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CNN Snap Up Piers Morgan. The PMA Network At Summer Party.

July 16th, 2010

piersmorganThe former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, is reportedly poised to replace veteran talk show host Larry King on American news channel CNN. According to The Sun newspaper, Morgan has signed a £5.5m, four-year deal with CNN to replace King. This follows reports in the US media that NBC had agreed to share Morgan with CNN, clearing the way for negotiations to begin. Morgan is contracted to NBC as a judge on America’s Got Talent. CNN has been losing a ratings war with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and it is hoped that Morgan can gain ground on the competing news channel.

King, aged 76, announced his retirement last month and a host of rivals, many of them better recognised in America, were in the running to replace him on his nightly interview slot. They included American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and CBS News presenter Katie Couric. King was even reported saying he wouldn’t recognise Piers Morgan “if he saw him walking down the street”.

larrykingMorgan, 45, who recently celebrated his marriage to Daily Telegraph journalist Celia Walden, is believed to have impressed CNN executives with his bold and direct interviewing style. Talks were complicated by Morgan’s commitments to NBC. His NBC contract prevented him from taking on extra work that clashed with the show, but this has now reportedly been resolved.

Back in the UK, the BBC announced this week that Gwyneth Williams has been appointed controller of BBC Radio 4 and Radio 7. Ms Williams was, until recently, director of the BBC World Service’s English programming. She will replace Mark Damazer, who is moving on after six years to become head of St Peter’s College Oxford. Her most pressing issue is likely to be the succession process on the station’s biggest show, Today. BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, has been tipped for a permanent presenting role on the programme.

img_4409And finally, some of the industry’s leading production managers gathered on Wednesday evening in Notting Hill for the PMA (Production Manager’s Association) summer party. Sponsored by Production Wizard, the members made the most of what seems to be left of the English summer and were able to relax and converse over champagne and canapés.

The PMA provides invaluable information and support for its Members, regular social events, workshops and training courses. “Within the Film and Television Industry the Association provides a unique network for both freelance and permanently employed Production Managers.”

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TV Talents Out The Door

January 29th, 2010

1So Simon Cowell is leaving American Idol, Jonathan Ross is leaving the BBC, Conan O’Brien is set to leave NBC and Archie Mitchell was killed off from Eastenders – so therefore left little choice. I mean, where are we going to find people who want to be on television?

Amid intense speculation over his next career move and Jay Leno’s widely criticized return to late night, O’Brien stepped down as host of The Tonight Show to his biggest audience ever. The final episode attracted 10.3 million viewers, with final guests including some actor named Tom Hanks and a curly, ginger comedian apparently called Will Ferell.

Cowell inked a deal with Fox earlier this month that will end his American Idol judging role. “We reached an agreement formally at about half past 10 this morning,” said Cowell, who confirmed his new deal in front of reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour on Monday, Daily Variety reported.

Wossy announced he was leaving the BBC after 13 years working for the corporation. As the BBC’s highest paid star (by some distance), he said in a statement that he had decided not to renegotiate his contract. The presenter added his decision to leave was not “financially motivated”.indianidol

Apparently, both Britain and America have new talent though, or so Cowell, Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden, David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel (it’s okay, I’ve never heard of him either) keep trying to tell us.

Of course, when one door closes another one opens, and just because such TV powers are moving on does not mean we’re left empty handed, lacking sufficient prime-time personalities and missing pizzazz. There’s baggy entertainment whose sole purpose it is to both find new talent and to exploit those who were once famous (or at least to have supposed to be. It all depends on whether you read Heat magazine or receive daily alerts about wags and Z Listers). Big Brother, All American Girl, I’m A Celebrity, Fear Factor, The Amazing Race, Survivor, all create entertainment, albeit in a very different manner than the TV judge or talk show host. There’s even Indian Idol now, already in its fourth season.

So, while the big earners are moving on to pastures new (personally I’d opt for an early retirement), there’ll always be those trying to discover new talent. Uncovering individuals, who, may never have long and successful careers at the worlds leading networks, but in the search, will create light entertainment for the millions who will watch it. Fame and celebrity is constantly being stumbled upon, but very little of it is truly sustained.

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Guinness At The Rovers?

September 16th, 2009

Rovers ReturnAfter years of selling beer from fictional brewery Newton and Ridley, Coronation Street’s only pub, rare in the North, may soon become a truly free house, able to sell any beer.  But it won’t be the choice of landlady Liz McDonald, but the choice of ITV.

The relaxing of the laws on product placement, means ITV and other commercial broadcasters could add as much as £125m a year to their production budgets.  The BBC, being a publicly funded broadcaster,  will still be unable to take advantage of the new legislation.

As revealed in our blog in April, product placement is big in movies and most obvious in the Bond franchise and the Sex In The City movie.  On US television, which fills a large part of Brit schedules, it’s commonplace, with Apple computers on 24, along with Jack Bauer’s Ford Expedition, and Coca Cola cups in front of the American Idol judges, blurred for UK 24 Posterviewers, but thought to bring £21m a year to the show.

Indeed in the first three months of 2008, there were 118,000 placements across America’s main 11 channels.

Product placement is also allowed in Europe, which was partly why ITV and other broadcasters couldn’t understand why the UK government was being so resistant. In the UK, products are allowed to be seen as props or dressing, when provided free, but it’s when it’s paid for – what’s called ‘product integration’ in the US, it not allowed.

It’s not sure when the floodgates will be allowed to be opened, there will be a three month consultation period, but it’s likely self-regulation will stop UK TV screens being as swamped as those across the water.

However, not being slow to take advantage of an opportunity, ITV are about to launch Newton and Ridley beer to the nation and in June this year officially registered the name of the fictional brewery.

At Production Wizard we’re not sure which way to go as yet, as I write this on my Intel iMac, Tweet on my iPhone and drive home in my Citroen Desire 1.4.  Ooops!

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American Idol In Court

May 13th, 2009

In a development of the story we ran a few weeks ago, employees of Fremantle american-idol-season-7jpgMedia shows including American Idol, are now suing the company over poor pay and working conditions.

The former employees, including a music coordinator for American Idol, claim they were forced to work, ten, twelve and even twenty hour days without being paid overtime or being allowed meal breaks.  They also claim the company asked them to falsify time cards so they wouldn’t have to pay overtime.

It seems such treatment is not uncommon on reality TV shows. In January the Writer’s Guild settled a claim begun in 2005, on behalf of reality show writers, for over $4m.  In one claim, a writer on the series, ‘Temptation’ was awarded $14,000 in back pay and compensation.

Simon Cowell is saying nothing.

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No Glamour on Idol

March 20th, 2009

Former employees of ‘American Idol’ are suing production company Freemantle Media North America, claiming they were overworked and underpaid. American Idol Staff who worked in various roles including, music coordinators and producers, claim they were working 24/7 without meal breaks, or proper rest periods and received no extra pay. They were even asked to falsify their time cards to make it appear they worked the statutory 40 hours a week.

In January, two similar suits against four major networks and production companies involved in reality shows who violated employment laws, were settled for $4 million.

That’s a big NO from the workers.         Simon Cowell was unavailable for comment.

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