Tag: “Fresh Off The Boat”

Jamila Hunter Named New Head of Comedy at ABC

Jamila Hunter ABC comedy
Jamila Hunter, New Head of ABC Comedy (PHOTO COURTESY ABC)

article by Elizabeth Wagmeister via Variety.com

ABC has named Jamila Hunter senior vice president of comedy, Variety has learned.

Hunter’s promotion follows the exit of longtime head of comedy Samie Falvey, who recently departed for AwesomenessTV where she is now head of content.

In her new position, Hunter — previously ABC’s vice president of comedy — will manage the network’s comedy department, heading development and production of all comedy pilots.

“As one of our industry’s most accomplished executives, Jamila has been instrumental in ABC’s comedy resurgence. She brings a unique perspective to this important role, and I’m thrilled to have her leading our efforts,” said ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, to whom Hunter will report.

Hunter commented: “I’m honored to join Channing’s senior leadership team. Over the years, our network has built a strong comedy brand featuring unique, culturally relevant shows. I’m excited by this new opportunity and looking forward to working with my talented colleagues at ABC as we continue this tradition.”

Hunter became vice-president of ABC comedy in 2011. Over the past five years in that position, she has worked on “Black-ish,” “Fresh Off The Boat,” “The Real O’Neals” and Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing.” In late 2015, her role was expanded with multi-platform comedy development added to her purview, thus working with talent who develop and produce original short-form content for ABC’s app, plus collaborating with the net’s digital team on marketing and launching each digital series.

Prior to ABC, Hunter was part of the creative team that launched Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, and before that, was senior vice president of alternative and digital programming NBC.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/jamila-hunter-head-of-comedy-abc-network-1201881702/

Networks Casting More Actors of Color This Pilot Season

More Minority Actors Showing Up on

ABC knew going in to the casting process for its drama pilot “Runner” that it was looking for a Latino leading man, as specified in the script. But the female lead role had no racial or ethnic specificity.

Paula Patton, an African-American actress, landed the role of a woman whose life is ripped apart when she learns her husband, played by Adam Rodriguez, is wrapped up in a Mexican gun-running cartel.

“Runner” is but one example this pilot season of a surge of minority actors landing starring roles in prospective new series. Industry insiders say there’s an undeniable openness to African-American, Latino and Asian thesps on the heels of the success ABC and Fox have had with shows led by diverse casts.

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TV executives have talked for years about the need for the airwaves to reflect the growing cultural diversity of America. But the 2014-15 television season has marked a turning point in the embrace of diversity as a business strategy. Fox has fielded the biggest network TV hit in years with “Empire,” a soap with a largely African-American cast. ABC has scored with Viola Davis leading “How to Get Away With Murder” and the family comedies “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat.”

Such hits prove that broadcast TV in particular can no longer afford to ignore the value of discrete racial and ethnic groups. The role of  “How to Get Away With Murder’s” Annalise Keating was not specifically envisioned for an African-American actress, but the casting of Davis undoubtedly helped generate sampling among black viewers — a demographic group that has boosted the overall turnout for the show.

ABC’s success this season “proves the point that audiences are hungry for shows that are well done but also reflect the world around us,” said Channing Dungey, executive VP of drama development, movies and miniseries for ABC. “It’s not about just diversity, it’s about authenticity. Audiences are really excited to see more of themselves on the screen.”

“Runner” is an example of how this pilot season, minority actors are much more in demand than they have been in the recent past. And with “Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” drawing crossover demographics, there’s a greater appetite for shows with ethnically specific settings.

“It’s been interesting to see how much more competitive it is with diverse actors and actresses now,” said Dungey, who added that she is proud ABC helped lead the way, not just with “Murder” but with the blossoming of Kerry Washington and “Scandal” into the first successful drama in decades led by an African-American actress.

“The thing I really hope is that this isn’t a passing phase,” Dungey said. “I’m hoping this is a trend that will continue.”

article by Cynthia Littleton via Variety.com

“Empire” Grows Audience for 7th Straight Week; Growth Spurt Fueled by Young Women, Urban Markets

Timbaland Empire Fox

In music biz terms, Fox’s “Empire” is zooming up the charts with a bullet.

On Wednesday the family soap centered on a hip-hop musical mogul continued its unprecedented growth streak by gaining audience for a seventh straight week, hitting 13.9 million. No series in the history of Nielsen’s People Meters (going back to 1991) had grown with the first five episodes following its premiere, and “Empire” has now bested that by two weeks.

The 20th Century Fox TV/Imagine TV drama stunned the industry with its Jan. 7 premiere, which averaged a 3.8 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 and 9.9 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. It built on its lead-in, the season premiere of “American Idol,” by 32% in  adults 18-34 and logged the net’s top premiere score in this demo in six years.

And it’s only gotten bigger since. “Empire” is part of the ratings boom this season for series that feature diverse casts and executive producers — as exemplified by ABC’s success with comedies “Blackish” and “Fresh Off the Boat” and drama “How to Get Away With Murder.” But “Empire’s” audience is so big that it is clearly a big-tent hit with broad viewership across a range of demographics.

In adults 18-49, it has grown in six of the last seven weeks, with Wednesday night’s rating (5.4) — a monster 42% build on its premiere — the top score for a regularly scheduled broadcast drama since ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” in the fall of 2010.

The biggest growth spurt for “Empire” has come in women 18-34, in which last night’s rating (6.2) was 68% larger than its premiere rating (3.7).

“Empire” figures to once again rank as the week’s top-rated broadcast series in adults 18-49, having leapfrogged CBS vet “The Big Bang Theory” for the first time last week. And for the season, “Empire” is on track to finish as broadcast television’s No. 1 drama; only AMC’s “The Walking Dead” rates higher.

(Fox estimates that in the month since the “Empire” pilot aired, it has been watched by 22.6 million when all time-shifting and viewership on other nonlinear platforms are included.)

“Empire” is being driven by a young, urban audience and is faring especially well in many of the nation’s biggest cities.

Among the top 12 markets, Wednesday’s episode of “Empire” won in the 18-49 demo in every one but Boston. The top scores in those cities came from Atlanta (14.9 rating/29 share), Detroit (9.2/24), Washington, D.C. (7.8/23), Cleveland (7.5/17) and New York (7.3/20) — all well above the show’s national average of 6.0/17.

Roughly two-thirds of those age 2 and older watching “Empire” last Wednesday night (66.9%) were African-Americans. It joins ABC’s Thursday tandem of “Scandal” (42% African-American) and newcomer “How to Get Away Murder” (41%) as broadcast dramas in which more than 4 in 10 viewers are black.

In addition to “How to Get Away With Murder,” ABC has also added two solid comedies featuring minority leads (“Black-ish” and “Fresh Off the Boat”) this season while its “Cristela” has fared decently on Fridays. CW, meanwhile, has garnered critical accolades and is slowly building an audience for its comedic hour “Jane the Virgin.”

All of these series are delivering a younger skew than other shows on their networks, which only makes sense based on U.S. Census data.

According to Nielsen’s calculation of the 116 million-plus TV homes in the U.S. this season, whites make up 75% of the nation’s 50-and-older population, but they comprise 59.3% of the adults 18-49 pie — down from 63.5% just five years ago.

African-Americans make up 14.2% (up from 13.3%) and Asian-Americans have jumped to 5.6% (from 5.0), but the biggest growth spurt has come among Hispanics, which have grown from 17.6% to 20.1% of the country’s TV-viewing population.

In addition to the two-thirds of its audience that is black, “Empire” has also dominated in the top-10 Texas markets of Dallas (7.2 local rating in 18-49/19 share last night) and Houston (7.0/18), where Hispanics make up more than 40% of the population.

In fact, with about 10% of its audience Hispanic, “Empire” ranks as the season’s No. 1 new series and No. 1 broadcast drama overall with Hispanic (English-language) adults 18-49 and 18-34.

The median age for “Empire” last night was 43.5, making it the night’s youngest-skewing program on the Big Four. The net’s “Gotham” is the only other current drama on ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox this season to consistently have a median age under 50.

Another indication of just how big “Empire” has become is that while roughly 63% of its 18-49 audience is female, it also ranks as the season’s No. 1 new series in men 18-49.

“Empire” is benefiting from increasingly strong buzz in social media. Based on Nielsen Social Guide and Twitter metrics, “Empire” now has the highest average number of tweets per episode during its live airings (381,770) than any other broadcast drama this season — overtaking ABC’s “Scandal” (355,012).

And last night’s episode generated a record 714,742 social comments.

Ratings for primetime shows tend to drift downward at the onset of Daylight Saving Time (which starts March 8), so it’s likely that “Empire’s” growth streak will come to an end in one of the weeks prior to its March 25 finale. But at this point, you’d be crazy to bet against it.

article by Rick Kissell via Variety.com