FX Take The Strain For Second Season

FX horror series The Strain will be pleased to know that the network has confirmed its return for a second season this week, as producers prepare to get a new set of 13 episodes out for a summer 2015 premiere date.

the_strain_promo_eyeThe created by renowned moviemaker Guillermo del Toro, starring Corey Stoll and David Bradley, will take its total episode count up to 26 at the conclusion of the next run, though the current run is still yet to conclude, with 7 of its episodes to air between now and the season finale date of 5 October.

Speaking of the renewal (and of the show as a potential mainstay in network schedules) was FX’s CEO, John Landgraf, stating: “It is thrilling when you have a show that is a creative and commercial hit, which is a rare accomplishment in this increasingly crowded marketplace. We look forward to having [The Strain] on FX for as long as Carlton, Guillermo and Chuck Hogan need to tell this epic tale.”

Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that UKTV channel Watch have picked up the British rights to the first season of The Strain, and will premiere it on 17 September at 10pm.

UKTV’s ‘director of acquisitions’ Catherine Mackin said of this move: “The Strain feels totally fresh in the horror/fantasy genre – forget everything you’ve seen about vampires, as this series will turn it on its head and leave you spinning. It has a rich heritage of writing talent combined with stunning visuals and outstanding acting, and we can’t wait to bring this exciting and epic series to Watch. We are also delighted to be extending our relationship with 20th Century Fox Television Distribution and bringing more quality drama to the UK.”


Netflix European Popularity Will Bring 8 Million Subscribers By 2018

Everyone in Europe seems to either want a Netflix subscription, or to borrow a subscribers password, and as the streaming company expands throughout Europe, its popularity will be responsible for a fifth (20%) of all subscribers.

Netflix-sweden-norwayThat will be a jump from the present 10% according to research company IHS. Currently Netflix operates in the European Countries of the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, and Scandinavia with new markets of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland and Germany being added this year.

This will add an estimated 5-6 million new subscribers growing to an expected 8 million by the end of 2018.

Speaking for IHS, author Richard Broughton said, “We’re seeing launches later this year in a number more European markets, including France and Germany, and we’re seeing rapid growth from the markets that they’ve already launched in, so that suggests good prospects for the company in Europe. Over the next four years, growth rates will accelerate.”

He continued, “Between the expansion of Netflix and its growing popularity in markets such as the U.K., Ireland, Netherlands and Scandinavia, we anticipate that the company will add a total of 8 million new subscribers to its European tally by the end of 2018.”


Saved By The Bell Parody Biopic Releases Trailer

Lifetime‘s efforts to provide viewers with original content next month will begin heavily fuelled by nostalgia, as they pin hope on many 90′s kids tuning in to a biopic that loosely goes behind the scenes of the hit NBC show Saved by the Bell.

saved_by_the_bell_lifetime_movieThe teen sitcom, which ran for 5 seasons with 86 episodes (126 with Disney-based expanded franchise syndication) and 2 TV movies between 1988-1994 is considered a cult classic in its genre, and Lifetime are obviously of the belief that there is enough of that fan interest to make something similar to Doctor Who‘s 2013 biopic special An Adventure In Space and Time.

The special, called The Unauthorised Saved by the Bell Story, will showcase alleged behind-the-scenes moments between the child star cast of the series, with actors portraying the actors of the time (cast by Saved by the Bell‘s original casting director Robert Lippin), such as Julian Works as Mario Lopez, Tiera Skovbye as Elizabeth Berkley, Alyssa Linch as Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, and Sam Kindseth as Dustin Diamond.

It is the latter’s autobiography of 2009, entitled Behind the Bell, that is believed to be the inspiration for the movie, as it showcased a much more scandalous nature to the cast members than the family-friendly promo images would suggest, though it has later been denied by Diamond with claims that his ghostwriter embellished throwaway comments, whilst producers of the Lifetime special claim to have created scenes based upon ‘hours of original interviews’ held with the cast.

Set to air on 1 September, will Lifetime’s unofficial in-depth film on Saved by the Bell be one of their own ratings hits for the year and drive forward a unique genre of movie?

ITV Confirm Stars in Their Eyes Comeback

Never a channel to shy away from the chance of a nostalgia headline, leading UK commercial broadcaster ITV have officially announced an upcoming return for former Saturday night entertainment staple Stars in their Eyes.

stars_in_their_eyesThe format, originally broadcast by ITV from 1990-2006 as an adaptation of Dutch format Soundmixshow, ran for 20 seasons that will be added to with the continuation as of next year, meaning it will have had a 9-year gap from the air.

A high-profile revival such of this out of nostalgia is usually made with an all-new presenter, and in this instance it is comedian Harry Hill (Harry Hill’s TV Burp) who will make his mark once more on prime-time entertainment by fronting the classic series.

The format, for the uninitiated, is a musical talent show in which members of the public participate in the guise of their favourite popstars with the support of industry-leading makeup/wardrobe artists, and performing a song ‘as’ them, with the ‘instant’ on-screen transformation preceded by the show’s catchphrase “Tonight Harry, I’m going to be [singer].”

Previous presenters to have this regular scripted reply given to them were Leslie Crowther, Matthew Kelly, Davina McCall and Cat Deeley, making Hill the fifth person to present the show in its history.

For the revival, a new arena and set is to be used, although the dates in 2015 which it will be seen on are currently unclear, as are the details of whether or not the contestants are singing for anything more than a title this time around.

Hill said of the opportunity, and of his past experiences with the franchise: “Without a doubt, appearing on Stars in their Eyes as Morrissey all those years ago (although beaten, unfairly in my view, by Kirsty Young’s Peggy Lee) was one of the highlights of my light entertainment career. So imagine the smile bought to my lips when I was asked by ITV at a secret breakfast meeting in a top London hotel to take the reigns of this Rolls-Royce of pop-impression talent shows and walk in the footsteps of showbiz giants Crowther, Kelly and Deeley! And on ITV too! Dust off the wigs and sequins – I’m coming home!”

Elaine Bedell, ITV ‘director of entertainment & comedy’, summarised: “It’s so good to have Harry back in the heart of ITV peak time, bringing his own unique, brilliantly comic flair to such a popular show. We love working with Harry at ITV, and we’re also developing further formats with the BAFTA award-winning comedian.”

Joining the likes of Catchphrase and Surprise Surprise in the comeback circle, will Stars in Their Eyes be able to recapture their glory days with a 2015 revival? Whatever happens, the technological standards will have improved… for better or worse:

If several of these renewed formats can be aired on the same night, then ITV have a nice potential programming block on their hands, but do they have the strength to take the extra 90′s step? By 90′s we mean 90′s, as opposed to Sky’s commendable ‘modern but not the same’ effort:

Disney Plan Early Shutdown of American Idol Experience

Always much more likely to be harsher on another company’s property than their own in their own park, Disney World Florida have announced that they are bringing forward the closure of their ‘American Idol Experience‘ attraction.

disney_american_idol_experienceOriginally scheduled to be shut down in January 2015, the feature showcasing the popular Fox reality singing contest (which has ran for 5 years since February 2009) will now cease to exist after 30 August next week, 5 months earlier than planned.

The daily experience allowed fans to have ‘private auditions’ as seen on the show, and if selected by the non-celebrity judges, taking the stage in a purpose-built arena to perform in a contest before a live audience that picks their favourite at the end, with winners receiving a ‘Dream Ticket’ that allowed them to bypass the queue at a regional audition on the next season of American Idol. If you are a visitor to Disney World next week, then you will have a few last chances to claim one.

One of the acts to benefit most from the Disney attraction’s offer was season was season 11 live show performer Erika van Pelt, who said of the memories: “The American Idol Experience changed everything for me. I had auditioned for the show several times before, but winning the Dream Ticket was the game-changer. AI Experience gave me a taste of the real thing, down to the smallest detail - live audience voting, charismatic hosts and a good Simon judge-a-like or two! The Dream Ticket gave me the opportunity to go to the front of the line at the auditions in Pittsburgh for season 11, which ultimately led to me securing a spot in the Top 10. I am so grateful for the opportunity.”

Not giving a reason for their decision or giving away what will be put into the arena in American Idol’s place, Disney noted that the shutdown is “…part of the continuous review of the company’s entertainment options.”

One man who might not be too pleased at another company’s executive decision is Fox chairman Peter Rice, who complained that American Idol has recently had a lack of headline contestants, stating: “If I have a criticism of the show for us, it’s that we haven’t found for us, in the last two years, [kids] who have captured the imagination of the public. They’ve been really talented kids, but for whatever reason, there hasn’t been that catalyst behind the show.”

Having lost another outlet for potentially finding one, and with less airtime in its 14th season (dropping to ’1-2′ episodes per week and a season total of 37 hours from previous years’ 50), is American Idol finally coming to the end of its lifespan?

And on a different note, what is Disney planning as a replacement attraction that is important enough to be brought 5 months forward?

YouTube Plan Child-Friendly Video App

Anyone who has been under the age of 13 (or 18, for that matter) at some point during the existence of YouTube will be aware of the limitations that the site will put on for becoming a registered user (or watching certain content), an issue usually bypassed by merely ticking a few boxes.

youtube_age_restrictionIt appears as though Google are making headway in an attempt to have a more honest young userbase (and to better adhere to the spirit of the American ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’), with a planned launch of a ‘child-friendly’ app version of YouTube that should at least be popular with parents.

The Information report that the American search engine giants want their star video property to be ‘more open’ for younger viewers, with a version that they consider ‘safe’ and age appropriate. Measures believed to be planned for the platform include a parent monitor-based dashboard.

It is also rumoured to extend to other Google services including Gmail and potentially Google+ (amongst others), as Google aim to make their platforms more widely accessible to all potential users.

While it is unclear when such a service will be launched, it is one believed to have been a while in the making, but with one tick on a fake profile widely accepted as being generally all that is needed to access the main site, will this offering be more towards and to appease any ‘moral guardian’ detractors they may have?