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Adweek : Television


6 Takeaways From DirecTV Now, AT&T's Buggy, but Promising, New Streaming Service

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 18:16:51 +0000

During Monday's press event announcing this week's launch of DirecTV Now, AT&T's over-the-top, streaming bundle service, execs weren't shy about proclaiming the product as the harbinger of a new era in TV. "We think it's going to be a big game changer," said John Stankey, CEO, AT&T Entertainment Group. Maybe that will be true eventually, but not with version 1.0 of DirecTV Now, which launched on Wednesday. Adweek has spent the past day testing out the service, which doesn't require a set-top box, satellite dish, annual contract or credit check. The buggy launch makes it clear that AT&T should have spent more time perfecting the product, even if that meant missing the holiday season and getting closer to Hulu's launch early next year of its own streaming bundle service. "Think of this as the first inning here," said Brad Bentley, evp and CMO at AT&T Entertainment Group at Monday's launch event. But DirecTV Now feels more like spring training: there's plenty of promise here, but the product isn't ready for Opening Day yet. Here are Adweek's six biggest takeaways from the product after its first day of launch: 1. Signing up takes minutes; actually watching is another matter.  AT&T is targeting the 20 million-plus U.S. households that don't have cable or satellite service by playing up the ease of subscribing: there's no need to schedule installation or pass a credit check. Indeed, it only took three minutes to actually sign up for the service (though it will be longer if you want to look through the four different plans offered), but after that, the problems began. I signed up on a desktop, and immediately discovered that DirecTV Now doesn't work on Firefox, and the Silverlight plugin needed updating. The problems continued on mobile: the DirecTV Now app wasn't available in Apple's App Store, though that has been corrected. 2. The mobile experience is terrific. The desktop and connected TV experiences are not. Stankey wasn't kidding when he said that DirecTV Now was conceived "mobile-first," as the mobile experience is considerably smoother and more enjoyable than using a desktop or connected TV device like Apple TV. On my Apple TV, I was only able to watch for 60 seconds at a time before the screen went white, and I could only hear audio. That problem could only be correct by rebooting the Apple TV device, which would provide another minute or so of video before it went white again. My desktop browser also required frequent rebooting and restarting, issues I never have while using other streaming services. Mobile, by contrast, was a breeze (though the mobile app was offline for a bit this morning). Unless you're an AT&T customer, you'll also be subjected to data charges. The app gives you the option to disable streaming on mobile data, or change the steaming quality from "good" to "better," but you'll want to keep a close eye on your data consumption if you're not on a Wi-Fi network. 3. On-demand episodes are at least a month old. AT&T said its on-demand options would replicate those offered by the individual networks, where episodes are available to view the day after they air, but almost nothing on the site allows you to watch episodes from the past month. If you want to watch any This Is Us, Westworld, Designated Survivor or Empire episodes from November onward, you're out of luck. On NBC, the problems are even worse. On-demand episodes of The Good Place are cut off after just 10-15 minutes, while Superstore ended 19 minutes into the episodes. Several networks currently have no on-demand offerings, including TBS, Discovery, Bravo and SundanceTV. HBO (which is available as an add-on for $5 per month, with livestreaming access to HBO, HBO Family and HBO Latino) had more current episodes of some shows, but Westworld only had episodes 1, 2, 3 and 6, and the most recent season of Game of Thrones had just a single ep[...]

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Walmart, Target and Verizon Have Spent the Most on Holiday TV Ads So Far This Year

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 13:00:01 +0000

Holiday TV ad spending is off to a strong start this year, with brands shelling out $869.7 million on holiday-themed national ads so far in 2016. That's an increase of 13.7 percent over the same period last year. Holiday ad spending has jumped $105.2 million in 2016, going from $764.5 million last year to $869.7 million, according to data from TV ad tracking company The company tracked holiday-related TV advertising from when those ads first began airing on Sept. 4 through to Nov. 28, Cyber Monday. While spending was up double-digits, the number of brands utilizing national advertising for holiday ads dropped slightly from 255 brands in 2015 to 247 this year. The number of holiday spots aired jumped 6.7 percent, from 230,152 to 245,499. Walmart led the pack again with an estimated $66.4 million in holiday ad spending, though that number was down slightly from $67.6 million last year. Target, which almost doubled its holiday ad spending from last year, came in second with $49.7 million. Another brand significantly increasing its holiday spending this year was Google, which jumped 336 percent, from $1.7 million in 2015 to $5.7 million this year. That went to its new Google Home smart home device, not its Pixel phone, whose ads were handled by Verizon. Coca-Cola increased its holiday ad spending by more than 250 percent, jumping from $3 million last year to $7.6 million in 2016. At the other end of the spectrum, Best Buy's national holiday ad spend fell 36 percent, from $28 million to $18 million. The holiday ad with the largest 2016 spend so far has been Apple's "Frankie's Holiday" ad, the brand's 2016 holiday commercial starring Brad Garrett as Frankenstein. While the two-minute spot is just a week and a half old, Apple has run it in 20 high-profile spots, for an estimated total spend of $12.7 million. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="367" src="" width="652"> Verizon's pre-Black Friday ad came in second with an estimated spend of $11.8 million over 766 airings. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="" style="position:absolute;top:0;right:0;left:0;bottom:0;width:100%;height:100%;"> These were the top brand spenders on holiday TV ads this year from Sept. 4 to Nov. 28: Walmart, $66.4 million Target, $49.7 million Verizon, $25.3 million JCPenney, $24.8 million The Home Depot, $23.9 million Kohl's, $21.6 million Ford, $20.9 million Best Buy, $18.2 million Honda, $17.6 million Volkswagen, $15.6 million Here was the holiday ad spending breakdown between Sept. 6 and Nov. 30 of 2015: Walmart, $67.6 million Best Buy, $28.3 million Target, $27.1 million Chevrolet, $20.2 million Volkswagen, $18.9 million Kohl's, $16.5 million Nissan, $16.1 million Honda, $15.7 million Audi, $15.7 million Apple, $15.2 million also conducted a deeper drive into the two-week period around Thanksgiving (Nov. 16-29) and found that Walmart spent $38 million, appearing on TV screens 1.6 billion times. The brand targeted NFL football and the Soul Train Awards. Target spent $27.6 million during the same two-week period, appearing on TV screens 1.3 billion times. It targeted NFL football and late-night shows for many of those spots. Overall, the department store industry spent $148.9 million on national ads during that time, generating 7.9 billion TV ad impressions.   During that two-week period, online and auction websites spent $59.3 million on holiday ads for 3.4 billion TV ad impressions. The wireless industry shelled out $129.8 million for 4.1 billion TV ad impressions, and the movie industry put up $101.6 million for 5.9 billion TV ad impressions. Computer and tablet ad spending during those two weeks declined 45 percent from last year, from $85 million to $49 million. [...]

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Samsung and Viceland Debut Virtual Reality Trailer for Their Documentary About Syria

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:41:12 +0000


Viceland and Samsung are bringing viewers to the center of the Syrian war with a virtual reality documentary that shows what it's like to rescue people from a bombing.

It's no secret that virtual reality and 360 video have been hailed by many over the past year as mediums with an immense power to help viewers empathize with people and places outside of their comfort zone. One And now the two companies want to do the same by bringing viewers into the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The 360-degree trailer is for the upcoming documentary "The White Helmets," a VR film about a group of Syrians who voluntarily rush to locations where people and buildings have just been bombed in the hopes of saving anyone who might have been inside or nearby. The film—which is powered by Oculus—will debut on Samsung VR on Dec. 2.

The partnership is part of an ongoing collaboration by Vice Media and Samsung to further integrate 360-degree video into journalism projects around the world. (Earlier this year, Samsung debuted its Gear 360 camera, a consumer-grade 360-degree video camera smaller than the size of a baseball.) 

"As virtual reality becomes more prevalent in journalism, we looked into how the technology is changing the way we experience the news," Viceland creative director Trent Rohner said in a statement. "What is the new role of the reporter when the viewer can experience the event for themselves? Can journalism be more objective when there is no frame and they can see everything?"

Along with "The White Helmets," Samsung and Viceland are also debuting a second documentary called "Inside the Story," which shows how VR and 360 video is being used in newsrooms to bring users to the story. The Associated Press and The New York Times have both heavily invested in VR journalism during the past year.

"Inside the Story" is scheduled to air on on Dec. 2 and then on Viceland was a special program on Dec. 12.

"Samsung has always been a champion of VR and 360-degree technology to evolve storytelling," Marc Mathieu, Samsung Electronics America's CMO, said in a statement. "With 'The White Helmets,' which was shot with Samsung Gear 360, the viewer is an active participant in the experience as opposed to a passive observer, and this newest piece of content gives the viewer a new perspective on how technology can enhance journalism."

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Netflix Made a Gilmore Girls 'Binge Candle' That Smells Different as You Burn Through Each Episode

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:09:05 +0000


You can binge watch or binge read. And now you can even binge smell!

Check out the Binge Candle, created by Netflix (with help from TBWA\Chiat\Day) to help promote the Gilmore Girls revival. There are four 90-minute episodes as part of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, each related to a specific season. The series follows the lives of Lorelai, Rory and Emily as they go through winter, spring, summer and fall of 2016. 

When you start your marathon of all four episodes, totaling around six hours of Gilmores, you start burning the Binge Candle. As it burns, it's perfectly timed to give off a different scent for each episode that correlates to that season. 

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="367" src="" width="652">

Hopefully Kirk's pig Petal is excluded from this smell experience.

The show originally went off the air in 2007, where it was broadcast on first the WB and then the CW network. After nine years, fans were treated to the revival episodes on Nov. 25, exclusively on Netflix. Show creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel returned to finish the story as they always intended to do. 

As you hear the final four words of the series (unless Netflix and the Sherman-Palladinos strike another deal at some point), the candle will extinguish. Very dramatic ambience for a very dramatic moment! 

The candle is a part of a limited giveaway for fans of the series in the U.S., Asia and Europe, as well as readers of Hello Giggles and Brit+Co. Understandably, fans are totally excited for this heightened experience. 

Grab your PopTarts and Red Vines to nosh on, but keep them away from the candle. No need to interrupt this "wax ingenuity" with your snack foods. 

Client: Netflix

Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day

Creative Chairman: Stephen Butler
Executive Creative Director: Linda Knight
Creative Director: Matthew Woodhams-Roberts
Creative Director: Dave Horton
Art Director: Blair Seward
Copywriter: Elizabeth Daniel
Director of Design: Mark Sloan
Designer: Iris Chung

Chief Strategy Officer: Neil Barrie
Senior Strategist: Emilie Arrive

Account Services
Managing Director: Christian Stein
Associate Brand Manager: Louise Hunter

Chief Production Officer: Tanya LeSieur
Executive Art/Print Producer: Dena Moore
Executive Broadcast Producer: Brian O'Rourke
Business Affairs: Mimi Hirsch
Broadcast Producer: Garrison Askew
Production Coordinator: Michael Schroepfer

Post Production
Post Production: Venice Beach Editorial
Executive Post Producer: Sarah Holme
Post Producer: Dustin LaForce
Director of Photography: Jeremiah Mayhew
Editor: Jeremiah Mayhew, Derrick Hackman
Assistant Editor: Charis Tobias
Color: Derrick Hackman

Production Partners
Photography Studio: Venice Beach Editorial
Producers: Nicole Alexander & Dustin LaForce
Set Designer: Alyse Castillo
Candle Maker: Heartland Candles
Promotional Specialist: Coast Graphic Services

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You Can Now Watch Netflix Offline, Just in Time for Holiday Travel

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 15:34:44 +0000


Here's some news from Netflix to make your travel and holiday plans a little easier.

As announced earlier this morning, Netflix is bringing offline downloads to your phone or tablet. Available on iOS or Android devices, users can select shows or movies to download now and watch at their convenience, even if they're offline.

At first glance, hour-long episodes of shows appear to take up about 200-250mb of space on your mobile device, so plan accordingly.




 Business Insider pointed out that most of the available programs seem to be Netflix original series, though the newly released Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life is not included. Other Netflix original series, such as Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and the newly added program about Queen Elizabeth II, The Crown, are ready to download.

Though not every series is available, much like shows on Amazon Prime's video platform, production studios may decide to alter their agreements with Netflix to become available for this new service.

There's a page within the updated Netflix app that will list what shows are available, but you'll also notice the download button as you browse to applicable content.

Get ready for your upcoming road trips, or cross-country flights, as this will definitely help bored or young travelers pass the time.

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AT&T Unveils Pricing and Channel Lineups for Its DirecTV Now Streaming Bundle

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 01:45:45 +0000

Starting Wednesday, cord-nevers, cord shavers and cord cutters will have a relatively inexpensive, easy new option to access live TV. AT&T finally unveiled pricing, channel lineups and more details about DirecTV Now, its over-the-top, streaming bundle service, which launches on Wednesday. The service, which doesn't require a set-top box, satellite dish, annual contract or credit checks, will debut with an introductory price of just $35 per month for more than 100 channels. "This is the foundation of how we're going to do things in the future," John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group, told reporters who gathered at New York's Venue 57 for the product launch. He added, "For the first time in our history, we have control of the full stack," explaining that it will use data insights from subscribers to create more targeted advertising capabilities for brands, which will keep its pricing low. With the launch, AT&T is targeting the 20 million-plus U.S. households that don't have cable or satellite service. "We get to address a new audience," said Stankey. "This opens up a whole new segment of the market." (Brad Bentley, evp and CMO at AT&T Entertainment Group, noted that market includes the "5-6 million people" who attempted to sign up for DirecTV but were unable to pass a credit check.) And, the company hopes, it persuades even more subscribers to its "mobile-first" product to switch over to its wireless service. AT&T wireless subscribers will be able to use DirecTV Now without the streaming counting against their data plan. While the service contains almost all of the country's biggest networks, there are a few major omissions. "The only thing missing is CBS and Showtime, which we are working on, actively," said Bentley. (The CW, which is also part of CBS Corp, is MIA as well.) While "we're hopeful and optimistic" that AT&T and CBS will come to terms, Stankey noted, "the demographic may be a fit" for a CBS-less lineup—i.e., millennials don't watch CBS. However, they do watch The CW, which isn't available either. And while subscribers in "owned and operated" markets like New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia will be able to stream broadcast content live on NBC, ABC and Fox, those in smaller, affiliate markets will have to wait until the next day, when they can access network prime-time programming on demand. (The company said it is working with affiliates and hopes to expand its live offerings in the future.) The service also doesn't include DirecTV's prized NFL Sunday Ticket package—Stankey said the company is in talks with the NFL—DVR capabilities (those are coming next year) or the ability to pause live TV. (However, many channels have "72 hour lookback" capabilities.) While Stankey said that subscribers in owned and operated markets will be able to watch NFL games live on Fox and NBC, the feed will not be available to mobile subscribers in those markets, as Verizon retains exclusive NFL mobile streaming rights. On Wednesday, DirecTV Now will be available via Amazon Fire (TV and TV stick) Android (mobile devices and tablets), iOS (iPhone, iPad, Apple TV), Chromecast (Android only; iOS will arrive in 2017) and Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari web browsers. Next year, it will be available on Roku, Amazon Fire tablets and Samsung Smart TVs. The company is offering four tiers of programming at launch: Live a Little (60-plus channels, for $35 per month), Just Right (80-plus channels for $50 per month), Go Big (100-plus channels for $60 per month) and Gotta Have It (120-plus channels for $70 per month). As part of the launch, AT&T will sell its Go Big bundle with 100-plus channels for $35. When the price inevitably goes up, subscribers "will be grandfathered a[...]

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A+E Networks' New CMO Is Ready to Take Some Big Marketing Risks

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 23:34:51 +0000

Specs Current gig Chief marketing officer, A+E Networks Previous gig Chief creative officer, international, A+E Networks Age 42  Adweek: You're now handling A+E's global marketing after overseeing only the international side. How are the company's domestic challenges different? Amanda Hill: Not particularly different. The thing we've been working on for the past year is how do we turn this incredible portfolio of networks into brands that really resonate in culture, and that's the same whether you're in a U.S. market or another market, which is moving beyond marketing from show to show to show to actually building powerful brands that really cut through. And that's more of a global challenge than just a domestic challenge. What are the first things you're tackling in your new job? The whole idea of marketing in the past was very much homogenized. We're talking far more about how we operate at a brand level, how we contribute to culture, how we have continued conversations that extend beyond shows, whereas a lot of marketing for many, many years in A+E or other networks was very much about you marketed the TV show, and then you marketed the next TV show. That's a real shift in marketing, when you start to think about, how do I contribute? Sometimes it's really about how marketing really drafts off culture and connects back to it. With more options than ever before for TV audiences, how do you break through with your messaging? There's a new rule I talk about a lot, which is 70/20/10. Seventy percent is do the stuff you know works, do it well, and don't drop that ball. Twenty percent is really push in terms of innovation, and do stuff that's far more outside the box. And the 10 percent is take some risks, and do stuff that you don't even know if it's going to work. Because so much of great marketing now is great content, and as much as I'd like to believe that every single thing that we did had a really clear ROI before we went into it, you can't always know what's going to pop. What is your approach to reaching millennials? The same as everyone else's, really: the ability for us to create original content for social is critical. We've got a new part of our company that's just been set up called 45th & Dean. They are tasked with creating short-form [branded] content that really delivers. So it's native content for digital. For Project Runway, they came out with this wonderfully hysterical show [Project Sammy's Way], this entirely original parody piece. And so a lot of it is bringing in the right talent who's got the right mindset, but are creating specifically for the platforms they're going to. How has marketing evolved in this multiplatform world? That's been a massive shift for a lot of people in our world, where a lot of money would have been spent on that one, beautiful promo. We might now have 30 different ways we want to communicate on one show. And you're having to be creative on each of those platforms you're going out to, because you can very rarely take the same approach on each. You've relocated to New York from London for the new job. What's been the biggest adjustment living in the States? Probably how much my team doesn't understand what I'm talking about! I thought I was savvy, because I've been here so many times. Even asking for an A3 piece of paper, and you find out that it's called a tablet—you have a lot of very funny communication moments, where you just realize that we all speak English, but we speak completely separate languages. I get myself in pickles all the time! This story first appeared in the November 28, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe. [...]

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Welch’s, QVC and Trident Are Among Sponsors for Arnold Schwarzenegger's Celebrity Apprentice

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 18:30:01 +0000

When the Celebrity Apprentice franchise returns to NBC on Jan. 2, it will have a new host (Arnold Schwarzenegger, stepping in for President-elect Donald Trump), a new name (The New Celebrity Apprentice) and now several new sponsors. NBC has announced the 12 brands that will be featured on the upcoming season of the show: Tyra Beauty, Trident, Welch's, King's Hawaiian, Kawasaki USA, See's Candies, Lorissa's Kitchen, Universal Studios Hollywood, the L.A. Clippers, QVC, The Honest Company and Carnival Corporation. From that group, only King's Hawaiian, Universal Studios Hollywood and QVC are returning sponsors from the Trump era of Celebrity Apprentice. Three of the new brand sponsors are connected to Schwarzenegger's Celebrity Apprentice boardroom advisors: Steve Ballmer owns the Clippers, Tyra Banks created Tyra Beauty, and Jessica Alba is founder and CEO of The Honest Company. Carnival will sponsor the show's season finale, while Tyra Beauty will figure into the Jan. 2 season premiere. Contestants tackle a Tyra Beauty-related challenge in The New Celebrity Apprentice's debut episode. NBC "We are so excited to have this incredible line-up of sponsors on board and can't wait to bring their products to life through fun, engaging tasks that will help boost consumer awareness and expand outreach for these high-profile companies," said Schwarzenegger in a statement. NBC said that many brands see sales bumps after they are featured on Celebrity Apprentice. Last year, a marketing plan that included the show helped drive sales growth for King's Hawaiian by 30 percent within a month of the episode. "There is such excitement building around the new season of Celebrity Apprentice and to have these brands come on board with Arnold at the helm only adds to what we can do this time around," said executive producer Mark Burnett in a statement. The show was filmed in L.A. earlier this year. The 16 celebrities competing for a $250,000 donation to their favorite charity include singer Carnie Wilson, boxing champion Laila Ali, Jersey Shore star Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, singer Boy George, actor Jon Lovitz, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Kyle Richards, Real Housewives of Atlanta's Porsha Williams, Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil and NFL stars Ricky Williams and Eric Dickerson. New host Schwarzenegger, who was named Adweek's 2016 Brand Visionary in October, told Adweek he was looking forward to spreading his gospel of "turning one dollar into two" on the show. His new catchphrase for dismissing contestants each week, replacing Trump's "You're fired," won't be revealed until the premiere. Having the Schwarzenegger on board has brought worldwide interest in the show, Paul Telegdy, president of NBC's alternative and reality group, told Adweek last month. "He is incredibly famous and represents action, adventure, athletics, culture, business, politics and family, as well as struggle and triumph," said Telegdy, adding that Schwarzenegger has a "well-rounded and extremely well-known brand with many touch points, which makes him accessible and relatable to the masses." NBCUniversal said that upfront and scatter interest in Celebrity Apprentice is as strong as ever, and buyers don't expect any Trump-related blowback from audiences or advertisers this season as a result of Trump's frequently controversial behavior during and after the presidential election. [...]

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How Risk-Taking Catapulted FX’s John Landgraf to TV Executive of the Year

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:53:51 +0000

He's spent 11 years overseeing FX, FXM and now FXX, but John Landgraf says he often feels more like a professional gambler than a TV exec. "FX doesn't make television," he says, explaining that neither he nor his team is involved in writing, directing, producing or acting. "We make bets on people who do that, and what we've tried to do is make aggressive, brave bets on ambitious people. And creative ambition and risk almost always go together." This year, the CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions—and Adweek's Television Executive of the Year—has been on a real hot streak. FX's miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, centered around Simpson's murder trial for the 1994 deaths of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, broke through as a commercial (12.6 million viewers per week) and critical (nine Emmy wins and 22 nominations) hit. (The miniseries was FX's most-watched multiplatform programming ever.) The network's new Donald Glover series Atlanta became its top-rated comedy, while new comedies Better Things and Baskets debuted to critical acclaim. And American Horror Story returned for Season 6 with some of FX's healthiest all-time ratings. "It was just one of those magical years for us, where almost everything worked," says Landgraf. While FX is on a ratings roll and the net boasts three of basic cable's top comedies in both total viewers and the 18-49 demo, Landgraf is most proud this year of a strong Emmy showing: FX received 56 nominations and 18 wins, second only to HBO (and just ahead of Netflix) in both categories. The Emmy adulation helped solidify FX's quality brand, but "it's also a really terrific moment for ad-supported television, because we were blanketed by places you can't buy advertising," Landgraf says. "I'm not saying we're the only ones making good ad-supported television. I'm just saying we were the standard bearer this year." That was especially true of The People v. O.J. Simpson, far from a slam-dunk when Landgraf gave it a straight-to-series order in 2014. "We all know it could have been ill-advised," says Landgraf, who was taken by both the script from Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and the vision of longtime creative partner Ryan Murphy. "I just have profound faith in his ability in casting and in filmmaking." The gamble paid off, and Landgraf has already greenlit two more American Crime Story seasons—one on Hurricane Katrina, and another on the 1997 murder of Gianni Versace. Murphy is working on both simultaneously, but Landgraf says they'll air at least six months apart. Plus, the executive has teamed with Murphy on another anthology series, Feud. Season 1 will delve into the bitter battle between Bette Davis, played by Susan Sarandon, and Joan Crawford, played by Jessica Lange, as they filmed the 1962 classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Landgraf made another big bet with Murphy at the close of this year, opting to keep the storyline and cast of American Horror Story's Season 6 under wraps until the show premiered in September. "We've marketed the show very lavishly and very successfully for the same way for five years, and maybe that was getting a little stale. So what could we do that's risky and different?" says Landgraf. "Everything is so heavily marketed—even potentially overly-marketed—that it takes all the sense of discovery and mystery out of things. Some of what's really fun in the world is the unexpected joy, the thing that catches you by surprise." FX took a similar approach with its campaign for Atlanta. "Donald didn't want us to reduce his show to a meme or slogan. So we very carefully and lovingly built a[...]

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After Transforming Late Night, Samantha Bee Prepares for Her Greatest Challenge: Covering President Trump

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 11:53:25 +0000

Samantha Bee admits that she was "terrified" as 2016 began. After all, she and husband Jason Jones had left Comedy Central's The Daily Show, where they'd worked as correspondents for more than a decade, to create not one but two gambles for TBS, which could make or break the network's ambitious original content overhaul: a new comedy series starring Jones called The Detour and Bee's own late-night show, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee. Turns out she had nothing to fear: Both programs became breakout hits and established Bee as the face of the new, edgier and funnier TBS—and an instantly indispensable late-night voice. Full Frontal averages 3.3 million multiplatform viewers per episode, while The Detour brought in a weekly audience of 4.4 million (Season 2 debuts early 2017). "We didn't know what to expect, but we've been so fortunate to have so much creative freedom and so much material to work with," she says. "We've had the greatest year: It's been so much fun, so much stress, so much pressure and so much excitement. It's been everything." Despite all that she accomplished this year on Full Frontal—traveling to Jordan, Germany and Russia for compelling field segments, seamlessly adding in correspondents like Ashley Nicole Black and Allana Harkin ("It's taken a lot of pressure off. To not have to produce a piece with me in it every week is fantastically freeing," she says) and sitting down with President Obama in October—Bee doesn't feel as if she's mastered her show yet. "Fear keeps me working hard," she says, laughing. "Especially when you're presenting something, you always have to have fear as part of the cocktail of your day." That certainly was the case on election night, as news of Donald Trump's surprise victory sunk in, and she and her shell-shocked team rallied together to produce a new show the next night, finding humor at a time when much of the country was in no mood for comedy. "It's a real testament to everybody that we were able to stay up all night, push through whatever personal feelings we were having, and remake a show in the way that we didn't think we were going to need to," says Bee. "There was always a world in which Hillary Clinton was going to lose, and we would have to rejigger the show; we just didn't think it was going to happen. We pulled it together quickly and I think with integrity and with humor, and it was helpful to all of us to turn something around really fast, but still have it be really carefully built and thoughtful." Bee pushes back against the notion that given Trump's potentially misogynistic reign as president, she and her show will be more important than ever. "We don't see it that way. I feel like if we thought that way, the show would become really dreadfully unfunny in general," she says, laughing. And while Bee produced two episodes of Full Frontal during election week (on her usual Monday and a special post-election show on Wednesday), she's adamant that her show is at its best when it airs just once a week, even as some fans continue to push for a nightly format. "I don't want to do that. That seems awful," she says. "If I had to do it every day, we would all go crazy. It's more fun for us to be able to sit back, pull ourselves out of the cycle of hot takes and be a little more analytical." She has no regrets about departing The Daily Show with Jones to take their wild leap with TBS. "It was time for us to leave," she says. "Having a job for 12 years was just an unbelievable gift, and we were able to do so much with it. But when it was over, it was really over for us. Neither of us have [...]

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