Rashida Jones & David Oyelowo Join Apple TV+ Dystopian Drama Series ‘Wool’

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September 22, 2021 1:00pm

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Rashida Jones and David Oyelowo are the latest big names to join Wool, the series adaptation of Hugh Howey’s dystopian novels for Apple TV+.

They join Tim Robbins and Rebecca Ferguson in the series from writer Graham Yost and director Morten Tyldum and AMC Studios.

Wool is a set in a ruined and toxic future where a community exists in a giant underground silo, hundreds of stories deep. There, men and women live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them.

2020-21 Apple TV Pilots & Series Orders

Selma star Oyelowo will play Holston, the Silo’s sheriff, while BlackAF star Jones will play Allison, his wife who works at IT.

Wool is executive produced by Ferguson, Yost and Tyldum, alongside author Howey. Remi Aubuchon, Nina Jack and Ingrid Escajeda also serve as executive producers on the drama.

Jones is repped by United Talent Agency, Schreck Rose, and Oyelowo is repped by CAA, Hamilton Hodell and Del Shaw Moonves.

‘Ella Minnow Pea’: Heather Hemmens To Helm Adaptation Of Mark Dunn’s YA Novel In Feature Debut

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September 22, 2021 12:50pm

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EXCLUSIVEHeather Hemmens (Roswell, New Mexico) is set to make her feature directorial debut with Ella Minnow Pea, a YA film based on the novel by Mark Dunn, for Gold Leaf Films.

Published in the U.S. in 2002 via MacAdam/Cage, the book centers on Ella, a young woman living happily on the island-nation of Nollop—many miles off the coast of South Carolina—until she’s forced to save her friends, family, and fellow citizens from the encroaching totalitarianism of the island’s Council.

Tom Morash penned the script, and Hemmens will produce alongside Megan Jordan (Black Monday) and M. Elizabeth Hughes (Short Term 12).

Hemmens is an actress, director and producer who recently helmed an episode of Roswell, New Mexico, The CW series in which she also stars. She was accepted to the DGA Episodic Director’s Program after helming the festival shorts Designated and Perils of an Active Mind.

On Roswell, from Warner Bros. and Amblin Television, Hemmens plays the series regular role of Maria Deluca. Other recent credits on the acting side include Netflix’s Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!, in which she stars opposite Jamie Foxx, and a recurring role on Paramount Network’s Kevin Costner starrer Yellowstone.

Hemmens is represented by Brave Artists Management.

‘SNL’: Owen Wilson, Kim Kardashian West, Rami Malek & Jason Sudeikis Set As Season 47 Opening Hosts

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September 22, 2021 12:30pm

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Saturday Night Live returns on October 2 with four consecutive shows on NBC.

While we don’t yet know who is returning to the cast or which fresh new faces are being given a chance, we now know who will be fronnting these shows.

Owen Wilson, Kim Kardashian West, Rami Malek and Jason Sudeikis are set as the four opening hosts, with Kacey Musgraves, Halsey, Young Thug and Brandi Carlile set as the respective musical guests.

Wilson kicks off the season on October 2, followed by Kardashian West on October 9, Malek on October 16 and Sudeikis hosts on October 23.

It marks the first time hosting for all four.

Creator and exec producer Lorne Michaels teased Sudeikis’ appearance during the Emmys at the weekend. The Ted Lasso star was a writer, featured player and repertory player on SNL between 2003-13 and played Joe Biden during the 2019-20 season.

Wilson has appeared as his Zoolander character Hansel alongside Ben Stiller in 2016 but previously told Kevin Nealon that he panicked when being asked to do public speaking.

Kardashian West, who was spotted dining with Michaels over the summer, and Malek have both been lampooned on the show.

The series will air live on NBC as well as Peacock. It is produced in association with Broadway Video.

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel Says Talent Is “Getting Paid Very, Very Well” With Streaming Settlements

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September 21, 2021 2:17pm

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Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel never brought up the name Scarlett Johansson, whose challenge to Disney alongside her reps at rival CAA has riled the industry. But in a virtual appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communcacopia Conference, the exec said talent is “getting paid very, very well” despite massive shifts in windows.

“Netflix started this,” Emanuel noted. In the movie business, “about 10% of the movies that went out [theatrically] hit the talent’s back end, meaning the profit participation.” Once Netflix bought out talents’ back end, “the pie was no longer 10%. It was 100%.”

When Warner Bros put its entire 2021 release slate on HBO Max at the same time it debuted in theaters, WarnerMedia paid out $200 million in back end, Emanuel said. (WarnerMedia and parent AT&T has never publicly disclosed a figure, but Emanuel’s number was north of the $180 million that’s been reported.)

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Through Endeavor’s WME agency division, “we negotiated those deals throughout the process, and clients made a lot of money — again, without having to bet that they hit the back ends,” Emanuel continued. Disney, he added, has “done the right thing by talent because they need talent” in order to further its streaming ambitions.

WME has “created a formula” depending on whether theatrical or other windows are in the mix, the CEO added, without offering specifics. “Talent is getting paid throughout this process, and they’re getting paid very, very well,” he said. On the television side, he said, the surge in streaming entities on the hunt for quality series has given talent “massive leverage” in negotiating deals.

Johansson would beg to differ. After Black Widow was released both theatrically and as a Premier Access streaming title, she says her contract was violated when grosses underperformed, slashing her gross participation. In a response, Disney disclosed her base compensation of $20 million and accused her of being insensitive to world suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Emanuel characterized Endeavor, which went public last spring, as a diversified media and entertainment firm, and the 40-minute session reflected that. Ample attention was paid to the company’s UFC and events businesses.

On UFC, which Endeavor now fully controls, Emanuel said, “We love our relationship with Disney,” calling ESPN (where UFC has a multi-year deal through 2023) “the Mecca.” The rise in sports rights valuations across the board bodes well for the UFC. “I’m not nervous about where we’re going to end up,” the executive said. “Now, you’re seeing the streamers come into it, so I’m feeling very good about where we sit.”

‘New-Gen’: Henry Rollins Joins Voice Cast Of Animated Series As Deadalus

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September 21, 2021 2:05pm

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EXCLUSIVE: Punk rock musician Henry Rollins has joined the voice cast of New-Gen, an animated series based on the Marvel comic book series by J.D. Matonti, Chris Matonti and Julia Coppola of A.P.N.G. Enterprises. He joins Lena Headey, Luke Wilson, Anya Chalotra Finn Wolfhard and Nick Wolfhard.

Co-created by Matoni and showrun by Brent New-Gen follows twin brothers and nanotech-enhanced superheroes (Finn Wolfhard and brother Nick Wolfhard are the voices) as they work to save the world of New-Gen from destructive war. The futuristic utopia of scientific and mechanical wonders seeks to balance nature and technology, weaving together an ecologically sustainable paradise. Its existence becomes threatened by a nanotech war and heroes from Earth and NEW-GEN are called to defeat the encroaching evil.

Rollins will voice Deadalus, the series’ villain. Deadalus is a nanotech-scientist who was banished from the titular utopia.

Also a spoken word poe, actor, author and DJ, Rollins’ previous acting credits include Netflix’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Z Nation, Con Man, The Legend of Korra and Adventure Time. He has also appeared in Sons of Anarchy, Deadly Class and Portlandia. Beyond television Rollins hosts a weekly radio show for L.A.’s KCRW station. He previously anchored shows for IFC and National Geographic and hosted H2’s 10 Things You Don’t Know About.

In 2014, Henry received the prestigious Ray Bradbury Creativity Award in recognition for his lifelong contribution to the arts, his passion for social activism, as well as his intense passion for the importance of maintaining books and libraries.

He is repped by CAA.

Meredith Stiehm Elected President Of WGA West

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September 21, 2021 1:56pm

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WGA West

Meredith Stiehm, running unopposed, has been elected president of the WGA West, becoming only the third woman to ever hold the guild’s top elected office.

Stiehm, who executive produced Homeland and Cold Case, was a member of the guild’s board of directors and was one of the eight named plaintiffs in the WGA’s historic legal battle that reshaped the talent agency business. She succeeds David A. Goodman as president.

With her election, the WGA West, the DGA and SAG-AFTRA for the first time ever all have female presidents. Fran Drescher was elected president of SAG-AFTRA this month, becoming its fifth female president, and Lesli Linka Glatter was elected president of the DGA on Saturday, becoming only the second woman to hold that post.

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WGA West

Mulroney
WGA West

In the WGA West elections, Michele Mulroney was elected vice president, and Betsy Thomas was elected secretary-treasurer, with both running unopposed. It marks the first time in the guild’s history that all three of its top elected posts are held by women. Mulroney, whose writing credits include Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, was the guild’s secretary-treasurer, and Thomas, who wrote for Superior Donuts and My Boys, served on the board of directors.

A total of 2,975 valid ballots were cast. Stiehm received 2,674 votes; Mulroney got 2,686, and Thomas received 2,701.

Eight members were elected or re-elected to the board of directors. Incumbent Liz Alper was the top vote-getter in the board race with 2,101 votes, followed by incumbents Nicole Yorkin (1,768) and Zoe Marshall (1,717). Other winners include Marjorie David (1,634), incumbent Dante W. Harper (1,609), Dailyn Rodriguez (1,551), incumbent Robb Chavis (1,448), and Adam Conover (1,379). They were elected to two-year terms. The 10th-place finisher, with 1,246 votes, E. Nicholas Mariani, was elected for a one-year term to fill the vacancy created by Thomas’ election as secretary-treasurer.

“It is an honor to serve the membership as WGAW President,” Stiehm said. “I look forward to working with Michele, Betsy, and the Board of Directors to advance an agenda that builds on the progress our union has made for writers and addresses the challenges we face in our creative and economic lives.”

WBTV Women Creators On Telling Immigration Stories And Tackling Crossovers

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September 21, 2021 1:55pm

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(Top L-R) Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Caroline Dries, Maria Ferrari, (Bottom L-R) Molly Smith Metzler, Audrey Morrissey and Gina Yashere
CTAM

WBTV hosted a panel with top women creators as part of its CTAM presentation on Tuesday where they shared insight into their writer’s rooms and how they’re tackling immigration storylines as the real world evolves.

“There’s quite a lot of me in this show,” revealed Gina Yashere, co-executive producer, co-creator, and actor on CBS’ Bob Hearts Abishola. “A lot of this story is based on my parents’ story; both emigrated to England from Nigeria where there was racism, misogyny, and all those kinds of things— which also happens all over the world. It’s just a story about love and their triumphs raising their kids in another country. Bob Hearts Abishola is the coming together of two families from different cultures finding commonality, love, and inclusion.”

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For Maria Ferrari, the situation in Afghanistan prompted her and her team to make important changes on CBS’ United States of Al for the comedy’s sophomore turn.

“We had shot one and a half episodes during the week of the fall of Kabul and quickly realized that we had guessed wrong about what was going to happen. We had to adjust our plans,” Ferrari, who serves as co-Executive Producer and co-Creator of the series shared.

“On Aug. 12 when Herat fell, the third biggest city in Afghanistan which had a very Anti-Taliban stronghold, that’s when our writers started to feel that something big was going to change and they needed to get their own families out of Afghanistan. We had to stick a pin in everything and focus first on our people who needed to get their families out—which was the wildest thing in my life. I had never experienced anything like that. At the same time, we were realizing that we needed to change everything we had done quickly. So we chose to tell that story in the premiere, hoping that some of the fear and urgency we were feeling in that room would come through in the story.”

Fans of the CW’s All American should not expect much crossover action between the series and its spin-off All American: Homecoming just yet due to COVID restrictions, according to executive producer, Knechi Okoro Carroll.

“You know what? As much as production and COVID will allow us,” she said when asked about the show’s stars jumping back and forth. “A lot of it is out of our hands because I hoped and prayed we wouldn’t still be in the middle of a pandemic, but we are. We’re very much creating a universe. Jordan (Michael Evans Behling) and Simone (Geffri Maya) are still together as people saw in the finale. So, we’re keeping both worlds alive. We definitely do plan on having some crossovers. We’ll be nowhere near as epic as the DC Universe crossover events because that is miraculous! But we’ll definitely see familiar faces popping into the other show.”

And as NBC’s The Voice continues with season 21, executive producer Audrey Morrissey celebrates the return of the audience.

“It’s been really exciting,” Morrisey shared. “We just added back the audience for the first time because we were with a completely remote audience with a lot of careful thought about safety. I know now way too much about droplets and how far they can travel. A lot happened but we decided to bring the audience back because—honestly, at first I was against it because we wanted to be safe and keep the show going. But we did it. Everyone has to be fully vaccinated and had to be tested as well. It’s hard, it’s really, really hard.”

She continued, “When I look at the cuts now, I’m really happy the audience is back. The performers need to feed off an audience.”

Other panelists included were Molly Smith Metzler, executive producer of Maid, and Caroline Dries, executive producer of Batwoman.

‘Reservation Dogs’ Star Devery Jacobs Joins Expanded All Indigenous Writers’ Room For Season 2

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September 21, 2021 1:53pm

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EXCLUSIVE: One day after the Season 1 finale of Reservation Dogs launched on FX on Hulu, the dramady Tuesday opened up its writers’ room for Season 2  – and they’re going large.

Almost doubling in size, the all Indigenous staffed room will also see star Devery Jacobs stepping on the other side of the camera too for the next season.

“She’s made films and it’s something that she’s always wanted,” Reservation Dogs creator Sterlin Harjo tells Deadline of the actress who portrays Elora Danan on the acclaimed dramedy. “I found myself on set, sometimes we would lean on her, like there would be something that Elora Danan was going through and we would go to Devery for the answer and she would give us this very thoughtful answer, the showrunner notes.

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‘Sometimes she would even bring the issue up to us, like you know, something that she felt like Elora wouldn’t do or needed to do, and it was just a really natural fit to bring her into the room,” Harjo says.

(L-R) Bobby Wilson, Migizi Pensoneau, Tazbah Chavez and Tommy Pico
FX

As well as Jacobs joining the writers’ room, Harjo himself will be back along with Season 1 scribes Bobby Wilson, Migizi Pensoneau (who penned the “Satvrday’ S1 finale), Tazbah Chavez, and Tommy Pico. But along with Harjo’s stated vision to “expand” for the show’s second season, the room will be adding an even wider range of voices.

Blackhorse Lowe who was a director on the show, he’s a writer on the show this season,” Harjo states. And you know, Dallas Goldtooth who plays Spirit is going to be in the writer’s room now with Ryan Redcorn, and comedian Chad Charlie. And we have Erica Tremblay who’s a great filmmaker as well, she’s coming into the room.”

(L-R) Erica Tremblay, Dallas Goldtooth, Blackhorse Lowe, Chad Charlie and Ryan RedCorn
FX

“So, it’s very exciting to get all of them, to get this crew. It’s a bunch of friends and you know, as this show sort of expands and we move further into wherever we go, we have some big ideas. I’m just excited to get everyone in the room and get cracking on it.”

Season 2 of Reservation Dogs is expected to launch on FX on Hulu in the second half of 2022.

In the meantime, check out full bios for all of the series’ Season 2 writers below:

STERLIN HARJO
Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muscogee Creek) is an award-winning filmmaker from Holdenville, Oklahoma.

Harjo has directed five feature films: three narrative dramas and two documentaries. His most recent film, Love and Fury, a look at contemporary Native identity and art, premiered at The Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

His most recent narrative feature, the thriller Mekko, premiered at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival and had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Starring Rod Rondeaux and Zahn McClarnon, Mekko follows a homeless parolee in Tulsa as he confronts darkness in his new surroundings and wrestles with his past.

His first feature film, Four Sheets to the Wind, was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007 and won a Special Jury Prize for lead actress Tamara Podemski. Harjo also juried the Sundance short film competition in 2010.

On the television side, Harjo is in development with several series, including Rez Ball with Sydney Freeland for Netflix and Yellow Bird with Erica Tremblay for Paramount+.

Harjo is a founding member of The 1491s, a popular sketch comedy troupe. At the 2019 Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the sketch comedy group premiered Between Two Knees, an intergenerational comedic love story/musical set against the backdrop of true events in Native history. Between Two Knees was co-commissioned by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and New Native Theatre. The play was a bestseller and recorded an average of five walkouts at each intermission.

Harjo currently lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he spends his time making content and raising his amazing children.

MIGIZI PENSONEAU
Migizi Pensoneau (Ponca/Ojibwe) is a writer, producer and founding member of the Native American sketch comedy troupe The 1491s, with whom he co-wrote the hit play Between Two Knees, recently confirmed for production at Yale Repertory Theatre for the spring of 2022. Pensoneau most recently wrote on Barkskins, Two Sentence Horror Stories and wrote and co-produced for season one of Reservation Dogs. He frequently publishes pieces exploring the intersection of Native Americans and popular culture, and his cats are better than your cats.

TAZBAH CHAVEZ
Tazbah Rose Chavez is a performance poet turned director and television writer. Raised in Payahuunadu, Chavez is a citizen of the Bishop Paiute Tribe and comes from the Nüümü, Diné and San Carlos Apache people.

She is a co-executive producer and episodic director on FX’s Reservation Dogs, co-producer on NBCUniversal’s Rutherford Falls and was a staff writer and consultant for SyFy’s Resident Alien.

She has performed her poetry in acclaimed spaces such as the Smithsonian – National Museum of the American Indian, Meow Wolf and the Grand Performances Stage to name a few. She holds a degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA and currently serves as the co-chair of the Native American and Indigenous Writer’s Committee at the Writer’s Guild of America.

BOBBY WILSON
Bobby “Dues” Wilson is a Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota actor, writer, poet, visual artist, and comedian, and a founding member of Indigenous Sketch Comedy group The 1491s. Bobby has appeared as an actor on The Daily Show and What We Do in the Shadows (FX). He has been a writer and actor on Rutherford Falls (Peacock / UniTV) and Reservation Dogs (FX). Bobby is represented by Debbie Deuble-Hill and Jack Leighton at APA, Tom Carter at Artillery Creative, and Matt Wallerstein at Hirsch Wallerstein.

TOMMY PICO
Tommy Pico is a poet, podcaster, and TV writer. He’s authored four collections of poetry, co-hosts the podcasts Food 4 Thot and Scream, Queen! and writes for the shows Reservation Dogs and Resident Alien. Originally from the Viejas reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives and dates in Los Angeles.

ERICA TREMBLAY
Erica Tremblay is an award-winning writer and director from the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. Her short film Little Chief premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Tremblay is a current Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab fellow and in 2021, she was awarded the Walter Bernstein Screenwriting Fellowship, the Maja Kristin Directing Fellowship and the SFFILM Rainin Grant. She was the Executive Story Editor on Dark Winds, an upcoming AMC series produced by George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford. Up next, together with Sterlin Harjo, she will be co-writing and Executive Producing a series adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize finalist, Yellow Bird for Paramount+. Tremblay lives on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York, where she is studying her Indigenous language.

DEVERY JACOBS
Devery Jacobs was born in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk territory and is an award-winning actor and filmmaker. Her breakout leading role in Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013), landed her a nomination for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Since then, Jacobs is mainly known for her performances in Netflix’s The Order (2019-20) CTV’s Cardinal (2018) and Amazon Prime Video/STARZ’s American Gods (2019-20). Most recently, Jacobs is one of the leading roles in FX’s new smash-hit series Reservation Dogs (2021).

Alongside acting, Jacobs is also an accomplished filmmaker. Her short film Rae (2017) was an official selection of the 2018 Palm Springs Shortfest, and won Best Youth Work at the 2017 imagineNATIVE Film Festival. Jacobs was also a participant of the 2020 imagineNATIVE Indigenous Screenwriters Intensive where she completed her feature film script, High Steel. Jacobs’ debut feature film as a co-writer, This Place is set to release in 2022.

Jacobs was named one of Canada’s Rising Breakout Stars by the Hollywood Reporter and was honored by Telefilm Canada at the 2017 Birks Diamond Tribute, celebrating women in film. Jacobs was also a TIFF Rising Star at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.

DALLAS GOLDTOOTH
Dallas Goldtooth is an Isanti Dakota and Dine actor, comedian, stage performer, public speaker and citizen of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate. He is a film producer, playwright and published poet. He co-founded The 1491s, an all-Indigenous social media group that uses comedy and satire as means of critical social dialogue. He is also a Dakota language activist, cultural teacher, dedicated father and loving husband.

BLACKHORSE LOWE
Blackhorse Lowe is a filmmaker from the Navajo Nation. His current feature film Fukry screened at the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival and many other festivals internationally. Chasing the Light, his previous feature, won Best Cinematography at the Terres en Vues/Land InSights First Peoples Festival in Montreal in 2016.

A recipient of a Renew Media Award, Lowe is an alumnus of the Sundance Institute’s NativeLab, Producers Lab and Screenwriters Lab. Lowe also curates an ongoing film series in Albuquerque, New Mexico called CineDOOM that showcases both edgy and genre-driven Indigenous films. Currently, he is a 2019-2021 Tulsa Artist Fellow recipient, writing a variety of genre features and programming film screenings in the Tulsa area.

CHAD CHARLIE
Chad Charlie is an Afro-Indigenous filmmaker from Ahousaht First Nation. Beginning his career in 2008 as a stand-up comedian and spoken word artist, he now extends the same passion for poetry and humor in his writing for TV and film.

Chad has directed several short films. The most recent of which, Firecracker Bullets, will be set for 2022 festival season.

RYAN REDCORN
Ryan RedCorn (Osage) was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma into a family of preachers, politicians and salesmen, which are the all the same occupation. He is the ilonpa of Raymond and Elizabeth RedCorn, and the object of jealousy from his three younger brothers Jon, Alex and Studebaker, who between them have three masters degrees and two Phd’s. Ryan, however, took 6 and half years to get an art degree in visual communications from the University of Kansas.

To the surprise of many, Ryan has been able to translate his education, his inlonpa entitlement, and his family lineage into something some people think is valuable. Sometimes people laugh at him. He co-founded the Indigenous comedy troupe, the 1491s, and started a full services ad agency in the middle of nowhwere Pawhuska, Oklahoma called Buffalo Nickel Creative. But he’s ok with all of that. He recently woke one morning and realized he was married and had three daughters. He remarked, “I live a crazy life” and promptly enrolled in an MFA in screenwriting program to test his capacity for stress. He graduated in the Spring of 2020 and is presently alive and vaccinated.

In Now-Stalled Contract Talks With IATSE, AMPTP Proposed More Than Doubling Hours Needed To Qualify For Pension Credits

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September 21, 2021 1:41pm

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EXCLUSIVE: Before its contract negotiations with IATSE broke off, the AMPTP proposed making it much more difficult for workers to qualify for pensions by raising the qualification cutoff from the current 400 hours per year to 950. That would preclude hundreds, if not thousands, of IATSE members from earning pension credits each year, and is just one of the many issues on which the union says the two sides “remain far apart.”

Union sources say that management will have to scale back this proposal significantly if a deal is to be made and a strike averted.

The union, which is now in the process of seeking strike authorization from its members, had come to the bargaining table demanding “sustainable benefits,” but deems as unacceptable a more than doubling of the qualifying hours for pension credits, and is not at all what it had in mind to rescue the ailing plan. Instead, it’s seeking higher contribution levels from employers and higher wages on which those contributions are made.

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The pension plan, which is part of the Motion Picture Industry Pension & Health Plans, has for years been inching closer to “critical” condition, which by federal law is defined as anything below 65% as measured by a plan’s assets divided by its liabilities. It’s current funding level now stands at 68.9% – down from 80.8% in 2015. In 2019, the plan’s actuary projected that it will be back up to 80% funded by 2026 and 100% funded by 2032 – but that was before employer contributions to the plan took a major hit because of the pandemic. Year-end fair market value of the plan’s assets was almost $3.8 billion as of December 31, 2018.

On Monday, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said that “The IATSE Pension and Health Plan is expected to have a deficit of $400 million over the next three years.” Under its proposals to the union, it said that “the employers will cover the projected deficit of nearly $400 million without imposing premium payments for the no-cost single employee health coverage and without increasing the extremely low cost of dependent health coverage, deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance. Without this infusion of contributions, the reserve level in the Active Health Plan is projected to fall from 17.5 months as of the end of 2020 to 3.1 months as of the end of 2024, and the reserve level in the Retiree Health Plan is projected to fall from 14.4 months as of the end of 2020 to 2.1 months as of the end of 2024. Reserves are critical because they enabled the Directors of the Health Plan to continue coverage for thousands of participants during the pandemic without any additional cost.”

The AMPTP’s statement didn’t mention anything about proposing a sharp increase in the number of hours worked in order to qualify for a pension credit. Asked about that Tuesday, a management source said that “The threshold to qualify for pension is so low casual workers in the industry can qualify for the pension plan. The Producers’ proposal would increase the hours to 950 hours, which works out to 24 weeks – less than 50% of the year – for someone working 40 hours per week, or 16 weeks – 30% of the year – for someone working 60 hours per week. This still recognizes that the nature of the work is freelance work, since you can still qualify for a pension year by working for less than 50% of the year.

“Currently, to get one Qualified Year in the Pension Plan, an individual needs to work only 400 hours. This works out to 10 weeks – 19% of the year – for someone working a 40-hour workweek, or seven weeks – 13% of the year – for someone working a 60-hour workweek.

“It is essential to ensure the pension plan is on sound financial footing. The MPI Pension Plan is only 68.9% funded, and it is important to ensure that pension benefits are being provided to those who are make their living in the industry, and it is available to those who have spent their lives working in the industry and who wish to retire.

“Increasing the hours for a Pension Year would improve the Plan’s funded percentage because it reduces the Plan’s liability. Important to have context, for some time now, there is enough work for those who want to work, therefore earning enough hours to qualify shouldn’t be an issue.”

For IATSE, however, it remains a very big issue.

Craig Erwich On ABC’s Fall Launch, Hopes For ‘The Wonder Years’ & ‘Queens’, Future Of ‘The Goldbergs’ & ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

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September 21, 2021 1:31pm

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ABC is entering the 2021-22 TV season as only one of two broadcast networks with live-action comedies on the fall schedule. The Disney-owned network has high hopes for the latest addition to its family comedy brand, a reboot of The Wonder Years, which joins The Goldbergs, The Conners and Home Economics in ABC’s signature Wednesday comedy block.

The network is also premiering the hip-hop drama Queens, which will airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. after the latest cycle of The Bachelorette.

For Craig Erwich, President, ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals, this marks the first broadcast schedule and fall launch he has worked on since he left the No. 2 programming executive post at Fox 14 years ago. He added oversight of ABC Entertainment in December to his job running content for Hulu as part of a major restructure at Disney, which saw Karey Burke become president of 20th Television.

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Courtesy of Austin Hargrave

In an interview with Deadline, Erwich talks about his hopes for the fall schedule and how the industry has changed as broadcast comes to terms with the short linear life and longer digital afterlife of their shows.

He also touches upon ABC’s development for next season, which includes an Alaska-set drama starring Hilary Swank from Stillwater director Tom McCarthy, a Mexican-American family comedy from Solar Opposites pair Grace Parra Janney and Josh Bycel and Eva Longoria, and a multi-camera comedy from David E. Talbert and LeBron James.

This season comes after an unusual 18 months for broadcast television, which was forced to pivot its pilot process. This led to a delay in some series orders, including ABC’s August pickup of Matt Lopez’s Latinx family drama Promised Land for midseason 2021-22, where it will join new comedies Abbott Elementary and Maggie and Emmett Till limited series Women of the Movement.

Erwich discusses the evolving development processes as well as measuring broadcast success in the current environment, talks about the final season of Black-ish, the groundbreaking new cycle of Dancing With the Stars, the eventful premieres of The Good Doctor and The Conners, and addresses the future of Grey’s Anatomy, The Goldbergs and The Bachelor.

DEADLINE: How are you feeling about the upcoming fall season? Are you confident that the new shows can break through?

ABC

CRAIG ERWICH: I’m optimistic. Coming off of last season, where we were the No. 1 entertainment network, and we kept that up this summer with The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise franchise, so we’re full speed coming in to the fall and able to give our lineup a really big push. We’re really focused and I’m really excited by our new shows Queens and The Wonder Years.

DEADLINE: How is production going given the current situation with the pandemic?

ERWICH: What I’m optimistic about is the team at ABC and their ability to be flexible and innovate and navigate change because there will be changes and there will be curveballs but how we were able to return so many shows to production last year, we had a tremendous effort to get these shows up and going. I’m really excited by The Wonder Years; I’ve seen the first three episodes and I couldn’t be happier with the show.

DEADLINE: This is your first fall schedule since 2007 when you were at Fox. How have things changed in broadcast television since then?

ERWICH: What hasn’t changed is that you win by being a great home for creators and being a place where they can create their best work. The best creative work is going to push through regardless of the platform. We have a very audience-first strategy. Ultimately, it comes down to the viewer. Appointment TV still exists, just like it did back then, it’s just everyone’s appointment is not the same and we have this incredible lineup that people can access by their own choice whether it’s linear or through next day viewing on Hulu.

DEADLINE: How important is it for a show to come out of the gate strong? How are you judging performance, live ratings versus delayed viewing?

ERWICH: The first thing we do is judge the creative success of the show. I’m thrilled where a lot of our shows are. We measure the shows in a variety of ways. We’re trying to capture as much viewing as possible because we know that audiences have a lot of choice and they access a lot of this great content in different ways, so there’s plenty of different ways that we measure it. Live+35 [rating] is becoming more and important as we understand that people’s viewing habits have evolved.

DEADLINE: What’s going on with The Bachelor? Rumor is that you’re in production and have found your new Bachelor. Are you still planning to launch in January and have you found a new host yet?

ERWICH: I can’t confirm anything. Mike Fleiss and Martin Hilton and the entire Bachelor team have delivered us an incredible summer — Bachelor in Paradise was one of the most talked about shows of the summer. People are clamoring to have conversations about it. I’m really excited about Michelle [Young], I think she’s going to be an amazing Bachelorette and it’s going to be an amazing season with her at the center of the franchise.

DEADLINE: Dancing with the Stars has its first same-sex pairing with JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson. What’s your reaction to the decision and its reception?

ERWICH: The show has always taken pride in breaking barriers and being relevant. It’s an incredible step in the right direction. It was a great opportunity to take this step with JoJo and we’re thrilled with the decision. The reaction from the fans and the community has been really positive, it has been wonderful to see.

DEADLINE: Black-ish is coming to an end this season. What can you tease about the send-off for the show?

“Black-ish”
Courtesy of ABC/Richard Cartwright

ERWICH: I think Black-ish is one of the most seminal shows of this last chapter of television. I don’t think any show has mined the headlines for humor and heart than that show. We have a whole plan to give it a celebratory send-off, which it deserves, through special guest stars and marketing. I think you’ll see the show really put on the pedestal at ABC as it deserves to be for this momentous final season. Each episode will have some big casting and I know that Kenya [Barris] and Courtney [Lilly] are really focused on telling the story of these characters and making sure that as this chapter of Black-ish comes to an end it has a really satisfying and fitting send-off. The show has a very special place in history.

DEADLINE: Will Yara Shahidi be back as Zoey Johnson?

ERWICH: I don’t know.

DEADLINE: What about two other long-running shows, Grey’s Anatomy and The Goldbergs? Are you close to making a decision on whether this will be the final season for them?

ERWICH: We have no decisions yet on The Goldbergs. I’m very excited and think this show really dealt with the passing of George Segal — he gets a tribute in the season opener that I think it is going to really resonant with the fans. They really honored him and the characters in a Goldbergs-esque way. It’s a proud moment for the show and us and it’s a great episode.

In terms of Grey’s Anatomy, we’re thrilled to have it on the lineup. It’s a gift. As long as all of the producers and Ellen [Pompeo] feel like there are meaningful stories to tell, we’re going to continue to do the show.

DEADLINE: The Conners is opening Season 4 with another live episode. Will it be bigger and take more risks than the first one on the night of the New Hampshire primary? You already announced virtual appearances by fans.

ERWICH: I think the audience will be surprised. Beyond the live event, I think The Conners takes risks in its storytelling on a weekly basis. The subject matter that they tackle, the characters that inhabit that show, the commentary that is delivered in humor, I would look forward to a great episode.

DEADLINE: What about your other returning shows? Anything that will surprise fans?

The Good Doctor
Courtesy of ABC/Art Streiber

ERWICH: I’m really excited about the season premiere of The Good Doctor, the first episode really packs a wallop in terms of some twists and turns. I’m really excited about this season of Home Economics, we only aired seven episodes last year so in a way this is kind of a new season. I thought the show was very strong creatively and it’s ready to bloom this year so I’m looking forward to that.

We’re leaning into the power of broadcast television. Broadcast TV affords not just tremendous opportunities but continues to play an important role in people’s lives. I’m really proud that five of our shows are from BIPOC creators, diversity is a pillar of our strategy and seeing this batch of new shows be a product of that is very satisfying. We have more work to do but I’m excited.

DEADLINE: What will this year’s development season look like? How are you combining the traditional model with a year-round development process?

ERWICH: We’re ready to make pilots and material as they’re ready. We want to serve the creators and the material versus just our schedule. One thing we’re excited about in terms of the pitches is that diversity is key to this, it’s our strategy, it’s not just year-round development, it’s year-round development of diverse content. Five out of five our new shows come from BIPOC creators and if being open for business creatively year-round helps bring more people into the final, then that’s what we’re going to do.

DEADLINE: Have you heard enough pitches? There’s been some talk that the number of broadcast pitches this year is fewer than ever before.

ERWICH: I’m not really focused on the volume of pitches, compared to the past. We’re focused on putting the right shows into development that we know will delight our viewers next fall as well getting the new shows up and running. But, so far, I’m very happy with the creative materials that are coming into focused.

DEADLINE: Are you expecting to order more pilots soon?

ERWICH: Nothing to share right now.

DEADLINE: Any movement on the reboot of LA Law?

ERWICH: Nothing to share right now.

‘NCIS’ & ‘The Voice’ Returns Top Monday; Newcomers ‘Ordinary Joe,’ ‘The Big Leap’ Debut Quietly – Update

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September 21, 2021 1:27pm

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UPDATE 1:30 PM: With final numbers in, ABC and Fox dropped slightly after adjustments accounting for local football preemptions, as anticipated. Most notable of the shifts that of Fox’s The Big Leap. The series premiere slipped to a 0.3 demo rating and 1.47 million viewers. The Voice, meanwhile, was adjusted up to a 1.1 demo rating, remaining No.1 for the night, and 7.22 million viewers. Monday’s most watched series, CBS’ NCIS, also saw its audience adjusted up, to 8.5 million.

PREVIOUS: The new 2021-22 broadcast season kicked off Monday night with the latest installments of The Voice and NCIS leading the pack in the early ratings results.

In Monday’s primetime roster that featured three new series, CBS’ NCIS: Hawai’i, Fox’s The Big Leap and NBC’s Ordinary Joe, it was the returning titles that scored. Per fast affiliate numbers, The Voice won the night with a 1.0 rating in the 18-49 demo and 6.98 million viewers. In addition to new talent, the season premiere introduced pop star Ariana Grande as a new coach.

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Of course, whatever was happening on the Big 4 last night  was in the shadow of Monday Night Football on ESPN. Week 2 of the new NFL season saw the nationally followed Green Bay Packers crush the Detroit Lions 35-17 in what will undoubtedly be the most watched and highest rated show of the night.

In that context, The Voice was slightly down in fast affiliates from its Season 20 premiere in March (1.1, 7.74M) and its Season 19 premiere in October 2020 (1.2, 7.96M). The show’s two-hour premiere went head-to-head against Dancing with The Stars‘ season premiere (0.9, 5.48M).

The ABC celebrity dance competition return made for impressive performances by contestants like NBA pro Iman Shumpert, and milestone moments by Jojo Siwa and partner Jenna Johnson – who marked the series’ first ever same-sex pairing. Coming in second in demo rating, the latest DWTS debut was up down from its Season 29 (1.3, 8.10M) and Season 28 (1.0, 8.00M) premieres.

Preliminary ratings for ABC and Fox are likely inflated due to local football preemptions, so downward adjustments for both networks are likely.

CBS welcomed back veteran NCIS for its 19th season on its new night. As it had done on Tuesdays for years, the Mark Harmon drama won the evening’s viewership with 8.15 million viewers and scoring a 0.7 demo rating. It helped launch the newest spinoff, NCIS: Hawai’i (0.5, 6.33M), which had the most respectable Live+Same Day showing among the newbies in terms of lead-in retention and overall viewership.

In Monday’s marquee procedural showdown, the 9-1-1 Season 5 premiere on Fox (0.8, 5.26M) is currently edging NCIS pending possible downward adjustment for 9-1-1, which led to the premiere of The Big Leap.

The dance dramedy starring Scott Foley, Simone Recanser, Teri Polo, Piper Perabo and Anna Grace Barlow (0.4, 1.97M) is currently slightly ahead of the now-cancelled Fox crime drama Next (0.3, 1.77M), which previously held the 9 p.m. time slot last fall but The Big Leap‘s preliminary numbers are likely inflated

Hoping to provide some debut bounce, NBC followed The Voice with the premiere of the James Wolk-starring Ordinary Joe (0.5, 3.81M). The new NBC drama matched NCIS: Hawai’i in demo rating, but fell short of the CBS spinoff when it came to viewers.

For both Ordinary Joe and The Big Leap, delayed and streaming viewership bumps will be key to survival.

Bob Hearts Abishola returned to CBS for its Season 3 premiere (0.5, 5.24M), which slipped from the sophomore season’s debut in November 2020. Also returning to CBS was The Neighborhood (0.6, 5.12M), which fell three tenths in demo rating and 14% from the previous season opener.

We will update with more ratings as time zone adjusted data from Nielsen comes in. Until then, check out our chart below for the first night of the 2021-2022 TV season.

‘The Late Late Show With James Corden’ Looking To Bring Back Studio Audience Next Week

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September 21, 2021 1:26pm

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EXCLUSIVE: The Late Late Show is set to be filmed in front of a live studio audience for the first time since the start of the pandemic later this month.

Deadline understands that the team behind the James Corden-hosted series are considering bringing back fully vaccinated audiences from Monday, September 27.

The CBS show, which films in Television City in Los Angeles, is the latest late-night talkshow to look to bring back a crowd. Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which also shoots in LA, brought back audiences earlier this year, as did New York-shot shows The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Deadline revealed that The Late Late Show’s timeslot rival Late Night with Seth Meyers is also planning to bring back an audience in October.

Exec producer Rob Crabbe told Deadline last week that the show recently flipped back its studio to allow it to “flip the switch” for the return of audiences.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we can flip the switch when it’s time to have an audience back,” he said last week.

This leaves only The Daily Show with Trevor Noah as one of the main nightly late-night shows without an audience, although given that the Comedy Central series recently moved in to a new studio in Times Square and out of Noah’s apartment, it’s also making steps towards a sense of normalcy.

Talent Agent Matt Fechter Joins Hyperion

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September 21, 2021 1:14pm

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Matt Fechter has joined Hyperion to launch their Comedy Department. Fechter comes from CAA where he worked as an agent in both the comedy and talent departments working closely with such actors, directors, and comedians as Aristotle Athiras, Courtney Parchman, Jim Rash, Jeff Garlin, Laura Terruso, Madelaine Petsch, Maddie Phillips, Michael Cimino, Mike Cabellon, Miles Brown and Nat Faxon.

“We couldn’t be more fortunate to forge ahead into the comedy space with Matt leading the charge.  He’s proven his skill and ability to break new acts as well as his success representing established artists who have crossed over into different genres and mediums. He’ll no doubt continue that momentum at Hyperion,” said Hyperion founder, Ryan Bartlett on Tuesday.

Prior to CAA, Fechter worked in the motion picture and television departments at UTA.

“Hyperion, under Ryan’s innovation and leadership, is at the forefront of what it means to be in the representation business.  They have created an elevated and progressive standard in talent representation and I’m beyond thrilled to be part of that evolution.” said Fechter.

Hyperion represents a diverse client list including Shailene Woodley, Ashton Sanders, Cle Bennett, Spence Moore, Reign Edwards in addition to Shaun White, January Jones and music sensations; Galantis, Arizona, and Lost Kings on the Hyperion Branding side.

 

Disney CEO Bob Chapek Says Covid Shutdowns Reduced Streaming Content Available In Q4; Warns Wall Street, Subscriber Growth “Not A Straight Line”

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September 21, 2021 1:14pm

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Walt Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said the company’s global net paid subscribers will rise “by low single-digit millions” for its current fiscal fourth quarter from the third — meaning slower growth — and put Wall Street on notice that long-term targets are still on track but they shouldn’t assume growth will be a straight line.

“A quarter-to-quarter business is not linear,” he told a media conference Tuesday. “That’s something where we’re not exactly aligned with the Street.”

“Investors take last December and say, ‘Oh, they want to get to 230 or 260 or whatever the number, and they divide it by the number of quarters and say, ‘They need to add ‘X’ per quarter. [But] these numbers tend to be a lot noisier than a straight line quarter-to-quarter, and we have seen some of that in this current quarter,” he said. (Disney execs, at the company’s investor day December 10, projected 260M Disney+ subscribers all in by 2024.)

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Disney shares closed down 4%. But had regained ground in late trading.

Chapek, speaking at a Goldman Sachs media conference, said the company remains confident in its long-term projections. And core market subscriber growth will continue both domestically and internationally in Q4 despite “headwinds” in Latin America and India, and Covid-induced production delays that created a kink in the supply chain for new content coming to the service.

“This is very short term,” he said, in fact, has been resolved. The studio currently has 61 new movies and 17 episodic programs in production. The television group has “hundreds” of new programs in production and the company has 200 productions underway across the globe.

“The supply chain is healthy … but the resurgence of Covid and Delta did impact production so we have a lighter production quota in Q4 then we might have expected,” Chapek said, He didn’t mention specific productions delayed by the fast spreading variant.

Disney+ had its first rough quarter – the second – when it fell short of Wall Street expectations (103 million subs actual vs 109 million anticipated) and saw the parent take a hit to its stock. For the third quarter ended in June, it hit 116 million slightly beating estimates.

Its fourth quarter ends Sept. 30.

Disney is hosting a new Disney+ Day on Nov. 12.

‘Access The Public’: 101 Studios & Versus Productions Partner On Docuseries Examining Influence Of Public Access TV

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September 21, 2021 1:09pm

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EXCLUSIVE101 Studios and Versus Productions have teamed up to produce Access the Public, a docuseries tracing the rise of public access television between 1970 and 1990.

Before there was YouTube, Facebook and TikTok, public access TV proved revolutionary, creating genres, advancing women’s and LGBTQ rights, winning Supreme Court rulings and changing the way content was consumed by providing an outlet for free speech.

The limited series featuring exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes material will touch on TV series that played a hand in these movements including Gay USA, The Live Show, Midnight Blue and others. It will also examine the public television starts of some of entertainment’s biggest names, including Whoopi Goldberg, The Beastie Boys and RuPaul.

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Versus Entertainment’s Rob Meyers, Justin Barnes and Mark Grande will exec produce the series with Ben Bitonti, David Hutkin and David C. Glasser of 101 Studios.

“Access the Public is an exciting project for us because it uncovers and reveals a big part of history that many people are not familiar with,” said Glasser, who serves as 101 Studios’ CEO. “The role that public access television played in shaping how we produce and consume entertainment to this day is immense, and we are proud to have a hand in telling the story to audiences worldwide.”

“Growing up in New York, I felt like you always had these mini revolutions all around you, be it racial, sexual, or artistic,” added Versus Co-Founder Meyers. “Public Access TV captured all of this in flashes of brilliance, showing the city at its most unfiltered – which is exactly how we plan to share it with a new generation of viewers.”

Founded by Glasser and COO Hutkin, 101 Studios is known for its collaboration with Taylor Sheridan on his Emmy-nominated Paramount Network series, Yellowstone, along with its upcoming prequel 1883 and crime thriller Mayor of Kingstown. The company also oversees and managing the newly formed content platform, Sports Illustrated Studios.

Upcoming projects include Paradise Found, based on the true story of high school football coach Rick Prinz; a docuseries about the sexual abuse and cover-up at Ohio State University, co-produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures; and the docuseries Covers, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sports Illustrated’s top cover stories of all time.

Versus has previously produced features including The Fabulous Chi Ali, Before Jackie: The Story of Kenny Washington with Viola Davis for CBS Sports, YouTube’s Paris Hilton doc This is Paris, and Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, from executive producer Susan Sarandon. The content company’s creative partners include Disney, ABC, CBS, NFL, Discovery, and Audible.

The deal between 101 Studios and Versus Productions was brokered by UTA.