Fox Lands ‘Operation Prince Of Freedom’ Spec; Jake Szymanski To Direct

EXCLUSIVE: Fox has landed Operation Prince Of Freedom, a spec script package for a comedy that will be helmed by Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates director Jake Szymanski. Chernin Entertainment will produce with Gary Sanchez. The script is by Michael Kvamme and Jordan Dunn, and Gary Sanchez’s Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, Kevin Messick and Andrew Steele will produce with Chernin. Fox has had success with the hard R comedy in Deadpool and Kingsman: The Secret Service and this…

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Kathryn Bigelow’s HBO Pilot ‘Mogadishu, Minnesota’ Sets Cast

HBO has set the cast for its drama pilot “Mogadishu, Minnesota,” which hails from executive producer Kathryn Bigelow, Variety has learned. The large ensemble features nine series regulars, mostly made up of newcomers. Among the cast is “American Crime” star Elvis Nolasco, Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede and Somali-born British stand-up comedian Prince Abdi. “Mogadishu, Minnesota” is a family drama… Read more »

‘Mogadishu, Minnesota’: Elvis Nolasco, K.C. Collins Among Nine Cast In HBO Drama Pilot

HBO is building out the cast for its drama pilot Mogadishu, Minnesota, executive produced by Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker’s Kathryn Bigelow.
Elvis Nolasco (American Crime), K.C. Collins (RoboCop), Rif Hutton (Hotel Transylvania), Ezana Alem (Oasis), Hanad Abdirahman Abdi, Selam Tadese, Prince Abdi, Yusra Warsama and Liya Kebede (The Best Offer) have joined the cast. All will be regulars if the pilot is picked up to series.
Mogadishu, Minnesota is a family drama…

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‘Designated Survivor’ & ‘Lethal Weapon’ Post Modest Week 2 Ratings Dips, ‘Criminal Minds’ & ‘Code Black’ Return

Snapshot: New series Week 2, all drops under -20%: Lethal Weapon (1.9 in 18-49, -14%, 7.1 million) Designated Survivor (1.8, down -18%, 7.9 million), Speechless (1.8, down -10%, 6.4 million); Returning series all down from their premieres though Blindspot is in an virtual tie. Fox’s Empire (3.6 in 18-49, 9.6 million) is highest rated and most watched program of the night.
Those more than 6 million viewers who watched the series debut of ABC’s Designated Survivor on DVR…

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Controversial YG Video Drawing Fire from the Asian Community Over “Racist” Lyrics

YG: First you find a house and scope it out. Find a Chinese neighborhood cause they don’t believe in bank accounts… These are the lyrics of YG’s song Meet The Flockers from the rapper’s album “My Krazy Life.” The music video doesn’t do much better, as the video begins with two young men putting on […]

The post Controversial YG Video Drawing Fire from the Asian Community Over “Racist” Lyrics appeared first on Digital Music News.

Premature Evaluation: Bon Iver 22, A Million

Bon Iver - 22 A MillionThe last album was supposed to be the weird one. After unexpectedly blowing the fuck up and selling a half-million copies of his isolationist spectral-folk breakup album For Emma, Forever Ago, Justin Vernon found himself in unfamiliar territory. Kanye West was flying him to Hawaii to record, Bushmills was paying him to play “guy who … More »

LeEco to Officially Launch in the U.S. Next Month

Chinese consumer electronics company LeEco plans to officially launch in the U.S. next month. The company sent out invitations to journalists Thursday for an official launch event on October 19. The invite features renderings of a TV, a phone, a bike, a car and a VR headset, suggesting that LeEco is prepared to launch all… Read more »

Ken Loach on Right-Wing Attacks: ‘If They Don’t Go After You, You’re Not Hurting Them’

LONDON — Palme d’Or winner Ken Loach took to the stage at the Vue movie theater near London’s Piccadilly Circus on Tuesday to accept the Raindance Film Festival’s inaugural Auteur Award and dedicated it to “scruffy film festivals and creative energy.” Speaking to a packed crowd, the “I, Daniel Blake” director recalled his first visit… Read more »

Why Some Broadcast Shows Are Getting Smaller, Cable-Sized Season Orders

It was no surprise that NBC gave This Is Us a full-season pickup on Tuesday—after all, the series had the highest-rated 18-49 debut of any new series last week: a 2.8 rating, which soared to a 4.2 in live-plus-3 numbers. But what was a bit unexpected, however, was the length of that full-season order: 18 episodes, instead of the standard 22-episode season for broadcast shows.

This Is Us’ 18-episode order was music to the ears of its creator Dan Fogelman, who told Adweek that the 22-episode format isn’t deal for either that show or his other new fall drama, Fox’s Pitch. “At the end of the day, it’s NBC’s and Fox’s call, and you do as many as they want,” said Fogelman. “But it’s hard, and it’s not just about the difficulty of executing it and executing it well, it’s also the schedule and the timing. In these particular shows, you want the show to feel big, and have big moments and big reveals. But it’s hard to create that many of them, and you don’t want the show to feel disappointing.”

Fogelman is far from the only creator who feels that way. While sitcoms and procedurals are still routinely receiving 22-episode seasons (in some cases, even more episodes than that), increasingly, producers of serialized broadcast dramas are pushing for smaller-cable sized season orders, and their networks are happily complying.

“I cannot tell you how much the world has changed in the last decade as far as that goes,” said Gary Newman, Fox Television Studios co-CEO and co-chairman. “I think the root of it is, more and more for studios, the back-end is SVOD [services like Netflix and Amazon], not syndication. So you no longer need a certain number of episodes [to hit the threshold for syndication]. You want as many as possible, but you don’t need them the way you used to.”

In a world where as many as 450 scripted series will air this year, “We’re no longer competing with just the other broadcast networks. We’re competing with OTT services and cable networks, and I think you have to be respectful of the consumers’ time and interest,” said Newman.

That means realizing that “sometimes with these more intense, serialized shows, trying to maintain that intensity over 22 episodes—or as we discovered years ago with 24, 24 episodes—is very difficult,” said Newman. “I think if we were to be honest about 24, as great as it was, you would see a lot of dipping, particularly in the middle of the season.”

24’s 12-episode limited series revival, 2014’s 24: Live Another Day, “was a far more successful version. We were able to keep up the intensity throughout the 12 episodes,” Newman added. That’s one of the reasons why Fox’s upcoming 24 reboot, 24: Legacy, which will launch Feb. 5 after the Super Bowl, will have a 12-episode first season, not 24 episodes. But in future seasons, “if our showrunners came back and said, ‘we think we’ve got a story that sustains for more than 12 episodes,’ we would do that.”

Ad buyers also agree that these days, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to broadcast season lengths. “Given the world we live in, it’s just, find the best way to get people to engage, if that’s six episodes, 10 or 20,” said Maureen Bosetti, chief investment officer at Initiative. “I’d rather have 12 episodes of a really good show than 22 low-rated ones.”

No more “running in place”

Even some broadcast comedies are starting to advocate for shorter seasons. NBC’s new comedy The Good Place had a strong debut last week, but no matter how successful the rest of the season is, its order will remain capped at 13 episodes. That’s due to the show’s serialized structure, in which nearly every episode ends with a twist or cliffhanger. “The idea is so high concept that I felt, at a gut level, that’s what it should be. Because it’s so serialized, it’s not a show that can have a lot of filler,” said creator Mike Schur.

“NBC understood exactly why we were asking for it,” Schur continued. “I wanted it to feel like crazy things are happening, and it’s hard to keep up that pace. I think even the people behind shows like Lost, for example, would say in every season, there are episodes where you’re just running in place because there aren’t 22 amazing cliffhangers for every season. There just aren’t. You’ll burn out too fast.”

Other shows, like Empire, physically can’t produce 22 episodes each year and maintain that same level of quality, given the additional time required to write and produce several original songs for each episode. After some back and forth last year, Fox and the producers settled on an 18-episode order for each Empire season. “We all agree that 18 is the right number, that we wouldn’t be able to do more than 18 really well, but that we owe it to them to work hard enough and deliver 18 episodes,” said Empire showrunner Ilene Chaiken.

As more movie actors have migrated to TV, several of them have negotiated 15-episode seasons so they have the flexibility to continue to make multiple films during their hiatus, as Viola Davis does on How to Get Away With Murder. But that show’s creator, Pete Nowalk, said he now wouldn’t want it any other way.

“So much of writing TV, especially network TV, is you just react to what you’re given. So for me, it’s now in the DNA of the show that we do nine [shows in the fall], and then we do six [after the holiday break]. If we had to do nine, and then 13, I don’t know what I would do,” said Nowalk. “I would probably slow everything down. I probably wouldn’t like the show as much if there were too many episodes. It’s just more sane to not have to do that.”

Now, said Nowalk, “I see the people doing 10 episodes a season [on cable and streaming], and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s what I want to do next!’ Spoiled brat, here.”

Of course, many broadcast shows are still happy to produce as many episodes as possible each season. “The more episodes that we can make, the more valuable the enterprise is,” said Designated Survivor executive producer Mark Gordon. “It’s about the value of the show: It’s about syndication. It’s about international. But I would never make more shows than we can make well. 22 is tough, but it’s if you can do it, it’s obviously good for everyone.”

His star Kiefer Sutherland agrees, telling Adweek earlier this month that he doesn’t want to make anything less than a 22-episode season. “You can’t expect the company to really get behind you unless you’re going to produce enough material to make it worth their fucking while,” said Sutherland.

That may not be as true as it was when Sutherland was starring in 24 episodes of 24 each year. “There are shows that we’re doing that still can play a full 22-episode season, shows that tend to be a little bit more procedural,” said Fox’s Newman, pointing to his new drama Lethal Weapon (which is likely to receive a full-season order). “But we’re no longer in a one-size-fits-all business.”