April 2012

Star of NBC Sitcom Lands Talk Show

The star of an NBC situation comedy has landed a deal to do a weekly half-hour talk show for E!, Variety reports. The new show is “Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings,” built around the star of “Whitney.”

Cummings, who is also co-creator of CBS's "2 Broke Girls," will have Julian McCullough as her sidekick on the show, which will is set for the Wednesday 10:30 p.m. slot, where it will be paired with “The Soup.” It’s premiere is expected toward the end of the year.

"Love You" will be produced by Chelsea Handler's Borderline Amazing Productions. Handler, Cummings and Tom Brunelle are executive producers on the show, which has been in development for two years.

"This show gives me a chance to get back to my stand-up roots,” Cumming said. “And I'm really excited to be able to say (almost) whatever I'd like on TV again."

Cummings originally made a name for herself on TV as a regular guest on E!'s "Chelsea Lately."

Lisa Berger, E!'s president of entertainment programming, said, "We're continuously looking for strong points of view for the comedy programming that is such a key part of our makeup. Whitney is someone we identified early on that we wanted to develop with."

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ABC Drama Reverses Course, Surges in Ratings

An ABC drama series had a ratings turnaround Sunday night, reversing course after hitting a series low two weeks ago and helping the network win the night in the 18-49 demo in the Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Freshman drama “GCB” surged 27% to a 1.95 average rating, two weeks after it slumped to a series-low 1.5. ABC won prime time overall with a 2.2 average rating, ahead of Fox (1.9 average), CBS (1.6) and NBC (1.4). Total viewers was a win for CBS with 8.9 million, to 7.4 million for ABC, 5.8 million for NBC and 4.1 million for Fox.

The rest of ABC’s lineup was down -- “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” off 13% from a week ago to a 1.4 average in 18-49; “Once Upon a Time,” down 3% to a 2.9; and “Desperate Housewives,” off one-tenth of a ratings point from its previous original to a 2.5.

CBS was off across the board, with the season finale of “The Good Wife” tying its season low with a 1.7 average in 18-49; “Amazing Race” also tying a season low with a 2.2, down 15%; and “NYC 22” down two-tenths of a point to a 1.2.

NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” sank two-tenths to a 1.9 in 18-49.

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'Grey's Anatomy' Star Saves Teenager From Crash

Actor Patrick Dempsey, best known as McDreamy on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," was in the right place at the right time to be a real-life hero at the site of a car crash near his Malibu home last week, reports People magazine.

A 17-year-old driver, Weston Masset, had lost control of his Mustang, causing it to roll three times. Dempsey pulled Masset out of the wreckage using a fire extinguisher and a crowbar.

"I was scared for my life. I was upside down," recalled Masset.

Dempsey called paramedics and stayed with the teenager to make sure he was cared for. At one point, the youth asked Dempsey, "Are you famous?" Dempsey, who plays Dr. Derek Shepherd on "Grey’s," answered, "Yeah, I'm a doctor."

Masset told ABC News, "He was there for me. It would have been a lot worse without him." Weston's mom said she was "super grateful."

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J-Lo Relaunching Website to Let Fans 'Backstage' on Upcoming Tour

To give fans more access to her backstage during her upcoming concert tour, "American Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez will relaunch her website -- JenniferLopez.com -- today, reports People magazine.

Lopez's site will have added interactive features, including a new online community that has "backstage pass" elements for fans to get closer to the action. J-Lo will include a tour diary and ask her fans to write in to the site about their experiences, favorite costumes, songs, dances, etc.

Although J-Lo has not yet announced the 2012 tour, the expectation is that she will be on the road in cities around the world this summer.

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New York Has a New Tallest Building

The Empire State Building just lost its standing as New York City’s tallest building -- being surpassed by a skyscraper that’s under construction, CBS News reports.

The new titleholder is One World Trade Center, being built on the site of the original World Trade Center. The new building passed the height of the Empire State Building when construction workers put up steel columns to push the building’s still unfinished frame past the 1,250-foot mark.

The report adds: “The tower still isn't as high as the antenna that sits on the Empire State Building, but when complete will stand at 1,368 feet, beating out the midtown skyscraper that was for decades the world's tallest. When counting a 408-foot-tall antenna spire that will sit on its roof, the ‘Freedom Tower’ will measure 1,776 feet.”

The story notes that experts usually don’t figure the antenna into the equation when determining building height. But even without the antenna, the new tower will be the second-tallest building in the country, behind Chicago’s Willis Tower.

one-world-trade-center.jpgOne World Trade Center

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A 'Murphy Brown' Comeback?

The creator of CBS's situation comedy "Murphy Brown," Diane English, is in talks with CBS and Warner Bros. to resurrect the title character in a series of political-commentary specials, reports TV Guide. Candice Bergen, who is currently on Broadway in "The Best Man," would be back as Murphy.

At the TV Land Awards, where the classic 1980s series received the Impact Award, English told TV Guide, "I'd love to have the show back on during this election year. We're having a little conversation with CBS about a few episodes, and I think it's possible. Candice knows about it, and we're going to talk to her more in July once she wraps her Broadway play."

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NBC Yanks Series Off Schedule

NBC has pulled a series off its prime-time schedule, TVLine.com reports. The series, which has aired just four episodes, is the midseason comedy “Best Friends Forever.”

Series star and executive producer Lennon Parham wrote on Twitter on Friday, "BFF Fans: Wanted to let you know that our show is being taken off the air until the summer," adding that she hoped the show's fifth and sixth episodes would be posted online, according to the article.

The show, which starred Parham and Jessica St. Clair as friends who reunite as roommates in Brooklyn, drew 3.9 million total viewers and a 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo on its April 4 premiere, but that had dwindled to 2.65 million total viewers and a 0.8 demo rating for last week’s episode, the story notes.

The show will be replaced with a second airing of "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" in the Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. time period.

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One of the Kardashians Pulls the Plug on Her Reality Show

One of the members of the predominant family in reality television has had enough and is pulling the plug on her reality show, TMZ.com reports.

Khloe Kardashian and her husband, Lamar Odom, are ending their E! show "Khloe & Lamar," a spinoff of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” the story reports.

The reason is that Odom wants to focus on reviving his NBA career, the story says. After putting up career low numbers this season, Odom was moved by the Dallas Mavericks to the inactive list, the story notes.

The pair will make occasional appearances on "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," but the second season of "Khloe & Lamar" will be its last, the piece adds.

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In Another Bad Sign for NBC Show, the Network Shuffles Its Finale Out of May Sweeps

NBC has tweaked the schedules for a couple of its season finales, moving the finale of a low-rated series out of the May sweeps period and moving another season finale into sweeps, TVLine.com reports.

The freshman series “Awake,” which has been performing poorly, gets bumped from the sweeps lineup, while fan favorite “Community” gets an upgrade to sweeps, the story reports.

The finale of "Community" moves up a week to May 17. The finale is a double-episode program, which will be added to a night that already has a previously scheduled "Community" episode, meaning that NBC will air three episodes of the show on May 17, the story says. The regular episode will air at 8 p.m., followed by the season finale of “30 Rock,” then the back-to-back “Community” episodes.

The loser in the scheduling change is "Awake," which was supposed to have a double-episode finale on May 17. Instead, the freshman drama will air its second hour of its finale on May 24, the night after the sweeps period ends, the piece notes.

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Game Changer: Basic Hulu Service Moving to a Model Requiring Viewers to Prove They Subscribe to TV via Cable, Satellite or Phone Co.; Also, If You Want to Stream the Olympics, You'll Likely Have to Show You Pay for TV. Killing Cord Cutters?

Hulu, which has allowed viewers to watch shows for free online, is moving to an authentication model that will require viewers to prove they have a cable or satellite TV subscription, reports our good friend, former Ad Age reporter Claire Atkinson, in the New York Post.

Hulu customers will have to log in with their cable or satellite TV account number, the story says.

Furthermore, if you want to watch many of the events during the upcoming Olympics from London by streaming, you'll also have to show that you subscribe to TV, Atkinson writes in a separate article

The decision was behind Providence Equity Partners' decision last week to sell its stake in Hulu after owning it for five years, the piece adds. Other networks are considering authentication services as well, with Fox expected to negotiate soon with Comcast on a TV Everywhere agreement that will require a log-in for paying customers, the piece notes.

"The move toward authentication is fueled by cable companies and networks looking to protect and profit from their content," the story points out.

Hulu is owned by News Corp., Disney and Comcast.

In the article about authentication and the upcoming Olympics, Atkinson writes, "To view certain track events at this summer’s Olympic Games, viewers will be forced to leap over some hurdles.

"In fact, the hurdles are likely to be there for viewers across every sport as NBCUniversal, in its first Olympics under Comcast ownership, moves to require those streaming events on their computers or tablets to prove they are pay-TV customers.

"That means if you are planning to watch any of NBCUniversal’s unprecedented 3,500 hours of streaming Olympic coverage or 302 medal presentations from work, make sure you bring your pay-TV bill along with your lunch.

"Any cable or satellite or telecom company bill will do. Cord-cutters, for the most part, need not apply."

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Cable News Channel Sees Ratings Plunge for Marquee Shows

Executives at one cable news channel are concerned over a ratings plunge for two of the network’s marquee shows, reports the New York Daily News, citing slumping ratings for CNBC shows hosted by Maria Bartiromo and Andrew Ross Sorkin.

According to Nielsen, "Squawk Box," which is hosted by Sorkin, is down 16% in April from a year ago in total viewers and 29% in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, the story says. The author of "Too Big to Fail," Sorkin started with "Squawk Box" on July 18, 2011.

The ratings are making executives start to think that Sorkin would make a better guest than a host, the piece adds.

"Closing Bell," hosted by Bartiromo, has seen is third consecutive quarter of declining ratings, the piece notes. From April 2011 to April 2012, the show has lost 16% of total viewers and 11% in the 25-54 demographic, the story says.

On Friday, CNBC said it had hired "Cavuto" executive producer Gary Schreier to help revive the program. A CNBC representative said, "The Nielsen measurement is focused on the distant periphery of CNBC's core audience. They don't measure the wealthiest American homes or people who watch CNBC out of home on trading floors or in executive offices, country clubs."

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Coming Soon: TV Apps That Will Shake the Foundations of the Television Business

The technology industry is hard at work devising apps for television, which could transform the television business while replacing the clunky cable interface with apps that will work on the TV screen, reports The New York Times.

Apps for some services, such as Hulu Plus and Netflix, are already built into Internet-enabled TVs. But the industry may move to a model built around TV apps, allowing viewers to use their apps from their TV screens, the story notes. This could bypass cable subscription and networks that viewers don't watch, the piece adds.

"À la carte apps would upend the entrenched and lucrative economics of television, which have long relied on a system in which cable customers pay for channels even if they don’t watch them." the article notes.

"The idea of undermining this model is so sensitive that media executives who think that apps are the future of television would not discuss the subject publicly, for fear of disturbing their cable and satellite partners," the story says.

Cable and satellite companies are also working on their own apps, hoping that they'll be able to replicate the set-top box.

"In an ideal cable industry model, customers will have one or two apps that offer hundreds of channels rather than dozens of apps for individual networks," the story notes.

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Now Keith Olbermann Picks a Fight With Jimmy Kimmel

Former Current TV host Keith Olbermann wasn't pleased at being the focus of several jokes told by Jimmy Kimmel at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kimmel made several quips about Olbermann, such as:

"Alright, it’s time for the fun part of the evening. I’d like everyone to look under your seats. Under each one you will find a copy of Keith Olbermann’s resume. Is Keith here tonight? Limo wouldn’t pick him up? The thing about Keith Olbermann is he’s so likable."

"Al Gore launched Current TV in 2005 and it took off like a North Korean rocket," Kimmel continued. "To be honest, I didn’t even know Current TV was still on the air, but then I don’t get channel a million."

"Keith Olbermann burned more bridges than the Arsonist of Madison County," he said. "He has more pink slips than Marcus Bachmann."

Olbermann tweeted throughout the night about baseball, but then added a tweet about why he thought Kimmel focused on him during the dinner. "Funny that Jimmy Kimmel ripped me after his people desperately wanted me to fly to LA to be on his show this past Wednesday #nerdprom," Olbermann wrote, according to the story.

"I'm not complaining about the Kimmel jokes -- I'm fair game. I'm complaining about the revenge element. It reminds me of O'Reilly #nerdprom," he wrote on Twitter.

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'Idol' Showrunner Nigel Lythgoe Unveils New Show

Emmy-winning producer Nigel Lythgoe, whose resume already includes “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” has unveiled plans for a new talent competition show. “Opening Act,” set for a July 9 premiere on E!, will search the Web for a new artist to open for a music superstar.

Contestants will vie for a chance to open for Nicki Minaj, Rod Stewart, LMFAO, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Jason Mraz, Gym Class Heroes and other artists.

Mary J. Blige is on board as part of the team that will be selecting talent, along with producer Antonina Armato from Rock Mafia.

The network described the process this way: “There are no judges to woo, auditions to pass or rounds to win: Each band or solo act has only days to prepare after a surprise visit that presents them with an opportunity they never knew existed, and viewers follow them from obscurity to the big-time gig that could change their lives forever. A true first of its kind, ‘Opening Act’ will showcase not only some extraordinary, unknown talent, but the emotional and very personal journey that awaits them on their way to perform on a national stage.”

Conducting the surprise visits will be Olivia Lee, who is known for her hidden camera segments on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Contestants are “immediately brought to Hollywood for an extreme ‘performance boot camp,’ intense mentoring sessions with top industry heavyweights, and finally, the one-night-only performance that can make or break the career of their dreams,” the network said.

Said Lythgoe: "There is an extraordinary amount of untapped talent out there. But if you don't know the right people or have the right connections, you may never be discovered. With 'Opening Act,’ we are democratizing a notoriously impossible process, pulling back the curtains on a consistently fascinating industry, and affording aspiring artists the chance of a lifetime.”

The series is executive produced by Nigel Lythgoe, Steve Schnur, Simon Lythgoe, and Kary McHoul.

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Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the Bachelors, the Pawn Stars and the Rest: Reality Gurus on How to Stand Out in a Crowded Field

Top executives behind some of television’s most successful reality shows -- including Mike Fleiss of “The Bachelor,” Conrad Green of "Dancing with the Stars," Kris Jenner of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and Bertram van Munster of "The Amazing Race" -- gathered last week to compare notes and reveal how they stay competitive in an increasingly crowded reality landscape.

TVWeek’s Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin was on hand at the event, Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s Unscripted Hitmakers luncheon, hosted by Tom Bergeron. Click here to read Hillary’s insightful wrap-up of this lively, high-powered discussion.

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Cable Channel's First Scripted Development Slate Includes Updates on 'Wizard of Oz,' Henry VIII

With its first scripted development slate, E! Entertainment is featuring a number of projects based on pop culture, including a contemporary story based on "The Wizard of Oz" and another setting the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII in present-day Hollywood, reports Deadline.com.

The new projects come after NBCUniversal cable networks chief Bonnie Hammer took over responsibility for E! and made adding scripted programming a priority for the news- and reality-focused network, the story says.

Other scripted projects include "The 400," a period drama about the Vanderbilt dynasty in the 1890s, and "Upstarts," produced by Kevin Spacey and Oscar-nominated producer Michael De Luca, about the Silicon Valley digital boom in the late 1990s, the story notes.

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Howard Stern Files Appeal in $300 Million Lawsuit Against Sirius XM

Just two weeks after a New York Supreme Court judge threw out Howard Stern's $300 million lawsuit against his employers at Sirius XM Radio, the shock jock has filed an appeal and is seeking a trial, reports the New York Post.

Stern is still on air and hasn't been making remarks about his employers, as he has with past bosses with whom he had conflicts, the story says. The suit claims that Sirius XM shortchanged him on stock bonuses he was promised for signing up new customers for the radio service.

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Murdoch Points Finger at News Corp. Employees, Accuses Them of Cover-Up

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, testifying in London in a probe into the phone-hacking scandal involving his British tabloids, continued to refuse to take the blame for misdeeds in his company, the U.K.’s Globe and Mail reports. Instead, the media mogul cited a “culture of cover-up” at the News of the World and said the paper’s editors and lawyers had deceived him.

“There is no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone, took charge of a cover-up, which we were victim to and I regret,” Murdoch testified, according to the report.

The story adds: “He claimed that he’d had so little to do with the paper that its editor, Colin Myler, and lawyer, Tom Crone, had been able to conceal thousands of cases of spying, phone hacking and bribery from him and cover up his attempts at an investigation. Mr. Crone issued a statement Thursday calling this ‘a shameful lie.’”

The paper also notes: “Not only that, but at one point Mr. Murdoch complained, without a trace of irony, that he had been ‘under duress’ because of the hordes of ‘journalists and paparazzi and microphones’ following him. ‘I mean, I was being harassed,’ he said of the tabloid reporters who have followed him this week. ‘I had another 20 or so outside my apartment this morning.’”

Murdoch did show some signs of contrition, something he has rarely done in connection with the scandal. “I have to say that I failed,” he said. “And I am very sorry about it.”

He also reflected on the damage the scandal has done to his empire and his reputation.

“I think historically, this whole business of the News of the World is a serious blot on my reputation [and] it’s going to be a blot on my reputation for the rest of my life,” Murdoch said.

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Koreans Protest Lady Gaga as 'Too Homosexual and Pornographic'

As Lady Gaga kicks off her “Born This Way Ball” world tour in Seoul, South Korea, protesters have been rallying outside the concert venue to complain that the 26-year-old singer’s “obscene” music is tainting young people, MSNBC reports.

The story reports: “One group calling itself the Civilians Network against the Lady Gaga Concert said her show was ‘too homosexual and pornographic.’"

Apparently in response to the protests, earlier this week the concert at the South Korea capital’s Olympic Stadium was declared an adults-only event, the story notes.

The report adds: “Rev. Yoon Jung-hoon, who organized the group, told Reuters the Christian Council of Korea ‘will take all measures such as boycotting Hyundai Card [a sponsor of Gaga's tour] to root out this kind of obscene culture.’"

The story notes that Yoon attended the concert to monitor it for homosexual content.

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Series Lows for NBC: Three Shows Hit Rock Bottom

Three NBC series hit historic lows in the Nielsen overnight ratings Thursday night as the network finished in fifth place among the broadcast networks in both total viewers and the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

“The Office,” “Parks & Recreation” and “Awake” all sank to new series lows in 18-49. “The Office” slipped one-tenth of a ratings point from last week to a 2.1 average rating; “Parks & Recreation” fell one-tenth to a 1.7; and “Awake” was down one-tenth to a disturbingly low 0.8.

Meanwhile, two of the network’s shows posted slight upticks. “30 Rock” managed to climb one-tenth for its special live broadcast, scoring a 1.6 in 18-49; and “Community” was up one-tenth from a series low a week earlier, posting a 1.4.

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was the highest-rated show of the night in the 18-49 demo with a 4.0 average, just ahead of Fox’s “American Idol” with a 3.9. “Big Bang’s” 4.0 was a season low.

CBS’s “Rules of Engagement” bounced back from its series low last week, climbing three-tenths to a 2.5 in viewers 18-49. But CBS’s “Person of Interest” (2.4 average rating in 18-49) and “The Mentalist” (2.1) both hit new series lows.

ABC’s “Missing” also hit a series low, dipping to a 1.3 in 18-49. Fox’s “Touch” joined the epidemic of series lows with a 1.9.

When the dust settled, Fox was No. 1 for prime time, averaging a 2.9 in the 18-49 demo to beat CBS (2.6), ABC (2.2), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.4). CBS won total viewers with an average of 11.6 million to 10.5 million for Fox, 7.7 million for ABC, 3.7 million for Univision and 3.1 million for NBC.

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Star Jones Campaigns Against Reality Shows

One of the former co-hosts of ABC's "The View," Star Jones, who's currently guesting on a panel segment for NBC’s "Today" show, has taken to Twitter to launch a campaign against reality TV shows such as "Basketball Wives," "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" and "Love and Hip-Hop," reports IndieWire.com.

Star tweeted, “It may be ‘comfortable’ to be quiet when women of color slap the crap out of each other & run across tables barefoot, but #ENOUGHisENOUGH. …I’m asking all my high profile, platform having conscientious sisters who STAND FOR SOMETHING to just say #ENOUGHisENOUGH & call folk out! Be mad. But think about what I said. WE ARE BETTER than that. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.”

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NBC Sets Lineup for Olympic Telecasts

NBC has announced the key players who will be working on its upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics in London, TVNewser reports. Not surprisingly, the network named Bob Costas as the anchor for the prime-time coverage -- Costas' 10th Olympics and the ninth time he will be the main anchor.

Al Michaels and Dan Patrick will team up for the weekend and weekday daytime programming. Patrick, who hosts his own daily sports show on the Audience Network, "The Dan Patrick Show," is new to Olympic coverage, but has a solid background as an “ESPN SportsCenter” anchor.

Mary Carillo will anchor NBC's late-night coverage for the third straight time. Carillo will also be doing correspondent work for the Games.

Previously announced are the additions of Ryan Seacrest and John McEnroe to the coverage. In his Olympic broadcasting debut, legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi will also be on board.

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'Big Bang Theory' Actress Honored

One of the stars of the CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory” has been honored with an award for being a “forward thinker,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Actress Mayim Bialik, who plays the scientist Amy Farrah Fowler on the sitcom, received the Deborah Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the story reports. The ADL award honors extraordinary women for philanthropic and civic contributions.

Bialik was humble in accepting the recognition, saying, "I've never won anything before. I don't think anything I do in my life is about me. It's about what God has put in my path. That's really what has driven me."

In addition to her acting, the story says, “Bialik was being honored for her work behind the scenes with UCLA Hillel and the Jewish Free Loan Society, for teaching science to children ... for her writing on the blog Kveller.com and for setting an example as an observant Jew who keeps a kosher home.”

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MTV Promises New Snooki Show Will Explore a 'Whole New Way to Look at Pregnancy'

MTV's new spinoff series from "Jersey Shore" will let viewers see "a very different side" of Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and her friend Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, according to MTV President Stephen Friedman, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"It’s a whole new way to look at pregnancy," Friedman said of the show, called "Snooki & JWoww." Farley "has a real maternal side," he added.

The women are "nut-jobs sober," according to Snooki, reports EW.com's Inside TV. She added that her fiance will be a presence on the program, which will debut this summer.

“As of this point, I have no interest in going to a club or anything because my life is totally changing, and I’ve been going to the clubs since I was like 10, so I’m over it,” Snooki said.

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Betty White Booked for Finale of Lifetime's Bawdy 'Client List'

90-year-old actress Betty White has been booked for the finale of Lifetime's "massage parlor"-based drama "The Client List," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

White will appear with star Jennifer Love Hewitt on the June 10 finale, portraying the wife of one of Hewitt's clients, who gives her character advice about making a marriage last, the story says.

Hewitt, who plays Riley Parks on the show, is also directing the episode. The show is set in a massage parlor that offers more than back rubs to clients.

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FCC Orders TV Stations to Post Political Ad Rates Online

In a case that rebuffed a strong lobbying effort by broadcasters, the Federal Communications Commission voted today to require TV stations to post online the ad rates they charge for political spots, the AP reports.

The 2-1 vote came despite opposition to the move by the National Association of Broadcasters, which argued that posting the ad rates would hurt TV stations in the competitive marketplace. The rate information is already made public on hardcopy at the stations.

The AP reports: “The new rule will require stations to digitize and upload the information in real time to the FCC's website. Network-affiliated stations in the top 50 markets will have six months to comply. For all others, the deadline is 2014.”

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that in the digital age the information shouldn't be "stuck in a filing cabinet," the story notes.

Among the FCC’s three currently active commissioners, Genachowski and fellow Democrat Mignon Clyburn voted in favor of the requirement, while Republican Robert McDowell partially opposed it, the agency said.

The FCC posted a statement on its website, saying: “Broadcasters have kept what are now known as “public files” on paper since 1965 as part of their longstanding obligation to disclose community-relevant information for public review. The public has been able to exercise its right to this information only by visiting a broadcast station and asking to see the public file. Today, without introducing any new substantive requirements, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) updated the existing disclosure procedures to move the public file from paper to the Internet.”

The new order requires broadcasters to move their public files online over a two-year period.

The FCC report adds: “Specifically, the Second Report and Order requires television stations to post their public files online in a central, Commission-hosted online database rather than maintaining paper files locally at their main studios. The Order modernizes the filing process, making it easier for consumers to access information about their broadcast services without having to travel to the station’s main studio.”

The FCC notes that broadcasters will not be required under the new rule to upload existing materials on political rates, but will have to upload new documents going forward. The agency also stipulated that only stations affiliated with the big 4 networks -- ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox -- and only those in the top 50 designated market areas will be required to post the documents.

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Fox Announces Final Season of Series

Fox had good news and bad news Thursday for fans of a cult series. The good news was that the drama program “Fringe,” from J.J. Abrams, received an order for a 13-episode fifth season, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed. The bad news, the story reports, is that season five will be the end of the road for “Fringe.”

The additional order means the science-fiction series will end after 100 episodes, reaching a critical number of installments for syndication for the show's studio, Warner Bros. TV, the piece points out.

"Bringing it back for a final 13 allows us to provide the climactic conclusion that its passionate and loyal fans deserve," said Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly.

The renewal comes after "Fringe" hit ratings lows multiple times this season, with total viewers around 3 million, the piece points out. Despite the low ratings, the show has won critical support and awards, as well as developing a devoted fan base, the story adds.

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Cable Series Canceled After Three Seasons

A cable drama series has been canceled after three seasons, reports Deadline.com. Pulling the plug on the teen-focused “Make It or Break It,” ABC Family announced Thursday that the current eight-episode season will be the show’s last.

"The writing has pretty much been on the wall for the gymnastics drama, which first faced cancellation last summer," the story notes. The network renewed the series for eight episodes last fall, however, in order to take advantage of what ABC Family president Michael Riley called "Olympic fever," the story says.

The third season follows several elite female teen gymnasts as they try to make it to the Olympics, with its May 14 finale revealing who has made the cut for the U.S. team, the story says.

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'SNL' Alum, Now a Big Movie Star, Returns to Host Show

A veteran of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” who went on to a successful film career will return to the show as guest host, Deadline.com reports.

Will Ferrell, who was a regular on the sketch show from 1995-2002, will host the May 12 show. The episode is part of a run of three original episodes to close out the season. Also on tap is a guest-hosting appearance May 5 by New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, with Rihanna appearing as the musical guest on that show.

The musical guest for the Will Ferrell installment will be Usher.

Ferrell has made an impact on the big screen since leaving “SNL,” starring in a string of movies including “Old School,” “Anchorman,” “Elf” and “Talladega Nights.”

During his “SNL” years Ferrell was known for his impersonations, notably George W. Bush.

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Study Offers Explanation for Nickelodeon's Decline -- and What It Might Mean for Traditional Television as a Whole

A new study provides an apparent explanation for recent ratings declines at Nickelodeon -- and it has implications for traditional television as a whole, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Bernstein study links Nickelodeon’s problems to Netflix and the shift to online streaming.

The story reports: “A Bernstein Research analysis of viewing patterns in TiVo homes during the first quarter of 2012 found Nickelodeon's viewership is up 2% in non-Netflix homes while down 6% in homes that watch Netflix. There may even be a drag on kid-oriented nets that don't even license to Netflix, including Cartoon Network, which is up year-over-year in Netflix homes, but not as high as it is in non-Netflix homes.”

Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger sums it up this way: "Our TiVo data cannot prove Netflix is to blame for the entirety of the Nickelodeon problem, but it certainly indicates that Netflix had something to do with it.”

Netflix also appears to be taking a toll on off-net syndicated programming. On the other hand, Netflix may have a positive effect on viewership of original series programming, and does not appear to be damaging overall consumption of linear TV, the story reports.

For example, ratings for AMC are 15% higher in Netflix homes than in non-Netflix homes. AMC has exclusive licensing agreements with Netflix for a number of its original series, the article notes.

The story adds: “Netflix has contended that its service gives viewers more opportunities to sample programming in its first window by providing older episodes that let them see what they've missed. Asked about the study, Netflix declined comment.”

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Hells Angels Motorcycle Club Sues MTV

MTV is being sued by the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, which is claiming that the network's "Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory" infringed on its trademarked skull-with-wings insignia, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. blog.

The insignia, also known as the "Death Head," has been used for more than 50 years. The group is claiming that the MTV show has damaged the design by using it on T-shirts sold to the public.

The group says the insignia "acquired very widespread public recognition; consequently they evoke strong and immediate reactions whenever used. The impact of these marks is virtually incomparable, and as a result they have great commercial value," according to the suit, the story notes.

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Pendulum Swings Again in Battle for Morning Domination Between NBC and ABC

The momentum has shifted again in the closely watched battle for ratings domination between the flagship morning shows on NBC and ABC.

The Los Angeles Times reports that NBC’s “Today” regained the No. 1 spot last week, according to figures from Nielsen. “Today” averaged 5.2 million viewers for the week of April 16, vs. 5.0 million for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the story reports.

That’s a return to “normalcy” after “GMA” wrested the top spot away from “Today” during the week of April 9. ABC’s win that week broke an almost unbelievable 852-week winning streak by “Today,” as we previously reported.

“Today’s” numbers for the week of April 16 were its best in six weeks, the Times piece notes.

ABC is digging in for a long war for supremacy, the Times reports. The story quotes "GMA" senior executive producer Tom Cibrowski saying in a statement: "A year ago I don't think anyone would have believed that we would be trading days and weeks with the 'Today' show.”

CBS also has a horse in the race, but its recently reworked morning show remains a distant third in the ratings.

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'Numb3rs' Producer Jumps to Universal TV

Universal Television has signed a two-year overall deal with "Numb3rs" producer Ken Sanzel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sanzel will develop, executive produce and supervise new projects for the studio, the story says.

Sanzel's first pilot was in the late 1990s, with "Lawless" for Fox. After that he wrote and directed pilots for MTV and the CW, with his more recent work including "Numb3rs" and "NYC 22," which he is executive producing and directing for CBS.

He previously had an overall deal with CBS TV Studios, the story says.

Sanzel spent 10 years in law enforcement as part of the New York City Transit Police, the story notes.

Said Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria: "Ken is a talented showrunner and possesses all the skills to create and sustain a hit show. Additionally, having had a prior life in the NYPD, Ken brings a unique, authentic, fresh perspective to everything he does. We're excited to work with him."

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ReelzChannel Renews Its First Original Drama Series

ReelzChannel has announced that it is bringing back its first original drama series for a second season, Deadline.com reports.

The series is Steven Seagal's drama "True Justice," which has grown its audience since debuting March 30, the story says. The cable network ordered 13 episodes for season two.

The premiere of the show's third episode is the highest-rated program of the year for Reelz. To date, the episode has drawn more than 1.2 million viewers, the piece adds.

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Hulu's Valuation Approaches Milestone as Disney, Comcast and News Corp. Prepare to Buy Out Stake

As Hulu owners Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and Comcast close in on a buyout of the stake held by Providence Equity Partners, the online streaming company’s valuation is closing in on $2 billion, Bloomberg reports.

Providence is selling the 10% stake for about $200 million, or double its initial $100 million investment when Hulu started in 2007, the piece adds, citing sources familiar with the situation but not authorized to comment officially.

Disney, News Corp. and Comcast's NBC Universal each own about 27% of the service, while employees own another 10%. The company is also planning to let employees, including CEO Jason Kilar, sell shares, the piece adds.

Comcast hasn't been involved in the Providence talks, which makes its role in the purchase more complicated, the story says. Representatives from Hulu and Providence declined to comment.

The ownership expansion by the major owners comes after Hulu's owners last year canceled a sale of the service and after they previously shelved plans for an initial public offering, the story notes.

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Kim Kardashian and Jon Hamm Make Peace After 'Mad Men' Star Called Her a 'F---ing Idiot'

The war of words between reality personality Kim Kardashian and “Mad Men” actor Jon Hamm, which we reported on last month, appears to be over.

TMZ.com reports that the two talked after they both appeared on Thursday night’s live episode of NBC’s “30 Rock,” and according to Kardashian, “We laughed it all off.” Kardashian also said Hamm was “very sweet and very respectful,” according to the report.

As we reported, Hamm was recently quoted in ELLE UK saying: “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 gently rebuked Hamm in a Twitter post, 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."

The TMZ report notes that Kardashian’s role on “30 Rock” was a small one, but she made an impact. Here’s a clip:

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'Big Love' Star in Talks to Play Nymphomaniac in 'American Horror Story'

One of the stars of HBO’s "Big Love" is in talks to join "American Horror Story" for the FX show's second season, in which she would play a nymphomaniac, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Chloe Sevigny, who played Nicki on the HBO drama, would play a character called Shelly the Nymphomaniac -- a part that was written by “American Horror Story’s” writers and producers with the actress in mind, the piece adds.

Shelly is the enemy of Jessica Lange's character in the show's next season, which will be set at an institution for the criminally insane.

chloe-sevigny.jpgChloe Sevigny

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TV Land Orders 12 More Episodes of Sitcom

TV Land has given an order for 12 more episodes of a sitcom, bringing its second season to 24 episodes, Deadline.com reports. The show is Fran Drescher's comedy "Happily Divorced."

The comedy is averaging about 1.5 million total viewers, and debuted its second season with 1.4 million viewers, compared with 2.4 million for the series debut last year, the piece points out.

The show, which is based on Drescher's real life, tracks a woman as she finds out her husband is gay and as she starts dating again.

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More Fallout From Trayvon Martin 911 Tape: NBC Station Fires Emmy-Winning Correspondent

In another repercussion from the televised airing of an edited 911 audio tape in the Trayvon Martin case, a correspondent at WTVJ-TV in Miami has been fired, the Miami Herald reports.

Jeff Burnside, a 13-year veteran with the station and the recipient of a number of regional Emmy Awards, was fired late last week and two other station employees were also disciplined, the paper confirmed. The actions followed the admission by the station that it had made the same edits to George Zimmerman’s 911 call that the network aired on the “Today” show -- edits that were widely criticized as giving a false impression of the call.

Zimmerman has been charged in the death of Trayvon Martin in a shooting that took place shortly after the call. As previously reported, NBC has apologized for the broadcast, which gave the impression that Zimmerman was racially profiling Martin.

The paper reports: “The unedited version of the call showed that before Zimmerman mentioned Trayvon Martin’s race, the police operator asked him, ‘Is he black, white or Hispanic?’ Conservative blogs skewered the network’s March 22 and 27 blunders, calling them a deliberate misrepresentation aimed at keeping the Zimmerman-is-a-racist narrative alive.”

WTVJ reportedly posted a Web version of its story quoting the tape, with ellipses included to indicate something had been edited out. The report notes that the “Today” editing and the WTVJ edits were done separately.

WTVJ spokesman Matt Glassman told the newspaper, “After conducting an extensive investigation, we are putting a more stringent editorial process in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

The Herald report notes: “The Miami error underscores how time-crunched journalists’ work may go on the air without any supervision. The Miami piece aired without a manager reviewing it, a station source said.”

The report adds: “Burnside, 52, won several regional Emmy Awards and was known for his investigative reports and coverage of environmental issues. Named ‘Top TV Reporter’ by the New Times in 2007, he is on the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists.”

Burnside declined to comment for the story other than to tell the paper: “This is obviously very, very complicated. I have nothing but good things to say about the NBC6 family.”

Earlier this month, NBC News fired an unnamed network producer who was responsible for editing the tape for the “Today” broadcast, as previously reported.

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Is Another New Network Show in Trouble? Series Plunges Six-Tenths of a Ratings Point

Wednesday night in the Nielsen overnights brought bad news to most of the broadcast networks -- the lone exception being Fox, which more than doubled its closest competition, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The worst news was for ABC’s struggling new series “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23,” which plunged a whopping six-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago in the key 18-49 demo, managing only a 2.0 average rating, down from a 2.6. The precipitous decline can be at least partially explained by the fact that the show’s 9:30 airing was preceded by all-repeat programming on the network. But the series has already had its share of controversy, in part because of reaction to its title, as we reported earlier this month.

Leading out from “Don’t Trust the B----,” ABC’s “Revenge” also had a bad night, dipping three-tenths to a series-low 2.0.

Season lows weren’t limited to ABC, with CBS’s “Survivor” sinking to a 2.6 average in 18-49.

NBC’s fifth-place lineup was generally flat, with “Rock Center” up slightly to a 0.9 in 18-49. Other numbers included a 1.6 for “Betty White: Off Their Rockers,” a 1.6 for “Law & Order: SVU” and a 0.8 for “Best Friends Forever.”

Even Fox’s celebration was tainted, as its two-hour “American Idol” was down two-tenths of a ratings point to a 4.6 in 18-49, still far and away the top show of the night.

Fox’s 4.6 average in the 18-49 demo for prime time blew away the competition. CBS was a distant second with a 1.9, followed by ABC at 1.8, Univision with a 1.5 and NBC with a 1.2. Total viewers was also a landslide for Fox with 16.5 million to 7.9 million for CBS, 5.6 million for ABC, 4.8 million for NBC and 3.7 million for Univision.

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The Strange Saga of CW's 'L.A. Complex': Rerun Improves on Historically Bad Premiere

CW’s new drama import “The L.A. Complex” continued its weird sojourn through the Nielsen ratings Wednesday night, with a repeat airing of the premiere episode pulling in more viewers than the same episode did on its debut the previous night, EW.com reports.

As we reported earlier today, the soapy Canadian series made history Tuesday night as the lowest-rated broadcast drama premiere of all time. But preliminary numbers for Wednesday’s repeat airing indicate the audience may be bigger than first thought.

Wednesday’s rebroadcast on the CW pulled in 721,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen overnights. That number represents a bump up from Tuesday’s 646,000. Both broadcasts earned a 0.3 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49.

Maybe the promo shot of the girls dancing, which received wide exposure after the show’s historically feeble debut, helped generate interest in the program.

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New Reality Show Is Sort of a Pregnant Version of 'Biggest Loser'

A new reality show from TLC combines elements of “The Biggest Loser” with shows focusing on pregnancy, Entertainment Weekly reports.

"Obese & Expecting" tracks four morbidly obese women who are also moms-to-be, the story reports. The show will seriously examine the issues that surface as the women attempt to survive pregnancy while dealing with health issues surrounding their weight -- and while confronting the potential effects of their weight issues on the unborn babies.

TLC said in a statement: “These women are challenging the perception -- and the odds -- of obese pregnancies, as they become moms, no matter their size or complications.”

"Obese & Expecting" will bow May 17 as a one-hour special and a potential back-door pilot. A companion show also focused on pregnancy issues, “Birth Moms,” will also air that night. “Birth Moms” follows three women in a Utah adoption facility struggling with the decision on whether to give up their babies.

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Premiere Date Set for Reality TV Personality's New Talk Show

A syndicated talk show built around a woman who has become a franchise in reality television is set to premiere Monday, June 11, on Fox-owned stations in six markets, B&C reports.

The show is Telepictures’ “Bethenny,” starring Bethenny Frankel. Frankel first surfaced on NBC’s “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” but blew up after a move to Bravo. She did three seasons of "The Real Housewives of New York City" before getting her own show "Bethenny Getting Married?," which morphed into "Bethenny Ever After."

The talk show has the following schedule on the major Fox stations:

New York (WNYW) at 11 a.m.
Los Angeles (KTTV) at 2 p.m.
Philadelphia (WTXF) at 11 a.m.
Dallas (KDFW) at 1 p.m.
Phoenix (KSAZ) at 11 a.m.
Minneapolis (KMSP) at 10 a.m.

In a statement, Andy Lassner, one of the executive producers of Warner Bros.' "Ellen," who also will executive produce "Bethenny," said: "It's a great marriage for us to be on Fox stations with this show. Airing on those stations will allow us to speak to her edginess a little better. The greatest thing about Bethenny is Bethenny being Bethenny. She's so candid and so unedited. Being on that Fox lineup will allow her to be who she is as a person."

The show will be executive produced by Frankel, Ellen DeGeneres, Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin and Lassner.

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CBS TV Studios Signs Overall Deal With 'Good Wife' Producer

CBS TV Studios has signed an overall deal with "The Good Wife" co-executive producer Ted Humphrey, reports Deadline.com.

Humphrey will receive a promotion under the two-year agreement, moving up to executive producer on the show's fourth season next fall, the story notes. Humphrey will also develop new projects for the studio.

Humphrey, who joined as co-executive producer of "The Good Wife" after its pilot, has written or co-written 11 episodes, including the show's two most recent installments, the piece notes. Humphrey worked as a litigator in Washington before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a writing career.

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New Series Is the Lowest-Rated Broadcast Drama Premiere of All Time

A new broadcast drama series made history this week with its premiere -- and not a good kind of history. EW.com’s Inside TV reports that the CW’s new series “The L.A. Complex” set a new mark for the lowest-rated in-season broadcast drama premiere of all time.

That result is based on data from network research analysts, and tracks back to when the current ratings measurement system was put in place, the story reports.

The show is a soapy Canadian drama series about an aspiring actress who moves to Los Angeles with the hope of making it big. The series stars Chelan Simmons, Jonathan Patrick Moore, Cassie Steele and Joe Dinicol.

The show debuted Tuesday night to only 646,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen overnights, with a scant 0.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic, the piece adds.

lacomplex.jpg"L.A. Complex"

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ABC Comedy Pilot Shelved After Star's Injury

An ABC pilot has been shelved after its star suffered an injury on the set. The show is the comedy “Counter Culture,” which appears to be dead following the injury to star Delta Burke, Deadline.com reports.

As previously reported, Burke was injured in a fall during production of the pilot.

While the producers initially hoped Burke would make a quick recovery, that didn't happen and the insurance company is now sorting out issues such as compensation for cast and crew, the story says. The actors haven't been formally released, but it's looking unlikely that Sony Pictures TV will film the pilot after the upfronts, the piece adds.

"Counter Culture" tracks three sisters, one of them played by Burke, who run a family diner in West Texas.

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Cable News Anchor Leaves Network

A news anchor who has been on the job for almost three years is leaving her cable network, TVNewser.com reports. Margaret Brennan’s departure from Bloomberg TV is being described as a mutual decision by Brennan and the network.

Brennan, who joined Bloomberg from CNBC in 2009, will host her final day on "In Business" this Friday, the story says.

The network plans to change its morning lineup later this spring, part of an "evolution into a digital, multi-platform news organization," according to Andrew Morse, head of U.S. television for Bloomberg. Hosts Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle will host a new show at 10 a.m., replacing Brennan's "In Business," the story notes.

margaret-brennan.jpgMargaret Brennan

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TV Station Breaks New Secret Service Scandal -- El Salvador Case Involves Strippers, Prostitutes

An investigative reporter at Seattle station KIRO-TV broke a story that reportedly involves U.S. Secret Service agents interacting with strippers and prostitutes in El Salvador, the TV station, owned by Cox Enterprises, reports.

Reporter Chris Halsne interviewed a U.S. government subcontractor who said he worked extensively with a Secret Service advance team in San Salvador in March 2011.

The story reports: “The eyewitness says he joined about a dozen Secret Service agents and a few U.S. military specialists at a strip club in San Salvador a few days before President Obama and his family arrived in El Salvador to meet with its new president, Mauricio Funes.”

The source indicated that team members drank heavily and received sexual favors for cash after gaining admission to the club’s VIP section.

“Although our source says he told the agents it was a ‘really bad idea’ to take the strippers back to their hotel rooms, several agents bragged that they ‘did this all the time’ and ‘not to worry about it,’” the story reports. “Our source says at least two agents had escorts check into their rooms.”

The report notes: “These alleged incidents in El Salvador occurred a full year prior to recent revelations that Secret Service agents used prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, on a presidential trip this month.”

The station notes that the investigation is fast-developing and that it is preparing a series of reports for air starting this evening.

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Court Show Canceled

The company that rules the courtroom genre has decided to pull the plug on one of its shows, B&C reports. CBS Television Distribution announced that “Swift Justice” has gone out of production and will not return for a third season.

The company still has the No. 1 syndicated show in the court genre, “Judge Judy,” as well as the No. 2 show, “Judge Joe Brown.”

The story notes: “Half-hour strip ‘Swift Justice,’ which aired in one-hour blocks across the country, launched in 2010 on Fox-owned stations in major markets. Originally, HLN anchor Nancy Grace was at the show's helm, but last season, CTD switched out Grace for Las Vegas district judge Jackie Glass, who presided over the most recent O.J. Simpson trial.”

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Entertainment News Show Lays Off Staff

A long-running syndicated entertainment newsmagazine show has announced a round of staff cuts. More than 14 people were let go by “Access Hollywood," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show won't change its major on-air talent, which includes host Billy Bush, the piece adds. Most of the layoffs are coming from the research department, according to a representative for the show, who attributed the cuts to "staffing adjustments that make sense for our business and position us well for the future.”

The show's ratings season-to-date are up 5% from last year, while viewership in its key demographic of women 25 to 54 is up 8%, the story notes.

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'Downton Abbey' Star Criticizes Show's Second Season

One of the stars of the PBS hit “Downton Abbey” apparently isn’t a fan of the show’s second season, which wrapped up in February and was generally less well-received -- by both fans and critics -- than season one.

Elizabeth McGovern, who plays the countess Cora Crawley in the British period drama, tells the Los Angeles Times' ShowTracker that she was less than satisfied with the direction the show took in season two.

"There is a slightly different tone to the second season, partly because the show had to deal with this huge elephant which is the First World War, and in some ways 'Downton Abbey' wasn't set up for that," she said. "What's made the show successful and different is that attention to character detail, and that's what the audience likes. ... Writers [in the second season] had to do a lot of glossing over the domestic life, and some of the small moments between characters that characterized the first season."

"[T]he show in the first season was more to my taste than the show in the second season," McGovern added, according to the story.

The series is expected to return to its character-focused approach in its third season, which will be set in 1920.

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Gary Sinise Resurfaces After Car Accident

"CSI: NY" star Gary Sinise, who canceled his public appearances after a car accident last month, has scheduled his first appearance since he was injured, the New York Post reports.

Sinise will play Friday with his band, The Lt. Dan Band, at a benefit for the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College, the paper reports. The show is a benefit for Army Spc. Bryan Dilberian, who lost both legs and his left arm while serving in Afghanistan, the story says.

Sinise, 57, said he doesn't remember the March 30 car accident, which gave him a concussion and landed him in the hospital, the story reports. Said Sinise: “Luckily, nothing was broken -- a lot of torn-up muscles in my neck.”

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New PBS Show Taps Comedian Fred Willard

An upcoming PBS show that’s a spinoff of its popular "Antiques Roadshow" has tapped comedian Fred Willard to narrate the program and provide wry commentary, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Market Warriors," which will debut Monday, July 16, at 9 p.m., tracks four expert antiques shoppers who will visit flea markets to find items to resell for a profit at auction, the piece adds.

"We are sometimes criticized for not having a sense of humor, and I think Fred will enable us to counter that a little bit,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger.

Willard himself is a collector, focusing on sports memorabilia, the story adds.

fred-willard.jpgFred Willard

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Top Sponsor Warns UFC to Cut Sexist, Homophobic Comments

Ultimate Fighting Championship, which airs on Fox and Fuel TV, has been warned by a major sponsor to clean up its fighters' mouths, Advertising Age reports. The warning from Anheuser-Busch comes after advocacy groups criticized some comments as sexist and homophobic.

"If the incidents continue, we will act," the brewer said in a statement, without specifying how it might act. The company added that it "embraces diversity and does not condone insensitive and derogatory comments rooted in ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc."

The UFC increasingly is going mainstream, with its long-term Fox deal to air live prime-time bouts and support from big advertisers, the story notes.

"With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don't condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values," UFC said in response to the concerns, the story notes.

One incident that has been cited by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence is a UFC press conference during which one fighter referred to charges of child sexual abuse against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, the story notes. The fighter told a rival, "I'm going to put those hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State," the piece reports.

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Lifetime Taps '90210' Actress to Star in Movie Based on Nancy Grace Novel

Lifetime has cast a "90210" actress to star in an original movie based on television talk show host Nancy Grace's debut novel, "The Eleventh Victim," reports Deadline.com.

Jennie Garth will play Hailey Dean, a successful assistant DA whose fiance is murdered and who later changes careers to become a therapist. After being released from prison, one of the criminals she helped put behind bars starts killing off her patients, according to the story.

Garth is known for her long run as Kelly Taylor in “Beverly Hills, 90210” during the 1990s and in a 2008 reboot of the series, and also starred as Valerie Tyler in “What I Like About You.”

Grace, a former prosecutor, is executive producing the movie with Ted Bauman and Josh Sabarra, the piece says.

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Federal Agency Sharply Cuts PBS Funding, Shifts Money Into New Areas

The National Endowment for the Arts sharply cut grants to PBS yesterday, instead awarding big support for the first time to various mobile, Web and gaming projects, reports The New York Times' Elizabeth Jensen.

“Live From Lincoln Center" was one of the PBS programs that received a significant cut, with the program receiving no funding this year after it received $100,000 last year, the story says. "Great Performances" and "American Masters" each received $50,000, compared with $400,000 each a year earlier, the piece adds.

"[F]or us this is a huge impact, and we have to scramble and try to fill the gap,” said Paula Kerger, the president and chief executive of PBS. She called the decision "disappointing."

Other programs receiving less funding include "The PBS NewsHour," which received half of its year-earlier funding; "Independent Lens"; and "POV," the story notes.

The reason for the cuts was shifting ways that consumers want content, said Alyce Myatt, the endowment’s media arts director. "[W]e also know we have a generation -- not of kids but adults -- who are consuming content online and on mobile," she said.

“In particular, she said, the endowment hopes to encourage a public media sector for gaming,” the story adds. “Among the projects the endowment financed were a University of Southern California video game that uses the writings of Henry David Thoreau; Power Poetry, from Odysseus Group of New York City, which encourages youths to write poems via texting; the Flea Theater’s production of a play using interactive technology; and Spelman College’s ‘HERadventure,’ an augmented reality computer game featuring a superheroine.”

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Katie Couric Unveils Web Series

Katie Couric has revealed plans for a weekly Web series, set to debut next week, Deadline.com reports. The series, “Katie’s Take,” was announced by ABC News.

Beginning May 1, 2012, "Katie's Take" will stream on a dedicated Yahoo page, covering topics such as health, nutrition, wellness and parenting. Couric will interview experts in these fields for the show.

In a statement, Couric said, “I am happy to have found a place in the digital world where I can cut through fads and trends. I want to introduce people to serious experts who can hopefully help provide real solutions.”

Yahoo was expected to present "Katie's Take" along with other Web programming during its NewFront event today.

"Katie," the star's new syndicated talk show, will launch Sept. 1, 2012.

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Reality TV Personality to Run for Governor

A reality television personality who gained notoriety because of one particular escapade has announced plans to run for governor of Virginia in 2013, TheWrap.com reports.

The announcement comes from Tareq Salahi, best known from his appearances on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of D.C." and for an incident in which he and his wife, Michaele, tried to crash a White House dinner. Tareq and Michaele Salahi are now estranged.

Salahi is apparently serious about his ambitions and will seek the Republican Party's nomination. He said of his plans, "As a Virginia native for the last 42 years, I am troubled to see how our current political figure heads continue to waste taxpayer dollars during these difficult economic times."

Salahi declared to The Washington Post: "It's not part of reality TV. It’s not a stunt.”

The newspaper pointed out that Salahi recently had a legal confrontation with another Republican hopeful for the governor's office, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II. The two men reportedly tangled over a business deal, with Cuccinelli suing Salahi.

Salahi reportedly admitted to The Post that avenging the lawsuit is a motivation for the political bid.

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Dan Rather Says His $70 Million Lawsuit Against CBS News Was Worth It

In his new book, due out on Monday, Dan Rather writes that even though his $70 million breach of conduct suit was rejected by the New York courts, the suit against CBS News was worth it, the AP reports.

The Associated Press quotes from the book, "Rather Outspoken," in which Rather says, "[It] took a big whack out of my time, my psyche and my bank balance, but even so, it was worth it." Rather also revealed that his wife, Jean, was supportive, even though she had been against the action.

Rather writes that the case brought some “ugly truths” about CBS to light, the report says.

Rather claims that during a rough 15-month period at the network after he left the "CBS Evening News" anchor desk, he felt the network had marginalized him. "Nevertheless, I refused to believe what my eyes were seeing and my ears were hearing," he writes in the book.

The story reports: “He was working for ‘60 Minutes’ during that period but said he constantly saw his stories criticized and ideas rejected. ‘It was clear to everyone but me that I was being erased,’ Rather wrote. ‘Nevertheless, I refused to believe what my eyes were seeing and my ears were hearing.’"

In his current position with the newsmagazine "HDNet," Rather is happier. He writes, "I understand that we are unlikely to have as much impact as a large network news organization. The audience is far smaller. Fewer people are going to know what we are doing. But we know. I know. And I judge success or failure by my own standards, not by somebody else's."

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Johnny Depp Reveals the Inspiration Behind His Tonto Character

depp-hammer-tonto-ranger.jpgJohnny Depp as Tonto, Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger

Johnny Depp’s look as Tonto in the upcoming “Lone Ranger” movie, revealed in a widely circulated promo shot (above), is a significant departure from the familiar character played by Jay Silverheels in the 1950s TV series. Now Depp has revealed where he got the look.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Depp said he got the idea from a painting of an Indian warrior.

“I’d actually seen a painting by an artist named Kirby Sattler, and looked at the face of this warrior and thought: That’s it,” Depp told the publication. “The stripes down the face and across the eyes … it seemed to me like you could almost see the separate sections of the individual, if you know what I mean.”

The story adds: “Depp explained that the lines of paint on the Native American’s face looked to him like a cross-section of the man’s emotional life. ‘There’s this very wise quarter, a very tortured and hurt section, an angry and rageful section, and a very understanding and unique side. I saw these parts, almost like dissecting a brain, these slivers of the individual,’ he said. ’That makeup inspired me.’”

The hard-to-miss bird-on-the-head also comes from the painting, which is titled “I Am Crow.” Said Depp: “It just so happened Sattler had painted a bird flying directly behind the warrior’s head. It looked to me like it was sitting on top. I thought: Tonto’s got a bird on his head. It’s his spirit guide in a way. It’s dead to others, but it’s not dead to him. It’s very much alive.”

kirby-sattler-iamcrow.jpg‘I Am Crow,’ by Kirby Sattler

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'Nurse Jackie' Co-Creator Inks Deal with Universal TV

Liz Brixius, one of the two women who created Showtime’s dark comedy "Nurse Jackie," has signed a new two-year deal with Universal TV, reports Deadline.com.

Brixius will again be working with Bob Greenblatt, the former Showtime chief who is now overseeing NBC and Universal TV.

Brixius will develop new projects for Universal. She recently exited "Nurse Jackie," where she had been co-creator and executive producer with Linda Wallem.

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Lohan Shows Up Late for 'Glee' Shoot After Night on the Town

Lindsay Lohan reportedly arrived late for work this morning, showing up on the set of the Fox musical “Glee” late enough to tick off one of the cast members.

TMZ.com reports that Dot Marie Jones, who plays Coach Beiste, sent out a tweet saying: “Gonna be a long day!! Some ppl show up late and just throw a wrench in things. Not cool! I'd rather be an hour early (I was) than 5 minutes late!"

The website said it confirmed that the person in question was Lohan, who the story reports was out on the town the night before the shoot.

However, the news wasn’t all bad for Lohan’s “Glee” appearance. The story reports: “Sources connected with the production tell TMZ, Lindsay shot her big scenes the other day, and director Eric Stoltz has been saying she was ‘very professional.’ We're told she nailed her lines and was very polite to cast and crew.”

Today’s work on the set was comparatively minor -- just reaction shots, the story says. The report adds that Lohan’s late arrival did not delay production.

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Producer of TV Project Calls His Lead the 'Most Insured Actress That Ever Walked on a Soundstage'

The producer of a high-profile television project says his lead actress -- whose casting has been making headlines for weeks -- "may be the most insured actress that ever walked on a soundstage,” E! Online reports.

Larry Thompson, who is producing “Liz & Dick" for Lifetime, made the comment about Lindsay Lohan, who will play screen legend Elizabeth Taylor in the TV movie. Lohan’s casting became official earlier this week, as we reported previously.

Because of Lohan's troubled past, the star costs more to insure, the story notes. Thompson said he moved the shooting location from Canada to Los Angeles to "minimize some risk," the piece adds. But he expressed confidence in the choice of Lohan for the role, pointing to the vulnerability she brings to the role.

"Now if I learn to regret it -- sitting here today I think it is still, for the movie, a great risk to run," he said, according to the piece.

Lohan is excited about the project, Thompson told the publication. “She has a noble purpose,” he said. “It's not like she's going to go do a little job -- the responsibility of playing Elizabeth Taylor is large."

Thompson makes a reference to a "Plan B," apparently a nod to the possibility that something might go wrong with Lohan's casting. But he does not specify what the backup plan might be.

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Barry Diller, Arguing for Online Content Distribution, Calls for Rewrite of Communications Act

Longtime media executive Barry Diller, testifying Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee, called for a rewrite of the Communications Act of 1996, Bloomberg reports.

Diller, who created both the Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting, is now involved in online distribution of television programming as the chairman and senior executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp. He urged lawmakers to rewrite the laws governing communications to reflect a new media landscape in which the lines have been blurred among broadcast, cable and Internet distribution, the story says.

The story reports: “Diller has invested in closely held Aereo Inc., a service based in Long Island City, New York, that lets users access broadcast TV on mobile devices for $12 a month. The service is delivered via quarter-inch antennas placed in data centers. The technology uses existing broadcasting signals, letting consumers bypass cable or satellite providers.”

Diller has been pushing the Aereo distribution model, knowing it would spark a legal fight with traditional media outlets, as previously reported. And it has, with New York TV stations among the first to challenge the arrangement -- sparking a counterclaim by Diller, as we reported last month.

Bloomberg reports: “Walt Disney Co.’s ABC and other networks said in two complaints filed March 1 in federal court in Manhattan that Aereo has no right to any of the programs that it offers through its subscription-only Internet service. Aereo has said its service is lawful and called the lawsuits ‘meritless.’”

Along with Diller, executives from Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com were among those invited to testify before the Senate panel to discuss how technology -- particularly the Internet -- is changing television viewing.

Calling online video a “disruptive technology,” panel Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the rapid evolution of the communications business “will require legislation,” but added that no update of telecommunications legislation will pass this year, the Bloomberg story reports.

“It’s not a simple business,” said Rockefeller, noting that multiple devices and networks are involved. “It raises a lot of questions which we’re not able to legislatively answer at this point.”

“We’re paying for so many channels, though we usually only watch a few,” Rockefeller added. “So I want to know if the emergence of online video will do more than improve content and expand choice. I want to know if it’s going to bring a halt to, or at least a slowdown, to escalating bills” for cable and satellite, the story reports.

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Web Project Created by 5-Year-Old Becomes Fox's First Saturday Night Animated Series

A project based on a Web comic created by a 5-year-old is the first animated show to be tapped for Fox's Saturday night animation block, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"Axe Cop" is about a police officer who carries an axe and is helped by a team of allies as he battles villains. After debuting online in 2010, the comic series gained fans quickly, the story notes. (To read an episode, click here.)

According to the comic's website, the series was created by 5-year-old Malachai Nicolle when he started running around the house with a toy fireman axe, telling his comic book artist brother Ethan that he was playing "Axe Cop." Ethan Nicolle is credited as the artist for the Web comic, with Malachai listed as creator and writer.

"Over the course of my week-long visit we cranked out the first four episodes of ‘Axe Cop.’ I posted the comics to my blog and on Facebook and they got great responses," Ethan wrote on the comic's site.

Fox has ordered six quarter-hour episodes of the series, according to the report. The network has said it plans a 90-minute animation block for late-night on Saturdays, with former Adult Swim execs Nick Weidenfeld and Hend Baghdady overseeing it, THR reports.

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NBC's 'Smash' Brings Aboard New Showrunner After Departure of Show's Creator

NBC's musical drama "Smash" has hired a new showrunner to replace the program's creator, Theresa Rebeck, reports Deadline.com. The show was putting the finishing touches on a deal to bring aboard "Gossip Girl" executive producer Josh Safran for the job, the story reports.

As previously reported, Rebeck's departure was announced when the series was renewed for a second season after showing some growth in ratings.

Safran, who was picked after a number of showrunners interviewed for the job, has worked for the past five years on "Gossip Girl," the piece adds.

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Syfy Rolls Out Record Development Slate of 28 Projects

A drama based on a book series from the author of the "True Blood" series is just one of 28 scripted and unscripted shows in the works at Syfy as part of its most ambitious development slate ever, reports Deadline.com.

"Grave Sight" is based on books by Charlaine Harris about a young woman able to sense the location and last memories of dead people, the story notes.

Other drama projects include "The Adjustment Bureau," based on the movie starring Matt Damon, about angel-like agents who try to keep the world on track, and "Seeing Things," based on the comic “Grey Legion,” the story says.

One of three long-form scripted shows on the slate is "Eyes of the Dragon," based on Stephen King's best-selling novel about a prince batting an evil wizard, the story says.

Among the 17 reality projects in development are "Buyer Beware," about people trying to sell haunted houses, and an untitled Mark Burnett project about fans of sci-fi and fantasy who try to create food dishes based on the imaginary worlds they're fans of, the story notes.

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Video: ABC Picks Up Show From Actress Described as New Zealand's Tracey Ullman

ABC has picked up the comedy presentation "Super City," created by and starring Madeleine Sami, who is sometimes called New Zealand's Tracey Ullman, reports Deadline.com.

The show, which debuted in New Zealand last year, will be adapted by Sami for U.S. audiences, the story says. She will also star in it; the original program has Sami transforming into five different characters.

ABC Studios will produce the program, which will go through a new unit code-named Keystone that will be focused on low-cost production, the story says.

Here’s a trailer for the original show ...

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Rupert Murdoch Denies Wielding Influence on U.K. Government

News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch is back in London testifying in the ongoing phone-hacking scandal, and the focus has shifted from interception of voicemails by News Corp.-owned tabloids to the influence the company has wielded in the British government, MSNBC.com reports.

The website reported this morning: “Under oath, Murdoch faced detailed scrutiny about his relationship with politicians stretching back decades. Over the coming hours, he is also expected to be asked questions over how the phone hacking came about.

“He began by acknowledging the role of the inquiry, saying: ‘There have been some abuses shown. ... The state of the media in this country is of absolutely vital interest to all its citizens. ... Frankly I welcome the opportunity because I wanted to put some myths to bed.’"

The testimony is part of a public inquiry set up by Prime Minister David Cameron, who appointed Judge Brian Leveson to head up this phase of the probe.

Murdoch testified: "I've never asked a prime minister for anything," he said. "We all like to back the winning race horse. We like to be on the winning side. I'm trying to think when we didn't. It's certainly true the last election in America, The Wall Street Journal and New York Post opposed the almost certain victory of President Obama. ... We work on the same principles everywhere. We try to judge the candidates on the issues."

The story reports: “Questioned about his influence on the political stance of his British newspapers, Murdoch insisted he did not tell editors which party to back in elections but admitted having regular conversations with them. He said: ‘I'm a curious person, interested in great issues of the day, and I'm not good at holding my tongue. It is only natural for politicians to reach out to editors and sometimes proprietors, if they are available, to explain what they are doing and hoping that it makes an impression. But I was only one of several.’"

Murdoch faced an earlier high-profile grilling on the phone-hacking scandal back in July 2011, when he testified before Parliament. His son, James Murdoch, has also been in the hot seat in both rounds, including testifying Tuesday.

The story adds: “Shareholders in News Corp. will be looking very closely at what sort of performance the 81-year-old puts up. His task at the inquiry is to defend the world’s second largest media company -- and, with it, his own reputation.”

Here's a video report on the testimony:

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Discovery Taps 'Sons of Anarchy' Creator for Series Focused on Real-Life Outlaws

Discovery has tapped "Sons of Anarchy" creator Kurt Sutter to delve into the stories of outlaw dynasties such as the Italian mafia in the six-episode series "Kurt Sutter's Outlaw Empires," reports TheWrap.com.

The series, set to debut May 14, will look at bikers and groups such as the Aryan Brotherhood, the piece adds.

"I've made a career writing about fictitious anti-heroes," Sutter said in a statement. "To create these worlds, I've spent a lot of time with active members on both sides of the law. And if I had to pick the most interesting of the two, the choice is obvious -- we all love the guys in black."

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Bill O'Reilly Re-Ups With Fox News

Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” has signed a multiyear deal to remain at the cable channel, reports TheWrap.com. The length of the contract and O’Reilly’s salary were not disclosed.

As previously reported, O'Reilly and Sean Hannity earlier this month were close to signing new multiyear deals with Fox News, which would keep both hosts at the network past their 20-year anniversaries with FNC.

Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News, said in a statement: "Bill’s immense talent, intellect and raw convictions are an extremely rare combination in television and exemplify why 'The O’Reilly Factor' has been the number one program in cable news for more than a decade. He is a tremendous force in the business and has helped to make Fox News the success story it is today.”

Added O’Reilly: "Fox News has become the primary force in television news under Roger’s leadership and I’m delighted to continue there for years to come.”

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AOL Touts New Scripted Series and Celebrity-Driven Content at 'Newfront' -- Programming Creators Include Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone and 'Project Runway' Judge Nina Garcia

AOL touted its digital content at its "newfront" Tuesday, hoping to convince television buyers to buy time on the online service, reports Advertising Age.

Two of the series are scripted, suggesting that "AOL is serious about investing in original content in hopes of winning TV ad dollars," the story notes.

All the new programs announced during the event are short-form, with each episode running five to seven minutes. One new unscripted show will feature Twitter co-founder Biz Stone as he interviews leaders such as former President Bill Clinton, the piece adds.

The scripted shows are "Fetching" and "Little Women Big Cars," with both produced by Michael Eisner's Web studio through his Tornante Company, the story notes.

"Little Women Big Cars" stars Kristy Swanson of the original "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie, and tracks four soccer moms as they balance their schedules and families. "Fetching" is about a lawyer who quits her job to open a doggy daycare business.

The story adds: “The largely celebrity-driven programming slate includes a vehicle for Nina Garcia, the Marie Claire fashion director and ‘Project Runway’ judge, who was described in the program as ‘a secret weapon, guiding and motivating women through major life changes.’"

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USA Network Names New EVP of Original Scripted Programming

USA Network has named a new executive vice president of original scripted programming, promoting head of scripted development Bill McGoldrick to the position, reports Deadline.com.

With his promotion, McGoldrick will continue to oversee USA's development of drama and comedy series, long-form and event programming, the story says.

McGoldrick started at the network in 1998 as an executive assistant, then moved into series development, working on "Monk" and other projects. In 2003 he was named vice president of series development, working on shows including "Psych."

After spending four years at Spike TV, he returned to USA in 2009, the story says.

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NBC Seeks Close to $1 Million for 30-Second Spots in Upcoming Broadcast

Even with much of its lineup sagging in the ratings, NBC has one upcoming broadcast that it thinks is worth top dollar from advertisers. Advertising Age reports that the network will ask almost $1 million for a 30-second spot in its Thanksgiving night NFL game.

Seth Winter, executive VP of sales and marketing for NBC Sports Group, confirmed that the network will try to get “pretty close to seven figures” for the spots. The sales effort for the game will be in the spotlight in the weeks leading up to the upfront.

The story reports: “The price tag is bold. Last fall a 30-second ad in NBC's ‘Sunday Night Football’ -- the most expensive program for advertisers at the start of the 2011-2012 TV season -- cost an average of $512,367, according to Advertising Age's annual survey of ad prices in prime time. At near seven figures, the cost of a 30-second spot in the Thanksgiving-evening game would come close to doubling that price.”

The game will feature the New England Patriots, who lost the most recent Super Bowl, against the rival New York Jets, who recently signed Tim Tebow -- the most talked-about player of the past NFL season.

The Thanksgiving game was previously carried only on the NFL Network, but was added to NBC’s lineup as a result of recent contract talks with the NFL. That means it’s not part of any ad packages that were worked out previously, giving NBC an opportunity to make the most of it.

"It's a different animal," Winter said. "We are looking at it as a unique entity within the broader NFL package."

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Anti-Fox News Bits on 'The Simpsons' Draw Angry Response -- From a 'Predictable' Source

After “The Simpsons” aired an end card taking a poke at Fox News during Sunday’s Fox Network 25th anniversary celebration, one of Fox News’ most outspoken on-air personalities fired back, Mediaite reports.

Bill O’Reilly, who has already attacked Fox’s “Glee” in the past few days over a transgender story line, called the “Simpsons” end card and another “Simpsons” jab at Fox News a “cheap shot” during the “Reality Check” portion of Monday’s “O’Reilly Factor.”

As previously reported, the “Simpsons” telecast -- a special rebroadcast of the show’s first episode -- included an end card added for the anniversary celebration, which read, "Congratulations FOX on 25 years … We still love you.*" The asterisk led to a line that read, "*This doesn’t include Fox News."

In another clip aired during the April 22 celebration, Simpson family members, gathered at the table, share their “favorite memories of Fox,” with Lisa saying, “I like how the network is a daring liberal antidote to the right-wing news channel that it gave birth to.”

O’Reilly aired the Lisa quip and the end card on Monday’s “O’Reilly Factor,” calling the end card a “dopey card” and concluding, “How predictable.”

The Mediaite piece observes: “The relationship between the Fox Broadcasting Network and Fox News Channel has never been particularly warm.”

Click here to see a brief video clip that includes the end card.

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Kardashian Family Inks Blockbuster Deal With E!

The Kardashian family has put the finishing touches on a deal with E! that, among other things, will keep the family’s flagship show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” on the cable channel for another three years, Deadline.com reports.

The story reports: “The pact includes orders for seasons seven, eight and nine of the mega-hit reality show and covers the entire Kardashian clan -- Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian Odom, Rob Kardashian, and Bruce, Kris, Kendall and Kylie Jenner. The new agreement also extends E!’s first-look deal with the Kardashians for unscripted ideas, concepts and projects.”

“Keeping Up” has been a ratings smash for E!, its highest-rated series ever, with five episodes of the show taking their place among the channel’s 10 most-watched telecasts of all time, the story notes.

The show has also spawned a number of spinoffs, which are not included in the new agreement. Among those are “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami,” “Kourtney and Kim Take New York” and “Khloe & Lamar.”

E! is expected to sign a deal soon to lock in Ryan Seacrest, who executive produces “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

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Singing vs. Dancing: NBC and ABC Split the Spoils on a Night When CBS Stays Home

On a night when CBS aired all repeats, NBC got a steady performance from “The Voice” to coast to an easy win for the night in the key 18-49 demo while ABC cashed in on “Dancing with the Stars” for a landslide victory in total viewers, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Nielsen overnights showed NBC averaging a 3.2 rating for prime time in viewers 18-49, ahead of ABC (2.7 average), Fox (2.2) and CBS (1.7). ABC dominated total viewers for prime time overall, averaging 15.2 million to 8.8 million for NBC, 6.9 million for Fox and 6.3 million for CBS.

NBC’s two-hour “The Voice” was the top show of the night in 18-49 with a 3.7 average rating, the same as a week ago. Head-to-head, ABC’s “Dancing” pulled a 3.0 average rating, up 3%, along with a healthy 17.3 million total viewers to 10.1 million for “The Voice.”

Third-place Fox rolled along with a steady performance by “Bones” (2.2 average rating in 18-49) and saw a 15% bump for “House” to a 2.3.

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HBO Renews Long-Running Series for Two More Seasons

HBO has renewed a weekly show for two more seasons, bringing it back for seasons 11 and 12 and ensuring it will stay on the air at least until 2014, TheWrap.com reports.

The show is "Real Time with Bill Maher," HBO's weekly political/comedy hour. In a statement announcing the renewal, Michael Lombardo, president of programming for HBO, said: “Bill Maher’s irreverent wit and fearless insights make him the perfect observer for these unpredictable times. I’m delighted that we can continue to offer an uncensored forum for his original and thoughtful humor.”

In its current 10th season, "Real Time" is averaging 4.1 million viewers, a three-year high for the show. The program airs Fridays at 10 p.m.

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Little Rock TV Station Wins Prestigious Journalism Award

KLRT-TV in Little Rock, Ark., was the winner in the broadcast category of a prestigious national journalism award -- The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award. The Legion announced the winners April 23.

KLRT News reporter Donna Terrell took the award for her series of reports “Grieving a Child,” inspired by her own recent loss of a daughter. “She poignantly captured the emotional trauma of a military veteran and his wife who lost their small son to brain cancer and provided valuable information about dealing with the painful process of losing a loved one,” the Legion said in a press release.

Honored in the Internet/new media category was freelance war correspondent Alex Quade’s video documentary for The Daily Caller, “Horse Soldiers of 9/11.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review won in the print category for the second year in a row, for an in-depth investigative series by Carl Prine.

The awards will be presented Aug. 30 in Indianapolis, during the American Legion’s 94th National Convention. The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by the Legion since 1958.

Click here to read the Legion’s press release.

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New Julia Louis-Dreyfus Sitcom Improves Time-Slot Performance for HBO

The critically acclaimed Julia Louis-Dreyfus series “Veep” premiered Sunday night on HBO, improving the viewer numbers for its 10 p.m. slot -- but only a little, Deadline.com reports.

“Veep” drew 1.4 million viewers for the premiere telecast, up 8% from the season premiere of “Eastbound & Down” in the time slot and up 28% from “Eastbound’s” series finale a week ago. HBO may be a little disappointed considering that “Veep” had the hit “Game of Thrones” as a lead-in, while the “Eastbound” premiere led out from the low-rated “Luck.”

Adding in the turnout for “Veep’s” midnight rebroadcast, the total for the “Seinfeld” alumna’s new comedy climbed to 1.7 million viewers.

HBO’s other new sitcom, “Girls,” saw its numbers slip 2% for its second episode, to 858,000 viewers -- despite a stronger lead-in. Adding up all airings for the night, “Girls” reached 1.1 million. HBO has reported that the gross total for all broadcasts of the premiere episode has reached 3.2 million.

“Game of Thrones” continues to perform well for HBO in its 9 p.m. slot, with its latest installment delivering 3.7 million viewers -- down just a tick from its 3.8 million a week earlier.

The nightly average for “Thrones,” adding in rebroadcasts, was 4.6 million.

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'SNL' Regular: 'It's Time' for Castmates to Go

With rumors swirling that a number of “Saturday Night Live” cast members are ready to leave the sketch show at the end of this season, one of the other regulars has chimed in on the subject.

“I would say it’s time,” said “SNL” regular Fred Armisen, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Armisen was commenting on the possibility that Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis will leave the show.

“I would feel sad -- I love them; they’re my family,” Armisen told THR. But he added: “I’d be happy for them because they’re doing what they want to do.”

All three “SNL” veterans have been moving into feature films, with Wiig making a particular impact with “Bridesmaids,” the story notes.

Armisen added that he has not heard anything definite about any departures.

Wiig talked recently about the possibility of leaving “SNL,” saying, “Everyone has to leave,” as previously reported. She added: "I will say that when I do leave it’s not because I’m sick of it and not because I see something better or anything like that. It’s just that it’s time. When I do leave, it will be the hardest thing.”

Asked about her prospects beyond "SNL," Wiig said: "I don’t know. I may go back to open up a canoe shop."

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Rosie O'Donnell, in Her New Gig on NBC's 'Today,' Unloads on Lindsay Lohan

With Lindsay Lohan set to begin work on Lifetime’s “Liz & Dick” in a few weeks, as we reported yesterday, at least one media personality thinks the casting of Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor is a bad idea.

Rosie O’Donnell, making her debut Monday as a panelist on the “Today’s Professionals” segment of NBC’s “Today” show, said Lohan isn’t ready for the job, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I don't think she's right for the role and I don't think she's capable at this point to portray that character," said O'Donnell.

O’Donnell said she feels sorry for Lohan, adding: "I think she needs a lot of time away. ... She's had a lot of trouble doing every single movie, including ‘SNL.’ She was out and not in rehearsal. I think she's not in a place to work."

Fellow panelist Donny Deutsch was more upbeat about Lohan, saying, “She’s our generation’s Elizabeth Taylor” -- prompting O’Donnell to shoot back that Lohan hasn’t done anything good since she was 16.

The other panelist, Star Jones, took the middle ground, saying she hasn’t seen enough of Lohan’s work to judge her chances.

The report notes: “Lifetime's Lohan casting is the latest move in her Hollywood comeback since she hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’ last month to mixed reviews. Best known for her tabloid antics and her breakout rule in 2004's ‘Mean Girls,’ Lohan will also make a guest appearance on Fox's ‘Glee’ as a judge for the show's Nationals competition. Production on ‘Liz & Dick’ begins in early June in Los Angeles.”

O’Donnell’s “Today” job follows a failed try at a talk show for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable channel.

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Dick Clark Underwent Surgery the Day Before He Died

Legendary television producer and entrepreneur Dick Clark underwent prostate surgery the day before his death, reports TMZ.com.

As previously reported, the man who helped popularize rock 'n' roll with the TV show “American Bandstand" suffered what was described as a massive heart attack.

According to Clark's death certificate, he underwent a transurethral resection of the prostate for benign prostatic hyperplasia on April 17, a procedure usually performed when an enlarged prostate makes urination difficult, the story says.

The story reports: “The document also notes that Clark suffered from acute urinary retention -- a condition caused by a benign prostatic hyperplasia ... which is why he underwent surgery on the 17th.”

The certificate says Clark also suffered from coronary artery disease, the piece reports. Clark, who died April 18, was 82.

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History Channel Hit With Legal Action by Former Gang Member

History Channel has been hit with a court action by former gang member William Austin, who alleges in a complaint filed Monday that the network's "Gangland" series exercised “conscious disregard” of his rights when the show displayed private pictures of him, reports Deadline.com.

Austin, who is representing himself against A&E Television and Gangland Productions, describes himself as a "devout Christian," although he admitted that his role as a whistleblower gained him some "notoriety," the story says. Austin turned government witness against the white supremacist gang Public Enemy No. 1, the story adds.

The show used images of Austin during its sixth season, when a 2010 episode focused on the gang. Austin alleges that as a result he has received death threats and now “constantly fears for his life and is in daily anguish as a result of the unauthorized publication of his likeness," according to the report.

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'The Office' Cast Member Says Actors Are Waiting for NBC to 'Pull the Trigger'

One of the cast members on NBC’s “The Office” indicated the clock is ticking on stalled negotiations for a new season, and the next move seems to be up to the network.

"The Office" co-star Jenna Fischer tells The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed that the cast wants to return to the show and that "it's really just a matter of NBC pulling the trigger."

As previously reported, negotiations between the network and cast members Fischer, John Krasinski, B.J. Novak and Ed Helms stalled, leading NBC to consider rebooting the series as a sort of "The Office 2.0."

NBC has "to announce it by May 15 when the upfronts happen, right? So we're all just waiting," Fischer said, according to The Reporter. "We're really excited to come back -- everybody wants to come back. I know Rainn [Wilson] does have his show, but he's going to come back to 'The Office' as well, so yeah, we're just waiting."

Mindy Kaling, who is working on a pilot at Fox, could also return, the actress said. "Listen, Mindy writes on our show, so we actually only get her for a couple of shooting days every week anyway, so I don't know if that's something can be worked out," Fischer said, according to the report.

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BBC Cancels British Period Drama

British period drama is enjoying a renaissance on television, but it hasn’t translated to success for the series that some observers credit with starting it all.

The BBC has decided not to order another season of "Upstairs, Downstairs," which originally aired in the 1970s and returned with a new version in 2010, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat. The original series is credited with inspiring the popular drama "Downton Abbey," the story reports.

The BBC said that 2012 “has been a great year for Original British Drama on BBC1 but at this stage there are no plans for ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ to return," according to the story.

"Upstairs, Downstairs," which first aired in the U.S. from 1974 to 1977, followed the Bellamy family and their downstairs servants through early 20th century events such as the sinking of the Titanic and World War I.

The current popularity of "Downton Abbey," which tracks the Crawley family and their servants through roughly the same time period, led to a new "Upstairs, Downstairs" series that resumed its story in the 1930s.

But despite good reviews, the final episode of the new "Upstairs, Downstairs" drew 5.22 million viewers in the U.K., down from the 8.8 million people who tuned in for its 2010 debut, the story points out.

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Tony Danza May Return to ABC

Tony Danza, the star of the ABC comedy "Who's the Boss?," may return to the network in a new comedy project executive produced by himself and Vince Vaughn, reports Deadline.com.

The project, which may be pegged to the next development cycle, is about three men whose lives have taken different paths but who reunite when they move into a bachelor pad to be closer to their children and grandchildren, the story says.

“It’s intended to be a funny and honest comedy about getting older, generational differences, and the message that it’s never too late to start a new chapter in life,” Danza said, according to the story.

Danza starred in “Who’s the Boss?’ from 1984-1992 after a run as a regular on “Taxi” from 1978-1983. Along with guest appearances, including an arc on “The Practice,” he returns regularly with new television projects. “The Tony Danza Show” lasted 14 episodes in the late 1990s, and other Danza series efforts have included “Hudson Street” in 1995-96 and a run on “Family Law” from 2000-2002.

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Ryan Seacrest Signs Up for Two More Years of 'Idol'

"American Idol" will feature Ryan Seacrest as its host for at least two more years, as the singing competition signed him to a new deal paying him $15 million per year for two additional years, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Seacrest's most recent contract, which spanned three years, also paid him $15 million per year, the story notes.

Fox executives were motivated to keep Seacrest on the show, which has featured him as its host since "Idol" started in 2002, the piece says.

"Seacrest has provided the show stability in what otherwise has been a game of musical chairs. Seacrest has described his role as that of a conductor who keeps all of the trains running on time," the article notes.

Despite his stable presence, the show has shed fans, with total viewers down more than 20% this season compared with a year earlier, the piece points out. "The X Factor," Fox's other singing competition, fired host Steve Jones after its initial season.

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ABC Gaining Ground on NBC in Evening News

ABC’s evening news broadcast is closing the gap substantially on perennial leader NBC, according to the latest figures from Nielsen Media Research.

“ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” averaged 7.12 million total viewers and a 1.6 average rating/6 share in the key news demo of adults 25-54 (1.88 million viewers in the demo) for the week of April 16. The 25-54 figure closed the gap on “NBC Nightly News” by 40% from a year ago -- down from 525,000 viewers to 316,000.

ABC News reported that it was the seventh week in a row that “World News” has closed the gap by a double-digit percentage.

For the season-to-date, the ABC broadcast has closed the gap with NBC by 21% from a year ago. ABC has also gained slightly in total viewers, narrowing the gap by 1%.

The season-to-date margin in both total viewers (a gap of 1.09 million) and adults 25-54 (368,000) is the smallest since the 2008-09 season.

ABC’s “World News” continues to outperform third-place “CBS Evening News,” beating the CBS broadcast by 1.35 million total viewers and by 211,000 adults 25-54 for the week of April 16.


Numbers for the week of April 16, 2012, for the big three broadcast news programs:

Adults 25-54:

NBC: 2.20 million
ABC: 1.88 million
CBS: 1.67 million

Total viewers:

NBC: 8.35 million
ABC: 7.12 million
CBS: 5.77 million

Household rating and share:

NBC: 5.6/12
ABC: 4.9/10
CBS: 4.0/8

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We May Be Seeing More of Ted Nugent -- as Part of Plea Agreement

Ted Nugent isn’t likely to go away anytime soon, even after the Secret Service leaned on him following an angry rant by Nugent against the Obama administration at a recent NRA event. In fact, the outspoken rocker has just agreed to make a public-service announcement -- effectively expanding his TV profile.

In a case that’s unrelated to the Obama tirade, Nugent -- an avid hunter -- pleaded guilty to an illegal bear kill in Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News reports. As part of the plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Nugent will make a PSA for responsible hunting that will air during his Outdoor Channel show "Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild," the story reports.

The plea stems from an incident in 2009. The story reports: “Nugent, 63, launched an arrow at a black bear while on a bow-hunting trip with friends in Tongass National Forest in May 2009. Federal prosecutors say he wounded the bear, attracted to the hunters by a bait station. Nugent's lawyer says the arrow grazed the animal and it scampered off alive.

“Whether injured or merely scratched, the bear got away. Nugent shot and killed another bear four days later. Then he put the scenes on TV.”

Nugent has admitted that the second bear was shot illegally, as he exceeded his bag limit after wounding the first bear. Prosecutors also said he then illegally transported the second bear off federal property.

The plea agreement will be entered in court next week. It includes a $10,000 fine for Nugent, along with the creation of a 30-second to 60-second PSA to run every other week on his show.

As part of the plea, Nugent will be banned from hunting or fishing anywhere in Alaska and on any U.S. Forest Service land across the U.S. for one year, the story says.

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Netflix Projects Slowdown in Growth of Video Streaming

Netflix, after reporting its first loss since 2005, projected a slowdown in the growth of its U.S. streaming customers, reports Bloomberg.

The company's shares plunged 17% Monday after projecting the slowdown, the story notes.

Netflix expects to end the second quarter with 23.6 million to 24.2 million online customers, up from 23.4 million at the end of March. While still a gain, that suggests the service will add only 200,000 to 800,000 customers, down from 1.74 million in its first quarter, the piece points out.

“They guided to subscriber growth dropping a ton quarter-over-quarter, and some people think as soon as growth stops, this thing’s over,” said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst in Los Angeles who has an underperform or sell rating on the stock.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the slowdown is due to higher seasonal customer turnover.

The company also plans to enter an additional European market this year, as its entry into the U.K. market has been well received, the story notes.

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Coaches on NBC's 'The Voice' Close In on Raises

NBC is close to new deals with "The Voice" coaches Adam Levine, Cee-Lo, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera, reports Deadline.com.

All four will be receiving bigger salaries, with Levine, Cee-Lo and Shelton moving into the high seven-figure range for a season, the story says. Aguilera is still likely to earn the biggest salary, the piece adds.

Even though the show’s viewership has been falling off in recent weeks, "The Voice" is easily NBC's strongest non-football program and is likely to anchor the network's schedule next season.

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HBO Cancels Series for the Second Time

It appears that HBO means it this time. The pay-cable channel has decided to cancel a series -- and it’s a series HBO has canceled before, HitFix.com reports.

The series is the animated "The Life and Times of Tim." The comedy, which recently completed its third season, was also canceled after season two, in June 2010. Then two months later, HBO reversed its decision and ordered more episodes of the show.

The series’ most recent fresh episode was televised Feb. 17.

"The Life and Times of Tim" historically has been a show in search of a network; it was on Fox at one point, and also ran on Comedy Central for a time before landing on HBO. It's history on HBO has also been rough, including a long gap between season one and season two -- which brought rumors of cancellation even back then.

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Bill O'Reilly Goes After 'Glee'

Fox News host Bill O'Reilly vented on his show "The O'Reilly Factor" last week about the most recent episode of Fox's "Glee," the New York Daily News reports.

O'Reilly took offense at a plot point about a young man, played by Alex Newell, who expressed the feelings of a transgender youth and later performed on stage as a woman.

O'Reilly said showing this character espousing transgender ideas and appearing in women's clothes would give viewers similar thoughts. Said O'Reilly, “If you make the behavior of these people ... if children hear it, unsupervised children, OK, who don't have parents watching their -- they might go out and experiment with this stuff.”

Judge Jeanine Pirro, a guest on O’Reilly’s show, responded skeptically, saying, "Do you really think that this is the kind of thing that's contagious?"

O'Reilly answered, "I don't know," but cited the example of his being influenced to smoke at a young age because he had seen James Dean light up cigarettes on screen.

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Fox's '25th Anniversary Special' Is a Ratings Bust -- But It's Not Alone

Fox’s heavily promoted ‘25th Anniversary Special,’ accompanied by special airings of the pilots for the network’s seminal shows “The Simpsons” and “Married ... With Children,” failed to pump life into the Sunday ratings.

When all was said and done, none of the broadcast networks showed signs of life. They all failed to crack a 2.0 average rating for prime time in the key demo of adults 18-49, TVbytheNumbers.com reports, citing Nielsen overnights.

At the top of the rankings for prime overall Sunday night were ABC and CBS, with 1.9 averages in 18-49, followed by Fox with a 1.7 and NBC with a 1.5. CBS won total viewers with 9.9 million, ahead of ABC (7.5 million), NBC (6.3 million) and Fox (3.9 million).

Fox’s “Married ... With Children” pilot at 7 p.m. scraped up only a 1.3 average rating in 18-49, followed by “The Simpsons” with a 1.5. The two-hour anniversary special, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, managed a 1.8 -- well short of most of the competition. ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” pulled a 2.9 at 8 p.m., while CBS’s “Amazing Race” grabbed a 2.5.

On NBC, the two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice” was down two-tenths of a ratings point from last week, but its 2.0 in the 18-49 demo still beat the competition at 9 p.m.

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Did 'Titanic' Help Rouse Ailing Bee Gee From Coma?

Ailing Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb, 62, was reportedly joking and laughing today after coming out of a 12-day coma, as we reported earlier.

Gibb reportedly suffered pneumonia during what has been described as a hard recovery from cancer. His recovery over the weekend has confounded his doctors, with his son, Robin-John Gibb, saying he had been given less than a 10% chance of survival.

Reuters reports that one of his recently released compositions, a classical piece called “The Titanic Requiem,” was playing in his London hospital room when he came out of the coma. Gibb’s family members maintained a bedside vigil throughout his stay, playing Bee Gees songs in the room.

According to the report, family members “noticed Gibb trying to mouth words to songs he had sung hundreds of times. When his latest symphonic music composed with his son was played, Gibb came around.”

Said Robin-John Gibb: "He woke up while we were playing the track which is a movement from the ‘(Titanic) Requiem’ we have just written." Father and son co-wrote the piece.

The story adds: “Gibb had been due to attend the red carpet premiere of ‘Titanic Requiem’ at the Westminster Central Hall on April 10, but was forced to cancel after he fell ill.”

Robin Gibb’s wife, Dwina, said he was in “fantastic” form, adding: "He is laughing, he is joking, he is really happy."

The report notes: “Gibb's doctors released a statement on Sunday in which they praised his ‘iron will,’ although the outlook remained uncertain as he received more treatment for advanced bowel cancer, pneumonia and liver failure.”

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Lindsay Lohan Locks In Role of Screen Legend

It has been rumored for months, but now it’s official: Lindsay Lohan has signed with Lifetime to play the lead in the cable channel’s upcoming biopic “Liz & Dick,” Deadline.com reports.

We reported back in February that Lohan apparently had the role of Elizabeth Taylor lined up, but at that time she was still going through probation and the job was contingent on her staying out of trouble. Lohan wrapped up her probation last month.

Things haven’t exactly gone smoothly for Lohan since then, as she has reportedly gone back to partying pretty regularly. But Lifetime announced today that the casting is official. The project, which focuses on Taylor’s romance with actor Richard Burton, will begin shooting in early June, the channel said.

Lifetime’s statement includes a quote from Lohan, who says: “I have always admired and had enormous respect for Elizabeth Taylor. She was not only an incredible actress but an amazing woman as well. I am very honored to have been asked to play this role.”

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Moonves Names Co-Presidents of CBS Films

Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., has named two executives as co-presidents of CBS Films. Deadline.com reports that Wolfgang Hammer and Terry Press have been given the titles.

The story reports: “This cements a structure that has worked since Amy Baer left the studio and CBS Films ramped up its activity acquiring finished films. In his title as COO, Hammer oversaw the acquisitions of ‘The Mechanic,’ ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ and ‘The Women in Black,’ and Press has been been at the center of the marketing and release campaigns for those films. Through her 7570 Marketing, she has been consulting for CBS Films since 2010.”

Both executives will report to Moonves.

Said Moonves: “In Terry and Wolfgang, we are fortunate to have two very skilled executives, each with terrific knowledge of the business and strong resumes of innovation. They both possess the ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ attitude for making, acquiring and marketing quality films for a division that is small in size, but laser-focused on assembling a mix of home-grown productions and acquisitions across a diverse range of genres. I look forward to the ongoing contributions they will make as they work together on all aspects of CBS Films to achieve our shared objective of developing great movies and growing this new part of our company.”

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Syfy Pushes to Line Up Integrated Advertisers for Upcoming Multiplatform Series

Syfy is getting an early start on lining up advertisers to integrate into an upcoming series, Advertising Age reports. The series is “Defiance,” which will be a coordinated TV series and multiplayer online game.

“Defiance,” set to debut in April 2013, is still casting. As we reported earlier today, the show just brought aboard new cast members Mia Kirshner of “The Vampire Diaries” and Fionnula Flanagan of “Lost.”

Because of the complex cross-platform nature of the project, Syfy is getting a head start on pitching the show and game to potential advertisers.

Linda Yaccarino, president of cable entertainment and digital advertising sales for Syfy owner NBCUniversal, said: "We are in conversations with potential advertisers nine months in advance. We have never thrown back the curtain this early in a project."

The series is a joint venture with video-game developer Trion Worlds. The plot, set 30 years in the future, has human beings and aliens sharing Planet Earth and rebuilding a society after a devastating war.

The story notes: “The show and the game will influence each other and evolve together, said Syfy President Dave Howe. If, for example, the game warns of an invasion, ‘then the show will reference that battle in the following episode,’ he said. ‘If a massive storm moves in on the show, it moves in on the game.’"

Syfy and Trion are looking for brands that would make sense in the context of "Defiance."

Said Nicholas Beliaeff, senior VP of development for Trion Worlds: "The game could have a highway with rest-stop signs, and one of the signs could have a Burger King symbol. When they get off the highway, they find a Burger King that survived the universal war."

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Warner Bros. Renews Deal With Conan's Company

Conan O’Brien is keeping his Conaco Productions banner at Warner Bros. TV, signing a new two-year deal, Deadline.com reports.

O’Brien’s late-night show “Conan” has been picked up by TBS through April 2014, as reported earlier this year.

Along with the "Conan" talk show, Conaco produces "Eagleheart," an Adult Swim program.

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Is One Show Dragging Down All of Television? Plunge in Spring Ratings Has Experts Pointing Fingers

With network series reaching new viewership lows this spring among viewers 18 to 49, fingers have been pointed to a few culprits, with the two main theories singling out a drop in ratings for "American Idol" and the string of repeats that aired starting in March, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

For the four weeks starting March 19, NBC shed an average of 3% of its younger viewers, or 59,000 viewers, while CBS lost 8% (239,000), ABC plunged by 21% (681,000) and Fox dropped by 20% (709,000), the story notes.

Even hits such as ABC's "Modern Family" have been hurt, with the program last week drawing its lowest rating for the season, the piece notes.

"The losses could not have come at a worse time for the networks, which are about to enter the television upfronts, the traditional season when advertising dollars are committed for the fall season," Carter writes.

One culprit in the ratings drop this spring could be the steep loss of viewers for "American Idol," which has shed 30%, according to Michael Nathanson, the United States media analyst for Nomura Securities. That could have a disproportionate impact on live viewing overall for prime-time shows, the story points out.

Another reason could be the string of repeats aired by networks beginning in March. Viewers increasingly avoid watching reruns, and then end up missing a new episode of a show such as "Modern Family" because they are unaware of when it will air, the piece notes.

Meanwhile, viewers with a "season's pass" for a show on a DVR will learn they have a new episode to watch, and will then skip a live TV program to watch the taped show, the story says.

"And that, many television executives say, may indicate a fundamental shift in how viewers consume television programming. They no longer watch nearly as much of it while it is broadcast," Carter writes.

Jeff Gaspin, former chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment, sums up the lower ratings this way: “We are seeing the cumulative effect of nonlinear viewing,” and adds, “I think we are at a tipping point in how people are going to watch shows,” the story reports.

Carter writes: “Mr. Gaspin said that this year he and his 13-year-old son decided to try out the AMC series ‘The Walking Dead.’ Hooked by the first two episodes, they set aside an hour at 9 each night to watch the first two years, hour by hour, which Mr. Gaspin had collected through every means available -- some episodes from Netflix, some from iTunes, some recorded on the family DVR....I hate to say this to the AMC executives and everybody else in the business, but I will never watch ‘Walking Dead’ live again.”

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NBC Picks Up Sitcom From 'Friends' Star

A comedy series from one of the stars of the long-running NBC hit "Friends" has been picked up by NBC, Deadline.com reports. The network gave a 13-episode order to Matthew Perry’s “Go On,” the story says.

Perry stars in and co-executive produces the project about a sportscaster who finds help from the members of his mandatory support group, the story says.

The early pickup means that "Go On" will be able to start staffing immediately, gaining the advantage of getting its pick of writers, the story says. The decision may place pressure on other networks to start picking up projects in order to lock in writers, the story says.

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CBS Sues TV Minister's Companies

FamilyNet and ComStar Media are being sued by CBS Television Distribution, which alleges that the companies owned by "Hour of Power" minister Robert Schuller are airing series including "Happy Days" without paying licensing fees, reports TheWrap.com.

CBS is seeking $1.5 million, the piece notes. The lawsuit says that CBS and FamilyNet signed a licensing agreement in December 2008 to license shows including "Family Ties" and "Happy Days," the story says. The suit alleges that after Schuller's ComStar Media bought FamilyNet, the payments stopped arriving.

FamilyNet didn't respond to a request for comment, the story says.

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While Congratulating Fox on Its 25th Anniversary, 'The Simpsons' Takes a Shot at Fox News

While rebroadcasting the first episode of "The Simpsons" in celebration of Fox's 25th anniversary, the animated show took a shot at sister network Fox News, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The telecast included an end card congratulating the broadcast network, which read, "Congratulations FOX on 25 years … We still love you.*" The asterisk led to a line that read, "*This doesn’t include Fox News."

The show has taken shots at Fox News before, such as an episode that featured a Fox News helicopter with the fake slogan, "Fox News: Not Racist, But #1 With Racists."

Here's a clip:

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Is Simon Cowell's Biography a Bit Too Intimate?

Some might say the new unauthorized biography of "American Idol" producer and judge Simon Cowell is a bit too intimate, reports the Associated Press.

"Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell" is written by British journalist and biographer Tom Bower, who said he was drawn in by how a middle-aged music producer turned an old-fashioned talent contest into a fortune, the story says.

The book details how Cowell struggled for years in the music industry, but also includes personal details of his life, the story says.

For instance, Cowell receives regular colonic irrigations because "it's so cleansing -- and it makes my eyes shine brighter," according to the story. While the book is unauthorized, Cowell participated in the project and spent hours with Bower, the piece notes.

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Tennis Legend Joins ESPN's Wimbledon Coverage

One of the legends of tennis has signed on with ESPN for its coverage of Wimbledon this summer, reports B&C. John McEnroe will be part of the cable network’s team coverage of the tournament.

ESPN signed a 12-year agreement last July for exclusive rights to the tournament, allowing it for the first time to air all matches live, the piece notes. NBC Sports aired the singles finals for more than four decades, the story adds.

McEnroe worked as part of NBC's coverage team, the piece notes.

In a statement, McEnroe said: "I have enjoyed working the past three years with my ESPN teammates at the U.S. Open and I am looking forward to expanding my role at Wimbledon, beginning with the new expanded schedule we have this year. Like ESPN, I am committed to working hard and giving my best to help our sport grow in the U.S. and around the world."

The Wimbledon Championships start June 25 in London.

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Bee Gees Singer Wakes Up From Coma

Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb has woken up from a coma, reports People.com

As previously reported, Gibb, 62, fell into a coma earlier this month and was fighting for his life after suffering a hard recovery from cancer. He contracted pneumonia and spent more than a week in the coma.

"Robin is fully conscious, lucid and able to speak to his loved ones," Gibb's doctors said Sunday in a statement. "He is breathing on his own, with an oxygen mask. He is on intravenous feeding and antibiotics. He is of course, exhausted, extremely weak and malnourished."

The statement adds: "The road ahead for Robin remains uncertain but it is a privilege to look after such an extraordinary human being."

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Robert Redford to Host Sundance Channel Series, Provide Critiques

Sundance Channel’s creative director, film legend Robert Redford, will appear on the channel as the presenter of a series of acclaimed independent films, Deadline.com reports.

The channel announced plans for the series in a press release today, stating: “Airing every Saturday night beginning April 28th, Redford will introduce each film and offer a personal critique. Some of the films being screened include: ‘The Crucible,’ ‘Wendy & Lucy,’ ‘Blue Velvet,’ ‘The Deep End’ and ‘The Imperialists Are Still Alive.’”

In the statement, Redford said: “Our aim with Sundance Channel has always been to showcase independent productions that broaden viewers’ minds and hopefully inspire them. I am pleased to share some great films and further strengthen the outstanding independent film offering on our channel.”

The series, dubbed “Robert Redford Presents,” is set to launch Saturday, April 28, at 10 p.m. with Oscar nominee “The Crucible.”

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Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and Usher Among the Artists LIned Up for 'Today' Summer Concert Series

NBC's "Today" has lined up performers including Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and Usher for its summer concert series, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Usher will kick off the series on Friday, May 18, marking his first-ever performance on the show, the story notes. Bieber and Brown will be returning to the show, after Brown last year drew as many as 20,000 people to Rockefeller Center -- the biggest crowd "Today" had ever drawn, according to the piece.

Other performers include Hot Chelle Rae, Maroon 5 and Train.

Here’s the full schedule:

May 18: Usher

May 25: Pitbull

May 31: American Idol winner and runner-up (special Thursday performance)

June 1: The Band Perry

June 8: Chris Brown

June 15: Justin Bieber

June 22: Kenny Chesney

June 29: Maroon 5

July 6: Flo Rida

July 13: Zac Brown Band

July 20: Hot Chelle Rae

August 24: Train

August 31: Jason Mraz with special guest Christina Perri

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Lifetime Passes on Melanie Griffith Pilot

Lifetime has decided to take a pass on a pilot from Melanie Griffith, Deadline.com reports. The drama pilot, "American Housewife," stars Griffith and is executive produced by the actress and her husband and partner Antonio Banderas.

Griffith plays an apparently perfect housewife in the project, living in an affluent community and married to an up-and-coming politician, the story says. The pilot was written and executive produced by Erik Jendresen based on an idea developed by him and Banderas, the story says.

With the successful debut of Lifetime's new drama series "The Client List," the pressure is off at the network to push ahead with its development slate, the piece adds. The network also recently took a pass on on the pilot “Modern Love.”

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Despite Losing Nearly Two-Thirds of Its Value, Netflix Gives CEO a Huge Raise

Despite losing almost two-thirds of its market value last year, Netflix gave Chief Executive Reed Hastings a 68% bump in compensation, reports Deadline.com.

While Hastings' salary slipped 3.7% to $500,000, his stock option awards rose almost 76% to $8.8 million, the piece notes.

The story reports: "All of the company’s other top execs also made more in 2011 than they did the previous year -- collectively they were up 27.6%. Hastings’s compensation accounted for 40% of the pay for the company’s five top execs. His take was about 2.7 times the average for his colleagues. Corporate governance activists become skeptical when the CEO makes more than three times the average."

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New Syfy Drama Casts Actresses From 'Lost,' 'Vampire Diaries'

Syfy's new drama series "Defiance" has cast Mia Kirshner of "The Vampire Diaries" and Fionnula Flanagan of "Lost," reports Deadline.com.

The project, set in the future, tracks the survivors of a universal war living in a frontier boomtown called Defiance, the story says. Kirshner will play Kenya, the town madam, while Flanagan will play a popular former mayer of the town, the story says.

The project will begin production on a pilot this month. Grant Bowler plays the lead in the project, with Julie Benz also in the cast.

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Rich Ross Blown Out as Chief of Disney's Movie Division; His Spectacular 13-Year Run at the Disney Channel Didn't Translate to the Movie Group

In a move that ended the 15-year-plus Disney career of one of the company’s top executives, Walt Disney Studios Chairman Rich Ross has left the company, according to a number of media reports.

Here's what Brooks Barnes of the New York Times' Media Decoder blog writes: "Mr. Ross, a 15-year veteran of Disney, announced his departure to the studio in an e-mail. 'I believe in our strong slate of films and our ability to make and market them better than anyone else,' he wrote. 'But, I no longer believe the chairman role is the right professional fit for me.' Many people in Hollywood would argue that it was never a fit."

Barnes also writes that Ross' "exit comes after Disney was forced to take a $200 million write-down tied to the science-fiction megaflop 'John Carter.' Other misses include 'Mars Needs Moms' and 'Prom.' Mr. Ross scored one smash: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.'"

“'I appreciate his countless contributions throughout his entire career at Disney, and expect he will have tremendous success in whatever he chooses to do next,' [Disney CEO Robert] Iger said in a statement." Disney did not immediately name a replacement for Ross.

According to Ross' official Disney biography, "Before joining the Studios in October 2009, Ross served as President of Disney Channels Worldwide, where he fostered the unprecedented growth of Disney's global kids' TV business with the development of a multiplatform strategy that included subscription video-on-demand and content-rich broadband websites; the original programming block of global hit series such as 'Hannah Montana,' 'Wizards of Waverly Place,' 'That's So Raven' and 'Phineas and Ferb'; and the hugely successful Disney Channel Original Movie franchise, which produced the international smash hit 'High School Musical.' Also under Ross' supervision was Radio Disney, which has set the industry standard for kid and family content. Ross joined Disney in 1996 as Senior Vice President, Programming and Production, for Disney Channel, becoming General Manager and Executive Vice President, Programming and Production, in 1999. He was named Disney Channel President in 2002 before stepping into the role of Disney Channels Worldwide President in 2004.

"Ross previously served as Senior Vice President, Development and Production, at FX Networks, where he was a member of the executive team that launched the cable network, and spent seven years at Nickelodeon, where as Vice President, Program Enterprises, he was involved in all original-programming deals. He built the Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite talent relations department overseeing network casting and served as executive producer of the first televised kid-voted awards show, Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards."

richross.jpg

 Rich Ross

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Next iPhone, Due in October, Will Reportedly Be Made of Exotic LiquidMetal

The next iPhone from Apple is expected in October, and among the innovations will be a redesigned body made of an exotic alloy, ABC News reports.

Citing Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, the report says the new device will run on faster 4G data networks such as LTE.

The story reports: “The analyst predicts the phone will be available in October based on a statement made yesterday by Qualcomm, which is currently having trouble meeting customer demand for its radio chips. Those chips would be used by Apple to connect the new iPhone to faster data networks.”

Apple has already released an LTE-capable iPad that works with either AT&T or Verizon, the story notes.

ABC News adds: “Another report Thursday focused on what materials Apple will be using to build that redesigned body. Computerworld claims Apple will be using an exotic material known as LiquidMetal to create the phone. Apple spent $30 million acquiring the rights to use LiquidMetal in 2010.”

What Apple has in mind for LiquidMetal has been the subject of rumors for a while, but it appears now that it’s destined for the iPhone 5.

The report notes: “LiquidMetal is a mix of several different metals, allowing the phone to be more durable while giving it a liquid-like exterior feel. Light like plastic but durable like aluminum, LiquidMetal would allow the phone to weigh less and have a thinner profile.”

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Fallon Takes 'Late Night' to North Carolina for Rendezvous With Obama

Jimmy Fallon will take his NBC late-night show to North Carolina next week for an appearance by President Obama, The New York Times reports.

For Fallon, it’s a sign of the rising stature of his “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” For Obama it’s a chance to promote his current effort to get Congress to extend a law keeping student loan rates low, CNN reports.

It will be Obama’s first appearance on the show, following an appearance in February by first lady Michelle Obama.

CNN reports: “Fallon, whose audience skews toward the younger demographic Obama is hoping to reach, will speak with the president while he is at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Tuesday. Obama’s stop there is one of three colleges he is visiting Tuesday and Wednesday as Congress gets set to consider whether a 2007 provision that cut student loan interest rates in half should be allowed to expire.”

Noting that North Carolina is shaping up as a swing state in the presidential election, Bill Carter writes in The Times: “Jimmy Fallon is making a further statement about his up-and-coming status in late-night television by landing the first big late-night political appearance of the full-on presidential race.”

Fallon tweeted news of the Obama appearance, writing, “The President of the United States!?!?! @BarackObama see you Tuesday!!! #obamaonfallon.”

NBC announced that Dave Matthews will be the musical guest on the show that night.

Carter’s Times piece adds: “Mr. Fallon has emerged in the past year as one of the hot acts in late night with younger viewers, winning respect for many of the show’s original comedy ideas and for his own performance, especially with guests like Bruce Springsteen.”

Michelle Obama appeared to have fun with her “Fallon” appearance earlier this year, participating in a fitness challenge with the host. Here’s a clip:

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Study Lists Tablet Users' Top Complaints

Compuware's March 2012 study on the use of tablets versus desktop shows that many tablet users are disappointed in the performance of their devices, according to BizReport.com.

Seven of ten tablet users expect websites to load as fast on the tablet as they do on a PC, in 2 seconds or less, the story notes. Slow load times are the most frequently named problem (66%), followed by site crashes (44%), glitches in site functionality (42%) and formatting of sites (40%).

Steve Tack, CTO for Compuware APM, said: "Consumers and enterprises have embraced tablets in large numbers for everything from Web browsing and social networking to key business applications that increase employee productivity and drive revenue. However, based on the survey results, companies are not meeting tablet users' Web experience expectations. Tablet users represent a coveted audience that in general tends to spend more per order, so organizations that ignore tablet users do so at their own peril."

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Fox Wins Thursday, Even as 'Idol' Hits Series Low and Kiefer Sutherland's 'Touch' Continues to Fall

Fox came out on top on another night when shows on all four major broadcast networks hit series lows in the Nielsen overnights for Thursday, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Fox’s “American Idol” matched its series low for a results show with a 3.9 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49, while the new Kiefer Sutherland series “Touch” continued its erosion, slipping 9% from a week ago to a series-low 2.1.

For prime time as a whole, Fox’s 3.0 in 18-49 was still easily good enough to win the night, topping ABC’s 2.2, CBS’s 1.8, Univision’s 1.6 and NBC’s 1.4. Fox also claimed the top spot in total viewers with 11.0 million, ahead of CBS (8.4 million), ABC (8.0 million), Univision (3.8 million) and NBC (3.2 million).

ABC’s “Missing” got in on the series-low trend, slipping one-tenth of a ratings point from last week’s series low to a 1.3 rating in 18-49. “Grey’s Anatomy” managed to beat the trend, rising 10% to a 3.2, while “Scandal” also rose a bit, up one-tenth to a 2.1.

NBC saw “Awake” fall one-tenth of a point to a new series low of 0.8 in 18-49, while “Community” matched its series low with a 1.3. “30 Rock” ticked up slightly to a 1.5, while “The Office” matched last week’s series low with a 2.2 and “Parks & Recreation” was even with its previousl original with a 1.8.

CBS aired mostly repeats, but its one original, “Rules of Engagement,” fell 19% from last week, equaling its series low with a 2.2 in 18-49.

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'Hunger Games' Sequel Finds High-Profile Director

Since the director of the megahit “Hunger Games” declined to helm the movie’s sequel “Catching Fire,” the principals behind the series have been scrambling to find a replacement. That search is apparently over now, with the team settling on Francis Lawrence, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lawrence, the director of “Water for Elephants” and “I Am Legend,” replaces Gary Ross, who directed “Hunger Games.” The Lionsgate project is already on a tight timeline, with a release date of Nov. 22, 2013, reportedly locked in.

Lionsgate reportedly was also considering “Moneyball” director Bennett Miller before deciding on Lawrence. Miller’s busier schedule may have tilted the balance in favor of Lawrence, with Miller currently involved in “Foxcatcher.”

Lawrence has also directed music videos for Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Green Day, the story notes.

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Tyra Banks Fires Three Longtime 'Top Model' Personalities

Tyra Banks fired three of the longest-running personalities on her show "America's Next Top Model," letting go co-stars J. Alexander, Jay Manuel and Nigel Barker, reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The three mentors were told Thursday morning that their contracts won't be renewed for next season, the piece notes. All three have worked on the show since it began in 2003.

Barker works as a judge and photographer, while Alexander serves as the show's "runway trainer." Manuel is the show's creative director.

The decision was due to plans for major changes to the program for its 19th cycle, the piece adds. Producers are reaching out to bloggers and fashion insiders, such as blogger Bryan Boy, in order to add a social media slant to the show, the story notes.

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MSNBC Host Demands Dismissal of $50 Million Defamation Suit

An MSNBC talk show host has filed court papers in response to a $50 million defamation lawsuit by a conservative radio host, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Rachel Maddow filed a motion seeking dismissal of the suit by Bradlee Dean and demanding that Dean pay legal fees. Maddow’s court filing says: "With this lawsuit -- his second -- Dean seeks to move one step closer in his self-described mission to stop the 'radical gay agenda.' The law does not permit him to use the judicial process in this fashion."

Maddow, MSNBC and NBCUniversal are defendants in the Dean lawsuit, which was filed in July. The suit was first filed in state court, but was later dropped and then filed again in federal court, the story notes.

Dean is alleging that Maddow misrepresented Dean’s words in a report on “The Rachel Maddow Show” in an effort to undermine GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, according to the story.

Maddow reportedly aired a version of Dean’s comments from his radio show, quoting Dean as saying: "Muslims are calling for the execution for homosexuals in America. ... They themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible, the Judeo Christian God. They seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do. Because these people are livid about enforcing their laws, they know homosexuality is an abomination. ... If America won't enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that's what you're seeing in America today."

THR adds: “Maddow then ran Dean's later disclaimer that he has ‘never and will never call for the execution of homosexuals,’ and followed it up with some commentary, but it was enough for a defamation lawsuit.”

Maddow’s court filing says the TV host is protected by the First Amendment. According to the report, the filing states: “The the broadcasts truthfully reported on Dean’s May 15th statements. Those broadcasts re-played original audio of Dean speaking on the May 15th radio show. Dean does not -- and cannot -- allege that he did not make those controversial statements. The fact that NBCUniversal broadcast the essence but not the entirety of what Dean said during that radio show, as he now protests, does not change this analysis.”

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Shakeup at the Top of FremantleMedia, the Company Behind 'Idol' and 'X Factor'

FremantleMedia has a new CEO, with the company behind a string of hit television shows announcing that Tony Cohen will step down, TheWrap.com reports.

Replacing Cohen will be FremantleMedia North America chief Cecile Frot-Coutaz, who will relocate from Los Angeles to London. Frot-Coutaz has been CEO of FremantleMedia North America since 2005, overseeing the company’s U.S. hits such as "American Idol" and "The X Factor."

Cohen is stepping down to focus on "non-executive" work, the story says.

“After being with the group for 17 years, Cecile has the vision and leadership that are needed to further grow FremantleMedia," said Guillaume de Posch, who is co-CEO of RTL Group. Fremantle is the content production division of RTL Group, a European entertainment network.

De Posch thanked Cohen for his “outstanding achievements” and wished him “all the best for the future,” the report notes.

A successor to Frot-Coutaz at FremantleMedia North America hasn't yet been named.

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NBC's Version of Hannibal Lecter Will Have at Least One Big Difference From the Villain in 'Silence of the Lambs'

NBC's "Hannibal" will feature the serial killer Hannibal Lecter with at least one big difference from the version of Lecter played by Anthony Hopkins in “Silence of the Lambs.” The new Hannibal will have a "cheery disposition," according to creator Bryan Fuller, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Many viewers know Lecter from the 1991 Jonathan Demme film "Silence of the Lambs," which depicted the cannibalistic killer in prison. The movie won five Oscars, including a sweep of best picture, best director for Demme, best actor for Hopkins and best actress for Jodie Foster.

The NBC series has received a 13-episode order and will focus on the relationship between FBI profiler Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, and Lecter.

“It’s before he was incarcerated, so he’s more of a peacock,” Fuller said. "He’s not being telegraphed as a villain. If the audience didn’t know who he was, they wouldn’t see him coming. What we have is Alfred Hitchcock’s principle of suspense -- show the audience the bomb under the table and let them sweat when it’s going to go boom. So the audience knows who Hannibal is so we don’t have to overplay his villainy. We get to subvert his legacy and give the audience twists and turns.”

Fuller plans to reverse the gender of a couple of characters, with the project based on the Thomas Harris book "Red Dragon," the story notes. Dr. Alan Bloom will become Dr. Alana Bloom, while tabloid journalist Freddy Lounds will become a blogger named Fredricka Lounds, the piece adds.

Fuller also noted that he has talked with director-producer Bryan Singer about rebooting the "Star Trek" franchise, although it's unlikely the franchise would return to TV while the movie franchise is still turning out films based on the premise, the story says.

"I don’t think anything is going to happen in any official capacity until after the next movie comes out. And I’m sure it would be wisely under J.J. Abrams’ purview of what happens. He’s the guardian of 'Trek' right now," Fuller said.

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What's Behind All the Recastings This Pilot Season?

This pilot season has seen a rash of recastings, and Nellie Andreeva, writing on Deadline.com, says she may know why. Noting that she has "rarely seen so many recastings before pilots were filmed," Andreeva says technology could be to blame.

The problem may reside in the way the casting process has evolved, Andreeva notes. It used to be that finalists would test in person in front of network and studio executives, who would then discuss the candidates and pick the strongest one.

This year, two-thirds of pilot auditions were taped at the studios and emailed to the networks, Andreeva writes. Only CBS offered the in-person tests on all of its pilots, she points out.

"In most cases, executives see a pilot’s cast members together for the first time at the table read. That’s when some mis-castings become clear," Andreeva notes.

Notable recastings this season include actor Ryan Phillippe, who left the CBS drama pilot "Golden Boy" and was replaced by British actor Theo James, and Fox's comedy "Ned Fox Is My Manny," which replaced "Saturday Night Live" cast member Abby Elliott with Dakota Johnson.

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DirecTV Slashes Price of Football Package

In a move designed to broaden its audience, DirecTV has cut the price of its Sunday football package by 40% for existing customers and will continue to offer it free for a year for new customers, reports Bloomberg.

The NFL Sunday Ticket package, which gives access to all out-of-market regular-season National Football League games, now costs $199.95 instead of $325 for existing customers, the story says.

With additional access to the games via mobile devices, the package costs $299.95, the piece adds.

DirecTV has held rights to the games since 1994, which has given it a competitive advantage against rivals such as Comcast and Dish, according to the story. A promotion that started last year that gave the package free to new customers helped DirecTV gain a net 327,000 U.S. subscribers in the third quarter, its biggest boost since 2009, the piece adds.

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Former 'CSI' Star William Petersen Finds a Home for His Drama Pilot

William Petersen, the former star of CBS’s “CSI,” has received a pilot order for his drama project "Hurt People" from Cinemax, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Petersen, who is executive producing, will also star as Hollis Brown, a hitman who works for the crime family that killed his wife, the story notes. He has now been asked to hunt down his estranged daughter.

The show would mark Petersen's first starring role since he left "CSI," the piece notes.

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After Unveiling '$10 Million Chandelier' Analogy on Letterman, Olbermann Slates His First Political Talk Show Appearance Since Current TV Ouster

In his first political talk show appearance since his program was pulled by Current TV, Keith Olbermann will appear Sunday on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," reports Deadline.com.

Olbermann will join the show's round table, sitting down with George Will, Donna Brazile, Matt Dowd and Peggy Noonan, according to TVNewser.

Olbermann appeared on “Late Show with David Letterman” soon after things fell apart with Current, comparing himself to a “$10 million chandelier” without a house to go around it -- a swipe at Current.

As previously reported, Olbermann was fired by Current TV just nine months after debuting his weeknight show, "Countdown." His show was replaced with "Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” and Olbermann and Current are now embroiled in a lawsuit.

Current just announced plans this week for a new show featuring California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, as reported earlier this week.

Here’s a clip of Olbermann’s recent appearance on “Letterman,” where he introduces his chandelier analogy ...

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'Daily Show' Alum to Host 2012 ESPY Awards

A former "Daily Show" correspondent will host the 2012 ESPY Awards, which honor the best in sports, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Rob Riggle, a sports fan and U.S. Marine Corps reserve lieutenant colonel, will join guests including former hosts Lance Armstrong, Justin Timberlake and Samuel L. Jackson, the story says.

The show will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN HD on July 11.

"The ESPYs are proud to support Disney’s Heroes Work Here program and we’re honored to have a Marine Corps officer serve as this year’s host,” ESPN Executive Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions Norby Williamson said in a statement, according to the story.

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Phil Spector Files Lawsuit From Prison

Record producer Phil Spector, who was convicted of the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, filed a lawsuit Thursday from prison, TMZ.com reports. The suit against the city of Alhambra, Calif., claims a local government construction project is destroying Spector’s mansion.

TMZ reports: “According to the lawsuit, the city commissioned a construction project on the hill where Phil's house is located -- a project that has since caused the retaining wall that supports the hill to start cracking. As a result of the cracked wall, Phil claims there have been landslides and land-sinking problems -- causing significant damage to his house.”

The suit by Spector and his wife, filed in L.A. County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages and compensation for loss of property value, according to the report.

Spector, who was convicted in 2009 of shooting Clarkson to death in the foyer of the house, is serving a sentence of 19 years to life, the story notes.

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Celebrity Blogger, 'Entourage' Regular Sign On for Lindsay Lohan's 'Glee' Appearance

Lindsay Lohan’s upcoming episode of “Glee” has added some star power, with a well-known celebrity blogger and an “Entourage” regular joining the show, E! Online reports.

Blogger Perez Hilton and actor Rex Lee, known for his role as Lloyd on HBO’s “Entourage,” will join Lohan as judges for the Nationals singing competition on the show, the story reports.

Lohan will reportedly play a “heightened” version of herself in the episode, which is scheduled to air May 15.

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Martha Stewart Takes a Swipe at Cable Channel

Martha Stewart took to Twitter to take a swipe at the Hallmark Channel, her former business partner, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Stewart was writing on Twitter to make an announcement about her new PBS series, "Martha Stewart's Cooking School." As previously announced, the show will air on PBS stations across the U.S. this fall.

"The response to our announcement for a PBS cooking school series is wonderful," Stewart wrote. "Easy access to PBS as opposed to Hallmark will be wonderful."

Hallmark is phasing out Stewart's programming after a failed 2-year partnership with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the piece adds.

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'SNL' Star's New Show in Spotlight as Hulu Unveils Lineup of Original Programming

Hulu spotlighted its commitment to original programming -- including a new series from one of the stars of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” -- as it made its upfront presentation today to ad buyers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Seth Meyers’ “The Awesomes” is part of a push by Hulu to maintain its momentum in online streaming. The company trumpeted its 2 million paid subscribers and what it says is the fastest-growing video subscription service in U.S. history, the story reports. Hulu also reported $420 million in revenue for 2011.

Hulu was the first of a series of online companies planning upfront presentations in the next two weeks, as they emulate the broadcast and cable programmers they hope to displace.

THR reports: “In a room that included Meyers, ‘Smash’ star Megan Hilty, Morgan Spurlock and Adrian Grenier, the company touted that Americans watched 2.5 billion videos on Hulu in February -- about 1,000 videos a second. Hulu also said it held 20 percent of the online video market and 40 percent of the premium video market.”

Much of the traffic for Hulu and its paid Hulu Plus service comes from its 1,900 TV series, the report notes. But it has also stepped up its originals with the political series “Battleground” and “A Day in the Life,” a documentary series from Spurlock.

The new series from Meyers, along with producer Michael Shoemaker, focuses on “an unassuming superhero and his cohorts who battle diabolical villains, the ever-present paparazzi and a less-than-ideal reputation as second-class crimefighters,” the report says. “The Awesomes” was originally being developed at MTV.

The report adds: “Hulu also is greenlighting ‘We Got Next,’ from Kenya Barris (‘Are We There Yet?’), Hale Rothstein (‘Everybody Hates Chris’) and Danny Leiner (‘The Office’), about four unlikely friends who butt heads on the pickup basketball court and on the sidelines of everyday life.

“Other new shows include video game industry star Michael Wendschuh's ‘Flow,’ about an individual's quest for justice and redemption after being framed for a crime, and Grenier's ‘Don't Quit Your Daydream,’ about famous musicians collaborating with those who gave up their musical ambitions. ‘Up to Speed,’ a new unscripted show from Richard Linklater about tour guide Timothy Levitch's visits to ignored monuments of America’s cities, was previously announced but also highlighted during the presentation and will be launched in the summer.”

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Bravo Rolls Out Six New Series

Bravo today announced details on a develoment slate of six unscripted shows, which includes its first two efforts focusing on the online world, “Shop With Stella” and “Tone It Up,” Deadline.com reports.

Online is a new complement to Bravo’s traditional focus areas of food, fashion, beauty, design and pop culture, the story notes.

Here’s a look at the unscripted slate:

“The Gold Coast” (working title): A look at the the “Boomerang Generation” -- twenty-something girlfriends -- who move back home after graduating from college to live with their parents on the Gold Coast of Long Island. Produced by True Entertainment with Steven Weinstock and Glenda Hersh as executive producers.

“Heirs Of Palm Beach” (working title): A look at the privileged offspring in Palm Beach who are the center of an elite social scene. Produced by Pink Sneakers with Kimberly Cowin and John Ehrhard as executive producers.

“Shop With Stella” (working title): What happens when three best friends/roomies attempt to launch a killer start-up idea for a fashion website that could revolutionize the way women shop -- or be a bust. Produced by Firehouse Productions with Nanette Burstein as executive producer.

“Splitsville” (working title): Divorce lawyers battle each other in high-stakes cases with millions of dollars on the line, all while trying to dodge the same fate in their own personal lives. Produced by BASE Productions with Mickey Stern and John Brenkus as executive producers.

“Tone It Up” (working title): A close-up look at the Tone It Up website, where two personable best friends become the unlikely “it girls” of the fitness industry. Produced by Fishbowl Worldwide Media with Vin Di Bona, Bruce Gersh, Susan Levison, Beth Greenwald and Jen Colbert as executive producers.

“Untitled Male Model Project”: The world of male modeling, an extremely high-paying profession with a short shelf-life. Produced by Done and Done Productions with Adam DiVello as executive producer.

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Levon Helm, Drummer and Singer for the Band, Dead at 71

Legendary drummer Levon Helm, who was a key figure in American music for decades, has died, The New York Times reports.

Helm’s death was expected, after family members posted a notice earlier this week on his website saying he was in the “final stages of his battle with cancer,” as reported earlier. A spokesperson for Vanguard Records, for whom Helm recorded a number of albums, made the announcement.

Helm died today in Manhattan at 71, the story reports.

The report adds: “In Mr. Helm’s drumming, muscle, swing, economy and finesse were inseparably merged. His voice held the bluesy, weathered and resilient essence of his Arkansas upbringing in the Mississippi Delta.

“Mr. Helm was the American linchpin of the otherwise Canadian group that became Bob Dylan’s backup band and then the Band. Its own songs -- largely written by the Band’s guitarist, Jaime Robbie Robertson, and pianist, Richard Manuel -- spring from roadhouse, church, backwoods, river and farm; they are rock-ribbed with history and tradition yet hauntingly surreal.”

Click here to see a video of the Band’s performance of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” with an all-star lineup, from the Martin Scorsese concert film “The Last Waltz.”

levon-helm.jpgLevon Helm

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Jamie Oliver Reveals the Twist to His New Daytime Cooking Show

BBC America has unveiled plans to launch a new daytime cooking show May 1, the Chicago Tribune reports. The twist is that the show will be done in real time, with the entire meal created from scratch in 30 minutes.

TV chef Jamie Oliver will star in the show, "Jamie's 30-Minute Meals."

In a statement, Oliver said: "The years of me making pleasant suggestions are gone. I am going to tell you what to do, what to buy, when to turn your oven on and how to make these dishes. If you listen, you'll end up with a feast of beautiful things on your table in less than half an hour. This is about making people brilliant, on a daily basis."

FremantleMedia Enterprises is distributing the new show globally.

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HLN Scraps Programming Segment

After years of parceling out five-minute segments at the bottom of every half-hour to local news and programming, HLN has decided to dump the "Local Edition" portion of its broadcast, reports TVNewser.com.

HLN justified its decision in a statement to the website, saying, "Over the past several years, HLN has evolved its programming to focus more on long-form shows, changing the programming format where ‘Local Edition’ currently airs. After assessing viewer feedback, forgoing ‘Local Edition’ furthers our programming evolution and benefits the viewer experience.”

Some MSOs have indicated they will keep the "Local Edition" segments in some form. For example, Charter Communications said it will move the segment from HLN to its California Channel.

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'Jersey Shore' Casting Company Searches for Out-of-Control Pregnant Couples

The casting company behind "Jersey Shore" is working on a project about out-of-control pregnant couples, reports the New York Post.

Doron Ofir Casting has been searching for women who feel the "need to be treated like a queen," according to the casting notice. Fathers were asked whether they are "feeling more and more like an alien took over her body and turned her into an emotional monster,” according to the story.

The agency didn't respond to requests for comment about when the show, "Pregzillas," will air. It appears the program will follow a similar formula to MTV's "16 and Pregnant" by featuring one story per week.

The job pays $5,000 per episode, according to the casting notice.

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Martha Stewart Ready to Teach U.S. TV Viewers a Lesson

Martha Stewart has unveiled plans for a new weekly series, presented in association with WETA-TV in Washington, that will give viewers a cooking lesson. “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School” will run on PBS stations across the U.S. starting this fall.

In announcing the show the company said: “Each 30-minute episode will feature Martha demonstrating classic cooking techniques and basics. Using her signature, step-by-step how-to teaching process, Martha will illustrate the building blocks of recipes everyone should know (from roasting to poaching to braising and blanching). Viewers will have Martha by their side instructing them how to select the very best ingredients, how to make the perfect pot roast, how to pan sauté a whole fish, how to make stocks and why they’re essential to making sauces and delicious soups.”

Said Stewart: “PBS is the perfect home for this series. We’ll show viewers how to prepare classic dishes as well as how to use proper techniques. This new series combines so many of my passions: teaching and encouraging others. We will break down classic recipes for home cooks and inspire them to add their unique twist. I’m excited to get into the kitchen and connect with audiences across the nation.”

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'Good Morning America' Celebrates Official End of 'Today's' Win Streak

ABC’s “Good Morning America” celebrated the news that its ratings win over NBC’s “Today,” which was reported previously on the basis of preliminary figures, is now official.

The show broke “Today’s” 852-week winning streak during the week of April 9 to become TV’s No. 1 morning news show, ABC News reported. With final figures in, “GMA” had 31,000 more viewers than the NBC show -- its first full-week win over “Today” since 1995.

Official figures for the week showed the ABC show averaging 5.168 million total viewers to 5.137 million for “Today.” CBS was a distant third with 2.511 million.

In the key news demo of adults 25-54, ABC continued to trail NBC with 1.974 million viewers (1.6 average rating, 12 share) to 2.231 million for “Today” (1.8 rating/13 share); CBS came in with 994,000 viewers (1.9 rating, 7 share).

In households, NBC held the edge with a 3.9 rating/14 share to ABC’s 3.8/14 and CBS’s 1.9/7.

Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, sent around a congratulatory email to “GMA” and the news division, writing: "First and foremost, we thank our 'GMA' viewers and online audience -- a loyal and growing number who motivate us every single morning. All of us at ABC News salute the dynamic team at 'Good Morning America' who never sleep and who care so deeply about the program."

Sherwood added: "Of course, we congratulate our friends at 'Today' for the greatest winning streak in broadcasting history and for their excellence and leadership during this historic run. It's a special day for ABC News and, after a proper celebration 852 weeks in the making, we'll get right back to work to be ready tomorrow to help 'GMA' viewers start their day with a rewarding experience and big picture understanding of the world."

NBC acknowledged ABC’s achievement after the preliminary figures came out Monday. “Today” executive producer Jim Bell said at the time: "’Today's' 852-week winning streak had taken on a life of its own and as odd as it is to see it end, we should acknowledge just how remarkable it has been. So as we tip our caps to the team at 'Good Morning America,' we can also take a bow ourselves and recognize the work done by countless staffers for so long."

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Investigation Discovery Sets Ratings Record

Discovery’s documentary channel Investigation Discovery (ID) set a ratings mark this week with the premiere telecast of “The Woman Who Wasn’t There,” TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The April 17 program notched highs for an “ID Films” telecast in total viewers (863,000), households (684,000), viewers 25-54 (423,000) and women 25-54 (305,000), according to figures released by the cable network.

The show helped ID place 12th in prime time that night among ad-supported cable nets in women 25-54, and 19th in viewers 25-54.

The film, directed by Angelo J. Guglielmo Jr. and produced by Meredith Vieira Productions and 4235 Productions, examines the case of Tania Head, who fabricated a story about being a 9/11 survivor. The program will be rebroadcast Friday on ID.

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Actor Who First Popularized Vampires in Scripted Shows on TV Dies

The actor who originated a classic television character -- who will be played by Johnny Depp in a big-screen reboot -- has died. Jonathan Frid, who played the vampire Barnabas Collins in TV’s “Dark Shadows,” was 87, Digital Spy reports.

Frid died of natural causes at Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. His final performance will be a cameo in Tim Burton's adaptation of "Dark Shadows," which is set to premiere May 11. Along with Depp as Barnabas, the movie also features Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter.

Frid catapulted to instant fame when cast on "Dark Shadows" in 1966. At the time, the gothic horror program was an ABC daytime drama. Frid was a sensation as the vampire who wanted to be cured of his affliction, appearing on magazine covers and engendering a loyal legion of fans.

"Dark Shadows" ran from 1966 to 1971, all with Frid, and spawned feature films and prime-time iterations of the "Dark Shadows" franchise.

jonathan-frid-barnabas.jpgJonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins

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Discovery Pulls Plug on Veteran Series

After almost seven years and 200 episodes, Discovery Network has halted production on one of its signature shows, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

"Cash Cab," hosted by Ben Bailey, recruited contestants from New Yorkers trying to hail a cab. Once in the taxi, the fares were told they were on a TV game show and could win money as they drove toward their destination.

The show beat out other veteran series including "The Price Is Right" to win the Daytime Emmy for best game show from 2008-2010, while Bailey won as best host in 2010.

Repeats will continue to air in syndication, and it's possible the show’s producer, Lion Television, could shop it to other networks, the story says.

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Current TV Host Invokes the 'Other' N-Word in Attack on Bill O'Reilly

The host of a Current TV cable talk show unleashed an angry tirade against Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly, twice calling O’Reilly a Nazi, TVNewser.com reports.

Current’s Cenk Uygur blasted O’Reilly during a discussion Tuesday of the group Color of Change on his Current TV show, after O'Reilly has reportedly called such groups fascists, the story reports.

Said Uygur: "All right, Bill, you want to play name-calling games? No problem. You are a goddamn Nazi. That’s what you are, OK? You’re going to call us fascists all day long, and we’re not going to respond? Well, those days are over, Nazi.”

O'Reilly had not yet responded, the story notes.

The Anti-Defamation League has said that any comparison or usage of the term doesn't belong in political discourse, the article adds.

Here's a clip of Uygur's comments:

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How Dick Clark Changed Popular Culture

One day after the death of television icon Dick Clark, his impact on modern culture is being analyzed throughout the media. A report by E! Online compares Clark’s impact to that of media giants such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Carson, and counts off 10 ways Clark forever changed popular culture.

Among them:

Dancing to the Hits: “In 1957, Clark's ‘American Bandstand’ show debuted nationally. Every single weekday afternoon until 1963 (and then weekly until the early ‘80s) kids would tune in to watch their peers dancing to their favorite pop acts. The format inspired a string of descendants from ‘Soul Train’ to Britain's ‘Top of the Pops,’” E! Online reports.

Discovering the Stars: “Any pop star who broke big between 1960 and 1990 owes thanks, in part, to Clark,” E! reports. “The alumni list includes Madonna, Elvis, John Mellencamp, Rod Stewart, Prince and Jon Bon Jovi, among many others.”

Making New Year's Eve Cool: “Before the 1970s, New Year's Eve was a more staid affair, at least for Americans, who were used to watching big band act Guy Lombardo every Dec. 31. Clark's ‘New Year's Rockin' Eve’ changed that, bringing in younger acts. In recent years, Christina Aguilera, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and Janet Jackson, among many others, have joined him to watch the ball drop,” the article reports.

Pranking the Rich and Famous: “Clark co-produced the show ‘TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes,’ which debuted in the 1980s," the piece notes. "The series featured, among other gags, pranks on big stars. It wasn't the first of its kind -- ‘Candid Camera’ pulled jokes on TV, too, mostly on ordinary people -- but Clark's show was certainly one of the most influential; call it a prototype for ‘Punk'd.’ The idea is still wildly popular; ‘Bloopers’ is set to return to television this fall.”

Other items on E!’s list include popularizing Top 10 countdowns and redefining agelessness. Click here to see the full list.

Clark died early Wednesday at 82 after suffering a heart attack, as previously reported.

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Cable Hosts Close In on Deals That Will Make Them 20-Year Fox News Veterans

Fox News is nearing new contracts with its two most popular hosts, Deadline.com reports. The multimillion-dollar, multiyear agreements with Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity are expected to be completed by early next week and will keep both hosts at the network past their 20-year anniversaries with Fox News, the piece notes.

Both Hannity and O'Reilly have worked at Fox News since the network debuted in 1996.

O'Reilly, who started with "The O'Reilly Report" before it was renamed "The O'Reilly Factor," hosts the highest-rated show in cable news, which has held that rank for 125 consecutive months, the piece adds.

"The O'Reilly Factor" attracted 2.8 million viewers on Monday, with "Hannity" attracting 2.1 million viewers to finish in its usual No. 2 position among cable news programs.

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'Community' Co-Star Offers Insights on What Happens Next After Public Feud Between Chevy Chase and Show Creator Dan Harmon

"Community" co-star Joel McHale, speaking to reporters at NBC's summer press event, said he believes Chevy Chase will return to the show despite a public feud with show creator Dan Harmon, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

“He obviously wasn’t very happy. But he loves the cast; my guess is he’ll be back if we’re back. ... I’m assuming so if he gets the Bentley that he asked for," McHale said.

The actor laughed off the voicemail left by Chase that attacked the show, the story says. As previously reported, Chase left a voicemail for Harmon that criticized the show as a mediocre sitcom that "suffers from a serious disconnect between what happens on set and what is seen by the audience.”

“There’s four more voicemails coming out that will make it a full series,” McHale said at the NBC press event. “It’s going to be a book on tape. It’s going to be read out loud by Samuel L. Jackson.”

Chase and Harmon were scheduled to appear on the panel, but NBC said they both had conflicts, the story adds.

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NBC Orders Show From Eva Longoria

NBC has scheduled a winter 2013 premiere for a new show from “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria, Deadline.com reports.

Longoria is producing the matchmaking reality show, “Ready for Love,” which will be hosted by Giuliana and Bill Rancic. The program will feature three men, who have been picked by Longoria, who want to find the right match. Female candidates can apply via a new Facebook app, the story says. Click here to see the Facebook page.

The men are Ben Patton, a financier from Dallas; Ernesto Arguello, an entrepreneur from Miami; and Tim Lopez, a member of the music group Plain White T's, the story says.

Longoria has been expanding her producing efforts, and recently joined ABC's "Devious Maids" as an executive producer, the piece adds.

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Judge in George Zimmerman Case Steps Down Because of CNN Connection

Citing her husband's ties to a CNN analyst, Judge Jessica Recksiedler, the judge in the George Zimmerman case, has recused herself, reports TVNewser.com.

The judge is married to an attorney whose business partner, Mark NeJame, has been tapped by CNN to provide commentary on the case, the story notes. Zimmerman, who faces a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, also consulted NeJame about his defense, the piece adds.

Judge Recksiedler offered to recuse herself if one of the lawyers asked for her to do so, and Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara made the move, the piece adds. Her replacement is Judge Kenneth Lester Jr., the story says.

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Verizon Wireless to Sell Spectrum, Contingent on Closing Cable Deals

Verizon Wireless said it will sell spectrum licenses that could be worth billions if it is able to close deals to buy unused airwaves from cable companies, Bloomberg reports.

The story reports: “The largest U.S. wireless carrier plans to conduct an open sale process for all of its 700 megahertz A and B spectrum licenses, covering dozens of major cities across the U.S. and smaller markets, according to a statement today from the Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based company. Verizon Wireless paid $4.7 billion for the spectrum, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.”

The proposed sale is contingent on Verizon’s closing of a pending $3.6 billion purchase of airwaves from a group including Comcast and Time Warner Cable and separate deals with Cox and Leap Wireless International, the story notes.

Bloomberg adds: “Opponents have said the accord with the cable group, which needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission, would result in less competition and higher prices.”

Analyst Walt Piecyk of BTIG commented for the report: “This is a reflection that their approval process is not going well. Investors have underestimated the challenges that Verizon faces at the FCC.”

The report notes: “Verizon Wireless and the cable companies also agreed to market one another’s services, an arrangement that the Justice Department is looking into.”

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'Homeland' Producer Inks Two-Year Pact With 20th

"Homeland" writer-producer Alex Cary has signed a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television, Deadline.com reports.

Cary will continue as co-executive producer on the Showtime drama, which is produced by 20th TV's cable unit Fox21, the story says. He will also work on developing new projects for the studio.

Cary came to the studio more than two years ago to work as a story editor on the second season of "Lie to Me," and by the end of the season had been promoted to executive producer and co-showrunner for its third season, the story notes.

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George Lopez Takes a Summer Job

Comedian George Lopez has a summer TV job lined up, Deadline.com reports. Fox has hired Lopez as the host of its summer dating series "Take Me Out," according to the report.

The show, which will debut June 7 and hold the 8 p.m. Thursday time slot, will feature 30 attractive single women, who meet several bachelors each week. The women will try to impress the men with their personalities, looks and humor, the piece adds.

Lopez will play the matchmaker between the sexes as the show whittles down the contestants to one man and one woman, who will go on a dream date, the story says.

Lopez, who previously hosted a talk show on TBS and starred in the sitcom “George Lopez,” also has a new syndicated sitcom in the works at Debmar-Mercury, as previously reported.

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Judge Urges Parties to Settle in 'Desperate Housewives' Lawsuit

While urging the two sides in the "Desperate Housewives" wrongful-termination suit to settle, a Los Angeles County judge set a September retrial date, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"I would strongly urge you to consider settlement discussions,” Superior Court Judge Elizabeth White told attorneys for actress Nicollette Sheridan and the producers of the show.

As previously reported, a suit by the actress resulted in a jury deadlock last month. Nine votes were needed to reach a decision in the civil case, but the jury was locked 8-4 in favor of Sheridan, who is seeking $6 million in damages.

The judge said the sides should work with a mediator assigned to the case. She added, "An 8-to-4 vote is nothing to be overly confident about in terms of defending the case," according to the story.

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'World's Oldest Teenager,' Dick Clark, Dead at 82

Legendary television producer and entrepreneur Dick Clark, who helped popularize rock ‘n’ roll with the early music TV show “American Bandstand,” has died, Reuters reports. Clark died early today at 82 after suffering what was described as a massive heart attack.

Clark suffered the attack while he was in St. John’s hospital in Santa Monica, Calif., after undergoing an outpatient procedure last night, TMZ.com reports.

Clark, who became known as the “world’s oldest teenager” because of his longevity and youthful appearance, had been in declining health since suffering a stroke in 2004.

The stroke forced him to end his long run as the host of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” TMZ notes. Clark created that popular TV event in 1972. Although Ryan Seacrest took over as host in 2006, Clark had appeared on the show occasionally since then, making a final appearance in 2011.

The TMZ piece notes: “Clark got his first big break in 1956, hosting what was called ‘Bob Horn's Bandstand’ ... what would later be renamed ‘American Bandstand.’ Clark continued to host and produce ‘American Bandstand’ until 1989.

Among Clark’s many high-profile television jobs, he hosted the Miss Universe pageant from 1990 to 1993, and hosted game shows including “Pyramid” and “Scattergories.”

TMZ adds: “Clark had been inducted into practically every hall of fame on the planet -- including the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.”

Clark won five Emmys, including a lifetime achievement award, and was the recipient of a Peabody Award.

dick-clark.jpgDick Clark

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Time Magazine's Unlikely Choice for Most Powerful Person in Hollywood -- and Its List of the 100 Most Influential People in the World

Time magazine today unveiled its list of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2012, singling out someone many observers would consider an unlikely choice as the most powerful person in Hollywood: Harvey Weinstein.

Weinstein, the only producer on the list, is described by Time as “a Hollywood titan in its truest sense. It’s hard to believe that the Hollywood establishment had recently counted him out as he warred with Disney over Miramax, eventually losing the company. What a difference a few years make.”

The piece notes that Weinstein recently helped guide Meryl Streep to her third Oscar win and oversaw “The Artist’s” near sweep of the Oscars as well as “The King’s Speech’s” recent Oscars success.

Time reports: “Weinstein has rebuilt his multi-media empire, bulldozing his way to his throne.”

Johnny Depp adds his own perspective to the Time report, writing that Weinstein “isn’t afraid of a duke-‘em-out,” and, “No one gets to the top without the occasional scrap.”

Time says of Weinstein, “The tantrum-throwing blowhard of a few years ago, known for careening around town in his chauffeur-driven black Escalade, his hefty midsection straining his shirt’s bottom buttons, has shown a softer side.

“This year he has used his perch to advocate for 'Bully,' a life-changing documentary about the abuse children inflict on other children. As Time’s Richard Corliss wrote, when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the industry lobbying group in charge of movie ratings, slapped Bully with an ‘R’ rating, Weinstein agreed to remove three of the six F-words in question if it could keep the rest in the scene it considered essential. The result: a much needed PG-13 rating, allowing kids to see the film unattended by adults.”

Adds Depp: “He stops at nothing for what he believes in.”

Here are a few of the other names on the list:

Kristen Wiig
Chelsea Handler
Matt Lauer
Claire Danes
Stephen Colbert
Louis CK
Rihanna
Barack Obama
Anthony Kennedy
Warren Buffett
Xi Jinping
Mitt Romney
Walter Isaacson
Ron Paul
Benjamin Netanyahu
Tilda Swinton
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Pippa Middleton
Hillary Clinton
Adele
Jeremy Lin
Tim Tebow

Click here to see Time’s complete list.

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Roseanne Barr Calls 'Bulls---' on Presidential Candidate's Wife

Comedian Roseanne Barr -- who has declared herself to be a candidate for president as part of the Green Party -- has targeted Ann Romney, the wife of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, over her claims about being a hard-working stay-at-home mom, TheWrap.com reports.

In an article posted on The Daily Beast, Barr wrote: "Mrs. Mitt Romney claims to have worked her toned ass off, raising five Romney males all on her own, as privileged wives often do -- but, no, Ann, I call bullshit on your Big Mama story, girlfriend. Your son may flash that 'I adore my mother' grin on cable TV all day as he backs up your claims that you did it all on your own with no help -- except from a 'lady' who comes in one or two hours a week to help with housework."

Barr advised intrepid media types to search the Romney records for proof that the Romneys had considerable domestic help, off the books or on, to give Mrs. Romney plenty of help raising her five sons.

TheWrap reports that Barr “speculated that the Romneys may have had help when their children were growing up from an undocumented worker. She did not offer any evidence that that was the case, but called for tracking down a ‘cleaning lady’ for questioning.”

Barr adds in her post: “The media, which are completely clueless about every single issue that affects American women, must have had a shiver run down their nonexistent spine when they realized they could dig out the old ‘stay-at-home mom versus working mom’ script that worked so well to divide and conquer mothers and women along class lines to help defeat the Equal Rights Amendment back in my 20s.”

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ABC's 'The Bachelor' Sued for Alleged Racial Bias

Two men who were rejected as contestants on ABC’s “The Bachelor” reality franchise are taking the show to court with a lawsuit claiming “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” keep contestants of color out of the featured roles, The Washington Post reports.

As we reported earlier today, Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, both African American, are NFL hopefuls who played for Tennessee State. The Post reports that the men filed the federal lawsuit today in Nashville.

The story adds: “The two men say that after 10 years and a combined total of 23 seasons of ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette,’ neither of the shows has featured a single person of color in a central role.”

Requests for comment by ABC were not immediately returned, the report notes.

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After Keith Olbermann Fiasco, Current TV Has a Prominent Politician Lined Up to Host a Show

Current TV, fresh off a failed experiment with talk host Keith Olbermann -- and now embroiled in a lawsuit with him, as previously reported -- is hoping a prominent California politician can help fill the void in the channel’s lineup and keep its progressive agenda on track.

The channel unveiled plans for “The Gavin Newsom Show,” starring the former mayor of San Francisco and current California lieutenant governor, The New York Times reports. Newsom's weekly show is set to debut in May.

Newsom will continue as lieutenant governor, the story notes.

In a statement, Current co-founder Al Gore said of Newsom: “[He] touches many worlds -- business, politics, entertainment and activism. We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.”

The report adds that Current is “best known for hiring Keith Olbermann, who was fired last month after less than a year on the job. Both with and without Mr. Olbermann, the channel has been moving aggressively to add liberal-themed programs in a bid to challenge MSNBC and create an identity for itself on cable television. In recent months it has started hourlong shows by two former politicians, Jennifer Granholm and Eliot Spitzer, but until now it has not employed any sitting politicians.”

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TLC Brings Back Odd -- and Sometimes Disturbing -- Reality Show

TLC has ordered another season of an offbeat reality show that some viewers have found disturbing, which shines a spotlight on people with unusual obsessions.

The show is "My Crazy Obsession," which will return for season two in early 2013 -- after TLC has a chance to track down another batch of characters with quirky fixations, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show focuses on characters who have turned their love for something or someone into a lifestyle -- such as building a live-in shrine -- or whose lifestyles are just plain quirky. Examples in season one included a couple who own 5,000 Cabbage Patch Kids, a lady with carrot tattoos and a 31-year-old man who chooses to live as an adult “baby.”

The series started as a special in 2011. Season one, consisting of eight episodes, wrapped on March 28, with the last two shows averaging about 1.15 million viewers.

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NBC's 'Fashion Star,' Fox's 'Glee,' CBS's 'NCIS' and ABC's 'Private Practice' Share a Dubious Distinction

Key shows on all four of the major broadcast networks shared a dubious distinction Tuesday night, according to the Nielsen overnight ratings. Fox's "Glee," CBS's "NCIS," NBC's "Fashion Star" and ABC's "Private Practice" all sank to series lows or season lows in the key 18-49 demo, according to TVbytheNumbers.com.

"Glee" dipped a troubling three-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago to a 2.4 average in 18-49, an all-time low for the series. "NCIS" was down one-tenth to a season-low 3.0 in the same demo. "Fashion Star," which was already getting modest numbers, plummeted three-tenths to a 1.5, equaling its series low.

At ABC, much of the Tuesday lineup hit lows, including “Private Practice,” off four-tenths from its previous original to a series-low 1.7 average in 18-49; “Last Man Standing,” down two-tenths from last week to a series-low 1.6; and “Cougar Town,” matching its series low with a 1.4, down a tenth of a point.

ABC’s lone exception to the downtrend was the “Dancing with the Stars” results show, which ticked up a tenth from last week’s results show series low, scoring a 2.4 average rating.

Other positives included the season finale of Fox’s “Raising Hope,” which climbed a tenth of a point from last week to a 1.9 in adults 18-49; and NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” up a tenth to a 2.2.

The top show of the night in the 18-49 demo was NBC’s “The Voice,” but it was down too -- off two-tenths to a 3.3.

When the dust settled, Fox and NBC were tied for No. 1 for prime time overall with 2.3 average ratings in 18-49, followed by CBS with a 2.2 and ABC with a 1.9. CBS reigned supreme in total viewers with 12.4 million, ahead of ABC (8.7 million), NBC (6.7 million) and Fox (5.4 million).

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Universal Has Its New 'Rockford'

With NBC’s latest effort to revive the TV chestnut “The Rockford Files” going up in smoke last year, Universal Pictures has decided to take a swing at the project as a feature film. The studio has settled on Vince Vaughn to step into the role made famous by James Garner, reports Deadline.com.

The original series, which ran from 1974-80 on NBC, starred Garner as a modern-day, low-paid Southern California private detective. Vince Vaughn and Victoria Vaughn will produce the film via their Universal-based Wild West Picture Show Productions banner.

The original series was created by Roy Huggins ("Maverick") and Stephen J. Cannell ("The A Team"). For the new film, writers David Levien and Brian Koppelman are being brought in to adapt the material for the big screen.

The news comes just after word surfaced that the Vaughns’ Wild West has a TV series in the works about security operatives, as previously reported.

Vince Vaughn is busy these days. The story reports: “Vaughn just signed to re-team with his ‘Wedding Crashers’ co-star Owen Wilson in the Fox comedy ‘The Internship,’ and will next be seen alongside Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill in the Fox comedy ‘Neighborhood Watch’ and the Stephen Frears-directed ‘Lay The Favorite.’”

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Emmy-Winning TV Director -- Known as 'America's Leading Sitcom Director' -- Dead at 92

A veteran television director who helmed a string of successful comedy series and became known as “America’s leading sitcom director” has died, The New York Times reports. Paul Bogart was 92.

Bogart was known for directing shows including "All in the Family" and "Get Smart" in a career that spanned five decades. Called “America’s leading sitcom director" in 1982 by the Christian Science Monitor, he won five Emmys and received 17 nominations.

One of his Emmy wins was for the "All in the Family" episode "Edith's 50th Birthday," which The Times calls "one of the more nerve-shattering shows in television history." The 1977 episode centered on an intruder trying to rape Edith, the housewife known for her naivete, the piece adds.

Born Paul Bogoff in Harlem, Bogart later changed his name to sound more American. Growing up poor after his parents divorced, he stole money to go to the movies, and later wasn't able to afford college, the story notes.

He joined a traveling marionette troupe after answering an ad saying, "Puppeteer: No Experience Necessary," according to the article. After serving in the Army Air Forces in World War II, he returned to the marionette company, but then applied for a television job at NBC, lying about his experience and education, the story says.

Taken to the studio where "Broadway Open House" was being televised, Bogart was handed earphones from the floor manager, or what stage managers were then called, the piece notes. Bogart realized he was supposed to pass on the director's instructions to the actors. He made up the hand signals, the story says.

"Everybody was making up their job,” Bogart said of early television.

From there, he worked on the new "Today" show and "Howdy Doody," and then began directing live dramas.

Bogart’s early TV work included directing the CBS drama series “The Defenders,” which earned him his first Emmy in 1965. He picked up two Emmys for directing “CBS Playhouse,” in 1968 and 1970. After his Emmy for “All in the Family” he won an Emmy as part of the production team for “The Golden Girls” in 1986.

His films include 1969's "Marlowe" and Bob Hope's last movie, "Cancel My Reservation," in 1972, the story adds.

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Legendary Drummer in Final Stages of Cancer

The drummer for one of the most important bands of the rock era is in the “final stages of his battle with cancer,” according to a note posted by his family members on his website, EW Online reports. Levon Helm of the Band has been fighting throat cancer since 1998.

The note posted by Helm’s wife and daughter says: "Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey. Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage."

Helm, 71, maintained a touring schedule in recent years, singing and playing drums even after suffering minor vocal cord damage from radiation treatment. In 2007 he received a Grammy for his album “Dirt Farmer.”

The story notes: “The Band, which released its first album in 1968, became one of the most influential groups of the era thanks to such hit songs as ‘The Weight,’ ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ and ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,’ and was featured in the classic Martin Scorsese-directed concert flick “The Last Waltz.’”

Here’s a video clip of Helm with the Band performing Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” with Dylan and an all-star lineup -- including Neil Young, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell and other rock stars -- from “The Last Waltz”:

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Sharon Osbourne Says Simon Cowell -- Her Boss on 'America's Got Talent' -- Has 'Small-Penis Syndrome'

Sharon Osbourne vented her anger at her "America's Got Talent" boss Simon Cowell, saying he has "small-penis syndrome," reports TheWrap.com. The comment was apparently a reaction to things Cowell said in a new biography of him that upset Osbourne.

"He's wealthy, he's powerful, he's creative, he's got everything … but you can't buy the goods," Osbourne said while co-hosting "The Talk" on Tuesday, according to the story.

Cowell's representative didn't immediately return a request for comment, the article notes.

Cowell's comments are reportedly included in the book "Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell," by writer Tom Bower. The book is unauthorized, but Cowell's publicist has confirmed that Cowell spoke with the writer, the piece notes.

Osbourne said Cowell told the writer she quit the British version of "The X Factor" because she was upset with his romantic relationship with co-star Dannii Minogue, which Osbourne denied, according to the report. She said she didn't care whom Cowell was dating.

"I left because I didn't like that girl (Minogue)," Osbourne said. "I didn't like working (with her), and it was a time when I was newly over my cancer, and I promised myself I would never be in a situation (where) I was not 100 percent happy," according to the report.

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What Did FX Learn From the Audience Test Scores for Charlie Sheen's New Show?

FX has received some feedback from audience testing in advance of the debut of Charlie Sheen's new sitcom "Anger Management," and the results appear to bode well for the high-profile project, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The majority of men and women who attended a screening rated the comedy favorably, while more than 80% gave Sheen a positive vote for his performance, the story says.

"Overall, testing groups indicated that while they were well aware of Sheen’s fall from grace at CBS, they were still excited about his comeback and actually rooting for him to succeed, the source said. Some respondents even went so far as to say they were happy to see the actor in good health," the piece adds.

"That said, any type of testing should be taken with a grain of salt. There are plenty of shows that test well (like this season’s 'The River' on ABC) but hobble in their first year, while there are far too many comedies that have tested poorly (See: 'Friends,' 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' 'Seinfeld') that ended up becoming behemoth hits," the story adds.

"Anger Management" will air on Thursday nights starting June 28.

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Production Halted on ABC Comedy After Delta Burke Is Injured on the Set

After actress Delta Burke was injured in a fall on the set during production of the ABC comedy pilot "Counter Culture," production has been halted, reports Deadline.com.

The project had been doing pre-shoots, with live audience taping scheduled for today, the story reports. But Burke may be unavailable for at least a week.

Producers still hope to finish the pilot with enough time to be considered for the fall schedule, the piece adds. The show tracks three sisters, one of whom is played by Burke, who run a family diner in West Texas.

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Unusual Premiere Set for Long-Awaited 'Arrested Development' Fourth Season

An unusual rollout is in the works for the long-awaited fourth season of "Arrested Development," reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

All 10 episodes of the season will premiere on a single day next year on Netflix, creator Mitch Hurwitz said at a Netflix-sponsored event in Las Vegas, according to the report. Hurwitz originally thought the show would be revived as an anthology, with each episode featuring a specific character, the story notes.

"That is now kind of evolving into becoming more like the old show again," Hurwitz said. He didn't mention the "Arrested Development" movie, which has been thought to be coming out after the TV revival, the story notes.

Hurwitz also said the character of Bob Loblaw, played by Scott Baio, will return, which drew strong applause from the audience, the piece adds.

“Arrested Development,” which originally aired on Fox, has been off the air since it wrapped its initial three-season run February 2006.

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NBC Orders New Howie Mandel Series

A new show starring Howie Mandel has been ordered by NBC, EW.com's Inside TV reports. The network has not yet set a premiere date for the game show from the “Deal or No Deal” host, “Howie Mandel’s White Elephant.”

The show will feature six contestants who select one package out of many wrapped gifts, with the players then using strategy and luck to decide whether to steal previously revealed prizes or gamble that an unopened box could be worth more, the story says.

"The final two players will face a tough choice, based on the classic psychology experiment ‘prisoner’s dilemma’: They’re presented with a box filled with two life changing prizes. They must choose whether to share the gifts, or steal the other player’s gift but risk walking away empty handed," the piece notes.

NBC has ordered seven episodes from Mandel, who will host the program.

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Personal Conflicts Cause 'Nurse Jackie' Co-Creators to Leave the Show

Amid personal conflicts between "Nurse Jackie" co-creators and showrunners Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius, the pair will be leaving the series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lionsgate is said to be seeking replacements as the show, which stars Edie Falco, awaits word on whether it will be renewed for a fifth season, the piece adds.

Wallem and Brixius were a couple before they created "Nurse Jackie," and were said to not be getting along, with the friction between them creating a challenging work environment for the show's cast and crew, according to the report.

Wallem is currently in a relationship with singer Melissa Etheridge, the piece adds.

The fact that Lionsgate is seeking a candidate to take over as showrunner is a promising sign that the Showtime series may receive a renewal, the article points out.

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VH1 Greenlights New Reality Series

VH1 has greenlighted a new reality series built around a character who surfaced on one of the cable channel’s current shows.

The new show stars "Mob Wives" friend Angela Raiola, also known as “Big Ang,” which is the working title for the new project, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

"I, along with everyone I know and our viewers, fell in love with Big Ang from the very first moment we saw her on screen in 'Mob Wives,'” said VH1’s original programming and production Executive Vice President Jeff Olde.

The show will have a summer debut and will consist of 10 half-hour episodes, the story notes. Raiola, the niece of a late captain of the Genovese crime family, owns a Staten Island bar called the Drunken Monkey.

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NBC's 'Today' Denies Kathy Griffin's Claim of Being Banned From the Show

A representative for NBC’s "Today” show says comedian Kathy Griffin's claim that she’s banned from the show is untrue, reports TVNewser.com.

"I just found out, I’m very excited, I’m re-banned from the ‘Today’ show,” Griffin told USA Today last week. Griffin claimed Natalie Morales banned her after Griffin was reportedly rude to her at the Golden Globes, the story says.

Griffin also said she was banned in the past by “Today” hosts Katie Couric and Matt Lauer.

“The idea that ‘Today’ show anchors and hosts ban guests from appearing on the show is silly,” said spokeswoman Megan Kopf of "Today." She denied there had been an incident between Griffin and Morales.

Griffin has been drumming up publicity for her new talk show, “Kathy,” which premieres Thursday on Bravo.

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ABC's 'The Bachelor' Faces Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

ABC's dating series "The Bachelor" has been threatened with a racial discrimination lawsuit, the New York Post reports. Two athletes who were interviewed for the series but were rejected said they planned to file the suit, according to the report.

Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, both African American, are NFL hopefuls who played for Tennessee State, the story notes. They scheduled a press conference today to discuss their lawsuit.

ABC hasn't featured a person of color as the central character on either "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette" in the 10 years the franchise has aired on television -- a combined total of 23 seasons, the men said.

Claybrooks and Johnson, who are represented by three law firms, said they plan to file a class-action complaint in federal court today against executive producer Mike Fleiss, Next Entertainment and ABC, the story adds.

Fleiss was asked in the past by Entertainment Weekly whether the show would ever feature a non-white “Bachelor,” the story notes. Said Fleiss: “I think Ashley [Hebert the last ‘Bachelorette’] is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm. But that is my suspicion!

“We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism.

“Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.”

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Vince Vaughn Producing Drama Series About Security Operatives

"Wedding Crashers" star Vince Vaughn's Wild West Picture Show is working with Go Go Luckey Entertainment and Oxymoron Entertainment on a drama series about private security operatives, reports Deadline.com.

“This compelling yet secretive world we are exploring is one that most audiences don’t even know exists and we’re excited to share its rich and heroic stories,” Vaughn said, according to the story.

Vaughn will executive produce with Oxymoron’s CEO Christopher Mallick, Wild West Picture Show’s Peter Billingsley and Michael Lagnese and Go Go Luckey’s founders Gary Auerbach and Julie Auerbach, the piece notes.

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Judge Throws Out Howard Stern's $300M Lawsuit

New York State Supreme Court Judge Barbara R. Kapnick today ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit by Howard Stern against his employer Sirius XM, reports TheWrap.com.

Stern and his agent and co-plaintiff Don Buchwald sought more than $300 million in stock bonuses from the company, contending that Sirius XM had incorrectly estimated the growth in subscriptions based on Stern's radio show and that subscription growth was supposed to be added to Stern's income in the form of a bonus.

Sirius argued that its deal with Stern did not include a bonus for added XM subscribers.

The judge dismissed Stern's suit with prejudice, barring him and Buchwald from filing again on the same grounds.

In December 2010, Stern inked a new five-year deal with Sirius.

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Google Inks Deal With MGM as Search Giant Expands Online Content

As part of its ongoing push to put together a film-rental business, music service and eBook store under the Google Play banner, Google has inked a deal with MGM to bring 600 film titles into the cross-platform digital storefront, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The movies will be available in the U.S. and Canada via Google’s YouTube and on Android platforms, among other outlets.

On the company blog yesterday, Google announced: “Thanks to MGM, you’ll be able to join in this trend and grab its movies online and on the go. From timeless love stories like 'West Side Story' and 'Moonstruck,' to sci-fi action films like 'The Terminator' and 'Robocop,' to modern classics like 'Rain Man' and 'Rocky,' you can now rediscover MGM’s movie-making magic on Google Play and YouTube.”

The initiative has its sights set on competitors with similar services, such as iTunes. Google Play has previously made rental deals with Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Universal Pictures and Sony Pictures.

The story reports: “While MGM joins a roster of five major studios and 10 independent film firms, 20th Century Fox remains the only major studio that has yet to license pics to Google. News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has been a very vocal critic of Google's efforts to block links to pirated content via its search engine.”

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NBC's 'The Voice' Sinks to a New Low -- and Yet, NBC Wins the Night

NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” continues to see ratings erosion after getting off to a good start. The Monday night installment slipped 10% from last week in the Nielsen overnights, sinking to the lowest number yet for a performance episode of the series, a 3.6 average in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

But that number for the two-hour program was still enough to beat the broadcast competition for the overall win in prime time on a night when ratings were generally soft across the board.

NBC averaged a 3.1 rating for the night in viewers 18-49, topping CBS (2.7), ABC (2.6) and Fox (2.0). It was a different story in total viewers, with ABC trouncing the competition by averaging 14.7 million to 8.6 million for NBC, 8.1 million for CBS and 6.3 million for Fox.

ABC’s strength was mainly attributable to a two-hour “Dancing with the Stars,” which average a modest 2.8 in the 18-49 demo -- down two-tenths of a ratings point from last week and a series low for a performance episode -- but pulled in 16.3 million total viewers, easily the biggest audience of the night.

CBS’s “Two and a Half Men” got the night’s best number in 18-49, rising slightly to a 3.7 average rating. Elsewhere on the network the news was mostly bad, as “How I Met Your Mother” dropped by a hefty half a ratings point to a season-low 3.0, “2 Broke Girls” was off two-tenths to a series-low 3.3 and “Mike & Molly” matched its season low with a 3.1.

Fox also had a season low -- a 2.1 average rating for “Bones” in viewers 18-49 -- while “House” broke the trend by rising one-tenth of a point to a 2.0.

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Angelina Jolie Appointed to New United Nations Post

Angelina Jolie, who has been promoting the cause of worldwide refugees for years, has received a new appointment from the United Nations, The Huffington Post reports.

Jolie was named a special enjoy  envoy by the U.N. refugee agency. The post is a promotion for the actress, who previously was a goodwill ambassador for the global body.

This is the first time the U.N. refugee agency has named a special envoy, the story notes. Typically, such U.N. appointments go to career diplomats and retired politicians.

U.N. spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters: "Her work does go substantially beyond what we would typically see as being the normal role of a goodwill ambassador. I don't think you need a rocket scientist to see the benefits that she is bringing in terms of the attention that she is getting for the plight of the world's displaced."

The report adds: “Jolie has jetted the world on behalf of the organization over the past ten years, making high-profile visits to refugee camps in Iraq, Haiti and Pakistan, among other places. Apart from her time, Jolie has also given large personal donations to the organization, which relies entirely on voluntary contributions from governments, companies and individuals.”

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With the 'Harry Potter' Novels Wrapped Up, Author J.K. Rowling Decides to Write One More 'Potter' Book After All

Despite having wrapped up the "Harry Potter" saga with her last novel, author J.K. Rowling has decided to delve into the Harry Potter world one more time to write the definitive reference book on the subject, reports TV Guide.

On her website, Rowling confirmed that she's working on the long-rumored "Harry Potter Encyclopedia."

Rowling wrote: "For a long time I have been promising an encyclopedia of Harry's world, and I have started work on this now -- some of it forms the new content in Pottermore [the online ‘Harry Potter’ site]. It is likely to be a time-consuming job, but when finished I shall donate all royalties to charity."

Rowling also notes on her website that she has never said “never” to the question of whether there might eventually be another “Potter” novel -- although she reiterates that she has no immediate plans to write one.

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Sizzling Nude Photos of Maria Menounos, Debra Messing, 'Homeland' Actress and Other TV Women Published

Racy nude photos of a number of famous women have been published online, but in contrast to recent hacking incidents involving Scarlett Johansson and others, this time the celebrities have OK’d the project.

The photos are included in a feature by the beauty publication Allure. Featured in the revealing piece are “Extra” host Maria Menounos, TV sitcom veteran Debra Messing, “Popular” star Leslie Bibb, “Person of Interest” actress Taraji P. Henson and “Homeland” actress Morena Baccarin.

The women comment on nudity in general for the feature and talk about how they got in shape for the shoot. Said Baccarin: "This is for the art of it. It's beautiful. ... I don't do any naked activities except for the obvious ones. No cooking naked. That's dangerous."

Bibb said her preparation included a four-day juice cleanse and a pre-shoot body scrub at a Korean spa.

Menounos, who admitted to having some “serious issues” with nudity, viewed the photo project as an opportunity to work on her shyness. Said Menounos: "This was definitely challenging, but I feel so much better having done it."

Click here to see the Allure feature.

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Anderson Cooper, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lewis Black, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Other Stars Lined Up to Appear on Long-Running Show

Stars including NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, comedian Lewis Black, TV doctor Mehmet Oz and CNN host Anderson Cooper are lined up to be a part of "Jeopardy! Power Players Week," TheWrap.com reports.

The all-star “Jeopardy!” episodes will be taped in front of a live audience at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., April 21. The shows will be broadcast the week of May 14, 2012.

Other celebrities scheduled to participate are MSNBC's Chris Matthews, CNN’s Lizzy O'Leary, NBC’s David Faber, Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times, former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Katty Kay of “BBC World News America," Kelly O'Donnell of NBC News, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune, Fox News Channel’s Dana Perino, Chuck Todd of NBC News and “Fox News Sunday’s” Chris Wallace.

The celebrities will all play for charity, the story notes.

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Character Actor Known for Roles on 'Quincy' and 'Odd Couple' Dies at 90

A character actor known for his television roles on "Quincy, M.E." and "The Odd Couple" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Garry Walberg was 90.

On "Quincy," Walberg played Lt. Frank Monahan, a character who often butted heads with Jack Klugman's medical examiner, the story says. "Quincy" ran from 1976-1983 on NBC.

Walberg also portrayed Speed, one of the regulars in the Friday night poker game hosted by Klugman's character Oscar Madison, in "The Odd Couple," the piece notes. The show ran from 1970-1974 on ABC.

Walberg was a regular in John Cassavetes' 1959-1960 crime show "Johnny Staccato," and appeared in scores of other shows including "Gunsmoke," "The Waltons" and "Lassie," the story notes.

He died of chronic pulmonary obstructive disease and congestive heart failure, according to the article.

garry-walberg.JPGGarry Walberg

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Alec Baldwin News on '30 Rock' -- Does It Mean the Show's Fate Is Sealed?

Alec Baldwin’s comments have been making news on a regular basis lately, and the latest one could be a blockbuster. Baldwin indicated Monday that NBC’s “30 Rock” will end next year, US Weekly reports.

But how much weight does his comment carry? The “announcement” follows a series of news items on Baldwin in the past couple of weeks, including the arrest of an alleged stalker, Baldwin’s frustration with a “Today” show camera crew camped out near his home, and a proclamation that he is leaving NBC -- followed by a clarification that he has no hard feelings toward the network and that he plans to remain on "30 Rock" through next season.

He said Monday that NBC has to tweak its lineup to improve its ratings, as reported previously, but his comments have received intense scrutiny in the past 24 hours, with some media reports interpreting them to mean “30 Rock’s” upcoming season seven will be the show’s last. That would mean as of spring 2013, it's a wrap.

It wouldn't be a huge surprise considering that the show’s ratings, like those for much of NBC’s lineup, have been dwindling. Also factored into the news -- and how it’s interpreted -- is that Baldwin’s recent pattern on Twitter and in public comments has tended to include overstating the situation and later clarifying what he meant.

US Weekly noted that a rep for “30 Rock” declined to comment on the future of the show. So, will it end after next season? It's starting to look that way, but stay tuned.

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'The Office' Star Bumps Himself Up to Lead Actor Category for Emmys

One of the stars of NBC’s "The Office" has bumped himself up to the lead actor category in the Emmys voting after submitting as a supporting player for the past six seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

If Ed Helms wins in the category, he will take home a prize that eluded predecessor Steve Carell during his run on the comedy, the story points out. Carell was nominated in the lead actor category six consecutive years without a win.

Helms is submitting himself for consideration in the category of outstanding lead actor in a comedy, the story notes. That pits him against Alec Baldwin of "30 Rock" and Jim Parsons from "The Big Bang Theory," who won back-to-back lead actor awards in 2010 and 2011, the piece notes.

Helms hasn't previously been nominated for an Emmy, the story says.

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Oprah Winfrey Making Career Move

Oprah Winfrey, who made the transition last year from daytime talk show host to cable executive, is making another career move: She will return to acting, USA Today reports.

Director Lee Daniels said Winfrey will play a significant role in his movie "The Butler," the story reports. The film, which starts shooting in July, is "a true story of a man [Eugene Allen] who served several decades in the White House," Daniels said. "Forest [Whitaker] plays the butler who serves many presidents, and Oprah plays his wife."

The return to acting marks her first role since 1998's "Beloved," which she both starred in and produced. Asked how he will prepare to direct Winfrey, Daniels said, "I don't know. Quietly," according to the story.

Daniels said he wrote the role of the wife for Winfrey, who produced his Oscar-winning movie "Precious," according to the story, which notes that Winfrey isn't producing "The Butler." The movie will be filmed in New Orleans.

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'Star Trek' Captains Mark a First

In a first, all five "Star Trek" captains from the franchise's various television iterations will appear together at an official "Trek" convention, reports TheWrap.com.

The Destination Star Trek London convention, set for October, will include William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Kate Mulgrew, Avery Brooks and Scott Bakula, the story reports.

The actors will represent their individual "Trek" shows: the original program; "Star Trek: The Next Generation"; "Star Trek: Voyager"; "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"; and "Star Trek: Enterprise," respectively.

All five actors will appear for the convention's three days, from Oct. 19-21, with about 10,000 to 15,000 people expected to attend. The show will also celebrate the 25th anniversary of "The Next Generation," according to the story.

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Numbers Are In for Debut of Critically Acclaimed HBO Show 'Girls'

Viewer numbers are in for Sunday’s debut of the critically acclaimed HBO comedy series "Girls," with the show drawing a modest 1.1 million viewers across two airings, reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

That represented a drop from its lead-in, "Eastbound & Down," which delivered 1.6 million viewers for its third-season finale, the piece notes.

"Girls" performed better than the debut of HBO's most recent new comedy, "Enlightened," which received a second-season order, so it's likely "Girls" will receive another season unless ratings plummet, the piece points out.

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Fox Business Anchor Apologizes for Remark About ABC News

A Fox Business Network anchor has apologized for comments he made last week about ABC News, his previous employer, after saying he left "because it sucked there," reports TVNewser.com.

John Stossel's original comments about ABC News came in an interview with the Heritage Foundation, which asked why he left the broadcast network, according to a separate TVNewser.com story.

"They were hostile to these ideas that made us prosperous and I consider so important. They tolerated me for years," Stossel said last week.

In his apology, Stossel said, "I worked 28 years at ABC News. Much of my ABC experience was very positive and I wish them well. I found a new home at Fox that welcomes my free market ideas.”

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Taking a Page From Traditional TV, Hulu Plans an Upfront

Hulu will take part in the annual advertising tradition of the upfront presentation, an effort that has traditionally been the hallmark of broadcast and cable networks, The New York Times reports.

The online streaming service will make its upfront presentation Thursday in New York, with its executives expected to sell advertisers on new series as well as its demographics of young viewers who are watching shows such as "New Girl" via the service, the story notes.

Hulu plans to announce that its fee-based service Hulu Plus has reached 2 million subscribers, a bump of half a million from the end of 2011, the piece adds. About half of Hulu's revenue will stem from Hulu Plus this year, the story says.

"As an online television destination, Hulu is something of a teenager now, sometimes tolerating feuding parents and succeeding perhaps in spite of them. Hulu is growing steadily, despite disagreements among its corporate owners, and the new restrictions those owners have placed on free streaming of network shows," the piece notes.

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'Walking Dead' Executive Producer Signs Exclusive Deal With Universal Cable Prods.

"The Walking Dead" executive producer Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Entertainment has signed an exclusive pod deal with Universal Cable Productions, reports Deadline.com.

The deal marks the first overall television agreement for Valhalla, which will develop and produce projects for both cable and broadcast, the piece notes.

Hurd and her executives will work with Universal Cable Prods.' development team on projects for networks including UCP's NBCUniversal siblings USA and Syfy, according to the article.

It's unclear whether UCP will join Valhalla's already in-progress projects, such as "Port Royal," a period pirate drama in development at FX, the story says.

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Nosy Neighbor on 'Desperate Housewives' Will Return for Finale

The nosy neighbor from the first season of ABC's "Desperate Housewives" will return for the show's May 13 finale, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Christine Estabrook, who played nosy neighbor Martha Huber, will join Dana Delany, who played Katherine Mayfair, in returning for the finale, the article adds.

Estabrook’s character first discovered Mary Alice Young's suicide, but after Mary Alice's husband found out her role in the death, he bludgeoned her to death and buried her next to a hiking trail, the story says.

The character has appeared twice since the first season, appearing most recently in the seventh-season premiere via a flashback, the piece notes.

Estabrook has gone on to recurring roles in FX’s “American Horror Story” and AMC’s “Mad Men.”

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'Downton Abbey' Studio Denies Report About Maggie Smith's Future on the Show

Carnival Films, the studio that produces the period drama "Downton Abbey," denied a report that star Dame Maggie Smith will be leaving the production, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

A representative for the studio said the report was “complete nonsense,” adding, “We never comment on future story lines but it’s not true that she’s leaving," according to the article.

As previously reported, Smith had reportedly said she wanted her third season playing the acerbic Dowager Countess to be her last. A report originating in the U.K.’s Daily Mail went so far as to describe how the character might be written out of the series.

“Masterpiece,” which airs the drama on PBS in the U.S., said it doesn't discuss future stories on "Downton Abbey," while Smith's representatives declined to comment, according to The Times.

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Why Security Had to Be Beefed Up at 'Jersey Shore' House

Security has reportedly been beefed up at the beach house featured on MTV’s "Jersey Shore," which has been the target of an ongoing problem: vandalism.

TMZ.com reports that the house has become a favorite target of graffiti artists, to the point where the Realtor has been forced to repaint the exterior on a weekly basis. The local authorities have been notified and are keeping an eye out for vandals, the report notes.

The graffiti consists of fans' names and comments such as "We love you Snooki," the story says. Fans have also stolen roof shingles and have been caught fiddling with the front door when the Seaside Heights, N.J., house is vacant, the piece adds.

When the show is in production, responsibility for keeping up on the vandalism shifts to the “Jersey Shore” producers, the story notes.

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Report: Looks Like 'GMA' Has Ended 'Today's' 16-Year Winning Streak, According to Preliminary Data

One week after its Katie Couric guest-hosting stunt failed to get the job done, ABC’s “Good Morning America” finally achieved what it has been trying to achieve for 16 years: It beat NBC’s “Today” show in the weekly ratings, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The preliminary results indicate it’s the end of what has been described as the longest winning streak in TV history -- “Today’s” 16-year domination of the weekly ratings for morning shows. As we reported recently, ABC has been closing the gap and had hoped that bringing Couric -- a former “Today” co-host -- aboard for a week would do the trick. As it turns out, it only took one extra week to reach the milestone -- without Couric’s help.

The story reports: "’GMA,’ hosted by George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, drew an average of 5,147,000 total viewers last week, just 13,000 more than ‘Today,’ according to Nielsen. While ‘GMA’ has beaten ‘Today’ before now on individual days, it hasn't done so in the weekly averages since 1996.

Significantly, “GMA” was up 7% from the same week one year earlier, while “Today” was down 9%, the story notes.

The report notes that the margin is so narrow that it could be reversed when the numbers are adjusted later this week.

In a statement, “GMA” senior executive producer Tim Cibrowski said: “This is an exciting day, but we will save any celebrating for when the final numbers come in on Thursday."

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Alec Baldwin Doing Spin Control After Venting Against NBC

Emmy-winning actor Alec Baldwin, one of the stars of NBC's "30 Rock," has made an effort to clarify his recent statements about the network following an angry tweet last week in which he said he was "leaving NBC just in time," reports the AP.

As reported previously, that comment was made after a "Today" show camera crew attempted to cover the Baldwin stalker story by camping out in front of his apartment building in Manhattan.

On Monday in Washington, where he was campaigning for arts funding, Baldwin explained that he had joined "30 Rock" in part to be in business with NBC. Baldwin is not happy with "Today," but he says he still has faith in the network. He added that NBC needs to revamp its programming lineup to bounce back in the ratings.

As for his future, he is on "30 Rock" for this season, number seven. Regarding season eight, Baldwin did not say.

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Film Director Talks About Plans to Launch New Cable Net

The filmmaker behind a string of popular movies has revealed plans to launch a new cable network, which is due to roll out sometime between September 2013 and January 2014, UPI reports.

Director Robert Rodriguez, whose films include "El Mariachi," "Spy Kids,” “Sin City” and “From Dusk Till Dawn," talked about the new venture Friday at the annual meeting of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. The new channel, El Rey, will focus on Latino filmmakers and stories about the Latino community.

Said Rodriguez: "I've been on this journey for 20 years now ... and this seems to be the reason. What's great about this is that no one is doing this for an audience that is growing so fast. When you think that there's nothing on television like this, it boggles the mind."

Comcast, which will carry the network, has described it as “an action-packed, general entertainment network in English for Latino and general audiences that includes a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy and sports programming."

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ABC Sinks With 'Titanic' -- Network Settles for Fourth Place, Including a Series Low for a New Drama; Front-Runner CBS's New Show Opens to Soft Numbers

ABC’s “Titanic” miniseries was an anchor for the Alphabet Network’s Sunday night lineup -- and not in a good way -- with the final installment airing at 9 p.m. to a last-place 0.9 average rating in viewers 18-49, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. That was hour four of the four-hour series, and if this is the first you’ve heard of it, you’re not alone.

James Hibberd writes of “Titanic” in EW.com: “The four-hour telecast from ‘Downton Abbey’ creator Julian Fellowes launched Saturday night to a rating that about tied rivals airing crime drama repeats. Titanic had 4.1 million viewers and a 0.8 rating on Saturday, and slightly more (4.2 million, 0.9) for its final hour on Sunday. Reviews were pretty soft, with some criticizing the show for over-stuffing with too many characters and soft-peddling the tragedy (somewhere, James Cameron is smirking, ‘See? Not as easy as it looks, is it?’).”

On Sunday night, “Titanic’s” final scramble for the lifeboats helped sink another show, ABC’s new drama “GCB,” which followed at 10 p.m. with a 1.5 in 18-49, a series low and a decline of 21% from last week.

For what it’s worth, CBS eked out a narrow win for prime time in the 18-49 demo, averaging a 1.8 rating to Fox’s 1.7, NBC’s 1.6 and ABC’s 1.3. The margin was greater in total viewers, where CBS finished prime time Sunday night with an average of 9.7 million to 6.5 million for NBC, 4.8 million for ABC and 3.8 million for Fox.

But CBS probably wasn’t feeling like celebrating the win, as the series premiere of “NYC 22” at 10 p.m. managed only a 1.5 average rating in 18-49 -- tied with ABC’s poor showing for “GCB.” The CBS show did have a sizable margin over its ABC competitor in total viewers, 8.9 million to 4.5 million.

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New Global Multimedia Content Company Unveiled

The Style Network today rolled out plans for a new global, multimedia content company, Style Media. The new entity will broaden Style’s focus “to program and market to all facets of consumers’ lives, from the way they view content, to how they consume information, to the experts they rely on for tips and advice,” the company announced.

Among the new areas of focus are digital, mobile, licensing and merchandising, brand experiences and domestic and international television networks, the company said.

In unveiling the plans today, Salaam Coleman Smith, president of Style Media, said: “Style is a powerful brand that resonates with women on multiple platforms and across the globe. The creation of Style Media will broaden our business and allow us to capitalize on Style’s strong consumer base of savvy women with immense purchasing power. On the heels of record-breaking success at The Style Network we want to seize the momentum and ensure that Style Media allows our viewers to experience Style in a multi-dimensional manner.”

The company stated in its announcement: “At Style Media’s core is the creative and transformational television content found on Style, which marked its best first quarter in network history in 2012 with women 18-49. Style is up an impressive +22% among women 18-49 year-over-year in prime time, according to Nielsen. Style continues to hold its title as the fastest-growing women’s cable network, now available in 78 million homes. The network continues to resonate with younger viewers, lowering its median age by four years to 38, year-over-year.”

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Today Marks the 50th Anniversary of an Iconic TV Event

Today, April 16, 2012, is the 50th anniversary of an event that was an important milestone for television, TVNewser.com reports.

On April 16, 1962, CBS News presented the first broadcast of "Walter Cronkite with the News," the story reports. Back then the broadcast was just 15 minutes long, but that was the beginning of the "CBS Evening News."

In 1963, the show expanded to a half-hour and was officially renamed "CBS Evening News."

On Sunday's "Face the Nation," Bob Schieffer reminisced about Cronkite's iconic tenure, saying, “Over the years, I have been asked many times, ‘What was he really like?’ I always reply, ‘He was off camera exactly the way he was on camera.’ There are not many of those, but he was just the way you would want him to be.”

The story notes that in the 50-year history of the show it has only had five anchors -- or six if one counts the pairing of Dan Rather and Connie Chung.

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DirecTV and Starz Renew Distribution Deal, Expand Online Agreement

DirecTV and Starz Entertainment, LLC announced today that they've agreed to extend their deal so that the satellite distributor will continued to offer the Starz Entertainment lineup of channels, reports Deadline.com.

Starz also granted DirecTV the rights to offer Starz Online and Encore Online services on the satellite provider’s DirecTV Everywhere service, which is currently in beta, for its authenticated Starz Super Pack subscribers.

In a statement, Derek Chang, executive vice president, Content Strategy and Development, DirecTV, said: “We are pleased that the Starz and Encore premium channels and service are a part of our DirecTV Everywhere platform. Providing our Starz Super Pack subscribers with online access to their subscription content from Starz through DirecTV Everywhere later this year will bring even more value to our customers.”

Ed Huguez, president of affiliate distribution for Starz Entertainment, added in a statement: “DirecTV and Starz have a long, symbiotic relationship going back to the early 1990s, and I am very pleased that we are able to extend and expand our existing business relationship. With great movies, ‘Spartacus,’ and ‘Magic City,’ the value proposition for subscribing to our multi-platform premium programming has never been better.”

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Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment Names New Worldwide CEO

Syco Entertainment, the Simon Cowell and Sony Music Entertainment joint venture, today announced that the new worldwide CEO is Charles Garland, reports Deadline.com. This is a promotion from his role as COO.

“Syco is a global business operating across 167 countries, working alongside the world’s most important commercial clients and talent," Cowell said in a statement. "I want to build on that success to ensure that Syco is one of the most important and respected entertainment businesses in the world. I have a fantastic team of people at Syco and wanted someone they respected and trusted. I am therefore delighted to confirm Charles as CEO of Syco.”

Also in the press statement, Doug Morris, chairman and CEO of Sony Music, added: “I am pleased to have Charles operating in this important role. He is a proven leader who along with the Syco team will continue to build on Syco’s successes and further expand Syco’s worldwide businesses.”

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TV Station Airs Porn Instead of 'Good Morning America'

[Updated Monday, April 16, 2012, 2:50 p.m., to add news that Comcast took the blame for the mistake.]

Viewers tuning in for ABC’s “Good Morning America” instead got a glimpse of some hard-core porn last week on one local station, the New York Daily News reports.

The glitch happened Thursday morning on the Comcast feed for Colorado station KRDO-TV, where a few seconds of porn accidentally aired instead of the network’s morning show, the story says.

The programming was shown in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colo., the report says, noting that it was quickly replaced by religious programming while work was under way to fix the glitch.

Early versions of the story inaccurately attributed the mistake to the station, but the Daily News later updated its report to say the problem originated with Comcast, the cable company that distributes KRDO programming to its subscribers.

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Actress Drops Out of Roseanne Barr's NBC Project After Table Read; Co-Starring Role Is Recast

The Roseanne Barr project "Downwardly Mobile" that’s in the works at NBC has recast a role that previously belonged to "Eureka" star Salli Richardson after she reportedly didn't feel comfortable at a table read, reports Deadline.com.

Richardson hadn't previously worked on a comedy series, the story notes, although she has an extensive drama resume. Barr reportedly supported Richardson throughout the process, but ultimately the comedy project's multicamera format proved tricky for the actress.

She will be replaced by Tricia O'Kelley, an alumna of the Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine,” the report notes.

O’Kelley will now play Mrs. Denby, the wife of a hedge funder who lost everything in a Ponzi scheme. The Denbys are trying a fresh start at the trailer park run by Barr's character, Rose, and Mrs. Denby becomes Rose's foil, the story says.

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Well-Known Actor Says He Has Stage 4 Prostate Cancer

An actor who has been a familiar face in the movies for decades -- and who recently starred in a reality series about his relationship with his daughter -- has announced that he has prostate cancer, People.com reports.

Ryan O'Neal, whose former partner Farrah Fawcett died at age 62 of anal cancer in 2009, said he has been diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, according to the report.

"Although I was shocked and stunned by the news, I feel fortunate that it was detected early and according to my extraordinary team of doctors the prognosis is positive for a full recovery," O'Neal said in a statement.

The "Love Story" actor, 70, was treated successfully for leukemia in the late 1990s, the piece adds. He recently starred with his daughter, actress Tatum O’Neal, in the OWN reality show “Ryan & Tatum: The O’Neals,” about their efforts to rehabilitate their troubled relationship.

Ryan O’Neal has a memoir of his life with Fawcett, titled “Both of Us,” coming out May 1.

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NFL Player Seeks to Block Reality Show

An NFL player is trying to block a television production company from creating a reality show about his children, the New York Post reports.

The show is about New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie’s 10 children from eight different women, the story reports. Cromartie, 27, recently had his second child with wife Terricka Cason, a baby boy named Jagger, the story says.

Most of the mothers of his other children want to do the television show, as the production would give the children a chance to bond with their half-siblings, the story says. The children reside in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey.

Cromartie has blocked filming of his children, the piece notes. He famously forgot to count one of his children and fumbled their names on HBO's "Hard Knocks" in 2010, according to the article.

His marketing and public relations representative didn't respond to an inquiry for the story, the report notes.

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One of the Bee Gees Is in a Coma

A member of the singing group the Bee Gees is fighting for his life in a private hospital in London after falling into a coma Friday, reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail.

Robin Gibb, 62, has had a "hard recovery from cancer," notes his son, Robin-John, 29. Gibb was diagnosed with colon cancer after surgery for a blocked bowel in 2010, the piece adds.

Gibb is reportedly fighting pneumonia, and doctors have said he has just days to live, the story reports.

Gibb, who had a solo career in addition to his work with the Bee Gees, performed on the "Sesame Street Fever" album, singing the song "Trash" for Oscar the Grouch.

The Bee Gees have sold an estimated 220 million records worldwide, with hits such as "Jive Talkin'" and "Stayin' Alive."

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High-Profile USA Drama Adds Oscar Winner to Cast

A high-profile drama series in the works at USA Network has added an Academy Award winner to the already solid lineup, TVLine.com reports.

Joining the series “Political Animals” is Ellen Burstyn, who won an Oscar for her lead role in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” in 1975. Burstyn has been nominated for a total of six Academy Awards, and won an Emmy in 2009 for a guest appearance on “Law & Order: SVU.”

Burstyn will play Margaret Barrish, the mother of Secretary of State Elaine Barrish, who will be played by Sigourney Weaver, the story says.

Burstyn's character is described as having a sharp tongue and keen wit, a former Vegas showgirl who is "the first one to open a bottle of booze to help her daughter through a political evening," according to the article.

The six-episode series, set to premiere this summer, is from exec producers Greg Berlanti (“Dirty Sexy Money”) and Laurence Mark (“Jerry Maguire”), the story notes.

The report adds: “As previously announced, the cast also includes ‘Lone Star‘s’ James Wolk and ‘Gossip Girl‘s’ Sebastian Stan as polar-opposite twin brothers, Brittany Ishibashi (‘Ghostfacers’) as Wolk’s fiancee, Carla Gugino (‘Entourage’) as a journalist hellbent on destroying Barrish’s career, and Ciaran Hinds (‘Rome’) as a jovial former president (and Elaine’s ex-husband).”

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ABC Drama Reportedly Inspires New Reality Show From 'Real Housewives' Producers

The producers of Bravo’s "Real Housewives" franchise have reportedly been inspired by an ABC drama and are planning a new show, TMZ.com reports. With ABC’s new series "GCB" as the inspiration, they are searching for Christian women to star in a new reality show, the story says.

The producers have reached out to several people who live in an affluent gated community in Calabasas, Calif., the story notes. Producers are searching for "accomplished and upscale women in the Calabasas area who have fabulous lives, are very social, are involved in the community, but also have a very deep commitment to their faith," the story reports.

The community is home to stars including Gary Sinise, Kourtney Kardashian and D.L. Hughley, the piece notes. Justin Bieber also reportedly recently bought a home in the neighborhood.

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Google Co-Founder Rips Hollywood's Anti-Piracy Push, Warns of Threats to Open Internet

The entertainment industry is shooting itself in the foot with its current push to pass anti-piracy legislation, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, TheWrap.com reports.

In an interview with the U.K.’s The Guardian, Brin likened the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act -- measures that some of the key players in Hollywood have been pushing -- to the censorship approaches used in China and Iran, the story reports.

The piece notes: “The entertainment industry, he said, is failing to understand that users will continue to download pirated content as long as it is easier to acquire and use than legitimately obtained material.”

Said Brin: "I haven't tried it for many years but when you go on a pirate website, you choose what you like, it downloads to the device of your choice and it will just work -- and then when you have to jump through all these hoops [to buy legitimate content], the walls created are disincentives for people to buy."

TheWrap reports: “Brin's criticism of Hollywood was part of an alarming portrait he painted of the current Internet landscape. He said that the principles of openness and universal access that fostered the creation of the Internet three decades ago are under greater threat than ever.”

Brin cited "very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world. I am more worried than I have been in the past … it's scary," the story reports.

The report adds: “He said the threat came from a combination of governments increasingly trying to control access by their citizens, the entertainment industry attempting to crack down on piracy and the rise of Facebook and Apple, which he said tightly control software on their platforms.

“He said five years ago he did not believe China or any country could effectively restrict the Internet for long but he had been proven wrong.”

Brin said China, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the greatest threats, adding: "I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle."

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Fan Favorite on the Way Out of 'Downton Abbey'

The PBS show "Downton Abbey" appears to have some cast changes in store, as a fan favorite has reportedly said she wants out, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail. (Warning: This story may contain spoilers.)

Dame Maggie Smith has told writer Julian Fellowes that she wants the third season to be her last, the story reports. The third season, which is currently being filmed on location and in studios in London, will return to British airwaves in September, the piece notes.

Fellowes is preparing to write out Smith's character, the acerbic Dowager Countess, who delights in delivering putdowns to the show's other characters. The Dowager Countess will reportedly be struck by a fatal illness toward the end of the third series, the piece says.

Smith has agreed to work on a "Downton Abbey" Christmas special, the story notes. Her reason for wanting to end her work on the series is so that she can pursue other roles, the piece adds.

Smith, 77, won an Oscar for her work in the 1969 movie "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie," although she's probably better known for her role as Professor McGonagall in the "Harry Potter" films.

Here’s a collection of Dowager Countess clips from the show ...

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Fox News Chief Says Sarah Palin 'Had No Chance to Be President'

During a speech at the University of North Carolina, Fox News chief Roger Ailes said that Fox News contributor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "had no chance to be president," reports The Huffington Post.

Palin, asked about his comment in an interview with Breitbart.com, noted, "I haven’t heard all of his remarks, but I wonder if he is aware that the same thing was said about me when I ran for city council, mayor, and eventually governor. No doubt many people who are told they can’t do something will work that much harder, and they succeed."

Ailes clarified his comment on Friday, noting in a statement that he wasn't referring to Palin's long-term prospects. "When I hired most of the Republican contributors, none of them had any immediate prospects of becoming president," the statement read. "I hired all of them because they made for good television at the time. Sarah Palin is young and nobody can predict the future."

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As Media Companies Report Executive Compensation, One CEO Is Ahead of the Pack With $69.9 Million

Among those firms that have released details on 2011 executive compensation, one company’s CEO ranks as the highest-paid chief of a media company, reports TheWrap.com. The executive is CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves.

Moonves raked in $69.9 million in compensation last year, a boost of 21% from the $57.7 million he received in 2010, which was a 34% increase from the previous year, the story notes.

The 2011 raise comes as CBS stock jumped more than 40% last year. "In fact, the company is the second best performing stock in the entire S&P 500 since March of 2009, up 11-fold in that time frame," the company said in a statement.

Moonves earned a base salary of $3.5 million and a bonus of $27.5 million in 2011, as well as $8.5 million in stock awards and $27.3 million in option awards.

CBS Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone received $20.3 million in 2011 compensation, about the same as he earned in 2010, the story says. Redstone's compensation included a $1.75 million salary, a $10 million bonus, $5.5 million in stock awards and $3 million in option awards.

Moonves was the second-highest-paid media executive in 2010, trailing Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman, who received $84.5 million in compensation. For 2011, Dauman received $43.1 million in compensation, the story notes.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings Lashes Out at Comcast

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings fired another volley at Comcast over the weekend, criticizing the cable giant’s policy on net neutrality and data caps, CNet reports.

The story reports: “As he explained on his Facebook page, his complaint is that when Comcast subscribers watch Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Go on their Xbox consoles, it counts against their monthly data limits. However, subscribers who use Xfinity don't have their limits dinged, suggesting that Comcast is giving its service preferential treatment to keep subscribers on the service rather than straying over to Netflix.”

Hastings has previously challenged Comcast’s assertions that it is expensive for the company to deliver Internet video, the story notes.

Reps for Comcast did not immediately comment for the story.

The report adds: “During an on-stage interview at a tech conference in February, Reed couldn't hide his skepticism about the high costs Internet service providers claim come with delivering Netflix videos over the Web. When asked whether the cable companies are "pressured" by the enormous amount of traffic that Netflix customers generate, Hastings sarcastically said, ‘That 92 percent Comcast operating margin is really under a lot of pressure. ... There is no financial pressure on ISPs. They are making a fortune.’"

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CNN Welcomes Back a Network Mainstay

CNN is bringing back an on-air personality who was a familiar face on the network in past years. The cable news channel unveiled plans today for its new Christiane Amanpour program "Amanpour," which it has set to premiere Monday at 3 p.m. ET, reports TVNewser.

The new 30-minute show is planned as a daily fixture of the CNN daytime lineup. Amanpour, meanwhile, will also remain with ABC News as its global affairs anchor.

Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director for CNN International, said in a statement: “We are delighted to have Christiane back at CNN. Christiane’s sophisticated, incisive journalism is needed now, more than ever, to add context and depth to the world’s biggest news and stories."

Amanpour also commented in the statement, saying: “This is an exciting time to have this unique role. I am thrilled to come home to CNN, where I have reported for so many years – and combine this role with the reporting that I will continue for ABC News.”

"Amanpour" will be executive produced by Liza McGuirk.

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Penis Jokes vs. Vagina Jokes -- HBO's New Buzz-Heavy Comedy Adds Fuel to TV's Sitcom Gender War

The TV sitcom landscape seems to be breaking down increasingly along gender lines, with penis jokes on one side and vagina jokes on the other. In the latest volley, the creator, writer, director and star of HBO’s much talked about new series “Girls” -- a show that continues to tilt the balance toward female-focused comedies -- dismisses critics who say things are beoming too “girly” on the TV landscape.

“Look, there are three shows with the title ‘Girls’ and everyone has a breakdown, and then there is Spike TV and entire networks filled with guy stuff,” Lena Dunham said, according to a Fox News story. The other recent shows include CBS’s “2 Broke Girls” and Fox’s “The New Girl,” but Dunham’s comments appear to be inspired more by remarks from a co-creator of a show on the other side of the debate: “Two and a Half Men.”

As reported previously, “Men’s” Lee Aronsohn, appearing at a recent screenwriting conference, said, "Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods," and added: “We’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation.”

Aronsohn drew criticism for those remarks, and later indicated via a Twitter post that he was being ironic -- especially considering the preponderance of penis jokes in his own show. Even so, the debut of HBO’s “Girls” comes at a time when the sitcom gender debate is being taken seriously by many TV critics.

But Dunham, 25, says her show, and her character, represents a departure from the stereotypes. “It’s the type of girl I haven’t seen on TV yet, so HBO really took a chance,” she says in the Fox News piece. “I had a feeling it was going to connect to women of this age. … At certain times, I was really reaching into my own experience. I wanted to have that kind of [New York] spirit of if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

The New York reference addresses inevitable comparisons between “Girls” and a wildly successful HBO series that premiered in an earlier decade.

“But where 20 years ago HBO's seminal series ‘Sex and the City’ unveiled a glamorous Manhattan lifestyle of lavish dining, high fashion, chic apartments and top-notch careers, the recession-relevant ‘Girls’ positions its leading ladies (all early 20s) in Brooklyn without big budgets, still trying to figure out who they are and what they want,” the Fox News story reports. The original “Sex and the City” ran on HBO from 1998 to 2004.

The story notes that the show’s main cast is largely unknown, but leans heavily on the offspring of famous parents -- including Jemima Kirke, daughter of Simon Kirke of the rock band Bad Company; Zosia Mamet, daughter of writer and director David Mamet; and Allison Williams, daughter of NBC News mainstay Brian Williams. Judd Apatow’s production company is behind the series.

HBO will make “Girls,” along with another new comedy, “Veep” -- which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the first female vice president -- available for free online at a number of websites, as we reported earlier. On the pay cable channel, the show premieres Sunday night.

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Mel Gibson's Latest War of Words: Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas Renews Accusations of Anti-Semitism -- and Says He Has a Tape

No stranger to controversy, Mel Gibson is involved in another one that exploded this week. This time he’s battling it out with famed Hollywood screenwriter Joe Eszterhas -- a controversial figure in his own right.

The latest fracas, reported by TheWrap.com, has Eszterhas renewing accusations of anti-Semitism by Gibson in a letter to Gibson. The two men were reportedly working together on “The Maccabees,” a movie project for Warner Bros., when their collaboration broke down. Eszterhas blames Gibson’s alleged anti-Semitism for the breakdown, with Gibson attributing it to a bad script by Eszterhas.

TheWrap reports: “Gibson said on Wednesday that an explosive letter from Eszterhas was ‘utter fabrication’ in its ‘great majority.’ In the letter, the writer described the movie star in the grip of an anti-Semitic obsession, inflicting frequent rages on those around him and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva.”

Eszterhas responded to Gibson’s claims in an exclusive interview, the story reports, saying, “He should be very careful calling me a liar. We have a recording of his actions and statements that my son Nick made in Costa Rica.” Eszterhas, his wife, Naomi, and his son were with Gibson at Gibson’s villa in Costa Rica late last year, the story notes.

Eszterhas adds: “There were at least four other people present when he exploded in that rage. Naomi also witnessed things he said about killing Oksana, and his constant anti-Semitic remarks.”

Eszterhas is known for his writing work on a string of films -- not always critically acclaimed -- including “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls.” He is also known for producing the spectacular 1997 flop “An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn.”

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CBS's Reruns Top Most of What's on the Other Broadcast Nets -- But Thursday Belongs to Fox's 'Idol'

A mostly repeat lineup on CBS was good enough for second place Thursday night, even as ABC and NBC put up all fresh programming -- but no one had an answer for Fox’s “American Idol.”

With “Idol” surging three-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 4.2 average in the key 18-49 demo, Fox claimed an easy win in the Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. Fox finished prime time with a 3.2 average, followed by CBS (2.4), ABC (2.1), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.3). Fox also won total viewers, averaging 11.8 million to 8.8 million for CBS, 8.1 million for ABC, 3.7 million for Univision and 3.2 million for NBC.

CBS’s reruns generally trounced the competition on ABC and NBC, although ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and Fox’s “Touch” put up a fight. A repeat of CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” at 9 p.m. won the hour with a 3.0 average rating in 18-49, topping fresh episodes of “Grey’s” (2.9), “Touch” (2.3) and NBC’s “The Office” (2.1) and “Up All Night” (1.5 for the season finale).

Even while finishing in fifth place for the night, NBC had a couple of reasons to celebrate: "Community" and "30 Rock" were up slightly, although both settled for less than stellar 1.4 averages in 18-49. On the other hand, "The Office" fell three-tenths of a point to a series low 2.1, while the moribund “Awake” held steady with its series lows, averaging a 0.9.

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Morgan Freeman Responds to Persistent Tabloid Rumor

After years of tabloid stories and Internet gossip, Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman has finally come out to deny that he has been romantically involved with his great-granddaughter E'Dena Hines and that he intends to marry her, reports TheWrap.com.

In a statement to the website, Freeman said: "The recent reports of any pending marriage or romantic relationship of me to anyone are defamatory fabrications from the tabloid media designed to sell papers. What is even more alarming is that these fabrications are now being [picked up] by the legitimate press as well."

Hines also had a comment, saying, "These stories about me and my grandfather are not only untrue, they are also very hurtful to me and my family."

The original report in the National Enquirer was published in 2009, when the tabloid quoted a family insider who said, "Morgan has led [Hines] to believe that he wants to marry her." Another source was quoted as saying, "Becoming Mrs. Morgan Freeman has been E'Dena's goal."

Freeman was moved to comment on the rumors because in spite of the three years that have passed without a wedding, the stories have not gone away.

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CBS Going to the 'Dogs'

Carol Mendelsohn, best known for her work on CBS's "CSI" franchise, is producing a new show for the network that’s all about dogs, reports Deadline.com.

The reality series "Dogs In the City" focuses on Justin Silver, the owner of a New York City pet care company and an expert in dog behavior.

Said Mendelsohn: “Dogs are at the center of the story here, but this is a show that reveals as much about human nature as man’s best friend.”

Adding to Silver’s appeal as a central character is that he's a comic and has a nonprofit charity called Funny for Fido, which raises money for homeless animals.

The show follows another dog-oriented project by Mendelsohn, who exec produced TNT’s drama pilot “Scent of the Missing,” focusing on search-and-rescue dogs.

CBS has scheduled "Dogs in the City" to debut May 30.

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Sweeping Changes May Be in Store for NBC's 'The Office' as Contract Talks With Current Cast Members Stall

With negotiations stalled between the producers of NBC’s “The Office” and several cast members, the show’s executive producer Greg Daniels is considering rebooting the series as a sort of "The Office 2.0," reports Deadline.com.

The reboot would feature new characters as well as existing characters. However, it's also unclear how much longer the show will be on television, the story notes.

The main cast may wish to make the 2012-13 season the show's last, while NBC would like an additional year beyond that, the piece adds. Major decisions won't be made until NBC executives review their pilots for the next season, according to the article.

The idea of rebooting the show comes as contracts for original cast members John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer and B.J. Novak and newer cast member Ed Helms expire at the end of the season. There hasn't been much progress in negotiations during the past few weeks, the piece notes.

Daniels will be meeting with NBC executives to talk about his ideas for the fall reboot, with a number of questions needing to be addressed -- such as how many episodes the stars will sign for, given other obligations, the story notes. For instance, Helms has signed on for another sequel to "The Hangover" and Krasinski has a January movie shoot, according to the report.

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'Webster' Actor Says He Has Dementia

One of the stars of the 1980s sitcom “Webster,” who had a career as a defensive tackle with the NFL’s Detroit Lions before shifting his focus to acting, revealed that he is suffering from dementia and blames the condition on his football career, TMZ.com reports.

Alex Karras, a four-time NFL Pro Bowl selection, played the dad on “Webster” and is also known for his role as Mongo in "Blazing Saddles." Karras has joined hundreds of former NFL players in a lawsuit that seeks compensation and health benefits from damage they say resulted from brain injuries while playing the sport, the story notes.

According to a statement from Karras' wife, Karras "suffers from dementia but still enjoys many things, including watching football. But dementia prevents him from doing everyday activities such as driving, cooking, sports fishing, reading books and going to big events or traveling."

The letter adds that Karras constantly complains of dizziness, the result of a series of concussions he reportedly suffered while playing.

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Former CNN Anchor to Debut Late-Night Show -- More 'Daily Show' Than 'Newsroom'

A former CNN anchor has a late-night show in the works for cable channel BET, TVNewser reports. The show centered on T.J. Holmes will be a hybrid of news and comedy, the story says.

Holmes announced late last year that he was leaving CNN, where his duties included anchoring the news channel’s Saturday and Sunday morning shows. After five years with CNN he signed a multiplatform talent deal with BET Networks.

The new show will have more in common with "The Daily Show" than with "CNN Newsroom," the piece notes. Called "Don't Sleep with T.J. Holmes," the show will join BET's late-night schedule later this year, the story says.

"Speaking through a unique and smart African American filter, T.J. invites the community to wake up on the issues that affect them; don’t sleep on the stories that mainstream news outlets won’t cover," BET said in a statement. The show will also feature "hilarious ‘correspondents,’" according to the statement.

tj-holmes2.jpgT.J. Holmes

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Lawsuit Reveals How Much 'Jersey Shore' Star Pauly D Makes

A lawsuit filed by International Creative Management against "Jersey Shore" cast member Paul "DJ Pauly D" DelVecchio reveals how much the reality star makes and how his salary has ballooned during the show's run on MTV, reports TheWrap.com.

For the show's sixth season, DelVecchio will make $175,000 for each of its 12 episodes, for a total of $2.1 million, the story says, citing claims by ICM in the lawsuit. That amount doesn't include bonuses or payments for after-shows or other productions, the story points out.

That's up from $100,000 per episode for the show's fourth season, when he also earned a $400,000 signing bonus, the piece adds.

The lawsuit claims that DelVecchio entered into a representation agreement with ICM in January 2010, soon after "Jersey Shore" debuted on MTV, and that ICM helped DelVecchio negotiate larger fees. The lawsuit claims that DelVecchio stopped paying the commission in the show's fourth season.

DelVecchio's attorney said the reality performer doesn't owe ICM anything and that the agency is trying to "take advantage" of its previous association with him, the story notes.

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Fox News Playing Hardball With Gawker Mole

Fox News has sent a letter to former "O'Reilly Factor" associate producer Joe Muto, who was paid by Gawker to provide anonymous intel on the network, informing him that his actions are "likely criminal," reports TVNewser.

“It’s now in the hands of our lawyers and law enforcement given that a crime has been committed," a Fox News representative said, according to the story.

As previously reported, Muto identified himself as the mole after getting fired, with Fox News tracking a digital trail to confirm his identity.

The letter from law firm Epstein Becker & Green advises Muto to "immediately stop providing information and videos to Gawker … [and] immediately stop writing columns based on information that you unlawfully obtained while employed at Fox News. You should also immediately take all necessary steps to preserve all documents and information that may be relevant to your hire and employment at Gawker," according to the story.

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New 'Flintstones' TV Series Suffers Setback

A new TV series update of “The Flintstones” has hit a snag, Deadline.com reports. The project has been pushed back because the driving force behind it, Seth MacFarlane, has too much on his plate.

Given his current four TV series, a movie and his music career, MacFarlane hasn't been able to give the project the time it needs, prompting a mutual agreement with Fox, 20th Century Fox TV and Warner Bros. TV to put the project on hold, the story notes. MacFarlane's and the studios' representatives confirmed the decision, but declined further comment.

The project was announced at Fox's upfront presentation last year, with a debut slated for 2013, the story notes. But to make that debut the show would have had to start production last fall, which didn't happen given MacFarlane's directorial debut on "Ted," his three animated Fox shows and an updated version of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos," the piece points out.

"Ted," a live-action/CGI comedy, will open July 13, while his three animated shows -- "Family Guy," "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show" -- have all been renewed for next season. "Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey," a 13-part docu-series, is slated to debut in 2013, the report notes.

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A&E Declares 'Wars' -- All Three of Them -- to Be Fit for Renewal

A&E has given renewals to three successful “Wars” reality shows -- two focused on storage lockers and one centered on shipping, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed.

"Shipping Wars," "Storage Wars" and "Storage Wars: Texas" have each been picked up for an additional 26-episode season, with all set to return in the summer, the story notes.

"America is at a crossroads where people are finding new ways to make money and earn a living,” A&E Network/BIO Channel Executive Vice President of Programming David McKillop said in a statement.

"Storage Wars" is cable's third-most-watched show among adults 25 to 54, the story notes. It's also A&E's top-rated program of all time, the piece adds.

“Storage Wars: Texas” is the network’s most-watched new show of the year, followed by “Shipping Wars,” the story notes.

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Despite Detainment, WikiLeaks Founder Unveils TV Talk Show

Despite his detainment, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will debut his television talk show next week, with the program airing on Russia Today and online, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"For 500 days now I've been detained without charge, but that hasn't stopped us," Assange notes in a promotional video posted on YouTube.

The debut episode will air Tuesday, April 17, with the talk show also being streamed at http://worldtomorrow.wikileaks.org/, according to that website. Twelve episodes have been taped.

The show will feature 12 interviews with an "eclectic range of guests, who are stamping their mark on the future: politicians, revolutionaries, intellectuals, artists and visionaries," according to the show's website. The release doesn't identify who will appear on the program.

The show's music was composed by British-Sri Lankan artist M.I.A., according to the World Tomorrow site.

Assange conducted the interviews in his temporary home in the English countryside, where he is under house arrest.

Here’s the promo clip for the new show ...

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Fox Renews Long-Running Series for Two More Seasons

The Fox Network has announced a two-season renewal for a show that has become a fixture on the network, TheWrap.com reports. The show is Gordon Ramsay's cooking competition "Hell's Kitchen," which now will have an 11th and 12th season.

The show’s 10th season will debut Tuesday, May 29, at 8 p.m.

The show's previous season, which aired from July to September 2011, earned a 3.4 rating among adults 18 to 49 and averaged 7.5 million total viewers. That demo rating was identical to its previous season, while total viewership rose 3%, the story points out.

Ramsay's second Fox series, "Kitchen Nightmares," was recently renewed for a sixth season.

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HBO to Offer Two New Comedies for Free

In a move to grab viewers who aren't subscribers, HBO plans to make two new comedies available online for free, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

"The shows are the coming comedies 'Girls' and 'Veep,' both of which have been riding a wave of advance publicity -- especially 'Girls.' Even before it has been exposed to the public, 'Girls' has been among the most talked-about new shows on television," Carter notes.

After each show has its first run on HBO, the debut episodes will be placed online at free sites including YouTube, DailyMotion, TV.com and HBO.com, the story notes.

"Girls" tracks the rocky personal relationships of a group of single young women in New York, while "Veep" stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the first female vice president. The former debuts Sunday at 10:30 p.m., while the latter will premiere April 22 at 10 p.m.

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'Californication' Working on Spinoff Based on New Groupie Character

Showtime's "Californication" is working on a spinoff based on a new character who will be introduced next season, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The character, Faith, was an innocent Catholic schoolgirl who becomes a groupie after falling in love with rock ‘n’ roll, the story notes. Faith, now in her mid- to late 20s, has traveled with several bands and is considered a muse by some artists, and remains religious despite her fondness for the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, the piece adds.

The character will have a nine-episode arc in the show's sixth season, which will debut in 2013.

A spinoff isn't a sure thing, however: The right actress will have to be cast, and then the character will have to connect with viewers, the piece points out.

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Court Strikes Down FCC Ban on Political Ads on Public TV

In a move that could open up the public airwaves to a flood of campaign advertising, a federal appeals court has struck down the FCC’s ban on political ads on public TV and public radio, Reuters reports.

The story reports: “By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the Federal Communications Commission violated the First Amendment's free speech clause by blocking public broadcasters from running political and public issue ads.

“The court said the ban was over broad and that lifting it would not threaten to undermine the educational nature of public broadcast stations. It upheld a ban on ads for goods and services on behalf of for-profit companies.”

In the majority opinion, Judge Carlos Bea wrote: "Public issue and political speech in particular is at the very core of the First Amendment's protection. Public issue and political advertisements pose no threat of 'commercialization.’ By definition, such advertisements do not encourage viewers to buy commercial goods and services. A ban on such advertising therefore cannot be narrowly tailored to serve the interest of preventing the 'commercialization' of broadcasting."

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Up Against Dominant 'Idol,' a CBS Staple Falls to a Historic Low; So How Did NBC Do? Don't Ask

Fox’s dominant “American Idol” claimed its share of casualties among the broadcast competition Wednesday night, as Fox soared to a big win for the night in the Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Among the victims: CBS’s reality staple “Survivor,” which hit its lowest number ever for a regular telecast with a 2.6 average rating in the 18-49 demo, going head-to-head with hour one of “Idol” at 8 p.m. Later in the night, CBS’s “CSI” didn’t fare especially well either, dropping 21% to a 2.3, still good enough to win the 10 p.m. hour.

Also suffering against the two-hour “Idol” was ABC’s “Modern Family” at 9 p.m., which still easily scored the second-best number of the night but returned from its three-week break to a 4.1 in 18-49, down 9% and a substantial four-tenths of a ratings point from its previous original. That performance may have contributed to a lackluster launch for its lead-out, ABC’s new comedy “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23,” which scored a decent but not awe-inspiring 2.9 in the 18-49 demo.

As for Fox’s “Idol,” it was even with last week with a healthy 4.9 average in 18-49, with the possibility that it might adjust even higher. For prime time overall, Fox easily outdistanced the pack with its 4.9 in the 18-49 demo, ahead of CBS (2.6 average), ABC (2.4), Univision (1.4) and NBC (1.1). Total viewers saw Fox way out front with an average of 16.4 million, followed by CBS (11.0 million), ABC (6.9 million), NBC (4.2 million) and Univision (3.7 million).

NBC’s results in the key 18-49 demo read like a dirge: “Betty White: Off Their Rockers,” down two-tenths to a 1.6; “Best Friends Forever,” down 25% to a 0.9; “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” down 25% (even though it has been moved an hour earlier to 9 p.m.) to a 0.6; and “Law & Order: SVU,” returning to a 1.6 that was only good enough for a tie with ABC’s “Revenge” recap show for second place at 10 p.m.

Ending on a bright (-ish) note, ABC’s “The Middle” and “Suburgatory” and CBS’s “Criminal Minds” were all even with their previous originals.

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Soap Opera Introduces Lesbian Love Story

A long-running daytime soap opera will head in a new direction with its first-ever lesbian story line, EW.com reports. The soap is the CBS staple "The Bold and the Beautiful."

The series will introduce veteran soap actress Crystal Chappell as Danielle, one of Caroline's (Linsey Godfrey) two mothers, the story reports.

Chappell, who was recently on "Days of Our Lives" and played another lesbian character on "Guiding Light," will be introduced in mid-May when her character goes to Los Angeles to visit Caroline. At that point, the secret about Caroline's two moms will be revealed.

While other soaps have dabbled in homosexuality, including a current story line on "Days of Our Lives," this is a first for "The Bold and the Beautiful," which has been on the air since 1987. The CBS soap has won the Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Drama for the past three years.

crystal-chappell.jpgCrystal Chappell

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Character Who Has Been on TV Off and On for More Than 40 Years -- in Both Animation and Live Action -- Will Be Reinvented as a Big-Screen Superhero

A character who is familar to generations of TV viewers -- either as a live-action series star or in animated form -- will now be reinvented again, as a live-action superhero on the big screen.

The character is Sabrina the Teenage Witch, who has starred in various animated TV series going back as far as 1970 and in a live-action TV show that aired on ABC and The WB from 1996-2003.

Deadline.com reports that Sabrina is being revived by Sony Pictures for a live-action feature film focused on “a young girl coming to terms with her remarkable powers” -- something along the lines of “Spider-Man.”

The report adds: “Scribes Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari (they wrote ‘Die in a Gunfight’ for MRC) will write the script, and ‘Real Steel’ producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford are producing. Mark Waters, who worked on the presentation that Sony Pictures sparked to, might direct depending on scheduling. Archie Comics’ Jon Goldwater will be executive producer and screenwriter Jeff Stockwell, who also worked on the presentation, will be co-producer.”

Sabrina’s roots are in the pages of Archie Comics, but she really came into her own on TV. Among Sabrina’s small-screen incarnations over the years: “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” (aka “Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies”), a CBS cartoon that aired in various forms from 1970-1974; “The New Archie and Sabrina Hour,” a short-lived animated NBC version in 1977; and the 1996-2003 sitcom “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” where she was played by Melissa Joan Hart.

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Scarlett Johansson Opens Up About Naked Pictures, Divorce

Screen siren Scarlett Johansson is still haunted by nude photographs of her that were splashed all over the Internet after an email hacking incident, CBS News reports, citing an interview in the May issue of Vogue.

The story reports: “Johansson talks about going out to dinner and feeling ‘paranoid’ that people in the restaurant had seen her body. Still, she says she doesn't want pity and has coped by ‘tuning it all out.’ Because of that, she stopped following celebrity gossip and reading stories about herself.”

The private photos of Johansson, 27, were intended for her then husband, Ryan Reynolds. They have since divorced, and the actress says she’s happier now.

Commenting on her divorce, Johansson says in the interview: "It was horrible. Of course, it's horrible. It was devastating. It really throws you. You think that your life is going to be one way, and then, for various reasons or whatever, it doesn't work out."

She adds: “It's a very lonely thing. It's like the loneliest thing you'll ever do, in some way."

vogue-scarlett-j-may-2012.jpg

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Fox Yanks Series Off Schedule, Plugs In Reruns of Sitcom

Fox has pulled a prime-time series off the schedule for the remainder of the season, replacing it with repeat broadcasts of a freshman comedy, Deadline.com reports.

Christian Slater’s sophomore comedy "Breaking In" is off the schedule, with reruns of "New Girl" taking its place, the story reports.

It's not yet known when unaired episodes of "Breaking In” will be televised, although it's possible the show will return for a summer run, the piece notes.

"Breaking In," about geniuses who work at a high-tech security firm and break into security systems, got a reprieve with a second-season order after being canceled last May, the story notes.

Despite an overhaul, the show has been underperforming, with its second-season debut pulling a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49. Its latest episode earned a 1.3 rating, tying a season low, the article adds.

“New Girl” has been a bright spot for Fox this season, and with its renewal already a done deal, the network will try to generate additional interest in it with double runs -- one fresh episode and a repeat -- on Tuesday nights.

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Code Blue at ABC Daytime: One Show Dies, but 'General Hospital' Survives! And 'GMA' to Expand With Afternoon Edition

ABC’s only remaining daytime soap, "General Hospital," has been renewed, Deadline.com reports. Furthermore, the show that was created as a replacement for one of the network’s canceled soaps has itself been canceled, the story notes.

The canceled show is "The Revolution," a talk show that was put on the network's schedule after ABC canceled "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" last year, the story notes. That decision enraged soap opera fans, and raised concern about the fate of "General Hospital.”

In addition, ABC plans to add an afternoon edition of "GMA” for a summer run. Tentatively titled "GMA in the Afternoon," the show will hold the time slot previously held by “The Revolution” until Katie Couric's new syndicated talk show premieres in the fall, the piece adds.

Couric’s “Katie” is set to premiere Sept. 10. It will be preceded by a nine-week run for “GMA in the Afternoon,” launching July 9.

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Anonymous Fox News Mole Reveals Identity After Getting Fired

The anonymous Fox News "mole" who agreed to write about the inside workings of Fox News Channel for the media and gossip website Gawker identified himself after getting fired, reports TVNewser.

The mole is Joe Muto, an eight-year employee of Fox News who worked as an associate producer on "The O'Reilly Factor," the story notes.

Writing on Gawker, Muto noted, "Two hours ago I was called into a meeting with Dianne Brandi, the Fox News Executive Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs, and suspended indefinitely ... with pay, oddly enough.

"They nailed me."

Muto said his digital trail gave his identity away to Fox News, since his employer found out that someone with his login had accessed the two videos he had provided to Gawker. "They couldn't prove it entirely, but I was pretty much the only suspect," Muto wrote.

"Two nice gentlemen from security escorted me to my desk to pack up my stuff, and it was pretty obvious at that point that I would not be setting foot back into 1211 Avenue of the Americas again," he added.

Fox News confirmed Muto’s firing Wednesday night. A Fox News spokesperson issued the following statement: “Joe Muto is fired effective April 12. Once the network determined that Mr. Muto was the main culprit in less than 24 hours, he was suspended late today while we pursued concurrent avenues. We are continuing to explore legal recourse against Mr. Muto and possibly others.”

As previously reported, Muto had agreed to provide regular dispatches from inside Fox News after he became troubled by the cable news company's approach to news.

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Anderson Cooper Loses It on Air Again, Offending Viewers -- and Triggering an Apology

Anderson Cooper was struck by a second on-air giggling fit, leading him to apologize for a comment he uttered while trying to regain his composure, reports Deadline.com.

The giggling fit came eight months after his first fit, which was triggered by a poo-poo joke in a RidicuList segment, the story points out.

In the most recent incident, Cooper was telling his viewers about the Polish-American post-lent holiday called Dyngus Day. After uttering the word "pussy willow," Cooper started giggling and said, "This is so stupid," leading some viewers to believe he was maligning the holiday, the piece notes.

"I am concerned to hear that some people believe that I called Dyngus Day celebrations ‘stupid’ or in any way criticized this holiday. I did not,” Cooper said. “While in the midst of a silly giggle fit I said ‘this is so stupid’ in reference to my inability to stop laughing. … I am genuinely sorry if I offended anyone by the lighthearted tone of the 'RidicuList.'”

Here’s the original Dyngus Day piece where Cooper loses it:

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ABC's Latest 'B-Word' Show Sparks Friction With Affiliates

Some ABC affiliates are unhappy about the network's use of an obvious reference to the word "bitch" in its new comedy "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23," and they’re suggesting that the network find more mainstream show titles, reports B&C.

As we reported yesterday, ABC now has two shows with “B-word” references in their titles, the other one being “GCB” -- based on the book “Good Christian Bitches.” A few stations are complaining, mainly about the new show. “Apt. 23” premiered Wednesday night.

"It causes problems with advertisers, and we get phone calls from advertisers and viewers," said Mike Lee, general manager of KXXV-TV in Waco, Texas. "Viewers are mad at the network, so they're mad at the station because we are ABC in Waco."

While some stations are upset, the network said most don't have an issue and that it hasn't heard from a significant number of viewers, the story adds.

"The concern level has been very low," said ABC affiliates board chairman Bill Hoffman. "Let's see what happens as the show gets some weeks under its belt."

ABC’s other “B-word” show, “GCB,” premiered March 11. The network changed the name "Good Christian Bitches" to "Good Christian Belles" early in development, and then abbreviated the name to "GCB" by the time it went on air. The show’s perceived slights against the religious community have caused more complaints than its name, the article adds.

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Two Media Jobs Make the List of the Worst Jobs of 2012

For the first time, two media jobs made the list of the year's worst jobs, according to CareerCast.com. Making the Top 10 were the jobs of broadcaster and newspaper reporter.

"As the digital world continues to take over and provide on-demand information, the need for print newspapers and daily newscasts is diminishing. To be sure, both jobs once seemed glamorous, but on-the-job stress, declining job opportunities and income levels are what landed them on our Worst Jobs list," the story reports.

"You can definitely see a decline in the industry," said David Campbell, a reporter at a Pennsylvania newspaper, which isn't identified in the article. “As a sports reporter, there used to be several reporters at an event and now, sometimes, I'm the only one.”

Topping the list of the worst jobs of 2012: lumberjack. Other jobs on the list include dairy farmer, oil rig worker, enlisted military soldier, waiter/waitress, dishwasher and butcher.

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Sources: Deal to Keep Kutcher on 'Two and a Half Men' Will Get Done Ahead of Schedule

Sources say a deal to sign on Ashton Kutcher for more "Two and a Half Men" will get done ahead of time -- in contrast to last season, when the show raced to sign the leading man at the 11th hour, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

“’It is moving in the right direction and will get done,’ one source said, adding that a new pact with Kutcher and a renewal for ‘Men’ will probably be announced in a few weeks," Andreeva writes.

The report adds: "Securing 'Men' is key to CBS’ plan to possibly expand its comedy presence on Thursday and air two-hour comedy blocks on both Monday and Thursday."

Kutcher is expected to get a bump in pay, possibly topping $1 million per episode.

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High-Ranking NBCUniversal Ad Exec Leaves Company

A high-ranking advertising executive at NBCUniversal has left the company, Adweek.com reports. The story cites multiple sources saying Steve Mandala has exited his position after 10 years with the company.

Mandala, who oversaw sales teams for NBCU's 14-network cable portfolio, won't be replaced, the story notes.

He joined NBCU when his then-employer Telemundo was bought by the network, and he survived the merger of Comcast and NBCU, when many other executives left, the piece points out.

"Mandala's departure does not appear to be part of a larger exodus," the story adds.

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'Walking Dead' Creator Has Another AMC Project in Development

"Walking Dead" creator Robert Kirkman is working on another project for AMC, based on his latest graphic novel, "Thief of Thieves," reports TheWrap.com.

AMC said Kirkman and "Walking Dead" producers David Alpert and Chic Eglee will adapt the book, which is about a thief who wants to get out of the business so he can reunite with his family. He decides to only steal from other thieves, the piece notes.

The comic book version debuted Feb. 8 and sold out the same day, with the third issue being released this week, the story says.

"Much like 'The Walking Dead' brought horror to television in a unique and groundbreaking way, I feel 'Thief of Thieves' can do the same thing for heist stories, showing the humanity of all the characters, including the criminals," Kirkman said, according to the article.

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Charlie Sheen's Ex-Wife to Appear on 'Anger Management'

Charlie Sheen's ex-wife will appear in his new comedy "Anger Management," reports TVLine.com. The FX sitcom, set to premiere June 28, will include Denise Richards in a guest role.

Richards will play the new business partner of Sheen’s ex (Shawnee Smith), the story notes. In the comedy, Sheen plays Charlie Goodson, a baseball player with anger management issues who ends up under the care of an unconventional therapist.

Richards and Sheen have worked together before, with Richards playing Sheen's girlfriend on "Spin City" and recurring as his ex on "Two and a Half Men," the story notes.

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Matt Lauer Admits He Talked With Katie Couric About Joining Her New Show

"Today" co-host Matt Lauer confirmed that he talked with his former co-host Katie Couric about joining her on her new syndicated show, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder, which cites an as-yet-unpublished interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

The new daytime talk show, “Katie,” is set to debut this fall.

"There’s no crime in listening,” Couric said, according to the interview, which will be published Wednesday.

In the end, Lauer said he remained at NBC out of loyalty to his colleagues.

"It’s hard to explain after 17 years -- this is a second family,” Lauer said. "It’s impossible to leave.”

After Lauer told NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke about his wish to stay at NBC on April 4, a new contract was established within a day and a half, the story notes.

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Alec Baldwin, Upset at 'Today' Show, Hints at Exit From '30 Rock'; Meanwhile, He and His Accused Stalker Offer Different Versions of Their Relationship

Alec Baldwin's alleged stalker, French-Canadian actress Genevieve Sabourin, has declared that she and the "30 Rock" star were lovers and she wants to bear his child, reports the New York Post. Baldwin is now admitting that he took her out to dinner a few times, but said their dating was "strictly professional."

As we reported yesterday, Sabourin was arrested Sunday night outside Baldwin's Manhattan apartment. Sabourin reportedly has been extremely vexed about the star since Baldwin became engaged to Hilaria Thomas, a 28-year-old yoga instructor.

Baldwin has denied having a physical relationship with Sabourin. He told police he took her out to dinner twice in 2011, but said he was merely trying to help her obtain movie roles, the story reports.

Sabourin has been sending emails to the actor implying a more serious relationship. The newspaper revealed an April 4 email in which she wrote, “I need to start my new life, with my new name ... in my new country help me my newly [sic] husband, you!"

Sabourin's attorney, Julie Sender, told the paper that Baldwin and Sabourin had a two-year relationship, but she did not say whether it was intimate in nature. “They met. They had dinner. They had a mutual relationship, with texts, emails going in both directions,” said Sender.

Baldwin's press representative, Matthew Hiltzik, said, "We're not responding to questions about the ongoing investigation."

In a related development, Baldwin unleashed an angry series of tweets aimed at a crew from NBC’s “Today” show for staking out his apartment, Fox News reported. And then he hinted that he may soon leave “30 Rock.”

Baldwin, using the hashtag #howthemightyhavefallen, tweeted today: "The television crew camped outside my apt said they were with the Today Show.” Then in a subsequent tweet he wrote: "A story about stalking sure brings out the stalkers in the media. But, the Today Show?"

Then came the potential bombshell: "I think I'm leaving NBC just in time," a tweet that sparked questions about Baldwin’s future on the NBC comedy "30 Rock," the story notes.

But the story adds: “A report last January in Deadline Hollywood said NBC had quietly re-upped the actor for next season -- if there is a next season -- and a source close to Baldwin said nothing had changed in terms of his status.”

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'Glee' Returns From Hiatus to Series Low -- but the News for CBS Is Even Worse

The Nielsen overnights for Tuesday night had plenty of bad news to go around, with series lows the norm -- and the only network to beat the trend was recent doormat NBC.

TVbytheNumbers.com reported series lows and season lows on CBS, ABC and Fox, with CBS’s entire lineup of Tuesday dramas all as season lows or series lows. But while Fox saw a series low for “Glee,” its comedies “The New Girl” and “Raising Hope” were up, helping the network tie NBC for the prime-time lead in the key 18-49 demo.

In the end it was close to a three-way dead heat for viewers 18-49: Fox and NBC both averaged 2.5 ratings, followed closely by CBS with a 2.4 and ABC in fourth place with a 1.9. The results were jumbled in total viewers, where CBS had a comfortable lead with an average of 13.2 million, followed by ABC (9.7 million), NBC (6.7 million) and Fox (5.6 million).

On Fox, “Glee” returned from a long hiatus to a 2.7 average rating in the 18-49 demo, down a troubling three-tenths of a ratings point from its previous original to a series low. But “New Girl” celebrated its “Glee” lead-in by rising 17% over last week to a 2.7, while “Raising Hope” surged three-tenths to a 1.9. (Fox just announced it is bringing back all three shows, as previously reported.)

The grim news for CBS: a season low for “NCIS” (down 11% from its previous original to a 3.1 in 18-49), and series lows for both “NCIS: LA” (down 23% to a 2.3) and “Unforgettable” down 14% to a 1.8).

ABC’s results were also gloomy: “Dancing with the Stars” had its lowest-rated results show ever (down 18% to a 2.3 in 18-49); “Last Man Standing” fell to a series low (down 11% from its previous original, three weeks ago, to a 1.7); “Cougar Town” fell 6% to a 1.5; and “Body of Proof,” airing its season finale, dipped 5% to a 1.9.

Most of the good news was at NBC, where “The Biggest Loser” was up 10% from the previous week to a 2.2 in 18-49; “The Voice” saw its results show rise 9% to a 3.5; and “Fashion Star” surged 20% to a 1.8.

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Video: Teaser for Charlie Sheen's New FX Show -- With a Salute to 'Two and a Half Men'

In the first video promo for his new show, Charlie Sheen spoofs his old show, EW.com reports. The brief spot for Sheen’s upcoming FX comedy "Anger Management" features Sheen in a coffin and announces that he “died ... and went to FX.”

The spot is an apparent tribute to Sheen’s former show, CBS’s “Two and a Half Men," which literally killed off his character after Sheen was fired from the show.

Here’s the new promo ...

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Dawn Ostroff Announces Two Key Hirings at Conde Nast

Conde Nast Entertainment Group has filled two key executive positions, it was announced by Dawn Ostroff, president of the group.

Jeremy Steckler joins the company as executive VP of motion pictures and Michael Klein arrives as executive VP of alternative programming, with the appointments effective this month. Both men will report to Ostroff.

In making the announcement, Ostroff said: “I am delighted to welcome these talented executives on board as we build a team that is shaping the new ways in which Condé Nast creates and distributes its sought-after content. Jeremy’s and Michael’s strengths, combined with the significant impact of our brands, present a huge opportunity for us to grow our business across traditional, digital and new platforms.”

Ostroff, a veteran media executive, is the former president of entertainment for the CW network and longtime executive VP at Lifetime.

The company announced: “In his new role, Mr. Steckler will acquire and develop film properties and be based in Los Angeles. He was most recently executive vice president of production at Imagine Entertainment, where he oversaw production and development for major motion picture projects and television-to-film adaptations.”

On the other hiring, Conde Nast announced: “Mr. Klein will be responsible for the development and production of alternative programming. He joins Condé Nast from the Sundance Channel, where he was senior vice president for programming and development. There he created a new programming strategy and launched the largest slate in the network’s history.”

The moves follow the hiring earlier this year of Jeffrey Thompson, formerly of The Walt Disney Co., as vice president of business development.

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TBS's 'Conan' Continues to Post Audience Growth

TBS announced that its late-night talk show “Conan” posted double-digit gains in key demographics during the first quarter, continuing six consecutive months of growth.

The Conan O’Brien-hosted show’s audience grew 25% in Q1 2012 from the year-ago period, according to final Live + 7 data, with a 19% gain in adults 18-49 and 12% growth in adults 18-34, the company said. Year-to-date the show has averaged 1.1 million total viewers, including 736,000 adults 18-49 and 433,000 adults 18-34.

The show posted six consecutive months of growth in adults 18-49, adding up to a 32% increase in the demo from the end of September 2011 to the end of March 2012, TBS reported.

The show boasts the lowest median age -- 35 -- of all late-night talk shows, TBS said, comparing with the following competitors: “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (median age 58), “Late Show with David Letterman” (56), “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (52), “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (53), “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” (52) and “Chelsea Lately” (37).

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Sony Revises Expected Loss for Past Year to $6.4 Billion, Company's Worst Ever

Sony has more than doubled the figure it expects to post as its loss for the just concluded financial year to $6.4 billion, The New York Times reports. The loss is Sony’s worst ever.

The loss is fueled by steep declines in the company’s television business, a strong yen, natural disasters in Japan and elsewhere and tax expenses, the story reports.

The company would not confirm reports that it plans to cut 10,000 jobs in Japan. But Masaru Kato, chief financial officer, said all options remain open as Sony restructures.

The company expects to return to profitability in the current financial year, which ends in March 2013.

Said Kato: “We will force through reforms, and there will be no sacred cows. The company management takes these numbers very seriously.”

The report adds: “The projected loss for the year that ended March 31 underscores the grave challenges facing Kazuo Hirai, who succeeded Howard Stringer at Sony’s helm this month. Once a much-emulated and coveted darling of the technology industry, Sony is a shadow of its former self, its problems mirroring a wider decline in the Japanese consumer electronics industry.”

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Anchor Exits Cable News Net Bloomberg

An anchor on Bloomberg TV’s "Street Smart" has left the network, reports TVNewser. A spokesperson for Bloomberg confirmed the move by Lisa Murphy.

The spokesperson told the website: “Given some of the recent changes in Lisa’s personal life and the recent changes here at Bloomberg, we mutually decided this would be an appropriate time to part ways. We wish Lisa all the best.”

The spokesperson added that Murphy’s departure is not related to Bloomberg’s recent staff cuts as the channel shifts to a digital newsroom. Bloomberg cut 30 positions last month as part of that shift, the story notes.

Murphy joined Bloomberg in October 2010 after working at New York’s local Fox channel. Filling in for Murphy on "Street Smart" will be a series of Bloomberg anchors who will work with Trish Regan and Adam Johnson. "Street Smart" airs Monday-Friday from 3-5 p.m. ET.

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BET Renews Two Comedies

Cable channel BET has quietly made the decision to renew two comedy series, Deadline.com reports. The renewals are still unofficial, with an official announcement expected Thursday at BET’s upfront presentation.

The two shows are the channel’s flagship comedy "The Game" and the Queen Latifah-produced sophomore series "Let's Stay Together."

The network is also considering renewing the freshman show "Reed Between the Lines," the story adds.

The most recent season of "The Game" debuted with 5.3 million viewers, while "Let's Stay Together" opened with 3.5 million viewers, compared with 4.4 million for its series premiere, the story notes. "Reed" drew 3.3 million and 2.9 million viewers for its two back-to-back premiere episodes, the story adds.

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Anonymous Fox News Channel Employee Surfaces on Website as a 'Mole'

An anonymous Fox News Channel employee has been hired by the news and gossip website Gawker as a mole, with Gawker explaining that the Fox insider “will be providing Gawker with regular dispatches from inside the organization."

The "Fox mole" is unusual as employees "very rarely speak out of turn at Fox News -- proof, people close to the network say, of discipline and intense loyalty to the network and its chief, Roger Ailes," notes The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The Gawker post by the unidentified Fox News employee includes a video of Mitt Romney and Sean Hannity speaking before they taped an interview in February, with Romney praising horseback riding and the qualities of certain horses.

"Now there's nothing wrong with Mitt and his wife loving horseback riding. But remember this video next time Romney attacks Obama for golfing. The inherent elitism and snootiness of golf is NOTHING compared to competitive horseback riding," the unidentified Fox News staffer wrote.

Explaining why he or she had decided to work for Gawker as well, the employee wrote about Fox Nation's take on President Obama's 50th birthday party, which included the headline, "Obama's Hip Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs," according to the Gawker post.

"The post neatly summed up everything that had been troubling me about my employer: Non sequitur, ad hominem attacks on the president; gleeful race baiting; a willful disregard for facts; and so on," the mole wrote. "It was so galvanizing, and on top of so many other little incidents, that I guess it just finally pushed me over the edge."

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Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey to Star in Cop Series

A police show called "True Detective" that stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey is being shopped to cable networks, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed.

In the potential anthology series, Harrelson plays Martin Hart while McConaughey plays Rust Cohle, as the two detectives search for a serial killer in Louisiana, the story notes. The project would mark McConaughey's first series regular commitment, while returning Harrelson to the TV screen in his first series regular role since he left "Cheers," the piece says.

Taking a page from "American Horror Story," the show would replace the cast and story after its eight-episode first season, the article adds.

The project is developed by Anonymous Content, which will also produce.

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Report: Pop Diva Close to 'X Factor' Deal, Worth as Much as $15 Million

A well-known pop singer is reportedly close to a deal to join Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" as a judge for the show's second season, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

The deal to bring Britney Spears to the Fox singing competition would be for a salary of close to $15 million -- exceeding Jennifer Lopez's $12 million deal to join "American Idol" last year, the story notes.

"Cowell and Fox had focused on getting Spears on board before moving to filling the other vacant judge chair on the show. The recruitment of Spears would bring the star power Cowell & Co. had been looking for," Andreeva writes.

Cowell has been effusive in his praise for Spears, telling a radio interviewer that he was "fascinated" by her and that she has "resilience," the story notes.

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Get Ready for $200-Per-Month Cable Bills

Despite stagnant wages for U.S. workers, cable bills have been rising 6% per year and will pass $200 per month by 2020, according to a report from NPD Group, reports the New York Post.

The rising price of cable is due to the struggle between cable operators and programmers, who negotiate over which will receive the bigger share of the increasingly pricey payments, the story notes.

But the sharp increase in cable costs is convincing some consumers to cut the cord. "Cable faces big challenges on how to stay relevant,” said NPD analyst Russ Crupnick.

About 9% of TV homes cut cable last year, with another 11% planning to cut the cord, according to a January study from Deloitte.

On average, households spend $86 per month for basic and premium cable, excluding Internet and phone service. By 2015, that will rise to $123 and by 2020, the average bill will hit $200 per month, the piece adds.

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What's Behind ABC's Fascination With the B-Word?

With two new shows containing some reference to the “B-word” in their titles, ABC has drawn criticism from some quarters and intrigue from others. Both shows -- the prime-time soap “GCB” and the Wednesday night comedy “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” -- are about women and appear to be aimed at female viewers, the AP reports.

In both cases, the shows’ origins include the word “bitch.” But ABC toned down both titles before presenting the programs to advertisers, the story notes.

“GCB” is based on the book “Good Christian Bitches,” although the network has been saying the “B” now stands for “Belles.”

ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee, commenting on the word “bitch,” said recently, “On broadcast television, as it turns out, that isn’t a word you want to use in the title.”

The report notes: “Broadcast standards allow the word on TV, and its use has tripled in the last decade, but these are the first American shows to tease with B’s in their titles.

“Is it just coincidence? A hip reclaiming of the word? A blatant attention grab? Or could it reflect something more telling, given the current climate of political rhetoric challenging reproductive rights: a linguistic representation of backsliding efforts toward gender equality?”

With ABC execs not making themselves available to comment, the report cites media and culture experts offering a range of opinions:

Erin M. Fuller, president of the Alliance for Women in Media: “Obviously, they’re using it to be polarizing and controversial and attention-getting. Why else would you use that word? I don’t think we’re in a time where that word is a celebration of women.”

Adds Erin Matson, action vice president for the National Organization for Women: “There’s a frightening commonality between what you see on TV, in entertainment, and in Congress, where the war on women is being led: The conversation is being driven almost exclusively by men.”

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'Simpsons' Creator Reveals Answer to One of the Great Mysteries Surrounding the Series: Which Real-World Springfield Is the Show Based On?

"Simpsons" creator Matt Groening tells the Smithsonian magazine that he based the Simpson family’s hometown on Springfield, Ore., a small town close to his own hometown of Portland.

The revelation comes after the tiny town of Springfield, Vt., beat out 13 other Springfields dotted across the U.S. as the winner of a competition to host the 2007 "The Simpsons Movie" premiere.

Groening said he liked the name Springfield for two reasons: "When I was a kid, the TV show ‘Father Knows Best’ took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown," he told the Smithsonian.

The other reason was that so many towns in the U.S. are called Springfield. "I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, ‘This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.’ And they do," Groening said.

Asked whether he had ever admitted the town is based on Springfield, Ore., Groening said, "I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, ‘Yup, that’s right.’”

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Off-the-Record Cable News Interview Played a Role in Lawyers' Decision to Cut Ties to Trayvon Martin Shooter

An off-the-record interview with a well-known cable news host was cited as a reason the lawyers for George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, dropped their client, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The interview was with Fox News host Sean Hannity. Zimmerman’s attorneys, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, said they lost touch with Zimmerman after Sunday night, and that Zimmerman had decided to conduct publicity matters by himself, including the Sean Hannity conversation, the story says. Hannity declined to share the conversation with them, the piece adds.

Hannity has been sympathetic to Zimmerman, speculating that the shooting could have been "a horrible accident," the story notes.

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Bestselling Author of 'The Notebook,' 'Dear John' and the Upcoming 'The Lucky One' Starts Production Company and Signs Deal to Develop TV Series for Cable Nets

Nicholas Sparks, the bestselling author whose novels include "The Notebook," "Dear John" and "The Lucky One" -- all turned into movies -- has signed a first-look deal with Warner Horizon Television, which primarily makes shows for cable TV, Deadline.com reports. Warner Horizon is a division of Warner Bros. TV.

The projects, by Sparks and his collaborator, Theresa Park, "will bring to television many of the core elements of my books and films: romantic love, family bonds, and the universal human dramas that move us all,” Sparks said, according to the Deadline story, written by our friend Nellie Andreeva.

The projects won't include shows written by Sparks, although they'll go through his newly created Nicholas Sparks Productions, the piece notes. Park is president of production for the new company, which will develop and produce both TV and film projects, the story adds.

The article also notes: "On the [broadcast] TV side, Sparks, repped by UTA and attorney Scott E. Schwimer, sold his first original TV project this development season, supernatural drama 'The Watchers,' which landed at ABC."

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'Mad Men' Creator and Showrunner Matt Weiner, Having Finished Shooting This Season's 'Mad Men' Two Weeks Ago, Will Now Direct Buddy Comedy Theatrical Film With Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler

Matt Weiner, who has had enormous success as the creator and showrunner for the multiple Emmy-winning drama "Mad Men," is about to tackle the silver screen.

With the current season of "Mad Men" already in the can, he is about to start directing a comedy feature film -- which he has also written -- that stars Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler, reports Deadline.com. The movie is called "You Are Here."

According to the article, "Weiner has been trying to launch 'You Are Here' for 8 years. 'I’ve re-written it a few times, I haven’t been available for part of the time, and the rest of it is just how hard it is to get a movie made. Especially an adult movie, one that doesn’t have a high concept,'  he says. 'I tried to get it together during other off-seasons and just hadn’t been able to get the right casting or financing. It’s like, you get the cast and you can get the financing, but sometimes you can’t get the cast unless you have the financing and there’s all the stuff about foreign sales. It’s a lot more producing than I thought I would have to do.' "

The story also says, "Some might be surprised [that Weiner's] first feature is a comedy. But, although Weiner is known for his dramatic TV series, he has worked in sitcoms before, most notably at Ted Danson’s 'Becker.' 'This film has a tough genre. The most notable quality to it is that it’s funny. And I always think that funny is the best environment to tell a serious story. You know, believe it or not, there’s a lot of humor in 'Mad Men.' Especially in the dark moments. So I felt that I wanted to write a movie about friendship, and male friendship in particular, and the mystery of friendship that holds people together.' ”

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Apple Hit With Antitrust Suit

Apple Inc. has been hit with an antitrust suit by the U.S. Justice Department in a case that also names Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, Bloomberg reports. The case involves alleged price fixing on digital books, the story reports.

Bloomberg reports: “Apple and Macmillan, which have refused to engage in settlement talks with the Justice Department, deny they colluded to raise prices for digital books, according to people familiar with the matter. They will argue that pricing agreements between Apple and publishers enhanced competition in the e-book industry, which was dominated by Amazon.com Inc.”

Some of the companies involved in the case -- CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster, News Corp.’s HarperCollins and Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group -- reportedly agreed today to settle their lawsuits, the story says.

The report adds: “The Justice Department is probing how Cupertino, California-based Apple changed the way publishers charged for e-books on the iPad, a person familiar with the matter said last month. The Justice Department said it would announce an ‘unspecified’ antitrust settlement today.”

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s antitrust division declined comment, as did reps for Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin and Macmillan, the story notes.

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NBC Owner Comcast Faces FCC Complaint

Comcast was accused in a complaint filed by Bloomberg with the Federal Communications Commission of favoring its own cable news networks, escalating a dispute between the two companies, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The filing accuses Comcast of violating an FCC condition of its purchase of NBCUniversal by failing to place Bloomberg's cable channel in the same "neighborhood" as Comcast's CNBC and MSNBC, the piece notes.

Bloomberg's complaint states that Comcast created two cable news "neighborhoods" in Florida and Georgia and excluded Bloomberg Television from the grouping, the story says.

Comcast said Bloomberg "continues to willfully misrepresent the ‘neighborhooding’ condition in the FCC’s Comcast-NBCUniversal transaction," the story says.

A representative for the cable company noted, "With respect to CNBC and Bloomberg, they’re in the same places as before we owned NBC and long before we considered owning NBC, and that’s based on CNBC being around a lot longer than Bloomberg," according to the piece.

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Melissa Gilbert Suffers Concussion in 'DWTS' Accident, Misses Show

After hitting her head during Monday's "Dancing with the Stars," former "Little House on the Prairie" star Melissa Gilbert sat out Tuesday's edition of the ABC show, reports People.com.

"On her doctor's advice she is taking a rest day, and if they get through tonight she'll be able to compete going forward," host Tom Bergeron said. He described her injury as a "mild concussion,' the story notes.

As previously reported, Gilbert was rushed to the hospital during Monday's live show after hitting her head while performing the Paso Doble.

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Is the Honeymoon Over for Kutcher's 'Two and a Half Men'? Series Hits an All-Time Ratings Low

A former CBS ratings juggernaut could be in trouble. “Two and a Half Men,” which has been generally doing better than expected since Ashton Kutcher took over the lead role after the celebrated flame-out of Charlie Sheen, fell to a historic low in Monday night’s Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

“Men” pulled a series-low 3.5 average rating in the key demo of adults 18-49, falling 8% from its previous original. Two other Monday night CBS sitcoms were also down, as the comedy block showed signs of rust upon its return to original episodes for the first time in three weeks. “How I Met Your Mother” was down one-tenth from its previous original to a 3.4, tying a series low, and the story was the same for “2 Broke Girls”: down a tenth and tying a season low with a 3.4.

On the up side, CBS’s “Mike & Molly” was up one-tenth to a 3.2 and “Hawaii Five-0” climbed one-tenth to a 2.6.

Doing the most damage to CBS was NBC, which won the night behind a two-hour installment of “The Voice.” The singing competition was down two-tenths of a point to a 3.9 in 18-49 -- a Monday season low, but still the best number of the night.

NBC won prime time overall with a 3.3 average in adults 18-49, topping CBS (3.1 average), ABC (2.4) and Fox (2.1). Total viewers was a different story, with ABC claiming a win with 13.0 million, followed by CBS (9.5 million), NBC (8.9 million) and Fox (6.7 million).

ABC’s two-hour “Dancing with the Stars” was even with last week with a 2.9 average rating in the 18-49 demo.

Fox saw “Bones” and “House” both fall in the ratings -- “Bones” was down a substantial four-tenths of a ratings point from its Monday debut a week earlier, slipping to a 2.1 in 18-49. “House” was off two-tenths, also settling for a 2.1.

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HBO Renews Drama Series

HBO has announced the renewal of a popular drama series, Entertainment Weekly reports. Coming back for a third season will be the fantasy “Game of Thrones,” which is no surprise considering the series’ second season premiered recently to record ratings and held steady in week two.

The story notes: “The third season is expected to be more or less based on the first half of George R.R. Martin’s ‘A Storm of Swords’ -- the third novel of his ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series of fantasy best-sellers. Long a fan favorite of the book series, ‘Swords’ has several dramatic twists and confrontations. ... Given the book’s length (the paperback edition is 1,216 pages) and action-packed content, producers plan to break up the novel into two seasons. HBO is not confirming if season three is another 10-episode order.”

“Game of Thrones” is averaging 3.9 million total viewers for its debut episodes, the story notes, with the second-season premiere amassing a total of 8.3 million viewers so far for its multiple airings.

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Rick Santorum Exits Presidential Race, Clearing Key Hurdle for Romney -- and Likely Reducing TV Spending in Coming Months

GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum announced today that he is suspending his underdog campaign, clearing the way for Mitt Romney to snag the Republican nomination, The New York Times reports.

The move virtually assures Romney of the GOP nomination and is likely to cut spending on TV spots and other media in the months leading up to the conventions and the general election.

Said Santorum: “We made a decision over the weekend, that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting.”

The report adds: “Mr. Santorum made the announcement at a stop in his home state of Pennsylvania after a weekend in which he tended to his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, who had been hospitalized with pneumonia.

“Mr. Santorum, who was holding back tears, did not exactly specify why he was ending his presidential bid. He referred to his daughter’s illness, but said she was making great progress and was back home after being hospitalized over the weekend.”

Santorum made no mention of Romney during his 12-minute speech, the story notes.

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Edward Harbert II, Former 'Tonight Show' Producer and Father of Well-Known Media Figures Ted Harbert and Chris Harbert, Dead at 88

Edward W. Harbert II, a media executive who worked at The New York Times and had a five-year run at NBC's "The Tonight Show," has died, TheWrap.com reports. Harbert died Sunday in Westwood, Calif., at 88.

Harbert was the father of NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert and top CAA TV agent Chris Harbert.

Edward Harbert, best known as Ted, was in media for 45 years, including stints in entertainment, advertising and publishing. On “The Tonight Show” he helped design and produce talent segments, the story notes.

He was with MGM early in his career, doing publicity for films that starred Judy Garland, Peter Lawford, Elizabeth Taylor and others. Before joining The New York Times Magazine Group, he was with Hearst Corp.

He was a pioneer in the production of multipurpose editorial content for educational videos and TV programming, including the CBS News production "Science Times."

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CW Rolls Out Plans for Two New Shows

CW has unveiled plans for two new series, with both shows set for runs this summer, B&C reports. Set to debut Tuesday, May 29, at 8 p.m. ET is "The Catalina," a reality show set in a Miami hotel and telling the story of the employees and guests there.

Premiering Thursday, May 31, at 8 p.m. ET will be another reality program, "Breaking Pointe," focusing on the competitive world of ballet.

Starting June 4, the CW will encore the shows on Mondays from 8-10 p.m. ET.

The new programs join reality shows "The Star Next Door" and "Oh Sit!," which were previously announced by CW but do not have premiere dates yet.

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Two-Time Oscar Winner Poised to Play Walt Disney

The two leads appear to be lined up for Disney’s upcoming “Saving Mr. Banks,” the true story of how the Disney studio’s “Mary Poppins” came about, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Talks are under way with two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks to play Walt Disney, and with Emma Thompson -- also a two-time Oscar winner -- to play the other lead, P.L. Travers, the Australian who wrote “Marry Poppins.”

The movie tells the story of Disney’s 14-year pursuit of Travers’ “Poppins” in the hopes of doing an adaptation.

The story reports: “Travers resisted for so long because she feared Disney would make an animated adaptation. The studio finally made a live-action movie in 1964, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, but stuck in animated sequences, which turned the author off from working with Disney again.”

John Lee Hancock, best known for "The Blind Side," will direct, with the script written by Kelly Marcel.

Along with Oscars for “Philadelphia” (1993) and “Forrest Gump” (1994), Hanks has three other Academy Award nominations -- for “Big” (1988), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “Cast Away” (2000).

Thompson won an Oscar in 1996 for the screenplay for “Sense and Sensibility,” and was nominated the same year for her lead role in the movie. She also won an Academy Award for her lead performance in “Howards End” (1992) and received two acting nominations in 1994 -- for lead actress for “Remains of the Day” and for her supporting role in “In the Name of the Father.”

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As Details of Lauer's New 'Today' Deal Surface, So Do Plans to Expand the NBC Franchise

With the battle for morning ratings supremacy in the spotlight, details are surfacing about NBC’s plans to leverage its still dominant “Today” franchise.

ABC’s “Good Morning America” took a run at NBC’s morning winning streak last week by bringing former “Today” co-host Katie Couric aboard for a week of guest-hosting duties -- a move that came up short, as previously reported. The same week, NBC put rumors to rest by announcing it had signed the face of the franchise, Matt Lauer, to a new contract to remain on the show.

Now comes word that NBC is discussing spinning off Lauer's regular segment "Today's Professionals," TVGuide.com reports. One possibility is developing the segment into a fifth hour of “Today,” according to the report.

The segment features Lauer sparring over various topics with a panel including Star Jones, Donny Deutsch and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the story says.

Talk of developing the segment comes just days after Lauer signed his new contract, which could earn him about $100 million, the story notes. The deal includes a program development pact, which would give him an ownership stake in a syndicated show outside of "Today," such as a spinoff of "Today's Professionals," the piece notes.

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'Little House on the Prairie' Star Rushed to Hospital During 'DWTS'

The former star of "Little House on the Prairie" was rushed to the hospital before the end of Monday's live broadcast of "Dancing with the Stars" after she hit her head while performing, according to The Hollywood Reporter's the Live Feed blog.

Melissa Gilbert’s dance had been what the judges called her best performance yet, although she hit her head on the ballroom floor in the middle of the Paso Doble, which she performed with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the story says.

After the performance, which earned the pair a cumulative score of 22, Gilbert started complaining of dizziness and feeling lightheaded, with singer Gavin DeGraw carrying her out of the studio, the article notes.

The 47-year-old actress was put on a stretcher with about 20 minutes left in the episode and taken to a hospital by ambulance, with her dance partner following her.

While host Tom Bergeron acknowledged Gilbert's accident toward the end of the live show, ABC didn't provide many details, according to the article. The network said a full update will be given on tonight's episode.

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NBC Program, Still Searching for an Audience, Gets Its Fourth Timeslot of the Season

An NBC program that debuted in October is already moving to its fourth time period as the show continues to search for viewers. The program is "Rock Center with Brian Williams," which is moving to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, from the 10 p.m. slot it has held for five weeks, TVNewser reports.

"The show has largely failed to move the ratings needle since its debut," the story points out. "The highest ratings for 'Rock Center' were on Jan. 23, with 7.13 million viewers. But that was a GOP debate in Florida, which carried the 'Rock Center' title."

In its second week in its 10 p.m. time slot on March 14, the show drew 2.61 million viewers, its lowest numbers since its debut, the piece says. By comparison, Williams' "Nightly News" averaged 9.15 million viewers for the first quarter of this year, and the program airs at a time when fewer people are watching TV, the article notes.

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Kristen Wiig Talks About Leaving 'SNL'

Rumors have been circulating that Kristen Wiig plans to leave “Saturday Night Live,” and the longtime cast member has revealed her own thoughts on the matter. She responded to the rumors during an appearance on Alec Baldwin's WNYC radio show "Here's the Thing," according to a transcript of the program.

After Baldwin asked about her contract ending this year, Wiig noted, "Well, everyone has to leave."

The “Bridesmaids” star added: "I will say that when I do leave it’s not because I’m sick of it and not because I see something better or anything like that. It’s just that it’s time. When I do leave, it will be the hardest thing. I mean, you know. You’re there for a week and on Saturday night you’re sad because you leave these people.”

She noted that she's in her seventh year on the show, and added: “You have to leave things that you love.”

Asked what her prospects are if she leaves "SNL," Wiig responded: "I don’t know. I may go back to open up a canoe shop."

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Old Steven Spielberg Blockbuster Makes It to Blu-ray for First Time

One of Steven Spielberg’s early blockbuster movies -- and there have been quite a few of them -- is headed to Blu-ray disc for the first time, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The movie is the 1975 release “Jaws,” the film credited with creating the modern summer blockbuster.

The release is part of Universal’s celebration of its 100th anniversary, the story notes, with the “Jaws” Blu-ray -- including digital remastering, 7.1 surround sound mix and four hours of special features -- set for Aug. 14, 2012.

The story notes: “For the last 15 years ‘Jaws’ has been as much a staple of basic cable programming as ‘Law & Order’ reruns. Many have only seen the shark-infested thriller chopped and cropped for television, but soon they’ll get a chance to rectify that grave miscarriage of cinematic justice.”

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OK, So Chevy Chase Isn't Happy With His Role on 'Community' -- Everyone Knows That, but Now We Have the Expletive-Laced Tape to Prove It; Hear It for Yourself

The feud between “Community” star Chevy Chase and series showrunner Dan Harmon has been in the news for weeks, and now a new audio tape has surfaced that adds insight into what it’s all about, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The story reports: “Chase, who left a vulgarity-laden tantrum on the voicemail of series creator and showrunner Dan Harmon, which then went viral after Harmon played it publicly at a comedy show, calls Community a ‘f--king mediocre sitcom’ that suffers from a serious disconnect between what happens on set and what is seen by the audience.”

Chase also says on the tape: "The other part of the disconnect is, obviously, you don't get my humor at all, or what it is I do that's funny, that actually makes people laugh. ... There are two choices. One is the story line -- like everybody gives a s--t about the f--king story when they don't even know who the characters are -- or there's make people laugh."

Harmon apologized last week for playing Chase’s comments publicly, as previously reported.

Here’s the audio tape, with the expletives bleeped:

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Glenn Beck: Delusions of Grandeur?

Former Fox News Channel firebrand Glenn Beck, who has been reinventing himself since leaving the cable network in June 2011, has unveiled a new set that duplicates the appearance of the Oval Office, The Huffington Post reports.

Beck posted photos of the set on various websites.

The story reports: “Beck has built an exact replica of the Oval Office for GBTV, a spokesperson said. He'll be using the set for a series of weekly speeches about ‘the things we wish the President would say to the American people -- or the things he should say.’"

Beck’s first speech is scheduled for Wednesday. The spokesperson said the speeches will be three or four minutes long and "Reagan-esque in tone," the story notes.

The Huff Post adds: “It won't be the first time Beck does a segment in the style of an Oval Office address. He assembled a makeshift Oval Office set last March and spoke about the devastating earthquake in Japan because he wasn't satisfied with Obama's statements about the tragedy.”

glennbeckovaloffice.jpg

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Baseball Legend Suspended Over Fidel Castro Comment

A baseball legend apologized today for a comment he made about Fidel Castro after news broke that his team, the Miami Marlins, has suspended him from his job as manager for five games, USA Today reports.

Ozzie Guillen talked about the incident in a televised news conference, saying in Spanish: "I'm sorry that I hurt the community without any intention. I'm here to say I'm sorry."

Guillen’s original comment, in which he indicated he had respect for Castro, created an uproar in Miami’s Cuban-American community, which forms a large part of the fan base for the Marlins. But Guillen, the Marlins’ first-year manager, said today that he felt his meaning was lost in the translation between Spanish and English.

Said Guillen: "I don't want to make excuses. But I meant that I was surprised Fidel Castro stayed in power so long. That's what was missing in the translation. ... I'm not saying the journalist was wrong. I was wrong. I was thinking in Spanish and I said it wrong in English."

"He has done a lot of bad things," Guillen added, referring to Castro. "That's why I am surprised he has stayed in power so long."

The report notes: “The news conference was held at the new ballpark built in the Little Havana section of Miami and was broadcast on video screens in the plaza outside the stadium.”

Guillen apologized numerous times, speaking in both Spanish and English. "I'm embarrassed," he said. "I live in Miami. I will do everything in my power to try to help the Cuban community, the Latino community. I want to walk the streets feeling good."

Guillen, known throughout his playing career for his outspoken comments, added: "You learn from your mistakes. This was the biggest mistake so far in my life. I'm very guilty ... very embarrassed ... very sad ... very stupid."

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'American Masters,' 'Great Performances' and Other Shows Targeted as PBS Braces for Severe Funding Cuts

PBS is facing what could be substantial cuts in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a major supporter of the network's shows focusing on the performing arts and independent documentaries, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

The cuts, which are due to become official April 25, would take more than $1 million in federal protection aid from PBS programs, the story notes. Such shows have already struggled to find financing in the past few years, Jensen writes.

"Great Performances" and "American Masters" were told by the NEA that they might receive $50,000 each for the 2012 financing year, down from $400,000 each in 2011, the story notes.

"Independent Lens," a documentary program, was also told it would receive $50,000, compared with $170,000 in 2011, while "POV" was told it would get $100,000, rather than the $250,000 the NEA provided in 2011, Jensen notes.

Neal Shapiro, the president of WNET, which produces "American Masters" and "Great Performances," called the cuts "damaging."

"We are hoping people will look at them and say they are way too severe,” Shapiro said, according to the story. Public television “is the only place you see these things,” he said.

A representative for the NEA said the endowment wouldn't comment until April 25, according to the article.

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'Avatar' Director James Cameron, Reality Guru Mark Burnett Join Forces on New Series

"Avatar" director James Cameron and reality show producer Mark Burnett are pairing to create a new series called "Robogeddon," which will feature robots fighting to the death, reports the New York Post.

The series is reportedly on the list for Discovery's next season, the article notes, although the network didn't mention the show when it announced its new slate last week.

The unscripted show will start shooting later this year, the story adds. Burnett has a fascination with boxing, while Cameron is considered Hollywood's technical whiz, the piece points out.

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Ratings-Challenged Soap Dumps Head Writers

A daytime soap opera that has been struggling in the ratings is shaking things up in the writers’ room, EW.com's Inside TV reports.

The NBC soap "Days of our Lives" replaced its head writers less than a year after hiring Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas Jr. to help enliven the aging show, the story reports.

The new writers are the Emmy-winning pair Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell, who have previously written for "Days of our Lives," the story notes.

The soap is currently tied with "The Bold and the Beautiful" as the least-watched soap opera in daytime among women 18 to 49, the piece points out. The most-watched soap in the demographic is "The Young and the Restless."

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Miss Universe Pageant Announces Its Decision on Transgender Competitors

After stirring up controversy by disqualifying a transgender woman from competing for the Miss Universe Canada title, the Miss Universe Organization has made its decision: From now on, transgender women will be allowed to compete, E! Online reports.

The move follows weeks of controversy over the disqualification of Jenna Talackova, who was born male, from the Miss Universe Canada competition.

The story reports: “In a joint statement, GLAAD and the Miss Universe Organization, which is owned by Donald Trump, said that they are ‘pleased to announce that after more than two weeks of discussions, the Miss Universe Organization is close to finalizing an official policy change that will allow women who are transgender to participate in its beauty competitions.’"

In the statement, Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart said: "We want to give credit where credit is due. And the decision to include transgender women in our beauty competitions is a result of our ongoing discussions with GLAAD and not Jenna's legal representation, which if anything delayed the process. We have a long history of supporting equality for all women, and this was something we took very seriously."

The policy change will reportedly take effect in time for the fall 2013 pageant, and apparently reverses the decision to disqualify Talackova.

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Fox Ready to Change the Game on Saturday Nights

Fox is readying a programming strategy that it hopes will remake the Saturday night broadcast landscape, B&C reports. The network is counting on sports to pump new ratings life into the night.

Fox will air more than 100 hours of live prime-time sports programming, covering 28 Saturday nights over a period of 32 weeks, starting April 14 and running through Dec. 8.

The Saturday sports package has been in the works for more than a year, the report notes, with the network keeping busy lining up the necessary broadcast rights and hammering out schedules.

Said Eric Shanks, president of Fox Sports: "This is a collaborative effort between Fox Sports and Fox Entertainment. We decided to do it because the opportunity was there. Ratings continue to go down on Saturday nights, and we thought we should take a swing at programming the night with sports each week."

The article reports: “The new Saturday night lineup will include live NASCAR races, Major League Baseball games, Pac-12 college football and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bouts. As part of its MLB Saturday night schedule, Fox will introduce a new half-hour studio show and will title the night ‘Baseball Night in America.’"

The programming move launches with two NASCAR events, then a live UFC lineup on May 5. Next up is another NASCAR race, followed by eight MLB games on consecutive Saturdays concluding July 7. The following week Fox airs the MLB All-Star Game midweek (July 10).

The story adds: “Another UFC night will air Aug. 4, and after a four-week hiatus, Pac-12 football comes on board for 12 Saturday night telecasts, interrupted one Saturday night, Oct. 27, for a World Series game. Fox will also televise the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 1 and another UFC event on Dec. 8.”

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Alarmingly Low Ratings Numbers Across the Board, Even on a Night of Heavy Reruns

Sunday’s prime-time ratings were mediocre or worse across the broadcast spectrum, with CBS, fueled in part by overrun from The Masters golf tournament, rising to the top of a short heap, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

NBC’s all-original lineup of low-rated shows was good enough for second place in the Nielsen overnights. The highlight for the Peacock Network was a two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice,” which was up 11% from its previous installment to a 2.0 average in adults 18-49.

ABC and Fox aired lineups heavy on repeat programming and settled for subpar numbers.

When the dust settled, CBS had a 2.3 average rating in the 18-49 demo, with the disclaimer that it will be subject to more than the usual adjustments due to the live sports broadcast. Well behind was NBC with a 1.5 average in 18-49, followed by ABC with a 1.4 and Fox with a 1.3.

Total viewers for prime time overall also went to CBS with 10.8 million, followed by NBC with 6.4 million, ABC with 4.7 million and Fox with 2.8 million.

ABC’s only fresh programming was back-to-back episodes of “GCB,” which earned a modest 1.7 and 1.9 in the 18-49 demo. Fox broke out a new “Family Guy” and settled for a 1.8.

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Morning Anchor Exits CBS News

A CBS News anchor who has been working on the early-morning “CBS Morning News” is leaving the network, TVNewser reports.

Betty Nguyen has been with CBS for the past two years after leaving CNN. Nguyen tweeted this morning about her departure: “Preparing to anchor my last show on CBS News. It’s been an incredible experience working with some of the best in the business.”

Nguyen has also worked on reports for CBS’s “Early Show.” As for her new gig, she tweeted, "Stay tuned for where to find me next …"

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Fox Renews Three Series; Future Not as Bright for Two Others

Fox has announced the renewals of three popular prime-time series, Deadline.com reports. Returning for new seasons will be “Glee,” “New Girl” and “Raising Hope.”

“New Girl,” one of the best-performing freshman sitcoms, will return for a second season. Said Kevin Reilly, Fox entertainment president: “’New Girl’ has become the hottest new appointment series for young adults.”

Reilly added: “’Raising Hope’ has established itself as one of the smartest and most unique offbeat comedies on television, and ‘Glee’ has continued its success as a genre-defying, global cultural phenomenon. All three of these comedies add a fresh and distinctive flavor to our Tuesday nights, and I’m really happy to bring them back to our air next season.”

“Glee” returns for its fourth season and “Raising Hope” comes back for season three.

The report adds: “The pickup comes after ‘Raising Hope’ delivered solid numbers when moved to the anchor 8 p.m. position in the two-hour comedy block Fox tried out while ‘Glee’ is on hiatus, earning a spot on the renewal list alongside shoe-ins ‘Glee’ and ‘New Girl.’”

The Fox dramedy “Bones” has also been renewed, but the prospect is less bright for “I Hate My Teenage Daughter,” which the report describes as “practically canceled.” Also looking grim are the chances for “Breaking In,” which barely survived a cancellation scare last season.

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Actress Arrested for Allegedly Stalking Alec Baldwin

An actress who once worked on the 2002 movie "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," in which Alec Baldwin had a cameo role, was arrested in New York on Sunday night for allegedly showing up at his Manhattan apartment and stalking him, reports the New York Post.

Canadian actress Genevieve Sabourin, 40, was charged with aggravated harassment and stalking.

Baldwin was in Long Island at the time and when the doorman called to report the woman at his apartment, he contacted the police. Sabourin had reportedly previously harassed Baldwin in his Hamptons home on March 31, prompting the actor to file a complaint with the police.

Sabourin has allegedly been sending emails and text messages to Baldwin saying she loves him and wants to have his baby -- and also saying she needs money, according to the report.

She is listed as unit publicist on "Pluto Nash."

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Mike Wallace Was TV's Best Reporter and Best Interviewer. How He Came to Develop His Interview Style. Some Early Examples of the Bulldog Unchained

It was 55 years ago this month that national TV viewers first tuned in to a program on ABC that featured, in its opening shot, a man smoking against a black background. They then heard these words: "I'm Mike Wallace and the cigarette is Philip Morris."

What happened next was startling to audiences back then. A TV interviewer practically badgering various celebrities and news figures of the day.

Please click here to read this entry by TVWeek Open Mic blogger Chuck Ross, as he tells the story of how Wallace developed the TV interview style that made him the best in the business. 

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CNN Anchor Apologizes After Correspondent Airs Offensive Language in Coverage of Tulsa Shootings

After a CNN correspondent aired offensive language on live television on Sunday, anchor Fredricka Whitfield apologized for her, reports TVNewser.com.

The correspondent, Susan Candiotti, was reading a Facebook posting by one of the suspects in the Tulsa shootings of five African-American men, the story notes. She didn't "bleep" herself when she read the posting, although she did say, "Please excuse the language, it's very sensitive," the story notes.

The posting read, "Today is two years that my dad has been gone, shot by a f**king n*****," the story says.

"We apologize to our viewers for the profanities used on our air,” Whitfield said. Candiotti later also apologized, saying, "In quoting someone else’s words, I repeated their offensive and inappropriate language. I deeply regret it," according to the story.

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NBC News Fires Producer Behind Edited 911 Call

The producer who was involved in a misleading segment about the Trayvon Martin shooting was fired by NBC News, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

NBC News declined to name the fired producer, the story notes.

The action came after an NBC News investigation into the segment, which included a 911 call edited in such a way that it appeared shooter George Zimmerman was racially motivated, the piece says.

As previously reported, a "seasoned" NBC producer was responsible for the editing, which was described as a "very bad mistake."

In the original report, Zimmerman was heard to say, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black."

The actual call included this exchange:

Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about."

911 Operator: "OK. And this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?"

Zimmerman: "He looks black."

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ABC's Katie Couric Stunt Fails to Achieve Its Objective

NBC’s “Today” show kept alive its historic winning streak in the morning daypart last week, fending off a challenge by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and former “Today” co-host Katie Couric with what turned out to be surprising ease.

“Today’s” domination of the morning ratings is the longest winning streak in TV history, as previously reported. The NBC show has been No. 1 every week since December 1995, with the streak now reaching 850 weeks. Couric’s weeklong appearance on “GMA” was widely seen as an attempt by ABC to end that streak.

But “GMA” has been closing the gap, and while it failed to topple “Today” with a week of Couric’s guest-hosting -- and in fact, “Today” widened its lead over “GMA” last week -- the long-term trend continues to favor the ABC morning show.

Before last week’s showdown, “GMA” was trailing “Today” by only about 137,000 total viewers. That number grew last week, to about 260,000 viewers a day through the first four days, according to Nielsen estimates, with “Today” averaging 5.21 million to 4.95 million for “GMA.”

The NBC show’s advantage was even greater last week in the key news demo of viewers 25-54, where “Today” was up by about 320,000 viewers a day -- 2.19 million to 1.87 million -- through the first four days.

Even with Couric in the house at ABC, “Today” won three of the first four days of the week in total viewers, falling short only on Wednesday, when NBC’s “big get” was Ryan Seacrest announcing he would be helping out with the network’s Olympics coverage this summer (and not taking a spot on “Today,” as some observers had speculated).

In the 25-54 demo, NBC had a clean sweep, with “Today” winning all four days.

CBS has barely been mentioned in the focus on the battle between “GMA” and “Today,” but that’s because its rebranded morning show, now called “CBS This Morning,” remains a distant third in the ratings. Its average for the last week in March was 2.42 million total viewers.

In the big picture, ABC’s “GMA” has cut “Today’s” advantage by about 40% this season in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo, and the margin is down to the levels of circa 1995 -- the last time “GMA” beat “Today” for a whole week.

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Competitor to HBO, Showtime and Starz -- Having Already Surpassed Expectations -- Eyes New Distribution Alliances, Readies Push to Add Subscribers

A two-year-old pay-television channel is gearing up for a marketing blast to draw new subscribers ahead of a potential new digital partnership, reports the New York Post.

While Epix was viewed skeptically when it debuted, the network has managed to attract 10 million pay-TV customers, although that's still far below the 20 million to 30 million customers of rivals such as HBO, Showtime and Starz, the story says. Epix has already surpassed the expectations of many critics, who predicted it would fail soon after it was announced in 2009.

Backed by Viacom's Paramount, Lionsgate Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Epix will spend $8 million on a marketing campaign that includes TV and radio spots, the piece notes.

The marketing push, designed to pull new customers to the network, comes ahead of the expiration of the channel’s exclusive deal with Netflix. That $900 million deal, signed in 2010, helped Epix turn a profit, the piece notes.

With the exclusivity ending in September, Epix will be able to shop its movie library, including Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games," to other digital services from companies such as Amazon.com and Comcast's Streampix, the story points out.

Netflix could also pay up and continue its exclusive pact, which gives it movies 90 days after their release in the DVD window and about eight months after their theatrical release, the story adds.

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'Saturday Night Live' Ratings Rise With 'Modern Family' Star Hosting

With one of the stars of "Modern Family" as the host, NBC's "Saturday Night Live" saw a boost to its ratings last week as it returned from a month's hiatus, reports Deadline.com.

The Sofia Vergara-hosted episode drew a 5.0/13 household rating and share in metered markets, representing a 16% bump from the show's most recent original, which aired almost a month ago, the story notes.

The program was one of the highest-rated "Saturday Night Live" episodes this season, although Vergara couldn't match the show hosted by Lindsay Lohan, which drew a 5.5/14 rating and share, the piece notes.

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Current TV Countersues in Dispute With Keith Olbermann

Current TV filed a countersuit against Keith Olbermann, decrying the fired anchor's $70 million lawsuit as allegedly "riddled with falsehoods and distortions," reports EW.com's Inside TV blog.

“Current seeks a determination that it is no longer obligated to pay Mr. Olbermann who, having already been paid handsomely for showing up sporadically and utterly failing to keep his end of the bargain, now seeks to be paid tens of millions more for not working at all,” according to the complaint.

Current also accuses Olbermann in the complaint of breaking confidentiality by disclosing terms of his contract with the media, failing to promote the network on other Current shows and taking unauthorized days off, the story notes.

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Fox Yanks Long-Running Show From Prime-Time Slots, Cuts Back on Episode Order

Fox is pulling a long-running show from prime time for most of the remainder of 2012, and plans to cut its episodic commitment to the program, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

In place of the long-running real-life crime show “COPS,” Fox will air Fox Sports programming most Saturday nights through early December, the story says. The summer schedule will feature baseball; fall will include college football; and a mix of NASCAR and UFC matches will air the rest of the year, the story notes.

Fox insists it's not canceling "COPS," which has aired on the network since 1989. Instead, the network says it's merely cutting back on its order, although a network representative couldn't say how many episodes will be produced in the future, the piece adds.

"What's clear, however, is that Fox won't be airing ‘COPS’ as anything close to a weekly series for most of the remainder of 2012: Only nine Saturdays this year won't feature Fox Sports programming, and those nine weeks are split in batches of three weeks over three months in July, August and December," Adalian writes.

"Fox has been remaking its Saturday night lineup in slow-motion over the last few years. First, it cut back on 'America's Most Wanted,' killing the show as a weekly series and instead ordering quarterly specials," he writes. "The 'COPS' cutback is the latest phase of the evolution, and it comes despite the fact that the show does solid ratings for Saturdays and costs next-to-nothing to produce."

But the viewers of "COPS" "aren't particularly appealing to advertisers, so Fox doesn't make much coin off of the show," the story adds.

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Lindsay Lohan Denies Participating in Nightclub Brawl

Less than two weeks after coming off probation, actress Lindsay Lohan is already being accused of the kind of antics that got her in trouble in the first place. TMZ.com reports that an incident report filed with the Sheriff’s Department in West Hollywood accuses Lohan of starting a fight with a nightclub patron last week.

The woman filing the report claimed Lohan got into an altercation with her Thursday night after the woman showed interest in a male friend of Lohan’s, TMZ reports. The first denial came from Lohan’s rep, Steve Honig, who told the publication: "Lindsay was absolutely not involved in any sort of altercation whatsoever. This is clearly another case of someone looking for money and 15 minutes of fame."

Other sources subsequently said Lohan wasn’t even out that night, the publication reports. Meanwhile, the alleged victim reportedly claimed she had visible bruises and injured her back.

TMZ reports: “According to our sources, Lindsay claims she didn't even leave the house that night. We're told Lindsay stayed home and watched TV that night -- she's currently catching up on the Showtime series ‘Homeland.’"

Lohan’s five years of probation formally ended March 29, as previously reported.

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Study: 20-Somethings Switch Media About 27 Times Per Hour

It's an advertiser's nightmare: A new study finds that consumers in their 20s switch media venues about 27 times per non-working hour, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

That's the equivalent of more than 13 switches during a standard half-hour television show, Steinberg points out.

The study, from Time Warner's Time Inc. and conducted by Boston's Innerscope Research, only had 30 participants, the story notes. Nevertheless, it "offers at least directional insight into a generation that always has a smartphone at arm's length and flips from a big TV set to a smaller tablet screen and back again at a moment's notice," Steinberg writes.

The study was split between "digital natives" in their 20s and "digital immigrants," or people who grew up with non-digital technology such as radio and print, the story says.

Immigrants switched media venues only 17 times per non-working hour, the study found. That means that 20-somethings switch media venues about 35% more than immigrants, the piece points out.

"Though hardly definitive, the research paints a worrisome picture for marketers in a world where consumers turn from screen to screen in search of something that captures and retains their attention, yet often cannot find it," Steinberg writes.

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Colleagues Remember '60 Minutes' Icon Mike Wallace, Dead at 93

Mike Wallace, the "60 Minutes" newsman known for his tough interviews, had died, reports CBSNews.com. He was 93.

Wallace died peacefully while surrounded by family members at Waveny Care Center in New Canaan, Conn., where he had lived for the past few years, according to the story.

"Without him and his iconic style, there probably wouldn't be a '60 Minutes,'” said CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager.

Wallace's death comes within five months of the death of another iconic "60 Minutes" figure, Andy Rooney, points out David Bauder of the Associated Press. Rooney, a commentator known for his cantankerous outlook, died last November at 92 years old, as previously reported.

"60 Minutes" will air an extended tribute to Wallace next Sunday, the piece says.

Wallace's reputation was such that the phrase "Mike Wallace is here to see you" ranked among the most dreaded words a newsmaker might hear, Bauder notes.

"Wallace didn't just interview people. He interrogated them. He cross-examined them. Sometimes he eviscerated them pitilessly. His weapons were many: thorough research, a cocked eyebrow, a skeptical "Come on" and a question so direct it took your breath away," Bauder writes.

Wallace enjoyed his reputation, according to Fager. "He loved that part of Mike Wallace. He loved being Mike Wallace. He loved the fact that if he showed up for an interview, it made people nervous," Fager said.

The newsman pioneered "ambush interviews," with a camera crew helping to corner alleged wrongdoers wherever he might pressure them into a comment, the piece notes.

When "60 Minutes" founding executive producer Don Hewitt put together the initial staff of the show in 1968, Wallace was part of the program.

While the show wasn't an immediate hit, the program entered the top 10 in the 1977-78 season and stayed, the piece points out. It's still television's most popular newsmagazine.

Wallace's broadcast career started in 1939 as a jack-of-all-trades at a Michigan radio station, according to Bloomberg. He found his calling in 1956 when he joined "Night Beat," an interview program at a local New York TV station, the story reports. In 1963, when he was 44, Wallace joined CBS News, and five years later Hewitt invited him to join "60 Minutes."

In Hewitt's 2001 memoir, he described Wallace as “a tiger, the kind of journalist who comes along once in a lifetime, and he hasn’t lost a step along the way," the story notes.

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'Keeping Up with the Kardashians' Gears Up for New Season -- Its First Since Kim's Failed Marriage

The reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" will premiere its seventh season on E! on Sunday, May 20, with Kim Kardashian marking her return since her marriage to Kris Humphries fell apart during the last season of "Kourtney & Kim Take New York," according to The Hollywood Reporter's the Live Feed blog.

The 18-episode season will show Kim as she grows closer to her family after her failed marriage and the media hoopla that surrounded it, the story notes. The season will also find Kris Jenner's husband Bruce Jenner confessing that he feels taken for granted, the piece adds.

The new reality show "Mrs. Eastwood & Company," featuring Clint Eastwood's wife, Dina, and his daughters, will premiere the same night, leading out from “Kardashians” at 10 p.m., the story notes.

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NBC's Entire Thursday Lineup Sinks to Season Lows; Soft Premiere for ABC's New Shonda Rhimes Drama

ABC's new drama from "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes premiered to mediocre ratings Thursday night, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. “Scandal” pulled in a 2.1 average rating in the 18-49 demo, finishing second in its 10 p.m. time period to CBS’s “The Mentalist” (2.4).

That was still better than the results for NBC, which saw season lows for its prime-time lineup, including “Community” (down four-tenths to a 1.3 average in 18-49), “30 Rock” (down three-tenths to a 1.2), “Up All Night” (down two-tenths to a 1.1) and “Awake” (down one-tenth to a 0.9).

CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” was down too, but still led all shows with a 4.2 average in 18-49, while “American Idol” plunged six-tenths of a ratings point to a 3.8 average, still good enough to help Fox eke out a narrow win for prime time.

Fox finished with a 3.0 average rating for the night in the 18-49 demo, ahead of CBS (2.9), ABC (2.1), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.1). CBS won total viewers with 12.3 million, followed by Fox (10.6 million), ABC (7.6 million), Univision (3.6 million) and NBC (2.7 million).

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Former Nickelodeon Star Arrested

A former Nickelodeon star who has appeared in a series of teen-oriented feature films was reportedly arrested early today on suspicion of driving under the influence.

People.com reports that Amanda Bynes, who was featured in TV shows "All That" and "The Amanda Show," was arrested at 3 a.m. in West Hollywood after she reportedly sideswiped a police car while trying to drive past it.

Bynes also starred in the TV show “What I Like About You” and in features including “What a Girl Wants” and “She’s the Man.”

According to a police statement, "There was minor paint transfer damage to both vehicles. Amanda Bynes was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence and booked at West Hollywood Sheriff's Station."

According to media reports, Bynes was released late Friday morning after posting $5,000 bail.

Bynes celebrated her 26th birthday April 3.

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Clear Winner in Round Four of Katie Couric vs. NBC's 'Today'

On day four of the closely watched battle for morning ratings between the reigning champ, NBC’s “Today,” and the contender, ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Katie Couric sitting in all week, the champ claimed a clear victory.

“Today” won both total viewers and adults 25-54, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This was after “GMA” took a win in total viewers Wednesday morning, as previously reported.

Thursday’s fast nationals had “Today” on top with 5.073 million total viewers to “GMA’s” 4.638 million. “Today” won the 25-54 demo 2.091 million to 1.863 million.

Couric, who co-hosted “Today” with Matt Lauer for almost 10 years, is filling in this week for “GMA’s” Robin Roberts. News surfaced today that Lauer has signed a multiyear agreement to remain on the NBC morning show, as we reported earlier.

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'Glee' Creator Goes 'Dirty Dancing'

Brad Falchuk, the co-creator of Fox's "Glee," will write the script for a new version of the Patrick Swayze-Jennifer Grey feature hit "Dirty Dancing," reports New York Magazine, citing a report in Variety.

The choreographer for the original film, Kenny Ortega, will helm the new project, a musical that will include songs from the original movie, 1960s hits and new numbers.

Falchuk is also co-creator and executive producer of FX's "American Horror Story."

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Two 'Real Housewives' Stars Get Their Own Spinoffs

Bravo has announced that two of the "Real Housewives," one from the Atlanta edition of the show and the other from Beverly Hills, will be spun off into their own reality programs, reports the AP.

Kandi Burruss, a successful musician and one of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," will head up "The Kandi Factory." Bravo launched the concept as a special in March, showing Burruss working with aspiring musicians who seek out her expertise to help them get into the business.

Lisa Vanderpump of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" will star in a reality show about her new Hollywood restaurant, SUR. The inner workings of the eatery will be the focus.

Both housewives will also continue working on their original series.

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NBC Ends Speculation About Departure of Matt Lauer From 'Today'

Putting an end to speculation about whether “Today” co-host Matt Lauer is preparing to exit the NBC morning show, the network’s news division has signed a multiyear contract with Lauer to keep him on the show, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder blog.

Lauer has signed a "long-term deal," according to Steve Capus, the president of NBC News. "Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team,” Capus said.

Speculation about Lauer’s future had included the suggestion that he might join Katie Couric, who’s now at ABC, in a syndicated talk show.

Financial terms weren't disclosed, but Capus said speculation about how much Lauer might be offered was "complete silliness," the story notes. Last August TV Guide magazine reported that Lauer's salary was $17 million a year.

Signing Lauer to an extension has brought some relief to NBC News, Capus added. The show is at a critical juncture as the rival morning program "Good Morning America" is closing the ratings gap. "Today" has the longest ratings winning streak in TV history, with more than 16 years holding the top spot, the piece points out.

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TV News Pioneer Dies

One of the pioneers of television news, who was well-known in the New York market and was especially active in bringing attention to African-American issues, has died after a long illness, ABClocal.com reports. Gil Noble was 80.

Noble produced and hosted WABC-TV's public affairs program "Like It Is," which premiered in the midst of the nation's racial turmoil in the 1960s, the story says.

"'Like It Is' created the largest body of programs and documentaries on African-Americans in the country," the story notes. "Noble dedicated long hours of research and investigation to ensure a consistently high quality for the program."

Born in Harlem in 1932, Noble joined WABC-TV as a reporter in 1967, and was named its Saturday and Sunday night anchor in January 1968. He interviewed national and international figures, including President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, along with entertainment icons Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne, the piece notes.

His career ended in July 2011, when he suffered a stroke, the piece adds. Noble earned more than 650 community awards, seven Emmys, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists and five honorary doctorates, according to the story.

gil-noble2.jpgGil Noble

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Arsenio Hall's Obscenity-Laced Outburst

One usually associates Arsenio Hall with outbursts of comedic gems, not anger.

So it was a surprise to many viewers when he delivered an angry rant recenlty on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice" -- see video clip below.

And now one of  the participants on "Apprentice” is dishing about the  heavily publicized outburst -- saying it was even worse than what made it to the air, TMZ.com reports.

Lisa Lampanelli told a radio call-in show that the unaired portions of the rant included Hall using the C-word against contestant Aubrey O’Day and saying “I will something something all over your face.” Lampanelli described the outburst as violent and said she was shaken up by the incident.

The on-air portion includes a rant by Hall against O’Day in which he repeatedly says “F**k her!”

Here’s a clip of Hall’s on-air rant ...

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Report: 'Seasoned' NBC Producer Responsible for Trayvon Martin 911 Call Editing

A "seasoned" NBC producer was responsible for the editing of a misleading clip of a 911 call that gave the impression shooter George Zimmerman was engaging in racial profiling, reports Reuters.

An internal NBC News probe into the incident interviewed more than half a dozen employees, the story notes. There's no indication whether any disciplinary actions will be taken against the producer or other staff who were involved, the piece adds.

The producer's actions weren't deliberate, but were described as a "very bad mistake," according to the article. NBC News declined to comment and said it wouldn't release the names of the employees involved.

As previously reported, NBC apologized for the incident. In the original report, Zimmerman was heard to say, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black."

The actual call included this exchange:

Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about."

911 Operator: "OK. And this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?"

Zimmerman: "He looks black."

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Keith Olbermann, Saying Current TV Is More Like a 'Cable-Access Show' Than a 'Legitimate Network,' Sues Current for Up to $70 Million. Calls Former U.S. Veep -- and Current Co-Founder -- Al Gore an Amateur 'Portraying an Entertainment Industry Executive'

A lawsuit seeking $50 million to $70 million has been filed against Current TV on behalf of Olbermann Broadcasting Empire and Keith Olbermann, according to a number of media reports. Olbermann was fired from Current TV last week. The suit was filed in Los Angeles at the California Superior Court yesterday, April 5, 2012.

The Hollywood Reporter has published a copy of the lawsuit, which we urge you to read. It makes for compelling reading about what happened behind the scenes, from Olbermann’s point of view.

According to the lawsuit, “After being enticed to leave MSNBC and come to Current with promises of editorial control, freedom form corporate influence, and the professional support to produce a high-caliber political commentary show of the type his viewers have come to expect, Keith Olbermann was disheartened to discover Al Gore, Joel Hyatt, and the management of Current are no more than dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives.”

What's actually most interesting in that paragraph is that it may be the first public acknowledgement that Olbermann was proactively urged to leave MSNBC by Current TV.

Later on the lawsuit says, “When assessing the Program’s 33rd Street studio in an Oct. 5, 2011, e-mail to Olbermann, Current President David Bohrman admitted ‘the 33rd St. facility is never going to be a professional facility. We need to move to HD, and a better location.’ He further admitted in that same e-mail, ‘We are paying for a Porsche and getting a Yugo.’ Bohrman’s e-mail then thanked Olbermann for his patience and acknowledged that Olbermann had ‘more patience that [sic] I would have had.’ Olbermann thought he had made a deal with a legitimate network and instead got an unprofessional cable-access show."

According to a report in The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog on this story, Current TV’s response to Olbermann’s suit was this dig: “It is well established that over his professional career Mr. Olbermann has specialized in pounding the table. We hope Mr. Olbermann understands that when it comes to the legal process, he is actually required to show up."

As reported previously by TVWeek, Olbermann talked about his dispute with Current TV, including founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, during an appearance this week on "Late Show with David Letterman," in which he satirically took the blame for his problems with the cable channel. Video highlights of that appearance can be seen by clicking here.

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After Reporting Satirical Article as News, MSNBC Issues a Correction

After reporting a satirical article published on the comedy section of The Huffington Post as news, MSNBC's Thomas Roberts issued a correction, reports TVNewser.com.

The satirical article said that Apple and Microsoft organized a joint press conference urging the National Organization for Marriage to boycott them, as the group is doing with Starbucks, the story notes.

The article quoted fabricated representatives for Apple and Microsoft, with one from the latter saying, "So what gives? … What about us? We’ve even got a rainbow in our logo. Boycott us, National Organization for Marriage! Now!”

Roberts said on his morning program on Thursday, "Upon closer inspection, at the end of the article it says it was satirical. We take issues of equality very seriously, not as satire. It was my error," according to the piece.

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In Unusual Cross-Network Move, Series Shifts to Cooking Channel From Planet Green

In an unusual move between cable networks, a series will shift to the Cooking Channel from Planet Green later this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

The show is "The Fabulous Beekman Boys." The Cooking Channel will re-air the show's first two seasons with additional footage, the story notes.

The move comes as Planet Green will be rebranded as Destination America by parent Discovery Communications, as previously reported.

The reality series stars former Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Vice President Brent Ridge and ex-drag queen and current ad executive Josh Kilmer-Purcell as they operate a farm.

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Oprah Targets 2014 as Point When OWN Will 'Reach the Summit'

Oprah Winfrey talked about the difficult launch of her OWN cable network during Thursday’s Discovery Communications upfront presentation, vowing that the channel will reach the summit in 2014, Advertising Age reports.

Winfrey thanked advertisers for sticking with the channel, credited restructuring with putting OWN in a better postion to move forward, and touted the network’s lineup of new prime-time series, which we reported earlier this week.

Winfrey invoked a mountain-climbing analogy, saying: “With our restructuring and right-sizing, and really getting into the sauce of what needs to happen every day when you're building a channel, I feel like I can at least now see the summit. [We are] nowhere near the summit, but I can see the summit."

David Zaslav, president of OWN partner Discovery Communications, pointed to OWN’s momentum, saying he’s pleased with the network’s growth despite “what you hear in the press.”

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NBC Taps Mark Burnett, Dick Wolf to Develop Celebrity Military Competition Show

NBC has drafted "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf and reality producer Mark Burnett to create an unscripted competition show that will benefit the military, according to The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed blog.

Called "Stars Earn Stripes," the show will pit celebrities against each other as they compete in challenges performed by special forces such as Navy SEALs and Green Berets, the piece says.

The project is a departure for Wolf, who is known for his scripted programs, as NBC appears to be looking toward the "Law & Order" veteran to help revive its ratings, the story points out.

Nine celebrities from film, music and sports will train at a secret military facility, preparing for a weekly challenge.

"I think this is a unique opportunity to pay tribute to our troops and first responders who put their lives on the line every day," Wolf said, according to the story.

The stars will compete for cash prizes, with the money going to a military charity that they'll pick, the piece adds.

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20th TV Signs Two-Year Deal With 'House' Executive Producers

20th Century Fox TV has signed a two-year pact with "House" executive producers Garrett Lerner and Russel Friend, reports Deadline.com.

Under the pact, the pair will develop new shows while also working on existing programs, the piece notes.

The deal marks their return to 20th TV, where they had previously worked on shows including "Roswell" and "Boston Public" before shifting to NBCUniversal, the producer of "House," the story says.

"They’re very versatile, strong writers who spent a great deal of time focusing on writing and producing one of the best shows on television,” said 20th TV Chairman Dana Walden, who noted she had pursued the pair after their NBCUniversal deal was up the first time. The pair ended up re-signing with NBCUniversal because of "House," the story says.

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'NYPD Blue's' Jimmy Smits to Spend a Season as a Gang Member

Jimmy Smits, who was a New York police detective on “NYPD Blue” in the 1990s and a lawyer on “L.A. Law” in the 1980s, will spend a season as a gang member on FX's biker drama "Sons of Anarchy," reports TheWrap.com.

His character, Neron "Nero" Padilla, will mentor the newly installed SAMCRO president Jackson "Jax" Teller, the story notes.

The casting comes after Smits starred in the canceled NBC series "Outlaw," in which he played a Supreme Court justice who becomes a private attorney, the story says. The fifth season of "Sons of Anarchy" will debut in September.

jimmy-smits.jpgJimmy Smits

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'CSI' Co-Showrunner Inks New Pact With CBS TV Studios

An executive producer and co-showrunner of “CSI” has inked a new three-year overall deal with CBS TV Studios, Deadline.com reports.

Don McGill’s new agreement has him staying on with the hit drama show, which is produced by CBS TV Studios. The series has been renewed for a 13th season, the report notes.

McGill and executive producer Carol Mendelsohn are co-showrunners on the series, which has seen Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue installed as the new leads in recent seasons.

McGill was a writer on “JAG” and co-created the “JAG” spinoff “NCIS.”

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On Fifth-Place NBC, One Sitcom Premieres With a Whimper as Another One Goes Out With a Thud

On a Wednesday night when NBC found itself in the increasingly common position of fifth place in the ratings, the network’s newest sitcom premiered to mediocre numbers while another NBC comedy wrapped up its difficult freshman run with some of its worst totals yet.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the Peacock’s new show “Best Friends Forever” pulled in a modest 1.2 average rating in viewers 18-49 in Nielsen overnights for its series premiere at 8:30, even with a lead-in from “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” in its time period premiere (1.8 average).

Meanwhile, NBC’s “Bent” wrapped up its six-episode season, which aired over a three-week span, with two episodes in the 9 p.m. hour, and continued its downward trend with a 0.9 average rating in 18-49 for the opener and a 0.7 for the season finale. The numbers have been trending down throughout the run, with a 1.0 and 0.8 in week one and a 0.9 and 0.8 last week.

Things didn’t get any better for NBC by the time “Rock Center” came on at 10 p.m., with the newsmagazine settling for a 0.8 in 18-49.

For prime time as a whole, NBC found itself in fifth place again, in both the 18-49 demo and total viewers. Fox, paced by “American Idol,” won the night handily in both categories, taking viewers 18-49 with a 4.7 average rating, ahead of CBS (2.8 average), Univision (1.5), mostly repeat ABC (1.3) and all-new NBC (1.0).

Fox averaged 16.7 million total viewers for prime time, topping CBS (11.1 million), ABC (3.8 million), Univision (3.7 million) and NBC (3.6 million).

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Viacom Wins Reversal in Landmark YouTube Case

Google’s YouTube suffered a key defeat in court Thursday when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a landmark June 2010 lower court ruling that had gone in YouTube’s favor, Reuters reports.

The decision revived lawsuits brought by Viacom Inc. and other media companies concerning YouTube’s use of copyrighted videos without permission.

Said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law: "It's hard to characterize this as anything other than a loss for Google, and potentially a significant one. It has given new life to a case that Google thought was dead."

Reuters reports: “The $1 billion lawsuit filed by Viacom in 2007 to stop the posting of clips from ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,’ ‘South Park,’ ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and other programs addressed a crucial issue for media companies: how to win Internet viewers without ceding control of TV shows, movies and music.”

The Viacom suit is viewed as a test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, “a 1998 federal law making it illegal to produce technology to circumvent anti-piracy measures, and limiting liability of online service providers for copyright infringement by users,” Reuters reports.

The story adds: “In his June 2010 ruling, U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan said YouTube could not be liable simply for having a ‘general awareness’ that videos might be posted illegally, and that it need not monitor for such activity.

“But writing for a two-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit, Judge Jose Cabranes concluded that ‘a reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website.’"

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CBS Comedy Finds Quick Replacement After Bryan Greenberg's Departure

The sudden exit of Bryan Greenberg as the male lead in CBS’s untitled Greg Malins/Greg Berlanti comedy project, which we reported earlier today, turned into an opportunity for an actor whose NBC sitcom appears to be doomed.

Deadline.com reports that David Walton of “Bent,” which wrapped up its short and low-rated freshman season on NBC last night, has taken over the CBS role. He will star in the pilot opposite JoAnna Garcia.

Technically, Walton’s CBS gig is listed as a guest appearance, the story notes, and is in second position to his job on “Bent.”

The untitled CBS project is also known as “Oh F**k It’s You,” the story notes.

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'GMA' vs. 'Today' in Closely Watched Ratings Fight -- Did ABC's Couric Finally Beat Her Old NBC Show?

In the high-stakes battle for morning ratings supremacy between NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” a crack finally appeared Wednesday in the NBC show’s armor. “GMA,” with former “Today” star Katie Couric as guest host, beat “Today” in total viewers, Deadline.com reports.

While Ryan Seacrest was on "Today" announcing he will be part of NBC’s upcoming summer Olympic coverage, "Good Morning America" won the ratings battle thanks to day three of Couric guest-hosting for Robin Roberts. "GMA" had 5.236 million total viewers, to "Today's" 5.149 million, the story reports.

However, in the 25-54 demographic, "Today" beat "GMA" with 2.25 million viewers to 1.93 million.

“GMA” is trying to unseat “Today” as No. 1 in the morning daypart for the week after a historic run for the NBC show. As reported previously, “Today” has come out on top for more than 16 years -- the longest winning streak in TV history.

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Three New Cast Members Announced for 'Real Housewives of New York'

Three new cast members have been added to Bravo's "The Real Housewives of New York City," filling out the lineup after the departures of Cindy Barshop, Alex McCord, Jill Zarin and Kelly Bensimon, US Magazine reports.

The new cast members are Aviva Drescher, Carole Radziwill and Heather Thomson. The three new women were officially announced Wednesday, although they had all been rumored for months to be in line for the cast.

They will join a cast that still includes Sonja Morgan, Ramona Singer and LuAnn de Lesseps.

Carole Radziwill is connected to the Kennedys by marriage. She's the widow of the late Prince Anthony Radziwill, the only son of Lee Radziwill, who was Jackie Kennedy's sister.

Aviva Drescher is married to comedian Fran Drescher's ("The Nanny") cousin Reid Drescher. Heather Thomson is the fashion designer behind the Yummie Tummie shapewear line.

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'Linsanity' Pitched as Documentary

The frenzy over Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks, dubbed "Linsanity" by the media around the world, is the subject of a documentary film being pitched in Hollywood, reports the Los Angeles Times.

CAA is shopping a sample reel that chronicles the Harvard grad's unexpected impact as he made the transition from bench player to starting point guard for the legendary NBA team. Evan Jackson Leong is directing the project.

Lin, an ESPN favorite, is already the star of a bunch of YouTube videos, but the point guard’s regular season ended recently due to an injury and surgery to his knee.

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Odd Details in Final Autopsy Report of Whitney Houston's Death, Which Was Ruled an Accidental Drowning: She Was Found Face Down in the Bathtub, in Scalding Hot Water

A new autopsy report on singer Whitney Houston provided the most detailed account yet of how she died and of signs of drug abuse, Reuters reports.

According to the article, the autopsy report says Houston was found face down in the bathtub in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The story notes, "Whitney Houston drowned in a hot bathtub in a Beverly Hills hotel room with cocaine in her system and white powder nearby, a final coroner's report revealed on Wednesday. Detectives found white powdery substances, a rolled-up piece of paper, a small spoon and a mirror in the bathroom shortly after Houston's naked body was found face down in the bathtub on February 11, the 40-page Los Angeles County coroner's report said."

The article continues, "Detectives said she was found in about 12 inches of extremely hot water, which was determined to be 93 Fahrenheit (34 Celsius) some six hours after her death."

Another account of the autopsy report, by the Associated Press, says, "The water was so hot it scalded part of her body."

The AP story continues, "The dozen prescription drug bottles found in Houston’s suite of the Beverly Hilton Hotel led investigators to initially suspect she died of an overdose, but after further examination and toxicology results they concluded she drowned accidentally. Heart disease, which caused a 60 percent blockage in one of her arteries, and cocaine use were listed as contributing factors.

"Toxicology results also showed Houston had marijuana, Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril, and the allergy medication Benadryl in her system, but none are considered factors in her death. ... An investigator noted a hole in the singer’s nose, listed under 'history of substance abuse.' ”

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Report: Three Popular 'Saturday Night Live' Cast Members Are Poised to Leave the Show

Three mainstays of the current "Saturday Night Live" lineup may be leaving the long-running NBC late-night comedy show, USMagazine.com reports.

Cast members Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg and Jason Sudeikis may be poised to move on, following the career paths of other recent alums including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the story reports.

However, a representative for Wiig and Sudeikis refuted the report and added that decisions won't be made until the season is over, according to the story.

Nevertheless, the timing for a career move may be right for Wiig, who had a hit with the film "Bridesmaids," while Sudeikis is working on the film "Relanxious," in which he plays an agoraphobic searching for love, the story notes.

As previously reported, Wiig's contract with "SNL" expires at the end of the current season, and with her future up in the air, the show has added a new female cast member, Kate McKinnon.

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Star of 'CSI: NY' Injured in Car Accident

The star of "CSI: NY" was injured in a car accident Friday and has been canceling his public appearances, reports the Associated Press.

Gary Sinise was scheduled to perform with his band at a weekend fundraising event in Virginia and next week in Palm Desert, Calif., but has rescheduled the Virginia performance by the Lt. Dan Band and canceled the Palm Desert concert, the story says.

The extent of his injuries was not reported, the story notes.

"CSI: NY" has finished its production for the current season and the show won't be affected by Sinise’s injuries, the piece adds.

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Male Lead Exits CBS Comedy Project After Table Read

The untitled CBS Greg Malins/Greg Berlanti comedy project has lost its male lead, Deadline.com reports. Set to play the part of Nick was Bryan Greenberg, who is now out of the project, the story reports.

It was decided after a table read Wednesday morning that Greenberg, who was recently seen in HBO’s “How to Make It in America,” didn't quite fit the role, the story says.

"How to Make it in America," a single-camera comedy, was a darker show, the story notes. The role of Nick is now being recast.

The CBS show tracks Nick, a womanizer, as he realizes that his best friend, Wendy, is actually "the one," even though she's engaged to a man Nick likes and their previous attempt at dating was a disaster, the story says. JoAnna Garcia plays the female lead.

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Why Burger King Pulled New Mary J. Blige Ad

A controversy has been raging over a Burger King commercial featuring Mary J. Blige, which drew criticism after surfacing on the Internet and appearing briefly on local television stations, Advertising Age reports.

The singer issued a statement Wednesday in response to the criticism, indicating Burger King had released an unfinished version of the spot.

Ad Age reported: “The ad for the marketer's new Crispy Chicken Snack Wraps ... drew complaints across the Internet, with some saying it was not worthy of a star of Ms. Blige's stature and others suggesting it fed stereotypes relating to African-Americans and fried chicken.”

In her statement Wednesday, Blige said: "I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that's not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you're a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw to go out."

The ad was initially posted on Burger King’s YouTube channel, but was pulled earlier this week. Burger King attributed the move to a “music-licensing issue” -- an explanation that some observers questioned.

Burger King later offered a different explanation, telling Ad Age via email that "the spot released did not include a dream sequence that was shot during the production" and adding, "We are in the process of re-editing the spot to reflect the original concept."

Burger King also said it "would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final."

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When It Rains, It Pours: Report Says Current TV In Danger of Losing 12 Million of the 60 Million Homes It's In

Current TV, which is facing a possible lawsuit by recently fired host Keith Olbermann, now has another problem on its hands. Reuters reports that Time Warner Cable is close to kicking Current off its systems for failing to meet a minimum level of viewership.

Reuters reports: “According to three sources with knowledge of the situation, Time Warner Cable Inc's carriage agreement with Current TV stipulates that, if the left-leaning political news network fails to meet a minimum threshold for overall viewers in a given quarter, financial penalties such as Current TV being required to increase marketing and promotion spending on the cable operator's systems are triggered.

“If Current TV misses the audience benchmark in two consecutive quarters, another clause is triggered that would allow Time Warner Cable to drop the channel. The condition was built into the most recent distribution pact between the two parties, which was signed in 2010.”

The article says that Time Warner Cable has Current TV in about 12 million of its subscribers' homes. Current TV is in about 60 million homes total, the story says.

One of its sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: "Time Warner Cable has been flirting with the idea of pulling Current off its systems for some time now."

The article also reports, "A representative for Current TV said: 'We are fully in compliance with our Time Warner Cable contract and all indications show that even with Keith leaving we will continue to be in compliance.' "

As previously reported, Current saw its ratings take a hit after it fired Olbermann from his “Countdown” show -- the channel’s highest-rated show -- and replaced it with a show hosted by Eliot Spitzer.

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OWN Announces Four New Original Series

Oprah Winfrey’s OWN cable network announced a lineup of new original programming, including four new prime-time series: “Elura and Michele Take Staten Island,” “Iyanla Fix My Life,” “Married to the Army: Alaska" and “Six Little McGhees.”

OWN also picked up a third season of “Oprah’s Master Class” and ordered 10 additional episodes of the family docu-series “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s.”

The network also announced that producer Barry Poznick and comedienne Kim Coles will join OWN as hosts of the upcoming game show “Are You Normal, America?”

Sheri Salata, president of OWN, said in the announcement: “We have solid momentum and are building the network with a strong mix of programs that connect and engage with our audience. The new series announced today are relevant shows with real stakes, real drama and a whole lot of heart. We look forward to sharing them with our viewers.”

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Shakeup on CW's 'Supernatural': New Showrunner Joins Drama as It Awaits Word on Renewal

With no word yet on a renewal for "Supernatural," the CW drama has tapped a new co-showrunner, Deadline.com reports.

Sera Gamble is stepping down from that role to focus on development, the story notes, and Jeremy Carver, who is co-showrunner of Syfy's "Being Human," has been tapped to fill Gamble's shoes.

Given that "Supernatural" is a strong ratings performer for the CW, it's considered likely that the show will return in the fall, the piece adds.

For Carver, the move is a return to the program, where he served as co-producer during the 2009-10 season before leaving for "Being Human," the story notes.

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A Member of Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg's Family Hopes to Find Fame and Fortune on Bravo

A family member of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is part of a slate of new programming in the works at Bravo, B&C reports.

The cable channel rolled out plans for an ambitious roster of original programs, including its first scripted original shows -- setting their premieres for 2013.

The announcement came as Bravo greenlighted 11 new unscripted series, including one called "Silicon Valley," which will star Internet entrepreneur Randi Zuckerberg, the piece notes. Zuckerberg is the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The network has two scripted shows in development: "22 Birthdays," about parents of children at an exclusive private school, and "Blowing Sunshine," about staff and patients at a private rehab center, the story notes.

Other new series include "Below Deck," about the crew of a luxury yacht, and "SUR," about the Hollywood restaurant owned by 'Real Housewives' cast member Lisa Vanderpump, the piece notes.

The network also renewed several returning series, including "Flipping Out" and "Tabatha Takes Over," the story says.

The moves are part of a 27% increase in original programming for Bravo, the report adds.

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Comedian Booked to Host Webby Awards

The Webby Awards announced who will host this year’s 16th Annual Webbys, set to take place May 21, TheWrap.com reports. The ceremony will be hosted by comedian Patton Oswalt.

Oswalt is known for roles on CBS's "The King of Queens" and Showtime's "United States of Tara," and has a Comedy Central special, "Finest Hour," set to premiere April 21. He also recently received rave reviews for his performance in the Charlize Theron feature film “Young Adult.”

In a statement, David-Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby Awards, said: "We are really excited for Patton Oswalt to bring his comedic genius to the Webbys. Patton is the rare comedian who is just as funny online as on a stage. As we push the boundaries of integrating the audience at home with the live show we think Patton is uniquely suited to be this year's Webby host."

The Webby Awards will be live-streamed on www.webbyawards.com from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on May 21 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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Tribune, DirecTV Reach Retrans Deal After Four-Day Blackout

Tribune and DirecTV reached an agreement Wednesday night over retransmission fees, ending a dispute that had blacked out Tribune programming to millions of DirecTV customers, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Twenty-three Tribune stations and WGN America returned to the satellite provider as of 9 p.m. ET, the story notes. Terms of the new five-year agreement weren't disclosed.

Tribune hadn't been receiving fees from DirecTV to carry its local stations, but had been receiving payment for WGN America, the story notes.

Tribune wanted "less than a penny per day per subscriber" from DirecTV, but talks faltered and the stations went dark for the satellite operator's customers.

The deal came on the evening before the Chicago Cubs' opening day, the piece points out. The deal meant that DirecTV customers would be able to watch the Cubs face the Washington Nationals on Thursday, while it also restored shows such as "Glee,” "American Idol" and "Gossip Girls" for viewers in local markets where Tribune owns Fox and CW affiliates.

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'Jersey Shore' Star Leaves Rehab

A star of the hit MTV reality show "Jersey Shore" has checked out of a Utah rehab facility, reports TMZ.com. As previously reported, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino entered rehab for substance abuse last month.

Sorrentino said he wanted to get control of a prescription medication problem, which he blamed on exhaustion, the story notes. He had been receiving treatment at the Cirque Lodge in Utah.

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Audience Shrinks for Song and Dance Shows

Things appear to be getting tougher for singing and dancing competitions in the broadcast ratings, with Tuesday’s Nielsen overnights providing the latest indication.

ABC’s two “Dancing With the Stars” installments were down significantly Tuesday from the previous week, TVbytheNumbers.com reports, while NBC’s “The Voice” saw a downward trend for its first Tuesday elimination show of the season. Another NBC reality show, “The Biggest Loser,” was even with last week’s season low.

This on a night when CBS seemingly left the door open by airing all repeats.

NBC and ABC wound up tied for prime time overall with average ratings of 2.2 in the key 18-49 demo, well ahead of Fox (1.6 average), Univision (1.6) and CBS (1.5). ABC won total viewers with 11.9 million to 8.9 million for CBS, 6.3 million for NBC, 3.7 million for Univision and 3.6 million for Fox.

In overnights for the 18-49 demo, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” recap show was down 0.2 rating points to a 1.8 average while the results show plummeted 0.4 points to a 2.7. NBC’s one-hour “The Voice” managed a 3.2, which was off 22% from Monday’s two-hour program. The show was off a whopping 54% from its first Monday telecast this season, but the story points out that the earlier broadcast had a bump from the big post-Super Bowl installment the previous night.

NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” remained at a season-low 2.0.

Fox failed to make any real headway, although “Raising Hope” rose a tenth of a rating point to a 1.6 average. That was countered by declines for “New Girl,” down three-tenths of a point to a season-low 2.3, and “Breaking In,” down one-tenth to a 1.3.

ABC’s “Body of Proof” held steady with a 2.0 average.

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While One Former Cast Member's Mug Shot Becomes an Internet Hit, Fox Plans 'That '70s Show' Reunion

Even as the mug shot from Lisa Robin Kelly’s recent arrest sweeps the Internet, Fox is making plans for a reunion of her former castmates on “That ‘70s Show,” EW.com reports.

As we reported previously, Kelly was arrested Saturday on a felony domestic violence charge. Click here to see what she looked like when she appeared as Laurie, the older sister of Topher Grace’s character Eric, on “That ‘70s Show.”

The EW story reports that Ashton Kutcher, who now stars on CBS’s “Two and a Half Men,” will take part in the Fox reunion along with “That ‘70s Show” alums Mila Kunis, Laura Prepon and Wilmer Valderrama. The reunion will be part of Fox’s 25th Anniversary Special, which airs April 22.

The special will also reunite cast members from “Married ... With Children,” “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “The X-Files” and other past Fox shows.

Few details have surfaced about the incident that got Kelly arrested over the weekend, although she has denied the allegation of domestic abuse and says her boyfriend is making up stories, The Miami Herald reports.

Here’s Kelly’s recent mug shot:

lisa-robin-kelly-0412-mugshot2.jpg

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Katie Couric's 'GMA' Co-Host Stint vs. Sarah Palin's Visit to 'Today': Tuesday's Showdown Has a Clear Winner

In the high-stakes morning ratings battle being waged this week between ABC and NBC, Tuesday’s second round went to NBC, the New York Daily News reports.

NBC’s “Today” averaged 5.497 million viewers Tuesday morning to 5.141 million for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the story reports.

That makes NBC’s “Today” show two-for-two against ABC’s “GMA” with this week’s high-profile guest host, Katie Couric. As we reported previously, “Today” maintained its edge on Monday, 5.1 million to 4.8 million. Both shows improved on those numbers Tuesday.

“GMA” has three days of Couric left this week if it hopes to break “Today’s” unprecedented 850-week streak at No. 1. NBC seems determined to do whatever it takes to keep that streak alive, including arranging to have Sarah Palin sit in for Tuesday’s show.

In the most recent full week of ratings, "GMA" trailed today by only 137,000 viewers -- the closest margin in five years, the story notes.

Couric is filling in all this week for vacationing Robin Roberts. On the NBC side, the network followed Palin's Tuesday appearance with another big gun this morning, "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest. Wednesday's viewer numbers will be available tomorrow.

Couric is a former regular on NBC's "Today."

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NBC Schedules Two-Hour Finale for Freshman Drama -- Even as Show Appears to Be Fighting for Its Life

NBC is rolling out plans to wrap up a new drama’s freshman season with a two-hour finale to air during May sweeps, TVLine.com reports.

The show is “Awake,” which has been a snoozer in the ratings -- with recent figures giving the impression that its chances for renewal might be slim.

As we reported previously, the fantasy crime drama managed only a 1.2 average rating in the key 18-49 demo on March 22, down 25% from its previous week. “Awake” slipped even further last week, notching a series-low 1.0 in the overnights, as NBC continues to struggle mightily on Thursday nights.

Undaunted, the network appears poised to pull out all the stops for a big-bang finale.

Said series star Jason Isaacs: “When people get to the end of the season, you’ll realize you’ve been holding your breath for a few weeks. The last few [episodes] are just firing on all cylinders.”

The series’ plot has Isaacs’ character, Michael, living two lives -- one when he's asleep and the other when he's awake.

The finale will air Thursday, May 17, from 9-11 p.m. ET.

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Veteran Correspondent Exits ABC News

A veteran TV news correspondent has left ABC News and may be headed for a rival broadcast network, reports TVNewser.com.

Andrea Canning parted ways with ABC last week, the story reports. No one has officially said where she is headed, but one source indicated she’s bound for NBC and is likely to surface on “Dateline.”

Canning joined ABC in 2004 as the Washington correspondent for ABC News' affiliate service NewsOne.

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Jersey-Based Reality Show Gets a Chicago-Based Spinoff

A cable reality show based in New Jersey is getting a spinoff, with the new show to be based in Chicago, Deadline.com reports.

The Style Network has greenlighted “Chicagolicious,” a spinoff of its successful “Jerseylicious” series, which is set in a New Jersey beauty salon. "Chicagolicious" will premiere June 3, following an episode of "Jerseylicious."

Style has ordered 10 episodes of “Chicagolicious” from producer Endemol USA.

"Chicagolicious" is set in AJ's of Chicago, run by AJ Johnson. Among Johnson's clients are Jennifer Hudson, Iman and Angela Bassett.

This is Style’s second spinoff from "Jerseylicious," following "Glam Fairy."

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Ryan Seacrest Reveals What He Will Be Doing on NBC

After weeks of rumors that Ryan Seacrest would be replacing Matt Lauer as host of NBC’s “Today” show, Seacrest sat down with Lauer on the show this morning and revealed what he really will be doing.

The “American Idol” host said he’s not after the “Today” job, but he will be a part of NBC’s Summer Olympics coverage, The Washington Post reports.

Seacrest said the Olympics work will be the first of “a lot of fun things” he will do at NBC, the story notes.

Lauer’s contract expires soon, but Seacrest said he sees Lauer remaining at “Today” for some time -- and Lauer didn’t argue, The Post reports.

The report adds: “Seacrest’s NBC duties add to a crowded schedule that includes hosting Fox’s ‘American Idol’ and heading a production company that furnishes programming to NBC’s sister network E!, where Seacrest co-hosts ‘E! News.’”

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Peabody Winners Announced -- Honorees Include Series on HBO, Showtime and NBC, Along With a Syndication Staple. We Have the Complete List of Winners

The 71st Annual Peabody Awards were announced today by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, and among the 38 honorees were series on HBO, Showtime and NBC along with one of the big shows in syndication.

That last program is "Jeopardy!," honored for "encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge," according to the Peabodys announcement.

The NBC series honored is "Parks and Recreation." From Showtime, "Homeland" received a Peabody, and the two HBO series honored are "Games of Thrones" and "Treme."

To see the complete list of winners, including those from PBS, news organizations and local TV stations, please click here.

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HBO Drama Surges, Ranks as Most-Watched Scripted Show on Cable Last Week

HBO enjoyed a big season premiere for its latest hit drama series on Sunday, The New York Times reports in its Media Decoder blog.

"Game of Thrones" returned for its second season, drawing 3.9 million viewers and ranking as the most-watched scripted show on cable television last week, the story reports.

The audience for the season premiere represented a 74% jump from the show's first-season debut, which drew 2.2 million viewers, the story points out.

By comparison, AMC's "Mad Men," which aired at 10 p.m. Sunday, drew 2.9 million viewers for the season’s second episode, the story notes.

Including all three airings Sunday night, the HBO drama attracted 6.3 million viewers.

"Game of Thrones" is growing its audience through word of mouth and readers who continue to buy the novels on which the TV series is based, the piece points out.

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'Community' Creator Apologizes in Nasty Clash With Chevy Chase

"Community" creator Dan Harmon posted an apology on his blog for making the "horrible, childish, self-obsessed, unaware, naive and unprofessional decision to play someone’s voicemail to me," reports Deadline.com.

That voicemail was from "Community" co-star Chevy Chase, who was upset with Harmon for reportedly encouraging the show's crew to join him in telling Chase "fuck you" at a wrap party, as previously reported.

"I was airing my dirty laundry for a chuckle. I ask people at those shows repeatedly to please think twice about youtubing clips of it because it doesn’t play well outside the back of a comic book store," Harmon wrote, according to Deadline.com.

Addressing the criticism that he's received for playing the voicemail, Harmon wrote, "I’m explaining that you’re right, I’m a bonehead, and it sucks, it blows up in my face on a regular basis." He added, "Thirty people a day calling me an asshole makes me know and feel, in my heart, that I am an asshole. I’m a real ‘customer is always right’ kind of guy in that regard."

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World's Largest Consumer Products Company Bans Netflix

The world's largest consumer products company has blocked access to video-streaming site Netflix and the music-streaming site Pandora on company computers.

Procter & Gamble wanted to find out why its computers were running slowly, and discovered that the culprit was online videos and music streaming, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. As a result, P&G took "a first step" by blocking access to Netflix and Pandora, the article notes, citing an internal memo acquired by the publication.

The demand for videos, music and other entertainment had grown so large that it had exceeded P&G's capacity, “requiring immediate intervention,” according to the memo.

Nevertheless, P&G hasn't banned YouTube or Facebook, which the company uses for marketing its brands and for internal and external communications.

Videos, music and photos from sites including Netflix, Pandora and YouTube had been taking up a quarter of P&G's bandwidth, the memo noted.

Bandwidth spikes came during major sports events, such as the World Cup, which suggested employees were watching ESPN.com on company time, the story says.

P&G isn't alone in instituting entertainment bans on employees, with GE Aviation blocking sites such as Facebook and YouTube, the story points out.

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NBC Apologizes for Trayvon Martin Report

NBC has apologized for a report in the Trayvon Martin shooting death, reports TheWrap.com. Specifically, the network apologized for its editing of a 911 call from the shooter, George Zimmerman, the story reports.

"During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret," NBC said in a statement. "We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers."

As previously reported, a "Today" show report included an edited version of the 911 call placed by Zimmerman on the night he killed Florida teen Martin. The editing made it sound as if Zimmerman was using racial profiling.

In the report, Zimmerman was heard to say, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black."

The actual call included this exchange:

Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about."

911 Operator: "OK. And this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?"

Zimmerman: "He looks black."

The "Today" segment aired March 27 and has come under fire from critics who say it inflamed racial tensions.

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Yahoo to Cut 2,000 Jobs

Yahoo announced Wednesday that it plans to cut 2,000 jobs -- 14% of its staff -- as the company moves to cut costs and refocus its priorities, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The layoffs were expected, the story notes.

Said Yahoo’s recently named CEO Scott Thompson: "Today's actions are an important next step toward a bold, new Yahoo -- smaller, nimbler, more profitable and better equipped to innovate as fast as our customers and our industry require. We are intensifying our efforts on our core businesses and redeploying resources to our most urgent priorities.”

The company expects to save about $375 million annually as a result of the moves, the story reports.

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Video: Olbermann Takes the Blame, Sort Of, in His Beef With Current TV

Keith Olbermann took at least part of the blame for his problems with Current TV in an appearance Tuesday night on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

“I screwed up,” said the recently fired Current host. “I didn’t think the whole thing through. ... It is my fault.”

Olbermann said he was never a good fit with the cable network. However, he stood firm on plans to sue Current TV.

Here’s a video with some of the highlights of his “Letterman” appearance:

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Planet Green Changes Its Colors as Discovery Rebrands the Channel

Discovery Communications has announced that it will rebrand its Planet Green cable channel, Deadline.com reports. Starting May 28, the channel will be called Destination America.

Discovery said Planet Green “will turn red, white and blue.”

“Destination America will be the first network to celebrate the people, places, and stories of the United States, emblazoned with the grit and tenacity, honesty and work ethic, humor and adventurousness that characterize our nation,” the company announced. “The inclusive network, targeting Adults 25-54, will be available in 59.5 million homes and feature original series covering such diverse subjects as American food from Tex Mex to barbeque; American mysteries from Jesse James’ lost fortune to Area 51; America’s heroes from those who embody the values of our past to those who invent the technology of our future; as well as never-before-seen footage of America’s iconic landmarks, including Yellowstone National Park and the Everglade swamps.”

Said Henry Schleiff, president and general manager of Destination America: “Americans may be divided by politics, but we are united by our love of country. As a network inclusive to all, Destination America will celebrate this connective spirit by curating the common ground among us: the pluck of the worn saddle, the promise of exploring new territory, and the diversity that has made this nation great.”

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CBS Comedy Project Casts Lead

The second of two lead roles has been cast in a new CBS comedy project, Deadline.com reports. Getting the role in the pilot “Friend Me” is "Super Bad" co-star Christopher Mintz-Plasse, the story reports.

The role marks the actor's first major television role, the story notes.

The project focuses on Evan, played by Mintz-Plasse, and Rob, played by Nicholas Braun, who move from Indiana to Los Angeles to start working at Groupon, the story notes.

Mintz-Plasse's previous TV credit was a guest role on "Party Down," the Starz comedy, the story adds.

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New Show to Transplant Five Amish People to NYC

A new reality show will take five Amish people and transplant them in New York City, reports the New York Post. Called "Breaking Amish," the TLC show will "allow them the opportunity to go out and experience a lifestyle that’s completely different from theirs," according to TLC General Manager Amy Winter.

The show will start taping in early May in Pennsylvania and Ohio, with the series scheduled to debut later this year. The participants will move into Manhattan hotels and start to mix with the "English," the term the Amish use for outsiders, the piece adds.

Some of the participants have expressed the wish to pursue the career dreams they've held, and some may look for apartments as well as start dressing "English," Winter said, according to the article.

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Time Warner Cable CEO Sees Compensation Reduced

Time Warner Cable’s chief executive saw his compensation reduced last year, reports Deadline.com. Glenn Britt’s compensation fell 5.7% as he lost about $1 million in non-equity incentives, the story reports.

Otherwise, Britt's compensation was steady compared with 2010, the story notes, citing Time Warner Cable's proxy statement. Britt earned $1.3 million in salary, $3.2 million in stock awards, $4.2 million in option awards, $7.2 million in non-equity incentives and various other compensation, such as $339,779 for use of the company's aircraft, the story notes.

His total $16.4 million compensation was nearly four times higher than the average for other top Time Warner Cable executives, the piece points out. "Corporate governance watchdogs usually consider that to be lopsided, and a red flag for investors," the article notes.

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Katie Couric vs. NBC, Round One: Numbers Are In for Monday's 'GMA' Appearance

Former “Today” co-host Katie Couric is going head-to-head with her old show this week in a closely watched ratings showdown that has high stakes for NBC and ABC. The numbers are in for her first day as guest co-host on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and Couric fell short in Monday’s ratings, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Couric’s “GMA” telecast pulled in 4.8 million viewers, shy of the 5.1 million for NBC’s “Today.”

The gap may get even wider when numbers surface tomorrow for Tuesday morning’s showdown, when NBC pulled out all the stops by booking Sarah Palin as a guest host.

Couric, who is preparing to roll out her own ABC talk show later this year, will have a few more chances to help “GMA” -- she’s booked to remain on the morning show all week.

As we reported previously, “Today’s” long winning streak in the morning daypart is the stuff of TV history. But many observers were predicting a big bump for “GMA” -- possibly to No. 1 -- with Couric sitting in this week.

The Times report notes: "’GMA’ has toiled as No. 2 to ‘Today’ for nearly 17 years, but lately it's been closing the ratings gap. ‘Today,’ meanwhile, is on the verge of reshuffling its talent deck, with co-host Ann Curry rumored to be headed for the exits and a possible role for ‘American Idol's’ Ryan Seacrest, with whom NBC is wrapping up a major deal.”

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Letterman's New Deal With CBS Has Him on Track to Beat Carson's Record; Late-Night Host Books Caustic Olbermann for Tonight's Show

David Letterman’s new deal with CBS will keep him on the air long enough to beat the record set by his idol, Johnny Carson.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Letterman signed to keep his “Late Show” going through 2014. Craig Ferguson, host of CBS’s Letterman-owned lead-out “Late Late Show,” also signed to stay on through 2014.

Letterman is on track to beat Johnny Carson’s record of consecutively hosting a late-night talk show for 30 years, the story notes. Letterman is getting close to that mark already, having set up shop in late-night in 1982 with his NBC show “Late Night,” following a brief early foray into daytime talk.

Tonight’s edition of “Late Show with David Letterman” is getting a lot of attention because of the booking of Keith Olbermann, fresh off a rancorous stint on Current TV. As we reported previously, Olbermann got the boot from Current late last week.

Known for being caustic, Olbermann has had plenty to say about his former bosses at Current, including co-founder Al Gore, in the days since his ouster from the network. Olbermann has also threatened legal action against Current TV.

Commenting on the new contracts, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said: “David Letterman is a late-night legend with an iconic show and Craig Ferguson continues to evolve the genre in exciting and innovative ways. These new agreements deliver ongoing high-quality entertainment for our audience and continued strength and stability for CBS in late-night.”

Letterman’s show has been averaging 3.3 million viewers thus far this season, trailing Jay Leno’s 3.7 million on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” EW notes. Both shows have pulled in 0.9 ratings in viewers 18-49.

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Even With 'Coronation' of Heavy Favorite Kentucky, NCAA Title Game Scores Higher Ratings

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament favorite Kentucky won the title that was generally expected, beating Kansas 67-59 Monday night, but CBS was also a winner, with ratings rising from last year’s event.

Monday’s broadcast earned an average fast national household rating/share of 12.3/19, up 5% from last year’s 11.7/18 for Connecticut’s win over Butler, the network reported.

This year’s 12.3/19 is the second-best rating for the championship game in seven years, trailing only a 14.2/23 for Duke-Butler in 2010.

The network reported: “The National Championship game on CBS averaged 20.9 million viewers (Per 2+), up 4% from last year’s 20.1 million. This year’s 20.9 million was the second-highest viewer average for the Championship game in seven years (2005, 2010 – 23.9 million; UNC-Illinois, Duke-Butler).”

The network also noted: “Coverage across the four networks of TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV averaged a HH rating/share of 6.1/13 compared to last year’s 6.4/14 and 2010’s 6.0/13 according to Nielsen Fast Nationals. This year’s tournament averaged 9.6 million viewers compared to 10.2 million last year and 9.5 million in 2010.”

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It's Getting to Be a Habit: TV Fixture Will Reprise Role as Host of Tony Awards

By now it’s almost expected, but the Tony Awards announced who will be hosting this year’s installment of the annual awards ceremony, and once again it’s Neil Patrick Harris, Deadline.com reports.

This will be the third time hosting the awards for Harris, a two-time Emmy winner best known as Barney on CBS's sitcom "How I Met Your Mother." He also hosted in 2009 and 2011.

CBS will present the 66th Annual Tony Awards from the Beacon Theater in New York on June 10, at 8 p.m. ET.

Harris has been a regular on TV and the big screen since he debuted as Doogie Howser in Steven Bochco’s series “Doogie Howser, M.D.” in 1989. His Tony-hosting gigs have been well-received, showcasing his range of comedic and musical talents.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this year’s Tony Awards,” said Harris. “Not only will I be shining a spotlight on the best that Broadway has to offer, but hopefully I’ll score some free house seats to a show -- or five!”

Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment will return as executive producers. Weiss will also serve as director for the 13th consecutive year.

Here’s a clip of Harris’ opening number from the 2011 Tonys ...

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Robert Redford to Revisit Watergate With New TV Doc

Actor-director Robert Redford will revisit the Watergate scandal, the subject of his 1976 film "All The President's Men," with a retrospective documentary from his new company Sundance Productions, reports Deadline.com.

The two-hour documentary, "All The President’s Men Revisited," will be broadcast on Discovery Channel worldwide. The project marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark conspiracy that took down the administration of President Richard M. Nixon.

Redford, who played Bob Woodward in “All the President’s Men” opposite Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein, will narrate the documentary. The 1976 feature film was directed by Alan J. Pakula.

In a statement, Redford said: “Unique and artful stories have always been a passion of mine, and I am proud to announce Sundance Productions’ desire to address critical stories across a multitude of relevant platforms."

Redford’s new Sundance Productions shingle, which focuses on television and multimedia, is a complement to his feature-oriented company Wildwood.

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The Late Miss Ellie Will Be Part of New 'Dallas'

Even though the actress who created the role of J.R. and Bobby Ewing's mother, Miss Ellie, in CBS's "Dallas" is no longer around, she will be a big part of the new TNT reboot, reports TV Guide.

Barbara Bel Geddes, who played Ellie, died in 2005. But Patrick Duffy, who plays Bobby, said: "Barbara is a big piece of our history, and it's important to me to honor her. To come back with Linda Gray as Sue Ellen and Larry [Hagman] in his J.R. hat, and then see the words ELLIE SOUTHWORTH EWING FARLOW on the gravestone made me think, 'Oh, that's right -- she's gone.' It was hard to get through the dialogue."

Also to be remembered is the late Jim Davis, who played the Ewing patriarch, Jock. Production designer Richard Berg painted a portrait of Jock and Miss Ellie, which will be prominently displayed in the Ewing home.

Said Duffy: "That painting is actually alive and gives me a nice feeling that they're always there. Through the whole first season, I don't think an episode goes by that Mama is not mentioned in reference to Southfork and the land."

barbara-bel-geddes-jim-davis.jpgBarbara Bel Geddes and Jim Davis

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Fox Sports Analyst Campaigning to Become First Black 'Bachelor' -- See His Audition Video for Yourself

A sports analyst working for Fox is lobbying to become the first black "Bachelor," reports the New York Post. Fox Sports Northwest college basketball analyst Lamar Hurd posted a 10-minute audition video clip as part of a grass-roots campaign to join the ABC dating show, the story says.

The video has been gaining traction on YouTube, and “Bachelor” fans have begun promoting him as a candidate for the show.

The interest in Hurd’s campaign landed him a meeting, and he talked with network representatives this week, the story notes. If he's picked, he will be the first African-American to star on the show, which has drawn criticism for being too white, the piece says.

Here is a look at his audition video ...

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'SNL' Alum's Movie Makes History -- and Not a Good Kind -- by Sweeping the Razzies

In a first for the Razzie Awards, one movie swept every category, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The first movie to pull off that dubious achievement is “Jack and Jill,” Adam Sandler’s 2011 cross-dressing comedy.

The Razzies -- formally the Golden Raspberry Awards -- were presented on April Fool’s Day. The awards have been “honoring” the worst movies and screen performances for 32 years.

Sandler, an alumnus of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” won for both worst actor and worst actress for his performance as Jack and his twin sister Jill. The movie also was named worst film of 2011 and pulled in seven other Razzies, including worst supporting actor for Al Pacino, worst supporting actress for David Spade and worst director for Dennis Dugan.

Sandler and Dugan were also acknowledged for their collaboration on “Just Go With It.”

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Comedy Legend to Be Honored With Johnny Carson Award

A legendary comedian will be honored at the second annual Comedy Awards with the Johnny Carson Award for Comedic Excellence, reports ComedyCentral.com.

Presenting the award to Don Rickles will be the host of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart.

In last year's inaugural award presentation, David Letterman received the Johnny Carson Award.

Rickles has been one of America's top comedians since he emerged in the 1960s as the ultimate insult comic. The Carson Award figures to be especially significant for Rickles because he was a frequent visitor to "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," first appearing on the show in 1965. He went on to appear on the show more than 100 times, and also guest-hosted on a number of occasions.

Comedy Central will broadcast the Comedy Awards Sunday, May 6, at 9 p.m. ET.

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Apple Co-Founder Wozniak Offers His Take on Choice of Ashton Kutcher to Play Steve Jobs

After reports surfaced this week that Ashton Kutcher will play the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the upcoming indie film “Jobs,” one of Apple’s other co-founders offered his opinion on the casting, TMZ.com reports.

According to Steve Wozniak, the selection of Kutcher is right on target. "The fear that many might have is that Ashton was selected because he's 'hot' right now,” Wozniak told TMZ. “But I feel that his selection was done in the most professional manner. And I'm glad that he's onboard. I think he'll put a lot into it and that he cares about this particular subject."

The movie is set to start filming next month.

Wozniak also said it’s too bad Jobs isn’t around to help out with the film. “His opinions and guidance as to the story and film crew and cast would have been invaluable,” Wozniak said.

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AMC Has Cause for Concern as Drama's New Season Premieres to Low Numbers

The future of an AMC drama series took a hit when the show’s audience numbers dropped off for the premiere of its second season, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

The initial broadcast of the two-hour premiere of "The Killing" drew 1.8 million viewers, a 20% decline from the 2.3 million people who watched the show's first-season finale, the piece points out.

AMC has reason to be concerned about the ratings, Adalian writes. "First, cable shows almost always start off with big premiere ratings before trending downward in the following weeks, bouncing back when the finale rolls around," Adalian notes.

"This likely means 'The Killing' will take a dip over the next few weeks, resulting in year-to-year declines by the time season two wraps," he writes. "[W]hile it's too soon to declare a final verdict on 'The Killing's’ ratings, the odds of the show getting a third season just decreased dramatically."

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Mitt Romney's Son Lashes Out at 'Mad Men'

AMC’s "Mad Men" has come under fire from Mitt Romney's son Tagg, who took offense to a line in the show that called his late grandfather a "clown," reports TheWrap.com.

The "Mad Men" episode shows Betty's new husband, Henry Francis, turning down a request that his boss, the mayor of New York, appear with Michigan Gov. George Romney. The reason given by Francis is that "Romney's a clown and I don't want him standing next to him," the story says.

Tagg Romney responded via Twitter, writing, "Seriously, lib media mocking my dead grandpa?" and added, "George Romney was as good a man I've ever known. Inspirational leader, worked for civil rights, promoted freedom. We need more like him," the story says.

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'Two and a Half Men' Co-Creator Under Fire for Comments on Female-Focused Comedies

The co-creator of CBS’s hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" is under fire from some in the television industry after making the suggestion that there are too many comedies focused on women protagonists, reports The New York Times' ArtsBeat.

Lee Aronsohn, appearing at a screenwriting conference, said, "Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods," according to the article. He added: “We’re approaching peak vagina on television, the point of labia saturation," the piece adds.

He was rebuked by performers including Martha Plimpton, a co-star of the Fox comedy series "Raising Hope," who wrote on Twitter, "Um, Lee, women are 51% of the population & a coveted demographic for advertisers. What are you thinking?”

She added, "“The rise of female writers and performers in television is a result of demand. So we’re taking our place at the creative table.”

Other rebukes came from Lizz Winstead, a creator of "The Daily Show," and Nancy Franklin, the former television critic for the New Yorker, the story says.

Aronsohn responded on Twitter by writing, "Women, please look up ‘irony.’” He noted he has “made a career out of” jokes about male anatomy even as he was “complaining about vaginas. See what I did there?," according to the story.

The post is no longer on his Twitter page, the story adds.

Aronsohn and Chuck Lorre are the co-creators of “Two and a Half Men.”

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Fox Orders New Reality Show From Producer of 'American Idol' and 'X Factor'

Fox has ordered a new reality show from the producer of "American Idol" and "The X Factor," reports EW.com's Inside TV. A host for the dating show, "Take Me Out," hasn't yet been announced, the story reports.

The program, which is based on a U.K. format, is produced by FremantleMedia North America. The dating show introduces a man to 30 women, who take the initiative in the early rounds, keeping a light on if they're interested. The women who aren't interested move on to vie for another bachelor.

The show is set to premiere on Fox June 7. Jeff Apploff is the executive producer.

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'Saturday Night Live' Alum Joins ABC Project

A veteran cast member of NBC’s "Saturday Night Live" has been cast in a new ABC comedy project, reports Deadline.com. Horatio Sanz joins the untitled Kari Lizer pilot, the story reports.

The project stars Mary McCormack as an executive who becomes unemployed and decides to work as a full-time mom to her teenagers, the story notes. Sanz will play a neighbor who is a stay-at-home dad to twin 2-year-old girls, the story notes.

The Chilean-born Sanz appeared on “SNL” from 1998-2006. More recently he has performed on Comedy Central’s “Big Lake” along with fellow “SNL” alum Chris Parnell.

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Time Warner Chief Takes a Pay Cut -- but He Still Makes More Than the Company's Next Three Executives Combined

The CEO of media giant Time Warner took a pay cut in 2011, even as the company’s shares rose 12%, Bloomberg reports.

Jeff Bewkes’ compensation package dipped 1.5%, the story reports. Bewkes, 59, received $25.9 million last year, including a $13.5 million bonus and a $2 million salary, the story notes. The remainder of his compensation was from stock awards and benefits.

The package puts Bewkes at “the bottom of the pack among CEOs of Big Media companies that have already released proxy statements for 2011,” Deadline.com reports. But he still made more than the next three Time Warner executives combined and almost as much as the next four combined -- with his compensation 3.9 times their average compensation, the Deadline story notes.

“Corporate governance watchdogs consider it troublesome when a CEO makes more than three times the average for the company’s other top officers,” Deadline notes.

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Court Show Renewed for Two More Seasons

A syndicated court show has been renewed for two additional seasons, reports B&C. Entertainment Studios announced the renewal for "America's Court with Judge Ross."

The show will appear in 95% of the U.S. television market for a third and fourth season, the piece notes. Stations owned by groups including Gannett, Belo, Sinclair and Tribune, along with CBS O&O’s, will air the show, the story notes.

Said Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios: "Judge Ross is an extraordinary talent, and this show is simply unstoppable. ‘America's Court with Judge Ross’ continues to grow rapidly as the audience discovers this very entertaining show."

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Despite All the Hype, Analyst Explains Why Apple TV Set Will NOT Be a Game Changer

It would be a stretch to call Apple's eagerly anticipated new television set a game changer, according to a new analysis by Barclays Equity Research, reports Deadline.com.

The product will likely be introduced as early as 2013 and could capture as much as 5% of the TV set market, the story says. The device will blend the Internet and TV programming with Apple features such as Siri voice controls and an iSight camera and microphone, the piece adds.

"Apple’s eventual television could be so much more than a TV -- including gaming, video communication, content delivery, apps, computing and all the capabilities of the current Apple TV -- that it is really not fair to compare it to products already on the market,” according to the report.

The report notes that Apple won't revolutionize TV because there's so much at stake for content providers to keep the current system intact, with bundling for cable companies, for instance, the story says.

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Miss Universe May Allow Transgender Woman to Compete

The Miss Universe Organization said it's considering reversing an earlier decision and may allow a transgender woman to enter the group's Canada pageant, reports the Associated Press.

The contest, which is owned by Donald Trump, had disqualified Jenna Talackova, 23, last month because the rules say entrants need to be "naturally born" females, the story notes. Four years ago, Talackova underwent a sex change.

The shift comes after Talackova hired high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, the piece points out. The Miss Universe Organization now says she can compete "provided she meets the legal gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions."

Allred said she and Talackova would go ahead with a planned news conference in Los Angeles today, the piece adds. An attorney in Vancouver who serves on Talackova's legal team said the Miss Universe statement on Canadian legal gender recognition requirements is "incomprehensible," the story notes.

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James Murdoch Resigns as Chairman of BSkyB

James Murdoch, the son of News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch, has resigned as chairman of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB, CNN reports.

The move comes after James Murdoch has become increasingly mired in News Corp.’s U.K. phone-hacking scandal. CNN reports: “He has been hammered by accusations that News Corp.'s British Sunday tabloid the News of the World systematically eavesdropped illegally on crime victims, politicians, celebrities and veterans in search of stories.”

The paper was shut down last summer because of the scandal, but James Murdoch has denied knowledge of widespread phone hacking by the publication.

In his resignation, he said: "I am determined that the interests of BSkyB should not be undermined by matters outside the scope of this company."

The report adds: “He made clear he was trying to shield the satellite broadcaster from fallout from the newspaper scandal, saying: ‘I believe that my resignation will help to ensure that there is no false conflation with events at a separate organization.’"

He will remain as a non-executive director of BSkyB, the report notes.

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Current TV Sees Huge Ratings Drop After Olbermann Departure

Current TV saw a big drop in ratings when it replaced Keith Olbermann with Eliot Spitzer, after Olbermann had been fired by the network, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Spitzer, who hosted "Viewpoint" in a Friday debut, drew only 47,000 viewers, with just 10,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic, the story notes. That represents a 74% drop from Olbermann's March average in the 8 p.m. hour, the piece says.

As previously reported, Olbermann was fired from Current TV last week, allegedly after he made finicky demands and failed to promote the network. Current is citing breach of contract, sabotage and disparagement, THR reports.

Olbermann is set to appear tonight on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” to discuss his departure from Current, the story notes.

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'That '70s Show' Star Arrested on Felony Charge

One of the former stars of “That ‘70s Show” was arrested over the weekend on a felony charge, TMZ.com reports. Actress Lisa Robin Kelly, best known as Laurie, the older sister of Topher Grace’s character Eric, was arrested on a charge of corporal injury on a spouse -- a felony, the story reports.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department picked her up at 12:50 a.m. Saturday. She was being held on $50,000 bail, but details on the charge were unclear.

Kelly has a history of problems with the law, including pleading guilty to a DUI in North Carolina in 2010.

Laurie was a love interest of Ashton Kutcher's character at one point on the show.

lisarobinkelly.jpgLisa Robin Kelly

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Oprah Admits to '101 Mistakes' in Launching OWN; Watch the Video

Oprah Winfrey talked Monday about problems in getting her cable network OWN off the ground, saying she made “101 mistakes” in the process, Reuters reports.

Winfrey told “CBS This Morning” she was poorly prepared for the January 2011 launch. The channel has been plagued by low ratings, high costs and management turnover, with 30 employees recently being laid off. However, as reported earlier today, OWN has just signed a distribution deal with Comcast that will expand the network’s reach.

Appearing on the CBS show co-hosted by Winfrey’s longtime friend Gayle King, Winfrey said: "The idea of creating a network was something that I'd wanted to do; had I'd known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else."

Winfrey added: "I did not think it was going to be easy ... but if I knew then what I know now I might have made some different choices. I would say if I was writing a book about it, I could call the book '101 mistakes.'"

One of her biggest mistakes, she said, was launching before she was ready. She said she should have waited until after she wrapped up “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which ended its 25-year run in May 2011.

Winfrey added that she warned Discovery Communications, her partner in the venture, that "the thing that I am most worried about is who is going to lead this train, because I can't do it."

Here's a video clip of Winfrey's appearance on "CBS This Morning":

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Charlie Sheen's Dad Will Be Played by ... His Dad

In FX's upcoming Charlie Sheen situation comedy "Anger Management," the role of Charlie Goodson's dad will be played by Martin Sheen, Charlie's real-life father, reports AccessHollywood.com.

Charlie Sheen appeared on the entertainment program and explained, “As the show’s developed, we’re discovering who my family is as I discuss them. We’re going to find out this guy does have major issues with his pop and when that character does finally show up, it will be my dad.”

The former "Two and a Half Men" star described his new character, an anger-management therapist, saying, “Charlie Goodson -- he is an ex-ballplayer who had his own anger [issues during] his career and so he went back to school to become a therapist. But he’s a guy that’s [had a] bit of a percolation underneath the surface."

"Anger Management" premieres on FX on June 28.

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James Bond Abandons His 'Shaken, Not Stirred' Martinis for a Beer -- and One Brewery Is Paying to Ensure He Picks Its Brand

In the upcoming 007 movie "Skyfall," in at least one scene, James Bond will pass on drinking a vodka martini -- shaken, not stirred -- to have a Heineken instead, reports Advertising Age.

Heineken USA has a deal with the Bond franchise to promote the brand, which will include an appearance by the brand in the upcoming Sam Mendes movie. The product tie-in will also include Daniel Craig appearing in a Heineken ad.

This is the biggest use of product integration in the firm's 15-year alliance with the 007 franchise. Said Lesya Lysyj, CMO of Heineken USA, "[Bond] is the perfect fit for us. …[He's] the epitome of the man of the world."

Heineken is also launching campaigns for its Newcastle Brown Ale and Amstel Light brands, and is introducing a Mexican brand, Indio, in the U.S., the story notes.

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British Actress Cast as Marilyn, the 'Normal' Munster

For NBC’s “Mockingbird Lane,” a reboot of "The Munsters," creator Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies") has cast the role of the one normal family member, Marilyn Munster, giving the part to British actress Charity Wakefield, reports Deadline.com.

The role was originated in the 1960s sitcom by Beverly Owen before Pat Priest took over the part.

In Fuller's version of the story, Marilyn is a college student who clashes with Grandpa (Eddie Izzard) but has a good relationship with Uncle Herman, Aunt Lily and cousin Eddie. The latter three roles are still to be cast.

Wakefield is best known for starring in the BBC miniseries "Sense and Sensibility," which was broadcast on PBS.

charity-wakefield.jpgCharity Wakefield

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Katz TV Group Announces Key Promotion

Katz Television Group, which is expanding its multiplatform efforts, announced a key promotion today. The company upped Chris Jordan to executive vice president of Continental Television Sales.

The company announced: “In his new role, he will oversee Continental TV’s day-to-day operations for all stations and offices. Jordan is the former Senior Vice President of the Continental TV.”

Said Leo MacCourtney, president of Katz Television Group: “Chris brings invaluable insight of today’s media landscape to this elevated role, as well as a natural disposition for inspiring Continental TV’s talented sales force.”

Added Craig Broitman, co-President of Katz Television Group: “Chris has built an incredible reputation for integrity and dedication among our clients and customers, and we are thrilled to have him as part of our leadership team as we move forward.”

In its announcement, the company noted: “The Katz Television Group is expanding its scope as part of a collaborative effort to advance creativity and the latest technological offerings to take advantage of modern multiplatform television. Broitman and MacCourtney were recently named Co-Presidents of Katz Television Group and together will lead the company into a new era of strategic development.”

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Geraldo Rivera Faces Trayvon Martin's Parents After Drawing Fire for Hoodie Comment

Geraldo Rivera had Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina and Tracy, on his Sunday Fox News show, and formally apologized to them for his comments about Trayvon looking too "gangsta" because he was wearing a hoodie the night he was killed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

On air, Rivera said: "What I was trying to do was caution parents allowing kids to wear hoodies or similar clothing in certain circumstances, particularly if they were minority young men could be dangerous. But I never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings and certainly Sybrina and Tracy, I never intended to hurt your feelings. I want to personally convey my deepest apologies to both of you. I am sorry, Tracy, if anything I said added to your misery.”

Trayvon's father responded by accepting the apology, but also said: "Let me just add one thing with the wearing of the hood. I don’t think America knows that, in fact, at the time of the incident when he initially made the call, it was raining. So Trayvon had every right to have on his hood. He was protecting himself from the rain. So if being a suspicious, walking in the rain with your hoodie on is a crime, then I guess the world is doing something wrong.”

As reported previously, Rivera’s recent comments drew criticism in the controversial case. You can see a video with his original comments here.

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'Today' Report on Trayvon Martin Under Investigation After Accusation That Edited 911 Call Gave False Impression of Racial Profiling

A "Today" show report that included an edited version of the 911 call placed by George Zimmerman on the night he killed Florida teen Trayvon Martin is being investigated by NBC News, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The edited call gave the impression that Zimmerman was using racial profiling, the story notes. "We have launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story," a "Today" representative said.

The report included a segment from the call in which viewers heard Zimmerman say, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black," the story says.

In the actual call, Zimmerman said, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about."

The 911 operator asked, "OK. And this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?"

Zimmerman responded, "He looks black," according to the story.

Fox News host Sean Hannity criticized the "Today" segment as inflaming racial tensions in a controversial case, the piece adds.

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Chevy Chase Storms Off the Set, Leaves Profanity-Laced Voicemail in Feud With 'Community' Creator (Listen to the Voicemail)

A feud has erupted between "Community" creator Dan Harmon and actor Chevy Chase, who plays Pierce Hawthorne, after Harmon allegedly gave a "fuck you, Chevy" speech during a wrap party, reports Nellie Andreeva at Deadline.com.

Harmon reportedly encouraged the crew to join him in telling Chase "fuck you," prompting Chase to leave immediately -- before filming one of his scenes, the story notes. Chase later reportedly left a profanity-filled voice message, which can be heard here. (The message was played in front of other people, who can be heard laughing in the recording).

Chase had a reputation for being difficult before he joined the NBC comedy, the story says, and there has been tension previously between Chase and Harmon, given their passionate personalities.

"It is unclear at the moment what impact the falling-out between Harmon and Chase would have on 'Community' and whether Chase would continue on the show," Andreeva writes. "The producers’ attention right now is focused on securing a fourth-season renewal for the offbeat comedy, which appears more and more likely."

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Report Details Why Olbermann Got the Boot From Current; Olbermann Vows to Sue the Network

Keith Olbermann's ouster from Current TV came after he allegedly made finicky demands and failed to promote the network, reports the New York Post.

Olbermann, for his part, released a statement saying he plans to sue Current, reports the New York Daily News.

In the statement, Olbermann writes, "It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current's statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently."

As we reported previously, Olbermann’s show has been replaced with “Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer.”

Olbermann's firing came after a number of clashes, including several over the use of car services, the New York Post notes. Olbermann reportedly complained about drivers, and also refused to fill out vouchers to pay for the service, the piece adds.

He also refused to use the $250,000 set created by Current TV for his show, then complained about the plain black background he chose to use, and also failed to promote the network, the story says.

Olbermann reportedly took vacation days on important news days, and didn't show up on days before several important primary elections, the piece adds.

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Popular iPhone Game to Become TV Show

A popular mobile game is slated to become a television show later this year, reports the New York Post. The game is "Angry Birds."

The animated program will consist of 52 episodes running two and a half to three minutes each, the piece adds. The show will air on TV as well as on mobile devices including iPhones and iPads.

Said Nick Dorra, head of animation for game developer Rovio: “We’re looking at building a video app for that, and we’re also looking at partnerships and so on. We want to be on all screens.”

The story doesn't say which network will air the show.

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Oprah Winfrey's OWN Finally Gets Some Good News

Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network has struggled with poor ratings, management turnover and high costs, but the channel now has something to celebrate.

OWN signed a new distribution deal with Comcast, giving Winfrey's fledgling network a boost in the number of homes that can watch it, reports The Wall Street Journal. (Please note that The WSJ is behind a pay wall and not all readers may be able to access the story.)

With the deal, 17 million Comcast customers will be able to watch OWN, compared with 14 million currently, the story notes. The deal brings the total number of homes with access to OWN to 83 million, up from 80 million.

Comcast will also start paying subscriber fees for OWN at the start of next year, while currently it carries the network without paying the dues. The new deal is "good news for OWN" given the channel's difficulties, the piece adds.

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'Today' Books High-Profile Co-Host to Counter Couric's Fill-In on 'GMA'

With Katie Couric slated to fill in on ABC's "Good Morning America" this week, NBC's "Today" has tapped former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to co-host, reports CNN.com.

The pairing brings to mind Couric's infamous interviews with Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign, when Couric asked Palin which newspapers or magazines she read and Palin was unable to name a single one, the story points out.

Palin, now a paid contributor at Fox News Channel, will "reveal a different side of her than you've seen before," "Today" said, according to the piece.

As we reported previously, “Today” has a long winning streak in the morning ratings, but “GMA” has been closing the gap -- and the presence of Couric, the former “Today” co-host, could have an impact on the ratings battle.

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Report: Hard-Drinking 'The Situation' May Be on the Way Out at 'Jersey Shore'

MTV and 495 Productions are reportedly looking for new castmates to add to "Jersey Shore," with the idea of potentially phasing out Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino from the show, reports TMZ.com.

The decision to search for new cast members comes after Sorrentino entered rehab, the story says. MTV had warned him about his drinking since the show's second season, explaining that the habit was making it difficult to tape the show, the piece adds.

MTV said, "There are no plans to replace the cast of 'Jersey Shore'," the story notes.

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'30 Rock' Will Go Live Again

NBC’s “30 Rock,” which reaped big ratings when it aired its first live episode back in 2010, will try it again, the Courier-Journal reports.

The comedy will air live from New York’s Rockefeller Center on April 26, the story reports. Two live performances will take place -- one for the East Coast and then a second performance for the West Coast.

The article reports: “The storyline: When their Kabletown bosses announce they will no longer pay for ‘TGS’ to be a live show, Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) and Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) realize their lives will actually be easier if they shoot canned episodes fast and cheap. Only Kenneth the Page (Jack McBrayer) objects, saying nothing replaces the communal experience of live television.”

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Entertainment Unions Merge, Forming SAG-AFTRA

A merger between two entertainment unions became effective Friday, March 30, after members of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted to consolidate, B&C reports.

The story reports: “The combined union, SAG-AFTRA, will represent more than 150 ,000 workers in TV and radio and the Internet. The union is headed by co-presidents Ken Howard, former president of SAG, and Roberta Reardon, former president of AFTRA.”

Both unions voted overwhelmingly for the merger, with SAG members voting 82% for the merger and AFTRA members voting 86% in favor, the story says. Both figures are well above the 60% needed for approval.

The consolidation effort was partly inspired by the need to negotiate with increasingly consolidated studios and distributors, the report notes.

In a statement, Directors Guild of America President Taylor Hackford supported the move, saying: "This decision has been a long time in the making. Both guilds labored for many years to achieve this merger, believing that a single combined union would be stronger, more unified and more capable of representing the needs of its members in a changing entertainment landscape. The memberships of both guilds have made clear through their vote today that they agree."

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Whitney Houston's Daughter Lands TV Role

Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown has reportedly been cast on a TV sitcom, according to People.com. The role is a recurring part on Tyler Perry's "For Better or Worse."

Details about the role weren't available, the story says. The show is shot in Atlanta, where Bobbi Kristina lives and Perry tapes all his shows, the piece adds.

"For Better or Worse" is a family comedy based on characters in Perry's movies "Why Did I Get Married?" and "Why Did I Get Married Too?," according to the article. The second season of the show is taping now and will premiere in July on TBS.

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Tribune Pulls Stations Off the Air in 19 Markets in Contract Dispute

Tribune pulled television stations in 19 markets off the air over the weekend, including WPIX-TV in New York and WGN-TV in Chicago, reports Bloomberg.

The blackout comes as a contract between Tribune and DirecTV expired and after two months of negotiations, the story notes. Without the Tribune stations, many viewers in the markets will be unable to watch shows including "American Idol" and Major League Baseball broadcasts because Tribune owns the Fox or CW affiliates in those areas, the piece notes.

“DirecTV has never compensated Tribune for the rebroadcast of its television stations and Tribune is asking for an agreement that is similar to those that DirecTV already has in place with hundreds of other broadcasters and program providers,” Tribune said in a statement.

DirecTV said Tribune is asking for a price "that is far above market value and that's not fair to our customers," the story adds.

On Saturday, DirecTV said the two sides had reached a "handshake deal," which Tribune denied later in the day, saying the statement left them "puzzled," the piece adds.

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