Friday, July 28, 2017

Outlander season 3 -- FIRST LOOK

This afternoon at the Television Critics (TCA) convention in Beverly Hills, Starz released new information and a first-look video at season 3 of its smash series Outlander.  The video, titled "Parallel Lives," features new footage and cast interviews.

Outlander season 3 debuts on Starz on Sunday, September 10 at 8 PM ET/PT.

About “Outlander” Season Three
The third season of “Outlander” picks up right after Claire (Caitriona Balfe) travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948. Now pregnant with Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) child, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another, each haunted by the memory of their lost love. The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart… as well as new doubt. Separated by continents and centuries, Claire and Jamie must find their way back to each other. As always, adversity, mystery, and adventure await them on the path to reunion. And the question remains: When they find each other, will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones, all those years ago?

Diana Gabaldon’s eight-book Outlander series has sold more than 28 million copies worldwide and all the books have graced the New York Times best-sellers list. The “Outlander” series spans the genres of history, science fiction, romance and adventure in one amazing tale. The second season of “Outlander” won the Critics’ Choice Award for 
Most Bingeworthy Show, and four People’s Choice Awards, including Favorite TV Show.

Ronald D. Moore, Maril Davis, Matthew B. Roberts, Toni Graphia, Anne Kenney and Andy Harries serve as executive producers of “Outlander,” which is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Company and Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television.

“Outlander” Online
For more information, go to the official Outlander Facebook Page and follow @Outlander_Starz on Twitter and Instagram. Join the conversation with #Outlander and #STARZ.

Starz Announces Stephenie Meyer's The Rook

Breaking news from the Television Critics (TCA) Convention in Beverly Hills:  Starz has announced the pickup of a series based on Twilight author Stephenie Meyers' supernatural spy thriller, The Rook, to be distributed internationally.  Press release below.


Lionsgate and Liberty Global Partner on Supernatural Spy Thriller The Rook for Premium Pay Platform STARZ
Twilight Creator Stephenie Meyer and Television Icon Stephen Garrett to Executive Produce New Premium Series
Series Will Debut on STARZ Platform in the U.S. and Across Liberty Global’s International Platforms in Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean
Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, CA, and London, UK – July 28, 2017 – Starz President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Albrecht announced today that STARZ has picked up the supernatural spy thriller The Rook, produced by a ground-breaking partnership between global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B) and Liberty Global (NASDAQ: LBTYA, LBTYB, LBTYK, LILA and LILAK), the world’s largest international TV and broadband company.  The Rook is a premium series executive produced byTwilight Saga creator Stephenie Meyer, with industry icon Stephen Garrett serving as showrunning Executive Producer.  The announcement was part of Starz’s presentation to the Television Critics Association (TCA).  
The series will air on the STARZ platform in the U.S. beginning next year.  At the same time, Liberty Global will feature the series exclusively on demand across its footprint in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.  Lionsgate will distribute the series worldwide.
A riveting supernatural thriller about a young woman pursued by shadowy paranormal adversaries while grappling with extraordinary abilities of her own, The Rook is executive produced by Ms. Meyer (The Twilight Saga, Lionsgate’s upcoming Down A Dark HallAustenland and The Host) and producing partner Meghan Hibbett under their Fickle Fish production banner.
An accomplished producer in both television and film, Stephen Garrett will serve as showrunning Executive Producer under his Character 7 banner.  Garrett most recently served as Executive Producer on the award-winning and ratings hit, The Night ManagerThe Rook is adapted and co-produced by award-winning playwrights and screenwriters Sam Holcroft (Rules for Living) and Al Muriel (Precious & Rich) based on the novel by Daniel O’Malley.
“A high-end series aimed right at the sweet spot of our audience, The Rook is a great addition to a STARZ slate loaded with the most exciting new and returning series offered by any platform anywhere,” said Albrecht. “We are thrilled to add the talents of Stephen Garrett and Stephenie Meyer to our creative family and forge our partnership with the Lionsgate Television Group and Liberty Global. The Rook is instantly addictive from the very first scene and introduces what we believe will be one of the most fascinating and thrilling female protagonists on television.”
“Stephenie is one of the world’s great creative talents, and Stephen has an incredible track record in bringing remarkable stories to the screen,” said Lionsgate Television Group Chairman Kevin Beggs and President of Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Jim Packer.  The Rook is a major premium property driven by an amazing creative team, and it’s not only a terrific addition to the STARZ platform but the perfect series to launch a content alliance with our friends at Liberty Global.”
The Rook is another important step in Liberty Global’s premium scripted content strategy. Shot in the UK, this project is a perfect fit for Virgin Media as well as our other European markets,” said Liberty Global chief programming officer Bruce Mann. “The series, which we look forward to making available exclusively to millions of Liberty Global subscribers worldwide, is an amazing supernatural thriller which we are excited to have in the hands of an elite creative showrunner like Stephen Garrett.  We’re also delighted to be partnering with our good friends at Lionsgate and Starz.”
“Everything starts with great writing,” said Character 7’s Executive Chairman Stephen Garrett.  “To be conspiring on The Rook in partnership with Stephenie based on a book that is as dazzling as it is surprising and working with the talented team of Sam and Al, is the perfect springboard for thrilling television. The teams at Lionsgate, Starz and Liberty Global are great champions of creativity, and we’re looking forward to partnering with them.”
The Rook tells the story of a young woman who wakes up in a London park suffering total amnesia – surrounded by dead bodies, all wearing latex gloves. Pursued by shadowy paranormal adversaries, grappling with peculiar ‘abilities’ of her own, she must fight to uncover her past, and resume her position at the head of Britain’s most secret (supernatural) service… before the traitors who stole her memory can finish what they started.
About Stephenie Meyer
Ms. Meyer has gained worldwide recognition for her original and captivating stories that have paved the way for a new generation of women heroes, and her blockbuster Twilight Saga film franchise, which she created and produced, grossed $3.5 billion at the worldwide box office.  The Twilight films were based on her acclaimed book series which has sold over 100 million copies in more than 50 countries and been translated into 37 languages.  She also co-produced The Host, based on her #1 New York Times best-seller, andAustenland with Hibbett.  They are producing an adaptation of Lois Duncan’s teen classic Down A Dark Hall, starring Uma Thurman and AnneSophie Robb, with Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, for Lionsgate.
Ms. Meyer was the best-selling author of 2008 and 2009 in the U.S., selling over 29 million books in 2008 and another 26.5 million in 2009.  USA Today named Ms. Meyer “Author of the Year” in 2008, noting that she swept the top four slots on the USA Today best-seller book list, something that no one else had done in 15 years.  Ms. Meyer accomplished this feat again in 2009.
About Character 7
As an accomplished producer with an eye for pedigree material, Stephen Garrett most recently served as Executive Producer of “The Night Manager.”  The series marked the first under his Character 7 production company, which is based in Los Angeles and London for high-end television and film projects.  A ratings and critical success, “The Night Manager” was done in collaboration with The Ink Factory, and garnered multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.  The Character 7 team also includes Head of Development Michele Wolkoff, who works closely with Garrett on the company’s expanding slate of projects.  Wolkoff joined the company last year having most recently led development for The Mark Gordon Company as Head of Film where she oversaw a robust slate as well.

Prior to Character 7, Garrett was Founder and Executive Chairman of Kudos, the UK’s leading independent producer of TV drama.   While running the company, he and his team galvanized British television with popular and acclaimed shows including the BAFTA-winning “Spooks” (based on Garrett’s original idea), “Hustle,” “Life on Mars,” Frank Spotnitz’s “Hunted,” and ITV’s hit “Broadchurch.” 

About Lionsgate
The first major new studio in decades, Lionsgate is a global content platform whose films, television series, digital products and linear and over-the-top platforms reach next generation audiences around the world.  In addition to its filmed entertainment leadership, Lionsgate content drives a growing presence in interactive and location-based entertainment, gaming, virtual reality and other new entertainment technologies.  Lionsgate’s content initiatives are backed by a 16,000-title film and television library and delivered through a global licensing infrastructure.  The Lionsgate brand is synonymous with original, daring and ground-breaking content created with special emphasis on the evolving patterns and diverse composition of the Company’s worldwide consumer base.  
About Starz
Starz (, a Lionsgate company (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B), is a leading global media and entertainment company that provides premium subscription video programming on domestic U.S. pay television networks and produces and distributes content for worldwide audiences, including its investment in the STARZ PLAY Arabia OTT service. Starz is home to the flagship STARZ® brand and STARZ ENCORE channels and provides high-quality, entertaining premium subscription video programming with 17 premium pay TV channels and associated on-demand and online services, including the STARZ app. Sold through U.S. multichannel video distributors, including cable operators, satellite television providers, telecommunications companies, and other online and digital platforms, Starz offers subscribers more than 5,000 distinct premium television episodes and feature films every year and up to 1,500 every month, including STARZ Original series, first-run movies and other popular movie and television programming.
About Liberty Global

Liberty Global is the world’s largest international TV and broadband company, with operations in more than 30 countries across Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. We invest in the infrastructure that empowers our customers to make the most of the digital revolution. Our scale and commitment to innovation enable us to develop market-leading products delivered through next-generation networks that connect our 25 million customers who subscribe to over 50 million television, broadband internet and telephony services. We also serve over 10 million mobile subscribers and offer WiFi service across 6 million access points.

Liberty Global’s businesses are comprised of two stocks: the Liberty Global Group (NASDAQ: LBTYA, LBTYB and LBTYK) for our European operations, and the LiLAC Group (NASDAQ: LILA and LILAK, OTC Link: LILAB), which consists of our operations in Latin America and the Caribbean. The Liberty Global Group operates in 11 European countries under the consumer brands Virgin Media, Unitymedia, Telenet and UPC. The Liberty Global Group also owns 50% of VodafoneZiggo, a Dutch joint venture, which has 4 million customers, 10 million fixed-line subscribers and 5 million mobile subscribers. The LiLAC Group operates in over 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean under the consumer brands VTR, Flow, Liberty, Más Móvil and BTC. In addition, the LiLAC Group operates a sub-sea fiber network throughout the region in over 30 markets.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

June Foray, 1917-2017

with my husband Frank DeCaro and
voiceover legend June Foray at a party
in Beverly Hills for the Archive of
American Television.
June 4, 2007.
It was in 2001, when I was assigned to write a TV Guide tribute to the then-recently departed animation giant William Hanna, when I first got to meet June Foray, herself perhaps the giant in the field of voiceover acting.

During our phone interview, June delighted me with snippets from her amazing career -- lines from the Warner Brothers cartoons' Witch Hazel and Granny, from Rocky of Rocky & Bullwinkle, from Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  A Massachusetts native, Foray ended up with a
Hollywood career that spanned seven decades, working well into her late nineties.

Foray died yesterday in Los Angeles, just two months short of her 100th birthday.  In celebration of her long and storied career -- she even once provided barks for little Ricky's dog Fred on I Love Lucy! -- below is a chunk of our interview from 16 years ago.  At the time, June was 83, and still in huge demand as an actor.  She talks lovingly and at length about Bill Hanna -- because that was the purpose for our interview.  But along the way, June provided a glimpse into her own amazing life.

I started my career in radio, and was put under contract at Capitol Records, and that’s how Disney heard about me.  I did a cat in Cinderella.  I had also done a witch character for Disney, in a short called “Trick or Treat.”  Chuck Jones loved the witch I did, and the next thing I knew I was called over to MGM where Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were working under producer Fred Quimby.  So I did a Tom and Jerry called “The Flying Sorceress.”
 They were two charming young men, creative, really symbolic of everything that animation stands for.  The writing was good – Bill Hanna did a lot of it, and he was most empathetic to all creatures, whether they were human or anthropomorphic.  So I did several works for them, and that was before they of course had their own company.
 Then I think they opened Hanna Barbera in about 1958.  They of course had the first nighttime series, and that was The Flintstones.  And Jay Ward was very upset about that, because we had started recording Rocky and His Friends in 1959 and Jay had hoped that his would be the first nighttime series, but Hanna Barbera beat them.  Joe and Bill were so original in their thinking, as you can see – their characters are lasting creatures and their series just keep going ona nd on and on – on Cartoon Network, on Nickelodeon.

Bill was a very thoughtful man with a wonderful personality.  Just a couple of years before he died, he wrote another thing as a witch for me – he never forgot.  He was most kind to everybody who worked with him, I understand – the animators, the writers.  He was certainly an ideologically correct man.  Everything was for the good, and there was nothing evil in his characters.

He had suffered so many ailments physically – at first it didn’t impair him at all, and he would travel, go to Australia.  I think they had a studio there.  He was very valiant in his progression of what he wanted to do, and what he felt that he had to do for animation.  And of course Joe was quite a promoter.  I think Joe did most of the PR, and Bill did most of the writing.  Joe occasionally in the beginning would direct the actors.  Bill was always behind the scenes.  It was Joe who was more forthcoming as far as his appearances were concerned.  Bill was sort of in the background, but he was phenomenal, really, in his thinking.  He was gentle and kind – I know everybody I talk to who has worked with him, writers and animators, feel that there was just this synthesis of a producer.  Here was a man who was creative in his writing and his animating, and yet he was business wise, which has really paid off, because of course Ted Turner bought Hanna Barbera and then of course AOL bought Warner’s.

Over the years, I did Jokey Smurf for about eight years, with Gordon Hunt as the voice director.  Bill never showed up at any of the recordings, but you knew his presence was there.  I was in A Man Called Flintstone.  I did Cindy Lou Who in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which I can still do, and it’s altogether different from the low voices I usually do, so you might not know it was the same person.  I do Granny in the “Tweety and Sylvester” cartoons, and we recently recorded some fun parodies:  3 with me as “Judge Granny,” a parody of Judge Judy, and two takeoffs of Survivor, where they finally kicked Granny off the island.
In designing their characters, I’m sure many writers for animation do take on the proportions and the look of the actors who play them.  I’m not sure if Bill Hanna did that or not, but I know that Disney did, and I know that Chuck Jones did, in a lot of the things that I did for them.  In fact, I have a marvelous drawing that Chuck Jones did of me once, because I started when I was very young.  Chuck drew a picture of me, he’s at the drawing board, and it’s a pic of me naked, looking like Witch Hazel looked in the end of the short, when she became beautiful after drinking the wrong cup of tea.
At home, I have a rubber doormat of Witch Hazel with Bugs Bunny..  But I have it framed – I would never use it as a doormat!  I have all kinds of Granny items with Tweety and Sylvester, and of Witch Hazel.  I don’t know where they are, though, at the moment – which is a shame!
I’ve been on Entertainment Tonight and Showbiz Today and a lot of shows, but it’s amazing to me how many people ask for my autograph.  They recognize me, and not just from my voice – it just astounds me.  In fact, yesterday I went to the Motion Picture Hospital for a mammogram, and was sitting in the waiting room and chatting with a lady I’d never met before.  She asked me what I do, and a man next to me said, “Oh my God, you’re June Foray – you made my week!”  I ended up entertaining the whole waiting room with the he different voices I knew.  Even the nurse asked for my autograph.

-- June Foray, December 6, 2001 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hot Pants in Hollywood

From her first TV job on Laugh-In, to her pioneering work as a writer on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Square Pegs and other sitcoms, Susan Silver has had an amazing career.  And as a woman growing up in the formative decades of the conservative '50s and free-swinging '60s, she's had a fascinating life as well.  And now it's all in her new book, Hot Pants in Hollywood:  Sex, Secrets & Sitcoms.

The title is derived from that of an article TV Guide magazine wrote about her back in the day, which they called "The Writer Wore Hot Pants."  It's telling that apparently the concepts of being female and being a writer were considered as incongruous back then as were the title subjects of another '70s vehicle, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.

After devouring Silver's memoir, I asked her more specifically about her days as a woman "making it on her own," to quote MTM's theme, in Hollywood.

Must-Hear TV:  How did your traditional Midwestern family background prepare you -- or not prepare you -- for life in Hollywood?  How did it prepare you to write for a character such as Mary Richards?

Susan Silver:  Coming from Milwaukee, which is often confused with Minneapolis, I was perfect for The Mary Tyler Moore Show -- though frankly I'm much more Rhoda than Mary.  I have too much spunk!   Seriously I think the difference in values is huge, and I'm glad I had the basics from the Midwest.  Hollywood is a place unto itself.  I used to say I had to leave because my tush fell and they measure it when you get off the plane.  It's very superficial still, sorry to say.  So I arrived like Little Annie Fanny, wide-eyed.  But it was easier than New York, which would have chewed me up and spit me out.  For that, I had to wait until after some success. 

MHTV:  At the time of the MTM Show, there were few or no female comedy writers working on sitcoms.  What do you think made the MTM producers decide they needed a female perspective?

SS:  The great timing of the show, with the beginning of feminism, was an impetus to get a woman's POV.  Rarely heard before, real women's lives were what the show wanted and they thought we were all geniuses.  The truth was, all women have the same stories to share and they had not been heard before.  By the end of the show I think 25 women had been hired as writers.

MHTV:  What were some of the most common pitfalls a comedy writer would face in decades past in her career?  What did you learn to do or not to do from your own career?

SS:  I feel as though I started on top, and so my requirement and what I had learned was to pick only high quality shows.  Most of us don't have that luxury.  On MTM [company] shows they worked with you all day, but on other shows they would give you a 20-minute story meeting and you had no real idea what they wanted.  Nor did they, so there was more rewriting.

MHTV:  Hollywood is a ridiculously ageist town.  Would you still want to create your own show?  And if so, what would it be, and what message would you/it be trying to say?

SS:  Ageism is the new discrimination. The Writers Guild had a longtime lawsuit against studios, which we won, and it was proven that there was so much of it... and it still exists. I doubt that writers over 50 have a chance.  The sad thing is that great shows like The Golden Girls, as you know, have audiences, if only they would write them and put them on.   I don't think I'd want to be active in the biz now unless I had total control, and wouldn't write a show where Boomers were portrayed so unrealistically or as sex-starved cliches.  But what the hell -- if someone wants me to do a show, call me.  George Clooney can call me, too.  I know he is a new father but still...