TVBizwire

With Major Stars of 'Big Bang Theory' Without Contracts, Production is Officially Delayed

"Stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar [of 'The Big Bang Theory'] have not yet reached a new deal with studio Warner Bros. Television, The Hollywood Reporter has learned, with the cast officially not returning to work on season eight."

The story in THR continues with this statement from Warner Bros. TV: ""Due to ongoing contract negotiations, production on 'The Big Bang Theory' — which was originally scheduled to begin today [Wednesday, July 30th, 2014] — has been postponed,"

THR adds, " The first table read of the season was scheduled to take place today. It's unclear just how long production will be delayed as the cast and studio remain at an impasse on a new deal. The move comes as a surprise to the studio, which previously was not expecting there to be a work stoppage, believing that the cast would arrive back at work Wednesday, with or without a contract."

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NBC Picks Actress/Singer Not That Well Known to Most of the TV Viewing Public to Play the Title Character in 'Peter Pan' Live

NBC has found its Peter Pan. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the upcoming live musical will star an actress and singer not that well known to the viewing public.

She is Allison Williams, 26, who co-stars as Marnie Michaels on HBO's "Girls."

Christopher Walken has already joined the production as Captain Hook.

Said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment: “We couldn’t be happier that Allison Williams is our Peter Pan. She’s a lovely rising star on the award-winning show ‘Girls’ -- where she occasionally shows off her incredible vocal talent -- and we think she will bring the perfect blend of ‘boyish’ vulnerability and bravado to save the day against Christopher Walken’s powerful Captain Hook.”

Executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron added in a statement: "Allison Williams is a major find. She will reinvent the iconic role of Peter Pan with her wit, her warmth, her dynamic flying and her wonderful musical abilities. The score will be sung beautifully and introduced to a whole new generation of families."

Williams will be working for the same network as her father, Brian Williams, who anchors "NBC Nightly News."

Allison Williams commented: “I have wanted to play Peter Pan since I was about three years old, so this is a dream come true. It’s such an honor to be a part of this adventure, and I’m very excited to get to work with this extraordinarily talented team. And besides, what could go wrong in a live televised production with simultaneous flying, sword fighting and singing?"

allison williams.pngAllison Williams

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HBO Greenlights Miniseries From Creator of 'The Wire'

HBO has lined up the key players for a miniseries from "The Wire" co-creator David Simon. Deadline.com reports that "Inside Llewin Davis" lead Oscar Isaac will star in "Show Me a Hero," which has a green light from the pay-cable channel.

Catherine Keener will co-star, with Paul Haggis directing.

"Penned by Simon and Baltimore Sun journalist/'The Wire' writer William F. Zorzi, 'Show Me a Hero' is based on the non-fiction book by Lisa Belkin," the story reports. "It tells the story of Nick Wasicsko (Isaac), the youngest big-city mayor in the nation who finds himself thrust into the center of a racial controversy when a federal court orders him to build a small number of low-income housing units in the white neighborhoods of his town, Yonkers, N.Y. His attempt to do so tears the entire city apart, paralyzes the entire municipal government and, ultimately, destroys his political future."

The miniseries will be Simon's third for HBO. His 2000 effort "The Corner" won an Emmy for best miniseries, and his "Generation Kill" received a nomination in the same category. Simon also co-created the HBO series "Treme," which is up for an Emmy this year for best miniseries.

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TV Networks Face a 'New Competitor' in Prime Time

Broadcast and cable networks are struggling to compete against a "new competitor," Variety reports. That competitor, as strange as it might sound, is themselves.

"In the past year, the volume of DVR playback viewing that occurs during prime-time hours has reached the point where the DVR now ranks as the No. 1 network," the story reports. "The ratings generated by viewers opting to watch time-shifted programs -- from across the television dial -- are equivalent to the averages of the Big Four networks combined."

The stat was presented by Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development for NBCUniversal, during a presentation on the state of TV viewing. "What is most unnerving for traditional TV executives is the accelerated pace of change during the past seven years, such as how quickly tablets have been embraced by consumers and become a significant TV viewing platform," the Variety piece reports.

Time-shifted options including the DVR, video-on-demand and online streaming are catching on in particular with older viewers, after younger viewers previously took to multi-platform viewing.

Said Wurtzel: “This behavior is no longer about a bunch of 25-year-olds who wear black and live in Williamsburg. It affects everybody across the country.”

Variety adds: "All this time-shifting means network programmers have to adapt to two big challenges. They need to work harder to give viewers a reason to tune in to a program on the night it airs, and they need to understand the dynamics that drive time-shifted viewing patterns. With the explosion in the volume of original content offered by TV and digital outlets, the most avid TV viewers are no longer just using DVRs and other devices to catch up on shows. They’re using on-demand options as tools to create their own prime-time lineups."

Adds Wurtzel: “We talk about [how] the consumer wants control. But the fact of the matter is what’s going on now has really gone way beyond control. It really is the consumer as curator. And by ‘curation,’ I mean these [viewers] are customizing what they get and how they get it.”

The report adds that technical hurdles in measuring streaming video are part of a problem of perception for the broadcast nets, whose widely seen overnight numbers create the impression that overall viewership is falling. "There is activity in the streaming arena to offset, if not reverse, the declines for some programs, but the numbers for streaming aren’t readily available," the report notes.

Numbers for traditional TV channels have been steadily falling in recent years. "Nielsen’s linear TV numbers show a big drop in overall television usage among key demos between 2008-13, such as a 17% decline for the adults 18-24 demo and 15% drop for adults 25-54," Variety notes. "This was a red flag for network research execs because the 'persons using television,' or PUT level numbers, 'move glacially,' Wurtzel said. Such a big drop in a short period did not compute -- until they realized how much activity was happening beyond the living room screen."

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Drew Barrymore's Half-Sister Found Dead

The half-sister of actress Drew Barrymore was found dead Tuesday. USA Today reports that Jessica Barrymore was found in a car near San Diego.

Drew Barrymore responded with a statement to People magazine, saying: "Although I only met her briefly, I wish her and her loved ones as much peace as possible, and I'm so incredibly sorry for their loss."

USA Today reports: "Jessica Barrymore, who would have turned 48 on Thursday, was discovered early Tuesday in a car in National City in San Diego County, when a woman leaving for work found a car blocking her driveway, according to the local ABC affiliate KGTV.

"The woman in the car was unresponsive; dozens of white pills were found scattered on the seat and an energy drink was between her legs."

The cause of death was not yet determined, pending an autopsy.

Jessica and Drew Barrymore both had the same father, John Barrymore, who is descended from the famed family of actors.

The report notes that Jessica Barrymore left a last post on her Facebook page, reading: "Life doesn't always introduce you to the people you WANT to meet. Sometimes,#life puts you in touch with the people you NEED to meet to Help You, to Hurt You, to Guide You, to Leave You, to Love You, and to gradually Strengthen You into the Person You Were Meant to Become."

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NBC Rolls to Big Win as 'Talent' Dominates Broadcast Prime

With its two-hour "America's Got Talent" easily outpacing everything else on broadcast prime time Tuesday night, NBC rolled to a comfortable win for the night, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Talent" delivered a 2.4 average in viewers 18-49, matching last week's number. At 8 p.m. NBC's "Food Fighters" surged three-tenths from last week to a 1.3, placing as the night's second-highest-rated program on broadcast prime.

ABC's two-hour "Extreme Weight Loss" ticked up one-tenth from last week to a 1.1 average in 18-49, while "Celebrity Wife Swap" also rose one-tenth, to a 1.0.

Fox and CBS aired all-repeat lineups in prime time.

For prime time overall, NBC's 2.0 average gave it a big lead in adults 18-49, followed by Univision (1.4 average), ABC (1.0), CBS (0.9) and Fox (0.6). NBC won total viewers as well, averaging 8.6 million to lead CBS (6.4 million), ABC (3.4 million), Univision (3.3 million) and Fox (1.3 million).

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Who Ranks as 'The Most Overpaid Executive'? He's the CEO of a Media Company, and He Makes a LOT of Money

A new regulatory filing breaks down just how much a media CEO who ranks as "the most overpaid executive" was paid for the latest fiscal year.

Bloomberg reports that Lions Gate Entertainment CEO Jon Feltheimer received $63.6 million in compensation for the period, qualifying him as one of the most richly rewarded executives in Hollywood.

“Feltheimer, who has led Lions Gate since 2000, ranks as the most overpaid executive in a study of 373 companies by Graef Crystal, a pay expert and Bloomberg News consultant," the story reports. "His compensation is more than nine times over the market, based on the study, which takes into account company size, total return versus the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in the latest fiscal year and tenure as chief executive."

Feltheimer, 62, received $1.47 million in salary, $11.7 million in stock awards, $41.5 million in options, and an $8.75 million bonus, the company said in a regulatory filing. He also received $200,000 in other pay, which included club membership dues of $24,000.

Media executives are benefiting from rising share prices, and Lions Gate is no exception. With hit films such as the “Hunger Games” movies and the success of the “Mad Men” TV series, Lions Gate shares almost doubled last year.

jon feltheimer.pngJon Feltheimer

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TV Land Cancels Show Built Around Sitcom Veterans

TV Land is pulling the plug on a program built around a lineup of TV comedy series veterans. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel has decided to cancel “Kirstie,” which has been a star vehicle for "Cheers" veteran Kirstie Alley, after just one season.

The show wasn’t a ratings or critical hit, the piece notes, but it did feature a cast of sitcom stars, including Alley, Rhea Perlman of “Cheers” and Michael Richards of “Seinfeld.” Alley starred as a Broadway star whose life is upended when her long-lost son seeks to reconnect.

The departure of the comedy’s showrunner might have played into the decision, the piece notes. Marco Pennette left at the end of the first season for personal reasons, and TV Land had been looking for a replacement.

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ESPN Suspends Analyst Stephen A. Smith Over Domestic Violence Remarks

Popular ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith was suspended by the network following his controversial remarks about domestic violence. The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that Smith was suspended for one week.

“Smith will not appear on 'First Take' or ESPN Radio for the next week. He will return to ESPN next Wed,” the network said in a statement.

As previously reported, Smith came under fire for comments he made on-air Friday morning, which seemed to suggest that women are in some respects to blame when they become victims of domestic violence. He was discussing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his two-game suspension for an alleged domestic violence episode with his then-fiancee, who is now his wife.

Smith said men have “no business putting your hands on a woman,” but added, apparently addressing women, “Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.”

Smith apologized with taped remarks that appeared on “First Take” on Monday. He said, “My words came across that it is somehow a woman’s fault. This was not my intent. It is not what I was trying to say. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulders."

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Classic Celebrity Panel Game Show Coming Back

A classic celebrity panel game show is readying a return to television. Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports that former NBC Chairman Jeff Gaspin and FremantleMedia North America are making plans to update “To Tell the Truth.”

“To Tell the Truth,” which was created by Bob Stewart and debuted in 1956, will be taken out to buyers soon, with the producers eyeing the show for a prime-time slot on broadcast TV, Andreeva writes. The show, which has gone through several versions on network TV and syndication, last aired in 2001.

The original version includes a panel of four celebrities who are presented with three people claiming to have the same talent. Only one of them is speaking the truth, with the other two pretending. The celebrities ask questions to find out who is telling the truth.

Gaspin, a fan of the show, is working with longtime collaborator George Moll. The pair created and produced “Behind the Music,” a popular VH1 series.

to tell the truth-original-title.jpgThe original "To Tell the Truth"

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