Is Apple’s Original TV Content Going to Crash & Burn?

Apple is committed to spending billions on original TV content over the next 5 years. Does that mean we’re going to get the killer shows we’ve all been looking forward to? According to this analysis, signs point to, “Uh-oh.”

It Sounds like Apple’s original content is going to be really, really bad
by Jonathan Sheiber

Last year, an investor projected that Apple  would be spending up to $4.2 billion on original content by 2022, but if the reports coming out now about what that content will look like are correct, the company may want its money back.

new Wall Street Journal article highlights some of the tensions that Apple faces as it looks to create a streaming media service in the age of Handmaid’s TaleHouse of CardsOrange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, and even The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

To set the table, The Journal walked readers through some of the issues Tim Cook apparently had with Vital Signs, a title the company had acquired loosely based on the biography of rap legend (and former head of the billion dollar Apple acquisition, Beats) Dr. Dre.

Reportedly, after Cook saw scenes including a mansion orgy, white lines, and drawn guns the Apple chief put the kibosh on the whole production saying it was too violent and not something that Apple can air.

For Apple’s content business, gratuitous profanity, sex or violence are all verboten as the company tries to thread the needle between being a widely beloved producer of high quality consumer goods and purveyor of paid entertainment to a public that’s increasingly enthralled with blood and gore at its circuses.

In other words, Apple’s mores seem a little misplaced.

There’s a problem for Apple as it tries to stitch together a studio while limiting itself to the entertainment equivalent of cream of wheat. Plenty of other other technology companies are gunning for that number one slot and studios are fighting for their very survival.

Money may talk in Hollywood, but creative control, ensuring an audience for a show, and the continued viability of programming also have their place. Creators may find that they’re far more comfortable wrapped in a quilt that has more varied programming where their shows may be buoyed by the success of other, darker programming that appeals to a broader audience….

Read it all at TechCrunch

Are U.S. Broadcast Networks Deliberately Self-Destructing?

Broadcast ratings are worse than ever, and the handwriting that spells “T-H-E-E-N-D is on the wall? Why don’t the networks start reading it?

by Roger Friedman

Prime time ratings for [last] Thursday night were a little shocking, especially for NBC.

Prime time TV ratings last night on all of NBC and some of ABC were equal to or not much better than the total numbers for daytime soap opera.

Indeed, NBC’s entire slate of new shows last night looked like a scorecard for daytime.

Between 8 and 10pm, NBC shows averaged just 3 million viewers. They were all first run, not repeat. By comparison, “The Young and the Restless” has 4 million viewers, “General Hospital” around 2.6 million. And those are shown during the day, when people are working….

Read it all at Showbiz 411

What’s In Store for Fox TV Execs Now That They’re Moving to Disney?

Insider info! We love it. Especially when we’re talking about what’s going on at what formerly were two true television behemoths. (But are soon to become one that’s even – erm – behemothier.)

Walden, Rice & Landegraf

by Michael Schneider

When the Walt Disney Company unveiled much of its new TV networks organizational structure Monday, it didn’t come with many surprises: As expected, Peter Rice will assume oversight as chairman of Walt Disney Television and co-chair of Disney Media Networks once the company closes its acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

Under Rice, as previously reported, Dana Walden has been named chairman of Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment, while John Landgraf will continue to oversee FX Networks and FX Productions as chairman. National Geographic Partners chairman Gary Knell, Disney Channels Worldwide president/COO Gary Marsh and ABC News president James Goldston will also answer to Rice.

With long-time 21st Century Fox execs taking over key Disney TV oversight, Burbank’s about to feel a lot more like Century City. And that’s clearly Disney CEO Bob Iger’s goal: “The strength of 21st Century Fox’s first-class management talent has always been a compelling part of this opportunity for us,” he said in a statement.

But Monday’s announcement still leaves plenty of burning questions when it comes to how things will eventually shake out once the deal is finalized and Rice, Walden, Landgraf, and Knell officially put on their Mouse ears. Here’s what to keep an eye on in the coming months:

What changes will Walden make to ABC Entertainment, and how does that impact Channing Dungey?

Walden will have oversight over several divisions, including studios, the Freeform network and the ABC-owned TV stations group. But ABC Entertainment will be by far the most high profile. Walden and Dungey worked together in the past, but with Walden as the seller (as head of 20th Century Fox TV) and Dungey as the buyer (ABC runs 20th shows including “Modern Family” and “Fresh Off the Boat”), in addition to being competitors. That’s made for an adversarial situation, but now they’re on the same team. What does Walden want out of Dungey? Or does she want her own person running ABC? The Alphabet network is off to a tepid fall, landing in fourth place among adults 18-49 during premiere week.

Will ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox TV be merged, and when?

For now, both studios will continue to operate separately under ABC Studios president Patrick Moran and 20th Century Fox TV presidents Jonathan Davis and Howard Kurtzman, with all three executives reporting to Walden. But in the long term, it doesn’t really make sense to keep two different infrastructures — the whole point of mergers like this one are the financial savings once operations are merged….

Read it all at Indiewire.Com

WGA Member Vote on Proposed Screen Credits Manual Rescheduled


(email to members via TVWriter™ Press Service)

In April of this year, the WGAW Board of Directors and WGAE Council approved a set of revisions to the Screen Credits Manual and directed staff to conduct an online member ratification vote in the Fall. The referendum process has been underway since August 23, when the proposed amendments were first posted on the WGAW and WGAE websites.

As part of the referendum process, two groups of WGA members submitted statements urging a “no” vote. The focus of these con statements was a procedural issue pertaining to the deadline for filing participating writer statements in a credit arbitration. Similar concerns were expressed by members attending an informational meeting that took place at WGAW headquarters on October 2.

In the wake of the informational meeting, the leaders present concluded that the concerns of members expressed both in the written opposition statements and at the informational meeting could be addressed with a relatively minor change to a single paragraph of Screen Credits Manual proposal. The Credits Review Committee, with the assistance of staff, drafted the proposed modification, which is shown below, redlined to the text of the original proposal approved by the Board in April:

Screen Credits Manual, Section II.D.4.b (third paragraph)
Proposed change – redline:

As the written statement is the participating writer’s only opportunity to communicate the writer’s position to the arbiters, it is advised that the writer take due care in its preparation. Because of the limitation of 21 business days for the arbitration, this statement must be delivered to the Guild within 72 (seventy-two) hours from notification by the Guild that all of the literary and source material for the arbitration has been submitted. The deadline for submission of statements will be strictly applied and NO extensions will be granted. A participant’s failure to submit a statement in a timely fashion shallReasonable requests for extensions will be granted, but will not preclude the Guild from proceeding with an arbitration with the statements then available to the Guild. If a participating writer submits a statement after the materials have been submitted to the Arbitration Committee, Credits staff will forward such statement to the Arbitration Committee, provided such statement is received prior to a decision of the Arbitration Committee.

On October 4, 2018, the Board and Council approved the modified language set forth above and directed a ratification vote proceed on a revised schedule.


Members are urged to read the modified language of the Screen Credits Manual proposal and once again will be invited to submit statements supporting or opposing approval of the proposed changes to the Screen Credits Manual. Statements must be delivered to WGAW or WGAE headquarters in “camera-ready” condition no later than 12:00 p.m. PDT/3:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, October 22, 2018 (see invitation to submit pro or con statements below). Voting on the proposed amendments will begin at 10:00 a.m. PDT/1:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, October 29 and will conclude at 12:00 p.m. PST/3:00 p.m. EST on Monday, November 12, 2018.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This meeting is for Writers Guild of America members – but even non-Guild signatory companies tend to use WGA rules as patterns for their own behavior so it behooves all our readers to know as much as possible about the changes.

Broadcast TV Faces Another Fall Ratings Decline, But They’re Not Giving Up Yet

We’ll say one thing for the out-of-touch and even more out-of-tune executives of broadcast TV. At least they aren’t giving up.

Now if they could only translate their eagerness to please into something more tangible like, oh, how about some better goddamn WRITING!?

by Michael Schneider

The sky is falling for network TV. Then again, the sky has been falling for decades — and yet, the broadcast networks are still here, despite all the gloom-and-doom prognosticators. But the first night of the new fall TV season was met mostly by a yawn from viewers, and will feed another cycle of the-networks-are-dying narratives.

Of course, there’s some truth to that. Just five years ago, NBC led the first night of premiere week (Sept. 23, 2013) with a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49, while ABC was in fourth with a 2.3 rating. This year, NBC led all networks on Monday night — with a 2.1, while fourth-place ABC landed with just a 1.2.

But on the positive front, the four major networks’ total viewer averages combined to 32.3 million on Monday night, up from 31.2 million on the first night of premiere week a year ago. And NBC launched new drama “Manifest” to a solid — hell, for 2018, a tremendous — 2.2 rating and 10.4 million viewers, making it the network’s most-watched drama series premiere in three years. And as has been pointed out, the night’s lowest-rated program, CBS’ “Bull,” still rated higher in the adults 18-49 demo than anything on cable that night (save, of course, ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which trumped all).

Most of the networks’ year-to-year viewership gains on Monday came from Fox’s decision to air the return of two scripted series on night one, “The Resident” and “9-1-1,” instead of last year’s much lower-rated “So You Think You Can Dance” finale. That boosted Fox’s viewership by nearly 4 million viewers vs. the same night last year.

Otherwise, Monday was a story of declines. (Well, except for the networks’ median age — that keeps rising, to over 60 years old). Returning hits like “The Big Bang Theory” (down 39 percent), “The Good Doctor” (down 41 percent), “Young Sheldon” (down 55 percent), “Dancing with the Stars” (down 29 percent), “The Voice” (down 23 percent) and “Bull” (down 31 percent) all slid double-digits vs. last year’s premieres.

Cause for concern? Yes. The steady reality of a business that is already changing its business model? Also, yes….

Read it all at Indie Wire