The History Channel: ‘Vikings’ Renewed For Season Two

vikings-banner

Via Press Release:

HISTORY® ORDERS SECOND SEASON OF 

HIT SCRIPTED SERIES 

VIKINGS 

#1 NEW CABLE SERIES OF THE YEAR 

EARNS TEN EPISODE ORDER

history-channel-logoNew York, New York, April 5, 2013 – HISTORY has picked up VIKINGS, its first scripted drama series for a 10-episode second season, it was announced today by Dirk Hoogstra, EVP, Development and Programming for HISTORY. Created and written by Michael Hirst, the renewal comes just five episodes into the VIKINGS freshman season. Four new episodes remain in the current season airing Sundays at 10 p.m. with the season finale slated for Sunday, April 28 at 10 p.m. 

VIKINGS continues to be the #1 new cable series in 2013 and has propelled HISTORY to #1 in cable in its Sunday 10-11 p.m. time period. Over the five weeks, the hit drama series averaged 5.0 million total viewers, 2.2 million Adults 25-54 and 1.9 Adults 18-49. This past Sunday, episode five delivered 4.7 million total viewers, 2.2 million Adults 25-54 and 1.7 million Adults 18-49. This was up 4% among total viewers and up 5% among Adults 25-54 from last week.

“Vikings is a win win for us. As our first scripted series, VIKINGS has paid off in a big way with critical acclaim, strong ratings and a passionate, loyal fan base. It came out of the gate strong and has stayed on top, solidifying HISTORY as a major player in the scripted genre, just as we are in reality,” said Hoogstra. “We could not be more proud of the entire cast and crew and everyone involved in the making of VIKINGS. Michael Hirst has captured audiences with his complex, compelling characters and brought the unknown, epic world of these warriors to life. Season Two will begin production this summer to air in 2014.”

MGM Television brought the series to the network and brings VIKINGS to the global audience, serving as the international distributor outside of Ireland, Canada and the U.S.

“We are very excited that VIKINGS is generating so much attention worldwide,” said Roma Khanna, President, Television Group and Digital, MGM. “MGM is thrilled to have the continued support and enthusiasm of our partners at HISTORY and to work with an amazing international team as they bring Michael Hirst’s vision to audiences around the globe.”

VIKINGS, airing Sundays at 10 p.m. ET, tells the extraordinary tales of the lives and epic adventures of these warriors. The drama portrays the world of these Dark Age raiders, traders, explorers – not from an outsider’s view, but, through the eyes of Viking society.

While VIKINGS is filled with conflict, warfare and bloodshed – for these were extreme times – it is a family saga at heart. It follows the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel, The Beast, Baytown Outlaws), a curious, compelling man who is always looking to break through barriers and discover new worlds to conquer. Ragnar is deeply frustrated by the unadventurous policies of his local chieftain, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment, Usual Suspects, Millers Crossing), who continues to send his Vikings raiders east every summer, to the Baltic states and Russia, whose populations are as materially poor as themselves.

Joining Fimmel and Byrne are Katheryn Winnick (Bones, Love and Other Drugs, The Black Marks) as Lagertha, a fierce shield maiden and Ragnar’s wife; Jessalyn Gilsig (Glee, Heroes, Nip/Tuck, Friday Night Lights) as Siggy, Earl Haraldson’s beautiful wife; George Blagden (Les Miserables, Wrath of the Titans) as Athelstan, a young, innocent Christian monk captured by Ragnar on his first raid on England, Clive Standen (Camelot, Robin Hood) as Rollo, Ragnar’s impulsive, wild, care-free brother and Gustaf Skarsgard (The Way Back) a ship builder who designs the new generation of Vikings ships.

Created and written by Michael Hirst – one of the premier historical story-tellers in the industry (Academy-Award winning film Elizabeth; and the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated series The Tudors), Michael serves as Executive Producer along with Morgan O’Sullivan of World 2000 (The Count of Monte Cristo; The Tudors), John Weber of Take 5 Productions (The Tudors; The Borgias), Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, James Flynn (The Tudors; The Borgias) and Sheila Hockin (The Tudors; The Borgias). Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs are the Executives in Charge of Production for HISTORY.

VIKINGS is an international Irish/Canadian co-production being co-produced by World 2000 and Take 5 Productions. HISTORY will broadcast domestically in the U.S. MGM Television will bring VIKINGS to the global audience, serving as the international distributor outside of Ireland, Canada and the U.S. VIKINGS is produced in association with Shaw Media, and the series will air on HISTORY in Canada.

About HISTORY®

HISTORY® is the leading destination for factual entertainment, including award-winning original series and specials that connect viewers with history in an informative, immersive and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. The network’s all-original programming slate, including scripted event programming, features a roster of hits including American Pickers®, American Restoration™, Ax Men™, Ice Road Truckers®, Pawn Stars®, Swamp People® and Top Shot® as well as epic mini-series and specials such as the Emmy® Award-winning Hatfields & McCoys, Gettysburg, Vietnam in HD, America The Story of Us, and 102 Minutes That Changed America. The HISTORY website is the leading online resource for all things history, and in 2011, the United States Library of Congress selected HISTORY’s Civil War 150 site for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the American Civil War sesquicentennial. http://www.history.com

USA: Premiere Dates Announced For New Series ‘Graceland,’ ‘Covert Affairs,’ ‘Suits,’ ‘White Collar,’ More…

Graceland poster

Via Press Release:

usa logoUSA NETWORK CONTINUES TO DOMINATE SUMMER WITH GRITTY NEW ORIGINAL SERIES “GRACELAND,”NEW REALITY SERIES “SUMMER CAMP”AND A STRONG LINEUP OF RETURNING FAVORITES

WHITE COLLAR and New Reality Series THE CHOIR Will Bow This Fall

NEW YORK –April 2, 2013 – Continuing its streak of dominating the summer TV landscape, USA Network announced today a powerful line-up of new originals and fan favorite returning series. The network will launch two new series, including the provocative drama GRACELAND from WHITE COLLAR creator Jeff Eastin, starring and Daniel Sunjata (“Rescue Me”) Aaron Tveit (“Les Miserables”), and the fun-filled reality competition series SUMMER CAMP from the producers of “Big Brother.”

This summer the seventh season of BURN NOTICE turns up the heat on Thursday, June 6 at 9/8c, followed by the much-anticipated launch of GRACELAND at 10/9c. Fan favorite ROYAL PAINS premieres its fifth season on Wednesday, June 12 at 9/8c paired with the third season premiere of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS at 10/9c. Hit international spy drama COVERT AFFAIRS returns for its fourth season on Tuesday, July 16 at 9/8c, followed by the third season return of acclaimed drama SUITS at 10/9c. SUMMER CAMP premieres in July.

BURN NOTICE: The fast-paced spy thriller returns as viewers uncover the details of the mysterious deal Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) struck in the season finale. This situation pushes Michael into new and daunting territory and brings him face-to-face with some formidable friends and foes from his past. As the repercussions of the deal become increasingly dangerous and complex, Michael will enlist the help of Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Jesse (Coby Bell). Emmy®-nominated Sharon Gless also co-stars. Recurring guest stars this season include Adrian Pasdar, Jack Coleman and Stephen Martines. The series will celebrate its landmark 100th episode this season. Premieres June 6, airs Thursdays at 9/8c. Press Contact: Megan Rugani (818.777.6649, Megan.Rugani@nbcuni.com)

GRACELAND: Inspired by true events, USA’s new original series focuses on the lives of undercover agents from the FBI, DEA and US Customs who reside and operate under one roof. When forced to give up any shred of normalcy and the question of trust is a matter of life or death, the house becomes a sanctuary, their “Graceland.” Stars Daniel Sunjata, Aaron Tveit, Vanessa Ferlito, Brandon Jay McLaren, Manny Montana and Serinda Swan. From creator Jeff Eastin, this was a story too good to not be told. Premieres June 6, airs Thursdays at 10/9c. Press Contact: Aly Sands (212.664.2902, Alysia.Sands@nbcuni.com)

ROYAL PAINS: After spending the winter recuperating from brain surgery, Hank (Mark Feuerstein) is ready to return to work on the first weekend of summer – or so he thinks. With their Hamptons medical concierge service, HankMed, busier than ever and Boris’ (recurring guest star Campbell Scott) death still a mystery, Hank finds himself relying on Jeremiah (new series regular Ben Shenkman) in a very surprising way. Evan’s (Paulo Costanzo) rescue of an influential neighbor (recurring guest star Frances Conroy) has unexpected consequences for his future. Paige’s (Brooke D’Orsay) work at an auction house gives her an eye-opening look into Boris’ estate. A newly single Divya (Reshma Shetty) finds her plan to focus solely on work hitting an unexpected snag after the return of an ex. And a change in ownership at the local hospital brings new complications for HankMed. Callum Blue will recur this season as Milos, Boris’ cousin. Premieres June 12, airs Wednesdays at 9/8c. Press Contact: Lynn Weiss (818.777.6682, lynn.weiss@nbcuni.com)

NECESSARY ROUGHNESS: Season three picks up six months after the New York Hawks playoff run at the end of season two. Big changes at the team force Dani (Golden Globe®-nominee Callie Thorne), TK (Mehcad Brooks) and Matt (Marc Blucas) to reconsider their futures with the franchise. After Dani’s success with TK and the New York Hawks, a powerful sports and entertainment management agency run by the seductive Connor McClane (John Stamos) makes her a promising offer to join his firm. The new job could to launch Dani to the next professional level – but at what cost? TK struggles under the reign of a new coach. After a long absence, Nico (Scott Cohen) resurfaces in a surprising place, complicating life for Dani. This season will also welcome John Stamos, David Anders and Karissa Lee Staples to the cast. Premieres June 12, airs Wednesdays at 10/9c. Press Contact: Megan Rugani (818.777.6649, Megan.Rugani@nbcuni.com)

COVERT AFFAIRS: The hit international spy drama returns this summer for its highly anticipated fourth season with Golden Globe®-nominee Piper Perabo as Annie Walker. This season kicks off after Annie and her longtime best friend and blind CIA tech-op, Auggie (Christopher Gorham) finally acknowledging their romantic feelings for one another. Things get complicated at the agency, as Annie aligns with Henry Wilcox (guest star Gregory Itzin) in a dangerous, undercover mission that has potentially scandalous consequences for the CIA. Joining the cast this season is Hill Harper (“CSI: NY”) who will play Calder Michaels, an ambitious CIA station chief based in Latin America. Premieres July 16, airs Tuesdays at 9/8c. Press Contact: Scott Radloff (818.777.1635, Scott.Radloff@nbcuni.com)

SUITS: The critically acclaimed, award-nominated and top rated legal drama returns for its third season with a shift in the dynamics at the firm. After merging with a top British firm, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) is at odds with his boss and mentor, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), and forces Mike (SAG Award nominee Patrick J. Adams) to do something he never thought possible – betray Harvey. Meanwhile, things with Mike and Rachel (Meghan Markle) get more complicated after Mike finally reveals his secret that he never actually went to Harvard – and they cross a line that can never be uncrossed. Premieres July 16, airs Tuesdays at 10/9c. Press Contact: Amanda Cary (212.664.8993, amanda.cary@nbcuni.com)

SUMMER CAMP: From Emmy®-Award winning producer Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan (“Big Brother”) and Fly on the Wall Entertainment in association with Sony Pictures Television, this fun-filled and escapist series sends die-hard campers back to the most cherished place of their youth for the thrill of a lifetime. In SUMMER CAMP, viewers will meet an eclectic group of 16 adults from all walks of life – from the fanatic hunter to the former nerd-turned-supermodel to the vegan yoga instructor. Campers will pack their bags and head to an idyllic lakeside retreat, where they will indulge in over-to-top competitions inspired by classic camp games. At the end of the summer, the remaining competitors face off in the “Campathalon,” an ultimate Olympic style event. Premieres in July.

Press Contacts: Amanda Cary (212.664.8993, amanda.cary@nbcuni.com), Dorothy Canton (212.664.4372, dorothy.canton@nbcuni.com)

The Fall will bring the fifth season return of the hit original series WHITE COLLAR starring Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay in the unlikely partnership of an ex-con and an FBI agent, and the debut of USA’s inspirational new reality THE CHOIR, based on the BAFTA Award-winning British series of the same name which follows choirmaster Gareth Malone as he immerses himself in communities across the country and brings people together through the power of music.

USA: Final Season Of ‘Burn Notice’ Premiere Date Set, Adrian Pasdar, Jack Coleman Join Cast, NEW TRAILER!

burn notice s7

Me Burn NoticeThanks to the urgings of Talk-Radio Tastic (my Dad) I started watching the USA hit spy series Burn Notice two weeks ago.  I have no idea how I had neglected this series as long as I did and I have become absolutely addicted to it to the point where I did Breaking Bad-style marathoning, watching the first six seasons in a week.  Regret and sadness has set in, though.  I’m going through withdrawal, I’m beating myself up over not following the series from the beginning, much like I hadn’t with Battlestar Galactica (I only started watching that series seven months after its series finale aired) and to make matters worse, I just found out that the upcoming seventh season will be its last.  Well, at least I have my Michael Westen sunglasses to help me cope.

Via Press Release:

usa logoUSA NETWORK’S EMMY-NOMINATED SERIES “BURN NOTICE” WILL AIR ITS FINAL SEASON THIS SUMMER
Hit Original Drama Series Returns Thursday, June 6 at 9/8c With 13 New Episodes

New York, NY – May 10, 2013 – USA announced today that its Emmy®-nominated original drama series and ratings juggernaut BURN NOTICE will air its seventh and final season beginning Thursday, June 6 at 9/8c. The hit series, from Fox Television Studios and creator Matt Nix, stars Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless and Coby Bell, and will join an elite group this season as the network’s third series to cross the 100 episode milestone.

“BURN NOTICE has had an incredible run over the last six years, and we could not be more proud of the extraordinary talent both in front of and behind the cameras who have collectively made this show into one of the most popular and lauded shows on TV today,” said Chris McCumber, USA Network co-president. “From day one, BURN NOTICE’s characters, storylines and mythology have consistently captivated a massive audience, and this final season will raise the stakes even higher, leading up to a spectacular series finale,” said Jeff Wachtel, co-president of USA Network.

The adrenaline-charged seventh season of BURN NOTICE will keep hearts racing as viewers uncover the details of the mysterious deal that fans’ favorite renegade spy, Michael Westen (Donovan) struck in the season six finale. Michael’s past and present collide as he tries to rebuild relationships with his family and friends while pursuing a dangerous mission involving the CIA and a lethal network of operatives. Recurring guest stars this season include Jack Coleman (“Heroes”), Adrian Pasdar (POLITICAL ANIMALS) and Stephen Martines (“The Closer”).

Over the years, BURN NOTICE has been honored with numerous industry accolades, including an Emmy® nomination and Gracie Award for supporting actress Sharon Gless, as well as an Edgar Allan Poe Award for showrunner Matt Nix. The BURN NOTICE: A New Day digital graphic novel won the AdAge Vanguard Award for the Most Innovative Broadcast Brand Extension in 2011. The series has also been praised for its impeccable stunt work and has garnered multiple Emmy® and Screen Actors Guild nominations. Greatly beloved by fans, BURN NOTICE was nominated for Favorite TV Obsession in 2011 and Favorite Cable TV Drama in 2013 at the People’s Choice Awards.

A critical hit since its inception, the Los Angeles Times praised the series, saying it had “a smart, savvy edge that seems fresh” and the Chicago Tribune called it an “espionage gem” and pointed out “The characters always come first, and they are all very well realized.” USA Today noted it “mixes drama with humor, often through dry narrative asides,“ and Entertainment Weekly called it a “can’t-miss.”

A breakout hit, BURN NOTICE premiered in 2007 as the #1 new scripted series in P18-49, P25-54, and total viewers P2+. In 2009, BURN NOTICE became the most watched scripted series ever on basic cable in P18-49, the first-ever series to break 3 million in the demo in a year. BURN NOTICE has been one of the top ten scripted series on cable every year it has been on the air and was a successful lead-in to hit series launches for ROYAL PAINS and SUITS. When BURN NOTICE aired Thursdays at 9pm last summer, it became the top performer in that timeslot on cable, outperforming FOX head-to-head in P25-54, P18-49, P18-34, and total viewers P2+.

Fans can catch up on season six of BURN NOTICE on VOD or via streaming at usanetwork.com starting on May 7. The mobile app Shadow Recruit challenges viewers to get inside Westen’s mind, test their spy skills and become his “shadow.” Plus, fans can explore the show’s mythology through the award-winning graphic novels BURN NOTICE: A New Day and First Contact, which feature the hunt for those responsible for burning Westen.

BURN NOTICE was created, written and executive produced by Nix. Mikkel Bondesen, Alfredo Barrios, Craig O’Neill, Ben Watkins, and Terry Miller serve as executive producers. From Fox Television Studios, Fabrik Entertainment and Flying Glass of Milk Productions, the series films in Miami.

For photos of BURN NOTICE, please log on to the NBCUniversal Media Village at http://www.nbcumv.com. For more information on Burn Notice, including press kit materials, screeners, clips and photos, log on to the USA digital press site at http://www.usanetwork.com/press/burnnotice. Password: characters. Follow the official twitter feed of BURN NOTICE at @burnnotice_usa on Twitter.

Fox Television Studios produces scripted and unscripted programming for US broadcast and cable networks, and international broadcasters. Series include Burn Notice, White Collar, and Graceland, all for USA; The Americans for FX; the Emmy-nominated The Killing for AMC; The Glades for A&E; and Maron for IFC. Current FTVS pilots include Sirens for USA; Rita for Bravo; and Line of Sight for AMC.

USA Network is the #1 network in all of basic cable and is seen in over 102 million U.S. homes. A division of NBC Universal, USA is the cable television leader in original series and home to the best in blockbuster theatrical films, acquired television series and entertainment events. The award-winning USA website is located at http://www.usanetwork.com (http://outbind://30/www.usanetwork.com). Characters Welcome.

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CBS: 18 Primetime Shows Renewed, ‘Person Of Interest,’ ‘Elementary,’ ‘NCIS,’ More…

Michael Emerson, Kevin Chapman, Taraji P Henson, Jim Caviezel of the CBS series PERSON OF INTEREST. Photo: Frank W Ockenfels 3 /CBS ©2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Via Press Release:

CBS RENEWS 18 PRIMETIME SHOWS FOR THE 2013-2014 SEASON

Returning Series Showcase the Ratings Success and Programming Depth of Television’s

#1 Network in Viewers, Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54

cbs-logo-featuredMarch 27, 2013 – CBS announced today it has renewed 18 returning series from television’s top-rated lineup for the 2013-2014 broadcast season.

The mass renewals showcase the strength and stability of television’s leading network among viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 25-54.  This season, CBS is home to the #1 program/drama (NCIS), the #1 comedy (THE BIG BANG THEORY),  the #1 new series (ELEMENTARY) and the #1 newsmagazine (60 MINUTES).

The renewals, comprising 16 hours of its primetime schedule, include four comedies, nine dramas, three reality series and two newsmagazines.  The returning shows encompass every night of the week and every hour, many of which rank #1 in their time period and some which rank #1 for the entire night.

The renewed comedies include the previously announced THE BIG BANG THEORY, the final season of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER as well as 2 BROKE GIRLS and MIKE & MOLLY.

Among the returning dramas are the previously announced NCIS, television’s #1 program and top drama for the fourth consecutive year, and the time period-winning CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION.

Other dramas renewed include NCIS: LOS ANGELES, the #2 drama for the third straight year; PERSON OF INTEREST, the fastest-growing show on network television; ELEMENTARY, the season’s most-watched new program; as well as HAWAII FIVE-0, THE MENTALIST, BLUE BLOODS and THE GOOD WIFE.

The Network’s three Emmy Award-winning reality series — THE AMAZING RACE, SURVIVOR and UNDERCOVER BOSS — also return with new editions.

60 MINUTES, television’s #1 newsmagazine, and 48 HOURS, Saturday’s #1 non-sports program, will return in the fall.

In addition, CBS and Warner Bros. Television are in discussions regarding another season for TWO AND A HALF MEN.

Season-to-date, CBS is first in viewers (12.22m), adults 18-49 (3.0/08) and adults 25-54 (3.9/10).

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REVIEW: ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ & A Message To Star Trek Fans: Get Over Yourselves, You’re Not That Important

stidThis summer director J.J. Abrams takes “Star Trek Into Darkness” as the young officers of The U.S.S. Enterprise set course for their most epic journey yet. Abrams reunites with the team that created the fun, the humor, and the spirit of 2009’s acclaimed hit reboot of the beloved franchise. On this second voyage, they’ve amped the action, raised the emotional stakes and launched the Enterprise into a high-wire, life-or-death game of chess with an unstoppable force of destruction. With everything the men and women of The Enterprise believe on the line, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn and sacrifices must be made for the only family Captain Kirk has left: the crew he commands.

It begins with a homecoming, as The Enterprise returns to earth in the wake of a controversial galactic incident, its brash Captain still itching to head back into the stars on a longer mission of peace and exploration. But all is not well on the Blue Planet. A devastating act of terror has exposed an alarming reality: Starfleet is being attacked from within and the fall-out will leave the entire world in crisis. Captain Kirk leads the Enterprise on a mission like no other spanning from the Klingon homeworld to the San Francisco Bay.  Aboard The Enterprise the enemy among them has a shocking talent for destruction. Kirk will lead them into a shadowy mirror-realm of doubts where they’ve never gone before – navigating the razor-thin lines between friends and enemies, revenge and justice, all-out war and the infinite potential of a united future. – Paramount

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND EXPLANATIONS OF CERTAIN PHRASES AND TERMS, PLEASE FOLLOW THE HYPERLINKS PROVIDED THROUGHOUT THIS PIECE.

Our Score: 92/100

A Very Non-Plussed (Perhaps, Terrified) Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Myself, 2008

A Very Non-Plussed (Perhaps, Terrified) Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Myself, 2008

I have to be honest, as much of a fan of Star Trek that I am (to the point where I have a room in my house dedicated to my fandom, I paid for a lifetime membership to Star Trek: Online before it was free-to-play and I have gone to Star Trek Conventions every year since 2003), after the first installment from J.J. Abrams of the rebooted franchise, I wasn’t really expecting that much from Star Trek Into Darkness.  Don’t get me wrong, the first film was a lot of fun and it was certainly great to see the franchise being given the big-budget treatment it deserves and has been lacking and it was also great to see Trek introduced to a whole new generation who overwhelmingly embraced the 2009 film (to the tune of almost $400 million worldwide).  When I reviewed the first film, however, my biggest complaints were that Abrams was playing it safe (other than the gratuitous and unnecessary destruction of Vulcan) and basically delivering us a cookie-cutter summer blockbuster that was really shiny but lacked substance with its plot and had holes big enough to drive a truck through.

Four years later, although I stand by that assessment, I’ve realized that upon reflection, there were a lot of things about the first movie (that I generously gave a 7.5/10 when I reviewed it) that didn’t sit well with me and mostly because it appeared that though Abrams and his go-to-team of Damon Lindelhof, Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci and Bryan Burk (who are all admittedly passionate fans) had an appreciation and reverence for the franchise as a pop-culture icon, they didn’t seem to have any interest in keeping the core principles and concepts of the franchise intact.  Granted, Star Trek was created for television and television shows never translate well to feature film (see: Star Trek: Insurrection which is basically a two-hour episode of the Star Trek: The Next Generation with a $58 million budget) and the price of making a successful Trek film is that you have to sacrifice a lot of what the franchise is about to capture the imagination of the audience.

Yes, That Is Indeed Tom Hardy and He Pretends That Star Trek: Nemesis Didn't Happen, EIther.

Yes, That Is Indeed Tom Hardy and He Pretends That Star Trek: Nemesis Didn’t Happen, Either.

That being said, just looking back at the first nine films (as far as I’m concerned Star Trek: Nemesis never happened), even though they lacked a lot of the more cerebral elements and social commentary that the franchise is known for, they still had the sense of adventure and exploration that are certainly hallmarks in their own right.  This wasn’t the case with Abrams’ Star Trek (2009) and all indications were that this new film was going to be more of the same and although I expected it was going to be big and loud (and mind you, I do love big and loud), it wasn’t going to have much in the way of substance or plot.

I couldn’t have been more wrong, and old-school Trek fans who hate the Abramsverse are going to hate this review and me by the end of it.

STID begins with a fantastic opening action sequence a la the Mission Impossible films with Kirk (Chris Pine) and McCoy (Karl Urban) being chased by a bunch of less-than-friendly natives who are obviously part of a primitive aboriginal society.  In the background, there’s a pissed-off volcano that’s ready to blow.  Through all of the madness we discover that Kirk and McCoy (who were in robes to hide their identities) are frantically trying to avoid contact with this alien culture in order to not violate the Prime Directive. For those who aren’t Trek fans, the Prime Directive is the most sacred law in Starfleet. General Order One prohibits, among other things, interference with the natural development and evolution of less-developed cultures.  So, while all this is going on there’s a little bit of exposition and they explain why they are trying to avoid the native folks and why it’s so important.  As a Trek fan, I sat there, cautiously optimistic and thinking,”OK… this is a good start.  They’ve incorporated the Prime Directive and they are more-or-less accurately explaining it.”

Then the other shoe drops…

Kirk and McCoy manage to make it back to the Enterprise by jumping off of a cliff into the water and swimming to her.  Y’see, they hid the Enterprise underwater.  Now, unlike the other butt-hurt fans out there who have been bitching about this scene for the last six months or so, I don’t really have a problem with that because other than an episode of Star Trek: Voyager (30 Days) where they had to send a shuttle into a planet that was basically a big ball of water floating in space because Voyager couldn’t handle the pressure of the water at a significant depth, there has never been anything mentioned in the franchise that said it was impossible for a starship to be submerged underwater (seriously, it can travel exponentially beyond the speed of light through the pressures of the vacuum of space but the damned thing can’t survive in a few feet of water?).  No, what I had a problem with was what came next and we find out what the true purpose of their mission was: to go into the volcano and put a device in there that will render the volcano inert, thereby saving the lives of the primitive culture.

Stop. Right. There.

kirk ruleJust when I was thinking that they had FINALLY gotten the essence of Trek right (open with a scene exploring a planet, inclusion of the Prime Directive), they have Spock (Zachary Quinto) intentionally violating the Prime Directive… which they had just said they were trying to adhere to no matter what the cost.  This really caught my attention because the dilemma of allowing a culture to go extinct in order to follow the Prime Directive’s position of the natural development of said culture has come up on more than one occasion on Trek and it’s been dealt with in a variety of ways.  The difference between how the issue has been dealt with before and this time, however, is that in the past they at least acknowledged the conflict with the Prime Directive, sometimes followed the Prime Directive despite the ethical conflict and sometimes just said, “F*ck it… we’re violating the Prime Directive.” Kirk, McCoy and Spock in this film, on the other hand, are yapping incessantly about how important the Prime Directive is in these sequences when the concern is about being seen… and then they don’t even acknowledge that they are violating it by saving these people to begin with.

What the holy f*ck was that?  At this point, I started looking at my clock on my phone and wondered how much longer I was going to have to sit through this nonsense… and then it happened; the most important scene of the film (that most people probably didn’t realize was the most important scene) and how I knew STID was vastly superior to its predecessor.

After the scene was over and Kirk again violates the Prime Directive by flying the Enterprise out of the water in order to save Spock from inside of the volcano in the nick of time (thereby exposing the big freaking spaceship to the guys in loin-cloths with spears… whoops!) they go back to Earth and Spock is mad because Kirk violated the Prime Directive to save him and Kirk is annoyed because Spock doesn’t seem to understand that saving his friends is far more important to him than that pesky Prime Directive. They both get called into Admiral Pike’s (Bruce Greenwood) office and he dresses both of them down for the violation of the Prime Directive (and the fact that Kirk lied in his Captain’s Log about the incident… again… whoops!).  Pike explains (basically to the audience) that their mission was ONLY to observe and report.  Kirk objects asking if he was supposed to let those people die and Pike tells him, “Yes!” which is exactly what he should have told him. So now, as Pike explains, there are consequences.  Kirk gets his command of the Enterprise taken away and is ordered to go back to Starfleet Academy to finish his coursework (remember, they give him a field commission at the end of the first film in his third year).

So, not only did the film redeem itself by addressing the morally questionable side of the Prime Directive, it also addressed the issue of consequences for following a moral code that is sometimes in contradiction with your orders.  This sets the tone for the entire film. Classic Kirk, classic Trek.  Bravo, and it’s about flippin’ time.

Section 31: Starfleet's Very-Own Men in Black.

Section 31: Starfleet’s Very-Own Men in Black.

It only gets better from there, with a storyline full of moral conflicts, wonderful references to fan-favorite aspects of the franchise spanning everything from the Klingon homeworld (although, it’s Qo’noS not  Kronos, you dopes) to model ships of the NX-01 Enterprise (Star Trek: Enterprise), the Phoenix (Star Trek: First Contact), The XCV-330 (an Original Matt Jefferies design for use in a Gene Roddenberry project that never happened in the 1970s ) and the NX-Alpha (from the ENT episode First Flight) as set pieces and of course an epic adventure spanning across the stars (you’ll recall that the space adventure of the last film was fly to Vulcan, watch it blow up, maroon Kirk on Hoth to get eaten by a vagina monster and then they go back to Earth).  But the best fan-favorite inclusion in this film and perhaps of any Trek film ever is the active role of Section 31, the rogue, technically non-existent, clandestine shadow organization operating within Starfleet Intelligence first seen in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that is determined to protect the the Federation regardless of the costs, how many laws it breaks or how many people it kills. It’s one of the darkest and most unseemly aspects in the Trek Universe and it’s in complete contradiction with all of the values and principles of the Federation and Starfleet… which is exactly why we love it.

old school scottyOne of the great things about this film from the perspective of a Trek fan that wasn’t really present during the first go-around is that these actors, although bringing their own unique style and personalities to these classic characters, really feel like their beloved original counterparts from the original series and the original feature films. Chris Pine is a young James Kirk, Zachary Quinto is a young Spock, Karl Urban… well it is quite possible that Karl Urban is actively channeling the spirit of DeForest Kelley and he may have been doing so since he learned the role was available and lobbied for it. He’s even more McCoy-like in this film (as if it was possible) than he was in the last one.  With the exception of Urban, this “becoming the character” didn’t happen in the last film.  Yes, Chris Pine may have been called James T. Kirk, but I really didn’t feel that he was Kirk.  This positive development of the characters was present for the entire ensemble cast.  Zoe Saldana is very convincing as the self-assured and passionate Uhura, Anton Yelchin plays the part of the brilliant, albeit young and self-conscious Pavel Chekov with aplomb and Simon Pegg nails Montgomery Scott (Scotty) as well as James Doohan did, bringing a sense of comic relief while at the same time applying his brilliant engineering skills to prove to be the miracle worker he is known for being. And yes, I know that’s blasphemy to even suggest.

As far as villains go, this time around we are given two of them but in true Trek-fashion, they are very complicated, shades-of-gray adversaries… again, as opposed to the very one-dimensional, bent-on-revenge Nero (Eric Bana) from the first film. Peter Weller makes his mark on the franchise again (he also appeared as the main villain, John Frederick Paxton in the ENT penultimate two-parter Demons and Terra Prime, arguably, the two best episodes of the series) by playing the dedicated but ruthless Admiral Marcus whose goals are slowly revealed to the audience.  Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) plays the mysterious and elusive Starfleet Officer John Harrison who is responsible for a horrific terrorist attack and finds an unlikely ally with Kirk and crew until his true identity is ultimately revealed as is the danger he presents.

Icrying spocks the film perfect? Please, it’s a summer blockbuster and a Trek film… how could it possibly be perfect?  Even if you’re not a Trek fan, you have to laugh at some of the absurdity when it comes to the science in the film.  I was hoping to forget about Scotty’s magical transporter that can “beam” people across the galaxy and even onto starships traveling at high warp speed, but of course they had to use that dopey piece of tech again in ST:ID. I’m just wondering: has it occurred to anyone that a transporter capable of doing this would make starships completely unnecessary, and thus, make Starfleet pointless? And I seriously could do with a whole lot less of Spock crying.  Spock is only allowed to cry when he is under the influence of a space virus that makes him drunk.  He is not allowed to cry simply because he is sad.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Harrison O'Halloran)

Star Trek: The Next Generation (Harrison O’Halloran)

If you are a Trek fan like myself, there are plenty of cringe-worthy moments that induce serious eyeball-rolling where they just absolutely rape the original source material with their references to the original series and films (these moments are VERY integral to the film and not casual) and to be quite honest it seems  intentional.  It’s kind of a big “F*CK YOU” to the old-school Trek fans who are critical of the Abramsverse and hate it for the sake of hating it.  On the other hand, looking at these references from the perspective of objectivity, the truth is that no one except for the most dedicated fan would know any different (they dipped their toe in the water in the first film with this approach with the Kobayashi Maru scene but it wasn’t very effective because there was no context). The real purpose of these references, however, which we grant completely violate the established storyline (because… y’know… the franchise has NEVER contradicted itself over the past 46-plus years) is to make a very strong statement to the fandom about where these new adventures fit within the franchise.  You’re right, this is not the Star Trek that you remember but it is indeed Star Trek and we are firmly establishing ourselves within the franchise by taking the spirit, theme, characters and even the established plotlines and re-envisioning them all for a contemporary audience while staying true to the original principles of the franchise… and you’d better get used to it because the fact of the matter is that your kids like our new Star Trek far more than your old Star Trek.

batman-lens-flareThe bottom-line, though, is that as much as the old guard fandom complains about nonsense like the overuse of the “lens flare” effect technique (it’s been four f*cking years… sing another tune, already), the Anheuser Busch brewery used as the engineering set (which no one would have even known about to complain about if the producers hadn’t made such a big deal about it during the last film), the design of the Enterprise herself, experimentation on Tribbles, the ship in the water, the obnoxiously oversized U.S.S. Vengeance and of course all of the other goofiness that does rear its head in the film that I spoke about, none of these issues detract in any meaningful way from the quality of the film and its “Trekness,” as it were. This film is so well-done that I’ve even come to accept the biggest blasphemy of the first film, the destruction of Vulcan, which is something that I never thought I would accept.  To make matters worse for the anti-Abramsverse Trek fan, audiences love these films and by the end of the summer, these first two Trek films by Abrams will mostly likely have grossed more globally than the previous ten films combined… which brings me to the portion of the show where I address the fanbase directly.

As noted by the four year campaign of hate against the Abramsverse films, some corners of Star Trek fandom continue to be under the impression that hundreds of millions of dollars should be spent to make the Star Trek movie that coincides with THEIR vision of what the franchise should be about. This makes me giggle to no end because not only has that never been the case in the films (following the formula of Crisis/Introduction of Villain, Action, Resolution, Roll Credits), but it was also never the case for the television franchise.

picard wtfAt the height of the franchise’s popularity, Star Trek: The Next Generation was getting 14 million viewers per week; guess what percentage were actually “fans,” i.e., those viewers who followed the franchise religiously and spent money on the merchandising…

It was 2%… and do you know why? Because the franchise on television, like ALL television shows that’s not on a niche network wasn’t and isn’t made for niche science fiction audiences or even the Star Trek fans. It’s made for the general 18 – 49 demographic with the purpose of getting as many of those viewers watching from week-to-week as possible because that’s what advertisers pay the big bucks for.

Advertisers do not give two-shits about 2% of the viewing audience, they care about the other 98% and how many of them fall into that coveted demographic. Ergo, Paramount/CBS Television or whoever is producing the shows don’t give two-shits about the fans, either. What they care about is producing a show that makes them as much money as possible from advertisers and that means that the primary goal in production is to have as much mass-appeal as possible.

star-trek-warsIt is no different for the Abramsverse films or the ten films that came before them. We as Trek fans seriously need to get the f*ck over ourselves and understand the reality of the situation: Star Trek is not only not specifically made for us, but the fact is that it’s made for everyone else BUT us, regardless of the visual medium.  Hell, the first film (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 1979) was produced as a response to the success of Star Wars and its mass-appeal, not because Paramount thought to themselves,  “We have to bring this franchise back because a cult fanbase is clamoring for it.”  They weren’t looking to get Trek fans into the theater, they were looking to get EVERYONE into the theater… just like Star Wars did.

And not for nothing, but Trek fans should be worshipping the ground that Abrams walks on because he was the only one with any clout in Hollywood who saw any value left in what was a completely dead franchise after the disasters of both ENT and ST: NEM.

And why were they such disasters? Because producer and Roddenberry heir apparent to the franchise, Rick Berman, was so obsessed with this nostalgic notion of remaining true to Roddenberry’s vision to the exclusion of all else that he allowed the franchise to be stuck perpetually in 1990 well into the new millennium. The 18 – 49 demographic evolved generationally and their tastes changed while Trek stood still.  No offense is intended toward Berman (who many fans do hate) who is responsible for many great things in the franchise but the facts are the facts.

ron moore bsgDon’t want to believe it? Just look up some interviews with Ronald D. Moore (former writer/producer on TNG, DS9 and VOY and creator of the Battlestar Galactica reboot) as to why he was so frustrated on TNG and VOY and why he ultimately left VOY.  He talks about it at length with Rod Roddenberry (Gene Roddenberry’s son) on the Trek Nation documentary but if you really want to get some insight, just listen to the audio commentary on the Battlestar Galactica DVD/Blu-ray sets.

Moore recognized how stale and repetitive the franchise had become by the mid-1990s and understood that it was not keeping up with the changing tastes of its target audience. As he explains it, he wanted to do the things on VOY that he ultimately did on BSG but was told he couldn’t because it wasn’t in strict keeping with Roddenberry’s vision. The result: Trek goes into a 10-year tailspin culminating with the untimely cancellation after a mere four seasons of its last series that was getting a lousy two million viewers per week (ENT).

And what does Moore think about Star Trek (2009)?:

“The bottom line was, it really worked. I enjoyed it. I think most people enjoyed it. And I think it opened the door to a new generation of fans, because the franchise up to that point, as I said earlier, was so encumbered by its own continuity and its own back stories that I think it was really, really difficult to get new people to try Star Trek, because there was just such a huge learning curve they had to go through. Now, with the re-imagining of it, people could just start over and enjoy it and then go discover all the various permutations and spin-offs later on. It has to be inviting for people to sample it for the first time, and it did.”

grumpy stidStar Trek (2009) made nearly three times as much money as its next closest competitor within the franchise. It’s not Roddenberry’s vision? Good. The reality is that audiences (excluding the insignificant numbers that comprise Trek fandom) don’t want Roddenberry’s vision of how a Trek show or film should be made anymore. It’s old, tired and outdated and it doesn’t coincide with their worldview or expectations when it comes to television and film viewing options.  It’s simply not sophisticated enough for today’s contemporary audience and it certainly doesn’t work on television when audiences have 500 channels to choose from.

That being said, they do once again want Trek and regardless of whatever anyone may think about the content of these new films, it is simply foolish to not recognize the positive role that Abrams has played in reviving this, until recently, very dead franchise.

Trek fans who hate the Abrams vision need to go see STID twice, maybe even three times and bring three friends each time because how well this film does will have a direct impact on the possibility of Trek returning to television in the near future (where it truly belongs to begin with). But whatever the pouty fandom does, it’s in their best interest to get over their inflated sense of self-importance, stop complaining and simply be thankful that Trek has a future now thanks to the likes of Abrams… which is something that couldn’t be said five years ago.

FX: ‘Justified’ Renewed For Season Five

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Yeah, big shocker, we know…

Via Press Release:

FX logoNEW YORK, March 28, 2013 – FX Networks announced a slew of pickups this morning, with Justified getting a fifth season pickup on FX, while It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League and Legit will all return and move to FXX, announced John Landgraf, President & General Manager, FX Networks.The critically-acclaimed drama series Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant, will continue to run on FX. Season five begins production this fall and will air on FX in January 2014. Season four is currently airing, with the season finale slated to air next Tuesday, April 2, at 10:00 PM ET/PT. To date, season four is pacing to be Justified’s most-watched season ever.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The League and Legit will all move to FXX.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s ninth season will air on FXX this fall, and the network has also placed an order for a tenth season that will air in the fall of 2014. One of the most successful comedies in all of basic cable, Sunny’s eighth season ranked #2 in its basic cable time period in Men 18-49 and Men 18-34 (behind only the NFL on the NFL Network) and #2 in Adults 18-34 and Women 18-34 (behind Jersey Shore).

The League’s already announced fifth season will air on FXX this fall, and the network is announcing a sixth season pickup that will air on FXX in the fall of 2014. Last season, The League ranked #2 in its basic cable time period in M18-49, behind only the NFL on NFL Network.

The new critically-acclaimed comedy Legit’s first season will end on FX Thursday, April 11 at 10:30PM ET/PT. The show has officially been picked up for a second season, and will be moving to FXX, returning in early 2014. Legit continues to build an audience, growing by +25% from its first three episodes to its second three episodes.

Developed by Graham Yost and starring Timothy Olyphant, Justified is based on the works of crime novelist Elmore Leonard, including Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole.” The series co-stars Walton Goggins, Nick Searcy, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel and Joelle Carter. Yost wrote the pilot and serves as executive producer/showrunner on the series. Leonard is also an executive producer on the series along with Carl Beverly, Sarah Timberman, Michael Dinner and Fred Golan. Justified is produced by Sony Pictures Television and FX Productions.

FX Launches Young Adult Focused FXX Network, ‘It’s Always Sunny…,’ ‘The League’ & ‘Legit’ to Flagship

FXX_logo

UPDATE:  In our eagerness to publish this ridiculously long press-release that we were, frankly, just too lazy read all the way through, we forgot to mention the most important news of the piece: FX has renewed It’s Always Sunny in PhiladelphiaThe League and Legit and they will all be moving to the new network, FXX.

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Via Press Release:

FX NETWORKS TO LAUNCH FXX A NEW NETWORK FOR YOUNG ADULTS DEBUTING ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2013 AND AVAILABLE TO 74 MILLION HOMES

FX NETWORKS BECOMES THREE-NETWORK SUITE WITH FX, FXX AND FXM AND WILL GROW TO OFFER 25 SCRIPTED ORIGINAL SERIES

FX WILL TARGET ADULTS 18-49, FXX WILL FOCUS ON ADULTS 18-34, AND FXM WILL AIM FOR ADULTS 25-54

FX NETWORKS TO LAUNCH ITS VERSION OF TV EVERYWHERE WITH “FXNOW”

FX logoNEW YORK, March 28, 2013 – On Monday, September 2, FX Networks will launch FXX, a new network aimed at young adult viewers, it was announced today by John Landgraf, President and General Manager, FX Networks. With the addition of FXX, FX Networks will become a suite of three networks consisting of FX, FXX and FXM.

FXX will be available in 74 million homes in year one, making it one of the most widely distributed entertainment networks ever for an ad-supported cable network in its inaugural year. FXX initially will be built on a foundation of original comedy series, movies and acquired series, and expand to include original drama series, all primarily designed to attract young adults 18-34.

FX, the flagship of FX Networks, will continue to offer award-winning original comedy and drama series, movies and acquired series targeted to Adults 18-49. FX will increase the number of drama series and begin offering limited series and miniseries.

FXM will continue to be home to prestige movies, and related short-form original programming – as its universe grows, it will begin to televise its own limited series and miniseries.

Landgraf said, “This is a landmark day in the almost 20-year history of FX Networks. As we add FXX to become a suite of three channels, FX will remain the foundation of the brand, which is why we chose to include it in the names of each of our three networks. We will maintain the exceptional quality associated with the FX brand, a reputation we have established with consumers through our numerous, award-winning hit comedy and drama series for more than a decade.

“With this expansion, FX, FXX and FXM will specifically target one of the three major adult demos, enabling us to focus on creating passionate engagement across the entire range of adult viewers ages 18 to 54. This will enable the FX Networks to deliver more impressions and gain greater reach across all key adult demos without falling into the ?all things to all people’ pitfall that plagues broadcast television.

“We are embarking on an incredibly ambitious ramp-up of program development and production required to sustain these networks. I’m very confident that the pilots, projects and talent we have deals with will allow us to double our already best-in-class roster of scripted original series over the next several years. Our three-network platform will enable us to achieve even greater goals and solidify our position as a leader in quality scripted original programming.”

FX Networks will invest heavily in original programming and massively ramp up its development and pilot production slate, more than doubling its current offerings to feature 25 scripted original series across the three networks over the next three years (see Attachment 5 for Comedy Series Pilot Slate; see Attachment 6 for Limited Series Development Slate).

Also, additional season orders have been placed for returning hit series, including Justified, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The League, and Legit (see Attachment 2). The late night series Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell will become a five-nights-per-week strip (see attachment 3).

FX Will Continue to Offer Award-Winning Scripted Dramas and Comedies Network to Launch New Drama The Bridge in July and Will Debut Its First Limited Series, Fargo

FX has enjoyed a decade-long track record of success in original programming, and its slate of award-winning original hit series is unmatched by any of its basic cable competitors. The network will build on that success and bolster its slate of originals, introducing The Bridge, a new drama series in July, and its first limited series, Fargo (see attachment 4), next spring.

FX is off to a great start in 2013, recording the most-watched first quarter ever and posting gains of +23% gains in Adults 18-49 and +28% gains in Adults 18-34 versus first quarter of 2012.

Earlier this year, FX launched the most critically-acclaimed new drama series of the year, The Americans. The period piece set in 1981?about KGB spies posing as Americans in the US will conclude its first season on May 1. It’s already been renewed for a second season which will debut in January of 2014.

The Emmy Award(R)-winning hit drama Justified is recording the highest ratings in its history, and it remains one of the most consistently excellent shows on TV. Season four ends on April 2 and the network has ordered the fifth season of the series, which will debut in January of 2014.

Also, when it comes to returning drama, very few shows on television compare to the acclaimed hit series Sons Of Anarchy, either creatively or from a ratings standpoint. It is the highest-rated series in FX history. Last season, Sons was TV’s #1 show among Adults 18-49 in the Tuesday 10 PM time period. Season six of SOA kicks off in September.

Also, returning in the fall will be the newest incarnation of the American Horror Story miniseries franchise. Last year, AHS tied with Mad Men for the most Emmy Award nominations for any television program. It is one of the Top 5 ranked scripted shows on basic cable in delivery of Adults 18-49. The next chapter will be called American Horror Story: Coven and it is set in New Orleans and Academy Award(R) winner Kathy Bates is joining the cast opposite Jessica Lange. American Horror Story will once again roll out in October, just in time for Halloween, and it will run through January of 2014.

Original comedy series will remain a staple of the FX schedule.

The Emmy and Peabody Award winning series Louie is the most critically-acclaimed comedy on television, broadcast or cable. Put simply, Louis C.K. is a genius. He created a show that is smart, poignant, painful, hysterical, and truly original. The fourth season of Louie will debut on FX May of 2014.

The award-winning animated comedy, Archer, currently in its fourth season, is irreverent, hilarious and brilliant. It has become a force in television on Thursday nights. FX picked up the fifth season of Archer and we believe this show, which has grown EVERY season it has aired, will continue that trajectory well into the future, just as Sunny did.

The acclaimed hit comedy Wilfred, starring Jason Gann and Elijah Wood, ranked among basic cable’s Top 10 scripted comedies last season in young adults. It will return this summer.

FX has two new drama series this year.

New to FX is The Bridge, a drama series premiering in July starring Academy Award nominee Demi?n Bichir and veteran film actress Diane Kruger. Set on the border between El Paso and Juarez, The Bridge centers on two detectives, one from the United States and one from Mexico, who must work together to hunt down a killer operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. The Bridge was adapted for American television by the Emmy and Golden Globe(R) Award winning Executive Producer of Homeland, Meredith Stiehm, and Novelist and television Writer/Producer Elwood Reid.

New to FX are miniseries and limited series.

While FX has had tremendous success with drama series?with most of our shows running seven seasons, we think there is a huge opportunity to begin producing dramatic programs that have shorter runs. Miniseries were once a staple of primetime, generating some of television’s biggest and most memorable hits, and we can’t wait to bring the FX sensibility to new forms of dramatic storytelling.

Looking beyond The Bridge and Fargo, FX drama development has never been stronger.

FX won bidding wars against multiple premium cable competitors for two of the most sought-after projects this year. Tyrant is from Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning Homeland Producers Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff and Craig Wright. The pilot will be directed by two-time Academy Award-winner Ang Lee, the filmmaker behind Sense & Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi. It is Lee’s first project after winning this year’s best director Oscar for Life of Pi. Pilot production begins this summer, and a full writing staff is currently working on scripts for the first season.

The other marquee drama series FX captured was The Strain, written and directed by Executive Producer Guillermo Del Toro, the award-winning filmmaker behind Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim; and Executive Produced by Carlton Cuse (Lost). The Strain creates a world of vampires unlike any ever depicted in television or film. These bloodsuckers are not the romanticized version of vampires that have become such a clich?but a terrifyingly original new vision. Pilot production begins in August and a full writing staff is at work developing scripts for the first season.

In addition to the original series, FX will televise blockbuster movies in all dayparts, with a library unmatched by any basic cable network. The FX schedule will also include the acquired series Anger Management, Two and a Half Men and, coming in 2014, Mike & Molly.

Launched in June of 1994, FX is now carried in more than 98 million homes.

FXX Anchored by Hit Comedy Series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The League

Late Night Show Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell Expands to Five Nights a Week

FXX’s schedule will consist of original series, movies and acquired series geared toward a slightly younger audience than FX, with a target demo of Adults 18-34. It will be somewhat more focused on comedy than FX, given the passion of younger viewers for outrageous characters and big laughs, but it will not be strictly a comedy channel.

FXX will start out with a base of four original comedies and one late night show, but by the second year the original schedule will expand to six scripted comedies, plus the late night show. The channel will grow over time to encompass its own original dramas.

The FXX brand will take its inspiration from what it means today to be young. It will be home to a rebellious passion for the unexpected and unique. FXX programming will share this generation’s commitment to shattering stereotypical genres and tired, clich?d formulas.

The new channel will be anchored by the hit original series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The League, two of the finest comedies on television and two of the highest-rated among Adults 18-24. These series will move from FX to FXX with the launch of the network this fall.

Sunny is one of the greatest success stories in cable television and it embodies the maverick spirit that has defined FX’s young-skewing comedy brand. It is the first basic cable comedy series to syndicate to another basic cable channel; it spawned the live stage show, “The Nightman Cometh,” and it became one of the highest-selling TV DVDs in the FOX library. The ninth season debuts this fall and we will celebrate the series’ 100th episode this year. In addition, FX exercised its option and has ordered a 10th season, which extends the series run through the fall of 2014.

The League was recently renewed for a fifth season and today we are picking up the sixth season, which will take it through the fall of 2014. The League ranks as a Top 10 Comedy in basic cable, and is one of the most popular shows among young men, ranking #2 in its basic cable time period behind only Thursday Night Football.

Legit, the Network’s newest comedy series, was renewed for a second season. The show was co-created by and stars Australian Comedian Jim Jefferies. The series follows Jeffries and his roommates, the adventurous and well-endowed quadriplegic “Billy” and his romantically clueless older brother “Dan” as they struggle to find a “legitimate” way in life. It is the most critically-acclaimed new comedy of 2013 and its ratings grew over the course of the season. Another series moving to FXX is the late night show we introduced last year, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, from Comedian and Host W. Kamau Bell and Executive Producer Chris Rock. The series is expanding into a five- night per week, half-hour strip?with 130 new original episodes slated to premiere on FXX this fall beginning with the Channel’s launch.

FXX will feature blockbuster movies in all dayparts and also televise the acquired series Parks & Recreation, How I Met Your Mother, Rescue Me, Arrested Development, Sports Night and Freaks & Geeks.

FXM Will Feature Prestige Movies and Grow to Feature Miniseries and Movies

For people who love movies, FXM is becoming a destination channel. A year ago January, we converted the classic film-driven Fox Movie Channel into FXM, an ad-supported channel that airs contemporary films from 3 PM to 3 AM each day with limited commercial interruption. The results have been incredible. After growing more than 100% in Adults 25-54 in the Channel’s first year, we’ve grown another 50% in the 25-54 demo year-to-date. FXM has added more than 10 million new homes in the past 12 months and is now carried in almost 60 million homes.

FXM is a brand that literally lives for movies. Movies are the essence of its DNA and excellence in dramatic narrative the essence of its mission. This network will bring the best filmmakers of our generation together to share their unique creative vision in multiple forms and formats. We will deliver the best lineup of blockbuster Hollywood films?and we will program some of the best original miniseries and limited series on television.

Beginning this fall, FX Networks will launch the FXNOW app, creating its own version of “TV Everywhere” for subscribers of FX, FXX and FXM. The FXNOW platform will be available to authenticated subscribers of participating FX cable, satellite and telco providers. With the FXNOW app, viewers will be able to access the programming of any of the FX suite of Channels that are part of their current TV channel lineup.

Authenticated subscribers can view programs, the day after air, with the five most recent episodes available.

FXNOW will also offer on-demand access to the FXM VOD Movie Library, an unprecedented collection of blockbuster movies, most of which cannot be found on Netflix or other subscription VOD services.

SyFy: ‘Continuum’ Season Two Premiere Date Announced (TRAILER!)

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Via Press Release:

SYFY’S POPULAR SERIES CONTINUUM WILL RETURN FOR SECOND SEASON

THIRTEEN ALL-NEW EPISODES BEGIN AIRING FRIDAY, JUNE 7

NBC Universal LogosNEW YORK – March 26, 2013 – Syfy has announced its popular time traveling police drama Continuum will return for a second season. The 13 all-new episode season will premiere in its new time period beginning Friday, June 7 at 10PM (ET/PT).

During its first season, Continuum delivered 1.35 million total viewers, 644K Adults 25-54 and 537K Adults 18-49. In its time period, the series ranked #6 in Adults 25-54 and #10 in Adults 18-49 among all cable entertainment programs with at least three telecasts (based on most current data).

New episodes of Continuum pick up after the gripping Season 1 finale when Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols/Criminal MindsAlias) fought a ticking clock to prevent a cataclysmic act of terrorism.

Cameron is a cop from the future who finds herself trapped in the present day, swept along when a group of fanatical terrorists escaped their planned execution in 2077 by vaulting back in time.

Continuum co-stars Victor Webster (CastleMelrose Place) as detective Carlos Fonnegra and Erik Knudsen (JerichoScream 4), who plays teen tech genius Alec Sadler.

Executive producers of Continuum are series creator Simon Barry (The Art of War), Pat Williams (Smallville), and Tom Rowe (Tin Man). Continuum is a Showcase original series and is produced by Reunion Pictures in association with Shaw Media.

Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (www.Syfy.com), and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 98 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. (Syfy. Imagine greater.)

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