Community Creator Dan Harmon Claims Yahoo Will Not Change Show

The popular comedy series Community was surprisingly dropped by host network NBC this summer, but to the relief of fans was quickly picked up by search engine giants Yahoo (through their Yahoo! Screen brand), and to even greater relief, creator Dan Harmon has recently stated that the move into an online-only realm will not change how the show is produced.

community_yahoo_screenTaken on for a total of 13 new episodes in its 6th season, Community has already lost series regular Yvette Nichole Brown for personal reasons (but citing she is able to return as a guest star), but claim that viewers will not see any other major changes, with Yahoo Screen to continue the show’s traditional ‘three-act format’.

Harmon (Rick & Morty), promoting his upcoming documentary Harmontown, was speaking to Vulture as he said of the matter: “I think that the act breaks from the original Community, as it was born into the NBC clock, are very good act breaks. It’s a three-act story as raised at NBC. The [online] commercial breaks are coming at points in a story where, if you were watching a 20-minute play, the curtain might come down, and you might have an opportunity to go get a box of Twizzlers and think about what’s happening, digest, and speak to your friends about what’s going on.

“I like those act breaks; I like where they are, and Yahoo’s intended clock sounds like it’s perfectly compatible with those same spots. So we are breaking three-act stories in the room. My intention also is to keep the same runtime because that will make for the same pacing and the same tone.”

He added of the show in general and how it has managed to take a place in the hearts of its fans: “I think I realised that what was special about Community is the actors. I’ve written lots of scripts almost as good or just as good as the Community pilot. The big difference is Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Gillian Jacobs. That’s what TV is, you know. I’m sure Chuck Lorre would say the same thing about Sheldon. Ultimately, there’s nothing particularly magical about what we do as writers and showrunners; the best we can do is know what we’re doing.

“We can’t really bring any amount of magic to the final product that the actors can. They’re the heads in the box. We have seen lots and lots of very well-written things without people that we liked in them, and we’ve hated them, and we don’t even remember them. On the other hand, we tolerate lots of very poorly written stuff because we love the people. We watch Wheel of Fortune because of Pat Sajak’s head! We love that guy.”

Set to air on Yahoo Screen in early 2015 (presumably on Yahoo’s preferred traditional method of release than Netflix’s ‘all the season at once’ approach), will Community manage to keep their current structure and fanbase with their new online-only limitations? It’s clear that the creator cares, but he should be called out when he gets a little too gushing (like the first sentence of his second statement):

Though it shouldn’t matter so much considering he was once fired from his own show, and while he is back there now, he also has other work:

Fox Sitcom Mulaney Cuts First-Season Order

The Fox sitcom Mulaney, a new staple of their Sunday night schedules, has been seen by many viewers and critics as a poor choice to have been made by both the network and its star after just two episodes, and it appears as though they may only have eleven more chances to change people’s minds, after the network reacted to ratings and reception by changing their episode order once more.

mulaney_castThe sitcom-incorporating-standup format, which some claim is inspired by Seinfeld, features former Saturday Night Live writer and stand-up John Mulaney as “John”, an up-and-coming stand-up comedian looking for his big break, which he gets by becoming a writer for the game show of legendary comedian “Lou Cannon” (Martin Short).

Also included in the regular cast are Mulaney’s roommates in New York City, “Jane” (Nasim Pedrad), “Motif” (Seaton Smith), friend “Andre” (Zack Pearlman) and neighbour “Oscar” (Elliot Gould). Executive production comes from Andy Ackerman and Lorne Michaels.

The show was originally one that Fox ordered a pilot episode on (after being passed over by original network NBC), and once happy with the idea, went for a 6-episode first season to be broadcast. However, they soon extended that by requesting an extra 10 to be filmed, but after 13 episodes in the season had been filmed (the most recent filming claimed to have just finished shooting), Fox announced their intention to stop production there, forgoing the final 3 episodes of the season at this point for a 13-part run.

And in the TV industry, that is obviously not a good sign, as networks aim to not put what they’ve already made to complete waste, and then have no more and pretend the process never happened. Of course, that all changes if Mulaney manages to perform in what looks like an early final stretch, but at present it seems as though the public perception is that the star of the show should stick to what got him this far in the first place.

Launching with a 2.3m audience on 5 October, and followed up the weekend after with 2.19m for episode 2, Mulaney‘s ratings are not in a sharp decline on that evidence (and reportedly actually enjoyed a slight increase on audience share) and the most recent not yet available, but the warning signs could well be foreseen, with not too many people enjoying the ‘sitcom’ elements at present, and the stand-up parts, quality-wise believed to be the saving grace of the format, is timing-wise believed to be shoehorned in with less plot relevance than would be deemed acceptable.

So the first question that should naturally be asked is “they let American Dad go for this?”, presumably followed by any number of others relating to Fox’s judgement on the matter. Or more specifically, how they can carry on with a promotional campaign that isn’t doing its new show any favors:

This coming after all their summer hype, which included a Gotham-style online-exclusive behind-the-scenes-documentary:

Netflix Ready For HBO Online Challenge

Though the match-up could perhaps be likened to a dominant sports team going up against an upstart challenger that has a decent team spearheaded by one superstar player, the announcement of HBO that they will soon offer an exclusively online service has prompted Netflix‘s response of how it will make both of them to push each other to the limits, and that both will become stronger for it.

netflix_blackHBO had announced last week that by the year 2015, they will be offering a ‘digital version’ of their subscription TV service in 2015, the first for a brand that currently requires their own payments on top of a regular cable/satellite subscription (a system in place since foundation in 1972), including access to their HBO Go catch-up platform, but with the alternative business plan will allow consumers to pay a similar amount for only the online streaming parts.

Responding to the news with a letter to their shareholders, Netflix claimed that they have immediately bumped HBO up to the public status of being considered their “primary long-term competitor”, but that they had their eye on the network in that regard even before the announcement.

They wrote to shareholders: “The competition will drive us both to be better. It was inevitable and sensible that they would eventually offer their service as a standalone application. Many people will subscribe to both Netflix and HBO since we have different shows, so we think it is likely we both prosper as consumers move to internet TV.”

While they have to contend with 25% share price drops due to below-expectation performances during the last quarter without HBO competing, will the news that the long-running brand soon will be be enough to turn off some holders, or will the competition indeed drive both brands to another level in the online streaming market?

Leonardo DiCaprio And Netflix Team Up To Save Gorillas

Netflix are collaborating with Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio in a bid to help tell the world about endangered mountain gorillas in the eastern Congo.

VirungaThe streaming company will release a documentary made by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Production company which will be called Virunga. Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, the documentary will show a small team of park rangers battling to protect endangered mountain gorillas in Africa.

DiCaprio, who will be executive producer for the film said, “Films like ‘Virunga’ are powerful stories that are a window into the incredible cultural and natural diversity of our world, the forces that are threatening to destroy it, and the people who are fighting to protect it. Partnering with Netflix on this film is an exciting opportunity to inform and inspire individuals to engage on this topic.”

For Netflix, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said,”Leo intuitively understands that there is nothing like the power of film to reach people’s hearts and minds. With ‘Virunga,’ we’ll work with Leo to introduce viewers around the world to an incredible, gripping story that will have audiences guessing right up until the final act.”

It is reported by The World Wildlife Fund that less than 800 mountain gorillas are left in the wild, with around half of them living in the Virunga Mountains. The film will follow the park rangers as they, “Protect (Virunga National Park) from armed militia, poachers, and the dark forces struggling to control Congo’s rich natural resources.”

The film will be released on November 7  both on Netflix around the World and in New York and Los Angeles theaters simultaneously.

ABC Over The Moone Boy With New Pilot

The latest to join a long line of proud and not-so-proud attempts of American networks to adapt a British TV show to cross-Atlantic audiences has occurred, and is in fact Irish.

moone_boy_promoChris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy concept is one that has earned two seasons broadcast so far on satellite broadcaster Sky1, and a third currently in production, and now has attracted the attention of American network ABC.

The broadcaster, according to The Hollywood Reporter, have made a ‘put-pilot commitment’ on the Emmy Award-winning live-action comedy (with animated segments), which is inspired by its creator’s life growing up in the small rural town of Boyle (Ireland) in the 80s and 90s. On-screen, the semi-biographical focus is on 12-year-old boy “Martin Moone” (David Rawle) who has an imaginary friend called “Seán Murphy” (O’Dowd), who is able to offer him a unique perspective and support in his life as an outcast.

For the American adaptation, O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) is to script write and executive produce the single-camera pilot, but likely to not have an on-screen presence, leading to questions as to just how ‘Irish’ or ’80s’ the show will be if taken on.

Going from a Sky1 Little Crackers Christmas short in 2010 to full series in 2012, and now an American major network pilot in the space of less than 4 years, will Moone Boy be able to take its next step up, or will the imagination of O’Dowd have a ceiling? For a taster of whether or not you might like the format, the original show broadcasts on PBS in America and on-demand on Hulu, and preview clips on YouTube such as the one below:

YouTube Reach $1b In Copyright Payouts

Since the idea of a free video sharing site is one that attracts plenty of people looking to make some quick advertising money by copying established content (whether it is an outright theft of the footage or something that most would consider a little more fair game and overall beneficial), there are plenty of people that quickly face punishment from the site over doing so, but since the site is the one hosting this content and the one who has the money, they end up covering the cost of fines (unless you are marketing genius Kim Dotcom), or if you are smart about it, giving off a share of the proceeds.

Youtube-music-streamingAnd in total, YouTube has reportedly broken the $1b mark in payments made under their ‘Content ID’ initiative, a feature established in 2007 which assists content rights holders in matching their clips to YouTube videos, with any infractions found on YouTube leaving the holders with a decision – have the video taken down, or keep track of it whilst making some of the advertising money (and publicity) from it.

With over 5,000 companies tracking both video and audio (including licenced music) from across YouTube’s archives, it is believed that many media groups are starting to lean towards the ‘keep’ option.

Google’s ‘legal director for copyright’ Fred von Lohmann said of the trends: “The vast majority choose to monetise and track rather than block the videos. A large part of it is because of Content ID.”

In a far and opposite cry from an early-days copyright lawsuit against Viacom for $1b (which was settled with no cash earlier this year), it appears as though more big names such as networks and record labels are becoming okay with the idea of ‘unauthorised’ use of their property… provided they receive a slice of the benefits.

One company that takes advantage of the feature on most occasions is European production company FremantleMedia, whose ‘senior vice-president of digital’ Olivier Delfosse said of their reasoning: “We have made it a core part of our digital business. [We had (a clip of Korea's Got Talent that earned more views through a third-party than official), an example of] a fan teaching us what fans want. We monetise almost all of our fan-uploaded content… it’s become a significant revenue stream for us.”

While it is unclear as to how much of the advertising money the chancers get from their now ‘acceptable’ uploads, the content providers at least appear to be warming a little to YouTube’s 7-year-old idea, but will it develop to a harmonious mutual benefit for all involved, or will one party attempt to squeeze more out of the current arrangements?