Kelly Jo Brick: Highlights from the Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit

IMG_1532

By Kelly Jo Brick

Developing material through a different lens was a recurring theme during Variety’s Entertainment & Technology Summit. In this day long event, panelists discussed the challenges of staying relevant and reimagining their strategies as the entertainment industry grows and adapts to new technologies.

When looking at the current entertainment atmosphere and the future of the film industry, President of Imagine Entertainment, Erica Huggins, declared, “A good story is a good story.” But stories can now be told in many ways as she added that there is, “A select group of people that will always tune in for something that is great.”

Ze Frank, President, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures called this the, “Golden Age of the moving image,” and behind this growing Golden Age is a wave of creators who bring an audience with them. According to George Strompolos, whose company Fullscreen’s YouTube partnership program empowers over 75,000 content creators, these creatives stand out with what they make and a lot of them come with their own army, which will shift the power. There will be fewer stories of “I couldn’t get it made” because crowdfunding will help these people make things happen.

With increasing platform proliferation and audience fragmentation, the Variety Summit also explored innovations in measuring audience interest/demand. Parrot Analytics showcased their efforts in measuring demand for cross-platform content with a real-time system designed to gauge global and country-specific interest. New technologies are also being engaged to quantify consumer attention for ads in the U.S. as campaigns air, with companies such as Ace Metrix recognizing that the ongoing availability of this real-time analytical data can help marketers craft more effective creative and optimize delivery of their message.

The ongoing development of virtual reality brought a lot of discussion amongst panelists who overwhelmingly believed that although the technology could be a game-changer, it still had a long way to go in development. “It’s all covered wagons heading west right now and that’s kinda the fun of it,” declared Robert Stromberg, Production Designer for Avatar and Alice in Wonderland. Fellow panelist, David Alpert, Executive Producer of The Walking Dead, further suggested, “It always takes a little while for the medium to find its format.” TV found its way after starting like radio, YouTube started like TV then found what fit. Virtual reality needs to do the same and find the best way it can be used to tell story.

The day also brought attention to expanding content options such as The Dove Channel, an OTT network focused on family-based entertainment that was called one of the “5 Things You Need to Know,” by USA Today. The Dove Channel puts control in the hands of the user by allowing viewers to access Dove Approved films, shorts, documentaries and TV series all rated and labeled by intensity of content so viewers can make safe and aware choices of the content they watch with their children.

Viki CEO Tammy H. Nam announced a groundbreaking new show, Dramaworld, coming to their global, fan-powered TV site in which avid fans translate TV, movies and other content into over 200 languages. According to Nam, “The reason why we wanted to produce a show is because most of the content that we license is produced for a local audience. So it’s produced for one particular country, mostly. And then we license it and we expose it to a global audience. What we wanted to do was have a show that is produced specifically for an international fan base of primarily Asian dramas.” Dramaworld, which will premiere in early 2016, is a co-production with China’s Jetavana Entertainment and features an international cast and creative team.

The Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit also brought focus to storytelling. Keynote speaker Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment and Chief Content Officer of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment shared her insights, explaining that the goal of DC was, “to create a portfolio of creators that have depth and breath.” They didn’t want to create a single universe with DC, fearing that it could put limitations on their storytelling. With this approach, shows like Gotham can grow and develop free of restraints. Nelson was excited to have 8 shows airing on multiple networks during the 2015-16 TV season. She was especially enthused by Supergirl, which comes to CBS in October, calling it “a really special show” and a very empowering approach to the character that should appeal to women and girls, as well as bring in elements that superhero fans will love.

Creatives behind Arrow, The Flash, Teen Wolf, Wet Hot American Summer and the Dark Knight franchise rounded out the day with a conversation about respecting history and developing relationships with fans. Citing the challenges of walking the tightrope between core and new followers, Greg Berlanti, Executive Producer of Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash, believed that, “There’s a dialogue between you and the audience and you can change things as you go along.” As a fan of these stories himself, Berlanti added, “If we would be excited about it and we would be interested in it, we just have to hope the fans would be as well.”


Kelly Jo Brick is a Contributing Editor at TVWriter™. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.

Why CBS Will Never Cancel Stephen King’s UNDER THE DOME

Um, 200 international licensing agreements for the series, that’s why. Even if the series, which is produced by Amblin Television (AKA Steven Spielberg) tanks – and we aren’t saying we think it will cuz it is produced by Amblin and Stevie, after all – all that overseas revenue is way too much to throw away.

Here are the specifics, brought to you in that wonderful, old-fashioned Hollywood way: Via a Press release from CBS. Thank you for sending this out and making our writing lives so much easier than usual, doods. We owe ya one. Anyway:

Under-The-Domeby Team TVWriter™ Press Service

CBS Studios International announced today agreements for the broadcast rights of “Under the Dome” with prominent broadcasters from around the world. The U.S. drama, which is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and is based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel of the same name, will be licensed in 200 international markets, with some starting to run the series this summer.

International broadcast networks that have licensed the show include Channel 5/UK, ProSiebenSat1-Group/Germany, M6/France, RAIDUE/Italy, Network Ten/Australia and Global Television/Canada. Exact airdates will vary by country.

“UNDER THE DOME is a unique television event with tremendous creative auspices that is generating a lot of excitement in the U.S. and abroad,” said Armando Nuñez, President and CEO, CBS Global Distribution Group. “We’re thrilled to have some of the top broadcasters around the world as partners for the international launch of this series.”

UNDER THE DOME tells the story of a small town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. UNDER THE DOME earned widespread critical acclaim and #1 bestseller status when it was first published by Simon & Schuster’s Scribner imprint in 2009. It has also been a major bestseller as an ebook, and in paperback from Gallery Books.

UNDER THE DOME is produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Amblin Television. Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, Neal Baer, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Stacey Snider, Jack Bender and Brian K. Vaughan, who wrote the television adaptation, will serve as executive producers. The show premieres in the U.S. on the CBS Television Network on Monday, June 24.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yeah, it is a tad dry, huh? Our apologies for not rewriting it in a more TVWriter™ style. We’ve had a hell of a weekend, and our heads are still aching. We’ll do better next time, for sure.

What Have We Learned from the 1st Week of the 2012 Season?

Some interesting bits, actually:

After One Week, Which TV Shows Look Good and Which Seem Doomed? – by Josef Adalian

Congratulations, fellow TV viewers: We’ve survived another premiere week! The networks threw all manner of new shows our way and forced us to fill our DVRs to bursting with returning favorites. It seems only fair that we repay their kindness by rushing to judgement about how their new lineups fared out of the gate, from the obvious winners to the Romney-esque losers. Yes, yes: One week does not a season make, particularly in an era when shows debut year-round and many viewers watch shows on their own damn schedules. But that caveat aside, we still think there are some early lessons to be drawn from the early days of the new season.

It’s more important than ever to pay attention to time-shifted viewing...

NBC has emerged from the Dark Ages

Fox is off to a rocky start...

We can already tell which shows are sticking around and which are doomed

TV’s grizzled veterans continue to defy gravity

Read the details

Are Private Eyes Back in Style on TV?

Word around town (that’s L.A. to everybody who isn’t “in” that particular town) is that CBS Studios has optioned Michael Koryta’s novel about private investigator Lincoln Perry,A Welcome Grave for a TV series to be produced by the Kennedy/Marshall Company.

We find this report refreshing because, taken on its face, it means that Kennedy/Marshall thinks this should be a series and convinced CBS to put up some money for them to develop it. Because they wouldn’t dream of using their own money…because if it’s at all possible production companies never do. They always pass the hat to a network.

So kudos to Michael Koryta for getting some money in his pocket, and kudos to the P.R. people who’ve announced this deal for telling us the truth for once.

Film and TGV options have long been added income for writers and their publishers, to be sure. But considering how few of the options actually get picked up as full-scale rights purchases, and how few of those actually get made into films or TV series, we’re curious about whether anybody has ever, like, made a living on through option money. Anybody out there know?

munchman: THE BRADY BUNCH is Rebooting.

Further proof that Vince Vaughn is as dumb as he looks (and that CBS development execs are even dumber):

CBS Developing ‘Brady Bunch’ Reboot With Vince Vaughn – by Lesley Goldberg

The network has given a script commitment to a reboot of The Brady Bunch from executive producer Vince Vaughn and CBS Television Studios, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The multicamera comedy about the famed TV family would revolve around the youngest of Mike Brady’s boys, Bobby Brady, as a divorced dad who remarries and starts a new family.

Raising Hope‘s Mike Mariano will pen the project and executive produce alongside Lloyd Schwartz, son of the late Sherwood Schwartz, who created the original ABC sitcom that ran from 1969-74. Vaughn, Victoria Vaughn and Peter Billingsleywill also exec produce through the actor’s Wild West Picture Show Productions shingle.

Read it all if you can stand to

The good news: The 2 writers, Mike Mariano and Lloyd Schwartz are right out there above the fold.

The terrible news: The concept.

Besides, I’ve been crushing on Florence Henderson since I saw my first BRADY BUNCH rerun. Making this just plain painful. Doesn’t anybody know how to do television right anymore? Anybody who’s working in it, I mean.