Thursday May 30, 2019

The NBA Finals begin on ABC tonight.

I watched the 1st episode of NBC’s Songland last night and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not a singing competition like The Voice or American Idol. Rather, a handful of aspiring songwriters perform for a trio of accomplished music producers and one artist (episode 1 featured John Legend). The artist selects his 3 favorite songs and each of the writers is assigned to a producer for some fine tuning. The writers return to perform an updated version, the artist selects one winner and records that writers’ song. Here is the track that Legend chose on episode one. Here’s the song he recorded.

Netflix has released the official trailer for Mr. Iglesias, which available to stream on June 21.

CBS “will air the entire first season of The Good Fight starting at June 16The Good Wife spinoff starring Christine Baranski from creators Robert and Michelle King had been available only on the CBS All Access SVOD service. It will mark the time a CBS All Access show has aired on the broadcast network since the Star Trek: Discovery premiere in September 2017.”

“Hulu sells an ad-free version of its streaming service, just like Netflix. But the majority of Hulu subscribers are on the $5.99-per-month ad-supported plan, which is half the price of the $11.99 no-commercials version. Hulu has previously disclosed subscriber numbers — announcing 28 million customer accounts earlier this month — but hasn’t broken those out by plan type. Now Hulu, which in the past month became fully ensconced under Disney’s wing, has provided some context around the size of its audience base. Overall, it has 82 million viewers (meaning there’s an average of 2.9 viewers per Hulu account). And of those, about 70%, or 58 million, are on the ad-supported plan, according to Peter Naylor, senior VP, head of advertising sales, citing comScore estimates. Hulu’s ad business is a significant source of revenue, generating almost $1.5 billion in ad revenue in 2018. To that end, Hulu strives to make the way it presents advertising is viewer-friendly — otherwise it risks pushing those subscribers to the zero-advertising tier or losing them altogether, said Naylor, speaking Wednesday at VideoNuze’s Video Advertising Summit in New York.”

The CBS board is preparing for merger talks with Viacom, people familiar with situation said. The long-anticipated talks between the two companies controlled by the Redstone family’s National Amusements are expected to begin in mid-June, though discussions could begin even sooner, the sources said. Viacom CEO Robert Bakish would likely run the combined entity. Though no talks have occurred, Shari Redstone, vice chairwoman of CBS and Viacom, has long been in favor of marrying the two as the former looks to bulk up its balance sheet. The added size would likely help CBS compete for National Football League broadcast rights against big technology companies like Amazon and Facebook. National Amusements has twice tried but failed to combine the media companies. Should the tie-up ultimately occur, National Amusements would likely pivot to a second deal, people familiar with the matter told CNBC earlier this year.”

Why do so many people allegedly owe 50 Cent money?

A sneak peak and John Taffer and Paramount Network’s new show Marriage Rescue.

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “Adam Levine’s apparent desire to exit The Voice after 16 seasons is no shocker. It was the news of his departure dropping Friday, just two weeks after NBC confirmed plans for his fall return, that raised eyebrows around Hollywood and beyond.

“To be sure, Levine’s departure was not planned. The Maroon 5 frontman actually had signed on to appear in two more cycles of The Voice, seasons 17 and 18, but he is said to have grown increasingly anxious in recent weeks to move on. Following that urge came at a remarkably high cost. Sources paint Levine’s most recent per-season salary for The Voice at north of $14 million, meaning the deal would have given him close to another $30 million.

“Appearing on any reality TV competition with such a rigorous schedule comes at a personal cost. The 40-year-old singer devoted much of the past decade to NBC’s enduring hit, which has been considered pivotal in the network’s ratings turnaround from last to first place. But because The Voice audition rounds entail long shoots and substantial edits, and the live shows stretch out over weeks, the payout doesn’t appear quite as efficient as some of the more recent reality talent deals. Stars like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (Titan Games) or Alec Baldwin (Match Game) can make more than $1 million in a day, knocking out multiple episodes, for as much as $450,000 a pop, in one afternoon. 

“That doesn’t include touring and recording, both of which are lucrative endeavors for the singer. Such pop stars as Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus and Pharrell Williams have cycled through as Voice coaches while Levine and Blake Shelton have remained the only constants on the show (along with Host Carson Daly). 

“Much has been written about Levine’s noticeably unenthusiastic appearance at NBCUniversal’s May 13 upfront presentation at New York’s Radio City Music Hall — where he looked sullen next to more buoyant colleagues Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Shelton — and the role it may have played in his departure. But reports of the upfront performance angering his NBC bosses are said to be overblown. (It was hardly the only time in history, or even that week, that talent pouted their way through an appearance for advertisers.)

“So while Levine’s decision to break loose after agreeing to a new deal took many by surprise, multiple sources close to matter describe it as an "amicable" parting — not that there was much time for acrimony. Word of Levine’s departure, broken by The Voice host Carson Daly on NBC’s Today and confirmed by Levine on Instagram, played out almost simultaneously in the press as it did with The Voice studios Warner Horizon Television and MGM Television.

“NBCUniversal is uniquely motivated to maintain good relations with Levine. After all, his work at NBC doesn’t end with The Voice. Just four days after announcing his exit, his new music competition show, Songland, premiered to solid first-run sampling: a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49 and nearly 6 million viewers. Levine doesn’t appear in Songland, but he is executive producing the new series and has been (and will continue to be) involved in its promotion. Network execs have been hot on the project since ordering it in 2018 — one, it’s worth noting, is produced in-house by Universal Television Alternative Studio, unlike The Voice.

Songland, like forthcoming NBC alternative series The Playlist, may ultimately play a bigger role in the network’s musical future than The Voice. After 333 episodes, each of which Levine is credited in appearing alongside Shelton, the series' ratings erosion is undeniably steady. Out of broadcast’s Top 20 for the first time since it premiered in 2011, The Voice’s marquee Monday telecast wrapped the 2018-19 season down 20 percent — ranking below Big Four reality shows America's Got TalentThe Masked SingerThe Bachelor and even Survivor with a 2.1 rating in the key demo.”

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Per Deadline, “Mark Wahlberg’s Unrealistic Ideas and Peter Berg’s Film 45 have set a multi-series partnership with rising sports streaming outlet DAZN.

“The pair, both avid boxing fans, are beginning the venture by teaming for an edition of DAZN’s 40 Days that is pegged to Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin’s fight with Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden on June 8. The show, which launched earlier this year as a core franchise offering behind-the-scenes looks, this time will zero in on the lead-up to the bout, which is Golovkin’s debut on DAZN.

“The actor and director are frequent collaborators, occasionally focusing on boxing in their work. In 2010, Wahlberg starred in and produced multiple Oscar nominee The Fighter. In 2012, Berg’s Film 45 directed and produced the On Freddie Roach boxing docu-series on HBO.

“Follow docs are sports media mainstays, especially with the rise of digital video — think 24/7 or Hard Knocks or Tom Vs. Time. But 40 Days, which is named for the eight Monday-to-Friday weeks of training for a boxing match, is aiming to give the series a bit more flair, with individual episodes and series being directed by different filmmakers. The series has previously featured collaborations between LeBron James and Maverick Carter as well as Meek Mill and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

“DAZN, which is being led by former ESPN president John Skipper, recently launched in the U.S. after successfully bringing soccer, basketball and ring sports to fans in Europe and elsewhere.

“‘As a longtime boxing fan, I am excited to be partnering with DAZN to highlight Gennadiy and his unique approach leading up to a fight,’ Wahlberg said.

“For Golovkin, the former middleweight world champion, the fight will be Golovkin’s first time back in the ring after a controversial decision loss to Canelo Alvarez last fall. GGG Promotions and DAZN recently announced a six-fight global partnership that will see Golovkin fight the remainder of his career on the streaming platform.

“‘It takes a lot of hard work to put on the Big Drama Show,’ said Golovkin. ‘40 Days was in training camp from start to finish. Boxing fans will see it all, as Johnathon Banks and I prepare for war at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden.’

“Jamie Horowitz, EVP Content DAZN North America, said the idea for the Wahlberg-Berg project came quickly. ‘When we visited GGG at his camp in Big Bear, we asked him whom he thought would best tell his story — he immediately asked for Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg,’ Horowitz said.

“Additional projects in the long-term relationship among DAZN, Unrealistic Ideas and Film 45 and DAZN will be announced in the coming months.”

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From Variety: “When asked to join a second season of Big Little Lies, Meryl Streep didn’t hesitate.

“‘[My agents] asked me, “don’t you want to read it?” And I said no,’ the actor laughed, sitting alongside her co-stars Wednesday at the Wing Soho in New York City. ‘The first season was the greatest thing on television.’

“In a conversation moderated by Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, Streep joined stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern hours before their season 2 premiere to discuss their experiences with the celebrated HBO drama and why they were so determined to bring it back. (Co-stars Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz were unable to attend, but Witherspoon enthused about Kravitz’s character getting to explore her relationship with her mother, played by Crystal Fox, while Streep gushed that ‘Shailene is just a miracle in this.’)

“‘You get to explore [the characters] and the consequences on a deeper level,’ said Kidman of the decision to continue after the climactic finale, which coincided with the end of Liane Moriarty’s novel and was originally meant to end the series. ‘You see their lives unfold in a much deeper way.’

“Another big part of the decision to return was the huge reaction the show received. ‘The year at the Golden Globes when Oprah gave that incredible speech…and we were able to go up there and talk about this show was truly one of the greatest moments of my life and career,’ Witherspoon said. Plus, as they all agreed, Big Little Lies represented a rare treat in their careers when they got to collaborate with many women rather than be the sole female voice on set; the fact that they even get along well enough to have an ongoing group chat is a bonus. (While they wouldn’t reveal the content of their conversations, Kidman at least allowed that she’s the most enthusiastic emoji user, while Witherspoon said that she ‘likes a gif.’)

“Still, Dern admitted that the wide reach of Big Little Lies surprised her. ‘In my narrow-minded perception, and perhaps cellular perception that comes with some sexism, I thought, ‘well, women will watch the show.’ Which is not okay!’ she exclaimed. ‘Because men loved the show! Frat boys love the show, teenagers loved the show. We all want authentic stories.’

“In that respect, Streep continually emphasized her appreciation for Witherspoon and Kidman banding together to get Big Little Lies made in the first place. ‘I am of a generation that waited to be asked to dance,’ Streep said, ‘but I’m so admiring of you for getting out in front of stuff, for being on the balls of your feet, for seeking out material.’

“The cast also discussed the impact of how the series tackled domestic violence, a purposeful turn given that the Wing talk was presented in partnership The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). After playing her character Celeste, who was abused by her husband (Alexander Skarsgaard), Kidman says she has become much more aware of the realities of domestic violence and was ‘suddenly able to hear the stories and be a voice for a lot of those stories.’ Still, she didn’t want Celeste to get past her trauma too quickly in the second season. ‘I was adamant that she wasn’t a superhero,’ Kidman said. ‘You’re going to see her navigating that path.’

“Above all, everyone agreed, the best part about making a second season of Big Little Lies was the opportunity to dig deeper into the lives of (as Streep put it) ‘very complicated, flawed, hysterically funny but tragic women.’

“‘For all of our lives as little girls, we grew up reading all the books that had male protagonists…we spent all our lives living through [them],’ Streep said (adding later that she never wanted to be ‘Wendy or Tink….I wanted to be Peter Pan!’).

“‘The hardest thing is getting men to watch a story where they put themselves in the bodies of protagonists who are female,’ Streep continued. ‘It’s almost an impenetrable act of imagination for any men. [But] Big Little Lies crossed over. They could feel what you felt. That’s an amazing gift to humanity.’”

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Per Deadline, “[m]ental illness is starting to come out of the shadows for professional athletes, as more and more well-known players and Olympians have come forward to talk about their struggles.

“The latest is former Laker Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest), who famously thanked his psychotherapist during the 2010 Lakers championship celebration. His journey will be portrayed in the Showtime documentary Quiet Storm:The Ron Artest Story,” airing May 31 on the network.

“Artest had anger management issues. He will always be known for a scary incident In 2004, when, playing for the Indiana Pacers, he entered the stands and fought a fan after someone lobbed a soda at him. The so-called Malice at the Palace brawl led to an 86-game suspension, $5 million fine, and almost cost him his career.

“‘I just don’t think people know the whole story,’ World Peace told the NY Post in an interview. ‘The reason I was how I was is because things that happened in my life.’

“Artest grew up in a housing project plagued by drug dealing in the height of the crack era. His parents divorced when he was 13 and the family apartment was destroyed by a fire.

“Several teams tried to get him help for his problems, he claims. But ‘In 1999, you weren’t trying to go out and say, “Hey, I am seeing a therapist,”’ he said. ‘I was such a big talent. Usually people who have antics like myself, they just get rid of them.’

“The documentary features interviews with Kobe Bryant and other former World Peace teammates. The subject claims he’s yet to see it, but won’t stress about any negative portrayals. ‘I don’t have much to be stressed out about these days.’”

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If you didn’t already have disdain for three-letter agencies enough, there’s this (that’s Ari Emanuel shaking hands with POTUS above): “In order to move toward its long-awaited IPO, Endeavor has had to reveal a trove of financial information, including the pay packages for Ari Emanuel, Patrick Whitesell and other executives, as well as extensive details about its financial performance.

“The 387-page SEC filing dropped late last week by Endeavor Group Holdings offers the first look inside a central — but, until now, highly secretive — component of the entertainment sector.

“Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the document is the sense of how far Endeavor has expanded beyond its traditional agency roots. Ten years ago, it pulled off a mega-merger with William Morris, ushering in a new era for talent representation. The decade since has seen it acquire the UFC, IMG, the Professional Bull Riders tour and streaming provider NeuLion, entering fashion, food, fine art, sports and, most controversially in Hollywood circles, the realm of content production.

“Emanuel, the 58-year-old CEO, and Whitesell, the 54-year-old executive chairman, have been the main drivers of this evolution, and their eventual compensation will reflect it.

“In 2018, Emanuel made $5.3 million and Whitesell $5.1 million, according to the filing, with base salaries of $1 million apiece. When the IPO happens, likely in the next couple of months if market conditions permit, each stands to gain handsomely. The offering is targeting a valuation in the range of $10 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Because the stock is not yet trading, pinpointing their paydays is difficult, but the prospectus offers figures based on certain statistical models that suggest both executives are in line for $85.1 million based on unvested equity awards.

“President Mark Shapiro, 49, made $10.3 million in 2018, including a base salary of $3 million. CFO Jason Lublin topped the management team in 2018 with a total pay package of $15.2 million, the majority of which came in the form of an equity award. Chief Legal Officer Seth Krauss collected $5.1 million.

“The company reported having $4.6 billion in long-term debt in the quarter ending March 31. Questions about debt obligations and private equity ownership have followed the company in recent years as it has transformed itself. Starting in 2012, Silver Lake Partners has invested $700 million in Endeavor, accruing a large stake described as a ‘significant minority’ position, but not a majority holding. Japan’s Softbank also owns 5%.

“Both companies can legally cash out six months after the offering, which could bring them handsome returns. Silver Lake, though, is known for placing longer-term bets.

“The contracts of Emanuel and Whitesell were extended in March, and both of their base salaries were boosted to $4 million. Originally set to expire in May 2024, their contracts now run through the end of 2028. Shapiro’s latest contract runs through the end of 2021, and includes a ‘stay bonus’ of $6 million.

“The company’s revenue mix has increasingly favored the Entertainment & Sports segment, which includes assets spanning sports, events, food and fashion. Of the company’s $3.6 billion in total 2018 revenue, $2.3 billion comes from Entertainment & Sports. The Representation unit brought in $1.3 billion in revenue in 2018. Endeavor X, the company’s digital portfolio of streaming services and early-stage investments, added $66.5 million.

“The current impasse with the Writers Guild of America — acknowledged by the company in the opening pages of the prospectus — hinges on the pushback from clients at the idea of Endeavor essentially negotiating against itself. As a producer, distributor and licensor of content, the company also represents talent.

“‘Media production, distribution and content’ generated some $551 million in revenue, with $200.4 million of that going toward Entertainment & Sports and $284.7 million counting toward Representation. The company did not break out what piece of that is contributed by Endeavor Content, which launched in 2017 to produce as well as offering financing, advisory and sales services.

“Net profitability has been achieved, according to the document. The company said it swung from losses of $98.3 million in 2016 and $173.2 million in 2017 to net income of $231.3 million in 2018. EBITDA reached $551 million in 2018. Total revenue last year rose 20%, after a 27% gain from 2016 to 2017. About 70% of revenue is in the U.S., with 93% of it recognized in the U.S. and UK.

“The company leases office space in six U.S. cities as well as London and has a head count of 7,000. ‘We believe that our relations with our employees are good,’ the company declares in the prospectus.

“Along with the five executive officers of Endeavor, directors of the company will include two Silver Lake executives. Egon Durban will remain Endeavor’s board chairman, as he has been since 2014, and Stephen Evans will sit on the board. The lone independent director as of the offering will be James Kahan, 72, a retired executive who led AT&T’s M&A team as the company rose from the ashes and grew from the former Southwestern Bell into today’s telecom giant. Two more independent directors will be nominated to the board within the first year after the offering.

“This wouldn’t be a Hollywood affair without at least a passing reference to a corporate jet. While the cost of personal travel, per the prospectus, is fully reimbursed by officers of the company, they do occasionally fly guests on the company plane and incur ‘incremental’ costs for such travel.

“Emanuel’s guests ran up a tab of $187,650, while Whitesell’s came to $74,244. Shapiro’s guest flights amounted to a lunch check in comparison, totaling a mere $6,186.”