Transformers Return, The Mist Creeps In, Logo Honors Trailblazers, Bellator Hits MSG, 17th BET Awards Air – All in a Spectacular Weekend for Viacom

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

This is an extraordinary week for Viacom, a showcase of our diverse properties and the incredible power of our brands, sprawled across theaters, televisions and event spaces all over the world.

On Wednesday, the fifth Transformers movie opened in theaters. Thursday brought Spike’s mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. Friday we celebrate Pride month with Logo’s Trailblazer Honors. Saturday is perhaps the marquee night in Bellator history, as the Spike-owned property drops into New York City’s Madison Square Garden. And Sunday takes us to the West Coast, where BET will broadcast their marquee BET Awards.

As Viacom refocuses under the leadership of CEO Bob Bakish, this rapid-fire concentration of noteworthy properties distills the impressive breadth and depth of Viacom’s multi-brand portfolio.

Here’s a day-by-day look at what’s already dropped and what’s to come over the weekend:

Wednesday, June 21 – Transformers: The Last Knight – Paramount Pictures

It is the fifth installment in the live-action Transformers spectaculars directed by Michael Bay, an intriguing collision of ancient epochs with the robot alien present, and a special effects masterpiece.

“…[I]f you’re not staggered by the technique on display here – the stuff that sets Bay’s work miles above the Fast & Furiouses, X-Men: Apocalypses and Tom Cruise-chasing Mummies of this world – you’re not paying attention,” writes The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin.

Here’s a preview of what he’s talking about:

Since the first Transformers movie hit theaters in 2007, the franchise has raked in nearly $4 billion for Paramount and redefined important elements of the movie industry. “Ever since the first movie in the robo-franchise was released into theaters a decade ago, the film industry has changed its approach to producing, releasing and reporting on movies,” writes The Street’s Buster Coen, noting that the films legitimized toy-to-cinema adaptations, stamped June as a month for movie blockbusters, and set the template for international distribution of American films.

Transformers: The Last Knight is in theaters around the world now. A Bumblebee spin-off is scheduled for release next summer.

Thursday, June 22 – The Mist Spike

With a cast of complex characters unified by their small-town setting, the deft use of suspense and drama, and some imaginative writing, Spike has transformed Stephen King’s 1980 novella about a sinister, monster-filled cloud descending upon a small Maine town into a 10-part serial that debuted last night.

And it’s really good, according to a platoon of critics who got an advanced look at the pilot. “Spike’s new series based on The Mist … wasn’t written by King, but it does the author proud ,” writes CNET’s Gael Fashingbauer Cooper.

The series was written, rather, by a team led by Denmark native Christian Torpe, who is a lifelong King fan and consulted with the author at the project’s outset. King simply told him, “Don’t do anything ordinary.”

Torpe appears to have succeeded, leaving even those familiar with King’s original work in suspense. “It’s hard to judge where this newer, looser adaptation might progress from just the first hour, but Torpe has said that, like King, he intends to explore the nature of fanaticism, and how fear so often compels people to seek out unlikely prophets,” writes The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert. “If so, The Mist could be a satisfyingly complex chiller, scaring viewers not just with unexpected jumps and amped-up creepy crawlies, but with the more human monsters who are all trapped together inside, waiting out the weather.”

The Mist premieres at a time of incredible momentum for Spike, which will evolve into the premium TV Paramount Network in January of next year. While the network is still determining an exact programming lineup, they have already announced Yellowstone starring Kevin Costner, a six-part documentary on Trayvon Martin produced in conjunction with The Weinstein Company, American Woman starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, a six-part Waco series documenting the 1993 stand-off at the Branch Dividian compound, and a television adaptation of the 1988 classic film Heathers.

Friday, June 23 – Logo Trailblazer Honors – Logo

The fourth installment of Logo’s marquee event follows last year’s emotional outpouring of defiant pride in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

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Logo’s Trailblazer Honors Will Recognize Pioneers of LGBT Equality, Including Cyndi Lauper: Friday, June 23

What do Cyndi Lauper, Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, Debra Messing, RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Valentina, activist and author Cleve Jones, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi all have in common?

They’re trailblazers of the LGBT community—using their prominence in society to spread a message of love, acceptance and equality.

Logo’s fourth Trailblazer Honors special taped Thursday, June 22, at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City (famous in the LGBT community for being a progressive, welcoming house of worship) and will air Friday, June 23 at 9 p.m.

Trailblazing Honors, unlike other award shows of its ilk, isn’t just about celebrating star power—it’s about celebrating the power stars have to change the world for the better.

Logo’s tentpole event, which culminates Pride month along with the New York City Pride Parade, presents “Trailblazing Honors” to three individuals or entities who have made outstanding contributions to the LGBT community. Past honorees include activist Harvey Fierstein, Edie Windsor, Judy and Dennis Shepard, the Obama Administration and the cast of Orange Is the New Black.

This year, Logo recognized Cyndi Lauper, Will & Grace’s Mutchnick and Kohan, and the late Alvin Ailey as honorees. The ceremony will include musical performances inspired by these leaders, as well as presenter speeches celebrating the tireless work of these honorees.


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5 Questions with Baywatch’s Priyanka Chopra

There’s so much to love about Baywatch. The surf, the sand, the slo-mo. After Paramount’s adaptation of the hugely popular show came to the big screen in May, we posed “5 Questions” to actress Priyanka Chopra. Hear her talk about what it was like working on the film, how Baywatch has become such a global phenomenon, and what’s behind the drama between her character, Victoria Leeds, and super lifeguard Mitch Buchannon, played by Dwayne Johnson.

Watch the discussion below:

Created by Viacom Catalyst.

5 Questions: Spike’s Jon Slusser Weighs in On Bellator MMA Coming to NYC

Get ready for the main event. For the first time, Bellator MMA is coming to New York City, where Spike will host its biggest fan spectacular yet, live from Madison Square Garden.

Jon Slusser, Viacom senior vice president for Sports and Specials at Spike, talks about what makes this event historic: from the title fights to the overall fan experience, and why, thanks to the dedication of the Spike team, Bellator continues to be a knockout success.

Hear what Slusser has to say about this fans-first extravaganza.

Created by Viacom Catalyst.

The Daily Show Hosts Pop Up Art Exhibit to Honor the Commander in Tweet

Lines stretched for blocks in Midtown Manhattan near Trump Tower last weekend, but not for a protest. Instead, tourists and locals converged just down the road to see The Daily Show’s homage to the self-proclaimed “Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” the man known as @RealDonaldTrump.

The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library was a pop-up showcase with free admission.

“Say what you want about Donald Trump,” Noah told reporters as the exhibit opened. “He may not be good at presidenting, or leading, or geo-politics. But he is a damn fine tweet-er.”

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A Super Sweet Resurgence of Reality on MTV

In 2005, a show called My Super Sweet 16 premiered on MTV. I was 14, fixated yet mildly disturbed as I watched teenagers just a couple of years my senior scream at their parents for buying  the wrong type of Mercedes as a birthday present.

Hillary Duff sang the infections theme song (which is stuck in my head as I type this). The episodes typically involved 16-year-olds barking orders at their parents and outlining outlandish demands, such as a casual half million dollar budget. The birthday princess would change costumes more times than Rihanna at the VMAs.

We watched in lurid fascination as catfights unfolded between friends, celebrity guests, and parents. We witnessed harsh consequences for parents who bought their children an underwhelming amount of diamonds:

Yashika, aka the Veruca Salt of diamonds, makes herself clear. (Photo courtesy of MTV)

This was the golden age of early 2000s reality TV. As always, MTV defined what was in vogue—and at the time, it was delightfully depraved, unscripted programming.

Along with My Super Sweet 16, MTV produced some of the most addictively decadent shows of that era—Laguna Beach, Cribs, 8th & Ocean, The Osbournes, et al. Americans were collectively hooked.

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Jordan Klepper Ramps Up for New Late-Night Show By Solving Guns

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The debate seems to slice like the Mississippi River through the center of America: you are either pro-gun or anti-gun. In this version of reality, you either want the Second Amendment repealed or you want to gear up like Rambo every time you step out to the mailbox.

Certainly, these extremists exist. But standing somewhere near the center is a huge percentage of the nation, individuals who support both a right to bear arms and some level of restrictions on that right.

It is this middle ground that seasoned Daily Show correspondent (and future late-night Comedy Central host) Jordan Klepper deftly pursues and, eventually, defines, in Jordan Klepper Solves Guns, a hilarious zig-zagging quest across the United States.

Despite its comedic undercarriage, the show is a thoughtful exploration of an important issue. “Klepper, ever the funny man, produced a serious piece of journalism filled with hard facts and relatable experiences for gun owners and anti-gun activists alike,” writes Paste’s Jacob Weindling. “It’s a special that doesn’t preach to us how similar we are, but it shows us. It is a feat of investigative journalism that is complemented by Klepper’s unique brand of humor.”

While Klepper starts his quest as a cavalier self-styled New York liberal elite promising to “solve,” guns (likely a poke at President Trump’s promise to “solve” North Korea), he is actually well-positioned to fairly explore the firearms debate. He grew up in Michigan, a politically mixed and moderate state, and his grandfather took Klepper out shooting often in his youth. His cousin Pete is an enthusiastic hunter and is featured prominently in the special.

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Challenge Accepted: Team Viacom Once Again Races Through J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

From the north-facing upper floors of Viacom’s headquarters at 1515 Broadway, you can see Central Park nested amid the urban thrum, a luxuriant stretch of water and trees that allows an escape from Manhattan without leaving it. It’s about as opposite the frenetic everlasting chaos and concrete of Times Square as a piece of the city could hope to get.

Which makes it an ideal place for Viacom employees to gather outside of the office for a little fun and exercise. On a pleasant evening in early June, a team of 140 marshalled in one of the park’s meadows to do exactly that. They joined more than 30,000 racers from 709 companies who, over the course of two days, huffed through the 3.5-mile J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge run.

One hundred forty Viacom Employees ran the 2017 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Manhattan’s Central Park.

Ross McGraw, a director in Nick Partnerships, finished first among Viacom employees (and 15th overall), with a time of 18:44. He was followed in the men’s category by Ned Wagner (22:17), Jack Cogan (22:41), and Billy Devletoglu (24:01).

McGraw, who has completed the Corporate Challenge many times with both Viacom and a previous employer, MKTG, was on familiar turf – he lives on the Upper West Side, which is adjacent to Central Park, and he runs there often. He is also a committed athlete. A veteran of NYU’s track and cross country teams and a Team USA triathlete, he finished second in the nation in his age group (and fifth overall) at the Duathlon National Championships in Bend, Oregon last weekend. He won the Hammonton Triathlon in New Jersey last month

To keep in shape, McGraw runs, bikes or swims for an hour and a half each morning and evening. He looks forward to the Corporate Challenge as a part of his training regimen. “It’s local, it’s fun, it’s one of the few times I get to do something that represents the company versus just my own interests,” he said.

“I think it’s really cool that Viacom hosts this for employees,” McGraw, a director of partner marketing for new business at Nickelodeon, continued. “In Nickelodeon partner marketing, we do a lot of programs that focus on getting kids out and being active and I think it’s important to practice what you preach, and so I think it’s important to get out and show people that we also do that. We’re an active company and we get out and play ourselves, to some extent.”

Ross McGraw, left, finished 15th in the Corporate Challenge overall and was the top finisher among Viacom men with a time of 18:44. Katherine Howley, right, was tops among Viacom women with a time of 23:43.

Among the Viacom women, first-time Corporate Challenge participant Katie Howley (23:43) was the top finisher, followed by Erica Martin (26:24), Candice Brancazio (28:05), and Shannon Maguire (29:50).

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to hang out with my coworkers and represent Viacom,” Howley, a social media manager for Velocity International, said. “I think it’s nice that Viacom cares about us not only as people who can produce work, but as people who live a well-balanced lifestyle and care about their personal fitness.”

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Nick’s Famous Slime Is Not Made of What You Think It Is

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

One recent weekend, I found our kitchen counters overrun with items that did not have any obvious place in a kitchen: shampoo bottles, shaving cream, various lotions and creams commandeered from closets and bathrooms. My 8-year-old daughter stood amid these scattered and emptied containers, churning their contents in a mixing bowl. The counters and floor had become a showroom of the varied colors and textures to emerge from the bottles.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Making slime,” she replied.

“Making slime?”

“Yes”

“Where did you learn how to do that?”

“On YouTube!”

Of course. This is the same child who recently asked me if I’d ever considered making a YouTube channel when I was little. When I confessed that I hadn’t, she wondered why. I told her that it had a lot to do with the fact that it didn’t exist until I was 27 years old.

This amazed her (“What did you do!?”), but I was pretty amazed, too, that even in the YouTube era, slime is something that still draws kids like birthday cake.

I grew up in the heyday of You Can’t Do That on Television, a youth-oriented sketch-variety program that ran on Nickelodeon throughout most of the 1980s. The show was also the birthplace of modern slime, which dropped like waterfalls from the ceiling anytime someone said, “I don’t know,” which seemed to happen a lot.

Decades later, as slime is having this DIY cultural moment, Nick is still the king of the gooey stuff. Just check out Pitbull’s Green Slime promo for the upcoming Kids’ Choice Sports Awards:

And if, like my daughter, you think that looks like fun, here’s how you can try making your own, Nick-sponsored slime:

But what was in that original Nick slime? Business Insider’s Chris Snyder recently put together this video where former Double Dare and What Would You Do? host Marc Summers reveals the composition of the torrential green downpours:

Footage courtesy of Chris Snyder and Business Insider. Used with permission.

We can’t confirm or deny  that Summers was correct – or whether Nick’s slime recipe has changed over the years – but it’s pretty fun to watch those old slime shots. In a world that has changed so much so rapidly – there was no real internet to speak of in the ’80s – some things, like slime, appear to be timeless.

Comedy Central and the Creation of Colossal Clusterfest: The Bonnaroo of Comedy

Comedy Central’s first foray into the festival scene, a three-day music and comedy fete in June called Colossal Clusterfest, was quietly introduced in a press release back in February with the simple tagline: “Comedy. Music. Comedy.”

The San Francisco-based cluster boasted superb stand-up, live podcasts, musical performances, and interactive attractions. There were sips and suds from California’s renowned wineries and local fare from artisan chefs. The circus culminated in a live Comedy Central special.

The goal—to pack a whopping, fans-first immersive experience into one weekend—was lofty, especially for a first-time festival. But attendees and critics largely agree that it was a colossal success.

Watch the highlight reel:

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