SpongeBob, Mean Girls Lead Tony Nominees With 12 Apiece as Viacom Ramps Up Live Events Business

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

After racking up impressive totals in last week’s Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards nominations, Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical and Paramount Pictures’ and Broadway Video’s co-produced Mean Girls have tied at the top of this year’s Tony Award nominations, with 12 apiece, including Best Musical.

The impressive totals among the best of Broadway showcase the ability of Viacom brands to connect with audiences across a range of formats as the company moves deliberately into the live events space under CEO Bob Bakish. As Viacom branches out beyond its core television and film business, each of its six flagship brands will host live events this year, including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest in San Francisco, Nickelodeon’s Slimefest in Chicago, and the BET Experience in Los Angeles.

The pair of musicals, both of which sprang from Viacom’s deep intellectual property library, also earned the top nominations from the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. SpongeBob earned 11 nominations from each institution, while Mean Girls, which is based on the 2004 Paramount movie of the same name, earned 10 Drama Desk and eight Outer Critics Circle considerations.

The full lists of nominations for each award show is below. Both productions are ongoing in New York City. You can buy tickets to SpongeBob SquarePants at the Palace Theater here and to Mean Girls at the August Wilson Theater here.

TONY AWARDS – The 72nd annual Tony Awards will air live on CBS on Sunday, June 10 at 8 p.m. ET

Best Musical

Mean Girls

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Ethan Slater, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Performance by an actress in a leading Role in a Musical

Taylor Louderman, Mean Girls

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Grey Henson, Mean Girls

Gavin Lee, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Ashley Park, Mean Girls

Best Book of a Musical

Tina Fey, Mean Girls

Kyle Jarrow, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin, Mean Girls

Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I., Domani & Lil’C for SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Scott Pask, Finn Ross and Adam Young, Mean Girls

David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes, Mean Girls

David Zinn, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Kevin Adams, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Sound Design of a Musical

Brian Ronan, Mean Girls

Walter Trarbach and Mike Dobson, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Best Direction of a Musical

Tina Landau, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Best Choreography

Christopher Gattelli, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

Casey Nicholaw, Mean Girls

Best Orchestrations

John Clancy, Mean Girls

Tom Kitt, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical

SpongeBob SquarePants – The Broadway Musical for Everyone

DRAMA DESK AWARDS – TheaterMania will present the 63rd Annual Drama Desk Awards at 8:00 p.m. ET on June 3, 2018 at New York’s Town Hall

Read More

Paramount’s Slate of Sequels, Animation, and Cross-Viacom Films Roars to Life at CinemaCon

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

One of the most shocked-into-silence moments for the audience at Paramount Pictures’ CinemaCon presentation came when Tom Cruise, hero of five previously released Mission: Impossible films, recapped the intensity and challenge of conducting a freefall stunt for the franchise’s forthcoming sixth installment.

“Each take is like running an 800-meter sprint,” Cruise said. “We did 106 takes.”

This blunt understatement captures just one extraordinary moment in one forthcoming film from Paramount, the resurgent studio that over the course of that two-hour presentation unveiled or confirmed new installments to its cherished franchises, sequels to some of its most popular films from new and antique vintage, an aggressive Viacom co-branded slate through its Paramount Players division, a trio of animated adventures, and new films based upon a longstanding and expanded partnership with Hasbro.

“We’re laying the foundation…to deliver to you films for every possible audience for years to come,” Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos, who has spent the past year building a new management team for the studio, told the audience.

As we zoom (buckled up) toward the July 27 release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Paramount confirmed that many of its other most beloved franchises will soon get a new installment. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton will return in a new Terminator movie next November. And Transformers, which has delivered five more or less contiguous sequels, will, as previously announced, dogleg off into Bumblebee, which hits theaters this Dec. 21.

Director Travis Knight showed off the first Bumblebee clip at the event, telling the audience, “I wanted to return to the essences of what made the Transformer franchise so impactful right from the beginning: character, emotion, spectacle and explosions, lots and lots of explosions.”

Many other films will get their first sequel, including the recently released hit A Quiet Place, 2013’s World War Z, 1988’s Coming to America (look for Coming 2 America), and, as previously confirmed, 1986’s Top Gun, which also stars original Maverick Cruise.

And before he drops a fourth Cloverfield movie on us at some as-yet-to-be-announced future point, J.J. Abrams’ Overlord will transport moviegoers into a bizarro version of behind-enemy-lines World War II on Oct. 26.

Beyond the realm of the sequel, the studio will drop fans into the labrynthian world of Dungeons and Dragons and the sci-fi realm of Micronauts, both through the studio’s partnership with Hasbro (the same partnership behind Paramount’s Transformers and G.I. Joe movies).

Other standalone projects will pit assassin Will Smith against a younger cloned version of himself in Gemini Man, and cast Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as the overwhelmed adoptive parents of three in Instant Family.

Tapping Viacom’s deep content well to co-produce Paramount films has been a priority under CEO Bob Bakish, and the studio confirmed that one of Nickelodeon’s most resiliently popular characters, SpongeBob SquarePants, will return for his third big-screen adaptation, It’s A Wonderful Sponge, in 2020. The film will be one of three newly announced releases on the animation division’s slate, joining Luck – which exposes the millennia-old battle between organizations of good and bad luck – and Monster on the Hill, set in an alternative world of wrestling monsters. Additionally, the previously announced Wonder Park will debut next March.

Other top Viacom brands are joining Nickelodeon in collaborating with Paramount, through the Paramount Players division led by Brian Robbins and formed to further integrate the brands with the movie studio. In association with MTV, Eli, the story of a boy being treated for a rare disease in a clinic-cum-haunted-prison, will roll out in January 2019. BET will reconstitute the 2000 hit What Women Want with What Men Want, portraying a frustrated female sports agent who gains the power of mind-reading. Paramount Players is also working on Nickelodeon’s live-action Dora the Explorer and Are You Afraid of the Dark, both slated for 2019 release.

Read More

My First “Job”: A 9-Year-Old’s Experience at Viacom’s Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day

Editor’s note: On Thursday, April 26, 2018, Viacom offices in Miami, Hollywood, Chicago and New York invited a total of 350 children ages 9 to 15 to attend Take Our Daughters & Sons to Viacom Day, where they could see what a career in media and entertainment looks like behind the images flashing by on TVs and smartphones. Viacom has celebrated this occasion as part of the national Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day initiative for more than 25 years, but this was the first year that my daughter, Waverly, was old enough to participate.

Activities rambled over Viacom’s Times Square headquarters, with exactly the sort of creative experimentation and jamming after-party you would expect to find here, but the kids were not here for a carnival – they came to work as young professionals. Waverly’s assignment for the day was to write a guest blog that would take our readers through a day in the life of a Viacom kid. She nailed it (she is used to writing and has a blog of her own, Kids’ News NYC). Here, lightly edited, is Waverly’s day:

Starting my day

My day started with my dad waking me up. I was in Brooklyn, which I don’t usually sleep there on school nights. I brushed my teeth and went upstairs because my little brother was calling me. My dad and I ate a quick breakfast and I packed my stuff up. We went to the subway to get to our destination. I usually walk to my school since I live in Manhattan. But today I wasn’t going to school. I was going to my dad’s job at Viacom for Take Your Daughters & Sons to Viacom day!

I am always tired in the morning, but today I woke right up. When we got to 1515 Broadway, which is what my dad says the people who work here call this building, we checked in. The check-in room had a big blue table filled with badges and boxes. There was also was a setup that looked like it belonged to a band of some kind… it had a microphone and many other items. I wonder what that could be for?

After that, we went to get breakfast in the cafeteria. We put it in cartons and we went to the elevators. I was at first confused by how my dad knows what the elevator numbers were. Then he showed me four halls of elevators and that each hall went to different places. When we got to floor 50, my dad unlocked his office and we went inside. He showed me the websites he runs and we ate our delicious breakfast.

The Viacom lobby in Times Square is so cool – it has these giant screens that welcomed all of us kids to Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day!

Activity 1: Share your inspiration on social media

When we finished breakfast, we took the elevator to floor 30. We went to the art room for mood art. The room was empty at first, but then it slowly filled up with excited kids ready for a fun activity. When the Catalyst workers came (Catalyst is a group within Viacom that designs things, even the logo for Take Our Daughters & Sons to Viacom Day!) they said it was time for us to gather around the table.

They showed us a mini slideshow of examples of mood art and what we’ll need to do this project. We all took a piece of construction paper. There was all different colors, but I chose yellow. The category was what you are excited for this summer. I put space-decorated washy tape diagonally across the page. On the bottom side, I cut bands so they were one straight line and stuck them on with colorful summer stickers. On each side of the washy tape I put stickers of cake, ice cream, drinks, and other summer treats. On the same side as the bands, I put a picture of Switzerland because I am going there after my school lets out. On the other side, I put a different-colored washy tape and cut it up as confetti because my birthday is during summer. After I finished the project, we took a picture with it and went to the next activity.

Holding the mood art that the Catalyst team helped me create in their cool art room.

Activity 2: Create your own animation for Nickelodeon’s Do Not Touch app

After I finished my mood art, my dad came and got me and we went to the 31st floor and room 7 for an animation activity. When we got there, I sat down at a table filled with stickers, pens, sticky notes, and white paper. My dad left, and a worker showed us the steps to making an animation for Nickelodeon’s Do Not Touch app.  

The Do Not Touch app is where you point your phone or tablet toward a flat surface and a button appears there (ed: through augmented reality) and you push it. Every time you push it, a surprise comes. It is very good to do when you’re bored or even when you aren’t.

Each table got a helper. Our helper helped us when we needed ideas. We all brainstormed ideas for what could happen when someone touched the “do not touch” button and then jotted them down on a sticky note. Then we put them on our board.

The ideas I came up with were a lion getting a Brazilian blowout, a tiger getting eaten by a mouse, snakes coming out of holes and tangling themselves together, and one that I didn’t even have time to write: a tiger and a shark wrestling, but they combine and turn into a tiger shark! Our table gathered around the board and picked our four favorites, including an armadillo on a zipline, a lizard that turns into a disco ball, and my lion getting a Brazilian blowout. We presented them to the others. The helpers told us that some of them might even actually appear in the Do Not Touch app one day!

Two of my ideas for Nickelodeon’s Do Not Touch app!

Read More

Daily Show Earns Webby Award, Viacom Takes Four People’s Voice Honors

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Earlier this month, Viacom chalked up 13 Webby Award nominations, with Viacom Velocity, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN), and Paramount Pictures vying with the rest of the best-of-the-internet for top honors.

This week, the Webbys announced the winners, and Viacom brought home five awards – four Webby People’s Voice honors, and one Webby Award chosen by the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences 2,000-member panel:

WEBBY AWARD

The Daily Show: Between the Scenes – Film & Video/General/Comedy: Long Form or Series

PEOPLE’S VOICE AWARD

The Daily Show: Make Trump Tweets Eight Again – Websites/General/Humor

The Daily Show social media – Social/Features, Best Writing

The Daily Show social media – Social/Content & Marketing

Viacom Velocity – VH1 Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party – Social/Content & Marketing/Food & Drink

Viacom also earned 14 honoree spots – across Nickelodeon, MTV, Viacom Catalyst, VIMN, Paramount Network and Velocity – in this year’s Webbys, meaning the work was some of the best of the year, but was not eligible for any awards.

The Webby Awards will host an award show in New York City on May 14. Fans can stream the show on the Webby website the following morning.

Viacom Posts Strong Second Quarter 2018 Earnings, Revitalization Accelerates

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom posted strong second quarter 2018 earnings this morning, outperforming projections with significant gains in both adjusted operating income and adjusted earnings per share as the company accelerates its pivot from stabilization and revitalization to growth.

Double-digit gains across all international Media Networks revenue streams, Paramount Pictures’ return to profitability, ratings increases at key flagship networks, significant benefits from cost savings, further diversification into live events and other adjacent businesses, and an increased focus on next-generation platforms and solutions all set Viacom on a trajectory toward a full fiscal year of growth.

“Viacom continued to accelerate progress against its strategic priorities, delivering improvements across key metrics in the quarter,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. “Our flagship brands increased audience share among important demos for the fourth consecutive quarter, and we saw sequential improvements in domestic advertising and affiliate revenue performance. Internationally, Viacom continued its winning streak, achieving double-digit revenue and profit gains in the quarter while expanding its global footprint through new channel launches and innovative mobile distribution deals across Europe and Asia. Our cost transformation initiatives are well under way; we anticipate more than $100 million in cost savings in fiscal 2018, and now expect over $300 million in run-rate savings in fiscal 2019 and beyond.

“At Paramount Pictures, turnaround efforts have firmly taken hold as the studio improved margins and returned to profitability. This month’s outstanding box-office performance of A Quiet Place, the first film produced and released under the new team at Paramount, is a clear sign of our progress.

“Viacom also took strides to advance its participation into next generation platforms and solutions. We continued to benefit from growth in the vMVPD space, delivered revenue gains in Advanced Marketing Solutions, and significantly increased original content production through Viacom Digital Studios to drive off-linear consumption. Additionally, we continue to diversify into adjacent businesses by building on our live events strategy with upcoming tentpoles including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, the BET Experience, Nickelodeon’s U.S. debut of SlimeFest and our first-ever VidCon.”

Viacom’s core business continues to strengthen

Improved performance throughout Viacom’s core business – domestic and international Media Networks and Paramount Pictures – allowed the company to meet or beat guidance on key metrics year-over-year for the quarter, producing five percent adjusted operating income growth and a 16 percent jump in adjusted earnings per share.

Domestically, both advertising and affiliate revenues increased. Viacom’s flagship brands (NickelodeonNick Jr.MTVBETComedy CentralParamount Network), grew audience share year-over-year for the fourth consecutive quarter, while the company continued to hold the top share of basic cable viewing in key demos, including adults 18-34, African-Americans, and kids 2-11. BET grew year-over-year ratings and share by double digits for the third consecutive quarter, while VH1, CMT and TV Land notched year-over-year growth in audience share and ratings. MTV’s programming resurgence continued, with a third straight quarter of year-over-year primetime ratings growth led by Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, which, with 10 million viewers on its opening weekend, was the biggest unscripted cable premiere since 2012.

Viacom International Media Networks is on pace for another record year after posting double-digit increases in profitability, as well as across all revenue streams.

Paramount Pictures returns to profitability

After notching a $75 million year-over-year improvement in adjusted operating income under its new management team, Paramount Pictures raised the curtain on the third quarter with the release of smash hit A Quiet Place. The film rode overwhelmingly positive critical response and deft marketing to the studio’s best opening since 2016 and the second biggest domestic opening so far this year, earning more than $200 million in its first three weeks alone on just a $20 million production budget. Additionally, the studio’s Paramount Television production business anticipates $400 million in revenues this year. Behind these and other catalysts, Paramount expects meaningful improvement to its full-year adjusted operating income for the full fiscal 2018.

Viacom is aggressively increasing its digital output on next-generation platforms

Anchored by 850 million social media followers, the newly formed Viacom Digital Studios is poised to create more than 600 hours of short-form original content this year. This quarter alone, social video views shot up 70 percent (to 4.3 billion), and domestic minutes viewed increased by 78 percent (to 4.7 billion minutes) year-over-year.

The addition of Nickelodeon’s Noggin app to Amazon and a renewed agreement that adds more Viacom content to Snap’s programming slate, in addition to recent and forthcoming mobile deals, will continue to expand the reach of Viacom’s increasing volume of on-the-go-content.

Growing ad revenue through Advanced Marketing Solutions

Viacom today detailed how its Advanced Marketing Solutions (AMS) portfolio would provide even greater opportunity to take advantage of new advertising platforms. The company also broke AMS – which increased its revenue 29 percent in the quarter – into two basic categories:

  1. Advanced addressable video inventory contains advertising units that Viacom can target to consumers, either through its brands’ apps, or by using set-top-box data from its advanced advertising partners, including Comcast, Charter and Altice USA.
  2. Brand solutions is a bundle of consulting, creative services and associated activations that includes social campaigns led by influence marketers WHOSAY, creative integrations with in-house integrated marketing and creative solutions team Viacom Velocity, and experiences at retail stores or Viacom’s growing portfolio of live events.

Viacom live events and consumer products lines continue to grow

Viacom continues to reinforce its brands and drive revenue through live events, recreation, consumer products and other business lines. This quarter marked a nearly 100 percent increase in live-event attendance over 2017, and there are plenty more events in the pipeline, including Comedy Central’s Clusterfest, the BET Experience, Nickelodeon SlimeFest, and the first VidCon since the online video conference joined Viacom – all of which should serve to double live-event and recreation revenue this year.

Viacom’s future looks strong

“Looking forward, we see continued momentum as we pivot from stabilization and revitalization of our business to a new phase of growth,” Bakish said.

To see what Viacom will debut in the months ahead, scroll through the timeline below, or click here to view the full-screen version.