Week in review: Growing pains
EmptyLogging out: Marshall Herskovitz may have co-created the Internet series "quarterlife," but he wasted no time in dubbing its transition to TV a failure. "It never should have been a network show. It's too specific," he told an audience at Harvard Business School's Entertainment & Media confab. The series' debut averaged just 3.1 million viewers -- a 17-year low for NBC in the Tuesday 10 p.m. slot -- despite a strong lead-in. While the series won't get another airing on the Peacock, "quarterlife" fans can take heart. It's already been shifted to Bravo.
When moguls speak: Mel Karmazin has a lot on his mind. The Sirius boss is not only sweating his satellite radio firm's long-delayed merger with XM but whether he'll be able to renew high-priced talent like Howard Stern when the time comes. "If (Howard) would like to extend his deal at less money, we would be interested in that," Karmazin joked as he spoke with analysts this week. "But from my history with him, I don't think that is apt to happen." Probably not. The termination date for the proposed merger is Saturday, but you can expect an extension as House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers has all but told the DOJ to take its time.
Jeff Zucker was back at his alma mater this week, delivering a speech at Harvard that covered everything from the decision to replace Jay with Conan at 11:35 p.m. (the most difficult of his career) to plans to scale back development ("There are a lot of mansions based on the same old system"). He also took issue with Warner Bros. TV Group boss Bruce Rosenblum's recent suggestion that the future could see studios taking their product directly to consumers via digital media. "I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon," Zucker said. "If Warner Bros. wants to bypass the networks, they're never going to produce television on the level of 'ER' and 'Friends.' I don't buy that at all."
Enjoying her moment: This year's Oscar telecast had few surprises (with an air of inevitability around many top awards) and even fewer viewers (a record-low 10.7 rating in the 18-49 demo). But the night still managed its share of moments, among them, best actress winner Marion Cotillard's ebullient acceptance speech and, perhaps most memorably, Jon Stewart's impromptu rescue of best song winner Marketa Irglova. Irglova failed to get a word in before being played offstage -- something producer Gil Cates later attributed to a mistaken cue -- but got her moment in the sun and then some when the two-time host brought her back out after a commercial break.
It's all Relativity: This private equity thing appears to be here to stay. Relativity Media got in bed with Universal in a big way this week, inking a deal that all but gives the uber fund greenlight power. The deal will see Uni bring films to Relativity, which will then decide if it wants to opt in. All told, Relativity will co-finance about 75% of Uni's slate -- close to 45 films -- through 2011. Said studio vice chair Rick Finkelstein: "This takes care of our film financing needs for the next three years."
What, us worry? Don't tell cable execs the strike was all bad -- they'll simply point you to February's ratings. USA Network? Up 10%. TNT? 7%. Overall, the top 10 cable nets saw their ratings soar a combined 24.9% in a February dominated by reruns on network TV. Granted, cablers got more than a little help from primary-fueled surges on the news nets (CNN was up 133% for the month), but the figures are still eye-catching.
Better late ... Sundance may be long over but, weeks later, there are still deals trickling out. Case, in point: Overture Films picking up U.S. rights to "Sunshine Cleaning" for $2 mil and a chunk of the backend. The ensemble dramedy, initially buzzed about as a candidate for a "Little Miss Sunshine"-type deal in the $10 mil range (it even co-stars Alan Arkin), leaned a little too heavily on the drama half of the equation to provoke the expected bidding war.
Stunted growth: A million bucks goes a long way in Estonia, or some lucky resident of the tiny Baltic nation will soon find out. Re-energized by its recent "Million Dollar Mission" episodes, "Deal or No Deal" is taking the format on the road with a world tour that will see Howie Mandel visit Estonia along with South Africa and the Philippines. There are now 40 versions of the show worldwide.
End credits: Paul Dano is going big with romantic comedy "Gigantic," which he'll star in and exec produce. ... "La Vie en Rose" helmer Olivier Dahan is headed back behind the camera with English-language road movie "My Own Love Song." ... Jon Tenney will play a father -- the good one -- in Screen Gems' remake of 1987 horror thriller "The Stepfather."