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Fox’s $14.9 billion Sky Deal Cleared in Ireland, U.K. Announcement Imminent

25 minutes ago

With a decision from U.K. authorities on 21st Century Fox’s proposed £11.7 billion ($14.9 billion) takeover of Sky imminent, Ireland has given the deal a green light.

Fox wants to fully acquire Sky, buying the shares in the European pay TV operator that it does not already own. It needed approval for the deal in all of the territories in which it operates, and has now had that in Austria, Germany, Italy, and the Republic of Ireland. Only the U.K., Sky’s largest market, is still to make a decision. The European Union has also given the deal its blessing.

The U.K. government received a report from media regulator Ofcom last week and a full decision is expected this week. Culture Minister Karen Bradley can either say she is minded to approve the deal in its current form, attach conditions, or refer it to U.K. competition authorities. The »


- Stewart Clarke

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‘Slaughterhouse Rulez’ Producer Launches Vr and Interactive Unit (Exclusive)

2 hours ago

U.K.-based film and TV producer Catalyst Global Media is moving into interactive storytelling and working on a virtual reality project about an historical Antarctic expedition gone wrong.

Catalyst, which is producing upcoming Simon Pegg comedy horror movie “Slaughterhouse Rulez for Sony, in association with Pegg and Nick Frost’s Stolen Picture banner,” and made “Peter & Wendy” for ITV, has hired Jaspal Sohal as a creative within Catalyst Interactive. He joins from Creative England where he was head of games.

The Vr expedition project will be created by Catalyst and Twenty 46 Studios. It will be based upon an ill-fated 1897 Belgian expedition in which a multinational crew became trapped in the northernmost part of the Antarctic for 13 months.

The Interactive division will be headed by Catalyst co-founder Al Hardiman. “Catalyst Interactive is strategically aligned to incorporate our storytelling skills with cutting-edge technology to create a truly immersive gaming experience while Catalyst will ultimately own the IP for »


- Stewart Clarke

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‘The Bachelorette’ Recap: Rachel Takes a Leap of Love in Norway

10 hours ago

It’s episode five of “The Bachelorette” Season 13 and Rachel Lindsay finally gets rid of the professional “tickle monster.” He asks for one last tickle before he leaves! Oh, Rachel. Poor, poor Rachel. The pickings are truly slim!

This sentiment of — what do you call it? Ah, yes, pity — persists throughout the first of a two-night “Bachelorette” event, which kicks off with a tale of two one-on-one dates. First up is Jack Stone.

One thing to know about “The Bachelorette” is that it is a show that requires only one name for contestants. And yet, Jack Stone remains Jack Stone. Together, he and Rachel shuck and shag … shuck oysters and do the “Carolina shag” dance, that is. (Get it??)

“I feel like there’s something missing with Jack,” Rachel says a few minutes into their date. Her comment is followed by a horrifying edit that may as well have cut to the producers foaming at the mouth »


- Seth Kelley

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‘Tremors’ TV Reboot Starring Kevin Bacon Moving Forward at Syfy

11 hours ago

Syfy is eyeing a television reboot of the movie “Tremors” with Kevin Bacon set to reprise his original role, Variety has learned.

The cable network has picked up a pilot for the potential series, based on the 1990 film. In addition to starring, Bacon will also serve as an executive producer.

The TV series would pick up 25 years after the original film left off. The killer Graboid worms that nearly destroyed the small town of Perfection, Nevada 25 years ago are back and the town’s only hope for survival is Valentine McKee (Bacon) who beat them once, but to do it again, he’ll have to overcome age, alcohol and a delusional hero complex. The movie revolved around natives of a the town who have to defend themselves against strange underground creatures that are killing them one by one.

“This is the only character I’ve played that I’ve ever thought about revisiting,” Bacon »


- Elizabeth Wagmeister

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Alec Baldwin Confirms He Will Return to ‘SNL’ as Donald Trump

11 hours ago

Alec Baldwin isn’t putting away the blonde wig and orange bronzer just yet.

The actor confirmed he will return to “Saturday Night Live” with his revered Donald Trump impression in the fall.

“Yeah, we’re going to fit that in. I think people have enjoyed it,” he told CNN. His busy schedule will keep his parody impersonations to a minimum though, with fans getting “a couple celery sticks” rather than a “whole meal.” In March, Baldwin mentioned he might not be back to Studio 8H for “SNL” at all because he didn’t know how much more the audience could take of it.

Trump himself isn’t necessarily a fan of Baldwin’s work, taking to Twitter to call his impersonation “unwatchable.”

Still, “SNL” can likely give a nod to Baldwin’s Trump along with Melissa McCarthy’s press secretary Sean Spicer for its most watched season in 23 years. In »


- Rebecca Rubin

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TV News Roundup: Josh Charles Joins ‘Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders’

12 hours ago

In today’s roundup, Josh Charles has been cast in “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders,” while Sissy Spacek will star in a new Hulu drama set in the Stephen King multiverse.

Casting

Josh Charles has been added to the cast of “Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders” as Dr. Jerome Oziel, the Menendez brothers’s controversial psychiatrist. Charles joins previously announced cast Edie Falco as defense attorney Leslie Abramson, Heather Graham as Judalon Smyth, Gus Halper as Erik Menendez, Miles Gaston Villanueva as Lyle Menendez, and Cliff Chamberlain as Detective Tom Linehan, among others. The series is a Wolf Entertainment production in association with Universal Television, and is executive produced by Dick Wolf, Rene Balcer, Leslie Linka Glatter, Arthur Forney and Peter Jankowski.

Hulu announced that Sissy Spacek and Jane Levy have joined the cast of upcoming original drama series “Castle Rock.” Spacek plays Ruth Deaver, the estranged adoptive mother of Henry (Andre Holland) and »


- Erin Nyren

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CNN Journalists Resign Over Retracted Story About Trump-Russia Ties

12 hours ago

Three CNN editorial staffers have resigned in the wake of last week’s retracted story that suggested a questionable link between an ally of President Trump and a Russian investment fund.

Thomas Frank, Eric Lichtblau and Lex Haris resigned in the wake of the story posted on CNN’s website that had to be retracted on Friday. CNN also issued an apology to the subject of the story, Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci.

Frank, an on-air reporter for “CNN Investigates” who wrote the story, and Lichtblau are veteran print reporters who joined CNN amid the expansion of the cable news powerhouse’s digital news operations. Haris had been with CNN since 2001, and was recently tapped to lead its newly formed investigative unit. Lichtblau, who earned a Pulitzer Prize for his work at the New York Times in 2006, came to CNN as an editor just a few months ago.

“On Friday, CNN »


- Variety Staff

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Discovery Wins Ruling in Soccer Battle With Sky Deutschland

16 hours ago

Sky and Discovery are locking horns again, this time over soccer rights, with a German court ruling against the pay TV platform in a battle over German Bundesliga soccer.

Discovery won a package of rights for over 40 Bundesliga games in an auction that took place last year. Sky previously held rights to all of the games but the local competition authorities ruled they had to go to multiple buyers. Discovery, which owns the Eurosport TV and digital platform, scooped up the pay TV rights to Friday games for the 2017-18 season.

Discovery took issue with Sky’s recent marketing campaign for its Sky Deutschland service, which Discovery maintains promised fans they could see all Bundesliga games and goals on channels carried by Sky Deutschland.

Discovery, however, will not be showing its games on the single sports channel it has on Sky, Eurosport 2. The games will actually be on the Eurosport Player streaming service, which »


- Stewart Clarke

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Jason Richman Inks New Two-Year Overall Deal with ABC Studios

16 hours ago

Jason Richman has signed a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios, Variety has learned.

Under the terms of the agreement, Richman will develop new television projects for broadcast, cable, and streaming services. Most recently, Richman wrote for the Civil War drama “Mercy Street” on PBS. He also created the series “Detroit 187” for ABC, and executive produced the ABC drama “Lucky 7” for the network as well. On the feature film side, he has written the screenplays for Kevin Costner’s “Swing Vote,” Nicolas Cage’s “Bangkok Dangerous,” and the Chris Rock-Anthony Hopkins thriller “Bad Company.”

He is repped by CAA, Concoff Entertainment, Chris Bucci and Steve Savisky at Savisky, Satin & Bacon and attorneys Warren Dern and Jim Gilio.

This is the latest deal for ABC Studios in the past few weeks. “Wonder Woman” screenwriter Allan Heinberg recently signed an overall development deal with ABC Studios and ABC Signature Studios. The »


- Joe Otterson

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‘Veep’ Boss David Mandel on Season 6 Finale, Selina’s ‘Addiction,’ and What’s in Store for Season 7

17 hours ago

Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you have not watched the season six finale of “Veep.”

Veep” aired its sixth season finale in a political climate very different from when the Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy premiered back in 2012, when David Mandel took over showrunner duties in season five, or even when the writers began working on this season’s batch of stories.

Mandel and his “Veep” cast were almost finished shooting the sixth season when Election Night ushered in a new regime to the White House. It was too late to try to alter any stories that might seem too ripped from the headlines by the time they aired, but Mandel was not interested in changing his art for the sake of politics anyway.

The idea for this post-presidential loss sixth season came to Mandel two years prior, when he first sat down with Louis-Dreyfus to discuss him joining “Veep.” Series creator and former showrunner Armando Iannucci had »


- Danielle Turchiano

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DeMario Jackson Chokes Up in First Interview Since ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ Scandal

18 hours ago

DeMario Jackson — a contestant on “Bachelor in Paradise” who became involved in a recent  scandal that halted production — gets emotional in a clip teasing an upcoming interview with E! News.

In the video, Jackson states that the hardest part of deal with the allegations leveled against him, was seeing his mother cry “every day.”

“My dad, he kept me extremely strong, and kept me grounded and humble, but having your mom cry every day for something that you know you didn’t do,” Jackson said, shaking his head.

The scandal erupted after reports that cast member Corinne Olympios and Jackson had a sexual encounter that involved heavy drinking while cameras were still rolling. Warner Bros. suspended production pending an investigation into the matter and released a statement saying that it was aware of the allegations of misconduct. Recently, Warner Bros. announced “Bachelor in Paradise” would resume production following an internal investigation that found no “misconduct by a »


- Erin Nyren

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MTV to Debut Comedy Game Show ‘SafeWord’ From ‘Lip Sync Battle’ Producers

18 hours ago

MTV is set to launch a new comedy game show called “SafeWord,” the network announced Monday.

From the producers of “Lip Sync Battle” and hosted by Terrence J, the series will feature celebrity guests such as Kevin Hart, Damien Dante Wayans, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Marlon Wayans, Kelly Rowland, Nelly, Lala Anthony, Amber Rose, “13 Reasons Why” cast mates Ross Butler and Justin Prentice, Charlamagne Tha God, Drake Bell, Lil Rel Howery, Jermaine Fowler and more.

The series is based off the U.K. format that aired on itv2 and was originally developed and produced by Stv Productions and Motion Content Group. In each episode, the celebrity guests will partner with superstar comedians, including Carly Aquilino, Sam Jay, Ricky Velez, Leonard Ouzts, Taylor Tomlinson, Akaash Singh, Matt Pavich, Sherry Cola to help them play a series of games in front a live audience. Throughout multiple rounds, the teams go head-to-head daring each other in a variety of challenges including »


- Joe Otterson

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Our Staff Picks: TV Shows to Watch the Week of June 26, 2017

19 hours ago

Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV.

Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “Pretty Little Liars” wraps up after seven seasons and “Younger” returns for Season 4.

Pretty Little Liars, Freeform, Tuesday, 8 p.m.

The Liars will sign off the air for good this week with a two-hour series finale, bringing the popular series to a close after seven seasons. Immediately following the finale, stars Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell and Sasha Pieterse, as well as executive producer I. Marlene King, will sit down for an hour-long after-show to discuss all of the series’ secrets, behind-the-scenes insights, and top moments.

Younger, TV Land, Wednesday, 10 p.m.

Season 4 of the Darren Star-created series returns this week. At »


- Joe Otterson

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ABC Seeks Breakout U.K. Acting Talent

20 hours ago

ABC is seeking out U.K. actors it can take to the U.S. with a new trans-Atlantic talent search.

ABC Discovers: Digital Talent Competition is already up and running in the U.S. and the broadcaster has now extended it to the U.K. for the first time. The networks head of casting, Ayo Davis, and “Grey’s Anatomy” casting director, Linda Lowy, are involved, and will offer the breakthrough talent advice on getting into TV.

British actors in recent ABC shows include Hayley Atwell in “Agent Carter” and “Conviction” and Minnie Driver in “Speechless,” and, further back, Nicollette Sheridan in “Desperate Housewives,” but the new initiative is about finding a new generation of stars.

“This competition is about access and opportunity for up and coming actors,” Davis said. “We are incredibly proud of the U.S. talent that has surfaced in the first few years of the competition and by expanding to the U.K »


- Stewart Clarke

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TV Ratings: ‘Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly’ Slips Again in Week 4

20 hours ago

“Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” continued its downward trajectory in the Sunday overnight ratings, with the new NBC newsmagazine slipping to a new low in both the key demo and total viewers. Meanwhile, Fox fell to an average of less than 1 million viewers on a rerun-dominated night.

Airing at 7 p.m., “Sunday Night” averaged a 0.4 rating in adults 18-49 and 3.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. That is down from a 0.5 and 3.6 million viewers last week’s episode, which featured Kelly’s controversial interview with InfoWars founder Alex Jones.

In the timeslot, “Sunday Night” lost out to CBS’ “60 Minutes,” which was down from its last new episode on June 11 with a 0.7 and 7.2 million viewers. ABC led the night with a rerun of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (0.7, 3.9 million).

NBC aired “Despicable Me” and a rerun of “Little Big Shots: Forever Young” for the rest of primetime.

ABC’s fortunes improved with its 8-11 p.m »


- Joe Otterson

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15 Takeaways from Conecta Fiction

22 hours ago

Santiago De Compostela, Spain — A higgledy-piggledy maze of cobbled streets, granite-stoned convents and white veranda towns houses, Santiago seems suspended in time.     Over June 20-23, it bore witness at Conecta Fiction, an inaugural TV forum, to a revolution: That of scripted TV and nascent Latin America-Europe co-production. The two-and-a-half days were so packed with events as to make nigh impossible much on-site reporting. Following, in retrospect, 15 takeaways from the first-ever Conecta Fiction meet.

1.Latin America-europe TV Co-production: An Imperious Necessity

A boutique Latin America-Europe drama TV co-production forum, Conecta Forum brought together a swathe of high-caliber Latin America channel, broadcaster and fiction TV heads with producers and counterparts in Spain, plus a choice presence of largely French commissioning editors and producers  from the rest of Europe. Many, maybe most, had never met. Nearly all sang the virtues, and necessity of international TV co-production. “A few years ago there were no international co-productions, now »


- John Hopewell

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Spike Lee’s Netflix Series ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ Sets Fall Premiere Date

22 hours ago

Netflix has revealed the premiere date and first teaser for Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It,” the series adaptation of Lee’s 1986 debut film.

The 10-episode series will launch Thanksgiving Day (November 23). DeWanda Wise stars as Nola Darling, a Brooklyn-based artist in her late twenties struggling to define herself and divide her time amongst her friends, her job and her three lovers: Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony), Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent), and Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos).

The series also stars Chyna Layne, Ilfenesh Hadeara, Margot Bingham, Sydney Morton, and Joie Lee. Lee directs all 10 episodes of the series, in addition to producing. Lee has previously directed for television, but this is the first time he has directed an entire series. Tonya Lewis Lee is executive producer, with Barry Michael Cooper and Lynn Nottage producing. »


- Joe Otterson

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Sky Deutschland, Constantin Film Strike New Movie Deal

26 June 2017 1:55 AM, PDT

Sky’s German pay TV operation has inked a new deal with Constantin Film, securing its movies across Germany and Austria.

The multiyear deal sees Sky and Constantin extend their movies deal. Sky gets Constantin titles including “Fack Ju Göhte 3,” “Das Pubertier – Der Film,” and “Gorillas,” in the first pay TV window. Library titles including “The Grudge,” and the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” reboot are also covered.

The agreement hands Sky linear pay TV rights for its movie channels, and also covers on-demand, meaning movies will also be available on streaming, on-demand and download services including Sky On Demand, Sky Go, and Sky Store.

Sky’s acquisitions executive Rainer Ingber, said: “By continuing our cooperation with Constantin Film, Sky customers will also be able to enjoy the most popular German films in the future – whether as an exclusive TV premiere or on demand.”

Franz Woodtli, director of home entertainment, cinema & national licensing at Constantin Film added: “We are »


- Stewart Clarke

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Sam Sniderman Joins Blue Ant From Vice’s Pulse Films

26 June 2017 1:21 AM, PDT

Sam Sniderman will run global production at Blue Ant Media, joining the channel operator, producer and Ott business from Vice Media’s Pulse Films.

Blue Ant has scaled up with a deal for the production companies in Racat Group, the business owned by former News Corp. and Fox executive David Haslingden.

Based in London and reporting to Raja Khanna, CEO, Television & Digital, Sniderman will oversee all of Blue Ant’s production businesses, including Beach House, Nhnz, and Northern Pictures.

“Sam brings to the table an acute commercial mindset, with a natural understanding for the creative process and those who lead it,” Khanna said. “He is ideally experienced to take on this new role at our company.”

While at Pulse, Sniderman oversaw the distribution of films including Nick Cave’s “20,000 Days on Earth,” Gael Garcia Bernal’s “Who Is Dayani Cristal,” and LCD Soundsystem film “Shut Up and Play the Hits.” He »


- Stewart Clarke

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Drg Names New CEO, Fox Takes New Role

26 June 2017 1:10 AM, PDT

Jeremy Fox will focus on Ott drama business Atrium and become executive chairman at U.K. distributor Drg, with Richard Halliwell filling his previous CEO role.

Former BBC Worldwide executive Halliwell has been at Mtg-owned Drg since 2013 and will now run the business as Fox focuses on working up Atrium, Drg’s fledgling premium Ott drama business, which is being established with former Sony boss Sir Howard Stringer.

It is currently recruiting member companies who will finance high-end drama and take rights for their region, with Drg handling sales outside of the territories covered by the Atrium companies.

“Richard is very entrepreneurial and commercial, he gets things done and succeeds in managing everyday issues while constantly driving the business forward with new ideas,” Fox said of Halliwell’s appointment. “Drg is in very safe hands with him at the helm and I am delighted that we have been able to recognize his significant achievements and contributions with »


- Stewart Clarke

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