One of television's top movers and shakers -- who has been called the most powerful woman in Hollywood -- is resigning from her seat of power. According to The Hollywood Reporter, longtime Disney and ABC executive Anne Sweeney is stepping down to become a TV director.
The Walt Disney Co. announced Sweeney's departure today. The co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, will remain with the company through January 2015.
B&C reports: "Sweeney oversees Disney's entertainment and news television interests worldwide. She first joined the company in 1996, and is widely credited with helping to grow properties such as Disney Channel and ABC Family, and with successfully migrating broadcast network ABC's content onto the Internet in the middle of the last decade. She oversees Disney's equity interest in A+E Networks and Hulu."
Said Sweeney: "The past 18 years at Disney have been the highlight of my executive career. I’ve been a part of an amazing evolution in our business and our industry, and have achieved far more than I ever thought possible. But as wonderful as the experience has been, there has always been a nagging voice in the back of my head pushing me to step out of the comfort zone of the executive ranks and more directly into the creative arena that enticed me to TV in the first place. I finally listened to that voice and thought, ‘If not now, when?’"
Among her titles during her tenure at Disney, Sweeney has been president of Disney Channel, executive VP of Disney/ABC Cable Networks and president of ABC Cable Networks Group and Disney Channels Worldwide.
"Prior to joining Disney, Sweeney spent three years as chairman and CEO of FX Networks. Before joining FX, she spent 12 years in various executive positions at Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite," B&C notes.
Said Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Iger: “Since joining Disney, Anne has been a very successful executive in our senior ranks. Over the years, she grew our Disney Channel business into a global powerhouse and the main brand driver of our Company around the world; built ABC Family into a top cable network here in the U.S.; made ABC a strong, successful content creation engine; and has been a great partner in leading our industry into the digital age.”more »
After almost 68 years as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the industry group is changing its name. B&C reports that the Academy wants to be known simply as the Television Academy.
"As part of the organization's "New Look -- New Vision -- New Destination" campaign, the group will now be known simply as the Television Academy. The TV Academy will celebrate its 70th Anniversary in 2016," B&C reports. "This campaign will also see a significant expansion of the endowment supporting the Academy's philanthropic efforts and a new construction project for its NoHo Arts District campus in the San Fernando Valley."
Bruce Rosenblum, chairman and CEO of the TV Academy, was set to announce a $40 million fundraising campaign Tuesday night, March 11, 2014, at the annual TV Hall of Fame ceremony.
Said Rosenblum: "This is the most important and pivotal year in our organization's history. The Academy is expanding, innovating and evolving alongside the dramatic changes in our industry. The quality of storytelling in television has never been better, and the ability of our global audience to experience those stories in personal ways has been permanently enhanced by the creativity of our members and technology advances within our industry."
As part of the rebranding effort, the Television Academy's logo will also change, and the Emmy statuette will get an update, the report notes.more »
A fixture at CBS News has decided to leave the network after “months of hard-fought negotiations,” reports Politico’s Dylan Byers. The story reports that investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson terminated her contract with the network.
The piece reports: “Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsize influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said.”
She also felt her work wasn’t supported by the network, and that she was fighting to get her reports on-air.
Attkisson definitely received less airtime over the past few years, reports TVNewser.
Attkisson was one of CBS News’ top 20 correspondents from 2007-2009, with between 145 minutes and 160 minutes per year. But by 2012, she had fallen to 36 minutes, making her the No. 100 correspondent in terms of airtime. Last year her airtime rose to 54 minutes, but she was still No. 100.
“Feeling increasingly stymied and marginalized at the network, Attkisson began talking to CBS News President David Rhodes as early as last April about getting out of her contract. Those negotiations intensified in recent weeks, and her request was finally honored on Monday,” Politico notes.
Attkisson told Politico that her departure was “amicable,” adding that she will focus on writing a book that’s being published by HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp.
Byers writes: “Attkisson had become a polarizing figure at the network, sources there said. While some championed her relentless dedication to investigations -- ranging from defective Firestone tires to the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal -- others saw evidence of a political agenda, particularly against President Barack Obama. (The bulk of Attkisson’s work since 2009 has focused on the failures or perceived failures of the Obama administration, including its failed green-energy investments and the attack in Benghazi, though she has reported on several Republican failures as well.)”more »
Prospect Park Networks, the online production company that revived “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” online, has filed for Chapter 11, reports Deadline.com.
The company filed for bankruptcy even as its multimillion-dollar legal action against ABC over the soaps continues, the story notes.
“The action today leaves little room for the resurrection of ‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life To Live’ in their last online incarnation. After a long-awaited first season online, both soaps ceased production last August,” the piece notes.
“PPN is optimistic that this filing will make it possible to continue to maximize the value of its assets and settlement of past liabilities,” the company said in a statement.
The filing doesn’t impact the Prospect Park management and talent company created in 2008 by Jeff Kwatinetz and ex-Walt Disney Studios president Richard Frank, the piece adds. It also won’t impact the company’s current productions, which includes “Wilfred” on FX and “Royal Pains” on USA Network, the story notes.more »
Adult Swim has ordered a half-hour live-action series called “Black Jesus.” The Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker reports that the show comes from “The Boondocks” creator Aaron McGruder.
The series “appears to be inviting controversy,” the report notes, given that the premise involves Jesus living in modern-day Compton, a suburb of Los Angeles that’s plagued by a high crime rate. Jesus continues his mission of spreading love and understanding with a small group of followers, the story says.
“Although that's all the information Adult Swim provided about the series, one suspects it'll have considerably more edge than the standard Trinity Broadcasting Network fare,” the story notes.
Gerald “Slink” Johnson, who provided voice work for “Grand Theft Auto V,” will portray Black Jesus. The series is set to debut later this year in the Adult Swim programming block on the Cartoon Network.more »
The MTV Movie Awards are coming under fire -- and have been targeted by an online petition. TheWrap.com reports that the awards omitted women among the nominees for Best Hero, and the petition demands that “The Hunger Games” heroine Katniss Everdeen be included.
The petition had gained more than 13,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning, with supporters demanding that Everdeen be added to the slate. Everdeen is played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence.
“There is not a single woman in the Hero Category. Don't let a strong woman like Katniss be overlooked!” the petition says. “Young women already have too few female heroes represented in film and television. We're constantly shown by the entertainment industry that men are brave, powerful, or successful, while women are often given supporting roles and weak characters.”
MTV didn’t respond to a request for comment, TheWrap notes.
Nominees in the category are Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in “Iron Man 3,” Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” Chris Hemsworth as Thor in “Thor: The Dark World,” Henry Cavill as Clark Kent in “Man of Steel” and Channing Tatum as John Cale in “White House Down.”
Nominees are chosen by MTV executives and producers, although the public votes to decide the winners.more »
A well-known rapper, record producer and entrepreneur is working on expanding his empire, and has his sights set on buying Madison Square Garden Co.’s Fuse network. Bloomberg reports that Sean Combs, who is also known as Diddy, has offered about $200 million for the cable channel, which he plans to turn into Revolt TV.
Combs is one of several bidders for the network, the story says. Since gaining fame as rapper Puff Daddy, he has started fashion, media and liquor businesses, on top of the cable-music network Revolt.
By purchasing Fuse, Revolt TV would gain more viewers and heftier subscriber fees. Fuse reaches about 74 million homes, while Revolt TV is only available in 22.8 million homes, the story notes.
“As we have stated, we are exploring strategic alternatives for Fuse, and will have no further comment during what is still an ongoing process,” an MSG spokeswoman said.
A $200 million offer may be on the low side, as bids were expected to range from $200 million to $250 million, the piece adds. The Dolan family, which controls MSG, has been seeking about $400 million.
Fuse’s programming includes original shows such as “Billy on the Street,” which features comedian Billy Eichner asking New Yorkers questions, while Revolt TV airs music videos, news, interviews and live performances.more »
The Fox comedy pilot “Dead Boss,” which stars Jane Krakowski of "30 Rock," has lined up a well-known feature film director. Deadline.com reports that “Men in Black” director Barry Sonnenfeld will helm the pilot.
The project, from WBTV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, this week signed up comedian and actress Amy Sedaris in a co-starring role, as we reported previously. Krakowski stars as a worker who is wrongfully convicted of killing her boss.
Sonnenfeld has a connection with Kaplan, as he directed Kaplan’s first pilot as a producer, which was the ABC comedy “Funny in Farsi.”more »
In a season in which ABC has often lagged near the bottom of the big four broadcast ratings, Sunday was a very good night in prime time, based on Nielsen overnights for the key 18-49 demo.
Paced by a strong premiere for the drama "Resurrection," and with good numbers for both the return of "Revenge" and the midseason premiere of "Once Upon a Time," ABC won the night handily among the broadcast nets. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that "Resurrection" opened to a hefty 3.6 average rating in 18-49 to easily rank as the top show of the night on broadcast.
"Once Upon a Time" delivered a solid 2.3 average in the 18-49 demo for its midseason premiere on ABC, four-tenths of a point better than the number for the show's previous original installment. "Revenge" returned from hiatus to a 1.9 average, surging six-tenths from its previous original.
Second-place Fox got a piece of the multichannel airing of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," pulling in a 2.1 demo rating for the show in the 9 p.m. hour, along with 5.79 million total viewers. Counting all 10 networks airing the program, "Cosmos" delivered 8.5 million total viewers.
"Family Guy" was Fox's highest-rated show with a 2.2 average in viewers 18-49, up two-tenths from its previous original episode. Back-to-back episodes of "The Simpsons" settled for a 1.2 and a 1.6, both down from a 1.7 last time out. "Bob's Burgers" managed only a 0.9, falling six-tenths.
CBS saw "The Amazing Race" bounce back from a series low last week, climbing three-tenths in 18-49 to a 1.8. "The Mentalist" drifted downward by two-tenths from its previous original, recording a 1.6, while "60 Minutes" came in with a 1.5, ticking up one-tenth from last week.
CBS's "The Good Wife" returned from hiatus to a soft 1.3 average in adults 18-49, losing a half-point from its previous original.
NBC's two-hour "Dateline" pulled a 1.1 average in 18-49, the same number delivered by a rerun of "The Voice."
For prime time overall, ABC's 2.2 average led the way in viewers 18-49, followed by Fox (1.7 average), CBS (1.6) and NBC (1.1) CBS won total viewers with 9.5 million, ahead of ABC (7.9 million), NBC (4.8 million), Fox (4.1 million) and Univision (2.2 million).more »
If We Can Track Our Smartphones Within a Few Meters, How Can We Lose a 777 Jetliner? It's Our Must-Read Non-TV Story of the Day
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the South China Sea a few days ago with 239 people on board raises more than a few questions, not the least being: In this day and age, when we can track a tiny smartphone with some degree of precision, how the heck do we lose a full-size jetliner?
"A massive search and rescue effort involving 40 ships and 34 aircraft from nine different nations has yet to discover any sign of the missing aircraft," writes Sebastian Anthony in ExtremeTech. "For me, this is almost incomprehensible: Despite all of the awesome technology that mankind has developed, it’s still possible for a Boeing 777-200 with 239 people on board to vanish."
Anthony notes that searchers are relying mainly on the jet's radar signature, "and even then, that last radar reading was so poor that the search area is thousands of square miles of open water. Surely, given the fact that we can track a damn smartphone anywhere on Earth down to a few meters, there’s a better way of keeping track of missing aircraft?"
The report adds: "In the words of Malaysia’s civil aviation chief, the fate of MH370 is 'a mystery.' The Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia en route to Beijing, was cruising normally at 35,000 feet … and then disappeared. There was no distress call. The weather was fine. The plane’s last known position, via radar, was just south of Vietnam in the South China Sea -- which is where search efforts have been focused so far -- but one theory suggests that the plane turned back just after the last radar ping, meaning the plane could be hundreds of miles away in the Strait of Malacca. In the absence of any other information, there is speculation that the plane was target of a terrorist attack."
The piece notes that one of the chief tools in studying what happens in an air disaster is, like radar, relatively old technology: the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), or "black box."
"Except for that last radar reading, we have absolutely no knowledge of the flight at all until we find that FDR," Anthony writes. "We have no clue what was said in the cockpit by the captain and first officer -- though, seemingly, if something did go wrong, they didn’t even have time to send a mayday message. We have no clue if the plane hit a patch of bad weather, or whether it was hijacked. It really will be one huge mystery until the FDR is recovered -- and there’s a good chance, if MH370 did crash into the ocean, that the FDR will never be recovered. In the case of Air France flight AF447, which disappeared off the coast of Brazil, it took two months to locate the wreckage, more than a year to find the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), and the FDR was never found."
Anthony adds: "Think about this for a moment. We live in a day and age where GPS (and other radio triangulation methods) can track your smartphone to within a few meters, almost anywhere on Earth. With dedicated, land-based tracking networks, vehicles and devices can be tracked to within a few centimeters. Even in the absence of GPS or radio tracking, inertial guidance (dead reckoning) has been accurate enough since the ’60s to accurately land a nuclear ICBM on the other side of the planet, or put the Apollo mission into space.
"And then there’s connectivity. On land, there are networks (both commercial and governmental) that provide data connectivity almost everywhere. Over water is definitely harder, but satellites do provide pretty good coverage -- and yes, that particular region of Asia is very well covered by communications satellites. Finally, even if an aircraft is out of satellite/radio coverage, there is absolutely nothing preventing the airplane from transmitting a really juicy low-frequency radio signal that could be picked up thousands of miles away. This is how they communicate with air traffic control, after all."
The piece asks: "Why, then, does a plane like the MH370 keep all of its secrets locked up in a black box? Why don’t planes constantly transmit all of their black box data, so that we know their exact location, bearing, altitude, and other important factors, at all times?"
Anthony adds: "The short answer is, there’s no good reason."more »