January 2011

Florida Court Strikes Down Obama Health Care Reform

A federal judge in Florida today overturned President Obama’s sweeping health care reform measure, CNN.com reported. The move sets up what is expected to be a battle in the U.S. Supreme Court over the reform legislation.

Florida is one of 26 states that filed legal challenges to the measure in an effort to get so-called “Obamacare” thrown out.

“U.S. District Judge Robert Vinson declared unconstitutional the key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act--the so-called ‘individual mandate’ requiring most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. Vinson also declared unconstitutional the section of the act that withholds Medicare funds from states that refuse to participate,” CNN.com reported.

In his ruling, Vinson wrote: "I must reluctantly conclude that Congress exceeded the bounds of its authority in passing the Act with the individual mandate. That is not to say, of course, that Congress is without power to address the problems and inequities in our health care system.”


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You've Probably Hummed at Least One of His Tunes--Composer of Themes for 'Goldfinger,' 'Born Free,' 'Dances With Wolves' and Many Others, Winner of Five Oscars, Dead at 77

The man who created the signature music for the James Bond movies and won five Academy Awards in a career spanning almost 50 years has died of a heart attack at the age of 77, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

John Barry's family issued a statement, saying, "It is with great sadness that the family of composer John Barry announce his passing on the 30th of January 2011 in New York."

Barry wrote for the theater and television, too, but it was his scores for 11 James Bond movies--and the classic themes that have been in all the 007 films--that made him a legendary composer. In ensuing years, he won Oscars for "Born Free," "Midnight Cowboy," "Dances With Wolves" and "Out of Africa," receiving numerous nominations for other pictures as well.

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Football Coach Who Is Two-Time BCS Champ Joins ESPN as Studio and Game Analyst

ESPN has just hired one of the nation's best  football coaches to join the network as a game and studio analyst.

It's former University of Florida head football coach Urban Meyer, ESPN announced today.

The announcement said that Meyer "will work a weekly regular-season game (specific assignment to be determined) and select post-season bowl games. He will also provide studio analysis throughout the year on ESPN’s daily College Football Live program; NFL Draft, spring games; and bowl games, including during the network’s on-site BCS coverage.

"In addition, Meyer will contribute to ESPN’s popular Saturday morning College GameDay Built by The Home Depot series (from his game site), make weekly appearances on ESPN Radio, and provide analysis on SportsCenter and additional ESPN outlets."

According to the announcement, Meyer "recently served as a guest studio analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game. He appeared on SportsCenter, College GameDay, College Football Live, and during the pregame, halftime and postgame segments."

As for Meyer's coaching career, the announcement noted, "Meyer – with 25 years of coaching experience, 10 as a head coach -- resigned from Florida at the conclusion of the 2010 season. In his six years with Florida, he guided the Gators to a pair of BCS National Championships, two Southeastern Conference Championships, three Southeastern Conference Eastern Division crowns and a January bowl game each season, including three BCS Bowls. Meyer is the first coach to win two BCS National Championships, is one of only two coaches in SEC history to win outright national titles and one of five coaches to win a pair of National Championships in his first four years at a school. He became the first coach in Football Bowl Subdivision history to post consecutive 13-win seasons (2008 and 2009) and is the only coach to record three 13-win seasons in a four-year span."

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Veteran of 'Heroes,' 'Alias' and 'Felicity' Gets His Own Show

An actor who is familiar to viewers for his roles on "Alias," "Heroes" and "Felicity," has been cast as the lead in the A&E pilot "Big Mike," reports Deadline.com.

The actor is Greg Grunberg, who will play the title character in the cop drama, a plus-size San Diego cop. Like another TV Mike--from CBS's "Mike & Molly"--the character struggles with his weight as well as his romantic life.

A&E scored its first success in series drama with last season's "The Glades."

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Fox Coasts to Sunday Ratings Win on Strength of Pro Bowl

Fox's broadcast of the NFL Pro Bowl, a sloppy mess of an exhibition game, proved the power of football as it dominated the Nielsen ratings Sunday night, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

Fox came away with an easy overall win for the night in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 4.1 rating to a 2.1 for ABC. CBS followed with a 1.9 average rating, ahead of NBC’s 1.3.

In total viewers CBS squeaked by with a narrow win, averaging 11.8 million for the night to 11.5 million for Fox. Trailing were ABC with 7.5 million and NBC with 4.6 million.

At 7 p.m. the first hour of the NFL broadcast logged a 4.6 average in the 18-49 demographic for the hour, besting ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" with a mean score of 2.15, CBS's "60 Minutes' with a1.4 and NBC's "Dateline" at 1.3, all in the same demo.

At 8 p.m. the AFC/NFC all-star game collected an average rating of 4.75 in the 18-49 demo, over ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" with a 2.4 in the same demo. NBC’s “National Treasure” movie broadcast managed only a 1.15.

In the 9 p.m. hour, the NFL game scored a 3.95 mean score in the 18-49 demographic, while hour two of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" rose to a 2.95 average in that demo. CBS's Hallmark movie "The Lost Valentine" netted a 2.05 in the 18-49 demo for its first hour, while the second hour of NBC’s “National Treasure” was up slightly, to a 1.3.

At 10 p.m. the second hour of "The Lost Valentine" won the time slot for CBS with a 2.5 in the 18-49 demo. “National Treasure” climbed to a 1.6 average.

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Martha Stewart Launching New Show

It's a good thing that Martha Stewart is a multitasker because the media mogul is about to launch yet another new TV series, this one called "Martha Bakes," reports the AP.

Stewart's latest will be a cooking show for the Hallmark Channel. The 13-episode show will focus on baking, but unlike shows along the lines of TLC's "Cake Boss," the emphasis of Stewart’s show will be education, not competition.

She will teach the specifics of baking 13 basic recipes, such as puffy pastry, cheesecake and yellow cake, as well as how to turn them into other dishes.

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Impressionist David Frye Dies

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the greatest political impressionist in the world was David Frye. The comic died Saturday in Las Vegas at the age of 77 of heart disease, reports the AP.

Frye appeared on numerous television shows, bringing his interpretations of Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, George Wallace and other major politicians into sharp focus. Frye also did many of the celebrities of the time, including William F. Buckley and Truman Capote, as well as Walter Cronkite, Kirk Douglas and Howard Cosell.

Frye was at his height during the Nixon years, when he recorded albums dedicated to "Tricky Dicky."

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Comcast's Misstep in NBCU Takeover and How to Fix It

Comcast received a lot of grief over the Internet last week when--as practically its first move in taking over  NBC Universal--Comcast unveiled a new NBC Universal logo that eliminated the beloved, iconic NBC peacock.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross goes into detail about the symbolic nature of this slight by Comcast--why it's meaningful and what Comcast can do to fix the situation.

Please click here to read this insightful blog entry.

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Wonder What Dr. Drew Would Say: Sheen to Rehab at Home; Expected to Be Away From Work For Three Months

Charlie Sheen has found a very convenient place for his rehab: Chez Sheen.

"TMZ has learned he's doing rehab at home," the TMZ website reports, continuing, "Sources connected with the actor tell us ... CBS, Warner Bros. and Charlie put their heads together and found an expert in addiction they think can help Charlie conquer his demons.The expert and other professionals are coming to Charlie's gated community in L.A., in no small part for privacy reasons."

In a separate story, TMZ also reports Sheen will be in rehab for the next three months, which will affect the next eight episodes of "Two and a Half Men." The crew of the show is concerned, since they are worried about not getting a paycheck, the story notes. It employs 300 people.

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Update On the Ratings War Between Conan and Jon Stewart, Who Face-Off Against Each Other at 11 PM, M-F

This just in, from the folks at Comedy Central, the network that produces Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show."

According to the release, " 'The Daily Show' scored its first weekly victory over "Conan" for the week of January 24" in the demo category defined as persons18 to 34. Thus the Stewart show is now 6 percent behind TBS's "Conan"  in the demo. 

The release also says that Stewart beat Conan O'Brien for the month of January among "Total Viewers, Persons 18-49, Men 18-34 and Men 18-24."

The announcement notes as well that  " ''The Daily Show' finished the month as the #1 late night show among Men 18-34 and Men 18-24. 

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'Law & Order" Actress to Bring Order to 'Law & Order: Los Angeles'

An actress who played was on the "Order" side of  the canceled "Law & Order," will be resurrecting her character for "Law & Order: Los Angeles, reports the Los Angeles TImes Show Tracker blog.

The character is Assistant DA Connie Rubirosa, played by Alana de la Garza. The actress had joined "Law & Order" in 2006, although the series was cancelled last year. Her first appearance will be later this season, the story notes.

As we previously reported, series creator Dick Wolf is overseeing a creative overhaul of the show, with Skeet Ulrich, the first actor to be cast on "Law & Order: Los Angeles" leaving the program.

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William Petersen to Reprise Gil Grissom Role on 'CSI' Episode

 William Petersen, who left CBS' "CSI" in January 2009, will return to the program to reprise the character Gil Grissom for one episode,reports EW.com's Inside TV.

His return will involve Jorja Fox, who plays his wife, Sara, the story notes. It's unclear when the episode will appear, the story says. When Petersen left the program, he and the show's producers promised that he would return occasionally, the article says.

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Report: Amazon.com Readying 'Free' Video Streaming Service for Prime Members

Amazon.com may be close to unveiling a competing video streaming service to Netflix, with Engadget publishing a screen shot of the rumored service that will reportedly be free for Amazon's Prime members.

Prime subscribers pay $79 per year for free two-day shipping from Amazon.com, which means the service would be cheaper than Netflix's Watch Instantly service, which coasts $95.88 per year, the story points out.

The screen shot advertises the Amazon.com service as offering "unlimited, commercial-free, instant streaming of 5,000 movies and TV shows."

The site notes that the tipster who sent in the screen shot of the service had the option disappear from his page and that Engadget wasn't able to find the streaming option in its Prime-enable accounts.

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With New Job Running NBC Universal, Steve Burke Steps Down as COO of Parent Company Comcast

Stephen Burke, who joined Comcast in 1998 as president of Comcast Cable, and who rose to become the chief operating officer of the company, has left that position as he becomes the CEO of Comcast's just acquired NBC Universal, Reuters reports.

Accoring to the story: "It was announced last year that the Comcast No. 2 executive would take on the NBCU role while he kept his Comcast COO title. But Burke has since decided to relinquish the role of running operations of the largest U.S. cable company, which has more than 23 million subscribers, to focus on NBCU, according to a person familiar with his thinking."

Burke remains an executive vice president of Comcast.

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Major Media CEO Received Big Increase in 2010; with Equity Awards His Total Take Came to $28 Million

The CEO of a major media company received a 35% bump in salary and bonus last year, bringing his 2010 package, including equity awards, to $28 million, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Robert Iger, the CEO of the Walt Disney Company saw his  Iger's salary and bonus rise to $16.3 million  from $12 million in 2009.

The company's compensation committee said Iger was rewarded for his "exceptional performance" in a slow economy, with the cable networks ESPN, ABC Family and Disney Channel delivering record ratings.

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CBS Orders Pilot From ESPN Talk Show Host Colin Cowherd

CBS has ordered a pilot that is based on the life and work of ESPN talk show host Colin Cowherd, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

The project is from Bill Martin and Mike Schiff and the non-writing producing team of Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, with Cowherd also producing, the story notes.

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For NATPE, a Change of Locale, To Miami Beach, Seemed to Be a Mostly Good Thing

Did you go to NATPE this year? If so what did you think of it being in Miami Beach? TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin thought that, overall, NATPE received a breath of fresh air by travelling to the most famous beach city in southern Florida.

To read Atkin's stimulating analysis, please click here.

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'Need to Know,' Made to Replace 'Now,' Tallies Negative Marks, Renewal Not Likely Manifest

The PBS newsmagazine "Need to Know," created last year to replace "Bill Moyers Journal and "Now on PBS," may not be renewed after the feedback from some stations has been negative, reports our friend lizabeth Jenson in The New York Times.

The story says the show's executive producer, Shelley Lewis, and WNET.org vice president for content Stephen Segaller wrote in a December memo to public TV programmers that some station feedback of the show "has been negative, which is never pleasant, but is always useful." In retrospect, it would have been wiser to wait to introduce the show in the fall instead of in May to avoid interruption by summer pledge drives, they said, according to the story.

The memo also critiqued the performance of the show's anchors, Alison Stewart and former Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, noting that "Alison is far more comfortable in the anchor role than Jon," the piece notes. PBS said in a statement that the show will run through June 2011 and that "we are evaluating the series carefully. No final determination has been made."

The article adds that WNET.org chief executive Neal Shapiro expressed strong support for Meacham, who declined to comment.

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Creator of Several 'Sesame Street' Muppets, and the 'Elmo World' Segment of the Show, Dies. He Also Wrote the Animated Features 'An American Tail' and 'The Land Before Time"

The creator of several Muppet characters--who also created the 'Elmo's World' segment of 'Sesame Street,' has died, reports the New York Times.

His name was Tony Geiss, he was 86 and lived in Manhattan. Geiss' work helped the program win 22 daytime Emmys for scriptwriting and songwriting, the story notes.

His writing both entertained children and provided humor for adults, such as a sketch called "Omelet: Prince of Dinner," about a man who couldn't decide whether to eat peas or broccoli for dinner, the article notes. "The peas or not the peas -- that is the question," the prince says. Geiss also composed the "Elmo's World"  theme song, and created the Honkers, puppets who honk their long noses, the story says.

Outside of his work for "Sesame Street," Geiss wrote the stories or screenplays for two movies produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Disney animator Don Bluth, "The Land Before Time" and "An American Tail," the story adds. Geiss' wife, to whom he was married for more than 60 years, died a year ago and he has no immediate survivors, the article notes.

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Sheen Enters Rehab; 'Men' on Indefinite Hiatus

“Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen checked into a rehab center Friday, and producers of the hit CBS sitcom say the show is on indefinite hiatus while he receives treatment, according to a TMZ.com report.

“Due to Charlie Sheen’s decision to enter a rehabilitation center, CBS, Warner Bros. Television and executive producer Chuck Lorre are placing ‘Two and a Half Men’ on production hiatus,” the show’s producers said in a statement.

The latest news follows an incident in which Sheen was hospitalized after a partying session that reportedly involved alcohol, cocaine, porn and porn stars, as reported previously.

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Latest Charlie Sheen Incident Gets Curiouser and Curiouser--Reality Show Plastic Surgeon Helped Get Him to Hospital, and a Pal Says the Actor Laughed So Hard at TV That He Had a Hernia

In what may be the least credible explanation for hard-partying Charlie Sheen’s latest crisis--but who knows--a friend of the star of “Two and a Half Men” told reporters Friday that Sheen had to be hospitalized because he was laughing so hard at the television that he had a hernia, Newser.com reported.

This was after reports had already surfaced that the actor had been partying hard, smoking cocaine and watching porn--claims that were lavishly detailed by a porn star acquaintance who spoke freely on video, as we reported earlier.

Another twist to the story is the person Sheen called when he realized he needed help. Us Magazine reports that Sheen got connected with plastic surgeon Paul Nassif, the husband of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Adrienne Maloof. Nassif has been seen on the E! show “Dr. 90210.”

"We received a call from his residence on Wednesday morning, because Charlie was in a great deal of pain at that time," the couple told the magazine. "He was able to direct someone to call Paul, who spoke to him over the phone. We then made a 911 call, as did someone at his house. He was ultimately admitted in the hospital for abdominal pain."

Meanwhile, an addiction specialist told Hollyscoop that Sheen may be headed for a bad end, possibly even death. "He clearly has issues with addiction, pornography and prostitution,” said Blake LeVine, founder and president of the crisis support community Will Listen, who is featured on the new OWN Network. “While he may enjoy this lifestyle, it will only lead to negative problems including overdoses, losing his family and potentially death.”

So what’s the latest health update on Sheen after his third hospitalization in three months? Reportedly the crisis is under control and the actor, who does have a history of hernia-related problems, is back home and OK. A publicist said Sheen is expected to be back on the set of “Two and a Half Men” when taping resumes Tuesday, according to The Dallas Morning News.

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CNN Taps NBC News, Newsweek Veteran as New Managing Editor

CNN announced that former NBC News executive and Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker has been enlisted by CNN Worldwide as executive vice president and managing editor for the network.

In this newly created position, Whitaker will lead editorial coverage across CNN’s multiple platforms and influence the overall approach, tone and direction of CNN’s reporting, the company said. Whitaker will report directly to Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide, and will begin his new job Feb. 14, 2011, working out of the New York office.

In a statement, Walton said, "Mark is a distinguished journalist and news executive who is experienced in leading large enterprises, and I am pleased that he will help direct our long-term editorial approach and strategy.”

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ABC Recruits 'Xena' Star to Try to Spice Things Up on Freshman Sci-Fi Show

The former star of "Xena: Warrior Princess" is joining a freshman ABC series that may or may not earn a second season on the network, reports TVLine.com.

Lucy Lawless has a five episode-commitment with “No Ordinary Family,” playing a lady who has an ax to grind against the Powell family and the power to do some damage.

Lawless' episodes are slated for the end of the season, in part to create a possible cliffhanger for season two … if ABC renews the sci-fi program.

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'Glee' Star Lands Choice Spot in Pre-Super Bowl Lineup

One of the stars of Fox’s hit musical series “Glee” has scored a high-profile job as part of the pre-game festivities for the Super Bowl, reports Entertainment Weekly.

Lea Michele will perform "America the Beautiful" during the pre-game broadcast. It was announced earlier that Christina Aguilera will be singing the National Anthem.

The game will be broadcast on Fox on Feb. 6. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET.

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ABC Slates Missing-Person Drama for Summer Run

ABC has picked up a missing-person drama for a run next summer, reports Deadline.com.

The show is “Missing,” from writer Greg Poirier and producers Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews. It focuses on a mom who decides to investigate her son's disappearance after he goes missing during a trip to Italy, the story notes. The mom happens to also be a former CIA agent who is determined to find her son alive, the article adds.

Steve Shill, who won an Emmy for his directing work on "Dexter," is set to direct multiple episodes of the series, the story notes. The drama is produced by ABC Studios and Matthews and Scharbo's Little Engine Productions.

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Former Star of 'CHiPs' Sentenced in Securities Fraud Scheme

One of the stars of the 1970s cop drama "CHiPs," who was found guilty of involvement in a securities fraud scheme, found out today what his punishment will be, The Huffington Post reported.

Larry Wilcox, who played California Highway Patrol Officer Jon Baker, partner to Erik Estrada’s Ponch on the NBC show, avoided a prison sentence after the judge considered Wilcox's military service and volunteer work, the story says.

Wilcox was part of an illegal penny stock scam and was found guilty of conspiring to commit securities fraud. The judge sentenced Wilcox to a $100 fine, three years’ probation and 500 hours of community service.

A grateful and tearful Wilcox spoke after the sentencing, saying, "I spent 63 years putting my signature on my life. I betrayed my core values with what I did. I am deeply sorry."

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'Idol' Powers Fox to Runaway Win in Thursday Ratings

Fox’s “American Idol” was the runaway winner in Thursday night’s ratings, leading the network to an easy victory in both total viewers and the 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reported.

For the night, Fox averaged a 5.8 rating in adults 18-49, well ahead of NBC (2.5 average rating), CBS (2.1) and ABC (1.6). Fox was also well out in front in total viewers, averaging 17.2 million to CBS’s 9.6 million, ABC’s 5.2 million and NBC’s 5.2 million.

At 8 p.m. "Idol" collected a 7.6 in the 18-49 demo for the hour, while ABC's "Winter Wipeout" had a 2.4 in the same demo and a fresh "$#*! My Dad Says" on CBS at 8:30 logged a 2.3 in the 18-49 demo. NBC's "Community" and "Perfect Couples" had a 2.2 average rating and a 1.7, respectively, in the 18-49 demo for the hour. CW's "Vampire Diaries" netted a 1.6 in the same demo.

At 9 p.m. NBC's "The Office" and "Parks & Recreation" rated a 4.0 average and a 3.0, respectively, in the 18-49 demographic, just ahead of Fox's "Bones," which had a 3.9 in the same demo for the hour. CW's "Nikita" had a 1.1 in the 18-49 demographic for the hour.

At 10 p.m. "30 Rock" and "Outsourced" averaged a 2.4 rating and a 1.9, respectively, in the 18-49 demographic, going up against reruns.

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Porn Star Says Sheen Partied Hearty In Days Before Being Hospitalized on Thursday; She Alleges Party Involved Drinking and Drugs

Kacey Jordan is a porn star who says she partied with Charlie Sheen in the days before he was rushed to the hospital on Thursday morning, Jan. 27, 2011, according to TMZ.com

In a video on the TMZ website, Jordan alleges that by the time she hooked up with Sheen at his house he was "fu----- wasted." She claims she then tried to hurry and get wasted herself and told Sheen that she'd "beat him in drinking." To which she says Sheen replied "bull----."

She then claims she made herself an "all vodka drink" but before she could drink it "he grabs it from my hand--I just love the guy, right--and chugs it in, like, three seconds. [And he says] 'don't ever test me again.' "

Later in the video she claims someone came over with drugs. "We're talking 20 grams, I swear, of coke," Jordan says in the video.

At some point during the party, Jordan claims, she and Sheen watched porn for about two hours.

She claims that Sheen liked her because she is a blond and that she wanted to be included with Sheen's "other girls" because she was hoping that Sheen would give her a blue Bentley.

Finally, Jordan says, "I had to leave because if I didn't I'd probably be in the hospital. I couldn't keep up." She added that she hopes that Sheen gets better.

According to other stories by a number of media outlets, including TMZ, Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, the reason Sheen was taken to the hospital was because he was suffering from abdominal pain caused by a hiatal hernia.

According to the Today show's website, Sheen publicist Stan Rosenfield said in response to the reports of the hernia, "I have no firsthand knowledge of this. He has had a history of having this type of hernia, and the person who made the 911 call said he had severe stomach pains and said it was from a hernia condition. Since she is not a doctor, I did not extend her medical knowledge to the media."

In an appearance on Conan O'Brien's talk show on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011, Sheen's co-star in "Two and a Half Men," Jon Cryer, talking about Sheen, says at one point he checks out TMZ to get his Sheen news. See the video below.

At the recent TV Critics Association press tour earlier this month Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, said about Sheen and his personal life, “I personally have thought a lot about this. We have a high level of concern. How could we not? This man is a father. He’s got children. He has a family. So obviously there’s concern on a personal level. But you can’t look at it simplistically. Charlie is professional. He comes to work. He does his job extremely well. It’s very complicated.”

Here's the video clip of Cryer on Conan O'Brien's show on TBS:

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Tracy Morgan's Lewd Remark About Sarah Palin Prompts Apology From TNT

TNT has issued an apology for a lewd remark by Tracy Morgan about Sarah Palin during Thursday's "Inside the NBA" broadcast, reports The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

According to the piece, co-host Charles Barkley asked "30 Rock" star Morgan during a pre-game chat, "Sarah Palin's good looking, isn't she?" Morgan responded, "Let me tell you something about Sarah Palin, she's good masturbation material."

TNT apologized for the comment, noting, "It's unfortunate Mr. Morgan showed a lack of judgment on our air with his inappropriate comments."

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New Book by Gay Anchorman Criticizes New York TV Station Where He Once Worked

A new book by a former New York City anchorman takes a critical look at the way his former station operates, reports the New York Daily News.

Charles Perez, who left WABC-TV two years ago for a job in Miami, writes in "Confessions of a Gay Anchorman" that, "Bottom line: WABC was by far the most overstaffed facility I've ever worked in; it was the slowest at doing anything" and "in addition, nearly everyone, including myself, was paid stupid amounts of money," the story notes.

He also writes that he wasn't treated well at the station, noting, "I would learn the hard way that these were not nice people."

The story says Perez takes aim at Diana Williams, Liz Cho, Bill Ritter and Sam Champion. The article notes that the book contains some inaccuracies, such as referring to the late critic Joel Siegel as Gene Shalit. The piece also says that insiders at the station declined to talk on the record about the book.

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Cutting the Peacock's Wings: Iconic Bird Logo Is an Early Casualty of Comcast's NBC Takeover

The NBC peacock has apparently gone missing from the NBC Universal logo with Comcast's closure of its merger with the media giant, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

About 27,000 employees of NBC Universal were given a coffee table book, a notebook and 25 shares of Comcast stock on Thursday, on the eve of the deal's closure on Friday, the story notes. But some employees noticed that the logo for NBC Universal was missing the iconic bird, the article says.

It turns out that Comcast cut the bird--as well as the Universal globe--from the NBC Universal logo because it wanted a cleaner look, the story notes.

The missing bird drew enough concern that NBC News anchor Brian Williams brought it up at a company-wide town hall on Thursday, telling new NBC Universal Chief Executive Steve Burke, "It’s our Coca Cola. It’s our Apple. It’s our Ford Motor Co., that instantly recognizable thing.”

Burke responded that the logo without the bird is the new corporate logo, not the logo seen by consumers. The article notes that NBC viewers will still see the peacock.

To read a provocvative commentary about his by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross, please click here.


Top: the old NBC Universal logo. which includes the peacock

Bottom: the new one, which doesn't

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Jerry Seinfeld, Currently Directing on Broadway, Is on Board for HBO Special Showcasing Ex-'SNL' Star

HBO plans to air a special in April featuring a former “Saturday Night Live” cast member's one-man Broadway show about the rise and fall of civilization, The New York Times reports in its ArtsBeat blog.

The special will showcase Colin Quinn’s Broadway show, which is being directed by Jerry Seinfeld, and the former “Seinfeld” star is actively involved in the TV project.

The stage show, called "Colin Quinn: Long Story Short," marks Seinfeld's Broadway directorial debut, the story notes. HBO became interested in the show last summer, when Quinn was performing it Off Broadway and preparing to move it to Broadway's Helen Hayes Theater, the article notes.

"This is a guy that I have believed in and been amazed by for so many years, and it’s just really cool to be part of creating something--a vehicle for someone’s talent," Seinfeld said, according to the piece.

The article notes that the show will be taped Feb. 2-3 for the special and that Seinfeld will be involved in directing the tapings.

“I’ve done a little television, so I kind of have some idea of how it all works," Seinfeld said.

Quinn was an “SNL” cast member for five years and has hosted shows on MTV and Comedy Central.

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Katie Couric as the New Oprah? Outgoing NBC Boss Zucker Ready to Make It Happen

Jeff Zucker, who is leaving his job as chief executive of NBC Universal following today's expected closing of the Comcast merger, is opening his own company on New York's Park Avenue and talking about starting a syndicated daytime talk show with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, reports the New York Post's Claire Atkinson.

Zucker is expected to open his business at 299 Park Avenue, the home of investment bank UBS, the story notes. Couric is coming close to the end of her five-year contract with CBS and has told several parties who want to work with her that she's planning to work with Zucker, the story says.

The pair are planning to create a new show format that could fill the hole left by departing daytime host Oprah Winfrey, the story adds. Couric's representative said that she hasn't made any decision about her future plans.

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Two Remaining Angels Lined Up for High-Profile 'Charlie's Angels' Remake

The remake of "Charlie's Angels" from Sony Pictures TV and Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films is close to casting its second and third angels, TVLine.com reports.

"Friday Night Lights" star Minka Kelly and Australian actress Rachael Taylor, who appeared in the film "Transformers," are on track to get the parts, the story says.

Kelly would play Marisa, a former U.S. Marine who is a weapons expert and also a neat freak, while Taylor would play Abby, the youngest of the angels and the daughter of a Wall Street villain, the story notes. Abby is also a con artist, the article says.

The pair would join previously cast Annie Ilonzeh, who stars on "General Hospital.”

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'Star Trek' Writer/Producer Laments Lack of Gay Characters on 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' and 'Deep Space Nine,' Says New Sci-Fi Show He's Working On Needs to Have Some Gay Characters and/or Gay Content

Brannon Braga, a writer and producer for the "Star Trek" franchise, tells the Website AfterElton.com that he believes it was a shame that later "Star Trek" installments such as "The Next Generation" and "Enterprise" never included gay characters.

"I’m talking about ‘The Next Generation,' 'Deep Space Nine,' and there was a constant back and forth about well how do we portray the spectrum of sexuality," Braga said. "There were people who felt very strongly that we should be showing casually, you know, just two guys together in the background in Ten Forward. At the time the decision was made not to do that, and I think those same people would make a different decision now because I think, you know, that was 1989, well yeah about ‘89, ‘90, ’91."

Braga, who is working on Fox's "Terra Nova," said the pilot for the science-fiction show doesn't have any gay characters or content, but he added, "We are trying to build a society, you know, build a utopia really ... I’m glad you bring it up because it’s something we should be attending to."


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Video: Ford Working on Wi-Fi System So Cars Can Talk to Each Other

"Ford is building a prototype car that “talks” to other cars through WiFi to warn if the cars ahead slow down too quickly, and of other hazards," reports CE Outlook

The article continues, "Ford announced Wednesday, it is aggressively pursuing this technology, which could be in cars in 5 to 10 years. The Ford prototype will begin touring the country this spring."

Here's a video demo:

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'Vampire Diaries' Has Its Legendary Vampire Klaus--English Actor Close to Signing

"The Vampire Diaries" is close to casting a relatively unknown actor as the legendary vampire Klaus, reports TVLine.com.

English actor Joseph Morgan is expected to join the show's cast as the often-referred-to-but-as-yet-unseen Klaus, a powerful and old vampire, the story notes. Morgan's casting would be the result of months of searching for the right actor, the piece adds.

The 30-year old actor has appeared in British films and TV series, and he has appeared in the U.S. in Oliver Stone's "Alexander" and the Russell Crowe film "Master and Commander," the story notes.


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She's a Tony Award Nominee (Twice), a Pulitzer Prize Finalist and the Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation 'Genius' Grant. She's a Brilliant Performance Artist Who Too Many People Don't Know. PBS Will Present Her Latest Work

By Chuck Ross

PBS will tape a production by an artist who is truly an American treasure for its Great Performances series.

The artist is Anna Deavere Smith, who is a two-time Tony Award nominee, a one-time finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Drama, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant.

The work they will be taping is "Let Me Down Easy," which the PBS release describes as a "production exploring the health care system and the way our bodies carry us through life."

Now, that may not sound like the most compelling of material, but trust me, as someone who has seen a number of Smith's one-woman shows (but not this one), it's bound to be spellbinding. Over the years PBS has aired two other Smith performances.

The release says, "In her signature style of interviewing an eclectic range of people (for 'Let Me Down Easy,' over 300 on three continents), then performing as the interviewee in their own words, Smith creates an indelible gallery of 20 portraits, from a rodeo bull rider to a New Orleans doctor, as well as boldface names like former Texas Governor Ann Richards, legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong, and former supermodel Lauren Hutton."

The release continures, " 'Let Me Down Easy' was inspired by work she did at Yale School of Medicine, where she was visiting professor. Bill Moyers dedicated a full hour segment to profiling Ms. Smith and 'Let Me Down Easy.'"

Finally, the announcement noted, "NBC’s 'Today' raved, 'Run--do not walk--to see this play! Watching Anna Deavere Smith on stage is magical. One minute you are laughing, the next you are crying. It is truly brilliant and stunning.' Variety heralded the work as 'a totally vital piece of theater, mixing a standup comic’s instincts with a great reporter’s keen eye.' It was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 of 2009."

The show will be aired during the 2011-2012 season

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Last Year's Super Bowl Spot for Snickers Set Off a Stunning Year for Betty White; Will This Year's Snickers Super Bowl Ad Do the Same for TV's Blue Collar Queen of Sarcasm?

The biggest winner of last year's Super Bowl may have been Betty White, whose turn in a Super Bowl commercial for Snickers helped make her one of the hottest stars in Hollywood.

Snickers will be back this year with another Super Bowl ad, and the big question is whether the spot will have a similar effect on this year's star of the commercial, TV's blue collar queen of sarcasm. 

Yes, Roseanne Barr will be in this year's Snickers Super Bowl commercial, along with funny man Richard Lewis, reports Advertising Age.

According to the article, "Asked if Mars sought to use Ms. White again, [Debra Sandler, chief consumer officer for Mars Chocolate North America] said last year's ad was a 'magical moment with Betty and we obviously love Betty White and she was a fabulous spokesperson for the brand. But we felt that was a special moment in time and we didn't want to try and remake that moment.' Mars thought it 'would be best to stay with the insight' of the 'You're Not You' campaign, but 'choose some new partners to convey that message,' she added."

The story adds that "Marketing and branding consultant Chris Gretchko noted that [both White and Barr] share certain traits. Both are comedic icons who are 'sassy in their own way,' said Ms. Gretchko, a former account supervisor at Leo Burnett. 'Betty White is witty and very sharp but not biting,' she added. 'It may be that Roseanne has another edge. If the message for the Snickers commercial is a little edgier and more irreverent, she could be a very good poster child for that.'

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Will Facebook Founder Join His Movie Alter-Ego on This Week's 'SNL'?

"Saturday Night Live" is trying to convince Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to appear in a cameo on the show alongside Jesse Eisenberg, the actor who plays him in "The Social Network," reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Zuckerberg reportedly is interested in appearing on this weekend's show to demonstrate that he has a sense of humor, the story says. Zuckerberg has previously said that he was misportrayed in the film, it adds.

A representative for "Saturday Night Live" declined to comment, while a representative for Zuckerberg didn't respond to a request for comment, the story says.


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Charlie Sheen Is Rushed to Hospital

Charlie Sheen, star of the CBS hit “Two and a Half Men,” was rushed to a hospital Thursday morning, Entertainment Weekly reported. A rep for Sheen confirmed the report.

“All I know is he was having severe abdominal pains and went to the hospital,” a spokesman for Sheen said in a statement.

Sheen’s hospitalization reportedly will not affect production on the show, which is on a scheduled hiatus, the story says.

The cast and crew of the show are scheduled to return to work Feb. 1.

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Popular TV Actress Prevails in Lawsuit Over Failed Food Business

An actress who has been a presence on television for more than 40 years--and who twice won the People’s Choice Award as favorite female performer in a new TV series--has prevailed in a Kentucky lawsuit over a failed food business, the AP reported.

Actress and fitness guru Suzanne Somers was sued in connection with Suzanne's Kitchen, the story says. A Kentucky judge dismissed the case claiming there wasn't enough evidence to proceed.

Louisville attorney John Shannon Bouchillon had invested $400,000 in the business and brought the suit, claiming he was misled. Somers testified that even though her likeness and name were used to promote the business, she had nothing to do with running it. The company was reportedly run by former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown, who was dropped from the suit before it went to trial, the story reports.

Somers, best known for the 1980s sitcom "Three's Company" as well as her successful exercise and diet products, said that she felt vindicated by the judge's decision.

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P Diddy to Play a TV Cop

Sean Puffy Combs, a.k.a. P Diddy, will soon add another line to his impressive resume, which already includes music mogul, entrepreneur, singer and producer. Next up for Combs is a turn playing a cop on TV, according to TV Guide.

Combs will tackle a guest role on CBS's "Hawaii Five-0" this spring, the story reports. He will play a New York cop who travels to Honolulu trying to find the people responsible for a heinous crime against his family.

In addition to appearing on the show, Diddy's music--a selection of his hits--will be heard throughout the episode.

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Jon Stewart Takes on a New Assignment

The star of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart, has a new assignment, the AP reports. Stewart was expected to be appointed to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum board at a meeting of the organization on Thursday afternoon, according to the report.

The Emmy-winning TV host has become an activist for the survivors and first responders to the 9/11 tragedy, including pushing for legislation to provide benefits to those who became ill after working in the ruins of the World Trade Center.

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Sign of the Times: Emmy Winner Craig T. Nelson Reveals Why He Ended Up on 'Parenthood' Instead of 'Modern Family'

 Emmy Award-winning actor Craig T. Nelson, currently starring as the patriarch on NBC’s "Parenthood," was very nearly the patriarch of ABC's "Modern Family," reports AccessHollywood.com.

Nelson told the TV show that he was offered the Ed O'Neill role of Jay Pritchard, but turned it down because the money for "Parenthood" was better.

Nelson said, “I really wanted to do ‘Modern Family’ and I really liked the script and I liked the people. I just said, You know what? I’ve been doing this too long. We’re in the middle of a cutback here, ladies and gentlemen, in Hollywood and salaries have gone way, way down. I just felt disrespected, to tell you the truth."

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Wednesday Ratings: No Contest, as 'Idol' Demolishes the Competition

Wednesday night was dominated by Fox's "American Idol" in the Nielsens, as the singing competition moved ahead with the audition phase.

Fox blew away its competition, finishing the night with a 9.2 average rating in adults 18-49, TVbytheNumbers.com reported. The closest any of its rivals could come was a 2.1 average, with ABC and CBS both hitting that mark. Univision was next with a 1.5 average in 18-49, just ahead of NBC with a 1.4.

It was more of the same in the non-battle for total viewers, as Fox finished well out in front with an average of 25.2 million. CBS was next with 9.9 million, followed by ABC with 6.0 million, NBC with 4.9 million and Univision with 3.9 million.

At 8 p.m. "Idol" scored an 8.5 average rating in the 18-49 demo, trouncing NBC's "Minute to Win It," which had a 1.4, and Paula Abdul's "Live to Dance" which continued to struggle, managing just a 1.1 in the same 18-49 demo.

At 9 p.m. the second hour of "Idol" rose to a 9.8 in the 18-49 demo, while CBS's "Criminal Minds" logged a 3.2 in the same demo and NBC's "Chase" netted an anemic 1.2 in the same demographic.

CBS's "Blue Bloods" won the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.0 in the 18-49 demographic, just ahead of ABC's "Off the Map," which had a 1.8 in the same demo.

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AOL, Klum Partner on Wide-Ranging Online Content Project Aimed at Women

AOL is working with "Project Runway" host Heidi Klum to create original content and online videos targeted to women, reports MediaPost's OnlineMediaDaily.

Klum and Full Picture Entertainment, the producers behind "Project Runway," will create videos, blogs, photo galleries and articles about parenting, beauty, arts and crafts and relationships, the story notes.

"Right now, advice seems so scattered online," said Klum, according to the article. "I have created a place on AOL that's really one-stop-shopping" for women.

The move comes as AOL has been beefing up its content through partnerships and acquisitions, such as the purchase of TechCrunch.

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Movie Star Whose Movies Have Made $1.4 Billion (!)--and Who Is Also a Pal of Steve Carell's--Will Appear in a Four-Episode Arc of 'The Office' This Season ... So What Does It Mean for the Future of the Show?

A movie star whose box office mojo totals more than $1.4 billion so far will be joining pal Steve Carell in a four-episode arc on NBC's "The Office," reports EW.com's InsideTV blog.

Will Ferrell, who starred with Carrel in "Anchorman,"  will appear in the arc, playing a branch manager who is just as incompetent as Carell's Michael Scott, the story notes.

Three of the episodes will feature Carell and Ferrell together, and one episode will feature Ferrell working with the staff in "The Office" after Carell leaves the show. As previously announced, Carell is leaving the show a few episodes before the season finale, the story says.

“We are proud to continue 'The Office'‘s tradition of discovering famous talent, and we hope that once America gets a good look at Will, they’ll see what we see: tremendous raw sexuality," said executive producer Paul Lieberstein.

Is Ferrell being groomed to take over for Carell on the show? That’s what some experts are speculating, but nobody’s coming out and saying it ... yet.

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Today's Must-Read Report: Two of Hulu's Owners--Disney and News Corp.--Considering Pulling Some Content From Hulu; Talk of Service Becoming an 'Online Cable Operator'

"Fox Broadcasting owner News Corp. and ABC owner Disney are contemplating pulling some free content from Hulu, say people familiar with the matter. The media companies are also moving to sell more programs to Hulu competitors that deliver television over the Internet, including Netflix Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc."

So reports The Wall Street Journal. [Note: The WSJ is behind a firewall and may charge you to see this story.]

The article, by Sam Schechner and Jessica E. Vascellaro, adds, "In what would be a major shift in direction, Hulu management has discussed recasting Hulu as an online cable operator that would use the Web to send live TV channels and video-on-demand content to subscribers, say people familiar with the talks. The new service, which is still under discussion, would mimic the bundles of channels now sold by cable and satellite operators, the people said."

The authors of the WSJ piece also spoke to Bruce Rosenblum, who runs the TV division of one of the major studios, Warner Bros, who told them, "It remains unclear what the business model is for Hulu. At some point, if enough people turn off cable, then you've got a complete disruption of the business model." 

The WSJ piece is a detailed feature story on the debate within Hulu by its owners and the entire  article (link above) is clearly TVWeek's pick as the Must-Read story of the day.

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War of Words Escalates Between Rock Band, 'Glee' Creator

A war of words is raging between the creator of a hit TV show and a popular rock band, Rolling Stone reports.

“Glee” creator Ryan Murphy lashed out in a story in The Hollywood Reporter against the band Kings of Leon, calling them “self-centered assholes” for denying the show the rights to one of the band’s songs.

On Wednesday, Kings of Leon drummer Nathan Followill fired back in a tweet, saying Murphy should “see a therapist, get a manicure, buy a new bra,” the Rolling Stone story says.

The tweet has since been deleted, the story notes.

The Hollywood Reporter story hit the newsstands today. In it, Murphy uses the Kings of Leon incident as an opportunity to defend the show. Kings of Leon, he tells the publication, “missed the big picture. They missed that a 7-year-old kid can see someone close to their age singing a Kings of Leon song, which will maybe make them want to join a glee club or pick up a musical instrument. It’s like, OK, hate on arts education. You can make fun of ‘Glee’ all you want, but at its heart, what we really do is turn kids on to music.”

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Comcast's Burke: We Want to Reinvigorate NBC's Local News Operations

Comcast's COO, Stephen Burke, who will soon become CEO of NBC Universal, says " "We would like to see the local NBC stations brought back to the position of strength they were in a decade ago, and a big part of that will be local news," according to an article by David Lieberman in USA Today.

Says the story, "The most promising opportunity seems to be hyperlocal news: Comcast could feed stories produced by its local stations to channels or websites that would be distributed through Comcast's cable and broadband services."

The article also speculates about the upcoming relationship between Comcast and NBC News in general, noting that "The company is becoming television's dominant newscaster, with enormous influence on civic life."

The article also notes what Comcast has agreed to do--newswise--as part of its deal to win government approval of the NBCU deal:

"•For the next three years, Comcast won't cut the amount of time for local newscasts at the 10 NBC stations it owns.

•The company's NBC stations will collectively add 1,000 hours a year of original, local news and information programming. Its Spanish-language Telemundo stations will also collectively add 1,000 hours of local news.

•This year, the company will introduce an independently produced weekly business news program for Telemundo stations.

•Within 12 months, at least five of Comcast's NBC stations will forge partnerships with outside organizations that produce neighborhood-level--also known as hyperlocal--news."

The article also notes that Keith Olbermann leaving MSNBC last week "was awkward for Comcast." Comcast has said it had no involvement with that move.

The article adds, "Fans of the politically liberal commentary on MSNBC are especially wary about Burke. He was a leading fundraiser for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential campaign."

The story also adds, "Comcast promised federal officials that it will protect its news operations from management interference by continuing to employ David McCormick as ombudsman — a position that GE created — who will investigate possible problems. And Burke says he understands, and will respect, the need for journalistic independence."

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Fox Host's Use of Holocaust Imagery Incurs Wrath of Rabbis; 400 Sign Letter of Protest to Rupert Murdoch

A Fox News host is the focus of a protest letter signed by 400 rabbis, who are calling on the network to sanction the host for his repeated use of Nazi and Holocaust imagery and for airing attacks on World War II survivor George Soros, reports Reuters.

The letter to Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News parent News Corp., targets Glenn Beck, also asking for an apology from Fox News chief Roger Ailes for calling Beck's Jewish critics "left-wing rabbis," the story notes.

The rabbis have paid more than $100,000 to print the letter in an advertisement in Thursday’s editions of the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal.

"This group is a George Soros-backed left-wing political organization that has been trying to engage Glenn Beck primarily for publicity purposes," said Fox News senior vice president of development Joel Cheatwood, who added he hadn't seen the ad, the story says.

The rabbis charge that Beck has made "literally hundreds of on-air references to the Holocaust and Nazis when characterizing people with whom he disagrees," and that he has said putting the "common good" first leads to "death camps," the story notes.

"You diminish the memory and meaning of the Holocaust when you use it to discredit any individual or organization you disagree with. That is what Fox News has done in recent weeks, and it is not only 'left-wing rabbis' who think so," the letter reads.

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CBS Picks Up Workplace Ensemble Comedy

A workplace ensemble comedy from writer Peter Knight and Happy Madison has been given a pilot order by CBS, reports Deadline.com.

The project, produced by Sony Pictures TV, is executive produced by Knight, who created "Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire," with Happy Madison's Doug Robinson, the story says.

It was originally set up at CBS last season, but in October Knight landed another multicamera comedy project, the story says.

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Shampoo Showdown: Another Super Bowl Player Lets His Hair Down

The upcoming Super Bowl will showcase two rival hair endorsements, with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu--a spokesman for Head and Shoulders--getting some competition from Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who just signed a deal with Suave, SportsNewser.com reports.

Matthews has inked an agreement to promote Suave’s shampoo and hair care line, the story says. His Green Bay team will be playing Polamalu’s Pittsburgh team in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011.

Matthews' marketing agent, Ryan Williams, said, “The idea behind Suave is that men need different products than women. Clay really wanted to do a deal like this.”

Matthews is known for his long blond locks, while the Steelers' Polamalu is widely recognized by his flowing mane of dark hair.

  troy.jpg                                                          Matthews:                                                 

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Audience Dips for State of the Union Address; Numbers Are In for Broadcast, Cable Nets

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address was watched by about 43 million people across 11 television networks, a smaller audience than last year, reports The Washington Post.

About 5 million fewer people watched the address than last year's State of the Union, the story notes. Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress, on Feb. 24, 2009, remains his largest audience, with 52.4 million viewers.

Among cable news networks, Fox News was the dominant network, averaging 4.96 million viewers, reports TVNewser.com. CNN was second in total viewers, with 2.98 million viewers, while MSNBC was third with 2.5 million viewers, the story notes.

NBC came out on top among the broadcast nets, TVNewser reported. The breakdown in total viewers, from 9-10:13 p.m. ET: NBC, 9.29 million average; ABC, 7.1 million; CBS, 7.0 million.

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A TV Reunion of Sorts: Wanna Chat Online with Luke Perry and Jason Priestley? Here's Your Chance

Luke Perry and Jason Priestley, who both became stars during the long run of "Beverly Hills, 90210," have paired up again, and you can chat with them online.

This time around Perry has been directed by Priestley in an upcoming Hallmark Movie Channel original, "Goodnight for Justice."

The telefilm will premiere on Saturday night, Jan. 29. And, according to a Hallmark Movie Channel announcement, "Perry and Priestley will host a national, one-of-a-kind red carpet premiere party in a LIVE CHAT hosted on Hallmark Movie Channel’s Facebook page that same day beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The live chat is powered by Livestream and hosted by Stacey Gualandi (former co-host of 'Inside Edition')."

Adds the announcement, "In the live chat, fans become red carpet reporters interviewing the stars before a big television premiere, chatting with the two former teen idols about working together for the first time since '90210.' "

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CBS Picks Up Second Season of Mom-Focused Daytime Talker

CBS has renewed its daytime show "The Talk" for the 2011-12 season, reports B&C.

The talk show debuted in October and is hosted by Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Holly Robinson Peete and Leah Remini, who tend to view topics through the lens of motherhood, the article notes.

Marissa Jaret Winokur was originally on the show, but left after her "mom-on-the-street" segments weren't given enough airtime, the story says.

"The Talk" has averaged 2.21 million viewers since its debut, with a 1.1 rating with women 25 to 54 years old and a 0.8 rating with women 18 to 49, it adds.

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Chelsea Handler Project Among Four Pilot Pickups From NBC

Chelsea Handler's bestselling book "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" has been given a pilot order from NBC, reports EW.com's InsideTV blog.

Handler will executive produce the multicamera comedy, along with Tom Werner, Mike Clements and Tom Brunelle. The story focuses on a group of 20-somethings who live and work together with an outspoken woman. Handler won't appear on the show, the story says.

NBC also ordered three other comedy pilots, the story adds: an untitled Whitney Cummings project about a young couple; "Brave New World," a workplace comedy set in a historical theme park; and "My Life as an Experiment," a single-camera comedy about a magazine writer who jumps into unusual situations for his stories, the article notes.

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Netflix Subscriptions and Revenues Surge; Company Now No. 2 in Video Subscribers

Netflix is now No. 2 in U.S. video subscriptions, and is poised to become No. 1 by the middle of this year, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Netflix surpassed 20 million subscribers at the end of 2010, making it the second-biggest U.S. video subscription company after cable giant Comcast. It has Comcast in its sights too, based on current trends, and should pass it by mid-2011, the story says.

The news came in Netflix's fourth-quarter earnings report, which said the company increased revenue by 34% to $596 million and added 3.08 million subscribers in the quarter, the story says. That marks the first time Netflix has ever added more than 2 million customers in one quarter. Netflix's net income jumped 52% to $47 million.

Given its rapid growth, it's no surprise that media companies are getting nervous, the article points out. Chief Executive Reed Hastings and Chief Financial Officer David Wells wrote in a letter that accompanied Netflix's results: “Like the rise of the Fox network 20 years ago, a new entrant bids up the price of content and the incumbent aggregators are not pleased. Netflix is good for consumers, good for content producers, and is one more competitor for existing aggregators.”

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Regis Approaches Another TV Veteran--Who's Also Ending a Long Run on a Show--About Possibly Working Together

Regis Philbin is ending his run on “Live With Regis and Kelly,” but he’s not ready to retire, says another TV veteran who reports that Philbin talked with her about possibly working together, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Mary Hart, who’s leaving “Entertainment Tonight,” talked about her conversation with Philbin during an appearance today at NATPE in Miami Beach.

“Regis doesn’t want to use the R word--retirement--and neither do I,” Hart said. Philbin also mentioned their meeting during his own NATPE appearance.

Hart and Philbin were both honored Tuesday night during the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards, and they both say during that event they had a conversation about working together. Beyond that, they’re not providing many details. But they did work together before--in 1981, on a short-lived talk show, the story reports.

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Producer Spills Secrets of Thriller That Will Bring 'Buffy's' Sarah Michelle Gellar Back to Network TV

Peter Traugott, producer of the pilot for CBS’s hotly anticipated thriller “Ringer,” has revealed details about the show that, if it goes to series, will mark “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” star Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to regular network TV, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Traugott, who heads Brillstein Entertainment Partners, which is producing “Ringer,” described the show as “an edgy thriller about redemption and about revenge. There’s a point of view of two twin sisters who grew apart over a tragedy in their past. And one now seeks redemption and the other one seeks revenge.”

Getting Gellar to play the lead, however, required changing the mind of a star who had her sights set on cable. “Sarah had started thinking about coming back to TV a couple of years ago and she really wanted it to be something in cable,” Traugott told EW. “In part just because of the subject matter you’re able to do in cable. But network television now has cracked that door a little bit and they’ve obviously been doing great stuff in network.”

Gellar will play both sisters, Traugott said--Siobhan and Bridget. Siobhan dies early in the story, and Bridget, who’s in a dark place in her own life, takes over Siobhan’s life. Gellar later plays Siobhan mainly in flashbacks as the story focuses on Bridget.

Will Gellar’s character be heroic, a la Buffy? “I wouldn’t say that,” Traugott told EW. “It’s not that kind of a show. It’s more of a thriller. But we think it shows a lot of different layers to Sarah, and her character is so interesting and compelling. Very different from the Buffy character, but there’s a lot there for the audience to grab onto.”

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NBC Gets a Ratings Win as Presidential Speech Dominates Prime Time

With all the major networks covering the same live event Tuesday night--President Obama’s State of the Union address--the overnight ratings remain subject to more than the usual adjustments when final numbers come in. But with that in mind, NBC was No. 1 for the night in the 18-49 demo, while CBS came out on top in total viewers, according to TVbytheNumbers.com.

NBC finished prime time with a 2.4 average rating in viewers 18-49, ahead of CBS (1.7 average rating), Fox (1.3), Univision (1.2) and ABC (1.2). CBS averaged 9.3 million total viewers, beating NBC (7.8 million), ABC (5.2 million), Fox (3.9 million) and Univision (3.3 million).

At 8 p.m. NBC's "The Biggest Loser" scored a 3.0 average rating in the 18-49 demographic, while CW's "One Tree Hill" logged a 0.9 in the same demo. CBS, Fox and ABC aired reruns.

At 9 p.m. NBC's coverage of the State of the Union had a 2.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo, compared with CBS's 1.7, ABC's 1.6, and Fox’s 1.3, all in the same demo. CW's "Hellcats" earned a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo.

The second hour of coverage at 10 p.m. was also won by NBC with a 2.0 rating and a 1.4, respectively, for the top and bottom halves of the hour--including a post-address analysis during the 10:30 half-hour--in the same 18-49 demo. CBS's coverage from 10-10:30 logged a 1.4, the same as ABC's coverage for the same time period. Both CBS and ABC aired repeat programming at 10:30.


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Fox Greenlights Two More Pilots, Continues to Lean Toward Single-Camera Sitcoms

Fox is sticking with its commitment to single-camera comedies, picking up two more pilots, Deadline.com reports.

“Council of Dads,” from Peter Tolan, is based on a book by Bruce Feiler about a terminally ill father who enlists the help of male friends who commit to raise his daughters after he's gone.

"Family Album," from Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, has a "24" angle, in which a strong father plots to get more quality time with his family via family vacations. One day from each vacation would encompass the entire season of the show.

The pickups bring Fox’s total number of comedy pilot pickups to six, the story reports, with four of those single-camera and one a hybrid of single-camera and multicamera.

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NBCU to Sell L.A. Station

NBCU will sell one of its television stations in Los Angeles to an investment company, subject to FCC approval, Broadcasting & Cable reports.

The station is Spanish-language independent KWHY-TV, which will be purchased by the Meruelo Group. The sale agreement comes before the Comcast-NBCU merger closes Jan. 28.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the report notes that Telemundo paid $239 million when it purchased the station in 2001.

“NBC had originally asked the commission for a temporary, six-month extension of its waiver of the FCC ownership rules to continue owning three stations in the market,” the story reports. “The station group promised that within six months of the NBCU-Comcast deal's close, it would either sell KWHY, one of its three stations there, or put it in a trust. But it subsequently indicated it did not need the waiver and would get a deal done.”

“The company also pledged to try and find a minority buyer as one of a number of pledges by Comcast/NBCU to promote diversity in programming and ownership. NBCU will put the station in a separate trust, Bahia Honday LLC, upon closing of the merger,” the story says.

In announcing the deal today, NBCU said in a statement: "The sale of KWHY to the Meruelo Group meets the diversity commitment made by NBCU in the course of the Comcast-NBCU regulatory process to use its best efforts to ensure that the station is sold to a minority-controlled ownership group.”

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CBS Unveils Launch Plans for New Procedural Spinoff

CBS has unveiled details about the upcoming launch of the new spinoff of one of its successful police procedurals, UPI reports.

Premiering Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 10 p.m. will be “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” starring Forest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo.

The new crime procedural also features Michael Kelly, Beau Garrett, Matt Ryan and Kirsten Vangsness as members of an elite team of FBI agents in the Behavioral Analysis Unit who pursue America's most notorious and dangerous criminals. The network revealed in a press release that the premiere episode will focus on an investigation into a series of child abductions in Cleveland.

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Which Huge Star Turned Down a Guest Spot on 'Glee' Because It Would Be Too Much Work?

Fox’s musical hit “Glee” has made a name for itself largely through its high-profile guest stars, with Britney Spears, Gwyneth Paltrow, John Stamos, Neil Patrick Harris and Olivia Newton-John among the many who took a turn on the show last year.

But one high-profile veteran film and TV star turned down an invitation to appear on the show, saying it would take too much time to prepare for the part.

That performer is John Travolta, reports the New York Post. The “Saturday Night Fever” star said he was flattered to get the offer, but he told “Entertainment Tonight,” "When I do musicals I train for six to nine months ... and a show like that is an on-demand thing."

Travolta said that if he did appear on "Glee," he would want to do something special and that would take time. “I really have a criteria or a pride that I would wanna knock ’em dead, and I don’t think I’d knock ’em dead in a week," he said.

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Another Reality Star Wants a Name Change

We reported a couple of weeks ago that Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi--the star of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” whose nickname is synonymous with her sudden celebrity--no longer wants to be called “Snooki.” Now another reality show star--from VH1 and the world of pro football this time--also wants to lose a nickname he has worked hard to keep in the spotlight, NFL.com reports.

This time it’s Chad Ochocinco, host of the VH1 reality dating show “Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch” and a star NFL wide receiver. Ochocinco wants to go back to his original name, Chad Johnson.

He changed his name to Ochocinco--Spanish for his jersey number, 85--in 2008. But in an appearance Tuesday on the NFL Network's "NFL Live," he said, "I've done enough with this Ocho thing. It was fun."

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History Channel Sets a Ratings Record

History Channel announced that it had its all-time highest-rated telecast Monday night, with two shows racking up big numbers for the cable channel.

The star of the network’s lineup is “Pawn Stars,” which drew 7 million total viewers for its 10:30 p.m. airing--an all-time high for History. Also performing well was “American Pickers,” which averaged 6.2 million viewers in its 9 p.m. slot.

Another episode of “Pawn Stars,” aired at 10 p.m., had 6.7 million viewers.

History Channel reported that it finished the night as the No. 1 cable network in total viewers, adults 25-54 and adults 18-49.

“Pawn Stars” follows people pawning merchandise at a Las Vegas shop, while "American Pickers" is a show about two collectors and vendors who hunt for memorabilia and artifacts throughout the Midwest.

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CBS Moves Launch of New Sitcom to Valentine's Day

In a programming move aimed at the romantics in all of us, CBS has moved up the premiere of the situation comedy "Mad Love" to Valentine's Day, reports Deadline.com.

The Jason Biggs, Sarah Chalke, Tyler Labine and Judy Greer series was originally scheduled to bow Feb. 21, after "How I Met Your Mother," but the network decided to take advantage of Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, to give the show a romantic boost. It will run in the 8:30 p.m. ET slot as part of the network’s Monday comedy block.

The show it's replacing, "Rules of Engagement," will take over the Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET, time slot where "$#*! My Dad Says" currently runs.

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Awkward Pairing or Branding Genius? Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne in Super Bowl Ad--You'll Never Guess for What Product

Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osbourne will appear in a Super Bowl ad together, USA Today reports.

According to the report, by the longtime USA Today writer on the ad beat, Bruce Horovitz, "Best Buy today will announce plans to feature teen heartthrob Bieber--along with elder rocker Ozzy Osbourne--in the first Super Bowl commercial for the nation's largest home electronics chain."

The commercial will  air in the third quarter, and the actual content of the spot remains a secret, the article says.

However Best Buy "wants to evolve into more of an Internet technology expert and service provider. And it wants to skew younger," the article says.

Given that, the idea of pairing Bieber with Osbourne remains a mystery to some experts, the  article notes.

"'If Best Buy wants to be known for its IT services, it's hard for me to see how Justin Bieber is a match,' brand guru Martin Lindstrom says. 'It's one of the most awkward relationships I've heard of in a long time.' For that matter, Bieber and Osbourne are not likely to appeal to a traditional Super Bowl audience, says Alissa Quart, author of 'Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers.' 'They are both fish out of water in what we imagine a Super Bowl ad should be: babes and beer.'"


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The Most-Used In-Car App Is ... (and it's got nothing to do with navigation)

The most-used in-car app, surprisingly, has nothing to do with navigation or mapping or directions, reports our friend Jefferson Graham in USA Today.

According to the story, "Pandora is the most-used in-car app, because of its user base of 80 million and the company's push to get into cars. Toyota also will have iHeartRadio's local stations, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable dining reservations and Bing search apps available. Buick will offer Stitcher podcasting."

Separately, Graham details the use of Pandora in autos: "By tapping into the Internet from the iPhone (and, in some cases, Android and BlackBerry phones) Pandora now can be played in many cars with special dashboard controls, including Ford Fiesta, new Minis and most new Mercedes-Benzes. Coming this year: Pandora in the new Toyota Prius V, Hyundai Veloster, new BMWs and Buick Verano. In some cases, the phone connects directly through a jack to the car audio system, in others via Bluetooth. Prices for the feature range from $299 to $2,000.To bring Pandora to older vehicles, auto stereo manufacturers Alpine, Pioneer, JVC and Kenwood are offering car radios that can connect to the smartphone for Pandora integration at prices ranging from $199 to $1,200."

The article also notes, "To celebrate its 10 billionth app download, Apple recently listed its most downloaded apps. Pandora was No. 1 among the free apps for iPad and No. 2 for iPhone. Pandora added 35 million listeners in 2010."

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MSNBC Has Its Eye on CNN Regular to Fill Olbermann's Spot

MSNBC is considering hiring one of CNN’s regular contributors to help fill out its evening lineup following the departure of Keith Olbermann, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Roland Martin is being considered to take over the 6 p.m. time slot that had been anchored by Ed Schultz, the story says. With Olbermann's departure, Schultz has been moved to 10 p.m., with Lawrence O'Donnell taking over Olbermann's 8 p.m. time period and Cenk Uygur also filling in.

The story notes that Uygur is also being considered for the 6 p.m. time slot.

Martin already works for Comcast, MSNBC’s new owner, as a commentator for Comcast-owned TV One and the host of “Washington Watch With Roland Martin,” which airs Sunday mornings on TV One.

A representative for MSNBC denied that the network is talking with Martin, the story notes.

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OWN Pulls Plug on Talk Show From Reality Guru; Plus OWN Adds a Reality Show

A planned daytime talk show produced by a successful reality show creator has been canceled by the Oprah Winfrey Network, reports B&C.

The untitled one-hour project from Mark Burnett was slated to debut in March, but the network has decided to shut down development so that it can focus on its prime-time schedule, the story says. Burnett remains an executive producer of OWN's prime-time reality show "Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star."

However, on March 28, 2011, OWN will add "Home Takeover with Simon & Tomas" to its lineup, OWN has announced.

The show is based on a Swedish program called "Home Delivery."

Says the announcement, "Comprising six one-hour episodes, the high-energy design show features Scandinavia's most celebrated pair of interior designers, Simon Davies and Tomas Cederlund. It is set to premiere March 28, 2011, on OWN. 'Simon and Tomas will take America by storm with their unique sense of style,' said Lisa Erspamer, chief creative officer, OWN. 'The duo are not only skilled interior decorators, but their over-the-top personalities also make them fun to watch as they perform their design magic and literally move into the homes they are helping.' "

The announcement adds, "'Home Takeover with Simon & Tomas' is produced for OWN by Angel City Factory. The executive producers are Chris Cowan, Ray Giuliani and Jean-Michel Michenaud."
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You'll Likely Know the Face; Character Actor Bruce Gordon, Who Played in More Than 100 TV Episodes, Dead at 94

Bruce Gordon, an actor known for playing heavies including the mob boss Frank Nitti on television's "The Untouchables," has died, reports The New York Times. He was 94 and lived in Santa Fe, N.M. He died last week after a lengthy illness.

bruceGordon.bmpBruce Gordon (right)

One of Gordon's most memorable roles was a gangster on ABC's "The Untouchables," which aired on the network from 1959 to 1963. "He was filled with menace: pinstriped, perennially scowling and looming so large he seemed to crowd the borders of the screen," the story says.

Before Gordon retired in the mid-1980s, he made guest appearances on television shows ranging from "I Spy" to "Gunsmoke,"  to "Bonanza" the story notes. In the late 1950s, he hosted NBC espionage docudrama "Behind Closed Doors" and in the mid-1960s he had a recurring role on "Peyton Place" as Gus Chernak, according to the story.


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Ratings Surprise for MSNBC On Its First Night Without Keith Olbermann

MSNBC got some surprising news on its first weekday evening without Keith Olbermann reports Bill Carter in the New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

The surprise? Ratings were actually up.

It's possible that the controversy surrounding Olbermann's sudden departure from the network drove more viewers to check out the network, the story points out. Lawrence O'Donnell, who replaced Olbermann, averaged 1.5 million total viewers on Monday evening, up roughly 50% from Olbermann's average in the same time period, which had been about 1 million, the article notes.

O'Donnell said in his first night as Olbermann's replacement that he owed his introduction to MSNBC to the departed host, the piece adds.

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Congresswoman Blasts Comcast-NBC Deal, Says FCC-Imposed Conditions Will Have Little Effect

The conditions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on the Comcast-NBC Universal merger will do little to convince the company to meet its public interest obligations, says Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the L.A. Times reports in its Company Town blog.

Waters, D-Calif., has been an outspoken critic of the deal throughout the regulatory process--even getting the attention of the NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” which aired a parody of her starring Queen Latifah.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Waters said, "There is nothing in the Commission’s order that Comcast-NBC did not agree to or previously offer as their 'public interest commitments' early in the review proceedings."

Comcast agreed to more content for minority groups and more local news and children's programming, while also saying it won't withhold programming from online competitors and that it will debut new independent cable networks.

In her statement, Waters said, "I do not believe the American public can have much confidence in Comcast-NBCU's commitment to launch 10 new independent channels when current networks have had so many challenges negotiating reasonable carriage terms with the cable giant."

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Audience Shrinks for MTV's Controversial 'Skins'

The second episode of MTV's "Skins" slumped to 1.6 million viewers, losing more than half of its debut audience of 3.3 million, reports the New York Post.

The show's target audience of viewers between 18 to 34 years also declined, with 680,000 viewers in that demographic tuning in, compared with 1.7 million for the debut, the story notes.

MTV pointed out that the second episode followed a repeat of "Jersey Shore," while the debut was scheduled after an original episode of the reality show, which helped the premiere ratings, the article adds.

The show has been a focus of controversy in the past week, with advertisers pulling out after concerns were raised that the content of the scripted series places teenagers in inappropriate settings involving sex and drugs. Taco Bell, H&R Block and others have opted not to run ads, prompting speculation that MTV might cancel the show.

MTV and show creator Bryan Elsley have defended “Skins” as a realistic depiction of the lives of teenagers.

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Nielsen Raises $1.6 Billion in Largest Private-Equity IPO Since 2006

In what is the biggest private equity-led U.S. initial public offering since 2006, Nielsen Holdings raised $1.6 billion, reports Bloomberg News.

Nielsen, which is owned by Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, KKR and Thomas H. Lee Partners after being taken private four years ago, sold 71.4 million shares at $23 each, the story says.

The shares had been offered at $20 to $22 each, the story says. It adds that Nielsen raised more money than had earlier been sought, following a year in which private equity-led IPOs gained less than half as much as other initial stock offerings.

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ABC Picks Up Two Drama Pilots--Including One Casting Edgar Allan Poe as a Detective

ABC has picked up two drama pilots, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

"POE," from Warner Bros. and Lin Pictures, is a one-hour show that tracks writer Edgar Allan Poe, imagining him as an early detective as he solves mysteries in 19th century Boston, the story notes. Chris Hollier wrote the script and will be its supervising producer, with Dan Lin as executive producer, the story says.

"Pan Am," meanwhile, is a soapy drama focusing on stewardesses and pilots, written by Jack Orman of "ER," with Sid Ganis working as co-executive producer and Tommy Schlamme, Nancy Hult Ganis and Orman executive producing. Schlamme will direct the pilot.

The two drama pickups follow ABC’s announcement earlier this week that it has picked up two comedy pilots, “Work It,” from writers Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen, and “Lost and Found,” from Marisa Coughlan.

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Full List of Oscar Nominations: Is This Year's Crop Of Nominations (Including the Expanded List of Best Picture Nominees) Enough to Bring Younger Audiences (and a Bigger Audience) to Oscarcast?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has announced the nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards, featuring 10 nominees for best picture. Among them, “The King’s Speech” with 12 overall nominations and “True Grit” with 10 are early favorites.

Also nominated for best picture are “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “127 Hours,” “The Social Network,” “Toy Story 3” and “Winter’s Bone.”

The question for ABC is whether or not this year's list of nominees is titanic enough to bring in millions of younger viewers.

Certainly one would think the "The Social Network" may be a draw, since it's about Facebook--though much more a character study than about the phenomenon itself. Certainly "Inception" is a clever film that appealed to all ages. And "The Fighter" is definitely in the tradition of a crowd-pleaser such as "Rocky."

But films such as "Winter's Bone," "The Kids Are All Right" and "127 Hours" probably won't do a lot to get younger viewers to tune into the Oscarcast.

Nominees for best actress in a leading role are Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams. Their counterparts vying for best actor are Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and James Franco.

The awards will be presented Sunday, Feb. 27, with the ceremony carried live on ABC.

Check out the list of nominees here.


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'Charlie's Angels' Director May Helm NBC's 'Wonder Woman' Remake

The director of the film "Charlie's Angels" may be tapped to direct NBC's remake of "Wonder Woman," reports TVLine.com.

The film’s director, McG, currently serves as an executive producer on several television shows, including "Human Target" and "Chuck," the story notes. His production company is based at Warner Bros.

McG is reportedly the leading contender to direct the "Wonder Woman" pilot.

As previously reported, NBC recently greenlighted the "Wonder Woman" pilot from David E. Kelley.

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As Ratings Continue to Surge, MTV Greenlights Another Season of 'Jersey Shore'

MTV has announced that it is greenlighting season four of “Jersey Shore,” which has been setting ratings records for the cable network. The show will begin production this spring in Italy.

“While the stateside ‘Jersey Shore’ locales have become iconic for our audience it’s really the constantly evolving dynamic amongst the cast that keeps them coming back each season, and Europe is a fresh spin on a show that continues to reach new heights for us,” said Chris Linn, executive vice president of programming and head of production for MTV. “The cast is headed to the birthplace of the culture they love and live by. We can’t wait to see what erupts as a result.”

In its third season, “Jersey Shore” is averaging an 8.3 rating in the 12-34 demo and is the network’s top series of all time in that demo. Its rating is up 46% from the previous season. The show is No. 1 in its Thursday 10-11 p.m. time period across all television in the 12-34 and 18-49 demos, topping the broadcast networks, MTV reported.

The episode that aired Jan. 20 was MTV’s most watched series telecast ever, with 8.9 million total viewers. It was also the No. 1 telecast of the night in the 12-34 demo, the network said, beating “American Idol” by nearly 1 million viewers.

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Tight Race in Monday Ratings Ends in a Split

With a fresh episode of “House” pacing Fox and two hours of “The Bachelor” driving ABC, the two networks split a close ratings battle Monday night. Fox came out ahead for the night in the 18-49 demo while ABC had a narrow win in total viewers, according to TVbytheNumbers.com.

Fox finished with a 3.1 average rating on the night in adults 18-49, topping ABC’s 2.7 average, CBS’s 2.2, NBC’s 1.9 and Univision’s 1.5. ABC squeaked out a victory in total viewers with an average of 9.2 million to 9.1 million for Fox, 8.0 million for CBS, 7.5 million for NBC and 3.9 million for Univision.

At 8 p.m. "House" had a 3.7 average rating, the highest of the night, in the 18-49 demographic, topping the first hour of ABC's "The Bachelor," which had a 2.8, and NBC's "Chuck," which logged a 2.0 average rating. CW's "90210" managed a 0.8 in the same demo.

At 9 p.m. hour two of "The Bachelor" was tops with a 2.9 average rating in the 18-49 demographic, over Fox's "Lie to Me" with a 2.5, NBC's "The Cape," which earned a 1.6, and CW's "Gossip Girl" with a 0.9, all in the same 18-49 demo.

The 10 p.m. hour was won by ABC's "Castle" with a 2.4 in the 18-49 demo, ahead of NBC's "Harry's Law," which had a 2.1 in the same demo. CBS aired repeats throughout prime time.

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Golden-Voiced Homeless Man Bolts From Rehab Center

The feel-good story of golden-voiced Ted Williams has taken another turn with the news that the reclamation project has walked out of the rehab facility where he was attempting to get clean and sober, reports TMZ.com.

Williams, who was homeless before having his vocal talents revealed in a YouTube video, received job offers despite his admission that he has struggled with alcohol and drugs. He got a second chance after an appearance on the “Dr. Phil” show, when Dr. Phil McGraw helped convince him to check into rehab.

But after just two weeks at the Texas Origins Recovery Center, Williams checked himself out against doctors' orders. TMZ reported that Williams was on his way to the airport, presumably to leave Texas.

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Debmar, Fox Stations to Try Out 'Father Albert'

Debmar-Mercury and the Fox Television Stations will join forces this summer to test “Father Albert,” an hour talk show starring former Catholic priest Father Alberto Cutie, Broadcasting & Cable reports.

Cutie, known as Father Albert or Padre Alberto, is now an Episcopal priest after leaving the Catholic Church over theological differences and because he wanted to get married. He is now married to Ruhama Buni Canellis. Father Albert has hosted other shows, including the Spanish-language talk show “Hablando Claro con el Padre Alberto,” and earlier this month published his second book, "Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle With Faith and Love.”

"Father Albert's wide cross-over appeal, incredible story, encouraging advice, open mind and charismatic personality make him a natural fit for daytime television,” Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein said in a statement. “We are excited to provide English-language audiences with the opportunity to discover why Father Albert has struck such a chord over the past decade with millions of fans throughout the U.S., Canada, Spain and Latin America."

Debmar-Mercury most recently tried out a new talk show starring Fran Drescher, giving the show a three-week test in December before the company decided not to continue the project. Marcus appeared on a panel at NATPE on Monday, where he reaffirmed the company’s commitment to testing new programs.

Father Albert is known worldwide as the first priest to host a secular daytime talk show, the story says. “Padre Alberto” was televised by Telemundo in 1999, and three years later Cutie hosted the weekly talker “America en Vivo” on Telemundo International. He has also appeared on the Spanish-language network EWTN.

His self-help book "Real Life, Real Love," published in 2006, was a best-seller in the Spanish-language market and earned Cutie the nickname "Father Oprah."

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Fox Hit With Lawsuit Over Idea for 'Lie to Me'

Fox's drama series "Lie to Me," which stars Tim Roth and is in its second season, is the subject of a lawsuit brought by John Gertz Productions and novelist Roderick Anscombe, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The plaintiffs say the network stole their idea for the TV series. JGP acquired the rights to "The Interview Room," Anscombe's novel, in 2005, two years before they pitched the project--dubbed "Lie to Lie"--to Fox. After working with Fox to turn the project into a TV show, JGP and Anscombe were dumped. The network reportedly indicated at that time that it was abandoning the project.

JPG and Anscombe are now suing Fox, executive Simon Andreae and Imagine Entertainment for breach of contract and breach of confidence, saying the network used the ideas from "Lie to Lie" to create "Lie to Me."

Fox has not commented on the suit.

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Former Pennsylvania Governor Joins NBC News

The former governor of Pennsylvania has joined NBC News as a political analyst, the AP reports. A familiar talking head on political shows, Ed Rendell has only been out of office for a few weeks. He will contribute to both NBC and MSNBC with an emphasis on the 2012 presidential race.

Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia from 1992 to 1999, and served as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the 2000 presidential election, the story says. He is expected to start work immediately.

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Kardashians Are Ratings Gold for E!

The latest Kardashian reality TV series, "Kourtney & Kim Take New York," was a ratings bonanza for the E! Channel, reports Reuters.

Three million viewers tuned in for the season two debut Sunday night, the most watched season opener yet for the show. Last year's premiere of "Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami" registered 2.6 million viewers, by comparison.

In the key demo of women 18-34, "Kourtney & Kim Take New York" drew 1.2 million viewers, a 27% improvement over year-ago figures.

The show also apparently helped its lead-out, “Holly’s World,” which topped last season’s premiere by attracting 2 million viewers.

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CW Reality Project Pairs People With the Celebrities They Hate

A new reality show in development at The CW seeks to pair people with the celebrities they despise, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

The show is called "H8R." The CW didn't have comment on what the article calls an early-stage development.

The project is being produced by Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey of "Extra," the article notes.

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'Chicks and Dicks' Pilot Gets Picked Up

An untitled comedy pilot originally called "Chicks and Dicks" has been picked up by Fox, marking the latest in the network's pilot pickups, reports Deadline.com.

The project is from writer-producer Liz Meriwether, 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment, the story says. The show is described as a single-camera ensemble comedy about sexual politics.

Meriwether is executive producing with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope, and it marks Chernin Entertainment's third pilot order this season, with "Outnumbered" and "Touch" also picked up by Fox.


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As Advertisers Bail Out on MTV's 'Skins,' Who's Left Sponsoring the Show?

Advertisers are deserting MTV’s controversial teen-centric series “Skins,” with Taco Bell, Subway and others fleeing the edgy program. So who does that leave still running commercials in the show? Direct-response ads for a stretch mark creme, movie commercials and promotions for MTV's own shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show's second episode on Monday night also featured MTV's public service campaign against digital bullying, the story notes. The episode ran multiple ads for the Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston comedy "Just Go With It," from Columbia Pictures, and other movies such as Anthony Hopkins' horror film "The Rite," the story says.

The program also had spots for Red Bull and acne treatment Zeno, as well as multiple direct-response ads for Celtrixia, a creme that treats stretch marks, the article points out.

Deadline.com reports that "Skins" co-creator Bryan Elsley issued a lengthy statement about the controversy over the U.S. version of the show.

"I have lost count of the letters we have been sent by viewers who tell us that they have been able to approach their parents or teachers with their difficulties after watching the show. It is something that we take a great deal of pride in and which can unfortunately be eclipsed by some of the negative attention," he writes. "Our approach is not careless."

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NBC Chief Legal Analyst Plans to Switch Networks

NBC chief legal analyst Dan Abrams plans to jump to a rival network, reports the New York Post.

The story says that ABC is offering Abrams a job as a legal analyst on "Good Morning America" and the chance to substitute as an anchor, a job he didn't get to do as a "Today" contributor.

ABC News chief legal correspondent Chris Cuomo wouldn't see his job affected if Abrams joins ABC, the story notes. It adds that the deal should be completed by early February.

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AT&T Rebrands Its VOD Service as It Battles Netflix, Redbox

AT&T, positioning itself against rental competitors Netflix and Redbox, is rebranding its video-on-demand service as "U-verse Movies" to stress the availability of new releases, reports Multichannel News.

The service previously had been branded U-verse On Demand, the article notes.

The service is also touting that it offers movie titles as many as 28 days before Netflix, with the option of watching those films either on TV, online, on mobile devices or using a Microsoft Xbox 360, the article adds.

The service's current rental titles include "Toy Story 3," "Inception," "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" and "Salt," the piece notes.

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Golden Globes Will Go On Despite Lawsuit, Says Hollywood Foreign Press Association

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is saying not to worry about what its lawyers told a judge last week in the United States District Court for the Central District of California about next year's Golden Globes being in jeopardy, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The association's attorneys had said that the proposed timetables for its lawsuit against Dick Clark Productions put the show at risk, the story notes. The case claims that Dick Clark Productions improperly took rights to the Globes by moving to renew a broadcast deal with NBC, the article notes.

But the press association said Monday that the show will go on. "Regardless of the legal proceedings, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association will present the Sixty-Ninth Annual Golden Globe Awards Show as scheduled in January 2012," the organization said in a statement, according to the piece.

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'Spartacus' Prequel Looks Like a Hit for Starz, With Big Jump in Viewers for Premiere

"Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" premiered to almost 1.1 million viewers on Starz, marking a 66% jump from the debut for the network’s bloody gladiator drama "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

"Spartacus: Blood and Sand" drew 659,000 viewers when it debuted on Jan. 22, 2010, the story notes.

Nevertheless, the audience for "Gods of the Arena," which is a prequel to "Blood and Sand," was down 11% from the finale of "Blood and Sand," which drew 1.23 million viewers to its April 16, 2010, telecast, the story notes.

"Gods of the Arena" also drew 753,000 viewers to its 11 p.m. encore, the story notes.


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Super Bowl Advertisers Going the Sweepstakes Route, Giving Away Cars; Plus: Free Pizza If the Game Goes Into OT

More advertisers are launching sweepstakes offers in connection with their Super Bowl advertising buys as a way of engaging fans, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are planning giveaways, with BMW offering a two-year lease on a new X3 and Mercedes giving away two new C-Class coupes, the story notes.

The Mercedes coupes will be given to members of a team that wins a race Mercedes is promoting through Twitter, the article says.

Papa John's International, meanwhile, didn't buy a Super Bowl spot but is offering the chance to win free pizzas if the Super Bowl goes into overtime, something that no Super Bowl has ever done, the piece notes.

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Celebrity Attorney Gloria Allred Gets a Court Show

Entertainment Studios, a producer of syndicated programming for television stations, said it's working with celebrity attorney Gloria Allred on a TV program called "We the People With Gloria Allred."

Allred said in a statement issued by Entertainment Studios that she will continue to practice law while being fully committed to the program.

"Gloria Allred is the perfect lawyer to be on a television court show which can serve as the ultimate news lead-in,” said Byron Allen, the founder and chief executive of Entertainment Studios, in the statement.

Entertainment Studios owns six high-definition cable networks such as Pets.TV and Cars.TV and produces shows such as "Comics Unleashed With Byron Allen" and "America's Court With Judge Ross."

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Microsoft Files Trade Complaint Against TiVo

Microsoft has filed a U.S. trade complaint seeking to keep TiVo from importing television set-top boxes from Mexico, reports Bloomberg News. The claim is based on patent infringement.

The four patents in the case involve program schedules and selection, a way to restrict the use of the DVR based on a program's rating and controlling the interface, the story notes.

The complaint is part of a fight that started over a year ago when Microsoft challenged TiVo patents that were being asserted against Microsoft customer AT&T, the story says. Microsoft said the two sides are in talks to settle the dispute.

"We look forward to continued negotiations with TiVo," a Microsoft spokesman said. A TiVo spokeswoman had no comment, the article says.

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New Reality Show Focuses on Wives, Girlfriends of Polo Stars

The Discovery Channel is shooting a show that will follow the girlfriends and wives of several well-known Palm Beach polo players, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Called "Palm Beach Polo Girls," the show tracks Brandon Phillips' wife, Erica, and Kris Kampsen's girlfriend Ali Solomine, among others, the story notes.

A representative for Discovery didn't return a request for comment, the story says.

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KCET Sees Hefty Drop in Ratings After Split From PBS

Without its PBS affiliation, KCET-TV's prime-time ratings have suffered, the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker blog reports.

The station’s prime-time viewership is down 38% in the first three weeks of January compared with the same weeks a year earlier, according to the report.

The article points out that the station's daytime ratings have fared even worse. Throughout the broadcast day, KCET has lost half of its viewers when compared with its year-earlier ratings.

The station averages just 10,000 households, which could lead to a reduction in donor households, the article points out. KCET left the PBS network at the end of 2010 over a fee dispute, and its schedule now consists of British reruns such as "Prime Suspect" and imported news programs.

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Jeff Zucker, Who Leaves NBC Universal This Friday, Does Exit Interview at NATPE, Praises Olbermann

Jeff Zucker, the outgoing CEO of NBC Universal who leaves the company this Friday, Jan. 28, 2011, had an exit interview today in Miami at the annunal NATPE connvention, reports Alex Ben Block in The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the article, "Zucker was interviewed by Wall Street stock market analyst Michael Nathanson of Nomura Securities, who revealed he is also Zucker’s brother-in-law. Nathanson’s first question was what Zucker thought about the departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC. Zucker said he couldn’t talk about it beyond what the network had announced, but did call Olbermann 'one of the great stars' at the cable network, and one of the reasons for its recent success. He said Olbermann may be leaving but MSNBC remains 'in a strong position.'

The article says Zucker also said that what he enjoyed most during his 24-year tenure at the company was producing news and sports:  “I’m passionate about producing," said Zucker, adding that he has been doing a lot of thinking about "getting back into that."

The story adds that "Zucker also defended the deals he has done with Netflix. 'It replaced the back-end syndication model for some shows that had gone away,' said Zucker, 'and we needed a back end for those shows.' "

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AOL Gets Into the Late-Night Talk Show Game--With a Popular Comedian, a Veteran TV Show Host and a Well-Known Movie Director on Board

AOL is throwing its hat in the ring in a bid for a piece of the late-night talk show action, launching a show tonight, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011, that will feature a trio of familiar faces, Entertainment Weekly reports in its Inside TV blog.

Comic Kevin Pollak, TV and Web host Adam Carolla and comedy film director Kevin Smith are collaborating on the nightly online video series, the story reports. All three men already have popular online chat/podcast shows, so this isn't new territory for them.

The deal is for the trio to present original content Monday through Thursday, then serve up a best-of-the-week program on Friday nights.

Carolla said of the new project, “Ever since I could spell, AOL has been on my radar. It brings me great joy to finally partner up with them and make my childhood dreams come true. I look forward to our future together."

"AOL Late Night" launches tonight at 10 on AOL.com.

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James Cameron Reveals When the Next Two 'Avatars' Are Due

“Avatar” director James Cameron has provided a timeline for the next two installments in what he says will be the “Avatar” trilogy, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Speaking Saturday at the PGA Awards, Cameron said the next two movies will be released about a year apart, with “Avatar 2” coming around Christmas 2014 and the third installment due at Christmas 2015.

“I am in the process of writing the next two ‘Avatar’ films now,” the director told EW. “We are planning to shoot them together and post them together, and we will probably release them not quite back to back, but about a year apart.”

The story points out that the first “Avatar” movie had a number of release dates before it eventually came out in December 2009.

Cameron also offered a hint about casting. “Basically, if you survived the first film, you get to be in the second film, at least in some form,” he said.

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Advice Columnist Gets Pilot Order From MTV

MTV has ordered a pilot for a show starring advice columnist Dan Savage, Entertainment Weekly reports in its Inside TV blog.

Savage, an openly gay writer who is known for his straightforward, sometimes graphic, advice on sex and relationships, will deliver his advice to college campuses on the show.

Savage pens the advice column “Savage Love” and is the editorial director of a weekly Seattle publication, The Stranger, the story reports. MTV recently followed his “It Gets Better Project,” which aimed to help teenagers dealing with sexual orientation issues.

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Harvard Picks Well-Known TV Host as Hasty Pudding Man of the Year

Harvard University’s Hasty Pudding theatrical troupe has crowned a television personality who has had an interesting year in 2010 as its 2011 Man of the Year, Entertainment Weekly reports in its PopWatch blog.

Jay Leno is the honoree, and he will be roasted Feb. 4. The organization announced earlier that Julianne Moore is its Woman of the Year.

Leno’s foil, Conan O’Brien, is a Harvard alumnus, the story points out, a fact that could add an extra spark to the proceedings. O’Brien has never been awarded the title, the story says.

Leno is back in his familiar role as host of NBC’s “Tonight Show” after losing the job temporarily to O’Brien. O’Brien now has his own late-night show on TBS.

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Showtime Clobbers HBO in Fight Over TV Rights to Huge Bout

Showtime appears to have delivered a knockout blow to pay-TV giant HBO in the scuffle over rights to televise the hotly anticipated pay-per-view fight between Manny Pacquiao and “Sugar” Shane Mosley, reports SportsNewser.com.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum reportedly has inked a deal with Showtime over HBO, with CBS promoting the fight by airing commercial spots for the telecast during prime-time programming as well as a preview that will air either on the Showtime or CBS prior to the bout.

This will be Pacquiao and Mosley's first Showtime fight.

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David E. Kelley's Comic Book Heroine Finds a TV Home

Despite reports that David E. Kelley's new incarnation of "Wonder Woman" was grounded, one of the major broadcast networks has now given the thumbs up to Kelley’s pilot for the comic book heroine, reports Deadline.com.

The network is NBC, and it may be that the recent takeover by Comcast shook loose some money that wasn’t previously available at the network and made the deal happen.

The networks had all passed on "Wonder Woman" just weeks ago, but Kelley remained hopeful nonetheless. His version of the adventures of Diana Prince portrays her as a Hollywood-based professional, a “corporate executive and modern woman” who fights crime as Wonder Woman.

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Super Bowl Locks In Beer Sponsor Through 2014

If you watch the Super Bowl and expect to be tantalized by the sight of bottles of Coors or Sam Adams, forget about it. The lone beer company that will be advertising during Super Bowl XLV will be Anheuser-Busch, reports the AP.

The sponsorship deal with the maker of Budweiser, Michelob and Busch is not only for the upcoming Super Bowl, set for Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium in North Texas, but also for the next three Super Bowls. This year's game will be televised by Fox. Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that it has secured the position as the only national beer advertiser in the NFL championship game through 2014.

Budweiser has been a Super Bowl advertiser for 23 years. Along with ads for Budweiser and Bud Light, this year’s lineup will include a spot for the company’s Belgian lager Stella Artois.

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Can Disaster Be Averted?? With No Deal In Place, Matt Weiner Has Not Started Writing New Episodes of 'Mad Men'; He Says It Would Be 'Heartbreaking' and 'Horrifying' If AMC and Lionsgate Cannot Resolve Their Business Issues So The Series Can Continue

Matt Weiner the creator and show runner of 'Mad Men" is very worried about the future of the series.

In an exclusive interview with EW.com's Lynette Rice on the magazine's Inside TV blog, Weiner says he's caught between the two business powers behind the show, Cablevision's AMC and Lionsgate:

"[T]he truth is I don’t even know what their plans are. We have not started writing. I am not back at work. My contract expired. They are fighting over a very lucrative property, and who is going to pay for it to get made; it’s one of the biggest perils of success — everyone wants a piece of it now and they are fighting over who is gonna get the biggest chunk. Then they will come to me because talent is last. It would be heartbreaking for me if they don’t work it out, horrifying really. It would be a shame for fans to never get to see what great stuff we have planned for Don and company.”

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Spoiler Alert! Oprah's Secret Revealed. As Promised, Oprah Staged Her Own Family Reunion and Revealed a Family Secret on Today's Show

Oprah Winfrey's been promoting her show for today, Monday, Jan., 24, as one that would reveal a family secret of hers that she describes as a miracle.

Spoiler Alert! Here, according to USA Today, is the secret.: "Oprah Winfrey has a half-sister named Patricia who was given up for adoption by Winfrey's mother, Vernita Lee, shortly after her birth in 1963. That's the big secret. 'Patricia is my half-sister who I never knew existed,' Oprah said on Monday's show."

The article continues, "Just before Thanksgiving, Winfrey said, she was told 'a bombshell family secret.' The story would have become public and been 'exploited' eventually, Winfrey said, 'so I wanted you to hear it from me first.' Patricia is several inches shorter than Winfrey, but the half-sisters are similar in appearance, with round faces and the same smile. Winfrey said she had no idea her mother had given up a baby when she was 9 and living with her father Vernon Winfrey in Nashville."

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Ratings Go Through the Roof for NFL Playoff Broadcast on CBS

CBS’s prime-time broadcast of the AFC Championship Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets was a ratings blockbuster, the highest-rated conference championship game since 1987, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

With the usual disclaimer that the numbers could change significantly due to the nature of live programming, the story reported that CBS averaged a whopping 40.9 million total viewers for its prime-time lineup as a whole in Nielsen overnights, to a distant 5.3 million for Fox, 5.2 million for ABC and 3.6 million for NBC.

In the adults 18-49 demo, CBS averaged a 14.4 rating for the night, to Fox’s 2.4 average, ABC’s 1.3 and NBC’s anemic 0.8.

At 7 p.m. the game on CBS had an 18.2 rating in the 18-49 demographic, towering over ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" with a 1.4 and NBC's "Dateline" with a 0.6, both in the same 18-49 demo.

At 8 p.m. the Jets-Steelers game averaged a 17.15 in the 18-49 demo for the hour, while Fox's "The Simpsons" and "Bob's Burgers" logged a 3.1 rating and a 2.2, respectively, in the 18-49 demo. ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" had a 1.9 in the same demo for the hour. NBC's broadcast of the movie "Sex and the City" had a 0.6 in the same demo for its first hour.

The 9 p.m. hour was won by the AFC Championship game with a 16.65 average rating in the 18-49 demo, compared with Fox's "Cleveland Show," which had a 2.4 in the same demo for the bottom of the hour. The second hour of NBC's movie earned a 0.85 in the 18-49 demo.

At 10 p.m. the end of the game and the beginning of CBS's "Hawaii Five-0" averaged a 6.9 rating in the first half-hour and “Five-0” had a 4.6 in the bottom half in the 18-49 demo. The last of "Sex and the City" on NBC scored a 1.25 in the 18-49 demo.

As for Sunday's earlier game, the NFC Championship game, no national numbers yet, but the local numbers in Chicago indicated that "Sunday's game on Fox did better locally than the the Bears' 2007 Super Bowl XLI loss to the Indianapolis Colts on WBBM-Ch. 2. That CBS broadcast attracted a 50.2 household rating in Chicago -- which, at the time, represented around 1.75 million local homes -- and a 77 percent share of the viewing audience,' according to our friend Phil Rosenthal in the Chicago Tribune.

That article also said that "Half of the homes in the Chicago market, on average, were tuned to the Bears' NFC championship loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, according to overnight figures from Nielsen Media Research. WFLD-Ch. 32's telecast averaged a 50.6 household rating -- which translates to more than 1.77 million Chicago-area homes -- and 80.5 percent share of those watching TV while it was on."

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Yowzers! Meet the Media Company CEO Who Received $84.5 Million in Compensation Last Year

Can you guess which media company executive pulled down close to $85 million in compensation last year?

It's Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who received $84.5 million, way more than double the amount he received as compensation in 2009, which was $34 million, Reuters reporrts

His 2010 compensation included a one-time stock and option award worth $54.2 million, part of a new five-year agreement he signed in April, the story notes, citing a proxy statement filed on Friday.

Chairman Sumner Redstone's total compensation for 2010 was $15 million, the story notes, while Viacom Chief Operating Officer Thomas Dooley received a total package worth $64.6 million, including a one-time stock and option award valued at $40.8 million.

In 2009, Dooley's package was worth $27 million, the article said.

The article adds, "Shares of Viacom, which owns cable networks like MTV and movie studio Paramount Pictures, gained almost 23 percent during its 2010 fiscal year."

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Why Fox News Should Hire Keith Olbermann. What? Huh?

Don't laugh ... though you can snicker, sneer and approach a mild, muffled guffaw. TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross presents the case for Keith Olbermann joining Fox News. What, you thought there was no case to be made for that?

Read this provocative blog entry by clicking here.

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More Outlets Reject 'The Kennedys' Miniseries

More outlets have turned down airing the controversial miniseries "The Kennedys," the multimillion-dollar production that was initially rejected by the History Channel.

The latest distributor to pass is DirecTV, reports our friend Scott Collins at the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker blog. 

Collins wrote about the DirecTV turn-down, "That's bad news for the producers, who had hoped that the satellite TV provider would offer a last-minute rescue for a $30-million project that has already been rejected by Starz, Showtime, FX and other outlets."

The article does not mentio the name of the other outlets that have also turned down the miniseries.

The piece says that the producers' next move isn't clear, although they say the miniseries will still air in Canada regardless of what happens in the U.S.

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Third Advertiser, Wrigley, Joins Taco Bell and GM in Pulling Ads from MTV's 'Skins'

A third advertiser, Wrigley, has joined Taco Bell and GM in pulling ads from MTV's new scripted series "Skins," amid controversy over the edgy show's use of teenage actors, reports the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker blog.

Jennifer Jackson-Luth, senior manager of marketing communications for Wrigley, wrote in an email that the maker of chewing gum brands Orbit and Extra decided to suspend advertising in the show because "it is never our intent to endorse content that could offend our consumers. Any ads that previously aired during the show were part of a broader advertising plan with the network."

MTV had responded to GM and Taco Bell's decisions to leave the show by noting, "We know that not every show works for every advertiser," the article notes.As we previously reported, some MTV executives asked the show's producers to tone down some scenes because of concern some episodes may violate child pornography laws.

Meanwhile, the Parents Television Council is vowing to urge its members to contact all of "Skins" major advertisers, including Subway, H&R Block and L'Oreal, to ask them to stop supporting the show, according to the LA Times article.

New York Times media columnist David Carr writes that 'Skins" is unlike most TV shows in that it does not always show kids that poor or marginal choices can have bad consequences. "Any adults on 'Skins' are of the Charlie Brown variety, feckless beings who are mostly heard off-screen making bummer noises. MTV leaves it to real-life parents to explain that sometimes, when a car goes underwater, nobody survives and that a quick hookup with cute boy at the party may deliver a sexually transmitted disease along with a momentary thrill."

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Now That He's No Longer Doing Google's Day-to-Day CEO Chores, Will Eric Schmidt Move to Television?

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, who announced plans last week to exit his day-to-day chores as the company's CEO, may be headed for television, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Schmidt has been talking with Liza McGuirk, executive producer of CNN's "Parker Spitzer," about developing a show in which he'd be the host, the article notes. The pair had previously met on the Sunday program "Fareed Zakaria GPS," which McGuirk executive produced and on which Schmidt regularly appeared, the story adds.

Schmidt filmed a pilot for CNN in August, with McGuirk overseeing its production, according to the piece. Schmidt and Google didn't respond to requests for comment, the story adds.

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Most Famous TV Fitness Guru--Who Once Said Dying Would Be Bad For His Image--Passes Away at Age 96

Starting with a local TV show in 1951 he became TV's most famous fitness guru, saying once that dying would be bad for his image.

But Jack LaLanne could not out bench-press the grim reaper forever, and he's died at age 96, The New York Times reports.

The cause was respiratory failure resulting from pneumonia, according to his son Dan Doyle, the story notes. LaLanne described himself as a physical mess as a kid, but turned his life (and body) around when he heard a talk on proper eating at age 15.

After starting to work out with weights in 1936, LaLanne opened a gym, juice bar and health food store in Oakland, California. In 1951, he debuted "The Jack LaLanne Show" as a local San Francisco program, moving it to a national audience on daytime television in 1959, the article notes.

The show, which featured LaLanne in a short-sleeved jumpsuit as he moved through his exercise routines, ended in the mid-1980s, the piece says.

Using his TV success, LaLanne opened dozens of gyms with his name and later licensed them to Bally. After "The Jack LaLanne Show" ended in 1980s, it lived on in reruns on ESPN Classic, the story notes.

LaLanne is survived by his son Dan Doyle, his wife, Elaine; their son, Jon; and a daughter, Yvonne, the story notes. LaLanne promoted fitness into his final years, the article points out.


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Olbermann's Departure Comes After Years of Tension and Near Terminations

While many viewers were shocked that last Friday, January 21, 2011 MSNBC's Keith Olbermann announced on-air that that night's show was the last for the network, the decision came after years of tension and near terminations, reports The New York Times' Bill Carter and Brian Stelter.

Olbermann had been protected by his boss, Phil Griffin, as well as Jeff Zucker, the head of NBC Universal, and Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, the story notes. But staff members at MSNBC grew troubled about Olbermann's behavior, such as days on which he threatened not to come to work and a substitute anchor needed to be on standby, the article notes.

Olbermann was also close to being fired in November for making political donations to Democratic Congressional candidates in violation of MSNBC policy, it adds. Olbermann threatened to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" to protest his suspension, with Zucker prepared to fire him if he did so, the article notes.

According to TMZ.com, "The exit deal, we're told, gives Keith much more than $7 million, though our sources would not be more specific. And we're told ... Olbermann agreed as part of his exit deal not to do television, but our sources say he'll be benched for less than 4 1/2 months. Conan O'Brien had to sit out twice that amount of time."

Furthermore, the TMZ article says Olbermann's exit took seven weeks to negotiate, and that attorney Patty Glaser, who was one of O'Brien's point people on his departure from NBC, was also on Olbermann's team.

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A Number So Big It's Almost Hard to Comprehend: Over the Weekend Apple's iTunes Had Its 10 Billionth Download of an App; Plus We List the Top Ten Free and Paid Apps Downloaded Since Apple Apps Began

Apple announced that it hit its 10 billionth downloaded app on Saturday morning, Jan. 22, 2011. The milestone was reached when the app for the game Paper Glider "was downloaded by Gail Davis from Orpington in Kent" in the United Kingdom, reports U.K. publication The Telegraph. She was rewarded with a $10,000  Apple iTunes gift card.

According to the article, Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, said: 'With more than 10 billion apps downloaded in just two and a half years, a staggering seven billion apps in the last year alone, the App Store has surpassed our wildest dreams.'

Apple also released a list of the most downloaded paid and free apps in the two and a half years since the App Store opened, a sidebar article in The Telegraph reported:

Top 10 Paid Apps (descriptions from The Telegraph article):

1. Doodle Jump - Simplistic platformer

2. Tap Tap Revenge 3 - Guitar Hero-style rhythm game.

3. Pocket God - You play God over primitive islanders.

4. Angry Birds - Inescapable catapulting fun.

5. Tap Tap Revenge 2.6 - More rhythmic tapping action.

6. Bejeweled 2 + Blitz - Puzzler based on matching gemstones.

7. Traffic Rush - Solve puzzles based on traffic jams.

8. Tap Tap Revenge Classic - Yet more tapping in time.

9. AppBox Pro-Alarm Clock - Fully featured utilities suite.

10. Flight Control - Air traffic control simulator.

Top 10 Free Apps (description from The Telegraph article):

1. Facebook - The dominant social network

2. Pandora Radio - Personalized internet radio.

3. Google Mobile App - Web search, including voice recognition.

4. Shazam - Music discovery service.

5. Movies by Flixter - U.S. DVD rentals.

6. The Weather Channel - Worldwide forecasts.

7. Google Earth - The most popular mapping service.

8. Bump - Easy data sharing between two iPhones.

9. Skype - Free VoIP calling.

10. Paper Toss - Addictive time-wasting video game.

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A Celebration for the Extraordinary Talents of MTV's Tom Freston, Trailblazer Diahann Carroll, the Late Newsman Great Peter Jennings, Cloris Leachman, the Late Composer Earle Hagen, Writer Susan Harris and the Late Game Show Impresario Bill Todman

The mega-talents of all those mentioned above were feted recently by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences as they were inducted into the ATAS Hall of Fame.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was at the ceremony and writes about what a thrilling, exciting event it was, with a great time had by all.

To read this entertaining piece, please click here.

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STORY NOW UPDATED WITH VIDEO OF OLBERMANN'S STARTLING, UNEXPECTED ON-AIR FAREWELL, WHEREIN HE SAYS HE WAS TOLD TO LEAVE. Breaking News: Keith Olbermann Announces At End of His Show Tonight That He's Leaving MSNBC, Effective Immediately

Viewers were shocked this evening when Keith Olbermann announced he was told this would be his last show and that he'd be leaving MSNBC.

As you can see in the video below, Olbermann told viewers near the end of his show on Friday, Jan. 21, 2011:

"I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I have been told: This will be the last edition of your show.

"You go directly to the scene from the movie ‘Network,’ complete with the pajamas and the rain coat and you go off on an existential, otherwordly, verbal journey of unutterable profundity and vision.You damn the impediments and you insist upon the insurrections and then you emit Peter Finch’s guttural resonant “So” and you implore, you WILL the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell---well, you know the rest.”

The rest is that the Finch character in "Network," named Howard Beale, instructs everyone to yell "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

After Olbermann's show ended MSNBC then issued the following statement: " MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

It's the second major development involving TV made since Comcast gained government approval of its NBC Universal deal earlier this week. The first development was yesterday's announcement by the President of NBC Primetime, Angela Bromstead, that she was leaving the network.

An NBC source familiar with the situation claimed that though Comcast was informed about Olbermann's leaving MSNBC, Comcast had nothing else to do with the move. This source also claimed that this was not a sudden decision, and that discussions about Olbermann's departure had been on-going for some time.

However, a number of other reports, including ones by TMZ and Deadline.com are saying just the opposite, that Olbermann's departure was prompted by Comcast's pending acquisition of NBC Universal.

UPDATE: Comcast itself later issued this statement: “Comcast has not closed the transaction for NBC Universal and has no operational control at any of its properties including MSNBC. We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal’s news operations. We have not and we will not.”

The controversial Olbermann's program was MSNBC's top-rated show.
Clip of Olbermann announcing his leaving show and MSNBC

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Kiefer Sutherland Breaks News About '24' Movie

Recent reports about a possible “24” movie have focused on obstacles standing in the way of the project, including the rejection of the script by Fox, as we reported earlier this month. But now the star of “24,” Kiefer Sutherland, has set the record straight, breaking the news that the project is going ahead, ExtraTV.com reports.

Sutherland announced that the "24" movie will begin filming later this year, according to the report.

Sutherland, who's currently preparing to appear on Broadway in a revival of the play "That Championship Season," told Extra that he expects to be before cameras for "24" in eight months.

Sutherland talked about the challenge in trying to find the right story after almost 200 episodes of the TV show, and said the producers will “try to find a story that's going to be unique and yet service the history of the show as well."

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CBS Orders De Niro Crime Drama

The collaboration between Robert De Niro and crime novelist Richard Price, a cop drama dealing with six New York City rookie cops who are learning on the job and trying to live their normal lives, has been ordered as a pilot by CBS, reports Entertainment Weekly.

Tribeca Productions will head up the project, called “Rookies,” with De Niro and partner Jane Rosenthal executive producing, and CBS TV Studios producing.

Richard Price's last TV drama was "The Wire" on HBO.

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GE's Immelt Joins Obama White House, Takes On Role in Rebuilding U.S. Competitiveness

General Electric Co. President Jeffrey Immelt, who has put in considerable time as a key player in media and television as part of the team running the company that owned NBC, has been named by President Obama to head the new White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, USA Today reported.

The creation of the council and the appointment of its high-profile leader are part of a renewed emphasis by the Obama administration on jobs and economic recovery during the second half of Obama’s presidential term.

"We think GE has something to teach businesses all across America," Obama said, speaking to workers at GE's plant in Schenectady, N.Y.

“The company, which Obama and Immelt described as having weathered the recession well, recently signed a $775 million agreement with India to supply steam and gas turbines to a power plant there,” USA Today reported. “The White House said the deal would help support 1,600 jobs in at the plant and lead to $500 million in exports.”

"For America to compete around the world, we need to export more goods around the world," Obama said. "That's where the customers are. It's that simple."

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Verizon Sues FCC Over Net Neutrality

In what is seen as the first major challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules, Verizon is suing the agency to try to get a court to overturn the rules, PC Magazine reports.

“Verizon's court challenge is exactly what some consumer groups and net neutrality supporters feared might happen after the FCC released its final net neutrality rules,” the magazine writes. “Those rules abandoned plans to reclassify broadband as a telecom service, relying instead on existing communications laws to establish the FCC's authority over the Web.

“Ditching reclassification, known in DC speak as Title II, was an olive branch to companies like Verizon, which were vehemently opposed to the proposal. With that removed, even Comcast seemed to be OK with the plan, while consumers groups were incensed.”

The FCC responded to the Verizon action with a statement saying commissioners are "confident our Open Internet Order is legally sound and are prepared to defend it in any forum.”

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Roger Ebert to Reveal His New (Old) Look When PBS Movie Review Show Debuts This Weekend

Veteran TV film critic Roger Ebert, whose appearance changed when he underwent treatment for thyroid cancer, plans to reveal his “new face” and his facial prosthesis when his new PBS show, "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies," premieres this weekend, CNN reports.

Ebert has been seen in public since losing much of his jaw to the disease, but that has been without the silicone prosthesis, which reportedly took two years to make. The device apparently was designed to make him look more like his old self.

Ebert, 68, blogged that the designers of the prosthesis "did a pretty wonderful damn job," according to the CNN report. "I like my new prosthesis and know from observation their work was painstaking and done with love and care," he wrote.

Ebert has been unable to speak using conventional means since the cancer, the story says, and has used a variety of text-to-speech technologies. Along with producing the new show, he will reportedly appear in brief segments on the show.

"I will wear the prosthesis on the new television show," he blogged this week in a post titled "Leading with my chin."

"That's not to fool anyone, because my appearance is widely known," Ebert wrote. "It will be used in a medium shot of me working in my office, and will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years."

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Another Kardashian Gets an Offer to Pose Naked--And This Time It's From Playgirl

The latest Kardashian to receive an offer to pose naked in a magazine isn’t who you might expect, reports Us Magazine. This time the offer comes from Playgirl, with a rep for the publication confirming that it has offered Rob Kardashian $45,000 to appear nude in the magazine.

Various Kardashian sisters, notably Kim, have previously received similar offers from men’s magazines.

"While most people assumed we'd be interested in [Kourtney Kardashian's beau] Scott [Disick], my interest actually lies in the adorable Rob Kardashian," Playgirl rep Daniel Nardicio told E! News, according to the report. "Rob is a perfect example of the classic Playgirl model, and we'd be proud to have him join the ranks of other quasi celebs to strip for Playgirl."

Rob Kardashian reportedly had yet to reply to the offer.

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'Idol' Continues to Slip in Ratings, Still Easily Wins the Night

The "American Idol" results show was easily the top-rated program of Thursday night, even as the downward trend from last season continued for the Fox singing competition show, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

The second night of “Idol’s” new season averaged a 7.8 rating in adults 18-49, off 23% from the second night of last season’s show, which had a 10.1 rating in 18-49. Last night’s show averaged 22.6 million total viewers, down from 26.4 million a year ago.

For the night overall, Fox was an easy winner in the 18-49 demo with a 5.7 average rating to CBS’s 3.1, NBC’s 2.8 and ABC’s 1.7. The margin was closer in total viewers, where Fox averaged 16.8 million to CBS’s 13.6 million while the other nets trailed by a lot: NBC and ABC each averaged 5.4 million.

At 8 p.m. "Idol" averaged a 7.8 in the 18-49 demographic, compared with CBS's "Big Bang Theory" and "$#! My Dad Says," which had a 4.2 average and a 2.7, respectively, in the same demo. ABC's "Wipeout" collected a 2.55 in the 18-49 demo, while NBC's "Community" and the debut of "Perfect Couples" rated a 2.2 and a 2.1, respectively, in the same demo.

At 9 p.m. NBC's "The Office" and "Parks & Recreation" earned a 4.5 average rating and a 3.2, respectively, in the 18-49 demo, compared with Fox's "Bones" averaging a 3.6 in the 18-49 demo for the hour. CBS's "CSI" logged a 3.05 in the 18-49 demo.

CBS’s "The Mentalist" narrowly won the 10 p.m. hour with a 2.8 in the 18-49 demo, while NBC's "30 Rock" and "Outsourced" earned a 2.7 and a 1.8, respectively, in the same demo for the hour.

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Saying Show Isn't a Fit for its Brand, Major Advertiser Pulls Ads from MTV's 'Skins'

Saying that the show isn't the right fit for its brand, a major advertiser has pulled its ads from MTV's scripted program "Skins," reports the Hollywood Reporter.

The advertiser is Taco Bell. According to the story, "Spokesperson Rob Poetsch tells The Hollywood Reporter, 'We advertise on a variety of MTV programs that reach our core demographic of 18 to 34 year olds, which included the premiere episode of 'Skins.' Upon further review, we’ve decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming."

The move comes after the Parents Television Council urged consumers to contact Taco Bell to protest its presence on the show, the article adds.

As we previously reported, MTV executives have grown concerned that the racy show about teenagers may violate federate child pornography laws.

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Jon Stewart Invites Fox News' Glenn Beck to Appear on his Comedy Central Show

After Glenn Beck appeared on "Today" to promote a new self-help book and referenced Jon Stewart, Stewart issued an invitation to Beck to appear on his show, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog.

Beck was promoting "The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life" when "Today" host Meredith Vieira asked Beck about the angry and violent tone and imagery he uses on his show, especially given that Beck's new book urges readers to let go of anger, the story notes.

Beck insisted that his comments on his show about, say, wanting to poison Nancy Pelosi were just jokes. "Ask Jon Stewart, ask 'The Simpsons,'" Beck said on "Today."

Stewart responded on his program by saying, "I would you like you to be on our show ... so you can get some things off your chest," accompanied by graphics that read, "Drop a Load on Jon Stewart."

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Ricky Gervais Says He Did NOT Do What Most Producers Would Have Done Upon Hearing That Steve Carell Wanted to Leave 'The Office'

Ricky Gervais said he didn't try to stop Steve Carell from leaving the U.S. version of "The Office," which Gervais co-created and of which he is one of the producers, reports Deadline.com

Reporting on a conversation Gervais had on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, Deadline says Gervais told Morgan, "I sent [Carell] an email saying 'I think you are doing the right thing,' As a producer, I was expected to try and stop him because he is a big part of it."

The article continues, saying that Gervais then predicted that the show can survive without Carell as its star, but added, "Whether it should or not I don’t know."

Gervais was also the star in the original British version of  "The Office."

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ABC Reneges on Promise to Kimmel That His Show Would Eventually Replace 'Nightline' at 11:35 p.m., But the Network Does Give Him an Earlier Start Time

"Jimmy Kimmel Live" will get an earlier start time beginning Feb. 4, 2011,  reports our friend Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

According to the article, ABC "had promised Mr. Kimmel for some time that the move would be made in lieu of a previous promise--eventually broken--that he would dislodge 'Nightline,' ABC’s 11:35 p.m. entry, at some point in the future. The decision on Thursday locks in 'Nightline' as the 11:35 program, though shortened by five minutes each night, while giving 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' an almost certain boost in his ratings with the earlier time."

The article also notes that though the start time for the "Kimmel" show has officially been 12:05 a..m, it has rarely started before 12:07 and often starts as late as 12:10. "That makes a significant difference in the ratings because with each minute in late night, shows tend to lose viewers because they go to bed," Carter writes.

He adds that in exchange for giving up five minutes of airtime, "Nightline" will add 13 hours of prime-time specials this year.

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Coverage of Betty White's 89th Birthday Celebration

Betty White turned 89 this past Monday, Jan. 17, 2011. Open Mic blogger Aaron Barnhart of TVBarn was in on the part of the celebration that took place in Kansas City--a party thrown by the Hallmark folks.

To read all about it here, please click here.

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Nickelodeon to Debut 'Spongebob' Episode on Facebook, Followed by Prime-Time TV Special; Stars of the New Episodes Include Amy Sedaris and 'Big Love's' Ginnifer Goodwin

Nickelodeon said it will debut an episode of "Spongebob Squarepants" on Facebook, followed by a longer prime-time special on television.

The special, called "Legends of Bikini Bottom," is an anthology of five Spongebob stories, with the first of the five to air on Facebook. The Facebook episode will debut Thursday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m., with the TV special debuting a day later at the same time, the article notes.

According to the announcement, "Guest starring Ginnifer Goodwin ('Big Love') and Amy Sedaris ('Strangers with Candy'), 'Legends of Bikini Bottom' kicks off with 'Trenchbillies' (guest starring Sedaris) on the SpongeBob SquarePants Facebook page (www.facebook.com/spongebob) Thursday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m. (ET) / 5 p.m. (PT). The next four stories – 'Sponge-Cano,' 'The Main Drain,' 'The Monster Who Came to Bikini Bottom' and 'Welcome to the Bikini Bottom Triangle' (guest starring Goodwin) – will premiere on Nickelodeon in an hour-long prime-time TV special on Friday, Jan. 28, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT). The anthology of all five tales, including the on-air premiere of 'Trenchbillies,' will air Saturday, Jan. 29, from 10:00 to 11:15 a.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon."

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Report: Snooki and Jwoww of 'Jersey Shore' to Shoot Pilot for Spinoff

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Jenni "Jwoww" Farley will shoot a pilot this weekend for a spinoff of MTV's "Jersey Shore" reality show, reports TMZ.com.

The pilot will be shot in Long Island, although the article adds that it doesn't have any hook.

"It's just Jwoww and Snooki being themselves," the story adds.

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GSN's New 'Love Triangle' to Be Hosted by Wendy Williams

GSN will debut a new show on April 18 called "Love Triangle," a cross between a game show and a talk show, which will feature syndicated talk show host Wendy Williams, reports the Associated Press.

Williams said she won't change her style for the GSN program, but plans to use humor to help people solve their romantic problems, the article notes. Williams said she also plans to incorporate a lie detector in the program, where she'll advise guests on trying to choose one relationship over another, it adds.

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In Premiere of Second Season, 'Hot in Cleveland' Steams up TV Land with Almost 3 Million Viewers

The premiere of the second season of "Hot in Cleveland" sizzled on Wednesday night, with almost 3 million viewers tuning into the return of TV Land's first original sitcom, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog.

The show performed best with viewers between the ages of 25 to 54, placing as the most-watched scripted show on cable within that demographic during its 10 p.m. time slot, the article notes.

"Hot in Cleveland," which stars the red-hot octogenarian Betty White, Janes Leeves, Wendie Malick, and Valerie Bertinelli, created a sizable lead-in for TV Land's new sitcom, "Retired at 35," the article notes. The new comedy stars George Segal, Malick's co-star on "Just Shoot Me," and drew an average of more than 2 million viewers. That's a doubling over TV Land's prime-time average, the article notes.

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Broadcasters Win Jurisdiction Fight Against ivi, a Company That Rebroadcasts TV Signals Without Negotiating a Retrans Fee

"A judge in the U.S. District Court in Seattle has granted a motion by Fisher Communications and other broadcasters and networks to dismiss ivi Inc.'s suit there, concluding that ivi improperly filed the Seattle suit in anticipation of being sued by broadcasters and others in another jurisdiction," TVNewsCheck reports.

ivi is one of the companies that rebroadcasts TV signals without first negotiating a retrans fee. It is expected that a court in New York will take up the case, the report says. ivi is based in Seattle.

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Report: Actual Date for Release of the Complete 'Star Wars' Saga on Blu-Ray Is Set


While Twentieth Century Fox and George Lucas have been mum on the actual release date of the complete "Star Wars" saga on Blu-Ray, Amazon has revealed the date, engadget reports.

According to the article, "Amazon has updated its preorder ship dates to September 27th. We wouldn't schedule a day off of work to dive into the promised 30 hours of special features until there's some sort of official word, but since it is a Tuesday it seems a logical time to expect these discs (in full Complete Saga form or either trilogy set by itself, your choice) to touch down."

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Google's Eric Schmidt Plans to Sell Shares Worth $335 Million (Which Is Just a Fraction of the $5.8 Billion Worth of Google Stock That He Owns)

Outgoing Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt plans to sell shares in the company over the next year that could be worth $335 million, reports the Los Angeles Times' Technology blog.

Schmidt's plans for a rich goodbye came in a regulatory filing with Google's fourth-quarter earnings report, both filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the story notes.

In the filing, Google said that Schmidt plans to sell 6% percent of his shares in Google over the next year in a planned-out trading program, the story notes. Schmidt owned 9.2 million shares in Google as of Dec. 31, 2010, worth about $5.8 billion.

"Using this trading plan, Eric can diversify his investment portfolio and can spread stock trades out over a period of one year to reduce market impact," Google said in the filing.

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NBC's President, Primetime Entertainment, to Leave

Government approval of Comcast's takeover of NBC can be still counted in hours, and we already have the first high-level casualty.

It's Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios. 

In an email note to her colleagues, Bromstad wrote, according to a number of media reports,  "Today I wanted to let you know that I'm leaving NBC Universal. I cannot possibly sum up my thoughts and emotions in an email but suffice it to say I have tremendous respect for the company and for the people with whom I have had the privilege to work with and know during my time here. I take great memories and friendships with me and I wish you all the best going forward." 

In November Comcast had said that Bromstad would be staying with the company, reporting to new entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt.

However, in Nellie Andreeva's Deadline.com report this afternoon about Bromstad's departure, Andreeva  wrote "If she hadn't left on her own, Bromstad would have probably been pushed out within the next week or so, sources said. Greenblatt had reportedly been telling people that Bromstad 'will be gone within 48 hours' of him starting at NBC."

The report continues, "The move also fueled a new round of rumors about what executives Greenblatt might bring in. Speculation once again focused on 'the usual suspects,' former Showtime SVP original programming Danielle Gelber and 20th Century Fox TV EVP Jennifer Nicholson-Salke. I hear Gelber will not be going to NBC while Nicholson-Salke, who is now under contract at 20th TV, could eventually join Greenblatt though not right away, sources said."

According to Bromstad's official NBC biography, "She began her NBC career as Director, Miniseries and Motion Pictures for Television, in May 1994, where she developed the hit miniseries 'The Beast' during the 1995-96 season."

Andreeva's report also notes that "This is the second time Bromstad leaves a top NBC post after a new chairman is brought in. In 2007, she was pushed out as president of UMS when Ben Silverman joined the network and moved to London to run NBCU's U.K. production office. She was brought back 2 years later in the aftermath of Silverman's exit."


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Google CEO Leaves Post as Company Streamlines Management

Google announced today that Eric Schmidt will leave his position as CEO, assuming the role of executive chairman, while Google co-founder Larry Page will take over as CEO. The moves are part of a streamlining effort among top management that becomes effective April 4, the company said.

“Eric Schmidt will assume the role of Executive Chairman, focusing externally on deals, partnerships, customers and broader business relationships, government outreach and technology thought leadership--all of which are increasingly important given Google's global reach,” the company said in a press release.

Schmidt will also act as an adviser to Page and to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who will shift his focus to strategic projects and new products, the company said.

In a statement, Schmidt said of the changes: "We've been talking about how best to simplify our management structure and speed up decision making for a long time. By clarifying our individual roles we'll create clearer responsibility and accountability at the top of the company. In my clear opinion, Larry is ready to lead and I'm excited about working with both him and Sergey for a long time to come."

The announcements were made along with Google’s quarterly and end-of-the-year financial results, with the company reporting revenues of $8.44 billion for the quarter ending Dec. 31--an increase of 26% over fourth quarter 2009.

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Wednesday Ratings: 'American Idol' Returns With a Bang--Albeit a Smaller Bang Than Last Year

Fox's "American Idol" returned last night with its new faces at the judging table and big numbers in the Nielsen ratings, but not as big as last season, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

The two-hour “Idol” premiere was off 18% from last year’s Tuesday premiere in the 18-49 demo, with this year’s debut averaging a 9.7 rating to last year’s 11.8. This year’s show averaged 26.1 million total viewers, down 13% from last year’s 29.9 million.

For the night as a whole, Fox came out with a huge win for its two-hour prime time, averaging a 9.7 rating in adults 18-49 to a 2.7 average for ABC, 1.9 for CBS and 1.6 for NBC. Fox’s average of 26.1 million total viewers for the night easily outpaced CBS (9.9 million), ABC (7.4 million) and NBC (5.4 million).

At 8 p.m. the first hour of "Idol" had an average rating of 9.1 in the 18-49 demographic, compared with ABC's "The Middle" and "Better With You" averaging 2.7 and 2.2, respectively, in the same demo. NBC's "Minute to Win It" averaged a 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demo for the hour, and CBS's "Live to Dance" earned a 1.0 in the same demo for the time period.

At 9 p.m. "Idol's" second hour grew to a 10.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo for the hour. ABC's "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" averaged 4.6 and 2.5, respectively, in the 18-49 demo, while CBS's "Criminal Minds" logged a mean score of 2.85 in the 18-49 demo for the time slot. NBC's "Chase" managed a 1.0 in the 18-49 demo for the hour.

The 10 p.m. hour saw a tight race that was won by NBC’s "Law & Order: SVU" with a 2.25 in the 18-49 demo, compared with ABC's "Off the Map" with a 2.1 in the same demo and a 2.0 average for CBS's "Blue Bloods" in its new time slot.

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Ricky Gervais to Make High-Profile TV Talk Show Appearance Thursday Night--Do You Think They'll Talk About the Golden Globes?

Ricky Gervais has had a busy week. After drawing sharp criticism for his Golden Globes performance Sunday, he remained in the spotlight while news broke that he will make a visit to the NBC version of his former U.K. show “The Office.”

Now he’s apparently ready to talk about it all during a one-on-one interview on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, on CNN’s suddenly hot new talk show “Piers Morgan Tonight, CNN reported on its Web site.

Given the timing, Gervais has to be considered another big “get” for Morgan, who has already had Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern on the show during its star-studded premiere week.

Gervais will be giving his first television interview since his notorious hosting stint on the Golden Globes. Will they talk about the Globes incident? Absolutely, says CNN. Gervais will tell Morgan what was planned and what happened backstage during the awards broadcast.

"Piers Morgan Tonight" airs on CNN at 9 p.m. ET.

In a preview published on CNN.com, Gervais tells Morgan: "It's not my job to worry about what people think of me, that's the job of a politician. I don't care what people think of me."

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New Syndicated Dating Show Gains Momentum

A new syndicated dating show from CBS Television Distribution has been sold to more than half the country, reports B&C.

Joe DiSalvo, CTD's president of sales, said the program, “Excused,” is “a fresh take on a dating show that will mine the comedy that traditionally comes with relationships. Stations saw this strip as an opportunity to counterprogram and give viewers an alternative to off-network sitcoms."

Fox's WWOR-TV, New York; CBS's KCAL-TV, Los Angeles; and Weigel's WCIU-TV, Chicago, have all picked up the series, as have the Sinclair, Sunbeam, Local TV, Cox, Meredith, Tribune, Post-Newsweek, New Age, Titan, Griffin and Sun station groups.

Following "Anderson" from Warner Bros. and "Jeremy Kyle" from Debmar-Mercury, "Excused" in the third first-run show to be sold for fall.

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Viewers Appear to Be Losing Their Appetite for Food Network, HGTV

It appears Food Network and sister network HGTV are losing their appeal to their core female audiences, as both networks had their first major ratings falloff at the end of 2010, writes the New York Post's Claire Atkinson.

Food Network posted a 10.3% drop in the fourth quarter among viewers 25 to 54, a key segment for advertisers, the story says. HGTV, meanwhile, saw a 6.1% drop in fourth-quarter ratings. The two channels have been Scripps Networks’ biggest money makers.

But more troubling may be prime-time ratings for women, which fell 9% last month at Food Network for women 18 to 49 and women 25 to 54, the article adds. Part of the problem may be food-related programming on other networks, such as TLC's "Cake Boss" and Bravo's "Top Chef," at a time when Food Network and HGTV need to introduce new programming, the article says.

"People have a different appetite for food programs. We know edgier cooking shows such as 'Kitchen Nightmares' are doing well," said Gary Lico, president of CableU, a cable TV research group, according to the piece.

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NBC Picks Up Supernatural Cop Drama From 'Galactica' Exec Producer

The man who resurrected "Battlestar Galactica," executive producer Ron Moore, has had his latest drama given a thumbs up by NBC, reports Deadline.com.

The show, described as a supernatural cop enemble series, is "17th Precinct." Sony Pictures TV is producing.

Set in the fictional town of Excelsior, a "Harry Potter" kind of place were magic is not uncommon, "17th Precinct" is the second pilot pickup for NBC so far this year, following “Playboy.”

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CNN and Fox News Appear to Be Pursuing the Same High-Profile Politico

Both CNN and Fox News are pursuing a prominent national political figure to appear on camera as a paid contributor, according to a report in the New York Post's Page Six.

The sought-after politico is former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

CNN declined to comment on "speculation," while a Fox News representative said the network is talking with several potential contributors, according to the report.

Steele said in an interview with conservative site FrumForum.com that he's "doin' some TV here and there.” He also noted, “There’s a presidential cycle coming up. I plan to play in that a little bit. Maybe a lot.”

Steele previously had a contract with Fox News, the Post story points out.

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ABC Going Ahead With Bruckheimer Show

ABC is ready to announce it is going ahead with a new series from Jerry Bruckheimer, Entertainment Weekly reports. The show, "Take the Money and Run," is an action-adventure reality competition, the story reports.

Bertram Van Munster, the executive producer of CBS's long-running "The Amazing Race," will oversee "Money." The program will replace the winter run of "Wipeout" and is expected to premiere Thursday, April 14, for a six-week run.

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Does 'Skins' Go Too Far With Teenagers? MTV Executives Are Concerned Show May Violate Child Pornography Statutes

"Skins," a scripted program about the exploits of misfit teens, is causing concern among MTV executives who fear that some episodes of the show may violate federal child pornography laws, reports The New York Times.

The show's producers cast actors ranging from 15 to 19 years old, with many of them having no prior acting experience, the story notes.

Acording to the article, some MTV executives "are particularly concerned about the third episode of the series, which is to be broadcast Jan. 31. In an early version, a naked 17-year-old actor is shown from behind as he runs down a street. The actor, Jesse Carere, plays Chris, a high school student whose erection--assisted by erectile dysfunction pills--is a punch line throughout the episode.The planned changes indicate that MTV, which has been pushing the envelope for decades, may be concerned that it pushed too far this time."

The article also says that "The [MTV] executives ordered the producers to make changes to tone down some of the most explicit content."

The series, based on a U.K. hit, is intended to be as edgy as the original. Says the article, " 'Skins' is an import from Britain, a country that has historically displayed a higher tolerance for TV eroticism than the United States. The episodes for MTV, including the third one, which was shared with TV critics, are virtually identical to the source material. The remade episodes, like the ones in Britain, included simulated masturbation, implied sexual assault, and teenagers disrobing and getting into bed together."

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Nude Photos of 'Jersey Shore' Cast Member Can't Be Distributed by Ex-Boyfriend, Judge Rules

A New York judge has ruled that the ex-boyfriend of a "Jersey Shore" cast member doesn't have a legal right to distribute naked photos of her, reports TMZ.com.

Jenni "Jwoww" Farley had argued that the pictures were taken by ex-boyfriend Thomas Lippolis without her permission while she was under the effects of anesthesia in February 2010, the article notes.

Lippolis argued that Jwoww had given consent, and that releasing the photos wouldn't hurt her reputation because she had earlier "expressed her desires to pose in Playboy," the story notes.

The case will move to arbitration, it adds.

Jenni Farley (left, next to the contestant who wants to be formerly known as Snooki)jenni farley.bmp

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Soap Opera Star Cast as One of New Charlie's Angels

The first new angel to be cast for the remake of "Charlie's Angels" will be playing Kate, and she's a co-star of a daytime soap opera, reports Deadline.com.

She's "General Hospital's" Maya Ward--actress Annie Ilonzeh. She has also appeared on HBO's "Entourage" and The CW's "Melrose Place." Ward will play Kate as an athletic former cop with a knowledge of martial arts, the article says.

She's described as the most serious of the three angels, the article notes. The project, from Sony Pictures TV and Drew Barrymore's Flower Films, is set in Miami.


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Palin Joke Cost Joan Rivers Her Booking on 'Fox and Friends,' Rivers Says. Fox Says Not True. Rivers Says She'll Take Lie-Detector Test to Prove Her Version of What Happened Is the Truth

Joan Rivers said a joke she made about Sarah Palin last Friday cost her a booking this morning, Jan. 20, 2011, on "Fox and Friends," according to a number of media outlets.

In the story on Yahoo's The Cutline blog, they have a statement from Fox on Wednesday denying that was the reason Rivers wasn't on the show:  " 'Due to the volume of news topics tomorrow morning and a full show, our booker mistakenly canceled Joan's appearance instead of re-scheduling her for Friday's show,' said executive producer Lauren Petterson in a statement Wednesday. 'We're in the process of booking her on an upcoming show.' "

The article says that in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, Rivers wrote, "I was cancelled from Fox for saying Palin is 'stupid and a threat'. Wait till I REALLY shock them with Aretha Franklin is a bit chubby!"

After hearing that Fox denied her version of events, the story says "Rivers told PopEater's Rob Shuter that 'she's willing to take a lie detector test to prove FOX canned her over her Palin comments.' She also used a phrase not fit for publication to express that she will not accept Fox News Channel's invitation to have her back."

The Yahoo article notes that the brouhaha, according to Rivers, started last Friday, Jan. 14, 2011: "On Friday, Rivers was at the Critics' Choice Awards in Los Angeles when a TMZ reporter asked her, 'Do you think Sarah Palin should be our president in 2012?' She responded, sarcastically: 'I think Sarah Palin is an amazing woman. I think she represents everything a strong woman should be. And she should go someplace--to another planet, and show them, and get out of our face.' Asked what she thought about 'people in Tucson' and 'big media outlets' blaming Palin for the recent shootings in Arizona, Rivers said: 'They're right to blame Sarah for the shootings. Go look at her website. ... This woman is stupid, and a threat.' "


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Two Original Scripted Series Picked Up by USA

Two original scripted series were picked up by USA Network, reports B&C.

"A Legal Mind" tracks a Manhattan corporate lawyer and a college dropout who becomes his new recruit, while "Necessary Roughness" is based on a true story and focuses on a single mom who gets a job as a therapist with a professional football team, the story notes.

Each series will debut with a 90-minute episode, followed by 11 one-hour episodes, it adds.

"A Legal Mind" is from Universal Cable Productions and is executive produced by Doug Liman and David Bartis, while "Necessary Roughness" is a co-production of Sony Pictures Television and Universal Cable productions and has been created by Liz Krueger and Craig Shapiro.

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Veteran Syndication Executive Tapped to Run Lionsgate's TV Distribution Unit

A veteran syndication executive has been named to the post of president of Lionsgate's worldwide TV distribution and digital operations.

It's Jim Packer of MGM, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog. The move comes as Lionsgate is seeking to ramp up its television activities, the article notes. Packer's role is a new one at the company, and he will report to Lionsgate President Steve Beeks.

Packer's charge will be to more aggressively sell Lionsgate programs in domestic and international markets, and he is expected to work with Lionsgate's chief of TV programming, Kevin Beggs, when selling internationally, the story notes.

The studio's shows include such Emmy-winning cable programs as "Mad Men," "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie," the article adds.

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ABC and ABC Family Lead GLAAD Media Award Comedy and Drama Series Nominations; See Full List of Nominees

GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has announced the nominees for the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards.

For Outstanding Comedy Series the nominees are "Glee," "Greek," "Modern Family," "Nurse Jackie" and "United States of Tara."

For Outstanding Drama Series the nominees are "Brothers & Sisters," "Degrassi," "Grey's Anatomy," "Pretty Little Liars" and "True Blood" 

For the Full List of GLAAD Media Award nominees, please click here.

We'd bet that if GLAAD had a category for Outstanding Acceptance Speech, the one below, given just this past Sunday by Golden Globe winner Chris Colfer about bullies, would win:

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Verizon Wireless to Give $200 Gift Cards to Customers Who Just Bought a New Phone to Lure Them to the iPhone

Verizon Wireless is hoping to convince customers who just bought a new phone over the holidays to switch to the iPhone next month by giving them a gift card worth up to $200, reports the Los Angeles Times' Technology blog.

Subscribers who bought a new phone between Nov. 26 and Jan. 10 will receive a Visa debit card with up to $200 if they swap the phone with an iPhone by Feb. 28, the story notes.

Nevertheless, customers will still have to pay the full retail price for the Apple smartphone, which can amount to as much as $750 before applying the gift card, the article adds.

But Consumer Reports is advising consumers may want to hold off until the summer, when Apple traditionally ships a new version of the iPhone.  The iPhone 4 "is a transitional phone to tide Verizon through until the summer," Consumer Reports notes.

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Upset About Helmet-to-Helmet Tackle in Toyota Ad, NFL Complains and Ad Gets Changed

The day after a Toyota ad aired on Monday Night Football that showed a helmet-to-helmet tackle, the National Football League called the automaker with a request that the part of the ad showing the tackle be changed, reports Reuters.

Toyota re-edited the ad to take out the offending image, and the ad remains on the air, the story notes.

In the commercial, as shots of football players and brain scans are shown, Wake Forest University professors talk about using Toyota technology to help understand and prevent brain injuries. The ad raises the sensitive topic of concussions in the sport, which have come under heavy scrutiny, the article notes.

"From time to time, we will address an ad that portrays our sport unfairly," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

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Oscar Nominee Cast in First Regular TV Series Gig on 'Bones' Spinoff

The "Bones" spinoff proposed by Fox has taken a step forward with its first casting--an Academy  Award-nominated actor, reports Deadline.com.

Michael Clarke Duncan, who is probably best known for his breakout Oscar-nominated performance as John Coffey in "The Green Mile," has been cast to co-star in the project, which is set to be introduced in the 19th episode of "Bones" this season, the article notes.

The spinoff is based on "The Locator" books written by Richard Greener, with Duncan tapped to play the partner of "the Locator," a former military policeman who can play anything. That part is still being cast, the article notes. The role marks the first regular TV job for Duncan, it adds.

michael duncan.bmp

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Gervais to Reprise U.K. 'Office' Role in Visit to U.S. Version of Show

Before Steve Carell’s character on “The Office,” Michael Scott, leaves the show he will have an encounter with his counterpart from the U.K. version of the show, David Brent, played by Ricky Gervais, New York Magazine reports in its Vulture blog.

“Ricky Gervais shot a top-secret cameo that will appear in the cold open of the January 27 episode of the NBC series,” Josef Adalian writes in the blog.

"It's a little more than if you blink, you'll miss it, but if you don't set your TiVo right, you'll miss it," says Paul Lieberstein, showrunner for “The Office.”

The scene was shot back in September, the story says, when Gervais was in Los Angeles for the Emmys.

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ESPN to Launch New Network

ESPN will launch a new network in September, the all-sports company has announced.

The new network--yet to be named--will be a year-round, 24-hour-a-day channel dedicated to more than 200 sporting and other events involving the University of Texas.

It is the first time ESPN has partnered with an individual college for a fully devoted channel.

Initally, at least, ESPN will focus on selling the network to Texas cable operators, an ESPN spokesperson said.

The deal ESPN made is for 20 years and was made with the University of Texas and IMG College. The network will be based in Austin, Texas.

Programming highlights, according to an ESPN release, are:

* Football: at least one exclusive game involving University of Texas each season plus encore presentations of Texas games originally on other networks (Note: For the 2011 season, ESPN will work within existing programming contracts to coordinate football game scheduling). In addition, the network will also showcase the annual practice scrimmage during the Texas Spring Football Jamboree.

*Men’s Basketball: a minimum of eight exclusive games involving University of Texas each season plus encore presentations of Texas games originally on other networks

*Women’s Basketball: exclusive games (every one available) and encore telecasts involving one of the nation’s most successful women’s programs

*Olympic Sports: exclusive games (every one available) and encore presentations of University of Texas matchups in volleyball, soccer, baseball, softball, tennis, cross country, track and field, swimming and diving, golf and rowing.

The announcement also said that "ESPN will also create and operate a new, authenticated online/broadband site that will aspire to broadly aggregate content from around the state. It will provide fans, students and parents with access to extensive Texas high school sports, including football, basketball and more, through this centralized home."

High school football is very popular iin Texas.

Asked if this deal would be the blueprint for other such ESPN channels dedicated to programming from a single college, an ESPN spokesperson said that he doubted it. "This is a pretty unique deal," he said.

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The Road to NATPE: Election of New Chairs and Board of Directors Announced

The National Association of Television Program Executives/Content First has revealed the election of new chairs and its board of directors.

The association’s newly elected 2011 co-chairs are Chris Grant, president, Shine International, and Jordan Levin, CEO, Generate.

According to the announcement, "Newly elected members of the 2011 NATPE Board are Rob Barnett, Founder and CEO, My Damn Channel; Cesar O. Diaz, Vice President of Sales, Venevision International; David Ellender, Global CEO, FremantleMedia Enterprises; Bob Friedman, President, Media and Entertainment, Radical Media; Greg Lipstone, SVP & Head of International TV and Media, ICM; John Morayniss, CEO, Entertainment One Television; Scott Sternberg, President, Scott Sternberg Productions; and Elizabeth Tumulty, Executive Vice President, Distribution, The CW Television Network."

Furthermore, the annoucement says that "Returning to the NATPE Board are Lisa Berger, EVP, Entertainment Programming, E!, Comcast Entertainment Group, Los Angeles; Paul Buccieri, CEO and President, ITV Studios, Inc., Los Angeles; Nancy Dubuc, President & General Manager, Lifetime and History, A&E Television Networks, New York; Luis Fernandez, President, Entertainment & Univision Studios, Miami; Phil Gurin, President, The Gurin Company, Los Angeles; Gary Lico, President & CEO, CABLEready Corporation, Connecticut; Neal Sabin, Executive Vice President, Weigel Broadcasting, Chicago; Hans Schiff, Agent, Creative Artists Agency, Los Angeles; Eric Schotz, CEO & President, LMNO Productions, Los Angeles; Peter Tortorici, CEO, GroupM Entertainment Worldwide, Los Angeles.

Finally, the announcement says that the 2011 Executive Commitee will include NATPE President and CEO Rick Feldman as well as "Kevin Beggs, President, Programming and Production, Lionsgate, Los Angeles, along with member representatives Stephen J. Davis, President, Hasbro Studios, Los Angeles; Emerson Coleman, Vice President, Programming, Hearst Television Inc., New York; Bruce David Klein, President & Executive Producer, Atlas Media Corporation, New York; Jim Packer, President, Worldwide TV Distribution, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, Los Angeles; Barry Wallach, President, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, New York; and Eminence Gris Lew Klein, President, NATPE Educational Foundation, Pennsylvania.

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'NCIS'-Fueled CBS Lineup Chalks Up an Easy Tuesday Night Ratings Win

Helped by a guest appearance by TV legend Bob Newhart, CBS's "NCIS" was the top-rated show Tuesday night, and the Eye Network notched a big win for the night, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

CBS finished the night with a 3.2 average rating in the 18-49 demo, topping NBC (2.6 average rating), Fox (1.7) and ABC (1.7). It wasn’t nearly that close in total viewers, where CBS averaged 16.5 million to NBC’s 7.3 million, ABC’s 5.8 million and Fox’s 4.8 million.

At 8 p.m. "NCIS" averaged a 4.05 in the 18-49 demographic, while NBC's "The Biggest Loser" had a mean score of 2.6 in the same demo and ABC's "No Ordinary Family" logged a 1.85 average in the 18-49 demo. CW's "Life Unexpected" had a season finale of 0.8 in the 18-49 demographic.

At 9 p.m. "NCIS: Los Angeles" netted a 3.3 in the 18-49 demo for the hour, ahead of hour two of "The Biggest Loser" with a 3.1 average in the same demo. ABC's "V" earned a 1.95 average in the 18-49 demo for the hour, while Fox's "Million Dollar Money Drop" had a 1.9 mean score in that demo. The last hour of "Life Unexpected" collected a 0.8 in the 18-49 demo.

The 10 p.m. hour was won by CBS's "The Good Wife" with a 2.15 average in the 18-49 demo, just a touch better than NBC's "Parenthood" with a mean score of 2.1 in the same demo. Trailing was ABC's "20/20" special with an average rating of 1.35 in the 18-49 demo for the hour.

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Strong Numbers for Day Two of CNN's 'Piers Morgan Tonight'

CNN announced that its new prime-time talk show “Piers Morgan Tonight” beat its main competition, Fox News Channel’s “Hannity,” in Nielsen Fast Nationals for Tuesday in the key 25-54 demo. The program also improved on its Monday night premiere numbers in the demo, the network said.

“Piers Morgan Tonight’s” Tuesday telecast had 1.27 million total viewers and 551,000 in the 25-54 demo, the network reported. The demo figure compares to 506,000 for “Hannity.” The numbers for “Hannity” were higher, however, in total viewers, with 2.18 million.

The competition on MSNBC, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” trailed with 1.13 million total viewers and 265,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo.

The CNN show, which featured Howard Stern as a guest, was up 6% from its Monday premiere in the 25-54 demo, the network said.

The Tuesday numbers for “Piers Morgan” represent a 224% increase over CNN’s fourth-quarter average in the 25-54 demo and a 94% improvement in total viewers, the network announced.

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Polygamist Family Featured in TLC's 'Sister Wives' Moves Out of State

Under investigation by legal authorities in Utah, the stars of TLC's reality show "Sister Wives," about the polygamist family of Kody Brown, have moved to Nevada, reports The Salt Lake Tribune.

Kody, his wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn, and their 16 children claimed that they moved out of their Lehi home looking for better job opportunities in Nevada, as opposed to the potential legal ramifications of a polygamy lifestyle.

The Browns' attorney, Jonathan Turley, confirmed the move. TLC has said it would follow the Browns’ move south and will incorporate the relocation into the show.

Utah authorities began investigating allegations of bigamy against the family in August 2010, after learning that the family would be appearing on the reality show, the story reports.

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Lineup Changes Continue for CNN, With a New Weekday Anchor Added

CNN has unveiled the latest in a series of lineup adjustments as it scrambles to try to reverse its recent ratings woes.

Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN/U.S., announced today that CNN White House reporter Suzanne Malveaux will leave that beat to anchor "CNN Newsroom."

“Suzanne is a welcome addition to the CNN Newsroom lineup, adding a depth of experience as well as fresh perspective to our daytime coverage,” Jautz said in a statement. “We are very pleased to expand Suzanne’s role so that we can showcase her political expertise as well as her broader strengths as a journalist.”

Malveaux will begin "CNN Newsroom" anchor duties Jan. 31. The show will air live from Atlanta each weekday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET. Also included in the broadcast will be Kyra Phillips, Ali Velshi and Brooke Baldwin.

Malveaux said of her new role, “I’m looking forward to this new chapter, bringing news and stories that impact viewers in and outside the Beltway.”

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TV and Movie Actress is Harvard's Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year

An acclaimed television and movie actress who is in the running for an Oscar nomination has been selected by Harvard University as its Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year, USA Today reports.

Julianne Moore, a likely Academy Award nominee for the indie hit "The Kids Are All Right," already has four other Oscar nominations, including two in 2003--for her lead role in “Far From Heaven” and for a supporting role in “The Hours.” She is also seen in a recurring guest role on NBC's "30 Rock" as Alec Baldwin's Boston lover, Nancy, and she won a Daytime Emmy in 1988 as outstanding ingenue in the CBS soap “As the World Turns.”

As per the Hasty Pudding tradition, Moore will lead a parade through the streets of Cambridge, Mass., and then be presented with her Pudding Pot on Jan. 27.

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Top Daytime Executive Leaving CBS

The head of daytime programming for CBS will leave the network when her contract expires at the end of the month, reports TV Guide.

Senior Vice President Barbara Bloom has been with CBS in her present job since 2003 after working in ABC Daytime. Under her leadership, CBS canceled two decades-long soap operas, "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns." The network also won back-to-back Emmys for outstanding drama series with "The Bold and the Beautiful" in 2009 and 2010.

Bloom also oversaw Drew Carey’s taking over "The Price Is Right," the return of "Let's Make A Deal" with Wayne Brady, and the new chat fest "The Talk."

In a statement, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said, "Barbara artfully led CBS through several key transitions in her eight years here. All of these efforts have positioned CBS very well for the future. Daytime is successful, profitable, refreshed creatively and has more variety of programming for our audience. We wish Barbara tremendous success wherever her talents take her."

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Looks Like Somebody Really Pissed Off Somebody Else: Major Marketer Moves Its $700 Million Media Account Without a Review

A major marketer has unexpecttedly moved its $700 million media account to a new media agency, Advertising Age reports.

The marketer, Home Depot, moved the account from Initiative Media to Carat, the report says, adding, "The sudden move, which some attributed to a growing rift between marketer and agency in recent months, comes as a blow to Initiative, though the search marketing and newspaper portions of the account will remain in the Interpublic/Mediabrands fold at Reprise Media and NSA Media, respectively."

Home Depot last reveiwed the account about a year and a half ago, and Initiative retained the account at that time. Carat had taken part in that review. 

The story notes that Home Depot has been with an Interpublic media shop for almost 18 years.

The article also explains that "For Carat, this is the second massive account it has added to its roster in less than a month. In late December the agency retained the $1.2 billion Pfizer account after a competitive review. That win capped a huge year for the agency, which brought in Red Bull's $54 million U.S. media planning and buying assignment, Diageo's $130 million U.S. media account and the U.S. assignment for Relativity Media, producer of movies "The Social Network" and "Catfish." The shop also picked up the $100 million Beiresdorf planning and buying account and the $85 million Smucker's account earlier in the year."

To read the entire Ad Age story, please click here.

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After 32 Years in the Nation's 23rd Largest Market, Popular Local News Anchor Is Retiring

After 32 years in the nation's 23rd largest market, a popular local TV news anchorwoman is retiring.

Patrice King Brown, 56, will retire on Jan. 28, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Brown joined KDKA in 1978 as a co-host of an afternoon lifestyle show called "Pittsburgh 2Day."

Later she became an Eyewitness News Team member, and was among the first African-American women in the U.S. to anchor both the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. slots, the story notes.

Brown and her long-time co-anchor Stacy Smith earned an Emmy award in 1994 for their coverage of the crash of USAirways Flight 427, the article notes.

The newscasts Brown anchors are No. 1 in the market, the article says.


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Ya Gotta Love This: Publisher Resurrecting Magazine Title That Died 50 Years Ago, Says He's Targeting the 55- to 90-Year-Old Demo

For those of you who complain that advertisers need to target Baby Boomers--who many claim have the wealth--and not young people, here's a story for you.

John T. Elduff, the managing director of JTE Multimedia, a Philadelphia-based magazine company, has purchased the rights to Colliers, a classic magazine title that, after publishing for 70 years, went bust in 1957, according to AOL's Daily Finance.

Says the article, "The key to Elduff's strategy lies in the name recognition that Collier's still enjoys among older readers. His reboot, which will contain a familiar (to those readers) mix of investigative journalism and short fiction, is aimed at the 55- to 90-year-old demographic, a group with some fond memories of the original magazine and a strong investment in print culture."

A number of anthology TV dramas from the golden age of TV in the 1950s, as well as a number of movies in the '30s, '40s and '50s were based on the short fiction in Collier's.

The article also spoke to Samir Husni, who is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. The story says that Husni "notes that Collier's hit the height of its popularity in the early 1940s, which means the readers who remember it most fondly would now be at least in their 80s. While he agrees that this audience would be very open to prescription advertising, he also notes that Elduff's target readers would now be 'years older than the average American lifespan.' "

Furthermore, according to the article, Husni points out that "magazine rehabilitations rarely succeed. In fact, despite attempts to bring Look, Life, and The Saturday Evening Post back from the dead, the only resurrected magazine to really regain its former strength was Vanity Fair, which, he notes, was 'launched as a brand new magazine.' "

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World's Most Famous Virgin Makes First-Look Deal With E! Entertainment Television

The world's most famous Virgin has made a first-look deal with E! Entertainment Television.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group has a new production division called Virgin Produced, and it is that entity that has "forged a multiyear first-look development deal in which E! will have exclusive rights to all Virgin Produced reality series development, it was announced today by Lisa Berger, EVP, Entertainment Programming for E!. Virgin Produced is led by Branson appointed CEO Jason Felts and Chief Creative Officer Justin Berfield."

The announcement was put out jointly by E! and Virgin Produced.

In the written announcement E's Berger said, "“Having developed series with Jason and Justin at their former company J2TV, I’m truly excited about the new project ideas their team at Virgin is developing and think both brands are truly symbiotic.” 

J2TV produced the 2005 reality series "Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive for E in 2005.

If Berfield's name sounds familiar, it should. He's also an actor who is probalby best known to TV audience for playing Malcolm's brother Reese on "Malcolm in the Middle."

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Introducing the Winners Who Are The New Trainers on 'Biggest Loser'

"The Biggest Loser" revealed its two new trainers on Tuesday evening, a celebrity trainer with martial arts expertise and a female professional boxer, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

Brett Hoebel, the celebrity trainer, tells the publication that he battled weight problems as a child, noting that "I was not born with a six-pack. I was 50 lbs. overweight." He added, "I’m just saying there’s something about having gone through that and being ostracized for that that you just can’t replicate," noting that he overcame his weight problems through diet, training and changing his attitude.

The other trainer, Cara Castronuova, who has won two Golden Gloves championships, said hat she comes from "a very obese family that struggled with their weight and through a lot of obesity-related diseases." Her father, who was obese, died when she was 14, she notes. "I knew in my heart that if he had lost weight, he probably wouldn’t be dead," she said, according to the piece.

Both new trainers said that their biggest challenge is Rulon Gardner, the Olympic gold medalist, whom Castronuova describes as "en enigma and a puzzle to me because he's so guarded."

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Ricky Gervais Says He'll Refuse To Host Golden Globes Again. Hmm. Tweet to Ricky: Er, We Don't Think You'll Be Invited Back

Ricky Gervais, who has come under criticism for his sometimes mean-spirited jokes during Sunday's Golden Globe awards, said he won't be doing the show again, reports the Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

"I'm not doing it again," Gervais said, according to the piece. "I think twice is enough."

This may be news to Gervais, but it's doubrtful that he'd be asked back anyway.

Phil Berk, the president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association--the organizaation that runs the Golden Globes--would only say that Gervais had "crossed the line" with his jokes, the story says.

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Take Me To the Pilot for Control: 'Heroes' Creator Tim Kring Gets Pilot Order from Fox for Another Supernatural Project

Tim Kring, the creator of "Heroes," has received a pilot order for "Touch," another project with a supernatural bent, reports Deadline.com.

"Touch" focuses on a dad who finds out that his mute, autistic son can predict events, the story notes.

Kring wrote the project on spec and it marks his first pilot script since "Heroes," it adds.

The project was developed internally at Chernin Entertainment with Katherine Pope, its head of television, who has a close relationship with Kring after working with him on "Heroes" at NBC and UMS, the story says.

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Report: Weinstein Co. To Create TV Division

Weinstein Co. is planning to re-enter television, with Harvey and Bob Weinstein talking with producer Meryl Poster to run the new Weinstein Co. television arm, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com

Poster previously worked with the Weinsteins at Miramax Films, leaving in 2005 as the brothers were about to start Weinstein Co., the story notes. She's been under a first-look deal at NBC Universal for film and TV, it notes. Miramax TV, under the Weinsteins, has produced such shows as "Project Runway" and the drama "Glory Days."

Poster's deal with NBC Universal comes up on Feb. 1, and talks have intensified between herself and the Weinsteins, the story notes.

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Big Ratings Jump for CNN With Piers Morgan Debut. Will It Last?

The debut of CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" drew 2.1 million viewers on Monday evening, more than triple the network's average audience from the end of 2010, when "Larry King Live" drew to a close, reports the New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

During the fourth quarter of 2010, "Larry King Live" averaged 657,000 viewers in the same time slot, generally placing CNN third among cable news channels, the story notes. With Morgan's strong debut, CNN placed second, behind Sean Hannity on Fox News, who interviewed Sarah Palin that evening and averaged 2.36 million viewers, according to the piece. MSNBC dropped to third place, with Rachel Maddow, who interviewed Michael Moore, averaging 1.11 million viewers.

The piece points out that Morgan's debut had been heavily promoted by CNN and his first guest was Oprah Winfrey, a guaranteed draw. "Of course, the true test for Mr. Morgan will come not on night one or night two, but weeks and months from now," the article notes.

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Will Prince William and Kate Middleton's Wedding Be First Royal Nuptials Shown in 3D?

 Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding may mark the first time viewers get to watch a royal marriage in 3D, Bloomberg reports.

British Sky Broadcasting Group is negotiating with royal officials to show the event on television, with talks including shooting the wedding in 3D and transmitting it to movie theaters, the story notes.

It's not clear if broadcasters will have to pay to show the wedding, the story adds, noting that Prince Charles and Diana's marriage in 1981 drew a global TV audience of 750 million, making it what the BBC says was the most popular program ever broadcast.

The article notes that test shots have been taken inside the church and a broadcast rights announcement may be announced in a few weeks. 

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Here Come the Terms: Comcast Says the Conditions Imposed By the FCC On the NBC Deal Are Not 'Particularly Restrictive'

The conditions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission on Comcast for getting the go-ahead on its NBC Universal deal are not considered by Comcast to be particularly restrictive, reports The New York Times.

Says the article, " 'I don’t think any of the conditions are particularly restrictive,' said David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, in a conference call on Tuesday afternoon. He noted that the company was not forced to sell any assets. It did agree, however, to give up NBC’s management role in Hulu, the premier online TV Web site, while retaining a financial stake."

The article also noted that "[I]n some cases, under rules enforced by the F.C.C. and the Justice Department, Comcast may be required to distribute certain programming on the Internet — if one of its rivals does so first. For example, if Apple were to reach a deal with Viacom to distribute MTV’s reality shows, Comcast could be required to offer comparable shows to Apple under similar terms. In addition, in certain cases, Comcast would be required to offer Apple the same terms for its entire suite of NBC channels that it gives to cable companies. This, however, is largely theoretical for now and would probably be prohibitively expensive. Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG, estimated that if Netflix were to offer all of NBC Universal’s programming, it would cost it nearly $1 billion a year."

Additionally, afer lobbying hard for almost a year, Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg Television, has apparently been given a nod in the conditions, reports the New York Times' Media Decoder blog seprately.

Embedded in the conditions is a requirement from the FCC that says, "if Comcast neighborhoods its news (including business news) channels, it must include all unaffiliated news (or business news) channels in that neighborhood," the story notes. Because Comcast will gain control of CNBC, a competitor to Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg had lobbied for such a condition that would ensure Comcast couldn't exclude Bloomberg TV from a news channel cluster on the channel dial, the piece notes.  

"In today’s order, the F.C.C. has taken strong action to preserve independent news programming, and protect competitors against discrimination,” Bloomberg LP President Dan Doctoroff said in a statement.

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TiVo Launches Premiere App for iPad

TiVo has launched a premiere app for Apple's iPad, Interactive TV Today (ITVT) reports.

According to the story, TiVo says key features of the app are:

“The ability to browse recorded shows and launch a video on the TiVo Premiere ‘with the flick of a finger.’;
The ability to browse a full-screen program guide without interrupting video playback;
The ability to share via Facebook and Twitter what one is currently watching and one's observations about a show;
The ability to schedule one-time and Season Pass recordings ‘with a few flicks of the finger.’;
The ability to manage Season Pass recordings and the To-Do list from the sofa or remotely;
The ability to schedule, delete and reprioritize recordings;
The ability to search for TV programs, movies, actors or directors across both broadcast and broadband (e.g. Netflix and Amazon Video On Demand), and to see integrated results; and
The ability to explore information on cast and crew, or to access programming recommendations without interrupting the viewing experience.”

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FCC Approves Comcast-NBC Deal; Strings Attached

The Federal Communications Commission has approved Comcast's merger with NBC Universal, according to a number of media reports. The FCC voted 4-1 for approval, the reports say.

According to the report in B&C, John Eggerton writes, "The deal, which FCC officials have stressed was a joint venture rather than a merger, combines the nation's largest cable operator with a studio library and cable channel content. It creates a company majority owned by Comcast (51%) that pools all of NBCU's media content with most of Comcast's, with Comcast retaining full control of its cable and Internet assets. Comcast has the option of buying out NBCU parent GE's 49% interest in the joint venture over the next three to seven years."

Regarding some of the conditions that came with the approval, Eggerton adds, "An FCC source says Comcast also late Monday filed in the merger review docket officially agreeing to commit to the network neutrality conditions voluntarily even if the FCC's network neutrality rules approved Dec. 21, are eventually thrown out by the courts.It was being described as an enforceable voluntary commitment, rather than a condition, which might be an effort to appease commission Republicans."

Regarding any other strings that come with the deal, Eggerton writes, "The deal comes with plenty of those conditions, including on access to broadcast, cable, and online content, and network neutrality conditions." However Eggerton did not detail any of those conditions.

The Washington Post, in its account, wrote, "Conditions for the merger are expected to be announced later today. The stipulations include Comcast's promise to share content at fair prices with competitors, to allow small cable providers to see arbitration in program access disagreement, and allow other networks to get similar treatment as NBC shows so as not to give preference to some content over others."

The lone dissenting voice on the FCC was Commissioner Michael Copps.

According to the Post, Copps "said the concentration of media under Comcast's control would put too much power into one company that controls the access consumers have to entertainment and news. He said in the end that the venture would have too many potential conflicts.The deal 'reaches into virtually every corner of our media and digital landscapes and will affect every citizen in the land,' Copps said in a statement. 'All the majority’s efforts—diligent though they were—to ameliorate these harms cannot mask the truth that this Comcast-NBCU joint venture grievously fails the public interest.' "

The various articles said that the Justice department was expected to approve the deal as well.

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Rock Producer Called 'The Man With The Golden Ear,' Who Had Influence On Stars and Groups from Carole King to The Monkees to Kansas, Dies at 76

The rock producer, concert promoter and television star who was once called by Time magazine the "Man With the Golden Ear"  has died in Florida at the age of 76, the AP reported.

It's Don Krishner. He died in Boca Raton, Fla., where he had been hospitalized for an infection.

In 1972 he created and hosted the late-night concert show "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert," which rising stars including Billy Joel and The Police used as a launching pad.

Time magazine called him the "Man With the Golden Ear" for his ability to pair performers with hit songs. Working first out of the famed Brill Building in New York, he was known for jump-starting careers in music.

Among the stars he helped launch were Carole King, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, The Monkees, the Archies adn Kansas.


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Video: New Series Sets Ratings Record For a Debut on MTV

MTV's latest series, which the network promoted widely, drew the most P12-34 viewers for a show launch in the network’s history, MTV said, citing Nielsen data.

The show is  the scripted teend draama series "Skins," based on the controversial U.K. hit show. The U.S. version of the show kicked off on MTV at 10 p.m. on Monday, January 17, 2011.

In the 12-34 demo the show drew 2.7 million viewers, which translates to a 3.4 rating. In total viewers the show drew 3.2 million.

According to the MTV press release, "Online, the premiere of “Skins” was Twitter’s #2 worldwide trending topic and #3 in the U.S. (#mtvskins). The series attracted over 50,000 Facebook fans prior to the series premiere on-air, growing by 230% in the week leading up to its debut."

In addition, the release noted that " 'Skins'  bowed to a higher P12-34 rating than the launches of competitive scripted shows across both cable and network television, including ABC Family’s 'Pretty Little Liars' (2.2 rating – 6/8/10) and 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager' (2.3 rating – 07/01/08), as well as CW’s 'Gossip Girl' (2.3 rating --- 09/17/07), '90210' (2.7 rating – 9/2/08) and 'Vampire Diaries' (2.4 rating – 09/1/09).

Here's a trailer that will give you a better idea about what the edgy "Skins" is all about:

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New Version of 'Charlie's Angels' Gets a New Charlie

Taking over John Forsythe's role as the voice of Charlie in ABC’s reboot of "Charlie's Angels" will be a veteran screen star and TV actor, reports Screenrant.com.

ABC has greenlighted the new incarnation of "Charlie's Angels," resetting the show in Miami, and Robert Wagner will be the man who hires the Angels for the Charles Townsend Agency as detectives.

In keeping up with the times, Charlie's communication is anticipated to include smartphones, Skype and tweets.

Wagner, who was nominated for an Emmy back in 1970 for his lead role in “It Takes a Thief” and starred opposite Stefanie Powers in “Hart to Hart” in the early 1980s, is now 80 years old. His career is still going strong, and he appeared in late 2010 as Michael Weatherly's father on CBS's "NCIS."

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'How I Met Your Mother' About to Finally Reveal Barney's Dad--and He's a Five-Time Emmy Winner

A five-time Emmy winner is poised to take on the role of Barney’s mysterious father on CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother,” TV Guide reports. Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris, has never known his dad and for a time thought Bob Barker was his father.

Although the deal is not finalized, the role will reportedly go to John Lithgow, who is no stranger to comedy, having starred in NBC's "3rd Rock from the Sun."

After this week’s show, in which Barney’s friend Marshall (Jason Segel) had to attend his father's funeral, Barney called his mother to ask her to tell him who his real dad is so he could meet him.

Lithgow won three Emmys for his lead role in “3rd Rock,” along with a 1986 Emmy for “Amazing Stories” and his most recent, a 2010 award for a guest spot on the Showtime drama “Dexter.” He also has two Oscar nominations under his belt, for supporting roles in “The World According to Garp” and “Terms of Endearment.”

Lithgow's episode is expected to air this spring.

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Showtime Greenlights Series Focused on World Series Champion Giants

In the tradition of HBO's "Hard Knocks" sports documentary series, which put the NFL’s New York Jets in the national spotlight last fall, Showtime is producing a Major League Baseball version all about the World Series champion San Francisco Giants, reports SportsNewser.com.

Showtime Networks, Major League Baseball Productions and the the San Francisco Giants are collaborating on the series. Like "Hard Knocks," the unnamed baseball show will focus on the Giants for nearly a year, commencing at home during the off-season, through spring training in Scottsdale, Ariz., and into the regular season.

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Sheen Family Members Collaborating on Memoir

Two members of the Sheen-Estevez acting family are putting their heads together to write a memoir, The Huffington Post reports. They’re actors Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez--the father and brother of "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen.

The joint project is called "Along the Way" and will be published by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, with a target date of Father's Day 2012.

Martin Sheen starred in NBC's "The West Wing" as President Jed Bartlet, and has had featured roles in many movies including "The Departed," "Apocalypse Now" and "Wall Street." He won an Emmy in 1994 for a guest appearance on “Murphy Brown” and was nominated six times from 2000 to 2006 for Emmys for lead actor for “The West Wing” but never won.

Estevez has branched out from acting after roles in movies such as "The Breakfast Club" and “Young Guns,” and now focuses more on directing. Both Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez have appeared on Charlie Sheen's TV show.

According to Free Press, the memoir will explore "the inner and outer stages of the journey of a father and son."

Will it provide juicy details on the exploits of the most notoriously wild family member, Charlie Sheen? The publisher isn’t commenting yet on that.

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Former NBC Network President Takes Key Post With Univision

A  former NBC network president will become the vice president and chief operating officer of Univision,  B&C reports.

The job goes to Randy Falco, who will work out of New York.

Says the report: "Ray Rodriguez had been Univision president and COO. He retired at the end of 2009, but his had been more of a programming and operations role as COO, while Falco will focus on revenue generation, according to a source."

Falco will work under Univision President and CEO Joe Uva.

Falco was with NBC for 30 years, including turns as network president from 1998-2004 and president of broadcast and network operations from 1993-1998. More recently Falco was chairman of AOL.

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Details of Why History Channel Refused to Televise 'Kennedys' Miniseries

While the History Channel's decision to pass on "The Kennedys" may have seemed sudden, the move actually came after a year-long effort on the cable network's part to make the miniseries fit with the facts, writes Dave Itzkoff in The New York Times.

After historians criticized early drafts of the script last February, the channel asked two historians, Steven M. Gillon and Robert Dallek, to help improve its accuracy, the story notes. Both have written books about John F. Kennedy and Dallek is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, the article adds.

The pair reviewed screenplays for "The Kennedys" during the winter and spring, and were concerned about scenes that weren't backed by facts, including portrayals of the Kennedys' sexual habits, according to the report. Some of the historians' suggestions were taken, and the project moved forward. But the article notes that when Dallek and Gillon saw edited episodes in late 2010, they were surprised that the miniseries still had questionable scenes.

The article notes that one scene portrayed Jackie Kennedy as telling President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis that she couldn’t tolerate his behavior and was leaving the White House with their children, something that most likely never happened.

When the History board convened at the end of 2010, its members felt that the problems were enough that the channel should opt out of airing the program, the story says.

Michael Prupas, president and chief executive of Muse Entertainment, the miniseries' producer, has said that the program is "based on the truth" and a "very positive" portrayal of the Kennedys.

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Bombshell: Regis Retiring

Regis Philbin, TV's ageless wonder, announced on "Live With Regis and Kelly" this morning that he's retiring from the show sometime around the end of summer, ABC News reports

According to the article, Philbin, 79, said on the show this morning, "This will be my last year on this show. It was the biggest thrill of my life. There is a time that everything must come to an end for certain people on camera, especially certain old people."

The article added, "Philbin said he would be stepping down from the show around the end of the summer, but didn't specify a departure date. Though he's departing, the 'Live' franchise will continue: The Disney-ABC Television Group plans to name a new personality to join Kelly Ripa, who has co-hosted the show for nearly ten years."

Philbin, a former TVWeek Syndication Personality of the Year, has been on TV since the 1960s, picking up multiple Emmys along the way.

Says the ABC News story, "Philbin set a Guinness World Record for most hours on camera with his Aug. 20, 2004 "Live" show, which gave him a total of 15,188 hours on television. In 2006, his record was updated to 15,662 hours."

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Odd: Piers Morgan Has Just Started as Larry King's Replacement at CNN, and He's Already Got a List of People He REFUSES to Interview

Piers Morgan has just one night under his belt at CNN yet he's already compiled a list of people he WON'T interview, Morgan has reportedly told EW.com.

Heading the list is Madonna. According to the story, Morgan "quipped that he will lift the ban only if she makes a 'formal apology' for 'all the grief she’s caused me by being Madonna.' "

Howie Mandel, who is a co-host with Morgan on "America's Got Talent," is "banned for the moment," Morgan said, according to the piece. "He’s just too irritating. He winds me up every day on 'America’s Got Talent,' " Morgan noted. The other banned television host is Keith Olbermann. Why? "Just because it would really annoy him. I think he’s a great broadcaster, but I know he gets wound up very easily. It’s not a lifetime ban, it’s a temporary ban, designed to confuse and bemuse him, and hopefully engender a violent reaction," Morgan said, the story notes.

The other banned celebrities include Heather Mills, whom Morgan says he introduced to Paul McCartney, inadvertently pushing "one of the world’s great gold diggers in the direction of one of my heroes."

The final banned person is Cherie Blair, the wife of former U.K. prime minister Tony Blair. She is banned  because, Morgan told EW, " every single meeting I had with [her] ended in disaster." 

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More Medical Speculation About What Steve Jobs May Be Facing

With Apple CEO Steve Jobs not being specific about why he's taking another leave of absence for medical reasons, "many experts say it's likely that his leave is related to his ongoing treatment for pancreatic cancer," ABC News is reporting.

What is known about Jobs is that he's had surgery for pancreatic cancer in the past, and that he's had a liver transplant.

Says the ABC News story, "Experts say the length of his survival is mainly because he had a slow-growing, rare cancer called a pancreatic neuroendocrine islet cell tumor. While experts say neuroendocrine cancers are known to spread to the liver, Jobs remained private about his condition and the reason behind his transplant."

The story goes on to say, "Neuroendocrine tumors are slow-growing, but frequently metastasize to the liver. Researchers say that appears to be what happened to Jobs, who underwent a liver transplant at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., in April 2009."

The article quotes one doctor who treats patients with pancreatic cancer as saying that even after a liver transplant "the likelihood of recurrence 'is still really high.' "

The ABC News article adds, "Still, it is not clear why Jobs is taking this leave, his third since 2004. Aside from tumor recurrence, he could also be dealing with organ rejection or a possible hormone imbalance if the tumor is active." 


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14 -Year-Old Invents Game That Unseats 'Angry Birds' as No. 1 Game App on iTunes

A free game--"Bubble Ball"--invented by 14-year-old Robert Nay, "has been downloaded more than 2 million times. Last week, it nabbed the #1 spot on the list of free games in Apple's iTunes store, knocking the ever-popular "Angry Birds" game to #2," reports ABC News. 

According to the article, "For more than a month, Robert spent a couple of hours each day on the game, ultimately writing more than 4,000 lines of computer code, his mother [Kari] said. Kari Nay said she helped him design some of the puzzles in the game, but he came up with the concept and did everything else on his own."

The story contines, "According to its App store description 'Bubble Ball' is a 'fun, new physics puzzle game, where you will test your ingenuity and thinking skills to get the bubble to the goal.'


Robert Nay and his mom, Kari

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Dan Filie, Who Helped Create Syndicated Hits "Xena" and "Hercules," Dies at 56

Dan Filie, who as senior vice president drama development at Universal Television helped create the syndicated hits "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules," has died, reports the Hollywood Reporter.  He was 56.

Filie died, unexpectedly but  of natural causes at his home in Studio City on Jan. 13, the story notes.

Filie had worked as director of current drama at NBC and more recently co-wrote the "Old Wounds" episode of Stars' hit series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," the article says.

He also wrote and produced the screenplay for the 2009 feature film "Frankenhood," a horror-comedy spoof, it notes.

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Wow, That Was Fast: More DVDs Rented Now From Kiosks than Video Stores

Marking a shift in consumer behavior, more DVDs are now being rented from kiosks as from video stores, reports the New York Post, citing a report from NPD Group.

Kiosks, dominated by Coinstar's Redbox outlets, gained 10% in market share during the third quarter compared with a year earlier, the report found.

Meanwhile, video stores, with many owned by Blockbuster, witnessed a 13% drop in market share to 27%, the story notes.

Partly the shift in market share has been caused by the proliferation of the kiosks, while Blockbuster, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, has been closing hundreds of stores, the article adds.

Subscription DVD services, dominated by Netflix, represent the largest market share, gaining 2 percentage points to 41%, the story says.

NPD Group doesn't track cable video-on-demand or Netflix's streaming service, according to the piece. It adds that in Jan. 2008, kiosks had a 5% market share, while Blockbuster had a 35% share.

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This Non-TV Story Is Wild: The Role JeansGenes Have in Picking Our Friends

"Your friends aren't just people you enjoy: You tend to befriend others with similar or complementary genes, a new study suggests. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego found that gene clusters were comparable among friends, even after accounting for the predisposition to befriend others in the same geographic area."

So says a story making its rounds on the Internet. The version we're quoting is from Bloomberg's BusinessWeek.

The article continues, "Mapping specific genetic markers within each individual's social network, the researchers learned that individuals tend to forge friendships with those who share two of six tested markers.

"For example, those who carried the so-called DRD2 marker, which is associated with alcoholism, were apt to befriend other DRD2-positive friends, while those without the gene formed alliances with other DRD2-negative peers. Fowler said this situation exemplifies homophily, a sociological term that means "love of like" and illustrates the adage 'birds of a feather flock together.' "

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Report: TV Show Based on Hit Mobile Game 'Angry Birds' Coming to Screen Near You

An animated series based on the popular mobile game "Angry Birds" will soon be coming to television or the Web, reports the New York Post, citing an article in the British technology site C21media.net, which is only available to subscribers.

Rovio, the Finnish company that created the game, is producing the show, with Rovio Chief Executive Mikael Hed saying that "one of my personal big focus areas right now [is] to work on broadcast content for 'Angry Birds'."

The application has been downloaded over 50 million times, attracting consumers with a game that features angry birds flinging themselves via a slingshot at green pigs who have stolen their eggs.

Hed didn't say who he's had discussions with or if "Angry Birds" will be on TV, the Internet or both mediums, the article notes.

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Ted Turner's Son To Host Weekly Cable Show. No, It's Not on TBS; and Yes, He'll Have His Famous Father On as a Guest

If Ted Turner's son Beau knows one thing, it's not something he's sharing with the Turner Broadcasting System.

Instead, "Beau Knows Outdoors" is set on the weekly schedule come July on the Sportsman Channel, Mutichannel News reports.

The show will feature land conservation and management issues as well as hunting and fishing, creating what the article says is a "new type of outdoors program." It marks Beau Turner's first television series, it adds.

"Beau Knows" will feature a segment in each episode in which he'll discuss issues such as endangered species conservation, the story says. Ted Turner will be featured in one of the episodes midway through the series, which initially will have eight half-hours, with the possibility to add four or five more episodes to the debut season.

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Largely Unknown Aussie Actor to Take on Starring Role in Starz' 'Spartacus'

Liam McIntyre, an Australian actor largely unknown to U.S. audiences, will take over the starring role in the popular Starz series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog.

McIntyre will be taking over the role from Andy Whitfield, who has left the show as he battles non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the story notes.

"It was important to us to have Andy endorse the idea of recasting this part, which he did in the same heroic manner that he’s dealt with his whole ordeal. And that, coupled with our fortune in finding a young actor with the gladiator credentials and the acting ability of Liam, makes it easier for us to keep this hit franchise going," said Starz president Chris Albrecht, according to the story.

Production will start in the spring, and McIntyre, who had a role in HBO's "The Pacific," is currently getting into gladiator shape in New Zealand, the article notes. The series earned the highest ratings of any Starz original series, it adds.

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E! Sees Black From Golden Red

E! scored its best performance in the past four years of covering all the activities on the red carpet at the Golden Globes, according to Nielsen data.

According to a release put out by E!, "E! averaged over 1.6M total viewers for its Live From the Red Carpet: Golden Globes 2011 coverage from 6PM-8PM. It was the best performance in four years with Household ratings and up +5% from 2010 with a 1.36 HHLD."

Interestlngly, one of E!'s biggest competitors for Globe red carpet coverage is NBC, which is expected to become a sibling network as soon as the Comcast-NBC deal comes through. E! is owned by Comcast.

For the first half-hour of its red carpet coverage, NBC did a 1.7 rating and a 5 share with 18 to 40 year olds. It drew 7.4 million live + same day viewers.

For the second half-our of its red carpet coverage, NBC pulled a 2.3 rating with a 6 share in the 18 to 49 year old demo. And viewership (live + same day) jumped to just under 9 million. 

Going back to E!'s coverage, the announcement also said that: "The time period more than tripled from the prior four week average with households and the 2 hour arrival show hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic built +58% during its own performance."

E!'s online site also racked up good numbers during the Globes, and ended up with "the highest ever page view tally for the day of a red carpet event, beating out the Academy Awards 2010 by +9%," the announcement said.

What will be of interest next year is how NBC and E! will coordinate their Globe coverage--if at all--since they'll both be under the same ownership.


The release went on to say that  The time period more than tripled from the prior four week average with households and the 2 hour arrival show hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic built +58% during its own performance.

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Just Where Did Ricky Gervais Go Wrong?

Much of the talk after Sunday's Golden Globes telecast was not about the awards themselves but about the performance of host Ricky Gervais. He has drawn sharp criticism for his stinging jokes, which some are describing as vicious and inappropriate attacks on the entertainment industry's most vulnerable targets.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin takes an insightful look at just what the fuss is about, and pinpoints where Gervais may have in fact gone wrong. Read her take on the Golden Globes here.

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Facebook Eases Access by App Developers to Users' Contact Info

Facebook has quietly implemented changes that make it easier for developers of applications to gain access to user addresses and mobile phone numbers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The changes are likely to reinvigorate long-running criticism of the social media site over privacy issues, even though the new policy lets users sign off on whether to allow access, using the standard permissions dialog box.

Under the policy, address and phone information listed in users’ profiles will be given to developers who request the info using the “request for permission” procedure that is part of the process a user goes through to add an app.

“Users have the ability to not share their numbers and addresses with an app, as long as they choose ‘don't allow’ when an app dialog box pops up. But usually, if a user doesn't allow an app access to his or her information, he or she won't be able to use the app,” the Times reports.

The dialog box looks similar to the basic permissions dialog box that has been used in the past. “The difference is simply that a couple lines of text have been added: ‘Access my contact information’ and ‘Current address and mobile phone number’ below it,” the story says.

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Two Cable Nets Merge, Sparked by Arrival of Oprah's New Network

The debut of Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network on Jan. 1 marked the end of the road for Discovery Health, with OWN taking over its slot. But now word has surfaced that Discovery Health has new life, according to Deadline.com.

Beginning Feb. 1, FitTV will become Discovery Fit & Health, representing a joint effort by the two networks, the article reports.

Shows from both nets, including the trademark morning workout shows "Bodies in Motion" and "Namaste Yoga" from FitTV, along with "Dr. G: Medical Examiner," "Untold Stories of the ER" and the rest of the core lineup from Discovery Health, will fill out the network's new schedule.

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Overrun From Big NFL Playoff Game Pushes CBS to Prime-Time Win, Even as Golden Globes Pump Up NBC's Ratings

CBS got help from its huge afternoon NFL showdown between the New York Jets and New England Patriots, which ran over into prime time and gave the Eye Network an outright win Sunday Night even though NBC scored well with its Golden Globes broadcast, TVbytheNumbers.com reported.

In overnight numbers that are expected to change more than usual due to the live programming, CBS wound up with an easy win in both total viewers and adults 18-49. The network finished with a 5.8 average rating for the night in 18-49, well ahead of NBC’s 3.8, Fox’s 2.5 and ABC’s 2.1. The margin was even greater in total viewers, where CBS averaged 20.4 million for the night to 12.8 million for NBC, 7.8 million for ABC and 5.1 million for Fox.

At 7 p.m. the NFL game on CBS averaged a 13.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic for the hour. NBC's red carpet coverage at the Golden Globes had a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo for the time period. At 7:30, Fox's "American Dad" earned a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo.

At 8 p.m. CBS's "60 Minutes" had a mean score of 4.05 in the 18-49 demo for the hour, while the first hour of the Golden Globes broadcast collected a 4.3 average in the 18-49 demo. Fox's "The Simpsons" and "Bob's Burgers" earned a 3.1 rating and a 2.6, respectively, in the same demo for the hour. ABC's "Extreme Makeover" collected a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo.

The Golden Globes dominated at 9 p.m. with a 4.6 in the 18-49 demo, compared with CBS's "Undercover Boss" getting a 3.25 in the same demo for the hour. ABC's "Desperate Housewives" managed a 3.05 in the 18-49 demographic, while Fox's "Family Guy" and "Cleveland Show" had a 3.7 and a 2.7, respectively, in the 18-49 demo.

At 10 p.m. the Golden Globes logged a 4.45 in the 18-49 demo, while CBS's "CSI: Miami" had a 2.35 in the 18-49 demo and ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" netted a 2.1 in the same demo for the hour.

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Jets-Patriots Playoff Game Draws Huge Numbers for CBS

The CBS Sunday afternoon telecast of the AFC divisional playoff game, in which the New York Jets upset the New England Patriots 28-21, pulled in big ratings, the network reported.

The broadcast drew an average overnight household rating of 26.2 and a 44 share, the network announced, a 13% increase from last year’s 23.1/39 for the game between the Jets and San Diego Chargers.

Sunday’s game was the highest-rated AFC Sunday divisional playoff game in 16 years in metered markets, since Miami-San Diego got a 26.8/46 on Jan. 8, 1995.

It was also the highest-rated divisional playoff--AFC or NFC--on any network in 14 years, since Dallas-Carolina’s 28.5/49 on Fox on Jan. 5, 1997.

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CBS Daytime Talk Fest to Lose One of Its Six Hosts

With six hosts on CBS's daytime chat fest "The Talk," some of them may not be getting enough air time--and that’s apparently a factor in the decision by one of the hosts to leave the show, People magazine reports.

Marissa Jaret Winokur, who has seen her “mom on the street” segments scaled back, announced she won’t be returning to the show, the story says. She explained that she wants to focus on developing her own cable show and creating a clothing line that's set to launch in 2011.

In a statement, Brad Bessey, executive producer of “The Talk,” said, "We think the world of Marissa as a creative talent, on-air personality and super mom. This is a mutual decision based on time, not talent."

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Syfy Charting Innovative Approach to Social Media, Marketing and B-Movies

Syfy has big plans for its Saturday night lineup of B-movie fare, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

Syfy will pitch these movies, such as "Sharktopus" and "Mega Piranha," to marketers at this year's upfront presentation, the story notes. The network also plans to add digital- and social-media components, so advertisers can sponsor fans' comments about the shows, for instance.

Blake Callaway, senior vice president of marketing at Syfy, says while the plans are in a "brainstorm phase," the network is looking for a way to "aggregate social commentary,' allowing marketers to buy sponsorships.

The films, which are all originals, last year drew an average viewership of 1.975 million, with some breaking 2 million viewers.

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New TV Show for 'Buffy' Star Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who starred in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," is poised to make her return to broadcast television, with CBS picking up a drama pilot, its first this season, starring Gellar, reports Deadline.com.

Called "Ringer," the project stars Gellar as a troubled young woman who pretends to be her wealthy twin sister as a way to escape the mob, the story notes. Unfortunately, her sister's life has a bounty on it too.

The project is from ABC Studios, CBS TV Studios and Brillstein Entertainment Partners and is written on spec by "Supernatural" writer-producers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, the article notes.

Since "Buffy" ended in 2003, Gellar's only television role has been on the HBO pilot "The Wonderful Maladys.”

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Video: 'Glee' Big Winner at Golden Globes; 'Boardwalk Empire' Receives Kudos As Well. We Have Full List of Winners. Host Ricky Gervais Draws Lots of Criticism

"Glee" was the big TV winner at the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011.

The popular, breakthrough Fox musical comedy won Golden Globes for Best Series, Musical or Comedy, as well as for Jane Lynch as Best Supporting Actress and Chris Colfer as Best Supporting Actor.

Colfer and Lynch gave two of the most talked about speeches on the show. Watch them below.

HBO's acclaimed "Boardwalk Empire" was named Best Drama Series, and its star, Steve Buscemi, grabbed the award as the Best Actor in a Drama.

For a full list of Golden Globe winners, please click here.

The most controversial element of the show was host Ricky Gervais. We urge you to click here and read Baltimore Sun critic Michael Sragow's very insightul review of Gervais and the show. It begins,   "The normally clever-to-brilliant Ricky Gervais resorted to nonstop insult comedy as 'the host' of the Golden Gloves last night. He appeared to be auditioning for a dinner-theater version of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

His main game was 'Get the Guest.' "


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Steve Jobs Takes Another Medical Leave From Apple

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking another leave of absence from the company due to health concerns, the company said today.

The New York Times report of the story says, "Mr. Jobs suffers from immune system issues common with people who have received liver transplants and, as a result, his health suffers from frequent “ups and downs,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it."

The story also notes that "Mr. Jobs recovered from pancreatic cancer after surgery in 2004, but has continued to be beset by health issues. In January 2009, Mr. Jobs went on a medical leave. During the leave Mr. Jobs secretly flew to Tennessee for a liver transplant."

The article also said that "Apple’s stock immediately dipped on foreign exchanges Monday, falling 6 percent in Germany. Financial markets in the United States are closed on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King’s Birthday. "

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Verizon Deal May Expose iPhone Flaws

Because Apple walks on water in the minds of many consumers, some flaws in the iPhone have been blamed on the company a number of consumers love to hate, AT&T, says Joe Nocera in The New York Times.

Nocera writes that one thing that may happen when Verizon starts selling the iPhone is that "the Verizon Wireless network will hold up fine but the iPhone will keep dropping calls because of its own inherent compromises. This time, though, it will be much harder to blame all the problems on its wireless carrier, the way it could with the hapless AT&T. At the very least, the iPhone will have to compete with all the Android phones, which offer a sturdier, if less dazzling, experience. And Verizon Wireless is unlikely to abandon its marketing support for Android the way it did with Palm. Those phones have become too important to its bottom line. "

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Miss America Pageant Wins Big Ratings Jump as It Returns to Broadcast

Returning to broadcast television after leaving ABC in 2005, the Miss America pageant won by scoring a huge ratings jump on Saturday, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog.

The two-hour program drew an average of 6.6 million viewers, representing a 47% increase from last year, when it was aired on cable network TLC, the article notes.

Nevertheless, the pageant drew a fraction of the audience it attracted when it peaked decades earlier, the story adds. For instance, in 1988, the pageant was watched by 33 million viewers.

But on Saturday night, Miss America, which crowned 17-year old Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan, won its time slot on a night filed with repeats, the story says.

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Susannah York, Who Was Nominated for an Academy Award, an Emmy and Two Golden Globes, But Never Won, Dies at Age 72

"Susannah York, an Academy Award-nominated actress known for her portrayals of exquisite, often fragile young women in British and American films of the 1960s and ‘70s, died on Saturday in London," reports The New York Times.

York, who was 72, died of cancer, the report says. 

York was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar for the 1969 film "They Shoot Horses Don't They?" She was also nominated for a Golden Globe in that film. Previously, in 1962, she had been nominated for Best Actress in "Freud."

And in 1970 she was nominated for a Best Actress Emmy Award for the 1970 telefilm "Jane Eyre."

According to the Times article, the role that made York a star was "Sophie, the love interest of Albert Finney in the 1963 screen version of Henry Fielding’s ribald novel 'Tom Jones.' "

The Times added that "Ms. York’s marriage to Michael Wells ended in divorce. In addition to her son, Orlando, a film and television actor in Britain, she is survived by a daughter, Sasha Wells, and grandchildren."

Susannah York in "Tom Jones": susannah york.bmp



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Sportswriter: Is Lakers' Kobe Bryant Being Distracted By His Commitments to Nike, Including a Nike 'Movie'?

"To understand just how much the Lakers have going on during the regular season, just consider how Kobe Bryant even has side business to his side business," writes sports columnist Kevin Ding in the Orange Country (Calif.) Register.

Ding continues, "Bryant has filmed a movie – yes, he is acting in it, and it is really being termed a movie – with a full-fledged Hollywood director: Robert Rodriguez, who made 'Spy Kids' and 'Sin City.' The movie will be released – and figures to go viral, Nike surely assumes – in its entirety in mid-February at All-Star weekend, when the game for which Bryant is the leading fan vote-getter will be played at Staples Center. It is all being done as a promotion for the [Nike] Zoom Kobe VI shoe and Bryant’s new 'True Colors' apparel line."

Ding adds, "The movie will be billed this way: “The world’s best basketball player. … Biggest challenge yet. … Kobe Bryant is the Black Mamba. … A Robert Rodriguez film.”

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Piers Morgan, on Eve of CNN Show Debut, Pegs Ratings Benchmark at 650,000 Viewers, Far Below Fox News and MSNBC

Piers Morgan has set his ratings benchmark for his new CNN show, which debuts tonight, at 650,000 viewers, in line with predecessor Larry King's ratings in his final months but far below the direct competition on Fox News and MSNBC, Brian Stelter of the The New York Times reports.

According to the story, Morgan said he believes his role as a judge on "America's Got Talent," which is a top-rated TV show during the summer, will help guide more viewers, and perhaps bigger guests, to his program

The story notes that a lot is riding on Morgan: while CNN is profitable, the network has lost more than a third of its viewers and "Piers Morgan Tonight" is its biggest attempt at turning around the trend, Stelter writes.

The article says that the network is hoping that viewers still want to watch long-form interviews with politicians and stars, although the ratings of "Larry King Live" would indicate otherwise. But Stelter writes, Morgan is "in many ways the anti-King — obnoxious, obsessively prepared and eager to tape his interviews in advance as often as he can."

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Report: Merger Between Comcast and NBC Universal Expected to Close Jan. 28: FCC Commissioner Copps Said To Want To Add Conditions To Deal

The merger between Comcast and NBC Universal should go to the Federal Communications Commission this week and close on Jan. 28, reports Sharon Waxman at TheWrap.com.

The story says that a vote is expected first from the FCC, followed by approval from the Justice Department. That would allow NBC Universal to close its final payroll the last Friday of January, the article notes.

While a vote from the FCC is expected early this week, some commissioners want to add conditions to the merger, with Commissioner Michael Copps, a Democrat, wanting greater commitment to diversity in programming and a commitment to net neutrality, the article says.

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Report: Camille Grammer Considering Leaving 'Real Housewives'

"Camille Grammer is leaning toward 'walking away' from 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' -- so says a source closely connected with C.G.," reports TMZ.

Accroding to the article, "Sources involved in the production of the show tell TMZ Camille walked off the show several times during the taping, saying she was 'done with the show.'  In at least one case, scenes had to be shot without her. But every time, Camille had a change of heart and returned."

The article continues, "As TMZ first reported, Camille's lawyer, Larry Stein, got Bravo to give her an 'out' for Season 2, at her option ... and she has 'til the end of the month to exercise it. We're told Camille will wait to see how she's portrayed in the reunion show before making her decision. Bravo hasn't officially announced Season 2 is a go, but it seems like a foregone conclusion."

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Agreement in Principle Reached Between Time Warner Cable, Sinclair in Retransmission Negotiations

After extending a negotiating period through Jan. 14 in retransmission consent talks, Time Warner Cable and Sinclair reached an agreement in principle on Saturday, reports Multichannel News.

That means that Time Warner Cable will continue to carry Sinclair's 28 stations, the story says. A final agreement is expected in the next week, and the article notes that despite rhetoric, the negotiations never led to a service disruption.

Sinclair also agreed to a tentative pact with Bright House Networks on Jan. 14, the story notes, adding that Time Warner Cable typically handles programming negotiations for Bright House as well.

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Jamie Oliver, Planning for Second Season of ABC's 'Food Revolution', Says Show Will Go on Without L.A. School District

Jamie Oliver, the celebrity chef whose ABC show "Food Revolution" won an Emmy last year, has vowed to go forward with or without the Los Angeles school district, which so far has rebuffed his efforts to overhaul its lunch program, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Oliver, who moved with his family to Los Angeles earlier this month, gave a keynote speech at the annual meeting of the California School Nutrition Association on Saturday, during which he said 75 school districts have refused his offers to help their lunch programs, the story notes.

Oliver now wants to find families who will let them enter their kitchens, with the show's second season planned for spring, the article adds. Still, one California district appeared open to Oliver's health-eating ideas, the story notes. At the conference, Rick Cota, director of nutrition services for the Claremont Unified School District, told Oliver he'd like to open his schools' kitchens to him, the story notes.

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SAG, AFTRA Overwhelmingly Vote to Support Three-Year Contract

 The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists said Friday night that their members overwhelmingly voted to approve a new three-year contract with modest pay raises, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

The contract, which includes higher contributions to health and pension plans, was approved by a 94% to 6% margin, with about a quarter of the more than 137,000 members casting their votes, the story says. The new agreement takes effect July 1, it adds.

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Nominations Being Accepted for Bennie Awards, Honoring Worst TV Shows of 2010

The Hollywood Temp Diaries Web site announced today that it is accepting nominations to “honor” the worst prime-time television shows and performances of the past year. The Bennie Awards--symbolized by the Golden Trash Can--will be presented Feb. 22.

The awards are named after former NBC boss Ben Silverman, described in a Temp Diaries press release as “Hollywood’s king of bad programming decisions.”

Last year’s winners included Snooki (worst female performer), Jay Leno (worst male) and “The Jay Leno Show” (worst show).

A new category--The Pushing Daisies Award--has been added for this year’s awards to single out the worst cancellation of a show. The finalists have already been selected in this category, and they are “Better Off Ted,” “Caprica,” “Huge,” “Lone Star” and “Terriers.”

"Most of television today is either a glorified high school talent show, people getting hit in the groin for cash or product placements disguised as dramas. These shows deserve recognition for their 'efforts' and that's where I come in," said Temp X, creator of The Hollywood Temp Diaries, in a statement.

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Friend of Alleged Arizona Gunman Reveals Reasons Behind Grudge Against Congresswoman

A close friend of the suspect in the Arizona shooting rampage that killed six people and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, told the publication Mother Jones that Jared Lee Loughner had held a grudge against Giffords for years.

Bryce Tierney also said he received a call from Loughner, an old friend from high school and college, about eight hours before the shootings. Tierney said he didn’t answer the phone, but later heard Loughner’s message, which said simply, "Hey man, it's Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later."

Tierney said he had a sick feeling when he heard the news about the massacre. "They hadn't released the name, but I said, 'Holy shit, I think it's Jared that did it,'" Tierney told the publication.

According to the article: “Loughner's animus toward Giffords intensified after he attended one of her campaign events and she did not, in his view, sufficiently answer a question he had posed, Tierney says. He also describes Loughner as being obsessed with ‘lucid dreaming’--that is, the idea that conscious dreams are an alternative reality that a person can inhabit and control--and says Loughner became ‘more interested in this world than our reality.’ Tierney adds, ‘I saw his dream journal once. That's the golden piece of evidence. You want to know what goes on in Jared Loughner's mind, there's a dream journal that will tell you everything.’

The article links to a video that Loughner reportedly put up on YouTube that also references the dream world. Here is the video:

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High-Ranking CBS Exec Confirms Network Is Worried About Charlie Sheen

Nina Tassler, CBS entertainment president, spoke with reporters at the TCA press tour in Pasadena, Calif., today and admitted that the network is worried about one of its biggest stars, Charlie Sheen, reports Reuters.

"We have a high level of concern. How could we not?" Tassler said. She added that despite the concerns, the network has no plans to pull its highly rated "Two and a Half Men" off the air.

She told the media, "Charlie is a professional, he comes to work, he does his job extremely well. [But] It is very complicated."

Tassler added that she has "tremendous trust and respect" for Warner Bros., the studio that produces the sitcom. She said she trusts the people at the studio to handle the situation.

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Teen Superstar Justin Bieber Lands in Hospital

Justin Bieber has been doing some television acting this week, and it landed him in the hospital, MTV reported.

The 16-year-old singing sensation reportedly developed problems breathing as he was taping scenes for a cameo appearance on “CSI.”

Bieber was treated Wednesday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., where he was apparently diagnosed with an allergic reaction.

“He is fine,” a rep for Bieber said Thursday. "He had a mild allergic reaction while they were wrapping up last night on the set of 'CSI.' His doctor met him at the hospital to make sure everything was OK. He was released within the hour after his doctor declared him fine. He is back on set working today. All is well."

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'Beyond Scared Straight' Sets a Record for A&E

A new unscripted series in the tradition of the classic documentary "Scared Straight!," A&E's show "Beyond Scared Straight," scored the highest ratings ever for an original series premiere on the cable net, reports Deadline.com.

"Beyond Scared Straight" was the most-watched debut ever on A&E with 3.7 million viewers, including 2.2 million in the 18-49 demographic and 2.1 million in 25-54 demo.

Arnold Shapiro executive produces the show.

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ABC, 'Grey's Anatomy' Win Thursday Night in the Ratings

On the strength of a fresh episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” and solid numbers for “Winter Wipeout,” ABC won the night Thursday in the 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reported.

ABC averaged a 3.3 rating for the night in adults 18-49, ahead of CBS (2.3 average rating), Fox (1.5), Univision (1.4) and NBC (1.3). In total viewers it was CBS with a narrow win over ABC, with CBS averaging 10.1 million to ABC’s 9.6 million. Fox was well behind with 5.0 million, followed by Univision (3.6 million) and NBC (2.9 million).

At 8 p.m. ABC's "Winter Wipeout" kicked off the night with a solid 3.6 in the 18-49 demographic, better than Fox's "Million Dollar Money Drop," which had only a 1.7 in the same demo. At 8:30 a new "$#*! My Dad Says" on CBS logged a 2.9 in the 18-49 demo.

At 9 p.m., up against all reruns, "Grey's Anatomy" collected a 4.4 in the 18-49 demographic.

The new ABC medical drama "Off the Map" aired at 10 p.m., also up against repeats, and managed a 2.0 in the 18-49 demo.

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Verizon Sneaks Some Bad News in With the Good News About the iPhone

Verizon has been getting a lot of attention this week, with its official announcement Tuesday that it will offer the iPhone. But a quieter development on the Verizon front, The Wall Street Journal reports, is its less-publicized news that it is changing its upgrade policies--a change the report says will ultimately make phones more expensive for Verizon’s customers.

According to the article: “Verizon officials have confirmed what SmartMoney was told by Verizon sales reps at a number of stores around the country: The company is ending its popular ‘New Every Two’ program, which offers Verizon subscribers a credit of $30 to $100 toward a new phone every two years. As of Jan. 16, the company will stop offering the credit to new customers and won't re-enroll current customers in the program after their next New Every Two upgrade. The cell carrier is also putting the brakes on its permissive early upgrade policy, store representatives confirmed.”

The changes mean more out-of-pocket expense for the company’s customers, the story says. “With the New Every Two perk, a longtime customer with a $100 credit could get the iPhone4 for $99.99--half off its new-subscriber price of $199.99,” The Journal story reports. “When the program ends, new subscribers will no longer be eligible for those discounts. Existing customers will lose the perk when they renew their contracts (unless they renew before Jan. 16--but that date is well before iPhone orders will be taken). And with the end of the early upgrade program, customers who were previously eligible for discounted phones as early as 13 months into a two-year contract will now have to wait 20 months to get a new phone at the promotional new-customer price instead of retail (for the iPhone, that's currently a difference of $400).”

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Poll Reveals Who Is America's Favorite TV Star--And for a Change, It's Not Oprah

A new survey from the Harris Poll lists America's 10 favorite television stars, and the top spot saw a shift from last year’s poll, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Last year’s No. 1, Oprah Winfrey, slipped to No. 2, while the new No. 1, Mark Harmon of CBS’s “NCIS,” surged from his No. 8 spot on the list last year.

Winfrey wound up in a tie for second place with "House's" Hugh Laurie, followed in order by: Conan O'Brien, Jon Stewart/Charlie Sheen (in a tie), Ellen DeGeneres, Bill O'Reilly, David Letterman and Steve Carell.

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Martha Stewart Gets a Bloody Lip From Her Dog

TV mogul and talk show hostess Martha Stewart was rushed to the hospital earlier this week after a run-in with one of her dogs, reports TheWrap.com.

Stewart blogged about the incident, in which she awakened her pet Francesca--startling the dog--and Francesca reacted by head-butting Stewart, causing a bloody lip.

Said Stewart, "I realized it was a pretty serious gash. I called Alexis [her daughter] and asked her to call the hospital to get a plastic surgeon to the emergency room.

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Get Ready for a Show Starring, Among Others, LaToya Jackson, Playboy Playmate Hope Dworaczyk, Gary Busey, 'Survivor' Champion Richard Hatch, Meat Loaf, Lisa Rinna, Baseball Slugger Jose Canseco, Star Jones and Supermodel Niki Taylor

A veteran reality show has announced the lineup for its upcoming season, which will be the show’s 11th, Access Hollywood reports.

The show is NBC’s “The Apprentice,” and the new season of the Donald Trump show will be another round of “Celebrity Apprentice,” with 16 new contestants.

David Cassidy, LaToya Jackson, Meat Loaf and rapper Lil Jon all come from the music side, while "Real Housewives of Atlanta" star NeNe Leakes and "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch have a TV background.

Also in the group are actors Lisa Rinna, Gary Busey and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin. Former major league slugger Jose Canseco, Mark McGrath, John Rich, Playboy Playmate Hope Dworaczyk, Star Jones of “The View” fame and supermodel Niki Taylor round out the cast.

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Anderson Cooper Denies Report in Presidential Oil Commission Report That He Demanded An 'Angry' Oil Worker for His Show

Anderson Cooper is denying an item in the final report from the Presidential Oil Spill Commission that says he asked a local official to find an angry, out-of-work oil worker for his show, the New York Post's Page Six reports.

According to the report, Cooper "reportedly asked a parish president [local official] to bring an angry, unemployed offshore oil worker on his show. When the [official] could not promise the worker would be 'angry,' both were disinvited," the article says.

A representative for Cooper said that the claim "is completely false." The rep added that the claim journalists "were encouraging residents and state and local leaders to 'display their anger at the federal response' is offensive," the article notes.

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John Dye, Star of CBS' 'Touched by an Angel,' Dies Too Young At 47

John Dye, who starred in all nine seasons of CBS' "Touched by an Angel," has died, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He was 47.

Dye had a heart attack at his home in San Francisco, his brother Jerre Dye told the publication.

Dye, who played the Angel of Death on the show, had worked on other television shows, including "The Young and the Restless," and was a regular cast member on short-lived 1980s and 1990s TV shows such as "Hotel Malibu" and "Tour of Duty," although he was best known for his work on "Touched by an Angel, the story notes.

"He turned the idea of the Angel of Death into something that was compassionate and welcoming," said his brother. "He not only took the role very seriously, in true John form he took on a greater responsibility of wanting to be there for people--to be a loving person. The people John loved--he poured so much love into us."


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Report: Steve Carell to Say 'Goodbye' to 'The Office' Before Season's End

Steve Carell, the star of NBC's comedy "The Office," will be leaving the show earlier than had been expected,reports TVLine

According to "Office" executive producer Greg Daniels, Carell will be leaving earlier than the show's season finale. "“The big ‘Goodbye, Steve’ thing will be before [May] sweeps," Daniels said. The story says that the final weeks of the season will portray the interviewing and jockeying going on for Michael Scott's job. "We’d rather play out the stories of the various characters who want that seat, and show them fight for it," Daniels said.

Kathy Bates will return to reprise her role of Joe Bennett, the CEO of Dunder-Mifflin's parent company, Sabre, who returns to help select Michael's successor, the article notes. adding that the finale is tentatively scheduled to run for an hour.

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ABC As Yet Unable to Renew 'Desperate Housewives' Because of Pay Raise Demands from Three Stars. What? In Hollywood??!

ABC hasn't yet been able to renew its top drama "Desperate Housewives" because three of its stars, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria, are seeking pay raises, reports Bloomberg.

Teri Hatcher, meanwhile, has signed a new contract, the story notes. All four actresses are original cast members who have appeared on the show since it debuted in 2004. TVGuide.com pegged their pay at $400,000 per episode in August, the story notes.

“We expect to get the agreements in place but it just hasn’t happened yet," said Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment, in an interview at the TCA press tour.

An assistant to Huffman said they hope to reach an agreement soon, while Longoria's publicist said the actress wasn't available to comment. Cross's manager didn't respond to requests for comment, the article says

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Two Female-Skewing Drama Pilots Picked up by ABC

Two drama pilots that are likely to skew toward female viewers have been picked up by ABC, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

The first drama pilot is "Partners," from Ed Bernero of "Criminal Minds," which focuses on two female police detectives who also happen to be sisters, the story notes.

The second, called "Grace," is from Krista Vernoff of "Grey's Anatomy" and Carrie Ann Inaba of "Dancing with the Stars," and tracks a dysfunctional family in the world of professional dancers, the article adds.

The move comes right after the network decided to pick up the remake of "Charlie's Angels," as previously reported

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Mark Burnett Working With SyFy Developing Reality Show

Reality show guru Mark Burnett is working with SyFy for one of his latest projects, EW.com's Inside TV blog reports.

 The project, called "School Spirts," also comes from Seth Jarrett of "Celebrity Ghost Stories," will look at school campuses across the country that have reports of hauntings, the story notes.

“Paranormal encounters at high schools and colleges often become legendary stories spanning and touching generations,” said Mark Stern, Syfy president of original programming in a statement, the article adds.

TVWeek is hoping that if the project moves forward that it gets renamed "Smells Like Teen Sprits" and uses one of our favorite songs as its theme...

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FCC's Proposed Conditions for Comcast/NBCU Raise Concerns at Disney

The Federal Communications Commission's proposed conditions for approving Comcast's merger with NBC Universal have raised concerns at Walt Disney Co., reports our friend Joe Flint at the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

A regulatory filing disclosed that Susan Fox, a vice president of government relations for Disney, talked on Wednesday with two senior staff members of FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, the story says. The filing noted that the conversation focused on the conditions relating to how Comcast operates in the online video marketplace, the article says, though it didn't detail specifics.

That's something that has concerned competitors, lawmakers and media watchdogs, who are worried that the merged entity will have an unfair edge by combining Comcast's cable and Internet distribution system with NBC Universal's TV shows and movies, the article adds. 

The article says that  "until now, Disney had kept very quiet about the Comcast - NBC Universal deal." Fox couldn't immediately be reached for comment, the story says.

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Report on the 'Jeopardy' Man Vs. Machine Match Demonstation

Updated at 9:52 a.m. on Jan 14, 2011 to reflect that this was a demonstration and not the actual exhibition match itself. The exhibition match itself will actually be taped later today in New York.

'Jeopardy' has shown parts of a demonstration that it has done in preparation for an exhibition match pitting man vs. machine.

The idea is to test the abilities of IBM's super-computer called "Watson," and  it's seems--at least in parts of the demonstration that was shown,  that the machine has the edge, reports the New York Post.

Watson, which was developed over four years by IBM, was pitted against "Jeopardy" champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in the demonstration test match on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011..

The results were what the article calls a "stunning effect." Watson "quickly cleared out the entire first category without the humans getting even a buzz in," the story notes.

The computer will compete in the first-ever man versus machine "Jeopardy" TV competition, to be aired on Feb. 14, 15 and 16. That match will be taped today, Jan. 14, 2011.

According to the article, the demo ended with Watson in the lead with $4,400, compared with Jennings' $3,400 and Rutter's $1,200.

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New York Prosecutors Charge Former '30 Rock' Accountant with Embezzling from NBC

Prosecutors in New York are charging a former production accountant for "30 Rock" with allegedly embezzling from NBC, the Associated Press reports.

Matthew Rudolph allegedly forged two checks made out to himself and used company credit cards for personal use, embezzling about $14,000, the story says.

Rudolph worked on the fourth season of the hit comedy, which is filmed at Silvercup Studios in Queens, where prosecutors made the charges. NBC didn't immediately comment, the story notes.

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Fox News Channel Scores First TV Interview with Sarah Palin Since Arizona Shooting

Fox News has nabbed the first interview with Sarah Palin since the Tucson shooting, with Palin agreeing to appear on Monday night's program hosted by Sean Hannity, reports the New York Times' The Caucus blog.

The interview is scheduled to air through several commercial breaks, the story notes, adding that Palin is a paid Fox contributor. Nevertheless, Palin has been "laying low on the network in the wake of the shooting," the article says.

Palin has been at the center of the discussion over the role of overheated political rhetoric in the shootings,with her Wednesday video statement about the shootings bringing sharp criticisms from both liberals and some Republicans, the story says.

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Fewer Than Expected Tuned in to Watch President Obama's Speech at the Tucson Memorial

The number of  viewers that tuned in to watch President Barack Obama's speech delivered at the Tucson memorial on Wednesday evening was fewer than expected, reports the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker blog.

An average of 30.8 million people tuned in to hear Obama, who was carried live from 5:45 Pacific standard time to 6:15 on seven networks, ranging from the top broadcasters such as ABC and NBC to three cable-news networks: Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, the story notes.

The TV audience was surprisingly low compared with other Obama speeches and given how much media attention the Arizona shootings have been receiving, the article adds.

Obama's 2010 State of the Union speech averaged 48 million viewers, for instance. Still, the story points out that the timing of the memorial meant that the speech aired outside of prime-time hours for much of the country.

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'Charlie's Angels' Gets Green Light From ABC

The remake of “Charlie’s Angels” has officially been greenlit by ABC, Entertainment Weekly reports.

“Smallville” writer-producers Miles Millar and Al Gough are attached to the new version of the show, which is set in Miami, the story says.

Sony Pictures TV and Flower Films are behind the project, along with producers Leonard Goldberg, Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen, according to the report.

The story also says there’s a possibility “Gossip Girl’s” Mark Piznarski will direct.

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'Survivor' Bringing Back Two of Its Top Villains

Two of the most dynamic and iconic villains from CBS's long-running reality competition "Survivor" will be back for the 22nd edition of the show, reports the AP.

Boston Rob, a.k.a. Rob Mariano, and Russell Hantz will join 16 new contestants for "Survivor: Redemption Island," scheduled to premiere Feb. 16 on CBS.

Mariano and Hantz have yet to win the $1 million prize on "Survivor." This will be the fourth time around for Mariano on the CBS reality show, and Hantz has appeared on two other "Survivors."

The pair have clashed before on the show, when they both appeared as members of the Villains tribe on “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.”

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'Wendy Williams Show' Picked Up by 70% of U.S. Market

Debmar-Mercury’s “The Wendy Williams Show” has picked up renewals in more than 70% of the country for its third season, which launches in September, the company announced today.

Among the broadcasters picking up the show are stations in the Fox, CBS, NBC, Local TV, Tribune, Lin, Cox, Raycom, Meredith and New Vision groups.

The announcement was made by Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein.

“Wendy has reached new creative heights this season and stations have taken notice,” Bernstein and Marcus said in a statement. “It has performed exceptionally well in recent months leading out of morning newscasts on the Fox stations, with viewers rediscovering Wendy’s fun, irreverent and entertaining style. We will work diligently with stations to ensure this franchise’s continued growth, both creatively and from a ratings standpoint, across all markets in the months and years ahead.”

In the cash-plus-barter renewal deals, Debmar-Mercury retains four minutes per hour of national advertising inventory, the company said.

The renewals come on the heels of strong ratings for the show in many major Fox Television Station markets, including New York and Los Angeles, the company said in a press release.

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ABC Tops Ratings on a Night When Broadcast Nets Focus Attention on Tucson Victims

President Barack Obama's Tucson Memorial speech Wednesday night, carried by all of the broadcast networks from 8:39-9:20 p.m. ET, played heck with the overnight ratings, but ABC was the apparent winner for the night, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

ABC finished the night with a 2.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo, well ahead of NBC (1.8 average), Univision (1.4), CBS (1.4) and Fox (0.8). ABC also won total viewers, averaging 9.0 million to 6.3 million for NBC, 6.2 million for CBS, 3.6 million for Univision and 2.4 million for Fox.

At 8 p.m. ABC's "The Middle" had its best rating ever, a 3.1 in the 18-49 demographic, besting NBC's "Minute to Win It" with a 1.6 in the same demo.

At 9 p.m. the overrun of the president’s speech shared time with a new "Modern Family" on ABC, averaging a 3.6 rating in the 18-49 demo. "Minute to Win It" combined with the speech for a 1.4 average on NBC, while CBS averaged a 1.3 with "Live to Dance" in tandem with the speech.

The 10 p.m. premiere of ABC's "Off the Map" earned a 2.25 average in the 18-49 demo, second to NBC's "Law & Order: SVU," which averaged a 2.5 in that demo for the hour. CBS's remaining "Live to Dance" paired with "The Defenders" for a mean score of 1.5 in the 18-49 demo.

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NFL Isn't Saying Who Will Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl, But Everyone Seems to Know

In the “worst-kept secret” department, word leaked today on who will be singing the National Anthem during the upcoming broadcast of Super Bowl XLV, to be carried live by Fox, HitFix.com reported.

For its part, the NFL isn’t confirming anything. But multiple sources say the Anthem will be handled by Grammy winner Christina Aguilera, star of the current feature film "Burlesque."

Aguilera’s delivery of "The Star-Spangled Banner" marks a return to the Super Bowl for the star. She appeared during the halftime show back in 2000, when the lineup also included Enrique Iglesias and Phil Collins.

Last year, it was Carrie Underwood who performed the National Anthem.

The Super Bowl will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 6.

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John Goodman Joins Star-Studded Cast of DirecTV Show; List Already Includes Martin Short, Ted Danson, William Hurt, Lily Tomlin--Not to Mention the Show's Three-Time Emmy-Winning Star

Actor John Goodman, best known for the sitcom "Roseanne" but also adept at drama, is the latest big-name star to join the cast of a DirecTV show that formerly ran on FX, USA Today reports.

The show is "Damages," which has included in its cast Lily Tomlin, Ted Danson, Martin Short and William Hurt, not to mention the series' star, Glenn Close. Close has won two Emmys for her role in the show, to go along with her 1995 Emmy for “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story.”

In the new season of "Damages," Goodman has been cast as the CEO of a shadowy military contractor who becomes a defendant in a wrongful death suit over an incident in a war zone. Season Four of "Damages" will air this summer on DirecTV.

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Dick Wolf Reveals Key Change in Store for 'Law & Order: L.A.'

"Law & Order: Los Angeles" creator Dick Wolf is overseeing a creative overhaul of the show, and one of the key changes he will implement is the transformation of Alfred Molina's character, Deputy D.A. Ricardo Morales, into a detective, reports Deadline.com.

As previously reported, Skeet Ulrich, who plays Detective Rex Winters and was the first actor to be cast on the program, is leaving the show as part of the revamp.

According to Deadline.com, the show will reveal that Molina's character served on the LAPD for 15 years and reached the rank of detective. He'll decide to return to the police force as a detective after growing frustrated as a prosecutor, the article notes.

Ulrich's last appearance on the show is slated for its 14th episode, the story notes. The show is currently filming its 12th episode and will return with original shows in February, the story adds.

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Controversial Cable Host--Who Some Might Say Is Already Overexposed--Adds a Third Hour of Daily TV Time

A controversial cable TV host--one of those “love them or hate them”-type personalities--is about to become even more ubiquitous, adding a third hour of daily TV exposure to her existing two hours a day, TVNewser reports.

The TV host is Nancy Grace, who currently hosts a live 8 p.m. show on HLN along with a syndicated daytime show. She has agreed to add a live 9 p.m. nightly edition of her show, which will air until the launch of the new Dr. Drew Pinsky show on HLN this spring.

The new hour launches Monday, Jan. 17, and will focus on missing persons, according to the story.

Grace recently renewed her deal with HLN after talking with Fox Business Network about a possible move to that channel.

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Fox's Greta Van Susteren Attacks Party Held By CNN

Greta Van Susteren has criticized a party thrown by CNN, though we're not sure why she would care.

One difference between Fox News and CNN, according to Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, is that Fox News doesn't hold with any "fancy" launch parties for a new cable show, reports Mediaite.com.

Van Susteren noted on her Greta Wire blog how different the two networks appear to her, taking a look at the launch party CNN threw for Piers Morgan on Tuesday night for his new show. "I can’t imagine Fox News Channel or friend of Fox News Channel having some fancy “launch party” at a fancy NYC upper east side address with a bunch of celebrities for a new cable news show. It seems so out of touch with the rest of the country, doesn’t it?," she wrote. "At Fox we just get hired and go to work (and we are very glad to have our jobs!) We can celebrate later (and we have.)"

The New York Times' Media Decoder blog, meanwhile, points out that when Fox Business debuted, News Corp. threw a launch party in 2007 at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Counting Crows played at the party, while giant topiary letters spelled 'Fox Business,' the article notes.

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Friend of Tucson Massacre Suspect Says Loughner Didn't Even Like TV

Amid the claims that overheated rhetoric heard on television and radio helped influence Tucson massacre suspect Jared Loughner comes a comment from one of his friends, who noted that Loughner "did not watch TV," reports TVnewser.com.

Ashleigh Banfield said that Loughner "disliked the news. He didn’t listen to political radio. He didn’t take sides. He wasn’t on the left. He wasn’t on the right," according to an interview on "Good Morning America." Loughner wasn't shooting at people, "he was shooting at the world," Banfield said, according to the report.

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EVP of Original Programming at SyFy Gets President Title

The EVP of Original Programming at SyFy has been promoted to President, Original Programming for SyFY.

He's Mark Stern, and he will also "have creative oversight on the newly formed Syfy Films, a joint venture with Universal Pictures," the announcement said.

The announcement was made by Dave Howe, President, Syfy and Chiller, and to whom Stern reports.

According to the announcement, "During his tenure, Stern has forged partnerships with an all-star cast of top industry talent in front of and behind the cameras including Bryan Singer and Dean Devlin (The Triangle), Gail Berman & Lloyd Braun (Alphas), David Straithairn (Alphas), Jeffrey Reiner (Caprica), Jace Alexander (Warehouse 13), Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica), Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales (Caprica), Richard Dreyfus, Alan Cumming and Zooey Deschanel (Tin Man), Isabella Rosellini (Riverworld), Lou Diamond Phillips (Stargate Universe), Julianna Margulies and Peter Krause (The Lost Room), and Tracy Morgan (Scare Tactics)."

"Stern also serves as co-head, original content, Universal Cable Productions, and will now have creative oversight on the newly formed Syfy Films, a joint venture with Universal Pictures." the announcement notes.

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Potential Remake of 'Rockford Files' Delayed Again

The remake of "The Rockford Files" for NBC has come to a halt, at least for this development season, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The decision to shelve the project came after writer David Shore wasn't able to finish a new script after he needed to devote his time to "House," the story notes. The

The story adds that it's possible the idea could be revived next season if the incoming NBC programming chief Bob Greenblatt likes the project.

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'Kennedys' Miniseries Still Looking for a Home as Showtime Passes; The Pay Network Had Previously Aired Miniseries About the Reagans

The "Kennedys" miniseries is still looking for a television home after Showtime passed on the project, reports B&C.

"Although ‘The Kennedy's' is well produced, well acted and a quality piece of work, it doesn't fit Showtime's programming brand,"‬ Showtime said in a statement. As we previously reported, the producer of the eight-hour biographical film said it's talking to several U.S. networks about airing the program after it was pulled from the History Channel.

B&C notes that Showtime had been considered a potential home for the miniseries as it previously had aired a controversial series about the Reagan family after it was dropped by CBS.

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Marketer of Dead Celebrities Buys Marilyn Monroe Rights, Plans Reality TV Show Called 'Who Is the Next Face of Marilyn'

Authentic Brands Group and media company Neca Inc. are buying rights to Marilyn Monroe from the late actress' estate, with plans to debut brands, including a reality television show, based on her image, Bloomberg reports.

Authentic Brands is proposing a reality TV show called "Who Is the Next Face of Marilyn," which would feature contestants trying to win the right to represent the Marilyn Monroe brand, the story says. It's also in discussions with mass and luxury retailers to sell home products, cosmetics and lingerie tagged with the late star's brand, the article adds.

Authentic Brands, backed by Leonard Green & Partners and run by Jamie Salter, jumped into the dead celebrity branding business when Salter agreed in 2009 to partner with singer Bob Marley's estate to sell merchandise under his name, the article notes.

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News Corp. Considering Sale, Merger or Spinoff of MySpace

 A day after cutting about half of MySpace's workforce, News Corp. is considering a spinoff, a sale or a merger of the social-networking Website, reports Bloomberg.

Mike Jones, the chief executive of the Internet unit, told employees about the plans at a companywide meeting, the story says.

It's a sign that News Corp. isn't willing any longer to carry MySpace's losses, which totaled less than $100 million in the year ended in June, the article adds.

News Corp. would help to fund the business if it decides to spin off MySpace, and employees would be eligible for shares in the new company, according to the piece. 

In what was considered a coup at the time, News Corp. bought My Space in 2005 for $580 million, when it was the No. 1 social network. It' has since been surpassed by Facebook..

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No Josh Here: 'Tosh.0' on Comedy Central Draws Its Biggest Audience Yet

Comedy Central's "Tosh.0" scored a record on Tuesday night, drawing its biggest audience ever for the show with 3.6 million viewers, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

That means that the audience has more than doubled since its summer premiere, the article notes. In the adult demographic, 'Tosh.0' scored a 2.1 rating, which was higher than ABC's "V" on the same night, it adds.

"Tosh.0" wasn't the only cable program drawing big audiences on Tuesday, the story points out. As we previously reported, BET's "The Game," which previously was on the CW, drew a staggering 7.7 million viewers on the same evening.

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Multi-Camera Comedy Pilot Picked Up By Fox

A multicamera comedy pilot, has been has been picked up by Fox, reports the Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

"I Hate My Teenage Daughter" is the comedy and it comes from Warner Bros. TV. The show tracks two women whose daughters act like the girls who picked on them in high school, the story says.

The project is from executive producers and writers Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer, it says.

CBS in particular has had success with multicamera sitcoms.

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'The Good Wife' Casts America Ferrera of 'Ugly Betty' in Three-Episode Arc

CBS' "The Good Wife" has cast America Ferrera of "Ugly Betty" in a three-episode arc that begins in February, reports TVLine.com. It will mark Emmy-winner Ferrera's first television job since "Ugly Betty" went off the air last year, the story notes.

She'll play Natalie, a graduate student who becomes a romantic interest to Eli, played by Alan Cumming, the article adds. Additionally, the show has cast "Seinfeld" veteran Jerry Stiller as a judge known for dozing off during trials, in a guest-starring role, the story says.

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Report: 'Extra,' Turning Into a TV Incubator, Working on Latina Take on 'The View'

The syndicated show "Extra," is "turning into a TV incubator," writes the New York Post

That refers to its testing of Latina version of "The View," the article says.

"Extra" quietly tested "Chit Chat" as a half-hour special on Christmas day, with plans to repeat the show at 4 a.m. this Sunday, the story says.

Telepictures, which produces "Extra," hasn't started shopping "Chit Chat" yet but that would change if TV stations with large numbers of Hispanic viewers are interested. The show's main hook is that its co-hosts, Ann Lopez and Constance Marie, were both "married" to comedian George Lopez -- Ann Lopez being his real-life ex-wife, with Marie playing Lopez's wife on ABC's "George Lopez," the article notes.

"Extra" has spun off "Celebrity Justice," which started as a segment on the show, and another show that began as an "Extra" segment, "Lifechangers," will debut in the fall on the CW, the story notes.

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Out-Of-Home Measurement by Arbitron Wants to Expand; Next Target is Measuring Afternoon Talk Shows Viewership From the Workplace

Arbitron wants to expand its out-of-home TV measurement to viewers that watch syndicated afternoon talk shows from their workplace, writes our friend David Goetzl at MediaDailyNews.

Says the article, " 'We need to stop simply piloting stuff, and find those successful projects and get them into a recurring revenue stream, where we can build it once and sell it multiple times,' said Sean Creamer, an Arbitron executive vice president."

The article continues, "About as large as a cell phone, Arbitron's portable people meters can pick up viewing by detecting audio if a code is embedded in the content. Turner has used the meter system to demonstrate that its baseball and NBA coverage has significant reach beyond the home, providing a viewing lift.

"Speaking to investors, Creamer said Turner has re-upped its deal and will continue to work with Arbitron, the radio ratings service. Still, Arbitron would like to add a run of regular clients for out-of-home tracking, such as a syndicator that airs programming solidly watched in the workplace."

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New Sketch Comedy Show From Former 'In Living Color' Star to Get Early Preview on Fox

A prolific member of Fox's sketch comedy show "In Living Color" is bringing that kind of variety program back to television, reports Access Hollywood.

Oscar winner Jamie Foxx is working with comedian and writer Affion Crockett to put a project together for Fox TV. Fox declared that Foxx's show will be “in the vein” of “In Living Color,” and Fox has slated the still unnamed comedy for a March 31 preview at 9 p.m. ET

The preview will air with a strong lead-in from “American Idol” at 8 p.m. ET. Foxx's show will officially bow June 9 at 9 p.m. ET.

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CBS Picks Up 'Big Bang Theory' for Three More Seasons

The CBS hit “The Big Bang Theory” was picked up by the network for another three years, keeping it on the air through the 2013-14 season, The New York Times reported.

The renewal was announced jointly today by CBS and the show’s producer, Warner Bros. The sitcom was the No. 1 scripted show on TV last season in the 18-49 demographic, the story says. Its numbers in the demo are up about 15 percent cince being moved last fall to Thursday nights from Mondays.

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Dr. Phil Sends Golden-Voiced Homeless Man to Rehab

The homeless man whose golden voice made him an Internet sensation and recently landed him some broadcasting work revealed on “Dr. Phil” that he has fallen off the wagon, Entertainment Weekly reports.

Ted Williams told Dr. Phil McGraw that he is drinking again, and he agreed at Dr. Phil’s urging to enter a private treatment facility for his alcoholism and drug use, the story says.

Williams and his family appeared on the show and discussed a recent altercation between Williams and his daughter at a hotel in Hollywood, in which the police briefly detained Williams.

“If Ted is ever going to get better, he’s got to be honest with himself and admit he’s addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Dr. Phil said in a release for the show, which is scheduled to air Thursday. “I’ve told him it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take a lot of hard work. It might be a long journey for him, but this is a big step in the right direction.”

As recently reported, Williams parlayed his sudden Internet celebrity into work, getting a job doing voiceovers for MSNBC.

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Series That Managed Only 1.8 Million Viewers on Broadcast TV Premieres to a Staggering 7.7 Million on Cable Channel BET

A sitcom that last aired on broadcast and drew only 1.8 million viewers during the 2008-09 season premiered Tuesday night to a staggering audience of 7.7 million on cable channel BET, Entertainment Weekly reported.

The show is the former CW series “The Game,” produced by Kelsey Grammer and starring Tia Mowry Hardrict. The football-related comedy was canceled by CW after performing poorly in its Friday night time slot.

Airing after “The Game” on BET Tuesday, the new comedy “Let’s Stay Together” attracted a respectable 4.4 million viewers.

Over on FX, the news wasn’t as good, as the new boxing show “Lights Out” saw only about 1.5 million viewers for its premiere, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The story notes that the number is on par with the 1.6 million viewers for “Terriers,” which has been canceled, and is well short of the 4.2 million for last year’s premiere of “Justified.”

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Discovery Reorganizes, Appoints Exec to Oversee Two Flagship Networks

Discovery Communications has reorganized its management structure, including picking an executive to fill the newly created position of group president, Discovery and TLC Networks, the company announced today.

The new post will be filled by Eileen O’Neill, it was announced by President and CEO David Zaslav.

“Eileen is a home-grown Discovery talent with a 21-year track record of success that is nothing short of astounding,” Zaslav said. “Each network she led has been infused with creativity, innovation and content that breaks through the clutter of the television landscape. Most recently, her big, bold swings at TLC have transformed that network and driven it into the top 10 for women with an incredible 31 series averaging more than 1 million viewers in 2010.”

Discovery Channel President and General Manager Clark Bunting will report to O’Neill, as will TLC Chief Operating Officer Edward Sabin, who is serving as interim General Manager of TLC, the company said in its announcement.

Hit shows developed under O’Neill’s tenure as president and general manager of TLC include “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” “Sister Wives” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

Also announced today was the promotion of Marjorie Kaplan to president of Animal Planet and Science Networks. Science Channel General Manager Debbie Myers will report to Kaplan.

Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of Investigation Discovery and Military Networks, adds new responsibilities for Discovery’s Emerging Networks, Planet Green and FitTV, with Laura Michalchyshyn, president and general manager, reporting to him while the company develops a strategy to move these networks toward future growth.

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Creators of Beloved 1980s Prime-Time Soap Readying Big-Screen Remake

An iconic 1980s prime-time soap opera will soon be coming back as a feature film. Richard and Esther Shapiro, who created the original TV show “Dynasty,” announced that they have a “Dynasty” film in the works.

“The time is right,” said Esther Shapiro, who co-created the series with her husband, Richard. “We want to go back to the beginning with these characters and use the film to trace their roots. We’re taking Blake Carrington back to his young manhood and when he met Alexis, and setting the movie in the ‘Mad Men’ era of the 1960s. It will give us the opportunity to start fresh, without the constraints that television placed on our characters in the series.”

Richard Shapiro also pointed to the limitations the show faced as a product of 1980s television, and the relative freedom that can be found today on the big screen. “In a way, these characters were prisoners in television,” he said. “We were always constrained by the smaller budget of a TV series, and all the standards and practices that governed the content of the show. In the movie, if we want to have some James Bond-style action, we can afford to do that. If we want to have a steamy love scene, we can do that. If we want to go a few steps beyond what they would allow on 1980s TV, we can move ahead those few steps, and then some.”

The Shapiros are currently working on the script for the film, which is expected to be shot during the next year.

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The Reality TV Show Star Formerly Known as Snooki No Longer Wants to Be Called Snooki

Following in the footsteps of Sean Combs, who gave up the nickname Puff Daddy, "Jersey Shore" star Snooki Polizzi wants to stop being called Snooki and reclaim her real name, Nicole, the AP reports.

The MTV reality show star told the press, "I miss my real name. I miss people calling me Nicole."

Still, on the cover of her new novel, "A Shore Thing," both of her names appear, just to make sure her fans recognize the "Jersey Shore" diva connection.

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Wow! Series In Its Eighth Season Drew Its Largest Audience Ever on Tuesday Night, Jan. 11, 2011

This is pretty amazing--a show in its eighth season drew its largest audience ever on Jan. 11, 2011, Deadline.com reports.

It's CBS phenom "NCIS."

According to the article, "CBS' NCIS last night posted a series high in total viewers: 22 million. The veteran procedural was the top program on the night by a mile in viewers and adults 18-49 (4.5/12), leading CBS to an easy nightly victory and solid ratings gains from the Tuesday lineup's last originals on Dec. 14."

Not bad for a series that started as a spinoff of a show--"JAG"--that NBC had rejected after its second season...

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Last Surviving Original Immediate Family Member of Seminal Baby-Boomer Sitcom Favorite 'Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet' Dies

The last surviving member of the original family featured on the popular TV sitcom "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" has died, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

David Nelson was 74 and had been battling complications of colon cancer.

Nelson starred on his parents' popular TV show, although the story says it was he and his younger brother Ricky who convinced their parents to go on the program. The stars based some story lines in "Ozzie and Harriet" on their own lives, the article notes. The show was broadcast on ABC from 1952 to 1966, and David Nelson directed many episodes of the series, it adds. He's survived by his wife, Yvonne, four sons and a daughter, and seven grandchildren, the story says.

Ricky Nelson, who was also a teenage singing hearthrob on the show, was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1985. Ozzie passed away in 1975, and Harriet died in 1994.

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Skeet Ulrich Leaving 'Law & Order: Los Angeles' Amid Creative Overhaul of Show

Skeet Ulrich, the first actor to be cast on "Law & Order: Los Angeles," is leaving the show amid a creative overhaul of the program, reports Deadline.com's Nellie Andreeva.

Ulrich, who plays Detective Rex Winters, will be joined by the departure of two regulars, Regina Hall and Megan Boone, who play an ADA and DDA on the show, the story notes. Creator Dick Wolf is making the changes "on the fly, without stopping production on the show that is now filming Episode 12," Andreeva writes.

Another story on Deadline.com about the departures notes that Boone is leaving the show entirely, while Hall may return for a few episodes. Although the show is NBC's highest-rated new drama, the series' ratings have been middling, the story adds.

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Have the Producers of 'American Idol' Lost Their Touch? If So, 'Idol' Could Be In Trouble This Season

Have the producers of "American Idol" lost their touch? TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross thinks they have, so he thinks the show--whose 10th season premieres next week--is in trouble. Part of the problem is the new judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, and the departure of Simon Cowell.

To read his stimulating, controversial entry, please click here.

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As Chicago's WLS-TV Plans to Replace Oprah, Station Considers 'Apprentice' Winner Bill Rancic, the Daughter of a Famous Football Player and Others

As WLS-TV in Chicago moves forward with a new morning talk show to replace "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which holds the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekday slot on the station, it's auditioning more than 20 candidates to host the new show, reports Robert Feder at Timeout Chicago.

Among those being considered are Bill Rancic, the winner of the first "The Apprentice"; ESPN radio host Bonnie Bernstein; Brittney Payton, host of WGN's "Chicago's Best" and the daughter of the late Bears Hall of Famer Walter Payton; Stephen Smith, a sports commentator and NBA insider for Fox Sports and ESPN; Rafer Weigel, sports anchor for HLN's "Morning Express"; Roe Conn, an afternoon personality on WLS-AM; and Jeff Goldblatt, a former national correspondent for Fox News Channel, the story notes.

The producers are trying out the potential hosts in a variety of combinations, the story says. It adds that they hope to pick their final lineup of hosts and contributors by the end of February, although there is no start date yet for the show. Oprah Winfrey's syndicated show will remain on air until the fall, although original episodes are expected to stop airing by the end of May, the article adds.

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Boston's WCVB-TV's News Helicopter Makes Emergency Landing on Boston Common

Boston's WCVB-TV's news helicopter, Sky 5, made an emergency landing on Boston Common on Tuesday around 6 p.m.,reports HinghamWeather's BostonTVNews.com.

The helicopter experienced mechanical problems and landed with both the pilot and photographer on board safe, the story notes.

The craft's pilot managed to avoid hitting buildings and people in what is a busy Boston location, the article notes. "Warning lights and an alarm came on in the helicopter. Our pilot, Michael Young, did exactly what he was trained to do and made a precautionary landing," said station news director Andrew Vrees, the story says.

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While Leno Draws More Live Viewers Than O'Brien, Team Coco Wins in Young Viewers Once DVR Viewing Is Added

After Jay Leno took back his "Tonight Show" job last year and since Conan O'Brien moved to TBS, Leno has been drawing a much larger audience among late-night viewers, notes the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog. But when it comes to adding in young viewers watching via DVRs, O'Brien has the lead, the story notes.

With DVR viewing added in, O'Brien has the top show with people between the ages of 18 and 49 years old, drawing an average of 1.4 million viewers in that group during November and December, the story notes. Leno, meanwhile, drew 1.3 million by that measure, while CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" attracted 1.1 million and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" was watched by 1 million in that group, the story says.

Among viewers 18 to 34 years old, "Conan" had even a larger lead, drawing an average of 930,000 viewers, compared with Jon Stewart in second place with 574,000 viewers, the article notes.

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One Issue to Consider When Buying a Smartphone: Report Says Android Phones More Vulnerable to Hackers and Viruses

There's another issue to consider besides apps and wireless reception when buying a smartphone: Google's Android operating system is more vulnerable to viruses and hackers than Apple's rival iPhone, reports Bloomberg, citing a report from Trend Micro Inc.

Google's Android "allows hackers to understand the operating system's source code and structure, according to Trend Micro Chairman Steve Chang. "We have to give credit to Apple, because they are very careful about it. It’s impossible for certain types of viruses” to work on the iPhone, Chang said, according to the story.

While Google allows developers to have access to Android for free, Apple approves every application before it is sold in its online store, the article notes.

In reply, Google said in a statement that all computing devices require users to "entrust at least some of their information to the developer of the application they’re using" and that "Android has taken steps to inform users of this trust relationship and to limit the amount of trust a user must grant to any given application developer.”

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Report: To Meet Conditions on NBC Deal, Comcast May Have to Provide TV Shows to Online Competitors

Comcast may be required to provide television programs to online competitors and be prohibited from interfering with subscribers' Web traffic in order to earn regulatory approval for its merger with NBC Universal, Bloomberg reports.

The requirements were proposed by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski on Dec. 23, the story says. The conditions haven't yet been made public, the story notes.

Genachowski asked his four fellow FCC commissioners to approve the merger on the condition that the company meet those requirements, the article notes. It adds that the agency hasn't set a date for voting on the merger and that his colleagues could either accept, reject or modify the conditions.

Both Comcast and the FCC declined to comment, the story says.

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'CSI' Taps Teen Idol Justin Bieber to Reprise His Role as Troubled Jason McCann

"CSI" has asked teen singing idol Justin Bieber to return to the program so that he can reprise his role as troubled teen Jason McCann, reports The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

The episode is scheduled to air Feb. 17, with filming taking place this week, the story notes.

In the episode, called "Targets of Obsession," Jason will call Nick, played by George Eads, to let him know he's in danger, the story notes. The earlier episode of "CSI" marked Bieber's acting debut, it adds.

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Fox Plans to Spend as Much or More on This Year's Development

Fox plans to spend just as much or more on development this year, according to Fox Networks Group Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice, who spoke at the TCA 2011 winter press tour, reports B&C.

Kevin Reilly, the president of Fox Entertainment, said not all the money will be spent on traditional fall and midseason debuts. "We would like to put some more resources to the summer so we can program year round," Reilly said, the story notes. He added that the network needs a "next generation of hits."

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Fox News Health Contributor Dr. Cynara Coomer Finds Out She Has Cancer

Fox News on-air health contributor Dr. Cynara Coomer has found out that she has thyroid cancer, a diagnosis that came four weeks after she gave birth to her daughter, reports the New York Post.

Coomer, 39, shared her diagnosis on her blog on Foxnews.com, with the goal of letting viewers know the importance of getting their thyroids checked, the story notes. Coomer will have radioactive iodine therapy in six weeks and will need to be quarantined from other people, including her baby, the story notes.

Coomer, who specializes in breast cancer and is the chief of breast surgery at Staten Island University Hospital, has a type of thyroid cancer that has an 80 to 90 percent survival rate, the article says. She underwent successful surgery Jan. 6.

"I have a big heart for my patients that have to go through cancer treatments," she said. "This gives me a better understanding on an emotional and psychological level about what they're going through."

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As Expected, Verizon Confirms It'll Start Selling the iPhone; Unexpectedly, Verizon Also Makes News About the iPad

As expected, Verizon announced today that it will soon sell Apple's iPhone.

Unexpectedly, Verizon "CFO Francis Shammo let slip to a Bloomberg reporter today that a Verizon version of Apple's iPad is coming eventually, BusinessInsider reports, adding that the unauthorized comment "won't go over well at Apple HQ in Cupertino," where everything is top secret until Steve Jobs announces it.

The article continues, "Verizon Wireless has been selling Apple's iPad for several months now, but it requires a separate device to use the mobile Internet. This new iPad will come with Verizon access built in."

What is still unknown is whether the upcoming iPad will connect to Verizon's 4G network. Verizon said the iPhone 4, when it becomes available next month, will only hook up to Verizon's 3G network, The New York Times reports.

The NY Times article says, "Verizon’s iPhone 4 will be available for preorder Feb. 3 for existing Verizon customers, and will be generally available for preorder beginning Feb. 10. Verizon executives said the 16-gigabyte version of the phone would cost $199 with a two-year contract, while the 32-gigabyte version would cost $299 — the same as AT&T’s pricing. It said pricing for data plans had not yet been determined."

It has been expected that the company would announce an unlimited data plan, but that was not part of today's announcement.

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HBO Tops Directors Guild TV Award Nominations

HBO was the most-nominated network for the Directors Guild of America Awards, which announced its TV nominees today, the L.A. Times’ Awards Tracker reported. DGA President Taylor Hackford made the announcement.

HBO led with 14 nominations, with “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Pacific,” “Entourage,” “Temple Grandin,” “You Don’t Know Jack” and Bill Maher’s “But I’m Not Wrong” all picking up nods.

Film directors earning recognition for their TV work included Martin Scorsese for “Boardwalk Empire,” Barry Levinson for “You Don’t Know Jack” and Frank Darabont for “The Walking Dead.”

ABC’s “Lost” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and “Mad Men” were among the drama nominees, while ABC’s “Modern Family,” NBC’s “30 Rock” and Fox’s “Glee” earned comedy nominations.

The DGA will announce the winners at a ceremony Jan. 29 at the Grand Ballroom in Hollywood.

Here is a complete list of the television nominees.

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Vegas Bender by Charlie Sheen May Have CBS Execs Ready to Take Action

The latest antics by “Two and a Half Men” star Charlie Sheen apparently have CBS executives concerned and poised to take action, TheWrap reports.

Sheen returned to work today after a weekend spree in Las Vegas with porn stars, according to the story, and was expected to have discussions with the show’s producers and the network about what effect his partying might be having on his health and on the show.

“Two and a Half Men” is a huge hit for CBS, and Sheen is the highest-paid star in television, the story points out.

Sheen’s rep, Stan Rosenfield, said the issue has been blown out of proportion and noted that reports were indicating Sheen would fail to show up for work Tuesday--right up until the time when he did show up.

It could be that a “friendly chat” between Sheen and Chuck Lorre, executive producer of the show, is on tap, the story says, or it could be that something bigger is in the works--such as shutting down the show in midseason to send Sheen back to a treatment facility.

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Numbers Are In for First Week of Oprah's New Network

The ratings are in for Week 1 of Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network, which launched New Year's Day. The Hollywood Reporter says that, according to final ratings, the network cumulatively drew 18.5 million viewers during its premiere week, which ended Jan. 7.

The network ranked No. 25 among cable networks in prime time (8-11 p.m.) for the period from Jan. 1-9, the story says, averaging 505,000 viewers and a 0.55 household rating. That’s up 49% from the previous network that occupied that spot on the cable dial, Discovery Health.

OWN had a 0.41 rating among women 25-54, the story notes, up 58% from Discovery Health.

The new Oprah network was the 28th-ranked cable net for the week in total day, averaging 239,000 viewers.

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ABC Wins a Slow Night in the Ratings for Broadcast Nets

The ESPN broadcast of the BCS National Championship kept the networks from aggressively going after the prime-time Nielsen ratings, according to TVbytheNumbers.com.

ABC counterprogrammed its Disney corporate cousin ESPN with original episodes of “The Bachelor” and “Castle” and came away with a win for the night, in both the adults 18-49 demo and total viewers. ABC averaged a 2.6 rating in 18-49, better than CBS’s 2.0 average, Fox’s 1.6, Univision’s 1.5 and NBC’s 0.9.

In total viewers, ABC led the way with an average of 8.7 million, beating CBS (7.7 million), Fox (5.5 million), Univision (3.8 million) and NBC (3.4 million).

At 8 p.m. ABC's first hour of "The Bachelor" scored a 2.7 average rating in the 18-49 demographic, ahead of Fox's "Lie to Me," which had a 1.6 in the same demo for the hour.

At 9 p.m. the second hour of "The Bachelor" had a 2.8 in the 18-49 demo, while a second episode of "Lie to Me" collected a 1.5 in the same demo for the hour.

The 10 p.m. hour was won by "Castle" on ABC with a 2.1 average rating in the 18-49 demo, up against all reruns.

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BCS Title Game on ESPN Is Cable's Most-Watched Telecast Ever

ESPN’s telecast Monday night of the Tostitos BCS National Championship college football game, in which the Auburn Tigers won the title by defeating the Oregon Ducks, is the most-watched cable show ever, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The game attracted 27.3 million viewers, beating the total of 21.8 million for the previous record holder, a “Monday Night Football” telecast on Oct. 5, 2009, that pitted the Green Bay Packers against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Auburn-Oregon game scored a 17.8 rating in Nielsen’s fast nationals, according to the story. That figure is the highest in the history of cable TV, the story says, with records going back to 2001. The previous high in that category was another ESPN telecast, a “Monday Night Football” game on Nov. 30, 2009, between the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints, which scored a 14.4 rating.

This year marked the first time the BCS title game was televised on cable, the story notes, adding that ESPN has a deal to continue the telecast through 2014.

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Fox Renews 'Raising Hope'

The Fox live-action sitcom "Raising Hope" has been given a second-season renewal by the network, reports Deadline.com.

This is the first new 2010 show to get a second-season pickup. The announcement about the Greg Garcia comedy was made Tuesday morning during the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt star in the show, which also features Emmy and Oscar winner Cloris Leachman.

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Golden-Voiced Homeless Man Has a Brush With the Law

The consensus “feel-good story of the year,” about homeless man Ted Williams being discovered on the streets and springboarding into a broadcasting career, has hit a speedbump, reports the AP.

According to L.A. police, Williams and his daughter got into a loud argument Monday night at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa. Officer Catherine Massey said while it was a minor incident, the argument was reported to the police and they investigated.

"They were brought in, calmed down, talked to and released," said Massey.

Since being discovered in a YouTube video, the golden-voiced Williams has been hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA organization, as well as being named the voice of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

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Reacting to Shooting, Fox News Chief Roger Ailes Tells Staff to 'Tone It Down'

After Saturday's shooting in Arizona, which left six people dead and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords among the wounded, Fox News chief Roger Ailes asked the cable network's staff to "tone it down" and ditch the "bombast," reports GlobalGrind.com, a site from Russell Simmons.

In an interview with Simmons, Ailes said, "I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast. I hope the other side does that."

Ailes also said he believes the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, "was attached to nobody. He was a flag burner. He just was not attached to the Tea Party. It’s just a bullshit way to use the death of a little girl to get Fox News in an argument."


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After Deadly Shooting, Congressman Calls for Return of Fairness Doctrine, Rethinking Free Speech

In the wake of Saturday’s deadly shooting in Arizona, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in Congress, has called for a reassessment of the parameters of free speech, reports The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.

Clyburn said he believes vitriolic public discourse is one of the factors that led a 22-year-old suspect to open fire at a meeting between U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents in Tucson, killing six people and injuring 14 others, the story reports. Giffords was shot in the head but is recovering.

“Free speech is as free speech does,” Clyburn said. “You cannot yell ‘fire' in a crowded theater and call it free speech, and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that.”

Clyburn called for implementation of standards to guarantee balanced media coverage, with reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. He also chided elected officials and pundits to use better judgment, the story says.

Law enforcement officials had not disclosed any motives for the shooting, but much of the speculation has focused on the media and the angry tone of public political discussion, including the increasing popularity of partisan cable news coverage.

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'Kennedys' Miniseries Could Get U.S. Airing After All

After a miniseries about the Kennedy family was pulled from the History Channel, Michael Prupas, the chief executive of Muse Entertainment, which produced the miniseries, said several U.S. networks have expressed interest in the program, reports The New York Times' Arts Beat blog.

"They're all viewing the material at the present time," he said, declining to name the networks. "The Kennedys" will be seen by viewers in Canada, Britain, Italy, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Australia and Japan, the story adds.

As previously reported, the eight-hour biographical film, which stars Greg Kinnear as President John F. Kennedy and Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy, was pulled from its spring debut on History this week, reportedly spurred by pressure from the Kennedy family.

History said the series was "not a fit for the History brand," while early drafts of the script had been criticized by historians as containing factual errors. Prupas told The New York Times that the miniseries “is based on the truth, reflects the truth, and if anything is a positive, very positive presentation of the Kennedy family.”


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The Word 'Bitch,' Whose Use on TV Has More Than Tripled in the Past Decade, Is Close to Getting Its Own TV Show (Though Not on OWN, Where Oprah Has Banned the Word)

The show in question is "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23," a pilot written by former "American Dad!" writer and producer David Hemingson and current "Dad" executive producer Nahnatchka Khan. Deadline.com says it's close to getting picked up by ABC.

The pilot, directed by "Modern Family" pilot director Jason Winer, comes from 20th TV, the story notes. The project focuses on an honest and optimistic young woman from the heartland who is forced to move in with a New York party girl lacking morals, the story says.

The project, originally developed for Fox two seasons ago, marks the first pilot directing job for Winer since "Modern Family," the article adds.

[And for your own edification, some stats about the word bitch. According to the Parents Television Council, "The use of the word “bitch,” for example, tripled in the last decade alone, growing to 1,277 uses on 685 shows in 2007 from 431 uses on 103 prime-time episodes in 1998," it has been reported by The New York Times

And EW wrote just this past fall that "Oprah bans the word 'bitch' from her network."]

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Embattled 'Survivor' Champ Found Guilty Again in Court

Richard Hatch, the first winner of CBS's reality TV hit "Survivor," has been found guilty of violating terms of his probation on tax evasion charges by not filing amended tax returns or making payments to the Internal Revenue Service, reports the Providence Journal.

The prosecutor declared that Hatch, who did time in jail after being convicted of tax evasion, had thumbed his nose in the face of those who granted him probation. However, Mary McElroy, Hatch's public defender, countered that Hatch is appealing what the IRS says he owes to federal Tax Court and it would have been inappropriate for him to begin making payments.

U.S. District Court Judge William Smith ruled against Hatch and asked lawyers to submit briefs regarding how to punish Hatch. The sentencing could involve incarceration or extending his probation.


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Consolidation Swallows Another TV Pioneer

When Adam Young started his rep firm in 1944, World War II was still raging, radio was king, and  there were but nine TV stations in the entire United States.

In New York there were NBC's WNBT, CBS' WCBW and DuMont's WABD (later to become, respectively, WNBC, WCBS and WNYW); in Schenectady, NY, there was General Electric's WRGB; in L.A. there were Don Lee's W6XAO and Television Prods.' W6XYZ (now KCBS and KTLA, respectively); in Philadelphia there was Philco's WPTZ (which eventually evolved into KYW); and in Chicago there were Balaban and Katz's WBKB (which eventually became WBBM) and Zenith's W9XZV (which eventually evolved into Channel 4 on the dial, which is not now assigned a TV station in Chicago).

From those pioneering days 67 years ago, Young became a significant player in the rep firm business. Now, Adam Young Inc. will be shut down at the end of January by Young Broadcasting, reports B&C.

Adam Young Inc. was acquired by sibling Young Broadcasting in 1997, the story notes.

Cox Reps, now the biggest TV rep firm in the U.S., will represent Young Broadcasting for national sales, the story notes, with the firm planning to create a Young Broadcasting sales team based in New York, L.A. and Chicago, the article adds.

"The TV rep business has changed dramatically over the past decade, with an increasingly complex business environment forcing a wave of consolidations," said Young Broadcasting president Deborah McDermott. She said the decision was made with "mixed emotions."

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CW Maps Out Plans for New Dr. Drew Show

The CW has signed Dr. Drew Pinsky for a new daily half-hour show called "Dr. Drew's Lifechangers," reports B&C.

The show will be produced in Los Angeles by Warner Bros.' Telepictures Productions and was developed by the syndicated newsmagazine "Extra," the story notes. The CW plans to air two back-to-back episodes from 3-4 p.m, with the first half hour being filled by an original episode, according to the piece.

The program will focus on people in conflict, ranging from addiction to relationship problems, and feature a panel of experts, who will include medical experts and celebrities, the article adds.


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Michael Douglas Says He Has Beaten Cancer

Actor Michael Douglas, appearing on the "Today" show this morning on NBC, said he's cancer-free after a "wild six-month ride," reports the New York Post.

Douglas spoke with host Matt Lauer about his treatment, noting that the tumor is gone. "But, you know, I have to check out on a monthly basis now to maintain. I guess there's not a total euphoria. I'll probably take a couple of months of getting checked out. But it's been a wild six-month ride," he said, according to the story.

Douglas said he's working on regaining muscle mass after losing 32 pounds during his treatment, and has already regained 12 pounds. He is scheduled to begin shooting "Liberace" in May or June, based on the life of the pianist, the story notes.


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As Regulatory Approval Nears for Comcast-NBCU Deal, Last-Minute Lobbying Heats Up

A flurry of last-minute lobbying by those in favor of Comcast's merger with NBC Universal and those against it is taking place just as the deal is about to receive regulatory approval, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts last week met with Republican Federal Communication Commission commissioners Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker as well as Edward Lazarus, the chief of staff for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the story says.

During the same week, 97 members of Congress sent the FCC a letter asking the agency to approve the deal so that "all Americans can reap the benefits of this transaction as quickly as possible," the piece notes.

Competitors also made last-minute lobbying efforts, with DirecTV lobbying for conditions on how Comcast negotiates programming agreements with rival distributors and Tennis Channel again arguing that the merger would be bad for smaller cable networks, the article notes.

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Wow, Here's a Power Lineup: Oprah, Howard Stern, Condoleezza Rice, Ricky Gervais and George Clooney

Here's a power lineup. Oprah, Howard Stern, Condoleezza Rice, Ricky Gervais and George Clooney.

It's the first-week lineup of interviewees on Piers Morgan's new CNN show, "Piers Morgan Tonight," which will kick off Jan. 17 at 9 p.m. ET, according to Mediabistro.

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Two Series Given Early Season Renewals by ABC Family

Two series have been given early season renewals by ABC Family, reports AOL's TVSquad.com.

"Pretty Little Liars," based on novels by Sara Shepard, will return for a second season, while "Secret Life" is returning for its fourth season in the 2011-12 television season, the story notes.

The announcement was made during ABC Family's panel at the Television Critics Association press tour. Both shows perform well with women between the ages of 18 and 49 years old, helping the network compete against rivals such as The CW, the story notes. 

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Former CNN Anchor Rick Sanchez Says He Never Said Jews Controlled Media, Claims Jon Stewart's Continual Criticism Caused Him (Sanchez) to Overreact

Former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez says, "I never said that Jews controlled the media. Never said it," in an interview in The Daily Beast.

Sanchez also said that Jon Stewart's continual criticism of him had been traumatizing, calling it "ridicule without recourse." Before Sanchez was fired for remarks he made on a radio show, he was the subject of jokes made at his expense on Stewart's "Daily Show," with the Comedy Central program airing, among other segments, a clip of him being tasered.

Sanchez told the Daily Beast that it made him start "to feel disrespected, that that caused me--because of my heart, my sinew--to overreact ... I overreacted and paid dearly for it. I screamed and I got fired." Sanchez also said the furor over his comments on the radio show and his firing had been traumatic and had "immobilized me so much."

Sanchez, who is Cuban-American, said he only recently went back to listen to the radio interview, which he said didn't match up with what was written about it at the time. "I never said that Jews controlled the media. Never said it."

At the time, the Associated Press wrote, "Sanchez said that Stewart is bigoted toward 'everybody else that's not like him.' He said Stewart 'can't relate to what I grew up with,' saying his family had been poor and he had seen prejudice directed at his father. Sanchez dismisses it when [the interviewer] points out that Stewart, who is Jewish, is also a minority."

After that, according to the AP report, Sanchez said, "I'm telling you that everyone who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority?"

Then, the AP said, Sanchez added a sarcastic "yeah" and later said, "I can't see someone not getting a job these days because they're Jewish." 

In the current Daily Beast interview Sanchez says, "'My whole conversation was about empowerment and that suddenly was taken in a different direction,' Sanchez noted. But he added that he was 'appalled' by the interview, calling it 'my being tired, being angry, being careless, and in many ways I brought it on myself by being sloppy.'"

As for his career plans, Sanchez said he is having "promising conversations with some people in the business to create a platform for me that I could revel in it," although he declined to comment on specifics.

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Video: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes Might Boycott Oscars Over Anne Hathaway's 'SNL' Skit; Check Out Video Here

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are ready to boycott the Oscars because they’re miffed at co-host Anne Hathaway, Hollywood Life reports. The reason for the possible snub? The couple was apparently irked by an impression Hathaway did of Holmes as part of a skit for “Saturday Night Live” in November.

A source close to the couple reportedly said, “Tom and Katie don’t want to have to cross paths with Anne.”

Here’s a clip of the “SNL” bit.

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Kardashian Sisters Being Sued

Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, the stars of E! Channel's "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," have been sued for breach of contract, reports TV Guide.

The lawsuit comes from a credit card company that created a prepaid debit card in the sisters' name. The sisters backed out of the Kardashian Kard deal after its launch late last year, objecting to predatory fees that were reportedly attached to the debit card.

Revenue Resource Group is asking for $75 million from the Kardashian sisters, saying the failed venture created that much in losses for the company.

Kris Jenner, the sisters' mother, was also named in the suit via her company, Dash Dolls LLC.

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'Mad Men' Finally Gets Official OK for Season Five; Oddly, Though, AMC Said It Doesn't Know WHEN the Show Will Be Back

"Mad Men," one of the most acclaimed cable shows in recent years, is coming back for another season, the Huffington Post reports. Joel Stillerman, AMC’s senior vice president of original programming, made the announcement Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour that the show will return for a fifth season, according to the story.

"'Mad Men' is definitely coming back for season five, but don't ask me when, because we're not sure yet," Stillerman said.

The announcement spares fans of the well-loved show the suspense that preceded season four, when extended contract talks between the network and show creator Matthew Weiner kept the fate of “Mad Men” in limbo.

"Mad Men" has been racking up awards, including the Emmy for outstanding drama series for three years running.

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Showtime's Sunday Premieres Pull in Big Numbers

Showtime is reporting big ratings ratings for its Sunday night lineup, which featured the season premiere of “Californication” and the series premieres of “Shameless” and “Episodes.”

“Californication,” returning for its fourth season, had its best season premiere ever, the network said, with 848,000 viewers for the 9 p.m. telecast and 1.12 million total viewers for the night.

The series premiere of “Shameless” was the pay-cable net’s biggest drama series premiere since “Dead Like Me” seven years ago, Showtime reported, with 982,000 viewers for the 10 p.m. showing and 1.3 million viewers for the night.

“Episodes” debuted at 9:30 p.m., drawing 768,000 viewers for the premiere telecast and retaining 91% of its “Californication” audience, tallying 902,000 total viewers for the night.

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ABC News Keeping Door Open to Possible Partnership With Bloomberg

ABC News is leaving the door open to a possible partnership with cable news outlet Bloomberg News, The New York Times reports in its Media Decoder blog.

That’s the word from Ben Sherwood, the new president of ABC News. Sherwood was asked about rumors of a partnership today during the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., and responded that he had “no news to break,” the story reports. But asked whether he is thinking about a Bloomberg partnership, he said, “Of course. How can you not think about partnering with an organization that has had the success Bloomberg has?”

“If we can partner on the digital side or the cable side, we must do that,” Sherwood added, but he also said ABC News can be successful without such partnerships.

The executive added that he has no plans for further layoffs at the news division.

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Fox's Animation Lineup Gets Ratings Boost From Dramatic NFL Playoff Game

The dramatic end to the late NFL playoff game, in which the Green Bay Packers knocked the Philadelphia Eagles out of the playoffs 21-16, boosted Fox's Sunday night lineup of animated shows in the Nielsen ratings, reports TVbytheNumbers.com.

With overrun from the NFL game pumping up its numbers, Fox finished the night with a 7.1 average rating in the adults 18-49 demo, easily outdistancing the competition. ABC managed a 2.6 average while CBS settled for a 2.2 and NBC clocked in with a 1.8.

The outcome was similar in total viewers, as Fox came in well ahead of the pack with an average of 17.4 million to 10.3 million for CBS, 9.4 million for ABC and 7.0 million for NBC.

At 7 p.m. the overrun of the NFL game had a 13.0 average rating in the 18-49 demo for the top half of the hour; a combination of the game overrun and the "O.T." postgame show averaged a 11.0 in the same demo in the bottom half of the hour. ABC's "America's Funniest Videos" had a 1.8 for the hour, followed by CBS's "60 Minutes" with a 1.6 and NBC's "Dateline" with a 0.7, all three in the 18-49 demographic.

At 8 p.m. Fox's "The Simpsons" and the premiere of "Bob's Burgers" collected a 5.7 average rating and a 4.5, respectively, in the 18-49 demographic. ABC's "Extreme Makeover" had a 2.6 for the hour in the 18-49, just a tad better than CBS's "CSI: Miami" with a 2.5 in the same demo. NBC's second hour of "Dateline" had a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo.

9 p.m. saw the premiere of NBC's "The Cape," which managed only a 2.6 average in the 18-49 demo. That was last for the time period, which was topped by Fox's "Family Guy" and "Cleveland Show" with a 4.7 rating and a 3.5, respectively, in the same demo. ABC's "Desperate Housewives" earned a 3.8 in the 18-49 demo, while CBS's "Undercover Boss" had a 3.0 in the same demo.

At 10 p.m. NBC's "The Cape" was tops with 2.6 in the 18-49 demo, with ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" getting a 2.3 in the same demo.

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Peter Yates, Oscar-Nominated Director of 'Breaking Away,' 'Bullitt,' 'The Dresser,' Dead at 82

Film director and producer Peter Yates, best known for "The Dresser," "Breaking Away" and "Bulliitt," died Sunday in London following a long illness, at the age of 82, reports Deadline.com.

The British-born Yates was nominated for Oscars as best director for “Breaking Away” (1979) and “The Dresser” (1983), and both of those films also received nominations for best picture. Earlier in his career he worked in television, including helming a number of episodes of the 1960s spy dramas "The Saint" with Roger Moore and “Secret Agent” with Patrick McGoohan.

Among his big-screen successes, Yates directed Robert Redford in "The Hot Rock" (1972) and Barbra Streisand in "For Pete's Sake" (1974). He capped off his directing career with a return to television for the TV movies ‘Don Quixote” (2000) and “A Separate Peace” (2004).

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Having Just Said Goodbye to the Red Carpet, Joan Rivers Reveals Her Next Move

As we reported last week, Joan Rivers will no longer be a fixture on the red carpet, but the comic has decided to continue her TV career as the star of her own reality show, reports iVillage.com.

Collaborating with her daughter Melissa Rivers, Joan Rivers will appear on a new WE Network show called "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" The premise for the show is not only Joan Rivers’ busy career, but also the the elder Rivers’ move into her daughter’s home.

Joan Rivers is aiming for a higher-quality reality TV product than "Jersey Shore," and promises that it will be "shamelessly entertaining."

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Word Is In on Whether TLC Will Do Another Season of 'Sarah Palin's Alaska'

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" has been one of the most successful shows ever for TLC, and now the network has apparently decided whether the widely buzzed-about show starring the former governor of Alaska will be back for a second season, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The answer, according to the story, is no.

The show has reportedly averaged 3.2 million viewers, and has brought a ton of publicity to the network, even though much of it has been negative. But the publication learned that producer Mark Burnett had no plans to head back to Alaska for a second season.

It was unclear whether the decision to pull the plug on the show was Palin’s. But the magazine reported: "It makes sense why Palin wouldn't want to commit to another season: If she and her family chose to shoot more episodes, it would surely be interpreted as a sign that she had no plans to run for office."

TLC had not confirmed the report.

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With Flagging Ratings For 'Parker Spitzer,' CNN Considers Replacing One of the Co-Hosts

With its new show "Parker Spitzer" trailing far behind the competition on Fox News and MSNBC, CNN is considering replacing one of the show's co-hosts, reports the Wall Street Journal. (with the WSJ behind a firewall we link here to the version carried by The Huffington Post.

According to an update in the Huffington Post story, "The New York Post reports that Kathleen Parker is almost certain to be replaced as the co-host of CNN's 8 PM show. 'There's no doubt in the world they are going to replace her,' one source told the Post. According to the paper, the favorite to replace Parker as co-host alongside Eliot Spitzer is E.D. Hill, the former Fox News anchor most famous for calling Barack and Michelle Obama's fist bump a 'terrorist fist jab.' Hill has already filled in for Parker once on the show. The Post says that CNN is also looking at National Review writer Will Cain as a replacement."

According to the original WSJ story, that paper was told that no decision has been made, and a CNN spokeswoman said, "We aren't going to engage in speculation." While CNN debuted the show as part of a strategy to revive its primetime schedule, the show has averaged about 468,000 viewers in its 8 p.m. time slot through late December, compared with 2.6 million for Fox News and 874,000 for MSNBC, the WSJ story notes.

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Report: Verizon Will Offer Unlimited Data Plan For iPhone Customers. AT&T No Longer Does That For New iPhone Customers

"Verizon Wireless, the country's largest wireless carrier, is confident enough in its network that it will offer unlimited data-use plans when it starts selling the iPhone around the end of this month, a person familiar with the matter said. Such plans would provide a key means of distinguishing its service from rival AT&T Inc., which limits how much Internet data such as videos and photos its customers may use each month."

That's the word from the Wall Street Jounal (the WSJ is behind a firewall and may ask a fee to see this story.)

The article continues, "It wasn't clear how long Verizon would offer unlimited-data plans. Its executives have said repeatedly that the industry needs to move to some form of tiered pricing—charging different prices for different amounts of data use—as mobile Internet service use rises, but for the moment the carrier is sticking to its existing plans."

AT&T also offered customers unlimited data-use plans when it first offred the iPhone. But subsequently it started to limit the data plans offered new iPhone subscribers.

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'SNL's Biggest Ratings of the Season

"Saturday Night Live's" first show of 2011 delivered the best ratings of the season, reports James Hibberd from his new gig at Entertainment Weekly.

The host was Jim Carrey and the musical guest were The Black Keys. Wrote Hibberd: " 'SNL' delivered a 7.8 in the metered-market household Nielsens. You have to go back to when Betty White hosted the show with Jay-Z as musical guest last season to find a bigger next-day number. Though Carrey’s energy helped keep viewers awake (recap here), SNL was doubtless also aided by having a lead-in from the NFL Wild Card Playoff game."

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Report: Pressure from the Kennedy Family Helped Kill 'Kennedys' Miniseries on History

Pressure from the Kennedy family played a crucial role in History's decision to kill the miniseries "The Kennedys," reports Matthew Belloni in The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, the History Channel said it decided not to air its eight-part multimillion-dollar miniseries because the content wasn't historically accurate enough for its standards. 

Belloni reports that members of the Kennedy family  had never stopped lobbying to kill the project ever ince it was announced in December, 2009.

 Anne Sweeney, the head of Disney/ABC Television Group and a board member of the AETN, was personally lobbied by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy, the story says. It adds that Caroline Kennedy has a book deal with Disney's Hyperion division to publish a collection of previously unreleased interviews with her mother.

Another Kennedy relative, Maria Shriver, was also said to have voiced her feelings about the project to outgoing NBC Universal executives Jeff Zucker and Jeff Gaspin, with Gaspin also serving on the AETN board. Shriver is also a friend of Sweeney's, the story says. 

The Walt Disney Co., Hearst, and NBC are co-owners of History Channel parent AETN.

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Seeking to Highlight Online Stars, YouTube Has Weekly Talk Show

Seeking to highlight people whose videos have become Internet sensations, YouTube has started a weekly talk show with contributors who have attracted millions of online fans, reports the New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

Called the "Partners Project,"  the show started last month and has featured Dane Boedigheimer, who created the animated series "The Annoying Orange," and Justine Ezarik, who shares videos about her life called "iJustine."

The show is hosted by video blogger Shira Lazar and each segment is about 8 minutes to 10 minutes long, the story notes. While many online stars might have large followings on the Web, they remain unknown to much of the public, the article adds.

It cites Joe Penna, the focus of the series' most recent interview, who has drawn 206 million video views for his music videos created under the name "MysteryGuitarMan." “A little bit over a year ago I was sleeping on the floor, stealing my neighbor’s Wi-Fi and going to, like, a soup kitchen to be able to eat. And now I have my own studio," Penna said in the interview.

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The Onion Hopes to Score Fans with Parody of ESPN's 'SportsCenter'

The Onion, the satirical Website and newspaper, is hoping to win over some fans with its half-hour weekly parody of ESPN's "SportsCenter," reports our old pal from our Inside Media days, Richard Sandomir, in the New York Times.

The show will start a 10-episode run on Comedy Central on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011, leading into the network's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." According to Will Graham, an executive producer and director of the spoof, called "Onion SportsDome," the goal is for "people passing it or watching it in a bar to think that it’s real coverage.”

The show borrows its look and tone from ESPN, with throbbing music and anchors speaking with both speed and purpose, the article notes. "Sound bites from news conferences convey the frequent banality of the real thing. Heart-tugging features (like one about a dying girl, a Phillies fan, whose last wish is to brutally heckle Mets third baseman David Wright) capitalize on every familiar, mawkish note," the article says.

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Justin Bieber and 'Glee': No Major Tribute, But At Least One of His Songs Will Be Sung

'Glee' co-creator Ryan Murphy says there will not be a tribute to young star Justin Bieber on the show, but one of his songs will be sung, MTV reports.

According to the report, "Murphy maintained that unlike other superstars whose repertoires have received "Glee" overhauls — like Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Madonna — Bieber's current list of hits isn't long enough to sustain an entire hour of New Directions-helmed numbers. 'Those [tributes] are reserved for artists with big catalogs,' he told Entertainment Weekly. However, this season of 'Glee' won't be completely Bieber-free: 'Bieber comes up in episode 13 as a small plot point. Sam [Chord Overstreet] sings a JB song to win Quinn's [Dianna Agron] approval.'

However, Nikki Finke at Deadline.com has it a little different: "This episode is supposed to air a few days into the Paramount release of Bieber's 3D biopic Never Say Never. Despite some contradictory statements from Ryan Murphy yesterday, I've learned from insiders that the episode tentatively scheduled for February 15th will feature a storyline about this season's new character, transfer student Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet), deciding to start a boy band, and he'll sing 3 Bieber songs on the show."

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Nielsen Launches Roadshow For IPO

"CNBC is reporting that Nielsen Holdings, the global TV rating and consumer measurement company is launching its IPO road show this morning with meetings at J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley, reports Deadline.com.

Nielsen has said that the price it expects on January 25th will range from $20 to $22, the story says. 

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Tucson TV Stations Mobilized to Cover the Shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Tucson TV stations were pressed to their limits over the weekend when the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords--that killed six and injured 20--happened in their community.

Reports B&C, "The stations typically went live at 5 a.m. Sunday morning, and stayed local for much of the day. It was, of course, all hands on deck in the newsrooms at the likes of KGUN, KOLD and KVOA, with all available reporters dropping everything to pitch in...."It feels like hurricane coverage," says KGUN News Director Forest Carr, who formerly worked in Tampa....Journal Communications' KGUN, Raycom's KOLD and Cordillera's KVOA contributed content to CNN. Carr says KGUN has gotten an assist from corporate sibling KTNV Las Vegas, which has pitched in with a reporter, photographer and Web producer, along with a live truck."

Carr added that KGUN "relied heavily on the viewers themselves to pitch in with reporting, whether it was eyewitness accounts or photos or testimony from those who knew the suspect, Jared Lee Loughner," the story says.

One dilemma KVOA faced was whether or not to air the NFL over the weekend. According to the article, KVOA President/General Manager Bill Shaw "says he was besieged with calls from both football fans and devoted local news consumers prior to the two Saturday contests, both parties fully expecting their preferred programming would air on the NBC affiliate. "It was not fun," he concedes. (KVOA aired the games, but took the pre-game, halftime and post-game slots from the network to provide viewers with updates on the shootings)."

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CES: Three Major Directors Talk About the Future of Movies and Home Entertainment and Film Preservation

Three major film directors spoke at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, dicussing the future of both movies and home entertainment, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The three directors involved were Oliver Stone, Michael Mann and Baz Luhrmann.

According to the story, "While all three of the famous perfectionists expressed enthusiasm for the [Blu-ray] format — Mann said 'Blu-ray does a better job [than DVD] by a factor of about 12 or 13' — they voiced less certainty and even flashes of anxiety when the talk turned to other technology topics.

"Luhrmann, 48, said he worries about the integrity of classic films when modern technology adds too much clarity to the images — for example, when the wires holding the flying monkeys can be seen in new versions of 'The Wizard of Oz.' And Mann, who spent months preparing '[Last of the] Mohicans' for last year's Blu-ray version, noted that despite his affection for the format, he could guess that it might last eight more years."

Stone had his opinion as well. According to the story, "Although more and more entertainment is moving toward digital delivery, Stone said the Blu-ray format may be able to extend its life if people consider it a collectible. 'This is about film preservation … it's the last hardware, the best of the last hardware. There won't be any other hardware now,'  he said. 'It's going to be on a digital phone or on a computer or on a TV screen.'

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Danny Deutsch's Next Big Idea: Cable Show With Him Giving SexLove-Life Advice

Donny Deutsch, the advertising mogul who previously hosted "The Big Idea" on CNBC, is preparing to debut a cable show to dish out love-life advice,  reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Called "Love Life," the show, on Bravo, will feature Deutsch fielding phone calls, emails and messages on Twitter, Skype and email during the half-hour live program, the story notes.

The show will have a special airing at the end of January, with the possibility of becoming a regular series.

The article notes that Deutsch, 53, has been married twice and has a daughter with an ex-girlfriend.

A Bravo representative declined to comment, the story adds.

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The Race To Be First and Getting the Story Wrong: How a Number of News Outlets, Led By NPR, Mistakenly Reported That Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Was Dead Soon After She Was Shot, Which, We Learned Soon Thereafter, Was Untrue

"The rapidly replicated false report that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died after being shot in the head provided media outlets another lesson this weekend in the danger of leaping to conclusions," writes David Bauder of the Associated Press.

According to the article, "NPR News' executive editor apologized Sunday to Giffords' family for the false report. That story came only an hour after NPR scored a significant scoop in reporting on Saturday's [January 8th, 2011] shooting in Tucson, Ariz., itself....National Public Radio had reported on its 2 p.m. EST newscast — and in subsequent e-mail alerts to subscribers — that Giffords had died from her injury when, in fact, she was still in surgery. Dick Meyer, executive editor of NPR News, said the information came from two different government sources, including one in the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

The article adds, "Fox News Channel's Bret Baier said on the air at 2:18 p.m. that NPR and one of his own sources reported that Giffords was dead. Fox's screen carried the headline: 'AZ Rep. Giffords Has Died After Being Shot in the Head.' Another Fox reporter said that the shooting suspect had himself been shot before being taken into custody, and there's been no evidence of that happening. CNN went with NPR's report, and Martin Savidge quickly added that CNN had confirmed the 'death' as well."

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No Profile in Courage Here: History Channel Yanks Multimillion Dollar 8-Part 'The Kennedys.' The Miniseries, Now Complete, Was Expected To Air This Spring. Stars Greg Kinnear, Katie Holmes and Producer Joel Surnow (Co-Creator of '24') Were All Told Today

The History Channel has not decided to air its multimillion dollar, 8-part miniseries "The Kennedys," The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Balloni  found out exclusively today.

According to the article, " 'Upon completion of the production of 'The Kennedys,' History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network,' a rep for the network tells The Hollywood Reporter in a statement. 'While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.'  The multi-million dollar project—History and Lifetime president and general manager Nancy Dubuc's first scripted miniseries at the network and its most expensive program ever—has been embroiled in controversy since it was announced in December 2009."

The New York Tmes' ArtsBeat blog, following up on THR's exclusive, wrote, "[I]n February, 'The Kennedys' was criticized by a group of historians who were shown early drafts of its scripts by Robert Greenwald, a liberal filmmaker who had obtained the screenplays. Among the critics was Theodore C. Sorensen, the former Kennedy adviser, who said of the screenplays, 'Every single conversation with the president in the Oval Office or elsewhere in which I, according to the script, participated, never happened.' (Mr. Sorensen died in October.)

The Times story continued, "The History channel said then that the scripts in question were incomplete drafts, and that it stood by the accuracy of more current drafts that were annotated by the screenwriter, Stephen Kronish."

The miniseries is still scheduled to be aired in Canada on March 6, and will be seen internationally, the THR story says.

The THR article also says that "producers Asylum and Muse have issued a statement: 'Although we regret this does not fit into the History Channel's plans, we are confident that television viewers in the United States will join viewers from around the world in having an opportunity to watch this series in the near future.' "

The miniseries stars Greg Kinnear as JFK and Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy.

The THR story adds, "No advertisers had registered complaints or concerns with the miniseries, confirms an A&E spokesperson, but the content was not considered historically accurate enough for the network’s rigorous standards. So an air date, which had not been announced but was planned for spring, was scrapped."

Here's the trailer for "The Kennedys": more »

CNN Under Pressure to Stop Booking 'Anti-Gay' Guests

CNN is facing a push by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to convince the news network to stop booking guests representing what GLAAD calls the "anti-gay industry," reports TVNewser.com.

GLAAD has launched a petition drive to persuade CNN to stop booking such guests in segments about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, the story notes.

The group cited a recent "John King, USA" segment as an example, when the show on Dec. 21 looked at the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and brought on the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg, whom GLAAD says "has worked to advance some of the most hurtful, dangerous, and demonstrably false notions about the lives of LGBT people that our country has seen in recent years."

The segment also featured openly gay former service member Alex Nicholson, the story notes.

CNN responded by noting that "CNN appreciates GLAAD’s concern for objective and fair reporting" and said the channel strives to book experts with "different points of view."

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MTV Has Its Highest-Rated Series Telecast Ever

MTV saw its ratings surge Thursday night as it brought back a popular reality show for its season premiere, Entertainment Weekly reported. The episode was watched by 8.4 million viewers.

The show is “Jersey Shore,” which became the channel’s most-watched series telecast in history as it debuted for its third season.

The show was up 63% from last season’s opener in the 12-34 demo, the story reports.


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Can We Stop Talking? No More Red Carpets for Mother-Daughter Team

Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa Rivers say they’re through covering red carpet arrivals at awards shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Among the reasons they cite: Publicists have become too uptight about the insults that have been the mother-daughter team’s bread-and-butter for years.

“It took all the fun out of it,” Melissa Rivers said.

Appearing this morning at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., Joan Rivers added: “When we were doing it, you could tell Julia Roberts, ‘I hate your dress.’” Now, however, such a comment might result in being shut out from further access, the comedian said.

Also mentioned as a factor that took some of the fun out of it for the duo: The arrival of Lisa Rinna in 2007 as a replacement for Joan and Melissa as red carpet host for TV Guide Network.

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TV Writer Warns of 'Dumbing-Down' Effect on Television From Growth of Google TV and Similar Services

With this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas showcasing high-tech tweaks on the TV model such as Google TV, veteran industry reporter Tim Goodman, writing in The Hollywood Reporter, warns that the changes that are on the way for television could have unintended consequences.

Among those consequences, Goodman writes, is the possible “dumbing down” of the medium as television content evolves to match the needs of multitasking users aided by killer apps such as the new “dual-view” feature--the picture-in-picture of the future.

Goodman writes: “The dual-view feature combines what a lot of people are already doing--surfing the Web or texting while watching TV--but makes it a whole lot easier. It might be the tipping point toward the death of subtlety and dense, intelligent television.”

Goodman makes the case that the new technology--and more to the point, the ever-shrinking collective attention span it serves--is the enemy of good television.

“How long before the networks start sending notes to showrunners saying a joke is too complicated or a scene too long?” he writes. “We used to blog. Now we tweet. Only parents text in full sentences. But there was a time when people just sat and watched television. Not all of it required full attention, but a lot of the best shows these days certainly do. So what happens when your script doesn’t get picked up because it’s too smart? Cut the nuance--leave some room for people to check their e-mail.”

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New Law Targets Phony Celebrity Twitter and Facebook Accounts

A new law in California may spell trouble for fake celebrity Twitter and Facebook accounts, reports EW.com's PopWatch blog.

The law prohibits impersonating another individual online for the reason of "harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding a person," the story notes.

Nevertheless, the story points out that since most fake celebrity accounts are done for humorous reasons, there's First Amendment protection for such activities, citing Los Angeles entertainment attorney Alonzo Wickers.

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Ratings: ABC, CBS Find Viewers Receptive to Fresh Lineups

ABC launched a new season of “Wipeout” Thursday night and came away with a win for the night in the 18-49 demo, while CBS won the battle for most total viewers with a prime-time lineup of fresh sitcoms and dramas, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

ABC finished the night with a 3.6 average rating in the 18-49 demo, edging CBS’s 3.4 average. The other networks, airing mostly repeat programming, came in well off the pace, with Univision, NBC and Fox all tied with 1.2 average ratings. In total viewers, CBS came out on top in a two-horse race with an average of 13.8 million to ABC’s 10.3 million. The closest competition was Fox with 4.0 million.

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the top show of the night with a 4.4 rating in the 18-49 demo, airing at 8 p.m., followed by the network’s “$#*! My Dad Says” with a 2.9. Airing opposite those two comedies, the season premiere of “Wipeout” on ABC averaged a strong 4.2. Fox’s “Million Dollar Money Drop” managed only a 1.4 average rating in 18-49 in the same hour.

ABC came out on top in the 9 p.m. hour with a 4.2 average rating for “Grey’s Anatomy” in 18-49 to CBS’s 3.35 average for “CSI.” The other networks had repeats and were well behind.

CBS went back in front at 10 p.m. with a 3.0 average for “The Mentalist” in the adults 18-49 demo, while ABC held its own with a 2.75 average rating for “Private Practice.”

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Aretha Franklin Says Her Health Problem Has Been Resolved

The Queen of Soul, who is known to value her privacy, has been reluctant to talk about her recent health problems, but the one thing she did say in her latest interview is that the issue has been resolved, JET magazine reported.

Aretha Franklin refused to directly discuss reports that she has pancreatic cancer. “I am not going to even deal with that,” she told the magazine. “I don’t have to talk about my health with anybody other than my doctors. The problem has been resolved.”

The singer added: “I know my fans are concerned. Let them know I am feeling great and coming along.”

Franklin advised people to go to a doctor if they experience something out of the ordinary. She said she remembers thinking to herself, “I know there is a problem, but these tests are showing nothing.” and that prompted her to go to a series of doctors for additional tests.

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AT&T Reportedly Cuts Price of iPhone in Half, Bringing Device Under $50

AT&T is cutting the price on Apple's iPhone 3GS in half, offering the devices for $49, down from $99, for users on contracts, Bloomberg News reports.

According to the article, the price cut goes into effect today, Jan. 7. However when TVWeek went to the online Apple store today (Jan. 7th) the 3GS was still being offered for $99.

The IPhone 4 still has a pricetag of $199.

The price drop for the iPhone3GS comes as AT&T says it plans to introduce 20 new devices this year for its faster next-generation mobile network.

The price cut on the iPhone will help make way for the new lineup later this year, the story notes. AT&T also wants to keep customers as it's expected to lose its position as the only retailer of iPhones in the U.S.

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Can Anderson Cooper Replace Oprah? Oprah's Answer Is Short and to the Point

Oprah Winfrey was asked at the TCA Press Tour whether Anderson Cooper, who is working on a daytime show to debut this fall, could replace her, and Winfrey responded with an emphatic "no," reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog.

"I’m a fan of his,” she said. “It will be interesting to see. I will be watching it closely. I will be rooting for him. What I know for sure: He will not be the next Oprah," she said, according to the report.

Winfrey talked about her reaction to seeing the Oprah Winfrey Network upon its debut last weekend, noting that she has a new appreciation for TV commercials.

"Gayle [King] called from Vegas--she was at Jay-Z’s party for New Year’s--she called after we were on the air … and said, ‘You have commercials just like a real network!’ I’m thinking the same thing. I didn’t know I loved Febreze so much. I look at commercials so much differently," she said.

Separately, The New York Times' Media Decoder blog reports that Piers Morgan has booked Oprah Winfrey as his first guest on his new CNN show. "Piers Morgan Tonight" will debut Jan. 17.

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ABC Makes First Two Comedy Pick Ups

"ABC has made its first comedy pilot pickups this season, ordering "Man Up," from "100 Questions" creator Chris Moynihan and "Smothered," from Friends alums An"drew Reich and Ted Cohen" Deadline.com reports.

According to the story, "The ABC Studios/Tagline-produced 'Man Up' stems from writer-actor Moynihan's two-script deal with the studio."

And "The Warner Bros. TV-produced 'Smothered' is based on Reich and Cohen's real-life experiences and centers on a young couple who find themselves smothered by their two very different sets of parents whose only thing in common is that their children are married to each other.


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Oprah Bashing TV, Plus More About OWN, Part 2

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross wins unexpected support from a media mogul in countering Oprah's attack on today's TV programming. Plus some more thoughts about OWN.

To read this provocative blog entry, please click here.

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Homeless Internet Sensation With Golden Voice Lands Cable Job

The homeless man with the golden radio voice who has become an Internet sensation has landed a television gig, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Ohio man, Ted Williams, was hired by MSNBC to do voiceovers for commercials, the story says.

As previously reported, Williams was discovered when the Columbus Dispatch made a video of him and posted it on YouTube. With the MSNBC gig, he'll be doing voiceovers for commercials for the network's "Lean Forward" campaign, which began airing Thursday.

Williams also appeared as a guest on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell."

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Evangelical Minister Caught in Scandal With Male Prostitute Gets Reality Show

TLC has tapped a controversial evangelical minister for a reality project that will air as a one-hour special, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

The special, which will debut Jan. 16, tracks Ted Haggard as he announces a new ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo., the city he left after his scandal forced him to leave as the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, the story notes. Haggard was caught having an affair with a male prostitute and admitted he had been using crystal meth.

The article notes that TLC might expand the project into a full series if the special performs well.


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'How I Met Your Mother' to Feature Guest Spot with Katy Perry as Potential Love Interest

CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" will feature singer Katy Perry in a guest spot later this season as a possible love interest for Ted, played by Josh Radnor, reports The Hollywood Reporter..

The episode will be called "Oh Honey" and feature Perry as a cousin of Zoey, played by Jennifer Morrison. Her character is described as a beautiful, naive girl whom the other characters call "honey," the story adds.

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'Walking Dead' Resisted Pressure to Add Product Placements to Zombie Show

AMC's "Walking Dead" resisted pressure to add product placements to the AMC zombie show, according to the show's producer, Gale Anne Hurd, reports our friend Joe Adalian at New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

After getting pressure to include scenes featuring specific products, Hurd said she and the show's other producers decided that adding such commercial overtones would ruin the show's apocalyptic, undead vibe, the story notes.

"Though you can imagine why the idea would be attractive to marketers: a product so good, it'll get you through the end of times!" Adalian writes.

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'Jersey Shore' Star Snooki Says Show Could Go on 'Our Whole Lives'

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is prepared to buck the trend for reality shows, with the reality star telling MTV News.com that she believes the show could last "our whole lives." "I think everybody can do, like, at least another 20 series or something like that, because we can do this our whole lives," she said.

According to the article, Snooki added, "This is what we do, and even if we weren't getting paid, we'd still be going back to the shore and doing the same thing. So why not have cameras following us?"

The latest season of the show debuted on Jan. 6 on MTV.

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One Problem for 3D TV Sets? Competing Formats that May Confuse Shoppers

One problem facing makers of 3D television sets is competing formats that may confuse shoppers, Bloomberg reports.

LG Electronics said this week at the Consumer Electronics Show that will will offer large sets that require glasses, like those in movie theaters, while Toshiba said this month it plans to sell sets that don't need glasses, the story points out.

Other manufacturers, including Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic, also sell 3D sets that require glasses. 

"The dueling formats may complicate efforts by manufacturers and retailers to win over shoppers. In addition to format confusion, 3-D buyers are faced with higher prices, including glasses that can cost $150, and concerns about the availability of shows and movies to watch in three dimensions," according to the article.

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You'll Never Guess What Political Adversaries Obama and O'Reilly Will Be Doing Before the Super Bowl

Barack Obama and Bill O’Reilly have plans to get together during the pre-Super Bowl festivities for something that hasn’t happened since Obama became president--an O’Reilly interview of Obama. The interview will air as part of Fox’s pregame lineup, Mediaite.com reports.

This marks the first time Obama will have sat down for an interview with O'Reilly since his inauguration, although the pair did participate in an interview toward the end of Obama’s campaign for president.

The decision to sit down with the right-leaning O'Reilly is seen "as a very smart move for the president," with O'Reilly perhaps one of the most moderate of the personalities on the Fox News Channel, the article says.

The Fox Broadcast Network will air the Super Bowl Feb. 6.


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Shakeup at Fox TV Has 'Most Powerful Person in Cable' Leaving Company

A major reorganization of Rupert Murdoch’s TV empire is in the works, according to the L.A. Times, as Fox Networks Group Chief Executive Tony Vinciquerra--who was named the most powerful person in cable for 2010 by the publication Cablefax--is leaving the company.

Vinciquerra’s departure follows a year that was marked by tough retransmission disputes with cable providers, in which Vinciquerra, 55, played a key role and succeeded in generating fee increases for the Fox networks, the story says. The executive reportedly told News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey as long ago as last summer that he was planning to leave before his contract was up.

With Vinciquerra’s exit, Carey is expected to streamline management of the TV group. David Haslingden, who heads up the Fox International Channels, will become chief operating officer of Fox Networks Group, assuming a number of Vinciquerra’s duties and reporting to Carey.

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NPR Exec Involved in Juan Williams Firing Steps Down

A senior executive who played a key role in firing commentator Juan Williams has resigned from his post with National Public Radio, CBS News reports.

NPR’s Board of Directors confirmed that Vice President Ellen Weiss has stepped down, but gave no other details about Weiss.

According to the story: “The board also expressed concern over the roll that CEO Vivian Schiller, who famously said Williams should have kept his opinions between him and his shrink, had in the firing. Although it ruled out terminating Schiller's employment, it said she would not receive a salary bonus for 2010.”

NPR fired Williams over comments he made on Fox News about getting nervous when he flies on a plane with people whose clothing identifies them as Muslim.

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Roger Ebert Backs Off After Wading Into Racially Charged Debate

Film critic Roger Ebert opened a can of worms when he tweeted about the current controversy over censored words in the latest edition of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” and he later took back what he said, New York Magazine reports.

The new book has had racially sensitive words, such as the n-word, removed, sparking a heated debate. Among the changes, in some cases, was replacing the n-word with the word “slave.” Ebert decided to step into the debate, tweeting, “I’d rather be called a N----- than a Slave.” (He used the actual word.)

Ebert, who is married to an African-American woman, drew angry responses, including the criticism that he wasn’t speaking from his own experience. He later tweeted: “I’ll never be called a N----- *or* a Slave. So I should have shut the **** up.”

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Nancy Grace Re-Ups With HLN After Reportedly Pricing Herself Out of Talks With Fox Business News

HLN has renewed its contract with reporter/anchor Nancy Grace, reports TVNewser. Grace reportedly signed a multiyear contract to stay with the network, where she is the host of "Nancy Grace," the controversial but popular 8 p.m. celebrity news program.

Grace reportedly entertained an offer from Fox Business Network before agreeing to stay with HLN. FBN ended negotiations over Grace's demands, according to an insider who told the Web site, “After her price and demands continued to escalate, Fox Business decided to walk away.”

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Actress Upset With ABC's 'Nightline' Over Interview

The former partner of actor Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 as the result of an accidental drug overdose, is angry with ABC News’ “Nightline” over its editing of a three-hour interview she gave the show, Access Hollywood reports.

Actress Michelle Williams, who earned an Oscar nomination for “Brokeback Mountain” and currently stars in the indie hit "Blue Valentine," accuses the show of editing the interview in a way that misrepresented her comments about Ledger, the story says.

She told Kevin Sessums of The Daily Beast, “They used those few quotes and the way they edited the piece to sell the interview, and it appeared as if I were breaking some kind of silence and sitting down with the express purpose to discuss something that is very private to me.”

ABC News defended the interview by Cynthia McFadden and said through a spokesperson, “The interview speaks for itself. Like all our work, it was done fairly and thoughtfully."

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ESPN Looking at a Hefty Price Tag to Keep 'Monday Night Football'

ESPN appears to be on the verge of paying the NFL a huge sum to extend its contract to televise “Monday Night Football,” B&C reports.

The amount will be as much as $1.9 billion annually, the story says. The current agreement between the sports network and the NFL--an eight-year deal for a total of about $8.8 billion--expires after the 2013 season.

The new deal would reportedly add nine or 10 years to the current contract.

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One of Oprah's 'All Stars' Is Getting Her Own Show

OWN, the new cable network from Oprah Winfrey, has laid out plans for a new show to debut in fall that will feature one of the regulars on the network’s “Ask Oprah’s All Stars.”

The working title is “Money Class,” and the prime-time show will star financial guru Suze Orman. Orman is creating the show, in which she will visit financially challenged viewers, one home at a time, helping them organize their financial lives and overcome their problems.

“Suze Orman is the rock star of finance, and her straightforward advice will help people that are in need of a financial wakeup call,” said Lisa Erspamer, chief creative officer, OWN.


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Ratings: ABC, NBC Tie as 'Modern Family' Comes Back Strong

The return of fresh episodes of ABC's Wednesday night comedies, especially the top-rated "Modern Family," helped the network claim a tie with NBC--riding high on a two-hour “Law & Order: SVU”--for first place in Nielsen ratings in the 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reported.

NBC and ABC both finished with average ratings of 2.7 for the night in adults 18-49, ahead of CBS (2.4 average) and Fox (1.7). NBC won outright in total viewers with an average of 9.4 million to CBS’s 8.9 million, ABC’s 7.4 million and Fox’s 6.3 million.

At 8 p.m. ABC's "The Middle" and "Better With You" had a 2.8 rating and a 2.5, respectively, in the 18-49 demographic. NBC's "Minute to Win It" earned a 2.15 in the same demo for the hour, while CBS's "Live to Dance" managed a 1.8 in the 18-49 demo for the hour. Fox's "Human Target" collected a 1.65 in the 18-49 demo.

"Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" at 9 p.m. had a 4.8 rating and a 2.9, respectively, in the 18-49 demographic. CBS's first hour of "The People's Choice Awards" logged a 2.75 in the 18-49 demo, compared with NBC's first hour of "Law & Order: SVU," which had a 2.9 in the same demo for the hour. Another episode of Fox’s "Human Target" netted a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo for the hour.

At 10 p.m. the second hour of "Law & Order: SVU" averaged a 2.95 rating in adults 18-49, while hour two of "The People's Choice Awards" had a 2.65 in the same demo and ABC's "Primetime: Celebrity Weight Loss" earned a 1.65 in the same demo for the hour.

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Comedian Pulling the Plug on Successful Cable Show

A popular cable reality show is ending its run after six seasons as its star shifts her focus to comedy specials with an eye on getting back into sitcoms, People.com reports.

Kathy Griffin said she's ending her Bravo show "My Life on the D-List" because "it was really time to stop doing it," the story says.

"Reality is great, but I really didn't set out to be a reality star. So now it's time to spread my wings and show that I'm a little different than Kate Gosselin," Griffin said.

The comedian added that she won't be leaving Bravo, but instead will create four new comedy specials for the network, which will air each quarter in 2011, the article notes. Griffin also would like to return to sitcoms with an improvised series, similar to the style of "Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the story adds.


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Weather Reporter Offers Explanation for Her False Rape Claim

WABC-TV weather reporter Heidi Jones allegedly said she made up a story about a Hispanic man trying to rape her in New York's Central Park because she was under stress, reports the New York Post.

According to court documents, Jones said she told the story "for attention. I have so much stress at work, with my personal life and with my family. I know there is no justification for it."

Her attorney, Paul Callan, said that Jones is presumed innocent and that the press coverage has been "unfairly characterizing and vilifying her," the article adds.

Jones, who also filled in on "Good Morning America," has been suspended by the network and faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to the piece.


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Glenn Close Angered by Her Inclusion in Controversial Video

Caught up in the scandal about profanity- and slur-laden videos shown on the Navy's USS Enterprise is three-time Emmy-winning actress Glenn Close, who is shown in one of the videos, reports EW.com.

The clip of Close came from a 2006 tour she made of the warship, and was used in a video that contained anti-gay slurs and jokes with homophobic overtones, the story notes.

Close released a statement saying, "I am distraught that my image has been used to perpetuate something that I abhor. The cynical, unauthorized use of my image in this video is deeply offensive and insulting, and was the result of a seemingly innocent request made during a visit to an aircraft carrier over four years ago."

Close has been a proponent of gay rights and equal treatment, including in the military, and in 1995 starred in the TV movie "Serving in Silence," about a gay National Guard colonel who fought her discharge after coming out, the article adds.


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Video of Homeless Man Sparks 'First Feel-Good Story of the Year'

ESPN, MTV and local television and radio stations are rushing to sign up Ted Williams, the homeless Ohio man with a great radio voice, Deadline.com’s Nellie Andreeva reports.

Williams has been appearing on morning TV shows and is reportedly getting many job offers in what Andreeva writes is "the first feel-good story of the year." Williams became an overnight Internet sensation when the Columbus Dispatch's video was posted on YouTube, gaining almost 6 million hits, the article notes.

Williams says he's been sober for two years, after drugs and alcohol derailed his life and career.

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Turner Exec Says Web Exposure for 'Modern Family' Killed Network's Interest in Show

Turner Broadcasting Chief Executive Phil Kent noted at an investor conference on Tuesday afternoon that his company pulled out of bidding for "Modern Family" reruns because the show was too prevalent on the Internet, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

That's been a concern of the show's co-creator, Steve Levitan, who has voiced worry that the show's availability on Hulu and on ABC's Web site would hurt the sitcom's long-term value, the story points out.

While Turner, whose cable network TBS airs a lot of sitcom reruns, pulled away from the bidding, NBC Universal's USA Network paid about $1.4 million for reruns of the show, the story notes.

Kent noted that Turner is adding terms for rerun deals that would limit shows' exposure on other platforms, the article adds.


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TV Set Makers Are Finding It Hard to Convince Consumers to Upgrade

The last few years have been boom times for the television-set manufacturing industry, with U.S. viewers rushing out to buy flat-screen TVs as the government mandated the switchover to digital broadcasting. But now that most Americans have tossed out their old cathode-ray TV sets, manufacturers are finding it tough to convince them to upgrade again, reports The New York Times.

TV makers are hawking their new sets--including 3D and Internet connections--at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, but the sets aren't creating enthusiasm among consumers, the story notes. Analysts and TV makers now estimate that consumers will change their sets every five to seven years, slightly longer than the three- to four-year wait to replace PCs.

The article points out that about two-thirds of U.S. homes have a flat-screen TV set, and "the laggards are stubborn," according to Paul Gagnon, director of North American TV research at DisplaySearch.

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Wife of Kelsey Grammer Wants Out of 'Real Housewives'--or Does She?

Rumors surfaced Wednesday that Camille Grammer, the soon to-be-ex-wife of "Frasier" actor Kelsey Grammer, is seeking a way out of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." the Los Angeles Times' Ministry of Gossip blog reports.

She is reportedly unhappy with her less than flattering portrayal compared with the show's other wives, such as Kyle Richards and Lisa Vanderpump, the story notes.

However, a rep for Camille Grammer said his client's exit from the show is not a done deal.

"A decision has not been made" about a second season, said her representative, Howard Bragman. "She's got a lot on her plate now--a very contentious divorce, a lot of financial [issues] ... she's getting covers, we're doing Ellen [DeGeneres' talk show] on Friday. I'd like less attention."

Bragman also said Camille went on the show because Kelsey Grammer wanted her to. "Now she's a very different person," he added.


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Yahoo, CBS and GSN Join Forces to Add Interactive TV Features

Yahoo is working on finding ways to generate more revenues from Internet-connected television sets, Bloomberg News reports.

The Internet company is working with CBS and home-shopping retailer HSN to add interactive features to live broadcasts that are shown on TV sets with Yahoo's Connected TV software, which has been on the market since 2009, the story notes.

The new features will let viewers click buttons to purchase items they see while watching TV or to learn more about a program or actor, the story says.

Targeted advertising sales for broadcast, cable and satellite TV totaled about $750 million last year, according to Borrell Associates, which expects that to grow significantly. The new Yahoo features, which the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show, will be available on TV sets made by Sony Corp. and Toshiba and on set-top boxes made by D-Link and Haier Electronics, the article adds.

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Team Behind 'Alias' and 'Lost' Has New Crime Series in the Works

A heightened-reality crime series called "Pulp" will soon be shopped to the networks by J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot, reports Michael Ausiello on the new TVLine.com Web site.

The project is an hour-long crime drama written by Monica Breen and Alison Schapker, who will also serve as executive producers and who previously worked with Abrams on "Alias," "Lost" and "Fringe," the story notes.


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Variety TV Editor Michael Schneider Moves to TV Guide Magazine

Variety TV editor Michael Schneider is leaving the publication to join TV Guide magazine as its Los Angeles bureau chief, reports TheWrap.com.

Schneider has worked at Variety since 1999 and held the title of TV editor during that time, the story notes. Schneider said he decided to join TV Guide as "the culmination of a 30-year love affair with the TV Guide brand."

He added that while he wasn't looking to leave Variety, he was impressed with TV Guide editor-in-chief Debra Birnbaum's efforts to bring "a newsier focus back to the magazine, and also thought the consumer space would present a new, fun challenge," the article notes.

Update Ja, 7, 2011 at 1 pm: We forgot to mention that Mike is also a former reporter for Electronic Media, which is what TVWeek used to be called.

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Snooki Jewelry, Snooki Sunglasses, Snooki Perfume--'Jersey Shore' Star Expands Licensing Efforts

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi has tapped New York-based SRG Ventures to manage the creation of licenced products that will feature her name, starting with flashy jewelry and giant sunglasses and expanding into perfume, swimwear, handbags, and more, reports the New York Post.

"Snooki has a passion for a lot of different products," said Stephen Goodman of SRG Ventures. "We're being very strategic and selective about who we partner with."

Snooki already has a licensing deal with Happy Feet, which makes fuzzy slippers that she wears on “Jersey Shore.” The Post adds that styles designed by Snooki--with animal prints and neon colors--have already racked up retail sales in the six figures.

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Former Huffington Post Chief Executive Hired by Glenn Beck to Run His New Web Site

Betsy Morgan, who served as chief executive of the liberal-leaning Huffington Post for two years, has been tapped by Glenn Beck to run his new Web site, The Blaze, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

The Blaze, four months old, is aimed at gathering news articles and opinion pieces that appeal to Beck's conservative viewers and listeners, the story notes. While Morgan's shift from a left-leaning to a conservative Web site raised some eyebrows, she said, "I am a very apolitical person. I’m a business person, who is absolutely fascinated by brands."

She added that while some of Beck's views have led to problems with advertisers, her goal at The Blaze is to "leverage the huge loyalty of that audience.”

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Lottery Players Cash In With Hurley's Unlucky Numbers From 'Lost'

The winning numbers in Tuesday’s $355 million Mega Millions lottery bore a close resemblance to the numbers that haunted a character in the TV show “Lost,” People magazine reports.

In the show, Hugo "Hurley" Reyes won a $114 million lottery with the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.

Four of the six numbers drawn Tuesday night matched those. The Mega Millions numbers were 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and 42, with 42 being the Mega Ball number. Anyone who played Hurley's numbers won about $150.

Hurley, played by Jorge Garcia, was haunted throughout the series by the numbers, which appeared in various contexts before the producers eventually revealed their meaning near the end of the show’s run, the story says.

The report adds: “The coincidence wasn't lost on Damon Lindelof, one of the hit show's creators, who Tweeted Wednesday that ‘9,078 people played Hurley's numbers in the MegaMillions tonight, each winning $150.’"

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More Legal Trouble for TV Star: Unpaid Restaurant Tab Leads to Felony Charge

A former television star who has run into legal problems in recent years is in trouble again, the Huffington Post reports. This time the trouble stems from an alleged unpaid restaurant tab of $59.35.

The star is Gary Collins, best known for hosting "Hour Magazine" and for roles in a slew of episodic TV shows, as well as for being the spouse of actress and former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley.

In Mississippi, Rodney McGilvary, assistant chief of the Biloxi Police Department, reported that Collins was arrested Tuesday after walking out of a restaurant without paying the tab. Police said the actor has been charged with a felony in connection with the incident. Collins was later released from custody.

Last November, Collins was arrested and accused of leaving the scene of a minor auto accident in Jackson, Miss. Collins paid the fine of $500 and was released at that time.

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Battle of the Two-Hour Premieres: NBC's 'Biggest Loser' Tops 18-49 Demo, CBS's 'Live to Dance' Takes Total Viewers

NBC's two-hour premiere of "The Biggest Loser: Couples" was the highest-rated program Tuesday night in the adults 18-49 demo, helping the Peacock Network win the night overall, TVbytheNumbers.com reported. CBS, however, won the night in total viewers, led by the two-hour premiere of its Paula Abdul show “Live to Dance.”

For the night, NBC averaged a 2.9 rating in the 18-49 demo, beating CBS (2.2 average), ABC (1.7) and Fox (1.5). CBS averaged 10.2 million total viewers, ahead of NBC (7.8 million), ABC (6.2 million) and Fox (4.3 million).

At 8 p.m. the first hour of "The Biggest Loser" had a 2.8 average rating and a 3.1 in the 18-49 demographic for the top and bottom halves of the hour, better than "Live to Dance's" average of 2.45 in the same demo for the hour. ABC's "No Ordinary Family" logged a mean score of 1.85 in the 18-49 demo for the hour.

At 9 p.m. "The Biggest Loser" rose to a 3.55 average in the 18-49 demo for the hour, while "Live to Dance’s" second hour netted a 2.4 average in the same demo. ABC's return of "V" managed a 2.1 in the 18-49 demo, and Fox's "Million Dollar Money Drop" averaged a 1.3 in the same demo for the hour.

In the 10 p.m. hour new episodes of NBC's "Parenthood" competed with ABC's "Detroit 1-8-7," with the former averaging a 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demo compared with the latter's 1.25 average in the same demo for the hour.

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Comcast Unveils Plans to Bring Video Services to iPad, Android Tablets

Comcast today announced plans to roll out in-home streaming of live and on-demand content for the Apple iPad and Android-powered tablets.

The service, slated to debut later this year, will enable customers to watch live news, TV shows and movies in their homes when they want, the company said.

Comcast also announced that Xfinity TV online (www.xfinitytv.com) has added features that can transform any computer into a search engine and remote control.

“Comcast plans to roll out its new play now feature, which will enable customers using the popular Xfinity TV iPad app to watch nearly 3,000 hours of On Demand content, including popular movies and hit TV shows, either in the home or on-the-go, including anywhere there is a wireless connection,” the company said in a press release. “The initial selection of programs and movies is just the beginning. Comcast plans to bring thousands of additional choices to the iPad in the weeks and months ahead and to add the same functionality and content to Android powered devices later this year.”

“Live streaming and the play now feature on our Xfinity TV app are two important pieces of our strategy to deliver any content to any device, any time,” Comcast Corp. Chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a statement. “Comcast has a series of upcoming online enhancements and app releases that are part of a much larger effort to reinvent how customers interact with their entertainment on TV, online and on mobile devices.”

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Innovative Crossover Event in the Works for Hit Sitcom and Daytime Soap

A popular soap opera and a hit sitcom are combining forces for an innovative crossover event that will place stars from each show on the other series.

Building on an episode from last season's "Hot In Cleveland" on TV Land, ABC Daytime will send "All My Children" stars Susan Lucci, Darnell Williams and Michael E. Knight to the sitcom for appearances Feb. 16 and 23 at 10 p.m. ET. In exchange, Wendie Malick's character on "Hot In Cleveland," a fictional former soap queen named Victoria Chase, will appear on the Feb. 24 episode of "All My Children."

In a statement, Julie Carruthers, executive producer of “All My Children," said, “We are thrilled Victoria Chase will join the cast of ‘All My Children’--there are very few actresses who could pull off a dual role performance as BOTH a maid and bartender."

Brian Frons, president of Daytime, Disney/ABC Television Group, added: “There is only room for one Erica Kane in Pine Valley, and Victoria Chase will unfortunately find that out the hard way. This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of both shows with similar demos, and we expect each other’s viewers to follow from one show to the next.”

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Java Jolt: Widely Recognized Marketer Redesigns Logo

As part of a corporate effort to distance itself from a strict association with its signature product, one of the most recognized companies in the world has redesigned its logo. The change by Starbucks includes eliminating the words “Starbucks Coffee” from the design, the New York Daily News reports.

The familiar “siren” icon, which has been in the center of the logo in various forms from the beginning, remains.

The company reportedly has its eye on international expansion into profitable areas beyond the sale of coffee. This despite financial troubles for Starbucks in recent years, attributed in part to rapid expansion.

Observers note that the coffee marketplace has become overcrowded, but the story reports that Starbucks has been coming back in part by expanding into other branded items, including ice cream.


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Anderson Cooper Talk Show Selling Well, Lands 25 More Markets

Another 25 stations have signed on to air “Anderson” beginning in fall 2011, it was announced to day by Ken Werner, president, and Rick Meril, executive VP and general sales manager, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

The Anderson Cooper-hosted talk show is replacing “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in a significant number of markets, with Knoxville and Lexington joining previously announced Washington, San Diego and Bakersfield in that category.

The show is now cleared on 104 stations, representing more than 82% of the domestic market, the company announced.

“New clearances in major markets include: KYW (Philadelphia), WFAA (Dallas), WXIA (Atlanta), KPHO (Phoenix), KING (Seattle), WFTS (Tampa), WCCO (Minneapolis), KUSA/KTVD (Denver), WFOR/WBFS (Miami), WOIO (Cleveland), KDNL (St. Louis), KGW (Portland, OR), WCCB (Charlotte), KVVU (Las Vegas), WATE (Knoxville), WKYT (Lexington), WHEC (Rochester, NY), WRSP (Champaign), and WSBT (South Bend), among others,” the company said in a press release.

“We are thrilled that stations have so enthusiastically embraced our vision for Anderson’s future in daytime television,” Werner said in a statement. “In my career, I cannot remember a clearance process this accelerated.”

The new daily show has now been bought by stations representing the Allbritton, Bahakel, Belo, Capital, CBS, Citadel, Cordillera, Cox, Draper, Fisher, Fox, Freedom, Gannett, GOCOM, Gray, Hearst, Hubbard, LIN, Local TV, London, Media General, Meredith, Midwest TV, Morgan Murphy, National, News Press & Gazzette, New Vision, Newport, Northwest, Post-Newsweek, Raycom, Sarkes Tarzian, Schurz, Scripps, Sinclair, Smith Media, Titan, Tribune and Young station groups, the company said.

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Medical Marijuana Advocate Montel Williams Fined for Drug Pipe

Emmy Award-winning talk show host and infomercial star Montel Williams was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia after he was found with a drug pipe at the General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee as he went through security Tuesday, the AP reports.

Wisconsin authorities confirmed that Williams paid the $484 citation and was allowed to proceed with his travel. Williams suffers from multiple sclerosis and is a proponent of the legalization of medical marijuana.

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ESPN Sportscaster Fired Over Alleged Sexist Remark

An ESPN sportscaster who has been at the all-sports network for more than 20 years has been fired after he reportedly made sexist comments followed by an expletive to sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards, reports The Washington Post.

The fired sportscaster is Ron Franklin.

According to the article, "Franklin, 68, had worked at the sports network for nearly 24 years, primarily as a play-by-play announcer on college football and basketball games.

"The network pulled Franklin off the Fiesta Bowl college football game broadcast Saturday after Franklin's encounter with sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards a day earlier.

"Franklin responded testily on Friday when Edwards tried to join a conversation he was having with two other male sportscasters hours before going on the air. Franklin rebuffed Edwards, calling her "sweet baby." When Edwards replied that she didn't appreciate being addressed that way, he responded, "Okay, then, [expletive]."

The article adds, "In 2005, Franklin addressed another sideline reporter, Holly Rowe, as 'sweetheart' during a game. He later apologized to her. It's unclear whether he issued a similar apology to Edwards."

That story also reports that ESPN said, in a statement, that "Based on what occurred last Friday, we have ended our relationship with him," referring to Franklin.ronfranklin1.jpg

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'Glee' Star Takes Stand AGAINST a Famous New York Institution

One of the hallmarks of New York City that's been featured in everything from famous romantic movies to a memorable episode of "Seinfeld" is the horse-drawn carriages that can be hired for rides in Central Park.

Lea Michele, the "Glee" star who plays Rachel on the show, has signed on with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for a campaign targeting this New York institution, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

PETA is known for its ability to attract celebrities to support its causes, the story points out. The campaign that Michele will be part of consists of posters and video clips featuring her along with the message "Horses don't belong in NYC traffic."

PETA has protested the carriage trade for years, and an audit by the comptroller's office in 2007 concluded that health hazards were created by inadequate monitoring by the health department and other agencies, the story notes. PETA tried to buy commercial time on video screens inside NYC taxis, but wasn't able to, the article adds.

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Research Guru--Who Recently Left NBC After 41 (!) Years--Gets New Gig

Most folks in the national TV business, if they only know one research expert, it's probably this media maven who recently left NBC after 41 years.

He's Horst Stipp, who was NBC Universal's  senior vice president of strategic insights & innovation and one of the smartest, most engergetic people you'll ever meet.

Stipp, who has a Ph.D in Sociology from Columbia University, has joined the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) as executive vice president,  Global Business Strategy.

According to the ARF announcement, "The newly created position reflects the ARF’s commitment to the development of global advertising and marketing research and its international members."


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Discovery Changes Its Mind About OWN

Oprah Winfrey's new cable network, OWN, is expected to be profitable in its first year, according to co-owner Discovery Communications, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

Discovery previously had said not to expect the venture to turn a profit until 2012 or 2013, the article notes.

Brad Singer, Discovery's chief financial officer, said at an investors' conference Tuesday that OWN should be profitable before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2011 "because of ad acceptance and good performance."

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Just How Much Cussing Will Glenn Close Do Now That She's on DirecTV?

After moving to DirecTV following the show’s cancellation by FX, producers of Glenn Close's critically acclaimed show "Damages" are being encouraged "to take things even further than we did on FX,"  especially the foul-mouthed language from lead character Patty Hewes, played by Close, says executive producer Glenn Kessler.

All of this comes to us from an article by our friend Gary Levin in USA Today.

“Damages,” from Sony Pictures Television, will next look at the actions of a fictionalized Blackwater, with a wrongful-death suit filed against a military contractor, the story notes. The show is casting two guest stars who will appear season-long, with the first playing a former Navy SEAL who runs the company and is the defendant, and the second taking the part of a mysterious but powerful character who is also implicated in the crime, the article adds.

The plotline should give Patty Hewes, played by Glenn Close, more of a reason to explore her potty-mouthed language, the story says.

"You know she's been waiting to do it; you can see it in her eyes," says Kessler.

Many critics consider "Damages" one of hte best series on TV, but the show never drew a big audience during its three-season run on FX. DirecTV has committed to the series for two seasons, the article says.

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Leno Hits Numbers Comparable to Conan's Among Younger Viewers

For the first time since returning to NBC's "The Tonight Show," Jay Leno is pulling in as many younger viewers as Conan O'Brien had before O'Brien was bumped off the show, the New York Post reports.

According to Nielsen, Leno's "Tonight Show" averaged a 1.0 rating with adults 18 to 49 years old during the fourth quarter, pulling even with the demographic earned by O'Brien's "Tonight Show," the story notes. Leno averaged almost 4 million viewers per night during the period, more than the 2.5 million averaged by O'Brien during the year-earlier period.

The next test for Leno will be whether he can pull in more viewers than O'Brien drew a year ago in January, when he was at the end of his "Tonight Show" run and was watched by about 5 million viewers a night in his final week, the article adds.


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New Syndie Show Will Focus on Apps

If you love finding out about and downloading new apps for your smartphone, then a new syndicated program is targeted to you, reports Mediaweek's Anthony Crupi.

The nationally syndicated show, from the creators behind TV staples "A Current Affair" and "Hard Copy" and mobile-video pioneer Frank Chindamo, is a weekly 30-minute program similar to G4's "Attack of the Show," the story notes. Called "The Mo Show," the program will try to reach adults 21 to 55 years old who are high-end consumers.

The program will give viewers recommendations on apps in different categories, such as sports or entertainment.

As of last fall, there were more than 300,000 third-party apps available at Apple's iTunes store, the article points out.


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CBS Will Use Post-AFC Championship Game Time Slot to Boost Freshman Drama

The coveted time slot after the AFC Championship game broadcast on CBS, scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 23, is going to "Hawaii Five-0," reports Deadline.com.

CBS used a similar strategy to give a boost to a promising freshman show back in 2009, the most recent year that the AFC Championship game aired in prime time, the story notes. That show was "The Mentalist," the article notes.

"Hawaii Five-0" has been a solid performer in its Mondays at 10 p.m. time slot, averaging 13.3 million viewers and ranking as the top-rated new drama.

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'30 Rock' Actor Expected to Put His Political Aspirations on Hold--For Now

Alec Baldwin hinted on CNN's "Parker Spitzer" that he's "very interested" in running for office, but a source close to the actor said his political ambitions are likely to have to wait a few years, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

That's because Baldwin has a contract with "30 Rock" through 2012, after which "he'll keep his options open," according to Baldwin's representative.

The story also notes that there aren't any races in his district that would make sense for him to enter in 2012.

Baldwin’s political aspirations surfaced more than a year ago in an interview with Playboy.

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KCET's Post-PBS News Lineup May Be Focused Too Far From Home

The news lineup at KCET-TV since the station broke away from the PBS network may have a hard time finding U.S. viewers, the Los Angeles Times' James Rainey writes, because the new lineup includes a half-hour of the Asian-focused "Newsline" and a half-hour of "BBC World News."

That means viewers won't get a comprehensive look at U.S. news from the Los Angeles-based station, and while it's beneficial to get "an occasional view of the news as it appears from other points of view," Rainey writes, the Asian-focused news program feels provincial.

"To be sure, there are nearly 5 million people of Asian descent in California," he writes. "But ‘Newsline,’ from Japan's NHK network, forces a form of total foreign immersion--with a Japan-based anchor introducing stories and pitching to correspondents who tailor their stories for audiences much closer to home."

The BBC news offers more in the way of domestic news, but that too has a "distinctly foreign origin--news delivered, at arms length, about a far-off, exotic place," the article adds.

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New Portable TVs From RCA Will Pick Up Over-the-Air and Mobile Digital Signals

Portable televisions that are capable of receiving both over-the-air and mobile digital signals will be introduced by RCA, with the devices being shipped to Radio Shack in the first quarter, reports the Los Angeles Times' Technology blog.

The portable TVs will be battery operated and come in 3.5-inch and 7-inch screen sizes, the story notes. While mobile DTV products haven't gained much traction, RCA appears to believe there's demand for such products, according to the piece.

Each of the three mobile DTV sets from RCA will feature a signal strength indicator, closed captioning, an easel-back stand and English- or Spanish-language display options, the story notes.

Mobile DTV was a big theme of the Consumer Electronics Show a year ago, the report adds, but few manufacturers have rolled out mobile DTV equipment up to this point.

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UPDATE: Two Winning Tickets Sold in $355 Million Mega Millions Lottery

Update at 12:40 am, PT on Jan. 5, 2011. There were two winning tickets sold in Tuesday's Mega Millions lottery drawing that reached a jackpot of $355 million, reports the Associated Press as published on the website of The Washington Post. 

One of the tickets was sold in Idaho, the other in Washington state, according to the report..

Here's our original story:

Tuesday night's Mega Millions lottery jackpot was worth $355 million, the second largest jackpot in Mega Millions history, according to MyFoxAtlanta.

The numbers picked are: 4, 8, 15, 25, 47, with the Mega ball being 42.

According to the story, "If one person matches all five white ball numbers and the Mega Ball number, they’d win approximately $13.6 million for 26 years with the annuity option, or a whopping $224 million in a single payment with the cash option."

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Company Owned by a Real Hollywood Character--Who's an Academy Award and Tony Award Winning Producer--Buys 25% of Cable Programmer Starz

A company owned by a genuine larger-than-life Hollywood character--who is an Academy Award and Tony Award winning producer--has purchased a 25% interest in Starz, the Associated Press reports (though the story is on the Bloomberg site).

We're referring to Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company, run primarily by Harvey and his brother Bob. The two previously ran Miramax.

According to the story, besides buying the 25% interest in Starz, the deal included  "Starz's Anchor Bay Entertainment division pick[ing] up the DVD, Blu-ray and Internet streaming rights to The Weinstein Co.'s movies, which includes theatrical releases from Dimension Films."

According to the article, the Weinstein brothers said in a statement, "We hope this strategic partnership is a first step in not only making Anchor Bay a home for our product, but in potentially housing other companies' product as well, giving quality independent films the kind of care needed in today's marketplace,"

The story goes on to say, "Starz helped increase the popularity of Netflix's then-fledgling video streaming service in 2008 when it licensed much of its content for $30 million annually....With Internet streaming becoming more popular, Starz is expected to demand substantially more money from Netflix when their current deal expires in October. BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield predicted Monday that Netflix might have to pay about $300 million per year to retain the Starz streaming rights. [The current deal is for $30 million annually, the story  says.] He thinks Netflix might even try to buy Starz."


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Survival Show 'Man vs. Wild' Helped Teen Make It Through Wilderness Ordeal

A 14-year old boy is crediting his survival during 10 hours lost in a frozen wilderness to watching Discovery Channel's "Man vs. Wild," reports The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

Portland resident Jake Denham got separated from his mother last week during a ski trip, and used information he learned from the Discovery show to plan his survival, building a snow bank to stay warm and looking for the North Star for directions while awaiting rescue, the story notes.

According to KOHD-TV, Denham is also an avid fan of "Survivorman," which follows survival expert Les Stroud as he's left in a remote location for seven days.


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Fed Up With Getting Scranton's News, Mayor of Utica, N.Y., Urges WKTV to Reach Agreement With Time Warner Cable

The mayor of Utica, N.Y., isn't happy with the local news that sometimes appears on WKTV, the city's NBC affiliate station, reports WKTV.com. That's because the local news from Scranton-Wilkes Barre, Pa., occasionally ends up in the Utica market, prompting the mayor to urge WKTV's owner to reach an agreement with Time Warner Cable.

"My uncle asked me about a flood that was happening in the city. We had no flood. It was about Pennsylvania having a flood. This is very confusing to our residents," said Mayor David Roefaro.

That and calls from confused and upset constituents convinced the mayor to urge Smith Media, which owns WKTV, and Time Warner to restart negotiations to try to reach an agreement that would determine the fair value of WKTV's programming and allow that programming to be carried by the cable company, the story notes.

The mayor pointed out that Time Warner Cable's franchise agreement with the city is up, and said he will start contacting other signal providers if city residents can't get their local news, the article notes.

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TV Station Owner Rejects Canadian Acquisition Offer

A $211 million takeover offer from Canadian real estate company Huntingdon Real Estate Investment Trust, which wants to buy Seattle station KOMO-TV, was spurned by the station’s owner, Fisher Communications, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.

The offer represented an 18% premium above Fisher's Dec. 3 stock price and was presented to Fisher's board in a Dec. 6 letter, the story notes. Huntingdon officials described themselves as "astonished" that the board rejected the offer four days later.

Huntingdon said it decided to go public with the buyout offer "“so that Fisher shareholders can make their own assessment of the sufficiency of our proposal," the story notes. Fisher owns more than a dozen television stations in the Northwest, as well as the Fisher Plaza building near the Seattle Center.

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It Takes a Village: Jon Stewart Replaces Exec Producer of Last Four Years With Three Co-Exec Producers

"The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" has replaced its one executive producer with three co-executive producers. The announcement was made by Comedy Central, the network that airs the multple Emmy Award-winning program.

According to the announcement, "Veteran 'Daily Show' staff members Steve Bodow, Jennifer Flanz and Jim Margolis have been promoted to co-executive producers, Tim Carvell to head writer and Pam DePace to supervising producer, it was announced today by Jon Stewart, executive producer, writer and host of the program. After four successful years, Josh Lieb leaves his role as executive producer."

The three new co-executive producers have been responsible for all sorts of "Daily Show" bedlam over much of the past decade-plus. The release says that  "Bodow joined the show in 2002 and held positions as a writer (2002-2006), head writer (2007-2010) and supervising producer (2008-2010)... Flanz joined in 1998 as a production assistant (1998-1999) and moved on to roles as an assistant production coordinator (1999-2000), production coordinator (2000-2001), production manager (2001-2003), coordinating producer (2003-2007) and supervising producer (2007-2010). Margolis joined in 2001 as a field producer (2001-2005) and progressed to senior producer (2005-2006) and supervising producer (2006-2010)."

The announcement also says that the executive producer who is leaving, Josh Lieb, "heads to Los Angeles to pen a workplace comedy for Warner Bros. and NBC," which means he is the one Hollywood executive we know of who has actually voluntarily left his job to pursue those usually hypothetical "other interests." 

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MGM Partners With Broadcast Group To Distribute Network of Classic Old TV Shows

MGM, the fabled studio that recently emerged from bankruptcy, has partnered with a broadcast group to distribute classic old TV shows.

According to the announcement, "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) and Weigel Broadcasting Co. announced today plans for the national launch of Me-TV, a television network offering classic television sitcoms, dramas and classic commercials and targeted for digital broadcast stations, it was announced today by Jim Packer, co-President, MGM Worldwide Television and Norman H. Shapiro, President of Weigel Broadcasting."

Some of the library product includes,  according to the announcement, "Cheers," "M*A*S*H," "The Dick Van Dyke Show,"  "The Bob Newhart Show,"  "Laverne & Shirley," "Happy Days," and "Bosom Buddies,"  and  the original 'Star Trek" series.

The announcement notes that "MGM and Weigel have also worked together on the successful launch of THIStv, the national broadcast movie service. After only two years, THIStv is distributed in more than 85% of the country and in 40 million cable households."

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'TMZ' Renewed Through 2014; Clearances So Far in More Than 75% of Country

'TMZ,' the breakthrough cross-platform syndicated entertainment news program from Warner Bros. Domestic Television Syndication has been renewed through 2014, the syndicator has announced.

Thus far it's been renewed in more than 75% of the country, including "all of the owned-and-operated Fox affiliates, such as WNYW-TV (New York), KTTV-TV (Los Angeles) and WFLD-TV (Chicago)." This renewal extends the show to seven seasons.

According to the release, " 'TMZ' debuted in September 2007 with Fox serving as the primary station launch group and went on to become the highest-rated new first-run strip of the 2007–2008 season among households and all key women and adult demographics. Season to date, the series currently ranks number one among all syndicated magazines among adults 18-34 and is the second highest rated magazine among adults 18-49 and 25-54."

TMZ's popular website had 16.3 million unique users in November, according to comScore.

The show is "produced by Harvey Levin Productions, Inc. and paraMedia, inc. in association with Telepictures Productions, the series is distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Harvey Levin and Jim Paratore are the program’s executive producers."

In 2009 TVWeek chose TMZ.com as its Website of the Year.

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Vote on Comcast-NBCU Deal Stalled as FCC Commissioners Hit CES

With all five Federal Communications Commissioners heading to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, the Comcast/NBC Universal merger deal isn't likely to be voted upon until at least next week, Multichannel News reports.

Chairman Julius Genachowski is scheduled to give a keynote interview Jan. 7 and the other four commissioners will speak at a panel session the same day, the story notes.

Even if one or more commissioners could vote before next week, all five have to throw in their votes before the outcome is official, which the article says is extremely unlikely to happen before next week.


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CBS Television Distribution Names a Successor to Terry Wood

CBS Television Distribution has found a successor to Terry Wood, the president of creative affairs and development who recently left the company after 12 years, reports Deadline.com.

The company has tapped Aaron Meyerson, who joins CTD from digital media tech startup Coincident TV, where he was a principal, the story notes. Before that he worked for eight years on unscripted programming for cable networks, overseeing development and production of series for MTV such as "Paris Hilton: My New BFF," the article adds.

Meyerson will be responsible for first-run development and oversee the company's current programming, such as "Judge Judy" and "Rachael Ray."

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One Big Surprise on List of 2010's Most Influential TV Shows

The most influential television shows in 2010, as measured by Twitter mentions, aren't so surprising except for what Klout.com calls "the dark horse of the list": the Fox News show "Red Eye."

"Red Eye With Greg Gutfeld" is a satirical talk show on Fox News that airs at 3 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, covering topics from news to gossip. It ranked third on the list of influential TV shows measured by Twitter, just after "Lost" and "American Idol," according to Klout.com.

The rest of the top 10: “Glee,” “True Blood,” “Jersey Shore,” “Big Brother,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Project Runway” and “Mad Men.”

The site also lists the most influential people in 2010, with a few television personalities making the list. Coming in fourth is Glenn Beck, who follows Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and current host of TLC's "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the story notes. The top two influential people in 2010 were President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber.


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Character Actor Known for 'Seinfeld' Guest-Starring Role Dead at 96

Veteran character actor Bill Erwin, who received an Emmy nomination for his guest role on NBC's "Seinfeld," has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 96.

Erwin played the angry Sid Fields, an elderly man Seinfeld volunteers to watch but then loses in the 1993 "Seinfeld" episode "The Old Man." Erwin was also known for his role as Arthur the Bellman in the 1980 movie "Somewhere in Time," the article says.

His TV work included numerous commercials, including one for Dreyer's Ice Cream in which he played an old man who break dances when his wife tells him that dessert is ready. He also made appearances in shows such as "I Love Lucy," "Leave It to Beaver" and "The Andy Griffith Show.”

His more recent TV work included appearances in "Everwood" and "My Name is Earl."


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The Numbers Are In for the Debut of Oprah's New Network

Oprah Winfrey's new OWN network got off to a good start, with an average of 1 million viewers for its first evening of prime-time programming on Saturday, reports the New York Daily News.

That's an increase of almost 400% over the audience of Discovery Health, the network that OWN replaced, compared with a year earlier, the story says.

The debut of "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes," which tracks Winfrey during the final season of her daytime talk show, averaged 1.16 million viewers, the story notes, while the second episode drew an average of 1.196 million viewers.

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Major Media Agency, After Major Account Losses, Replaces CEO

"After a string of major account losses, WPP's GroupM today announced that Doug Checkeris, North American CEO of MediaCom, is leaving the agency and will be replaced by longtime MediaCom exec Harvey Goldhersz,"  Advertising Age reports.

According to the article, "During the past 12 months, MediaCom has lost several large accounts, culminating late last month when it saw one of its biggest, the $1.4 billion GlaxoSmithKline account, defect to Omnicom Group's PHD. The string of losses also includes Diageo ($130 million), Darden's Red Lobster planning business ($119 million), Ethan Allen ($23 million), JetBlue ($10 million), Lifetime Entertainment ($40 million) and the American Egg Board ($13 million). "

To see the entire Ad Age article, please click here.

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Victory Is Declared in Pepsi-Coke Battle Over 'X Factor'

The high-profile battle over who will be the cola sponsor of Simon Cowell's new U.S. show, "The X Factor," is over, and the result marks a departure from Cowell’s longtime deal with Coca-Cola as sponsor of "American Idol," The New York Times reports.

Pepsi will be the sole season-long sponsor for "The X Factor," which the article points out gives Fox the ability to lock up both cola giants. Coca-Cola has locked up "Idol" for winter and spring and Pepsi will back "The X Factor" during its fall run.

Asked whether he takes personal joy in winning "The X Factor" sponsorship over Coke, PepsiCo Senior Vice President Frank Cooper laughed and said, "We love winning," the story says. "I love it. But I love it mostly because of what we can do with it."

Pepsi and Fox will work on marketing off the air and on a joint Web site, as well as creating a social media aspect. Pepsi will have regular commercial time through the show's season, while its products will be integrated into the show, the story says, with specifics to be hashed out over the next few months.

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TLC Host Sounds Off on Sarah Palin

Clinton Kelly, the co-host of TLC's "What Not to Wear," isn't too fond of sharing the same network with former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kelly commented on Palin during an appearance on HLN's "The Joy Behar Show," in which he called Palin's show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska", "an eight-hour informercial," the article notes.

"She basically stands for everything I don't stand for or I'm against," he noted. "I hate somebody who's, like, Oh, look at nature. Look at this beautiful Alaska. ... Look how beautiful everything is. Let's go kill something ... because we need some meat in the refrigerator."

Behar agreed, noting, "As if anybody in New York City can relate to this."


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Severe Layoffs in the Cards for MySpace as Rumors Circulate That Site Will Be Sold

After dropping millions of monthly visitors, News Corp.'s MySpace is poised to lay off about half of its staff, prompting speculation that the site may be prepared for a sale, reports the Los Angeles Times' Company Town blog.

The site will cut about half of its 1,100 employees in mid-January, the story says. A MySpace representative declined to comment.

The social-media service has tried to regain some of its popularity with consumers 13 to 35 years old as a place where they could find new TV shows, games and music. But the article points out that MySpace's attempts to redraw users hasn't stopped consumers from leaving, with monthly visitors dropping by 3.7 million to 54 million in November.

News Corp. bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million, at a time when the social network was booming in popularity, the article points out.


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Growing Threat to Pay TV Subscriptions Seen in 2011 as New Internet-Connected Devices Hit Market

With a wave of new television-viewing devices--from Internet-capable TV sets to tablet computers--coming to market this year, more consumers might take the step that cable and satellite companies dread: cutting their subscriptions in favor of cheaper Web alternatives, report Dawn C. Chmielewski and David Sarno in the Los Angeles Times.

Many new Web-connected TVs will be shown this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the article notes that almost every manufacturer is expected to show a Web-capable TV set at the event. A host of iPad rivals will also be shown, including new devices from Hewlett Packard and Microsoft, that will allow consumers to watch TV shows and movies downloaded from the Internet.

"You'll start to see a lot of conflict between the ambitions of the connected-device manufacturers and the ambitions of the cable operators," said IHS Screen Digest digital media analyst Arash Amel. "Connected TV is a direct threat to [pay TV distributors such as] Comcast. You'll see a lot of movement to prevent that from happening."

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Anne Francis, TV's 'Honey West,' Dead at 80

Anne Francis, who starred as a sexy private detective in the 1960s show “Honey West,” has died at the age of 80, the AP reports.

Francis died Sunday in a Santa Barbara, Calif., nursing home following a bout with pancreatic cancer.

Francis had a successful film career, including starring roles in "Forbidden Planet" and "Bad Day at Black Rock," as well as showy supporting roles in such films as "Funny Girl" in 1968.

She appeared in numerous episodic TV shows, including "Mission Impossible," "The Virginian," "My Three Sons," "Ironside," "Gunsmoke," "The Twilight Zone," "Charlie's Angels," "The Golden Girls," "Home Improvement" and "Nash Bridges."

She was nominated for an Emmy in 1966 for her performance as the iconic female private eye Honey West, and received a Golden Globe for the role that same year.

To see a video tribute to Francis, the opening to "Honey West," click here.

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'24' Movie Hits a Snag as Fox Rejects Script

Fox was careful to end the TV series "24" with a cliffhanger that left the door open for Jack Bauer to continue his counter-terrorist efforts on the big screen, but Fox is not happy with the "24" script, reports Entertainment Weekly.

Screenwriter Billy Ray's script was rejected by the studio, according to the story. Producer Howard Gordon confirmed that the project has been frozen for now, although director Tony Scott and star Kiefer Sutherland are still interested in doing a movie version of "24."

"I was disappointed [Fox] passed on the script but I'm certainly hopeful that the movie will get made at some point," Gordon said, adding, “I do think there is more life in Jack Bauer.”

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Financially Troubled Grammy Winner to Star in Reality Show

A Grammy Award-winning singer who has been dogged by financial reversals and bankruptcies has opted to put her life on view as the star of a reality TV series on the WE network, reports the AP.

"Braxton Family Values" will debut in April and feature R&B star Toni Braxton along with her sisters--Traci, Towanda, Trina and Tamar, who are all aspiring singers.

Despite Toni's personal issues, the show will emphasize family and music. According to WE, the producers want to focus on the dynamic of four women trying to follow the 43-year-old Braxton into show business.

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'Sunday Night Football' Season Finale Gives NBC a Ratings Win

Despite a less than stellar season-ending NFL matchup on "Sunday Night Football," NBC easily won the night in both total viewers and the key adults 18-49 demo, according to TVbytheNumbers.com.

NBC finished Sunday night with a 5.1 average overall rating in adults 18-49, ahead of Fox (3.4 average), ABC (2.7) and CBS (2.4). In total viewers, NBC averaged 14.3 million, beating CBS (11.3 million), ABC (9.4 million) and Fox (8.6 million).

At 7 p.m. football was king on Fox and CBS with the overrun from late-afternoon games. Fox scored a 6.7 rating in 18-49 in the first half-hour, followed by a 3.6 for the postgame show “The OT.” CBS averaged a 3.4 in the first half-hour for a combination of the NFL overrun and “60 Minutes,” which earned a 2.0 in the second half-hour. NBC’s “Football Night in America” pregame collected an average rating of 3.35 in the 18-49 for the hour. ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" had a 2.1 in the 18-49 demo for the hour.

At 8 p.m. NBC's game kicked off with a 5.75 in the 18-49 demo for the hour, while ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" netted a 2.7 in the 18-49 demo. CBS's "CSI: Miami"/'60 Minutes" combo averaged a 2.1 in the 18-49 demographic for the hour.

The 9 p.m. hour was dominated by the NBC game, with a 5.55 average for the hour in the 18-49 demo. ABC's "Desperate Housewives" logged a 3.8 in the 18-49 demo for the hour, while CBS's staggered schedule had "CSI: Miami"/"Undercover Boss" averaging a 2.9 in the 18-49 for the hour.

At 10 p.m. NBC's coverage of the Seahawks vs. the Rams ended the night with a 5.75 average in the 18-49 demographic for the hour, while ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" collected a mean score of 2.4 in the 18-49 demo for the hour. The last of "Undercover Boss" on CBS combined with the start of a repeat of “CSI: Miami” for a 2.4 rating in the 18-49 demo.

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Popular Animated Series Gets a Renewal

One of the more enduring animated shows has been renewed for a ninth season, according to Deadline.com.

Nickelodeon placed an order for 26 new episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” to air through 2012, taking the show past the 200-episode threshhold.

"SpongeBob SquarePants" has been sold in 171 territories, making it MTV Networks' most widely distributed property ever.

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CNN's John Roberts Moving to Fox News

Former CBS anchor John Roberts, who had been rumored to be staying with CNN and moving to Atlanta, has decided to accept an offer from Fox News instead, reports TVNewser.

Fox News Senior VP Michael Clemente made it official, according to the story. “We are excited to welcome John to Fox News,” Clemente said. “His reputation as a skilled journalist with years of notable experience in the field will be a valuable addition to our news programming.”

Roberts, who spent 14 years with CBS News and more recently anchored CNN’s “American Morning,” will be Fox News' senior national correspondent based in Atlanta, reporting on major domestic and international stories for the network.


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Character Actor Pete Postlethwaite Dead at 64

Oscar-nominated actor Pete Postlethwaite, who was most recently seen with Ben Affleck in the drama "The Town," died Sunday at the age of 64, according to People magazine.

The veteran character actor died in a Shropshire, England, hospital where he had been battling cancer. Postlethwaite is survived by his wife, Jacqui, son Will and daughter Lily.

In addition to films such as "Amistad," "Clash of the Titans" and "The Omen," Postlethwaite appeared in many television productions, including the 2008 miniseries "Criminal Justice."

Postlethwaite was nominated for an Academy Award in 1994 for his supporting role in “In the Name of the Father.” He won the National Board of Review Award in 1995 as part of an acting ensemble in “The Usual Suspects.”

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David Arquette Checks Into Rehab

Actor/producer David Arquette, who split up with wife Courteney Cox of "Cougar Town" in October, has entered a rehab facility, according to People magazine.

Arquette's spokesperson confirmed that he's seeking help for what sources have said is a problem with alcohol and other issues. On a recent Howard Stern radio program, Arquette confessed that his therapist said the actor had been going through a "nervous breakdown," and admitted that he had been "drinking a lot."

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Oprah Is Wrong In Her Criticism of TV; Plus What She Has Right About OWN

Oprah Winfrey has widely criticized what's on TV these days. Read what she said as TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross blasts her comments, while at the same time he praises some parts of Winfrey's OWN launch.

It's a don't miss entry that you can read by clicking here.

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Popular Cable Network Orders Its First Reality Series in Five Years

A top cable network has just ordered its first reality series in five years, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

According to the article, "USA Network is bringing back "WWE Tough Enough" as its first reality series in 5 years. The top cable network this morning announced it has given a ten episode order to the non-scripted series, which will be produced by Shed Media USA in collaboration with World Wrestling Entertainment."

The show will feature 12 contestants trying to win a contract with WWE, Andreeva writes, adding that the new show "will debut on April 4, the day after WrestleMania XXVII and immediately following USA’s staple WWE Monday Night Raw at 10 PM."

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Report: Two of 2010's Most Pirated Shows Were Fan Favorites that Went Off-the-Air Last Year; One Got More Downloads Than the Show's Average Audience Size

Two of 2010's most pirated television shows were fan favorites that went off the air last year, reports TorrentFreak.com.

The No. 1 pirated show was "Lost," with an estimated 5.94 million downloads from BitTorrent, the story says. That compared with an estimated television viewership of more than 13 million people. Meanwhile, "Heroes" was the second-most-pirated program with 5.48 million downloads, more than its estimated viewership of 5.3 million, the article points out.

"The massive piracy of TV shows is mostly a reflection of the unavailability of these shows in countries outside the U.S., and a signal that TV viewing habits are changing," the story says.

The article says that fans outside the U.S. "sometimes have to wait for weeks or even months before the show airs on TV in their own country. Many of them are simply not that patient or willing to torture themselves, and turn to BitTorrent in desperation."

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Rumors Are Heating Up Again That Major Sunday News Show May Abandon Washington, D.C.

The rumors are heating up again that one of the major network Sunday morning news and information programs will be leaving Washington, D.C.

Staffers at ABC's "This Week" are concerned that the show will be moved to New York from Washington, because anchor Christiane Amanpour refuses to move to D.C. from her Manhattan home, the New York Post reports.

Instead, Amanpour travels to Washington each Friday to host the Sunday show, fueling concerns that she'll try to move the show's base to New York. The article notes that she doesn't want to pull her young son from school in New York.

Deciding whether to relocate the show to Manhattan is a top priority for Ben Sherwood, the new president of ABC News, the story says. "This Week" executive producer James Goldston and publicist Natalia Labenskyj are based in Manhattan.

An ABC representative said that everything is "status quo" with the show and that "nothing is imminent," the article adds.

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With Apple Sitting Out the Consumer Electronics Show, Competing Products to the iPad Will Try to Wow

UPDATED to reflect that Apple not displaying its wares at the International Consumer Electronics Show is nothing unusual. 5:40 p.m on Jan. 3, 2011.

With Apple sitting out the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show--as it usually does--it allows Apple competitors to steal some of the limelight, the Associated Press reports.

Despite being what the AP calls "the elephant in the room," Apple's absence, especially with its popular iPad, will give a good number of competitors the chance to show off their competing tablet computers.

Motorola, for one, has been hinting that it will show off its first tablet at the show, and Dell and Acer are also expected to show similar computing devices, the article says.

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is expected to touch on tablets in his Wednesday keynote speech, the story adds.

But competitors may have a hard time catching up to Apple this year, with Samsung's Galaxy Tab having some success but with sales far below the 7.4 million iPads sold by Apple through September, the article points out.

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OMG: Average Number of Hours Each of Us Watches TV Per Week Closing In on the Number of Hours We're at Work

Here's a sobering thought for the new year: We Americans watched more TV than ever last year, and our average viewing per week is approaching the number of hours that we're at work.

We're now averaging 34 hours a week watching TV, The New York Times reports.

That means that total viewing of broadcast networks and basic cable channels rose about 1% for the year. CBS was stable, winning among total viewers for 51 out of 52 weeks, with three of its new shows, "Hawaii Five-0," "Blue Bloods" and "Mike & Molly," landing in the top 20 programs for the year, the only new shows to accomplish that, the story notes.

Fox, meanwhile, ranked No. 1 again in 2010 with viewers between 18 and 49, helped by both "American Idol" and "Glee," while the biggest gainer among broadcast networks was Spanish-language Univision, which averaged 3.7 million total viewers for the year, the story adds.

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Newest Member of 'Jersey Shore' Says She Has Fans Before TV Season Starts; Also Says She and Snooki are 'Two Peas in a Pod'

The newest member of MTV's "Jersey Shore" is 5 feet tall and calls herself one of "two peas in a pod" with Snooki when it comes to partying, reports the New York Post.

Her name is Deena Nicole Cortese, 23, and she says, "I have fans and the show hasn't even started," pointing to her more than 21,000 Twitter followers. Cortese had planned to be a dental assistant, but instead is adjusting to instant fame, the story notes. "It really hit me when I was at the mall looking completely disgusting and every store I went into people stopped and asked for a picture," she said. The third season of the show begins on Thursday.

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Retrans Update: Deal Reached in DirecTV/Hearst Dispute, as Sinclair Extends Contract Talks With Time Warner and Bright House

One retransmission consent agreement has been reached, with Hearst Television and DirecTV reaching a new deal, according to Multichannel News,

 Meanwhile, while another blackout has been temporarily diverted as Sinclair Broadcast and Time Warner Cable extended contract talks for two more weeks, reports the Associated Press (AP).. 

But even if Sinclair hadn't agreed to the extension, the AP says that Time Warner would have imported signals from other cities to replace the broadcast stations so its customers could still watch network programming.

Sinclair has also been locked in contract talks with Bright House Networks, another cable provider, over the fees that cable companies pay to rebroadcast its stations. The new deadline for talks between Sinclair and the cable operators expires on Jan. 14, the article notes.

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ESPN's New Year's Game Set a Cable Record

ESPN set a record overnight rating for cable for a football game it broadcast on New Year's Day, reports the Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

Saturday's Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, Calif., between Wisconsin and TCU drew a preliminary rating of 11.7, the highest figure for cable, excluding NFL games, since 2001, the article says.

Interestingly, it was a drop from last year's game, but that game was on broadcast, not cable. Last year's contest drew a 13.8 overnight rating for ABC, the story says.

ESPN said its Saturday evening coverage of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl won the night among all broadcast and cable programs with a 6.7 overnight rating, although that also was down from last year when that broadcast was also on broadcast instead of cable.  Last year's Fiesta Bowl aired on Fox and averaged an 8.6, the story says.

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Scribe For 'The Office' Gets Script Commitment From Fox

A writer-producer of "The Office" has received a script commitment from Fox, reports Deadline.com.

The project, a recession-themed comedy from 20th TV and 21 Laps/Adelstein, was co-created by writer-producer Aaron Shure and actor J.B. Smoove. It would star Smoove as a husband and father who's divorced but can't afford to move out of his home, the story notes. Instead, he moves into his family home's basement, and the show follows his attempt to get his life back, it adds.

Shawn Levy of 21 Laps/Adelstein said the project came about after the April release of "Date Night," in which Smoove played a cab driver whose car gets attached to the vehicle driven by Steve Carell and Tina Fey, and Levy said he received many comments about how funny Smoove was, the story notes.


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Jon Stewart, His 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert Report' May Reappear on Hulu

It looks like Jon Stewart, his "Daily Show" and the "Colbert Report" may once again be on Hulu.

Both shows disappeared from Hulu in early 2010 because the online video service and Viacom's Comedy Central, the network on which the shows appear, couldn't agree on a distribution price. But now the two sides are again talking, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

Both Hulu and the cable network "were eager to make peace," the story notes. While both shows are available on Comedy Central's own Web sites, Hulu has the potential to attract a wider audience because it has 30 million monthly users who are pulled by a variety of content from several networks, the story points out.

It's not clear whether either Hulu or Comedy Central has changed its views on upfront payments, which Comedy Central had insisted upon, leading to the impasse last year, the article adds. Representatives for Comedy Central and Hulu declined to comment, the story says.

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After Flood of Complaints, Discovery Indefinitely Postpones Plans for Show on Michael Jackson's Autopsy

After receiving a flood of complaints from both fans and heirs of the late Michael Jackson, Discovery Networks International said it would indefinitely postpone its plans to air a re-enactment of the singer's 2009 autopsy, reports the New York Times' ArtsBeat blog.

The program had been scheduled to air in several European countries, although not in the U.S., on Jan. 13, the story notes. The decision to postpone the program was due to a request from Michael Jackson's estate and "“the commencement of legal proceedings beginning next week," according to a statement from Discovery Networks.

Conrad Murray, the doctor who was with Jackson when he died, is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 4 for a hearing after being charged with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death, the article notes.

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TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

'Law & Order" Actress to Bring Order to 'Law & Order: Los Angeles'

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

William Petersen to Reprise Gil Grissom Role on 'CSI' Episode

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

Report: Amazon.com Readying 'Free' Video Streaming Service for Prime Members

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

With New Job Running NBC Universal, Steve Burke Steps Down as COO of Parent Company Comcast

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

Major Media CEO Received Big Increase in 2010; with Equity Awards His Total Take Came to $28 Million

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

CBS Orders Pilot From ESPN Talk Show Host Colin Cowherd

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

For NATPE, a Change of Locale, To Miami Beach, Seemed to Be a Mostly Good Thing

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

'Need to Know,' Made to Replace 'Now,' Tallies Negative Marks, Renewal Not Likely Manifest

TVBizwire | January 31, 2011

Creator of Several 'Sesame Street' Muppets, and the 'Elmo World' Segment of the Show, Dies. He Also Wrote the Animated Features 'An American Tail' and 'The Land Before Time"

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

Sheen Enters Rehab; 'Men' on Indefinite Hiatus

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

Latest Charlie Sheen Incident Gets Curiouser and Curiouser--Reality Show Plastic Surgeon Helped Get Him to Hospital, and a Pal Says the Actor Laughed So Hard at TV That He Had a Hernia

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

CNN Taps NBC News, Newsweek Veteran as New Managing Editor

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

ABC Recruits 'Xena' Star to Try to Spice Things Up on Freshman Sci-Fi Show

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

'Glee' Star Lands Choice Spot in Pre-Super Bowl Lineup

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

ABC Slates Missing-Person Drama for Summer Run

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

Former Star of 'CHiPs' Sentenced in Securities Fraud Scheme

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

'Idol' Powers Fox to Runaway Win in Thursday Ratings

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

Porn Star Says Sheen Partied Hearty In Days Before Being Hospitalized on Thursday; She Alleges Party Involved Drinking and Drugs

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

Tracy Morgan's Lewd Remark About Sarah Palin Prompts Apology From TNT

TVBizwire | January 28, 2011

New Book by Gay Anchorman Criticizes New York TV Station Where He Once Worked