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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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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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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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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Viacom’s Assets “Uniquely Configured to Serve” Demand for Low-Cost Bundle, Bakish Tells CNBC

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Video courtesy of CNBC. Used with permission.

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is in Paris this week, attending the Viva Tech conference, where he provided more insight into the low-cost entertainment package that he has been promoting in recent weeks, saying in a conversation with CNBC that such a product could be on the market as soon as this calendar year.

With a price target somewhere between $10 and $20, the sports-free package would offer significant savings from both the traditional large bundle and the $40 over-the-internet options that are now proliferating.

Bakish points to Netflix’s tens of millions of U.S. subscribers and its $10 price point as indicative of the demand for lower-cost non-sports services. Viacom’s assets are, he says, “uniquely configured to serve this.”

“Ultimately, the question will be, how does the market segment, because we’re at a transition point in the market,” Bakish notes “…but by introducing this lower price point, we think with these cord nevers and millennials, this is where we start to get traction.”

While the exact look of the package remains unclear, one thing is certain: Viacom will continue to evolve to meet the consumer where they are.

 

You’ll Never Have to Walk Alone: Viacom Unites With 20,000 New Yorkers for AIDS Prevention and Awareness

Sunday, May 21 was a pleasant spring morning in Manhattan’s Central Park, and Team Viacom couldn’t have asked for a better day to unite and support the 32nd Annual AIDS Walk New York.

Stationed among other top corporate walk sponsors in the so-called “gold section,” team members soaked in the warm air, secured their fundraising rewards, and chewed on their Così squagels. After a team photo, Viacom joined thousands of other jubilant walkers in a 10-kilometer march through the 843-acre park.

Team Viacom at the 2017 AIDS Walk in New York. Photo courtesy of Viacom.

AIDS Walk New York is the largest single-day AIDS fundraising event in the world. In its more than 30 years, the event has raised more than $150 million to combat HIV and AIDS (more than $3.7 million in 2017 alone). The funds raised at the event are a vital lifeline sustaining the prevention, care, and advocacy programs that the GMHC organization provides for the thousands of men, women and families affected by the diseases in the tri-state area. The proceeds also benefit dozens of other HIV/AIDS service organizations that participate as teams and raise funds through the organization’s community partnership program.

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Power Struggles, Catfights, and Cocktails: VH1’s Daytime Divas Ring Nasdaq’s Opening Bell

VH1 rang the Nasdaq opening bell to celebrate its new scripted series, Daytime Divas. Nasdaq’s Rob Phillips welcomed the stars of the show to the podium, along with Maggie Malina, senior vice president and head of scripted for MTV and VH1.

Phillips praised Viacom’s “innovative and imaginative programming,” noting how much buzz the show has been generating. “We are honored to have Viacom as part of the Nasdaq family,” said Phillips. “Viacom truly represents what it means to be a Nasdaq company—the visionaries, the game changers.”

Watch the ceremony:

Daytime Divas is based on Star Jones’ novel, Satan’s Sisters. The book and series follow the women behind a long-running talk show called The Lunch Hour. On screen, their quirky personalities shine and their friendships seem genuine. Backstage, it’s a world of backstabbing, blackmail, and botched plastic surgery (luckily, these antics were not present on the podium at Nasdaq.)

But for a drama about a fake talk show, the plot points couldn’t be more real. Daytime Divas tackles ageism, sexism, transgender issues, sexuality, spousal abuse, addiction, sexual harassment in the workplace…and that’s just in the pilot.

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Leslie Jones to Host Star-Laden 17th BET Awards

The 17th BET Awards will celebrate top music, television, sports and movie talent on Sunday, June 25.

Comedian and Saturday Night Live actress and writer Leslie Jones, host of the 2017 awards show, got her start on BET and can’t wait to return to honor some of entertainment’s hottest stars.

The BET Awards have become a cultural touchstone. Last year’s awards captivated audiences with mesmerizing performances and a tribute to Prince. One of the evening’s most moving moments came when Jesse Williams, Greys Anatomy star and civil rights activist, utilized his Humanitarian Award acceptance speech to address how the challenges of living in a racially prejudiced world impact the black community.

This year’s Humanitarian Award winner is Chance the Rapper, whom BET is honoring for his strides toward improving the lives of young black men, decreasing gun violence, and financially supporting Chicago Public Schools.

Another highlight of the show will be incredible performances by artists Bruno Mars, Future, Migos, Trey Songz, Tamar Braxton and more.

The BET Awards draws top names from across the entertainment landscape, and many of them will ascend the stage to present awards. Among the major names will be Yara Shahidi, Cardi B, Issa Rae, Jamie Foxx, La La Anthony, Trevor Noah, Robin Thede, Cari Champion and Demetrius Shipp Jr.

The nominees include some of the biggest names in entertainment.  Queen Bey (Beyoncé) will be continuing her highest total nomination streak with seven new nominations, including Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, Best Collaboration with Kendrick Lamar for Freedom, Video of the Year, and Album of the Year for Lemonade. Bruno Mars is nominated in five categories, including Album of the Year, Best Male R&B/Pop Artist, and Video of the Year. Chance the Rapper and Migos each clocked four nominations. Check out the full list of nominees below.

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