News round-up: Legendary merges int’l & US TV; WarnerMedia signs ‘Impractical Jokers’; Skydance, Impact eye emerging talent; CNN’s Zucker to exit

Chris Albrecht

Legendary merges TV businesses

Legendary is consolidating its international and domestic TV businesses under the purview of Nick Albrecht, who has been named as head of Legendary Television.

Nick Pepper, who has served as president of Legendary Television for the past three years, will become an executive producer on projects he developed for the company. Former Starz CEO Albrecht, who joined a year ago to launch international arm Legendary Global, will now take on the entire TV operation.

Albrecht has slowly been expanding his responsibilities over recent months to prepare for the transition in a move that Legendary hopes will better place it to capitalise on the rise of global streamers and their need for stand-out content.

CAA alum Danny Grover will also join as head of business affairs for the newly consolidated unit, which has a portfolio including Netflix sci-fi Lost In Space, Amazon fantasy show Carnival Row and upcoming HBO Max series Dune: The Sisterhood.

Impractical Jokers

WarnerMedia signs first-look deal with ‘Impractical Jokers’

WarnerMedia has inked a first-look deal with the creators of truTV reality show Impractical Jokers, which has been renewed for a 10th season

As part of the agreement, Joe Gatto, James “Murr” Murray, Brian “Q” Quinn and Sal Vulcano, who collectively known as The Tenderloins comedy troupe, will develop and produce original unscripted and scripted programming for TNT, TBS and truTV as well as HBO Max.

Their show Impractical Jokers, debuted on WarnerMedia-owned truTV in 2011 and the ninth season premiered yesterday.

Brett Weitz, general manager for TBS, TNT and truTV said: “From the very first dinner I had with Joe, James, Brian and Sal, I knew I loved spending time with them, and that our audiences would as well.  And here we are, greenlighting a tenth season. We’re proud to be the home, where the guys can continue to flex their creative muscles, continue to evolve their comedy and build new IP that we can introduce into the larger WarnerMedia family.”

Grace And Frankie

Skydance teams with Impact in emerging talent search

Grace And Frankie producer Skydance Television has entered a first-look deal with talent discovery and development accelerator outfit Impact to source TV content from emerging writers around the world.

Through Impact’s application and review system, writers will submit ideas in four categories that Impact and Skydance will seek throughout the year – the first two of which are ‘premium dramas’ and ‘elevated grounded sci-fi.’ The application process kicks-off on 11 February.

“We are thrilled to partner with Impact in discovering the next great storytellers to further enhance and diversify our television slate,” said Skydance’s president and COO, Jesse Sisgold. “This innovative approach to utilize the benefits of both technology and taste-making in order to amplify the voices of creators – whatever their geography, background, or connectivity to the traditional studio system.”

Jeff Zucker

CNN’s Zucker to exit

CNN president Jeff Zucker is to leave the company once his contract has expired at the end of the year.

As chairman of parent company WarnerMedia’s News and Sports, Zucker oversees both CNN and WarnerMedia’s sports assets. He announced his departure to staffers in a call confirming he will exit after what will be a six-year stint at the multinational.

CNN has never been stronger — and that is something I am incredibly proud of,” said Zucker during the call. “We have challenges ahead, for sure — but we could not be better positioned to meet them. The future is bright with tremendous opportunity, and I want to put all the right pieces into place to make sure that CNN remains strong for many years to come. ”

Ofcom revokes CGTN broadcast licence

UK media regulator Ofcom has revoked Chinese state-owned broadcaster CGTN’s licence to broadcast in the UK.

Ofcom said that Star China Media Limited (SCML), which owns the licence, does not have day-to-day control or “editorial responsibility” over the English-language news channel, which is a breach of Ofcom rules.

“As such, SCML does not meet the legal requirement of having control over the licensed service, and so is not a lawful broadcast licensee,” said the watchdog.

Ofcom added that the China Global Television Network Corporation is “the ultimate decision maker” over the channel, but it could not transfer the licence to that company because it is “ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, which is not permitted under UK broadcasting law.”

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