Greetings from Variety Awards Headquarters! Today is Feb. 1, 2022, which means it’s now 7 days until the Oscars nominations on Feb. 8; 26 days until the SAG Awards on Feb. 27; 33 days until the Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 6; 39 days until the DGA Awards on March 12; 40 days until the Critics Choice Awards on March 13; 40 days until the BAFTA Awards on March 13; 46 days until the PGA Awards on March 19; 47 days until the WGA Awards on March 20 ; and 54 days until the Oscars on March 27.
Oh, and 9 days until the Emmy online entry process begins on Feb. 10; 100 days until the Emmy entry deadline on May 12; 135 days until Emmy nominations-round voting begins on June 16; and 161 days until Emmy nominations are announced on July 12.
Oh, and yes, as of Feb. 1, Dry January is over! Pour one out! Literally. It was a long month.
Also today, Oscar nominations voting ends at 5 p.m. sharp. There are less than two months until this year’s Academy Awards, which sounds like a long time — but I should remind you that ABC and the Academy still have not yet announced this year’s host. There’s not a lot of time left for those people (remember, Variety has confirmed there will be more than one) to have the time to put their stamp on it. I will again take the opportunity to note that the perfect idea is right under their noses — “Only Murders in the Building” stars Martin Short, Steve Martin and Selena Gomez — and that in last week’s AWARDS HQ, I gave them an entire run of show to work on. It’s all ready to be produced, now it just needs to happen.
And with that, on to this special edition of AWARDS HQ. Let’s get going!
‘Bel-Air’: Peacock Partners with Crown & Conquer to Launch Dramatic ‘Fresh Prince’ Remake (EXCLUSIVE)
Peacock is partnering with Crown & Conquer to help launch “Bel-Air” with a premiere event on Feb. 9 inspired by iconic images from the original “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” series. Given concerns over the omicron variant, the event shifted to a drive-into experience to meet all health and safety COVID-compliant measures.
“Bel-Air: A Premiere Pull Up” will topline Peacock’s launch of the series, via a hybrid drive-into experience that will take guests on a journey in Will’s shoes – from his roots in Philly to his new home in Bel-Air – followed by the world premiere first episode screening.
The event will feature a live Philly bike show, a drive-up cheesesteak window, a water ice truck and DJs from Philadelphia performing sets leading into the screening.
“We wanted to create an experience that took guests through Will’s iconic journey from Philly to Bel Air in a way that felt authentic and allowed the community to come together, to call and respond and connect safely,” said a Peacock spokesperson. “The current landscape requires all of us to flip and switch upside down and find new and unique ways to share our content.”
By the time you watch the Super Bowl on Feb. 13, you’re going to be very aware of Peacock’s “Bel-Air,” the streamer’s gritty reimagining of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Although NBC is not airing the premiere episode after the big game (instead, the network is flipping back to Winter Olympics coverage), it plans to strongly advise viewers to give “Bel-Air” a try at some point that evening. The show, which began as a viral video by Morgan Cooper in 2019, inspired producers, including the “Fresh Prince” himself, Will Smith, to make it happen. Newcomer Jabari Banks plays Will in “Bel-Air,” which was picked up for two seasons.
The first three episodes of “Bel-Air” premiere on Super Bowl Sunday, witch new episodes weekly after that. Smith and Westbrook Studios are behind the show, with Universal TV. Co-Showrunners and executive producers are T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, while Cooper is on board as director, co-writer and EP as well.
‘Succession,’ ‘Ted Lasso,’ ‘Dopesick’ Lead 2022 DGA Awards TV Nominations
Call it now: “Succession” will win the DGA Award this year for drama. That’s because it’s the only nominee this year for drama: Five episodes of the HBO series’ third season filled all five nominated slots for this year’s DGA Awards category for dramatic series.
The “Succession” sweep comes as the Directors Guild of America has revealed this year’s TV nominees for its 74th annual DGA Awards, including achievement in drama, comedy, limited/TV movie, variety, reality, children’s and commercials.
On the comedy side, Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso” led with three of the five DGA Awards nominations in the category, along with episodes of “Hacks” and “The White Lotus” (which somehow landed in the comedy field there). In the limited series race, two episodes of Hulu’s “Dopesick” face off against episodes of “Mare of Easttown,” “Station Eleven” and “The Underground Railroad.”
HBO dominated the nominations, with ten — and then another five for HBO Max, which was in second place. (Combine the two, as WarnerMedia likes to do, and that was an overwhelming 15 total.) Behind them were Apple TV Plus, CBS and Hulu (which shared one nom with Searchlight and Onyx), with three nominations each, and then two apiece for Amazon Prime Video, Comedy Central, Hulu, National Geographic, NBC, Netflix and Paramount Plus.
This year’s DGA Awards will take place on March 12, with details to come on how the ceremony will be handled. Key nominees:
Dramatic TV Series
KEVIN BRAY Succession, “Retired Janitors of Idaho” (HBO)
MARK MYLOD Succession, “All the Bells Say” (HBO)
ANDRIJ PAREKH Succession, “What It Takes” (HBO)
ROBERT PULCINI & SHARI SPRINGER BERMAN Succession, “Lion in the Meadow” (HBO)
LORENE SCAFARIA Succession, “Too Much Birthday” (HBO)
Comedy TV Series
LUCIA ANIELLO Hacks, “There Is No Line” (HBO Max)
MJ DELANEY Ted Lasso, “No Weddings and a Funeral” (Apple TV Plus)
ERICA DUNTON Ted Lasso, “Rainbow” (Apple TV Plus)
SAM JONES Ted Lasso, “Beard After Hours” (Apple TV Plus)
MIKE WHITE The White Lotus, “Mysterious Monkeys” (HBO)
Movies for Television and Limited Series
BARRY JENKINS The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video)
BARRY LEVINSON Dopesick, “First Bottle” (Hulu)
HIRO MURAI Station Eleven, “Wheel of Fire” (HBO Max)
DANNY STRONG Dopesick, “The People vs. Purdue Pharma” (Hulu)
CRAIG ZOBEL Mare of Easttown (HBO)
Get the full list here.
Awards Circuit Video: Mike and Cynthia Dissect the SAG Drama Ensemble Nominees
Click to watch above! As written by Wilson Chapman:
In the latest Variety Awards Circuit video presented by HBO, Variety Deputy TV Editor Michael Schneider and Variety Co-Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Littleton discuss the SAG Awards nominees for drama series ensemble.
“The big question is, will SAG voters go with history, with a show like ‘Squid Game,’ or will they go with the huge gorilla in the room right now, which is, of course, ‘Succession,’” Schneider said.
The duo also talked about the other three contenders — Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” and Apple TV Plus’ “The Morning Show” — and predicted the award will go to either HBO’s “Succession” or Netflix’s “Squid Game” — two of the most buzzed-about shows of the last year. “Succession” was the big winner at the 2021 Emmy Awards and 2022 Golden Globe Awards, but has never been nominated at the SAG Awards. “Squid Game,” meanwhile, made history this year by being the first non-English language TV show to be recognized by the Screen Actors Guild.
The two also discussed the inclusion of “Yellowstone,” one of the highest-rated shows on TV that is only now receiving attention from awards bodies.
“Popular shows do have an even higher hurdle in the awards,” Littleton said. “You got the audience, and now you want the awards. That is why a show like ‘Game of Thrones’ is such a unicorn, in that it’s something that is just massively popular, but also critically acclaimed. A show like ‘Yellowstone’ has a higher hurdle because it’s seen as popcorn TV.”
Watch above, or click here.
Producers Guild Unveils 2022 PGA TV Award Nominees: ‘Yellowstone,’ ‘Squid Game,’ ‘Cobra Kai,’ ‘The White Lotus’ and More
The 33rd Annual Producers Guild Awards are scheduled to be held on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the Fairmont Century Plaza.
Here’s the list of major category nominations:
Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Drama
“The Handmaid’s Tale” — Season 4
“The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus) – Season 2
“Squid Game” (Netflix) – Season 1
“Succession” (HBO) – Season 3
“Yellowstone” (Paramount Network) – Season 4
Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television – Comedy
“Cobra Kai” (Netflix) – Seasons 3 and 4
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO) – Season 11
“Hacks” (HBO Max) – Season 1
“Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu) – Season 1
“Ted Lasso” (Apple TV Plus) – Season 2
David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited or Anthology Series Television
“Mare of Easttown” (HBO)
”The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime Video)
“WandaVision” (Disney Plus)
“The White Lotus” (HBO)
See the rest of the nominees here.
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Fanthropology Writes the Book on Helping Studios Build Out Universes Like ‘John Wick’ at Lionsgate
The 2014 film “John Wick” has spawned several sequels, the upcoming TV series “The Continental,” the spin-off film “Ballerina,” and even video games, theme park rides and comic books. It’s now a full-fledged universe, even though it didn’t start out that way. “It was kind of accidental,” says Tim Heindl, senior VP of global marketing research at Lionsgate. “But the way the film was constructed, it was built to be expanded upon.”
The tremendous success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and others like “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”) has made it a benchmark for studios and networks eager to take popular intellectual property and expand it. Universes are popping up everywhere, including in TV: the DC Universe inhabits much of The CW’s real estate, “The Walking Dead” has been a boon for AMC, NBC relies on Dick Wolf’s “One Chicago” shows and “Yellowstone” is spreading out across ViacomCBS.
But building a universe requires strategy to coordinate titles, keep the umbrella property on track and not overwhelm and alienate fans. Marketing research agency Fanthropology — which consults for clients including Amazon Studios, Warner Bros., CBS, Sony Pictures, HBO Max, Paramount, Disney, Lionsgate and Universal — has just released its first-ever “Universe Handbook,” a comprehensive look at how such undertakings work, as well as a starter guide for how to set one up.
“Universes really are a critical signpost for where the industry is going today. In a time when people are competing for share of audience and there’s an explosion of so many platforms, with a well constructed universe you have bottomless IP,” says Fanthropology’s Kristie Kershaw, who co-founded the agency in 2013 and runs it with partners Kristen Longfield and Stephanie Ledbetter-Perez. “We wanted to really create a foundation of shared language terms and understanding so that everybody in a room can feel like they’re speaking from the same standpoint. The universe guide is for storytellers but also marketers and screenwriters and consumer products people.”
The handbook (download it here) zeroes in on three kinds of universes (self-contained, alternative timeline and pocket), as well as how redundancy, contradiction, ego-driven creators, lack of demand and “small universe syndrome” can lead to failure. Read more here.
Warner Bros.’ Channing Dungey and CBS’ George Cheeks Join TV Academy Executive Committee
The Television Academy just added two more heavy hitters to its executive committee. Channing Dungey, the chairman of Warner Bros. Television Group, and George Cheeks, the president and chief executive officer of CBS and chief content officer, news and sports at Paramount Plus, have both been appointed to the group.
The news was announced Tuesday by Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy, who revealed Dungey and Cheeks as new chair’s appointees to the Television Academy Executive Committee.
Dungey and Cheeks join returning appointees Gloria Calderón Kellett (“One Day at a Time”), Anonymous Content’s Dawn Olmstead, Amazon Studios’ Vernon Sanders and Apple TV Plus’ Zack Van Amburg on the committee, which is charged with helping advise the Academy during Scherma’s 2022 term as chairman/CEO.
Read on here.
Reality Producers Pick ID As Their Favorite Network to Work With; Hulu Also Tops Latest NPACT Survey
Reality producers have a new favorite network: ID, the true crime-centric channel formally known as Investigation Discovery. ID topped the list of networks that producers most like to work with, according to a new survey released Monday by NPACT — the trade association for non-fiction production companies doing business in the U.S.
NPACT has resumed its annual survey of unscripted, documentary and reality series producers after last year’s hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire, which NPACT predecessor PactUS originally launched with Variety in 2017, asks those producers to rank their favorite networks and streaming platforms across numerous categories.
ID was rated producers’ favorite network to work with overall, based on individual preference rankings (producers were asked to rank networks/platforms from “best to deal with overall” to “most difficult”).
Hulu ranked overall rankings across all eight questions that producers were asked to rank: Zoom pitching process, program development/presentation process, greenlighting process, business affairs process and policies, production editorial oversight/notes process, production management process, financial process and policies and overall basis.
Hulu was followed by CBS, HBO, Nickelodeon, History, HBO Max, ID, Nat Geo Wild, Tru TV and Netflix. Hulu was cited in the top 10 across more categories than any other network or platform. CBS and History tied for second place; HBO, HBO Max and ID tied for third place.
NPACT heard from 49 production companies, which rated 66 networks/platforms in eight categories. Respondents were asked to rank only those networks they worked with in 2021.
Here’s the ranker of who was voted the best network to deal with OVERALL:
See the full report here.
Top 100 Telecasts of 2021: ‘NCIS,’ ‘Yellowstone,’ NFL Dominate, as Oscars Fail to Make the Cut
Without fail, the Academy Awards always winds up as one of the top 10 most-watched telecasts of the year in primetime. Until 2021. In a stunner, the Oscars didn’t even make this year’s list of the entire top 100.
That’s a tremendous fall from grace for the ceremony, which in 2020 was TV’s No. 2 entertainment telecast, with 24.3 million viewers — behind only the post-Super Bowl airing of “The Masked Singer.” This year’s plunge to 10.7 million viewers puts it way down on the full list. Besides sports, that means more people watched 21 different episodes of “NCIS,” nine episodes of “FBI,” seven episodes of “60 Minutes,” five episodes of “Yellowstone,“ four episodes of “The Equalizer” and one episode each of “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime“ than watched the Oscars.
Oh, and two CBS specials did better than the Oscars, too: “Oprah With Meghan and Harry” and “Adele One Night Only.”
This is, of course, an awards show problem, not just an Oscars problem. The Grammy Awards and the Golden Globes, which made the top 100 list in 2020, are nowhere to be found in 2021.
But it’s also a larger commentary on the state of what viewers are watching, in primetime, on linear TV in the 2020s. It’s sports. The NFL, beginning with the Super Bowl at No. 1, holds 39 of the 100 slots for top telecasts of the year, making football once again the most popular show on TV.
The Summer Olympics, delayed a year due to the pandemic, landed 14 spots for NBC, while the World Series picked up three, NCAA basketball scored two, college football also had two and the NBA Finals secured one slot.
Among scripted fare, while other shows come and go (like the once-dominant “The Walking Dead”), “NCIS” continues to dominate, this year with 17 slots. followed by “FBI” (seven) and newcomer “The Equalizer” (four), all on CBS. Paramount Network’s “Yellowstone” was the only cable entertainment show to make the cut this year, with two episodes. “60 Minutes” landed a healthy five positions, while comedy and reality shows didn’t make it into the top 100 at all this year.
CBS led this year’s total viewer telecast ranker with 39 programs (up from 27 last year), followed by NBC with 35 (vs. 37 last year), then Fox (13), ESPN (10), Paramount Network (2) and ABC (1).
Here’s our ratings roundup of the year’s 20 most-watched telecasts (in Live+7 ratings), according to broadcast and cable measurements, in total viewers:
MOST-WATCHED PRIMETIME TELECASTS OF 2021 (TOTAL VIEWERS)
For the entire list of all 100 telecasts, plus the top 50 in adults 18-49, go here.
As ‘This Is Us’ Prepares to Say ‘This Is It,’ Could Its Finale Signal (Another) End for Broadcast TV?
Dan Fogelman is not the kind of guy to dwell on his successes. The busy showrunner just doesn’t have the time.
As he prepares for the last 18-episode run of his NBC drama series “This Is Us,” which begins its sixth and final season on Jan. 4, Fogelman is also shepherding a new hit, Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” which is in the midst of production on Season 2.
“Only Murders” is in a delicate stage as it tries to build on the promise of Season 1. And the work of sticking the landing on “This Is Us” has been made more complicated by the intricacies and time jumps used to tell the multigenerational story of the Pearson family.
But during a lengthy interview with Variety in November, Fogelman allows himself a moment to indulge his thoughts on “This Is Us” and its legacy for network television at a time of massive transition.
“I have been finding myself feeling moments of nostalgia and being a little sentimental. This is something I’m going to miss doing very much, and it’s moved so quickly,” Fogelman says. “It feels a little like when you’re raising a child. You turn around and they’re 6 — and they were a newborn yesterday.”
Now, as Fogelman and his writing team lay down their pencils, and cast members move closer to their series-wrap scenes, fans know to keep their tissue boxes handy. Expect nothing less than an emotional roller coaster of joy, heartache, triumph and loss as the series finale looms.
“We’ve planned out the show for so long and where it was going, and now I’m actually executing those things,” says Fogelman, who has had an idea for some time about how “This Is Us” will end, even as the series’ journey has evolved and changed. “And that’s super strange, this kind of ambiguous thing we talked about for quite a lot of time to be put into motion.”
It’s also a bittersweet moment for NBC and broadcast TV in general. “This Is Us” was an out-of-the-box smash, the kind that doesn’t come along often, and definitely not these days at the networks. The drama and ABC’s also-retiring comedy “Black-ish” represent two of the last broadcast series to achieve any sort of major recognition at the Primetime Emmys and other awards shows — another reason this feels a bit like one of those “end of an era” moments for legacy media.
“When the show premiered and became what it became, everybody told us that,” says “This Is Us” star Mandy Moore. “Like: ‘This is the last monolith as network television. You guys are a part of something really special.’ Who knows if that’s really going to be the case. But it does feel like that in certain respects. I mean, our viewing habits have changed.”
Read on here.
Critics Choice Awards Selects Billy Crystal for Lifetime Achievement Honor
The Critics Choice Association has named actor Billy Crystal to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th annual Critics Choice Awards on March 13. He joins five previous recipients: Lauren Bacall, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Eddie Murphy and Robert Wise. Also, as previously announced, Halle Berry will receive the sixth annual SeeHer Award during the ceremony.
Tony and Emmy Award-winning comedian, actor, producer, writer, and director Crystal is known for films such as “When Harry Met Sally…,” “City Slickers” and “Analyze This” and as the acclaimed nine-time host of the Academy Awards. Next, his Broadway musical “Mr. Saturday Night” opens on Broadway on April 27.
Hosted by Taye Diggs and Nicole Byer, the 27th annual Critics Choice Awards show will air on The CW and TBS; it’s produced by Bob Bain Productions and Berlin Entertainment.
Television Academy Completes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Study, Now Sets Out to Implement Changes
The Television Academy has announced plans to hire a senior executive in its membership department that will focus on driving new member outreach and community engagement as part of its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
The hiring is a result of an evaluation of the Academy’s membership, policies, procedures and DEI protocols that has recently been completed by ReadySet, a consulting firm that had been hired by the org to identify key focus areas.
“As content creators with a global reach, we have a responsibility to address the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion within our industry. Our organization is grounded in the values of excellence, service, community and impact; and, therefore, we have an important role to play in leading industry change with thoughtful and purposeful action,” said Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO of the Television Academy.
Read more here.
AWARDS CIRCUIT PODCAST: Michael Keaton on What ‘Dopesick’ Taught Him About the Opioid Crisis, and Why He Wanted to Return as Batman
Michael Keaton thought he knew the basics of the vast opioid crisis crippling this country — until he signed on to star in the Hulu limited series “Dopesick.” In hindsight, he says, “I didn’t know how it really worked, what really happened or how it was formed. I’m really fortunate I have a job where you have to learn something. I knew about the Sacklers [the family behind OxyContin manufacturer Perdue Pharma]. But I didn’t even know probably an eighth of it.”
Now he does. For “Dopesick,” creator Danny Strong adapted Beth Macy’s 2018 nonfiction book of the same name to create the limited series, which stars Keaton and Kaitlyn Dever. A chronicle of the introduction and marketing of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, “Dopesick” toggles between timelines to show the rise of Richard Sackler within Purdue Pharma, and the attempt by justice officials to curtail the company’s deceptive marketing practices as the drug infiltrates an Appalachian coal-mining community.
For a bonus edition of Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast, Keaton discusses the Hulu limited series, and the Sackler family’s recent $4.5 billion settlement [just tossed out by a federal judge], which would have shielded them from any liability. Keaton also talks a bit about what convinced him to wear the Batman suit once more. Click and listen below:
Inside the Herculean Effort to Resume ‘The Amazing Race’ After Its 18-Month COVID Shutdown
When “The Amazing Race” Season 33 contestants hit the road in February 2020, executive producers Bertram van Munster and Elise Doganieri were already keeping an eye on reports of a coronavirus beginning to tear through the world. They had even mapped out alternate routes to shift the race to “Plan B” countries, and ultimately an option that would just go through South America, as parts of the world started going into lockdown.
But by Feb. 28, with just the first three legs of the competition in the can, even those alternative ideas no longer made sense. “I knew there was something really wrong here,” van Munster says. “We sent everybody home at that moment.”
With no real way to shoot “Amazing Race” in a bubble, the producers had to wait more than a year to call back the crew and contestants and resume production. Finally this fall, van Munster, Doganieri and their team had conceived a new way to return to the race.
“We had to prove that we could do the show safely,” Doganieri says. “And we went through a number of variations on how to do the show, picking locations. Where can we go that was safe? How could we fly them around?”
There’s a reason why “The Amazing Race” has been such an Emmys favorite over the years, and that has to do with the sheer skill in pulling off the show. Read how they did it this time around in my exclusive report from December here.
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