- - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Netflix buys streaming rights to entire ‘Mad Men’ series

Netflix has inked a deal with Lionsgate TV for streaming rights to “Mad Men” reruns, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The deal covers all four seasons of the AMC drama series that have already aired as well as the show’s three final seasons, 91 episodes in total. The final seasons will only become available to Netflix’s 20 million-plus subscribers after the entire season has aired on AMC. The series will debut on the Internet subscription service, which is paying nearly $1 million per episode, on July 27.

The deal is yet another sign that Netflix is making a push into television’s turf, following on the heels of its original programming acquisition of “House of Cards,” a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey.

The announcement, which follows a string of deals with film studios Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM, among others, as well as partnerships with TV networks including NBC and ABC, comes as the company faces growing competition from streaming services such as Amazon, Hulu, and new entry Facebook.

The news comes in the wake of last week’s announcement that AMC and Lionsgate had reached a new deal with “Mad Men” creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner that will keep him on board as show-runner for seasons 5 and 6. The pact, which is believed to pay him in the neighborhood of $30 million, also includes an option with Lionsgate extending into a possible seventh season.

In an interview with THR last week, Mr. Weiner said the show will end after its seventh season.

“Seven seasons seems like the right length for the life of the show, and I’m very excited knowing that I have that canvas to paint on,” he said.

Season 5 debuts on AMC in March 2012.

Couric to anchor coverage of royal wedding for CBS

Her CBS Evening News contract is about to expire and many speculate she has no intention of renewing it, but anchor Katie Couric will be the face of the channel’s live coverage of the April 29 royal wedding.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Couric will conduct her newscast from London and colleague Erica Hill will co-anchor the “Early Show” from the U.K. as well. Deadline reports that Ms. Couric will lead coverage of the festivities for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s big ceremony and anchor an hour-long prime-time special that evening.

This news might catch some people off-guard, as Ms. Couric has spent weeks at the center of the rumor mill and is expected to flee CBS after her contract with the network ends. On top of the gossip, Ms. Couric has had to address low viewership figures. In a New York Times interview published Monday, she implied local news stations might be somewhat at fault for uncompetitive ratings at CBS.

The anchor said, “I believe we were in third place for 13 years before I got here, and I think habits, particularly with an evening news broadcast, move at a glacial pace. And I think that local news stations have something to do with it.”

When pressed for more information, Ms. Couric answered, “Some people have said that local news is really important in terms of lead-ins. I haven’t really analyzed that. I’m just saying what I’ve read or some of the theories about it.”

Laura Donovan, Daily Caller

‘Family Guy’ comic book in the works

Peter Griffin and his long-put-upon, but funny, “Family Guy” family are heading to the pages of their own comic book series, Associated Press reports.

Titan Comics and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products said Peter; his wife, Lois; kids Meg, Chris and Stewie; along with family dog and martini aficionado, Brian, will headline their own series on July 27.

Titan says the series also will feature other characters from its animated television counterpart, including Glen Quagmire, Cleveland Brown and Joe Swanson.

The series will be drawn by S.L. Gallant, whose previous work includes runs on “G.I. Joe” and “Torchwood,” and Anthony Williams, who has drawn for “Judge Dredd” and “Batman.”

Amy Poehler to speak at Harvard ‘Senior Class Day’

Harvard University has announced that comedian and actress Amy Poehler has been selected as this year’s “Senior Class Day” speaker, Associated Press reports.

The school announced Tuesday that the Massachusetts native will address graduates and their families in Harvard Yard’s Tercentenary Theatre on May 25.

The annual ceremony is scheduled the day before commencement and is a chance for Harvard’s senior class to socialize one last time before graduating.

Ms. Poehler, a Boston College graduate, is known for her work on the late-night sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” and currently stars in the NBC comedy series “Parks and Recreation.”

WE tv inks deal for classic sitcom reruns

WE tv will add reruns of classic sitcoms “Frasier,” “Roseanne” and “Will & Grace” to its prime-time lineup, notes the Hollywood Reporter.

The network, which is known for its large stable of wedding programming, has acquired the complete libraries of all three shows on a nonexclusive basis.

The roll-out begins Friday with “Frasier.” The Kelsey Grammer sitcom will air back-to-back episodes Fridays from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on what the network is dubbing “Frasier Fridays.”

“Rosanne” will bow next year, followed by “Will & Grace” in 2013.

Off-net reruns are a staple of many ad-supported cable networks. These latest acquisitions are part of a continuing strategy to anchor proven performers with like-themed original series. “Roseanne” would seem to go hand-in-glove with the network’s Joan and Melissa Rivers reality shows.

“At the heart of each of these shows are the special relationships the characters share, a bond WE tv celebrates in its original series, from ‘Joan & Melissa’ to the upcoming ‘Braxton Family Values’ and ‘Sinbad It’s Just Family,’” said Elizabeth Doree, senior vice president of programming for WE tv and Wedding Central.

Stone Cold Steve Austin says he won’t be ‘Dancing’

Stone Cold Steve Austin says “Dancing with the Stars” isn’t his cup of tea — and he turned down an offer to be on the hit ABC series, Associated Press reports.

In an interview Monday the wrestler said he wasn’t interested because he has “two left feet” and his rhythm is “so-so at best.”

A message seeking comment from the network was not immediately returned.

But Mr. Austin says he enjoys the show, and is cheering on his friend, fellow wrestler Chris Jericho.

He says Mr. Jericho “never gets nervous” and that “he’s going to go far.”

Mr. Austin hosts “WWE Tough Enough,” a show searching for the next wrestling superstar. Mr. Austin says he appreciates the show because when he tried to break into the business, he had no such avenue.

“WWE Tough Enough” airs Mondays on USA Network.

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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