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‘Game of Thrones’: Memories of Meeting the Actors Before They Were Famous (Photos)

1 hour ago

U.K. blogger Adam Whitehead has written for years about genre fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy storytelling on big and small screens. As the seventh season of “Game of Thrones” heads toward its closing episodes — and as the series itself gets ready for a 2018 conclusion — Whitehead recalls the time he met the cast of the show, years before it became a cultural phenomenon. In November 2009, the actors were new to Belfast and shooting the pilot for the HBO show, and author George R.R. Martin happened to be in that city, too, promoting the book series on which the drama is based. Here, Whitehead chronicles that night eight years ago, where he got to tell the actors who’d go on to be very famous about the characters they’d be playing. 

***

I first visited Westeros in the autumn of 1999. After three years of hesitating, I finally I picked up a copy of “A Game of Thrones” and dove »


- Adam Whitehead

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Brendan Gleeson on Getting a Late Start on His Career

1 hour ago

Irish actor Brendan Gleeson made his film debut in 1990’s “The Field,” starring Richard Harris and based on the play by John B. Keane. Five years later, he made an impact internationally as Hamish Campbell in Mel Gibson’s Oscar winner “Braveheart.” Since then, film lovers have seen the versatile thesp in a wide range of blockbusters and indie films. “Harry Potter” aficionados know him as Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, and fans have treasured his work in such fare as John Boorman’s “The General,” John Michael McDonagh’s “Calvary” and Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” and for his Emmy-winning turn as Winston Churchill in TV film “Into the Storm.”

Now on-screen as Detective Bill Hodges in the new Stephen King neo-noir TV series, “Mr. Mercedes,” Gleeson was first noticed by Variety on Aug. 1, 1990, for his performance in Dublin in Keane’s play “The Year of the Hiker.”

John B. Keane »


- Steven Gaydos

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Remote Controlled: Carrie Coon on ‘The Leftovers’ Finale, ‘Fargo’s’ Appeal and Her Emmy Plans

1 hour ago

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In today’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV Debra Birnbaum talks with Carrie Coon, star of HBO’s “The Leftovers” and FX’s “Fargo.” Coon has been nominated for an Emmy for best actress in a limited series for her work on “Fargo.”

“There was a lot of speculation that I would get one for something,” jokes Coon. “My odds are pretty good.”

Despite her success, Coon says she still goes unrecognized by the general public. “By and large I am totally unmolested,” she says with a laugh. But her performances have elevated her within the industry, she says. “I do have some street cred,” she says. “By being picky, I have created a little mystery about what’s next.” She has yet to commit to another role, admitting »


- Debra Birnbaum

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Solar Eclipse Coverage: TV Goes Totally Looney for Lunar Moment

1 hour ago

Major TV networks are gearing up to cover Monday’s solar eclipse as if it were a sporting event — the Super Bowl of the scientific world.

The first total solar eclipse to cross the United States since 1917 and the first to be visible from the mainland since 1979 is set to begin around 1:15 p.m. Et. The eclipse will be visible for another 90 minutes in varying degrees around the country. The total blackout of the sun will be visible for a few minutes along the 73-mile-wide “path of totality” that runs along a diagonal stretch of the country, starting in Oregon and ending in South Carolina.

The event has taken on a life of its own, with festivals and even cruises organized around a celebration of the rare moment when the moon steals the spotlight from the sun because the two celestial bodies are in perfect alignment from the perspective of those on Earth. Similar »


- Erin Nyren

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Bruce Forsyth, Legendary British Entertainer, Dies at 89

2 hours ago

Legendary British entertainer and television personality Bruce Forsyth has died at the age of 89, it was announced Friday by his manager Ian Wilson.

A statement from Wilson said: “It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announce that Sir Bruce passed away this afternoon, peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children.”

The popular variety entertainer, who was a mainstay of British television from the 1970s onwards, made his television debut at age 14 singing and dancing on a talent show. He became a household name in the U.K. in the late 1950s after being invited to take over from comedian Tommy Trinder as host of television variety show “Sunday Night at the London Palladium” in 1958.

In the 1970s he proved popular as a gameshow host, fronting the long-running “The Generation Game” for the BBC before moving to rival broadcaster ITV to host another long-running gameshow, “Play »


- Robert Mitchell

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‘The Fosters’ Star Elliot Fletcher on Hate Speech: ‘It Doesn’t Do Anything But Create More Violence’

2 hours ago

From teen pregnancy to drugs, “The Fosters” has always tackled potentially controversial topics, confronting them head-on with characters that express varying points of view. The fifth season of Freeform’s family drama finds Callie (Maia Mitchell) involved with a student group that plans to protest a conservative campus speaker, arguing that someone spewing hate speech should not be given a platform. Callie’s boyfriend, Aaron (Elliot Fletcher), surprised her — and the audience — when he revealed that he believes all speech should be protected as free speech, and therefore he wasn’t in agreement with the protest plans.

“When I got the script for that episode, it did take me aback a little bit, I won’t lie,” Fletcher tells Variety. “I was surprised that Aaron felt that way, but I did as much work as I could internally with the character to develop why he felt that way and what had happened in his past to make »


- Danielle Turchiano

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TV Ratings: ‘SNL: Weekend Update’ Stays Solid with Surprise Cameos

2 hours ago

The second installment of “SNL: Weekend Update” is currently up significantly in both key ratings measures in its second week, according to Nielsen overnight data,

However, Thursday night’s numbers will likely be adjusted down later today due to local preemptions for NFL preseason football.

Airing at 9 p.m., the expanded version of the popular segment is currently averaging a 1.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 5.8 million total viewers. That is up approximately 25% in the key demo and 24% in total viewers, pending adjustments. The episode featured cameos by former “SNL” cast members Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon, and Seth Meyers.

Earlier on NBC, “The Wall” (1.2, 5.8 million) was also up significantly in both measures. A new episode of “The Night Shift” (0.8, 4 million) is currently matching its season high in the key demo.

On CBS, “Big Brother” (2.0, 6.6 million) was the top-rated and most-watched show of the night. “Zoo” (0.6, 2.8 million) was up in total viewers at 10.

For ABC, “Boy »


- Joe Otterson

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Madison Avenue Bets on ‘American Idol’ to Lead Freshman TV Shows

2 hours ago

Madison Avenue is betting an old warhorse can gain new traction on the TV schedule.

A Variety survey of commercial-ratings projections for the 2017-2018 broadcast TV season finds ad buyers believe the retooled version of “American Idol,”  slated to air on ABC early next year, will generate the most commercial viewership of any freshman scripted program. The survey, constructed using estimates from three large media-buying agencies, examines the primetime grid for the most viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 who watch advertising. That age range represents the demographic coveted most by advertisers.  Projections for the highest commercial viewership among new programs follows below:

Highest Projected C3 Ratings for Freshman Shows, 2017-18

1.  American Idol Sunday, ABC, 1.86

2.  American Idol Monday, ABC, 1.84

3.  Law & Order: True Crime, NBC 1.65

4.  Rise, NBC, 1.65

5.  Young Sheldon, CBS, 1.52

6.  For The People, ABC, 1.44

7.  The Brave, NBC,  1.42

8.  9Jkl, CBS, 1.38

9.  The Good Doctor, ABC, 1.36

10. Grey’S Rescue, ABC, 1.31

Source: A Variety survey of three top media buying agencies

To »


- Brian Steinberg

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Complex Networks, Fuse Media to Offer Joint Advertising Packages

3 hours ago

Complex Networks and Fuse Media don’t have common ownership or joint oversight of any particular media property. But in days to come, they will begin to work together to sell packages of media inventory to advertisers.

In a deal announced Friday, the two companies said Complex would begin to air a weekly 90-minute  block of programming built from segments from many of its digital shows on Fuse’s cable network. Both Fuse and Complex Networks will promote the programming as a venue for reaching a multi-cultural audience between the ages of 18 and 34. Complex is part of a joint venture of Verizon and Hearst, while Fuse Media is privately held.

The new programming block will be available in an exclusive window on Fuse television, and its on-demand and authenticated outlets, and then will be distributed across the company’s digital venues.  After airing on Fuse, full run series episodes will air across Complex Networks’ digital platforms. The »


- Brian Steinberg

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NBC News Daily Show on Snapchat Pulls in 29 Million-Plus Viewers in First Month

3 hours ago

If the next seismic shift in television is toward mobile, short-form content, Snapchat has already staked out a pole position.

NBC News’ twice-daily Snapchat show, “Stay Tuned,” has garnered more than 29 million unique viewers since launching July 18, the companies announced Friday. The show’s debut came after NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, as part of its initial public offering in March.

“Stay Tuned,” the first daily news program on Snapchat, is co-hosted by Savannah Sellers and Gadi Schwartz (pictured above). It features two episodes a day during the week and one each day on weekends, plus breaking news updates. According to Snapchat, more than 40% of viewers tune in at least three days a week.

As NBC News — along with other TV news outlets — struggles to find a younger audience, it’s significant that more than 60% of the “Stay Tuned” audience is under the age of 25, according to Snapchat.

NBC »


- Todd Spangler

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Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Corden Strip Down for ‘Crosswalk: The Musical’ (Watch)

3 hours ago

“Hamilton” mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda and James Corden let it all hang out in a new installment of the “Late Late Show” segment “Crosswalk: The Musical.”

Corden and crew were joined by Miranda to perform a rendition of the classic 60’s counter-culture musical “Hair,” complete with Corden and Miranda stripping down to their birthday suits in front of an audience of people stuck at a red light.

The ensemble performed renditions of hits from the show, including “Age of Aquarius” and”Let the Sunshine In.” After they took their bows, Miranda said, “After performing out there in front of all those cars, I don’t know how you go back to Broadway. Everything else is boring!”

Watch the clip above. »


- Joe Otterson

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BBC Commissions New Drama Series From ‘Wolf Hall’ Writer, ‘Victoria’ Producer

3 hours ago

The BBC has commissioned two new eight-part drama series for its flagship channel BBC One, the pubcaster announced Friday.

“The Three,” based on a trilogy of novels by Sarah Lotz and described as an international conspiracy thriller with a supernatural edge, has been adapted by Peter Straughan. Straughan won a BAFTA and was Oscar-nominated for his screenplay for the 2011 adaptation of John Le Carre’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” and was Emmy-nominated for 2015’s “Wolf Hall.”

Executive produced by Kate Sinclair and George Faber of The Forge, “The Three” sees a crash investigator with the NTSB in Washington under pressure to find out what caused four plane crashes in four different countries all on the same day. At the center of the mystery are three children who each miraculously survived one of the crashes while rumors circulate of a fourth child survivor.

Straughan said the story “looks at how fear and paranoia can affect society on a global level, while interrogating the effects of trauma on ordinary lives.” »


- Robert Mitchell

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‘Stranger Things’ Creative Team on Why the Netflix Show Almost Didn’t Get Made

3 hours ago

The creative team behind Netflix’s freshman sci-fi thriller “Stranger Things” continued down the Emmy campaign trail on Thursday night.

Creators Matt and Ross Duffer were joined by director and executive producer Shawn Levy and fellow Emmy nominees David Harbour (supporting actor), Carmen Cuba (casting), Dean Zimmerman and Kevin Ross (single-camera picture editing), Nora Felder (music supervision), and Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (original title theme music) for a panel hosted by Jenelle Riley, deputy awards and features editor of Variety. The show scored a total of 18 nominations, including one for outstanding drama series.

Before hashing out the logistics of what would become “Stranger Things,” the Duffer brothers said they were looking to make a feature film. The only problem? “Nobody wanted to hear movie ideas. They wanted to hear television ideas,” Matt said at the event, held at the Directors Guild of America Theater in Los Angeles.

So rather than scrap what they called their ultimate »


- Rebecca Rubin

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ITV Reveals Plans for Mini-Theme Park in London

4 hours ago

ITV is the latest company looking to expand into the world of theme parks and location-based visitor attractions. Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster has revealed that it is looking for a suitable site in Central London to build a mini-theme park that would feature immersive experiences as well as sets, costumes and props, taking fans behind-the-scenes of top shows, such as “Victoria” (pictured).

“As part of our business we have a team which operates experiential events around our programs, including the ‘Emmerdale’ Studio Experience and ‘This Morning’ Live,” a spokesperson for ITV said, referring to one of the broadcaster’s soap operas and its morning talk show. “[We] are always looking at new ways to expand this and bring in new program brands.”

A brochure on the proposed project, titled “A place for drama to live in London,” says that ITV is seeking a 20,000-square-foot site that could incorporate a restaurant and a 100-seat auditorium for “immersive cinematic »


- Robert Mitchell

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Netflix’s ‘Marvel’s The Defenders’ Poised for Binge-Viewing Pop, Data Indicates

5 hours ago

There are no standard “ratings” for Netflix. But “Marvel’s The Defenders,” the streamer’s newest original series in the street-hero franchise, could be one of its biggest hits ever, independent research indicates.

The four preceding Marvel series leading up to “Defenders” — “Daredevil” season 2, “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” — were among the top five most-viewed recently released Netflix originals in the first 30 days after their premieres, according to data from marketing-analytics firm Jumpshot, provided exclusively to Variety. Teen-suicide drama “13 Reasons Why” took the No. spot.

It seems safe to predict that “The Defenders,” as the culminating mashup with each of the four characters uniting against a common enemy, will turn in similar binge-heavy viewership as well. Netflix released all eight episodes of the limited series at 12:01 a.m. Pt Friday. The show stars Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and Finn Jones (Iron Fist).

The analysis from Jumpshot shows »


- Todd Spangler

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BritBox Beefs Up Offering With Idris Elba, Sean Bean Series in Fall Lineup

5 hours ago

New series starring Idris Elba and Sean Bean are to debut in the U.S. via BritBox this fall as the subscription streaming service tries to beef up its slate.

A joint venture between BBC Worldwide and ITV, BritBox offers the largest collection of British television in the U.S. But upon its launch in March, it came under some criticism that it mostly offered recycled classics and lacked many of the BBC and ITV’s new headline shows, possibly because those were reserved for other outlets such as BBC America. The new fall lineup, announced Thursday, brings a number of fresh offerings.

Critically acclaimed BBC drama “Broken” (pictured), which stars Bean as a maverick Catholic priest presiding over a parish in Northern England, will make its American debut after having launched in Britain in May. The show, created and written by Jimmy McGovern, co-stars Anna Friel, Adrian Dunbar and “Ray Donovan” star Paula Malcomson.

BritBox »


- Robert Mitchell

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Tina Fey Delivers Takedown of President Trump, White Supremacists on ‘Weekend Update’ (Watch)

6 hours ago

Tina Fey turned up on Thursday’s edition of “Saturday Night Live’s” special summer “Weekend Update” episode to deliver a biting commentary on the violence in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend and President Donald Trump’s response.

Fey encouraged anguished Americans to engage in “sheetcaking,” or the process of binge eating a sheet cake with an American flag design on the icing. Fey told viewers that she graduated from the University of Virginia, which is in Charlottesville, in 1992. She wore a gray sweatshirt emblazoned with the university’s logo.

“It broke my heart to see these evil forces descend on Charlottesville,” Fey said of the white supremacists rally held on Friday and Saturday. The melee among protesters and counter-protester on Saturday left a 32-year-old woman dead.

Fey’s history with the city clearly animated her performance opposite “Weekend Update” anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che. Fey anchored “Weekend Update” for most of her 1998-2006 tenure on “SNL »


- Variety Staff

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Netflix Orders Batch of Japanese Animation, Including ‘Saint Seiya’ Reboot

9 hours ago

Netflix has ordered more than 20 new animation titles in Japan, including a reboot of the classic anime and manga “Saint Seiya.”

Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer, announced the new batch of animated series in Tokyo earlier this month. He said that 90% of the Japanese animation titles carried by the streaming service are watched in territories outside of Japan. He also said Netflix was focused on working with Japanese studios and production companies to meet the high demand for animated shows.

Two announced titles that have caused a stir are “Cannon Busters” and “Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya.” The original “Saint Seiya” manga was released more than 30 years ago, but remains popular in South America, France, Italy and China. “Saint Seiya” has already been adapted in the past into a TV series and six feature films. A new live-action “Saint Seiya” is in the works.

Netflix’s “Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya »


- Variety Japan

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‘The Three Stooges’ Set for Indian TV Revival (Exclusive)

12 hours ago

Larry, Moe and Curly are face-slapping and eye-poking their way to India.

U.S.-based C3 Entertainment’s iconic Vaudeville comedy franchise, “The Three Stooges,” is set to be adapted for Indian television. With a working title of “Three Stooges Bole Toh Hungama Ho Gaya,” the Hindi-language series is being developed by Mumbai-based Galani Entertainments.

A broadcaster has yet to be identified for the show, whose title translates into English as “When You Say ‘The Three Stooges’ You Mean a Laugh Riot.”

Galani Entertainments is linked to Vijay Galani Moviez/Film Folks, whose credits include Salman Khan vehicles “Veer” and “Suryavanshi” and “Ajnabee,” starring Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor. New talent will be cast in the roles of Larry, Moe and Curly.

The original comedy trio featured in some 190 film shorts from 1934 to 1958, with U.S. television syndication beginning thereafter. “The most appealing factor for recreating ‘The Three Stooges’ in India is the universal appeal of the »


- Naman Ramachandran

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Fox CEO James Murdoch Criticizes Trump’s Reaction to Charlottesville: ‘Standing Up to Nazis Is Essential’

16 hours ago

James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, has spoken out against President Donald Trump’s controversial reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

In a personal letter sent to friends and associates urging them to support the Anti-Defamation League, Murdoch called the violence, in which one woman was killed and 19 others were injured after a car plowed into counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally, and Trump’s response to it a concern to “all of us as Americans and free people.”

“The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob,” Murdoch wrote in the strongly worded message. “I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats »


- Alex Stedman

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