Company Town
Hollywood & entertainment industry news
Directors Guild report highlights lack of progress on diversity hiring

Cable channels and broadcast networks have made little progress when it comes to hiring female and minority directors on episodic television shows.

That's the conclusion of the latest report from the Directors Guild of America analyzing the ethnicity and gender of directors hired for prime-time television shows across broadcast and cable networks, as well as programs made for the Internet.

The DGA analyzed more than 3,500 episodes produced in the 2013-14 television season from more than 220 scripted series. 

The guild found that Caucasian males directed 69% of all episodes, down from 72% in 2012-13; minority males directed 17% of all episodes, up from 14% the prior year. Female directors, meanwhile, made no headway: Caucasian females directed 12% of all episodes, the same as a year ago; while the percentage of minority female directors remained static at 2% of all episodes.

The guild said the increase in episodes directed by minority males was attributable entirely to a single director...

Read more
TV ratings: 'America's Got Talent' Part 1 finale boosts NBC to No. 1

Despite the fall returns of several TV shows, summer favorites "America's Got Talent" and "Big Brother" dominated the viewer ratings Tuesday night among the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic.

"America's Got Talent," the NBC Nick Cannon-hosted show, was No. 1 among the key demo with a rating of 2.5, according to Nielsen. In Part 1 of its season finale, the show averaged roughly 11.3 million viewers. 

Up 4% from last season's Part 1 finale, the show boosted NBC to No. 1 overall and among the demographic. The network averaged 9.3 million viewers and a rating of 2.1.

Meanwhile, CBS' privacy deprivation show "Big Brother" took second among the key demo with a rating of 2.3, on par with last week's rating. It came in third overall with 6.8 million viewers. 

The network, which also aired reruns of "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "Person of Interest," was second among the key demographic with a rating of 1.3. It took third overall with 5.6 million viewers

On ABC, the second episode of Season 19's...

Read more
Amazon is a rising star in Hollywood

Det. Harry Bosch walks down the drab, gray corridor of the Hollywood division of the Los Angeles Police Department.

He passes two suspects cuffed to the custody bench, including a drunk Santa Claus, and nods to the resident shoe shine guy before entering the detectives' bullpen. Bosch approaches two detectives nicknamed Crate and Barrel and hands them an envelope with tickets to a Lakers-Thunder basketball game.

"I'll take your rotation," Bosch says.

"What's the catch, Bosch?" responds Barrel.

"No catch. I've been in court all week. Bored outta my mind."

The scene played out recently inside the historic Red Studios on North Cahuenga Boulevard, where set designers spared no expense to create a replica of the station, right down to the scuff marks on the walls and the tacky Christmas decorations.

The studio is where the TV series "I Love Lucy," "Hogan's Heroes" and "Seinfeld" filmed. Now, it is home to a new show called "Bosch," about a relentless LAPD homicide detective played by...

Read more
Gov. Jerry Brown to sign California film tax credit bill

Gov. Jerry Brown is poised to put his signature to a bill that would triple annual funding for California's film and TV tax credit program.

Brown announced he will sign the bill into law on Thursday at a ceremony in Los Angeles, capping a yearlong campaign by a coalition of entertainment industry groups to bolster California's film incentives and halt the flight of productions from the state.

The bill, AB 1839, would boost funding to $330 million annually over five years, beginning in 2015. That compares with the current level of $100 million per year. The measure would also allow more projects to qualify for the subsidies, including large-budget features and TV pilots, and phase out an unpopular lottery used to select applicants.

Brown's signature is a formality given that he already announced last month that he would support the landmark legislation, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate and the Assembly.

“This law will make key improvements in our Film and Television Tax...

Read more
Shawn Ryan among new board members elected to Writers Guild

Shawn Ryan, the screenwriter and former showrunner of the long-running TV series "The Shield," is among the new board members of the Writers Guild of America, West.

Ryan, who served on the union's negotiating committee during recent contract negotiations, was elected to a two-year term on the board. He captured 67% of ballots cast, the highest among 17 candidates for nine board seats available, the guild announced Tuesday night.

Also elected as new board members are Aaron Mendelsohn, Jonathan Fernandez and Peter Lefcourt, who will serve a one-year term filling the vacancy left by the resignation of David Goyer.

Incumbents Katherine Fugate, Chip Johannessen, Scott Alexander, Marjorie David and Michael Oates Palmer were reelected to the board.

A total of 1,835 valid ballots were cast in an election supervised by Votenet Solutions. This year for the first time guild members, who number about 8,000, had the option of casting their ballots online.

Read more
Franchise-powered Disney can't rest on laurels, studio president says

Walt Disney Studios is riding its big tent-pole movies to box-office success, having put out the two biggest movies of the year so far: "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier."

But even with new "Star Wars" efforts, animated sequels and, yes, more superhero movies coming in the next two years, the company isn't "taking anything for granted," said the studio's president Alan Bergman, who oversees distribution.

The movies still have to be good.

"We can't rest on our laurels, we have to make great movies," Bergman said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2014 Media, Communications

Read more
TV ratings: Premiere of 'Dancing With the Stars' boosts ABC to No. 1

Despite dropping 23% from last year's fall premiere, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" helped the network groove to the top of the TV ratings on Monday.

The two-hour Season 19 premiere won the night with 13.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen. With a rating of 2.4, the show was No. 1 among the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic but hit its series low for a premiere.

Elsewhere on ABC, a rerun of "Castle" boasted 7 million viewers, making it the second-most watched program of the night. It earned a rating of 1.1 among the key demo.

ABC averaged 11.3 million viewers, making it the most watched network of the night. With a rating of 2.0 among the key demo, it tied with Fox for most watched in that category.

On Fox, "Masterchef" wrapped up its season with a rating of 2.0 among the key demo, up 11% from last week. The two-hour finale was the second-most watched program among the key demo and averaged 5.4 million viewers overall.

Meanwhile, NBC's "American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. World"...

Read more
'Apes' climbs back to top of China box office, nears $100 million

After briefly being muscled out of the No. 1 position at the mainland China box office by Schwarzenegger and Stallone, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” reclaimed the No. 1 position last week and will soon cross the $100-million mark in the territory.

“Apes” took in $21.8 million in the seven days ending Sunday, film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway reported, bringing the 20thCentury Fox film’s cumulative gross to nearly $96.5 million.

Four of the week’s top-five films were U.S. imports.

After taking the box-office crown in the first week of September, “The Expendables 3” dropped to second place last week, with about $20.5 million for the seven days ending Sunday. Its total in China now stands at $57 million, making the third installment in the series the best-selling here. The original, released in 2010, took in $35.9 million in China while the sequel sold $54.8 million worth of tickets in 2012, Artisan said.

A local romantic offering, “But Always,” took the No. 3 spot, faring...

Read more
Chinese studio Huayi Brothers to invest $130 million in new U.S. branch

After dominating mainland China’s 2013 box office with $487.6 million in receipts, Beijing-based studio Huayi Brothers Media Corp. has announced plans to expand into the United States.

Huayi Brothers said it plans to invest $130 million to establish a wholly owned subsidiary in the U.S. for producing and distributing movies and TV shows, the company said in a regulatory filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange late Monday.

It didn’t release any details on the office location or the number of employees it expects to staff its operation. The plan still needs approval from Chinese authorities, the company said.

Wang Zhongjun, chairman of Huayi Brothers, has expressed interest in expanding the company’s business internationally on various occasions. Earlier this year, Huayi Brothers had pursued a deal to invest up to $150 million in a new production company, Studio 8, set up by Jeff Robinov, the former president of Warner Bros.

Negotiations between Huayi Brothers and Studio 8 reportedly fell...

Read more
Time Warner Cable to broadcast final Dodger games on local TV

Tens of thousands of Los Angeles Dodgers fans haven't heard legendary broadcaster Vin Scully call games. They've missed two Dodger no-hitters, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's clutch home runs, outfielder Yasiel Puig's antics and pitching ace Clayton Kershaw clinching his 19th win of the season.

But next week, fans finally will be able to see a handful of Dodgers games on broadcast TV.

Time Warner Cable said Monday that it will simulcast Dodger games during the final week of the regular season on local broadcast station KDOC-TV Channel 56, which is widely available in Southern California. Most homes in the region have been shut out of the action because other major cable and satellite distributors have refused to pay big money to carry SportsNet LA channel, which is owned by the Dodgers and distributed by Time Warner Cable.

The late-season deal is described by Time Warner Cable as a show of goodwill to enable fans to watch the Dodgers battle the San Francisco Giants for the National...

Read more
Report: Women's employment in prime-time TV 'plateaued' in 2013-2014

Though Julianna Margulies said in her Emmys acceptance speech that it's "a wonderful time for women on television," a report issued on Tuesday suggests that may not be the case. 

Women’s employment in prime-time television has "plateaued" in the last year, according to a report released by San Diego State University film professor Martha Lauzen. 

The survey has been tracking women’s representation and employment in prime-time television for the last 17 years.

This year's survey, titled "Boxed In," looked at one randomly selected episode of each series on broadcast networks, cable and Netflix to determine women’s representation and employment in prime-time television. 

Female creators, executive producers, producers, directors, writers, editors and directors of photography working on prime-time television airing on broadcast networks account for 27% of individuals working behind the scenes.

The figure has decreased 1 percentage point from 2012-2013 but is on par with employment numbers...

Read more
Film official cautions against importing Hollywood values into China

It's now the world's biggest film market outside the U.S. But how do Hollywood filmmakers successfully penetrate the Great Wall of China?

Find reliable partners, hire screenwriters who've actually visited the country and avoid grafting "Hollywood values" onto the country.

"When you choose your subject matter you have to work hard, you have to think deep," said Zhang Xun, former general manager of China Film Co-Production Corporation at a conference in Los Angeles on Monday. "Do not force Hollywood-style values onto China."

Those were among the nuggets of advice offered by Xun and her colleagues at the inaugural U.S. China Film

Read more