October 19, 2017
In this week's edition:
• Star Struck
In the news
Netflix revealed its third-quarter results, with global streaming revenue rising by 33 percent to $2.9 billion and 5.3 million new members. Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios and global content at Amazon Video, was put on a leave of absence (and ultimately resigned) following harassment claims that came in the midst of numerous sexual misconduct accusations against producer Harvey Weinstein. Speaking of which, The Weinstein Company confirmed that it is in talks with Colony Capital for a potential sale of all or a significant portion of its assets. NBCU and Snap Inc. are joining forces to form a new digital content studio, which will create made-for-mobile programming. In acquisitions news, Lagardère Studios is buying into Finnish producer Aito Media Group, while Kew Media Group is picking up a stake in London-based Awesome Media & Entertainment. World Screen Trendsetter Awards were presented in Cannes, following the Acquisition Superpanel. Look for a full recap of all the MIPCOM headline-making news in next week’s World Screen Weekly.
Elizabeth Guider investigates how platforms and producers are attracting top-end talent in an era of peak TV.
Keri Russell was riveting last season as a Russian sleeper spy in The Americans, with her co-star Matthew Rhys the one training the camera on her as director; Designated Survivor might not have bottled that subtle but insistent suspense if Kiefer Sutherland weren’t on both sides of the camera; Atlanta wouldn’t give off that thumping inner-city vibe if actor-creator-rapper Donald Glover hadn’t turned storytelling expectations on their heads, even reconfiguring what a writers’ room ought to look like and filling it with people new to the entire concept.
By some standards, the global television business is being disrupted as never before, but to the stars in front of the camera the disruption brings a golden age of opportunity. There is opportunity not only to pick and choose among proliferating acting gigs but also to take on challenges behind the camera.
“There’s gigantic competition to get top stars for all these shows being made today,” says Morgan Wandell, the head of international series at Amazon Studios. “If an actor brings a project that he or she is passionate about, then naturally we consider that. We want to work with all talent that can help us stand out.”
Thus, if ever there were a moment for small-screen stars to stretch themselves as producers, directors and writers, it is now. By doing it well and consistently, they can bolster their brand, enhance their skill set, shape the narrative, exercise their clout to get projects made and renewed—and pocket a bit more money in the process.
And it’s not only white males in their 40s taking advantage of this. Increasingly, women and minorities—from Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts, Lena Dunham and Gina Rodriguez on the one hand to David Oyelowo, Idris Elba and the above-mentioned Glover on the other—are seizing the chance to pitch projects, tweak scripts or otherwise impact the tone and direction of traditional TV series by moving behind the camera or into the writers’ room.
Some A-listers have even taken a more ambitious and sustained approach by hanging out their own banners and backing projects, some of which they do not appear in as actors themselves.
What’s driving this accelerated move? In an ever-expanding media universe, almost 500 scripted productions are either shooting or in development every year in Hollywood, and small-screen efforts at fiction are proliferating around the world as well.
This article continues here.
TV Kids Guide &
TV Drama Guide
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