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TCA Roundup: Elizabeth Smart Talks Autobiographical Films, Starz CEO Promotes Skinny Bundles

10 hours ago

The Television Critics Association press tour arrived in Beverly Hills on July 25 and will continue through Aug. 9. Each day, Variety will publish a roundup of the most essential news items to come out of the day’s panels.

In today’s roundup, Elizabeth Smart talks about the two movies she is producing on her life, and Lifetime execs discuss its movie on the Flint, Mich., water crisis.

On a panel for A+E Networks, Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002, talked about bringing her story to television with two different programming events. “I Am Elizabeth Smart,” a Lifetime movie, and “Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography,” a two-part documentary special, each come 15 years after Smart became a national story. Both programs will run on Lifetime and A+E. “I have a unique opportunity to share my story because there are so many survivors out there who struggle every day … they feel like no »


- Rebecca Rubin

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‘Outlander’ Stars Talk Time Travel, Fake Vomit and Keeping Up With Diana Gabaldon’s Books

11 hours ago

Stars of the fantasy drama “Outlander” got to stretch their legs outside of Scotland during the production of Season 3, which bows Sept. 10 on Starz.

The journey to Jamaica to film sea-faring scenes on stationary ship sets was a nice detour for cast and producers. The “Outlander” team was on hand Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour to talk up the broad scope of the third season, which encompasses the 20-year separation of central characters Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) from the 1940s through the 1960s.

The “Outlander” book series by Diana Gabaldon jumps through time and locations in such a robust way as to keep the show incredibly vital, Balfe said.

“Anyone who has read Diana’s books knows it’s just a sequence of twists and turns. You’re constantly being kept on your toes. Who would have thought we’d end up on ships and in Jamaica this season,” Balfe »


- Cynthia Littleton

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4 Things We Learned From TCA: Day 4

11 hours ago

There’s always plenty of surprises, who-knew and they-said-what moments during the parade of TV show panels at the Television Critics Assn. press tour. Day four of the summer tour that runs through Aug. 9 featured presentations from A&E, Lifetime, Viceland, and Starz.

Here are four things we learned from Friday’s sessions:

1. Rob Lowe and his sons investigate the paranormal in their new A&E reality series, “The Lowe Files,” but the Lowe boys have been skeptical of their dad going back to childhood. They shared a great anecdote about the elder Lowe and a famous friend telling the boys that they believed the moon was hollow. While the boys were unwilling to say who the friend was, Rob was was not so reluctant.

“It was Charlie Sheen,” Rob said to a big laugh. “And he thinks the moon is hollow.” Lowe’s sons conceded that Sheen did have very good talking points to back up »


- Joe Otterson

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TV News Roundup: Discovery’s ‘Phelps vs. Shark’ Sets Ratings Records

12 hours ago

In today’s roundup, David Haydn-Jones has been cast in a Hallmark Channel film, and “Phelps vs Shark” was Discovery’s highest-rated telecast ever in several demographics.

Ratings

Discovery‘s “Shark Week” special “Phelps vs Shark” was the network’s highest-rated “Shark Week” telecast ever in adults 25-54, women 25-54, and women 18-49, according to Nielsen data. The special also attracted 5 million total viewers. It saw Phelps attempt to outswim a great white shark, but many fans were disappointed Phelps didn’t actually get into the water with the beast, rather racing against a CGI shark.

Casting

Supernatural’s” David Haydn-Jones has been cast as the romantic lead opposite Autumn Reeser in Hallmark Channel‘s new film “A Bramble House Christmas.” Hadyn-Jones will play Finn Conrad, a young man who goes undercover to figure out why his father left a nurse $50,000. Once he meets her and realizes why, however, his original mission becomes less important than winning »


- Erin Nyren

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Starz Chief Chris Albrecht Talks Evolving Cable Landscape

12 hours ago

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht is unmoved by the advent of skinny bundles — the low-cost, digitally distributed channel packages that have emerged to challenge traditional cable-television products.

“We’ve had no expectations because we really are not in charge of that,” Albrecht said Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. How many resources MVPDs are investing in pushing skinny-bundle products — Albrecht cited At&T’s DirecTV Now — is unclear to the premium channel chief. “It will continue to be a business that they invest in because they have to.”

The skinny bundles, he added, are marketed to customers who “are either downsizing or new customers,” Albrecht said. “I’m not sure that they have, and I know that we don’t have, a list of who’s who. I think that transition, certainly in the case of At&T is certainly not offsetting them shutting down their U-verse platform. So »


- Daniel Holloway

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Starz Orders Drama ‘The Rook’ From Stephenie Meyer, Liberty Global and Lionsgate

14 hours ago

Starz has given a series order to the drama thriller “The Rook” from “Twilight” saga author Stephenie Meyer, Lionsgate and Liberty Global.

The series marks Liberty Global’s move into original drama in partnership with Lionsgate. The supernatural spy thriller will be executive produced by “Twilight” saga creator Stephenie Meyer and Stephen Garrett (“The Night Manager”).

Playwrights and screenwriters Sam Holcroft (“Rules for Living”) and Al Muriel (“Precious & Rich”) have adapted the 2012 novel by Daniel O’Malley for TV. Garrett will serve as showrunner under his Character 7 banner. The project was previously set up at Hulu.

Liberty Global, the international cable arm of John Malone’s empire, has been looking to expand its original production activity. Liberty Global owns a small stake in Lionsgate and its CEO, Mike Fries, sits on the studio’s board of directors. Malone was also the major shareholder in Starz, which Lionsgate acquired last year.

Based »


- Stewart Clarke

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Elizabeth Smart on Bringing Her Story to TV: ‘I’m Proud of It, But I Hate It at the Same Time’

15 hours ago

Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 and became a national story at the age of 14.

Fifteen years later, Smart is bringing her story to television with two different programming events: “I Am Elizabeth Smart,” a Lifetime movie on which she’s an executive producer, and a two-part documentary special, “Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography,” which will air on both Lifetime and A&E.

“I will say that is the best and worst movie I’ve ever seen,” Smart said Friday on a panel for A+E Networks at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. “It was so well done. It was accurate, but at the same time, part of me will be happy if I never have to see it again. I’m very proud of it, but I hate it at the same time.”

Producing a movie about her life story brought back tough memories from her abduction, but »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Flint Activist Behind Lifetime Movie Calls for Charges Against Michigan Governor

15 hours ago

Five Michigan officials were charged in June with involuntary manslaughter over the Flint water crisis. For Melissa Mays, a Flint resident and activist, more people need to be held accountable.

“The state government, they’re the ones that decided to switch our water, that decided not to treat our water, because we weren’t important,” Mays said Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. “They’re the ones that covered it up when people started dying.” Noting that charges have now begun to be pressed against state officials, she added, “We’re waiting on the governor to be charged, because he singlehandedly took over our city like a dictatorship, and he is responsible for what’s been done to the residents of Flint, the permanent damage and those that have lost their lives.”

Mays is one of the real-life activists on whom Lifetime’s upcoming movie “Flint” is based. The »


- Daniel Holloway

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Carson Daly Says Goodbye to Radio for Family and TV

16 hours ago

Carson Daly, the TV and radio personality who got his start at Kroq Los Angeles before catapulting to recognition as host of MTV’s “Total Request Live” from 1998-2003, stepped down from his morning slot at L.A.’s Kamp (97.1 Amp) Thursday morning. He joined the CBS Radio pop station in 2010.

Daly posted the following message on his Instagram: “Today is my very last day on Amp Radio… The truth is… The reason I’m going to stop doing radio for now is that I just want to have breakfast with my kids… I want to thank you guys. It’s been really incredible.”

Daly, who hosts NBC’s “The Voice” and “Last Call With Carson Daly,” is a co-anchor on the “Today Show,” and helmed NBC’s “New Year’s Eve With Carson Daly” until 2015, has a schedule that rivals colleague Ryan Seacrest’s.

In his statement, the busy host added, “I »


- Roy Trakin

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The Pfeffermans Head to Israel in ‘Transparent’ Season 4 Trailer

17 hours ago

The upcoming season of Amazon’s “Transparent,” begins with the Pfeffermans taking a spiritual and political journey to the Holy Land.

The newly released Season 4 trailer shows the family heading to Israel as they dig deeper into their family’s history. In the clip, Jeffrey Tambor’s character Maura speaks at a conference and makes a startling discovery. The reveal prompts the rest of her family to join her, where they embark on many quintessential Israeli experiences, including visits to the Western Wall, Dead Sea, and camel rides through the desert.

The ensemble cast features Judith Light, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and Gaby Hoffman. From creator Jill Soloway, the upcoming season continues to tackle themes of identity, sexuality, acceptance, love, and family.

Amazon released the trailer two days after President Donald Trump announced his plans to roll back policies allowing transgender men and women to serve in the military. In an interview Tuesday with Variety, Light »


- Rebecca Rubin

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‘UnREAL’ Renewed for Season 4 at Lifetime, ‘Mary Kills People’ Renewed for Season 2

17 hours ago

Lifetime has renewed “UnREAL” for Season 4 and “Mary Kills People” for Season 2, the network announced Friday at the TCA summer press tour

The renewal for “UnREAL” comes ahead of the show’s Season 3 premiere in early 2018. The scripted series offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the chaos surrounding the production of a hit dating competition program. THe series is led by Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer. It also stars Caitlin FitzGerald, Craig Bierko, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Josh Kelly, Brennan Elliott, and Genevieve Buechner.

Co-created by Marti Noxon and Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and produced by A+E Studios, Seasons 3 and 4 are helmed by showrunner and executive producer Stacy Rukeyser. Season 3 is also executive produced by Shapiro, Robert M. Sertner, Sally DeSipio, Peter O’Fallon and David Solomon.

Mary Kills People,” which also returns in early 2018, follows single mother Mary Harris (Caroline Dhavernas), an ER doctor by day, but by night, she and her partner Des (Richard Short), a former plastic »


- Joe Otterson

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Remote Controlled: ‘Black Mirror’ Creators Tease Season 4, Episode Sequels

17 hours ago

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 and co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein talk with “Black Mirror” creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones. The British sci-fi anthology series, which features an entirely different plot each episode, earned two Emmy nominations for its “San Junipero” hour from the third season — for outstanding TV movie and for writing for a limited series, movie, or dramatic special.

Brooker explained that to conceive of the futuristic ideas that comprise “Black Mirror” episodes, he and Jones tend to start out with comedic “what-if” scenarios, as well as try and tackle genres they haven’t covered yet. Brooker cited Season 3’s “Hated in the Nation,” which is a police procedural, as an example, and said that Season 4 will try to embrace even more genres.

Jones »


- Erin Nyren

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TV Ratings: ‘Big Brother’ Nearly Doubles Demo Number of Nearest Competitor

18 hours ago

“Big Brother” won Thursday night yet again, with the CBS reality series nearly doubling its nearest competition in the key demo, according to Nielsen data.

Airing at 9 p.m., “Big Brother” averaged a 1.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.3 million viewers. Its nearest competition in the time slot was NBC’s “The Wall” (1.0, 4.8 million). Elsewhere during the hour, ABC’s “Battle of the Network Stars” (0.6, 2.5 million) hit a season low in both measures, while Fox’s “Love Connection” (0.6, 2 million) hit a season low in total viewers. “Hooten and the Lady” (0.2, 950,000) was even on The CW.

The only other new episode CBS aired in primetime was “Zoo” (0.6, 2.8 million) at 10, which was up in the demo.

On NBC at 8, “Hollywood Game Night” (0.9, 3.9 million) rose in the demo, while “The Night Shift” (0.8, 4.5 million) hit a season high at 10.

“Boy Band” (0.5, 2.4 million) was even at 8 on ABC, while “The Gong Show” (0.6, 2.3 million) dipped in total viewers at 10.

“Beat Shazam” (0.8, 2.8 million) was even »


- Joe Otterson

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Kelsey Grammer, Matt Bomer Channel Old Hollywood Glamour at ‘The Last Tycoon’ Premiere

19 hours ago

Amazon paid homage to the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood at the premiere of “The Last Tycoon” on Thursday night at the Harmony Gold Preview House.

The television adaption, loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last book of the same name, brought out stars Matt Bomer, Kelsey Grammer, and Lily Collins, along with director and creator Billy Ray, to tell a story set in 1936 Hollywood.

The Last Tycoon” chronicles the narrative of Bomer’s Monroe Stahr, a dapper studio executive who battles his boss and mentor, Pat Brady (Grammer), for the soul of the studio. Grammer says his character is a self-made mogul and “the epitome of the American Dream.” The hostile world depicted in the series almost parallels the current atmosphere, he noted.

“The glitz and the glamour are still attractive and alluring, but the underbelly of it all, accomplishment, has a shabby childhood usually,” Grammer told Variety. “It »


- Rebecca Rubin

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Priyanka Chopra Developing Comedy Series About Bollywood Star at ABC (Exclusive)

20 hours ago

ABC is developing a comedy series about a former Bollywood star executive produced by Priyanka Chopra, Variety has learned exclusively.

The currently untitled single-camera series would follow a former Bollywood star who settles down in the suburbs of America with her bi-cultural family and tries to bring her colorful lifestyle to an otherwise dull town. The series is based on the real life of Madhuri Dixit, who will also executive produce. »


- Joe Otterson

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San Sebastian: ‘El Autor,’ ‘Handia,’ ‘Life and Nothing More’ Make Competition Cut

28 July 2017 2:41 AM, PDT

Madrid — “Marrowbone,” the awaited directorial debut of Sergio G. Sanchez, screenwriter of “Jurassic World 2” director J.A. Bayona’s “The Orphanage” and “The Impossible,” will screen at this year’s San Sebastian Festival, the highest-profile film event in the Spanish-speaking world.

As will Florida-set “Life and Nothing More,” Spaniard Antonio Mendez Esparza’s follow-up to Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Aquí y Allá”; “Fe de Etarras,” Netflix’s second original movie in Spain, and Aitor Arregi and Jon Garaño’s anticipated “Handia,”  a flagship of new Basque cinema.

San Sebastián’s Perlas, a fest standouts section, closes with Fernando Leon de Aranoa’s “Loving Pablo,” announced yesterday as Venice-bound and a true-event tale of Pablo Escobar’s love affair with a TV presenter. Javier Bardem plays Escobar, Penelope Cruz his unlikely lover.

“Handia,” “Life and Nothing More” and “El Autor,” directed by Manuel Martin Cuenca (“Canibal”), vie in San Sebastian’s main competition for its top Golden Shell award »


- John Hopewell

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5 Things We Learned From TCA: Day 3

27 July 2017 6:51 PM, PDT

There are always plenty of surprises, who-knew and they-said-what moments during the parade of TV show panels at the Television Critics Assn. press tour.

Day three of the summer tour that runs through Aug. 9 featured presentations from TruTV, TNT, TBS and Hulu.

Here are five things we learned from Wednesday’s sessions:

TBS is extremely proud of the unlike-ability of its sleeper hit comedy “Search Party.” “When (the script) was sent to (TBS’) Thom Hinkle, he brought it to my office, and the first thing I said was, ‘I hate all of these people and we have to do this show,’ “ said Brett Weitz, TBS’ exec VP of original programming. Tracy Morgan, star of TBS’ “The Last O.G.,” had the crowd in stitches for most of his session. But he got serious for a moment when asked if the show would tackle hot-button political issues for African-Americans. Morgan plays a man who returns to his Brooklyn neighborhood »


- Cynthia Littleton

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TCA Roundup: Hulu Acquires ABC’s ‘Tgif’ Series, Mindy Kaling Teases Her Show’s Final Season

27 July 2017 5:43 PM, PDT

The Television Critics Association press tour arrived in Beverly Hills on July 25 and will continue through Aug. 9. Each day, Variety will publish a roundup of the most essential news items to come out of the day’s panels.

In today’s roundup, Hulu hopes to tap into nostalgia by licensing a series of 1980s-’90s Warner Bros. TV shows, and Mindy Kaling teased her series’ sixth and final season.

Hulu decided to license the shows — originally marketed by ABC as the “Tgif” block — as a group, including “Full House,” “Family Matters,” “Step by Step,” “Perfect Strangers,” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper,” as part of a bid to curate the library offerings in its vast archive of shows. By bringing viewers a mix of originals, newer off-network hits, and vintage favorites, Hulu hopes to out-compete Netflix as audiences’ preferred streaming service. This will be the first time the original “Full House” series has been available on any streaming »


- Erin Nyren

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Mindy Kaling on Final Season of ‘The Mindy Project,’ Ike Barinholtz’s Neck Injury

27 July 2017 5:29 PM, PDT

The Mindy Project” is heading into its sixth-and-final season, which launches on Hulu this September, and to kick off the farewell tour, Mindy Kaling sat down with the press at the Television Critics Association press tour.

Kaling was joined by executive producer Matt Warburton and star Ike Barinholtz, who showed up to TCA in a full neck brace, just one day after news broke of him breaking his neck on the set of a film.

“I had a couple of weeks where it was kind of touch and go,” Barinholtz admitted about his health after he broke his neck. He said he called Kaling to tell her that he may not be able to perform to his full potential on “Mindy Project,” given the severity of his injury — and her response was to incorporate his injury into the show.

“She was instantly like, ‘We’re going to write it into the show, whatever »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Sarah Silverman Promises No Politics, No ‘Gotcha’ Humor in ‘I Love You, America’

27 July 2017 5:22 PM, PDT

Sarah Silverman wants to help bridge the cultural divide in war-torn America with “aggressively dumb” humor and excursions into the heart of the country in her new Hulu series “I Love You, America.”

Silverman said the focus of the show, set to premiere Oct. 12, would be her effort to connect with everyday people who are what she called “un-like-minded.” The goal is to demonstrate that despite deep political, cultural and even ethnic differences, people have more in common than not at heart.

“A mission statement for the show could be exposing the fact that we’re actually the same,” Silverman said Thursday during Hulu’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills. “Comedy at its best can get people’s porcupine needles to go down. Until that can happen, none of us are open to change.”

Silverman doesn’t intend to talk politics on the show, nor »


- Cynthia Littleton

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