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USA and Oxygen Acquire Rerun Rights to ‘Chicago P.D.’

15 hours ago

USA Network and Oxygen have cut a deal for the rerun rights to NBC’s “Chicago P.D.

The drama series hails from producer Dick Wolf’s prolific Wolf Entertainment banner based at Universal Television. The series is heading into its fifth season its NBC.

Chicago P.D.” is one of three Chicago-based procedurals that have become pillars of NBC’s primetime lineup. “Chicago Fire” launched the franchise in 2012, followed by “Chicago P.D.” in 2014 and “Chicago Med” in 2015. Last season, NBC fielded a fourth installment, the legal-themed “Chicago Justice,” but the show was not renewed for a second year.

The “Chicago” shows have been solid performers for NBC but according to industry sources they have been a tough sell in domestic syndication. “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” have been on the market for some time. Industry sources said “P.D.” in the combined deal with NBCUniversal siblings USA and Oxygen fetched about $500,000 an episode. That »


- Cynthia Littleton

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CBS Developing Drama Based on Internet Abuse Attorney Carrie Goldberg (Exclusive)

20 hours ago

CBS is developing a drama series based on real-life attorney Carrie Goldberg, Variety has learned exclusively.

The untitled project would follow a young lawyer in Brooklyn who, after enduring vicious online and offline attacks herself, opens her own firm to place herself and her team on the front lines of defending victims of crimes in the age of the Internet where the law hasn’t yet caught up with technology.

Jennifer Cecil, who previously served as showrunner on “Private Practice,” will write and executive produce. Goldberg will also executive produce along with Michelle Sy and Sophia Chang. Escape ArtistsTodd Black, Jason Blumenthal, and Steven Tisch will also executive produce, with Taylor Latham serving as co-executive producer. Sony Pictures Television will produce in association with CBS Television Studios.

Cecil is repped by UTA. Goldberg is repped by attorney Wendy Heller. Sy and Chang are repped by Tantillo Entertainment and Marks Law Group.

Goldberg »


- Joe Otterson

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Disney Says Carriage Talks With Altice Could Reach Impasse

20 hours ago

Disney and the cable company once known as Cablevision are at it again.

The two companies, whose fractious carriage negotiations in 2010 resulted in viewers in New York and Connecticut missing 13 minutes of ABC’s broadcast of the Oscars awards ceremonies, are heading for an impasse in current discussions, according to Disney. Altice Nv purchased Cablevision Systems in June of 2016 for about $10 billion. Its Altice USA unit serves more than 4.6 million customers, and is one of the biggest content distributors in the nation. Disney controls such popular networks as ABC, Espn, Disney Channel and Freeform, among others.

Richard Greenfield, a media industry analyst with Btig Research, said in a recent note that he believes the current discussions entail carriage rights for Disney’s cable portfoilo and retransmission rights for ABC’s owned-and-operated stations. “We believe negotiations between the two sides have deteriorated and the odds of a carriage interruption are growing quickly,” Greenfield »


- Brian Steinberg

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Greg Berlanti to Shepherd Time Travel Love Story, Football Drama Projects at CW

21 hours ago

Greg Berlanti has signed on to executive produce two new drama projects in development at The CW, Variety has learned.

The first project is titled “Hold Fast.” It is described as an epic love story told in two timelines, following an injured Union soldier in the Reconstruction-era South who awakens reincarnated in present-day Charleston. With rapidly diminishing knowledge of his past life, he must navigate present-day relationships, including a fiancée he doesn’t remember, while uncovering what happened to his past love and searching for her. Dana Stevens will write and executive produce. Berlanti will executive produce with his producing partner Sarah Schecter.

The second, untitled project is inspired by the life of NFL football player Spencer Paysinger. It follows a rising high school football player from South Central L.A. who  is recruited to play for Beverly Hills High. April Blair will write and executive produce the Paysinger project, with »


- Joe Otterson

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David Lyle, Veteran Executive and Reality TV Champion, Dies at 67

21 hours ago

David Lyle, a TV veteran who championed unscripted TV and headed National Geographic Channels and Fox Reality Channel, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 67.

After working in TV in Australia and in London, Lyle came to Los Angeles in 2001 as head of FremantleMedia North America where he helped launch “American Idol” on Fox. He most recently served as president of Pact US, an advocacy org for unscripted TV producers.

Earlier this year, Lyle helped steer the merger of Pact US with the rival Nonfiction Producers Association, creating Npact. The organization reps most of the largest unscripted TV production companies.

“David Lyle was one of the few television executives who thrived on both a creative and business level,” said Howard T. Owens, co-CEO of Propagate Content, who worked with Lyle at Nat Geo. “He was one of the kindest, most fun, and »


- Cynthia Littleton

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‘Scandal’ Season 7: Olivia Has Absolute Power, but Will It Corrupt Her Absolutely?

21 hours ago

At the end of the sixth season of “Scandal,” Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) was in the power seat as the chief of staff to the first female president (Bellamy Young’s Mellie) and the new head of B613. And when the seventh and final season starts, Olivia is enjoying wielding her power, even though it may mean pushing aside those who have been closest to her.

“Olivia’s sitting in the highest seat,” said Washington during a set visit of which Variety was a part. “Anything that jeopardizes her ability to show up for the republic is potentially a problem. Relationships are not the most important thing right now, unless that relationship serves and enhances her ability to wield her power in the ways that she needs to.”

Olivia once wore a white hat as she fought to serve her clients, many of whom had been wronged by politicians or the system in general. Now »


- Danielle Turchiano

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Fox Developing Drama Based on Book ‘Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class’ (Exclusive)

22 hours ago

Fox has ordered a script for a drama series based on the book “Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The book by Lawrence Otis Graham was a non-fiction piece in which Graham interviewed members of some of the most prominent black families in America. The series is described as a multi-generational family drama uncovering the lives of America’s black upper class by chronicling a dazzling Chicago dynasty with a dark secret threatening to rip it apart.

Wendy Calhoun will write the project and executive produce. Ben Silverman and Montrel McKay will also executive produce. 20th Century Fox Television will produce.

Should it move forward, “Our Kind of People” would be the latest Fox show to focus on wealthy black Americans. The network has found great success with “Empire,” which explores the drama inside of a multi-million dollar family-run record label headed by characters played by Terrence Howard and »


- Joe Otterson

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Nielsen Sues ComScore to Block New TV Audience Measurement Service

22 September 2017 12:03 PM, PDT

Nielsen Holdings filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to block rival ComScore from offering a new service, Extended TV, that will provide TV audience data.

Nielsen alleges that the ComScore service will make use of Nielsen’s own People Meter data, violating an agreement between the two companies. Nielsen is seeking an injunction that would bar ComScore from launching the service.

The litigation marks an escalation of the bitter rivalry between the two audience measurement firms.

The groundwork for the dispute was laid back in 2013, when Nielsen acquired Arbitron. In order to preserve competition in the audience measurement business, the Federal Trade Commission approved a consent agreement requiring Nielsen to license People Meter data to ComScore, for the purpose of creating a “cross-platform” measurement service. Such a service would have to measure both TV and online viewership, Nielsen contends.

Nielsen alleges that ComScore’s new service, called Extended TV, violates that agreement. On »

- Gene Maddaus

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Lin Pictures Hires Tristar’s Lindsey Liberatore as Head of TV

22 September 2017 11:00 AM, PDT

Lin Pictures has hired former Tristar Television executive Lindsey Liberatore as senior vice president of television, the company announced Friday.

In her new role, Liberatore will oversee all development and television operations for Lin Pictures. Prior to joining Lin Pictures, Liberatore was vice president of Sony Pictures Television’s TriStar label, which she joined in 2015 as an executive working in development and current programming. While at Tristar, Liberatore oversaw the Hulu series “Shut Eye” and worked on multiple projects for Amazon, including “Good Girls Revolt,” “The Last Tycoon,” and “The Interestings” pilot.

“I am excited that Lindsey is bringing her strong creative instincts and her love of working with great storytellers to Lin Pictures,” said Dan Lin, founder and chief executive of Lin Pictures. “She embodies the collaborative spirit of our company and is the perfect executive to lead our television business.”

Prior to her role as a studio executive, Liberatore »


- Joe Otterson

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TV Review: ‘Transparent’ Season 4 on Amazon Prime

22 September 2017 10:41 AM, PDT

This year’s Emmy Awards provided a potent reminder of how fickle voters can be. After collecting multiple statuettes in key categories over its first few years, Amazon Prime’s “Transparent” got shut out in 2017. What once seemed as buzzy as a TV show can get has cooled off, as if the snubbed third season was indication of a show past its peak.

But diehard fans of Jill Soloway’s acclaimed dramedy can take heart in its fourth season: “Transparent” is as strong as it’s ever been, judging by the 10 episodes the streaming service released Friday.

A good chunk of this year’s episodes take the Pfefferman clan to Israel, where the baggage they unload doesn’t stop at Ben Gurion Airport. Three generations of Pfefferman get to squabble when Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) discovers the father (Jerry Adler, who played Hesh Rabkin on “”The Sopranos”) he was told had died is actually alive and very well »


- Andrew Wallenstein

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Espn Will Count Linear, Streaming Audiences as One

22 September 2017 10:35 AM, PDT

As Espn viewers watch the kickoff to next week’s “Monday Night Football” game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, Espn executives will be attempting a pivotal play all their own.

The Disney-controlled sports-media outlet will next week cease reporting separate live viewership figures for linear TV and streaming, and instead report them as a single number. Monday’s broadcast day will be the first on which Espn will offer a live “total audience” number that reflects both traditional TV watching as well as viewing via streaming services, executives said Friday. Espn and Nielsen, the media-measurement firm upon whose data the industry relies, will add to that number over the next few weeks, adding in viewing done on mobile screens as well as viewing done via “out of home” sources, like TVs in bars and hotels.

Viewers “consume our content on a wide variety of screens,  a wide variety of technologies,” said »


- Brian Steinberg

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Remote Controlled: ‘The Voice’ Coaches Preview ‘Lucky’ Season 13 — Plus Who’s Going to Win

22 September 2017 10:23 AM, PDT

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In today’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with the creative team of “The Voice” — executive producer Mark Burnett, host Carson Daly, and season 13’s coaches, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton.

This may be the reality series’ 13th season, but the team behind the show — which just won its fourth Emmy for reality-competition series — says they couldn’t feel more lucky. “Thirteen is officially my lucky number and always has been my whole life,” Burnett says. “It’s just a great show: part talent competition, part family sitcom.”

He calls Daly the “leader” — “Traffic cop might be a better analogy,” quips Daly.

But the two say the show succeeds because of the chemistry between all of the coaches, even »


- Debra Birnbaum

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Ron Perlman Talks About His Early Career, Taking on Makeup-Heavy Roles Like ‘Hellboy’

22 September 2017 10:15 AM, PDT

Hollywood has long recognized Ron Perlman for being unrecognizable. Some of his most iconic roles — including “Hellboy,” “Quest of Fire” and the late-1980s CBS series “Beauty and the Beast” — required extensive, transformative makeup and prosthetics. The actor is returning to television, a medium he describes as “the one area where the storytelling is really rich, really deep and really human,” to join the Crackle drama “Startup” in the series’ second season, which premieres Sept. 28. Perlman’s initial break in the industry came not from television or film, but in the Tommy Tune-directed stage musical “Sunset,” which led to his first mention in Variety on Oct. 5, 1977.

What was it like auditioning for Tommy Tune?

I was wired early in my career for failure. So anytime anyone liked what I did, much less actually hired me, it was a shock. Tommy Tune was a singular validation that I had never experienced before.

What »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Telefonica’s Flagship Premium Series ‘The Plague’ Aims to Rewrite TV History

22 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

Seville, circa 1580. Movistar Plus flagship series “The Plague” begins with the camera gliding near ground level alongside a doctor and a merchant who slop down a muddy lane past hovels and their soiled occupants. It is a shot of technical virtuosity, typical of the kinetic style of director Alberto Rodriguez, but more akin to the big screen than the small.

As the camera pulls back to reveal a shantytown outside a dazzling Seville, the viewer begins to realize the scale of “The Plague,” which makes its world premiere at Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival later in September, the first TV series in the fest’s official selection.

With world sales rights handled by Sky Vision, “The Plague’s” scale also says much about the production and artistic ambitions of Movistar Plus, the pay TV unit of European telco giant Telefonica, whose 2016 revenues of €52 billion ($62.4 billion) were seven times that of Netflix ($8.83 billion).

Series creator Rodriguez and »


- John Hopewell

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TV Review: ‘Me, Myself & I,’ Starring Bobby Moynihan and John Larroquette

22 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

In this ambitious sitcom, the audience is introduced to the same character in three different timelines — at three very different life stages. There’s 14-year-old Alex (Jack Dylan Grazer), 40-year-old Alex (Bobby Moynihan), and 65-year-old Alex (John Larroquette), all at transitional points in their lives — moving, divorce, retirement.

Structurally, it’s an interesting approach, but ultimately a flawed one. It’s hard to invest too much in any particular timeline when we can see the origins, or the end result, in one of the other timelines. The show has to work overtime to establish not just one but three settings, which inevitably doesn’t serve each. Plus, it is really hard to conceptualize how the show would continue to be interesting once we get to know more about Alex; how could anything in his 14-year-old life have dramatic stakes, if we already know what he’s like at 40?

In what is likely an attempt to mimic the »


- Sonia Saraiya

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Telefonica Shakes Up Europe’s Pay-tv Business With High-End Scripted Drama

22 September 2017 10:00 AM, PDT

After more than two decades of talk about the convergence of entertainment and telecommunications, Spain’s Telefonica became Europe’s first telecom to launch a massive premium scripted drama slate. Telefonica premiered “Velvet Collection,” a romantic drama centered on a high-fashion house, on Sept. 7, via pay-tv platform, Movistar Plus.

Indeed, of national pay-tv players in Europe, only Sky in the U.K. may match Movistar Plus’ production volume as it unleashes three original series this year and plans on 10-11 in 2018.

Velvet Collection” is a sequel to TV series “Velvet,” which helped persuade Studiocanal buy into its producer, Madrid’s Bambu Producciones, and Netflix to commission from the shingle its first Spanish original series.

“The Zone,” a crime thriller from brothers Jorge and Alberto Sánchez-Cabezudo — creators of one of Spain’s very few pay-tv series, “Crematorium” — will bow in October. It is followed by “Spanish Shame,” a pioneering — for Spain — “Curb Your Enthusiasm”-style sitcom about a »


- John Hopewell

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TV Ratings: ‘Orville’ Suffers Heavy Drop in Move to Thursdays

22 September 2017 8:41 AM, PDT

Fox’s “The Orville” saw a significant drop in both key ratings measures in its first airing in its regular Thursday timeslot, according to Nielsen data.

Airing at 9 p.m., the new sci-fi series drew a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 4 million total viewers. That is a drop of 50% in the key demo and 39% in total viewers compared to the episode that aired this past Sunday after NFL football (2.2, 6.6 million).

Earlier on Fox, the season premiere of “Gotham” (1.0, 3.1 million) was down in both measures compared to last season’s premiere.

On CBS, the Season 3 finale of “Zoo” at 10 (0.5, 2.9 million) was up slightly in total viewers from last week.

For The CW, “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” (0.4, 1.6 million) was even at 8. “Whose Line Is It Anyway” (0.4, 1.2 million) was up in the demo at 9.

NBC and ABC aired only repeats.

Fox won the night in the demo with a 1.0 but was third in total viewers with 3.6 million. CBS »

- Joe Otterson

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Showtime Acquires Rights to Bill Clinton, James Patterson Novel ‘President Is Missing’

22 September 2017 8:00 AM, PDT

The television rights to the upcoming Bill Clinton-James Patterson novel “The President Is Missing” have been acquired by Showtime with plans to adapt it into a series, the network announced Friday.

Set to be published in 2018, the book tells the story of a sitting U.S. president’s disappearance, with the level of detail that only someone who has held the office can know. Clinton and Patterson’s collaboration on the novel marks the first time an American President has ever co-authored a thriller. The rights were acquired by Showtime in a competitive situation, with many networks and streaming services trying to secure the rights. It is said that CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves’ longstanding relationship with both Clinton and Patterson was instrumental in bringing the project to Showtime.

Insiders say only certain parties were even granted meetings with the list of suitors ranging from Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin to Justin Lin and »


- Joe Otterson

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Netflix Children’s Show Production Company Calls Penis Drawing ‘a Very Bad Joke’

22 September 2017 7:35 AM, PDT

Following a social media uproar that prompted Netflix to remove an episode of the children’s show “Maya the Bee” that included a drawing of what appeared to be a penis in the background, the French production company behind the cartoon has apologized.

“An absolutely inappropriate image has been discovered in a four-second fly-by scene in one episode of the total of 78 episodes of the series,” Studio 100 said in a statement obtained by Variety. “The origin of this image obviously results from a very bad joke from one of the 150 artists working on the production.”

The vulgar image was discovered by U.S. viewers who shared screenshots of the questionable scenes on social media. Parent Chey Robinson’s Facebook post of the offending clip from Season 1, Episode 35 of the series was among the first to go viral.

“Please be mindful of what your kids are watching. I did Not edit any images whatsoever, this »


- Maane Khatchatourian and Elsa Keslassy

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Brian Strong Joins Fox Sports as Senior VP, Brand Communications

22 September 2017 6:00 AM, PDT

Brian Strong has joined Fox Sports as senior VP, brand communications.

In his new role, Strong will be responsible for amplifying Fox Sports’ brand through the elevation of the company’s brand-storytelling strategy. He will lead entertainment, brand, and digital public relations through campaigns, special projects, and key sports and entertainment moments.

He will report to Terri Hines, executive VP, communications for Fox Sports.

Strong most recently worked at Nike, where he served as communications director on the global corporate and North America category communications teams. Working with the global team, he drove storytelling for the company’s corporate-brand narrative. On the North America side, he was responsible for strategic media relations work for the basketball, soccer, football and training categories.

Prior to joining Nike, Strong led his own independent communications consulting firm, the Strong Group, working with brands in the entertainment, art, publishing, beauty, and emerging-markets finance sectors. Previous stops include PR agencies Hl Group and »


- Daniel Holloway

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