March 2012

Three Winning Tickets Split Record $640 Million Lotto Jackpot

"There were three winning tickets sold for Friday's record $640 million Mega Millions jackpot -- believed to be the world's largest such prize," according to a story by CBS News and the Associated Press.

The story adds, "Mega Millions spokesperson Kimberly Starks tells CBS News the winners were sold in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland."

According to the article, the ticket in Maryland was sold at a 7-11 store in Baltimore County. The winning ticket in Illinois was sold "in the small town of Red Bud, near St. Louis." Details about the ticket sold in Kansas were not immediately available.

The size of the jackpot obliterated the size of the previous highest jackpot, $390 million.

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Keith Olbermann Dismissed at Current TV

"News commentator Keith Olbermann is out at Current TV, just nine months after launching his weeknight show, 'Countdown,' " reports USA Today.

Olbermann's show has been replaced with 'Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer,' featuring the former New York governor and former CNN commentator, the story notes.

The article continues, "In a letter from Current's founders to viewers, former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt commented on the dismissal, saying the network was 'founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately, these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.' "

Olbermann's response, according to the article, was that "Gore and Hyatt failed to abide by obligations to invest in 'a quality news program' and thought it was more economical to try to get out of Olbermann's contract. 'In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one,' Olbermann said."

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MTV Renews Two Veteran Series

Two longtime MTV favorites are being brought back by the cable channel for new seasons, Deadline.com reports. MTV is giving renewals to "The Challenge" and "The Real World."

This will be the 27th season for "The Real World" and the 23rd for "The Challenge." Both shows are produced by Bunim/Murray, pioneers of successful reality television production.

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'Hollywood Squares' Format Being Brought Back as 'Hip Hop Squares'

The vintage game show format “Hollywood Squares” is returning to TV as “Hip Hop Squares” with a lineup that includes well-known hip hop personalities, MTV announced. The show will air on MTV2, where it’s set to premiere May 22.

MTV says in its announcement: “’Hip Hop Squares’ stays true to the tic-tac-toe format of the original game show, while infusing it with some of the biggest and most charismatic personalities in Hip Hop culture today, which transcends genre and crosses into the mainstream with its influence on everything from music to entertainment, fashion to comedy, and more.”

Among the personalities lined up for the show are Nick Cannon, Bam Margera, Kat Graham, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Biz Markie and Ghostface Killah.

The show will be hosted by Peter Rosenberg.

Here’s a trailer posted by MTV:

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Sitcom Star Reveals Health Scare

The Emmy-winning star of an iconic sitcom revealed a health crisis that was kept quiet when it happened several years ago.

Candice Bergen revealed that in 2006 she suffered a minor stroke, reports New York Magazine. Bergen starred on the CBS comedy series “Murphy Brown” from 1988-1998.

Although she missed only two weeks of work on ABC's "Boston Legal," her show at the time of the stroke, Bergen said she is still feeling the effects of the ailment.

“My memory is just, it’s not quite the same,” she told the magazine.

Bergen, 65, is currently appearing on Broadway in a revival of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man." She won five Emmys for “Murphy Brown.”

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Comedian's Web Special Picked Up for Cable Telecast -- and He Explains Which Swear Words Will Be Included and Which One Is Banned

A comedy special that was originally presented only online will make its way to cable television. FX announced that it will televise Louis C.K.'s "Live at the Beacon Theater," the New York Observer reports.

FX also televises Louis C.K.’s sitcom, “Louie.”

“What am I going to do, put it on Showtime?” said C.K., who first ran the performance on his website. “I feel loyalty to FX. And they’re going to air it as a commercial, sort of, for the site [where fans can buy the special]. FX will give me the leeway -- you can say ‘shit’ and ‘asshole,’ and you can’t say that on Comedy Central. You just can’t say ‘fuck,’ and there aren’t that many ‘fucks’ in this.”

FX has not yet announced when the special will air.

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New Witness Surfaces in Trayvon Martin Killing: 'Something Really Horrible Is Happening'

A witness to the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, interviewed Thursday night by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, described seeing “scuffling” and hearing a “painful” scream, Mediaite reports.

The anonymous witness also said it appeared that George Zimmerman, the accused shooter, was unharmed after the encounter.

Asked by Cooper to tell what he heard and saw that night, the witness said: “It would have to be starting with hearing voices, but not seeing, but after the voices, opening the window, and seeing two men, or two people, on the ground. On top of each other.”

Cooper then asked what caused him to pay attention, and the witness said:

“At first I heard the voices with my window closed. And pretty much in that area, people walk their dogs, and you’ll hear people talking, and you can hear them very clearly even when they’re not talking loud. So I thought it was rather loud, but I had just shut my window (because it started raining) … and I thought, oh my gosh who’s out there walking their dog in the rain? And I didn’t look. And then I did something else, and then I heard the loud voices again, and then I thought, well, let me see who that is. And I opened up my window … and it definitely was a very loud, predominant voice. I couldn’t hear the words, but I was like, okay this is not a regular conversation. This is someone aggressively, you know, yelling at someone.”

The witness said there was a gap between when he first heard the voices and when he opened the window. He then described what he saw after he opened the window:

“I saw two men on the ground, on top of each other, obviously thinking, okay something really horrible is happening. And at that point, not looking out the window, I heard a yell for help, and then I heard … another excruciating type of yell. It didn’t even almost sound like ‘help,’ it almost sounded so painful. But I wasn’t watching out the window. [...] Next time I looked out the window, there same thing, two men on the grass, on top of each other [...] I couldn’t see a lot of movement because it was very dark, but I felt like they were scuffling. And then I heard gunshots, which to me, were more like pops.”

The Mediaite report includes a clip of the interview, which can be seen by clicking here.

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Mega-Mania Grips Nation as Lottery Jackpot Swells

Lines were forming across the country as the record Mega Millions jackpot grew ever larger today, with the AP reporting early this afternoon that it had grown to $640 million.

We reported two days ago that the lottery jackpot was headed for record territory, noting at that time that it would be close to half a billion dollars. It has since blown that forecast out of the water.

Officials estimated that ticket purchasers would spend more than $1.46 billion on the lottery by the time sales close before tonight’s drawing.

Among the many Mega-Mania anecdotes, AP reported: “A cafe worker in Arizona reported selling $2,600 worth of tickets to one buyer, while a retired soldier in Wisconsin doubled his regular weekly ticket spending to $55. But each would have to put down millions more to guarantee winning what could be the biggest single lotto payout in the world.

"’I feel like a fool throwing that kind of money away,’ said Jesse Carter, who spent the $55 and donated the last two tickets he bought at a Milwaukee store Friday to a charity. ‘But it's a chance you take in life, with anything you do.’"

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'Saturday Night Live' Hires New Cast Member -- and Breaks New Ground

"Saturday Night Live" has hired a new cast member, and the hiring represents a first for the long-running NBC late-night show: the first openly gay female cast member in the show's history, reports the New York Post.

The new actress is Kate McKinnon, who worked on Logo's "The Big Gay Sketch Show," which is produced by Rosie O'Donnell, the story notes.

As previously reported, "SNL" had been auditioning women to add a female cast member, with Kristen Wiig's future up in the air at the program. McKinnon was one of several auditioned.

Terry Sweeney was the first gay man to become a cast member when he was hired for the show in 1985, the piece notes.

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Longest Winning Streak in TV History May Be About to End

The longest winning streak in TV history could come to an end next week, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

With former "Today" co-host Katie Couric slated to co-host "Good Morning America" next week, there's a chance that NBC’s "Today" could actually lose its No. 1 spot for a week, Carter writes.

"Good Morning America" ended last week trailing "Today" by only 137,000 viewers, the piece points out. That's the closest margin in almost five years, and the ABC morning show won two of the five mornings during the same week, the story notes.

"ABC executives have been nearly obsessed with breaking the longest winning streak in television history, the 16-year-plus run that 'Today' has enjoyed. 'Good Morning America' has not beaten the NBC morning show since the first Clinton administration -- December 1995," Carter writes.

"With one of the most popular 'Today' hosts of all time, Katie Couric, now scheduled to sit in for a week as guest host on 'G.M.A.' next week, the morning ratings will probably be as intensely scrutinized inside those two networks as those hanging chads were in Florida in 2000," the story says.

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L.A. Losing Ground to Two Cities in TV Pilot Production

Los Angeles is losing ground at a rapid pace to two other cities in the production of drama pilots for television, Deadline.com reports.

New York and Vancouver are becoming the locations of choice. New York has a record 11 drama pilots shooting this season for broadcast television, up from nine last year and none the previous year, the story reports.

The story says New York state’s expansion of its Film Production Tax Credit Program, passed in August 2010, has a lot to do with the surge. This year New York passed L.A. for the first time in the number of broadcast drama pilot shoots.

Also passing L.A. was Vancouver, with nine pilot shoots, double the 4.5 figure for last year -- which includes a split production for “Alcatraz” between Vancouver and San Francisco. Los Angeles fell to third place with eight of the 41 total drama pilots shot.

The story notes that the currency exchange rate changed slightly to favor Canadian production. A total of 11 broadcast pilots shot in Canada, including the nine in Vancouver and one apiece in Toronto and Montreal.

Meanwhile, the pilot for NBC’s “Frontier” is shooting in Australia, the report notes.

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Rupert Murdoch Lashes Out at Critics, Introduces Slang Term Many Americans May Not Know

News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch declared war against his "enemies," who have accused his pay-TV operation of sabotaging competitors, reports Reuters.

The 81-year-old Murdoch, who is Australian, took to Twitter to call his critics “toffs and right wingers.” “Toff” is defined by Wikipedia as a mildly derogatory British English slang term indicating a person “with an aristocratic background or belonging to the landed gentry, particularly someone who exudes an air of superiority.”

Murdoch's lashing out comes amid reports that News Corp.'s smartcard security unit, NDS, had supported piracy attacks on rivals, including in the U.S., the story notes. Some observers see the accusations expanding the scope of the widely publicized hacking scandal that has hit News Corp.’s U.K. newspapers.

NDS and News Corp. have denied the claims.

According to the report, Murdoch tweeted: "Seems every competitor and enemy piling on with lies and libels. So bad, easy to hit back hard, which preparing.”

He added: "Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century's status quo with their monopolies," according the article.

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'Idol' Comments Spark Friction Between J.Lo and Nicki Minaj

Friction appears to have surfaced between pop stars Nicki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez after Minaj needled Lopez on Fox's "American Idol," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Minaj, who performed "Starships" on the program, asked Lopez to "scoot over" to make room for her to join the judging panel, the story notes. "I was hoping maybe I could come back and be a guest judge," Minaj said.

Lopez, who the report says appeared "perky yet prim," responded, "I don't know if there's enough room for both of us," the story notes.

Minaj afterwards said she was "just joking around" and has "nothing but respect" for Lopez, the story notes.

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Fox's 'In Living Color' Remake Names Cast Members

Fox’s new version of the sketch comedy show “In Living Color” announced the addition of two cast members, Deadline.com reports.

Kali Hawk and Jennifer Bartels were added to the lineup, joining Jermaine Fowler and Lilrel Howery, who were recently cast.

Hawk has been seen recently in a recurring role on "New Girl."

The show is now scheduled to debut later than the April 22 celebration of the network's 25th anniversary, launching as two half-hour specials. The remake is executive produced by Keenen Ivory Wayans, who created and starred in the original 1990s "In Living Color," the piece notes.

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MTV Brings Back 'Unplugged,' Plans Eight New Performances

MTV's "Unplugged" franchise will return with eight new performances set for 2012, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

The new series of shows kicks off April 8 with Florence + the Machine. Other artists lined up for this year include the Civil Wars and Dierks Bentley, the story notes. Three episodes each will air on MTV and VH1, while two will air on CMT, the piece adds.

Last year the series featured a lineup that included Adele, Mumford and Sons and Kelly Clarkson. The show launched in 1989.

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Sony Names New Head of U.S. Media Divisions

Sony Corp. has named a new chief executive officer of its U.S. entertainment business, Bloomberg reports. The move puts film, television and music under the leadership of studio Chairman Michael Lynton.

Lynton, 52, takes on the new role while he continues to lead Sony Pictures Entertainment with co-chairman Amy Pascal, the story reports.

His new job will start June 27, and he will oversee Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Sony Pictures Entertainment, the story says.

Kazuo Hirai, who will take over as Sony CEO from Howard Stringer on April 1, is consolidating management of the units, which contributed more than 30% of Sony's 2011 profit, the piece notes.

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March Madness Spurs Progress in Digital Ad Sales

March Madness has helped book $60 million in digital ad sales for Turner and CBSSports.com, a number that's cited as "a sign of progress" for digital revenues, reports Advertising Age.

The digital ad sales figure for the NCAA games is nearly double the $32 million sold for the 2009 tournament, the story points out. The $60 million figure doesn't include revenue from the one-time $3.99 fee that the companies charged for access to watching the games on mobile devices and online, the piece adds.

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Star of '19 Kids and Counting' Calls Overpopulation 'a Lie'

Michelle Duggar, a mom of 19 children who is featured in TLC's "19 Kids and Counting,” said overpopulation is "a lie" and the world is "not anywhere near being overpopulated," according to the New York Daily News.

The Earth currently holds a record 7 billion people, the story notes.

"The idea of overpopulation is not accurate because, really, the entire population of the world, if they were stood shoulder to shoulder, could fit in the city limits of Jacksonville," Duggar said, according to the story. She made her comments to the Christian Broadcasting Network, the piece adds.

"We've had other countries coming to our doorstep asking us to please let their people know that they need to have more children because their death rates are outnumbering their births rates and they're in crisis," she said, although she didn't identify which countries have asked for her help.

Duggar miscarried her 20th child in December.

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Pepsi Rolls Out New Michael Jackson Marketing Campaign

Pepsi is joining forces again with Michael Jackson, bringing back imagery of the late King of Pop as part of a new promotion, Advertising Age reports.

The story reports: “The brand is working with Michael Jackson's estate to create a limited edition package featuring the singer, according to an executive close to the company. The package coincides with the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Bad’ album, which was released on Aug. 31, 1987.”

Pepsi sponsored Jackson’s 1988 Bad World Tour, which ended its 16-month run through 15 countries as the largest-grossing tour in history. Pepsi was involved with Jackson as far back as 1984, when the singer’s hair caught fire in a famous incident during a commercial shoot.

Regarding the new campaign, the story reports: “The package will be a 16 oz. can available in convenience stores and grocery stores around Memorial Day, according to Beverage Digest. The can, said to have a blue background with an image of Mr. Jackson dancing, is expected to cost 99 cents. Pepsi declined to comment.”

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Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management' to Receive Family-Friendly Rating

Charlie Sheen's new FX show "Anger Management" will receive a family-friendly TV-14 rating, the same rating carried by his former show "Two and a Half Men," reports Deadline.com.

The news of the rating was announced at FX's upfront, and the rating makes sense given that selling a show into syndication with a restrictive TV-MA rating can be tough, the story points out.

FX didn't show clips from "Anger Management," but featured a video of Sheen, who said, "I’m rested, fit and hungry," according to the piece.

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NBC's Freshman Sitcoms Go Quietly as Season Finales Flop -- and the Reinforcements, in the Form of Two 'Bent' Episodes, Fare Even Worse

NBC had another tough night in the Nielsen overnights Wednesday night, as two freshman sitcoms saw their numbers drop for their first-season finales, the network’s new sitcom “Bent” was down from last week and the network finished a distant fifth for prime time overall, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Freshman comedy “Whitney” managed only a 1.5 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, down a tenth of a point from last week, while “Are You There, Chelsea” closed out its first season with a 1.2, down two-tenths from last week.

“Bent’s” two episodes averaged a 0.9 and a 0.8, down from last week’s 1.0 and 0.8 for the series premiere and extra episode. Wrapping up the grim night was “Rock Center” with a 0.8, which was an improvement on last week’s 0.7.

With CBS and ABC airing mostly repeats, Fox had a big night with “American Idol.” The network finished prime time as the runaway leader with a 5.0 average in the 18-49 demo, easily outdistancing CBS (2.1 average), Univision (1.4), ABC (1.3) and NBC (1.0). The results were similar in total viewers, with Fox on top with an average of 17.2 million to 8.3 million for CBS, 4.3 million for ABC, 3.6 million for Univision and 3.1 million for NBC.

On ABC, the night’s only original episode, “Happy Endings,” was up a tenth of a point from its season-low 1.8 last week with a 1.9 this week.

CBS’s only fresh episode, “Survivor,” was even with last week’s 2.8 in viewers 18-49.

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FX Adds Show From 'SNL' Alum to Late-Night Lineup

FX has bought a new late-night show from a veteran of “Saturday Night Live,” The New York Times' ArtsBeat reports. The show is from Chris Rock, although Rock won't be featured on the program, the story reports.

The show is a weekly half-hour featuring comedian W. Kamau Bell, who will focus on provocative issues such as politics, race, religion and sex, the story notes. Rock, who is serving as the show's executive producer, described Bell as "one of the funniest guys out there," the story says.

FX has ordered six episodes of the series, the piece adds.

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Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Developing Sports Network to Challenge ESPN

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is reportedly working on a national U.S. sports cable network that would compete with ESPN, reports Bloomberg.

While the company hasn't made a final decision whether to move forward with the channel, News Corp. is assembling the rights it needs from pay-television carriers and sports organizations, the piece notes.

Its extreme-sports network Fuel might be converted into the new channel, the piece says.

Given ESPN's rights for Monday Night Football and national basketball and baseball games, the Walt Disney-owned network will withstand the competition, according to Miller Tabak & Co. analyst David Joyce.

Nevertheless, given the rise of new challengers to ESPN, such as CBS Sports Network, the competition for sports rights has driven up the price, Joyce said, according to the story.

Fuel, which carries sports such as BMX and snowboarding, is available in 36 million homes, the story adds.

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Lindsay Lohan Released From Probation, Given Warning by Judge

With a final warning from the judge, Lindsay Lohan’s formal probation of almost five years came to an end today, Reuters reports.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner cautioned the actress: "I know it is kind of hard when people are following you all over the place, but that is the life you chose. You need to live your life in a more mature way. Stop the nightclubbing and focus on your work."

The story notes: “Although the ‘Mean Girls’ actress will remain on informal probation until 2014 for a 2011 jewelry theft, she will not have to report regularly to court and will no longer be compelled to live in Los Angeles, as long as she stays out of trouble.”

Lohan expressed her appreciation to the judge, the story notes, telling Sautner: "I just want to say thank you, your honor, for being fair. It has really opened a lot of doors for me."

Sautner said Lohan “has done everything that this court has asked of her,” and gave her a final sendoff, saying: "I don't expect to see you again. Goodbye and good luck."

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Disney Channel Knocks Off Nickelodeon for the First Time

Nickelodeon, whose ratings woes have been the subject of a dispute with Nielsen, as previously reported, has taken another blow, as rival Disney Channel beat it for the first time in average number of total daily viewers, reports TheWrap.com.

Nickelodeon has ruled in the ratings category since June 1995, when TNT held the No. 1 spot, the story says. Because children watch TV during the day, children's networks focus on total-day ratings as a measure of their success, rather than prime-time, the article points out.

Disney Channel is on track to draw 1.57 million viewers, which counts viewers over the age of 2, in total daytime ratings for the month of March, the story says. While that represents a decline of 5% for the network, it is a much smaller decline than Nickelodeon's plunge of 31%, leaving Nick with 1.54 million viewers in March, the story points out.

Disney Channels Worldwide President Gary Marsh pointed to the network's "smart programming choices" in helping the network overtake Nickelodeon, the piece adds.

Nickelodeon had its own spin, noting that it beat Disney among viewers 2 to 11 in March, and that it topped Disney in total viewers for the first quarter of 2012.

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'Downton Abbey' Fan Donates $1 Million

In the largest donation to date for the Masterpiece Trust, a fund-raising initiative launched in 2011, San Diego resident Darlene Shiley has made a $1 million contribution, the AP reports.

Shiley -- a philanthropist fan of the "Masterpiece" program and its current hit “Downton Abbey” -- has also donated $250,000 in the past.

In the second season of the Emmy Award-winning "Downton Abbey" on PBS's "Masterpiece," the network drew 17 million viewers, making it the most-watched "Masterpiece" miniseries ever.

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Fox Announces First Drama Renewal for Fall

Fox has announced its first drama renewal for the fall season, bringing back a long-running series, Entertainment Weekly reports. One of the network’s most successful shows, “Bones” will return for an eighth season.

The show has been on a winter break, and will return with seven fresh episodes starting Monday, April 2.

In a statement, Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said: "Over the past seven seasons, Hart Hanson, Stephen Nathan and the incredible ‘Bones’ cast and crew have redefined the traditional crime procedural with an irreverent and adventurous sensibility, and I’m really happy to have this distinctive fan favorite on our schedule for another season."

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Offer to 'Two and a Half Men' Stars Seen as 'Big Problem'

Stars Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer have received offers from CBS and studio Warner Bros. Television for two-year deals to remain on "Two and a Half Men," but the pacts don't include raises, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The lack of raises is "a big problem," according to the story, which describes the offers as the starting point for what will likely turn into lengthy negotiations.

Some media reports have forecast that Kutcher would be bumped up from $700,000 an episode to $1 million an episode, as we reported earlier this week. He is already said to be the highest-paid actor in TV comedy.

The article reports: "If CBS insists on two years at the current pay levels, it might end up with nothing. Then again, the cast already is extremely well-paid, so taking the current salaries would hardly be an insult. The network, rather than WBTV, is taking the lead on salary negotiations because its license fee fronts the cost of shows that reach this many seasons."

CBS declined to comment, the story adds.

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Legendary Musician Who Helped Shape Modern Country Music Dies

One of the most influential figures in American music during the second half of the 20th century, a pioneer who was an architect of bluegrass and helped shape country music, has died. Banjo master Earl Scruggs died of natural causes Wednesday morning at 88 in a Nashville hospital.

earl-scruggs.jpg

Earl Scruggs

Scruggs’ “three-finger roll,” perfected during his time with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in the late 1940s, became the signature sound of bluegrass and helped create the modern country music sound.

After Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt broke away from Monroe in 1948 to form the Foggy Mountain Boys, they became the most prominent bluegrass act of the period, raising the profile of the genre. A prolific writer, Scruggs created much of the modern bluegrass songbook.

Two Flatt & Scruggs recordings in particular helped expose bluegrass to a wider audience: “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” the theme song to the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies,” released in 1962; and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” the theme to the 1967 Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway film “Bonnie and Clyde.”

Flatt & Scruggs made a series of appearances on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” won a Grammy in 1969 for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” written by Scruggs, and were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.

Following the breakup of Flatt & Scruggs in 1969 -- often attributed to Scruggs’ desire to broaden the group’s musical base beyond pure bluegrass -- Scruggs formed his own band, the Earl Scruggs Revue, and continued touring and recording until recently. Lester Flatt continued as a solo act as well before his death in 1979.

Scruggs is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most imitated musician in the world, with “Scruggs Style” banjo playing having become the predominant style on the instrument.

He was an inaugural member of the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor, inducted in 1991. He received the American National Medal of the Arts in 1992, awarded by the National Endowment of the Arts. He won a Grammy with Scruggs in 1969 for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and received a second Grammy for a new version of the song, recorded with Steve Martin, Vince Gill, Albert Lee, Leon Russell, Marty Stuart, Paul Shaffer and others, in 2002.

Here’s a video of Earl Scruggs, Steve Martin and others performing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on “Late Show with David Letterman”:

Finally, here's Flatt & Scruggs' theme to "The Beverly Hillbillies":

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Character Actor Who Appeared in More Than 150 TV Shows Dies at 92

A veteran film and television actor who appeared in more than 150 TV shows has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Warren Stevens, known for playing "Doc" Ostrow in the 1956 film "Forbidden Planet," was 92.

On television, Stevens was a regular on the NBC adventure series "Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" in the 1950s and was the voice of John Bracken in the 1969-70 NBC series "Bracken's World," about the head of a fictional Hollywood studio, the piece notes.

The veteran character actor also appeared in TV shows ranging from "Star Trek" to "Return to Peyton Place," the story adds.

In "Forbidden Planet" his character dies after using a "plastic educator" to increase his intelligence, with the goal of finding the secret of the invisible monster on the planet Altair, the story says.

Stevens died Tuesday at home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., of respiratory failure, the story reports.

warren_stevens.bmpWarren Stevens

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With 'SNL' Cast Member's Future Unclear, Actresses Are Trying Out for the Spot

With the future of one of the show’s mainstays up in the air at NBC's "Saturday Night Live," the show plans to add a new female cast member, reports Deadline.com.

Kristen Wiig’s contract expires at the end of the current season, and a decision on whether she will remain with “SNL” is expected to be made during the summer.

Seven comedic performers have tested for producer Lorne Michaels, the story says. They include Jessica Joy of "The Playboy Club," Kate McKinnon of "The Big Gay Sketch Show," Lauren Lapkus of "Are You There Chelsea" and Elaine Carroll of "Very Mary-Kate," the story says.

McKinnon will debut on this Saturday's show, which features guest host Sofia Vergara, the report notes. It’s not clear whether Michaels will give more female candidates a chance to try out on the show, the story says.

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Implosion at Best Buy: Company Misses Analysts' Revenue Expectations by $500 Million, Plans Store Closings, Layoffs, Shift in Retail Focus

Retail electronics chain Best Buy revealed plans to close 50 stores and lay off 400 employees as it shifts its focus to put more emphasis on the mobile segment, Business Insider reports.

The revelations accompanied the company’s fourth-quarter report, which included results that beat expectations on the bottom line but fell short in revenues.

Revenue grew 3% in fourth-quarter 2011 to $16.6 billion, some $500 million short of the $17.15 billion forecast in a Bloomberg poll of analysts, the story reports.

The report notes: “The quarter also benefitted from an extra week in the company's fiscal calendar — excluding the week would mean revenue actually fell 1.1 percent. Shares were down 6 percent in the first minutes of trading.

“The company saw same-store sales decline 2.3 percent during the period, highlighting its difficulties as the U.S. economy gained steam during the first few months of 2012. Best Buy saw weakness across the board, with sales suffering in gaming, notebooks, digital imaging and televisions.”

Best Buy announced it plans to launch 100 new mobile locations as part of a retooling of its domestic stores, the report says.

Business Insider adds: “Best Buy is targeting more than $800 million in cost savings by 2015, largely expected through layoffs and the aforementioned store closings. The targets are roughly split between corporate, retail and declines in costs of goods sold. The company will lay off 400 employees within its management and support channels.”

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Carson Daly Apologizes Over Comments on JetBlue Pilot's Meltdown

Carson Daly, the host of "The Voice," issued an apology for his apparent attempt at humor in comments about a JetBlue pilot who freaked out during a recent flight, TMZ.com reports.

Daly took to his radio show to air his belief that gay people wouldn't have restrained the pilot, the story reports. Daly was talking about the incident when he noted, "Most of the people were on their way to some sort of security conference in Las Vegas ... it was like a bunch of dudes and well trained dudes ... thank god," according to the story.

He added, "With my luck, it would be like ... 'this is the flight going to [the gay pride parade] in San Francisco. … I mean, that would be my colleagues," according to the article.

Daly later apologized for his comments on Twitter, noting, "This morning on my radio show I attempted to make fun of myself & offended others by mistake. I sincerely apologize."

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NBC Unveils Plans for Saturday Morning Children's Block

NBC is getting into programming for preschoolers with a new Saturday morning block, Multichannel News reports. The network announced that NBC Kids, set up in partnership with Sprout, PBS, Sesame Workshop and Apax Funds, will launch July 7.

Programming will include “The Wiggles,” “Noodle & Doodle” from Sprout, the Jim Henson show “Pajanimals,” “Poppy Cat,” “Justin Time” and “LazyTown,” the story reports.

Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, said in the announcement: "NBC is proud to partner with Sprout in providing progressive new programming that will entertain and encourage children to achieve more positive life choices. This is an ideal blend of entertaining shows that also offer promising benefits to the development of children on many levels."

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Video: Will Ferrell, as Ron Burgundy, Announces Sequel to 'Anchorman'

Will Ferrell dropped in on “Conan” last night as his “Anchorman” character Ron Burgundy to announce plans for “Anchorman 2,” a sequel to the hit 2004 film “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” The Washington Post reports.

“Burgundy” also insulted host Conan O’Brien’s appearance and made a few suggestive remarks during his surprise appearance.

The announcement was short on details about the sequel, but media reports indicate that Paul Rudd and Steve Carell are expected to return along with director Adam McKay and producer Judd Apatow.

Here’s a video of the “Conan” appearance ...

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CBS Steps In to Halt 'Star Trek' Web Production

A planned Web production of a never-filmed "Star Trek" script, with unknown actors playing Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, has been halted by CBS, reports The New York Times.

"Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II" had acquired a forgotten script by Norman Spinrad, the writer who penned the classic "Trek" episode "The Doomsday Machine." He wrote the overlooked script, "He Walked Among Us," in 1967 for the original NBC series, and received $5,000 for it, but even after rewrites, the script was scrapped.

For 27 years, the script lay dormant in the archives of California State University, Fullerton. In October 2011, after a fan asked him to autograph a copy of the script, Spinrad began selling it online. "Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II" found it and struck a deal with Spinrad to film it for the Web with the writer directing it himself.

CBS heard about it and intervened with a cease and desist order. The company said in a statement, “We fully appreciate and respect the passion and creativity of the ‘Star Trek’ fan and creative communities. This is simply a case of protecting our copyrighted material and the situation has been amicably resolved.”

One question lingers, however: Why did CBS stop this production and not any others. David Gerrold, who wrote "The Trouble with Tribbles" for the original series, has had his 1987 "Next Generation" script "Blood and Fire" reworked for "Phase II" after the TV show decided not to use his script.

Gerrold told The Times, “I don’t understand CBS’s thinking on this at all. They didn’t care then. Why do they care now?” Gerrold also expressed the feeling that CBS had foolishly antagonized the Trekkers. “‘Star Trek’ fans are not a sleeping dragon that you want to poke,” he said.

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USA Kills Two Drama Pilots

USA Network has killed two drama pilots that have been in limbo since they were screened by executives in November, Deadline.com reports.

The shows are "Over/Under" and "Wild Card." Of the two, "Over/Under" had some support among the execs, according to the report.

"Over/Under" was about a former day trader, played by Steven Pasquale, who starts a new life, while "Wild Card" was about two lawyers in Las Vegas. The latter starred Jennifer Finnigan.

Both Finnigan and Pasquale have already moved on to other pilots, with the former co-starring in TNT's pilot "Chelsea General" and the latter starring in NBC's "Do No Harm," the story notes.

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Katie Couric to Fill In for ABC Colleague

Katie Couric will revisit a familiar daypart when she fills in for a colleague on an ABC show, TVNewser.com reports.

The former host of NBC’s “Today” will be back on air in the morning, co-hosting "Good Morning America" next week, the story says. Couric will fill in for Robin Roberts.

The show continues to gain ground on "Today," where Couric left almost six years ago, the story points out. The ratings gap between the two shows among younger viewers was its smallest since July 2008 during the week of March 12, according to the article.

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Mafia Victims Up in Arms About VH1 Reality Series, Call for Investigation Into Gun Incident on the Show

A VH1 reality series has come under fire from victims of the mafia underboss Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, whose daughter Karen stars on the show, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The family members of Gravano's victims are urging for an investigation into whether Karen broke the law by firing a gun on “Mob Wives,” the story notes.

In the episode, Karen and her friends go to a shooting range in the Poconos, with Karen reminiscing about how she once found a gun hidden under her dad's mattress, the piece says.

Some relatives of Gravano's victims allege Karen broke the law since she pleaded guilty about 10 years ago to charges related to a drug ring in Arizona, the story notes.

“What about the people [Sammy] killed, and their extended family? How can [Karen] be allowed to shoot a gun? The apple does not fall far from the tree, and crime does not pay," said Lynda Milito, who blames her husband's death on Gravano, the story says.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives hasn't yet opened a criminal probe into the incident, according to a spokesman in its Philadelphia Field Division.

Karen Gravano said her probation terms ended in 2003. "At that time, I filed a motion to have my constitutional rights restored and to my knowledge, they have been restored. They’re doing everything they can to discredit me because of their personal issues with my father," she said, according to the story.

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Ratings Carnage: Key Shows on CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC All Get Bad News

Tuesday was a tough night for the broadcast networks in Nielsen overnights, with shows on CBS, Fox and NBC hitting season lows while one of ABC’s showcase series suffered a huge loss of viewers.

CBS’s “NCIS” matched last week’s season low with a 3.4 average rating in viewers 18-49; Fox’s “New Girl” dropped 7% from last week to a series low 2.5, while “Raising Hope” was off 6% to a season low 1.5; NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” fell to a 1.9, a series low for a regular telecast; and ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” airing its first results show of the season, was down 30% from the equivalent show last season to a 3.0, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Other bad news included a 5% drop from last week for CBS’s “Unforgettable” with a 2.0 in 18-49; a 17% decline for NBC’s “Fashion Star” to a 1.5; and a hefty falloff of 32% from last year for ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” recap show “The Story So Far.”

A few shows managed to break the downward trend. The best news in the bunch was for ABC’s “Body of Proof,” which surged 50% to a 2.1 average rating in 18-49, from a scant 1.4 for its previous original episode. Fox’s “Breaking In” was up 8% from last week to a 1.4, while CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles” elevated itself from last week’s season low by climbing 4% to a 2.9.

CBS wound up on top for prime time overall with a 2.8 average rating in the 18-49 demo, followed by ABC (2.3 average), NBC (1.8) and Fox (1.7). In total viewers, CBS led with 14.5 million, ahead of ABC (11.9 million), NBC (5.1 million) and Fox (3.6 million).

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CBS Hit With Gender Discrimination Lawsuit -- Male Exec Says He Was Passed Over Because He Isn't a Woman

CBS has been sued by a male executive who claims he was passed over because he isn't a woman, reports Deadline.com.

Daysun Perkins, who filed the civil suit Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against CBS Corp. and CBS Television Distribution, alleges that executive Aaron Meyerson told him he couldn't be considered for VP of development because of his gender, according to the story.

The lawsuit alleges that Meyerson, president of programming and development at CBS TV Distribution, told Perkins, "I gotta go girl,” and, "This job is not worth getting a sex change over," the article says.

Perkins, who is currently GSN's executive director, original programming and development, claims he was also told he was qualified for the job, the story says.

A CBS spokesperson wouldn’t comment on specifics but said, “The claim as we understand it is without merit and will be vigorously defended," according to the piece.

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'West Wing' Character Inspires Discovery Documentary Series

Discovery Channel has unveiled plans for a new documentary series that was inspired by a character on “The West Wing,” The Washington Post reports.

"The Gatekeepers," set to premiere next year, was inspired by John Spencer’s character, Leo McGarry, on the Emmy-winning NBC drama, the story reports.

The docu-series will span nine presidential administrations and the role of the chiefs of staff, a job deemed more important than the vice president. Included in the show will be interviews with Obama's former chief, Rahm Emanuel, as well as other chiefs including Donald Rumsfeld, James A. Baker III, John Sununu and "Mack" McLarty.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush have also been filmed for the series.

Filmmakers Gedeon and Jules Naudet, who are creating the series, told The Post about the connection to Aaron Sorkin's drama series, saying, “We had been fans of ‘The West Wing’ and love that character. A lot of people know about the president and vice president, but the chief of staff -- that’s a very strange, secret brotherhood no one knows about.”

The article also notes, "The Naudets, in turn, brought in exec producer and longtime news exec Chris Whipple (“60 Minutes,” ABC News), who conducted many of the interviews. And Pulitzer Prize-winning White House photographer David Hume Kennerly was brought in as producer.

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NBA Player Wants a Cool $7 Million to End Kardashian Marriage Mess

If Kim Kardashian wants to wrap up her ill-fated marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries she can apparently do so for a mere $7 million, reports E! Online.

The 27-year-old New Jersey Nets power forward is not happy with the current settlement offer, according to the report. Humphries' attorney believes Humphries would get more money if they face a judge, and so the Kardashian offer remains on the table while the Humphries side is reportedly dragging his heels.

A source told E!: "Kris is dragging it out. Kim is ready to move on, but Kris is hoping that stretching it out will get him even more money."

E! News was told that if Kardashian would cough up $7 million, Humphries would remain silent about their marriage and agree to never talk publicly about the situation. The Kardashian camp contends that the offer on the table is more than fair.

Kardashian filed for divorce Oct. 31, ending the 72-day marriage.

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'Dallas' Reboot Revisits Legendary Shower Scene From Original Series

In a new take on one of the most famous plot twists in TV history -- which happens to be from the original “Dallas” series -- the cast of the new TNT “Dallas” reboot appears in a promotional photo in which they're all in the shower, reports Deadline.com.

The shot is a wink to the famous Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) shower scene, in which Pam (Victoria Principal) learned that the entire previous season of stories had been a dream. The tagline for the new promo reads, "They're Back, And No, You're Not Dreaming."

Patrick Duffy’s pose in the new shot is almost identical to his appearance in the original scene, the story notes.

The new TNT series premieres June 13.

dallas-shower-promo.jpg

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Fox Pulls Marketing for Upcoming Movie in Response to Death of Trayvon Martin

Fox has withdrawn marketing for an upcoming summer movie, including a trailer and a poster, in response to the controversial shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The preliminary marketing campaign for the comedy "Neighborhood Watch," a comedy with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill, was removed from Florida theaters, the story says. Martin was reportedly shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.

The film tells the story of four men who are part of a neighborhood watch detail who try to save the world from an alien invasion from outer space.

A Fox representative told the publication, "We are very sensitive to the Trayvon Martin case, but our film [has] no relation to the tragic events in Florida. The movie, which is not scheduled for release for several months, was made and these initial marketing materials were released before this incident ever came to light. The teaser materials were part of an early phase of our marketing and were never planned for long-term use. Above all else, our thoughts go out to the families touched by this terrible event."

In the initial trailer, Jonah Hill's character is shown with the other three actors on patrol in an SUV and uses his finger to pretend to shoot a group of kids. Fox is jettisoning this early marketing campaign and moving to phase two. The initial teaser poster is being removed from theaters.

The movie continues on track for its July 27 release date.

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OWN's Ratings on the Upswing

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network, which has struggled to attract viewers since its January 2011 launch, got good news in its first-quarter ratings, posting substantial growth in prime time and total day across all key demographics.

For the period of Dec. 26-March 25, the channel saw growth among women 25-54 in prime time (up 14%) and total day (up 25%) from a year ago.

OWN also reported: “For the month of March, the network also notched double-digit growth across all key demos in both prime time and total day. Prime-time ratings were up +50% W25-54, up +34% in households and +35% in total viewers, with total day up +42% W25-54, +38% HH and +37% total viewers versus year ago numbers. OWN improved its standing among 97 ad-supported cable networks, climbing to #29 in prime time and #30 in total day.”

OWN President Erik Logan said in a statement: “We are pleased with our start for 2012 -- viewers are responding and connecting with our programming.”

Highlights included several installments of Winfrey’s prime-time series “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” The Steven Tyler episode had 1.1 million total viewers; Pastor Joel Osteen drew 1.5 million total viewers; an interview with members of Whitney Houston’s family saw the show surge to 3.5 million total viewers; and the Lady Gaga episode pulled in 808,000 total viewers.

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Madonna Is Banned From Talk Show

The host of a major talk show apparently has a long-standing grudge against legendary pop star Madonna, and although the reason for the acrimony is unknown, the talk-show host -- Piers Morgan -- has extended a ban on the singer to both his CNN show and his U.K. show, reports TMZ.com.

Morgan wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night, "Welcome to Twitter. You're still banned from my show. Love Piers X."

Madonna's manager responded by writing, "Really?" and including a letter from Morgan's producer that invited the singer onto his U.K. talk show, the story notes.

"Madonna has only been banned from my CNN show, not my UK show, which sent that invite. But I'm now banning her from that too," Morgan wrote in response, according to the story.

Morgan has previously described Madonna as "an irritant in my life for 20 years."

Sources close to Madonna reportedly said the singer does not know why Morgan is angry with her.

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Salary Talks for Hit Sitcom Could Get Ugly as Cast Seeks Massive Pay Hikes

The cast of a wildly successful comedy series is asking for massive pay hikes -- with their pay tripling to $200,000 each per episode, up from a reported $65,000 currently -- as high-stakes negotiations begin with the show's six adult cast members, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Cast members on ABC’s “Modern Family” who are negotiating for the higher salaries are Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara, the story notes.

Ed O'Neill, who plays the patriarch of the family, makes about $105,000 per episode, as well as a small backend for agreeing to cut his quote when he signed on for the series in 2009, the piece notes. O'Neill was considered a coup when he was cast, given his success on "Married … With Children" and other TV shows, according to the article.

It's likely that the negotiations could get ugly, as the cast is expected to seek additional pay increases for subsequent seasons, a move that producer Twentieth Television will probably resist, the article notes.

"Modern Family" is ABC's top-rated comedy and has become TV's No. 1 scripted series among younger viewers, the piece points out.

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Ashton Kutcher Closing In on Huge Payday to Return to 'Two and a Half Men'

CBS has picked up the pace on negotiations with Ashton Kutcher to keep the actor on "Two and a Half Men" for a another year, with the actor looking at what is shaping up as a lucrative deal, reports TVGuide.com.

His paycheck could be bumped up to $1 million per episode, from a reported $700,000 during his first season, reports The New York Post. Kutcher’s $700,000 rate already made him the highest-paid actor in TV comedy during the current season.

Kutcher signed a one-year deal when he joined the show, with his per-episode pay much less than the $1.25 million previously earned by Charlie Sheen, whom he replaced, the story points out.

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Fox Boots J.Lo Show From Prime Time After Four Weeks of Low Ratings

After four low-rated weeks in prime time, Fox is kicking Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's reality series "Q'Viva: The Chosen" out of prime time, Deadline.com reports.

The talent competition will now air in late-night, running on Saturdays from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., instead of its 8-10 p.m. Saturday slot, the story notes. It will be edited to fit the 90-minute slot.

The show started off its Fox stint with a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49 and then dropped to a 0.5 rating, the story says.

Fox will move “Cops” back into the 8-10 p.m. slot, the report notes.

Original episodes of “Q’Viva” air on the Spanish-language network Univision, the story adds.

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Exec Producer Talks About Fate of Drama Series After Low-Rated Finale

The executive producer of a drama series that just wrapped up its first season on a low note admitted to TVGuide.com that he’s less than confident about the show’s possible return for season two.

"Alcatraz" executive producer Daniel Pyne indicated the Fox program's low ratings for its two-hour finale, which we reported Tuesday, are troubling.

Asked about the chances for a renewal, Pyne responded, "I don't know. I wish the numbers had been better last night. I mean they weren't terrible. But we keep just slipping a little bit, which I'm not wild about," according to the story.

Asked whether the show will wrap up its mysteries if it doesn't get renewed, Pyne noted, "We haven't planned on anything yet, but we'll deal with that when the time comes. In one way, we feel like the first 13 [episodes] were a marvelous short story and ended where we wanted it to end with tons of questions, but [also] a lot of answers to things that had been bugging people."

As previously reported, the two-hour season finale of “Alcatraz” went out with a thud, slipping to a series-low 1.5 average rating in adults 18-49.

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Fired 'X Factor' Host Finds a Temporary TV Home

The fired host of "The X Factor" has found a temporary home on a TV magazine show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Steve Jones landed on "Entertainment Tonight," where he will anchor with Nancy O'Dell on Wednesday and Thursday, the story reports.

Jones made the announcement about his short gig on Twitter, telling fans, "This is going to be fun!" the story notes. Jones was fired from "The X Factor" along with judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger as creator Simon Cowell seeks to hire new talent for the show, the piece adds.

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Lindsay Lohan May Play a Familiar Troubled Starlet on 'Glee'

Troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan is in discussions to play a familiar character on Fox’s "Glee," reports TVLine.com.

Once the butt of a joke on the show, Lohan would play herself, acting as a celebrity judge at Nationals, the story notes.

Past judges for the competition, which ends the show's season, have included Olivia Newton-John and Josh Groban, the piece points out.

Lohan recently hosted "Saturday Night Live," but her last scripted appearance on TV was in 2008, in an arc on "Ugly Betty," the story ways.

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Geraldo Rivera Apologizes for Hoodie Comment, but Continues to Offer Wardrobe Advice to Minority Youths

TV host Geraldo Rivera offered an apology for comments he made in response to the death of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was shot in Florida by George Zimmerman, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But Rivera added that he remains "absolutely convinced of what I said about asking for trouble," the story reports.

As reported previously, Rivera made his original comments on "Fox and Friends" last week, saying that Martin had made himself a target by wearing a hoodie and dressing "gangsta.”

In a letter to Politico, Rivera offered a "sincere and heartfelt apology” for the comment. But he added, "There’s trouble enough for minority boys and young men not to provoke mad responses from paranoid jerk offs,” according to the story.

Even in his apology, Rivera continued to make his point about hoodies. In his letter to Politico he wrote: “I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.’” Rivera cited a piece in the National Review by Thomas Sowell, Politico reported.

The Politico piece adds: “Rivera said that ‘by putting responsibility on what kids wear instead of how people react to them I have obscured the main point that someone shot and killed an unarmed teenager,’ and that he was offering a ‘sincere and heartfelt apology’ to anyone he may have offended in his ‘crusade to warn minority families of the danger to their young sons inherent in gangsta style clothing; like hoodies.’”

A video of Rivera’s original comments can be seen by clicking here.

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OMG. Stop Reading This Immediately and Get to Your Nearest Convenience Store. Mega Millions Drawing on Friday Will Be for an ALL TIME Record -- Jackpot Will Be Close to Half a Billion Dollars. Plus -- a Wild True Lotto Story

With no winner for Tuesday night's jackpot of $363 million, Friday's Mega Millions lottery drawing will be worth a record amount -- close to half a billion dollars, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Says the article, "The annuity jackpot rocketed to $476 million for Friday night's drawing -- obliterating the old U.S. mark of $390 million set by Mega Millions in March 2007."

Furthermore, the story notes, if there is a winner on Friday, and that person picks the cash option, that amount will also be a record: $341 million. That cash amount, says the article, is "$101 million more than the second-biggest cash jackpot ever, the $240 million reached by Mega Millions in January last year."

Some fun stats, according to the article: "If piled in a single stack of $1 bills, the cash windfall [if someone wins on Friday] could start at the bottommost spot of the ocean and still tower above Mount Everest. If paid at the rate of $1 every minute, the payout would take more than 600 years."

Speaking of the lottery, check out this wild story about a disputed winning lottery ticket in Mourtain View, Calif. This news report is from KPIX in San Francisco:

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Scene Stealer From 'The Artist' Takes Spotlight as Hollywood Goes to the Dogs for Genesis Awards

Hollywood gathered over the weekend for the Genesis Awards, presented by the Humane Society of the United States, and Uggie, the canine star of the Oscar-winning “The Artist,” nearly stole the show.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was on hand to provide a rundown on the animal-friendly festivities -- click here to read her report.

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Sony Signs Former NBC and ABC Executive to a Two-Year Deal

Sony Pictures Television has signed a former NBC and ABC executive to a new two-year overall deal, representing a re-up for Jamie Tarses, reports Deadline.com.

The decision to re-up Tarses and her Fan Fare banner was a "no-brainer," according to the article, given that Tarses has three series on the air or upcoming: ABC's "Happy Endings," TNT's "Franklin & Bash" and the upcoming TBS comedy "Men at Work."

Fan Fare also has two broadcast pilots, the CBS drama "Baby Big Shot" and the Hilary Winston comedy at NBC, the piece notes. Tarses has been at Sony since 2005.

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New Reality Series Poses Question: Can Daily Sex Save a Couple's Relationship?

A new reality series is asking whether engaging in sex on a daily basis can save a couple's marriage, reports TheWrap.com.

The Lifetime show, "7 Days of Sex," will debut April 26 and will feature two couples who try to fix their troubled relationships via a diet of daily intercourse, the story says.

"The real question is, will the public be able to stomach that diet?" the story asks.

"'7 Days of Sex' is a reflection of the challenges in our relationships -- balancing time, family, work and trying to achieve real intimacy while being honest and true to ourselves,” said Lifetime President Nancy Dubuc, the article notes.

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Magical Bid: Los Angeles Dodgers Sold For Sports Franchise Record....$2 BILLION (!)

With a bid of $2 billion--shattering the previous highest price paid for a U.S. sports franchise--the Los Angeles Dodgers have been sold, reports the Wall St. Journal. [Note: the WSJ is behind a firewall and you may be charged to read its story.]

According to the report, "With a bid of $2 billion, [Magic] Johnson and partners Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly beat out a group of some of the wealthiest businessmen in the country to land a team that is one of Major League Baseball's flagship franchises. The sales figure shatters the previous record sales price for a U.S. sports franchise, Steve Ross's purchase of the Miami Dolphins for $1.1 billion three years ago."

On the media side of the equation, the Journal writes, [B]uying the Dodgers now comes with a unique opportunity to launch a potentially lucrative regional sports network in the country's second largest market, or sign a new local broadcast deal with the current broadcaster, News Corp.'s Fox unit, which has already offered the team a 17-year extension valued at nearly $3 billion."

The New York Times version of the story, written by our good friend Rich Sandomir, said, "The Johnson group will spend $2 billion for the team and $150 million for a joint venture with the beleaguered seller, Frank McCourt, on the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including the parking lots. McCourt had until recently resisted selling the lots, preferring instead to lease them to the new owner. McCourt bought the team in 2004."

The Times also noted that the deal will be "financed largely by Guggenheim Partners."

Said retired Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson in a statement, “I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles.”

The NY Times story added, "The deal will have to be approved by the judge overseeing the Dodgers’ bankruptcy."

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Another Huge Pop Star in Talks to Become Judge on 'X Factor'

Just a few days after one popular singing star shot down rumors that she was vying for a spot on “The X Factor,” another major pop star’s name has surfaced as a contender for the gig.

Singer Rihanna is in talks with the producers as the possible new judge on the Fox singing competition, HollywoodLife.com reports.

The news follows word from Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas, that she won’t be on the show, as we reported late last week.

With Nicole Scherzinger and Paula Abdul fired from the show, and Britney Spears having taken herself out of the running, Simon Cowell has reportedly been negotiating with Rihanna to join the panel.

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Video: First Footage of James Cameron's Deep-Sea Dive

National Geographic today released a first look at the solo descent by “Titanic” and “Avatar” director James Cameron to the deepest known point on earth -- the Mariana Trench.

PCMag.com reports: “The brief glimpse of the watery depths visited earlier this week by Cameron in his Deepsea Challenger submersible show what the director ... described as a ‘completely featureless ... almost gelatinous flat plain’ not unlike the surface of another planet entirely.”

Check out the video:

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On a Night of Lowlights in the Broadcast Ratings, One Show Goes Out With a Resounding Thud

Monday’s Nielsen overnights saw a number of shows turning in season lows or series lows, but one series had an especially bad night, according to TVbytheNumbers.com.

Fox’s two-hour season finale of “Alcatraz” went over with a resounding thud, slipping to a series-low 1.5 average rating in adults 18-49 to knock Fox down to fifth place for prime time overall.

NBC’s “The Voice” was down too, but still lifted the network to a win for the night. NBC averaged a 3.7 rating for prime time in the 18-49 demo, topping ABC (2.9 average), CBS (1.9), Univision (1.5) and Fox (1.5).

ABC, led by “Dancing With the Stars,” came out on top for the night in total viewers, averaging 15.8 million to 10.0 million for NBC, 6.4 million for CBS, 4.7 million for Fox and 3.7 million for Univision.

NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” hit a season low, falling 4% from a week ago to a 4.4 average in 18-49. The network’s “Smash” matched last week’s season low with a 2.2.

“Dancing With the Stars,” off to a slow start this season, saw its second episode of the season fall 11% from the premiere to a 3.1 in 18-49. But ABC also had one of the few bright spots across the broadcast dial, with “Castle” posting a gain of 4% with a 2.4 rating.

The generally low numbers on the other networks came on a night when CBS aired all repeats — a point that looks especially bad for “Alcatraz” as it waits to hear whether it will get a second season.

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BBC America Picks Up Two Miniseries

BBC America has picked up two new drama miniseries, which will be added to the network’s “Dramaville” programming block, B&C reports.

Both productions -- "White Heat" and "Inside Men" -- are British, the story notes.

"White Heat," a six-episode drama from ITV Global Entertainment, tells the story of seven friends, from their college days in 1965 London to the present day. Sam Clafin and Claire Foy headline the cast. "White Heat" will premiere Wednesday, May 9, at 10 p.m. ET on BBC America.

The BBC produced "Inside Men," a four-episode mini about a multimillion-pound heist and how the crime affects the three men involved. The show will launch Wednesday, June 20, at 10 p.m. ET, filling the time slot left open after "White Heat" ends its run.

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Serenade to 'Mad Men's' Don Draper to Be Released as Single

The serenade from Megan to her new husband Don Draper on the newest season of "Mad Men" will be released as a single from Lionsgate, the studio that produces the AMC show, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat blog.

Called "Zou Bisou Bisou," the French pop song was a hit for the British singer and actress Gillian Hills, the story says. After the song was heard on the TV show on Sunday night, the title climbed up Twitter's trending topics list, the piece adds.

The song will be sold in Apple's iTunes store and as a limited release vinyl edition at AMC's Web store, the piece notes.

Click here to read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin's detailed rundown of what went down in Sunday's highly anticipated two-hour premiere of the show's new season.

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Jane Fonda to Play Former First Lady

Two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda has been cast in the role of a former first lady in the upcoming film "The Butler," reports Moviefone.com. Fonda will play Nancy Reagan.

Citing a report by Variety, the story says Lee Daniels will direct the film about a White House butler, Eugene Allen, covering the 34 years he spent working for the presidents and their families.

Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker is in talks to play Allen, with TV superstar Oprah Winfrey a possible choice as his wife. Other names are also in discussion, including Liam Neeson -- to play President Lyndon Johnson -- and John Cusack as Richard Nixon.

Fonda is currently filming a recurring role HBO's new drama series "The Newsroom."

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Google Launches Full-On Assault on iTunes

Users of Google are finding something new on their navigation bar, as the company this week took as big step forward with its move into the iTunes space by adding Google Play to its Google.com, Gmail and other pages.

Google Play is described as a one-stop page where users can stream movies, music, e-books, games and apps. For now the service is labeled on the navigation bar as “new” and the page includes links to introductory materials explaining the service.

The service is designed to be accessible from anywhere on the Web, with attention paid to keep it compatible with Android devices. The introductory info notes that it offers “450,000 apps, millions of songs and books and thousands of movies" and touts the advantages of the cloud model for consuming and organizing digital media.

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New Steven Bochco Series Set 3 Million Years in the Future

Prolific TV writer and producer Steven Bochco has joined forces with Entertainment One to produce a new hour drama series set 3 million years in the future, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The series, “Evolution,” was created and written by Bochco and Bryan Law, the story notes.

THR reports: “The series, set 3 million years in the future, sees a box of human knowledge unearthed, which in turn unleashes a Darwinian struggle for innovation and survival.”

Law will be a supervising producer, while Bochco and Entertainment One’s John Morayniss and Michael Rosenberg will executive produce.

Bochco has been behind a string of hit series, including “Hill Street Blues” and “L.A. Law.”

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Madonna Goes on the Offensive in Feud With Famous DJ Over Alleged Drug Promotion -- and It Works

Madonna responded to an expletive-laced attack on her from one of the most famous DJs in the world, and her response seems to have done the trick -- the two appear to have buried the hatchet, TMZ.com reports.

The DJ, deadmau5, accused Madonna of promoting drug use during a recent concert appearance, calling her a “f**king idiot” for asking the audience if anyone had “seen Molly.” The report notes that “Molly” is slang for the active ingredient in ecstasy.

Madonna’s response, according to TMZ: “The Material Girl posted a photo of herself in Mickey Mouse gear ... with the caption, ‘From one mouse to another I dont support drug use and i never have. I was referring to the song called "Have You Seen Molly" written by my friend Cedric Gervais who I almost worked with on my album.’"

Deadmau5, known for his mouse head costumes, posted a conciliatory response to the Madonna tweet, saying: "Fair enough, I was just voicing my concerns as I usually do. +1 respect for clearing it up personally ... regardless, just be a little more aware of what you should represent at EDM events, and I'll watch my mouth."

And Madonna reportedly did her best to make peace when she answered with her own message, complete with an emoticon wink: "Communication is always best. You should have called me first, we could have cleared it up 'privately.' ;) See you on the road."

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Parsing the Long-Awaited 2-Hour Season Premiere of 'Mad Men': Kinky Sex, Greed and a Song for iTunes

After an 18-month wait, Sunday’s fifth-season premiere of “Mad Men” brought series-record ratings to AMC and brought the show’s fans back up to speed on all the plot twists and offbeat characters.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin takes a hard look at what we learned from the episode. Read her detailed analysis of the show here.

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Whitney Houston's Ex-Husband Arrested

Whitney Houston's ex-husband Bobby Brown was arrested Monday afternoon in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, reports People.com.

Brown, 43, failed a field sobriety test after being pulled over at 12:20 p.m. Monday, the story says, citing a California Highway Patrol officer. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Brown, who was released about two hours later, divorced Houston in 2007 after being married to the late singer for 14 years. Houston, 48, died last month of accidental drowning.

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After Attack on Sister, Khloe Kardashian Pulls Support of PETA

After her sister Kim Kardashian was flour bombed by an anti-fur activist, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian is pulling her support from the animal-rights group PETA, according to The Hollywood Reporter's FASHtrack blog.

“I just received word that the woman responsible has very close ties to PETA, despite PETA publicly stating otherwise," Khloe Kardashian wrote on her website. "Not only has PETA lied to the public, but they have proved that they support this kind of behavior. I’ve been a vocal supporter of PETA for a long time but I have also been very vocal about anti-bullying, so this was a huge disappointment for me.”

Khloe Kardashian once posed naked for a PETA billboard, the story notes. She added in her Web posting that she considered the flour bomb a form of bullying and violence, according to the article.

As previously reported, Kim Kardashian was hit with a "flour bomb" at the debut of her perfume, when a man dumped a bag of flour on her.

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Stars of 'X-Files,' 'Ally McBeal,' 'Married with Children' and Other Shows Mark Fox's 25th Anniversary

The stars of legendary Fox shows including "The X-Files" and "Married with Children" will join in an anniversary special celebrating the network's 25th birthday, reports TheWrap.com.

The stars include Ed O'Neill, David Duchovny and Jason Priestley, who will help look back at the shows that aired on Fox since its first signal transmission on April 5, 1987, the story notes.

Other stars include "The Tick" actor Patrick Warburton and Calista Flockhart from "Ally McBeal," the piece notes.

The special will air Sunday, April 22, at 8 p.m., the story says.

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New Marc Cherry Project Taps 'Desperate Housewives' Star as Executive Producer

A new Marc Cherry project has tapped one of the stars of "Desperate Housewives" as an executive producer, reports Deadline.com.

Eva Longoria will be an EP on "Devious Maids." Based on a Mexican format and written by Cherry, the pilot focuses on four maids who have ambitions and dreams beyond their current jobs working for the elite of Beverly Hills, the story notes.

Longoria will executive produce with Cherry, Sabrina Wind, Paul Presburger, David Lonner, Larry Shuman, John Mass and Michael Garcia, the piece reports. It marks the first pilot Longoria has executive produced.

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Non-TV Podcast of the Day: A Huge Pocketbook Issue

Just a reminder about the podcast of the day. It's about a huge pocketbook issue that will affect practically all Americans.

Today, at the United States Supreme Court, arguments will be made as to whether or not the government can force Americans to pay for health insurance. It is the core of the healthcare law passed by the U.S. Congress two years ago.

Wherever you stand on the issue, the arguments made in the court today promise to make compelling listening.Click here  to find the audio link on the offical site of the U.S. Supreme Court. Once posted, you'll be able to hear the entire two hours of arguments made in the court today.

If you click here, you can listen to arguments the court heard yesterday about the healthcare law. Those arguments were of a much more technical nature than those that will be heard today.  

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Universal TV Signs 'Parenthood' Co-Executive Producer to Overall Deal

Universal Television has signed "Parenthood" co-executive producer Sarah Watson to a two-year overall deal, reports Deadline.com.

Watson has worked on the Universal TV-produced show since it started, beginning as producer and moving up to co-executive producer, the story notes. "Parenthood" executive producer Jason Katims wanted to keep Watson on the show while his new pilot "County" is under consideration at NBC, the piece adds.

Watson will continue to work on "Parenthood" if it's renewed for a fourth season, which the article describes as likely to happen, or on "County" if it's picked up to series.

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Tribune to Pull Stations From DirecTV in Retrans Dispute

Tribune Co. plans to halt its local broadcasting in 16 markets to DirecTV because of a failure to reach an agreement in retransmission consent discussions, reports Crain's Chicago Business.

Tribune said it will pull its programming from DirecTV by March 31 after the two sides failed to reach an agreement under which the satellite TV operator would buy Tribune's feed for the first time, the story notes.

DirecTV appeared hopeful that an agreement will be made with Tribune, although the latter described the two sides as "far apart in negotiations," the story notes.

The 16 markets that will be affected include Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver and Dallas, the story notes.

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Netflix Scraps Plans to Rescue 'Terra Nova'

"Terra Nova" is apparently now history, as Netflix and the show's producer haven't been able to come to terms on an agreement to keep the show going on the streaming service, reports Deadline.com.

Nevertheless, 20th Century Fox TV isn't yet releasing the actors, although there aren't any other viable buyers, meaning that there's a "minimal" chance the show could stay alive, according to the piece.

While the studio has revived shows such as "Futurama" years after they were canceled, it's unlikely that "Terra Nova" could share this fate, given the expense and elaborate sets of the live-action time-traveling series, the story points out.

Three of the show's actors have also already been cast in new projects, with star Jason O'Mara taking a role in CBS's Ralph Lamb drama pilot, the piece notes.

Netflix also announced recently that it's interested in taking on ABC's "The River," as previously reported.

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Wow. It's Become 'Must AMCee TV': After 18 Months 'Mad Men' Returns With Record Ratings. Combined With the Popular 'Walking Dead,' AMC's Hot

AMC aired the long-awaited fifth-season premiere of “Mad Men” Sunday night, pulling in record numbers of viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The two-hour premiere averaged 3.5 million viewers -- 600,000 more than the show’s previous high of 2.9 million for its fourth-season premiere -- an increase of 21%, the report notes.

The turnout in viewers 18-49 was 1.6 million, up 30%; in viewers 25-54 the telecast improved 17% to 1.7 million.

In a press release, AMC President Charlie Collier said: "’Mad Men; set the bar high, and we are incredibly proud that it continues to engage audiences looking for unexpected, unconventional and uncompromising television. For each of the five ‘Mad Men’ seasons, Matthew Weiner and his team have crafted a beautifully told story, and each season a larger audience has responded -- a rare accomplishment. We couldn’t be more proud of this program, the brilliant writers, cast and crew, and the entire team on each side of the camera."

For the show’s 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts combined, total viewers climbed to 4.4 million.

The report adds: “Despite four consecutive Emmys for best drama and no shortage of media interest, ‘Mad Men’ appeared as something of an underperformer compared with other AMC series that have thrived during its long hiatus. ‘The Walking Dead,’ which debuted just after the last episode of ‘Mad Men,’ recently topped another record, bringing in 9 million viewers for its season-two finale -- 6 million of which were in the coveted adults 18-49 set, giving it a 4.7 demo rating. In the time since ‘Mad Men’ was last on the air, even ‘Breaking Bad’ eclipsed its adults 18-49 showing, earning 1.8 million in its 2011 season finale.”

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New NBC Drama Continues Its Ratings Slide, Hits an All-Time Low

A freshman NBC drama sank to a series low in Sunday’s overnights, as the network found no relief for its long-running ratings struggle, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

“Harry’s Law” managed a feeble 0.8 rating in the key demo of adults 18-49, down from its 1.0 the previous week. The network’s two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice,” meanwhile, equaled last week’s season low of 1.8.

For the night, CBS had the tentative lead with a 2.3 average rating in 18-49 for prime time, pending more than the standard adjustments due to live coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In second place was ABC at 2.2, followed by Fox with a 1.7 average and NBC with a 1.4.

Total viewers saw CBS on top with 10.2 million, then ABC with 7.5 million, NBC with 6.4 million and Fox with 3.7 million.

ABC had its own problems, with “Once Upon a Time” slipping to a series-low 2.8 average rating in 18-49, down from a 2.9 a week ago. ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was even with a week ago at 2.6 and “GCB” improved from a 2.0 to a 2.2.

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Sitcom Star Lands a Drama Role After Her Fox Show Is Pulled From Schedule

After the de facto cancellation of her Fox sitcom, a veteran comedy actress has landed another role, Deadline.com reports.

As previously reported, Fox removed "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" from its schedule after the show fell to a series-low 1.2 rating in adults 18-49. Now the show’s star, Jaime Pressly, has secured a co-starring role in NBC's drama pilot "Bad Girls," the story reports.

In "Bad Girls," Pressly will play prison warden Melinda, who is sexy yet has a sadistic streak and enjoys playing games with the inmates at a federal prison, the story says. The project is formally in second position to "I Hate My Teenage Daughter," the piece adds.

The role marks Pressly's return to NBC, where she co-starred and earned an Emmy on "My Name Is Earl," the article says.

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'ET' Anchor Leaving Show

A 17-year veteran with the syndicated celebrity news show "Entertainment Tonight" has decided it's time to move on, reports the New York Post.

Mark Steines reportedly plans "to pursue other opportunities at the end of his contract." The show accepted his decision amicably. "We fully support his decision," said a representative of "ET."

Steines has been co-anchoring with Nancy O'Dell for the past year since Mary Hart left the show. No replacement has been named for Steines as yet.

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Hall of Fame Boxing Broadcaster Dies

A sports broadcaster and journalist who specialized in boxing and became an icon in the business has died. Bert Sugar died Sunday in New York at the age of 75, reports FoxSports.com.

Sugar suffered a heart attack but had been diagnosed with lung cancer. With is trademark fedora and cigar, Sugar was a familiar face on boxing broadcasts. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.

Jack Hirsch, the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, said of him, ''Bert was obviously a showman in the way he did things outwardly, very flamboyant, but in quiet moments I found him to be an extremely modest individual.''

Over the years, Sugar wrote more than 80 books about boxing, including “The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time,” and appeared on hundreds of TV broadcasts. He was also in the movies "Rocky Balboa," "The Great White Hype" and "Night and the City."

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The Man Behind 'Aladdin,' 'Tarzan,' 'Pocahontas' and 'The Little Mermaid' Calls It a Career

The veteran Disney animator who helped shape the image of the entertainment giant for nearly four decades, has decided to walk away from the house of Mickey, reports Deadline.com.

Glen Keane played a major role in the creation of title characters in films including "The Little Mermaid," "Tarzan," "Aladdin" and "Pocahontas." Last Friday, Keane turned in his resignation.

He emailed his co-workers and then Disney issued a confirmation, saying, “After an incredible 38-year career as an animator, storyteller, and filmmaking pioneer with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation. As much as we are saddened by his departure, we respect his desires and wish him the very best with all his future endeavors.”

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Fleetwood Mac Diva to Mentor on 'American Idol'

The iconic lead singer from the group Fleetwood Mac during its heyday will be the guest mentor on this week's episode of Fox's "American Idol," reports Entertainment Weekly.

"Idol" executive producer Nigel Lythgoe tweeted a picture of himself with songstress Stevie Nicks to confirm the news. Nicks will be offering insights and advice to the nine remaining contestants.

Nicks’ connection to "Idol" comes by way of Jimmy Iovine, the show's in-house musical mentor. Iovine, who is also the chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M, has a long history of working with Stevie. He produced her first three solo albums in the 1980s after she left Fleetwood Mac.

Nicks was with the group when it reached its commercial peak with the 1977 album “Rumours,” which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.

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Late-Night Personality Named to Host Emmy Awards

The Primetime Emmy Awards named a familiar late-night host to emcee this year's awards ceremony, EW.com reports. Jimmy Kimmel, the star and exec producer of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” will do the honors.

The 64th Primetime Emmy Awards are scheduled for Sept. 23, to be broadcast live on ABC from L.A.’s Nokia Theatre. It will be Kimmel’s first time as host of the event, following gigs hosting the American Music Awards and the ESPY Awards.

Said Kimmel: ”I hope to be able to do for the Emmys this year what Eddie Murphy did for the Oscars,” a reference to the comedian who pulled out after being named to host this year’s Academy Awards.

The story adds that Don Mischer will executive produce the Emmys broadcast for the 12th time.

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After Recent Release from Hospital, Gallagher Suffers Another Heart Attack

Less than two weeks after he was hospitalized for a heart attack and later released, comedian Gallagher has suffered another cardiac event, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The 65-year-old performer was taken to an Arizona hospital Sunday after suffering a minor heart attack, the story notes. A representative for Gallagher said the attack may be related to the one he suffered on March 14, the story says. In that incident, the comedian was placed in a medically induced coma for a few days.

After the first heart attack, Gallagher said he would retire from performing on stage.

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Simon Cowell Shaken but Unharmed When Intruder Breaks Into His House; the Reality Guru Was Watching Himself on TV When It Happened

Simon Cowell was reportedly shaken up by an incident at his home in the U.K. Saturday night. Cowell was watching a television interview of himself when a female intruder broke into his house by shattering a window with a brick, reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

Cowell, the creator of "The X Factor,” was watching himself on "The Jonathan Ross Show," a British comedy talk show, at the time of the break-in, the story says. He was unharmed in the incident.

He heard a "huge crash" and found "a woman standing there with a brick in her hand," according to Cowell's representative Max Clifford. "His housekeeper was there and his security was close by so she was quickly apprehended," Clifford said, according to the story.

The woman allegedly smashed his bathroom window and hid in his walk-in wardrobe, according to the article. The woman was identified as Leanne Zaloumis, 29. She appeared in the dock at the West London Magistrates' Court, and was remanded in custody, the piece adds.

Zaloumis was reportedly charged with aggravated burglary. The case will be heard by a crown court judge on June 12, the story notes.

Cowell once described his multimillion-dollar property as "safe as the Bank of England," the story notes. Zaloumis reportedly went from room to room before she was found, and at one point rested in his bed, the piece adds.

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Humongous Movie Blockbuster TV Rights to Cable Network Targeting Girls

A movie well on its way to becoming a box-office phenomenon has been picked up by a cable TV network that targets girls.

The current blockbuster “The Hunger Games,” which earned an estimated $155 million in box-office receipts during its opening weekend, will make its TV premiere on ABC Family. The cable channel today announced a deal with Lionsgate for the rights to the premiere.

The movie’s opening-weekend box office was reportedly the third-highest of all time -- and the highest ever for a non-sequel.

ABC Family also acquired rights to the second movie in the franchise, “Catching Fire.”

Said Michael Riley, president of ABC Family: “It’s an understatement to say that we are thrilled to add the first two films of ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise to our channel lineup. This tremendous opening weekend reinforces what we have already learned -- a powerful heroine, themes of romance and iconic characters will keenly resonate with our Millennial audience. This franchise will continue to enhance our network for years to come.”

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NBC Orders Dating Series From 'Desperate Housewives' Actress

NBC has ordered a prime-time dating series from a "Desperate Housewives" actress, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

Eva Longoria's production company is working on the project, tentatively titled "All About Love," which is set to begin production next month. The series will feature matchmakers setting up single people with potential love interests, the story says.

The featured matchmakers include Amber Kelleher of Kelleher International and Steve Ward, who appeared on VH1's "Tough Love," the piece notes.

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NBC's 'Munsters' Reboot Will Be 'Way Darker Than People Expect,' Says Star

NBC's remake of "The Munsters" will be "way darker than people expect,” one of the stars of the new show tells New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

Eddie Izzard, who will play Grandpa Munster, said the new project, "Mockingbird Lane," represents a bigger change than what happened to “The Addams Family" when that classic TV series was transformed into a film franchise.

"But if you know where 'The Addams Family' went from a sitcom to a romantic comedy [when it was remade], ours is going to [change] even moreso -- but in a different place," Izzard said, according to the piece.

Izzard, who is also producing the project, noted, "No one has any idea how we're going to do this, because this was not supposed to be my next move. But you'll just have to wait and see. It's a drama, it's not a comedy, and so you're just going to have to wait and see what we do with it."

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Supernatural Drama Renewed for a Fifth Season

A supernatural drama series has been renewed for a fifth season, EW.com’s Inside TV blog reports. The show is the original British version of "Being Human," which was renewed by the BBC and BBC America, the story reports.

The renewal comes after the show's fourth season replaced two of its three leads, the piece points out. Despite the change in cast, the fourth-season debut in the U.K. drew 1.2 million viewers, or quadruple the number who watched the season debut of "True Blood," the story says.

The series, which features a werewolf, ghost and vampire who live together, got a new werewolf and vampire during the fourth season, played by Michael Socha and Damien Molony, respectively.

Creator Toby Whithouse declined to comment on who might make it to the next season, noting, “The future of 'Being Human' is always slightly in a state of flux. Who knows what it holds for any of us," according to the story.

Syfy last year began airing a U.S. adaptation of the series, also called “Being Human.”

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James Cameron's Deep-Sea Dive Springs a Leak

A hydraulic fluid leak cut short director James Cameron's deep-sea dive, during which he successfully plunged to the Earth's deepest point and re-emerged Sunday night on the surface of the Pacific Ocean, reports NationalGeographic.com.

As previously reported, Cameron, who directed the box office hits "Titanic" and “Avatar,” planned to tape scenes from the lowest point of the Mariana Trench for a documentary to air on the National Geographic Channel.

Cameron spent about three hours at the Earth's deepest point, instead of the six hours he had planned, in part because of the leak, according to National Geographic. Because of the leak, Cameron wasn't able to pick up rock and animal samples with his vessel's mechanical arm, the story notes.

"I couldn't pick anything up, so I began to feel like it was a moment of diminishing returns to go on," he said. He added that hydraulic oil coated the port because of the leak, according to the article.

Describing what he saw around him, Cameron noted, "I didn't feel like I got to a place where I could take interesting geology samples or found anything interesting biologically." He added that the landscape was "bleak" and "looked like the moon."

"I lost a lot of thrusters. I lost the whole starboard side. That's when I decided to come up. I couldn't go any further -- I was just spinning in a circle," he said.

The vessel took about 70 minutes to travel nearly 7 miles to the surface, which Cameron described as "screaming back up," according to the article.

The director was optimistic, however, the piece notes.

"Next dive," he said. "Gotta leave something for the next one."

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Nat Geo Unveils Four New Series, Putting an Emphasis on Quirky Characters, Dangerous Jobs

National Geographic Channel is taking a decidedly different approach with its new slate of shows, moving away from what’s described as “overtly well-meaning television” into material more noteworthy for showcasing quirky characters doing odd or dangerous jobs, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The cable channel rolled out plans for four new reality shows and docuseries, including "American Chainsaw," about chainsaw sculptor Jesse "The Machine" Green, and "Bid & Destroy," about a demolition company, the story says.

A third new series is called "Jersey Combat," and focuses on the owner of a New Jersey military artifacts warehouse. The fourth show is "Brain Games," a series version of a popular 2011 special, the piece adds.

The new direction for the 2012-13 season is "a bit more sudden than an evolution, but certainly less bloody than a revolution,” according to National Geographic CEO David Lyle, the story notes.

The series join two previously announced series: "Wicked Tuna," about bluefin tuna fishermen in Massachusetts, and "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?," which pits contestants against the country's top Boy Scouts, the piece adds.

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Former Fox Chairman Named to Yahoo Board; Proxy Fight Looms

The former chairman of the Fox Network was named to the board of Yahoo after it failed to reach a compromise with hedge fund Third Point, reports Bloomberg.

Peter Liguori is one of three independent directors tapped by the company for the board, the story reports.

Third Point is planning to wage a proxy fight to get its own slate of nominees elected, the report adds.

In addition to Liguori, Yahoo tapped American Express Chief Marketing Officer John Hayes and Thomas McInerney, who is departing as chief financial officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp, to its board, the story adds.

Third Point, which owns about 5.8% of Yahoo, said it was "disappointed" in Yahoo's decision and would continue with its proxy fight.

“We have reconstituted the board of directors with the right mix of experience and expertise to help Yahoo build upon its very strong assets and brand base to take advantage of the opportunities ahead," Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock said in a statement.

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'Real Housewives' Cast Member Won't Be Back

One of the cast members of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” won’t be returning to the show, and reports differ on whose idea it was.

Camille Grammer won't be back on the reality series, reports the New York Post, which says that Grammer is describing the move as her decision since she's "ready for new challenges."

But the decision appears to have been as much Bravo's as hers, with the departure being described as "mutual" by insiders, the story notes.

Grammer indicated elsewhere that she would have preferred to return, telling USMagazine.com that the two sides "couldn't get it worked out."

"I've had so much fun with the franchise, but I guess the producers and I couldn't come to an agreement," she said, according to the article.

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Century-Old Entertainment Trade Publication Goes Back Up for Sale

A trade magazine that has been covering the entertainment business for more than 100 years has been put up for sale, reports Nat Ives in Advertising Age.

The attempt to sell Variety follows owner Reed Elsevier's failed attempt in 2008 to find a buyer for the publication.

Reed, which owns the LexisNexis database and the "Gray's Anatomy" textbook, said it wants to focus on data services, the piece notes. The company closed 23 publications in 2010 and has sold others, including Publishers Weekly and B&C.

Variety has more than 100 employees. Reed Elsevier bought Variety in 1987, and recently the business has faced increased competition from online news publications such as Deadline.com and TheWrap.com, the piece points out.

Reed failed to find a buyer willing to pay its asking price in 2008, the story adds. The magazine was founded in New York in 1905.

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NBC's Brutal Thursday Ratings: Memories of Its Once Dominant 'Must-See' Lineup Grow Ever More Faint -- Leaving at Least One Show in Serious Trouble

Proving just how far things have come since NBC’s Thursday night lineup was “Must-See TV,” the network’s lineup last night staggered out of the gate and got progressively worse as the night went on, according to Nielsen overnights reported by TVbytheNumbers.com.

By the end of the night, at least one show -- the new fantasy crime drama "Awake" -- appeared to already be in trouble.

NBC wound up in fourth place overall for the night, trailing even Univision in viewers 18-49, as ABC slipped into fifth place with a mostly repeat lineup.

“American Idol”-fueled Fox scored an easy win for the night, averaging a 3.6 rating in the key 18-49 demo, well ahead of CBS (2.3 average), Univision (1.5), NBC (1.4) and ABC (1.2). The gap in total viewers was even wider, with Fox averaging 13.4 million to 6.7 million for CBS, 5.6 million for ABC, 3.8 million for NBC and 3.8 million for Univision.

NBC’s “Community” led off the network’s rough night with a 1.7 average in 18-49, down a half-point from its previous original. And it was downhill from there. Back-to-back episodes of “30 Rock” each managed a 1.5 average, followed by “Up All Night” with a 1.4 and “Awake” with a troubling 1.2 — down 25%.

"Awake," starring Jason Isaacs, premiered March 1 to 6.2 million total viewers, but has been eroding. The number was down to 4.65 million for last night's installment.

Fox got a 4.0 average rating out of its one-hour “Idol” in the 18-49 demo, followed by a 3.2 for the official premiere of the new Kiefer Sutherland series “Touch” — 15% lower than its special preview back in January, but still better than anything on the other networks.

CBS had the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, meaning its numbers will be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the live programming. But it appeared to be good enough for a solid second place across the board.

ABC’s only fresh episode was the new Ashley Judd drama “Missing” at 8 p.m., and it was down a substantial 24% from last week’s premiere with a 1.6 opposite “Idol,” “Community” and CBS’s hoops coverage.

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Video: Geraldo Rivera Sparks Outcry With Comments on Killing of Florida Teen -- Especially His Comments About What's to Blame

Fox News contributor Geraldo Rivera has weighed in on the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin and blamed it on what the young man was wearing -- specifically his hoodie, reports the New York Daily News.

Appearing today on the cable channel’s “Fox & Friends” show, Rivera said: “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” referring to the neighborhood watch participant who shot and killed the unarmed Martin, 17, in what has been described as a racially motivated case of overzealous vigilante behavior.

Zimmerman has said he felt threatened by the teenager, who was carrying something Zimmerman apparently thought might be a weapon, which turned out to be Skittles.

Rivera also tweeted about the case, Media Matters reported. Rivera wrote: "His hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman's gun." And: "Trayvon killed by a jerk w a gun but black & Latino parents have to drill into kids heads: a hoodie is like a sign: shoot or stop & frisk me."

Rivera said on the Fox show that the hoodie has come to be associated with crime. In his Fox appearance, he added: "I believe that George Zimmerman, the overzealous neighborhood watch captain, should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law and if he is criminally liable, he should be prosecuted. But I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies.”

Predictably, Rivera’s comments drew an outcry online. The expected backlash was apparently just beginning, but Russell Simmons was among the first to react. Simmons wrote a blog post on the subject, and tweeted: "Dear @GeraldoRivera -- read this blog immediately. white people you will never look suspicious like Trayvon Martin.”

New York Times columnist Charles Blow tweeted: “Um. Geraldo. Wait. What?! Nooo. Seriously?! Pump your breaks dude."

Here’s a clip of Rivera’s comments on “Fox & Friends”:

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Daughter of Famous Hollywood Couple Gets Role in Fox Comedy Project, Replacing 'SNL' Actress Who Got the Boot

After the departure of “Saturday Night Live’s” Abby Elliott from her lead role in Fox’s comedy pilot “Ned Fox Is My Manny,” which we reported previously, the part has been recast.

Deadline.com reports that Dakota Johnson, the 22-year-old daughter of Don Johnson ("Miami Vice") and Melanie Griffith ("Working Girl"), has snagged the role.

Dakota, who was in "Social Network," will play an uptight single mom who turns to her aimless brother to be her child's “manny,” or male nanny.

Elliott dropped out of the project after a table read of the script for the pilot. Reportedly, Elliott was deemed too young at 24 for the part -- the character is 26. But Johnson, at 22, is two years younger than Elliott. Nevertheless, Johnson made the right impression on the producers.

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Will 'Hunger Games' Top the 'Deathly Hallows 2' Box-Office Opening Record? The Early Numbers Are In

Early box-office figures are in for “The Hunger Games,” one of the most eagerly anticipated box-office openings in years, and the movie appears to be in striking range of the opening-weekend record set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

Lionsgate’s “Hunger Games” opened just after midnight, early Friday, March 23, 2012, and by noon (PT) it had piled up nearly $40 million in matinee receipts, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That figure included a healthy $19.7 million from midnight screenings.

Based on those numbers, observers are projecting an opening between $140 million and $150 million. The “Potter” finale holds the record with a $169.2 million opening, which included $43.5 million for its midnight opening runs and a $91 million tally for its first day.

The THR piece notes: “The difference in midnight grosses for the two movies means that ‘Hunger Games’ probably won't reach $90 million on Friday or $169.2 million for the weekend, although all bets are off considering how well it is performing.”

“Hunger Games” will almost certainly set an opening-weekend record for non-sequels, the report notes. The mark currently belongs to “Alice in Wonderland” with $116 million.

The movie can make the overall top 5 by beating “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1,” currently in the No. 5 spot with an opening of $138.1 million -- and “Hunger Games” was pacing ahead of that movie in early results.

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Another Sign of Trouble in the Soap Opera Universe

[Updated March 26, 2012, at 5:54 a.m., to correct list of publications owned by American Media.]

Another trouble sign has surfaced for soap operas. In a move that reflects the reality that only four daytime dramas remain on the air in the U.S., the newspaper-style magazine Soap Opera Weekly has been shuttered, reports WeLoveSoaps.com.

A year ago Soap Opera Weekly and Soap Opera Digest were taken over by publisher American Media Inc., with significant staff cuts at both publications. American Media also owns National Enquirer, Star, The Globe and other publications.

Soap Opera Weekly was founded by Mimi Torchin as a spinoff of Soap Opera Digest.

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NBC Renews Series -- But Show's Creator Won't Be Back

NBC has renewed one of its freshman shows for a second season, but the creator of the series is leaving the show, reports TheWrap.com.

It's not clear whether “Smash” creator Theresa Rebeck, who also serves as executive producer, is departing voluntarily or involuntarily, the story says.

"Smash" debuted in February with a 3.8 rating among viewers 18 to 49, but subsequently dropped off, the story notes. Recently the show has shown stability and even some growth in ratings, the piece adds.

The series stars Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty as Broadway performers trying to find acclaim in a musical about screen icon Marilyn Monroe.

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'Seinfeld' Star Heads to 'Two and a Half Men'

On the heels of news that Kathy Bates ("Harry's Law") would be guesting on CBS's "Two and a Half Men" -- as a version of Charlie's (Charlie Sheen) character, as we reported previously -- comes the news that former “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander is also set to appear on the situation comedy.

Alexander reported the news himself on Twitter, saying simply, "Looking forward to filming an episode of ‘Two and a Half Men’ next week."

Alexander didn't say what he will be doing on the show. The Tony-winning actor is best known for his iconic role as George Costanza on NBC's "Seinfeld” -- a role that earned him seven Emmy nominations without a win.

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Classic Sitcom Resurfaces as Internet Game

A TV series that pretty much defined the sitcom and remains one of the most loved shows of all time has been transformed into an Internet game, Globe Newswire reports.

The show is “I Love Lucy,” which is the focus of a deal involving Desilu Too LLC and CBS Consumer Products in partnership with game developer Entertainment Games.

The story reports that the game launched Wednesday, adding: “Players can jump right into one of the most famous ‘I Love Lucy’ episodes of all time, ‘Job Switching’ -- known better as the candy factory episode -- which is featured inside Entertainment Games' online social game platform ‘Retro World.’”

Players can take on the roles of Ricky (Desi Arnaz) and Lucy (Lucille Ball) in the game. As Ricky, players learn how to do housework along with Fred (William Frawley), while Lucy works alongside Ethel (Vivian Vance) on a candy conveyor belt.

Said Gene Mauro, president and COO of Entertainment Games, "The overwhelming majority of our 40+ market has only fond memories of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel, so we're thrilled and honored that 'I Love Lucy' is the first licensed show to appear within Retro World."

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Pop Singer Shoots Down Speculation She Will Join 'The X Factor'

A well-known pop singer has shot down speculation that she will join Fox's "The X Factor." Access Hollywood reports that Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas acknowledged that she had talked with the production, but said she won't be on the show.

“I know there were talks last season and this season,” Fergie said, according to the story. “But it’s just not -- Simon [Cowell] said before [that] timing is everything and it’s not the right time for me.”

Fergie, 36, also said she's taking a break from the Black Eyed Peas to enjoy being at home with her husband, Josh Duhamel, the story notes.

“It was eight years straight of touring and it’s a lot. So it’s time for me to be home,” she said, according to the article.

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Kim Kardashian Is Hit With Flour Bomb

Reality star Kim Kardashian was hit with a "flour bomb" at the debut of her perfume, when a man approached the red carpet and dumped a bag of flour on her, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kardashian walked off the red carpet but returned about 15 minutes later after she had cleaned up, the story says.

The star reportedly joked about the incident, saying she "wanted more makeup powder and she got it," according to an E! Online reporter who was attending the event.

The event took place at The London West Hollywood, the story notes.

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Ratings Battle Shaping Up Between Cable News Show and Broadcast Newsmag -- and Cable Is Winning

In a ratings comparison that is admittedly imperfect but is worth noting nonetheless, Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" has drawn a larger audience than NBC's prime-time news magazine "Rock Center with Brian Williams" for the second consecutive week, TVNewser.com reports.

"O'Reilly" drew 3.103 million viewers, compared with "Rock Center"'s 3.016 million, which the article calls "a victory" for Fox News.

Looking at the target news demo of viewers 25-54, however, "Rock Center" outpaced "O'Reilly" by more than half a million viewers, the story notes.

The story adds: “It should be noted that the comparison is an imperfect one -- ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ airs at 8 p.m. ET, while ‘Rock Center’ airs at 10 p.m. ET. Additionally, Williams’ ‘Nightly News’ draws 3-4 times as many viewers daily as ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ does.”

The piece notes that Wednesday’s “O’Reilly” also beat the series premiere of NBC’s “Bent.” The sitcom opened to historically low numbers, as previously reported.

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Alyssa Milano Joins New ABC Drama

Actress Alyssa Milano will return to TV after signing on with a new ABC drama, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog. The series is "Mistresses," which is slated to run this summer.

Milano will play Savannah, a married attorney who often works nights with her good-looking law partner, the story notes. The other three leads are Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes and Jes Macallan, the piece adds.

Milano has acted in several popular television shows, including The WB's "Charmed" and Fox's "Melrose Place."

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Report: Milestone in Use of Digital Media Will Take Place This Year

The changing of the guard in digital media use is on pace to occur this year, according to new research. Online movie streaming will exceed digital video disc and Blu-ray usage for the first time ever, Bloomberg reports, citing researcher IHS Screen Digest.

While legal online streaming of films will more than double to 3.4 billion this year, viewing from physical discs will shrink to 2.4 billion from 2.6 billion, the story notes.

The online growth comes as unlimited-streaming subscription plans grow in popularity, such as those offered by Netflix and Amazon.com's Prime service, the piece notes. Indeed, such services account for 94% of all paid online movie viewings in the U.S., according to the story.

“We are looking at the beginning of the end of the age of movies on physical media like DVD and Blu-ray,” IHS senior principal analyst Dan Cryan said in a statement.

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Syndicated Court Show Renewed for Two More Years

A syndicated court show starring a celebrity attorney has been renewed for two more seasons. B&C reports the pickup for "We the People with Gloria Allred."

Entertainment Studios made the announcement Thursday. The one-hour courtroom show is seen in more than 85% of the U.S. television markets.

In a statement, Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios, said, "We are extremely proud to continue for two more seasons of 'We the People with Gloria Allred.' Viewers are drawn to Gloria because they know she will be fearless, informative, and entertaining."

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PBS Tweaks Schedule After 'Hodgepodge' Scheduling Slams Ratings

PBS will move the documentary shows "POV" and "Independent Lens" into new time slots next season, after the shows were bumped from their regular Tuesday night positions and "Independent Lens" suffered a steep ratings slide, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

"Independent Lens" lost 39% of its audience after being bumped from Tuesday nights, the piece notes. "POV," which was also moved, will begin airing new episodes in June.

After PBS asked stations to move the shows from Tuesday, many slotted them out of prime time and onto what the article calls a "hodgepodge of nights."

Because of public pressure from independent documentary filmmakers, PBS has "agreed to alternative scheduling options for ‘Independent Lens’ and ‘POV,’” according to a PBS representative.

The new time slot is expected to be announced at PBS's annual meeting, which will be held from May 14-17 in Denver, the piece adds.

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'Oprah's Next Chapter' Sees Alarming Drop in Viewer Numbers After Big 'Get'

OWN's "Oprah's Next Chapter" had a hefty 3.5 million viewers when the late Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, appeared for her first interview since her mother's death, but it was a different story a week later, reports the New York Post.

Last Sunday's episode -- the week after Bobbi Kristina -- featured Oprah Winfrey's highly publicized interview with singer Lady Gaga. Despite heavy promotion, viewership was down a huge 77 percent to only 800,000. That means the show lost a stunning 2.7 million viewers week to week.

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Nick at Nite Picks Up Scott Baio Comedy Series as It Moves Into Live-Action Originals

A scripted comedy pilot from "Happy Days" actor Scott Baio has been picked up by Nick at Nite, becoming the programming block's first in-house live-action comedy series, reports Deadline.com.

Nickelodeon has placed a 20-episode order for "Daddy's Home," which stars Baio as David Hobbs, an actor who portrayed a favorite television dad before deciding to become a stay-at-home parent, the story notes.

The program marks Baio's return to scripted comedy after he was featured in several reality shows, such as "Scott Baio Is 45 and Single" and "Confessions of a Teen Idol," the piece points out.

Nick at Nite previous aired one other live-action scripted series, the 1991 comedy "Hi Honey, I'm Home," which originally aired on ABC, the article notes.

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Dubious Achievement for New NBC Series: It's the Network's Lowest-Rated In-Season Comedy Premiere of All Time

NBC has had some low-rated series premieres in its day -- last year’s short-lived “Paul Reiser Show” comes to mind. But TVbytheNumbers.com reports that last night’s series premiere of the comedy “Bent” set a new low mark for the network, pulling a 1.0 rating in adults 18-49 -- the worst-ever in-season debut for a new comedy series on NBC.

The 9 p.m. premiere of the Amanda Peet sitcom was followed by a 9:30 p.m. installment of “Bent” that fell even further, hitting a 0.9 average rating.

At the other end of the Wednesday ratings spectrum, the two-hour “American Idol” pulled a 4.9 average in 18-49 to give Fox an easy win for the night -- even though that number was down by half a ratings point. Trailing Fox’s overall 4.9 for prime time were CBS (2.8 average), Univision (1.5), ABC (1.5 with mostly repeats) and NBC (1.0).

CBS saw “Criminal Minds” climb by four-tenths of a ratings point to a 3.2 average in 18-49, but “Survivor” was down three-tenths to a series-low 2.7 and “CSI” was off three-tenths to a season-low 2.5.

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Sad Day for Humor: No More 'Tebow, Sanchez Vow to Work Together to Throw Football' or 'Study Finds Newborn Infants Can Tell If Parents Are Losers' on IFC

A spokesperson for cable network IFC confirmed that the channel has canceled an original series, The Huffington Post reports. And it's not good news for those who love humor.

Those two funny headlines in quotes above are trom the wonderfully satirical website The Onion.

And word has arrived today that IFC has canceled its “Onion News Network” series, which will not be back for a third season. The series is hosted by Brooke Alvarez.

The show, based on The Onion publication, began as a series of Web shorts on theonion.com before expanding to 30 minutes and debuting on IFC in 2011.

The cancellation of the program comes at the same time that the newspaper's editorial staff is moving from New York City to Chicago.

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It's Starting to Look Like a Trend in Television: Netflix Sets Sights on Possible Rescue of Another Struggling Network Series

Signs that TV is shifting from a broadcast and cable model to a new digital platform continue to surface. With talks already under way for a possible acquisition of Fox’s canceled “Terra Nova,” Netflix now appears to have its sights set on another struggling broadcast show -- and this one hasn’t been canceled yet.

Deadline.com reports that the online streaming and DVD rental service is interested in “The River,” a horror series that has had a hard time finding an audience on ABC. Netflix has had talks with the show’s producer, ABC Studios, about keeping the drama going online, the story reports.

The sources for the story characterize the talks as exploratory, but Netflix thinks a serialized show in the horror/thriller genre might do well on its service.

ABC has not announced the fate of "The River" yet, but it is not expected to receive a second-season order from the network.

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Ex-Wives of Famous Ex-Husbands -- Eddie Murphy, Jose Canseco, Prince, et al. -- Seek Their Own Fame on VH1

The ex-wives of some of Hollywood's biggest names will pursue their own celebrity on a new VH1 reality show, the L.A. Times reports.

“Hollywood Exes” is set to air this summer. Lined up to appear on the series are Nicole Murphy (Eddie Murphy's ex-wife), Jessica Canseco (Jose’s wife of four years), Sheree Fletcher (Will Smith's ex), Mayte Garcia (Prince’s wife for three years) and Andrea Kelly (married to R. Kelly for 12 years).

Longtime friends, the women will be partnering onscreen at least in part to promote their own celebrity. VH1 has ordered 10 episodes.

The Times piece offers this summary of their resumes: “Murphy is a former model who has five children with the movie star. Canseco is a former Hooters waitress who wrote a tell-all memoir about her life with the baseball star, then posed nude in Playboy and is now married to a plastic surgeon. Fletcher has a child with Smith and is currently married to Terrell Fletcher, minister of City of Hope International Church in San Diego. Dancer and choreographer Garcia has done a bit of acting since splitting with Prince; she's appeared on ‘Psych,’ ‘The Closer’ and ‘Nip/Tuck,’ and choreographed Britney Spears' belly dance for her ‘I'm a Slave 4 U’ video and performance at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. Kelly was the R&B singer's principal dancer and wife for many years and now has her own fitness classes and a line of clothing.”

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'Office' Star, 'SNL' Cast Member Join Fox Comedy Project

A star of "The Office" and a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" have joined Mindy Kaling's Fox comedy pilot in guest roles, reports EW.com's InsideTV blog.

Ed Helms of “The Office” is joining as a potential love interest, playing a Wall Street analyst who goes on a blind date with Mira, Kaling's character, the story notes. Mira is a OB/GYN described as similar to Bridget Jones, the piece adds.

“SNL’s” Bill Hader will play Kaling's ex-boyfriend, a boy-next-door type whom Mira views as an "an early ‘80s Tom Hanks," according to the story.

"West Wing" veteran Richard Schiff will play another OB/GYN who reminisces about the 1960s and 1970s and is terrible with technology, the piece adds.

Kaling might leave "The Office" if the show gets a greenlight to series, the story points out.

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'Jersey Shore's' 'The Situation' Offers Details About His Substance Abuse Problem

"Jersey Shore" star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino addressed reports that he is in rehab on his Facebook page, confirming that he is getting treatment for a prescription medication problem, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I have voluntarily taken steps to get control of a prescription medication problem I had due to exhaustion. I have spent the past several weeks getting treatment for this problem and recuperating from my work and appearance schedule," Sorrentino said in a statement.

MTV said it expects the entire cast to return for a sixth season, which will begin shooting this summer, according to the story.

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Pioneering TV Producer Dead at 92

A television pioneer who broke ground with his work as a producer on early variety shows has died, the Associated Press reports.

Bob Henry, known for producing "The Nat King Cole Show," was 92.

Henry worked in television for more than five decades, during which he helped bring black performers such as Cole and Flip Wilson, in "The Flip Wilson Show," to larger audiences, the story notes.

He also directed and produced variety shows for Andy Williams, the Carpenters and Glen Campbell, and directed telecasts of Emmy and Grammy awards shows, the piece adds.

“The Nat King Cole Show,” which aired on NBC from November, 1956 until Decmeber, 1957, met some resistance in the industry, with some network affiliates refusing to air it because its star was black, the story notes.

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Showrunner Leaving 'The Office' as Contract Talks With Cast Members Stall

Contract talks with "The Office" actors John Krasinski, Ed Helms, Jenna Fischer and B.J. Novak have stalled, while showrunner Paul Lieberstein, who also plays Toby on the show, is stepping down as executive producer and showrunner, reports Deadline.com.

Lieberstein may continue to work on the NBC show while he prepares Rainn Wilson's spinoff, "The Farm," and as the network starts a search for a new showrunner, the story notes.

The cast members in negotiations don't have deals beyond this season, but locking them in is critical given the potential departures of Wilson, for the spinoff, and Mindy Kaling, who has a pilot at Fox, the piece points out.

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Report: Howard Stern's Popularity Is Ruffling Feathers Backstage at 'America's Got Talent' -- With One Judge in Particular Said to Be Jealous

A source is reporting tension behind the scenes on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which is currently traveling across the U.S. searching for talent.

Howie Mandel is reportedly angry at how much attention new judge Howard Stern is gaining from the show's fans, according to the New York Post's Page Six.

Stern has been treated "like the Beatles" by his fans, the source says, and Mandel is said to be jealous. Mandel was reportedly overheard in San Francisco complaining about Stern grabbing the spotlight, the piece adds.

A representative for NBC said the report has "no truth," and added, "The judges are all good friends and are very supportive of each other," according to the piece.

Mandel said via his representative, "I love Howard, and his fans are phenomenal. The only real negative about working with him is that my wife now yells ‘baba booey’ in bed during sex.”

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Leadership Shakeup for Sony U.S.

With Sony Corp. positioning for the handover of power from Chairman and CEO Howard Stringer to Kazuo Hirai, as previously reported, some of the other pieces of the new executive structure are falling into place.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton will likely take control of the company’s U.S. entertainment operations before the Stringer-Hirai transition takes place. The piece cites a report in Variety.

The piece reports: “Lynton would add the title of chief executive of Sony Corporation of America and assume oversight of Sony Music and Sony ATV, sources confirmed to Variety. Sony general counsel and executive vice president Nicole Seligman will also see an expanded role, likely as prexy of SCA.”

The plan remains in flux, the report notes.

The Tribune adds: “Lynton shares the Sony Pictures chairman title with Amy Pascal, who's expected to continue in her co-chair role. She had traditionally reported to Stringer before his exit, effective April 1, and presumably will report to Lynton under the new arrangement.”

Sony ownership in Japan is rumored to be considering selling off the company’s U.S. entertainment operations, the report notes -- even though that division is one bright spot for a company that has seen its consumer electronics division suffer setbacks.

The story also notes: “The company's film and television division, meanwhile, eked out a profit, albeit barely. In 2011, SPE reported a profit of $7.2 billion, much of which came from the studio's television arm.”

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What's the Thinking Behind Fox's Unusual Strategy for Rollout of New Kiefer Sutherland Show?

Fox has adopted an unusual strategy for the debut of the Kiefer Sutherland drama "Touch" in an effort to fight online piracy while also attracting large multinational advertisers, The New York Times reports.

The network will roll out the show simultaneously across 100 countries and territories, the story reports, instead of the typical pattern of opening first in the U.S. That means American viewers will be able to react to the show in real time with viewers in other countries, the story points out.

Unilever is sponsoring the series around the world, the piece adds.

Creator Tim Kring notes that the decision is a stark shift from his earlier show "Heroes," when he watched hundreds of fans line up for an event in Paris even though the program hadn't officially debuted on TV in France, the story says.

"Every single person there had seen every episode. They had all gotten it illegally off the Internet,” Kring said. He had a revelation: “Audiences will find these shows no matter where they are.”

In the U.S., “Touch” premieres tonight on the Fox Network.

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32-Year-Old 'Mad Men' Actor's Surprisingly Old-School Explanation for Why He's Not on Twitter or Facebook

32-year-old actor Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell on AMC's "Mad Men," tells Advertising Age that he's not on Facebook or Twitter because "I remember a time when you used to have to have something to say to be handed the microphone."

Asked about the lack of social media about the new season of "Mad Men," Kartheiser responded, "If you want to keep a secret don't tell anyone. And beyond that, I don't think anyone is on [pronounces it as Tweeeter]," according to the story.

After being told that he mispronounced "Twitter," he responded, "I honestly fucked that up. I don't think anyone is on Twitter? Twitter. In our family. I'm not a fan of the Twitter or the Facebook."

He added, "It's pretty simple to just not say anything, and everyone's been doing this a really long time, acting for decades. We're just an older school of people, we're not chomping at the bit to become famous and compete."

Click here to read Ad Age’s full in-depth Q&A with Kartheiser.

vincent-kartheiser.jpgVincent Kartheiser in 'Mad Men'

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Another Fox Comedy Project Loses Actress

Another Fox comedy pilot has lost an actress, following the departure of "Saturday Night Live" star Abby Elliott from "Ned Fox Is My Manny," according to Deadline.com.

"Hellcats" star Aly Michalka has left the Fox pilot "Rebounding" after the character was reworked following a table read, the story notes. The project stars Will Forte as a man recovering from his fiancee's death with the help of friends from his pickup basketball team, the story says.

Michalka's character, Taryn, has been rethought, and is now a decade older so that she is closer to the age of Will Forte's character, the story notes.

As previously reported, Elliott left "Ned Fox" after it was decided she wasn't the right fit for the role.

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MTV Picks Up Four New Series and a Special

MTV has picked up four new series and one special, with the latter tracking the career of an up-and-coming 22-year-old musician who gets pregnant, the cable network said in a statement.

"Dev," the special, follows the title character as she deals with a record label that pushes back her debut album three times after she becomes pregnant. With her album due to debut March 27, the project will track her efforts to get in shape for a summer tour after a high-risk pregnancy, according to MTV.

The new series include "The Heights," a one-hour docudrama about friends living in New York's Washington Heights; and "Epic Fail," a half-hour panel show that examines people's embarrassing moments. Both are expected to air in prime time, as is "Dev," MTV said.

"Totally Clueless," a hidden-camera game show, is slated to join the network's weekday programming. Contestants win cash if they figure out they are on television, while improv actors put them through uncomfortable situations.

"MTV's This Is How I Made It" will join the network's Saturday morning lineup. The series is aimed at providing lessons in how to succeed from current stars, with each episode featuring two celebrities.

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Popular Comedian to Host Cable Game Show

GSN has tapped a well-known comedian to host an upcoming game show that will challenge contestants on their knowledge of the Bible, TheWrap.com reports.

Jeff Foxworthy will host "The American Bible Challenge," the story reports. Foxworthy, who hosts "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader," will be featured on the pilot, which will shoot later this month, the story notes.

Contestants will be competing for a "worthy faith-based organization," according to the network.

"I am excited to be hosting a show about the bestselling book of all time," said Foxworthy, who is also a producer on the show, the piece adds.

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Cable Net Scraps Plans to Air Latest Installment of Sci-Fi Franchise as TV Series

The latest incarnation of a long-running television science-fiction franchise appears to have hit a snag. Deadline.com reports that Syfy has decided not to move forward with "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome" as a regular television series.

The project is about the youth of William Adama and was originally greenlighted as a two-hour TV pilot in 2010, the story notes. The pilot was delivered to Syfy in November, and the network has been considering the economics of the production, according to the piece.

While the network has passed on the project as a regular series, it's looking at making it into a digital series and plans to air the pilot on Syfy as a movie, the piece notes.

In a statement, Syfy President of Original Programming Mark Stern said: "We are actively pursuing it as was originally intended: a groundbreaking digital series that will launch to audiences beyond the scope of a television screen. The 90-minute pilot movie will air on Syfy in its entirety at a future date."

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Researcher Puts Hefty Price Tag on OWN Losses for This Year

Oprah Winfrey’s struggling cable network can look forward to a hefty loss for 2012, according to a prominent media research firm.

Bloomberg reports that researcher SNL Kagan says OWN may lose as much as $142.9 million this year as it struggles to boost ratings. The network most likely lost $107 million on a cash-flow basis last year, according to the SNL Kagan report.

Discovery, which is a partner in the venture, reported a $35 million loss on equity investments last year, which partially reflected its OWN stake as well as other holdings, the story notes.

As previously reported, OWN cut 30 employees this week as the network continues to struggle with ratings, while Discovery reportedly has already invested more than $300 million in programming and marketing costs.

Discovery disputed SNL Kagan's report, according to the story, with a representative calling it "riddled with inaccuracies and bad information."

"The venture is on more solid ground with more business momentum than ever before,” the rep said, according to the piece. “We remain confident in the future of OWN, and the long-term value we are building.”

SNL Kagan said OWN may not be able to achieve expected carriage rates when negotiations with cable operators start up later this year, according to the story.

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Fox Pulls Plug on Sitcom After Ratings Crumble to Series Low

Fox’s struggling Tuesday night comedy block appears to have claimed its first victim. The lowest performer in the two-hour block last night was “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” which fell to a series-low 1.2 rating in adults 18-49, and today word surfaced that Fox is removing the show from the schedule, effective immediately, Deadline.com reports.

The move comes after Fox last week pre-empted the remaining episodes of the freshman show that had been scheduled to run after the “American Idol” performance episode. “Idol” was expanded to two hours for the rest of the season.

Another part of the Tuesday block, “Breaking In,” is also in trouble, having managed only a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo last night, the story notes.

“New Girl” is the shining star of the comedy block, with its 2.6 average in the key demo last night putting it way out ahead of the pack -- although the whole block was down.

“Raising Hope,” which pulled a 1.6 in 18-49 last night, appears to be safe for now, and the network will air reruns of the show in the slot vacated by “Teenage Daughter.”

The network is expected to burn off the unaired episodes of “Teenage Daughter” this summer, the story reports.

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TV and Film Actress Reveals Her Secret Battle With Cancer

An Oscar-winning actress who currently stars in a network drama series appeared on Anderson Cooper’s talk show and revealed that she went through a battle with ovarian cancer and kept it secret from the public, reports People magazine.

Kathy Bates, the star of NBC's "Harry's Law," discussed her medical situation on the episode of "Anderson" that airs this Thursday. She said that for both insurance reasons and personal reasons, she chose not to tell the media about her diagnosis and treatment at the time.

Bates said: "Nobody else really knows what you're going through except another cancer patient. Even though your family's supportive and surrounds you, I just got to the point where I would go to chemo by myself and just really go through it on my own."

Even though her decision was to keep it private, Bates said of other cancer patients, "I admire people who have been open, like Melissa Etheridge and women I see walking around facing it without wigs and all of that stuff. I think I'd be more courageous next time."

Bates won an Oscar in 1991 for “Misery,” and has two other Academy Award nominations -- for “Primary Colors” in 1999 and “About Schmidt” in 2003. She has nine Emmy nominations, but has yet to win an Emmy.

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Two NFL Bombshells: Tebow Lands in Major Market; Stiff Punishment in Saints' Bounty Scandal

Two big stories broke today in the NFL, with the league handing down unprecedented sanctions in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal on the same day that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was dealt to the New York Jets.

The NFL banned Saints head coach Sean Payton for a year in connection with a scandal in which players were reportedly paid a bounty for injuring opposing players, CBS News reports.

Payton, who guided New Orleans to a Super Bowl title in the 2009 season, is the first head coach suspended by the NFL for any reason, the story reports. The suspension is linked to accusations that he tried to cover up the extra payouts to players in a so-called “bounty” system described by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as “particularly unusual and egregious” and “totally unacceptable,” the story notes.

Said Goodell: "We are all accountable and responsible for player health and safety and the integrity of the game. We will not tolerate conduct or a culture that undermines those priorities. No one is above the game or the rules that govern it."

Meanwhile, repercussions are being felt from Peyton Manning’s decision to join the Denver Broncos, which we reported earlier this week. With Manning in the lineup the team traded Tebow, who led the Broncos to the playoffs last season, to the New York Jets.

Tebowmania was the biggest story in the NFL during the past season, and with Tebow in the league’s biggest TV market, it’s not likely to subside anytime soon.

What the move means for the Jets’ current quarterback Mark Sanchez is unclear. The New York Times reported that the move diversifies the Jets’ offense but threatens to undermine Sanchez’s position on the team. The story notes that the deal is contingent on league approval.

The Times piece reports: “The Jets received Tebow and a seventh-round pick in the deal, and sent a fourth- and a sixth-round pick to Denver. Tebow will ostensibly run only a handful of plays per game, but the Jets view him as a component of their new run-oriented offense, engineered by the first-year coordinator Tony Sparano, who popularized the Wildcat formation when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.”

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WE tv Rolls Out New Shows Built Around Cyndi Lauper and Playboy Model

WE tv announced two new shows today, including one featuring a well-known pop singer and another built around a Playboy model.

“Cyndi” is the working title for a docu-series featuring singer Cyndi Lauper. Meanwhile, former Playboy model Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett will be the focus of “Kendra on Top,” the network announced.

Executive producer Mark Burnett will oversee "Cyndi," a docu-soap about the singer's work and her family life with her husband, actor David Thornton, and their 13-year-old son. Deadline.com reports that 12 episodes are planned, with the show scheduled to air in the summer.

"Kendra On Top" examines Wilkinson-Baskett’s life as a wife and mother, with plans calling for 14 episodes, including an hour-long premiere and hour-long finale, with the other 12 episodes running 30 minutes each. The series will also air over the summer, Deadline.com reports.

WE tv President and General Manager Kim Martin said in a statement announcing the shows: “Like WE tv’s viewers, Kendra and Cyndi are strong, independent, confident women who are the centerpieces of their families’ lives. They are surrounded by the chaos that’s created as they try to balance their many roles, which makes them such relatable, entertaining and fun characters to watch. As the home for stories that showcase every kind of family and all kinds of drama, we’re so excited to welcome Kendra and Cyndi to WE tv.”

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Which Cable Net Is No. 1 in Adults 18-49? How About Younger Adults? And Young Boys? Hint: They're All Owned by the Same Company

With a preliminary ratings report in for the first quarter of 2012, one company is touting a number of significant achievements among its various cable networks.

Turner Research spotlighted key ratings success stories among various Turner Broadcasting channels, including TBS, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, truTV, TNT and CNN.

TBS came in as the top basic cable network in prime time in the key demo of adults 18-49, and also in adults 18-34, the company reported.

Adult Swim was No. 1 on basic cable in young adults, including experiencing the best February in its history in adults 18-34 and adults 18-24.

Cartoon Network was to top network on all of television in the early-evening period (7-9 p.m.) in three key boys demos: 2-11, 6-11 and 9-14. Cartoon also was No. 1 in total day among boys 6-11 and boys 9-14.

truTV was headed for its best quarter in history in men 18-49, ranking in the top 10 among entertainment networks in that category.

TNT showed strong growth for its NBA coverage along with growth for its key drama series “Southland.”

The good news for the cable news channels included HLN’s achievement as the only cable news network to experience growth in prime time over the year-ago quarter, and CNN’s news that it continues to reach more viewers than any other cable news channel.

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'Glee' Plans to Tackle Legendary Rock Opera -- With the Original Rockers Dropping In

One of the quintessential rock operas is the focus of a planned episode of the Fox musical series “Glee,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

“Glee” co-creator Ryan Murphy is working on an episode built around the seminal 1969 rock opera “Tommy” by the Who. The piece was turned into a 1975 feature film by director Ken Russell that starred Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Elton John and Tina Turner.

Two of the main figures behind the original “Tommy” -- Who bandmates Daltrey and Pete Townshend -- are expected to be a part of the show, the story says.

In order to do such a major production, even in an abbreviated form, "Glee" may need to request a super-sized episode from Fox.

Will anyone in the cast roll around in baked beans and liquid chocolate, as Ann-Margret did in her Oscar-nominated performance in the movie? It seems unlikely, but stay tuned.

Here’s a video clip of Ann-Margret setting the bar pretty high for sheer over-the-top luridness:

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Actor Who Played Arguably the Most Iconic TV Character of the 1970s -- the Phrase 'Jumping the Shark' Is Based on His Role -- Resurfaces on NBC Sitcom

The actor who became one of the most iconic characters in TV history is set to appear as the father of Maya Rudolph’s character on “Up All Night,” TV Guide reports.

Henry Winkler, best known as the Fonz on "Happy Days," will be on Thursday's episode of the NBC sitcom as Ava's father, the story reports.

In the episode called "Daddy Daughter Time," Winkler turns up as Robert Alexander, Ava's father, who's a beloved children's author.

Also appearing in the episode is Sharon Osbourne, one of the hosts of CBS's "The Talk."

Winkler’s “Happy Days” character, the Fonz, or Fonzie, was ranked No. 4 by TV Guide on its list of the 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time in 1999. The character was responsible for the expression “jumping the shark,” a phenomenon that grew out of an episode in which Fonzie pulled off a water-ski jump over a shark -- an event that came to symbolize the point when many observers felt the sitcom had gone into decline.

NBC released a sneak peek of Winkler’s appearance on "Up All Night," which can be seen below:

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Robert De Niro Gets in Hot Water for Racial Joke

Robert De Niro found himself apologizing for a joke he made at a New York fundraiser after he drew criticism from both Newt Gingrich and first lady Michelle Obama, USA Today reports.

Gingrich called on President Obama to apologize on behalf of De Niro, who made a racial joke about first ladies at the presidential fundraiser Monday night, the New York Daily News reported.

De Niro was hosting the first lady when he made the joke, the story notes. The actor deadpanned, "Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" according to the Daily News report.

While the audience reportedly "roared its approval," Gingrich said later at a campaign stop that De Niro "is wrong," the story notes. "I think the country is ready for a new first lady, and he doesn’t have to describe it in racial terms.” He added, “I call on the president to apologize for him.”

The first lady apparently also didn't approve of the joke, issuing a statement from her press secretary. "We believe the joke was inappropriate," her press secretary said, according to the Daily News story.

De Niro's representative initially said the actor wouldn't respond to Gingrich's criticism, the Daily News article adds. But the actor did later issue a statement saying, “My remarks, although spoken with satirical jest, were not meant to offend or embarrass anyone -- especially the first lady," USA Today reports.

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Alec Baldwin Declares Twitter War Against User Who 'Crossed a Line'

"30 Rock" actor Alec Baldwin urged his more than 700,000 Twitter followers to contact another Twitter user who had allegedly repeatedly sent harassing notes to Baldwin’s girlfriend, Hilaria Thomas, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Baldwin wrote that while he has met some wonderful people on Twitter, some "cross a line and, for example, attack my relationship with my daughter. One person, however, has really gone too far," according to the article.

Baldwin gave his followers the Twitter handle of the user, @scarfacemadam, and asked them to "go to her address, and read just a few of her posts, and give her your notice of her behavior," according to the story.

The tactic apparently worked, as the user soon deleted her profile after the request resulted in many harsh tweets from Baldwin's followers, the piece adds.

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'Saturday Night Live' Cast Member Drops Out of Fox Comedy Project

A "Saturday Night Live" cast member has bailed out from the lead role in a Fox comedy project, Deadline.com reports. Exiting the sitcom pilot "Ned Fox Is My Manny" was “SNL’s” Abby Elliott.

Elliott wasn't the right fit for the role, according to the story. The decision was made after the pilot's table read, and a search has started for another actress to play an uptight single mom whose brother helps raise her daughter, the article notes.

Elliott hadn't performed in any other big television roles outside of her work on "Saturday Night Live," the piece adds. It's expected that she'll now continue in her "SNL" job, where her work includes impersonations of celebrities such as Rachel Maddow and Zooey Deschanel, the article notes.

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CNN's Political Power Couple Separates

Two CNN personalities described as the cable news channel’s “political power couple” have separated, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

The married couple John King and Dana Bash separated several months ago after less than four years of marriage, the story reports.

Bash, who is a senior congressional correspondent for the network, gave birth to their son Jonah in June, the piece notes. King, who converted to Judaism shortly before their May 2008 wedding, is known for his data crunching and use of CNN’s touch-screen election map.

Bash and King are now living separately in Washington, D.C., according to the report.

A representative for CNN declined to comment, saying, “We don’t comment on personal matters.”

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'Jersey Shore' Star Reportedly in Rehab

One of the stars of the hit MTV reality show "Jersey Shore" has reportedly entered a rehab program. TMZ.com reports that Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino has gone into an inpatient treatment program for substance abuse.

A representative for the reality TV star wouldn't confirm that he is in rehab, but noted that Sorrentino "has spent the past several weeks at an undisclosed location for much needed rest and recuperation after his extensive production and appearance schedule," according to the story.

Sorrentino makes appearances at nightclubs for fees ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, and he has been appearing at many since the show debuted several years ago, the story notes.

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Forget the Beatles, the Stones and All the Rest -- U.K. Pop Group Pulls Off an Achievement No Other British Group Has Ever Done

A British pop group has made history, pulling off an achievement that no other British group in history has been able to pull off, BBC News reports.

The group One Direction had its first album debut at No. 1 in the U.S. on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album, “Up All Night,” is the first debut by a British group to do so -- even with a long history of “British Invasion” bands that has included the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and many other hugely successful groups.

The album debuted with sales of more than 176,000 copies in the U.S.

One Direction had its first live performance on U.S. television last week, with more than 10,000 fans turning out in New York for its performance in Rockefeller Plaza on NBC’s “Today” show.

Britain’s Bradenton Herald adds: “One Direction gained notoriety in 2010 after appearing on the ‘X Factor’ UK. Their global smash debut album, “Up All Night,” entered the charts at #1 in 11 countries and has been certified triple platinum in Ireland, double platinum in the UK & Australia, and platinum in New Zealand. ... In the US, ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ sold more than 131,000 copies in its first week, debuting at #12 on the Billboard Digital Songs chart. Their #28 debut on the Billboard Hot 100 marked the highest debut from a British group since the Spice Girls in 1998.”

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President Obama's Daughter Becomes News as Earthquake Hits School Trip Location

Usually off limits to news reporters, President Obama's daughter Malia became news on Tuesday after an earthquake struck a region in Mexico where she's visiting on a school trip, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Malia, who is visiting central and southern Mexico, "is safe and was never in danger," said a spokeswoman for the first lady, Michelle Obama, the story notes.

Usually no statement would be issued, since media outlets typically hold off on covering the activities of the president’s children. The story calls the practice "a longstanding, informal pact between the White House and the press corps that covers it."

The report adds: "In the statement on Tuesday, the spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama said, 'We would reiterate our request that the media respect the privacy and security of the Obama children and not report on or photograph the girls when they are not with their parents.'”

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'Eureka' Star Joins Roseanne Barr's NBC Comedy Project

A star of Syfy’s "Eureka" has been cast in Roseanne Barr's NBC comedy along with a TV and film actor known for the UPN series “Love, Inc.,” reports Deadline.com.

"Eureka" star Salli Richardson joins the "Downwardly Mobile" pilot along with Greg Cromer, who will play Mr. Denby, a hedge funder who recently lost his money in a Ponzi scheme and tries for a fresh start in a trailer park.

Richardson will play his wife, who is miserable in her new location and plays the foil to Barr's character, the story notes.

Barr plays Rose, the owner of the trailer home park during tough economic times, the piece adds.

Richardson played Allison Blake on "Eureka" during the past five years.

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Netflix Unveils Plans for Original Horror Series

Netflix has announced plans for an original horror series starring a former Bond girl who’s also known for her appearances in the “X-Men” film series.

“Hemlock Grove” will star Famke Janssen, who played Bond girl Xenia Onatopp in “GoldenEye.” Starring opposite her is Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard.

Netflix describes the series as “a gripping tale of murder, mystery and monsters set in a ravaged Pennsylvania steel town.” It is set to be available exclusively to Netflix subscribers for instant viewing starting in early 2013.

The series, produced by Gaumont International Television, is based on the novel of the same name by Brian McGreevy.

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Rosie O'Donnell Defends Oprah Over Decision to Cancel Her Talk Show

Rosie O'Donnell addressed her show's cancellation on the OWN program, defending Oprah Winfrey and calling the decision "fair," reports TVLine.com.

“Listen, Oprah gave me an amazing shot … she put me back on TV, she believed in me … and off I came to Chicago with the best of intentions, trying to do what I thought would be kind of easy for me. But it wasn’t," she said, according to the story.

O’Donnell was speaking in response to some who called the cancellation unfair, the article adds.

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'CSI' Creator to Debut New Drama on Yahoo

"CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker plans to debut a new multipart drama on Yahoo, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed.

"Cybergeddon," a 90-minute scripted drama, will take on the issue of cyber crime, the piece notes. The project, being described as a "motion picture event," will debut on Yahoo later this year.

"We're in the generation where behaviors have shifted as to how people consume content on devices and we must be part of trailblazing the future," Zuiker told the publication. Production and casting will begin this month, the story adds.

Yahoo has been in the original scripted content space before, the story notes, with “Electric City” -- an animated sci-fi series that has Tom Hanks attached.

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Cable Reality Show Comes Under Fire from Anthropologists

A cable reality show has come under fire from anthropologists, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times. The show is Spike’s "American Digger," which features former wrestler Ric Savage and his team digging up lawns in search of artifacts.

In a letter sent to Spike, the American Anthropological Association explained its concerns about the program. The letter reads in part: "This program wrongly represents archaeology as a treasure-seeking adventure, in which our collective heritage is dug up and sold for monetary gain."

The letter also urges Spike to consult with "the appropriate archaeologists" on the legality and ethics of the actions shown on the show, and to hire a Registered Professional Archaeologist as a consultant.

Spike said it had met with representatives of professional archaeological groups, and is exploring how to "take more direct advantage" of the community's insights and expertise, according to the story.

“You’ve got two groups of people who want to be part of history, to dig it up and hold it in their hand. The only difference is I’m doing it to make a living," said Savage, according to the story. "They’re doing it to write papers and make it to associate professor and get tenure.”

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Are Viewers Getting Tired of 'Dancing With the Stars'? Or Maybe This Edition of the Show Doesn't Have Enough Stars

Have viewers finally had their fill of "Dancing With the Stars"? Or maybe the show just doesn't have enough star power this time around.

ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” opened to its worst season-premiere numbers in series history last night, slumping 34% from its premiere a year ago in adults 18-49, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

NBC won the night, with its two-hour “The Voice” the top show of the night in the 18-49 demo.

For prime time overall, NBC finished with a 3.8 average rating in 18-49, ahead of ABC (3.1 average), CBS (3.1) and Fox (1.8). ABC was No. 1 in total viewers with 16.3 million, topping NBC (10.1 million), CBS (9.5 million) and Fox (5.4 million).

“Dancing With the Stars” had a 3.5 average in the 18-49 demo from 8-10 p.m., down from a 5.3 for last year’s season premiere. Head-to-head, it was beaten by “The Voice” with a 4.5, even with that show slipping 13% from a week ago.

CBS had mixed results for its comedies, with “How I Met Your Mother” down 6% from its previous original episode with a 3.4 in adults 18-49 and “2 Broke Girls” down 11% to a 3.4. Both series tied season lows. But “Two and a Half Men” was up 6% to a 3.8 average and “Mike & Molly” rose 10% to a 3.2.

On Fox, “Alcatraz” hit a series low with a 1.5 rating in 18-49.

The 10 p.m. hour was almost a three-way dead heat, with CBS’s “Hawaii Five-0” taking a narrow win in viewers 18-49 with a 2.5 average rating, ahead of ABC’s “Castle” at 2.4 and NBC’s “Smash” at 2.3.

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Starz Renews Series Before Its Premiere -- Again

Starz has given a series renewal to a show that hasn’t yet premiered, Deadline.com reports. In a similar move to last season’s handling of “Boss” -- the Kelsey Grammer political drama -- the pay cable net picked up "Magic City" for a second season in advance of its April 6 premiere.

"Magic City" is set in Miami in the early 1960s, soon after Castro takes control over Cuba and closes down the tourist trade in Havana. Jeffrey Dean Morgan stars in the show, which was created by Mitch Glazer.

Starz has reportedly sold "Magic City" into 70 territories internationally.

The pilot will be previewed March 30 on Starz after the season finale of "Spartacus: Vengeance."

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Family of Zsa Zsa Gabor Goes to Court Over Care of the Hollywood Legend

Family members of 95-year-old Hollywood legend Zsa Zsa Gabor are in a battle over her care, CNN reports, with her daughter going to court to try to get a conservator appointed to handle Gabor’s finances and medical care.

Gabor’s daughter, Francesca Hilton, is concerned that Gabor’s husband is not acting in the best interests of the former actress. Gabor is confined to a bed after a broken hip and a leg amputation in the past two years.

Said Kenneth Kossoff, a lawyer for Hilton: "What Ms. Hilton is seeking here is for the court to make sure that Zsa Zsa's best interests are not being sacrificed for the selfish interests of anyone involved in Zsa Zsa's life.”

Kossoff said he would file a petition today in Los Angeles contending that Prince Frederic von Anhalt, Gabor’s ninth husband, is keeping Gabor "increasingly isolated" and "heavily sedated,” the story reports.

The report notes: “The filing questions von Anhalt's handling of Gabor's finances, saying he recently borrowed against on Gabor's $10 million Bel Air mansion, but the house is in foreclosure after several missed mortgage payments.”

Kossoff added: "In spite of her conflicts with von Anhalt, Francesca has been hoping he had Zsa Zsa's interests at heart. However, having just recently learned that he took out a $700,000 loan, and that there was a notice of default recorded against the property in late February 2012 because he apparently has not been paying Zsa Zsa's mortgage payment, it became clear to Francesca that if she did not seek to protect her mother, no one else would."

Hilton also accuses von Anhalt of denying access to Gabor. In the court filing, she says: "My mother's husband has increasingly isolated my mother from others who have been close to her. Before she broke her hip, my mother and I spoke several times every day. Since she broke her hip, her husband has removed the telephone that used to be by her bed."

Hilton adds in the petition: "I also believe that my mother now may suffer from a loss of intellectual and emotional faculties, which may be induced by the medication my mother is being given."

Von Anhalt has defended his treatment of Gabor, saying: "I'm going to make sure she has a good life, as long as I live, I will take care of her."

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Eddie Izzard Joins NBC's 'Munsters' Reboot -- So Which Munster Will He Play?

Comedian Eddie Izzard has joined NBC’s high-profile drama reboot of the 1960s sitcom “The Munsters,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In addition to being cast as Grandpa Munster -- who was played by Al Lewis in the original CBS series -- Izzard will be a producer on the pilot.

The story reports: “In the reboot, Grandpa is described as a powerful vampire with the quick wit that Lewis initially injected into the character. He's the head of the mysterious family who continues to have Herman under his thumb.”

NBC has moved the project, from executive producers Bryan Singer and Bryan Fuller, to summer after previously trying to get it ready for the current development season, the story notes.

eddie-izzard.jpgEddie Izzard

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'Lost' Director Bows Out of Action Pic

Jack Bender, the film and TV director known for his work on ABC's "Lost" and currently executive producer/director of Fox's "Alcatraz," has left the Paramount reboot of the Jack Ryan action movie series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Created by novelist Tom Clancy, the Jack Ryan character has been played on the big screen by Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Alec Baldwin; the new installment puts Chris Pine ("Star Trek") in the role.

For Bender it came down to a schedule conflict; he also recently accepted the executive producer/director's role for the Syfy pilot "Rewind."

Paramount is still hoping to get the untitled Ryan movie into production this summer after Pine has completed his work in "Star Trek 2."

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Michael Bay Fires Back at 'Ninja Turtles' Fans

Director Michael Bay has been taking heat over his upcoming movie version of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” as previously reported, and now he’s firing back, TheWrap.com reports.

His message to fans is to chill out.

The story notes: “The Internet was set ablaze with outrage Monday when the ‘Transformers’ director suggested that he would be changing the back story of beloved nunchuck-wielding shell-dwellers Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Donatello.

"’These turtles are from an alien race,’ Bay declared at the Nickelodeon upfront presentation in New York. ‘And they're going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.’

“Bay's comment sparked online conniption fits among Ninja Turtles fans who had grown up believing that the turtles were, in fact, mutants and ninjas, not aliens.”

Bay responded via an online forum page, the story reports, writing: "Fans need to take a breath, and chill. They have not read the script. Our team is working closely with one of the original creators of Ninja Turtles to help expand and give a more complex back story. Relax, we are including everything that made you become fans in the first place. We are just building a richer world."

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ESPN Leads Sports Emmy Nominations

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) announced the nominations for the 33rd Annual Sports Emmy Awards today, with ESPN's network of channels leading the way with 55 nominations, reports Deadline.com. NBC Sports Group had 32; CBS networks 26 and Turner Sports 22.

Jack Whitaker, veteran sports essayist and commentator, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports. In a statement, NATAS Chairman Malachy Wienges said, “I had the pleasure of working with Jack for 18 years at CBS, and Jack is a sports icon and a class act.”

The awards will be given out April 30 at the Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center located in the Time Warner Center in New York City.

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Ashton Kutcher Ready to Go Into Space

The 500th customer to sign up for a ride on the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket plane is the star of "Two and a Half Men," Ashton Kutcher, reports MSNBC. Kutcher has laid out the $200,000 airfare for the trip on the VSS Enterprise.

Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic's founder, blogged about Kutcher's joining the voyage: "I gave Ashton a quick call to congratulate and welcome him. He is as thrilled as we are at the prospect of being among the first to cross the final frontier (and back!) with us and to experience the magic of space for himself."

Other celebrities have reportedly also signed up for the voyage, including Tom Hanks, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and Katy Perry. Beyonce and Jay-Z are also said to be contemplating it.

The space ship is still in the testing stages, with an estimated 2013 start time for commercial flights. The ship is expected to fly out of New Mexico.

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Huge Disney Flop; Studio Incurs $200 Million Writedown

The Walt Disney Co. is dealing with repercussions from a flop that will bring a $200 million writedown to the studio, CNN reports.

The action movie “John Carter” flopped at the box office despite a massive global marketing campaign, the story notes. The production budget for the film, based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, was about $300 million.

The story reports: “The film about an American Civil War hero who journeys to Mars is shaping up to be one of Hollywood's costliest flops. It has generated $184m in global ticket sales but with about half its takings going to cinema chains, Disney has had to adjust its earnings guidance for the quarter to reflect the film's performance.”

Disney said it now expects its movie studio operation to post an operating loss between $80 million and $120 million for the quarter following the film’s release, the story reports.

CNN adds: “The writedown deals a blow to Rich Ross, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, who has been trying to improve returns at the division following a restructuring and a focus on films made under the Disney, Pixar and Marvel brands.”

Things could turn around later in the year, the story notes, with the upcoming releases of “Brave” from Pixar and the superhero film “The Avengers.” Disney said those two films have "tremendous potential to drive value for the studio and the rest of the company,” according to the report.

“However, the abject failure of ‘John Carter’ is not likely to be forgotten in an industry where a single flop can wipe out a studio's annual profits,” the report adds. “Hopes were initially high for ‘John Carter’: Its director, Andrew Stanton, had made the critically lauded and commercially successful ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Wall-E.’

“But the director openly admitted to struggling with the transition from animated film-making to live action directing. Meanwhile, Burroughs' source material, which inspired filmmakers such as James Cameron, has failed to energize young, male cinema goers, a crucial demographic for any big-budget action movie.”

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Charlie Sheen's Character Returning to 'Two and a Half Men' -- But Will Be Played by Oscar-Winning Actress

Charlie Sheen's character on "Two and a Half Men" will return to the program, although Charlie Harper won't be played by Sheen, but by Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates, according to The Hollywood Reporter's the Live Feed blog.

During the April 30 episode, Jon Cryer's character suffers a small heart attack and is visited in the hospital by the ghost of Charlie Harper, played by Bates, the piece notes. Harper was killed off in the season debut after Sheen was fired from the CBS show.

The story doesn't say how Bates will portray Harper or what the character will say. Bates currently stars in “Harry’s Law” on NBC.

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Cable Business News Anchor, Said to Be Inspiration for a '30 Rock' Character, Says She 'wanted to be Jack's [Alec Baldwin] love interest but I can see why they went with a professional actress.'

Rumored to be the inspiration for a character on NBC’s "30 Rock," a cable news anchor tells the Detroit News that she was "constantly angling to get on the show."

Fox Business anchor Melissa Francis, said to be the inspiration for Avery Jessup on "30 Rock," said: "I wanted to be Jack's love interest but I can see why they went with a professional actress."

Francis joined Fox Business in January after spending nearly a decade at CNBC. The character on the sitcom, who is married to Alec Baldwin's Jack on the program, is stuck in North Korea and may not return, the piece notes.

"The funny thing is, I was supposed to go to North Korea for a story five years ago but couldn't go because I was pregnant with my first child," Francis added.

Francis is a former child actress who got her break on "Little House on the Prairie," the story notes.

melissa-francis.jpgMelissa Francis

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Jurors Reveal Thinking Behind 'Desperate Housewives' Deadlock; What's Next for the Case?

A juror in the "Desperate Housewives" case, which ended in a mistrial this week after the panel said it was deadlocked, said, "There was no smoking gun" to prove either side's case with certainty, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The juror, Beverly Crosby, didn't disclose how she voted during deliberations, although she noted that the jurors found many of the witnesses "not credible," according to the story. Another juror, Johnny Huynh, also gave interviews after the mistrial was announced, but he also didn't reveal how he had voted.

Crosby noted she was skeptical about how ABC had handled the investigation into Nicollette Sheridan's claim of abuse. "In my estimation,” ABC’s inquiry “wasn’t handled correctly. ... I won’t say there was a cover-up. That’s a strong word, but it wasn’t handled right,” she said, according to the piece.

The jury didn't waver from its initial vote of 8-4 at the start of its three days of deliberations, according to Huynh. Both jurors said the jury focused its discussions on the testimony of George Perkins, an executive producer on the show who was tapped to handle complaints from employees and whom Sheridan contacted after creator Marc Cherry struck her in September 2008, the story says.

Perkins testified that the decision to bring Sheridan back for the final episode of the fifth season, after she had been told to leave, was a move to embarrass her and to prompt her to violate her contract by not showing up, the story notes.

Retaliation is “very subtle. It’s something that may be hard to prove," Crosby noted, according to the story.

Attorneys on both sides appear to be readying for the trial to return to the courtroom. If that happens, some experts say Sheridan is in a strong position, according to an E! Online report.

E! reports: “Assuming there will be a second trial featuring Sheridan vs. ABC Entertainment, Sheridan's case still looks good, despite the fact that she didn't all-out win the first time around, says Travis Gemoets, partner at Jeffer Mangels. After all, he points out, ‘We know that the jury was split 8 to 4 in favor of Nicollette,’ which gives her confidence moving forward, if nothing else. Another bonus: Sheridan now knows all of the defense's bombshells and tricks -- and the defense relied more on that element of surprise than Sheridan's team did.”

Says Gemoets: "So she's going to be in a pretty strong position."

However, the story says there’s a good chance for a settlement. Goemets adds: "The jury count indicates that some money needs to be paid to Nicollette to make this go away."

Sheridan has said she wants about $5 million, the story notes, with Goemets saying, “Something in the $2 million to $3.5 million range wouldn't shock me."

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After Complaints From Critics, 'Mad Men' Showrunner Changes Tune

After complaints from critics, "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner says he’s making a change to an episode in the AMC show's fifth season -- replacing a song because it wasn't released until six months after the episode takes place, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

The song is Dusty Springfield's "The Look of Love," released in 1967, the story adds.

Weiner sent a note to critics with an explanation, saying: "We have replaced this song with one more suited to the time period and you, along with our audience, will hear it for the first time during our March 25th broadcast. Although we take license for artistic purposes with the end-title music, we never want the source music to break from the time period we are trying to re-create."

Weiner added, "Keep those notes and comments coming!," according to the story.

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Even With Fate of 'Terra Nova' Undetermined, Show's Star Gets Another Job

The star of “Terra Nova,” the time-traveling drama whose fate is still undetermined after the show was canceled by Fox, has another job lined up, Deadline.com reports.

CBS's untitled Ralph Lamb pilot has cast "Terra Nova" star Jason O'Mara, the story reports. But with “Terra Nova’s” producer in talks with Netflix about a possible second season, O'Mara's role in the CBS project is in second position to "Terra Nova," the story points out.

O'Mara, who played the lead in “Terra Nova” opposite Shelley Conn, has received several pilot offers since Fox canceled the show two weeks ago, the piece adds.

The CBS pilot is set in the 1960s and tracks the true story of Ralph Lamb, played by Dennis Quaid, a rodeo cowboy who became the long-serving sheriff of Las Vegas, the story notes.

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Former 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Actor Accuses Film Director Michael Bay of 'Sodomizing' the Original Franchise

An actor who voiced one of the original characters in the animated "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" films is charging director Michael Bay with "sodomizing" the franchise in his upcoming movie, reports TMZ.com.

Actor Robbie Rist, who voiced the character Michaelangelo, is angry at how Bay has changed the characters’ origin story, the report notes. "TMNT" was also on television during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, with both animated and live-action series.

Bay recently said at a media event that the turtles "are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely lovable.” That's anathema to fans, since the original turtles became mutated after falling through a sewer and coming in contact with radioactive ooze, the story says.

"I know believing in mutated talking turtles is kinda silly to begin with but am I supposed to be led to believe there are ninjas from another planet? The rape of our childhood memories continues," Rist wrote in an letter to Bay, the story says.

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Wow! Check This Out. AMC's 'The Walking Dead,' Basic Cable's Most-Watched Drama Series in History, Pushes Its Numbers Even Higher for Season Finale

The season finale of a drama series that has been shattering basic cable viewing records added to its record run, with 9 million viewers tuning in to watch the zombie battle in Sunday’s finale of AMC’s "The Walking Dead," reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

An additional 1.5 million viewers watched a repeat of the episode that aired later that night, the story notes.

Among the show's initial 9 million viewers, which made the episode the program's most watched installment, were 6 million people age 18 to 49, the article adds.

"The Walking Dead" has set viewing records this season, becoming the highest-rated drama on a basic cable channel in all important demographics, such as viewers 18 to 49 and 18 to 34, the piece notes.

Historically, the only cable drama to consistently beat the numbers for "The Walking Dead" in total viewers was premium channel HBO's "The Sopranos," which reached as many as 13.4 million viewers for the first airing of individual episodes, the piece adds.

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Head of the BBC Stepping Down

The man who oversees the BBC’s TV channels, radio stations and websites will step down from the broadcaster later this year, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson, 54, will leave after the Summer Olympic Games in London, which will be held in July and August, the story says. He has held the job since 2004.

The BBC distributes TV and radio programming, including franchises such as "Top Gear," around the world. The corporation has sought to expand its presence in the U.S., with greater distribution for BBC America and its BBC World News cable network, the piece adds.

Thompson is the BBC's longest-serving top executive since the 1970s, the article notes.

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IFC Orders Single-Camera Comedy to Series

Cable channel IFC has given an order for 10 episodes of a single-camera comedy series, Margaret Lyons reports in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

The order is for an autobiographical show from "WTF" podcast host Marc Maron, who produced and shot a pilot last year, the story notes. Maron stars as himself in the pilot, with a younger girlfriend, an overbearing father (played by Ed Asner) and a comedy podcast he operates from his garage.

The pilot has a realistic style and weaves in segments from a podcast along the lines of Maron’s "WTF," the story notes.

"Part of what makes Maron's ‘WTF’ podcast so compelling is just how candid and open he is about his addictions, divorces, sex habits, eating disorders, anxieties, family issues, fears, hopes -- it's incredibly, and sometimes uncomfortably, intimate," Lyons writes.

The series is set to premiere in late 2013.

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Attention Media Agencies and Their Media Clients: PBS is Searching for Sponsor for Upcoming Series That's a Spinoff of PBS's Most-Watched Series

PBS is looking for a sponsor to back an upcoming series, reports our friend Jon Lafayette in B&C. The new show, from the producers of "Antiques Roadshow," is another take on antiques.

Called "Market Wars," the show will consist of one-hour episodes that track four antique experts who search for bargains at weekly auctions, the story says. The four will compete to see who scores the biggest profits.

"Antiques Roadshow" is sponsored by Subaru, and PBS would love to find an auto sponsor for the new show. "Antiques Roadshow" is PBS’s most-watched series, with a weekly audience of 9 million viewers, the story notes.

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Syfy's Senior VP of Original Programming to Leave Network

Syfy's senior vice president of original programming will leave when his contract ends in June, Deadline.com reports.

The executive is Andrew Plotkin, who joined Syfy in 2009 and has helped the network's show development, reporting to President of Original Programming Mark Stern, the story says. He's leaving to pursue other opportunities, the piece notes.

Plotkin’s background includes working as an executive producer at China’s national broadcaster, CCTV, and running Class IV Productions at Warner Bros. TV with partner Steve Pearlman, the story notes. The company produced Fox’s “Reunion” and The WB’s “Related.”

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$312 Million Spent and Counting: Struggling OWN Cuts 30 Jobs in Restructuring. Discovery to Take More Control

A shakeup at the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on Monday "will result in 30 staffers being let go and executives from Discovery Communications being brought in to oversee key operations," report our friends Joe Flint and Meg James in the Los Angeles Times. OWN is a joint venture between Discovery and Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions.

The article continues, "The changes come as OWN continues to struggle to find its voice. Launched in January 2011, OWN has already cost Discovery more than $300 million in programming and marketing costs. The channel's performance has been so weak that there has even been speculation — denied by insiders — that if the situation doesn't improve soon the plug could be pulled." (According to The Wall St. Journal, the exact cost was $312 million as of Dec. 31, 2011.)

The Times story adds, "At one point, OWN had a staff of more than 150 people. After this latest round of cuts, OWN will have about 90 on staff. These cuts do not include the dozens of people laid off in the wake of [Rosie]  O'Donnell's show getting the ax. As part of the restructuring, Discovery Communications will have more say in the business operations. Initially, Discovery had something of an arms-length policy when it came to OWN."

The Times article quotes David Leavy, Discovery's Chief Communications Officer as saying about OWN, "We're as committed now as we've ever been and are bullish about the long-term value we are building."

The Times story notes, "In January, Discovery dispatched Rita Mullin, a longtime Discovery programmer, to help shore up programming at OWN. Now, as part of this restructuring, Neal Kirsch, Discovery's chief financial officer, will shift to OWN and become its chief operating officer and chief financial officer."

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Betty White to Get Big Honor at NAB Convention Next Month

Betty White will be feted with a major honor at the upcoming annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas.

The always popular White will be "inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame during [a] special session as part of the Broadcast Management Conference,' the NAB has announced.

The announcement adds, " 'Betty White is admired by generations of audiences,' said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. 'She has remarkable energy, at age 90, and an incredible ability to connect with viewers. Betty's contributions to television and entertainment as a whole are extraordinary. Our Hall of Fame would be incomplete without her.' "

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Must-See Rerun TV: 'Mork & Mindy,' Which First Made Robin Williams a Star, Back on TV

"Mork & Mindy" (1978-1982) was the sitcom that made Robin WIlliams a household name.

Starting on Monday, April 2, The Hub--the kids and family network that's a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Hasbro--will add "classic sitcoms “Sabrina The Teenage Witch,” “The Facts of Life” and “Mork & Mindy” to the network’s [prime-time] lineup ... with encore presentations in late-night and on weekends," the netork has announced.

"Mork & Mindy," a spinoff of a crazy UFO episode of "Happy Days," was an immediate hit. It was tied for No. 3 in the ratings for the 1978-1979 season, with "Happy Days." Both had a 28.6 rating. Only "Three's Company" (30.3) and "Laverne & Shirley" (30.5) had higher ratings for the season.

What happened next is also famous in the annals of TV. According to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows,' by our good friend TIm Brooks and his partner Earle Marsh, "After a season of simple slapstick and big ratings, both the producers and the network (ABC) unfortunately got a little cocky and violated one of television's cardinal rules: 'Don't tamper with a hit.' "

"In the process of doing so, they almost destroyed the program. The producers decided to shift to more 'meaningful' stories, opening the second season with a strange, surrealistic episode in which Mork shrunk away to nothing and dropped into a never-never world filled with caricatures of good and evil. At the same time practically the whole supporting cast was changed. Simultaneously, ABC decided to move the series from its established Thursday time slot to Sunday, to prop up their sagging schedule on that night. Understandably confused, viewers deserted the show in droves and it lost nearly half its audience."

  

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Mistrial Declared in 'Desperate Housewives' Case

With the jury declaring itself to be “hopelessly deadlocked,” a mistrial has been declared in actress Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination lawsuit against ABC and “Desperate Housewives,” E! Online reports.

With at least nine votes needed to reach a decision in the civil case, the jury was stuck one vote short of a verdict, locked 8-4 in favor of Sheridan. The actress is seeking $6 million in damages.

The attorneys for the two sides were unable to reach a resolution on their own in settlement court Friday.

Sheridan’s attorney, Mark Baute, indicated his client would return to court with the case.

Commenting on the mistrial, Baute said: "You'd think we'd be disappointed but we're not. We got our story out there. We went up against a 50-million-dollar conglomerate who had 10 witnesses, and eight jurors said, 'No, I'm not buying what you're selling.'"

“Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry, who was named in the lawsuit, had already been eliminated from the case when the judge dismissed Sheridan’s battery allegation against him due to a lack of evidence.

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Brett Ratner Takes On Feature Film About MTV

Film director Brett Ratner, who was the center of controversy when he was dismissed as the Oscars broadcast producer earlier this year, is set to get involved with a high-profile project, reports New York Magazine, citing a story appearing in Variety.

Ratner is said to be close to a deal with Sony to produce and perhaps direct the film adaptation of the book "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution," by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum.

The book is based on interviews with the people involved in the rise of MTV in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jody Lambert is writing the film script.

Ratner has experience with music videos, having directed a slew of them, including videos for Mariah Carey, LL Cool J and Wu-Tang Clan. He’s producing the feature film with Jimmy Miller of Mosaic.

Ratner was ousted as producer of this year's Oscars broadcast in a controversy over a gay slur, as reported previously.

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MTV Renews Reality Series

MTV has ordered a new season of a popular reality show, Variety reports. New episodes will begin shooting this summer for a sixth season of “Jersey Shore,” the story reports.

There has been no official word from MTV about how Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi's pregnancy will be worked into the reality program, but it is expected to be a focus of the series. Presumably, Snooki will not be doing the kind of drinking, fighting and partying she has in the past.

“Jersey Shore” finished last season as the top-rated cable series in the 12-34 demo, the story notes, with an average of 7.9 million viewers when DVR viewing is included.

MTV will present "The Pauly D Project," a spinoff of "Jersey Shore," beginning March 29.

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NFL Legend Peyton Manning Picks a Team

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, the NFL’s only four-time MVP, ended the suspense today over where he would land, with news surfacing that he is set to play for the Denver Broncos, AP reports.

Manning became a free agent two weeks ago, after the Indianapolis Colts released him. He sat out the 2011 season with neck injuries.

The story reports that Manning instructed his agent to open negotiations with the Broncos. He was wooed to Denver by John Elway, who won two Super Bowls as the Broncos quarterback and remains with the team as VP of football operations.

Tim Tebow, who was the biggest story in the NFL last season when he led the Broncos to the playoffs despite his unorthodox and inconsistent quarterback play, is now considered likely to be traded away by the team.

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TV Land Names New Development Exec

TV Land announced that it has named a new VP of Development and Original Programming, reports Deadline.com. Rose Catherine Pinkney will be overseeing the network's existing original programs and work on the development of new series.

Pinklney will work with VP Brad Gallagher in the Los Angeles office, reporting to Keith Cox, EVP of Development and Original Programming.

In a statement, Cox said, “It is rare to find someone who has a wealth of experience with multicamera sitcoms, a format our audience knows and loves. Rose Catherine is a creative force who is well-respected by many of the writers that we are in business with, as well as the community at large.”

Pinkney previously worked in the comedy division of Paramount Network TV for almost 10 years. She was also the EVP of Programming and Production for TV One.

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Lifetime Assembling Top-Shelf Cast for TV Movie Adaptation of 'Steel Magnolias'

Lifetime announced today that a Golden Globe- and Grammy-winning actress and singer has joined the cast of the cable net’s upcoming high-profile TV movie version of “Steel Magnolias.” Queen Latifah, who also is an Oscar nominee, will star in and executive produce the project.

The project, an adaptation of the play and the hit 1989 film, reunites Latifah with the producing duo Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, from “Chicago.”

The network said in its announcement that Latifah “will take on the role of 'M'Lynn' and star alongside an all-star cast that includes Golden Globe and multiple Emmy winner Alfre Woodard as 'Ouiser,' Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad as 'Clairee,' Grammy winner Jill Scott as 'Truvy,' Adepero Oduye as 'Annelle' and Condola Rashad as 'Shelby.'”

Zadan and Meron also produce Lifetime's “Drop Dead Diva” and “Smash.”

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Longtime Rosie O'Donnell Foil Donald Trump Celebrates Her Show's Demise; Reports of Backstage Unrest Surface

With Rosie O’Donnell’s OWN talk show canceled, as we reported over the weekend, a longtime critic of O’Donnell took the opportunity to rub it in, TMZ.com reports.

Donald Trump, who has had a high-profile feud with O’Donnell for some time, went on Twitter to write: "Rosie O'Donnell has failed again. Her ratings were abysmal and Oprah cancelled her on Friday night. ... When will media executives learn that Rosie just hasn't got it. "

The story adds: “Of course, Trump has been bashing Rosie for years ... claiming she was a ‘pig’ and a ‘loser’ after she called him a ‘snake-oil salesman.’"

The report cites a source saying O’Donnell was unhappy with the competence of her staff on the show, even though many of them were veterans of the successful “Oprah” talk show.

Sources involved in the show told TMZ that the staff hated O’Donnell and generally considered it their worst experience in television.

TMZ adds: “We're told Rosie's tantrums were predictable and regular. The one word several high level staffers used to describe R.O. is ‘bully.’"

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New ABC Drama Is Sunday's Top Show

A new ABC drama continues to perform well on Sundays, finishing last night as the top-rated show of prime time in Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. “Once Upon a Time” had a 2.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo to lead all Sunday shows.

CBS took a narrow win for prime time overall, helped by overrun from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. CBS finished the night with a 2.3 average in 18-49, topping ABC (2.2 average), Fox (2.0) and NBC (1.4). CBS won total viewers with 9.7 million, ahead of ABC (7.5 million), NBC (6.4 million) and Fox (4.3 million).

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” equaled the mark it set last week, while the network’s “Desperate Housewives” was off a tenth to a 2.5 in 18-49. “GCB” hit a series low, down three-tenths to a 2.0.

NBC’s two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice” fell two-tenths to a season-low 1.8 in adults 18-49.

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MTV Announces End of Controversial Reality Show

MTV has announced that a controversial reality show will end with its fourth season, which is expected to air this summer, reports USWeekly.com.

The show is "Teen Mom," which will end the installment featuring the four original cast members.

"Season 4 will be the final season of ‘Teen Mom’ with Maci, Catelynn, Amber and Farrah," MTV said in a statement.

Maci Bookout, Amber Portwood, Farrah Abraham and Catelynn Lowell first starred in MTV's "16 and Pregnant" in 2009 and moved on to "Teen Mom" after that, the story notes.

Portwood drew attention for her law enforcement problems, when she was arrested for domestic violence against the father of her child. The show also drew criticism from some viewers who believed it glamorized teen motherhood.

Later cycles of the show are not affected by the announcement. Season four of “16 and Pregnant” is set to premiere March 27, with the cast expected to later be featured in “Teen Mom 3,” the story notes. The status of “Teen Mom 2” has not been revealed.

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Woman Who Inspired Cult Favorite 1970s Animated TV Series Dies

A woman who inspired a 1970 TV cartoon series has died, reports TheWrap.com. The inspiration for lead singer and guitarist Josie McCoy of “Josie and the Pussycats,” Josie DeCarlo, died in her sleep, the story reports.

The Hanna-Barbera character was drawn to resemble DeCarlo by her husband, the comic book artist Dan DeCarlo, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 82, the story notes.

Josie DeCarlo’s age wasn't immediately available.

"We went on a Caribbean cruise, and I had a costume for the cruise, and that’s the way it started,” Josie DeCarlo said in an interview after her husband's death, describing her cat suit.

Born Josie Dumont, she met her husband in Belgium on a blind date after the Battle of the Bulge, the piece notes. The pair first communicated via drawing, since her husband didn't speak French and she didn't speak English, the story says.

josie-decarlo.jpgJosie DeCarlo

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CBS Taps OWN Correspondent as Host for New Reality Show

CBS has tapped a correspondent for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network as the host of a new reality show, reports TVNewser.com.

OWN’s Lisa Ling, a former ABC and CNN correspondent, will host a show called "The Job," the story says. The pilot is being produced by Mark Burnett.

The show will track five qualified candidates who compete for a job at a well-known company, according to the piece, with a new batch of contestants in each episode.

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Reversing a Decade-Long Slide, Broadcast News Added Viewers in 2011

Reversing a decade-long ratings decline, the broadcast news divisions of ABC, CBS and NBC added viewers in 2011, according to The Hollywood Reporter, citing the Project for Excellence in Journalism's State of the Media report.

Total viewership across the three networks increased by almost 1 million viewers to 22.5 million, or a gain of 4.5% across the three broadcasters, the piece says. All three added viewers in the target demographic of viewers 25 to 54, as well.

As for cable news, CNN posted the largest gains in prime time last year, with 16% more viewers, while MSNBC increased its prime-time audience by 3%.

Fox News, however, was down in both prime time and daytime for the second consecutive year, the piece adds. Primetime viewership dipped 3% to an average audience of 1.9 million, while daytime slipped 2% to 1.1 million on the News Corp.-owned network, the story says.

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Video: 'Kony 2012' Director's Naked Meltdown

The director of the “Kony 2012” video -- part of a campaign against a Ugandan warlord that has gone viral in recent weeks, as previously reported -- was detained by police in San Diego after what’s being described as a naked meltdown on a public sidewalk, TMZ.com reports.

Jason Russell was not arrested, but was placed on a 5150 psychiatric hold, according to the report.

TMZ, which has posted videos of the incident, reports: “Russell can be heard ranting to himself, dropping F-bombs, clapping to no one in particular, and shouting about the devil.”

Here’s a clip of Russell’s meltdown:

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Report: George Clooney's Girlfriend in Talks to Join 'X Factor'

George Clooney's girlfriend is reportedly in talks to join "The X Factor," according to the New York Post's Page Six.

The talks with Stacy Keibler are secret and are going on while the show continues to negotiate with pop star Britney Spears to join as a judge for the next season, the story notes. Keibler is an actress, model and former professional wrestler, according to the piece.

While she has charisma, her lack of experience in the music industry may make her an appropriate choice as the host, rather than a judge, the article points out.

The talks come after host Steve Jones and judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were let go from the program in January.

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Nielsen and Top Media Agency Developing First-Ever Cross-Platform Ad Tool

Nielsen and media agency GroupM announced a pioneering collaboration today that will develop a new measurement service integrating media planning and measurement across television and the Internet.

The companies announced: “The goal is to overcome challenges posed by separate media planning, buying, and analysis processes for TV and the Internet, and to answer a growing demand by advertisers for cross-platform measurement tools that help them streamline their marketing strategies.”

The new service is called Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings. Nielsen said the service “will leverage the Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings product, as well as its existing television audience measurement capabilities, to provide clients with total and overlapped reach and frequency of their marketing campaigns. Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings provides reach, frequency and GRP measures for Internet advertising.”

GroupM and Nielsen will each contribute resources and expertise to create the service, which will be available to GroupM clients. The companies will also work on developing tools that extend measurement beyond TV and online to other platforms.

Said GroupM Chief Investment Officer Rino Scanzoni: “Our advertiser clients increasingly recognize that traditional television advertising and online video advertising must work together. It’s vital that we have consistent measurement, and that’s our goal in working with Nielsen.”

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March Madness Posts Best Ratings in 18 Years

Coverage of the “March Madness” NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship through Saturday’s telecasts received the event’s best ratings in 18 years, Multichannel News reports.

Tournament programming on TBS, CBS, TNT and TruTV through March 17 pulled in a collective 5.3 U.S. household rating, up 4% from last year’s 5.1 average and up 15% from 2010’s 4.6 rating, the story reports. Total viewers averaged 8 million, up 3% from 2011 and up 14% from 2010.

The story adds: “On a Saint Patrick's Day that saw eight high-seeded favorites -- Syracuse, Kentucky, Baylor, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Marquette, Indiana and Louisville -- all prevail, the coverage across the four networks delivered the highest-rated and most-watched first Saturday of the tourney since 2007. The March 17 telecasts averaged a 6.1 rating, which grew 3% over last year's 5.9 and 13% above the 5.4 mark in 2010. The 9.3 million-viewer average matched last year and was 11% more than the 8.4 million viewers in 2010.”

That performance followed a day of coverage on Friday that hit Nielsen milestones. The story reports: “With No. 2 seeds Duke and Missouri falling to Lehigh and Norfolk State, respectively, the four networks on March 16 teamed to tally a 5.4 household rating and 8 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast nationals data, making it the most-watched NCAA tournament Friday since the event expanded to four telecast windows in 1991. Those deliveries were up 8% compared with a 5.0 rating in 2011 and 29% versus 2010's 4.2 rating, and 7% when measured against 7.5 million viewers in 2011 and 27% from the prior year's 6.3 million watchers.”

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Apple Pays Dividend for First Time Ever

Apple Inc. has unveiled plans to pay a dividend and initiate a $10 billion stock buyback program as demand for the iPad and iPhone has boosted the company’s earnings, Bloomberg reports.

The dividend is reportedly the first in the company’s history.

The story reports: “Investors will receive a quarterly dividend of $2.65 a share starting in the period beginning July 1, Cupertino, California-based Apple said today in a statement. The buybacks will begin in the fiscal year starting Sept. 30 and will take place over three years, the company said.”

The company has $97.6 billion in cash and investments on hand, the story reports.

Bloomberg reports: “Investors had urged Apple to return some of the balance in the form a dividend. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook fueled speculation an announcement might be coming when he said this year that Apple had ‘more than we need to run a company,’ and that the board was considering its options.”

The company expects to pay out $45 billion over three years, the report says.

In a statement, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said: “We are extremely confident in our future and see tremendous opportunities ahead.”

The story adds: “The dividend will cost Apple about $10 billion a year and represents a yield of 1.8 percent on the stock’s March 16 closing price. The company generated $16 billion in cash in the first quarter of fiscal 2012, which ended in December. Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., predicts that Apple will generate about $75 billion in cash this year.”

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C-Span Founder to Step Down as CEO

Thirty-three years after C-Span debuted on cable television, its founder will step down as its chief executive, The New York Times reports. Brian Lamb will take on the role of executive chairman of the network he created, according to the report.

C-Span started in the late 1970s with a commitment to broadcast every minute of the United States House of Representatives without commercials. The commitment was what the story calls "an extraordinary act at the time, since most Americans then saw of Congress only what was reported on the nightly news and in newspapers."

Lamb, 70, said he will be replaced by C-Span's Presidents and co-Chief Operating Officers Rob Kennedy and Susan Swain, who will continue the network's mission of televising the nation's political goings-on, according to the story. Lamb added he had been planning to give up the CEO role for at least two years, the piece notes.

Lamb will continue to host his "Q&A" show on Sunday night, and will follow other pursuits, including teaching, according to the piece.

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Gallagher Removed From Medically Induced Coma, Telling Jokes

Comedian Gallagher has been removed from a medically induced coma and is up and telling jokes, TMZ.com reports, citing his promotional manager.

Gallagher was placed in the coma after he experienced a heart attack while getting ready to go on stage in Texas, as previously reported. The 65-year-old is now breathing on his own and moving, although it's unclear how much longer he'll stay in the hospital, the piece adds.

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Jury in 'Desperate Housewives' Case, One Vote Shy of Verdict, to Continue Deliberations Today

With a reported 8-4 vote last Friday, the jury in the "Desperate Housewives" case will return to deliberations today, reports the New York Post.

With nine votes needed for a verdict in the civil case, the judge sent jurors home on Friday with instructions to "keep an open mind" when they start deliberations today, the article notes.

The attorney for actress Nicollette Sheridan, who is suing in the wrongful termination case, said he believes the 8-4 vote is in his client's favor, according to the piece.

The judge urged lawyers to settle the $6 million case over the weekend, but the two sides reported that the talks “went nowhere,” according to the piece.

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'This American Life' Retracts Story About Abuse Found with Apple's Suppliers in China After it Turns Out the Person Who Told Them About the Abuse Fabricated Much of What He Said

´╗┐In a blaring headline on its website that reads "RETRACTION," publlic radio's "This American Life's" new episode this weekend devotes its entire show to retracting an earlier story about abuse found at Apple suppliers in China.

Here's what the show has posted on its website: "We've discovered that one of our most popular episodes contained numerous fabrications. This week, we detail the errors in Mike Daisey's story about visiting Foxconn, which makes iPads and other products for Apple in China. 'Marketplace's' China correspondent Rob Schmitz discovered the fabrications." 

If you click on the link above you can listen to the new episode or read a transcript of it.

In its reporting of this story, The New York Times writes that "This American Life" host "Ira Glass said in a statement that Mr. Daisey 'lied' to him and to Brian Reed, a producer of the program, about details related to injured workers Mr. Daisey had described meeting at Foxconn, a factory in China where Apple products are made."

The "This American Life" show was a stripped down version of Daisey's popular off-Broadway show 'The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,' a lot of which Daisey said was based on a 6-day trip he took to China.

It turns out that much of what Daisey says he witnessed he never saw. 

The Times story says, "In a report for 'Marketplace' on Friday, Mr. Schmitz acknowledged that other people actually had witnessed harsh conditions at the factories that supplied Apple. 'What makes this a little complicated,' he said, 'is that the things Daisey lied about are things that have actually happened in China: Workers making Apple products have been poisoned by hexane. Apple’s own audits show the company has caught underage workers at a handful of its suppliers. These things are rare, but together, they form an easy-to-understand narrative about Apple.' "

The Times story also notes, "Mr. Daisey made his case against Apple in other forums, including on television and, last October, in an Op-Ed article for The New York Times. On Friday, the newspaper added an editor’s note to the article online and removed a paragraph that described the worker with the injured hand."

The Times added that Apple had no comment about the retraction.

Updated 6:40 a.m. PT onf 3/19/12 to correct typos

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Rosie O'Donnell's Talk Show on OWN Canceled. It Never Gained Traction With Viewers

Rosie O'Donnell's talk show on  the Oprah Winfrey Network has been canceled, OWN has announced.

“The Rosie Show” will tape its final show on Tuesday, March 20, and the final episode will air on Friday, March 30 (7-8 p.m. ET/PT).

The handwritng seemed to be on the wall when it came out recently that O'Donnell was moving back to New York frm Chicago.

However, a popular entertainment columnist on The Huffington Post named Naughty But Nice Rob was apparently used by a source to get out false information about the move on March 6, 2012, when he wrote in a story that was widely picked up, "When Rosie O’Donnell listed her 12-room, 6,000-square-foot house in Lakeview Chicago for $2.5 million last Monday, many speculated that her show was over. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Rosie and her show are moving to New York. 'It was a mistake to take the show to Chicago just because Oprah’s old studio was sitting there empty,' an insider tells me. 'Rosie loves New York. This is where she grew up, goes to the theater and has dinner with her friends. No one was more part of this city. But instead of standing up for what she knew in her gut, she agreed to film out of Chicago and even work with Oprah’s old staff rather than hire her own. But it’s not just Rosie that isn’t happy about flying to Chicago to film. It's proved much harder to get guests to travel to Chicago than come to New York.'"

Clearly the biggest problem with O'Donnell's show is that not enough viewers were watching. Nellie Andreeva on Deadline. com writes, "After an OK start with 500,000 viewers tuning in to the premiere, Rosie quickly lost more than half of that to average under 200,000 viewers for most of its run...."

"Why did O’Donnell, who had two successful previous daytime talk show stints under her belt, on her own syndicated show and on ABC’s 'The View,' fizzle so quickly? The reasons have to do with OWN and with O’Donnell, with their partnership appearing doomed from the start. It’s hard to get traction for a new show on a network very few people are watching. It also doesn’t help that Rosie was scheduled at 7 PM, a time period no one associates with talk shows, which normally air in daytime and late-night. Airing Rosie at a time when viewers are not in the habit of watching a talk show against venerable performers like 'Wheel Of Fortune' and 'Jeopardy' proved a tall order."

Andreeva also opines, "Which leads us to O’Donnell, a polarizing figure with strong political views and aggressive style, something that kept station buyers on the sidelines when she was shopping a syndicated talk show in 2010. OWN, which originally branded itself as a network for inspiring women and helping them better their lives, tried to rehabilitate O’Donnell’s image and channel more of her 1990s “queen of nice” bubbly persona than the darker, more controversial one we’ve seen in the final stage of her daytime talk show, on 'The View' as well as on her Sirius XM radio show. But it proved hard for O’Donnell to escape her reputation and get viewers to fully embrace her they way they did 16 years ago. And she didn’t look as natural in that role as she was back in the day."

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NBC Renews Freshman Drama

NBC has renewed a freshman drama series for a second season, reports Deadline.com. In the first of what is expected to be a number of early pickups by the network, it gave a 22-episode order for season two of “Grimm.”

The program is produced by Universal TV and Sean Hayes ("Will & Grace") and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills Productions.

The plot of the show involves Grimm, played by David Giuntoli, a homicide detective who hunts down supernatural baddies.

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Good News for Fans of Bubble Show 'Community' in Thursday Ratings

NBC’s bubble show “Community” saw a surge in viewers as it returned from hiatus Thursday, and the series premiere of “Missing” gave ABC its biggest audience in its time period in 14 months. Both series aired at 8 p.m.

With the disclaimer that numbers for CBS might be adjusted more than usual due to live coverage of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, TVbytheNumbers.com reported that Fox won the night in the key 18-49 demo. Fox finished prime time with a 3.4 average rating in the demo in Nielsen overnights, followed by ABC (2.4 average), NBC (1.9) and CBS (1.7).

Fox’s one-hour “American Idol” was the top show of the night with a 4.5 average rating in the 18-49 demo, but that was down 8% from a week ago, continuing “Idol’s” recent downward trend.

NBC reported that "Community" (2.2/7 in 18-49, 4.9 million viewers) delivered NBC's highest non-sports rating in the 8 p.m. Thursday time period in nearly 14 months, since Jan. 27, 2011. Airing against basketball on CBS instead of CBS’s usual comedy lineup, “Community” surged 46% from its previous original episode, which aired in December.

ABC announced that the debut of “Missing” was TV’s most-watched drama premiere during the opening hour of prime time in a year and a half, and gave the network its biggest audience in the time period in 14 months. “Missing” averaged a 2.0 rating in viewers 18-49 with 10.6 million total viewers.

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Video: George Clooney Arrested

Actor George Clooney was arrested today in Washington during a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Clooney was arrested along with his father, Nick Clooney, and other activists while participating in a protest against the Sudan government’s blockade of humanitarian aid.

The protesters reportedly ignored warnings from police telling them the gathering was illegal and ordering them to leave the embassy grounds. They were led away in handcuffs to a Secret Service van, the story reports.

The report adds: “Clooney told a Senate hearing on Thursday that Washington must get tough on Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and two other Sudanese officials indicted by the International Criminal Court as part of an investigation into atrocities in Darfur from August 2003 to March 2004.

“Clooney said violence between Sudanese soldiers and rebels aligned with South Sudan in border areas including South Kordofan's Nuba mountains involved repeated attacks on unarmed civilians who already face a serious humanitarian crisis.”

George and Nick Clooney were released soon after their arrests, and gave a brief news conference to further raise awareness of the situation in the Sudan.

Here’s a video of the arrests:

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Miramax Boss Resigns

The CEO of Miramax resigned from his position today, agreeing to remain with the company as a consultant until his successor is found. No reason was given for the departure of Mike Lang.

In a statement, Richard Nanula, chairman of Miramax and a principal at Colony Capital, said: “We are very proud of what Miramax has accomplished in such a short period of time. Mike has built a team of dedicated professionals, and they’ve worked together to create tremendous value. Miramax has established partnerships with leading distributors and with promising emerging platforms, with many more to come. The value of the Miramax film library and its iconic underlying brand is clear and the future is bright. We thank Mike for all of his hard work and we wish him well as he looks at future endeavors.”

Lang also commented in the statement, saying: “I’ve enjoyed my time at Miramax. The company has a great team, and I remain highly supportive of Miramax and its opportunities ahead. I wish the team continued success.”

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NBC's Summer Premiere Dates Set

The return of "Love in the Wild" and G4's "American Ninja Warrior" are featured in NBC’s new summer schedule, reports B&C. In addition, the new drama series "Saving Hope" (working title) will join the network's lineup.

"American Ninja Warrior" joins the NBC schedule Monday, May 21, with a two-hour premiere from 9-11 p.m. ET. It will air Mondays at 9 p.m. with one-hour episodes starting May 28.

On June 7 at 10 p.m. ET, "Saving Hope" debuts -- the story of a doctor who falls into a coma, played by Erica Durance.

The Jenny McCarthy-hosted reality relationship program "Love in the Wild" returns for its second season on June 7 at 8 p.m. ET with a two-hour premiere.


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ABC Family Greenlights 'Home Alone 5'

ABC Family and Fox TV Studios will make the TV movie "Home Alone 5: Alone in the Dark," the story of 8-year-old Finn (Christian Martyn), Deadline.com reports.

In the latest installment of the feature film and TV movie series, Finn learns that his family is moving into a spooky Maine house that he's convinced is haunted. Through a set of circumstances, Finn and his sister find themselves home alone and under siege by a group of thieves.

Malcolm McDowell, Debi Mazar and Eddie Steeples are playing the crooks. Also in the cast is Emmy winner Ed Asner.

"Home Alone 5" will joing the lineup of ABC Family's "25 Days of Christmas," the story reports.

The original three "Home Alone" films were on the big screen, but the most recent entry was a TV movie called "Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House."

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'Glee' Casts Former 'Melrose Place' Star as Puck's Father

A former "Melrose Place" star has been cast on Fox's "Glee" as Noah "Puck" Puckerman's (Mark Salling) father, reports TVLine.com. Thomas Calabro will appear in the role during the 18th episode of the season, set to air in late April.

Puck's relationship with his father isn't exactly "Father Knows Best," as the old man has been estranged from the family … which could explain why Puck has been such a punk at McKinley High.

"Glee" returns from its seven-week winter break April 10, when another family-oriented episode will air. Matt Bomer ("White Collar") will show up as Blaine's older brother.

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Video: CNN to Air Special This Weekend on the Health Care Debate, Featuring an Advocate From the TV Biz -- The CEO of GSN, Who Says 'American Health Care Killed My Father'

CNN gets into the debate on health care with a special hosted by Fareed Zakaria on Sunday night, March 18, 2012.

The show, with the unwieldy title "Global Lessons: The GPS Road Map for Saving Health Care," features  David Goldhill, the president and CEO of the Game Show Network (GSN), who is also the author of a piece in The Atlantic magazine that he calls "How American Health Care Killed My Father"

Here's a video clip:

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'Northern Exposure' Star Tapped for Lead in CBS Pilot

One of the stars of "Northern Exposure" has been cast in the title role in the CBS drama pilot "Widow Detective," reports Deadline.com.

John Corbett will play Denny Brennan, a police detective who takes on the role of husband, lover and father to the families of the three partners he's lost in the line of duty, the story notes.

The role brings Corbett back to CBS after his breakout role on "Northern Exposure," where he played Chris Stevens from 1990-1995.

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CEO of TV Station Group Resigns

The chief executive officer of one of the leading privately held network-affiliated television station groups has resigned after less than a year on the job.

The resignation of Tony Cassara, CEO of Young Broadcasting LLC, was effective March 13. The company announced the move Thursday.

Said Thomas Sullivan, chairman of the Board of Directors: "Tony has advised us that he would like to pursue interests outside of Young Broadcasting, including the ownership of other broadcasting stations. Accordingly, Tony has tendered his resignation as chief executive officer and member of the Board of Directors, effective March 13, 2012. We wish Tony well in his new endeavors."

Cassara said in a statement: “I have enjoyed very much my association with Young Broadcasting and I am proud of what we were able to accomplish during my time there."

The company noted that Deb McDermott will continue to be responsible for day-to-day operations as president of Young Broadcasting.

Young owns 10 television stations, including five ABC affiliates and three CBS affiliates.

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Lady Gaga Makes Surprise Announcement During Oprah Winfrey Interview

Lady Gaga tells Oprah Winfrey in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on OWN that their discussion will be her last public conversation "for a very long time," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Earshot blog.

"No press, no television, if my mom calls and says, 'Did you hear about …’ I shut it all off," the singer told Winfrey, according to the story.

"It's an interesting turn, given how much she has relied on relentless media coverage not just to build up the mythology and hype around her songs and always-costumed persona, but to advocate on behalf of the causes that she holds so dear," the story points out.

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Weatherman Sues Stations Alleging Discrimination in Favor of Young, Attractive Women

A Southern California weatherman has hired celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, known for her cases involving women's rights, and filed a lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against by two CBS stations because he wasn't a young, attractive woman, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. blog.

Kyle Hunter filed the lawsuit against CBS Broadcasting and its stations KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV, alleging "within the past few years, KCAL and KCBS decided to hire young attractive women as weathercasters in prime time rather than men in order to induce more men to watch their prime time newscasts," according to the lawsuit.

Hunter asked a manager at KCAL why he had been passed over for a job at the station, and was told, "You wouldn't be the type men would want to look at," the story notes, citing the complaint.

The stations didn't immediately return calls seeking comment. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.

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Video: Ousted 'American Idol' Contestant Reacts to Being Booted From Show Over Criminal Record

Former “American Idol” contestant Jermaine Jones, who was kicked off the Fox singing competition during Wednesday night’s broadcast, said he was caught by surprise by his disqualification, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jones was confronted during the broadcast by executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, who raised particular concerns about four outstanding warrants. Ultimately they dispatched him from the show because of those warrants, saying he misled producers about his record.

Jones said he circled “yes” on his application to the show, in response to a question about whether he had been arrested, and said he had a lawyer handle certain issues in the application process. He admitted to “minor infractions” in his record.

Jones talked about his disqualification during an interview Thursday on HLN’s “Showbiz Tonight.”

"I thought they were bringing it to my attention," Jones said during the interview. "Letting me know that now they are aware of, you know, this, that and the third. I didn't know what was going to happen.”

Here’s the video:

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Judge Orders 'Desperate Housewives' Jury to Continue Deliberating After It Says It's Deadlocked

The jury in the "Desperate Housewives" lawsuit told the judge Thursday that it hadn't reached a verdict and was having trouble doing so, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. blog. A number of media reports said the jury was deadlocked.

The jury also asked the judge to define the word "complaint," which was used in the jury instructions, the piece notes.

The judge told the panel's members to return home, get some sleep and return Friday at 10 a.m. to continue deliberations, the article says.

The $6 million wrongful termination case, brought by former "Housewives" star Nicollette Sheridan, requires nine of the 12 jurors to agree, with the panel's indecisiveness suggesting that it's weighing the evidence on both sides equally, the story adds.

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Son of Andy Rooney to Join CBS News

The son of the late CBS newsman Andy Rooney will be joining the network as a contributor, reports TVNewser.com.

Brian Rooney, who worked for 22 years at ABC News as a correspondent, will contribute occasional reports to CBS News broadcasts and platforms, the story notes.

When ABC News laid off more than 300 employees in 2010, Rooney was among those let go, the piece adds. His work includes reporting from Thailand and Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami and leading ABC's coverage of Southern California's wildfires, the story notes.

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'X-Files' Star Says She Was Offered Role of Lady Cora on 'Downton Abbey'

"X-Files" star Gillian Anderson says she was offered the part of Lady Cora Crawley, currently played by Elizabeth McGovern, on "Downton Abbey," reports The Huffington Post.

Asked in an interview with TV Guide Magazine whether her next project -- an adaptation of "Great Expectations" -- would be helped by the success of "Downton," she replied, "Hopefully people will embrace it with the same love that flowed toward 'Downton Abbey.' I was actually offered a part in 'Downton,'" according to the story.

The article doesn't say why she didn't take the role.

Anderson has acted in many European projects, including 2006's "Bleak House" and in her role as Miss Havisham in "Great Expectations," which will air on PBS on April 1, the story notes.

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HBO Sets Sales Record With 'Game of Thrones' DVD Release

HBO has set a record with the March 6 release of the first-season DVD set of "Game of Thrones," reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

The premium cable network has sold about 350,000 units of the DVDs, the biggest seven-day tally for any television series in HBO's history, including "True Blood" and "The Sopranos," the piece notes.

With the DVD sales mark and record views for the second-season trailer, "Game of Thrones" may draw stronger ratings when it returns on April 1, the article points out.

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Reality Series From 'Revenge of the Nerds' Stars Picked Up by TBS

A reality series hosted and executive produced by two of the stars of the 1984 movie "Revenge of the Nerds" has been picked up by TBS, reports Deadline.com.

The show, "King of the Nerds," tracks nerds as they compete in teams that test their intellect and skills, the story says. After the team round, they will move on to individual challenges.

TBS has ordered eight episodes of the show, with “Revenge of the Nerds” stars Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong attached to host and executive produce.

The series will premiere on TBS in early 2013, the piece adds.

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Unscripted Version of 'Modern Family' in the Works From Casting Team Behind 'Jersey Shore'

An unscripted version of "Modern Family" is in the works, with the casting team behind "Jersey Shore' looking for a real-life Dunphy-Pritchett family, reports the New York Post.

The show is called "My Modern Family" and is seeking "multi-generational families with real people who are stars in their own right and just don’t know it yet," according to casting director Doron Ofir.

A major cable network is developing the series, but Ofir declined to disclose which one.

Referring to the groundbreaking 1973 documentary series "An American Family," Ofir noted, "“This is no different from ‘American Family’ except that was based on drama, and this is based on comedy.”

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Another 'Men of a Certain Age' Star Lands a Pilot

A second actor from TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age” has been cast in a broadcast network pilot, Deadline.com reports. NBC's comedy pilot "Table for Three" has cast Scott Bakula in the lead role, according to the report.

Bakula will play a dentist and father who becomes engaged to his daughter's high-school classmate, now 29, who used to be the school's mean girl, the piece notes.

The role comes after Bakula ended a two-season run starring in "Men of a Certain Age." He's the second of that program's three stars to be cast in a broadcast pilot, with Andre Braugher tapped for the ABC project "Last Resort," the piece adds.

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Premiere Date Set for 'Katie'

"Katie," the new syndicated daytime talk show starring former CBS News anchor Katie Couric, will premiere Sept. 10 and will be available in 94% of the U.S., reports Bloomberg.

"Katie" will be broadcast live weekdays in front of an audience from ABC's New York-based TV One studio, the story says. Kathy Samuels, who helped debut "Access Hollywood," has been tapped as a co-executive producer, according to a statement from ABC, which is distributing the show.

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Sitcom in Trouble at Fox

Fox is pulling back on its strategy for a sitcom that has suffered with skimpy ratings and negative reviews, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The network had planned to move “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” from Tuesday nights to Wednesdays. Instead, Fox now plans to continue with two-hour editions of “American Idol” on Wednesday nights instead of cutting the show back to 90 minutes. “Teenage Daughter” is scheduled to end its current run on Tuesday, April 3, the story reports, but it’s possible it will wrap up even before that date.

Fox said it plans to televise the remaining episodes of the show during the summer, according to the report.

The most recent episode pulled in a slim 1.4 rating in the key demo of viewers 18-49, with only 3.6 million total viewers, the story notes.

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Nickelodeon Unveils Greatly Expanded Slate of New Programming

Nickelodeon unveiled at its upfront presentation a greatly explanded slate of new programming -- 650 hours, more than twice what it presented at last year’s event, Advertising Age reports.

The cable network has been hit with a ratings decline and has been criticized for letting its lineup grow stale, the story notes. The ambitious new lineup includes projects centered on the British pop group One Direction and “X Factor” contestant Rachel Crow.

Nickelodeon lost its lead last year to Disney Channel in viewers 6-11 and fell into a tie with Disney Channel in viewers 2-11 in February, the story reports.

Please click here for the full report on Nickelodeon's programming plans.

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Sen. John McCain's Daughter, MSNBC Contributor Meghan McCain, Has Harsh Words for Bristol Palin, Sounds Off About 'Game Change'

Meghan McCain, an MSNBC contributor and the daughter of Sen. John McCain, sounded off about topics including Bristol Palin, reality TV and the HBO movie “Game Change,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

McCain, 27, said in a Playboy interview: "Hell would freeze over before I would do a reality show. I’ve been offered everything you could possibly imagine, and it just doesn’t interest me. You certainly won’t see me dancing on TV.”

The story notes: “The dancing on TV bit seemed to be a dig at Bristol Palin, with whom she hasn't seen eye to eye since their families campaigned together during the 2008 election. Palin called McCain out in her ... memoir, accusing her of being a prima donna, and McCain says their subsequent meeting was less than pleasant.”

Said McCain: "I did bump into her at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, actually. I saw her across the room. That girl biffed it fast, totally took off. All that stuff she wrote was a total lie. I have, like, one Louis Vuitton purse. She’s just young and confused and was thrust into all this. The media aren’t kind to her. But once someone signs up for ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ it’s hard to sympathize."

She also attacked former GOP aides Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace “for supplying the negative information that painted the campaign in a negative light in the book and then film version of ‘Game Change,’” the story reports.

Said McCain: "It is the most egregious disloyalty that I have ever seen in politics. ... If they ever had any kind of respect for what hte campaign was, they should show a little more respect for my family and what kind of historic thing they should be a part of.”

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Comedy Central Gets NBC's 'Community'

NBC's quirky comedy "Community," the Joel McHale-Chevy Chase series, will have its reruns aired on Comedy Central beginning in 2013, reports UPI.com.

Announcing the deal was David Bernath, Comedy Central's executive vice president of program strategy and multiplatform programming.

Bernath said in a statement, "Within the chaos of the current media landscape we are fortunate that we live in a timeline where 'Community' comes to Comedy Central. Our staff is celebrating with a game of paintball in the offices today."

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Summer Schedule for TNT Dramas Includes New 'Dallas' Reboot

TNT has announced its summer schedule for returning dramas and new programs, including the new reboot of the prime-time soap "Dallas," reports TVLine.com.

Here's the schedule of premieres:

Tuesday, June 5 -- "Rizzoli & Isles," 9 p.m. ET; "Franklin & Bash," 10 p.m. ET

Wednesday, June 13 - "Dallas," 9 p.m. ET

Sunday, June 17 - "Falling Skies," 9 p.m. ET (two-hour premiere)

Sunday, June 24 - "The Great Escape," 10 p.m.

Monday, July 9 - "The Closer," 9 p.m. ET (final season); "Perception" 10 p.m. ET

Sunday, July 15 - "Leverage," 8 p.m. ET

Monday, August 13 - "Major Crimes," 10 p.m. ET

"Major Crimes" is the spinoff from "The Closer," which will star Mary McDonnell. "Perception" is a new drama starring Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace").

"The Great Escape" is a reality competition show, a la "Amazing Race," hosted by Rich Eisen of the NFL Network.

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Big Wednesday Night Win for Fox Despite Erosion for 'Idol' -- and Erosion Across All Networks

Fox was the runaway winner in the overnight ratings for Wednesday night, even as its two-hour “American Idol” slipped 7% from a week ago in the key 18-49 demo to a 5.3 average rating, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Fox’s 5.3 average for the night gave it a huge win, ahead of CBS (2.8 average), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.4) and NBC (0.8). Fox also was well ahead in total viewers with an average of 17.9 million, followed by CBS (11.1 million), ABC (6.4 million), Univision (3.4 million) and NBC (2.9 million).

Viewing across all networks was down 5.5% in viewers 18-49 from a week ago in the 8-10 p.m. block, with Daylight Saving Time being cited as a likely reason.

CBS’s “Survivor” was down 9% from its season high a week ago, settling for a 2.9 average rating in 18-49. The network’s “Criminal Minds” hit a series low with a 2.8, but its “CSI” was up 4% from its previous original with a 2.7.

ABC saw season lows for “Modern Family” (down 8% from a week ago to a 4.4 average rating in 18-49), “The Middle” (down 19% from its previous original to a 2.9) and “Suburgatory” (2.1). “Happy Endings” was up from a 2.0 last week to a 2.4.

On NBC, “Whitney” matched its series low with a 1.4 in adults 18-49 while “Are You There, Chelsea?” set a series low at 1.0 and “Rock Center” matched its series low with a 0.6 average.

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James Bond Villain Tapped to Co-Star in Alan Ball's 'Banshee'

An actor who played a henchman in the 1999 James Bond movie "The World Is Not Enough" has been cast in Alan Ball's "Banshee," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Ulrich Thomsen will play an intimidating businessman in the Cinemax project, which stars Anthony Starr as a criminal who pretends to be a sheriff in the town of Banshee, Pa., the story notes.

Thomsen's character leads a gang and holds himself above the law, according to the article. Ball will work on "Banshee" while also working on HBO's vampire drama "True Blood," which is producing its fifth season, the story says.

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Pop Singer Lands Talk Show Deal

A veteran pop singer who was part of a 1990s talk show has secured a deal for a new daytime talk show, the New York Post reports.

Marie Osmond, who sought to sell a syndicated show in 2008, will star in a chatfest on Hallmark Channel, the story reports. Osmond, 52, has experience in the talk show world, as she hosted the syndicated show "Donny and Marie" with her brother Donny Osmond for two seasons in the late 1990s.

The new program, "Marie!," is scheduled to debut in the fourth quarter and will air on weekday afternoons. Hallmark said the show will be an "an inspirational journey to help people make a difference in their own lives," according to the article.

Hallmark is making room on its schedule for the program with the cancellation of "The Martha Stewart Show," the piece adds.

It's still up in the air whether the show will tape in Los Angeles or Las Vegas, where Osmond performs a stage show at the Flamingo Hotel.

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Comedian Hospitalized After Heart Attack

A well-known comedian was hospitalized after having a heart attack just before he was set to take the stage, reports TMZ.com.

Gallagher, known for smashing watermelons during his act, suffered the heart attack just before a scheduled show in Texas, the piece adds. The heart attack was described as a "mild to serious" episode by his manager.

The 65-year-old comedian was expected to remain in the hospital for a few days.

Gallagher collapsed on stage in Minnesota about a year ago with what was then described as a mild heart attack.

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Report: Warrant Issued for Russell Brand's Arrest

An arrest warrant has been issued for comedian and actor Russell Brand, according to a report on TMZ.com. The warrant was issued Wednesday night by New Orleans police in connection with a run-in between Brand and a paparrazo, the story reports.

The report says: “Brand is accused of grabbing the photog's iPhone and hurling it through the window of a nearby law firm.” Brand’s people reportedly contacted the law firm to offer to pay for the window.

New Orleans police said a misdemeanor warrant for simple criminal damage to property was issued, according to the report. Brand is still in New Orleans working on a movie, the story says.

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Why a 'Celebrity Apprentice' Sponsor Says He's 'Disgusted' and Won't Be Back to Advertise on the Show

The CEO of a company that has been an advertiser on Donald Trump’s NBC reality show “Celebrity Apprentice” says, ‘I wouldn’t spend another nickel with them,” TMZ.com reports.

The reason: He’s upset about a hunting trip to Zimbabwe by Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, in which they killed a number of animals, including an elephant, a crocodile, a civet cat and a waterbuck, the story reports.

The sponsor is Camping World, which has been airing spots on the show this season. Company CEO Marcus Lemonis responded to seeing photos of the kill from the safari, telling the website: “I am totally disgusted by the [hunting] pics I have seen and was surprised to see them. ... Money is spent, but wow, I'm really shocked."

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'Luck,' the HBO Drama With the Thoroughbred Pedigree -- Dustin Hoffman in Front of the Camera, David Milch and Michael Mann Behind It -- Abruptly Canceled After Third Horse Dies on Set

HBO has announced the cancellation of the racetrack drama "Luck" following the death of a third horse, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat blog.

The step came after HBO initially suspended filming with horses following the death, as previously reported.

The animal was being led to a stable by a groom when it reared and fell back, causing a head injury.

The show, which had a high-profile cast and creative team, was plagued by questions about how it handled horses, with the American Humane Association requesting an inquiry after the third death. Two other horses had been euthanized during the first season's production.

"While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision," HBO said in a statement.

The show starred Dustin Hoffman and had David Milch (“NYPD Blue,” “Deadwood”) and Michael Mann (“Heat,” “Public Enemies”) among its producers.

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Talk Show 'Charlie Rose' Is Sued Over Use of Unpaid Interns

The talk show "Charlie Rose" has been hit with a lawsuit from a former unpaid intern, who is accusing Rose and his production company of violating New York state wage laws, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan by Lucy Bickerton, who complained she wasn't paid for the 25-hour weeks she worked from June to August 2007, the story notes. She and her legal team from the law firm Outten & Golden want to bring the lawsuit as a class action on behalf of all of the show's unpaid interns since early 2006, the piece adds.

"Central to the show’s lean production are the substantial number of unpaid interns who work on the ‘Charlie Rose’ show each day, but are paid no wages,” according to the lawsuit.

An attorney for Charlie Rose Inc. said, "We are confident that Charlie Rose Inc.’s employment practices are appropriate," the story adds.

The lawsuit seeks to take on the practice of using unpaid interns, the article points out.

"Employers’ failure to compensate interns for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment," the lawsuit states.

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Sharon Osbourne Fires Back After Being Accused by Leah Remini of Getting Her Fired

Sharon Osbourne took to Twitter to give her own version of events after being accused by Leah Remini of being behind Remini’s firing from the CBS talk show "The Talk," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As previously reported, Remini made the claim on Twitter, blaming her firing and that of fellow co-host Holly Robinson Peete on Osbourne.

“I had absolutely nothing to do w her departure from the show & have no idea why she continues to take to Twitter to spread this false gossip. Leah knows that I have never been in the position to hire or fire anyone on the show," Osbourne said via Twitter.

She added that her "only wish" is that Remini "would just stop all this negative, unprofessional, and childish behavior," according to the story.

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Must-Read Non-TV Story: Goldman Sachs Stock Loses $2 Billion After Top Executive Resigns via a New York Times Op-Ed Article in Which He Blasts the Company

The market value of Goldman Sachs' stock fell by $2.15 billion yesterday after one of the company's top executives resigned via an op-ed article he wrote in The New York Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports.

Says the article, "Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) saw $2.15 billion of its market value wiped out after an employee assailed Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein’s management and the firm’s treatment of clients, sparking debate across Wall Street.

"The shares dropped 3.4 percent in New York trading yesterday, the third-biggest decline in the 81-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index, after London-based Greg Smith made the accusations in a New York Times op-ed piece."

The article continues, "Smith, who also wrote that he was quitting after 12 years at the company, blamed Blankfein, 57, and President Gary D. Cohn, 51, for a 'decline in the firm’s moral fiber.' They responded in a memo to current and former employees, saying that Smith’s assertions don’t reflect the firm’s values, culture or 'how the vast majority of people at Goldman Sachs think about the firm and the work it does on behalf of our clients.'”

TVWeek urges you to read the original op-ed piece yourself, which you can see if you click here.

The op-ed then became the subject of hundreds of articles. One, by columnist David Weidner in the Wall Street Journal, said, "For all of Mr. Smith's self-righteous bluster, he is late to the game. Worse, his assertions that Goldman has traded loyalty and respect seem almost too neat. Goldman, Google Inc. or any other business might strive to 'not be evil,' but such idealism is only a priority after the profits have been booked. This is not to say the cultural change at Goldman to which Mr. Smith refers hasn't happened. For someone who worked in even a middling position at the firm for the last 12 years, though, Mr. Smith seems a little naive to realize in 2012 that gambling was going on."

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20th Century Fox Is Sued Over 'Valley of the Dolls' Television Project

Twentieth Century Fox Film has been sued over the "Valley of the Dolls" television series it's developing, Bloomberg reports.

The estate of the late novelist Jacqueline Susann has sued claiming the studio doesn't have the rights for the production, according to the report.

Fox, which obtained the rights for a 1967 movie and a 1981 TV movie based on the Susann novel, doesn't have the rights for the TV project, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, the story notes.

Fox, which is working on the series with "Precious" director Lee Daniels, is accused of copyright infringement, breach of contract and other violations, with the plaintiff asking for unspecified damages, according to the article. The studio didn't have an immediate comment on the lawsuit, the piece adds.

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Video: Witness to Alleged Lindsay Lohan Driving Incident -- a Young Female Paparazzo -- Refutes Claim of Club Manager

The club manager’s version of an alleged driving mishap early Wednesday involving Lindsay Lohan, which we reported previously, has been refuted by a witness, according to TMZ.com.

Here’s the video of the witness -- a 16-year-old girl who was working as a paparazzo -- giving her account of the incident:

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CMT Orders Reality Show From Kelly Ripa and Her Husband

A reality show from Kelly Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, has been ordered by CMT, reports Deadline.com.

The six-episode series from Ripa and Consuelos' Milojo Productions will track the world of competitive cheerleading, with a September debut scheduled, according to the article.

Called "Cheer," the new show will debut alongside the seventh season of CMT's "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team," the piece adds.

“Having been a cheerleader, I know all too well what these girls give up to join forces and compete,” said Ripa, who was a high school cheerleader, the story notes.

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Comedy Veteran Cast as First Lady in NBC's '1600 Penn'

A veteran comedy actress has been cast as the first lady in NBC's sitcom pilot "1600 Penn," reports TVLine.com.

“Dharma & Greg’s” Jenna Elfman joins the comedy about a dysfunctional presidential family, with Bill Pullman cast as the president, the story says.

"Modern Family" director Jason Winer will direct the pilot and also executive produce, along with former Barack Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett, according to the article.

The first couple’s children will be played by Brittany Snow, Josh Gad and Amara Miller.

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CBS Renews 18 Series

CBS has announced its first round of pickups for next season, and it’s a sweeping announcement: The network has renewed 18 series, Businessweek reports.

The pickups are for four comedies, nine dramas, three reality shows and two news programs.

On the comedy side, the network renewed breakout comedy “2 Broke Girls” along with sophomore sitcom “Mike & Molly" and veterans "The Big Bang Theory" and "How I Met Your Mother." Conspicuously absent from the list is "Two and a Half Men," with the network saying it's in "preliminary discussions" with Warner Bros. TV on the fate of the show.

Drama pickups are “Person of Interest,” “Blue Bloods,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “The Good Wife,” “NCIS,” “NCIS: LA,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI” and “The Mentalist.”

Unscripted shows "Survivor," “The Amazing Race” and “Undercover Boss” were also picked up, as were news programs “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours Mystery.”

Said CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler: “This large-scale renewal is testimony to the strength, stability and success of a deep and diverse roster of top-rated programming. It positions us for continued success next season and certainly creates an environment that will give our new shows the best possible chance to succeed.”

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Date Set for Debut of New Reality Series Following the Family of Clint Eastwood

E! has revealed plans for that new unscripted series that will focus on the family of Clint Eastwood, TheWrap.com reports.

The show now has a title, "Mrs. Eastwood & Company," and will debut on E! on May 20.

The show will track the activities of the family of Clint Eastwood, including his wife, Dina, and his daughters Francesca and Morgan. It will also feature a South African vocal band called Overtone, which is managed by Dina, the story notes.

Clint Eastwood apparently has given his approval, although he doesn't appear to be directly participating,

“I’m really proud of my family," the actor said. "They are a constant source of inspiration and entertainment."

Word on the project first surfaced back in December, as previously reported.

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'24' Feature Film Hits a Snag

The struggle to bring Fox’s hit spy drama “24” to the big screen has hit another snag, with Deadline.com reporting that the project has been postponed until next year.

According to the report, the movie hadn’t officially been greenlighted but was scheduled to get under way later this month, with Kiefer Sutherland to join the project when his new series “Touch” goes on hiatus in April. However, budget issues apparently remain unresolved.

Deadline’s Mike Fleming reports: “Word is racing around agency circles that Kiefer Sutherland was not only unhappy about the pic’s postponement, but also what I’d heard was a $1 million offer to play Jack Bauer in a deal that was heavily back-loaded to reward success. Insiders said that Sutherland would have gotten at least $2 million, though that was below his original $5 million and then $3 million ask. Fox wanted a budget around $30 million, while the filmmakers wanted $45 million to $60 million.”

The studio reportedly had been zeroing in on Antoine Fuqua to direct the movie. Sutherland is said to be eager to reprise his Jack Bauer role and was set to jump into it as soon as “Touch” took its break.

The report adds: “The studio felt there wasn’t enough time to pull the picture off in seven weeks of prep. The studio was following its experience with ‘X-Files,’ a TV property turned into a hit film, but made at a cautious budget."

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Former Co-Host of 'The Talk' Names Names, Points the Finger at One of Her Co-Hosts for Getting Her Fired

A former co-host of “The Talk” took to Twitter to put rumors to rest about what happened to break up the lineup of hosts on the show, WENN.com reports.

Leah Remini made it clear whom she blames for her own sudden exit and that of fellow co-host Holly Robinson Peete. Remini pointed the finger at Sharon Osbourne.

Remini tweeted: "Sharon thought me and Holly were 'Ghetto' (her words), we were not funny, awkward and didn't know ourselves ... She had us fired."

Remini said she and Osbourne never got along when they were both working on the show, and when it was time to renew her contract, Osbourne let the producers know her feelings, the story reports.

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Hallmark Moves Toward Scripted Series, Acquires Rights to 'The Middle'

Hallmark Channel rolled out plans for its first original scripted series during its upfront presentation today in New York, Advertising Age reports.

Additionally, the channel has acquired cable syndication rights to “The Middle,” beginning in 2014.

Hallmark is using two TV movies based on popular novels as potential springboards for original programming. “The network is moving toward the possible original series by producing ‘movie pilot’ versions of Debbie Macomber's ‘Cedar Cove’ and Janette Oke's ‘When Calls the Heart’ to air in the 2012-2013 season,” the story reports.

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Charlie Sheen's Latest Project Adds Actress From ABC Comedy

Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management" project for FX has cast an actress from an ABC sitcom, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed.

Katlin Mastandrea of ABC’s “The Middle” will play a close friend of Sheen's character's teenage daughter in a recurring role, the story notes. The comedy will debut June 28 at 9 p.m. with back-to-back episodes.

The series tracks Sheen's character, Charlie, a former minor-league baseball player, the story adds.

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Star of Discovery Series Is Fired by Network

The star of a Discovery Channel series has been fired by the cable network, Reuters reports. The channel reportedly dumped "Man vs. Wild" star Bear Grylls in a battle over his contract.

Grylls, 37, was let go due to a "continuing contractual dispute," according to Discovery. The show featured the British adventurer being dropped into wild places where he was forced to survive by eating insects and drinking his own urine, the story notes.

While it wasn't clear what the dispute was about, there were reports that it was centered on two unannounced projects for which Grylls was contracted, the story says.

The channel said Tuesday it has “terminated all current productions” with Grylls.

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Report: 'American Idol' to Kick Off Contestant for Allegedly Concealing Criminal Past

Fox’s "American Idol" will kick off a contestant for allegedly concealing a criminal background from producers, reports TMZ.com.

The contestant is Jermaine Jones, who will be cut from the program tonight, the story says. He was arrested twice last year and has outstanding warrants, with one of the incidents involving violence, according to the article.

Producers became suspicious after he reportedly said he had been abandoned by his father -- a claim his father disputed, saying the two see each other regularly, according to the story. Jones denied he made the statement, but producers became began looking more closely into his past and uncovered his legal problems, the article notes.

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More Trouble for Lindsay Lohan

Troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan could be facing more legal problems, according to a report on TMZ.com. The actress reportedly struck a person with her car while driving away from a club where she was blocked by paparazzi and bystanders, and then left the scene, according to the story.

The police initially determined that one was injured, and the case was considered closed, the story says. But the person who was reportedly hit -- the manager of the Hookah Lounge in Hollywood -- later complained he was injured and went to the emergency room, indicating he planned to press charges and hire an attorney, TMZ reports.

The possibility that someone was injured means the incident could be considered hit and run, the piece adds. It could also violate her probation in her shoplifting case, the story adds.

The report says Lohan was leaving the Sayers Club in Hollywood when she found herself blocked in. The manager of the nearby Hookah Lounge “was standing by his car when Lindsay was attempting a 3-point turn and she grazed his knee and his car. We're told the manager didn't know who Lindsay was at first and he told the paparazzi on scene that he was fine. Cops say he was told the driver was Lindsay but he said he wasn't from this country and didn't know who she was. We're told a short time later he began complaining he was injured.”

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Former 'CSI' Star Working on Return to TV

The former star of "CSI" star is working on a drama series that he would star in and would executive produce, reports TVLine.com.

William Petersen, who left the show in 2009 after spending nine years on the program, is working on "Hurt People," a drama series in development at GK-TV, the story says.

The actor would play Hollis Brown, a veteran hitman who is working for the crime family that killed his wife, the story says. GK-TV was started by Graham King and Tim Headington, the executive producers of "Camelot," the piece adds.

Petersen hasn't appeared in much since leaving "CSI," although he is co-starring in an eight-hour American Civil War miniseries called "To Appomattox," which will debut in 2013, according to the story.

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Rick Santorum (!) Attacks Fox News for Being Biased

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who worked for Fox News until he declared his run, charged that the network is "shilling" for Mitt Romney, Santorum’s competitor for the nomination, reports TVNewser.com.

Santorum made his comments on the radio show of Fox News host Brian Kilmeade, according to the story.

"He’s had all the organizational advantage,” Santorum said, according to the report. “He has Fox News shilling for him every day -- no offense, Brian, but I see it -- and yet, he can’t seal the deal because he just doesn’t have the goods to be able to motivate the Republican base and win this election.

Kilmeade said he disagreed with Santorum's claim that Fox News was shilling for Romney, adding, "You can feel the way you want, but there is no way I agree with it.”

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HBO Scraps High-Profile Project From Creator/Showrunner of 'Entourage' and Spike Lee

HBO has decided not to go forward with a project from director Spike Lee, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed.

The project is Lee’s boxing drama "Da Brick." The project, also produced by Doug Ellin and Mike Tyson, was inspired by aspects of Tyson’s upbringing, the story says.

HBO’s decision to pass on the project means that Ellin, the creator and showrunner of HBO's “Entourage,” has lost out on a second project this pilot season, as HBO also passed on his "40," a pilot about a group of men exploring life after turning 40, the story notes.

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HBO Suspends Filming With Horses After Another Animal Death During Production of 'Luck'

After a third horse died in connection with the racetrack drama "Luck," HBO has suspended filming with the animals as the death is investigated, according to the Associated Press.

The horse was being led to a racetrack stable by a groom when it reared and fell back, causing a head injury, the story says. The animal was later euthanized at the track, where "Luck" is taping its second season.

During the first season's filming, two horses were injured and euthanized, causing HBO to defend its treatment of the animals and to work with the American Humane Association and experts to put safety protocols in place.

The injury suffered in the most recent case is common in stable areas, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, medical director of California's racing board, the piece adds.

HBO said it was "deeply saddened" by the death and was working with the AHA on its inquiry.

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Major Controversy at the SXSW Festival in Austin: Using the Homeless as Internet Hotspots

"Probably the biggest story out of South by Southwest so far is a controversial charitable program that turned some of Austin's homeless people into living, breathing wireless hotspots," writes Matt Creamer in Advertsing Age.

The story adds that "participants got a stipend above Texas minimum wage and were allowed to keep donations made by the Wi-Fi users."

That article says: "Part of the strategic backdrop for BBH's idea is that street news, the genre of newspapers created and distributed by and for homeless people, needs a digital updating. Wrote BBH's Mr. Radia: 'Like any print publication, these newspapers are under duress from the proliferation of digital media. How often do you see someone "buy" a paper, only to let the homeless individual keep it? This not only prevents the paper from serving as a tool for the individual to avoid begging, but it proves how little value people actually place on the publication itself. Yet the model isn't inherently broken. It's simply the output that's archaic in the smartphone age.'"

Please go to the entire Ad Age article to read various opinions of this controversial program.

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One Week Before Film's Release, 'Hunger Games' Finds a TV Home

With a little more than a week remaining before the eagerly anticipated film "The Hunger Games" opens in theaters, the movie has already secured a television rights deal, reports B&C.

ABC Family has bought the rights to the first film, which is based on the first book in a trio of young-adult novels, the story notes. The movie would be available to run on the Disney-owned cable network 30 months after its March 23 release, the piece adds.

"The Hunger Games" set a first-day advance ticket sales record on Fandango last month, the story notes. ABC Family most likely agreed to pay more than the typical 8% to 12% of domestic box office sales, the usual terms for a TV rights deal, because of the huge interest in the film, the piece adds.

The deal may also include rights to the film sequel "Catching Fire," which is slated for a November 2013 release, the story says. Representatives for ABC Family and studio Lionsgate declined to comment.

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David vs. Goliath: Simi Valley Man Wins Money in Court Case for AT&T Slowing Down His Unlimited Data Service

"AT&T is offering to discuss a settlement to an iPhone user who won a small-claims case that alleged the company was slowing down his "unlimited" data service," reports the Associated Press, adding, "A law firm retained by AT&T Inc. also threatened in a letter dated Friday to shut off Matthew Spaccarelli's phone service if he doesn't sit down to talk."

The article says "The phone company doesn't say if the settlement would involve money beyond the $850 award the Simi Valley, Calif., resident won from the company in small claims court on Feb. 24. ... Spaccarelli maintained at his Feb. 24 small-claims hearing that AT&T broke its promise to provide 'unlimited' service, and the judge agreed."

The story adds, "Spaccarelli has admitted that he has used his iPhone to provide Internet access for other devices, a practice known as tethering, which violates AT&T's contract terms. AT&T says that means it has the right to turn off his service. Spaccarelli says he doesn't care -- the important thing to him was defeating AT&T in court, he said."

The story also notes: "Spaccarelli has posted online the documents he used to argue his case and encourages other AT&T customers to copy his suit. Legal settlements usually include non-disclosure agreements that would force Spaccarelli to take down the documents."

The article says that AT&T will appeal the decision of the small claims court.

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Father of JonBenet Ramsey Takes Aim at Popular Reality Show

The father of JonBenet Ramsey, the child beauty pageant contestant who was found murdered in the basement of her Colorado house in 1996, has taken aim at the TLC show "Toddlers and Tiaras," reports ABC News.

John Ramsey, who says he has viewed snippets of the program, finds the reality show disturbing, according to the piece. "It’s very bizarre,” he says of the show. He added that he regrets allowing his 6-year-old daughter to compete in pageants.

"We were so naive. I now believe with all my heart that it’s not a good idea to put your child on public display," Ramsey said.

He added that his wife, Patsy, wasn’t as intense about it as the “tiger moms” on the hit TLC show. “Patsy and JonBenet didn’t approach it that way. We -- they just did it for fun,” he said.

Ramsey added that he believes his daughter's murderer is still at large. Initially the Boulder, Colo., police treated the Ramseys as suspects, although the District Attorney's Office completely cleared the parents of wrongdoing 12 years later and issued an apology in 2008.

Ramsey has just released a book called "The Other Side of Suffering," in which he writes about the ordeal and how he emerged from the tragedy.

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Bombshell in 'Desperate Housewives' Trial: Witness Describes Possible Cover-Up; Revelation Throws Trial Schedule Into Chaos

A witness in actress Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination lawsuit against ABC and the producers of “Desperate Housewives” offered testimony today that suggests a possible cover-up, CNN reports.

Michael Reinhart, the show’s set construction coordinator, talked about an email he received in fall 2010, soon after Sheridan filed her suit. He said he called Sheridan’s attorney over the past weekend because his recollections “started gnawing at me" and he "began to lose sleep,” the story reports.

Reinhart testified: "It was my understanding that they were going to delete e-mails from the hard drives."

He said he read the email and deleted it immediately, thinking it was not meant for him, the story reports.

"I honestly tried to put it out of my mind," he testified. But as he realized the trial was winding down, he decided to speak out.

Closing arguments were scheduled for today, but the addition of Reinhart as a witness “threw that schedule into chaos,” the story reports.

A key issue in the case is when the decision was made to kill off Edie Britt, Sheridan’s character on the show. Defense attorneys contend the decision was made in May 2008, four months before an incident where show creator Marc Cherry allegedly hit Sheridan. Sheridan’s team has contended that the decision was made after that incident.

In a statement provided to CNN, Cherry’s defense team said: "Today's antics by the plaintiff, conjuring up mysterious emails, (appear) to be a last-ditch effort save to her case."

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Kim Kardashian in War of Words With Popular TV Actor

A war of words appears to be brewing between reality star Kim Kardashian and a well-known TV actor, CBS News reports.

Kardashian is defending herself after Jon Hamm, known for his Emmy-nominated role on AMC’s “Mad Men,” appeared to call her a “f---ing idiot” in an interview.

The story reports: “According to Britain's Telegraph, Hamm told ELLE UK in its April issue, ‘Whether it's Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian or whoever, stupidity is certainly celebrated. Being a f---ing idiot is a valuable commodity in this culture because you're rewarded significantly.’"

Kardashian responded via Twitter, writing: "We're all working hard and we all have to respect one another. Calling someone who runs their own businesses, is a part of a successful TV show, produces, writes, designs, and creates, 'stupid,' is in my opinion careless."

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CNN Announces Hiring of Key Development and Acquisitions Exec

CNN has filled the post of senior vice president for development and acquisitions. CNN Worldwide Managing Editor Mark Whitaker announced today that Vinnie Malhotra, a former program development executive at ESPN and longtime ABC News producer, has been hired for the post.

Malhotra will report to Amy Entelis, senior vice president for talent and content development, and will work in the Los Angeles offices of CNN. Malhotra will pursue development opportunities with outside production companies on behalf of the various networks of CNN Worldwide, the network said.

In a statement, Entelis said: “Vinnie has a strong record of creating captivating programming, an award-winning news background covering major national and international stories, and experience integrating content across multiple platforms. We welcome Vinnie to CNN and are thrilled to have him join our team.”

As vice president, executive producer, content development at ESPN, Malhotra was responsible for the development of the documentary films "Everything in Between: The Tim Tebow Story," "The Color Orange," "The Brady 6" and "The Marinovich Project." He also developed scripted and non-scripted series for the network.

Prior to joining ESPN, Malhotra was with ABC News in 1997 and worked on "Nightline" and "World News Tonight." He was a producer for Peter Jennings for three years and later worked with co-anchors Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff. When Woodruff and a cameraman were hit by an IED in Iraq in January 2006, Malhotra was with them, but escaped without injury.

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Leonardo da Vinci Masterpiece Lost in 16th Century May Have Been Found; TV Documentary Will Tell the Story

A Leonardo da Vinci mural that was lost in the 16th century may have been found in Florence, Italy, behind a fresco another artist painted, CNN reports.

The story reports: “Da Vinci painted "The Battle of Anghiari" on a wall of the Hall of the 500 of the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of Florence government, in 1503, but the masterpiece was lost during a restoration project 50 years later. The theory is that when artist Giorgio Vasari created his mural "The Battle of Marciano," he erected a brick wall in front of da Vinci's plaster wall, effectively preserving the older masterpiece.”

Art researchers have found paint that appears to match pigment from da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Da Vinci's work was commissioned to commemorate the Republic of Florence's victory over Milan in the battle on the plain of Anghiari in 1440. While da Vinci was believed to have not been satisfied with the result, in which he used new techniques, art historians said it was a much-studied masterpiece in its day.”

The National Geographic Society and the University of California, San Diego's Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology are leading the research effort in partnership with the City of Florence.

A documentary on the project, "Finding the Lost da Vinci," is set for Sunday, March 18, on the National Geographic Channel.

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'Braveheart' the TV Series?

Mel Gibson's epic 1995 movie "Braveheart" is currently in development as a television show, reports New York Magazine.

American and Scottish television production companies are teaming to develop the project, called "Wallace," about the adventures of the Scottish leader William Wallace, whom Gibson portrayed in the feature film.

The show would be an ongoing series, "stylistically in the vein of 'Spartacus' and 'Game of Thrones,'” according to a release. Mick Davis, best known for "The Eleventh Hour," is writing the script and will executive produce "Wallace."

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'Game Change' Scores Big for HBO

“Game Change,” the television movie based on the emergence of Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential race, was the most watched original film on HBO in almost eight years, reports Entertainment Weekly.

The Saturday 9 p.m. premiere of the movie attracted an average audience of 2.1 million viewers -- the best number for an original movie on HBO since the 2004 telefilm "Something the Lord Made," starring Alan Rickman and Mos Def, averaged 2.6 million viewers.

HBO reported that 3.6 million viewers tuned in overall for the movie’s four airings over the weekend.

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Bravo Names VP of Scripted Development and Production

Bravo Media has named a vice president of scripted development and production, reports B&C. The newly created position will be filled by Andrew Wang, part of a move by the network into scripted production.

Eli Lehrer, vice president of development and original programming for Bravo, said in a statement: "With the network's first scripted series expected to air in 2013, Bravo's goal is to expand our diverse slate and bring our brand and everything it represents into the world of scripted programming. Andrew has helped develop some of the most entertaining pop culture hits and we look forward to him bringing his creativity and experience to the network as we break new ground and move into scripted content."

Wang will be in the Los Angeles offices of Bravo. He comes from Alloy Entertainment, where he was in a similar position. As vice president of TV development and production for Alloy, Wang helped develop CW shows including "Gossip Girl," "The Vampire Diaries" and "The Secret Circle."

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CNN Lifts Suspension for Analyst Who Tweeted About Underwear Ad

CNN has ended the suspension of an on-air personality who got in trouble over tweets he sent during the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Analyst Roland Martin can return to work after attracting complaints from gay organizations, including the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The groups protested Martin’s comments concerning a commercial featuring soccer star David Beckham.

Martin tweeted: “If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him."

The story reports: “Though Martin claimed the tweet was meant to show his distaste for soccer and soccer fans, many felt the comments were homophobic. CNN suspended Martin shortly after.”

Martin met with GLAAD during his suspension, prompting GLAAD to announce in a statement: “Both parties came away with a better understanding of one another and look forward to continuing this dialogue."

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Report: ESPN May Part Ways With Correspondent Erin Andrews

Cable sports channel ESPN may be ending its relationship with one of its veteran correspondents, according to the New York Post.

Erin Andrews isn't scheduled to cover any events since her assignment last weekend reporting on the ACC Tournament, and her contract expires July 1, the story says.

The ESPN reporter was the subject of news coverage in 2008 when a man secretly filmed her in her hotel room and published the video online. In 2010 the man was sentenced to 30 months in prison; he will be released in July, the piece adds.

Andrews has worked as an ESPN sideline reporter since 2004.

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It's the $200 Million Question. That's the Amount of Money Cable MSOs Spent on Canoe, Their Venture That Was Supposed to Revolutionize Advertising. Instead, It Crashed and Burned. Why?

TVWeek Open Mic contributor Chuck Ross attempts to answer that question by reviewing the history of Canoe's erstwhile leader and talking to a number of people familiar wtih Canoe's operations. Please click here to read this insightful piece.

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'Cosby Show' Star to Return to NBC in Jimmy Fallon Project

One of the stars of "The Cosby Show" has been cast in Jimmy Fallon's untitled project for NBC, reports TVLine.com.

Tempestt Bledsoe will play the wife of a character portrayed by Anthony Anderson, who is one of three men at the center of the comedy project. The show tracks the trio of men, who are parents although not quite grown up, the piece adds.

Also starring in the project are Jesse Bradford and Zach Cregger, the story notes. Fallon will not appear on screen but will serve as an executive producer along with Charlie Grandy, who also wrote the script for the pilot.

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Ashton Kutcher's Role on 'Two and a Half Men' Appears to Be Up in the Air

Ashton Kutcher, who replaced Charlie Sheen on CBS's "Two and a Half Men" this season, said he hasn't heard from "the powers that be" about whether he will return in his role as billionaire Walden Schmidt, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

“Right now, I want to work with these guys,” Kutcher said, according to the story. He spoke at the 29th annual PaleyFest.

Even though the show is one of television's most watched broadcast programs, there's no guarantee that it will return for a 10th season, according to the story. Whether Kutcher returns may play a role in its renewal, the article notes.

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Rush Limbaugh's Syndicator Withdraws National Ads

Rush Limbaugh's syndicator has withdrawn its national advertising spots from his radio show, which continues to see fallout from his disparaging comments about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, reports TheWrap.com.

"We are suspending the requirement to run barter spots for two weeks, March 12th and March 19th, for our News/Talk affiliates only," according to an internal memo from Premiere Networks. The suspension includes Limbaugh's and other talk shows, the story notes.

Giving up such spots is highly unusual, although Limbaugh's representative denied that the decision was due to the controversy over his remarks, the story notes.

"Premiere Networks’ announcement does not involve the cancellation of any advertising, local or national, purchased within ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show,’" according to a statement, the story notes. "The advertisers using this contractual relationship are not buying program sponsorships, but rather a fixed number of audience impressions on those radio stations. Premiere's announcement today temporarily stops placing these spots on Premiere-affiliated local news-talk radio stations for the next two weeks. It does not affect national advertising in ‘The Rush Limbaugh Show.’"

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Why Ratings Might Be Secondary When Considering the Renewal of 'Community'

Ratings may not matter so much for shows like "Community," says our friend Bill Carter in The New York TImes.

Carter calls the NBC show from Sony Pictures Entertainment  "one of the first shows of the so-called post-television era." 

"Community" returns to the NBC lineup this Thursday, March 15, 2012.

"The most coveted demographic, and most coveted of that demographic, these very smart, upwardly mobile, college-age kids just don’t watch TV anymore," said "Community" creator Dan Harmon.

Still, "Community" star Joel McHale tells Carter that the cast of the show "watched the ratings for '30 Rock' very carefully," given that his show was bumped to make room for the Tina Fey comedy.

Since "30 Rock" returned to the NBC schedule, the show has at times fared even more poorly in the ratings than "Community," which had averaged only about 4 million viewers, the story says.

Writes Carter, "Bummed as Mr. Harmon was, he said he welcomed the temporary displacement of 'Community' by ['30 Rock']. He described a 'purgatory' in which no matter what the show tried, it continued to average only four million viewers, about a quarter as many as its CBS competitor, 'The Big Bang Theory.' 'The [NBC] brass wasn’t happy,' he said. 'We weren’t happy. The audience was confused. So something had to happen, some kind of cardiac event, for life to get renewed.' 

"The event, he said, that brought the show back from near death was a deal in December with the website Hulu, making earlier episodes available to an audience that had not yet caught up to them."

Harmon said he doesn't blame NBC executives, whom he calls supportive, "especially when they are under such pressure -- they’re in a knife fight with Univision for ratings, for gosh sakes," according to the piece.

Harmon is hoping viewers will come back to "Community" with its return to the NBC lineup, and that the show will be renewed for next season: "Mr. Harmon said there were also pragmatic factors in favor of 'Community' [getting renewed], led by NBC’s desire to see a show it has a financial interest in finish enough episodes to be sold in syndication.

"[Vernon Sanders, NBC’s executive vice president for current programs] said, 'I wouldn’t use the word "bubble" ' to describe the show’s prospects of getting renewed for next season, referring to the industry term for shows with a 50-50 chance for survival. It remains unlikely, though, that 'Community' will suddenly wade into the mainstream in search of more traditional viewers. Coming episodes revolve around a collegewide pillow fight (substituting for the regular paintball-shootout episode) and a full-scale 'Law & Order' parody."

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Oscar-Winning Producer Developing Drama Series for Showtime

An Oscar-winning producer is developing a drama series for Showtime, Deadline.com reports. The project, executive produced by Arnold and Anne Kopelson, is “Pure Evil.”

The story reports: “The project, which is being written by Trey Callaway (‘CSI: NY’), centers on a brilliant and sinister CEO of the world’s largest tech & media conglomerate.”

Arnold Kopelson won an Oscar for best picture as the producer of the 1986 feature “Platoon,” and was also nominated for 1993’s “The Fugitive.” Arnold and Anne Kopelson also executive produced a short-lived 2000-2001 CBS reboot of the series “The Fugitive” based on the movie version.

Callaway and the Kopelsons will exec produce the new series, with Steve Barnett, president of Kopelson Entertainment, also producing.

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One of the World's Top Tech Companies Considering a TV Service

One of the world’s top technology firms is considering an online pay-television service that will operate on TVs, computers and mobile devices, reports Bloomberg. The company is chipmaker Intel Corp.

Intel is talking with media companies including cable networks about securing rights to broadcast programs, the story notes. Intel is considering selling a Web-connected set-top box that would stream TV shows and offer video-on-demand, according to the article.

An Intel representative declined to comment. The chipmaker's inquiries are at an early stage and it's not known whether Intel will gain the rights it needs to debut the service, the piece adds.

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Oprah Winfrey's OWN Scores Its Highest Rating -- By Far

Oprah Winfrey's cable network OWN scored its highest rating yet with a recent telecast, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog. The program was Sunday’s interview by Winfrey with Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston.

About 3.5 million viewers watched the interview, which was promoted for a week before it aired, the story notes. The network's most-watched program before that was a January interview with televangelist Joel Osteen, with 1.6 million viewers, the story notes.

As previously reported, Bobbi Kristina told Winfrey that she still feels her mother's presence and that she wants to "carry on the legacy" with a singing career.

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Huge A-List Movie Director -- Whose Big-Screen Action Films Have Grossed $3 Billion Worldwide (!) -- Working on Reality Series for A&E

The director behind such big-budget action films as "The Rock" and the "Transformers" series has a reality series in development with A&E, reports Deadline.com.

The competition series from director Michael Bay would test "the strength of the family unit like never before," according to the story, although it doesn't explain how the show would do that.

This would be Bay's first unscripted series, the piece notes. His Platinum Dunes company worked on an action-adventure series two years ago, the story adds.

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Barry Diller's Aereo Files Counterclaim, Tells Local TV Stations the Service Is 'Entirely Lawful'

Barry Diller's Aereo pay-television service countered a lawsuit filed by the owners of New York's local TV stations, stating in a counterclaim that the service is "entirely lawful," reports Adweek.com.

"Consumers use the Aereo Technology to do no more than what they are entitled to do: access local television broadcasts on the public airwaves using an individual antenna; create unique copies of that broadcast content for their own personal use; and play back their unique recordings to their televisions or other viewing devices for the personal use," according to the counterclaim, the story notes.

As previously reported, billionaire Diller said at a conference that he expects a "great fight" with traditional media companies over Aereo, which allows consumers to watch broadcast TV on mobile devices for $12 per month.

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Cruise Ship That Served as Model for 'The Love Boat' May Be Scrapped

The iconic cruise ship that served as the model for the hit ABC series "The Love Boat" may be scrapped, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The Pacific Princess, which was featured in the show's opening credits, has been idle at an Italian port for more than a year after its owners failed to pay for asbestos removal and updating, the story says.

The ship has been sold for $3.3 million to a Turkish company that's known for demolishing ships, the article adds.

"The Love Boat" ran from 1977 to 1986, while the ship was built in 1971, according to the piece. The show was a big hit for ABC, which cast a series of high-profile guest stars as passengers on the vessel.

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ABC Announces May Finale Dates For Its Shows This Season

ABC announces the following May finale dates for the 2011-12 Season (all times ET):

 

Tuesday, May 1:

8:00-8:30 p.m.             “Last Man Standing”

 

Sunday, May 6:

10:00-11:00 p.m.         “GCB”

 

Monday, May 7:

10:00-11:00 p.m.         “Castle”

 

Sunday, May 13:

8:00-9:00 p.m.             “Once Upon a Time”

9:00-11:00 p.m.           “Desperate Housewives” (Special Two-Hour Series Finale)

 

Tuesday, May 15:

8:00-9:00 p.m.             “Cougar Town” (Special One-Hour Finale)

10:00-11:00 p.m.         “Private Practice”

 

Wednesday, May 16:

8:30-9:00 p.m.             “Suburgatory”

 

Thursday, May 17:

8:00-9:00 p.m.             “Missing”

9:00-10:00 p.m.           “Grey’s Anatomy”

10:00-11:00 p.m.         “Scandal”

 

Friday, May 18:

8:00-9:00 p.m.             “Shark Tank”

 

Sunday, May 20:

7:00-8:00 p.m.             “America’s Funniest Home Videos”

 

Monday, May 21:

8:00-9:00 p.m.             “Dancing with the Stars” (Performance Show)

 

Tuesday, May 22:

9:00-11:00 p.m.           “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”

 

Wednesday, May 23:

8:00-8:30 p.m.             “The Middle”

9:00-9:30 p.m.             “Modern Family”

9:30-10:00 p.m.           “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23”

10:00-11:00 p.m.         “Revenge”

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Famous TV Chef Settles Ugly Lawsuit for More Than $5 Million

One of the most famous TV chefs has agreed to a hefty settlement in a legal dispute over restaurant workers' tips, according to the Associated Press.

Mario Batali, a Food Network star currently on ABC's "The Chew," and his business partner Joseph Bastianich agreed to pay $5.25 million to resolve a dispute about their alleged practice of taking 4% to 5% from the tip pool at the end of each night's business, the report says.

One career waitress told TVWeek, "This is the ugliest thing I've heard. Never in my career have I heard a restaurant owner skimming money off the top of the tip pool. Owners just don't do that."

The settlement will compensate 1,100 waiters, captains and other restaurant staff who received the reduced tips. Batali's Manhattan eateries are Babbo, Bar Jamon and Del Posto, according to the article.

Bastianich is also a familiar TV face, appearing as a judge on the Fox series "MasterChef," alongside Gordon Ramsay.

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NBC Announces Key Promotions in Ad Sales and Marketing

NBCUniversal today announced three key promotions in the broadcast network sales department.

Jim Hoffman was promoted to executive vice president, Sales & Marketing, NBC Entertainment; John Kelly was upped to executive vice president, NBC News and Information Media Sales & Marketing; and Seth Winter received a promotion to executive vice president, Sales Marketing, NBC Sports Group.

All three will report to Marianne Gambelli, President, Network Ad Sales, NBCUniversal.

Said Gambelli: “I’m extremely proud to announce these very well-deserved promotions. Jim, John and Seth are three of the most talented sales executives in the business. They have tremendous reputations within the industry and have more than earned the respect of their colleagues. We’re lucky to have the benefit of their insight and experience on our team.”

In its announcement, NBCUniversal reported: “Hoffman has served as senior vice president, Sales & Marketing, Network Entertainment since 2004. As executive vice president, he will continue to be responsible for overseeing the network entertainment division’s sales and marketing teams, including Primetime, Late Night and Daytime.

“Kelly has served as senior vice president, NBC News and Information Media Sales & Marketing, since 2004. As executive vice president, he will continue to lead the national advertising sales and marketing efforts for the broadcast, cable and digital news and information media properties at NBCUniversal, including the Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press and MSNBC.

“Winter has served as senior vice president, Sales Marketing, NBC Sports Group since 2006. As executive vice president, he will continue to oversee marketplace sales and marketing strategy for many of the NBC Sports Group’s assets, including NBC Sports & Olympics, Golf Channel, the NBC Sports Network and their respective digital assets. He will also continue to be responsible for sales and marketing for many of sports’ most prestigious events, including the Olympics, Sunday Night Football, the NHL, PGA TOUR and Kentucky Derby.”
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'Kill Bill' Actor Arrested

An actor known for his work in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" films and “Reservoir Dogs,” who also appeared in "Thelma & Louise," “Free Willy” and many other films, was arrested on a charge of cruelty to a child, reports Reuters.com.

Michael Madsen was arrested Friday afternoon at his Malibu home after reportedly getting into a fight with his teenage son. County deputies investigated and the Sheriff's Department reportedly determined that Madsen was under the influence of alcohol.

The 54-year-old actor was arrested without incident. Bail was set at $100,000.

TMZ.com reported that officers found signs of injury on Madsen’s son, adding that he did not require medical attention. TMZ cited sources saying Madsen was booked on a felony charge of child endangerment with cruelty to a child.

According to TMZ, Madsen’s attorney, Perry Wander, said Madsen “found his son smoking pot and they got in an argument when he tried to take it away. It's a family matter and Michael asks that his family’s privacy be respected."

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New Show's Rare Achievement Helps Push ABC to Sunday Ratings Win

Boosted by a rare ratings achievement from a new show, ABC claimed a ratings win Sunday night in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The controversial new series “GCB” may have been aided by protests against the show over its outrageous content, as previously reported. "GCB" became the first scripted show of the season to post a gain in viewers 18-49 in its second week, the New York Daily News reports. “GCB” posted a 2.3 average rating in the demo, up from a 2.2 for its premiere a week earlier.

ABC’s overall 2.3 average rating for prime time put the Alphabet Network on top in the 18-49 demo, followed by CBS (2.1 average), Fox (2.0) and NBC (1.5). CBS won total viewers with an average of 10.1 million, followed by ABC (7.8 million), NBC (6.6 million) and Fox (4.3 million).

ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” was down a hefty 18% from a week ago with a 2.8 in 18-49, while “Desperate Housewives” was even with a 2.5. CBS’s “The Good Wife” hit a series low with a 1.7, off 11% from last week.

NBC continued to struggle to find an audience for “Harry’s Law,” with its move from Wednesday to Sunday producing a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49, matching its series low. NBC’s two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice” did better, with a 2.0, but that was off 13% from a week earlier.

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'Two and a Half Men' Actor Switches Emmy Categories

After being nominated for six consecutive years -- including one win -- for the Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, “Two and a Half Men’s” Jon Cryer has decided to have his work submitted for outstanding lead actor for 2012, TVLine.com reports.

For the first two years of the show's run, Cryer and former co-star Charlie Sheen submitted in that category, with no success, according to the Goldderby.com website. Sheen subsequently stayed in the lead actor category and was nominated four times, from 2006-2009, but never won.

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'Steve Harvey' Names Exec Producer

A producer known for Style Network's hit shows "Jerseylicious" and "Glam Fairy" will be the executive producer on “Steve Harvey,” Deadline.com reports. Alex Duda has taken the job on the new nationally syndicated talk, the story reports.

The Endemol USA production will be a daytime entry in the upcoming fall season, with Harvey offering his comic views on marriage, parenting, dating, the workplace and friendship. NBC Universal Domestic Television is distributing the program, which will be broadcast from NBC 5/WMAQ studios in Chicago.

Duda's resume also includes serving as the executive producer of "The Tyra Banks Show."

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Did NBC Blow It With a Show That's Now One of TV's Big Success Stories?

NBC, which desperately needs a hit, apparently let one slip through its hands, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The story reports: “NBC passed on current cultural favorite ‘Downton Abbey,’ produced by NBCUniversal's Carnival Films studio in London, believing that American audiences wouldn't have the appetite for a very British historical drama set in a country manor in Edwardian England.

“Instead, ‘Downton Abbey’ found a grateful home on public television, as part of the ‘Masterpiece’ lineup. Spoofed on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this year and rated No. 2 nationally at 9 p.m. Feb. 5, the night of the Super Bowl (aired by NBC), ‘Downton’ has been a stunning success for PBS.”

The show’s season finale, televised Feb. 19, attracted a 3.5 national Nielsen rating and 5.4 million total viewers, a huge hit by PBS standards. It was the highest-rated PBS broadcast since the September 2009 debut of Ken Burns’ “National Parks” documentary series, the story notes.

Brad Adgate, senior VP of research at Horizon Media, said of NBC: "They may have second thoughts about letting it go to PBS." While the audience for the show may not be huge by network standards, Adgate notes that the series "gets a lot of critical acclaim, so it's a prestigious show."

Given the beating NBC has been taking in the ratings for the past few seasons, anything that might boost its reputation could only help. Despite recent gains thanks to the Super Bowl and “The Voice,” the network “still has big holes to patch,” the story notes.

The report adds: “An NBC official said last week that the network had been delighted at the success of Downton Abbey for its sister company and that the decision not to air the show in the United States was made under a previous NBC administration.”

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CBS CEO Moonves Had Discussions With Steve Jobs About CBS Participating in Apple Subscription Service. Also, Moonves' Favorite Sitcom (Hint--It's Not on CBS or Showtime)

"CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said Saturday that he was approached about a year ago by Steve Jobs to provide content for Apple's long-rumored television service...," reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The article adds that Moonves declined to do a deal with Jobs for the proposed service. The conversation between Moonves and Jobs took place in the first quarter of 2011.

According to the article, " 'I told Steve, "You know more than me about 99 percent of things but I know more about the television business," ' Moonves said, citing his concerns about providing content to a service that could disrupt CBS's existing revenue streams. Moonves said Jobs, in characteristic fashion, strongly disagreed with his assessment."

Says THR, "Moonves' comments came during the keynote address at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium, hosted Friday and Saturday by the UCLA law school."

Also during his appearance Moonves "cited as his favorite comedy the 20th Television-produced 'Modern Family,' which airs on ABC. 'I shouldn't say that. I'm going to hear from Chuck Lorre,' he joked of the co-creator of three top-rated CBS comedies."

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Longtime CBS Investigative Journalist Dies

An investigative journalist who spent much of his career at CBS has died, The New York Times reports. Jay McMullen was 90.

McMullen's career took him from posing as a prospective drug trafficker in Mexico to recording uniformed Boston police officers patronizing a betting parlor, the story notes. The latter story led to the demotion of several officers, the article adds.

“My ambition was to be able to feel like I was involved in some sort of service," McMullen said of his investigative work in the book "Producers on Producing," according to the story.

McMullen spent all but two years of his 37-year career at CBS, where his boss Fred W. Friendly called him "painfully slow" because of projects that could take more than a year to complete, the piece notes. McMullen joined CBS in 1949 as a writer for a public affairs TV show.

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Major TV Rep Firm Shakeup: Out Are Veterans Jim Beloyianis, President of Katz Television Group, and Michael Spiesman, President of Katz's Continental Television Sales. Added Together, They Were at Katz 69 Years

"Jim Beloyianis, president of Katz Television Group, and Michael Spiesman, president of Katz's Continental Television Sales, are gone in a major shakeup at the national rep firm, a source confirmed Friday afternoon," reports our good friend Harry Jessell at TVNewsCheck.

The article continues, "Beloyianis is being replaced by Leo MacCourtney and Craig Broitman, who will be co-presidents in the new order."

No reason was given for the shakeup.

Beloyianis joined Katz in 1973 from Grey Advertising. He had been president of the TV group since 1994.

Spiesman joined Katz in 1982 and had been in his current position since 1999.

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'Desperate Housewives' Actress Jumps to New ABC Project

A "Desperate Housewives" actress is the first cast member to join a new pilot, Deadline.com reports. Vanessa Williams has been cast in the ABC project "666 Park Avenue," the story reports.

Williams will play the wife of the owner of the title building, a historic New York City apartment building that has supernatural occurrences, the story notes.

Williams, who signed a talent holding deal with ABC in November, will end the last season of "Housewives" playing divorcee Renee Perry, the piece adds.

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Billboard Names Musical Artist Who Was the No. 1 Money Maker in 2011. Was it Adele, Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, U2 or Lil Wayne?

Billboard has named the musical artist who was the No. 1 money maker for 2011. Was it Adele, Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, U2 or Lil Wayne?

Billboard said the No. 1 money maker made about $35 million last year. Not bad for a 22-year-old country-pop singer named Taylor Swift.

According to a Reuters article about Swift's accomplishment, "Swift sold more than 1.8 million copies of her albums in the U.S. in 2011, led by 2010's 'Speak Now,' which sold 967,000 copies. The singer also has dominated digital singles charts, selling 7.8 million digital tracks last year. The country songstress paired her 'Speak Now' album with a worldwide tour of 89 shows in 2011, grossing $88.5 million in the U.S. alone, and making a profit of $29.8 million.

"Swift has also become a branding powerhouse, with her own management company and lucrative contracts with companies such as Covergirl. She also launched her own perfume, Wonderstruck."

According to a CBS/AP report, "U2 was second on Billboard's 2011 list with $32 million, followed by Kenny Chesney, Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne. Rounding out the top 10 were Sade, Bon Jovi, Celine Dion, Jason Aldean and Adele."

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'CBS Has Called Three Times,' Says New Owner of Andy Rooney's Typewriter

A man who collects typewriters used by famous people, whose collection also includes machines used by John Lennon and Joe DiMaggio, succeeded in purchasing Andy Rooney's typewriter at an estate sale, and says that CBS has been calling him asking him for the device, reports The Daily New Canaan.

Steve Soboroff of Los Angeles arranged the purchase by contacting a Connecticut real estate agent and asking him to negotiate the purchase of the typewriter owned by the "60 Minutes" commentator, according to the story.

"I'm a real estate person, and I know real estate brokers are very friendly people that work on commission, so I called one cold," Soboroff said, according to the story. Chris Buswell, the agent called by Soboroff, happened to live just a few doors down from Rooney, the piece adds.

"We decided to make an offer that I guess they couldn't refuse," Buswell said of the negotiation. The typewriter was sold for several thousand dollars, although the article doesn't specify the price.

"Meanwhile, CBS has called three times asking for the typewriter," Soboroff noted, according to the story.

Soboroff believes that he owns one of two typewriters owned by Rooney, who died in November at 92. The second typewriter is held at the Smithsonian Institution, the piece adds.

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Larry King Joins Internet TV Network Backed by World's Richest Man

Larry King will be getting an interview show courtesy of a new Internet television network backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu, who has been named by Forbes as the world's richest man, reports Reuters.

The network will be called Ora.tv and will feature on-demand content, according to the network's website. The service will "create high-quality video programming that is available on phones, laptops, tablets, connected televisions and other devices," according to the service's website.

"We are also the new home for Larry King, who will bring his trademark interviews of the world's leading voices from politics to entertainment," according to the post.

The network will debut in 2012, although the site didn't disclose a launch date.

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Whitney Houston's Daughter Says She Still Feels Her Mom's Presence; Plus She Wants to 'Carry on the Legacy'

Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, spoke to Oprah Winfrey in a TV special that was aired on Winfrey's OWN network on Sunday, March 11, 2012.

Accroding to a report in The Hollywood Reporter,  Kristina said, " 'I wake up at night." [Whitney] would say at 5 a.m. the saints start praying. I wake up now and look at the clock and it's 5 o'clock. I start praying.' She says that the lights in the house will go on and off, and she knows it’s her mother. 'I'm like, 'Mom, what are you doing?' I can still laugh with her and still talk to her,' she says.

Later in ther interview, according to THR, "Oprah asks if Bobbi Kristina will follow in her mother’s footsteps and go into the entertainment business. Bobbi Kristina says she wants to 'carry on the legacy. We're gonna do the singing thing,' she says. 'Some acting, some dancing.' As for the pressure that comes with performing as the daughter of an icon, Bobbi Kristina says her mother prepared her for that."

Also, according to the article, "When asked what Bobbi Kristina would like the public to know about her mother, she says that she was 'an angel.' 'Everything people are saying about her -- all that negativity -- it's garbage. That's not my mother,' she says."

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Predicting a 'Great Fight' With Traditional Media, Barry Diller Plans to Expand Web-Based TV Service to 100 Cities

Predicting a "great fight" with traditional media companies, billionaire Barry Diller said he plans to expand his new Aereo Web-based television service to 75 to 100 cities within a year, reports Bloomberg.

Aereo, which costs $12 per month and allows consumers to watch broadcast TV on mobile devices, will debut this week in New York.

Diller, speaking at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, noted that efforts by Walt Disney Co. and other media companies to cite copyright violations were "absolutely predictable," since entrenched companies always protect their turf, the story says.

“I completely understand their motivation,” he said. Aereo is backed in part by IAC/Interactive, of which Diller is chairman.

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CNN Reportedly in Talks to Buy Social News Site

CNN is in advanced talks to buy a social news site, according to sources familiar with the talks, The New York Times reports. The site is Mashable.

The story reports: “Mashable, which specializes in stories about technology and social media, could bolster CNN.com, which is one of the most popular news websites in the United States. An acquisition of Mashable would make a statement about CNN’s interest in startups and social media.”

A CNN acquisition of Mashable could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to a Reuters blogger cited in the Times story. Early today, CNN declined to comment on the potential acquisition but denied that an announcement would be made Tuesday.

The Times story adds: “Mashable, which is seven years old and is privately held, would be CNN.com’s largest acquisition to date. Last fall, CNN.com acquired Zite, a company that made an iPad app that determines what its users want to read and view, for a price that was estimated to be between $20 million and $25 million. Mashable would cost CNN far more to acquire.”

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Disney Channel Renews Musical Comedy Series

Disney Channel has renewed a musical comedy series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Production on a new season of "Austin & Ally" is set to start this summer, the story reports.

The show focuses on the extroverted singer Austin and the shy Ally, a songwriter, the story notes. The program debuted to 5.7 million viewers in December and now averages 3.4 million viewers, the piece adds.

The musical portion of the show has proved popular, with the song "A Billion Hits" reaching No. 1 on Radio Disney's top 30 chart, according to the story.

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'Glee' Working on Whitney Houston Episode

The late singer Whitney Houston will be honored by Fox's "Glee" with an episode devoted to the star, reports E! Online. A source told the website that the episode will be more than just a collection of Houston songs covered by the kids at McKinley High, saying it will "not be a typical tribute."

The "Glee" source added, "It's using Whitney's music as a way to say goodbye -- a way to respectfully say thank you for her music."

Lea Michele, who plays Rachel Berry on the show, appeared to allude to the special show in a tweet, saying, "Starting a new episode today. A very special tribute to one of the world’s most amazing singers. Very excited about this one."

"Glee" has been on a winter break and will return with new shows starting April 10. The date of the Whitney Houston episode has not been announced.

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Legendary TV Star, 86, Marries His 40-Year-Old Makeup Artist

A fixture of television whose acting career goes back to the 1950s is a newlywed, having just got married to a woman less than half his age, E! Online reports.

Dick Van Dyke, 86, married his makeup artist, Arlene Silver, 40, on Feb. 29.

Van Dyke is best known for his 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” on which he starred opposite Mary Tyler Moore. He has remained a presence on TV ever since, notably as the star of “Diagnosis Murder” from 1993-2002.

Van Dyke said of the wedding: "Kinda on the spur of the moment, we just decided Leap Day would be the best time to do it."

The story reports: “The veteran actor met Silver six years ago at the SAG Awards, where, according to Van Dyke, he was ‘bowled over by her beauty.’ He hired her as his personal makeup artist and the two became friends. But within the last couple of years, they ‘fell in love.’"

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Sitcom Project From 'Modern Family' Creator Casts 'SNL' Veteran in Lead Role

A Fox comedy pilot executive produced by "Modern Family's" Steve Levitan has cast a "Saturday Night Live" veteran in the lead role, Deadline.com reports.

"SNL’s” Will Forte, currently recurring on "30 Rock" and "Up All Night," will star in "Rebounding," the story says. The show is focused on Danny, a guy who seeks comfort and support after the death of his fiancee with the help of his basketball-playing buddies.

Joe Port and Joe Wiseman are writing and executive producing, with Jason Winer directing the pilot.

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How a North Dakota Newspaper's Review of the Olive Garden Went Viral

A seemingly routine restaurant column turned into a surprise hit for a small North Dakota newspaper after it was posted Wednesday on the paper’s website.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the review of the new Olive Garden in Grand Forks by 86-year-old columnist Marilyn Hagerty, published by the Grand Forks Herald, went viral overnight, quickly reaching about 10 times the number of views of the newspaper’s previous top story of the year.

The story reports: “The review, which Hagerty sums up by calling the Italian eatery ‘the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks,’ sparked a following on blogs, Facebook and Twitter while becoming the latest demonstration of how the Internet both highlights and erases geographical differences around the country.”

The review was picked up by sites such as Boing Boing and Gawker, while various publications ran interviews with the writer. A site called hypervocal ran a tribute to Hagerty’s piece under the headline “Ernest Hemingway Reviews Marilyn Hagerty’s Review of New Olive Garden in Grand Forks, N. D.”

The broad enthusiasm for the review appears to stem from its earnestness and attention to detail, the WSJ piece reports.

The story notes that some, but not all, of the Internet conversation is approving, such as Boing Boing’s comment: “If you grew up in places where Olive Garden and Red Lobster really were the best restaurants in town, you can’t help but feel a warm twinge of homesickness reading this.”

In other cases, the treatment has been less sympathetic. A City Pages interview with Hagerty, for example, ran under the headline “Marilyn Hagerty: Interview with genius Olive Garden reviewer” and included the question: “Do you go on the Internet at all?”

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'Idol' Slips in Ratings, Continues to Fall to 'Big Bang Theory'; New NBC Show Already Struggling

CBS and Fox battled to a tie Thursday night in the coveted 18-49 demo, as CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” continued to beat Fox’s “American Idol” at 8 p.m., TVbytheNumbers.com reports, citing Nielsen overnights.

Both networks averaged 3.6 ratings in 18-49 for prime time, leaving the competition in the dust. NBC came in a distant third with a 1.8 average, followed by Univision and ABC, both at 1.4.

CBS had the edge in total viewers with 14.5 million to 12.1 million for Fox, well ahead of ABC (4.2 million), NBC (4.0 million) and Univision (3.5 million).

“Big Bang Theory” averaged a 5.1 rating in viewers 18-49 at 8 p.m., down two-tenths from its original episode two weeks ago but good enough to beat “Idol’s” 4.8 average for the one-hour installment, which was down 11% from last week’s two-hour “Idol.” “American Idol” did top “Bang” in total viewers, 16.98 million to 15.22 million.

NBC’s big news came at 10 p.m., and the news was bad: The new show “Awake” was down 20% from the show’s premiere a week earlier with a weak 1.6 average in 18-49, getting pounded by CBS’s “The Mentalist” with a 2.8 -- up two-tenths from its previous original.

Elsewhere on NBC, “30 Rock” had its now typical 1.4 rating against tough competition at 8 p.m. from “Big Bang” and “Idol,” but “Parks & Recreation” (1.9 average), “The Office” (2.6) and “Up All Night” (1.7) were all up.

ABC took the night off, airing all repeats.

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Celebs Lined Up to Fill In for Piers Morgan

CNN has announced an all-star lineup of guest hosts for "Piers Morgan Tonight" for the week of March 12-16.

The guest hosts will be "Glee" star Jane Lynch, OWN talk show host Rosie O'Donnell, CNN's Wolf Blitzer, MSNBC's Donny Deutsch and Arsenio Hall.

The schedule is as follows:

March 12: Jane Lynch, with guests Joan Rivers, Mary Matalin and James Carville
March 13: Wolf Blitzer, covering the Alabama and Mississippi primaries
March 14: Donny Deutsch, with guest Michael J. Fox ("The Good Wife")
March 15: Rosie O'Donnell, with guests Anjelica Houston ("Smash") and Joel McHale ("Community")
March 16: Arsenio Hall, with guest Magic Johnson

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Magazine Based on Cable Channel Gets Go-Ahead

Following a test of two special issues that proved there was an audience for it, Hearst Magazines will partner with Scripps Networks to publish four more installments of the magazine based on HGTV, reports AdWeek.com. The publication will start off with a guaranteed rate base of 450,000, compared with Food Network Magazine, which has a 300,000 guarantee.

Michael Clinton, marketing president and publishing director at Hearst, told AdWeek, “We have had very encouraging results on the two test issues and will continue our test rollout with four more issues in 2012. HGTV Magazine has received a great response so far from both consumers and the advertising community, and we look forward to putting more of the magazine’s great home lifestyle content into the market this year.”

Dan Fuchs, who's currently associate publisher at O, the Oprah Magazine, will be the publisher of HGTV Magazine. Sara Peterson has already been installed as the editor.

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Simon Cowell May Have Found His Star Power for 'X Factor'; Show Offers $10 Million to Singer -- One of the Biggest Pop Stars of the Past Decade -- to Take Judge's Job

"The X Factor" has offered $10 million to a major pop star to become a judge on the Fox talent competition show, Deadline.com reports. The pop star is Britney Spears, and the offer follows an initial discussion between Spears and Simon Cowell, according to the report.

Cowell has been seeking more star power for the program after cutting judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger following the show's first season, the piece points out.

The offer would place Spears on par with what former "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" star Christina Aguilera will make on the third season of the rival competition show "The Voice," the piece adds. It's less than the $12 million earned by Jennifer Lopez on "American Idol" last season, the story points out.

Cowell has made public comments about his interest in Spears, noting, "She’s still hot, she’s still having hit records and she’s still controversial. There’s a reason for that," the piece adds.

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Singer of One of the Biggest Disco Hits of All Time Dies

The lead singer of one of the biggest disco anthems ever has died, according to The New York Times.

The song "Disco Inferno," which begins "Burn Baby Burn," was first made popular by the Trammps. The group's lead singer, Jimmy Ellis, 74, has died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, The Times reports.

The Trammps original version of the song became popular when it was included  in the film "Saturday Night Fever" and was on that film's megahit soundtrack album. The only soundtrack album to have ever sold more copies than "Saturday Night Fever" was the soundtrack to Whitney Houston's "The Bodyguard."

According to The Times story, the Trammps' "first recording was a remake of one of Judy Garland’s signature songs, 'Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,' which reached No. 17 on the R&B charts. They went on to have hits like 'Hold Back the Night,' and in 1975 were signed by Atlantic Records, which released seminal disco records by the group like 'Where the Happy People Go.'"

The Times notes that Ellis  was "born on Nov. 15, 1937, in Rock Hill, S.C. He sang gospel as a teenager in St. Mary’s Church, graduated from Emmett Scott High School and left for Philadelphia to sing with R&B groups like the Volcanoes and the Exceptions, who had a popular single called 'Down by the Ocean.' ... Except for a hiatus of several years, Mr. Ellis toured with the Trammps until 2010."

Here is a video of Ellis and the Trammps performing "Disco Inferno" that we found on YouTube: 

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Courtroom Shocker! It Had Nothing to Do With Nicollette Sheridan. A Producer, Under Oath, Revealed a Major Spoiler About This Sunday's 'Desperate Housewives' (Do NOT Read This Story If You Do Not Want to Know What It Is)

There were gasps in a Los Angeles courthouse on Thursday, March 8, 2012, when an executive producer of "Desperate Housewives" revealed, under oath, a very surprising major event that will happen on the show this Sunday night, March 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Times reports

The executive producer, George Perkins, revealed that a major character on the show, Mike Delfino, played by James Denton, will be killed off.

Reports the Times, "Asked if any other character of Edie's prominence had been killed off, Perkins shifted uncomfortably in his seat before answering. 'Mike Delfino,' Perkins said, referring to the character played by James Denton.

"Two female jurors clasped their mouths. 'You just spilled a secret from Sunday night?' lawyer Patrick Maloney asked. 'Yes,' Perkins acknowledged.

"The lawyer jokingly asked if the judge wanted to impose a gag order on the reporters covering Sheridan's suit. 'I can't order that,' Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth White said."

Perkins testified in a suit brought by Nicollette Sheridan against ABC and the show for killing off her character, Edie Britt, in 2009 on "Desperate Housewives" and the reason(s) behind that decision.

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James Cameron Sinks to a New Low for TV Documentary

"Avatar" director James Cameron may have hit a low point, so to speak, when he revealed images at the bottom of the ocean for his megahit “Titanic,” but he’s about to sink even lower -- literally.

Cameron announced that his latest project includes a plan to pilot a submersible vehicle he helped design to the lowest point in the Mariana Trench, during which he will tape scenes for a documentary that will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog. It's the lowest place on Earth

The venture to a point 6.8 miles below the surface poses risks for Cameron, the piece points out. The only other people to try to dive so deep in the ocean were a two-person team in 1960; the outer windows on their vessel cracked from the pressure during the descent, the story adds. The crew made it back OK but had to cut the expedition short.

Cameron will take the Deepsea Challenger to a point in the Mariana Trench located 200 miles southwest of Guam, the story notes. He plans to spend six hours collecting samples and filming for the 3D project, the piece adds.

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TV Chef Fires Off the 'B-Word' After Getting a Question That Hit a Little Too Close to Home

A popular TV chef had a bad moment during a publicity event and found himself backpedaling over his choice of words after he had a chance to think about it.

Jamie Oliver let loose at a press event in Australia after receiving a question about his weight and a suggestion that he should follow his own healthy eating advice, reports Australia's Herald Sun.

Responding to an observation that he’s heavier now than the last time he visited Australia, Oliver retorted, "Are you from a tabloid? Thank you for noticing, you bitch," according to the story.

He later blamed having had "a few drinks" the night before, and asserted that he is "very healthy."

"I went out last night and had a few drinks after a very long day, (and) my brain did not quite understand that question," he said.

Later, he admitted that he could "do better" but added, "I am trying to do my best -- like most people when they hit 30," according to the story.

He also said: “Working in the food business is quite hard when someone is constantly asking you to try things.”

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Conservative Group Abandons Boycott of JC Penney -- But It's Protesting a Popular Liquid-Plumr Commercial (Watch the Commercial Yourself and Decide)

It looks like a win for daytime talk host Ellen DeGeneres. The conservative activist group American Family Association, which called for a boycott of JC Penney over its hiring of DeGeneres as a spokesperson, has decided to abandon the effort, the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker blog reports.

Through its OneMillionMoms.com online project, the group had taken the lead in protesting Penney’s new ad campaign featuring DeGeneres. The organization argued that because DeGeneres is gay, she failed to represent family values, according to the story.

Now, saying that "other issues require her group's attention," OneMillionMoms director Monica Cole said the group is "moving on," the story reports.

The group's main focus now appears to be on the ABC drama "GCB," which the organization says is insulting to Christians, the piece adds. The group used its website to celebrate a move by Kraft, which we reported previously, to pull its ads for Philadelphia Cream Cheese from the show -- although Kraft said the decision had nothing to do with the show's content.

The organization is also currently protesting Toys 'R' Us over a same-sex wedding cover on an Archie comic book, and is also upset about a Clorox Liquid-Plumr commercial the group finds sexually suggestive, according to its website.

Here's the Liquid-Plumr commercial:

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CBS Renews Daytime Show, Reveals Plans for On-Air Lineup

CBS announced that it is renewing a daytime talk show, and revealed what it has in mind for the on-air lineup, EW.com’s Inside TV reports.

"The Talk" will be back for a third season, and the network will keep the current lineup of co-hosts in place, the story reports.

The network is sticking with the current panel featuring Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood and Aisha Tyler, the piece notes. The show has been drawing an average of 2.2 million viewers, with CBS attributing its popularity to the chemistry of the panel, the story adds.

Said David Stapf, president, CBS Television Studios: “We’re proud that ‘The Talk’ has already established great brand identity in only its second season. Much of the success can be attributed to our hosts’ chemistry and the work of our producers, whose selection of topics and guests are clearly resonating with viewers.”

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'Dexter' Actress Lands a New Series

An actress who made a splash in “Dexter” has landed a new series role, Deadline.com reports. The story reports that “Dexter’s” Julie Benz will co-star in the upcoming Syfy series "Defiance."

“Defiance” is a live-action drama that was developed along with an online video game, the story notes. The series is set on a future Earth where humans and aliens live together after the world has been hurt by decades of war.

The show co-stars Grant Bowler as a lawman in a frontier town, while Benz will play the town's new mayor, the piece adds. The project will start production in Toronto in April.

julie-benz.jpgJulie Benz

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Will 'Bones' Make It to Season 8? How About Season 9? Show's Creator Offers His Insights

"Bones" creator Hart Hanson, whose Fox drama is currently in its seventh season, said he believes the show will make it to its eighth and ninth seasons, although he said couldn't reassure fans that it will definitely do so, reports Deadline.com.

“In many, many ways, 'Bones' is Fox’s most successful hour-long scripted drama. I’m pretty confident that we’ll be back for seasons eight and nine, yeah," Hanson said, speaking at a PaleyFest panel, the story notes.

The show will end its seventh season with a cliffhanger, although he and executive producer Stephen Nathan wouldn't disclose details, the story adds.

Said Nathan: “There will be a large cliff that people will be hanging from. It’ll change the course, certainly the beginning, of season eight.”

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Frank Darabont Project Casts Neal McDonough

Frank Darabont's TNT drama pilot has cast actor Neal McDonough in a starring role, reports TVLine.com

McDonough will play Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker in Darabont’s "L.A. Noir," which is set in the battles during the 1940s and 1950s between the police and mobster Mickey Cohen, the piece reports. The part of Cohen has yet to be cast, the story adds.

McDonough has previously recurred on FX's "Justified" as the gangster Robert Quarles and has appeared on "Terriers" and "Desperate Housewives," the piece adds. Darabont, who developed "The Walking Dead" for AMC, will write and direct the pilot.

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'Terra Nova' Star, Upset by Show's Cancellation, Looks to Outer Space for Perspective

The decision by Fox to cancel the time-traveling drama "Terra Nova" was "myopic," according to one of the show's stars, reports Deadline.com.

Stephen Lang responded to the cancellation by comparing the show to the Hubble Space Telescope, the story notes.

"Within weeks of a much publicized and ballyhooed launch in 1990, the Hubble was found to have a serious flaw. Yet even with an improperly ground mirror the Hubble delivered extraordinary images. When the flaw was corrected the Hubble delivered images of transcendent beauty and value for many years. So too 'Terra Nova,’" Lang said. "Failing to renew 'Terra Nova' is shortsighted, as myopic as it would have been to scrap the Hubble. ‘Terra Nova’ is the Hubble Telescope of television."

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Ratings Gap Between Top Two Morning Shows Is Closing

The race for viewers among morning shows on the broadcast networks is getting tighter, according to the New York Post.

ABC’s "Good Morning America" is closing the gap on NBC's "Today," the perennial leader, the story reports, noting that the competition has added to the pressure for NBC to sign a deal with co-anchor Matt Lauer.

During the last week of the February sweeps, "Good Morning America" trailed "Today" by only 164,000 viewers, the smallest gap in about five years, the story adds. An NBC representative declined to comment.

As previously reported, "Today" is negotiating a multi-year contract with Lauer that would pay him about $25 million per year, representing an $8 million annual pay bump for the co-anchor.

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Report: Matt Lauer Will Get $25 Million a Year to Stay at 'Today'

NBC apparently wants to keep Matt Lauer on the network’s successful morning show. The network hasn’t made an official announcement yet, but Newsday reports that NBC and Lauer are closing in on a multiyear deal that will keep the “Today” host in place for about $25 million a year.

NBC is not commenting on the report.

The story says the deal -- which is probably for two years but may be for three -- is likely to become official before May upfronts, and possibly much sooner.

Verne Gay writes in Newsday: “This deal, which is expected to happen, is huge, needless to say. Foremost, it keeps the ship steady, and with Matt aboard, ‘GMA's’ granular assault on the show's ratings supremacy remains just that -- granular. Moreover, keeping Matt means any sort of uncertainty is erased by the time the Olympics roll around: Both ‘Today’ and the Os have a richly symbiotic relationship, and to imperil that at this point would be detrimental to new owner Comcast.”

The story says the $25 million represents about an $8 million bump in pay for Lauer.

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Ford Creates Prime-Time Series for NBC

Ford and NBC have formed an unusual partnership in which Ford is creating its own programming to run on the network to help launch the car company’s new Escape, Advertising Age reports.

The program is a six-episode reality show, “Escape Routes,” which premieres later this month. It will air Saturdays at 8 p.m., starting March 31, with additional airings on bicultural cable network mun2.

The story reports: “It appears to be the first time an automaker has used prime-time TV to introduce a car this way. But marketers have increasingly been creating their own content, even in expensive areas like prime time. Procter & Gamble teamed up with Walmart Stores to produce a made-for-TV movie, ‘Secrets of the Mountain,’ in 2010 for NBC, and Golf Magazine turned to TV to help generate some new business by purchasing two hours of airtime on CBS to broadcast a golf competition.”

The competition series tracks six teams traveling coast-to-coast and taking on various challenges in the new Escape.

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Major Marketer Pulls Out of Controversial New Show -- But It Says It's Not About the Show's Content

The latest controversy over a new prime-time show that has been controversial from the outset surrounds why a major marketer pulled its ads from the show.

TMZ.com broke the story that Kraft had pulled advertising for its Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand from ABC’s “GCB.” The company provided a statement to the website that said in part: “Philadelphia has decided to pull its advertising from ‘GCB.’ ... We have received a few complaints from consumers, and their opinions about our advertising are important to us."

Then the company appeared to try to soften its stance, telling The Hollywood Reporter that reports implying it pulled out because of any controversy are false.

Kraft told THR: “As part of a larger multishow media buy on ABC-TV, there were some spots included in the rotation for the new GCB series. It's customary to advertise on premiere episodes due to their large viewership, like Philadelphia Cream Cheese did this week.”

Kraft’s statement to THR also said: “The brand has decided to redirect advertising to other programs with an established audience. Although we received a few consumer complaints, this decision was not linked in any way to the content of this particular show.”

“GCB,” based on the book “Good Christian Bitches,’ is a satire of Texas women who are devout church-goers but snipe and gossip about each other. It has drawn criticism from various activist groups, with New York Councilman Peter Vallone reportedly urging his constituents to boycott the show.

The show premiered Sunday to modest numbers, finishing a close second in its 10 p.m. time slot to NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” with a 2.2 average in the key 18-49 demo to NBC’s 2.4. It beat the NBC show in total viewers, 7.6 million to 6.97 million.

“GCB’s” ratings performance reportedly represented a five-month high for the network in the time period.

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Comedy Central Greenlights Three New Shows

Comedy Central announced three new series today, including one with the network's master of the roast, Jeff Ross, reports Deadline.com.

Ross will star in "The Burn," in which a group of comics will rip apart current events. According to Ross, "My mission is clear: To rip the world a new asshole one crack at a time. I can’t wait to get started."

The other two shows are "Review with Forrest MacNeil" and "Nathan For You." The former stars Andrew Daly in a 30-minute comedy that's based on the Australian show "Review With Myles Barlow." It's a take-off on a typical review show in which Daly, playing the title character, lives through difficult life experiences, then rates them like a critic.

According to Daly, “This show will be a great service to society. If you’re thinking about cheating on your spouse or murdering someone, please wait until we review it so you can avoid the pitfalls and enjoy the experience.”

"Nathan For You" is a docu-comedy starring Nathan Fielder, dealing with business. In a statement, Fielder said, “Picking up my show is a great move for Comedy Central. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a major uptick in Viacom stock today.”

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Campaign Against Ugandan Warlord Becomes Global Internet Phenomenon (See the Video)

A 30-minute YouTube video, “Kony 2012,” focusing on the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony has exploded into what may be an unprecedented Internet movement in the past few days, dominating social networking and video sites, ABC News reports.

The site reported yesterday: “The nonprofit charity Invisible Children Inc. uploaded the video Monday to bring attention to Kony and the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army, which has terrorized Central Africa for several years. The YouTube video currently has more than 7 million views.”

This morning, less than 24 hours later, that number was up to almost 37 million -- and rising fast.

Invisible Children says on its Facebook Page that it “uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war and restore LRA-affected communities in Central Africa to peace and prosperity.”

The story notes that President Obama has sent troops to Uganda to help capture or kill Kony, saying in his announcement in October that Kony’s group is responsible for having “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and continues to “commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

Here’s the video documentary on Kony:

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First Look at Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer as Lone Ranger and Tonto

Now we know what Jerry Bruckheimer's big-screen revival of "The Lone Ranger" will look like. The producers of the film, which stars Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, have released the first publicity photo featuring the two stars in character.

The picture was tweeted by producer Bruckheimer. The film itself remains a ways off, expected in theaters in May 2013.

Here's the photo ...

loneranger-depp.jpg

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One of TV's Oldest Game Shows Might Be Coming Back

A game show whose TV roots go back to the early 1950s may be resurrected, Joe Adalian reports in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

Reality powerhouse FremantleMedia (“American Idol,” “X Factor,” “America’s Got Talent”) has secured the rights to "Name That Tune," the story reports. The original run of the show was in the 1950s, first on NBC and later on CBS. Various incarnations also appeared in the 1970s and the 1980s.

MTV tried to relaunch the show across three networks about five years ago, but the plans didn't materialize, the story points out. CBS also tried to reboot the program in 2006, but those plans didn't get off the ground, the piece adds.

It's not clear what format Fremantle will use with a new version of "Name That Tune," and the company is still deciding whether to pitch a reboot for broadcast, cable or syndication, the article notes.

"One reason to think Fremantle might get lucky where others didn't, however, is the company's long track record of success in both the music and game formats," Adalian points out. "Its syndicated revival of classic quizzer 'Family Feud' has done very well in recent years, last month earning its best ratings in seven years."

Previous versions of "Name That Tune" pitted contestants against each other as they heard snippets of songs and tried to identify the tune. The show ran first on radio, debuting in 1952, before it moved to TV in 1953.

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Another Broadcast Net Readying a Singing Competition, With 'Idol' Winner on Board -- and a Twist

The increasingly crowded field of prime-time singing competition shows is about to get even more crowded, as ABC readies its own entry, EW.com reports.

“Duets,” the Alphabet Network’s competitor to “American Idol,” “X Factor” and “The Voice,” boasts some serious star power, notably Kelly Clarkson -- who helped one of those rival shows, “Idol,” get off to a great start when she won the first season of the show, way back in 2002.

Joining Clarkson on the show will be another music heavyweight, Lionel Richie, the story reports. Also on hand are Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke, with the whole crew scouring the country in search of talent.

One twist is that the show’s regulars will take the stage alongside their undiscovered partners, performing duets live in front of the studio audience.

This makes the show “completely different” from the others, said Clarkson, adding: “They don’t audition like a normal process. We get to collaborate with the artists that we choose. We get to go find the talent we really believe in.”

ABC has the show slated for this summer.

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Fox's Canceled 'Terra Nova' May Get Picked Up for Season Two After All -- But Not by a Traditional Broadcast or Cable Network

Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur drama "Terra Nova" might not be history after all, even though Fox canceled it this week, Deadline.com reports.

Netflix is talking with 20th Century Fox about saving the drama from extinction, according to the report. The talks are preliminary and it's not clear whether formal negotiations will result, the piece stresses.

As previously reported, producer 20th Century Fox said it planned to shop the time-traveling series to other networks after Fox made its decision not to go ahead with a second season.

Given the show's strong showing with time-shifted viewing, it would make sense for online-streaming service Netflix to pick up the program. But making the expensive show work without a broadcast license fee might be difficult, the article points out.

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'Desperate Housewives' Writer Contradicts Show Creator Marc Cherry's Testimony

A writer on "Desperate Housewives" contradicted previous testimony from creator Marc Cherry that he had already made a decision to kill off Nicollette Sheridan's character before he struck her on the set, reports TheWrap.com.

Former "Housewives" executive producer and writer Lori Kirkland Baker testified in the trial that she heard about the decision to kill the character Edie Britt in December 2008, when Cherry said he had "just got permission" from ABC network President Stephen McPherson to eliminate the character, the story notes.

Sheridan is suing for $6 million in the wrongful termination suit against Cherry and ABC, as previously reported.

Cherry and ABC Studios President Mark Pedowitz have both testified that they made the decision to kill off Britt in May 2008.

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Rosie's Kind of Town, Chicago Is Not -- O'Donnell and Her OWN Talk Show Are Moving

Speculation has swirled around the fate of the OWN talk show “Rosie” since its host, Rosie O’Donnell, recently put her Chicago home up for sale, with some observers saying it meant the show was over. Not so, The Huffington Post reports: The show is moving to New York.

One reason for the move is to give the show better access to top guests, the story reports.

An insider told the website: “It was a mistake to take the show to Chicago just because Oprah’s old studio was sitting there empty. Rosie loves New York. This is where she grew up, goes to the theater and has dinner with her friends. No one was more part of this city. But instead of standing up for what she knew in her gut, she agreed to film out of Chicago and even work with Oprah’s old staff rather than hire her own. But it’s not just Rosie that isn’t happy about flying to Chicago to film. It's proved much harder to get guests to travel to Chicago than come to New York."

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'Mad Men' Creator/Showrunner Says Negotiations With AMC Were So Maddening That at One Point He Actually Quit

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner tells The New York Times that he quit during negotiations with AMC over a fifth season for the period drama.

"I quit. I had come to terms with the fact that it was over. And I always end every season like it’s the end of the show. So, yeah. There was a terror in me that someone else would come in and do it," Weiner said when asked whether he was concerned the program wouldn't have a fifth season.

Asked to clarify, Weiner noted, "Yes, I quit, at the negotiation. During the negotiation. And in the end, everything worked out," according to the story.

In two weeks, the show will return for its fifth season on AMC after a 17-month break since its previous season, the story notes. Asked whether there's a theme for the next season, Weiner noted, "There’s a line in Episode 3, which is Week 2, where somebody says: ‘When is everything going to get back to normal?’ Who hasn’t felt that right this minute? And that is a lot of what the season is about."

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Apple Misstep? Would Jobs Have Let This Happen? Company Debuts New iPad, but Doesn't Have a Name for It Other Than 'New iPad'

The Apple police were all aTwitter yesterday, complaining that Apple's latest iteration of its popular iPad doesn't appear to have a name other than "new iPad," CNN reports.

According to the story, "At the pep rally where Apple debuted its third-generation tablet computer, one question was on everyone's lips: So, what do we call this thing? The answer, according to an Apple spokesman: 'It's just 'iPad.' It's what it is.' "

The article adds, "The longer Apple execs talked about the tablet computer's new features -- better screen, faster connection -- without actually giving it a name, the more anxious the People of the Internet became. 'Come on Apple, name it already, one person wrote. 'Is it an Anonymous iPad?' asked another. Tech writer Omar Gallaga: 'Screw it, I'm just going to call it 'Lover.' ' "

The story continues, " 'So this is the 'New iPad,' ' said Nick Bilton, a tech writer for The New York Times. 'Is the next one going to be called the 'New-New iPad'? Where do they go from there?' "

CNN tried talking to a different Apple spokesperson to get a name: " 'It's the new iPad. What are you talking about?' another Apple spokeswoman said, as if it's common for updated devices to come out with the same names as their predecessors."

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NBC Adds More of 'The Voice' to Prime-Time Schedule, Tweaks Plans for Other Reality Shows

NBC's hit singing competition "The Voice" will have a higher profile on the network starting next month, when the show expands to two nights, reports B&C.

The show will add one-hour live elimination rounds starting Tuesday, April 3, with the network's weight-loss competition "The Biggest Loser" shedding an hour to make space for the additional show, the story adds. “The Voice” will continue to air as a Monday-Tuesday show.

By adding another hour to "The Voice," the program is joining the ranks of other reality competitions such as "American Idol" and "Dancing with the Stars," which air in a two-night-per-week format, the piece points out.

The show has averaged 19.3 million total viewers in its second season, and its most recent episode improved 15% in the ratings, the story adds.

NBC will roll out its newest reality show, “Fashion Star,” as planned March 13, airing it on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. “America’s Got Talent,” which aired on Tuesdays and Wednesdays last summer, will move to a Monday-Tuesday format this year, bowing May 14 and 15 with two-hour episodes both nights. It will downsize to an hour a night starting week two.

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Another Top Executive Leaving Cablevision

Cablevision marketing EVP Jonathan Hargis is exiting the company this month, Deadline.com reports. He first arrived at Cablevision in 2000.

The move follows the departure of respected Chief Operating Officer Tom Rutledge, the story notes, and again raises questions about Chief Executive Jim Dolan's plans for Cablevision.

While Cablevision didn't name a replacement for Hargis, it's believed that Dolan's wife, Kristin, who serves as senior vice president of product management and marketing, will play a bigger role, the piece adds.

Even before the departure of Hargis, speculation centered on Kristin Dolan's role in the company, the story points out.

"We believe she has been taking the marketing reins (unclear whether John Hargis is still with the company and what his role is) and is currently leading the company’s efforts to re-orient the marketing message for all of Cablevision’s cable products,” wrote BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield, before Hargis' departure was announced.

Apparently in response to such speculation, Cablevision followed the news of Hargis’ departure with a statement clarifying Kristin Dolan’s role. The company stated: “She is currently focused on brand identity and new product initiatives, and has been with the company for more than 20 years. This includes many years working directly in the Cablevision product group, during which she took a leadership role in the development, launch and continued development of our iO TV digital cable service. For the last three years, she has been running our Strategic Product Development Group, focused on long-range development across all of our services. She is well known and highly regarded in the industry.”

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Election Spending Expected to Far Outpace 2008

With Super PACs fueling advertising spending, the 2012 election cycle could bring in a total of $9.8 billion, up from $7 billion in 2008, reports Advertising Age, citing a study from research firm Borrell Associates.

Cable television will be the main beneficiary of the spending, the story notes. While about $468 million was spent on cable in the 2008 elections, that will almost double this year, the report says.

Online spending will reach $159.2 million, a sixfold jump from 2008, although still less than 2% of overall campaign spending, the piece adds. The largest chunk of spending will be funneled to broadcast TV, which may see as much as $5.6 billion in election spending, compared with $4.3 billion in 2008, according to the story.

Virginia and Florida are among the top 12 states for every type of media spending, the story adds.

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Does Quick Title Change for Online Exec Mean Company Plans Move Into Original Programming?

Online companies including Netflix, YouTube and Hulu have been positioning themselves to cash in on original programming, and they may have company soon in the form of a major competitor: Amazon.

It’s just speculation at this point, and it’s been fired up by a listing for an Amazon.com executive on the professional site LinkedIn. Fortune reports that a quick title change has fueled theories that the online retailer plans to get into original content.

Joe Lewis, a new Amazon.com executive who is based on Los Angeles, listed his title as "vice president of original television at Amazon" on his LinkedIn profile, the story notes. After Amazon.com was asked for comment, Lewis' title quickly changed to "vice president, production at Amazon Studios," the story notes.

Lewis' previous experience as director of production at 20th Century Fox and manager of development at Comedy Central hints that he may be part of plans by Amazon to expand into original TV content, the piece adds.

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'Idol' Taps Famous Fashion Designer -- You Might Be Wearing Him Now -- as Image Adviser

A fashion designer who has become a household name is joining Fox’s “American Idol” as its image adviser, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Tommy Hilfiger will provide style tips to contestants on the singing show starting next week, the story reports.

"I admire risk takers who share my belief in the power of fashion to transform and influence, and I look forward to working with the artists to guide them in defining their performance style and identity," Hilfiger said in a statement.

Hilfiger started out selling bell-bottom jeans and styling for his brother's band when he was 18, the piece notes.

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Cable Net Cancels Controversial Reality Show

A reality show that ignited a nationwide controversy has been canceled by its cable network, the Detroit Free Press reports. The show is TLC’s “All-American Muslim,” which won’t be back for season two.

TLC reportedly told cast members that ratings for the show were too low to continue it. However, some cast members were skeptical about that claim, the story reports.

The report notes: “The show came under fire from anti-Muslim bloggers who called for a boycott of advertisers on the show. The department store Lowe's pulled ads from [the show] after reportedly hearing of complaints from conservative Christians and Jews who were upset that that show did not portray Muslim-Americans as extremists. Lowe’s said in December it pulled the ads after hearing negative complaints.”

As the controversy raged back in December, other advertisers also objected to the show, as previously reported.

The show focuses on Arab-American Muslims living in the Dearborn, Mich., area as the go about their everyday lives. Dearborn reportedly has the highest concentration of Muslims in the nation.

The show was said to be the first in the U.S. to focus on Muslim-Americans.

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Attorneys for TV Chef Lash Out at Lawsuit Alleging Racism, Sexual Harassment and Violence

Attorneys for a well-known TV chef issued a response to allegations of racist behavior, sexual harassment, infliction of emotional distress and assault contained in a lawsuit, EW.com reports.

The suit against Paula Deen was filed by Lisa Jackson, the former general manager of Bubba’s Oyster House, co-owned by Deen and her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers. The allegations center on alleged events in the workplace.

Jackson describes Hiers’ behavior during the five years she held the position as “physically threatening and universally humiliating,” the story reports.

The story reports: “In her lawsuit, Jackson alleges several instances in which celebrity chef Deen and her brother used the N-word in a professional setting, including at Hiers’ 2007 wedding and when Hiers suggested President Obama should be sent ‘to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico so he could n----r-rig it.’ She claims African-American employees were told to use back doors and segregated bathrooms. Jackson also alleges Hiers referred to her as ‘my little Jew girl’ after her success managing the restaurant.”

The report adds: “Jackson also claims she was sexually harassed by Hiers, who allegedly watched pornography on his work computer in their shared office. According to the lawsuit, he also asked Jackson to ‘bring pictures of herself when she was young for him to view.’”

Jackson names Deen and Hiers personally in the lawsuit, along with Deen’s various companies and the restaurant.

Oliver Maner LLP, the law firm representing Deen, issued a response to EW, stating: “We investigated [Jackson's] claims and attempted unsuccessfully to address those claims with her. She has made baseless, inflammatory allegations, threatening to go to the press and ruin Paula Deen’s reputation and the reputation of her businesses unless we paid her a large sum of money. We refused to bow to that kind of pressure and refused to pay money to address false claims.”

EW reports that the statement also says Jackson’s allegations “will be proven false in court. We have filed our defensive pleadings with the court denying Ms. Jackson’s claims and those pleadings are a matter of public record. We will hold Ms. Jackson and her lawyer accountable for these false allegations. We look forward to our day in court and have nothing further to say.”

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Why the Surviving Monkees Will Skip Davy Jones' Funeral

The three surviving members of the 1960s pop band the Monkees have decided not to attend the funeral of Davy Jones, the AP reports.

Jones, one of the four original Monkees, died of a heart attack late last month, as previously reported.

Group member Micky Dolenz explained the decision, saying the presence of the group members would probably create unwanted attention and be a distraction to Jones’ family during its time of grief.

The story reports: “He and fellow Monkees Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith have talked of attending one of the memorials that Jones' family is planning to hold in New York and in the late singer's native England, Dolenz said. And he added he's considering organizing a memorial himself for Jones' friends in Los Angeles.”

Questions have arisen as to whether the remaining Monkees might perform at any of Jones’ memorials -- or for that matter whether they will perform in the future. The questions remain unanswered, but Dolenz did address them.

"The three of us, Mike and Peter and I, we have never worked together just as a threesome,” Dolenz said. “Mostly it was Peter, David and I and then Mike would join us.”

He added: “We've been talking, we've been communicating, but it's way too early, I think, to project or predict anything like that."

A private funeral for Jones’ family members was set to take place this week in Florida.

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Fox's 'New Girl' Is Bright Spot in Tuesday Ratings

With CBS serving up reruns Tuesday night, Fox's comedy "The New Girl" was the top show overall in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

“New Girl” pulled in a 3.0 average rating in viewers 18-49, equaling its previous original episode. Fox won the night with a 2.1 average, according to fast affiliate numbers, which may be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to election coverage. CBS followed with a 1.9 average for its all-repeat lineup, then NBC with a 1.6, Univision at 1.4 and ABC, which also went heavy on repeats, at 1.3.

Total viewers was a different story, with CBS the runaway leader, averaging 11.5 million viewers for repeats of “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Unforgettable. The rest of the pack was way behind, with NBC averaging 4.9 million, ABC averaging 4.6 million and Fox averaging 4.5 million. Univision averaged 3.3 million total viewers.

ABC’s only fresh programs, “Cougar Town” at 8:30 p.m. and “The River” at 9 p.m., both averaged modest 1.5 ratings in the 18-49 demo.

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DirecTV Joins Forces With Pandora to Offer Free Personalized In-Home Music Destination for Subscribers

Satellite company DirecTV and Internet music service Pandora have combined their resources to create a personalized music offering for subscribers, Deadline.com reports.

The service is being offered by DirecTV to its customers nationwide at no additional cost, according to the report.

DirecTV said in a statement: “Customers nationwide with connected HD DVR’s can now access Pandora at no additional cost by pushing the ‘Menu’ button on their DirecTV remote controls and selecting the ‘Extras’ option. Customers will be asked to either create a new Pandora account online or to activate their existing Pandora account on their DirecTV HD DVR. Once activated, Pandora will allow customers to easily create and listen to personalized radio stations, as well as play Pandora over the video that they are watching.”

In a statement, DirecTV’s Tony Goncalves, senior vice president, Product Management, said: “Pandora offers a unique service that has revolutionized the way people consume music from their favorite artists. The addition of Pandora is just one of dozens of ways DirecTV is enhancing our customers’ overall viewing experience and giving them the most value for their money every month.”

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Apple Unveils New iPad, Takes Device to 'Whole New Level'

Apple introduced its new iPad today, rolling out such features as voice dictation, an improved “retina” display, a faster processor and access to faster cellular networks, USA Today reports.

applenewipad.jpgAppearing in San Francisco to present the new device, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the release takes the iPad to “a whole new level, and redefines the category Apple created with the original iPad.”

The story reports: “As with the previous iPad, the new iPad starts at $499 with 16 GB of storage for a Wi-Fi model, or $629 to get cellular Internet access. It will be available on March 16.”

With sales of more than 55 million units so far -- and that figure expected to surpass 100 million by the end of 2012 -- the iPad is the most successful tech product of the past few years, the story notes. Apple first introduced it in April 2010.

The report adds: “One of the biggest selling points for the new iPad is the sharper ‘retina’ display, which was first introduced on the iPhone 4 in 2010. Most HD TVs are 1920x1080 resolution, but the sharper resolution of the iPad is 2048x1530, or ‘1 million more pixels than HDTV,’ said Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller.”

The improved processor is touted as being four times faster than the processor on the earlier iPad. However, the new device does not include the Siri digital personal assistant found on the iPhone 4S, settling instead for voice dictation.

The new iPad also features the upgraded camera found on the iPhone 4S. USA Today notes: “The 5-megapixel camera has built-in image stabilization, to help eliminate the shakes, and also offers the ability to shoot video in full 1080p HD resolution.”

A big difference between the new device and older units is the ability to access 4G networks, which are offered regionally by AT&T and Verizon. Older iPads only have 3G capability.

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OMG. Iconic New York Local Anchor Loses Her Job. Sue Simmons Out at WNBC. One Columnist Calls Move by Station 'Wrong, Stupid and Evil'

"After more than three decades, WNBC/Channel 4 is tossing anchorwoman Sue Simmons overboard," famed New York Post columnist Cindy Adams wrote in an exclusive story this morning, March 7, 2012.

Adams continued: "Last week, the station gave her the bad news that her contract would not be renewed — and come June, she’s history. Simmons, who has won four Emmys since starting at Channel 4 in 1980 and is the top-paid anchorwoman at any local station in the country, would happily have stayed. It was entirely NBC’s decision to break up the city’s best-known local anchor pair, Simmons and Chuck Scarborough.

The story adds that the contracts of both Simmons, 68, and Scarborough, also 68, are up in June, and that Scarborough's been renewed while "Sue's been given the boot."

Adams said that an unnamed senior NBC executive had quietly told Simmons a year ago that this would happen.

Adams' story continues: "In January, Sue was bounced from the 6 o’clock news, staying with Chuck for the 11 o’clock telecast only. At that time, a few of us wondered why she wasn’t moved to improve the weak 5 o’clock spot or asked to do a talk show of some kind — lest her talents go to waste. Nobody said anything. That’s when we knew it was the beginning of the death sentence."

Following up on Adams' scoop, the New York Times article on Simmons getting the boot said that Mark Harris, a columnist for Entertainment Weekly, wrote on Twitter after reading the Post article,“Fellow New Yorkers, I hope you all get that this is wrong, stupid and evil,”

The New York Times story also has this anecdote:

"In 2010, Mr. Scarborough took questions from City Room readers. One of the first was what Ms. Simmons was really like to work with. He replied:

Sue has never had an unspoken thought, and I mean that in the nicest way. She is the least inhibited broadcast journalist I’ve ever known, making her always interesting and occasionally dangerous, like the night she read a touching story about an effort to save a sick baby whale that had washed ashore. At the story’s conclusion, her co-anchor (not me, thank goodness) said, 'You didn’t seem all that sympathetic.' Sue immediately replied: 'Oh I really am. If he gets well, I’ll kiss his little blow hole!' "

suesimmons.bmp

Sue Simmons

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Cable Net Renews Drama Series

A drama series on one of the major cable networks has been renewed, the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker blog reports. FX ordered 13 episodes of “Justified,” bringing it back for a fourth season.

Based on an Elmore Leonard short story, the series stars Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a character known for his smooth talking and his white hat, the piece notes.

"[Executive producer] Graham Yost and his writing team continue to deliver compelling material and richly drawn characters brought to life by the brilliance of Timothy Olyphant and our terrific ensemble cast," said Nick Grad, FX executive vice president of original programming, according to the story.

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With Creative Decision Up in the Air, NBC Comedy Tapes Two Finales

With a creative decision not yet having been made about how the current season of an NBC sitcom will end, the show, "Parks and Recreation," shot two versions of the season finale, reports Deadline.com.

The reason for the two endings is partly "in case we changed our minds,” said co-creator/executive producer Michael Schur, speaking at a PaleyFest panel.

In one ending, Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler, wins the election, while in the other ending, she loses, the story notes. The season won't end in a cliffhanger, but Schur declined to say which ending will air on television, the piece adds.

Knope's election campaign for city council has been a major focus of the show’s current season.

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Tila Tequila Headed to Rehab After Week of Crisis

Former MTV reality star Tila Tequila is headed to rehab for substance abuse issues, TMZ.com reports, after a week in which she reportedly attempted suicide and may have suffered a brain aneurysm.

As reported previously, the former star of “Shot at Love With Tila Tequila” triggered a flood of sometimes conflicting media reports over a series of 911 calls and a stint in a Los Angeles-area hospital. Reports focused on a possible aneurysm as well as an alleged suicide attempt and what was described as an overdose of prescription drugs.

The 30-year-old is now said to be seeking help for psychological problems along with the substance abuse treatment, according to TMZ.

The story reports: “According to her manager, Tila agreed to treatment after several of Tila's friends staged a miniature intervention -- following Tila's suicide scare last week. We're told Tila has been struggling with serious substance abuse problems as well as psychiatric issues recently -- the suicide scare was just the straw that broke the camel's back.”

Sources would not disclose which rehab facility had agreed to take Tequila, and it was unclear when she planned to enter the facility.

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List of Top-Rated Shows Dominated by Two Networks

The list of the 30 top-rated shows in prime time was almost the exclusive terrain of two networks last week, the AP reports, citing Nielsen data. One of the two, CBS, had 21 of the 30 shows, but the other network, Fox, claimed a narrow win for the week on the strength of its “American Idol” franchise and its Daytona 500 coverage.

“Idol’s” three editions took three of the top four spots: first, third and fourth. CBS’s “NCIS” held the No. 2 spot, and the network’s lineup of dramas, comedies and reality shows dominated the rest of the list.

The story reports: “For the week in prime time, Fox averaged 10.45 million viewers (6.1 household rating, 10 share), followed closely by CBS with 10.23 million (6.5 rating, 11 share). Far behind was ABC with 6.39 million (4.1 rating, 7 share) and NBC with 5.71 million (3.6 rating, 6 share). ION Television averaged 1.17 million and the CW had 1.11 million (both with 0.8 rating, 1 share)."

ABC landed only three shows in the top 30 -- "Modern Family," ''Once Upon a Time" and "Castle" -- while NBC managed to get just one show on the list, with “The Voice” placing sixth.

Here’s the top 10 for the week of Feb. 27-March 4:

1. "American Idol" (Thursday), Fox, 18.45 million
2. "NCIS," CBS, 18.20 million
3. "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 17.23 million
4. "American Idol" (Special -- Tuesday), Fox, 16.11 million
5. "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 15.85 million
6. "The Voice," NBC, 14.89 million
7. NASCAR Daytona 500, Fox, 13.67 million
8. "Criminal Minds," CBS, 12.54 million
9. NASCAR Daytona 500 (continuing), Fox, 12.47 million
10. "Two and a Half Men," CBS, 11.92 million

The report adds: “Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with a 3.74 million viewer average (1.9 rating, 3 share), Telemundo had 1.21 million (0.7 rating, 1 share), Telefutura had 690,000 (0.4 rating, 1 share), Estrella had 210,000 and Azteca 120,000 (both 0.1 rating, 0 share).”

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'Matrix' Actress Tackles Lead Role in CBS Drama Pilot

An actress known for her role in the “Matrix” feature films will play the female lead in an upcoming CBS drama pilot, Deadline.com reports.

Carrie-Anne Moss joins the untitled Ralph Lamb project, written by "Goodfellas" writer Nicholas Pileggi and Greg Walker. The show is set in the 1960s and stars Dennis Quaid as Ralph Lamb, a former rodeo cowboy who becomes the sheriff of Las Vegas, the story notes.

Moss will play Assistant D.A. Katherine O'Connell, the daughter of a rancher, who grew up as a neighbor to the Lamb family, the story notes.

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Co-Star of Canceled Fox Drama Bounces Right Back, Joins ABC Project Within 24 Hours

Less than 24 hours after the network announced the cancellation of her show, a co-star of the ill-fated Fox drama “Terra Nova” appears to have landed on her feet, reports Deadline.com. Christine Adams jumps from the time-travel drama to the ABC drama pilot "Americana," the story reports.

The ABC project is a family soap that focuses on Robert Soulter, a fashion designer played by Anthony LaPaglia, the story notes. Adams will play his wife, a former supermodel from East Africa.

In "Terra Nova," Adams played Mira, the leader of the Sixers rebel group, the story adds.

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Report: Star of 'Downton Abbey' Has Yet to Sign Contract

A fan favorite on the PBS hit "Downton Abbey" has yet to sign a contract to return for the show's third season, reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

The holdout is Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess of Grantham on the show. With her tart tongue and sharp asides, Smith's character is a favorite among viewers.

The show is currently filming its third season, the piece adds.

Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, and Hugh Bonneville, who plays Earl Grantham, have reportedly signed contracts to return, joining Elizabeth McGovern, who plays the Countess of Grantham, the story notes.

Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, also has yet to sign a contract, the piece notes. The show's producers are already considering a fourth and possibly fifth season of the popular period drama, the story adds.

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Former ABC Exec Testifies That Decision to Kill Off 'Desperate Housewives' Character Was Made Before Fight

The decision to kill off the character played by Nicollette Sheridan in "Desperate Housewives" was made about four months before creator Marc Cherry got into a fight with the actress, according to testimony by a former ABC executive.

A story in The Hollywood Reporter says Mark Pedowitz, former head of ABC and Touchstone Studios, testified at the trial that the decision to kill off the character was made in two small meetings, during which Cherry outlined his ideas for the fifth season of the show, the piece notes.

Pedowitz said the fate of Sheridan's character was made in the smaller, confidential meetings rather than larger meetings because it hadn’t yet been decided when or how to kill off the character, the story says. He approved the decision on May 22, 2008, and ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson gave his blessing soon afterward, the piece adds.

“They felt there was no more storytelling to tell (about that character) after that season,” Pedowitz notes.

The confrontation between Sheridan and Cherry occurred in September 2008.

As previously reported, Sheridan's $6 million wrongful termination case has included testimony about Cherry striking the actress in the head.

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Sigourney Weaver Signs On for Her First Regular TV Series Role

In what will be her first regular television series role, Sigourney Weaver has signed on with the new drama "Political Animals" on USA Network, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

Weaver, known for her roles in "Avatar" and the "Alien" movies, will play a divorced former first lady who becomes Secretary of State, according to the story. The project has received a six-episode order from USA and will debut this summer, the piece adds.

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Rockers Want Limbaugh to Face the Music -- and Stop Using It

The latest front in the latest Rush Limbaugh controversy is a musical one, with at least two rock artists fired up over the conservative talk host’s use of their songs.

One of those artists -- the veteran rock band Rush -- has slapped Limbaugh with a cease-and-desist letter, TMZ.com reports.

Peter Gabriel was the first to get upset in the past week over Limbaugh’s use of his music, after he found out Limbaugh was reportedly playing his song “Sledgehammer” in the background while Limbaugh was unleashing a verbal assault against law student Sandra Fluke. Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she testified before lawmakers about birth control, as previously reported.

Similarly, Rush, the band, reportedly found out Limbaugh was playing its “The Spirit of Radio” as the talk host said he wanted to see sex tapes of Fluke, TMZ reports. The band was also concerned after learning Limbaugh has used its music on the show in the past.

The story reports: “The band has since fired off a cease and desist letter to Rush (radio) ... saying, ‘The public performance of Rush’s music is not licensed for political purposes and any such use is in breach of public performance licenses and constitutes copyright infringement.’

“The letter continues, ‘Accordingly, we hereby demand that you immediately stop all use of Rush’s music and confirm that you will do so.’”

Gabriel has also reportedly demanded that his music be pulled from the radio show.

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Google Wants to Unload TV Set-Top Business

Google will reportedly get rid of the television set-top business that's part of Motorola Mobility, even before the company closes on the $12.5 billion purchase, reports the New York Post.

Once the main vehicle for TV viewing, the set-top box is increasingly viewed as a stumbling block for newer technologies that merge television and the Internet, the story points out. Google, for instance, offers its own Web-connected TV system, called Google TV.

Google has hired Qatalyst Partners and Barclays Capital to look for buyers for the set-top business, which Motorola had unsuccessfully tried to sell in 2009 for $4.5 billion, the piece adds. Some private equity firms may be interested in the unit, the story notes.

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Report: Peyton Manning to Become a Free Agent as Colts Release Him

Four-time National Football League MVP Peyton Manning will become a free agent as the Indianapolis Colts will release him, according to ESPN.

Colts owner Jim Irsay decided to pass on the $28 million bonus owed to Manning and not pick up the four years left on his contract, the story notes.

Manning plans to play again after sitting out the whole 2011 season following a third neck surgery, which fused two vertebrae, the piece notes.

While Manning preferred to stay with the Colts, Irsay decided that the team needed a new quarterback after a major overhaul of the organization, although the decision wasn't financially motivated, according to the report. The new quarterback will likely be either former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck or former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, the piece adds.

Manning will be able to sign with another NFL team immediately after he's released; the Colts have until 4 p.m. Thursday to make the decision official, the article notes.

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Sarah Palin Comments On Rush Limbaugh Controversy. Since Palin and Her Family Have Had Vile Things Said About Them, How Does She Feel About Limbaugh Calling a Law Student a 'Slut'? Palin's Reaction Might Surprise You

CNN caught up with Sarah Palin in Alaska today, and CNN's Wolf Blitzer wanted to know Palin's thoughts about the Rush Limbaugh controversy, especially since Palin herself has been subjected to vile comments in the past.

Limbaugh has been in the eye of the storm for calling a Georgetown law student "a slut" and "a prostitute" when she testified before Congress about the difficulties in obtaining contraception through school channels and said public assistance would help.

Here's what Palin said: "I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize, and retract what it is he said in exercising his First Amendment rights, and never is that same applied to the leftist radicals who say such horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless. So I think that's the definition of hypocrisy. And that's my two cents worth."

To read our story about the reaction of advertisers and some radio stations to Limbaugh's remarks, please click here.

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This Just In: Netflix in Talks to Partner with MSOs

Reuters has broken this exclusive story: "Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings has quietly met with some of the largest U.S. cable companies in recent weeks to discuss adding the online movie streaming service to their cable offerings, according to sources familiar with matter."

The article, by Yinka Adegoke and Lisa Richwine, continues, "In what would ratchet up its competition with HBO, the talks could lead to Netflix becoming available as another on-demand option for cable subscribers through their set-top boxes, according to three people familiar with the talks. If a partnership came to fruition, a cable operator might offer Netflix as an additional option added onto a subscriber's cable bill, according to a fourth person."

The talks have caught some observers by surprise, the article notes, since Netflix has been seen as a competitor to the programming delivered by MSOs.

In recent weeks Hastings has said at some investor conferences that at some point Netflix might be a premium cable network like an HBO. But most people who heard these remarks thought Hastings was talking about the distant future, the article notes.

Currently Netflix's streaming service can easily be seen on TV screens using some DVRs as well as some other devices such as Sony's Playstation 3.

This news about Netflix having current discussions with MSOs comes on the same day that Rocco Pendola writes on SeekingAlpha.com that the Netflix business model is broken.

Pendola says, "The Netflix business model broke the second Reed Hastings decided to abandon the high-margin and wildly profitable DVD business for the low-margin, low-profit and, maybe more importantly, low-quality streaming segment."

He adds, "You cannot ramp up streaming without a cash cow. That's why competition ranging from Amazon.com to Google owns the upper hand. For a while, Netflix relied on the 'virtuous cycle' of subscriber growth funding content costs. That died a wholly predictable death. The company also plowed DVD profits back into its streaming business. Hastings effectively killed that plan."

Then Pendola says, "But, let's look to the future. Hastings made a comment the other day that - and pardon me for being just incredibly arrogant here - proved just how right I have been about Netflix and the larger space all along. For all intents and purposes, Hastings said the day will come (and using the Netflix concept of time that could be next week) when he would consider pitching his service as part of a bundled cable television package. Interesting ... particularly when you consider that 'cord-cutting' was all the rage, apparently, in 2011. Hastings' reasoning: ... it's getting tougher to convince cable TV to share rights to their shows - 'they're just being good capitalists' - so Netflix has been striking more exclusive deals with content creators and paying cable-TV prices to do so."

What's so fascinating is that Pendola's piece was published before the Reuters article broke the story that Hastings is indeed talking to MSOs now.

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Kirk Cameron, Under Fire for Anti-Gay Remarks, Defends Himself

Actor Kirk Cameron, best known from his years on the 1980s ABC sitcom “Growing Pains,” defended himself after setting off a firestorm with remarks on Piers Morgan’s CNN show that many of Cameron’s Hollywood colleagues found offensive, the L.A. Times reports.

Cameron fired off an email to ABC News in which he said: "I should be able to express moral views on social issues -- especially those that have been the underpinning of Western civilization for 2,000 years -- without being slandered, accused of hate speech, and told from those who preach 'tolerance' that I need to either bend my beliefs to their moral standards or be silent when I'm in the public square."

As previously reported, Cameron was slammed by a number of TV and film stars, including some of his former co-stars from “Growing Pains,” after expressing disapproval of homosexuality and gay marriage.

In his latest statement, he calls for public debate on the issue to be handled "with greater love and respect,” the Times reports.

Morgan took the middle ground on the comments Cameron made on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” telling TMZ that Cameron was "pretty brave to say what he said,” but adding, “It's, many would argue, an antiquated view about many of these issues.”

Morgan also said: “I felt that he was honest to what he believed, and I don't think he was expecting the furor that it created."

Here’s video of Morgan talking to TMZ:

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Reality Star Released From Hospital Amid Reports of Suicide Attempt, Brain Aneurysm

The former star of a reality series was released from the hospital Monday following a weeklong stay, with media outlets reporting sometimes conflicting explanations including a brain aneurysm, a drug overdose and a suicide attempt.

According to some accounts, Tila Tequila -- the star of MTV’s “Shot at Love With Tila Tequila -- suffered an aneurysm, which caused her to “think irrationally” and to ingest “two bottles of unspecified heavy prescription drugs,” Radar Online reports.

A source told Radar: "It was terrifying for Tila and death was knocking at her door.”

The source added: "Tila threw up all over her bed after overdosing and felt like she was dying. She was screaming for help, and in desperation, broke her bedroom window and attempted to jump out."

According to a TMZ.com report, Tequila’s roommate called 911 last Wednesday and reported that Tequila had “tried to kill herself all week.” The 30-year-old Tequila was reportedly “in and out of consciousness in the house” while authorities examined her, and they determined she needed psychiatric help, according to the report.

More drama occurred after her hospital release, according to TMZ, which reported that another 911 call, from Tequila’s manager, came in last night. Tequila reportedly refused to open the door for the responding officers, later placing her own call to 911 to explain that she couldn’t open the door because she was in a wheelchair, the story reports.

TMZ reported that Tequila was thought to be resting at home afterward.

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ABC Makes History With NBA Game

ABC made ratings history with its telecast Sunday of an NBA game, ESPN and ABC Sports reported. The game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers was the networks’s most viewed non-Christmas Day regular-season NBA game in history.

The game, played in L.A. and won by the Lakers, averaged 7.037 million total viewers, according to Nielsen figures. That number was up 37% from the 5.12 million total viewers for the comparable game last season, when the Lakers played the San Antonio Spurs.

Sunday’s game also scored a 13.9 rating in Miami -- the market’s second-highest regular-season NBA game ever on ABC -- and a 9.6 rating in Los Angeles.

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NBC Wins Monday Night as 'The Voice' and 'Smash' Surge

NBC scored a big win in Monday’s prime-time ratings, with “The Voice” and “Smash” both posting solid gains, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

NBC easily won the night in the key 18-49 demo, averaging a 4.9 rating to trounce ABC (2.1 average), Fox (1.8) and CBS’s all-repeat lineup (1.8). NBC also notched a big win in total viewers, averaging 13.7 million to 7.6 million for ABC, 6.9 million for CBS and 5.7 million for Fox.

NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” scored a 6.1 average rating in adults 18-49, up 13% from last week, when results were impacted by the delayed Daytona 500. “Smash” was up even more, rising 17% to a 2.7 average.

On ABC, a two-hour edition of “The Bachelor” managed a 2.5 average rating in 18-49, down one-tenth from a week ago.

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Super PACs Finally Loosen the Purse Strings, Spend $6 Million in a Few Days

The Super PACs have finally put to rest fears that they’re not in a spending mood this year. In the runup to today’s Super Tuesday elections, the political funding organizations loosened the purse strings and shelled out more than $6 million in media spending in just a few days, Multichannel News reports.

The report cites figures from the Sunlight Foundation, noting that Super PACs were required to file spending reports by the end of last week with the Federal Communications Commission.

The story reports: “According to Sunlight's online Super PAC tracker, the Restore Our Future PAC backing Mitt Romney reported it had spent over $4.6 million on media buys between Feb. 28 and March 5, including a $416,000 national cable buy. Virtually all of Restore America's ads were attacks on either Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich.”

Early last week TV stations were still reporting light spending in advance of Super Tuesday, the story notes. But spending had been expected to pick up.

The report adds: “The Winning Our Future PAC backing Gingrich added another $1.8 million in TV ad buys to the total between Feb. 28 and March 2, all supporting Gingrich, rather than opposing his competition. For its part, Santorum's Red, White and Blue fund was not giving up much green to TV, spending only about $250,000 on TV ads between Feb. 28 and March 3, again in support of their candidate.”

At stake in today’s elections are 410 delegates in primaries and caucuses in Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia, and Alaska, the story notes.

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'The Middle' Sold to 92% of Nation for Broadcast Syndication

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution announced that it has sold the broadcast television syndication rights for the sitcom “The Middle” in more than 92% of the U.S.

Making the announcement today were company President Ken Werner and Executive Vice President/General Sales Manager Rick Meril.

Among the station groups acquiring the show are Tribune, Sinclair, CBS, Communications Corp., Raycom, Newport, Belo, Cox, Local TV, New Age Media, Titan, Grant, News Press & Gazette, Barrington, Mission, Venture, LIN, Pappas, Weigel and Acme.

Said Werner: “We are in a new golden age for sitcoms, both on the broadcast networks and syndication. Stations have been the bedrock destination for off-net sitcoms for generations and it is part of their heritage and brand. Our station partners recognized in ‘The Middle’ a compelling player that would energize their sitcom blocks in 2013 and beyond.”

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Eight Legends Join TV Academy Hall of Fame

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences inducted eight new members -- three of them posthumously -- into its Hall of Fame last week, and TVWeek Open Mic writer Hillary Atkin was on hand to document the historic event.

Click here to find out who got in and to read Hillary's account of a night of laughs, reminiscences and honors.

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Fox Cancels High-Profile Drama Series; Producers Will Shop It to Other Networks

Fox has decided to pull the plug on one of its drama series, with the show’s producer planning to shop it to other networks, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Steven Spielberg series “Terra Nova” has been the subject of much speculation about its future after failing to live up to ratings expectations during its first season. With the high-profile show’s big budget and a growing lineup of hour dramas on the network, Fox decided not to go ahead with season two.

Producer 20th Century Fox TV will look for another home for the time-travel show, the story reports. The series translates well to the international market, which means the show, set in the past, may have a future after all.

“Terra Nova” averaged 7.5 million total viewers and 2.6 million in the key 18-49 demo during its first season, which ran 11 episodes. The show’s two-hour finale attracted a series-low 2.1 rating in viewers 18-49, the report notes.

While “Terra Nova” failed to live up to the “big event” status of predecessors on Fox such as “24,” the network still has contenders in the pipeline. J.J. Abrams’ “Alcatraz” and the Kiefer Sutherland-Tim Kring drama “Touch” are among the shows joining the drama-heavy Fox lineup.

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Two Radio Stations Dump Rush Limbaugh's Show; More Advertisers Sever Ties

The bloodbath continues for conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, which continues to lose advertisers -- and now has lost two radio stations -- in the wake of a verbal attack by the host on a law student who testified about birth control.

The count of advertisers bailing out on the show has climbed to nine, the New York Daily News reports. Meanwhile, radio stations WBEC in Pittsfield, Mass., and KPUA in Hilo, Hawaii, have dropped the show.

Said WBEC General Manager Peter Barry: “This time he’s taken it too far.”

Stamps.com pulled out of the show as an advertiser, the story reports, with a spokesman saying: “Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments do not align with our company values.”

Limbaugh, who has apologized for his comments, was defiant on Monday, downplaying the loss of advertisers. “They have profited handsomely from reaching you,” he said, according to the report. “Now they have decided they don’t want to reach you anymore and we will replace them with advertisers who do.”

As reported previously, Limbaugh called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she testified before lawmakers in Washington about health care policies regarding insurance coverage of birth control. He later apologized, but his remarks triggered a flood of advertiser defections.

Fluke appeared on ABC’s “The View” following Limbaugh’s apology, the report notes. “I don’t think a statement like this, saying his choice of words was not the best, changes anything,” she said on the show.

Clear Channel, which broadcasts the radio show, has stood behind Limbaugh.

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Wow! Japanese Invent Speech-Jamming 'Gun.' How Great to Use at the Movies to Silence That Couple Who Won't Shut Up

"Japanese researchers have invented a speech-jamming gadget that painlessly forces people into silence," Fox News reports.

The article continues, "The device works by recording its target's speech then firing their words back at them with a 0.2-second delay, which affects the brain's cognitive processes and causes speakers to stutter before silencing them completely."

It can work as far as 30 feet away from a person, the story says.

In a research paper the Japanese scientists wrote, "In general, human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately by stopping speaking."

The article also notes that the scientists "suggested the speech-jamming gun could be used to hush noisy speakers in public libraries or to silence people in group discussions who interrupt other people's speeches."

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Rock Superstar and His Well-Known Family to Become Animated Series

A rock superstar and his well-known family are being made into an animated series, Reuters reports. A Toronto-based animation studio -- Cuppa Coffee Studios, which is also behind Comedy Central’s “Ugly Americans” -- is working on a show that brings the Osbournes back to TV.

For now, the show is called “The F’n Osbournes,” with Cuppa Coffee saying the “F” stands for “family” (yeah, right). It’s set to begin production this summer.

Like the original MTV show “The Osbournes,” the show will feature Ozzy, Sharon, Kelly and Jack -- but this time they’ll be in stop-motion animation. Cuppa Coffee Studios President Adam Shaheen will executive produce with Sharon and Jack Osbourne.

The family members will play themselves on the series, which will be shopped to potential buyers at the MIPTV conference in Cannes, the story says.

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ABC's 'The Bachelor' Has Spoken to Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow About Starring on the Show. Rose or No Rose?

ABC’s dating show “The Bachelor” has made it clear it wants Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow for the show, and Tebow is apparently open to it -- or is he?

The show’s host, Chris Harrison, told Access Hollywood he met with Tebow and proposed having the NFL star become the next “Bachelor.” Tebow apparently was receptive to the idea.

Said Harrison: “He did say yes … but he would never do it. He has a little job called quarterback at least for another year.”

Harrison also noted: “They always say yes, but it never happens.”

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Queen Latifah, Gloria Estefan and Country Star John Rich (Who Won 'Celebrity Apprentice' Last Season) Sign on to New Singing Competition Series

After seeing viewers turn out for Fox’s “American Idol” and “X Factor” and NBC’s “The Voice,” another network has announced plans for its own singing competition.

CW will roll out “The Star Next Door,” from Queen Latifah, for a summer run, EW.com reports. The show is launching a national search for talent.

The network said in its announcement: “In this new take on the music competition genre, superstar mentors, including pop legend Gloria Estefan and country star John Rich, will travel to where the talent is, immersing themselves in the lives and towns of these local performers and preparing them for the chance to represent their home city on stage, live, in front of America.”

The CW is also ordering the reality shows “Breaking Pointe” and “The Catalina” for summer. “Breaking Pointe” focuses on competitive ballet, while “The Catalina” is set in a Miami hotel.

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'Desperate Housewives' Creator Marc Cherry Testifies, Admits He Hit Actress

“Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry testified Monday in actress Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination case against the show, describing the circumstances under which he hit Sheridan on the head, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Cherry said he thought he had permission to tap Sheridan’s head, but added that the September 2008 incident strained relations between himself and the actress.

Descriptions of the incident vary somewhat between Cherry and Sheridan, the story notes. She says he walloped her, while he says it was a tap for artistic direction.

The story reports: “Much of Cherry's testimony corroborates Sheridan's version of events, although the actress has told jurors she never gave permission for the show's creator to touch her, much less strike her in a way that she said left her stunned. The incident occurred on the show's set as the actress and Cherry discussed her lines for a scene that Sheridan didn't feel had enough comedy.”

Cherry testified: "I didn't need permission. Permission was understood."

According to the story: “He said he wanted the actress to have some physical interaction with her onscreen husband in the scene and acknowledged that during a deposition he testified that he ‘resorted to demonstration to get my point across.’ In the scene, Sheridan's character hits her husband with a magazine and tickles him, but doesn't strike his head.”

Cherry also said plans were already under way at that point to kill off Sheridan’s character in the show. Those plans moved ahead after an ABC investigation cleared Cherry of wrongdoing in the incident with Sheridan. The story notes that officials were not brought in to talk with Cherry or Sheridan about the incident.

Cherry said he had told two other actresses on the show, Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman, that he planned to kill off Sheridan’s character, Edie Britt, months before he told Sheridan. Longoria and Huffman are on the list of potential witnesses at the trial.

Sheridan is suing for more than $6 million in damages, as previously reported.

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Two Tech Milestones Reached: A Celeb Breaks Twitter Record With 20 Million Followers. And Apple Celebrates Its 25 Billionth App Download

Two tech milestones have been reached, one by Twitter and one by Apple.

On the Twitter side, Lady Gaga is the first person to have more than 20 million followers, The Huffington Post reports.

The other milestone involves Apple's apps. Over this past March 3, 2012, weekend the 25 billionth Apple app was downloaded. According to a number of media reports, Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China, downloaded a free version of Disney's Where's My Water? app on March 3. He received an iTunes gift card for $10,000.

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It was a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Life. Songwriter Robert B. Sherman Dead at 86

Robert B. Sheman, a songwriter mostly identified with Disney songs, has died in London at age 86, according to a number of media reports. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Sherman, along with his brother, Richard, 83, "penned such classic tunes from Disney films as 'Mary Poppins' and 'Jungle Book,' and non-Disney films like 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' " writes Mike Fleming at Deadline.com.

The brothers also wrote "It's a Small World," for the Disney amusement park ride.

The brother team also wrote a number of pop songs, including "You’re Sixteen, You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine," Deadline notes.

The story adds, "Despite the happy words, the [brothers] had a complicated relationship," and the two men "had a falling out after Disney died, and didn’t speak for years."

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FCC Is Asked to Repeal Rule That Prevents a Company From Owning a Newspaper and a TV Station in the Same Market

The Federal Communications Commission has been asked by a trade group to eliminate the rule that bars companies from owning a TV station and a daily newspaper in the same market, Bloomberg reports.

The Newspaper Association of America filed the request Monday with the FCC. The Arlington, Va.-based group, which represents about 2,000 newspapers, called the 1975 rule a “relic” and said it is an obstacle to investment by broadcasters, the story reports.

The FCC has proposed easing the rule, which was designed to help diversify media ownership. But that proposal has opposition.

The report notes: “Consumer groups said the FCC’s proposal would concentrate too much power in the hands of large companies and limit the number of voices in a community.”

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Two More Cast Members Join Roseanne Barr's NBC Sitcom Pilot 'Downwardly Mobile'

With “Roseanne” co-star John Goodman already on board, two more cast members have been signed for Roseanne Barr’s upcoming comedy pilot at NBC, Deadline.com reports.

Joining the project are Mary Birdsong (“The Descendants”) and Romy Rosemont (“Glee”). The multicamera sitcom, “Downwardly Mobile,” features Barr as the manager of a mobile home park and surrogate mother to the economically challenged residents.

Birdsong will play Kathie Lee, described in the story as “quintessential ‘trailer trash’ who runs the pizza/beer joint in the trailer park.” Rosemont, who has a recurring role as Finn’s mother on “Glee,” will play another park resident, who works in a nursing home.

The show is co-created by Barr, John Argent and Eric Gilliland, with Gilliland tackling the job of showrunner.

Goodman signed up for the project earlier this year, as previously reported.

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'Without a Trace' Alum Joins ABC Drama Pilot

An actor who appeared in “Without a Trace” has joined an ABC drama project, TVLine.com reports. Signing on with the pilot “Nashville” is Eric Close.

The new project, written by Callie Khouri and directed by R.J. Cutler, focuses on the country music business, with Hayden Panettiere playing a rising star. Close will play the husband of an older country singer who joins forces with Panettiere’s teen sensation.

Also in the cast are Jonathan Jackson ("General Hospital") and Powers Boothe ("Deadwood"), the story notes.

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Stars of 'Modern Family,' 'Glee' and Others Bash Former 'Growing Pains' Star on His Controversial Remarks

A number of Hollywood personalities are bashing the former star of “Growing Pains” over controversial comments he made on a TV talk show, E! Online reports.

Among those offering their criticisms of Kirk Cameron are “Modern Family’s” Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Glee’s” Jane Lynch and Roseanne, all of whom condemned comments Cameron made on Piers Morgan’s CNN show.

Cameron’s comments were considered by many to be homophobic. He called homosexuality “unnatural” and said gay marriage is “detrimental” to society, the story reports.

Morgan offered his own comment after the interview, saying: "I don't think this Kirk Cameron interview went entirely how he thought it would …"

Cameron became a star with his role on the sitcom “Growing Pains,” and his co-stars from that show were among those offering their opinions. Said Alan Thicke, who played Cameron’s TV dad: "I'll address Kirk's comments as soon as I recover from Rush Limbaugh's ... I'm getting him some new books. The Old Testament simply can't be expected to explain everything."

Limbaugh is also under fire for recent comments, on a different topic, as reported elsewhere.

The actress who played Cameron’s sister on “Growing Pains,” Tracey Gold, responded to the controversy by asserting her support for the LGBT community and equal rights.

E! Online reported separately: “Unwittingly or not, Cameron sparked the controversy on Friday, when he told Piers Morgan that he not only definitively did not support gay marriage, but that he would not be accepting should one of his children be gay, and called the very idea both ‘unnatural" and "destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.’"

Roseanne had harsh words for Cameron, posting: “Kirk or kurt or whatever Cameron is an accomplice to murder with his hate speech.”

Late-night host Craig Ferguson also jumped in, posting: "Rush makes me ashamed to be a middleaged white man and Kirk Cameron makes me ashamed to be a failed actor. We don't all think like that NoH8."

Cameron’s comments were a hot topic at an event over the weekend where George Clooney and Brad Pitt, along with Lynch and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, did a reading in Los Angeles of the play “8,” about California’s Prop 8 gay marriage ban, E! Online reported.

Said Jesse Tyler Ferguson: "It's a very closed-minded, very homophobic viewpoint. It's also surprising coming from someone who was probably brought up in the business among many gay people. It's just very sad."

Added Lynch: "He was a such a cute little boy. He was a such a little sweetheart."

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Advertisers Fleeing Rush Limbaugh's Radio Show After He Calls Law Student a 'Slut'

Advertisers have been bailing out on Rush Limbaugh’s long-running radio talk show in response to his harsh criticism of a law student who testified before lawmakers about contraception.

AOL today became the eighth advertiser to drop the show, USA Today reports. Others include Sleep Train, Citrix Systems, Carbonite and LegalZoom, according to the report.

In a statement, AOL said: "One of our core values is that we act with integrity. We have monitored the unfolding events and have determined that Mr. Limbaugh's comments are not in line with our values."

The story reports: “Limbaugh called 30-year-old law student Sandra Fluke a ‘slut’ and ‘prostitute’ last week after she testified to congressional Democrats in support of national health care policies that would compel employers and other organizations, including her university, to offer group health insurance that covers birth control for women.”

Over the weekend, after advertisers began fleeing the show, Limbaugh apologized to Fluke.

Clear Channel, whose Premiere Radio Networks hosts Limbaugh’s show, has stood behind the host. Limbaugh has a contract with Premiere through 2016, the story notes.

Premiere issued a statement over the weekend saying: "The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue. We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions."

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Star of 'Hawaii Five-0' to Check Into Rehab

The star of a successful CBS crime drama is taking a break from the show to enter a rehab program, Deadline.com reports.

Alex O'Loughlin, who plays Steve McGarrett on “Hawaii Five-0,” will be forced to miss production on at least one episode of the show while he undergoes treatment for a dependency on pain medication, the story reports.

A representative for O’Loughlin said in a statement: “Alex is taking a short break from 'Hawaii Five-0' to receive supervised treatment for prescription pain medication due to a recent shoulder injury.”

The show's production is ahead of schedule, currently filming episode 20 of the 23-episode order for season two. Episode 20 doesn't have too much for O'Loughlin's McGarrett character so it wasn't an issue. Once that episode wraps, there will be a short break before filming of episode 21 commences.

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Actress From CBS Drama Lands Lead on New Project

An actress most recently seen on a CBS drama has landed the lead role in another CBS project, reports Deadline.com.

Rachelle Lefevre, who has been appearing on CBS's medical series "A Gifted Man," got the part in the drama pilot "Applebaum," the story reports. CBS TV Studios is behind both dramas.

"Applebaum" is based on a series of novels by writer Ayelet Waldman called "Mommy Track Mysteries," about a bored stay-at-home mom -- a former public defender -- who becomes a private eye. Feature director Chris Columbus ("Home Alone") is helming the pilot.

CBS has yet to determine the fate of "A Gifted Man," which ended its first season on Friday night. If it is not picked up, Lefevre is free to go with "Applebaum" should it get the green light.

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'Jurassic Park' Actor Brings His Star Power to New NBC Sitcom

One of NBC’s most closely watched development projects is getting some added star power, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “Jurassic Park” star Jeff Goldblum is joining the Sarah Silverman sitcom pilot, the story reports.

Goldblum has recently been on Fox's "Glee" as Hiram Berry, one of Rachel Berry's two dads. On the Silverman project, called "Susan 313," Goldblum will be playing her ex-boyfriend. The sitcom is loosely based on Silverman's life.

Goldblum's role is being called a guest turn, but if the show is picked up as a series, he could return.

Sliverman has worked with Goldblum before; they were both on FX's "The League."

Silverman is co-writing the pilot with Dan Sterling and Jon Schroeder, having previous worked with the scribes on her Comedy Central series "The Sarah Silverman Program."

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CBS Yanks Pilot That's Too Similar to Oscar-Winning Film

CBS has pulled the plug on a drama pilot amid a legal hassle over alleged similarities between the project and an Oscar-winning film, Deadline.com reports.

Rather than face a court battle over the similarities between CBS’s "Quean" and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," Joel Silver's Silver Pictures has decided to cease production on “Quean.”

“Dragon Tattoo,” released in the U.S. in 2011, was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning the award for film editing.

"The L Word" creator Ilene Chaiken wrote "Quean," in which a young woman, a grungy hacker, teams with an Oakland cop to solve crimes. Sony Pictures threatened to sue because the plot seemed too close to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," as well as its two sequels. The other two movies have already been greenlighted, the story notes.

The U.S. version of "Tattoo" was based on a book written by Swedish journalist turned novelist Stieg Larsson. Larsson finished "Tattoo" and its two sequels before he died in 2004. The trilogy became international best sellers when they were published posthumously, and subsequently the three Swedish movies based on the books had a huge internatioinal following as well. 

Sony produced the U.S. movie version of "Tattoo."

Chaiken attempted to alter her work on the CBS drama, but Sony was dissatisfied and still threatened to fight it out in court.

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Veteran Rock Guitarist Dies

A veteran rock ‘n’ roll guitar player who fronted a self-named band for much of his career has died, E! Online reports. Ronnie Montrose, best known as frontman for the group Montrose, was 64.

Montrose reportedly died Saturday of prostate cancer. On his website, ronniemontrose.com, the following message was posted:

“A few months ago, we held a surprise party for Ronnie Montrose's 64th birthday. He gave an impromptu speech, and told us that after a long life, filled with joy and hardship, he didn't take any of our love for granted.

“He passed today. He'd battled cancer, and staved off old age for long enough. And true to form, he chose his own exit the way he chose his own life. We miss him already, but we're glad to have shared with him while we could.”

His band Montrose, which featured Sammy Hagar on vocals, was a prominent hard rock band in the 1970s, with signature songs including “Bad Motor Scooter,” “Rock Candy” and “Rock the Nation,” E! Online reports.

The story adds: “Montrose also appeared on Van Morrison's ‘Tupelo Honey’ and ‘St. Dominic's Preview’ albums and Edgar Winter Group's ‘They Only Come Out at Night,’ as well as doing session work with Boz Scaggs, Herbie Hancock and more.

ronnie-montrose.jpgRonnie Montrose

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News Director Out at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles

The news director at NBC's Los Angeles TV station, KNBC, is leaving, according to a number of media reports.

Vicki Burns, the news director, has only been at the station since August 2010, when she moved from New York to L.A.

In one account, Kevin Roderick of LA Observed writes that Burns "moved around some anchors and reporters, tried going webby on the newscasts without much success and ticked off local Latino groups. When Valari Dobson Staab took over the NBC local stations she noted that KNBC had become 'sloppy' and also killed off Burns' digital initiatives. Finally, the guy who hired Burns moved upstairs last year, and Steve Carlston took over as station general manager. So now Burns is headed back 'east of the Mississippi,' as she says in her farewell note to the staff."

Roderick got a copy of Burns' farewell note to the staff. To read it, please click here.

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Meet the Two Scripted Shows -- a Comedy and a Drama -- That Will Most Likely Beat 'American Idol' in the Ratings This Season

"When the television season ends in May, what will matter most -- for both networks and advertisers -- is the ranking of shows once digital video recorder playback is included in the viewership totals. In a comeback victory for scripted shows, original episodes of 'Modern Family' will most likely dethrone '[American] Idol' this season as television’s favorite show for those valuable 18-49-year-olds -- just as the CBS drama 'NCIS' will most likely beat 'Idol' for the first time for most overall viewers with its original episodes."

So writes our good friend Bill Carter and his colleague Brian Stelter in The New York Times.

The article, primarily about the influence of DVRs and streaming on TV, notes, "DVRs are now in 43 percent of the American households that have televisions. The growth in DVR ownership is starting to slow down, but other manners of time-shifting -- like cable video-on-demand views and Internet stream views -- are speeding up, making it harder than ever to assess the total popularity of a show."

One of the executives interviewed for the story is Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment: "'So we can now truly monetize appointment television,' Mr. Lee said. He noted that in the past, Thursday night shows carried the highest prices in television, because advertisers paid a premium to reach people before their movie openings or weekend car sales. 'Now they buy us on Wednesday,' Mr. Lee said, the day that new 'Modern Family' episodes are broadcast, 'and they know they are going to get Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday...' "

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Video: Sarah Palin Launches Pre-emptive Strike Against New HBO Movie

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has released a video targeting the HBO movie “Game Change,” which focuses on the 2008 election, TVNewser reports.

Palin’s camp has been critical of the movie, in which Julianne Moore plays Palin. The movie’s screenwriter, Danny Strong, told the New York Observer that Palin’s camp declined an offer to screen the movie.

Strong is quoted talking about the new Palin video: “Everything in that video is in the movie. If they would have seen the film before they attacked it, they would know that we have dramatized everything that they put in their video that Sarah Palin supporters are proud of. She really is a dynamic person that did a lot of amazing things for that campaign.”

However, those who have seen it are saying Moore’s portrayal of Palin in the HBO movie is unsympathetic, according to TVNewser.

John McCain has also been unenthusiastic about the movie, as previously reported. “Game Change” is set to premiere March 10.

Here’s the new Palin video:

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Two Stalwarts of Liberal Talk Radio Join Morning Lineup at Cable Network (No, It's Not MSNBC)

Two radio talk shows from the left side of the political spectrum will be simulcast on cable.

The two personalities are Bill Press and Stephanie Miller. Both of their morning radio shows are coming to the Current cable channel this spring, Current has announced.

Says the announcement, Press' radio show will be live from 6 a.m.-9 a.m. ET, followed by Miller's show from 9 a.m.-noon ET "every weekday starting early this spring." No exact start date was announced.

On Current the Press show will be known as “Full Court Press: The Bill Press Show,” and Miller's program wil be "Talking Liberally: The Stephanie Miller Show.”

The shows will continue to be broadcast in the radio studos they now use. The only addition will be cameras from Current.

Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore, who is a co-founder of Current and the chairman of Current TV, said in a statement, "I’ve followed Stephanie and Bill for years. They provide the kind of smart, insightful news analysis that our viewers want to hear. Bill brings a vital perspective directly from the heart of the Beltway, and Stephanie’s fresh take on politics and news has a decidedly outsider flair. We’re really looking forward to bringing their voices to our viewers.”

The announcement said of Press that he "began his career as a political insider and media commentator on KABC-TV and KCOP-TV, both in Los Angeles. Over the years, he has received numerous awards for his work, including four Emmys and a Golden Mike Award. The former co-host of MSNBC’s 'Buchanan and Press,' CNN’s 'Crossfire' and 'The Spin Room,' Press has built a national reputation on thought-provoking and humorous insights from the left side of the political aisle."

Of Miller the announcement said that her radio show "is distributed on America's largest radio network, Dial-Global, and heard on satellite radio via SiriusXM, and has become the top show in Progressive Talk. Stephanie was named Talk Radio’s Woman of the Year by Talkers Magazine and her Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour (the No. 1 comedy tour in the country) continues to break box office records and remains the first political comedy album to reach No. 1 on the comedy charts for iTunes, Amazon and Billboard."

The new shows join Current’s lineup of political commentary and analysis programs, which include “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur” and “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm."

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Oprah Slates Interview With Whitney Houston's Daughter and Family Members

Oprah Winfrey has scheduled a sit-down interview with Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late Whitney Houston, TV Guide reports.

The telecast will also feature interviews with Patricia Houston, Whitney Houston’s sister-in-law and manager, and the singer’s brother, Gary Houston. The interviews will be featured on “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” airing on OWN on Sunday, March 11, the story reports.

The cable network will precede the telecast with a repeat of Winfrey’s 2009 interview with Whitney Houston, packaged as “Remembering Whitney: The Oprah Interview.”

Houston died Feb. 11 at 48, as previously reported. An autopsy was performed, but her official cause of death is on hold pending toxicology results.

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Cable Keeps Cranking Out Auction, Pawn, Bargain-Hunting and Repo Shows, but Are Advertisers Ready to Say Enough Already?

Cable Networks are ready to present their programming to advertisers in the upfront, but there’s at least one problem: All the shows are starting to look the same, Advertising Age reports.

The trend has been toward look-alike auction, pawn, bargain-hunting and repo shows, the story notes, with “Pawn Stars,” “Storage Wars,” “American Pickers” and “Auction Hunters” just the tip of the iceberg.

Viewers continue to turn out for the shows, spawning new generations of copycat programs. But the proliferation of look-alike shows is bound to create problems down the road.

Click here for the full report on how this trend -- not to mention all the hoarding and swamp shows -- is likely to affect the cable advertising market.

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Talk About Visual Influence: Oscar-Winning Artist Who Created the Look of 'Star Wars,' 'E.T.' and 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' Dies. He Also Designed the Look of the Original 'Battlestar Galactica' on TV

An Oscar-winning conceptual designer and illustrator who is credited with creating the look of the original “Star Wars” trilogy has died, Entertainment Weekly reports. Ralph McQuarrie, 82, died Saturday in Berkeley, Calif., from complications arising out of his long battle with Parkinson’s disease, the story reports.

The story reports: “During the course of his brief but highly influential Hollywood career McQuarrie also contributed to the designs of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ ‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial,’ the original ‘Battlestar Galactica’ TV series, ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,’ ‘*batteries not included,’ ‘Nightbreed’ and ‘Cocoon,’ for which he won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1986.”

A message posted on McQuarrie’s website, ralphmcquarrie.com, says: “There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say ... ‘That looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.’"

A statement posted to McQuarrie’s official website Saturday read, “There’s no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise, and someone, somewhere will say… that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.”

ralph-mcquarrie.jpgRalph McQuarrie

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Subject of Documentary Series Executed in Texas

The reported ringleader of a Texas prison break who was a focus of an upcoming four-part TV documentary series has been executed in Texas, Realscreen reports.

George Rivas is a subject of the Investigation Discovery series “On Death Row,” from director Werner Herzog. Rivas was 41.

The story reports: “Rivas was best known as the reported ringleader of the infamous ‘Texas 7’ gang, which organized the state’s biggest prison break. While on the run, the group committed a robbery that led to the death of a police officer and as a result, all of the escapees were given the death penalty.”

Rivas was interviewed by Herzog for the ID series last September. The miniseries is set to premiere March 9 on ID, with the Rivas episode scheduled for March 23.

The execution of Rivas parallels developments surrounding another Herzog project. The story reports: “The news comes after Michael Perry, one of the subjects of Herzog’s feature doc ‘Into The Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life,’ was executed eight days after speaking to the director, and before the film’s completion.”

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Lindsay Lohan's 'SNL' Appearance Pumps Up Ratings; Video: Lohan's 'SNL' Opening

Lindsay Lohan’s appearance as host of “Saturday Night Live” was a ratings success for NBC, delivering the show’s second-best numbers of the season in metered-market households, NBC reports.

The show pulled a 5.5/14 household number in metered markets, second only to the 8.2/19 for a telecast Jan. 7 that followed NBC’s NFL Wild Card Game coverage.

Saturday’s show was up 2% from the same night a year ago, the network reported.

In Local People Meter markets, the show averaged a 3.3 rating and 15 share in the 18-49 demo, the network reported, beating all prime-time programming for the night on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.

Here’s a clip of Lohan’s opening monologue:

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Fox Tweaks Prime-Time Schedule

Fox has announced that it’s moving one show and holding off on the start of another one, Deadline.com reports. The network will yank "The Finder" from Thursdays and move it to Fridays for the remainder of the season, the story reports.

The network also announced that it will move the latest effort from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, "Hotel Hell," to the summer schedule instead of debuting the show in spring.

Moving "The Finder" makes room on Thursday night for the new drama “Touch.” Fox previously announced that “Touch” will get the post-“American Idol” slot on Thursday, starting March 15.

The final Thursday installment of “The Finder” will air March 8, after which the show will go on a short hiatus before returning Friday, April 6, at 8 p.m. for its final three episodes.

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Daytime Drama Emmy Winners Will Come From This List. Lots of Emotion This Year Because This Is the Last Time Actors and Actresses From the Canceled Soaps 'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live' Can Win

It's soon time for the Daytime Emmys, and the New York-based National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, in cooperation with the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, has announced the list of actors and actresses on the pre-nomination list.

This list is very important because the actual nominees and winners in the drama categories will come from this list.

There's a lot of extra emotion this year, since this is the last time performers can win for the characters they played on the canceled soaps "All My Children" and "One Life to Live."

Click here to see the complete list.

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'Awake' Premiere Fails to Snap NBC Out of Its Thursday 10 p.m. Doldrums

NBC’s new series “Awake,” premiering against repeat programming on CBS and ABC, was a case of good news/bad news for the Peacock Network, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The good news is the show did better than the 1.4 for “The Firm” in the 18-49 demo in its spring debut in the time slot, and gave NBC its highest non-sports number for the time slot since April 2011. The bad news is it still only did a 1.9 average rating in adults 18-49.

The top show of the night -- by a lot -- was Fox’s two-hour “American Idol,” which pulled a 5.3 rating in 18-49. CBS’s repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” was next with a 3.2.

Fox’s 5.3 average for prime time easily won the night in the 18-49 demo, ahead of CBS (2.1 average with almost all repeats), NBC (1.9), Univision (1.4) and an all-repeat lineup on ABC (1.1).

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Thanks to the Super Bowl, NBC Wins February Sweeps

NBC has won the February sweeps, paced by the Super Bowl along with strong numbers for “The Voice.”

For the period from Feb. 2-29, NBC led the way in the key 18-49 demo with a 3.7 average rating, ahead of CBS (3.0 average), Fox (3.0), ABC (2.5) and CW (0.7).

CBS won the battle for total viewers with an average of 12.2 million, to 10.4 million for NBC, 8.5 million for Fox, 7.8 million for ABC and 1.6 million for CW.

NBC’s Monday talent competition “The Voice” was the No. 1 series in many demos, including adults 18-49, women 18-49 and adults, men and women 18-34, along with a tie for No. 1 in men 18-49.

Boosted mainly by the Super Bowl and "The Voice," NBC was up 131% in viewers 18-49 from the year-ago sweeps period (3.7 average rating vs. a 1.6) and was up 86% in total viewers (10.4 million vs. 5.6 million).

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ABC Casts Lead for 'Beauty and the Beast'

ABC has found its “Beauty” for "Beauty and the Beast." The role in the new drama pilot will be the first U.S. acting job for a young Irish actress, Ruth Bradley, Deadline.com reports.

Bradley will play Grace, an embattled princess, who has an unlikely connection with Shiro, a bodyguard for hire who is something of a mysterious beast. Scottish singer-actor Darius Campbell is playing Shiro.

Bradley has appeared in TV series before, including “Primeval” and “Love/Hate,” and in the feature “In Her Skin.”

Directing the pilot is Yves Simoneau for ABC Studios. Jon Steinberg penned the script.

ruth-bradley.jpgRuth Bradley

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Biography Pays Tribute to Davy Jones and the Monkees; Public Memorials in the Works

With the death this week of pop star Davy Jones, a member of the quartet created by NBC as a TV singing group called "The Monkees," the Biography Channel will honor Jones and the 1960s group with two hours of programming tonight.

At 8 p.m. the channel will show "Biography: The Monkees," which documents how NBC created the music group, hiring four actor-musicians to become the pre-Fab Four, TV's answer to the Beatles.

At 9 p.m. "Biography Remembers: Davy Jones" will focus specifically on Davy, from his English roots through his rise as a musical star on Broadway in "Oliver" and then as one of the singers in the Monkees.

Public memorials for Jones are reportedly being planned in New York and the U.K., although no schedules have yet been announced. Jones is expected to be buried in Florida.

Jones died Wednesday of a heart attack at 66, as previously reported.

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Pop Superstar Takes Herself Out of the Running for 'X Factor' Judging Job

The list of pop divas who have been rumored to be in the running for a judging gig on “The X Factor” has just been reduced by one, TheInsider.com reports.

Janet Jackson says she’s not interested, according to the report. Jackson told the website she’s “very flattered that ‘X Factor’ let me know that I was being considered for next season, but it just wouldn't be possible,” the story says.

Since “X Factor’s” Simon Cowell said last month that Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger would be replaced on the show with two women, speculation has focused on pop stars including Jackson, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears and Pink.

The story reports: “Citing a previous commitment to her ‘Number Ones Up Close and Personal Tour’ (which kicks off again this summer) and Lionsgate (the studio behind Tyler Perry's movies), Janet simply felt taking on a TV gig would be ‘unrealistic’ at this time.”

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Conservative Pundit Andrew Breitbart Spent the Two Hours Before He Died With a Well-Known Former TV Executive. They Had Never Met Before, Were 180 Degrees Apart Politically, and Had a Great Time

Andrew Breitbart, the conservative commentator who died unexpectedly at age 43 early Thursday morning, March 1, 2012, spent his last hours with a former TV executive he had never met.

The former TV executive is Arthur Sando, who for years worked as corporate communications chief at Turner Broadcasting and then at King World. Sando, who is now vice president of corporate communications for dietary supplement company MonaVie, first told about his encounter with Breitbart to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the story, "Sando says he arrived [at the The Brentwood bar and restaurant] in the tony Brentwood section of L.A. around 10 p.m. and soon the empty seat next to his [at the bar] was filled by a man with a familiar face. 'I tried to figure out how I knew him,' says Sando. ... 'He was on his BlackBerry. And I said "Andrew?" I told him I had seen his work.' Sando says the duo quickly struck up a conversation that would last a little less than two hours."

Fifty minutes after that, Breitbart would be dead.

The story in THR continues: " 'He was friendly and engaging,' Sando recalls. 'I said, "You can't be very happy with the slate of Republican candidates," and he said, "Why would you say that?" I said, "Well, they're talking about contraception," and he said, "The conversation is being framed by the liberal media." I said, "Well, the media isn't writing Rick Santorum’s speeches for him." We had a back-and-forth for a while until we said we weren’t going to agree on some things.' The friendly debate continued in the bar as Breitbart sipped red wine, says Sando. 'We just hit it off, he was delightful. There were other people who sat down and joined the conversation.' "

The article adds, "After the two hours, Breitbart said he was leaving. 'We exchanged contact information,' Sando says. 'We were going to get together. ... There were no signs that anything was wrong,' says Sando. 'It's very sad.' "

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TV Networks Sue Barry Diller's Video-Streaming Service

The broadcast networks have filed lawsuits against an online video-streaming service that has been urging customers to cut their cable cords, TheWrap.com reports.

The new service, Aereo, is set to launch in New York in about two weeks. Suing it for alleged copyright violations in a pair of lawsuits are CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Univision and PBS, the story reports.

Barry Diller, the longtime television exec who created the Fox Network three decades ago, is behind the new service. As reported previously, Aereo’s model distributes broadcast programming over the Internet to Web-connected TVs, phones and tablets.

The broadcast networks see Aereo as a direct competitor and say the company needs their permission to carry their programming.

Fox, PBS and Univision are joined in one of the two lawsuits, which says in part: "No amount of technological gimmickry by Aereo -- or claims that it is simply providing a set of sophisticated ‘rabbit ears’ -- changes the fundamental principle of copyright laws that those who wish to retransmit Plaintiffs' broadcasts may do so only with Plaintiffs authority."

The other suit, filed by CBS, ABC and NBC, states simply: "This service is based on the illegal use of our content. Beyond that, we believe the complaint speaks for itself.”

The networks are suing for damages along with injunctive relief, the report notes.

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Oscar Winner Drops Out of HBO Comedy Project

A high-profile comedy project in the works at HBO has suffered a setback after the pay cable network and an Oscar-winning actress agreed to end their collaboration, Deadline.com reports.

Goldie Hawn, an Oscar winner for the 1969 movie “Cactus Flower,” is off the comedy pilot “The Viagra Diaries,” the story reports. The project was expected to be a return to acting for Hawn.

HBO declined to comment on Hawn’s departure, the story notes, adding: “There have been rumors about Hawn being difficult in her dealings with the rest of the people involved in the project and in the casting process. ‘Bridesmaids’’ Wendi McLendon-Covey is the only actor besides Hawn cast in the pilot so far; the husband role is yet to be filled after a number of actors read with Hawn for it.”

The project, which was created by Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) and is being directed by “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, is going forward, with HBO searching for an actress to take over the lead role, the story notes.

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Fun Weekend Reading: What Ted Turner Is Up to Now. At 73 He's Got Four Girlfriends, Was Recently Diagnosed With Sleep Apnea, and, Says His Daughter, He Really Misses Time Warner. 'He'd still be there if he'd not totally gotten screwed,' She Says

So what's Ted Turner up to? You can find out by reading "Whatever Happened to Ted Turner" by Stephen Galloway in The Hollywood Reproter.

Galloway writes, "Turner doesn’t pay attention to TV anymore, other than CNN [which Turner founded]. 'I don’t watch entertainment,' he says. As for CNN’s sister network, HLN, 'the News and Views Network featuring Nancy Grace': 'I haven’t watched in years. I want to see serious news.' ”

Later in the piece Galloway notes about Turner that "His energy may be flagging, but some drive keeps propelling him forward, in an unending race to achieve more -- or outrun his inner demons.

"The 2001 departure of Jane Fonda from his life, after a 10-year marriage, may have fueled this. He admits it shook him profoundly and perhaps contributed to the sense one has of his being emotionally adrift, no matter how vast his accomplishments. Often, during our conversations, he tunnels down a track of his own -- spending 15 minutes on his Voluntary Initiatives, for instance -- as if his mind is full of his own thoughts and private obsessions. He has replaced Fonda with a new arrangement, alternating among four girlfriends, each of whom gets approximately a week per month of his time. 'Pretty much, that’s the general rule,' he says."

Again, to read the entire profile in THR, please click here.

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Video: Lindsay Lohan and Jimmy Fallon Revisit 'Debbie Downer' Meltdown on 'SNL'

Lindsay Lohan has been making the rounds of TV talk shows to promote her upcoming hosting gig on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” and her mini-tour has produced some highlights.

Among them, Lohan’s appearance Thursday night on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” where the host -- a former “SNL” regular -- and the actress recalled a previous Lohan visit to “SNL” in which the cast completely lost it during the first “Debbie Downer” skit.

Here’s the video:

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Hi-Tech Meets the Most Primal of Human Functions as Pissed-Off Man Sues Google in Our Weird News Story of the Day

"A man is suing Google after a precarious picture of him showed up on the company's Street View service," TG Daily reports.

The article continues, "Google now blurs faces of people that happen to be in the line of fire, but for one man in a small village in France, that's not good enough. The roaming vehicle happened to spin by his house at the very moment he was relieving himself in his garden."

Adds the story, "Even though he was blurred, it was right outside his house and the town he lives in is small, so he became 'an object of ridicule,' according to his lawyer, Jean-Noel Bouillaud, as quoted by AFP. Google is able to justify literally driving through entire countries and taking pictures of every passing person because streets are public property where there is no expectation of privacy."

The article continues, "But the man in this case, whose name has not been revealed, said he was in his own privately owned property, with the gate closed. There, he does have a reasonable expectation of privacy."

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Nicollette Sheridan Takes the Stand in 'Desperate Housewives' Trial, Describes Alleged Attack by Show Creator Marc Cherry

The first witness took the stand Thursday in Nicollette Sheridan’s wrongful termination case against ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” as the actress recounted an alleged physical attack by show creator Marc Cherry, EW.com reports.

Sheridan testified that the trouble started after a funny line by her character, Edie Britt, was eliminated from the script and she asked Cherry about it.

According to the report, Sheridan testified that Cherry asked her, “What is it that you want?”

“Then, she added, ‘Mr. Cherry approached, he took his right hand, and he hit me upside the head. I was stunned; I couldn’t believe he just hit me.’ Sheridan then re-created her reaction. ‘You just hit me in the head,’ she said very loudly in the courtroom, while tearing up. ‘This is not okay, that is not okay,’” the story reports.

Sheridan reportedly testified that she was later comforted by co-star Neal McDonough, after which Cherry came to her trailer to apologize.

According to the report, Sheridan testified that Cherry said, “I’m on bended knee begging your forgiveness. I didn’t know what you wanted.”

The story reports: “She continued: ‘He wrapped his arms around me and apologized again.’ The line of questioning ended when her lawyer, Patrick Maloney, had Sheridan hit him in the head with the same force that Cherry allegedly did. She hesitated before agreeing, and then let him have it.”

Sheridan is suing for about $6 million in damages after being fired from the show, as previously reported.

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Report: Breitbart Was in Talks for CNN Show With Anthony Weiner, the Former Congressman Breitbart Exposed

Conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart, who died suddenly this week at 43, had told friends he was close to getting a show on CNN that would have pitted him against his political opposite, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reports.

It was Breitbart who led the way in taking down Weiner after the New York congressman reportedly sent photographs of his body parts to young women on Twitter.

Breitbart died after collapsing while walking near his home in Los Angeles early Thursday, as previously reported.

The story reports: “Confidants of Breitbart say he had some reservations about a CNN show but would probably have signed up for it. He was intrigued by the notion of a show with Weiner, believing it could be a vehicle for real discussion of ideas.”

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Casting Shapes Up for 'Making of Psycho' Movie Project: 'Lost in Translation' Beauty as Janet Leigh, Oscar Winner as Hitchcock. Influence of Hitchcock's TV Show

The part of Janet Leigh, the star of “Psycho,” has been cast in “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The victim of the famous shower scene will be played by Scarlett Johansson, the story reports.

Anthony Hopkins, an Oscar winner for “The Silence of the Lambs,” is already attached to play Hitchcock, the story notes. Hopkins also has Oscar nominations for “Nixon,” “The Remains of the Day” and “Amistad.”

Johansson is known for her role in “Lost in Translation” (2003), which earned the actress one of her four Golden Globe nominations -- the others coming for “Match Point,” “A Love Song for Bobby Long” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”

The feature project is in the works at Paramount, having moved there in December after four years in development at Fox Searchlight, the story notes.

The irony is that Paramount was the studio for whom Hitchcock first proposed the idea of making "Psycho," and they did not want to make it.

At the time Hitchcock had been making his TV show, "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," for about five years. One of the keys to his proposal for making the low-budget horror picture "Psycho" was that he was planning to use an almost all TV crew to shoot the picture.

According the the THR article, Helen Mirren, another Oscar winner (“The Queen”) and multiple nominee (“The Last Station,” “Gosford Park,” “The Madness of King George”), will play the legendary director’s wife, Alma Reville, in "The Making of Psycho."

The story adds: “The project is based on the non-fiction book by Stephen Rebello that tracks how Hitchcock, at the height of his game as a director, decided to make a ‘lowly’ horror movie. No studio wanted to touch it initially, so Hitchcock scrounged for financing by himself. The movie, of course, became his biggest hit at the box-office and one of the most influential of all time.”

scarlettjohansson.jpgScarlett Johansson

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Report: Apple Wants a New Service Streaming TV Programming Up and Running by Christmas, But the Studios Are Balking at Apple's Terms. TV Channels as Apps? Plus, What Apple Wants to Do With MSOs

"Apple is pushing ahead with plans to launch a streaming TV service by Christmas -- despite making little headway in its negotiations with content providers," writes our friend Claire Atkinson in the New York Post.

According to the article: "Apple’s negotiating stance can be summed up as 'we decide the price, we decide what content,' according to one source familiar with the talks. 'They want everything for nothing,' said another media executive, echoing similar tense negotiations Apple has had in the past with magazine publishers and music companies."

The story continues: "Apple is pitching the idea of offering channels as apps for its devices, including its Apple TV set-top box. It’s unclear whether it would group the apps together and charge a fee -- similar to a cable-TV subscription -- or offer the channels on an a la carte basis."

The article also explains that Apple wants to get involved with cable operators: "Apple has tried to get cable operators to work with it to improve the accessibility and look of video services and in the process dump their clunky cable boxes in favor of sleek Apple devices. 'They want to create the interface, and they wanted to work with the cable guys to manage bandwidth across the TV and broadband pipeline,' said one source familiar with the talks. Instead, cable executives pretty much shut the door, preferring to keep Apple at a safe distance from the lucrative $150 billion pay-TV business."

Read more by clicking here.

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2012 Forecast Contains Good News for Cable

A forecast examining the outlook for cable and satellite TV contains some good news for subscription-based programming providers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The report, “Cable/Digital Broadcast Satellite Businesses Are Healthy, Even With Tough Housing Environment,” by Barclays Capital analyst James Ratcliffe, predicts a modest improvement in pay TV subscription growth, the story reports.

Ratcliffe says cable, satellite and telcos will add 450,000 pay TV subscribers this year, an improvement from 195,000 in 2011. The growth is being driven by a "modest improvement in housing occupancy, along with the expansion of lower-priced plans targeted at more price-sensitive customers," Ratcliffe says.

Ratcliffe joins other experts who have said there’s reason for optimism among those who have been concerned about cord cutting, THR reports.

According to the story, Ratcliffe’s report states: "Housing weakness explains sluggish pay TV results. Fourth-quarter results again showed that weak occupied home growth, not cord cutting, has kept pay TV subscriber results in check. The growth in homes without pay TV actually slowed year-over-year in 2011, as pay TV net adds declined from 270,000 to 195,000, while occupied home growth slowed from 940,000 to 660,000."

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Video: TV Sports Anchor Disciplined Over Comments About Female Race Driver

A sports anchor for a major-market TV station has been suspended over remarks he made about a high-profile female race car driver, Yahoo Sports reports.

Ross Shimabuku of San Diego’s Fox 5 News offered some unpleasantries about racer Danica Patrick during the runup to Sunday’s Daytona 500. He responded to complaints by Patrick that she is continuously referred to as “sexy,” offering his own description for Patrick.

He later apologized for his comments.

The station reportedly suspended Shimabuku for a week without pay.

Here’s a video of Shimabuku’s report:

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NBC Project Reunites Writer and Star From 'Friends'

A “Friends” reunion is in the works at NBC, where one of the stars of the long-running hit sitcom has been lined up to star in a sitcom pilot that’s being written by Scott Silveri, who was a writer on the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Matthew Perry, who played Chandler on “Friends,” will star in the pilot, “Go On.”

The story reports: “’Go On’ revolves around an irreverent yet charming sportscaster who tries to move on from loss and finds solace from the members of his mandatory group therapy sessions.”

Julie White and Suzy Nakamura co-star in the project. Todd Holland is set to direct and exec produce the pilot. The project is from Silveri -- who also wrote “Friends” spinoff “Joey” -- and Universal Television.

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Autopsy Reveals Cause of Death for Former Monkee

The medical examiner’s office in Martin County, Fla., has determined the cause of death for former Monkees band member Davy Jones, the AP reports.

The autopsy, which was completed today, reveals that the onetime teen idol died of a heart attack, the story says.

Jones was rushed to the hospital Wednesday, but could not be revived. The results of toxicology tests will take up to eight weeks to surface, but authorities said no signs exist that anything else might be to blame. Jones died at 66, as previously reported.

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Friars Club to Roast One of the Most Beloved Actresses in the U.S.

Following in the tradition of Lucille Ball, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal, a veteran TV actress will be roasted at the annual Friars Club roast, reports ETOnline.com. The actress is Betty White.

On May 16, White will be put on the ultimate show business hot seat, the one roast that really has stature in the industry -- which is held behind closed doors.

The actress known for “Hot in Cleveland” and “The Golden Girls” indicated she would be ready for the pressure. White told ET: "Those Friars may think I'm an easy mark but I have 90 years of comebacks waiting for them. This is such an honor to be roasted by the Friars Club. It will be an afternoon filled with dirty words, risque jokes & sex talk ... and that's just what I plan on saying. I have no clue what the comedians will talk about."

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'Star Trek' Mainstay to Fulfill a Nerd Fantasy by Appearing (Sort of) on 'Big Bang Theory'

One of the main cast members of the original “Star Trek” series will make a dream come true for a nerd character on the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” TVLine reports.

Leonard Nimoy, forever known as Mr. Spock on "Star Trek," will beam over to the show. To the characters on the comedy, especially Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Nimoy is a hero. In a season two episode, Sheldon received an autographed napkin from Nimoy and was joyous that he literally had the actor's DNA!

In the March 29 episode, it will be Nimoy’s voice that finds its way to the show: Spock will speak to Sheldon in a dream sequence. Nimoy has reportedly been invited to appear on camera by the producers, but has yet to say yes.

Other stars from the "Star Trek" series who have appeared on "Big Bang" in the past include Levar Burton, Wil Wheaton and Brent Spiner.

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Lawsuit Settled, Clearing Way for Release of Singer's Pre-'American Idol' Album

A singer who became a star on “American Idol” has settled a lawsuit that was holding up the release of an album he recorded before his appearance on the Fox show.

Adam Lambert came to terms with Colwel Platinum Entertainment, with the parties agreeing to dismiss the lawsuit over the album “Beg for Mercy,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Colwel maintained in the suit that it owned a 50 percent publishing share of the recordings and that it had, pursuant to a contract with Lambert, an unconditional right to promote and sell the recordings, the story reports. The album reportedly appeared for sale on Amazon.

As part of the agreement, Lambert will not block the further marketing of the album.

The parties have made it clear that Lambert's eligibility for "American Idol" was never a contention in the dispute, although that issue was previously interpreted by some to be a part of the lawsuit.

Colwel provided THR with a statement in which it said: “The Colwel Platinum Entertainment lawsuit against Adam Lambert has been resolved. Adam has withdrawn any objections to the release of ‘Beg for Mercy’ and he has approved the use of his songs and performances in these pre-‘Idol’ recordings which are interpretations of his artistic vision at the time. Neither Colwel Platinum Entertainment Inc. nor Malcolm Welsford ever stated that Adam was not eligible to participate in ‘American Idol’ when he did so and regret that the lawsuit’s allegations were misinterpreted.”

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Keith Olbermann Is Sued

Controversial cable talk show host Keith Olbermann has been sued -- and it’s apparently political. The New York Post reports that Olbermann, the outspoken left-leaning host of Current TV’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” was sued by conservative “video prankster” James O’Keefe.

The suit also names Current TV, the story reports.

O’Keefe is accusing Olbermann and Current of being responsible for stating that O’Keefe had been accused of rape and convicted of a felony, according to the report.

The story states: “On an Olbermann show last week, a guest, cable reporter David Schuster, characterized O’Keefe as ‘a convicted felon’ and the suspect in a rape allegation from a former co-worker. Turns out O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and had been accused of harassment, but the charges were dropped for lack of evidence.”

O’Keefe reportedly tweeted about the situation, saying: “MSM [mainstream media] will say, do anything to stop a citizen journalist they cannot control.”

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What Did Tony Soprano Think of the 'Sopranos' Ending? Actor James Gandolfini Breaks Silence

James Gandolfini, who played Tony Soprano in HBO’s long-running Jersey mob drama “The Sopranos,” says that like many of the show’s fans, he was baffled at first by the show’s ambiguous ending, the New York Post reports.

Gandolfini talks about the infamous ending in a new oral history of the show that runs in April’s issue of Vanity Fair, the story reports.

Says Gandolfini: “When I first saw the ending, I said, ‘What the f--k?’ I mean, after all I went through, all this death, and then it’s over like that?”

At the end of the final episode, the screen goes dark with Tony Soprano and his family apparently being circled by would-be assassins in a restaurant. Many fans of the show saw the fade-out as a cop-out.

But Gandolfini, for one, eventually came around.

“After I had a day to sleep, I just sat there and said, ‘That’s perfect,’” the actor says.

Also commenting on the show’s ending was Lorraine Bracco, who played Dr. Jennifer Melfi.

The actress says in the Vanity Fair piece: “I would have wanted it to end differently. But God knows we’ve talked about that ending for five years now -- we’re still talking about it. People stop me in the street. ‘Did you get the ending? Did I miss something?’ I thought it was very, very shrewd.”

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Actress Who Had a High-Profile Feud With Chuck Lorre Poised to Join Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management'

An actress who, like Charlie Sheen, has had a high-profile battle with “Two and a Half Men” creator Chuck Lorre is in final negotiations to join Sheen’s new show, TheWrap.com reports.

Brett Butler, the former "Grace Under Fire" star, appears poised to sign on with “Anger Management,” Sheen’s upcoming FX comedy series. She would play a recurring role as a bartender at the bar Sheen’s character frequents, the story reports.

The story reports: “Sheen and Butler share more than a common series; like Sheen, Butler locked horns with Sheen's former ‘Two and a Half Men’ boss Chuck Lorre, who created and executive-produced ‘Grace Under Fire’ until he was removed from production duties due to the pair's arguments over control of the show and Butler's character.”

Sheen’s own battle with Lorre got even bigger headlines and included Sheen’s ouster from “Two and a Half Men.” Sheen later sued Lorre and show producer Warner Bros., reportedly settling for $25 million.

The story adds: "The parallels don't end there; in the later seasons of 'Grace Under Fire,' Butler developed a painkiller addiction, which prompted ABC to pull the plug on the series in 1998. Toward the end of his run with 'Two and a Half Men,' Sheen, who has been open in the media about his past drug use, entered rehab early last year, forcing the show into hiatus."

"Anger Management," which also stars Selma Blair and Shawnee Smith, is set to premiere June 28 on FX.

brett-butler.jpgBrett Butler

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Target Pulls Whitney Houston Greeting Card

Target retail stores have pulled a greeting card from the shelves after learning that it poked fun of the late Whitney Houston, TMZ.com reports.

The card, which was released before Houston’s sudden death last month, includes the words “Next time you think of dating the bad boy, consider Whitney Houston.”

Some have connected Houston’s substance abuse problems with her troubled marriage to “bad boy” Bobby Brown. The card apparently pokes fun at that relationship -- but the joke became offensive to some people after Houston died.

A Target representative told the publication: "The card was in our stores prior to Ms. Houston’s death. As soon as this was brought to our attention, we began the process of removing the card from all applicable stores."

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'Desperate Housewives' Trial: Nicollette Sheridan in Tears as Slapping Incident Is Recounted

Differing opinions on what went down between actress Nicollette Sheridan and show creator and executive producer Marc Cherry were presented in court as a high-profile trial over the hit ABC show “Desperate Housewives” got under way this week.

Sheridan is suing for about $6 million in damages after being fired from the show, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reports. The story says Sheridan was in tears as her attorney, Mark Baute, described a September 2008 incident in which Cherry allegedly “struck Sheridan hard on the head,” with the actress subsequently being fired from the show after ABC cleared Cherry of wrongdoing.

Listed as potential witnesses in the case are a number of the show’s stars, including Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman and Marcia Cross, the Daily Mail reports.

The story adds: “Baute said Cherry acknowledges touching Sheridan, but claims he was tapping her head to give her artistic direction. 'This is a man hitting a woman in the head -- hard -- without her consent,' Baute said.”

In opening statements on Wednesday, defense attorney Adam Levin said Edie Britt, Sheridan's character in the show, was already set to be killed off on the series months before the alleged slapping incident, Deadline.com reports.

Deadline reports: “Levin claims that the former ABC Entertainment president gave ‘Desperate Housewives’ creator/executive producer Cherry the OK to kill off Nicollette Sheridan’s character on the series -- months before an alleged head-slapping incident between the actress and Cherry. Levin told jurors that on May 22, 2008, Cherry along with fellow ‘Housewives’ exec producer Bob Daily went to then-ABC Studios boss [Mark] Pedowitz and asked him if they could kill off Sheridan’s character in a “tentpole” Season 5 story arc. Pedowitz agreed, and that same day the group went to McPherson with the idea.”

The Deadline report adds: “Levin also all but claimed that Sheridan’s assertion that Cherry hit her on set in September 2008 was the actress attempting to generate buzz and revenue for herself. Sheridan ‘suffered no injury’ when Cherry ‘lightly tapped’ her on the head while giving her on-set direction that day. ‘She didn’t even have a red mark; she didn’t even take an aspirin,’ Levin told the jury, dismissing the plaintiff’s contention that the actress was ‘hit hard,’ as her lawyer claimed earlier.”

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NBC Orders Drama Series

NBC has placed a 13-episode order for a drama series, which the network plans to air during the summer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The series is “Saving Hope,” which is set in a Toronto hospital. The Canadian production, which will also air in Canada on CTV, is set to start production March 12.

The show stars Erica Durance and Michael Shanks. "Saving Hope" revolves around a hospital whose chief of surgery (Shanks) is suddenly taken ill, leaving the facility and his doctor wife (Durance) in shock.

CTV has had a hand before in producing shows for U.S. television, including "Flashpoint" and "The Listener."

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Influential Conservative Publisher Dead at 43

A well-known conservative activist, author and publisher who was influential in Republican politics and whose work was widely circulated in U.S. media has died, Reuters reports. Andrew Breitbart, the man behind major news websites such as breitbart.tv and biggovernment.com, was 43.

A memorial page on his various websites confirmed his death, saying: "We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior. Andrew lived boldly, so that we more timid souls would dare to live freely and fully, and fight for the fragile liberty he showed us how to love.”

The websites attributed his death to natural causes. Breitbart is said to have collapsed while walking near his home in Los Angeles early today.

The story reports: “Breitbart was notorious for his fiery opinions. The last posts from his Twitter feed appear to have come just moments before midnight, with one calling a user a ‘putz’ and another replying ‘Apologize for WHAT?’ to another user. His work played a role in a number of prominent news stories over the years, including undercover videos of the community group ACORN and the texting scandal of former Democratic U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner of New York.”

andrew-breitbart.jpgAndrew Breitbart

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Lindsay Lohan Opens Up About Legal Woes, Partying

Troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, who is preparing to host this week’s edition of “Saturday Night Live,” talked about her legal problems during the past year in an appearance this morning on NBC’s “Today,” MTV.com reports.

Lohan told “Today’s” Matt Lauer she’s clean and sober and looking forward to getting back to work.

The story reports: “The actress, who is hosting ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend for the first time since 2006, revealed that her most recent round of legal troubles -- which began in January 2011 when she violated her probation (related to a 2007 DUI) by wearing a $2,500 necklace out of a Venice, California, boutique (she returned the necklace, claiming it was an accident) -- brought her to a breaking point.”

Lohan is quoted as saying: "This last whirlwind of experiences I've gone through this last year and a half, I've kind of just taken a step back and been like, 'I'm not doing what I love to do and I need to find a way to kind of find that balance again.’”

Lauer brought up Lohan’s 2006 appearance on “Today” in which she avoided questions about her partying, prompting Lohan to admit she was in denial back then.

Said Lohan: "It's a scary thing to have to express to people. I wasn't as comfortable with myself then. It was a fear factor that I had about what was really going on. I had to get that wakeup call."

The story reports: “Lohan explained that one of the key changes she's made in her recovery has been surrounding herself with the right people. She copped to being ‘ignorant towards the fact that maybe I should not go out all the time’ and that, at 25, the time has come for her to ‘grow up and take care of myself.’"

Lohan reportedly says she is leaving her hard partying behind. "I regret the choices that I've made," she added, according to the story. "I don't need to see any more negative stuff.”

Lohan, who is still completing the terms of her probation, confirmed that her “SNL” appearance can be expected to poke fun at her personal turmoil, adding that her legal counsel has given her clearance to joke about the subject.

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NBC Hires Yet Another Former Showtime Exec

NBC Entertainment has announced the appointment of an executive who recently left Showtime Networks, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dianne Hatlestad is the division’s new vice president of talent management, the story reports. Making the announcement was Executive VP of Communications Richard Licata.

Said Licata: "Dianne's expertise in talent relations is second to none. She has a miraculous way of balancing the needs of the network and the artists who produce the shows -- critical skills in shaping a brand. We're looking forward to having Dianne's wealth of experience and extraordinary industry relationships here at NBC."

Hatlestad was talent relations director at Showtime Networks for more than five years.

Licata also came to NBC from Showtime, making the move in July 2011. The exedus of executives from Showtime to NBC started when NBC hired Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's former president of entertainment, as its chairman of entertainment in January, 2011.

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Writer-Producer From 'Everwood,' 'Dawson's Creek' Scores Deal With ABC Studios

A writer-producer with a long string of credits including “Everwood” and “Dawson’s Creek” has made the jump from Warner Bros. TV to ABC Studios, Deadline.com reports.

Rina Mimoun signed a two-year overall deal with ABC Studios after a decade at Warner Bros, the story reports. As part of the seven-figure deal, Mimoun will join the upcoming series "Mistresses" as an executive producer and will also develop new projects for the studio.

After working as an intern on “Ned and Stacey” and a staff writer on “Guys Like Us,” Mimoun went to work with Greg Berlanti on “Dawson’s” and followed Berlanti to Warner Bros. She rose through the ranks on “Everwood” to become a co-executive producer and showrunner in the final season.

She created the CW drama “Privileged” and worked on “Gilmore Girls,” “Pushing Daisies” and other shows.

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ABC News Promotes 'GMA' Exec, Names New EP for Morning Show

ABC News is promoting a “Good Morning America” executive, creating the position of senior VP for content and development for “GMA” senior EP James Goldston, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

As part of the shuffle, Tom Cibrowski becomes executive producer of “GMA,” the story reports.

Making the announcement today was ABC News President Ben Sherwood.

The story reports: “The executive shuffle was not unexpected. Goldston, who came to ABC News in 2004 with correspondent Martin Bashir (now at MSNBC), has steadily risen at the news division. He successfully led the transition of ‘Nightline’ from the Ted Koppel era into a multi-topic newsmagazine that is besting late-night competitors Jay Leno and David Letterman. The promotion effectively makes Goldston Sherwood’s second-in-command.”

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'Heroes' Star Takes Role in ABC Drama Project

An actress who formerly was a key player in NBC’s “Heroes” has landed a starring role in an ABC drama pilot, Deadline.com reports.

Hayden Panettiere will star in the pilot for "Nashville," the story reports. The drama, written by Oscar winner Callie Khouri ("Thelma & Louise"), is directed by R.J. Cutler and produced by Lionsgate and ABC Studios.

The story reports: “’Nashville’ is described as a family soap about love, country music, family, politics and sex set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene. It centers on 40-year-old Nashville superstar Rayna James, who is stunned to find that her star is fading and her label requires her to team up with teen sensation Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) on tour -- or else face the loss of her own tour and the label’s promotion of her latest record, whose sales have been underwhelming.”

Among those who have previously been cast in the pilot are Robert Wisdom, Powers Boothe, Clare Bowen and Jonathan Jackson, the story notes.

Panettiere, who played cheerleader Claire Bennett on “Heroes,” recently starred in Lifetime’s movie “Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy,” and also has a career as a singer.

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