The Kennedys has finally found a home. The Hollywood Reporter says the miniseries will debut on ReelzChannel,a cable movie network that's available in about 60 million American homes. The miniseries, starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, has been searching for a venue the past three weeks after the History Channel folded in the face of Kennedy family pressure and decided not to show it.
The lastest scheme to resurrect The Kennedys miniseries, reports Deadline Hollywood , is to air it on stations belonging to Tribune Broadcasting. (Good news for South Florida: They include WSFL-CW 39, as well as channels in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia and other big markets.) Tribune, in turn, might sell the series to stations in cities where it doesn't own anything.) All this is said to be contingent on permission from the History Channel, which even though it refused to air the show under pressure from the Kennedy family, retains veto rights on where it can air.
Kennedys’ Home Movies (9 p.m. Sunday, TLC) –- There’s no longer a single member of the family holding elective office, but many Americans remain fascinated by the Kennedy dynasty. This documentary uses home movies, snapshots and other souvenirs to trace the family political history starting with patriarch Joe and ending up with the aspiring young pols of the fourth generation.
Independent Lens: For Once In My Life (11 p.m. Tuesday, WPBT-PBS 2) –- A profile of Miami’s Spirit of Goodwill band, a collection of 29 musicians with disabilities ranging from autism to blindness.
Note: Days and times for PBS shows are for the Miami area, and may differ elsewhere
Let me program your TiVo! Just click on my best bets for the week at www.tivo.com/guruguide.
Stuff to read on a Friday afternoon: A Hollywood Reporter piece on why the cable-news nets cannot shut up about Sarah Palin for even five minutes at a time. (Most horrifying factlet in the story: In one five-hour span, MSNBC mentioned Palin in connection with the Arizona massacre 166 times; Jared Loughner, the accused gunman, only 18 times.) Gossip in the New York Post that ex-NBC boss Jeff Zucker and soon to be ex-CBS anchor Katie Couric, who worked together at The Today Show all those years ago, may be planning a syndicated talk show. And the scoop from Deadline Hollywood that HBO has picked up the newest drama series from West Wing's Aaron Sorkin. This one takes place behind the scenes at a cable-news network. No word yet on who will play Sarah Palin.
Television and the Internet are merging with such whiplash speed that viewers for a while will have trouble keeping track of all the little technological boxes on top of their sets, much less the countless thousands of shows they can watch, entertainment executives told a TV producers' convention Tuesday in Miami Beach.
"With more and more content out there, it becomes hard and harder to find,'' said Nick Buzzell, a producer at NBTV Studios, which makes shows for TV and the Internet. "With all this digital technology, there's still consumer confusion. . . . [And] if the consumer is confused, none of it's going to work.''
Buzzell was speaking at one of several panels on the convergence of TV and the Internet held on the second day of the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) meeting at the Fontainebleau Hotel.
With a plethora of devices from video-game consoles to DVD players now able to liberate the Internet from computers and carry it onto television sets and an increasing number of companies that provide movies, TV shows and original content via broadband rather than broadcast, viewers are headed for uncharted territory, the executives agreed.
"The explosion of online video has just begun,'' said Ted Sarandos, who acquires movies and TV shows for Netflix. Read my full story in Wednesday's Miami Herald.
It won't be the most colossal sale made this week at the Fontainebleau. But it surely tells you everything you need to know about this week's convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives, where 5,000 members of the boob-tube-ousie are gathering to wheel and deal TV shows.
"I'm not going to tell you the name of the country,'' says Stephen J. Davis, president of Hasbro Studios, which makes family and children's shows such as The Transformers. ``But my head of sales came bursting into my office. `This is great! They want to buy everything we have! And they want to pay $55 an episode!'
"And we're going to do it, even though what they're paying us won't cover the cost of shipping the shows. Because you want to get a toehold in that market.''
From $55-a-show blue-plate specials to staggering intercontinental deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, practically everything you've ever seen on television plus much more that you haven't is on sale at the three-day NATPE convention that kicks off Monday.
Though NATPE also includes educational sessions, professional seminars and just-plain-stargazing interludes with people such as Regis Philbin and Sabado Gigante's Don Francisco, the convention has less to do with art than with the art of the deal. NATPE is the television industry's most bustling international marketplace. Producers, network executives and TV-station bosses from all over the world will be schmoozing and selling shows. And as with that Hasbro deal that Davis hopes to seal here, no market is too small.
"We have meetings each half hour, all over the hotel,'' says Marta Sacasa, vice president of a Nicaraguan station, who expects to take a dozen or so shows home with her to the smallest TV market in Central America. "We have meetings at breakfast, meetings at lunch, meetings at dinner, meetings over drinks. And then there are the random meetings in corridors, which might be the most important of them all.'' Read my full story on NATPE wheeling and dealing in Monday's Miami Herald.
Archer (10 p.m. Thursday, FX) Returning for a second season, this animated spy spoof is pee-in-your- pants hilarious. If these venal, hypersexed and dumbfoundingly stupid spies were actually running U.S. intelligence - well, things probably wouldn't be all that different, except a lot funnier.
Selling The Girl Next Door (8 p.m. Sunday, CNN) Reporter Amber Lynn went undercover as a prospective hooker to do this sobering report on teenage prostitution, which by some accounts involves hundreds of thousands of girls under the age of 18.
American Experience: Panama Canal (9 p.m. Monday, WPBT-PBS 2) The Panama Canal, completed in 1914 after a disastrous French attempt to build it failed, was the greatest engineering marvel in U.S. history until the space program came along. But it exacted a terrible price in lives and dollars, as this documentary recounts.
Note: Days and times for PBS shows are for the Miami area, and may differ elsewhere.
Let me program your TiVo! Just click on my best bets for the week at www.tivo.com.
With heroic disdain for cheap reality shows and tawdry sexcoms, a big television network schedules a dramatic miniseries that takes a critical look at a popular presidency. Rapacious corporate interests intervene, pressuring the network to cancel it. What happens next?
Well, if the popular president is named Reagan, then America's political progressives revolt against censorship, insisting that the marketplace of ideas can't be ravaged by megacorporate leviathans. Another network steps up -- the series airs! The First Amendment triumphs!
But if the popular president is named Kennedy, the story ends differently. Very differently. Suppression of political criticism becomes corporate good citizenship. Other networks sniff that the show just isn't right for them. And progressives triumphantly take to the Internet to brag about their role in ideological repression: ``We Won! Thanks to you The History Channel has canceled The Kennedys miniseries!''
The Kennedys reportedly is harshly critical of the political dynasty, taking a tough look at the way patriarch Joe Kennedy used his bootlegging wealth to buy influence as well as the compulsive womanizing of his presidential son, John. I say ``reportedly'' because we haven't seen it and perhaps never will.
The show -- developed by Joel Surnow, who produced the hit series 24 -- with a heavy-hitter cast led by Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear was canceled by The History Channel this month before a single one of its eight episodes aired. Not because it was crummy: The History Channel admitted in a statement on the cancellation that "the film is produced and acted with the highest quality.'' The problem, the network said, was that "this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.
If you're wondering why a TV network would sink $25 million into a show, reviewing scripts and daily shooting for 13 months before deciding that it's "not a fit,'' let me suggest a couple of reasons.... Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.
In a fit of pique after discovering that his seedy townhouse is haunted, Josh rather pointedly suggests that Sally the ghost go rattle her chains elsewhere. She dismisses the idea and adds that Josh, a werewolf, and his roommate Aidan, a vampire, ought to be just a little bit more tolerant of metaphysical diversity. Shocked, Josh demands to know who told their secrets. Oh please, retorts Sally with a roll of her phantasmagoric eyes: “It’s all you ever talk about!”
True enough. Being Human, Syfy’s remake of a British comic drama about three supernatural roommates, is a bit like a Jerry Springer episode in which all the guests are lycanthropes or bloodsuckers: endless whiny psychobabble about spectral victimization, punctuated by the occasional bout of furniture smashing or throat tearing. I’m not one of those critics who thinks that the BBC is the world’s last refuge from the vulgarian cancer of American television. But possibly for the first time since we threw all that damn tea in the harbor, the Brits are right and the colonists wrong.
At least as disappointing as Being Human is NBC’s sketchy legal drama Harry’s Law. Though produced by David E. Kelley, who created Boston Legal, The Practice and Ally McBeal, Harry’s Law offers not even a hint that it’s written by someone who knows anything about either courtrooms or TV drama. Read my full Miami Herald reviews.
A. “That’s a question we asked ourselves,” says Mark Stern, one of the top programming bosses at the Syfy cable channel. “That’s a question we asked ourselves a lot.” And when Syfy’s version of the hit British show Being Human debuts Monday, we’ll see what the answer was.
Hollywood has been pumping out Americanized remakes of successful British programs since NBC hijacked the groundbreaking satirical revue That Was The Week That Was in 1964. The singing casino magnates of CBS’ Viva Laughlin!, the time-traveling cops of ABC’s Life on Mars, the clueless white-collar drudges of NBC’s The Office: All were adapted from originals on the London telly.
But all those shows had either never been seen in the United States or had completed brief and little-noted runs on BBC America. Being Human, a drama about supernatural outsiders craving a return to human existence, is a whole different kettle of creatures. The British version racked up some of the largest audiences in the network’s history when it aired on BBA America in 2009 and 2010. A third season (the British show is still in production) is coming later this year.
None of that fazes Syfy executives or the creative team they assembled to re-do the show.
“It’s somewhat unconventional to remake a show that fans and audiences already love, especially, when that show is still on the air,” says Stern, Syfy’s executive vice president for original content. “And we love the British version, too. But from the first moment we saw it, we thought there was a real opportunity to take what those guys had done, Americanize it, give it more scope and explore its world more deeply. . . .
“As we get deeper and deeper into the season, we think the two versions are going to feel more like cousins, complementary but not echoes.” Read the rest of my story on how Syfy adapted Being Human for American audiences in Sunday's Herald.