Paramount Network’s First Non-Scripted Series to Explore Life and Legacy of Trayvon Martin

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

We all know the basics: On Feb. 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin went out for a bag of Skittles. He never came home. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, shot him dead. The gunman was acquitted on self-defense grounds. Widespread outrage ensued.

Beyond that simple plot, it is a much more difficult story to comprehend: a narrative threaded together by frantic and contradictory 911 calls, eyewitness accounts and police testimony; a legal definition of murder mutated by Florida’s Stand Your Ground law; and a charged political atmosphere that transformed the confrontation into a proxy war for many of America’s social and racial grievances.

When Spike rebrands to Paramount Network early next year, the net will meticulously deconstruct this troubling saga with Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, a six-part documentary created in conjunction with Shawn Carter and The Weinstein Company. This event – which will be Paramount Network’s first non-scripted series – is the second between these parties – the partnership launched earlier this year with the blistering Time: The Kalief Browder Story docu-series.

Thousands of demonstrators march along W. 13th Street in Sanford, Florida, during a NAACP rally and march demanding for justice in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Saturday, March 31, 2012. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

Thousands of demonstrators march along W. 13th Street in Sanford, Florida, during a NAACP rally and march demanding justice in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Saturday, March 31, 2012. (Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)

“I am thrilled to once again partner with the incredibly talented team of The Weinstein Company and Shawn Carter to take a comprehensive look beyond the headlines at the circumstances that caused Trayvon’s senseless death and the movement born out of this tragedy,” said Kevin Kay, president of Spike TV (soon to be Paramount Network), TV Land, and CMT.

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What Is the Greatest Trump Tweet of All Time? Trevor Noah Explores the Art of the Tweet

NCAA’s March Madness basketball extravaganza wasn’t the only bracket tournament captivating Americans last month. Third Month Mania, orchestrated by Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, waded through the nearly 35,000 Donald Trump tweets to identify his greatest Twitter post of all time.

Trump Tweet

Courtesy of Comedy Central.

Third Month Mania was a truly “unpresidented” contest, yet its turnout was “yuge.” More than 6 million viewers delved into Trump’s Twitter archives to find the most outlandish tweet, and Noah announced the winner on Wednesday night’s episode.

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Make America Fierce Again: What a Ratings Surge Tells Us About RuPaul’s Drag Race

After strutting from Logo to VH1, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s ninth season premiered Friday, March 24. Critics say it’s as fabulous as ever—with a fierce cast delivering a whole new level of charisma, nerve, and talent. Viewers agree. The season premiere drew nearly 1 million viewers, more than any other episode of Drag Race. It was the most-watched show on cable TV that night, besides the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. The divas dominated Twitter, as well, trending worldwide and garnering the highest Twitter volume in Drag Race history.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: (L-R) Eureka O'hara, Peppermint, Kimora Blac, Alexis Michelle; Trinity Taylor, Shea Coulee, Jaymes Mansfield, Nina Bo' Nina Brown, Aja, Valentina, Sasha Velour, Charlie Hides and Farrah Moan attend "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

The cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race attend Season 9 Premiere Party & Meet The Queens Event at PlayStation Theater on March 7, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Santiago Felipe/Getty Images)

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A Devine Choice to Host MTV Movie & TV Awards, Nominees Announced

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

MTV has woven the film, TV and digital realms into one broad content domain that houses the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees. The net – which for the first time is expanding the iconic show outside the cinema – also announced that the star of the long-running Comedy Central hit Workaholics Adam Devine will host the May 7 spectacular.

Devine is a veteran of the Golden Popcorn spotlight, having won an award for Best Kiss with Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect 2 last year. He is also nominated for Best Comedic Performance for his role on the seventh and final season of Workaholics.

via GIPHY

The platform-agnostic categories include a few additions and some tweaks of long-running show standards. “Best Fight” is now “Best Fight the System” – to acknowledge social justice activism – while “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” have ditched their gender designations to morph into “Best Actor in a Movie” and “Best Actor in a Show.” New categories include “Best American Story,” “Tearjerker,” “Best Host,” “Best Reality Competition” and “Next Generation.”

Nominated Viacom brands include VH1 for RuPaul’s Drag Race – which earned nominations for Best Host and Best Reality Competition – and for Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party (best duo). Comedy Central’s Trevor Noah is also competing for Best Host, while Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson of Broad City are nominated alongside Devine for Best Comedic Performance. Spike’s TIME: The Kalief Browder Story is in the running for Best Documentary.

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TV Land’s Meta-Comedy Nobodies Hits Hollywood’s Funnybone

TV Land’s latest scripted series is an inside-Hollywood comedy told through the lens of showbiz outsiders. Nobodies, which premiered last week, follows three graduates of renowned improv troupe the Groundlings—Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf, and Rachel Ramras, each playing versions of themselves—as they flounder in the entertainment industry while watching their friends reach stardom.

Davidson, Dorf, and Ramras play “nobodies,” and invite the world to watch their cringe-worthy attempts at fame.

Why should we care?

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Jordan Klepper to Follow Trevor Noah with Late-Night Show of His Own

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central is rolling in late night. Trevor Noah’s ratings are scorching hot and new weekly shows are coming from (fake) Donald Trump and real Jim Jeffries.

And the lineup is about to get even better, with the advent of a new late-night talk show starring Jordan Klepper. A longtime correspondent on The Daily Show – which the yet-to-be-named program will follow on weeknights – Klepper will bring his energetic wit and droll skepticism to his own platform.

Check him out as he tries to become the mythic “good guy with a gun” that seems to be the NRA’s panacea to violent crime:

Watch part two here.

“Jordan’s talent has become so increasingly obvious it would take a real fool to not offer him this opportunity,” said Comedy Central President Kent Alterman.

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Younger Returns June 28 as TV Land Originals Continue to Roll

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Good news, Younger fans:

 

 

The return of Liza (Sutton Foster), Josh (Nico Tortorella), Charles (Peter Mermann), Kelsey (Hilary Duff), Maggie (Debi Mazar), and the rest of the cast is just the latest great news to roll out of TV Land: its hit show Teachers has logged ratings records in its second season; its newest premiere, Nobodies, has already signed on for another run; and Lopez, starring George Lopez just came back for season number two.

Last time we saw Liza, a 40-something masquerading as a twenty-something corporate striver, she had just confessed her true age to friend and coworker Kelsey and blown up her relationship with her sometime-boyfriend and local tattoo artist Josh, who aborted an engagement proposal when he caught her kissing Charles, who happens to be her boss.

via GIPHY

Season four should be a doozy.

Fake Trump Dodges Real Media with Comedy Central Show of His Own

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Comedy Central is on a sizzling late-night run, as The Daily Show with Trevor Noah knocked out its highest-rated and most-watched quarter ever for the first quarter of 2017. It is the number one daily late-night talk show among millennials and the only one of that group to increase year-over-year ratings and viewership.

There has been so much winning that the network has attracted the self-proclaimed winningest winner of all to late night: U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

via GIPHY

Well, sort of. Renowned Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik will helm The President Show, a weekly production that purports to be broadcast direct from the Oval Office, where the faux commander in chief can circumvent the crooked media’s fake news factories for straight Trump talk.

How good is Atamanuik-as-Trump? Pretty flawless:

“Laughing at the President is a proud American tradition and we hope not to disappoint anyone in that department,” said Atamanuik. “But our political system is too broken for us to be content joking about one man, even though he is a disastrous silly little toddler boy. Mostly I’d just like to thank Comedy Central for giving us this platform to speak truth to power and if we’re lucky, end up in prison!”

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Spike TV to Become Paramount Network in 2018 as Viacom Executes Core Business Strategy

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The Paramount Network will launch in the first quarter of 2018, adding a premium entertainment channel to Viacom’s portfolio and executing a core component of the company’s strategic shift under new CEO Bob Bakish. The new net will carry the very best of Spike TV – which Paramount Network will replace – along with high-quality scripted series that will appeal to a broad and diverse audience.

“Our mission is to establish Paramount Network as a prime destination for premium storytelling,” said Kevin Kay, president of Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT. “From Alicia Silverstone as a trailblazing independent working mother in the 1970s to Michael Shannon as an FBI negotiator during the Branch Davidians dramatic standoff and siege, Paramount Network will be the home to compelling stories, unforgettable characters, and high quality production with a distinctive global appeal.”

We have three-quarters of a year until the new property drops onto the airwaves, and a lot more details will emerge between now and then, but here are three things we know right now about Paramount Network:

1) Paramount Network will be a destination for premium storytelling

The Paramount Network’s launch date announcement itemized an impressive roster of scripted series that will roll out in the channel’s first quarter.

Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari will star in American Woman, a 1970s drama about family and independence in a feminism-infused landscape. Heathers creates comedy anthology out of the 1988 film of the same name. Waco will transport us back to the standoff at the Branch Davidian compound with an entirely fresh perspective. And I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. is the latest in the acclaimed “I Am” documentary series from filmmaker Derik Murray.

While the already-announced slate is impressive, the possibilities for future franchises are enormous, particularly given the net’s relationship with Paramount Pictures. “Paramount Network is going to support and develop with Paramount,” Kay told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) in a wide-ranging interview. “Whether we make prequels or sequels to franchises that are Paramount movies or we develop our own stuff that becomes Paramount features, the same thing goes for Comedy Central and MTV — they’re in the movie business with Paramount.”

Kay hopes to establish a pipeline that supports eight premium scripted shows in any given year. “That’s a big number in this world we live in today and Viacom seems very willing to support that and help us build to that,” he said.

2) Your favorite Spike stuff isn’t going anywhere

Spike has become a destination for premium unscripted programming, with the full-throttle feel-good Lip Sync Battle joining longstanding network staples Bar Rescue and Ink Master, and all three will migrate to Paramount Network.

Spike, with its deep HD penetration and web of global outposts, was the ideal Viacom property to evolve into the Paramount Network. And, as Kay told THR, while Spike tended to still be viewed as a men’s channel, the iconic Paramount brand carried enormous gravity among fans.

“There is nothing negative in the consumer’s mind about the Paramount name,” Kay told THR. “Older people know The Godfather; some remember the Sherry Lansing years. Younger people know Transformers and Mission Impossible. Those are the franchises they identify with the Paramount name. I think it has a tremendous amount of value and sets a really high bar about premium in the consumer’s mind and it’s up to us not to screw that up.”

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