GMA franchise further. But in a statement to B&C, Roberts said a new show for her is not on the table: "No one is developing any show for me nor are discussions being had to that effect. I am 100% focused on my health and anchoring GMA, now and in the future."

One of the several potential stumbling blocks to such a new talk show would be finding a time slot for it on ABC-owned stations and stations in other markets. The most natural place for a Roberts vehicle is at 3 p.m., where Katie Couric's Disney/ABC talk show currently airs on ABC O&Os [owned & operated] and on many ABC affiliates that took ABC's offer to take back the hour of time from the network in order to carry the syndicated Katie.

The buzz about Roberts comes amid ratings woes for Couric's daytime show, which debuted in fall 2012 under a two-year deal. If the show doesn't come back after its current deal expires, that slot could open up at 3 p.m. in fall 2014. "No one is talking about renewals," said one station general manager who asked not to be named.

Other new talk vehicles, of course, are also being readied to jump into any plum time slots that may open up. This fall, Sony Pictures TV is launching its Queen Latifah-led talk show and Warner Bros. will launch its Bethenny Frankel talker; Twentieth Television plans to test a Kris Kardashian talk show this summer and NBCUniversal shot its pilot with Meredith Vieira last week in New York.

However, few media personalities are enjoying such sky-high esteem these days as Roberts, who has very publicly battled myelodysplastic syndrome after beating cancer five years ago. She received a sustained standing ovation at the Peabody Awards lunch in New York May 20, and recently announced she will pen a memoir. Although Oprah Winfrey numbers exist in a different era, insiders see Roberts in a similar vein as Winfrey -- a big, relatable personality leading in to early evening news.

While Roberts' stock is high, some point to the overall strength of the GMAfranchise and how well it has continued to perform during periods when her role was minimized in the last year as she tended to her health; insiders see various scenarios involving strategic, shared use of Roberts' time as potentially successful.  "The general feeling is that GMA seems to do well even when she's not there," said a veteran ABC affiliate GM. "No spike, no dip -- the brand is strong."

Sources also note that giving Roberts a daytime slot is nothing more than an idea -- numbers crunchers perhaps crunching the numbers on sets and contracts and studios -- and that other names are also being floated as possible daytime hosts.

Prices Don't Always Add Up

While Katie was an expensive show to clear across the board, it was especially pricey for the ABC Owned Stations, which paid far higher license fees for the show -- in effect, subsidizing it -- than their affiliate counterparts. The show at 3 p.m. is underperforming its time periods and thus hurting stations' news lead-ins.

In the most recent two weeks of ratings, May 13-24, Katie averaged a 1.6 rating/5 share weighted metered market primary-run average in households, according to Nielsen Media Research, down 30% and 24%, respectively, compared to both the show's year-ago time periods (2.3/7) and lead-ins (2.1/7).

This season's other top rookie, NBCUniversal's Steve Harvey, also averaged a 1.6/5 for the same time period in the weighted metered markets, but Harvey debuted in much weaker time periods. Last year, those time periods averaged a 1.1/3, which Steve Harvey is improving by 45%. Compared to its lead-in,Steve Harvey is up 23%. NBCUniversal has upgraded and renewed Steve Harvey in multiple-year deals.

By all accounts, Disney/ABC would be wise to have some programming options in place should Katie not go forward beyond its current deal. However, Katie looks assured of running through its contracted second season, as pulling it prior to that would leave stations with a hole in their daytime schedule for 2013-14. Station partners like Couric and speak well of the program, but with the May sweeps wrapping up, the ratings are a drain. Even in her hometown market of Washington, D.C., it has underperformed. "She's a great person and I think it's improving, but it's certainly not Oprah numbers," says Bill Lord, WJLA Washington vice president and general manager.

Of course, nothing in daytime hits Oprah numbers, and some hosts, including Jeff Probst and Ricki Lake, did not make it to season two. "Katie's not lived up to expectations," says a consultant who asked not to be named. "But what does anymore?"

Melissa Grego contributed to this story.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tyler Perry Premiere Gives OWN a Record Launch

UPDATED: "The Haves and the Have Nots," the network's scripted debut, opens to 1.77 million viewers and builds in its second episode.

by Michael O'Connell, The Hollywood Reporter
May 29, 2013

Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey may be the perfect match -- at least in terms of Winfrey's cable network. OWN launched its first scripted effort Tuesday night, pulling in its highest rated series premiere yet.
The Haves and the Have Nots, from the prolific writer, director and producer, brought in 1.77 million viewers with its 9 p.m. premiere. Part of a back-to-back premiere, the show managed to grow to 1.8 million viewers in its second episode at 10 p.m. The strongest premiere until now has been the recent debut of Life With La Toya (1.18 million).
Among women 25-54, OWN's ad-friendly demo, the 9 p.m. episode brought in a 1.57 rating and the 10 p.m. episode pulled a 1.67 rating.
OWN and Perry inked an exclusive multiyear deal in October, which will see the multi-hyphenate develop new series and projects for the network. The pact included the addition of The Haves and the Have Nots to the network, as well as comedy Love Thy Neighbor -- which opens Wednesday.
For the second quarter to-date, the young cable network is up 12 percent in total viewers compared to last year.
CLICK the OWN logo to see all of our blog posts about the Oprah Winfrey Network

How the Film 'Mother of George' Got Made

Danai Gurira in Mother of George
In February 2013 Tambay A. Obenson did an extensive interview with SimonSays Entertainment Founder & President Ron Simons & Producing Associate April Yvette Thompson for Shadow & Act. Below is an excerpt from their talk about Mother of George.


Tambay A. Obenson: With regards to Mother Of George; this is a whole other world for you, we could say. A first for you in terms of the part of the Diaspora that it focuses on. I like that you're moving around the Diaspora. And, with Andrew's background in Fashion photography, as well as Bradford Young's cinematography, I'm expecting a beautifully shot film, like their last collaboration, Restless City, but with a more conventional story line than Restless City's. Speak on how you got involved with Mother Of George, your interests in it, and your expectations for it?

Ron Simons - It was actually mentioned to me by Tanya Hamilton who said, Ron, you really need to read this script; it's called Mother Of George, and it's really, really, well-written. I was working on Gun Hill Road then, and didn't really have the time to get knee-deep into it. But eventually I read it, and when I read it, I thought, wow, it's an incredibly well-written story. And it also had to do with a part of the Diaspora that I wasn't very well familiar with, about an African immigrant. And the uniqueness of the storyline as well; although any well-told story could speak to universal human challenges. But for me, the fact that the story was so well written, and required so little tweaking and adjusting, really drew my attention to it. And the fact that Bradford Young was going to shoot it, also got my attention. I'm a huge fan of his work, like Andrew's Restless City, which was so beautifully dark. I actually went to see Restless City at Sundance that year, because we actually had the same sales rep for our films. One of the producers on Restless City was my line producer on Night Catches Us. And so there were some things that tied us and our projects together. So, at the end of the day, I read the script, fell in love with the script. I thought it was a story that had to be told. And when I was about to come on-board, and I learned that Danai [Gurira] was going to play the lead - Danai who I think is a gifted actress, with her own personal aesthetic, her background, her just natural raw talent - I just knew that this was definitely an amazing project to get involved with. So I wasn't all that surprised when Mother Of George made the [Sundance] competition because it is so beautiful, and the colors, the clothing, are so rich in texture, rich in color. Bradford seems to catch every single light, he picks up every single color in the spectrum. It's just really extraordinary to look at. Even if you don't have the sound on, or you're not even really sure what's going on as you're watching; just to watch the film - it's a work of artistry.

April Yvette Thompson - The script is beautifully written; when I read it, I said, a serious writer wrote thisA serious writer who writes novels. I knew Danai's work. She's a brilliant actress. So that certainly helped. And I'd never really seen this story; even though I had written about lives that are very similar to this. I'd never seen it told with as much integrity and complication, and the struggle of merging this totally western identity with *home.* This was a no-brainer.

Ron Simons - Also in reading it, I felt almost like a fly on the wall, or a peeping Tom into the world of these individuals. And I know Andrew and Darci [Picoult, the screenwriter] were able to give us the privilege of looking into the lives of real people; not archetypes; not stereotypes, but real people. It all feels real. You feel like you're really there.

Read the full interview here


I saw Mother of George in May 2013 and it is really as good as they say it is! Read my review at Shadow & Act here

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Minority Report: How 'Fast & Furious 6' Took Over With a Mostly Diverse Cast

Blog Post #16

This is what I put on the Internet after I saw it. #FastFurious 6 was SO MUCH #kickasscrazyfun w/ the MOST DIVERSE CAST ever to helm a summer blockbuster!

From The Hollywood Reporter
Thanks to an engine more powerful than ever, Fast & Furious 6 topped the Memorial Day box office with $120 million for a worldwide total of $317 million -- a franchise best and the biggest debut of all time for Universal. The action pic has taken in $197 million internationally, including $17 million earned since opening last weekend in the U.K. and Ireland. 
Boosting Fast 6's stellar performance were an A CinemaScore and the strong turnout among minorities. 
Fast 6 benefited mightily from Hispanics, who made up 32 percent of the audience and are the most frequent moviegoers in the U.S. 
"This isn't just a car racing movie anymore. It's an action pic with broad appeal," said Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco, noting how unusual it is for a franchise to gain such strength with time. "And it played to a tremendously diverse audience." 
Costing $160 million to make, Fast 6 returns stars Van Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson and Michelle Rodriguez.

I'm hoping Hollywood studios are paying attention to this. This was another great film in the franchise with a mostly minority cast. It can be done. Every film doesn't have to be lily white with its casting.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

'Mother of George' Secures Distribution

Oscilloscope Acquires North American Rights To Andrew Dosunmu's 'Mother of George'

JANUARY 26, 2013 
Good news, and congrats to Andrew Dosunmu, Bradford YoungDanai GuriraRon Simons and company!
All the details on the acquisition follow in the press release just received (although no specific release date is given yet)
Oscilloscope Acquires Critically-Acclaimed Sundance Competition Film "Mother of George"
(New York, NY) January 26, 2013-Oscilloscope Laboratories announced today that it has acquired North American rights to Andrew Dosunmu's MOTHER OF GEORGE. The film made its world premiere this past week as part of the U.S. Dramatic Competition in Sundance, to widespread critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience response.
In the poetic and moving MOTHER OF GEORGE, Adenike (Danai Gurira) weds the charismatic Ayodele (Isaach De Bankolé), the owner of a small Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn. Their traditional wedding culminates in a ceremony where Adenike is named for her yet-to-be-conceived son, George. But as the months pass without pregnancy, Adenike faces uncomfortable and unfamiliar choices in her desperate struggle to save her marriage. The film stars THE WALKING DEAD's Gurira in the title role and veteran actor De Bankolé as her husband, and co-stars Yaya Alafia and Tony Okungbowa. This is Dosunmu's second feature, following his critically heralded 2011 debut RESTLESS CITY.
Beautifully shot by cinematographer Bradford Young (AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS, PARIAH), the film skillfully folds large,universal themes and ideas into a very personal and intimate story.
It has already received many critical accolades at Sundance; Manohla Dargis of the New York Times singled it out as one of thehighlights of the festival and called it "visually splendid." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote that the film is "dazzlingly shot" and praises Gurira's performance, saying she "inhabits this role with a fire and pride, a devotion, and, at times, a despair bordering on instability." Guy Lodge begins his review in Variety by saying, "Simply relating the narrative of Andrew Dosunmu's seductive immigrant drama MOTHER OF GEORGE would do little to convey the film's stark, poetic power, much less its extraordinary visual and sonic acumen."
About the acquisition, David Laub and Dan Berger from Oscilloscope said, "We couldn't be more excited to be releasing MOTHER OF GEORGE-it is exactly the kind of gem which we love to champion. In only his second feature, Dosumnu shows not only tremendous style and visual flair, but a deep empathy for his characters and the ability to portray the complexity of a traditional culture adapting to the modern world. We are thrilled to be working with this wonderful and talented group of filmmakers and to have the opportunity to bring this film to audiences."
Filmmaker Andrew Dosumnu says, "I am thrilled to be working with Oscilloscope having been a fan of their roster of films. I am honored to beworking with such a great team who support filmmakers and their vision. It is a perfect fit."
The film was written by Darci Picoult and produced by Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy of Parts & Labor and Matt Parker & Carly Hugo along with Picoult, Chris Maybach, Saemi Kim and Okungbowa. Executive producers on the film are: Saerom Kim of Maybach Film Productions; Ron Simons of SimonSays Entertainment; Jerry Tankersley, Laura Bernieri & Joseph Sorrentino of Fried Alligator Films and Rhea Scott & Fady Salamé. The deal was negotiated by David Laub and Dan Berger from Oscilloscope with Ben Weiss of Paradigm, who represented the filmmakers.

Oscilloscope Sets 9/13 Theatrical Release Date For Andrew Dosunmu's 'Mother of George'

May 21, 2013 
Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired North American rights to Andrew Dosunmu's lauded Sundance competition drama Mother of George in January, not long after its premiere at that festival, to critical-acclaim and enthusiastic audience response.

We just learned that the film will make its theatrical debut on September 13, 2013. Closer to that date, we should know more about the release strategy that Oscilloscope has planned for the film.

The poetic and moving drama stars Danai Gurira as Adenike, who weds the charismatic Ayodele (Isaach De Bankolé), the owner of a small Nigerian restaurant in Brooklyn. Their traditional wedding culminates in a ceremony where Adenike is named for her yet-to-be-conceived son, George. But as the months pass without pregnancy, Adenike faces uncomfortable and unfamiliar choices in her desperate struggle to save her marriage. 

Beautifully shot by award-winning cinematographer Bradford Young, the film co-stars Yaya Alafia and Tony Okungbowa

The film's script was penned by Darci Picoult and produced by Lars Knudsen and Jay Van Hoy of Parts & Labor as well as Matt ParkerCarly HugoChris MaybachSaemi Kim, along with Picoult and Okungbowa. 

Executive producers on the film include Ron Simons of SimonSays EntertainmentSaerom Kim of Maybach Film ProductionsJerry Tankersley, Laura Bernieri & Joseph Sorrentino of Fried Alligator Films and Rhea Scott & Fady Salamé.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Kanye's Latest Rant: May 2013 [UNCENSORED]

Kanye West on stage at the Adult Swim Upfront Party

Kanye West slams paparazzi in rant during NYC show: 'I ain't no motherf--king celebrity'
The rapper took the stage at the Roseland Ballroom to perform for the Adult Swim upfronts but treated his audience to a profanity laced filibuster on how he’s not a ‘celebrity.’

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2013

WARNING: All curse words below HAVE NOT been censored. 

Kanye West made it clear no one is "gon' stop" him.

The rapper took the stage Wednesday night in New York City at the Roseland Ballroom to perform for the Adult Swim upfronts and went on a bit of a tirade to the audience.

"One thing about me, I'm the worst kinda ... celebrity because all I do is make real music. All I do is sit in the studio and make real, real shit. And that's it," he said while half-singing in a video captured by Complex Magazine.

"That's motherfucking it. That's motherfucking it. So I don't want nobody trying to run up on me with no cameras, trying to sell pictures and shit to magazines, asking me no dumbass questions, throwing me off of my focus and shit," he continued.

"Harassing you all motherfucking day. I ain't no motherfucking celebrity."

Just last week, West found himself walking into a street sign due to the amount of photographers following him and pregnant girlfriend Kim Kardashian.

West is slated to perform on this week's “Saturday Night Live” finale and took a stab at the comedic live show.

He made it clear on stage that when asked by a friend if he was going to "do, like, a skit about the paparazzi and shit and, like humanize yourself?"

But Kanye's response was simple: "I ain't here to apologize to no motherfuckers, man. It ain't about me humanizing myself. At what point did I become unhuman where I had to turn myself back? Or maybe I was demonized. Or maybe I was treated inhumane and not human in that kind of situation," he told the crowd.

The ranting didn't stop there. He went on to say he was not a celebrity despite his own renown and the fact that the future mother of his first child is one the most photographed tabloid targets in the world.

"I ain't no motherfucking celebrity. I ain't running for office. I ain't kissing nobody's motherfucking babies. I drop your baby and you sue me and shit," he yelled.
"I'm trying to make some music that inspires people to be the best they can be. I don't want nobody to ask nothing else of me. Don't ask nothing else of me. Motherfucking chasing you down, 'bout to make you crash and shit, and all they want is one nigga to laugh and shit."

Kanye West on stage at the Adult Swim Upfront Party
"Hell nah, I ain't doing no motherfucking 'SNL' skits. This my goddamn life. This ain't no motherfucking joke. That's it. Stop that shit right there."

At Complex Magazine
CLICK the graphic to read them