News

Quick Hits: TCA Winter Tour

1/16/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

The following are the cable highlights from Jan. 6-12 at the Television Critics Association
2012 Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. For more TCA coverage, log on
to multichannel.com or read the Jan. 23 edition of Multichannel News.

Showtime Delves into Docs As ‘Dexter’ Time Draws Nigh

PASADENA, CALIF. — Showtime is developing several high-end, filmmaker-driven
documentaries, the first of which is about Dick Cheney, directed by R.J. Cutler.
Showtime Entertainment president David Nevins told pundits at a Jan. 12
TCA session that The World According to Dick Cheney will chronicle the former
vice president from his days as Gerald Ford’s chief
of staff to his eight-year reign under President
George W. Bush.

The premium cable network also recently began
production on a doc about rap label mogul Suge
Knight, and has a project about the comedian
Richard Pryor in development.

“I had this feeling that we could have real impact
with documentaries,” Nevins said. “We’ll roll it out
slowly, do a small handful, if it works, we’ll do a few
more.”

Nevins addressed the future of Dexter, saying the series’ recent two-season
renewal is “likely endpoint” for the serial-killer drama, though he left the door open
for continuing the net’s top-rated show beyond seasons seven and eight. “We are
allowing for the possibility that that plan could change,” he said.

Speaking of network veterans, Nevins said the next (eighth) season of Weeds is
“not definitely” its last, but that is “a real possibility.”

During his address, Nevins also informed that new seasons of Nurse Jackie, The
Big C
and The Borgias will premiere on Sunday, April 8. Showtime will take a swing
with Major League Baseball docuseries The Franchise for a second season, with a
new team announced shortly, and put a “major marketing push” behind the nineepisode
second season of Episodes this summer.

Nevins used the phrase “big hit potential” in conjunction with new comedy
series House of Lies. Starring Don Cheadle as the leader of a pod of unscrupulous
corporate consultants, House of Lies averaged 1.03 million viewers during
its 10 p.m. debut on Jan. 8, according to Nielsen data. Encores at midnight and
1 a.m. added 384,000 and 146,000 viewers, respectively, bringing the show’s
first-night total to 1.6 million to surpass the 1.38 million who tuned in terrorist
thriller Homeland across its opening-night airings on Oct. 2.

The premium player also took major strides on the TV Everywhere front last
week, as its subscribers on Verizon Communications’ FiOS TV and AT&T U-Verse
systems can access 400 hours of original series, movie and sports content on
the iPad and online as part of the new “Showtime Anytime” app.

Anytime iPhone and Android applications will be available early this year and
network officials said additional affiliates will be announced at a later date.

Andrea Morabito (Broadcasting & Cable) and Mike Reynolds

Disney Junior Network to Launch March 23

PASADENA, CALIF. -— New 24-hour preschool channel Disney Junior will bow March,
23, replacing SoapNet that day on most cable and satellite operators.

“We think this is a real game-changer in this universe,” Disney Channels president
and chief operating officer Gary Marsh said during a Jan. 9 TCA session.

Affiliates will include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems, Bright
House Networks and Verizon Communications.

The channel will launch with new series Doc McStuffins, about a young girl who
nurses sick stuffed animals back to health, and later will premiere Sofia the First,
about a preschool-age princess. Disney Junior programming block fare, including
the short-form A Poem Is …, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Never Land
Pirates
, will also migrate.

Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable

ABC Family ‘Investigating’ Reality Space

PASADENA, CALIF. — ABC Family president Michael Riley
said the network is “investigating the reality space.”

Speaking before critics last Tuesday (Jan. 10), Riley
said ABC Family was exploring both competition-style
and nonfi ction reality formats for something that will
work with its millennial audience, and hopes to get
one on the air by the end of 2012.

Besides reality, the network is building out its other
genres with its previously announced movie-musical
Elixir (working title) and has four new pilots in production,
including two comedies. The genre emphasis
arises from the success of Melissa & Joey, which
proved an access point for a broader audience.

Despite the cancellation of The Nine Lives of Chloe
King
, the network is on the verge of putting a movie based on the series into development,
according to Riley, who also announced that The Secret Life of the American
Teenager
and Make It or Break It will return with new episodes on March 26.

-— Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable

Hallmark Movie Channel Doubling Down in 2012

PASADENA, CALIF. — As part of a continuing expansion,
Hallmark Movie Channel will double its production
slate in 2012.

The Hallmark Channel spinoff is eyeing a build-up
that will ultimately yield between 24 and 30 telefilms
annually.

“Hallmark Movie Channel continues its pace to
become America’s most sought-after, family friendly movie channel,” Michelle Vicary,
executive vice president, programming, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie
Channel (and a 2012 Multichannel News Wonder Woman).

In the meantime, Hallmark Movie Channel detailed fi ve original movies it will premiere
during the first half of 2012:

Goodnight for Justice: The Measure of a Man centers around a judge, who travels
to a town in Wyoming that is being terrorized by a gang of thieves while running into
a past love. Premiering Jan. 28 at 8 p.m., it stars Luke Perry and Stephanie Von
Pfetten.

Duke, premiering April 28 at 8 p.m., stars Sarah Smyth, Allison Hossack
and Steven Weber, who plays a disabled veteran who is estranged from his
family following his return from war. Through a series of events, he reconnects
with his daughter 10 years later.

Lake Effects focuses on a high-powered attorney, who returns to her childhood
home to attend her father’s funeral and help her sister and mother settle the
family estate, reigniting her affection for the townspeople in the process. Starring
Jane Seymour, Ben Savage, Sean Patrick Flanery, Casper Van Dien, Scottie
Thomas, Jeff Fahey and Madeline Zima, it will debut sometime in May.

Hannah’s Law takes place in the Old West, where a bounty hunter attempts
to track down the outlaw who killed her family a decade earlier. Premiering June
9 at 8 p.m, it stars Sara Canning, Kimberly Elise, Danny Glover, Billy Zane and
Greyston Holt

Always a Bride, starring Kellie Martin and Ethan Erickson, will debut July 21,
at 8 p.m. Martin plays a bride-to-be who, during her bachelorette weekend in
Las Vegas, wakes up to fi nd she married another guy by mistake (Erickson).
 — Tim Baysinger, Broadcasting & Cable

Bravo Orders Kathy Griffin Weekly Talk Show

PASADENA, CALIF. — Bravo has green-lighted a onehour
weekly talk show hosted by Kathy Griffin.

Premiering this spring, Kathy will see Griffin ranting
on the week’s headlines and tabloid gossip,
plus feature stand-up routines, celebrity interviews
and taped segments.

The network has also renewed Pregnant in Heels, The Millionaire Matchmaker and
Million Dollar Listing L.A. for new seasons.

Bravo also said culinary experts Curtis Stone and Cat Cora will host Around
the World in 80 Plates, which follows 12 chefs competing in a culinary race
across 10 countries and 44 days.

Around the World and Kathy, along with other new series Interior Therapy
With Jeff Lewis
, Shahs of Sunset, Love Broker, Million Dollar Listing New York
and Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding, are part of Bravo’s 25% expansion of its
programming slate for 2012.

Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable

MSNBC’s Griffin Never Fretted ‘Morning Joe’ Duo Departure

PASADENA, CALIF. — Despite the rumors that Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough
and Mika Brzezinski were in talks to move their show to another network, MSNBC
president Phil Griffin said he was never worried the duo would depart.

“They’re under contract for awhile and they’re happy and it couldn’t be better,”
Griffin said during a Jan. 7 TCA session. “I never, ever thought they were
going to leave.”

Scarborough admitted that he and Brzezinski had talked about the possibility,
noting that they have relationships with people at several other news networks,
and Brzezinski especially at CBS, where she worked before MSNBC.

“We had a lot of conversations with a lot of different people,” Scarborough
said. “[CBS News chairman] Jeff Fager is a good friend of mine. We talked
with them, but talked with a lot of different people.”

“We had a great home at MSNBC,” he added. “We had an opportunity that
Phil had given us to talk about ideas in a way that you can’t on other networks.”

“It just didn’t materialize,” Brzezinski said.

Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable

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