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Cop Drama ‘Bosch’ Season 5 Greenlit by Amazon Studios

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 06:12 AM PST

Amazon Studios has renewed “Bosch” for fifth season, ahead of the season four premiere of the hour-long cop drama in April.

Executive producer Eric Overmyer, who developed “Bosch” for Amazon, is returning as co-showrunner for season 5 alongside Daniel Pyne. Overmyer, whose credits include “The Wire” and “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” had relinquished the showrunner role for “Bosch” season 4 to oversee Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle.”

“Bosch,” starring Titus Welliver in the titular role, is produced by Red Arrow Studios’ Fabrik Entertainment.

“As Amazon Prime Video’s longest-running one-hour series, ‘Bosch’ has long been a cornerstone of our scripted programming, and Prime members consistently clamor for more,” Sharon Tal Yguado, Amazon Studios head of scripted series, said in a statement. “We are excited to give them another season with Harry Bosch, Jerry Edgar, Grace Billets and the rest of the diverse characters that make up the Bosch universe.”

Amazon called out high Prime member ratings for “Bosch” season 3, which has an average customer rating of 4.8 out of 5, with 89% of reviewers bestowing 5-star reviews. However, the company (like rival Netflix) doesn’t disclose detailed viewing data for its streaming-video service.

The Amazon original series is based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling novels about LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch. Welliver (“Lost”) stars as Bosch, alongside Jamie Hector (“The Wire”) as Jerry Edgar, Amy Aquino (“Being Human”) as Lt. Grace Billets, Madison Lintz (“The Walking Dead”) as Maddie Bosch and Lance Reddick (“The Wire”) as Deputy Chief Irvin Irving.

The 10-episode season four is set to premiere exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on Friday, April 13. In the new season, when an attorney is murdered on the eve of his civil rights trial against the LAPD, Bosch is assigned to lead a task force to solve the crime — before the city erupts in a riot.

Watch the trailer for “Bosch” season 4:

Starz and Altice USA Set Carriage Deal, Ending Six-Week Blackout

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST

After a six-week standoff, Starz and Altice USA have come to terms on a new carriage agreement.

The 16 Starz-Encore channels went dark on Altice USA systems on Jan. 1 after the previous contract expired. The sides traded barbs in the media, blaming each other for the impasse. The multi-year pact includes a provision for Altice USA to offer Starz’s standalone streaming app as a bundle with Altice’s broadband service.

Starz’s launch of its streaming app had become a bone of contention for Altice, which maintained that Starz was asking for a fee increase that would force Altice to charge more for the premium channel package than the retail price of the standalone app.

Starz and Altice said the deal also expands Starz’s traditional linear distribution on the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator, which serves the Long Island area and other parts of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.

“Our goal is to give customers the flexibility, choice and entertainment they want at a great value, and we appreciate their patience while we worked to reach a deal that was in their best interest,” said Hakim Boubazine, co-president and COO of Altice USA. “Through this new expanded arrangement, we are pleased to provide Starz’ wide array of programming on traditional and digital platforms, and look forward to working with Starz to continue to serve the diverse needs of our customer base across the U.S.”

The deal gives Altice expanded access to Starz programming on VOD and authenticated streaming platforms.

“Starz is very pleased that both companies found a mutually beneficial way to expand our relationship over the next several years to offer the best content possible to millions of Altice USA subscribers,” said Jeffrey Hirsch, COO of Starz. “In addition to the thousands of blockbuster and library movies Starz offers, we believe Altice USA values our company’s programming commitment to create and deliver premium quality original series that serve traditionally underserved audiences. By working together, both companies are in a stronger position to provide the best content and products to our shared customers.”

(Pictured: Starz’s “Outlander”)

IMG Original Content Team Talks Growth Spurt, Steve Harvey Show, UFC Plans, and Global Ambition

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST

Expanding aggressively into content production and ownership has been a top priority of Endeavor, the holding company for WME, IMG, and Endeavor Content.

IMG co-president Mark Shapiro and his lieutenants, senior VPs Mike Antinoro and Will Staeger, have helped rev up that strategy by growing the IMG Original Content unit into a bustling unscripted, documentary, and live events company with more than 50 series and specials on its active roster. All three executives are alums of Dick Clark Productions and ESPN, and they all joined in 2014 after WME completed its purchase of IMG.

IMG Original Content has become a hub in Endeavor’s effort to diversify through the ownership of such franchises as UFC, Miss Universe, the Professional Bull Riders league, and various fashion ventures. The production operation works with each of the brands to develop TV properties, and with the Endeavor Global Marketing wing to recruit sponsors and branded content opportunities. The IMG Media international TV sales unit is being retrofitted to handle a stream of entertainment programming, including an expected supply of scripted programs from the newly launched Endeavor Content wing.

The end game is to grow Endeavor’s content holdings and to yield better business opportunities for WME and IMG clients than traditional network and studios offer. IMG Original Content is producing numerous TV series, from daytime syndication’s Steve Harvey talk show “Steve” to ABC’s “Battle of the Network Stars” revival to E!’s “Model Squad” to “This Happened,” the upcoming retro-news documentary series for MSNBC. Shapiro’s unit also fielded the 2016 sports/ALS documentary “Gleason,” Michael Moore’s recent one-man Broadway show “The Terms of My Surrender,” and the fashion-centric Made to Measure digital channel.

Shapiro, Antinoro, and Staeger spoke with Variety about the changing content marketplace, how they guard against conflict-of-interest concerns with their sibling agencies, and why IMG Original Content has grown so quickly during the past three years.

What did you find at IMG when you arrived?

Mark Shapiro: IMG wasn’t in this business. They had a couple of packages and a couple of shows. It was mostly stuff they’d had for years. We came in and had to reorient the entire team, reorient our entire development strategy, and put a sign out that we were open for business and then do a lot of introductory meetings. I credit Mike and Will for going door to door knocking and telling the buyers what we were all about and finding a few projects here and there and building off that one by one.

Mike Antinoro: We spent a year and a half reeducating the market about IMG. Everybody knew IMG and IMG Sports. “Oh, you’re the guys that do those sports shows.” Until you get a project or two, it’s just a great story. Finally we got a couple of projects and people were like “That’s what you’re doing.” People wanted to be part of what we was going on at WME/IMG, now Endeavor. But they really needed to see us do a few things first.

Will Staeger: We consider ourselves agile storytellers. We’re agnostic with respect to genre. We can find the story with athletes, with models, with talk, with documentary. And tell it at a high level almost regardless of budget.

Shapiro: We’ll take big chances. We want any and all creative ideas from any and all content creators…So much of my job is really connecting the dots inside this company. It’s a big company with all kinds of assets and IP. We control, stage, produce, represent, and license so many properties and so much content. We’re trying to think globally about how we can maximize our opportunities.

What are the advantages of being affiliated with powerhouse talent agencies in WME and IMG?

Shapiro: You might think there’d be more immediate approvals and agreements with talent because we’re part of the same company. But what it does provide us is that we know where to go. We know the phone call to make. We can get the fastest “no” really quickly. But when we talk to talent, we’re not asking them, “Hey, do you want to be part of this project?” We can explain to them why we think it’s smart for their brand as part of a larger plan. That’s really a competitive edge that we have. But we’ve had just as much trouble booking artists as I used to have on the (American Music Awards). At the end of the day the agent and manager asks “How much?'” Everybody has to get a fee and nobody works for free. We have that immediate line in but competitively we’re lined up with everyone else. We have to bring the best proposition.

What do you do to ensure that the dealmaking in the end is arm’s length?

Shapiro: It’s an arm’s length deal and it’s extremely transparent. The talent knows all the offers that are on the table. We have to bid and give and take just like everybody else and try to get the best deal. … We want the artists to have a real hand in the creative process and to have a transparent path to reaching upside on the backend. That’s one of the major differentiators that our companies offer. Remember the agent or manager is incentivized to get the highest number because their commission is based on the amount of revenue they bring in.

You are also in the midst of setting up a new TV rights deal for the UFC. What’s the status?

Shapiro: Conversations to renew the domestic deal are ongoing. It’s up at the end of this year. The window’s now open, we’re talking to any and all platforms, and we’re still talking to Fox which has been a tremendous partner. I think we’ll have something to announce in the next few months.

IMG Original Content made a big move in 2016 by signing a deal with WME client Steve Harvey to produce his daytime talk show after his previous daytime TV deal with NBC and Endemol Shine expired. That was a signal to the industry that you were thinking big.

Antinoro: Steve was getting frustrated creatively.

Shapiro: We had an early meeting with Steve in Chicago. He told us, “If we’re doing this I want to make sure I have a say in the entire process. I want it to be sustained input.” That’s exactly what we’re bringing to the table. We told him, “Who knows you better than you?” Steve brought on all the (revamped show’s) comedy writers. When we came down to two showrunners, he made the choice.

NBC was not happy about the situation, although they remain the distributor and the core station group for “Steve,” which has been renewed for a second season. Did that make you nervous about the larger business relationship between NBCUniversal and Endeavor?

Shapiro: At the end of the day, (NBC) cut a very healthy deal on distribution and their commission on sales. And we ended up doing it at their studio (in L.A.). In terms of the overall deal, NBC has no risk and a very healthy partnership. The risk all lies with us. Are we making as much as Endemol did? No. But it’s profitable for us and it’s been a very healthy opportunity for Steve.

Staeger: We see it as our job to bring new opportunity. We don’t see it as a competitive situation with clients. Especially being in-house to a degree it’s incumbent on us to find those opportunities that talent might not otherwise have.

Shapiro: We have a tremendous (affiliate) agency with tremendous talent. They’re looking for production companies all the time. Now that we’re established, from sports, fashion, documentaries, entertainment; now that we’re working with everybody, we’ll get a lot of inbound calls… The mandate at the company is if there’s an open bidding process, if you have a show and there’s a marketplace and you’re in search of a production company, give them a chance. Give them the chance to pitch their creative wares and their expertise and if they lose, they lose. Not knowing is really the sin. Not knowing about an open opportunity is a mistake. But it’s an open marketplace. With any project we have with WME, we’re bidding with the best of them and we lose all the time.

Can you give me an example?

Shapiro: We were pitching “World’s Strongest Man.” That’s a property IMG has had for 37 years. It airs on CBS Sports, and we had the ability to turn it into a primetime series. We went to (WME agents) Brad Slater and Jason Hodes who represent (Dwayne Johnson). We spent months developing it and months pitching it. We didn’t sell it. The Rock was into it but it didn’t click with the platforms we were pitching. Now fast-forward a few months later and NBC’s launching a primetime series with the Rock and (producer) Arthur Smith & Co. called “Titans.” And we’re not a part of it. And that’s OK. You win some, you lose some. (WME) worked with another partner and sold the show and did the best that they could for the client. It’s a win from where I sit because (the company) is still getting a primetime series with the Rock.

Is it hard as an independent to hang on to the international rights that make producing shows most lucrative for you? Most of the premium outlets want to own everything outright on a global basis.

Shapiro: Most of it is work for hire.

Antinoro: Especially on the live events side. Disney has a Christmas Parade (TV) special every year. They brought us in to produce it, and now that’s grown into three shows.

Shapiro: Decent margins, high volume. That’s the work for hire business.

Staeger: Our checklist on the business side is: we’d love to own it, we’d love to distribute it internationally. On “Battle of the Network Stars” we do have a bigger stake there and we’re able to sell it internationally. With (Netflix’s) “Coach Snoop” we supplemented the cash flow on that series, which empowered Snoop to get a license fee rather than a work for hire deal on the show.

Shapiro: We spent a good deal of development money on clients and talent that will come to us with ideas. It’s a good concept that needs some development. We’ll write a check to develop it out, take it on the road and try to sell it. Having IMG as a production company means that a lot of WME talent will come to the table saying, “I’ve got an idea, I want to test this out.”

Have there been any issues working with rival agencies? Have you seen any hesitation from them to put their clients in IMG shows?

Shapiro: We don’t have any problems. Shane Farley is the showrunner of “Steve” — he’s ICM. (Producer) Mike Tollin came forward with (Peter Guber’s) Mandalay — Peter does all of his business with CAA. But he wanted to develop some film projects and documentary ideas. We had a history with him at ESPN, so we did a deal to work with Mandalay Sports.

What made the difference for your reputation as a production company?

Shapiro: Look at “Gleason.” When it came to us, (former NFL player suffering from ALS) Steve Gleason had shot some video capturing his personal diary for while. We were told, “We don’t have any money but we want to make a documentary. We think we have an advertiser on board but we don’t want to commercialize it. Can we send you a sizzle reel?” When we saw it we knew this is the kind of content you want to be associated with. We gave them the money they needed to finish it out…I never thought we would be working with Michael (Moore) on a Broadway show. This unit has the ability to stretch into so many lanes.

Staeger: There’s the “Model Squad” series with E! following IMG models. The “First Team: Juventus” (soccer docu series) in Italy for Netflix. We have that access by virtue of our IMG relationship with soccer around the world. Subscriber growth matters a lot to Netflix in Italy.

Shapiro: Ari and I had a call with Ted [Sarandos]. He said. “I see you’re doing a lot of follow-docs. If you can get us the access we’re looking for in soccer outside the U.S.”…and we went to work. A credit to IMG Media, they were able to walk us to the doors to different teams.

What’s the biggest opportunity for you going forward? Will you launch more OTT channels a la the fashion outlet M2M: Made to Measure? You produce the shows for that ad-supported streaming service.

Shapiro: There was no content creation around fashion when we got here. So you have all these great events, you represent all these incredible models, designers, and photographers. You have this incredible access and influence. And it was just going untapped and un-monetized.

Antinoro: There was actually a company we were paying to stream our events. We were creating this great content which they owned. We had a meeting, and we said that’s not right.

Staeger: The original purpose (of IMG Original Content) was to really look at the conglomerate that was WME/IMG and all these verticals that weren’t necessarily talking to each other. Certainly content wasn’t being mined. Our role was to help each of those units find opportunities to create content and push it out there.

Shapiro: We’re leaning in. There’s more platforms than ever before. Everybody’s thirsty for meaningful content. Creating these opportunities for talent to spread their wings creatively, have a transparent process and know that the upside at the end will fall to them — that’s when we’ll know we’re doing our jobs right.

(Pictured: IMG Original Content’s Mark Shapiro, Mike Antinoro, and Will Staeger)

Talent Agencies Face Conflicts of Interest as Parent Companies Storm Into Production Arena

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST

Steve Harvey was not happy.

The comedian and talk-show host was coming to the end of his five-season deal in 2016 on “The Steve Harvey Show,” the syndicated daytime TV series launched by NBCUniversal and Endemol Shine North America four years earlier.

In reviewing his renewal options, Harvey was annoyed to learn that Endemol Shine was taking an estimated 25%-30% of his show’s earnings, even though NBCUniversal Domestic TV was the lead producer. Then he got a compelling proposal from his representatives at WME/IMG, the powerhouse talent agency that has been rapidly diversifying into content ownership and distribution.

He was offered the chance to partner with the growing IMG Original Content production unit and part ways with NBCUniversal and Endemol Shine as producers of his show. IMG guaranteed Harvey a larger ownership stake, lower overhead costs, more creative control and a big salary boost. It was an easy call for the host.

Inside NBC, there was disbelief bordering on outrage. Nobody foresaw IMG entering the picture, even as executives realized Harvey’s desire for change. There was shock that an affiliate of a talent agency would make such a play against NBCUniversal, a huge source of employment for WME clients. There was talk of lawsuits and questions about the legality of an agency producing a client’s series.

The notion that Hollywood’s two largest agencies — WME and CAA — are aggressively moving into production is fraught with the potential for conflicts of interest that arise when the same company represents the creative talent on one side of the table and is the employer on the other. The practice, known in industry jargon as double-dipping, was expressly banned by the Screen Actors Guild for nearly 60 years.

The level of conflicts can range from questions about how compensation and commission terms are set to how inevitable creative troubles will be handled. Then there’s the issue of which clients get offered the hottest properties — although that’s nothing new for agencies the size of WME and CAA.

“On every show and every movie, there’s always a problem where the producer has to call and yell at somebody’s agent,” says a veteran producer. “What are you going to do in this case — call and yell at yourself?”

Discussions around potential conflicts of interest are such a volatile, thorny issue for agents that the heads of WME, CAA and ICM each declined to be interviewed for this story.

Industry insiders are keeping a close watch on the expansion from packagers to producers and how it impacts the fierce rivalry between the industry’s two superpowers. Moreover, tensions with studios and networks are sure to intensify in the cutthroat chase for talent, as the agencies move into the realm of production rivals. Of course, the push into production has ratcheted up the already bitter animus between WME and CAA.

“There is cause for some concern. You have to ask, ‘Who gets advantaged and which show gets hurt by this,'” says Daniel Green, head of the Heinz College entertainment industry management program at Carnegie Mellon University. “You have to wonder if the client is getting the best deal, or does now the company get the best deal?”

“There is cause for some concern. You have to wonder if the client is getting the best deal, or does the company get the best deal?”
Daniel Green, Carnegie Mellon University

All eyes are also on how dealmaking unfolds at Endeavor, the parent company of WME, IMG and the newly launched Endeavor Content division. The agency, sources say, is keenly aware of the scrutiny and is diligent about being transparent with managers and lawyers who are key to reviewing client deals. Multiple talent representatives outside WME contend that IMG and Endeavor Content’s contract terms are generally more lucrative for talent than most studio deals, particularly on backend definitions. They also point out that Endeavor Content is structured as a separate business from WME, though clearly there is common ownership and collaboration at times.

“Those guys are hyperaware that people are paying attention,” says a rival agency leader. Competitors acknowledge that the entertainment business landscape has changed dramatically, prompting the operations of the largest agencies to evolve from the industry standards established in the 1930s.

UTA has also dipped its toe into production, recently taking a small stake in Core Media Group, a producer of “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer and David Spingarn, the agency’s head of strategy and corporate development, have joined Core Media’s board of directors.

“UTA saw a compelling opportunity to help bring creative and strategic value to a great company with marquee franchises and a strong development and production pipeline,” Springarn says.

Meanwhile, other major agencies — such as ICM and Paradigm — hope to capitalize on concerns that some creatives might have by emphasizing that their sole focus remains on booking their clients on TV shows, movies and other endeavors.

To varying degrees, the owners of Hollywood’s biggest agencies are looking to leverage their access to talent and source material into businesses that have the potential to be more profitable than the traditional commissions of agenting. At a time when demand for content delivered on multiple platforms seems insatiable, agencies see openings to work with clients and non-clients alike on productions that can offer more favorable terms to creative talent.

For WME and CAA, the proximity to talent and the expertise in packaging projects is an asset that should be better exploited for the benefit of both clients and agencies. The TV industry in particular is expanding — with new channels and streaming platforms seeking high-end content — and contracting through consolidation (exhibit A: Disney buying 21st Century Fox). The thinking goes: Why shouldn’t creatives with clout (à la Harvey) take a more lucrative deal from the same company that’s helped build their careers?

The impetus for agencies to expand is a response to both good and bad times. On the one hand, there are more outlets seeking content and avenues for talent to reach consumers than ever. On the other, the traditional sources of big paydays for agencies — TV and film packaging fees — have been severely squeezed by structural changes in the industry. There is no longer the syndication windfall for agencies to share in a show produced for Netflix (which typically retains worldwide rights for many years). Nor are traditional network series generating the kind of off-network fees that made “Friends” and “Seinfeld” billion-dollar properties in the 1990s. “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” are seen as properties that are closing the book on that chapter of the business. Today, the production side is about volume and commanding the highest upfront fees that the market will bear — skills that are the lifeblood of any good agent.

CAA and its parent company, TPG, have been seeding investments in TV and film production, if not as forcefully or publicly as Endeavor. These are growth strategies for companies with grand ambitions coupled with the need to deliver for private investors that have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into both firms. A bustling production business would also be a big selling point to investors if Endeavor were to proceed with an IPO (which is not on the near-term horizon, insiders assert).

IMG’s unscripted production arm has grown exponentially during the past three years under Endeavor’s ownership and the leadership of IMG co-president Mark Shapiro. IMG Original Content productions include: Model Squad, First Team: Juventus, The Ashley Graham Project and The Terms of My Surrender.
model squad: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for IMG; first team: IMG/Netflix; graham: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock; moore: joan marcus

The growth of IMG Original Content and the big swings taken by Endeavor Content in the past few weeks have caught the town’s attention.

By many accounts, building up IMG and Endeavor’s original content units has become a key mission for Ari Emanuel, CEO of the holding company Endeavor.

The Harvey talk-show switch was an early sign of the voracious appetite at Endeavor to expand its activity as a producer and distributor of all manner of content.

IMG Original Content has exploded over the past three years with the production of more than 50 unscripted series and specials for platforms ranging from HBO, Netflix, Fox and ABC to Verizon’s Go90 to Michael Moore’s one-man Broadway show “The Terms of My Surrender.” Most of the projects, but not all, are built around WME-IMG clients or subsidiaries.

When WME bought IMG, the latter had a creaky production unit that produced mostly sports-themed specials.

IMG co-president Mark Shapiro, an alum of ESPN and Dick Clark Prods., has built the bustling production unit since he signed on in 2014. The production infrastructure is integral to growing the value of Endeavor assets, which range from the Professional Bull Riders league to Miss Universe to the UFC, in addition to IMG’s strength in sports and fashion and WME’s formidable talent roster. For WME and IMG clients, the home run has been to turn talent into business partners.

“We want the artists to have a real hand in the creative process and to have a transparent path to upside on the backend,” Shapiro says. “That’s one of the major differentiators that our companies offer.”

There is great sensitivity to ensuring that WME and IMG clients are aware of any internal relationships on productions. Deals with IMG Original Content are always reviewed by outside managers and lawyers, Shapiro says.

“It’s an arm’s-length deal, and it’s extremely transparent,” he says. “The talent knows all the offers that are on the table. We have to bid and give and take just like everybody else, as any talent would try to get the best deal.”

Endeavor Content launched in October to focus on scripted TV shows and narrative films. It made a splash early on by signing an overall TV deal with Chernin Entertainment. Last month it nabbed the rights to Michael Wolff’s best-selling Trump administration tell-all “Fire and Fury.” It secured a two-season order from Amazon for a new take on “Conan the Barbarian” from WME clients Ryan Condal, Miguel Sapochnik (a directing Emmy winner for “Game of Thrones”) and Warren Littlefield. Endeavor Content has also attracted projects for production or international distribution from clients of other agencies, including the Apple sci-fi drama “See,” from CAA clients Steven Knight and Francis Lawrence; Hulu’s “The First,” from CAA’s Beau Willimon; and Apple drama “Are You Sleeping,” produced by one of CAA’s brightest stars, Reese Witherspoon.

“The talent knows all the offers on the table. We have to bid and give and take just like everybody else.”
Mark Shapiro, IMG co-president

Littlefield, who is red-hot as a producer with “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Fargo,” had no reservations when the opportunity to work with Endeavor Content on “Conan” came up. Endeavor Content handled the licensing of the Robert E. Howard novels and paid for writer Condal to pen a script to make the pitching process easier.

“I was impressed by their willingness to invest in the IP and in Ryan Condal writing a script that we could take out to show people his vision of ‘Conan,'” says Littlefield. “It’s early days, but I feel like they are making a big commitment to building a production business, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Endeavor sees transparency and delivering tangible results to clients as the safeguards to avert conflict-of-interest concerns. Littlefield noted that he was impressed at how Endeavor in 2015 handled the international sales of the independently produced AMC/BBC drama “The Night Manager” on behalf of WME client Ink Factory. Creatives have long groused about how studio output deals in international markets shortchange the value of specific projects by selling them as part of bulk packages.

“Night Manager” was also an important test case for Endeavor because it was the first effort to retrofit IMG’s existing international sales infrastructure to distribute a scripted series. IMG Media had been focused on selling sports rights and sports-themed programming. The growth of IMG Original Content and Endeavor Content promises to rev up the unit as a profit center. This in turn will go a long way to helping Endeavor realize a return on its $2.4 billion purchase price for IMG.

CAA, meanwhile, has been more hesitant about taking a deep dive into the content production arena. But the agency has made strategic shifts in recent months with the sale of its CAA Marketing business and some of its sports operations. Content that can travel the world is a likely avenue to explore to produce a new stream of returns for TPG and other investors.

CAA parent TPG last summer helped launch the Platform One production venture in partnership with Liberty Global, with assistance from CAA and TPG’s Evolution Media investment arm. CAA and TPG are expected to move forward soon with a production venture led by former ABC Entertainment Group chief Paul Lee that has been in the works for more than a year. Evolution Media has stakes in TV production entities Gaumont and Matador, while TPG also has an interest in STX Entertainment.

In reality, agencies have been laying the groundwork to venture into production for years.

From the 1930s through 2002, the Screen Actors Guild maintained a franchise agreement with talent agencies that included a strict provision stating that “an agent or an owner of an interest in an agent shall not be an active motion picture producer,” nor were franchised agents allowed to own “any interest in a motion picture producing or distributing company.” SAG members were barred from representation by agents who did not sign on to the guild’s franchise agreement.

The SAG rule effectively kept talent agencies out of the business of production, with one famous exception: Lew Wasserman’s mighty MCA. In the early 1950s, MCA ventured into the fledgling arena of television with its Revue Prods. unit. To do so, MCA sought waivers from SAG of the production rule on a case-by-case basis. By 1952, Revue was growing so fast that MCA sought — and received — a blanket waiver from SAG to continue in TV production. At the time, Hollywood’s largest movie studios were hurting from the twin blows of competition from television and the 1948 Supreme Court decision that forced them to divest their interests in theater chains. Revue was seen as an important source of employment, especially for rank-and-file SAG members. It didn’t hurt Wasserman’s cause that the SAG president at the time was one of MCA’s big clients, Ronald Reagan.

Endeavor Content: The division was created in October to focus on scripted programming, film financing and international TV sales efforts. WME veterans Chris Rice and Graham Taylor are co-presidents. Endeavor Content and IMG handled international sales for the John le Carré limited-series franchise “The Night Manager.”

Revue’s success with television series ranging from “The Jack Benny Show” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” to “Leave It to Beaver” transformed MCA. By 1958, the agency had acquired the Universal Studios lot in order to provide a central production hub for Revue. Four years later, it reached an agreement to acquire Universal Pictures and its parent company, Decca Records. That deal caught the attention of the Justice Department and then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who filed suit to block the acquisition on antitrust grounds, arguing that MCA would have too much control over the marketplace for talent and production. Faced with the choice of retaining the agency or expanding as a studio, Wasserman chose the studio. In the 1962 settlement with the Justice Department, MCA surrendered its agency franchise agreements and turned its full-time focus to production.

Nearly 40 years later, the Assn. of Talent Agents trade group, representing the most prominent Hollywood agencies, sought to renegotiate the terms of the SAG franchise agreement as its 2001 expiration date approached. The ATA argued that the SAG contract had been little changed since the 1930s and did not reflect the modern realities of the industry.

The ATA’s revised terms proposed a provision to ease SAG’s long-standing ownership restrictions by allowing up to 20% of an agency to be owned by a company involved in movie and TV production or advertising. This push was fueled in part by agent angst over the rising number of personal managers who were becoming successful as producers of projects with clients. Managers do not face the same restrictions on production or the 10% limitation on client commissions as agents have under the SAG franchise agreement and California’s labor code.

The agency ownership issue became a flash point for many SAG members, who worried about it setting the stage for conflicts of interest. The discord among SAG leadership on the issue was so strong that the franchise agreement was sent out as a referendum for voting by the 120,000 members of the guild in April 2002. It was rejected by a 54% to 45% margin.

The failure of the referendum led to an impasse between the ATA and SAG that continues to the present day. In the absence of a formal franchise agreement, ATA member companies committed to abide by the terms of a General Services Agreement template that was approved by California’s labor commissioner.

The California Labor Code, which also strictly regulates the operations of talent agents, is fuzzy on this topic. The Labor Code states: “No talent agency may refer an artist to any person, firm, or corporation in which the talent agency has a direct or indirect financial interest for other services to be rendered to the artist, including, but not limited to, photography, audition tapes, demonstration reels or similar materials, business management, personal management, coaching, dramatic school, casting or talent brochures, agency-client directories, or other printing.”

Labor law experts say this clause is open to interpretation in a way that could pose problems for agency-affiliated productions.

“That language is broad enough to arguably say to a talent agent that you can’t direct your clients into projects in which you have an ownership or other financial interest,” says Hollywood labor veteran Howard Fabrick, an attorney with Barnes and Thornburg.

But even those who have their antennae up about the diversification into production by agency owners recognize that the seismic shifts in the industry are forcing a rethink of the status quo. Certainly, Steve Harvey isn’t complaining about his many ventures with IMG.

“Hollywood is a game,” Harvey says. “You’ve got an agent, a manager and a lawyer, and all those people get a percentage. That’s a lot of people eating off the pie. If I combine the manager and the production company and I get a larger share of the show ownership — that’s a better business move for me. And I knew I’d be in business with guys who had a vested interest in making this show work.”

Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Maren Morris, Sugarland to Headline 2018 iHeartCountry Festival

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 05:56 AM PST

iHeartMedia today announced the lineup for its fifth annual IHeartCountry Festival, sponsored by AT&T and taking place May 5 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas: Headliners include Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Dustin Lynch, Cole Swindell, Maren Morris, Sugarland, Luke Combs, Billy Currington,Dan + Shay, Jon Pardi and Brett Young, with more to be announced.

iHeartMedia on-air personality Bobby Bones will return as the official host of the iHeartCountry Festival main stage.

“What makes this Festival special is that it is the one night the A-list of Country Music comes together to perform live, collaborate with friends and spend time together as a family,” said John Sykes, President of Entertainment Enterprises for iHeartMedia. “Everyone stays to support each other until the last band has walked off stage.”

The iHeartCountry Festival is part of iHeartMedia‘s roster of concert events, including the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the iHeartRadio Music Awards, the nationwide iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Concert Tour, the iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, the iHeartSummer’17 Weekend by AT&T and iHeartRadio ALTer Ego.

“The iHeartCountry Festival is known for connecting our listeners to the biggest names in country music and this year is no exception,” said Tom Poleman, Chief Programming Officer for iHeartMedia. “The vibe back stage is like a family reunion, where the superstars get to reconnect and hang out.”

Partners of this year’s event include AT&T, Roche Diabetes Care, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, plus the 2018 iHeartCountry Festival’s benefiting charity will be St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, with more to be announced.

Tickets will be available through an exclusive AT&T THANKS Priority Pre-sale beginning February 27 at 10 a.m. CT through March 1 at 10 a.m. CT via the AT&T THANKS app. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, March 2 at 12 p.m. CT via TexasBoxOffice.com. iHeartMedia’s Country music radio stations will broadcast the event live in their local markets and at iHeartRadio.com.

‘Olympic Destroyer’ Cyberattack Disrupted Pyeongchang Opening Ceremony: Researchers

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 05:52 AM PST

Hackers targeting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games managed to disrupt internet and TV operations during Friday’s opening ceremony using malware dubbed “Olympic Destroyer,” security researchers said.

The perpetrators of the cyberattack on computer, internet and broadcast systems in Pyeongchang, South Korea, have not been identified. The signatures of the attack indicated a link to Russian hacking group, Wired and other outlets reported.

The “Olympic Destroyer” virus resulted in interruptions to Wi-Fi access and telecasts and temporarily took down Pyeongchang2018.com on Friday, which prevented many attendees on-site from accessing and printing out tickets to the ceremony. No critical Olympics systems or data were compromised by the attack, which appeared intended mainly to cause chaos and confusion.

“Disruption is the clear objective in this type of attack and it leaves us confident in thinking that the actors behind this were after embarrassment of the Olympic committee during the opening ceremony,” researchers with Cisco Systems’ Talos Security Intelligence and Research Group wrote in a blog post Monday.

The Talos researchers found that the malware payload included 44 usernames and passwords for Olympic staff members, although they said it wasn’t clear how the initial infection occurred.

The Talos researchers provided a detailed technical analysis of the malware in the blog post, noting that it was created to render target computers unusable by deleting shadow copies, event logs and trying to use remote-control applications PsExec and Windows Management Instrumentation “to further move through the environment.”

According to cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, analysis of the malware indicated the planning for the attack began at least starting in December, given the Dec. 27 timestamp on the virus created to hit the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Last month, CrowdStrike reported that it had identified a sophisticated “spear-phishing” effort targeting specific individuals involved in or supporting the Olympic Winter Games.

Pickup Trucks: Nissan Titans Get a Lift From Icon

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 05:40 AM PST

In another attempt to separate its momentum-gaining full-size pickup trucks from the crowd, Nissan announced at the 2018 Chicago Auto Showthat it will offer a factory-authorized lift kit for select models of the Titan half tonand Titan XD.

Developed by suspension maker Icon Vehicle Dynamics, the kit is easily adjustable, lifting the trucks by as much as 3 inches via adjustable coilover front shocks and springs. The adjustments do not negatively impact payload or towing capacities. From what we’re told, installing the kit does not require cutting or drilling. The kit will not void Nissan’s factory warranty, which leads the class with a five-year/100,000-mile coverage program, and it even comes with an additional limited product warranty from California-based Icon.

The kit will be available only on crew-cab 4×4 models and will allow for 33-inch tires on either pickup. As you might expect, the kit is likely to be pricey, especially if you add in a new set of larger wheels and tires. Pricing will be available closer to the kit’s on-sale date this spring.

Manufacturer images

Ric Flair wants Ronda Rousey to face daughter Charlotte

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 05:00 AM PST

Ric Flair would love Ronda Rousey to have a match with his daughter Charlotte in the WWE.

The Hall of Famer – whose daughter is currently the Smackdown! Live Women’s Champion – has admitted he is excited to see how the former UFC star does after making the leap over to sports entertainment, and he thinks the pair of them facing off would be a dream.

Speaking to TMZ, he said: “I look forward to her, I’ve met her twice and she’s very nice.

“She’ll bring a lot of notoriety to the company. Hopefully she wrestles my daughter, that’s what I want! The queen and Ronda!”

The 68-year-old WWE icon suggested that Ronda could bring the same crossover appeal that UFC heavyweight Brock Lesnar has done since his return to the company in 2013.

Flair added: “She’s really a nice person, which is what we look at for first.

“After being around for 45 years, you kinda look at the person for who they are, and she’s really nice. Obviously she’s intense, but she brings that cross demographic that Brock did.”

Ronda – who has also starred in a number of Hollywood movies, including ‘Furious 7’ and ‘Entourage’ – appeared at the conclusion of the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble match last month, wearing an outfit that paid tribute to Rowdy Roddy Piper, the late WWE Hall of Famer.

The 31-year-old fighter donned Roddy’s iconic leather jacket and T-shirt, before announcing her decision to join the WWE.

Ronda subsequently said: “This is my life now. First priority on my timeline for the next several years. This is not a smash-and-grab; this is not a publicity stunt.

“When I first met with Triple H, I told him, ‘There are other things I can do with my time that’ll make way more money, but I won’t enjoy nearly as much.'”

Travis Scott changed by fatherhood

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 05:00 AM PST

Travis Scott is a changed man since becoming a father.

The 25-year-old rapper – who recently pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for his behaviour at a concert in Arkansas last May – welcomed daughter Stormi Webster with girlfriend Kylie Jenner on February 1, and Travis has been in an extremely positive mood ever since.

A friend of the musician told TMZ that he is “laughing a lot, and much calmer than usual”.

Travis is also said to have been inspired by Stormi and has begun working on new music.

But the devoted dad is being extremely selective about agreeing to any gigs, because he wants to stay close to his new family.

One insider said: “Only serious cash will pry him away from his baby girl.”

Travis was back in his hometown of Missouri City, Texas, at the weekend, where the mayor presented him with the Key to the City in recognition of his musical accomplishments.

But Travis is said to have spent every spare moment FaceTiming with Kylie and their new baby, Stormi.

Meanwhile, it was recently reported that Travis has adopted a hands-on approach to parenthood.

A source previously said: “Kylie and Travis are a good team. Travis is able to do his own thing during the day as well, but he helps Kylie out at night. He has cut down on work and only has a few shows coming up.”

The arrival of Stormi represents a positive change for the rapper, who was arrested last May following his gig at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, Arkanas, where he encouraged fans to storm the stage.

Travis was originally charged with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct and endangering the welfare of a minor during the concert.

But his lawyers negotiated a plea bargain which saw him admitting to disorderly conduct.

Miley Cyrus ‘fan’ arrested after threatening ‘horrific act’

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 05:00 AM PST

An obsessed Miley Cyrus fan has reportedly been taken into custody by police.

The unnamed man travelled across America from Milwaukee to California to see the ‘Wrecking Ball’ singer, after telling her on social media he had obtained her address and that he knows “which way to enter”.

The disturbing posts on Facebook alerted the police and, according to TMZ, he has now been arrested in Los Angeles.


Even more disturbingly, the fan thanked Miley for “getting rid” of her fiance Liam Hemsworth.


The fan also confessed he was planning a “horrific act” that would make headlines.


Milwaukee Police Department reportedly contacted their colleagues in Los Angeles, and the LA Sheriff’s Department.

The man was found in Los Angeles on Monday (12.02.18), where he was arrested, interviewed and submitted to a psychological evaluation.

The police can hold him in custody for up to 72 hours.

In 2014, the ‘Malibu’ hitmaker obtained a temporary restraining order against Devon Meek, who was detained by police while trying to meet her.

Miley’s lawyer filed court documents stating that Meek believed she was communicating with him through her songs.

And in 2012, an intruder was arrested after being found armed with scissors in the garden of Miley’s home.

Jason Luis Rivera was arrested after he climbed over a fence to get into the property, and was later convicted of trespassing.