CBS News has named a company veteran as the newest correspondent on “60 Minutes.” TVNewser reports that the company is adding Bill Whitaker to the show's lineup.
The CBS News veteran, who joined the network in 1984, has reported from locations as varied as Los Angeles and Tokyo, covering earthquakes in Japan and the O.J. Simpson trials, the story notes.
CBS News Chairman and “60 Minutes” executive producer Jeff Fager said: “Bill Whitaker is one of the great veterans of CBS News. He has had a distinguished career covering just about every kind of story all over the world."more »
An actor who lost his role on a high-profile TV drama series in a widely publicized firing a few years ago is returning to the show. The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that Isaiah Washington, who starred as Dr. Preston Burke on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” before he was fired in 2007, will be back on the series.
Washington will guest star in a May episode, returning years after he was "famously fired" following anti-gay remarks about co-star T.R. Knight and fights on the set, the story notes.
His return coincides with the departure of one of the show’s original stars, Sandra Oh, whose character was at one time engaged to Burke. Oh will leave the drama after its current 10th season.
"It's important to me that Cristina's journey unfolds exactly as it should," showrunner Shonda Rhimes said in a statement. "Burke is vital to that journey -- he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang."
Burke's character left the show after he stood up Oh’s character on their wedding day.
In a statement, LGBT rights group GLAAD said Washington’s statements promoting marriage equality and a PSA “have sent a strong message of support for LGBT people.” It added, “We look forward to seeing him return to one of our favorite shows.”more »
A key executive at Turner appears to be a casualty of a management shakeup at the media company. The Los Angeles Times’ Company Town reports that Turner Animation President Stu Snyder is headed out the door at the Time Warner unit.
Snyder has run the unit for six years, overseeing Turner’s animation work along with Cartoon Network, Boomerang and Adult Swim. Snyder said he’s leaving at the end of March, according to the report.
“Snyder's departure comes in the wake of a new management regime taking the reins at Turner. In January, John Martin was promoted from chief financial officer of Time Warner to chief executive of Turner. As part of the restructuring, David Levy, Turner's head of sales and distribution, was named president,” the story notes.
The report adds: “Tensions between Snyder and Levy led to the former's decision to resign, a person familiar with the matter said who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.”
A replacement for Snyder hasn’t been named.more »
An NBC News correspondent was temporarily blinded by a malfunctioning camera light while covering the Michael Dunn trial in Jacksonville, Fla., TVNewser reports.
Kerry Sanders wrote in a letter to friends and colleagues: “I was in front of a TV camera from 7:30am until 5:30pm reporting for the TODAY Show, MSNBC and Nightly News. The HMI light malfunctioned and the UV light was slowly burning my corneas, as well as frying the skin on my face. Not only could I not see, but my eyes burned in pain as if two hot coals smoldered in my sockets. The darkness lasted a frightening 36-hours. I still see foggy halos and out-of-focus views. The doctors say my eyesight will eventually return to normal.”
Sanders wrote that he suspected something was wrong when he felt increasing pain.
“But hey, I’m the guy who toughed out a deadly scorpion bite on assignment in Afghanistan. I’ve marched into Iraq embedded with the toughest of the toughs, the US Marines. I can push through this, right?” he wrote.
In agony, he made his way to the ER, where doctors “concluded my corneas were fried.”
His eyesight is now about 80% returned, he noted.
When he returns to work, the first thing he plans to examine is “those damned HMI lights, in the off-position, of course," he wrote. "Right now I’m not sure what to look for, but you can be sure I’m going to find out. And if being around camera lights is anywhere in your job description, you should too.”more »
TBS has announced the renewal of a comedy series, part of what's being called a "hot streak" for the show's creator.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports that the cable network will bring back the comedy “Ground Floor” for a sophomore season -- and show creator Bill Lawrence is hot, with four series on air.
The cable network ordered 10 new episodes of the comedy, which is one of four TBS series that rank in basic cable’s top 10 original sitcoms in the 18-49 demographic for 2013, the story says. The series drew an average of 1.8 million total viewers in its first season, with 1.1 million of those in the demo.
“Ground Floor,” which stars Skylar Astin, is a workplace comedy about a banker who falls for a woman working in maintenance. The show was created by Lawrence and Greg Malins.
“The ‘Ground Floor’ renewal continues Lawrence's recent hot streak," THR reports. "The producer this year has four series on the air, including Fox's Christopher Meloni comedy ‘Surviving Jack’ and NBC's upcoming half-hour ‘Undateable’ as well as TBS's ‘Cougar Town,’ though Lawrence stepped down as showrunner on the latter when the series moved from ABC."more »
NBC News has fueled talk about “ethically questionable” checkbook journalism with the revelation that it will pay the family of Reeva Steenkamp, who was killed by Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, for interviews, reports The Washington Post.
Mainstream organizations typically shun the practice, as it may encourage sources to dramatize or exaggerate an account, the story notes.
“It also can create a conflict of interest that could introduce bias into the reporting of a story by putting an otherwise independent news organization into a financial partnership with a source,” the piece adds.
“Today” featured an interview with Reeva’s mother, June Steenkamp, on Tuesday, calling it “exclusive,” the report notes. Reeva Steenkamp was shot and killed by Pistorius, her boyfriend, last year.
Pistorius is a South African sprinter who is a double amputee and a Paralympics champion. He became the first double leg amputee to compete in the Olympics when he participated in the 2012 Summer Games in London. He is currently on trial for murder in South Africa in connection with Reeva Steenkamp's death.
A spokeswoman for NBC News said a British unit of an NBC News subsidiary paid “a very modest licensing fee” for the cooperation of Steenkamp's family. She declined to disclose the amount of the fee, which she said will go to covering “materials” that will be used to produce three documentaries for “outside clients.”
“Since last year, NBC has aired a series of exclusive interviews by offering cash payments and other inducements to people who have suddenly become newsworthy,” the piece notes.
The network “appears to have taken a more aggressive approach to securing the biggest ‘gets’ under its new president, Deborah Turness, who joined the network in August from ITV News, Britain’s leading commercial TV network,” the story adds.more »
A familiar face from the long-running NBC comedy series "Cheers" will resurface on a new CBS drama project. Deadline.com reports that Bebe Neuwirth, who played Lilith on "Cheers," is among the newest additions to the pilot "Madam Secretary."
The drama stars Tea Leoni as Elizabeth McGill, a maverick Secretary of State who deals with the complexity of family life and international diplomacy, the report notes. Neuwirth will play her chief of staff.
Also joining the cast is Erich Bergen, who will play McGill’s young assistant. Bergen co-stars in Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys.”
The project, from CBS Studios and Revelation Entertainment, is written by Barbara Hall and directed by Dave Semel.more »
Actor and producer Gary Oldman and Douglas Urbanski are teaming up on their first foray into TV production, with the pair developing and producing a horror series called “The Diabolic,” reports Deadline.com.
Daniel Kay of “Timber Falls” will write the pilot script for the project from Oldman and Urbanksi’s Flying Studio, with eOne TV handling worldwide distribution of the series.
The project is about an exorcist who falls in love with a woman whose young son is possessed. Josh Weinstock will produce with Oldman and Urbanski, who produced the Oscar-nominated film “The Contender.” Oldman, who co-starred in “The Contender,” is known for his roles in films such as the “Harry Potter” movie franchise.more »
FX announced that it is bringing back one of its series for at least another two seasons. Deadline.com reports that the cable channel renewed the animated spy series “Archer" through 2016.
The cable network ordered 13 episodes apiece for the show’s sixth and seventh seasons.
“‘Archer’ is one of the best comedies on television and has played a significant role in the growth of the FX comedy brand,” Eric Schrier, one of the presidents of original programming for FX Networks and FX Productions, said in a statement. ”We’re grateful to Adam Reed, Matt Thompson and their team at Floyd County, and also our incredible voice cast, and are looking forward to supporting their work for at least two more seasons.”more »
Fate of a Perennial Bubble Show -- Part of NBC's Thursday Night 'Disaster' -- Hangs in the Balance Yet Again
A series that is a “perennial bubble show” for NBC is hanging in the balance once again. Medialife Magazine reports that the network is deciding the fate of "Community," which has been pulling in small ratings numbers as part of NBC's Thursday lineup.
The network has already decided whether most of its new shows will return next season, with “Sean Saves the World,” “The Michael J. Fox Show” and “Welcome to the Family” gone from the schedule. “The Blacklist” has been renewed, and “Chicago PD” is likely to return.
“NBC’s Thursday night is a disaster, and ‘Community’s’ low ratings are higher than ‘Sean’ and ‘Michael,’ fellow Thursday programs the network already canceled,” the story notes.
"Community," which is currently in its fifth season, stars Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs. The producers brought back show creator Dan Harmon as showrunner for this season after Harmon was fired following season three.
“The upside to ‘Community’ is that it has a very loyal audience, good DVR numbers and the network knows what it’s getting. It doesn’t expect the show to be a huge hit, but it’s not an abomination, either,” the piece adds.
Chances are “Community” will return, the report says, but it’s likely to again receive a midseason slot.more »