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Warner, Astro Set Content and Channel Joint Venture in Malaysia

4 hours ago

Turner Asia Pacific and Malaysian pay-tv group, Astro Malaysia Holdings have set up a joint-venture that comprises co-production and co-ownership of Asian content for global reach, distribution of Astro content. The agreement also includes carriage of the Warner TV channel on Astro and Astro’s Tribe online video platform.

“Our focus is to deepen our involvement in content creation and ownership, particularly in Asian IPs, which will be increasingly pivotal in a market that values strong differentiation,” said Henry Tan, Astro’s COO. “We are seeking distribution in multiple markets through partnerships, as well as our own platforms.” No details of the joint venture content were disclosed.

Warner TV will be available on demand and on linear via Astro Go and Astro TV from May 1. It carries top-rated TV series and blockbuster movies from Warner Bros., and TV content from Turner’s TNT and TBS networks.


- Patrick Frater

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‘Downton Abbey’ Exhibition to Launch in Singapore

5 hours ago

Television phenomenon, “Downton Abbey” is to get its own travelling exhibition.

The immersive experience will debut in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands from June 17, before travelling to the U.S. next year. It is expected to include characters, costumes and locations, previously unseen footage and historic moments.

“’Downton Abbey: The Exhibition’ allows this incredible legacy to live on by offering a multi-million dollar museum quality experience that will delight fans, ultimately extending the connection they have with Downton’s compelling characters and storylines. We are excited to expand the brand in a manner that few TV series could ever dream of doing,” said Michael Edelstein, president of NBCUniversal International Studios.

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition” is presented by NBCUniversal International Studios and Imagine Exhibitions. The exhibition follows the success of “Dressing Downton,” a costume exhibition which toured the Us last year.

Downton Abbey” is a Carnival Films and Masterpiece co-production. The »

- Patrick Frater

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Discovery Asia Strikes Dual Digital Deals With Vs Media, Tabilabo

8 hours ago

Discovery Networks Asia Pacific has struck two new partnerships in Asia. One is with Vs Media, a multichannel network addressing digital natives in Greater China. The other is with Tabilabo, a leading digital media and technology businesses in Japan.

The deals are among a series of measures intended to help Discovery connect with hundreds of millions of younger, predominantly mobile, consumers in Asia Pacific, who may not be fully served by the group’s linear channels and current digital offerings.

Having last year acquired a minority stake in Vs Media, Discovery is now partnering with Vs to launch Tanba, a platform for customized short-form video that stimulates curiosity and new learning. Material is sourced from Discovery’s global catalogue and is localized by Vs Media to deliver packages of video content on subjects ranging from health and wellness, science and technology, travel and lifestyle, art and fashion, to history and nature.

The »

- Patrick Frater

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Writers Guild Talks Going Down to the Wire as Hollywood Wonders Why

9 hours ago

Indications are strong that industry negotiators will need be working down to the wire during the next five days to avoid a writers strike.

Sources tell Variety that there have been mixed results from the past two days of contract negotiations Tuesday and Wednesday. There were no public comments from either side at the headquarters of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers as both camps are observing a media blackout.

On Tuesday, sources said the AMPTP made some adjustments to the previous offer extended to the WGA on April 13. The studio side was awaiting a detailed response from WGA on Wednesday. One person noted that on Tuesday WGA negotiators came into the room toting papers with “96.3%” printed out in large type — a reference to the record percentage of eligible guild members who supported the strike authorization vote.

Sources characterized the mood in the room at AMPTP headquarters in Sherman Oaks, California »

- Dave McNary and Cynthia Littleton

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Dish, Hearst Reach New Retrans Agreement

10 hours ago

Dish Network and Hearst Television have reached a new retransmission consent agreement covering the broadcaster’s 31 local stations.

Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed. The deal ends a blackout of Hearst stations on Dish services that began in early March, affecting stations in 26 markets, including Boston, Baltimore, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Orlando, Fla.

Dish has, in recent years, engaged in frequent retrans standoffs with broadcast groups including Sinclair Broadcast Group, Tribune Media, Tegna Media and CBS Corp. Hearst, for its part, saw its stations go dark on DirecTV for six days in January while a retrans deal was hammered out.

Tensions between programmers and distributors are rising at a time when both sides are feeling the effects of heightened competition for viewers and new entrants in the pay-tv eco-system, including a number of so-called “skinny bundles,” broadband-delivered channel packages.

Dish and other MVPDs have pushed for the overhaul of FCC rules governing retransmission consent agreements »

- Daniel Holloway

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Eva Longoria on Her ‘Empire’ Role, Directing and Possible ‘Desperate Housewives’ Reunion

10 hours ago

Eva Longoria is the latest star to board “Empire,” making her debut on the Fox juggernaut Wednesday night, playing the powerful character Charlotte Frost.

Longoria’s three-episode stint on “Empire” is one of many projects she’s currently juggling, along with a Fox comedy pilot, “Type A,” which is in contention for the 2017-2018 season, and the upcoming film “Lowriders,” which hits theaters next month. Since her hit show “Desperate Housewives” went off the air, the multi-hyphenate has focused primarily on her jam-packed production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, and directing, with credits including episodes of “Black-ish” and “Jane the Virgin.”

Here, Longoria talks to Variety about her special guest role on “Empire” — plus, would she ever consider a “Desperate Housewives” revival?

Why did you want to join “Empire” and how did it come about?

I’ve been a fan of Danny Strong and of course Lee [Daniels] for a long time, and Terrence [Howard] and I have been friends for »

- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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TV Industry Braces for Disruption From Possible WGA Strike

10 hours ago

In an internal letter this week, WGA leaders told members who have volunteered to serve as strike captains to be prepared for immediate action should a work stoppage be triggered after the guild’s contract with producers expires at midnight Pt out May 1.

“If it happens, we will be out there on May 2 with signs,” a union insider told Variety.

That dispels any notion that the writers would delay picketing at the start of a strike, a move that had been considered. It also raises the possibility that media buyers and others will have to pass picket lines on their way into the major networks’ upfront presentations in New York.

Contract talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers resumed on Tuesday after a weeklong break. The clock is ticking for negotiators as the contract expires in five days. Sources close to the situation said there were lengthy discussions at the bargaining »

- Daniel Holloway

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Immersive ‘Downton Abbey’ Exhibition Tour to Begin in Singapore

11 hours ago

NBCUniversal International Studios and Imagine Exhibitions announced Wednesday the June 17 launch of  “Downton Abbey: The Exhibition” at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

“Downtown Abbey: The Exhibition” is an immersive experience that allows visitors to journey through the world of Carnival Films’ multi-award-winning show, exploring the high society Crawleys as well as those that served them. The exhibition will also feature other aspects of the post-Edwardian period in which the TV series is set.

“’Downton Abbey’ is a global phenomenon and viewers all around the world continue to ask for more,” said Michael Edelstein, president of NBCUniversal International Studios. “’Downton Abbey: The Exhibition’ allows this incredible legacy to live on by offering a multi-million dollar museum quality experience that will delight fans, ultimately extending the connection they have with Downton’s compelling characters and storylines.”

Visitors will get to walk through the series’ most recognizable sets, including Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen and the gossip-filled servants’ quarters »

- Erin Nyren

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TV News Roundup: ‘Scream’ Season 3 to Feature New Cast, Adds Queen Latifah as Ep

11 hours ago

In today’s roundup, “Scream” Season 3 is moving forward, Amazon Prime announced the premiere date for “The Tick,” and Ryan Seacrest Productions and Edemol Shine North America will produce a new talent competition show on YouTube.


MTV released some new details regarding the third season of “Scream.” The show will feature a whole new cast and creative reboot, and will be executive produced by Queen Latifah and Shakim Conpere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment. In addition, Brian Matthews has joined as showrunner and Harvey and Bob Weinstein will continue as executive producers under the Dimension TV umbrella. Additional executive producers include Wes Craven, Tony Disanto, Liz Gateley, Marianne Maddalena and Cathy Konrad. Matthew Signer & Keith Levine are producers.

Ryan Seacrest Productions and Endemol Shine North America will produce a new exclusive-to-YouTube talent competition series “Best.Cover.Ever.” The show will be hosted by Grammy-winning rapper Ludacris and feature Demi Lovato, the »

- Erin Nyren

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Espn Layoffs: A List of Which Employees Have Been Fired

13 hours ago

Espn laid off 100 employees on Wednesday as part of a company-wide restructuring.

The struggling cable sports network first announced the layoffs last month.

“We have long been about serving fans and innovating to create the best content for them. Today’s fans consume content in many different ways and we are in a continuous process of adapting to change and improving what we do,” Espn said in a March statement. “Inevitably, that has consequences for how we utilize our talent. We are confident that Espn will continue to have a roster of talent that is unequaled in sports.”

Among those who were let go include anchor Jay Crawford, radio host Danny Kanell, NFL reporter Ed Werder, and baseball reporter Jayson Stark.

Below is a list of former Espn employees who have confirmed their departures via social media (this list will continue to be updated).


SportsCenter” anchor Jay Crawford

Espnu anchor Brendan Fitzgerald

SportsCenter” anchor Chris Hassel »

- Lawrence Yee

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‘SNL’ Lines Up Katy Perry, Haim, and LCD Soundsystem as Musical Guests

13 hours ago

Saturday Night Live” announced its May line-up of musical guests on Wednesday: LCD Soundsystem, Haim, and Katy Perry.

LCD Soundsystem will kick things off on May 6, which also sees Chris Pine, who stars in the upcoming “Wonder Woman” alongside Gal Gadot, hosting. Next up is Haim on May 13, with host Melissa McCarthy — who will no doubt reprise her popular Sean Spicer impression. Perry will be “Chained to the Rhythm” on the May 20, alongside host Dwayne Johnson.

The hosts were previously announced last month, when NBC revealed that it would be airing the last four episodes of the season live from coast-to-coast for the first time.

The three musical guests have one key factor in common: their fans have all been long awaiting their next albums, none of which yet have release dates. LCD Soundsystem split up to much fanfare in 2011, and got back together last year, debuting three new songs at Brooklyn Steel in New York earlier »

- Alex Stedman

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‘Shots Fired’ EPs Remember Jonathan Demme: ‘He Mesmerizes You’

14 hours ago

Jonathan Demme directed the sixth hour of “Shots Fired,” which will air Wednesday night on Fox. From the start, executive producers Reggie Bythewood and Gina Prince-Bythewood conceived of the project as a film, so it was their dream that an Oscar-winning director would come on board to helm one of the episodes. When Demme agreed, they couldn’t have been more thrilled. “He mesmerizes you,” says Prince-Bythewood. “I feel grateful that we got the opportunity to have him come into our lives.”

“There have been times when a family member has passed away and you think, I wish I would have told him this or that,” says Bythewood. “But we have definitely had a love fest with Demme. We definitely had the opportunity to tell him how much he meant to us and how much we learned from him.”

Here, they share their memories of working with Demme with Variety:

Demme signed on for the project after »

- Debra Birnbaum

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Gsn CEO David Goldhill Sets Departure From Cable Channel

14 hours ago

David Goldhill will step down from his post as CEO of Gsn.

“I am working with our shareholders to identify new leadership for both our television and games businesses, and will be fully engaged in managing both businesses until new executives are in place,” Goldhill wrote in a memo to staff. A search for a new chief executive at the cable channel — a joint venture between Sony Pictures Television, which holds a majority stake, and At&T Entertainment Group, is underway.

A former Universal Television Group executive, Goldhill joined Gsn as CEO in 2007 from investment firm Associated Partners, where he was a senior adviser. Goldhill had previously been chairman of Independent Network Television Holdings, which built Russian network TV3. He replaced Rich Cronin as CEO.

Read Goldhill’s letter to staff below:

After 10 years as CEO of Gsn, I have informed our Board that I will be stepping down this year.   I »

- Daniel Holloway

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Ann Coulter Cancels Berkeley Speech Amid Protests: ‘Free Speech Crushed by Thugs’

15 hours ago

“It’s a sad day for free speech,” Ann Coulter said after canceling her planned speech at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away,” she told the New York Times on Wednesday after conservative groups, including Berkeley College Republicans, which was supposed to sponsor her visit, dropped their support.

Coulter had initially insisted that she would attend the event, despite violent protests, even when the Uc campus canceled her appearance — set to take place on Thursday — amid safety concerns, then rescheduled it for a later date next month, at a time when the campus would be less crowded.

Young America’s Foundation, which was helping Coulter file a civil rights lawsuit against the school, also backed out of the event on Tuesday night, saying, “Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students.”

“It’s sickening when a radical thuggish institution »

- Maane Khatchatourian

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Telemundo Taps Enrique Iglesias to Woo Madison Avenue

15 hours ago

Executives at NBCUniversal’s Telemundo hope a  new song captures the interest of advertisers as the industry’s “upfront” season gets underway.

Enrique Iglesias will hold forth at a private event for advertisers that Telemundo expects to launch the evening of Monday, May 15, part of an effort to talk about the Spanish-language network’s ratings momentum; a growing focus on programming based on musical themes; and Telemundo’s first broadcast of the World Cup in 2018. With the network notching significant gains in viewers between 18 and 49 in primetime, “we believe 2017-2018 will be a doubling down of that momentum,”said Cesar Conde, chairman of NBCUniversal International Group and NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises, in an interview.

“It’s a big change,” he said of the coming World Cup broadcast. For years, the event’s broadcast has been the responsibility of rival Univision Communications. Telemundo can use the event as a promotional platform for other programming. And »

- Brian Steinberg

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Chris Soules 911 Call Released: ‘Bachelor’ Star Checked Crash Victim’s Pulse Before Allegedly Fleeing

15 hours ago

The 911 call from the fatal accident involving former “Bachelor” Chris Soules and a tractor driver reveals what happened in the moments after the collision early Tuesday morning.

“I rear-ended a guy on a tractor,” a winded and emotional man who identifies himself as Soules admits to the dispatcher. When asked who is injured, Soules replies, “the man on the tractor.” He then confirms both the tractor and the driver are in the roadside ditch.

“He’s not conscious,” Soules describes the victim, adding “he doesn’t appear” to be breathing.

When asked if he knows how to do CPR, Soules replies, “No I don’t.” He is then heard asking unidentified bystanders if they know CPR. “Anybody know how to do CPR,” the reality TV star is heard asking repeatedly.

Soules then says he can feel the victim’s pulse and that he’s bleeding from the mouth before abruptly asking, “Can »

- Lawrence Yee

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‘Arrow’: Wendy Mericle Teases Felicity’s ‘Dark Night of the Soul’

15 hours ago

Despite Team Arrow dealing its first major blow to Prometheus in the previous episode — by finally outing his identity as Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) to the public — don’t count the meticulously prepared villain out yet.

The episode ends with Chase driving off into the night, covered in blood, whistling a tune even though his well-kept secret is out in the open. Executive producer Wendy Mericle told Variety that even though Chase wasn’t necessarily expecting something like this to happen, he still has a plan.

“Chase is a guy who can pivot on a dime,” Mericle said. “This might have been a surprise for him, but Chase is like a grandmaster at chess. He’s played out every possible move, and knows that regardless of what his opponent is going to do he’s got a plan.”

Variety spoke with Mericle about Chase’s plan going forward, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) getting in deeper with Helix »

- Jacob Bryant

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Tony Vinciquerra Advances as Lead Candidate for Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Post (Exclusive)

16 hours ago

Industry veteran Tony Vinciquerra has advanced through the Sony Pictures Entertainment job search process and is now the lead candidate to succeed Michael Lynton as the top executive at the studio.

Vinciquerra would come to the job with decades of TV experience, albeit little exposure on the film side. Sources said Sony Corp. chief Kazuo Hirai has been looking for a candidate with strong managerial chops and a familiarity with the fast-expanding world of big data and analytics.

Vinciquerra headed Fox Networks Group for a decade before stepping down in early 2011. He’s since worked as a consultant to numerous entertainment firms and private equity group Tpg. Through his work as a senior advisor to Tpg Capital, Vinciquerra has been involved in Robert SimondsStx Entertainment startup venture, in which Tpg is an investor. He also sits on the board of directors of Univision.

In Sony’s view, Vinciquerra’s background overseeing a big operation like Fox »

- Cynthia Littleton

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Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Will ‘Spark a Lot of Debate,’ Exec Producer Says

17 hours ago

The stars of “The Handmaid’s Tale” walked the carpet in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening ahead of the series premiere on Hulu Wednesday, but the spotlight was on Margaret Atwood, the novelist who conceived the dystopian narrative back in 1984.

As Atwood made her way down the carpet, she congratulated each star for their work on the series. However, they seemed more struck by the world she created over three decades ago. “No, thank you,” a stunned Alexis Bledel, who plays Ofglen, responded to Atwood after a hug and congratulations. “That is so amazing to hear from you.”

Bledel was joined by co-stars Elisabeth Moss, Ann Dowd, and executive producer Warren Littlefield, who all gathered in front of a sign that depicts a blurry handmaid with the word “object” etched on top of her face: a double entendre that defines the women as objects or possessions, but also the ways in which these women object to the »

- Sarah Ahern

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‘The Sinner’: 7 Things We Learned About Jessica Biel’s Murder Mystery at Tribeca Screening

17 hours ago

There were plenty of surprises during Tuesday night’s Tribeca festival screening of the new USA Network limited series “The Sinner.”

During a post-screening panel discussion with stars Jessica Biel, Christopher Abbott, Bill Pullman, writer Derek Simonds and exec producer/pilot director Antonio Campos, memories of filming the crime thriller’s pivotal pilot moment differed between Biel and Abbott so dramatically that it was a tad uncomfortable. Then a questioner from the audience made a not-so-flattering remark about USA Network being the home for the dark drama.

But the biggest surprise about “The Sinner,” which bows Aug. 2 for an eight-episode run, is Biel. The actress takes on the role of a young mother, Cora, who commits a heinous murder, but cannot remember why. It’s an extreme departure from her last TV series role on “7th Heaven,” which she left in 2006.

“(Cora) is terribly complex and complicated,” Biel said about her attraction to the role. “The »

- Addie Morfoot

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