TVBizwire

Fox Pulls Plug on Special

The Fox Network has scrapped plans for a special that had been lined up for this fall. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that the network pulled the plug on its "Jump of the Century," which was expected to showcase daredevil Big Ed Beckley and stuntman Eddie Braun attempting to jump across the Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

The timing of the event was set to mark the 40th anniversary of a heavily publicized failed attempt by Evel Knievel to jump the canyon.

"'Jump of the Century' was supposed to feature the two rivals re-creating the 1974 stunt -- one on a rocket and one on a rocket-powered motorcycle," Andreeva writes. "The special, announced at Fox’s upfront presentation in May, was on a tight schedule as the anniversary of Knievel’s stunt is September 8. I hear preparations were moving slow, with some of the contraptions taking a long time to design and build, and the budget was poised to go significantly above the original estimate due to growing production expenses."

The planned airdate of Oct. 27 was a part of the problem, Andreeva notes, with that date accompanied by shorter days and often unpredictable weather, making the live special a logistical challenge -- and an expensive undertaking.

"Some of that was built into the premise -- setting such dangerous stunts safely live on TV is hard and expensive. Word is Discovery lost millions and millions of dollars on its Mount Everest jump special, which was canceled after a deadly avalanche at the summit," Andreeva notes. "Additionally, because of their bitter rivalry, I hear it has been hard to get Braun and Beckley together."

In a statement provided to Deadline, the network confirmed: “Due to production timelines and budget concerns, we have decided to not move forward with the 'Jump Of The Century.'"

Andreeva adds: "Beckley, who last fall acquired rights from the Idaho Department of Lands to reproduce Knievel’s Snake River Jump on the 40th anniversary for a fee of $943,000, announced the setback on his blog and expressed confidence that he and the special’s team will find another media partner."

Beckley reportedly wrote on the blog: "We received the final word on Tuesday evening the executives at FOX TV have backed away from the Snake River Canyon Jump."

He added: "We are now seeking other media partners and we are undaunted by this development because it is in God’s hands. We have followed his lead from the start and whatever he has in store for us, whatever it may be we are along for the ride."

big ed beckley.pngBig Ed Beckley

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Nothing to Do After Shark Week? The Hub Network Takes the Wraps Off Bark Week

The Hub Network has unveiled its planned follow-up to Discovery's Shark Week. The cable channel announced that its Bark Week will kick off Aug. 17, with a week of programming built around man's best friend, the dog.

Bark Week will include four Animal Planet programs -- "America's Cutest," “It’s Me or the Dog,” “Bad Dog!” and “Too Cute!”

The network will also air dog-themed family movies, including "Cats & Dogs,” “101 Dalmatians,” “102 Dalmatians,” “Snow Buddies” and “Good Boy."

Please click here for the full schedule and details about the programs that will be a part of Bark Week.

Here's a teaser:

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Blowout in the Broadcast Ratings

Tuesday prime time was no contest in the broadcast ratings, based on Nielsen overnights. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that NBC crushed the competition, with its two-hour "America's Got Talent" more than doubling its closest rival in the key 18-49 demo.

"Talent" moved to the 9-11 p.m. time slot, and was actually down a little, slipping 8% from its most recent episode to a 2.4 average in 18-49. Leading into it, the series premiere of "Food Fighters" had a soft 1.0 average, 33% below last summer's premiere of "Get Out Alive: Bear Grylls." The report notes that "Get Out Alive" had "American Ninja Warrior" as a lead-in.

CBS and Fox aired all-repeat lineups in prime time, but even with a slate of fresh programming, ABC couldn't compete for the win. Its two-hour "Extreme Weight Loss" settled for a 0.9 in viewers 18-49, off 10% from last week, and "Celebrity Wife Swap" matched its all-time low with a 0.8, falling 27% from a week ago.

The poor turnout on ABC, CBS and Fox enabled Spanish-language Univision to slip into second place behind NBC.

For prime time overall, NBC led the way with its 2.0 average rating, followed by Univision (1.2 average), ABC (0.9), CBS (0.8) and Fox (0.5). It was a little closer in total viewers, but NBC was again on top, averaging 8.4 million to lead CBS (6.7 million), ABC (3.2 million), Univision (3.0 million) and Fox (1.3 million).

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Will CBS Keep Colbert's 'Late Show' in New York? Now We Know the Answer -- and the $16 Million Reasons Why

CBS made its eagerly anticipated announcement today about whether it will keep its "Late Show" in New York when Stephen Colbert takes over for David Letterman next year, and the answer, the Associated Press reports, is yes.

One big reason, the story reports, is up to $16 million in grants and tax breaks for which CBS will be eligible for keeping the show in the Big Apple.

Colbert will move into the same stage where Letterman tapes the show, in New York's Ed Sullivan Theatre. The exact date of the transition is not yet known, and will be contingent on when Letterman officially retires from his late-night job.

Among the top broadcast programs on late-night, NBC's "Tonight Show," starring Jimmy Fallon, tapes in New York, while ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is taped in Los Angeles.

"New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said CBS is eligible for up to $11 million in tax credits for keeping the show in New York. The state is also making up to $5 million in grant money available for renovating the theater," the AP story reports.

stephen colbert.jpgStephen Colbert

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Popular 1980s Band Sues Its Fans

One of the most popular musical groups of the 1980s has filed a lawsuit against some of its fans. ABC News reports that the English group Duran Duran is suing its own fan club.

"The group known for hits like 'Notorious' and 'Hungry Like the Wolf' accuses the suburban Chicago-based club of breaching contract by not paying the band promised revenue," the story reports.

The lawsuit, filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court, names Glenview-based Worldwide Fan Clubs Inc. as the defendant.

"It says the band entered a 2010 contract allowing the club to collect memberships and sell merchandise. The contract also allegedly stipulates Duran Duran would get 75 percent of the profits," the story reports.

The company reportedly declined to comment.

Here it is -- "Hungry Like the Wolf":

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Israeli Foreign Minister Says the Enemy Is ... a TV Network

"Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has set his sights on a new enemy," Variety reports. That enemy, according to the report, is the TV network Al Jazeera.

The report quotes Lieberman saying: “Al Jazeera has abandoned even the semblance of a credible media outlet, and it broadcasts -- both within Gaza and outside it, to the world -- anti-Semitic incitement, lies, provocation and encouragement to terrorists."

With Israel entering the third week of its deadly showdown with Hamas in Gaza, Lieberman on Monday said the Israeli government is in the process of banning Al Jazeera, which he accuses of being a part of Hamas' propaganda effort.

"Al Jazeera is bankrolled by and maintains it headquarters in the tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar, a country that is eager to play a more dominant role in Middle-Eastern politics, and despite having no formal relations with Israel, is known to maintain several back channels of trade and industry," Variety reports. "But Qatar is also the current home of Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and an open supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood."

Said Lieberman: “Qatar constitutes the economic spine of the most radical terrorist groups."

"Less than 24 hours after Lieberman’s statement, Al Jazeera reporters in Gaza said warning shots had been fired into their Gaza City headquarters," the Variety report adds. "Terrified staffers wrote on Twitter that the fire had come from Israel Defense Forces soldiers, and the building was evacuated."

Reports on the incident had conflicting versions, the article notes, with the IDF denying the incident and other reports attributing the facility's shattered windows to an explosion nearby.

al jazeera network logo.jpg

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Here's the One Simple Trick NBC and ABC Have Used to Elevate Their Images

Broadcast networks NBC and ABC have reportedly improved their public images lately, and the reason may be simple. Writing in The New York Times, veteran TV observer Bill Carter writes that it's all about their new late-night lineups, and in particular how the Jimmys -- NBC's Fallon and ABC's Kimmel -- are using video clips to enhance the brand.

"While the evidence is indirect, an extensive brand survey conducted by the market research agency YouGov found that it is 'absolutely the case' that the increasing exposure of the two comics' videos has the potential to help the perceptions of their networks, according to Ted Marzilli, the chief executive of YouGov’s BrandIndex survey," Carter writes.

Carter cites the online popularity of clips such as Michelle Obama’s “Evolution of Mom Dancing,” from Fallon's "Tonight Show" (see clip below) and Kimmel's series of posts including celebrities reading mean Twitter messages about themselves.

"What is directly quantifiable in the survey is a highly unusual jump in positive ratings for the brands of NBC and ABC over the past six months. Among over 1,200 brands the company measured between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year, NBC finished fourth and ABC fifth in terms of improving the consumer perception of their brands," Carter reports.

Said YouGov's Marzilli: “That is absolutely meaningful. We don’t see networks making leaps like that.”

Carter adds: "Notably, the other brands at the top of the perception-improvement list tended to be companies coming back from unmitigated disaster, like Carnival Cruise Lines. NBC and ABC are television networks -- two among the 50 YouGov regularly surveys -- that didn’t have a nationally covered news event that caused consumers to relegate them to brand infamy.

"Or, at least not recently. NBC did take a calamitous dive in the YouGov index back in January 2010, when it hit a spectacularly bad perception score of minus 32. That number is even worse than the minus 23.6 score that Carnival descended to last year after a series of stories about its ships losing power -- and working bathroom facilities."

The article notes that the score is derived from asking consumers whether they've heard anything good or bad about a company in the past two weeks.

"Back during that period in 2010, NBC was, as Mr. Marzilli noted, in the midst of the national firestorm over its ouster of Conan O’Brien from 'The Tonight Show' and the restoration of Jay Leno to host," Carter writes.

Said Marzilli: “NBC hit a nadir at that time that was its lowest point in the last five years."

Carter adds: "While he was hesitant to associate a network’s brand perception directly with the fortunes of its late-night star, Mr. Marzilli did suggest that 'late-night stars are one way that consumers identify with a network.' He added: 'There’s only a handful of these guys out there, so it’s easy for a consumer to keep track of who’s on what network. In prime time there are so many shows, they can kind of get lost in the shuffle.'”

Marzilli added: “You look at what Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel have done on YouTube, or some of the other stuff they have posted, and that may be a way they are not just building their own brands, but also they may be providing a halo effect on their networks.”

Here's that Michelle Obama-Jimmy Fallon clip from NBC's "Tonight Show":

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What Is It This Time? A&E Is Sued Over 'Duck Dynasty'

It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for A&E's onetime ratings juggernaut "Duck Dynasty," which endured a feeding frenzy in the media late last year -- not to mention a subsequent plunge in ratings -- after comments by Robertson family patriarch Phil Robertson were widely criticized as anti-gay, among other complaints.

In the latest brouhaha related to the reality show, The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq., reports that the cable channel has been sued over a comment by Uncle Si Robertson, who reportedly said on the program: "My favorite color is camo."

"The line soon made its way onto T-shirts and hoodies, but according to a lawsuit filed in Florida on Tuesday, A&E couldn't camouflage its role in participating in trademark infringement," THR reports. "The plaintiff is a company called Hajn, which has been selling a line of apparel that's branded, 'My Favorite Color's Camo.' The company has a registered trademark and reports gaining national visibility with its mark."

The story reports: "According to the complaint ... A&E has merchandising deals with Sears, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Sports Authority and Target. The deal with Wal-Mart is said to have generated $400 million for A&E last year alone. A&E used Robertson's 'My favorite color is camo' line on clothing, states the complaint."

Hajn reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to A&E, which is accused of ignoring the letter and going ahead with promotion of the clothing line.

The lawsuit accuses A&W of trademark infringement and unfair competition, and states: "A&E’s use of the name has led to instances of confusion, including instances of reverse actual confusion, in that customers either believe that Hajn is selling Duck Dynasty apparel, or that Hajn’s apparel and related novelty goods are based upon the show."

The suit is seeking an injunction along with unspecified monetary damages, the report notes.

In a separate legal tussle, the Robertsons appear to be on the other end of a trademark battle. "They are currently engaged in their own battle with a Napa Valley winery over rights to 'Duck Commander' wine," the THR report notes.

duck dynasty-robertson family-camo.jpgIt's all about the camo: "Duck Dynasty's" Robertson clan

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Busy Week: Actress Books Role on 'American Crime,' Directing Gig on 'Scandal' and Return to 'Big Bang Theory'

The calendar just filled up quite a bit for one television and film actress. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that "Southland" alumna Regina King has just booked her next three projects.

"King has boarded John Ridley's hourlong ABC drama 'American Crime' with a major season-long arc and will return to CBS's 'The Big Bang Theory' to reprise her role," the story reports. "Following both projects, King will then head back to ABC to direct the 16th episode of 'Scandal's' fourth season, The Hollywood Reporter has learned."

Ridley, an Oscar winner for "12 Years a Slave," will write, executive produce and direct "American Crime," which will star Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman. The plot focuses on a racially charged trial, the report notes.

King will play a devoutly religious woman to arrives to help her brother deal with a judicial system she thinks is working against him.

"She'll film the seven-episode role with an option for two additional installments until mid-November, filming one episode of 'Big Bang Theory' while shooting the ABC drama, after which she will head to 'Scandal' to direct in February," THR reports, noting that King will not appear onscreen in "Scandal."

"On 'Big Bang,' King portrays the university's director of human resources, where she has an awkward relationship with Kunal Nayyar's Raj and the rest of the gang," the report notes.

regina king.pngRegina King

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TLC Rolls Out New Brand Campaign ... Maybe You Can Guess the New Tagline

TLC may have once stood for The Learning Channel, but the cable channel's new tagline seems custom-fitted to a different use of the three-letter abbreviation, which is commonly used to indicate "tender loving care."

The new tagline, Deadline.com reports, is "Everyone needs a little TLC." And along with it, the channel is launching a new multimillion-dollar brand campaign. The network announced plans Tuesday for the initiative, which includes on-air promotion and spreads in print publications nationwide, such as People magazine and US Weekly.

On TV, new spots will be seen on USA Network, E!, A&E, TNT, TBS, ABC Family, Dish, DirecTV and the Discovery Communications nets, Deadline reports.

Said TLC General Manager Nancy Daniels: “The tagline ‘Everyone needs a little TLC’ speaks to our mission of bringing viewers the content and experiences that resonate with their lives, and give them a chance to satisfy their fascination with the unknown and understand the larger world around them. TLC’s brand promise hasn’t changed -- sharing remarkably relatable real-life stories without judgment -- and we’ll continue to be the best destination to find the extraordinary in the everyday.”

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