May 2012

New Head of Disney Studios Brings Impressive Track Record -- Including One Unmatched TV Success

The Walt Disney Co. announced today who will be taking over as chairman of Walt Disney Studios -- an industry heavyweight with a long track record of success in feature films and at least one television credential that almost any executive would envy.

The new studio chief is Alan Horn, who steps up June 11. “Horn will oversee worldwide operations for The Walt Disney Studios including production, distribution and marketing for live-action and animated films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel, as well as marketing and distribution for DreamWorks Studios films released under the Touchstone Pictures banner. Disney’s music and theatrical divisions will also report to Horn,” the company said in a press release.

Horn was most recently president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Entertainment, where he oversaw Warners’ “theatrical and home entertainment operations, including the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Warner Premiere (direct-to-platform production), Warner Bros. Theatrical Ventures (live stage) and Warner Home Video,’ the company noted in its release. “During his 12-year tenure, Warner Bros. Studios was the global box office leader seven times.”

Horn has at least one television credit that would make almost any industry executive jealous. Before his tenure with Warner Bros. he co-founded Castle Rock Entertainment, where he oversaw what has been described as the most successful show in television history, “Seinfeld.” As chairman and CEO of Castle Rock, he also racked up a string of feature successes, including “A Few Good Men,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “City Slickers.”

Horn has also been president and COO of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and chairman and CEO of Embassy Communications.

In making the announcement, Walt Disney Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Iger said: “Alan not only has an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in the business, he has a true appreciation of movie making as both an art and a business. He’s earned the respect of the industry for driving tremendous, sustained creative and financial success, and is also known and admired for his impeccable taste and integrity. He brings all of this to his new role leading our studio group, and I truly look forward to working with him.”

Said Horn: “I’m incredibly excited about joining The Walt Disney Company, one of the most iconic and beloved entertainment companies in the world. I love the motion picture business and look forward to making a contribution as part of Bob Iger’s team working closely with the dedicated and talented group at the studio.”

Horn replaces Rich Ross, who was ousted in April, in part in response to the “John Carter” fiasco, as we reported previously.

alan-horn.jpgAlan Horn

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History's Juggernaut Miniseries Shatters Its Own Record

The third installment of the three-night “Hatfields & McCoys” miniseries on History broke its own all-time viewership record set two nights earlier. The cable channel reported that Wednesday’s finale delivered 14.3 million total viewers for its initial airing, topping the mark of 13.9 million set by Monday’s opening night.

The number is a record for ad-supported cable telecasts, excluding sports.

Demo numbers for the final installment include 6.3 million adults 25-54, 5.1 million adults 18-49, 3.5 million males 25-54 and 2.8 million males 18-49.

The three episodes rank as the top three entertainment telecasts of all time on ad-supported cable in total viewers, the channel reported.

Over the span of three nights, the miniseries averaged 13.8 million total viewers, 6 million adults 25-54 and 4.9 million adults 18-49.

History was the No. 1 network on television during prime time on May 29 in total viewers, adults 25-54 and adults 18-49, the network reported.

Additionally, the three-day period from May 28-30 was History.com’s highest-trafficked 72-hour span of all time across key metrics, with more than 1.6 million unique visitors, the network reported.

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Wednesday Ratings: Fox Is Top Dog -- Even as CBS Unleashes the Hounds

Fox ruled the roost in the Wednesday night ratings, as nothing on the other broadcast networks came close to the number for its two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance” in the Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. Meanwhile, a canine-themed series premiere on CBS pretty much rolled over.

Fox’s “Dance” pulled a 2.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, with nothing else mustering better than a 1.5 on a lackluster night for most of the networks.

Fox’s 2.6 average for prime time in 18-49 put it well ahead of CBS (1.3 average), Univision (1.2), ABC (1.2) and NBC (1.0). Things were tighter in total viewers, but Fox still won, averaging 7.0 million to 6.5 million for CBS, 3.6 million for ABC, 3.1 million for Univision and 2.7 million for NBC.

Some of the other networks didn’t even try to put up a fight. ABC aired all repeats, while NBC was saddled with a low-rated opening game in hockey’s Stanley Cup Finals. The NHL game had an initial 1.0 average rating in the 18-49 demo, with the disclaimer that the nature of the live broadcast means it may be subject to more than the standard level of adjustments. Initially, the game was down a whopping 44% from the 1.8 average for game one a year ago.

CBS didn’t have much to bark about either, airing all repeats except for the premiere of its new reality show “Dogs in the City” at 8 p.m., which follows a New York-based dog behavior expert. The premiere managed only a 1.3 average in 18-49.

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ABC News Announces New Documentary Series

ABC News has announced plans for a new documentary series from producer Terry Wrong, TVNewser.com reports. The series, “NY Med,” will focus on medical issues, as did Wrong’s previous shows ”Boston Med,” in 2010, and 2008's “Hopkins.”

The new eight-part series will be set in New York-Presbyterian Hospital and will include Dr. Mehmet Oz, best known from the syndicated "Dr. Oz Show."

“NY Med” will premiere Tuesday, July 10, at 10 p.m. ET, and will take viewers along with the surgeons and staff of the hospital as they treat patients. Dr. Oz is one of the cardiac surgeons the crew has been been following.

In a statement, Wrong said, “Medicine is a universal subject. At some point in our lives we or those we love will become patients for one reason or another. This series takes you behind the curtain to learn about those we depend on to fix us and how sometimes they just can’t.”

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Six-Year-Old Reality Star Gets Her Own Show

A 6-year-old girl who is already a TV star as part of a reality show will be the focus of her own series, Deadline.com reports. Alana, a.k.a. Honey Boo Boo, one of the kids featured in TLC’s controversial “Toddlers & Tiaras,” will be in the spotlight in a spinoff that tracks her as she continues to prepare for kiddie beauty pageants.

According to the TLC production release, the new show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” will be “an inside look into Alana’s world where the 6-year-old pageant sensation proves that she is more than just a Go-Go Juice-drinking beauty queen. When she’s not chasing after crowns, Alana’s with her family in rural Georgia doing what her family does best: four-wheeling through mud pits and picking up road kill for the family cookout.”

The network hs reportedly ordered six half-hour episodes. The program is set to premiere in August, with Authentic Entertainment producing.

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Tom Cruise to Receive Honor That Was Previously Given Only to Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra

Tom Cruise is about to enter one of the most exclusive clubs in the entertainment industry, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The actor will receive the Friars Club’s Entertainment Icon Award, which has been given out only three times before.

In the 108-year history of the organization, the award has previously been given out only to Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra. The award, according to the Friars, is an opportunity to "pay tribute to someone whose accomplishments transcend the entertainment industry by positively redefining the very culture we live in."

Jerry Lewis, a Friars Club abbot, said, "Tom Cruise will join an elite group of only three other entertainment legends who have received our Icon Award, and whose work has made a global impact on our industry and changed the face of cinema."

Joseph Zappala, Friars Foundation chairman, added, "This will be an incredible night that will live forever in our club’s history. We are so proud to be presenting this unique honor to Tom Cruise whose humanitarian endeavors mirror his accomplishments in cinema and the arts."

The award will be given out June 12 at the Waldorf-Astoria in midtown Manhattan, the story reports.

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CNN Cuts Two On-Air Personalities

CNN is letting go two on-air personalities, TVNewser.com reports. The cable news channel, which is struggling to regain ratings after losing ground to Fox News Channel and MSNBC, has cut meteorologists Reynolds Wolf and Jacqui Jeras, the story reports.

Wolf has worked at the network since 2006, while Jeras has been on board since 1999, the report notes.

"It appears as though Wolf and Jeras are the only cuts in CNN’s weather unit, but we will update if we hear more," the story notes. CNN still has Chad Myers and Rob Marciano in its weather unit, as well as additional meteorologists at CNN International and CNN en Espanol.

Wolf was one of CNN's most visible correspondents during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010, while Jeras spent 84 hours on the air covering Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the story notes.

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Kathie Lee Gifford Apologizes for Faux Pas Over Martin Short's Dead Wife

Kathie Lee Gifford apologized for a faux pas on Wednesday's "Today” show, when she asked guest Martin Short about his wife, Nancy, without realizing that she died two years ago after fighting cancer, reports the New York Post.

Gifford lauded their marriage, saying, "“He and Nancy have got one of the greatest marriages in show business," and asking, "How many years now for you guys?"

"We ... married 36 years,” Short said, apparently both startled and embarrassed for Gifford, the story says.

“But you’re still, like, in love,” she said.

“Madly in love. Madly in love,” Short replied.

Gifford asked why, to which Short replied, “Cute. I’m cute.” Gifford then asked if they still make each other laugh, to which Short replied, "Yes."

Short told her off-air that his wife was dead.

“I feel so badly,” Gifford said. “So my apologies to him and his family for not realizing that. He’s one of the greatest guys ever.”

Here's a brief clip of the interview:

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Fox News Pulls Anti-Obama Video, Denies It Was Authorized by Top Execs

Fox News has pulled an anti-Obama video from FoxNews.com and Fox Nation, after the four-minute video aired on "Fox & Friends" Wednesday morning, reports TVNewser.com.

The report drew "withering criticism," with the video appearing as a campaign attack ad -- except that it was produced and paid for by a cable news network instead of a candidate or political action committee, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The video includes sound bites, graphics and news clips set to ominous music, and drew congratulations from "Fox & Friends" hosts, who lauded Chris White, the associate producer who put together the video, according to TVNewser.com.

White might not remain with Fox News much longer -- although it's not because of the video, the story adds. He has an offer from CNN, the piece notes.

The video "was not authorized at the senior executive level of the network,” executive vice president of programming Bill Shine said. He added the incident “has been addressed with the show’s producers.”

Here’s the video ...

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'Hatfields & McCoys' Was Rejected by HBO, Showtime, TNT, TBS, USA and FX Before History Said Yes to Project. And Which Hollywood Legend Was Once Set to Play the Kevin Costner Role

The record-breaking "Hatfields & McCoys," which has been pulling huge audiences to the cable channel History, took 30 years to get to television, with the project so old that Burt Lancaster was once slated to star in the role now played by Kevin Costner, reports the New York Post. Lancaster died in 1994.

"It took me 30 years of knocking on every door,” said executive producer Leslie Greif, the CEO and founder of Thinkfactory Media. “They’d say, ‘We love you, but don’t mention “Hatfields” again.’"

Greif, who co-created and produced the series "Walker, Texas Ranger," said, "They all passed: HBO, Showtime, Starz, TNT, TBS, USA, FX," the story reports. "I had this thing set up four different times and pitched it to every [broadcast] network ... and every new regime over 30 years."

He said networks passed it over for a variety of reasons, including the belief that no one wanted to watch Westerns.

“All I heard was, ‘No one wants Westerns.’ ‘Miniseries are over.’ ‘There’s no financial model.’ ‘It will never sell overseas.’ ‘It skews too old and too male.’ Meantime, we’re killing with adults 18 to 49 and with women viewers,” Greif said. “I started pitching this when I was young and skinny and miniseries like ‘Roots,’ ‘Shogun’ and ‘The Thorn Birds’ were a staple of TV. It’s fun to be validated in my belief that this is a timeless tale.”

The miniseries has been shattering viewership records for ad-supported cable, as previously reported.

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Marc Cherry Project 'Devious Maids' May Head to Lifetime, Along With Canceled CBS Drama

Marc Cherry's dramedy pilot "Devious Maids," which was skipped over by ABC, might be heading to Lifetime, reports Deadline.com.

Talks are preliminary between Lifetime and ABC Studios, the project's producer.

The cable network has been considering several broadcast pilots that were passed over, as well as some canceled shows, including the CBS drama "Unforgettable," the story says. “Unforgettable” has also been in consideration at TNT, as previously reported.

"Devious Maids" appears to fit the direction Lifetime has been heading, which has been younger and sexier with shows such as "The Client List," the piece points out. Lifetime is the off-network home for "Desperate Housewives," also created by Cherry.

"Devious Maids" tracks four maids with their own dreams while they work for the privileged in Hollywood. "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria is one of its executive producers.

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Disney CEO Points the Finger for High Cable Rates

Walt Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger pointed the finger for high cable subscription rates, the New York Post reports. Iger said regional sports networks are the main culprits, stressing that ESPN is not to blame, the story reports.

ESPN has often been singled out as the reason consumers pay so much for cable, as the network is the most expensive on cable, the story says. ESPN charges $5.15 per household per month.

Iger, speaking at a conference sponsored by Sanford C. Bernstein, said ESPN provides services with its high rates. “If you look at the cost of those channels versus the ratings they deliver, it’s not even close [to ESPN]," Iger said.

Comcast's SportsNet Washington is the priciest regional sports network, costing $4.02 per month per home. Fox Sports North is the second most expensive at $3.68 per month.

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CBS Says It Has Already Sold More Than Half of 2013 Super Bowl Ad Inventory -- With Important Market Segment Pushing Demand

More than half of the advertising inventory for the 2013 Super Bowl broadcast has already been sold by CBS, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

The broadcast may reach sell-out levels of close to 80% in the next few weeks, the story says, citing John Bogusz, exec VP for sports sales and marketing at CBS.

"The marketplace continues to be pretty active," he said. Automobile marketers are pushing the pace of sales, despite the recent announcement by General Motors that it won't buy commercial time in the event, the story notes.

The auto category "is extremely healthy and it has been active," Bogusz said.

Other active categories include movie studios and beverage marketers.

"Recent Super Bowl ratings have been astronomical, shattering viewing records and making the event the most-watched TV broadcast each year for the past three games, spurring marketers to get on board early and networks to seek higher prices each year," Steinberg writes.

He adds: "Of course, selling the first three-quarters of Super Bowl ad spots is usually easy. It's the last 25% that's hard."

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NBC's 'Up All Night' Gets New Executive Producer

The NBC comedy "Up All Night" has tapped a new executive producer, with Universal TV signing an overall deal with comedy writer and producer DJ Nash, reports Deadline.com.

"Up All Night" was renewed for a second season with a 13-episode order. Nash will also develop new projects in addition to working with executive producer and showrunner Tucker Cawley on "Up All Night," the story says.

Nash recently wrote the comedy project "Let It Go" and was a co-executive producer on the NBC midseason comedy "Bent."

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May Produced Some of Cable News' Worst Ratings

The month of May has produced some of the worst ratings for cable news networks, a surprise development given the presidential campaigns that are heating up, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Fox News saw the ratings for some of its biggest programs decline to their lowest levels since the last presidential election year, Carter writes.

CNN's ratings have been consistent, "as in consistently dreadful," Carter points out.

MSNBC also saw steep drops compared with last May, with viewers 25 to 54 down 26% during the month, the piece adds.

"Fox News also had some steep declines since last May. It was down about 21 percent in prime time in the 25-to-54 group. News about the political race has apparently not sent viewers flocking to get either the Fox News or MSNBC take (considered polar opposites) on events this spring," Carter writes.

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Fox Business News Takes Wraps Off Plans for New Show, New Prime-Time Schedule

Fox Business News, after dropping three series from its prime-time lineup earlier this year, will debut a new program, "Money with Melissa Francis," June 4, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show will air daily at 5 p.m., and the four-year-old network will shift some of its prime-time shows to make room in the lineup, the story says.

Francis, who joined FBN in January, has been co-anchor of "Market Now." Her new show will highlight market moves and economic issues, with appearances from experts, the story says.

Starting Monday, "The Willis Report" will shift to 6 p.m., "Lou Dobbs" will remain at 7 p.m., while "Cavuto" will now air at 8 p.m., the story says.

The report notes: “The move comes after the FBN's February's decision to axe three series from the evening roster: ‘FreedomWatch’ with Judge Andrew Napolitano, ‘Power & Money’ with David Asman and ‘Follow the Money’ with Eric Bolling.”

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TiVo Warns of Wider Anticipated Loss for Q2

TiVo warned investors that legal expenses could lead to a wider loss than analysts have expected, reports Bloomberg.

The forecast came as digital video recorder pioneer TiVo reported a first-quarter loss of $20.8 million due to higher hardware costs, the story notes.

The company forecast a second-quarter net loss of $28 million to $30 million, compared with the $15.8 million loss expected by analysts, the piece adds.

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Tyler Perry Denies Report Whitney Houston's Daughter Walked Off Set

Tyler Perry took to his website to deny a report that Whitney Houston's daughter Bobbi Kristina walked off the set of "Tyler Perry's For Better or Worse," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I woke up this morning to my publicist calling me saying that there were reports that Bobbi Kristina walked off the set of 'For Better Or Worse'. NOT TRUE AT ALL PEOPLE!!!," he wrote. He added that there was "no way" she could have walked off the set since the project is finished taping.

"So please... PLEASE LEAVE THIS BABY ALONE!!!! AND SHE IS A BABY!!! Please stop the lies and give this child some room to breathe and grieve," Perry wrote.

Perry was referring to a story on Radar Online that said Bobby Kristina had suffered a "private breakdown," the article says.

TBS ordered 35 additional episodes of “For Better or Worse” in February.

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Hollywood Power Couple Who Co-Founded Amblin Entertainment With Steven Spielberg Sign Major Deal With CBS

The married Hollywood power couple who co-founded Amblin Entertainment with Steven Spielberg have signed a major deal with CBS, reports Deadlne.com.

According to the story, the couple--Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall -- "are making a foray into television with a two-year overall deal at CBS Television Studios, which also includes a pilot commitment from sister network CBS. This marks the first overall TV deal for the duo’s Kennedy/Marshall Company, whose only previous TV pact was a first-look agreement at CBS in the 1990s."

Robert Zotnowski , who is a former CBS executive, will be in charge of TV development for Kennedy/Marshall, the story notes.

The article adds. "In addition to their roster of features, which have earned them five best picture Oscar nominations as a team, Kennedy and Marshall have produced several TV projects. Those include the HBO movie 'A Special Relationship' and two other projects currently in development at the pay cable network: 'WikiLeaks' with Charles Ferguson and Rowan Joffe and 'Legacy Of Ashes' with David Simon and Ed Burns.

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No Arguing Between Hatfields and McCoys on This: Record-Breaking Cable Miniseries Proves It Has Staying Power, as Second Night Again Tops 13 Million Viewers

A cable miniseries has been pulling in unprecedented ratings, and its second night drew viewer numbers that were almost as big as the record-breaking premiere.

As we reported yesterday, History’s “Hatfields & McCoys” set a record for ad-supported cable, excluding sports, by drawing 13.9 million viewers for Monday’s first night. Now the cable channel is reporting that Tuesday’s second installment in the three-night series did almost as well, drawing 13.1 million total viewers.

Tuesday's telecast also had 4.7 million viewers in the 18-49 demo, 5.8 million in 25-54, 2.5 million males 18-49 and 3.2 million males 25-54.

History reports: “Among total viewers, Part 1 & Part 2 now rank as the #1 and #2 entertainment telecasts of all time in ad-supported cable. In Adults 25-54 and Men 25-54, part 2 retained 100% delivery from night one.”

Part three of the program, which stars Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton, will be televised tonight.

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One of the Most Influential Guitarists of the 20th Century Dies

A towering figure in American music, who has been called one of the most important guitar players of the 20th century, has died. The Los Angeles Times reports that Doc Watson died Tuesday at 89.

doc-watson2.jpgDoc Watson

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, who grew up in rural Deep Gap, N.C., and went blind due to an eye infection before his first birthday, helped shape the role of the acoustic guitar in bluegrass, country and folk music along with fellow master pickers Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. Watson’s blazing fast and remarkably clean lead runs, developed in part by emulating traditional fiddle tunes, helped elevate the guitar from its traditional rhythm role into a lead instrument.

Watson was the founder and father figure of the annual MerleFest bluegrass festival in Wilkesboro, N.C., one of the most important bluegrass events in the country, founded in honor of Watson’s son Merle shortly after he died in a tractor accident in 1985. Doc and Merle Watson toured together as a duo for years, and Merle’s place was later taken by Doc Watson’s grandson, Richard Watson.

Randall Roberts, in the L.A. Times, writes: “Watson, like Pete Seeger and Burl Ives, sang and played in glorious tune, was a stickler for tone, and conveyed his acoustic lines with a driving fluidity. Listening to his early sides recorded for Vanguard, his work on the seminal celebration of old-time music, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken,’ and the music created during his decades on Flying Fish Records, you can hear the work of a master whose style, though refined, was never academic. He never misses a stroke or a strike, singing melodic runs with his voice that move in glorious counterpoint to the notes springing from his guitar.”

Here’s an early clip of Watson performing “Deep River Blues”:

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Character Made Famous by Jodie Foster to Be at Center of TV Series

An iconic movie character played by Jodie Foster on the big screen will be the focus of a new television series that’s in the works at Lifetime, TVGuide.com reports.

The character is FBI newbie Clarice Starling from “The Silence of the Lambs,” whose portrayal won Foster an Academy Award in 1992. Starling will be the lead character in the Lifetime series “Clarice,” which is reportedly in the early stages of development.

The project has no connection to the Bryan Fuller NBC project "Hannibal," another offshoot of “Silence of the Lambs,” which reportedly does not include the Starling character.

Lifetime head Nancy Dubuc is working to bring more female-centric series to the channel, such as the recently launched "The Client List" with Jennifer Love Hewitt.

"Clarice" will concentrate on Starling’s career soon after her graduation from the FBI Academy. The character as portrayed by Foster in “Lambs” was ranked as the sixth-greatest protagonist in film history on AFI’s list 100 Years ... 100 Heroes and Villains -- the highest-ranking heroine.

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CNBC Shuffles On-Air Lineup, Replaces Co-Host of Daily Program

CNBC has tweaked its on-air lineup, including naming a new co-host for one of its daily shows, TVNewser reports. The cable channel named Kelly Evans co-host of "Worldwide Exchange," a daily show about the global markets.

Evans joins Ross Westgate as a co-host of the show, which broadcasts from London each weekday. Evans is taking over the spot held down by Christine Tan.

Tan has been with the show since 1995, the year it launched. Tan is not leaving the network; she's doing "Managing Asia," a weekly interview show based in Singapore.

Evans came to CNBC last February from The Wall Street Journal.

Kelly-Evans.jpgKelly Evans

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Honoring the Best Work in the 'Fempire'

The Gracies were handed out last week in Beverly Hills, honoring the best work by women in the media -- the “fempire,” as it has been called -- in the past year. Read TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin’s roundup of the festivities and the awards here.

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Former NBC Chief Working With Premium Cable Channel to Find Unscripted Programming

The former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios has entered into a deal with premium cable channel Starz to find unscripted programming for the channel, Deadline.com reports.

Ben Silverman's Electus will look for shows that would be suited to complement the channel’s original slate, the story reports.

"Electus sought the partnership with Starz after taking a look at the TV landscape and seeing a void in the unscripted space on premium cable, Electus CEO Chris Grant said," according to the story.

The two companies are looking for "tentpole ideas with strong dynamic characters, a little bit of danger and unprecedented access; we want to tell stories that couldn’t be told elsewhere,” Grant said.

So far, unscripted shows on premium TV have focused on sports documentaries such as HBO's "24/7" or erotic shows such as HBO's "Real Sex," the piece notes.

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Report: Arsenio Hall Eyes Return to Talk Show Game

Arsenio Hall, fresh off winning "Celebrity Apprentice," is considering returning to the world of syndicated talk shows, reports Deadline.com.

Hall is talking with CBS TV Distribution about a deal that might also include Tribune, the story says. While a deal is not yet in place, Hall may film a presentation.

CBS TV Distribution declined comment. After Hall won "Celebrity Apprentice," he said he would like to return to TV more regularly, the story notes.

Hall hosted the syndicated late-night "Arsenio Hall Show" from 1989 to 1994.

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Video: Wolf Blitzer's Donald Trump Interview Gets Heated

Donald Trump and Wolf Blitzer got into an argument on CNN, with each calling the other "ridiculous" and Trump taking aim at CNN's ratings, reports TVNewser.com.

The two got into the argument over the "birther" controversy during a live interview on "The Situation Room."

Trump defended his views, adding, "His mother was not in the hospital. There are many other things that came out. And frankly, if you would report it accurately, I think you would probably get better ratings than you’re getting, which are pretty small," the story notes.

Here’s a portion of the interview:

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CNN Names New Co-Anchor

CNN has announced a new co-anchor for one of its daily programs. The cable news channel has hired ABC News correspondent John Berman, who has been a regular contributor to “Good Morning America,” to anchor the morning show “Early Start.”

Berman will also contribute reports to various other CNN programs, including “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

In a statement, Ken Jautz, executive vice president of CNN, said: “We are so fortunate to have this talented and seasoned journalist join our morning show and become a regular presence on our air throughout the day. John is a skilled reporter with a passion and personality that shine through, whether he’s covering the political season or his beloved Red Sox.”

Mark Whitaker, CNN Worldwide executive vice president and managing editor, added: “John is an exceptional journalist who brings with him the perspective of having covered many of the last two decades’ most significant stories. His coverage of the past four presidential elections, experience as an embedded journalist in Iraq, on-site reporting during the 2006 war in Lebanon, plus his pop culture interest and acumen, make him a strong asset to our team."

Berman said: “It is a pleasure to join the prestigious global news leader CNN. I am looking forward to being a part of the morning team and to contributing across CNN's lineup."

"Early Start" premiered Jan. 2, 2012, with hosts Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin. It airs daily from 5-7 a.m. ET.

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'Family Guy' Sends Out Emmy-Consideration Mailer With Content Some Find Offensive

"Family Guy" is sending out mailers to Academy of Television Arts & Sciences voters that includes content that was rejected for ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter -- and that some of the recipients apparently find offensive, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The mailer depicts the animated show’s lead character Peter Griffin saying, "Come on, you bloated, overprivileged Brentwood Jews. Let us into your little club." Inside the mailer's card is a DVD featuring four episodes of the Fox show, along with the image of Stewie, the show's talking baby, saying, "It's a secret ballot. You can still tell people you voted for 'Modern Family.'"

While the show has won five Emmys, it hasn't yet won for outstanding comedy series and received its only nomination in the category in 2009.

Reaction to the mailer ranged from some who thought it was funny to others who objected to stereotyping ethnic groups, the story says.

The story quotes one Brentwood TV producer saying: "Wow, if Family Guy was that funny on a regular basis, it might get nominated."

“Another producer, who lives nearby in Pacific Palisades, has her own review. ‘It's so heavy-handed,’ she says, ‘it's light on funny,’” the report adds.

Another response the story reports: "While I think Family Guy is a genuinely funny show, we all -- including this 'Brentwood Jew' -- need to think twice about this kind of humor. Stereotyping any particular ethnic group is just not cool and can lead others (with the wrong intentions) to feel a certain license to take shots. Surely Seth [MacFarlane] has better stuff than this."

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Original Cast Member Leaving 'Private Practice'

One of the original cast members is leaving ABC's medical drama "Private Practice," according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Tim Daly, who played Pete Wilder for the show's five seasons, won't be returning to the series. At the end of the fifth season, the character was sent to jail after mercy-killing one of his patients, although he was later freed on bail, the story says.

The program had been considered a bubble show, but was renewed for a sixth season.

"Wonderful fans of PPP. Shonda informed my agent today that Pete wont be returning for season 6. It was a great 5 yrs. R.I.P. Pete Wilder," Daly wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

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NBC Greenlights Another Singing Competition

Another singing competition is coming to NBC, with the network greenlighting a new show, TheWrap.com reports. "The Winner Is" will feature singers of all ages competing for a $1 million prize, the story reports.

The show comes on the heels of NBC’s success with "The Voice." But "The Winner Is" has a twist: Singers can opt to exit the show for instant cash, along the lines of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," if they think their performance wasn't up to par.

Contestants can also choose to continue, awaiting the jury results to see whether they made it to the next round -- with each round worth more money.

The singers will be judged by a panel led by a celebrity judge, who is yet to be determined, the piece adds.

"The Winner Is" is executive produced by John De Moi, the creator and producer of "The Voice." A premiere date has not been set.

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Lindsay Lohan's Mom to Be Part of New TV Show

Dina Lohan, the mother of Lindsay Lohan, will appear in a new TV series, TMZ.com reports. The show, to be aired on VH1, is called "Hollywood Exes."

While Lohan isn't the ex of a famous Hollywood personality, she was added by the producers because she's friends with members of the cast and can add some spice to the reality show, the story says.

The cast includes the ex-wives of Prince, Will Smith, R. Kelly and Eddie Murphy, the piece adds. Lindsay Lohan won't be appearing on the show.

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Emmy-Winning Writer of TV Movies Dies at 80

A two-time Emmy winner known for his pioneering work scripting TV movies has died, the Associated Press reports. William Hanley was 80.

Hanley was a Broadway playwright in addition to his television work. He won Emmys for the TV movies "The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank," in 1988, and "Something About Amelia," in 1984.

"Amelia," which aired on ABC, broke ground by dealing with parental sexual abuse. The production starred Ted Danson as a doting father exposed as having sexually abused his daughter, with Glenn Close playing the mother. The drama also won Emmys for outstanding drama special and for Roxanne Zal, who played the abused child, the story notes.

Hanley also wrote a number of novels, and penned the script for the 1969 feature “The Gypsy Moths.”

He received a total of seven Emmy nominations, most recently for “The Kennedys of Massachusetts,” in 1990.

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Apple CEO, Pressed on Company's Television Plans, Admits TV Is of 'Intense Interest'

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, speaking at a technology conference, said television technology is of "intense interest" to the company, but added that any move by Apple into the TV space will be gradual, reports Reuters.

It's been speculated that Apple would unveil a TV-based device in 2012 or 2013, but Cook didn't comment on the issue directly, the story notes. Asked directly whether Apple was working on a TV set, Cook said he wasn't going to answer the question.

Apple already offers a $99 set-top box called Apple TV that streams content from Netflix and other sources, the story notes.

Asked how Apple views how it might improve the TV experience for consumers, Cook answered, "Here's the way we would look at that, not just at this area but other areas, and ask can we control the key technology?" He added, "Can we make a significant contribution, far beyond what others have done in this area? Can we make a product that we would want?"

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Basketball Project From 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Producer Gets Go-Ahead at HBO

Feature writer Jeff Nathanson, best known for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie "Catch Me If You Can" and the recent caper flick "Tower Heist," and TV producer Gavin Polone ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") have teamed up for a new comedy-drama series about professional basketball, which has been ordered by HBO, reports Deadline.com.

The show, which has yet to be named, will be a candid, behind-the-scenes look at the ultra-rich owners and very rich players in the game, and how they handle sex, love, money and power, the story reports. Nathanson and Polone will executive produce.

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'American Idol' Runner-Up Role Isn't as Lucrative as It Used to Be

The "American Idol" runner-up role doesn't bring as much reward as it used to, with Jessica Sanchez reportedly the first No. 2 who won't be getting an album deal with a guaranteed advance, reports the Associated Press.

Sanchez has the chance to record an album, but might earn as little as $30,000 in advances for recording singles, according to the contract she and other contestants signed, the story says.

It appears to mark the first time an "Idol" runner-up hasn't been offered an album deal with a guaranteed advance of at least $175,000, the piece adds.

"If Sanchez is given an album deal following the show, she will receive the same $175,000 bonus that Lauren Alaina was paid after placing second in the show's 10th season. But 19 Recordings Inc., which has the option to handle the albums and recordings of Idol contestants for several years after they appear on the show, has replaced a guaranteed album deal for the runner-up with a staggered 'Development Period' that requires less music and pays out less in advances," the story notes.

"Sanchez could be paid as little as $30,000 if she is asked to perform four single songs, or $60,000 if she records an EP of between four and 10 songs," according to the article.

Representatives for 19 Recordings and "American Idol" producer FremantleMedia declined to comment.

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Longtime News Director to Leave WABC-TV, Dominant Local News Operation in Nation's Top Market

The news director of the station that has been the dominant player in TV news in the New York market is leaving the station after 25 years, the New York Daily News reports.

Kenny Plotnik will leave WABC-TV at the end of this week, the story reports.

Plotnik circulated a memo to staffers this morning, praising them as “the New York Yankees of TV news,” the report says. He added: “25 years is a long time at one place and I’ve given a lot of thought to what lies ahead during the next 25 years.”

Plotnik did not indicate what his plans are, and called the decision to leave “a very difficult choice.”

The report notes: “A spokeswoman for Disney, WABC’s parent company, said WABC General Manager Dave Davis will be filling in and that a replacement be named ‘when the station determines the right candidate.’”

The story adds: “In the highly competitive local news market, Ch. 7 newscasts have long dominated the ratings. Though there has been some tightening lately and viewership varies by demographic, Ch. 7 led in the May sweeps at 4:30 a.m., noon, 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.”

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Ratings Record for Ad-Supported Cable Shattered

A program that was televised over the Memorial Day weekend became the No. 1 telecast in ad-supported cable history, excluding sports. The cable channel History announced that its premiere of “Hatfields & McCoys” earned that honor by drawing more than 13.9 million total viewers, 5.8 million adults 25-54 and 4.8 million adults 18-49, based on Nielsen fast cable figures.

The program beat the record of 12.5 million total viewers set by an original TNT movie, “Crossfire Trail,” starring Tom Selleck, set on Jan. 21, 2001.

The premiere and encore telecast combined to draw more than 17 million viewers, History reports.

Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager of History, said in a statement: “With all the success we have had at History, we felt strongly for some time that we should own historical drama, and in true History fashion, we have done it, with -- pardon the pun -- guns ablazin! We couldn’t be more proud of the entire cast and crew -- this has been an amazing collaboration – from Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Mare Winningham, Powers Boothe, Tom Berenger, and everyone involved in truly making history!”

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Ultra-Low-Rated, Mostly Repeat Monday: NBC Wins by Default

For what it’s worth, NBC got a win Monday night in the Nielsen overnights, even while averaging a modest rating for prime time in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

NBC’s 1.9 average in 18-49 was easily the best of the lot on a night when the other networks classified their shows as specials and put up mostly repeat programming. NBC’s 1.9 was followed by ABC with a 1.5, Univision and CBS tied at 1.2 and Fox with an astonishingly low 0.8 for the night. In total viewers it was still NBC on top with 6.2 million, followed by ABC with 5.2 million, CBS with 5.1 million, Univision with 3.0 million and Fox with 2.4 million.

NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” was the top show of the night with a 2.7 average rating in viewers 18-49, but that was down 16% from a week ago. Also down was NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior,” which fell off 17% from its premiere a week ago to a 2.0.

ABC managed only a 1.8 for its two-hour “The Bachelorette,” down 25% from last week. The rest of the programming on ABC, along with all the programming on CBS and Fox, was repeats.

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HBO's 'Hard Knocks' Finally Secures an NFL Team; How Key Figure's Brain Cancer Impacted the Search

HBO, which appeared to struggle to find an NFL team to participate in this year’s edition of “Hard Knocks,” has finally talked someone into it. The pay-cable network announced that the Miami Dolphins will be the focus of the upcoming edition of the show, USA Today reports.

The sports-reality series will consist of five episodes, with the first episode premiering Aug. 7, the story reports. The show, produced by NFL Films, will focus on the Dolphins’ summer training camp and first-year coach Joe Philbin.

“Hard Knocks” sat out 2011 because of the NFL labor dispute.

The New York Post reported last week that the search for a team for the 2012 edition wasn’t going well, noting that the New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins had all said no to HBO.

One problem, the Post reported, was that Steve Sabol, head of NFL Films, has been sidelined with brain cancer. Sabol has been the driving force behind "Hard Knocks" for the 11 years it has been on the air.

A source told the Post, “Without him going out to the teams twisting arms, it’s been hard. Nobody would say ‘no’ to Sabol.”

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'Idol' Champion's Surgery Postponed

The latest “American Idol” champion was scheduled to have surgery today, as previously reported, but has had that surgery postponed, TMZ.com reports.

Kidney surgery for Phillip Phillips was postponed because the singer has a fever, the story reports.

Phillips’ congenital kidney condition has been flaring up for virtually the entire run of his competition on “Idol,” causing him to undergo a series of surgeries throughout the run of the show.

The latest development is a high fever stemming from a sinus infection, the story reports. The surgery has reportedly been rescheduled for early next week.

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Justin Bieber Could Be Charged in Confrontation

A confrontation over the weekend involving teen sensation Justin Bieber is headed to the district attorney in L.A. County, TMZ.com reports.

The alleged physical encounter between the singer and a photographer will be turned over for possible criminal prosecution, the story says.

TMZ reports: “We're told cops have already decided to refer the case to prosecutors, even though the investigation is far from complete. They have requested to interview the Biebs, but he's in Norway now. It's pretty typical for police to refer high-profile cases to prosecutors.”

The story reports that Bieber is a suspect in the case and may have committed criminal battery against a photographer in a confrontation that took place Sunday in Calabasas, Calif. The photographer reportedly called 911 following the fracas, but Bieber had left the scene by the time police arrived.

The photographer was reportedly taken to the hospital by ambulance, and later filed a police report in which he pointed the finger at Bieber.

Bieber could face six months in jail if he is charged and convicted, the story reports.

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Why CBS Is Pulling the Plug on TV Movie Series

CBS has had enough of a popular television movie series even though it has attracted decent audience numbers, Variety reports. Among the problems: The audiences are too old.

The series is the “Jesse Stone” movies, starring Tom Selleck. The most recent one, “Benefit of the Doubt,” which aired May 20, attracted a healthy 12.93 million viewers, but only a slim 1.2 rating in the 18-49 demo -- the audience that matters most to advertisers. The rating among viewers 50 and older was almost 10 times that, the story notes.

The series, based on a series of novels by Robert B. Parker, will not continue on CBS.

The story reports: “Michael Brandman, who produces the movies with Selleck and has taken over writing the books since Parker's death in 2010, said CBS had notified them they wouldn't be ordering any more movies about the small-town sheriff, and that it was unclear whether the property might have a future elsewhere.”

Brandman said he and Selleck were “surprised CBS was so wedded to those (younger) demographics,” the story reports.

The report adds: “Network sources say the decision was actually more complex than that, including CBS's success with series creating less opportunity for movies and specials, other than a handful of award shows. The network has also almost entirely gotten out of the longform business. Last year, the Eye parted with the ‘Hallmark Hall of Fame,’ concluding a 16-year affiliation. Those movies subsequently moved to ABC.”

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TV Giant Who Helped Get On-Air Such Series as 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'The Waltons' and 'Dallas' Dies. He Also Gave the Green Light to the Movies 'A Fish Called Wanda,' 'Moonstruck' and 'Rain Man'

The Emmy-winning television producer who helped get on-air such classic TV series as "The Andy Griffith Show," The Waltons" and "Dallas" has died, according to a number of media reports.

"Lee Rich, co-founder and former president of Lorimar Productions, died Thursday of lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles, a Warner Bros. spokesman confirmed. He was 93." That's from the account of the story by Dennis McLellan in the Los Angeles Times, as picked up by the Kansas City Star. [Note: The Los Angeles Times limits the number of articles non-subscribers can view.]

Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., said in a statement, “Lee Rich was a giant in the television industry who produced some of the most iconic series in the history of the medium and influenced audiences worldwide. He also served as an early mentor to me while I was at Lorimar, providing valuable guidance for which I will forever be appreciative."

According to McLellan's story, "After serving in the Navy as a lieutenant in World War II, [Rich] eventually went to work for Benton & Bowles in New York, where he rose to senior vice president and a member of the board. As the agency liaison between sponsors and producers, he was involved with 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'Make Room for Daddy,' 'The Edge of Night,' 'Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,' 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'  and others. 'Advertising is the best background I could have ever had for this business,' Rich told Advertising Age in 1987. 'I learned the business, and that's a major problem with people out here -- they don't know the business.'

Rich was also at one time the top executive at the Leo Burnett ad agency, the article notes.

Fred Silverman, at TV legend himself who has worked at ABC, CBS and NBC, told McLellan, "Rich never held a job at a TV network." But as head of TV and media at Benton & Bowles and later as a producer, "he probably had more influence on what the networks programmed than maybe 99 percent of the program executives that were at the networks during the period that he was actively employed."

As an advertising executive and a producer, Silverman said, Rich was responsible for at least half a dozen blockbuster network series.

As a co-founder of Lorimar in 1969, The Hollywood Reporter notes that "Rich served as executive producer of more than 1,600 episodes of 33 Lorimar TV series, including 'The Waltons,' 'Dallas,' 'Eight Is Enough,' 'Falcon Crest,' 'Knots Landing,' 'King’s Crossing' and 'Flamingo Road.'"

Rich was nominated for five Emmys and won for his producing work on "The Waltons" in 1973.

The THR article adds that "Rich also served as executive producer of 45 made-for-television movies and miniseries, including 'The Man' with James Earl Jones; 'The Blue Knight,' considered television's first miniseries, for which William Holden earned an Emmy in 1973; 'Sybil,' for which Sally Field won an Emmy in 1977; and 'Helter Skelter' in 1977."

According to McLellan's article, "After leaving Lorimar in 1986, Rich joined MGM/UA Communications. During his two years as chairman and chief executive, he green-lighted the films 'A Fish Called Wanda,' 'Moonstruck' and 'Rain Man.'"

McLellan's story notes, "Rich is survived by his longtime partner, actress Pippa Scott; five children, Michael Henes, Jessica Rich, Miranda Rich Tollman, Blair Rich and Anthony Rich; and seven grandchildren."

You can find a terrific interview with Rich as part of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Archive of American Television if you click here.

lee-rich.jpg

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CNN Lands Top Cable Personality for New Show

Cable news channel CNN announced that it is bringing a major cable television personality to the network for a new program. TV Chef Anthony Bourdain, known for his work on Travel Channel, will host a new weekend program on CNN as part of an effort by the channel to expand its coverage of food and travel.

Bourdain’s show, set to launch in early 2013, “will be shot on location and examine cultures from around the world through their food and dining and travel rituals,” CNN said in its announcement. “Slated to air domestically on Sundays in prime time with repeat airings on Saturday nights, it will mark a further step in broadening and distinguishing CNN’s weekend programming from its traditional weekday news coverage.”

Bourdain is known for his Travel Channel series “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” which he has hosted since 2005. He also hosted Food Network’s “A Cook’s Tour” and has been a part of Bravo’s “Top Chef.” He did some writing for HBO’s “Treme” and has authored a number of well-received books, including “Kitchen Confidential.”

CNN Worldwide Executive Vice President and Managing Editor Mark Whitaker made the announcement. “For more than a decade, Anthony Bourdain has been a trailblazer in educating Americans about different cuisines and cultures around the world, as well as an outspoken commentator on social trends ranging from the rise of celebrity chefs to the impact of fast food chains to the spread of vegetarianism and veganism.” Whitaker said in the announcement. “Examining the world through the prism of Tony’s unique expertise and passions continues CNN’s long-standing commitment to international reporting and to promoting global understanding.”

CNN announced: “Bourdain, whose reporting has taken him from the culinary capitals of Europe, Asia and North and South America to such historically war-torn or isolated regions as Vietnam, Mozambique, Uzbekistan and Romania, will also offer commentary on other CNN programs and platforms, domestically and internationally, providing insights into current events and debates around food and health and other cultural conversations.”

The announcement adds: “The series will be produced by Zero Point Zero Production with Executive Producers and Founders Chris Collins and Lydia Tenaglia, along with Executive Producer Sandy Zweig. The Emmy Award-winning Zero Point Zero Production has been working with Anthony Bourdain for over a decade, producing ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,’ ‘The Layover,’ ‘A Cook’s Tour’ and ‘Decoding Ferran Adria.’”

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Two Celebrities -- a TV Chef and an 'SNL' Alum -- Injured During All-Star Game

A charity soccer match claimed two celebrity casualties over the weekend, with one player being taken off the field on a stretcher, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Will Ferrell and television chef Gordon Ramsay were injured during the all-star soccer match on Sunday, the story reports. Ramsay was carried from the charity match on a stretcher, while Ferrell limped off the field with a leg injury.

Ramsay was injured after a tackle by former pro player Teddy Sheringham, while Ferrell hurt his leg in the second half. The status of Ferrell’s injury wasn't known, the piece notes.

"Thx 4 all the messages. Out of hospital after receiving amazing care from medics at ground & hospital. Bit sore but fine," Ramsay wrote via Twitter on Monday.

The Soccer Aid match, held at Manchester United's Old Trafford, raised more than $6.4 million for UNICEF.

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MSNBC Host Apologizes for Memorial Day Comments

An MSNBC host apologized Monday after saying during a Memorial Day-themed show that he felt "uncomfortable" using the word "hero" for soldiers killed in action, reports The Huffington Post.

Chris Hayes said he felt uncomfortable "about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war," the story says. He also called the use of the word "problematic."

His comments caused a backlash among some viewers, with one Twitter user addressing Hayes and saying he was "uncomfortable with calling you an American," the story says. Others supported Hayes.

On Monday, Hayes issued an apology. "On Sunday, in discussing the uses of the word ‘hero’ to describe those members of the armed forces who have given their lives, I don't think I lived up to the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I've set for myself. I am deeply sorry for that," his statement said.

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Former 'Today' Anchor Bryant Gumbel Returns to Morning Daypart

Former "Today" anchor Bryant Gumbel will return to television’s morning daypart -- at least for a few days next month, reports TVNewser.com.

Gumbel will serve as a guest co-host for ABC's syndicated show "Live! with Kelly" on June 4 and 5, the story says. Gumbel was one of the longest-running anchors of NBC’s “Today” and currently anchors "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on HBO.

Other co-hosts that week on "Live!" are Neil Patrick Harris and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Andy Samberg.

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Three TV Stations May Go Dark in Retrans Dispute

Three television stations may go dark as an impasse is looming in retransmission consent talks between Media General and Cox Communications, reports B&C.

The affected stations would be WSLS-TV (NBC) in Roanoke, Va.; WJAR-TV (NBC) in Providence, R.I.; and WKRG-TV (CBS) in Mobile, Ala., the story says.

The deals are set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on May 31, according to a Media General representative. Cox customers in the NBC areas might miss programming such as the Summer Olympics if a deal isn't reached quickly, the story notes.

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Why Did Britney Spears Insist on $15 Million for 'X Factor'? (Hint: It's All About How Much Another Music Superstar Was Paid for Another Singing Competition)

Britney Spears' $15 million paycheck for "The X Factor" was spurred by the amount of money another famous singer earned for a season as a judge on a singing competition, TMZ.com reports.

Jennifer Lopez's $12 million earnings for her first season on "American Idol" were reportedly a factor, with Spears allegedly determined to make more than Lopez, the story reports.

Spears initially wanted $20 million to do the show, but eventually settled for her $15 million paycheck, the story notes. It's unclear what Lopez will get paid now that ratings for "Idol" are down, the piece adds -- speculating that Lopez may want to return the favor and be paid more than Spears.

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Emmy-Winning TV Comedy Writer Dead at 89

A TV comedy writer who wrote for legends including Jack Benny and Carol Burnett has died, The New York Times reports. Al Gordon was 89.

Gordon was a gag writer who helped Benny transition from radio to television in the 1950s. He won two Emmys for his work on "The Jack Benny Program."

Gordon, described as "high-strung" and "fast-talking," worked for years with comedy writer Hal Goldman, who had a more "urbane, reserved style," the story notes.

The two writers joined "The Jack Benny Program" in 1950, a year after Benny had started the TV version of his radio show, which needed a faster pace to keep the attention of viewers, the story notes. They were hired to join two other writers already on staff, Sam Perrin and George Balzer.

"The Gordon-Goldman team became renowned in the business not only for writing quick-moving material, but also for writing fast -- sometimes developing skits for guest stars overnight," the story says.

Until Benny died in 1974, he referred to the pair as "the new writers," the piece adds.

When the Benny show ended in 1965, Gordon went on to write for comedy shows including "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," "The Carol Burnett Show" and "The Flip Wilson Show," the story notes. He also wrote for sitcoms including "Three's Company" and "That's My Mama."

Later, Gordon had a hard time finding work, given that writers over 40 were called "grays" in Hollywood, the piece notes.

In a 1996 interview, Gordon said Benny held his comedy writers in high regard. "Hal and I had the best jobs in Hollywood,” he said. “We worked for a man who was truly a prince in this business. There’s no way we could do that work today.”

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'American Idol' Champ to Undergo Surgery Today

The latest "American Idol" winner will undergo surgery today, reports TMZ.com. As previously reported, Phillip Phillips had eight operations during the show, as he suffers from chronic kidney problems.

Phillips has a congenital kidney problem that means he has kidney stones that are too big to pass through his system, the story says. His recovery from surgery may take as long as six weeks.

An unnamed executive from "American Idol’s” production company has offered his home to Phillips and his parents during the recovery time, the piece adds.

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Chinese Manufacturer Said to Be Producing Apple TV Sets

Apple's Chinese manufacturing partner is said to be in the "trial production stage" of the company's Apple TV set, reports CNET.com.

The development, which was reported by China Business News, should be taken with a grain of salt, the story notes. The report comes just two nights after the chief executive of Foxconn, Apple's manufacturing partner, said the company was preparing for the TV set, although he later denied the report, the piece adds.

One J.P. Morgan analyst has said Apple wouldn't release the TV set until 2014, while a Piper Jaffray analyst has predicted the TV set would be announced later this year, the story says.

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Daytime Talk Shows Thriving in Post-'Oprah' Era

The daytime talk landscape appears to be in good shape after the departure of the syndicated mainstay “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Variety reports.

The programs that took over many of the former “Oprah” afternoon time slots -- Sony’s “Dr. Oz” and Warner Bros.’ “Ellen” -- are faring especially well, the story notes.

"Dr. Oz" was up 18% during May sweeps from a year ago, while "Ellen" was up 20%, according to the report.

"Nielsen estimates that ‘Oz’ also has gained 22% among women 18-49, and 25% among women 25-54, while holding steady in women 18-34. And "Ellen" has improved across the board, gaining 22% in women 18-34 and nearly 10% in both women 18-49 and 25-54," the story says.

While the bulk of the daytime gains from a year ago appear to be going to “Oz” and “Ellen,” other shows have posted significant demo improvements.

The piece reports: “Disney-ABC's ‘Live! With Kelly,’ in its first May sweep without Regis Philbin, is up 7% in women 18-34 and 11% in women 18-49, while holding steady among women 50-plus. CBS Television Distribution's food-focused ‘Rachael Ray’ is flat year to year among women 18-49, but has risen 25% in the younger, 18-34 half of the demo. And Debmar-Mercury's ‘Wendy Williams’ is up across the demo board.”

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'Cougar Town' Getting a New Showrunner

"Cougar Town" is getting a new showrunner as it changes networks for its fourth season, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Ric Swartzlander is joining as executive producer and showrunner, as the show moves to TBS after airing for three seasons on ABC. Swartzlander's credits include "Gary Unmarried," "Samantha Who?" and "8 Simple Rules."

The appointment comes after "Cougar Town" co-creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence confirmed that he and co-creator Kevin Biegel weren't planning to run the series on TBS, the piece adds. Lawrence will continue to work as executive producer and executive consultant, while also developing new shows for Warner Bros. TV.

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ABC's Thursday Night: Two Series Premieres, Two Flops

ABC quietly rolled out two new series Thursday night -- the network may not have intended to do it quietly, but that’s how it turned out, if the Nielsen overnights are an indication.

The network’s new singing competition “Duets” had a two-hour premiere, and boy did it ever fall short of other recent premieres in the genre. TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the broadcast earned a lackluster 1.7 average rating in the key 18-49 demo. Looking at results for other recent premieres in the genre, NBC’s “The Voice” had a 4.6 on opening night while Fox’s “The X Factor” pulled in a 4.4 average.

ABC’s other new show, the drama “Rookie Blue,” debuted at 10 p.m. and probably would have been happy with “Duets’” number. “Blue” managed only a 1.4, trailing a repeat of CBS’s “The Mentalist” (1.5) but easily outpacing NBC’s dormant “Awake” (0.9).

The night’s top show was Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” with the two-hour season premiere pulling a 2.4 in 18-49 -- down 27% from last year's premiere, but enough to give Fox the overall win on a lackluster night across the board. Fox’s 2.4 average for prime time topped an all-repeat night for CBS, which tied ABC for second place with averages of 1.6. Univision scraped its way to fourth place with a 1.2, while NBC -- which went with repeats, other than “Awake” -- mired deep in fifth place with a 0.9.

Things flipped around in total viewers, with CBS’s all-repeat lineup winning the night with 7.6 million, ABC second with 6.5 million, Fox third with 6.2 million, Univision a distant fourth with 3.2 million and NBC again in fifth place with 2.9 million.

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Another TV Personality Outed as Gay

On the heels of confirmation about the sexuality of Jim Parsons of “The Big Bang Theory,” as we reported previously, another TV personality has come out as gay.

Food Network star Anne Burrell was outed by former "Queer Eye" star Ted Allen, the New York Post's Page Six reports. Burrell has since confirmed that she is gay, the story reports.

Burrell, who hosts "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" and appears on "Iron Chef America," was outed when Allen revealed on Romaine Patterson's Sirius XM show that Burrell "is dating a woman right now," the story says.

A representative for Burrell said her relationship "is no secret in the culinary world" and added that Burrell’s partner is a "very private woman."

Her girlfriend is another James Beard Award-winning chef, the story says.

anne-burrell.jpgAnne Burrell

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Highest-Paid CEO in America Will Pass on $75 Million Dividend

The highest-paid chief executive in corporate America has declined a $75 million dividend in equivalent payments on stock that he is due to receive over time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The executive is Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In March, Apple said it plans to start paying cash dividends of $2.65 per share on a quarterly basis sometime during the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, the story reports.

According to Apple, "As restricted stock units are not outstanding shares of common stock and thus would not otherwise be entitled to participate in such dividends, the crediting of dividend equivalents is intended to preserve the equity-based incentives intended by the company when the awards were granted and to treat the award holders consistently with shareholders."

But Cook requested that none of his restricted stock units earn the dividend payments, the story reports, citing a regulatory filing.

According to the report, the filing says: "Assuming a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share over the vesting periods of his 1.125 million outstanding restricted stock units, Mr. Cook will forgo approximately $75 million in dividend equivalent value.”

While Cook’s base salary last year was a relatively modest $900,000, he earned a total of $378 million in compensation -- mostly from restricted stock grants -- to rank at the top among highest-paid CEOs, the story reports.

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NBCUniversal in Talks to Buy Out Its Partner in MSNBC.com

NBCUniversal may buy out its partner in MSNBC.com, with the two sides in talks about the purchase, reports Bloomberg.

NBC and Microsoft started MSNBC in 1996, creating a 24-hour news channel and a website. NBC bought the cable network in 2005, although the Internet side of the business remained as a joint venture.

If NBCUniversal buys the service from Microsoft, the broadcaster would gain more control of the website and its content, the story notes.

Microsoft declined to comment on the talks, while a spokeswoman for NBC News confirmed conversations are ongoing between the companies.

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You'll Never Guess Which Cable Channel Bought Off-Net Rights to J.J. Abrams' 'Fringe'

J.J. Abrams' Fox series "Fringe" has sold its off-network syndication rights to a cable channel that may come as a surprise -- the Discovery Communications channel Science, B&C reports.

The cable channel’s programming traditionally focuses on science -- not science fiction -- in areas such as space, technology and prehistory. The channel, which launched in 1996, has undergone a series of name changes, from its original working title Quark! to Discovery Science, The Science Channel and, eventually, just Science.

Science secured the rights to the first four seasons of “Fringe,” and the upcoming fifth season will also be part of the deal. That accounts for 100 episodes of the science-fiction program.

“Fringe,” which stars Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and John Noble, premiered on Fox in fall 2008. It has been described as combining elements of “The X-Files,” “Altered States” and “The Twilight Zone.”

Terms of the deal with Science were not disclosed, but B&C reports that the package includes behind-the-scenes material and bonus footage that has not aired.

Debbie Myers, general manager and executive VP of Science, in announcing the acquisition, said: "'Fringe' is the kind of smart, lean-forward programming that our viewers gravitate toward. The combination of compelling characters and excellent science-themed storytelling make this franchise a huge addition for our network. We're going to deepen the audience experience with ‘Fringe’ by giving them more of the access to the writers and creative process than ever. We're also going to work with our cadre of leading experts to explore the real-world science that provides the foundation for these completely engrossing narratives."

fringe-anna-torv.jpg"Fringe" star Anna Torv

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NBC Comedy Recasts Female Lead

A comedy series slated to debut as part of NBC’s 2012-13 lineup has recast its female lead, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

The network tapped JoAnna Garcia to take over the part in the sitcom "Animal Practice," the story reports. Irish actress Amy Huberman, who played the part in the pilot, left the program earlier this month, as previously reported.

Garcia will perform opposite Justin Kirk's veterinarian, an animal doctor who likes animals but hates their owners, the story says.

Garcia most recently co-starred in the untitled CBS comedy from Greg Malins/Greg Berlanti, which was passed over this season.

joanna-garcia.jpgJoAnna Garcia

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Why an Angry Britney Spears Reportedly Walked Off the Set During 'X Factor' Taping

New judge Britney Spears walked off the set in the middle of the first taping of season two of Fox’s "The X Factor," reports TMZ.com.

Spears was reportedly upset after a contestant "butchered" her song "Hold It Against Me," the story says. She didn't return immediately, with four contestants auditioning before the remaining judges.

Spears might be taking a page from Paula Abdul's playbook, notes Deadline.com.

"Rewind to the series premiere of 'X Factor' last fall when Paula Abdul too walked off the stage in the middle of the taping. Coincidence?," the story asks. "Both walkouts, an element normally designed to add drama to a show’s narrative, were triggered (or as it seemed) by an outlandish performance, a guy dropping off his trousers (Abdul) and a guy butchering one of Spears’ songs (Spears)."

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Goodbye, for Now, Yellow Brick Road: Elton John Hospitalized, Cancels Shows

Singer Elton John has canceled performances after landing in the hospital with what is being described as a serious respiratory infection, EW.com reports. The performer canceled three Las Vegas concerts scheduled for this weekend, the story reports.

John first came down with the illness while performing last weekend at Caesars Palace in Vegas. After his condition worsened he checked into a Los Angeles hospital Wednesday, the story says. Doctors are recommending he not perform for seven days in order to rest.

“I love performing this show and I will be thrilled when we return to The Colosseum in October to complete the 11 concerts soon to be scheduled. All I can say to the fans is sorry I can’t be with you," John said in a statement.

elton-john.jpgElton John

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Why One Night Is Becoming the Island of Hope for Niche TV Shows

One night of the week is becoming the island of hope for niche TV shows. With the top broadcast networks moving little-watched shows to Fridays, the evening is becoming a testing ground for niche programs to see whether they can make it on a night with few viewers, reports Bloomberg.

"Community," the NBC comedy, will shift to Fridays in September, as will Fox's "Touch" and ABC's "Last Man Standing."

"Fridays offer networks a chance to turn the commercial-skipping DVR to their advantage. They get paid for ads that are viewed on DVRs, even partly, within three days of the airdate. A day later they get nothing. The idea with the schedule shift is that viewers, especially the younger ones marketers like, catch up on shows on the weekend, providing a ratings and revenue boost to shows that air on Friday," the story notes.

While "Community" attracted just 2.75 million viewers a night this season through April, the show jumped to 4.12 million viewers when DVR viewing was added in, the story points out.

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'American Idol' Champion Had Eight Operations During Run on the Show

The "American Idol" winner had eight operations during the show's season, reports People.com, citing the new champion’s father.

Phillip Phillips, who has been battling chronic kidney problems, suffered from a buildup of kidney stones and had multiple operations to remove them, the story says.

Within the next few weeks, the 21-year-old will have another surgery to reconstruct his kidneys. He is expected to make a full recovery in time for the "Idols Live" tour.

phillip-phillips.jpgPhillip Phillips

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Will 'Auto Hop' Technology Destroy the Television Business? The Fight Heads to Court With Lawsuits on All Sides

The major broadcasters and Dish Network are trading lawsuits over Dish's "Auto Hop" feature, which allows viewers to skip over commercials taped through its "Hopper" digital video recorder, reports Reuters. Many in the industry are suggesting that the technology threatens to destroy the television business model.

CBS, Fox and NBC are filing lawsuits in an effort to halt Dish from airing programs that would let viewers watch them without interruption, while Dish has asked a Manhattan federal judge in its own court action to declare the service doesn't infringe on any copyright owned by the top four networks, the story says. It wasn't immediately evident what ABC's plans are, the piece adds.

Dish, which has 14 million subscribers, has riled the TV networks with the service, which the networks say would undermine their advertising model, eliminating their main source of revenue.

Dish introduced the Hopper earlier this year, with the Auto Hop feature added on May 10. The company started promoting the product just as the broadcasters introduced their upfronts, when new programming is introduced and advertisers start buying commercial time for the next season, the story points out.

In its complaint, Dish maintains Auto Hop doesn't delete commercials and that the feature doesn't alter the broadcast signal. Fox countered that Dish doesn't have the right to sell a product as "commercial-free TV" without permission, and is seeking compensatory and other damages.

During the Cable Show earlier this week Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt came out on the side of the TV networks on the ad-skipping issue, expressing disapproval of Dish’s Auto Hop, as reported previously.

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TV Land Orders Two Pilots, Including One From Former NBC Entertainment Chief

A cast-contingent pilot from Ben Silverman's Electus has been ordered by TV Land, along with a comedy from "Whitney" executive producer Scott Stuber, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The pilot from Silverman, the former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment, is called "I'm Not Dead Yet," and features a man with a rare heart condition that means he could die at any moment, the story says. "Dead" is written by Jon Sherman of "Frasier" and Silverman is co-executive producing along with Electus' Jimmy Fox.

The second cast-contingent pilot is called "Brothers-in-Law," and tracks a husband and the eccentric fiance of his wife's twin sister, with the two men forced to bond by the sisters even though they have nothing in common, the story says. Stuber is executive producing.

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'Sesame Street' Producer Announces Job Cuts

"Sesame Street" producer Sesame Workshop has announced job cuts, Deadline.com reports. The company laid off about a dozen employees, with most of the cuts in its digital media department, the story says.

The cuts were at its New York offices and were made to shift "some resources to better align with our strategic priorities and new opportunities,” according to a representative.

Sesame Workshop cut more than 60 of its 355 employees in 2009, after a fall-off in donations and licensing revenue took its toll, the piece notes.

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Daytime Emmy Awards Leave CBS, Find New Home on Cable

With about a month to go until the Daytime Emmy Awards on June 23, a deal has been completed to move the annual awards show to HLN, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The telecast will shift from CBS and air on cable for the first time, the story notes.

The awards show was left without a home when CBS, which had aired it for the two previous years, failed to make room for the telecast on its schedule, the story notes.

"Other broadcast networks declined to pick up the Daytime Emmys, which have struggled to stay relevant in the face of declining ratings and outright cancellation of once mighty daytime soap operas," the story points out.

A host hasn't yet been named, the piece adds.

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Lifetime Finds Its Richard Burton to Play Opposite Lindsay Lohan's Liz Taylor

Lifetime has cast the part of Richard Burton in its biopic “Liz & Dick,” which features Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor.

Burton will be played by "True Blood" actor Grant Bowler, Deadline.com reports.

Bowler played the V-addicted werewolf Cooter on "True Blood" and Wilhelmina's love interest on "Ugly Betty."

The casting of the New Zealand actor comes just 10 days before the biopic is scheduled to start filming, the story notes. Executive producer Larry A. Thompson said he and Lifetime had auditioned "many actors on just about any continent."

“Grant will add gravitas to our couple and bring to life one of the greatest actors who has ever lived,” Thompson said, according to the story.

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Sharon Stone Hit With Harassment Lawsuit

Actress Sharon Stone has been hit with a lawsuit accusing her of harassment, retaliation and other forms of mistreatment of her former nanny, TheWrap.com reports.

Erlinda T. Elemen, a former nanny to Stone's three children, filed the suit claiming that Stone mistreated her, demeaned her ethnicity and religion, and accused her of stealing overtime pay, the story reports.

In September 2008, while Elemen was in Stone's employ, Elemen claims in court papers that Stone denigrated her Filipino culture, complained about her attending church, and forbade her from reading the Bible in her room.

In a statement from Stone's publicist, the lawsuit was characterized as frivolous. Elemen was labeled a "disgruntled ex-employee who is obviously looking to get money any way she can."

The publicist's statement declares, "Sharon Stone will be completely vindicated in court."

The story reports: “Elemen says that she was fired in February 2011, after refusing to return overtime pay that she'd earned while traveling with Stone's kids and on other occasions such as holidays. According to the suit, Stone accused her of ‘stealing’ the overtime pay from her and told her it was ‘illegal’ for her to receive the pay.”

Elemen is seeking unspecified damages for wrongful termination, harassment, failure to prevent harassment, and retaliation, the story reports.

sharon-stone.jpgSharon Stone

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Movie That Grossed People Out in 1973 Is Coming Back as a Miniseries

A movie that created a sensation back in 1973 -- with some movie goers leaving the theaters early in disgust -- is being remade into a TV miniseries, New York magazine reports.

The movie is the Oscar-winning hit film “The Exorcist,” based on William Peter Blatty's novel of the same name. Among the problems some people had with it was a substantial amount of something that looked a lot like pea soup.

Director and writer Sean Durkin, best known for "Martha Marcy May Marlene," is behind the remake, which will be a 10-part miniseries.

The novel was a bestseller in 1971, then became a hit 1973 film directed by William Friedkin. Roy Lee will produce the miniseries, which will go into more detail about the young girl's possession by the devil, her family's reaction, and then the work of Father Karras to save her by performing an exorcism.

The film starred Ellen Burstyn as the mother, and made a star of Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil, the little girl who's possessed by the devil. The film received 10 Academy Award nominations -- including acting nods for Burstyn, Blair and Jason Miller along with best director for Friedkin and best picture -- but won only two Oscars, for the screenplay by Blatty and for best sound.

The TV project is expected to be shopped to networks within the next few weeks.

Should Durkin eventually do a press junket for the production, we wonder how many times he will be asked the obvious question, “Whatever possessed you to remake ‘The Exorcist’?”

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Actress Known for 'Risky Business' Dies

An actress with a long string of film and TV credits -- including what may be her best-remembered role as Tom Cruise’s mother in the 1983 hit “Risky Business” -- has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Janet Carroll was 71.

Carroll died Tuesday in New York following a long illness, the story reports.

Carroll was a familiar face on television, having appeared in recurring roles on "Married … With Children," “Melrose Place” and "Murphy Brown," among numerous other TV roles.

On “Married ... With Children” Carroll played the owner of the shoe store where Al (Ed O'Neill) worked; on “Murphy Brown” she was the wife of Jim Dial, the anchorman played by Charles Kimbrough.

In the movies, Carroll’s first role was in “Risky Business.” She went on to perform in a series of films including "The Killing Time" (1987), "Memories of Me" (1988), "Family Business" (1989) and the upcoming "College Debts."

Carroll is survived by her son George and his wife, Lauren.

janet_carroll.jpgJanet Carroll

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The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall: 'Idol' Finale Loses 32% From Last Year, Sets All-Time Low for Series ... and Still Easily Wins the Night

The 2011-12 television season officially wrapped up Wednesday night, with CBS continuing its strategy of airing repeat programming and Fox coasting to an easy win for the night behind the “American Idol” finale, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

According to Nielsen overnights, the two-hour “Idol” finale scored a 6.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, easily outdistancing everything else on the broadcast networks. But that number was off a troubling 32% from the 9.2 average rating turned in by last year’s finale, and marked the lowest-rated finale in series history. On the other hand, it was way up from the 4.9 for last week’s results show.

In total viewers, “Idol” averaged 20.7 million, off substantially from the 29 million who turned out for last year’s finale.

The closest anyone came to “Idol” in the key 18-49 demo was ABC’s season finale of “Modern Family,” which pulled in a 4.0 average rating, down 5% from last year’s finale. Elsewhere on ABC the season finale of “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” showed signs of life, bouncing back from last week’s series-low 1.9 to pull in a 2.5. “Revenge” also improved, rising four-tenths of a ratings point from last week to score a 2.4 for its finale. The finale of “The Middle” had a 2.0, down 5% from last year’s finale.

The grim news continued for NBC, with the season finale of “Law & Order: SVU” at 10 p.m. managing only a 1.9 average in 18-49, the series’ lowest-rated finale ever. That was still better than the 1.5 for “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” at 8 p.m. -- the same number turned in by a repeat episode that followed it.

For prime time overall, Fox’s 6.1 average rating in 18-49 put it well ahead of ABC (2.6 average), Univision (2.0), CBS (1.5) and NBC (1.4). Fox dominated total viewers, averaging 20.7 million to 7.3 million for ABC, 5.9 million for CBS, 5.4 million for NBC and 5.0 million for Univision.

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One of the Top Cable News Hosts Re-Ups

One of the top program hosts in cable news has signed a new multiyear deal to remain with his network, Entertainment Weekly reports. The deal will keep Sean Hannity at Fox News for the foreseeable future, the story reports.

As the star of "The Sean Hannity Show," the political commentator and host draws 2.1 million viewers a day for his program, which is the second-most-watched cable news show.

In a statement, Hannity said, “It’s been an honor and privilege to work alongside the incredible team at Fox News, whose talent is unparalleled. In true Roger Ailes form, he saw something in me that no one else did and afforded me the opportunity to achieve incredible success. I look forward to many more years to come.”

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Broadcast Network Touts Ratings Records Set in 2011-12 Season

One broadcast network ended the 2011-12 season with a number of network records, including more nights at No. 1 in the key 18-49 demo than ever before. The network is the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.

Univision Communications reported that its flagship Univision Network maintained its position as the fifth-largest network in prime time, regardless of language, in total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 18-34. But Univision outperformed at least one of the Big 4 English-language broadcasters (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) on nearly every night of the 2011-12 season in adults 18-34 (225 out of 245 nights), and on 160 of 245 nights in adults 18-49.

The Spanish-language network noted that it beat NBC in the 18-34 demo on 191 nights during the season, up from 162 nights the previous season, and that it topped NBC in the key 18-49 demo on 128 nights, up from 105.

Univision was particularly strong in the 18-34 demo, where it finished at No. 1 for prime time on more nights than any network except Fox. Univision was also the top network in the demo on Friday nights for the fifth season in a row. Univision was No. 3 on Fridays in the 18-49 demo, topping ABC and NBC.

Univision was the No. 1 network in prime time in the 18-49 demo a network-best 19 times during the season, beating its total of 16 a year ago. In 18-34 it was No. 1 48 nights, vs. 43 a year ago.

Said Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks: “Young viewers continue to look to Univision’s novelas, reality series, sports, news and special events as some of the most exciting and entertaining programming that can’t be found anywhere else on television. Each broadcast season -- and year-round -- we continue to show how much our audience values the culturally relevant content that we offer, and Univision has now established itself as a top four broadcast network or better nearly every single night.”

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What Was the Most-Watched TV Show of 2011-12? Here's the Top 10 List

With the end of the 2011-12 television season Wednesday night, the numbers are coming in for the season as a whole.

CBS emerged -- for the ninth time in 10 years -- as the most-watched network, The Washington Post reports. The network averaged almost 12 million total viewers in prime time, about 3 million more than its closest competitor, Fox. That 3 million represents the largest victory margin for any network in more than 20 years, the story notes.

Among the top 10 shows, two former powerhouse series slipped a bit: Fox's "American Idol" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." But reality competition shows remain well-represented in the top 10, with two editions of “Idol,” two editions of “Dancing” and NBC’s “The Voice” all making the cut.

The only scripted series to make the top 10 were all from CBS: “NCIS,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Two and a Half Men.”

The No. 1 program in the country, as usual, is America's favorite sport, the National Football League, with its Sunday night game airing on NBC.

Here's the top 10 list:

1. "Sunday Night Football" (NBC)
2. "American Idol" (Fox)
3. "NCIS" (CBS)
4. "American Idol" results (Fox)
5. "Dancing with the Stars" performance show (ABC)
6. "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS)
7. "Dancing with the Stars" results show (ABC)
8. "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS)
9. "The Voice" (NBC)
10. "Two and a Half Men" (CBS)

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Star of Hit Sitcom Reveals He's Gay

One of the lead actors on a hit sitcom has revealed in an interview with The New York Times that he is gay. The actor is “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parsons.

Parsons, who was discussing his theater career with the newspaper, said the play "The Normal Heart," in which he played a young gay activist, resonated with him.

"Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said," according to The Times.

The revelation was buried far into the story, in what TheWrap.com calls a "blink-and-you'll-miss-it aside."

This may be the first confirmation of Parsons' sexuality, although the National Enquirer tried to "out" him in 2010 by writing that he was engaged to his boyfriend, the story says.

Parsons stars along with Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco on the CBS sitcom.

jim-parsons.jpgJim Parsons

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Space, The Final Frontier, Becomes Final Resting Place for Beloved Original 'Star Trek' Cast Member

The ashes of a beloved cast member from the original “Star Trek” TV series made their way into space this week, with the launch Tuesday of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Houston’s Johnson Space Center, UPI reports.

The rocket contained the cremains of 308 people, including actor James Doohan. Doohan, who played Scotty on “Star Trek,” died in 2005.

“Also making the flight were the cremated remains of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper, who piloted the Faith 7 spacecraft, the last flight of Project Mercury in May 1963. He also was command pilot of Gemini 5 in 1965,” the story reports.

The launch had originally been scheduled for last week but was aborted because a flight computer noticed a problem with slightly elevated pressure in an engine combustion chamber, the story notes.

The report adds: “The vehicle's first stage performed perfectly Tuesday before separating from the second stage, SpaceX reported, and the second stage successfully put the Dragon spacecraft into its intended orbit.”

SpaceX, a private company, worked with NASA on the flight.

Pictures of James "Beam Me Up, Scotty" Doohan in the original "Star Trek" TV series and how he looked in the later "Star Trek" movies:

Thumbnail image for james-doohan-scotty.jpgscotty.jpg

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ABC Returns Fire in Lawsuit: 'Even CBS must realize it cannot copyright the idea of 14 contestants living in a house rigged with cameras'

ABC has shot back in the legal battle with CBS over its "Big Brother"-like reality show, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

CBS sued ABC and several producers earlier this month, as previously reported, claiming copyright and trade secret infringement over ABC's "Glass House." CBS alleges the new ABC show is a "carbon copy" ripoff of "Big Brother."

ABC is responding by saying the case is bogus and asking that the court deny an expedited timetable for a preliminary injunction motion, the story says. The lawsuit is a "meritless attempt to shut down development of ABC's newest reality televison program," ABC claims.

ABC is also arguing that CBS's copyright claim falls short. "Even CBS must realize it cannot copyright the idea of 14 contestants living in a house rigged with cameras," according to ABC's court papers.

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Fox News Attacks University That Issued Study Claiming Fox Viewers Are Uninformed

Fox News is firing back at Fairleigh Dickinson University, which released a study that claimed viewers of Fox News are less informed than those who watch no news at all, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The study was initially released six months ago, and this month the university said another survey had confirmed its earlier findings about ill-informed Fox News viewers, the story says.

Fox News has criticized the university, which was ranked No. 585 on a Forbes ranking of 650 colleges.

"Considering FDU’s undergraduate school is ranked as one of the worst in the country, we suggest the school invest in improving its weak academic program instead of spending money on frivolous polling -- their student body does not deserve to be so ill-informed," said a Fox News representative.

The most recent poll from the university asked 1,185 people to answer five questions about international news and four questions about national news. The average person relying on Fox News answered 1.08 international questions correctly, and 1.04 domestic questions correctly, lower than people who don't watch the news, the story says.

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Return of Game Show Staple Brings Ratings Record for Cable Channel

The return of a vintage TV game show format has brought a ratings record for a cable channel, Deadline.com reports. The new show is “Hip Hop Squares,” based on "Hollywood Squares," the game show with the tic-tac-toe format that ran from the 1960s until the mid-2000s.

MTV2’s "Hip Hop Squares" taps personalities from hip hop culture. The show became the network's highest-rated and most-watched series debut in the 12-34 demographic, with a 0.39 rating, the story notes.

The number was up 30% from MTV2’s most recent series premiere, “Nitro Circus Live,” the story reports.

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Good News for TV: Sales Surge Forecast for One of the Top Market Segments

A surge in sales from a year ago is forecast for May for a market segment that is one of television’s most important advertisers: automotive.

Automotive News, citing a Reuters story, reports that U.S. new car sales will rise nearly 30% in May 2012 from May 2011. That would be the biggest gain in more than a year.

Admittedly, figures were down in May 2011. “U.S. light vehicle demand slumped 4 percent in May 2011 to 1,061,841 units as the impact of the March 2011 earthquake in Japan began to disrupt car and truck stockpiles,” the story reports.

The report adds: “The expected sales of 1,378,000 vehicles in May would translate to an annual selling rate of 14.2 million vehicles, matching January for the lowest pace of the year, Kelley Blue Book said. However, that would be the fifth consecutive month at a pace above 14 million, and well above the 11.7 million rate in May 2011.”

The growth in auto sales, in the absence of broader gains in the economy, has been described as a “wag the dog” scenario. Said Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez, in a statement: "During a typical post-recession recovery, we would expect to see auto sector gains being driven by broad economic growth. In the first quarter, the opposite was true, as auto sales were the primary driver behind GDP growth and have consistently been a bright spot in an otherwise slow-paced recovery.

"At this point, it is almost as if the tail is wagging the dog."

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Iconic TV Alien Pitched for New Project

An alien character that had a good run on TV in past years is being pitched for a new project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The character is the furry alien ALF, the star of the 1980s comedy of the same name.

Creator Paul Fusco will be pitching an "ALF" feature film to a major studio, the story says.

"Back in the mid- to late '80s, ALF was everywhere. Not only was he on his own primetime NBC series from 1986-90 but in guest spots on other shows and even in his own two-season animated series. His likeness -- think of an anteater from Brooklyn, if that’s possible -- was emblazoned on lunch boxes, T-shirts, video games, plush dolls, even air fresheners," the article notes.

With the resurgence of past pop cultural icons, such as "The Muppets" and "21 Jump Street," the question was "where is ALF?," the story notes.

Fusco, who has worked for years to relaunch the brand, tells the publication that he pitched the original show to Brandon Tartikoff, the television executive who turned around NBC's prime time with shows such as "Hill Street Blues."

The pitch didn't go over so well -- until Fusco pulled ALF, a puppet, out of a plastic bag from underneath the table, the story says.

“It looked like he was sitting at the table right next to Tartikoff, and it was just silence -- they didn’t expect that,” Fusco said, according to the story. “And everyone was waiting for you to say something incredibly funny or something in the moment. And ALF didn’t really say anything. ALF just kind of looked around the room and picked his nose and wiped it on Tartikoff.”

The network bought the show, the story notes.

As for a movie based on ALF, Fusco said he believes the time is right.

“ALF could be more outspoken now than ever, because the world is a whole different place than the '80s. And I think the character still stands up and certainly has more to say now than ever,” he said.

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Retail Investors Lose at Least $630 Million in Facebook IPO

Retail investors who bought shares in Facebook's initial public offering have lost at least $630 million, based on the stock's closing price yesterday, reports Bloomberg.

“It’s disheartening to know that things get over-hyped,” said Ryan Cefalu, who bought shares valued at $4,000 in the IPO. "That’s about a 12th of my annual income -- so a month’s salary. I’m trying to do an on-my-own retirement kind of thing.”

Asset managers and hedge funds were able to buy the shares in private trading years before the IPO, while investment banks made money from the offering, the story points out. Smaller investors like Cefalu had to wait for the IPO, which was misjudged in terms of demand and pricing, the article notes.

"Facebook, the biggest technology IPO in history, turned into a quagmire of blame. Buyers of the stock sued the company, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. and the underwriters, claiming they were misled. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the brokerage industry’s watchdog both said they may review the offering, and the scrutiny prompted Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter, to defend its handling of the IPO in a statement," the piece reports.

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Oprah Joins Forces With Popular Website

Oprah Winfrey will get her own section on a popular website as part of a deal between Winfrey’s OWN cable channel and the website, The Huffington Post, Advertising Age reports.

The section will include content created and aggregated by writers and producers from OWN and Oprah.com, the story says. Topics will include personal growth, spirituality and health.

"The Huffington Post already has pages with labels such as "Health News," "Mindful Living," "Religion," "Health and Fitness" and "Becoming Fearless," but hopes the Oprah brand, and supply of new content, will help attract more readers," the story says.

"Oprah was about engagement and authenticity long before engagement and authenticity ruled the Web," Arianna Huffington said in a statement.

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'Spinal Tap's' Christopher Guest Working on TV Project

"Spinal Tap" star and mockumentary director Christopher Guest is working on a television project, reports New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

Guest, who played Nigel Tufnel in 1984's "This Is Spinal Tap," is working with his British cohort Jim Piddock, who co-starred in Guest’s "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind," the story says.

The project is said to be an improvised genealogy comedy called "Family Tree," which tracks "Bridesmaids" star Chris O'Dowd as he investigates his real family, the story says.

Guest and Piddock want the half-hour show to be commercial-free and improvised, along the lines of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." NBC Universal International Television is shopping the project to pay-TV and streaming services such as HBO and Netflix.

Guest is also known for directing the features "Waiting for Guffman" and "For Your Consideration."

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'I Will Always Be Grateful to Dan': 'Community' Studio Issues Talking-Points Memo to Cast

Sony Pictures Television has issued a talking-points memo to the cast and representatives of NBC's "Community," after the studio abruptly fired showrunner Dan Harmon on Friday, replacing him with David Guarascio and Moses Port, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

The memo was created to provide "some messaging we hope our cast will find helpful as they navigate questions that will undoubtedly come up," according to the piece.

Among the questions addressed by the memo is "Why did Dan get let go from the show?," which provides this answer: "We're not made aware of why staffing changes take place but I will always be grateful to Dan for his great work on the show and wish him only the best. We're also excited that we'll be back on NBC's schedule in the fall and are looking forward to working on those episodes."

Cast members are also told to say they're looking forward to working with the new showrunners and that they weren't consulted on Harmon's future.

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From One Oscar Heavyweight to Another -- the AFI Life Achievement Award

A pair of Academy Award heavyweights will take the stage when the AFI Life Achievement Award is handed out, with Meryl Streep on hand to present the honor to Shirley MacLaine.

The award will be presented at a black-tie gala on Sunday, June 7, at the Sony Pictures Studios, reports Deadline.com. MacLaine will be the 40th recipient of the prestigious honor.

TV Land will broadcast the all-star event on Sunday, June 24, at 9 p.m. ET. Streep, who received the AFI honor herself in 2004, played MacLaine's daughter in the 1990 film "Postcards From the Edge."

Streep has received an almost unbelievable 17 Academy Award nominations in acting categories, winning the award three times -- including the most recent Oscar for lead actress, for “The Iron Lady.” She also has trophies for “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979) and “Sophie’s Choice” (1982).

MacLaine is no slouch herself when it comes to Oscar cred. She has a total of six nominations -- five for lead actress along with one as a producer on the 1975 documentary “The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir” -- and took home the trophy in 1984 for her performance in “Terms of Endearment.”

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'Idol' vs. 'Dancing': Which Season Finale Hit a Historic Low in Tuesday's Ratings? (Hint: Maybe They Both Did!)

Tuesday was a big night for performance competitions, with Fox airing this season’s performance finale of “American Idol” while ABC put up the two-hour performance finale of “Dancing with the Stars” and NBC banked on its “America’s Got Talent” franchise.

It probably didn’t go as well as hoped, as both “Idol” and “Dancing” notched historic lows, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. “Idol” was the night’s top show with a 4.2 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights, but that number was an all-time low for an “Idol” performance finale. The show dropped 14% from last week’s 4.9 -- the same percentage decline recorded last year for the performance finale.

“Dancing with the Stars” averaged a 3.2 in 18-49 for the two-hour block from 9-11 p.m. -- equaling the 3.2 turned in by “America’s Got Talent” for the 9 p.m. hour. “Dancing” was up big from last week’s series-low 2.2, but it was still a series low for a performance finale.

Fox also had the season finale of “Glee,” which pulled a 3.0 in viewers 18-49 -- the show’s best number since February, and a five-tenths improvement from a week ago.

When all was said and done, Fox and ABC wound up tied for the lead for prime time as a whole with 3.6 average ratings in 18-49, followed by NBC with a 2.1, Univision with a 1.7 and CBS -- which aired an all-repeat lineup -- trailing with a 1.5. Total viewers went to ABC with14.6 million, topping Fox’s 11.0 million, CBS’s 8.6 million, NBC’s 6.5 million and Univision’s 4.2 million.

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Drama That Flopped This Season on Broadcast TV May Take Off Again Online

We may not have seen the last of a heavily hyped network drama that crashed and burned on broadcast television this season. Deadline.com reports that ABC’s “Pan Am” could take flight again on Amazon, which is looking to try its hand at original programming.

The Christina Ricci period drama, set in the early 1960s, quickly lost altitude after a decent start on ABC, airing its last episode in February and being replaced at midseason by “GCB.” The network finally got around to officially canceling “Pan Am” -- along with “GCB” -- on May 11.

The story reports that producer Sony Pictures TV has been talking with Amazon about having the online giant pick up the show. Amazon already carries the show’s first season on its online streaming service.

The report notes that the precedent has been set for the kind of move Amazon is contemplating: “Picking up canceled broadcast series, NBC’s ‘Friday Night Lights’ and FX’s ‘Damages,’ was how DirecTV entered the original series arena. Netflix is doing it too with a new season of ‘Arrested Development.’ Picking up 'Pan Am' would certainly put Amazon on the map, though it seems at odds with the company’s recently announced plans to focus on comedy and children’s programming produced by its newly launched Amazon Studios.”

Amazon could in effect claim “Pan Am” as its own, the report points out, because of the show’s brief run on ABC combined with Amazon’s existing offering of the previously produced episodes. The streaming service could use it as a high-end drama complement to its upcoming slate of comedies, the story notes.

“Pan Am’s” appeal in the international market gives Sony an incentive to keep it going, the story points out, creating economics that may make more sense than it appears at first.

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'Shape Shifter' Johnny Depp Receives Unusual Honor Based on Role He Will Soon Play

In anticipation of the role Johnny Depp will play in a high-profile upcoming project, the actor received an unusual honor, Reuters reports.

Depp, 48, became an honorary member of the Comanche Nation, an honor associated with his upcoming portrayal of Tonto in the feature film "The Lone Ranger."

A private ceremony took place May 16 in Albuquerque, N.M., where Depp was adopted into the nation by LaDonna Harris, the president and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity.

The cultural adviser on "The Lone Ranger," Harris' cousin, arranged the meeting. Depp was given a Comanche name, pronounced "Mah Woo May," meaning "shape shifter."

Prior to the adoption, Depp -- a Kentucky native -- said that he thought his great-grandmother was part Native American, perhaps a Creek or Cherokee.

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Prominent U.K. TV Personality Says Piers Morgan Taught Him How to Hack Phones

A British television personality told a media ethics inquiry today in London that CNN talk host Piers Morgan gave him a lesson in how to hack phones back when Morgan was involved with the U.K. Mirror newspaper, AP reports.

Jeremy Paxman, a prominent BBC quiz show host and TV news presenter, said Morgan discussed the procedure over lunch at Mirror headquarters in 2002.

The story reports that Paxman said Morgan “turned to me and said, 'Have you got a mobile phone?'

"I said, 'yes,' and he asked if there was a security setting on the message bit of it. ... I didn't know what he was talking about.

"He then explained the way to get access to people's messages was to go to the factory default setting and press either 0000 or 1234 and that if you didn't put on your own code, (in) his words, 'You're a fool.'"

The testimony before Lord Justice Brian Leveson was part of the ongoing fallout from the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, stemming from alleged unethical and illegal practices at the company’s now-defunct News of the World, which Morgan edited for a while before he moved on to the Mirror, the story notes.

Morgan may already be in trouble at CNN, for unrelated reasons. As we reported previously, his ratings have recently dipped into treacherously low territory.

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Four U.S. Filmmakers -- and Four Classic American Movies -- to Be Honored in Postage Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service announced today that first-class stamps will be issued honoring four great American film directors and their most noteworthy pictures, reports TheWrap.com.

Director-stamps.jpgThe directors are Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston and Billy Wilder, and the stamp designs are inspired by their films "It Happened One Night," "The Searchers," "The Maltese Falcon" and "Some Like It Hot," respectively.

In a statement, Samuel Pulcrano, U.S. Postal Service vice president of corporate communications, said: “With these stamps, we’re bringing these filmmakers out from behind their cameras and putting them in the spotlight so that we can learn more about them."

Collectively, the four filmmakers accumulated 15 Oscars.

The set is officially billed as the Great Film Directors First-Class Forever stamps, the story notes.

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Cable Show: Media Leaders Seek Faster Conversion to 'TV Everywhere'

The media industry sent a clear signal to cable operators today at the Cable Show, being put on in Boston this week by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Deadline.com reports. The message: Speed up the arrival of a “TV Everywhere” media environment.

The story reports: “Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and News Corp. COO Chase Carey took the message to The Cable Show this morning, urging attendees to jump on the Internet video bandwagon -- even if it means relaxing their grip on the relationship with their customers.”

TV Everywhere is the label that has been adopted for services that will enable subscribers to watch TV on platforms including mobile devices. Said Bewkes: “We’ve just got to do it faster.”

Carey noted: “We get too hung up on protecting the rules of the past,” a reference to pay TV distributors who are wary of relinquishing their role as gatekeepers.

“Many fear that they could lose control once subscribers begin to use an iPad or other device to access shows directly from programmers -- without a need for the operator’s set-top box or on-screen guide,” the story reports.

Said Carey: “We’ve got to find a way to make all of these experiences easier to use and more accessible. That requires us to work together.”

Bewkes elaborated: “Let consumers use the interfaces they want. You’ll still have your subscriber relationship. We can’t develop the best, world-class interfaces at the scale that a distribution company has. Silicon Valley, the Internet industry, is a global industry and that’s what they do. We should harness that. … Don’t try to hold that back. Consumers won’t allow it.”

Commenting on some of the obstacles facing cable operators, Cox Communications President Pat Esser said: “Along the way you’ve got to negotiate agreements … and we’ve got to figure out how the economics work. We all have a relationship with the customer. What we have to understand is that this business is becoming more complex.”

Esser noted that the price increases associated with negotiating TV Everywhere distribution rights might end up “disadvantaging people in the marketplace you could have had inside that circle of consumption.”

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A James Bond From the Past Has a Gripe About the New 007 Movie

An actor who was one of the many 007s in the James Bond movie franchise’s storied history has a gripe with the latest installment in the series.

The producers of the new James Bond movie, "Skyfall," have inked a $45 million product placement deal with Heineken -- and now they’re hearing it from former 007 George Lazenby, reports TMZ.com.

In the new film, due out in November, Bond, played by Daniel Craig, will be seen drinking Heineken instead of his trademark vodka martini -- shaken not stirred -- a fact that irks Lazenby.

Lazenby said it's a shame that the producers are selling out to the beer company. He said he realizes they've gone "where the money is" -- and he also dissed Heineken.

"It's not the best beer out there, either," he said. Lazenby wishes the filmmakers would maintain the tradition of the Bond martini.

Lazenby starred as 007 just once, in 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." He was the first to assume the role after Sean Connery played it in five early Bond films. After Lazenby's turn, Connery was lured back for "Diamonds Are Forever” -- and Connery returned again for “Never Say Never Again” in 1983.

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What's the Most Violent Show on Television?

One series is by far the most violent show on television, counting an average of 25 dead bodies per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter, citing a study of 40 TV series. The show? The Starz drama "Spartacus: Vengeance."

In a distant second place is HBO's "Game of Thrones," which has an average of 14 dead bodies per episode, the story notes, citing a study from funeral resource guide Funeralwise.com.

The study found that the 40 television shows averaged 132 dead bodies in a single week.

"We did not find a direct correlation between the body count and viewership, but these programs are definitely popular with the viewing audience," said Rick Paskin, Funeralwise managing partner.

How does this study tie in with Funeralwise's mission? Paskin explains, "As a funeral resource, the role of death in modern society is an interesting subject to Funeralwise. We know how difficult it is to get people to proactively plan for their funeral."

Or as The Hollywood Reporter notes, "The next time you watch a loincloth-clad actor decapitate a room full of Roman guards, maybe take a moment to consider the pros and cons of cremation versus burial."

The CW spy drama "Nikita" is the most deadly broadcast series, with nine dead bodies per episode. (The piece notes that the body count for vampires -- 18 per episode of “The Vampire Diaries” -- or zombies -- about 16 a week in “The Walking Dead” -- isn’t measured on equal terms with human deaths.)

"Revenge," the ABC drama about a woman seeking vengeance for her wronged father, is among the networks' safest series.

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Why Some Stations Are About to Lose Syndication Mainstays 'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel of Fortune'

A major station group has decided to scrap two of the most successful shows in syndication, "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy!," reports B&C. The group is Scripps, which will drop the shows in the next few months in almost half of its 13 markets.

The station group wants to pare syndication costs, the story reports, and is producing two new programs to replace the syndie mainstays in the 7 p.m. access hour.

Scripps will air "Let's Ask America," a game show, and a newsmagazine called "The List," both 30-minute daily productions, the story says.

"This is an important step in our strategy to take more direct creative and economic control of the content that serves our viewers and supports our advertisers across the country," said Scripps CEO Rich Boehne.

The programs will debut Sept. 17. The move comes after Scripps worked with a market research firm to conduct a national consumer study of the access hour, the piece adds.

"Let's Ask America" will feature contestants linked from their homes, who will answer questions about current events. The show is produced by Telepictures and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

"The List" is a newsmagazine that focuses on news and popular culture, and is executive produced by Rick Joyce, formerly of "Entertainment Tonight," the piece adds.

The report notes: “The shows launch in Phoenix, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Tampa and Tulsa. When contracts for other syndicated shows expire in the remaining Scripps markets (Detroit, Denver, San Diego, Indianapolis, Kansas City, West Palm Beach and Bakersfield), ‘Let's Ask America’ and ‘The List’ will move into those time slots.”

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Latino TV Arrives as an Upfront Player -- and a New Player Arrives in Latino TV

Latino television became a greater force than ever before at the upfronts during last week’s broadcast presentations in New York, which marked the arrival of an important new player in the Latino TV marketplace.

TVWeek Open Mic blogger breaks it all down in an insightful piece -- click here to read it.

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NBC Poised to End Long Ratings Losing Streak

With tonight marking the last official night of the 2011-12 television season, “NBC’s long ratings nightmare may be over,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt is poised to end his first full TV season on the job with the network No. 3 in the key demographic of adults aged 18 to 49, according to Nielsen,” the story reports. “That would be the first time that NBC has avoided a last-place finish for a TV season since 2004. In other words, many eons ago in the world of TV.”

NBC is on track for a 2.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, edging out ABC’s 2.4. Fox is on pace to finish first in the demo, with CBS locked in at No. 2. CBS is headed for the win in total viewers -- its ninth in the past 10 seasons.

But here’s the disclaimer on the NBC situation: “The Super Bowl, which set ratings records in February, is really what made the difference,” the report notes. “Without it, NBC would be on track for a 2.3 rating -- and thus would have been in the dog house yet again. Most of Greenblatt's scripted series this season, it should be noted, quickly tanked.”

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Michael McKean Hospitalized After Being Hit by Car

Michael McKean, the actor who played Leonard Kosnowski -- the “Lenny” in Lenny & Squiggy -- on the 1970s sitcom "Laverne & Shirley," has been hospitalized after being hit by a car while walking, reports TheWrap.com.

McKean, 64, had his leg broken during the accident, although the actor is fine and is recovering in a hospital in New York, the story says, citing his representative.

McKean also starred as David St. Hubbins in the mockumentary film "This Is Spinal Tap," and is currently starring in the Broadway production of Gore Vidal's play "The Best Man."

His representative said McKean will miss a performance for the first time in his career because of the accident.

michael-mckean.jpgMichael McKean

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NBC's 'Smash' to Carry On Without a Number of Characters

NBC's "Smash" will see the departure of several characters when it returns at midseason next year, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

One character who is on the way out is Dev, played by Raza Jaffrey. The character cheats on fiancee Karen, who is portrayed by "American Idol" runner-up Katharine McPhee. Also leaving is Ellis, the scheming assistant played by Jaime Cepero, the story says.

Fans were annoyed with Dev's cheating and Ellis' malicious plotting, with viewers suggesting the second season would do better without the characters, the story says.

Also leaving are Brian d'Arcy James, who played the husband of Julia (Debra Messing), and Will Chase, who played her former lover Michael, the story says.

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CNN's Prime-Time Ratings Sink to 20-Year Low -- and a TV Expert Tries to Explain

CNN's prime-time viewership sank to its lowest number in more than 20 years last week, triggering speculation about what has gone wrong for the onetime cable news leader.

CNN averaged only 395,000 viewers in prime time for the week of May 14, lower than any other week for CNN since September 1991, according to veteran TV observer Bill Carter, writing in The New York Times. Included during the week was a night (Tuesday, May 15) when “Piers Morgan Tonight” -- presumably the network’s flagship show -- attracted a feeble 39,000 viewers in the target news demo of viewers 25-54, as previously reported.

Carter calls CNN’s numbers "truly bad, deeply bad." And he cites a number of factors. Among them, the network has been hurt by strong May sweeps programming on the broadcast networks, along with an absence of major breaking news, which traditionally has helped CNN boost viewers.

In contrast, CNN benefited a year ago from big news that broke during May -- the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

"CNN’s ratings have always been affected by breaking news, but never more so than now, because its competitors at Fox News and MNSBC have much more popular hosts for their prime-time programs. Fox especially has asserted dominance over CNN in the ratings," Carter writes.

He adds: “CNN has seen its competitive position erode for several years without instituting significant changes in its overall approach. The network’s management has kept to its course of emphasizing news coverage and not the views of its prime-time personalities.”

Another factor that may be hurting CNN, Carter writes, is the growth in recording TV programming for later viewing -- a trend that could be hitting the other cable news channels too.

Carter writes: “Fox News also had a bit of a struggle that same week, attracting 395,000 viewers in that 25-54 category (notably, the same number that CNN attracted in total audience). That was the lowest total for Fox News since July 2008.”

While the ratings dip is clearly a problem for CNN, it may not be panic time yet at the network, according to Carter. "CNN has not reacted much to bad ratings before,” he writes, “so another week of distressed numbers may not faze its management.”

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HBO Signs Director to Two-Year Deal

HBO has signed a film and television director to an exclusive two-year overall deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The director is Jay Roach, who helmed the channel’s political biopic “Game Change.”

Roach has a fondness for political fare, but is also known for his work directing the “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Parents” feature films. He has “Campaign” in the works for a summer theatrical release -- a political comedy starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis.

The deal comes months after "Game Change" drew strong ratings and positive reviews, the story notes. "Game Change" starred Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin and Ed Harris as John McCain.

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HBO Options Story About Wife of Longtime Johnny Carson Producer -- a Story About Opulence, Old Hollywood and a Steady Stream of Major Stars

HBO has optioned a Vanity Fair article about the wife of Johnny Carson's longtime producer Freddie de Cordova -- Beverly Hills socialite Janet de Cordova, reports Deadline.com.

HBO will develop the piece, "Once Upon a Time in Beverly Hills," into a movie about the relationship between Janet de Cordova and her housekeeper, Gracie Covarrubias.

"The de Cordova couple lived lavishly, and threw the most opulent A-list parties populated by the likes of Gary Cooper, Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Billy Wilder, Dean Martin, Jimmy Stewart, Lew Wasserman and Ray Stark. In the process, she spent way more than de Cordova earned," the article notes.

"By her side always was Covarrubias, her Mexican servant who tended to de Cordova’s every need, down to periodically stirring the drink de Cordova held in her hand," the story says.

After her husband died, Janet de Cordova had to sell her estate, and eventually moved to Mexico with her housekeeper, who had built a scaled-down replica of the de Cordova home, the story says.

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'The Simpsons' Headed Back to Big Screen With 3-D Silent Movie

"The Simpsons" will be returning to the big screen this summer, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The show has a dialogue-free 3-D short in the works that will air before the film "Ice Age: Continental Drift," the story reports.

The four-and-a-half minute film, called "The Longest Daycare," will debut July 13 with "Ice Age," the story says.

”[Executive producer] Jim Brooks thought we should do an animated short -- a la the ones Pixar does before their features, a la the cartoons you used to see in the theater years ago -- as a fun thing to give our fans,” executive producer Al Jean said.

"The Longest Daycare" is directed by David Silverman, who also directed "The Simpsons Movie," and follows Baby Maggie as she returns to the Ayn Rand School for Tots, the story says.

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Glenn Beck's New Studio Includes Replica of Oval Office (Here's the Video)

Former Fox News host and GBTV founder Glenn Beck unveiled his new Dallas studio in a video clip, showing off a replica of the Oval Office, reports TVNewser.com.

Beck’s oval office includes replicas of the Resolute Desk and the Oval Office rug, with some of his props coming from the set of Oliver Stone's movie "JFK," the story says.

The space will be building out an additional studio where Beck will promote advertisers and sponsors. "We're going to change the way commercials are being done because TiVo is about to put the network out of business," Beck said, without providing more details.

Here’s Beck showing off his studio:

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HBO's 'True Blood' Taps New Showrunner to Succeed Alan Ball

"True Blood" has tapped a replacement for Alan Ball as showrunner on the HBO series if it receives a sixth-season renewal, reports Deadline.com. Co-executive producer Mark Hudis will get the call.

Hudis has worked on "True Blood" in seasons four and five, with the fifth season set to debut June 10, the story notes. Ball is stepping down as showrunner at the end of the fifth season, and Hudis would be promoted to executive producer/showrunner for the sixth season as part of a two-year overall deal he has with HBO, the piece adds.

Hudis and Ball first met while working at trade publication Adweek 20 years ago, and later worked on the CBS comedy "Cybill," the story says.

Ball will continue to be involved in "True Blood" and is executive producing the new series "Banshee" for Cinemax.

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How NBC Won Monday Night in the Nielsens

With NBC generally faring poorly this season in the Nielsen ratings, the network’s narrow win over ABC and Fox for prime time Monday night in the key 18-49 demo is reason to take notice. NBC averaged a 2.6 rating for the night, according to Nielsen overnights, narrowly edging ABC’s 2.5 and Fox’s 2.4, with CBS and Univision tied for fourth place at 1.5, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

A closer look reveals that CBS basically took itself out of the running with a mostly repeat lineup -- reruns of “How I Met Your Mother,” “2 Broke Girls,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Mike & Molly,” followed by the interesting-sounding but clearly not mass-targeted “Clash of the Commercials: USA vs. the World,” which averaged a 1.4 in viewers 18-49 at 10 p.m.

That left the night to a few reality shows -- ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” (2.8 average in 18-49) and two-hour “The Bachelorette” (2.4) vs. NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” (3.1) and its brand-new entry, “American Ninja Warrior” (2.4) -- along with Fox’s “night of ‘House’”: a retrospective at 8 p.m. (2.0 average) and the series finale at 9 p.m. (2.9).

In the end, it was close, with the top three networks all within two-tenths of a ratings point for the night.

On a night when “America’s Got Talent” was off substantially from a week ago -- down six-tenths of a ratings point from the 3.7 it earned last week -- NBC should find encouragement in winning the night of its two-hour premiere of “Ninja.” The obstacle course show battled to a tie with ABC’s “Bachelorette” in the 9-11 p.m. block -- although both reality shows trailed the finale of “House.” But the weeks ahead -- and whether the numbers go up or down for “Ninja” -- will fill out the picture.

In total viewers the night belonged to ABC with an average of 10.6 million for prime time, well ahead of Fox (7.4 million), NBC (7.2 million), CBS (5.7 million) and Univision (3.9 million).

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NAB Takes FCC to Court Over New Rules

The National Association of Broadcasters is taking the Federal Communications Commission to court in an effort to put the brakes on proposed rules governing disclosure of political advertising rates, Adweek reports.

The FCC voted last month to require that TV stations put their political advertising files online to make them more readily accessible, as previously reported. On Monday the NAB filed an appeal with the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking for a court review of the requirement.

The story reports: “In the notice of appeal, the NAB alleges that the FCC's rule is ‘arbitrary, capricious, in excess of the commission's statutory authority, inconsistent with the First Amendment, and otherwise not in accordance with law.’ The NAB is requesting that the court rule it unlawful and set aside the FCC order.”

Broadcasters campaigned vigorously against the rule, but were rebuffed in their efforts. They argued that “moving the political advertising rates from paper files to online would skew the market by giving other local media outlets a competitive advantage and commercial advertisers new negotiating leverage,” the story reports. “Dismissing those arguments, the Democrats on the commission, led by chairman Julius Genachowski, pushed the rule through in late April with the lone Republican commissioner voting against it.”

An FCC spokesman responded to the NAB's case in a statement, saying: "The public file rules are a common-sense update by the FCC to move from paper to online access to public information in the digital age. The rules are consistent with Congress' directive to ensure public availability while providing cost-savings for broadcasters."

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As Facebook Share Price Free-Falls, SEC Plans to Investigate 'Issues' in Company's IPO

Facebook’s much-hyped initial public offering hasn’t exactly gone according to plan -- at least not for small investors. The stock price fell further today, and that’s the least of the company’s problems, Deadline.com reports.

The story reports: “SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said that her agency plans to investigate ‘issues’ involving the IPO. While she wasn’t specific, her comment came as Reuters reported that the consumer Internet analyst for Morgan Stanley, Facebook’s lead underwriter, recently slashed his revenue forecasts for Q2 and all of 2012 -- and that news was passed along to institutional investors during the company’s road show but not to the public. If true, then it could have violated laws that bar companies from selectively disclosing important information to certain shareholders. It also could explain why institutional buyers chose not to buy Facebook shares as the price fell on Monday and today.”

The share price dropped 8.9% today to land at $31.01 -- $6.99 below the price of Friday’s offering.

Vanguard CEO Jack Bogle, appearing on CNBC, said: “This is a classic example of investor greed, including institutional greed and underwriter greed and company greed. So the message is, when all the parties to a transaction are greedy, this is the kind of outcome you can expect.”

And there’s more: “Yesterday, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said it will review what happened on Friday, when investors trading about 30M Facebook shares weren’t given confirmations for their transactions, a major snafu,” the Deadline story reports.

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How's This for a Lineup: Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Matthew McConaughey as John F. Kennedy, John Cusack as Richard Nixon ... plus Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Alan Rickman ...

An all-star cast is coming together for a high-profile project, with Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Matthew McConaughey and a host of Hollywood heavyweights on board. The project is “The Butler,” a feature film about Eugene Allen, the White House butler who served eight American presidents, Deadline.com reports.

Winfrey will play Allen's wife, with Oscar winner Forest Whitaker in the title role. Playing John F. Kennedy is McConaughey, John Cusack will portray Richard Nixon, and Alan Rickman and Fonda will play Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Whitaker won an Oscar in 2007 for his lead performance in “The Last King of Scotland.”

Also on board are Cuba Gooding Jr., David Oyelowo, Lenny Kravitz and Terrence Howard, the story reports.

Danny Strong, who wrote the HBO Sarah Palin movie "Game Change," wrote the screenplay with Oscar-nominated director Lee Daniels ("Precious"), who is helming the project.

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'Big Love' Actress Cast as Transgender Killer

An actress best known as one of the sister wives on HBO's "Big Love" will be returning to television in a new drama series on DirecTV's Audience Network called "Hit and Miss." Chloe Sevigny will play a transgender contract killer in the show, reports UPI.

Created by Paul Abbott, who also conceived "Shameless" and "State of Play," "Hit and Miss" focuses on Sevigny's character, Mia.

According to the production notes, "Mia's life is sent into a tailspin when she receives a letter from an ex-girlfriend dying from cancer revealing that Mia fathered a son 11 years ago. Faced with a difficult decision, Mia becomes the guardian to a new family, forcing her to mix her killer instincts with her newly developing maternal instincts. 'Hit and Miss' tells the story of a lethal killer at the heart of a troubled family and how all of their lives will be dramatically changed forever."

The show debuts July 11, following the premiere of the fifth and final season of "Damages," the Glenn Close legal drama, which shifted to the satellite channel after its run on FX.

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'SNL' Cast Member on Wiig's Departure -- and His Own Future With Show

While there were tears last weekend when Kristen Wiig wrapped up her tenure on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," the fate of other cast members remains unclear. In particular, the contracts of Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg are also up.

But cast member Fred Armisen confirmed he’s sticking with the sketch comedy show, reports the New York Post. At the Peabody Awards presentation Monday at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, Armisen said he has no plans to leave the program. “I love it; I love my friends there. We’re family,” he said.

Armisen received a Peabody Award for the IFC sketch series “Portlandia.”

Regarding Wiig's “SNL” exit, Armisen confessed, “It was both sad and happy because no one ever leaves ‘SNL.’ Did you see the goodnights? Kristen, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, everyone. No one goes very far.”

Behind-the-scenes “SNL” guru Lorne Michaels also weighed in on Wiig’s departure. “It was difficult for all of us -- I think most difficult for her,” Michaels said, adding, “I don’t think it will be the last time she will be on that stage.”

Click here to see a video of “SNL’s” farewell to Wiig, featuring host Mick Jagger and a couple of Rolling Stones songs.

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Cable Show: Verizon Wireless Rolls Out 'Viewdini' Mobile Search App for Streaming Video

Verizon Wireless unveiled a new app that enables mobile device users to search across a range of providers for streaming video, PC Magazine reports.

“Dubbed viewdini, the app will search across Comcast Xfinity, Hulu Plus, mSpot, and Netflix for movies, TV shows, and other video you might want to consume,” the piece reports, noting that Verizon FiOS is set to be added soon.

Verizon took the wraps off the initiative at the Cable Show, being hosted by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association this week in Boston.

The story reports: “Verizon framed viewdini as a ‘mobile video aggregator.’ Search for a specific movie or TV show, topic, or star's name, and viewdini will let you know which app has it available for viewing. If you're not a subscriber to any of the participating video providers, viewdini will let you know how much it would cost to sign up and watch. Details like cast and crew information, as well as similar titles, will also be available.”

In a statement, Dan Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, said: "Verizon Wireless has the network to deliver the video choices our customers want with the quality and speed customers demand. Working with a wide range of providers, we're giving our customers a simple and intuitive way to find shows, movies and other videos from the sources they have relationships with and discover new sources of video as well."

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Two Veteran Cable Series Canceled

In separate actions by two cable channels, a drama series and a reality show have been canceled. After eight seasons on the air, A&E has canceled its reality series "Dog the Bounty Hunter," Deadline.com reports. Meanwhile, Syfy is pulling the plug on the drama "Sanctuary" after four seasons, the story reports.

"Sanctuary’s” fate had been clear for a while, as there hadn't been any word on its future since the series' fourth-season finale aired in December, the piece notes.

"Dog the Bounty Hunter" was canceled while the producers and network had been negotiating, with its demise blamed on "creative differences," reports TMZ.com.

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It Turns Out Even MTV Has Its Limits -- Cable Channel Scraps Reality Show After Controversial Subject Matter Triggers Outrage

MTV has scrapped a reality project after a casting call for the project prompted outrage, reports the New York Post. The program intended to track virgins as they lost their virginity.

The casting call was looking for adults 18 years or older who would “candidly allow MTV to accompany you on the journey toward ‘losing it,’" the story says, citing the casting notice. "Do you want to take things to the next level? Like, are you ready to hand over your V card? Or do you have a friend who is ready to lose it?”

The network noted that it wouldn't "film the act itself. Duh." But MTV planned to document whether or not the person went through with act, the story says.

The casting call led to outraged comments on Twitter, with one person writing, "Just when I thought MTV couldn’t stoop lower than ‘Jersey Shore,'" for example.

The negative response apparently led MTV to kill the project, the story says. The casting call originally said the network would be accepting applications until May 28, but the site has been disabled, the story reports.

An MTV rep was quoted as saying: “This was a preliminary casting notice, and we’re not moving forward with a pilot.”

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Eugene Polley, Inventor of a TV Device Most of Us Can't Imagine Doing Without, Dead at 96

Eugene Polley, the co-inventor of a device that we all use virtually every day, that changed how we watch television and that many of us can’t imagine doing without, has died, TVNewser.com reports. Polley, co-inventor of the television remote control, was 96.

Polley was a young engineer at Zenith Radio Corporation when he patented, along with co-inventor Robert Adler, technology that would become the "Flash-Matic" in 1955, the story notes. The Flash-Matic was the first TV remote control.

According to engineering site CrazyEngineers.com, "Now Flash-Matic wasn’t a very perfect wireless TV remote control. It required a precise angle with the TV to work. But it offered a huge advantage over Zenith’s first remote controller called “Lazy Bones” (like the name?), which connected with the TV set with an umbilical-like cord."

Polley joined Zenith in 1935 and held many roles at the company during his 47-year career, working on technology for radios, black-and-white TVs and color sets. He held 18 patents, almost all of them related to television, TVNewser reports.

Zenith-Flash-Matic.jpgImage from electronichouse.com

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Last Remaining Bubble Series Renewed

The last remaining bubble show from the 2011-12 television season has been renewed, TVLine.com reports. The show is the CBS comedy series "Rules of Engagement.”

The show will return for a seventh season, demonstrating a remarkable ability to survive, the story notes. "This season it cemented its status as TV’s ultimate utility player when it first replaced the quickly-canceled 'How to Be a Gentleman' on Thursday at 8:30/7:30, and then succeeded another ill-fated rookie, 'Rob,’ in the same time slot.

The next season of "Rules" will be held for a midseason premiere, the story notes.

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New HBO Series Project Pairs Oscar-Winning Writer With Actress Who Has Been Featured in His Offbeat Films -- and Who Rarely Does TV

An Oscar-winning writer known for his offbeat feature films is reteaming with an actress who has been featured in a number of them.

Charlie Kaufman, whose movies include "Being John Malkovich" (1999), “Adaptation” (2002) and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004), is working with actress Catherine Keener on a comedy series for HBO, reports Deadline.com.

Keener, who rarely works in series television, has acted in two movies written by Kaufman: "Synecdoche, New York" (2008), which Kaufman also directed, and "Being John Malkovich.” She also made a cameo appearance in “Adaptation” and is set to appear in Kaufman’s upcoming feature “Frank or Francis.” She has two Oscar nominations for supporting actress -- one for “Malkovich” and one for “Capote” (2005).

She has done long-form TV work, including earning an Emmy nomination for Showtime’s “An American Crime” in 2008.

HBO has put the new project on fast-track development after landing it in a competitive situation, the story says.

The project is described as an "exploration of one day in a woman’s life and how the events leading up to it can affect, or not, the reality in which she lives," according to the article.

Kaufman, who shared an Oscar for his screenplay for “Eternal Sunshine,” is executive producing while Keener will produce. Kaufman also has Oscar nominations for his screenplays for “Adaptation” and “Being John Malkovich.”

The Deadline.com piece notes that HBO has been building up its inventory of female-led comedy series, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "Veep" and Laura Dern's "Enlightened."

catherine-keener.jpgCatherine Keener

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Snooki Pulls Out of 'Jersey Shore' Cast House

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi won't be living with her castmates while the MTV show tapes this summer at the New Jersey shore, reports TMZ.com.

The reason is her pregnancy, which has Snooki wanting to live near the "Jersey Shore" cast house but not in it. She reportedly doesn't want to be near drunk, loud roommates while she's expecting, the story says.

Snooki announced she was expecting in February, when she was three months pregnant. That means she'll be getting close to her due date during the summer, the story notes.

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Why Camille Grammer Changed Her Mind About Returning to 'Real Housewives'

The “will she or won’t she” saga of Camille Grammer and whether she would be back as a cast member on Bravo’s "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” has had enough twists and turns that we couldn’t keep up with it. But Grammer now says she's returning to the reality show, and she told E! Online why.

Put simply, she said she "couldn't let go."

"I really enjoy being with the women and working with the producers. They're like my extended dysfunctional family," she said, according to the story.

When we last reported on the situation back in March, Grammer, the ex-wife of TV sitcom icon Kelsey Grammer, had decided not to return to the series, with the decision -- depending on who was asked -- reported as "mutual" between herself and Bravo.

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Cable Show Update: Head of Time Warner Cable Sides With TV Networks on Ad-Skipping Technology

Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt expressed disapproval over Dish Network's ad-skipping technology, putting himself on the side of television networks that want to kill the service, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Dish's Auto Hop could damage how TV programming and distribution now works, with a reliance on both advertising money and subscriber fees, Britt said Monday.

"I don’t think we want to destroy one of those revenue streams,” Britt said, speaking at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s annual Cable Show.

"Translation: Don’t expect Time Warner Cable to make something like Auto Hop available to its customers anytime soon," the story notes.

NBC and Fox have been among the most vocal critics of Auto Hop, prompting Dish Network to go into spin control and offer reassurance that it will respect the networks’ advertising model, as we reported last week.

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Illeana Douglas on Her Branded Web Series: 'It's time to either move on and make it a TV show ... or try to work on something else'

A Web series fronted by actress Illeana Douglas will end after its fourth season, which is set to launch this fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series is the Ikea-branded "Easy to Assemble, which features a fictionalized version of Douglas who quits acting and gets a job at Ikea.

The show includes appearances by Douglas’ friends from her acting career, such as Fred Willard and Tom Arnold, the story notes. The next season will be more personal than previous seasons, Douglas told the publication. "I decided to focus this year on making it my story," she said.

The Web series has won Webby Awards since its 2008 debut, and led to the spinoff series "Sparhusen."

Douglas indicated she is looking beyond season four, telling the publication: "It's been an amazing experience. I loved every minute of it but as an artist, I've done everything I can do here and it's time to either move on and make it a TV show, which everyone wants to do, or try to work on something else.”

As for branded productions, Douglas sees more of it on the way. "I really think it's the future when you see companies investing in entertainment," she told the publication.

Illeana-Douglas.jpgIlleana Douglas

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History's First Scripted Show Casts Golden Globe-Winning HBO Veteran as a Viking

History's first scripted show, "Vikings," has made a key casting announcement, landing an actor known for a series of high-profile film roles and fresh off a highly honored run on HBO, TheWrap.com reports.

The actor is Gabriel Byrne, who won a Golden Globe and received two Emmy nominations for his work on HBO’s “In Treatment.” Byrne is also known for his work in feature films, including “The Usual Suspects” and “Miller’s Crossing.”

Byrne will play Earl Haraldson, who is a challenger to Viking King Ragnar Lothbrok, the story notes. The series focuses on Lothbrok, a historic Viking king, who, legend holds, claimed the god Odin as an ancestor. The part of Lothbrok has not been cast.

The series will tape in Ireland -- where Byrne hails from -- and is scheduled to debut next year.

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With Dan Harmon Out, 'Community' Writers and Producers -- the New and the Old -- Gather to Figure Out Who Will Be Sticking Around

The writers on NBC's "Community" are scheduled to meet with its new showrunners, David Guarascio and Moses Port, to talk about their futures with the show, indicating that some may be willing to stay on after creator Dan Harmon was fired, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

As previously reported, Harmon was fired as showrunner, with the studio, Sony Pictures Television, issuing a press release Friday night noting the hiring of Guarascio and Port.

Harmon wrote in a blog post that he wasn't informed by Sony or NBC about the change.

"Sony has staff writer deals in place with many of the show's scribes; it's unclear if the studio would force any writers to remain with the show," Adalian notes.

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Key Court Ruling in Broadcasters' Battle With Barry Diller's Aereo

A key decision came down Monday in a closely watched legal case that many see as a showdown between traditional media and online streaming. Television broadcasters lost some ground in their battle against Barry Diller's Aereo, a service that streams local TV content via the Web for $12 per month, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

U.S. District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan on Monday dismissed an unfair competition claim that was part of the broadcasters' complaint against Aereo. A copyright infringement claim still will be heard, the story adds.

Aereo began streaming in March, prompting the top TV broadcasters to sue to shut down the service. With the unfair competition claim struck down, the copyright infringement claim is scheduled for a hearing next week, the story says.

A representative for Fox called the ruling "disappointing," according to The Wall Street Journal. "But we look forward to our day in court to prove that Aereo's unauthorized streaming of our content constitutes copyright infringement," the Fox rep said.

Aereo declined to comment, the piece adds.

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ABC News Announces Anchors for 'Good Afternoon America'

ABC News has announced the two co-anchors who will host “Good Afternoon America,” a one-hour extension of “Good Morning America” that will have a nine-week run starting July 9.

The anchors will be “GMA’s” Josh Elliott and Lara Spencer, with special appearances by Sam Champion, Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos. The show will tape in New York’s Times Square and will air a 2 p.m. ET.

In a statement, Elliott said: "It's tremendous that ‘GMA’ has this opportunity to extend its reach, and bring something new to the afternoons. It is gratifying to play a role in it and I genuinely hope our audience will come along for the ride."

Spencer added: “I am beyond excited and honored to be part of this new chapter for the ‘Good Morning America’ family. ‘Good Afternoon America’ gives us the opportunity to reach a different audience, and better yet, spend a little more time with our morning viewers who want to be a part of the conversation and fun we plan on bringing to afternoon TV.”

The show will be executive produced by Ethan Nelson.

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AMC Rolls Out Summer Slate, Sets Premieres for 'Breaking Bad,' 'Hell on Wheels'; New Unscripted Show to Debut

AMC announced its summer programming lineup today, setting premiere dates for a number of series and announcing plans for a new unscripted series, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

“Breaking Bad,” which is entering what the network calls the first part of its final season, airs Sunday, July 15, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The final season will consist of 16 episodes, with the first eight launching this summer and the last eight to run in summer 2013.

The Western series “Hell on Wheels” launches its second season Sunday, Aug. 12, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The network also announced plans for the new unscripted show “Small Town Security.” The program, which tracks the activities of a family-owned private security company in rural Georgia, will debut Sunday, July 15, at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

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Lowest-Ever Rating for Season Finale of NBC Staple

A franchise show that has delivered big numbers for NBC in the past had its lowest-rated season finale ever Sunday night, as “Celebrity Apprentice” mustered only a 2.2 rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that the show’s two-hour finale did improve from the 1.8 the reality competition managed a week earlier. For prime time overall, NBC placed third in viewers 18-49.

ABC had the top show of the night, the two-hour “Billboard Music Awards,” which pulled in a 2.7 average in viewers 18-49. ABC won the night outright, with a 2.4 average for prime time, ahead of Fox’s 1.9, NBC’s 1.6 and CBS’s 1.3. CBS went with two episodes of “60 Minutes” (1.4 average and 1.5) and the two-hour “Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt” (1.2 average rating).

The CBS strategy paid off with a win in total viewers, with the Tiffany Network averaging 11.3 million for prime time, to 7.0 million for ABC, 5.6 million for NBC and 4.1 million for Fox.

Fox’s best performer was a one-hour “Family Guy” at 9 p.m., which earned a 2.5 average in 18-49. The season finale of “The Simpsons” managed a 2.1, while the season finale of “The Cleveland Show” pulled in only a 1.3.

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Johnny Depp Moving Forward With Another Remake of an ABC Cult Show

Johnny Depp, who’s currently in theaters starring in Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Dark Shadows,” is intent on bringing another vintage ABC show to the big screen.

The update of the Darren McGavin series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker,” which attracted a cult following during its 1974-75 run on ABC, has recruited D.V. DeVincentis ("High Fidelity") to pen the script, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Edgar Wright, best known for "Shaun of the Dead," is set to direct.

The original series starred McGavin as intrepid reporter Carl Kolchak of the Independent News Service, who tracks down bizarre crimes and supernatural occurrences.

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Howard Stern Sidekick to Undergo Major Surgery

A longtime sidekick of Howard Stern through his various radio and TV incarnations has revealed a major medical development, Examiner.com reports.

Robin Quivers, Stern's longtime co-host, told listeners of his radio show Monday that she is set to go ahead with surgery to remove a large tumor pressing on her bladder, the story reports. A week earlier she first revealed that she had a medical issue.

During this morning's "The Howard Stern Show," Quivers said, "There’s not really any update. I have a surgery date scheduled and I’m seeing the doctor today."

The grapefruit-sized growth may or may not be cancerous; Quivers has yet to say whether she knows for certain. She did say she's horrified by the prospect of being cut open. "I still say it's barbaric what they do in medicine," she complained.

The 59-year-old radio star has been with Stern as his on-air partner since 1981. Stern says he cannot imagine doing the program without her.

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Fox TV Studios Settles Lawsuit Over Hit Cable Drama

A lawsuit over the creation of a successful cable drama series has been settled by Fox Television Studios, the showrunner of USA's "White Collar" and the showrunner's agents at CAA, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The suit was filed by Travis Romero, who alleged he came up with the idea for “White Collar” and was cut out of the profits by Fox TV Studios and showrunner Jeff Eastin, the story says.

Romero claimed that he and Eastin, close friends for nearly two decades and creative partners, had come up with the idea in Eastin's hot tub, according to the piece.

Eastin's attorney said court papers were filed on Friday to dismiss the case after a settlement was reached. Terms weren't disclosed.

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News From the Cable Show: Comcast and Nielsen Readying Test of Commercial Ratings for Tablets

Comcast and Nielsen have joined forces to begin testing commercial ratings for the use of iPads and other mobile devices, Advertising Age reports. Comcast broke the news at the Cable Show, taking place this week in Boston.

The story reports: “Nielsen has systems in place to measure on-demand and online viewing, but C3 ratings for tablets have been the missing piece of the puzzle, said Matthew Strauss, senior VP-digital and emerging platforms at Comcast.”

Strauss hopes other cable operators will join in the effort, with the goal being to aggregate all measurement into a unified currency.

“We want an industry solution,” Strauss said.

“Creating a measurement system for tablet and mobile devices, where consumers are watching an increasing amount of video, has been a point of contention in the advertising industry,” the story reports. “Mr. Strauss said if the test goes well, it will be critical to making tablets and mobile phones a viable platform for advertisers.

“The company wants to be platform-agnostic, but needs an effective measurement system to do that.”

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NBC News Regular Bolts for ABC

A veteran on-air personality at NBC News is switching networks, TVNewser.com reports. Giving a tearful goodbye to her show over the weekend was "Today" Saturday co-anchor Amy Robach, who is leaving for ABC News, the website reports.

Robach has worked at NBC News/MSNBC for the past nine years, with her latest stint on weekend editions of "Today," the website reports. She will join ABC News the day after Memorial Day as a correspondent reporting for all broadcasts, the piece adds.

In her goodbye comments Saturday, Robach, who is married to actor Andrew Shue, thanked co-anchor Lester Holt along with others involved with “Today.”

Said Robach: “I want to thank everybody. I could not name everyone in the studio right now who has made every Saturday morning, when that alarm clock goes off, worth getting up for.

“Of course, Lester, you have been an amazing partner.”

amy-robach.jpgAmy Robach

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Cult CBS Series, Canceled a Few Years Ago, May Come Back to Life

A drama series that developed a cult following before having the plug pulled a few years ago is the subject of reports that it may be resurrected by Netflix, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show is “Jericho,” which starred Skeet Ulrich. The series aired on CBS from 2006-2008 and focused on a Kansas town after a nuclear attack in 23 major U.S. cities.

Former "Jericho" co-executive producer Karim Zreik said he would be "ecstatic" if the show ended up finding new life on Netflix, and added that the show's fan base has been "incredible" in its support, the story notes.

"From what I hear, sides are talking,” Zreik said. "It's exciting, and I know the cast is excited too."

The show never completely went away, Zerik noted. "Story-wise, [‘Jericho’] has been living on in the comic book world," he said. "It's all the writers from the series, led by Dan Shotz. We've done three issues already. Story-wise, we've got ample story to tell -- that's not a concern. I think we're just waiting to see if a deal can be brokered."

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NBC's 'Community' Showrunner Fired, Goes Out With a Pointed -- and Funny -- Blog Post

"Community" creator Dan Harmon was fired from his role as showrunner, with the studio, Sony Pictures Television, issuing a press release Friday night noting that comedy veterans David Guarascio and Moses Port had joined as showrunners and executive producers, reports Deadline.com.

According to a blog post from Harmon, he was wasn't informed by Sony or NBC about the change. "A few hours ago, I landed in Los Angeles, turned on my phone, and confirmed what you already know. Sony Pictures Television is replacing me as showrunner," Harmon wrote on his blog.

"Why’d Sony want me gone? I can’t answer that because I’ve been in as much contact with them as you have. They literally haven’t called me since the season four pickup, so their reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business," he wrote.

Harmon quipped that he might not want to hear from Sony anyway, writing: "'Community' is their property, I only own ten percent of it, and I kind of don’t want to hear what their complaints are because I’m sure it would hurt my feelings even more now that I’d be listening for free."

Harmon also took a shot at the official press release version of events. "I do want to correct a couple points of spin, now that I’m free to do so," he wrote. "The important one is this quote from Bob Greenblatt in which he says he’s sure I’m going to be involved somehow, something like that. That’s a misquote. I think he meant to say he’s sure cookies are yummy, because he’s never called me once in the entire duration of his employment at NBC. He didn’t call me to say he was starting to work there, he didn’t call me to say I was no longer working there and he definitely didn’t call to ask if I was going to be involved. I’m not saying it’s wrong for him to have bigger fish to fry, I’m just saying, NBC is not a credible source of All News Dan Harmon."

Harmon offers insights into his relationship with the show even as he jokes about it: "You may have read that I am technically 'signed on,' by default, to be an executive consulting something or other -- which is a relatively standard protective clause for a creator in my position. Guys like me can’t actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet, we’re still allowed to have a title on the things we create and 'help out,' like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff.

"However, if I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn’t have any power there. Nobody would have to do anything I said, ever. I would be 'offering' thoughts on other people’s scripts, not allowed to rewrite them, not allowed to ask anyone else to rewrite them, not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay, etc. It’s….not really the way the previous episodes got done. I was what you might call a….hands on producer. Are my….periods giving this enough….pointedness? I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of 'Community' without me, but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying 'it has to be like this or I quit' roughly 8 times a day."

It's unlikely Harmon would agree to stay with the show in a diminished role, given the way he was treated, writes Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

Sony and Harmon have had a strained relationship since the show's first season, according to Adalian. Conflicts have arisen over Sony and NBC's requests to make the show broader in its appeal, as well as Harmon's management style, the story says.

"In addition, 'Community' has been plagued with numerous writing staff defections over its three-season run," Adalian notes. "According to multiple people familiar with the production of 'Community', Harmon's flaws as a showrunner were at least partially responsible for much of the turnover the past few years," with Harmon reportedly strong on ideas but weak on management.

Guarascio and Port, alums of "Just Shoot Me," have recently focused on development, with nine scripts picked up to pilot during the past decade, including this past season's "El Jefe," according to Deadline.

NBC recently announced it’s moving “Community” to Fridays to support “Grimm,” as previously reported. The show has had its share of strife in recent weeks, including a public dispute between Harmon and one of the show’s co-stars, Chevy Chase.

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'thirtysomething' Star Accused of Sexual Battery

A familiar TV actor who was one of the stars of "thirtysomething" has been accused of sexual battery, reports TMZ.com.

Timothy Busfield reportedly took a date to the ArcLight theaters in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where the woman claims Busfield groped her, the story says. She ended the date and filed a report alleging sexual battery, the story says.

Busfield hasn't been arrested in connection with the incident, which took place Wednesday night, but the police want to speak with him, the piece adds.

Busfield has appeared in a number of TV shows, including “The West Wing,” along with feature films such as “Field of Dreams” and “Revenge of the Nerds.”

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What Are the Best and Worst Upfront Decisions?

Now that the broadcast upfront presentations are over and the fall schedules have been announced, it's time to call out the best and worst decisions by the networks, according to EW.com's Inside TV.

The worst new show title is CBS's "Golden Boy," with the detective drama saddled with a name that "makes the protagonist sound like a suck-up, or well tanned," the story notes.

The best new show title also comes from CBS, with the updated Sherlock Holmes drama "Elementary." "It’s not fancy, just strong, simple and evokes the voice of its famed detective,” the article says.

The most "ho-hum" show pickup is NBC's "Guys with Kids." "We get it, it’s soooo hard being a modern man (for further proof, look at this season’s 'Man Up!,' 'How to Be a Gentleman' and 'Work It')," the story points out.

The least deserved cancellation was "Terra Nova," the piece says. "From what we gathered, it came down to saving this show or 'Touch' -- and Fox oddly chose the latter. Too bad; for all its faults, 'Terra Nova' built a good family following and had plenty of room for creative growth."

The most deserved cancellation? ABC’s "GCB," "an unfunny attempt at replicating [‘Desperate Housewives’] success."

All of the big four networks had shows that surprised many in the media by not making it into the fall lineups. The story lists the biggest surprise non-pickups as NBC’s Roseanne Barr vehicle “Downwardly Mobile” and its Sarah Silverman comedy project; CBS’s Martin Lawrence sitcom; Fox’s John Stamos effort “Little Brother”; and ABC’s Judy Greer sitcom.

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Video: 'Saturday Night Live's' Send-Off to Kristen Wiig

NBC’s "Saturday Night Live" gave an emotional send-off during last Saturday’s broadcast to Kristen Wiig, who is leaving the show after seven seasons, reports Deadline.com.

The broadcast, hosted by Mick Jagger, didn't mention the futures of Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg, whose contracts are up and who may also be leaving, the story says.

Here’s the clip of Wiig’s goodbye on "SNL":

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Conan O'Brien, FCC's Julius Genachowski, NBA's David Stern in Lineup for This Week's Cable Show

The FCC chairman and NBA commissioner join celebrities including talk show host Conan O’Brien and actor-director Edward Burns for the star-studded 61st annual gathering of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The annual event put on by the cable industry’s primary trade organization opens today in Boston.

The show coincides with TVWeek's naming of its prestigious Cable Television Woman of the Year honoree. That story, featuring a must-read in-depth interview about the future of TV, can be found if you click here.

As for the cable show in Boston, THR reports that O'Brien, Burns, the FCC's Julius Genachowski and the NBA's David Stern "will all be speakers during daily general sessions, along with top cable TV industry executives including Turner Broadcasting Chairman Philip Ken, Comcast Cable President Neil Smit, Time Warner Cable Chairman Glenn Britt, ESPN President John Skipper, News Corp. Deputy Chairman Chase Carey and Fox Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill.” 

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Genachowski, the keynote speaker, will appear Tuesday and will take part in a session with Michael Powell, the former FCC chairman and now president and CEO of NCTA.

Stern, the commissioner of the NBA, will join ESPN’s Skipper, Fox’s Hill, Turner Broadcasting’s David Levy and moderator Darren Rovell of CNBC for a panel discussion of the impact of digital media on sports.

CNN’s Piers Morgan has a number of roles in the three-day Cable Show, including conducting an interview with O’Brien and moderating a panel on the blurring of traditional business boundaries that will feature Time Warner Chairman Jeffrey Bewkes and Cox Communications President Patrick Esser along with News Corp.’s Carey and Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.

Actor and director Burns will be a part of a panel titled “Digital Disruption: The Impact of Digital Distribution on the Future of Entertainment, Communications and Commerce in Our Daily Lives,” the report notes. Also taking part in the panel, which will be moderated by CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, will be Comcast’s Smit along with VECO President Reo Caraeff and Verizon Wireless President Dan Mead.

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Why General Motors Will Skip the Super Bowl in 2013

General Motors plans to sit out the Super Bowl next year, reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age. The decision comes after the automaker said it will stop advertising on Facebook, the story notes.

The company gave a simple reason for skipping the Super Bowl: It’s too expensive.

"We understand the reach the Super Bowl provides, but with the significant increase in price, we simply can't justify the expense," said GM's global chief marketing officer, Joel Ewanick, in a statement.

The automaker most likely wants to spur a discussion about the price and effectiveness of certain media outlets, the story notes.

"The announcements also come just as the annual upfront marketplace -- where ad buyers strike deals for commercial time in the coming TV season -- is getting under way, and could be meant to signal an aggressive pose heading into negotiations," Steinberg writes.

"Like Facebook on the eve of its IPO, the Super Bowl is a splashy target for GM. The cost of advertising in the gridiron classic has soared in recent years as marketers place more value on live sports and broad, communal events that draw the kinds of big audiences that are becoming harder and harder to assemble," the story points out.

NBC drew an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot in this year's Super Bowl. CBS, which will air the 2013 game, has been talking about $4 million a spot.

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Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees Dead at 62

Bee Gees co-founder Robin Gibb died Sunday at the age of 62, reports The New York Times. The cause of death was given as complications from cancer and intestinal surgery.

Gibb had been in the hospital for intestinal problems during the past two years, with colon cancer spreading to his liver, the story notes.

He's the second Bee Gee and third Gibb brother to die, with his fraternal twin and fellow Bee Gee, Maurice Gibb, dying from complications from a twisted intestine in 2003. Their youngest brother, Andy, died in 1988 of heart failure at the age of 30.

The Bee Gees sold more than 100 million albums and became part of the sound of the disco era, with many of their hits showcased in the film "Saturday Night Fever," including iconic songs such as "Stayin' Alive," the story notes.

Robin-Gibb.jpgRobin Gibb

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Missing 'Terminator 3' Actor Turns Up

Nick Stahl, the "Terminator 3" and "Carnivale" actor who went missing last week, has surfaced, People magazine reports. Stahl checked into rehab Saturday, the story reports.

As previously reported, Stahl was reported missing last Monday by his wife, who had earlier separated from Stahl and asked a judge to limit his visits with their daughter.

Stahl communicated with friends on Friday to tell them that he planned to enter a treatment program, People reports.

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FX Developing Drama Project for Oscar-Nominated Actor

FX is developing a drama project for an Oscar-nominated actor, reports Deadline.com. The project is created by Oscar nominee Tim Roth and "Homeland" executive producer Alexander Cary, and will star Roth, the story reports.

The untitled Fox21 project is described as a bank robbery drama with a "volatile family dynamic," the story says. FX has given the project a script commitment, reuniting Roth and Cary, who first worked together on the Fox series "Lie to Me," the story says.

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Veteran CBS News Producer Dies

A 27-year veteran of CBS News died last night at his Manhattan home, reports TVNewser. Four-time Emmy-winning producer Michael Rosenbaum, 64, died from a brain tumor that had been discovered last September.

Rosenbaum was the CBS News Tel Aviv bureau chief from 1989-1995, working with CBS stars Bob Simon and Dan Rather on Middle East reports.

CBS News Chairman and "60 Minutes" Executive Producer Jeff Fager, who worked with Rosenbaum, issued a statement about his colleague, saying, “Michael was a great friend to so many of us at CBS News. He was a real newsman who was naturally curious and skeptical of almost everything. He was also fun to be around, a caring friend, and a beloved member of our family at CBS News."

Rosenbaum is survived by his brother, David, and sister, Judy Witt.

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Singer Wayne Newton Accused of Sexual Harassment and Animal Abuse

Singer Wayne Newton, a fixture in Las Vegas, has been sued in that town, along with his wife, Kathleen, and her mother, USA Today reports.

The lawsuit, filed this week by a company called CSD that has plans to convert Newton’s 40-acre estate into “Graceland West,” accuses Newton of sexually harassing a young female worker hired to train the singer’s 55 horses. It also says Newton has failed to care for the horses.

The suit seeks to evict the Newtons from the estate, known as Casa de Shenandoah, so that plans can proceed to convert the property into an attraction including a museum, exhibition space, theater, zoo and visitors’ center.

The story reports: “The Newton family claims the lawsuit is a pre-emptive strike because they had planned to sue the company for breach of contract after multiple construction delays. In a lengthy statement, Newton's lawyer says the claims are ‘salacious’ and ‘meritless,’ adding, ‘This is nothing more than a pre-emptive effort on the part of the plaintiffs to intimidate the Newtons for their own benefit.’"

Newton's estate contains Arabian horses, penguins, vintage paintings and 17th century antiques from European castles. The Newtons reportedly struck a deal with CSD for a $50 million project to turn the estate into a tribute to Newton’s music career.

The report notes: “Under the terms of the museum deal, Newton, his wife and his daughter agreed to move to a newly constructed $2 million home on the estate so their mansion could be converted into a museum, initially scheduled to open in late 2011. The lawsuit claims the family refused to relocate or turn over personal memorabilia. The company claims Newton's home was in a ‘sad state of disrepair’ when it purchased the land for $19.5 million in June 2010, with his horses uncared for and 6-feet-tall animal manure piles covering the grounds.”

The lawsuit states: "The penguin ponds were disgustedly dirty, full of algae and were endangering the penguins, all of whom were sick and many had died.”

Newton’s lawyer, J. Stephen Peek, reportedly said the residence couldn’t have been in disrepair, noting that the season finale for CBS’s “The Amazing Race” was filmed there in 2009.

The lawsuit alleges that Newton harassed the female horse trainer “by repeatedly kissing her on the mouth,” the story reports, adding: “The worker quit and has threatened to sue Newton and CSD, according to the lawsuit.”

Peek said the woman was fired and the accusations are merely an attempt to “obtain financial gain,” the story says.

Newton has been through a number of financial hassles, including filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1992 and getting into a beef with the IRS in 2005 over claims that he and his wife owed $1.8 million in back taxes.

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NBC Sinks Further Into Fifth Place

Thursday was another rough ratings night for NBC, according to Nielsen overnights, with lifeless results for a pair of season finales. The network was also trounced by Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, both in total viewers and in the key 18-49 demo, finishing a distant fifth on the night in both measures, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

Univision did a little gloating this week at the upfronts about recent ratings gains against NBC, as previously reported, and now it appears that Univision may have even more ratings momentum in its battle with the Peacock Network.

NBC tried a triple run of “Community,” wrapped around the season finale of “30 Rock” at 8:30 p.m. All four programs -- including the season finale of “Community” at 9:30 p.m. -- came in with feeble 1.3 ratings in viewers 18-49, a series low for “Community,” and none of the shows cracked the 3 million mark in total viewers.

By the time “Awake” came on at 10 p.m., NBC was off the radar of most viewers, with “Awake” pulling in a mere 0.7 average in 18-49 and 2.1 million total viewers.

NBC’s shocking 1.1 average rating for prime time in 18-49 placed it a distant fifth behind Univision’s 1.5. At the other end of the rankings, Fox won the night with a 3.0, ahead of ABC’s 2.5 and CBS’s 2.4.

In total viewers, CBS squeaked out a win for the night, averaging 11.4 million to Fox’s 11.1 million, ABC’s 8.4 million, Univision’s 3.7 million and NBC’s 2.5 million.

Fox’s “American Idol” continued to show strength, rising 8% from last week to a 4.2 average in the 18-49 demo to come in as the top show of the night. The season finale of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” surged 11% from a week ago to a 3.9 to place second on the night, while the season finale of ABC’s “Scandal” turned in its best-ever number, soaring 26% from last week to a 2.4.

CBS’s pairing of a repeat of “The Big Bang Theory” at 8 p.m. with the season finale of “Rules of Engagement” didn’t work. “Rules” managed only a 2.1 in 18-49, off 22% from last week’s 2.7, when a fresh “Big Bang” was the lead-in. “Person of Interest,” airing its season finale at 9 p.m., may have been dragged down a bit too, settling for a 2.5, down 4% from last week. But the season finale of “The Mentalist” at 10 p.m. offered some hope, rising 4% from last week to a 2.5.

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Fox Stations Fear Affiliation Switches

Current Fox affiliates in a number of markets are reportedly worried that the network will drop them in favor of acquiring CW or MyNetworkTV affiliates from Sinclair, according to a story in B&C.

A new agreement between Fox and Sinclair, announced this week, gives both parties a variety of options to buy stations in the other’s group, the story says. Current Fox affiliates in Raleigh (WRAZ-TV), Las Vegas (KVVU-TV), Cincinnati (WXIX-TV) and Norfolk (WVBT-TV) are said to be concerned that Fox will buy Sinclair stations in those markets and make them O&O’s, leaving the present Fox stations without an affiliation.

The story reports: “The owners were alerted to the Fox-Sinclair arrangement before Sinclair's announcement went public, but the news nonetheless caught the group execs, and station staffers, off guard. ‘Surprised would be a good way to characterize it,’ said Paul Karpowicz, president of Meredith Local Media Group.” Meredith owns Vegas Fox affiliate KVVU.

The announcement by Sinclair and Fox came the day after the Fox upfront presentation in New York, and quickly had the attention of affiliates. One group executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, commented: "When it was announced, everyone was like, 'huh?' Everyone is wondering about a new paradigm that no one really thought of."

Fox issued a statement saying: "We have begun speaking to our affiliates regarding this matter and will address their concerns individually and privately."

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Jenny McCarthy to Get Naked Again for Photo Shoot

Actress and television reality host Jenny McCarthy, who made a name for herself with a 1993 nude photo shoot for Playboy and later became the publication’s Playmate of the Year, is going back for more. McCarthy will appear in another nude photo spread in Playboy, USA Today reports.

McCarthy, 39, hosts the NBC dating show “Love in the Wild,” which premieres its new season June 5. Her pictorial in Playboy’s July-August issue hits the newsstands June 29.

At the upfronts, McCarthy said, "All I wanted to do [when she began in the industry] was work with my clothes on, and now I just hope to get them off!"

McCarthy hosted MTV’s “Singled Out” from 1995-97.

jenny-mccarthy-playboy.jpgJenny McCarthy in Playboy

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Larry King Puts His New Talk Show on Fast Track

Veteran television talk show host Larry King, who is planning a return to the genre with "Larry King Now" on an Internet outlet, is fast-tracking the show so he can be involved in the presidential election, Access Hollywood reports.

King plans to launch the new production this summer on Ora.TV, a startup created by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. The show was originally slated to launch in fall, but King said he wants to go sooner rather than later to "get into the political mix" before the fall elections.

Episodes will be posted on Ora.TV daily in late afternoon -- 5 or 6 p.m. -- and viewers will then be free to watch whenever they want. King anticipates that he will still have the drawing power to attract big names and is aiming for Mitt Romney or President Obama to kick off the show.

The report adds: “King said he expected the format of his show to be similar to ‘Larry King Live,’ which aired on CNN in prime time for 25 years, and he’s retained much of his old production staff. The new show will generally be 30 minutes in length, instead of an hour, although there will be flexibility to go shorter or longer depending on who’s being interviewed, said Jon Housman, Ora.TV’s CEO.”

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Adult Swim Brings Back Series

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim will be bringing back an animated series that had been thought to be winding down, Vibe.com reports.

The series is Aaron McGruder's "The Boondocks," which was expected to end its run after season. Now the word is it will be back for season four.

"The Boondocks" will join Odd Future's sketch comedy show "Loiter Squad" in the Adult Swim lineup. There's no word on whether the full cast will return.

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HBO Series Answers Criticism Over Lack of Diversity

An HBO series that was criticized for its lack of diversity has apparently taken steps to correct that situation, the New York Post reports.

Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the HBO show "Girls," brought African-American "Community" actor Donald Glover aboard for season two, which began taping this week in Brooklyn. Glover was seen shooting the show within the first few days.

Dunham spoke about the diversity issue on NPR's "Fresh Air" last week, noting that the show's second-season renewal would allow the program to remedy the issue.

“I’m really excited to introduce new characters into the world of the show. Some of them are great actors of color," she said, according to the story.

HBO said privately that it "wouldn't be surprised" if the second season addressed the criticism that the show was too white, according to the report.

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A&E Cancels Drama Series

An A&E drama series that recently finished its second season on the cable network has been canceled, Deadline.com reports. The show is “Breakout Kings,” which starred Domenick Lombardozzi, Laz Alonso and Jimmi Simpson.

The series had a better run than expected after its pilot was passed over by Fox in 2010, the story notes. The show, a production of 20th Century TV’s Fox21 division, premiered March 6, 2011, and gave A&E its most-watched drama premiere in key demos, delivering 1.5 million viewers 18-49.

Co-creator and executive producer Matt Olmstead just signed up to run the NBC drama "Chicago Fire."

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Canceled Network Drama May Find New Life on Cable

One of the highest-rated broadcast shows to get canceled this season may be picked up by a cable network, Deadline.com reports. The CBS drama "Unforgettable” could be headed to TNT or Lifetime, according to the story.

As previously reported, "Unforgettable" was canceled after drawing an average of 12 million viewers, but pulling only a 2.5 rating among viewers 18-49.

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said the question wasn't "what went wrong with 'Unforgettable' but what went right with the new pilots," the story notes.

Producers Sony Pictures TV and CBS TV Studios have had early discussions with TNT and Lifetime about picking up the show, which stars Poppy Montgomery as a detective who can visually remember everything.

TNT has had success with female-led police shows, such as "The Closer," while Lifetime has tried to debut shows with the theme, including "The Protector" and "Against the Wall." Both shows were canceled after one season, the piece points out.

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Video: Conan and Dave Tear Into Their Common Rival: Jay Leno

With Conan O'Brien's first visit as a guest of David Letterman in 13 years, the late-night hosts' conversation turned to their common rival: Jay Leno, reports Bill Carter in The New York Times.

"The two men traded barbs about Mr. Leno on Thursday night, about how he would surely be watching the interview, and what kind of relationship Mr. O’Brien had with him, before and after the 'Tonight Show’ turnaround,” Carter writes.

"Mr. Letterman made an observation he has long made about Mr. Leno: that as a stand-up comic in the 1970s, he was 'the guy.' But he told Mr. O’Brien that even then, Mr. Leno was 'a bit of a brat,' " the story notes.

The story adds, "Of course, the biggest thing the two comics have in common is that they both lost the 'Tonight Show' to Mr. Leno, and the scar has apparently not healed for either of them."

Here are a couple of pertinent clips from O’Brien’s appearance:

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Nickelodeon Pulls Plug on Long-Running Series

Nickelodeon is ending the run of a teen-oriented series that has been a hit for the cable network, TVGuide.com reports. After five seasons, “iCarly” is winding down.

The cast will reunited in June for one last time, to film a special "iCarly" television event, the story reports. The special program will be televised in November.

The show stars Miranda Cosgrove in the title role, with Jennette McCurdy playing her best friend. Creator and executive producer Dan Schneider said of the ending of the show, "Everyone at 'iCarly' has been like family to me for five years. When we film our very last scene, there will be a lot of crying, I know. But I also know that in television, you don't want to over-stay your welcome. I want to go out the way we are -- on a creative high-note."

The report notes: “Although the show is coming to an end, many of the cast members will stay in the Nickelodeon family. The network has green-lit a new live-action series from Schneider starring McCurdy and a new pilot starring [Noah] Munck as part of an overall talent deal with the 16-year-old. The network has also green-lit a pilot from producers Jay Kogen and Aaron Kaplan called ‘Wendell & Vinnie,’ which stars [Jerry] Trainor as a goofball uncle who becomes the guardian to his conservative 12-year-old genius nephew. As for Cosgrove, she plans to attend USC in the fall.”

In a statement, Marjorie Cohn, Nickelodeon's president of development and original programming, said, "'iCarly' has been a definitional show for Nick with kid empowerment at its core and irreverent, smart humor that families around the world enjoy. With its classic sitcom format and beloved characters, 'iCarly' will always have a home on Nickelodeon."

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'Nothing Mysterious' About Disappearance of 'Carnivale' Actor, Say Police

A Los Angeles Police Department detective who is heading up the investigation into the disappearance of actor Nick Stahl said foul play is not suspected in the case, People.com reports.

As previously reported, Stahl, who starred in “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and HBO's "Carnivale," was reported missing on Monday by his wife, who said she last saw the 32-year-old actor May 9.

"We're not treating it like a crime," said LAPD Detective Carmine Sasso, who is in charge of the investigation. "Certain factors are contributing to him being missing. There's really nothing mysterious about it."

The actor has suffered personal problems, including a separation from his wife since January. In February, she filed court papers seeking child support for their 2-year-old daughter, the story says.

Sasso added: "We're not pounding the pavement or knocking on doors on this one, just networking."

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Kimmel Show Notches a First in Late-Night Ratings

ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” is celebrating a first-ever achievement in the late-night ratings. For the first time during the regular television season, Kimmel’s show, which airs at midnight, topped Jay Leno’s NBC chestnut “Tonight Show,” which goes on at 11:35 p.m., TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

“Kimmel” reached the milestone last week, drawing 4% more viewers than Leno in the key 18-49 demo on Thursday, May 10, the story says.

For the week of May 7-11, “Kimmel” topped CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” by 4% in the 18-34 demo. “Kimmel” was the No. 3 talk show in late-night in total viewers, behind the Leno and Letterman shows. The show was up 1% year to year in both total viewers and adults 18-49, the only late-night broadcast talk show to post gains in either measure.

However, ABC’s “Nightline” continued its run as top dog in late-night, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. For the week, “Nightline” posted a 0.8 average rating in adults 18-49, followed by NBC’s “Tonight Show” (0.8), CBS’s “Late Show” (0.7), ABC’s “Kimmel” (0.6), NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” (0.5), CBS’s “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” (0.4) and NBC’s “Last Call with Carson Daly” (0.3).

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Cable Dramedy Loses Another Cast Member

Just days after the female lead exited a cable dramedy series, another cast member has dropped out, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.

BET's "The Game" is losing actor Pooch Hall, whose departure closely follows that of co-star Tia Mowry-Hardict.

As previously reported, Mowry-Hardict's departure was a "mutual decision," with the actress breaking the news to fans via Twitter. She played Dr. Melanie Barnett-Davis on the show since it debuted on the CW in 2006.

Hall is joining the cast of the new Showtime pilot "Ray Donovan," the story says. He played the husband of Mowry-Hardict's character, a wide receiver for the fictional San Diego Sabers football team.

"As a result of Pooch’s involvement on a new project, BET is in the process of reworking the casting and storyline of the show," BET said in a statement.

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Producer of Canceled MTV Series: 'It's the Network's Job to Stand Behind Their Shows'

Doug Liman, the executive producer and director of the canceled MTV show "I Just Want My Pants Back," said he had started working on a second season when he was surprised by the network's decision not to renew the series, reports Deadline.com.

“When the head of the network tells tells you how passionate he is and that he is bringing back the show, and when the studio tells you how profitable the show is, you start to work on next season," Liman said.

He said the producers weren't given a reason for the cancellation. The show's content made it a target of the media watchdog group the Parents Television Council, however.

The show was canceled despite being critically well-received, as we reported yesterday.

"There are advertisers who ought to be scared of it -- that’s why it’s the network’s job to stand behind their shows, especially when it’s a network that says that their brand is about youth culture," Liman said.

Studio Universal Cable Productions is talking with other networks about picking it up. “I’m not done fighting,” Liman said. “The show is really good; I really loved those characters. There are so many stories left to tell.”

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Former 'X Factor' Host Set to Land 'Entertainment Tonight' Job

The former host of "The X Factor" is close to a deal to become the new co-host of "Entertainment Tonight," reports the New York Post's Page Six. Steve Jones is set to replace Mark Steines, the story says.

Jones has been talking with the show since he was let go from "The X Factor" by creator Simon Cowell, and has been filling in on the program since March, the story says. Steines will be leaving the show after 17 years. Jones will co-host with Nancy O'Dell.

Representatives for "ET" said only, "Nothing has been confirmed," according to the piece.

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With IPO, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg Will Be Worth More Than Google's Founders

With Facebook's $16 billion initial public offering, 28-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg will become wealthier than Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, reports Bloomberg.

Zuckerberg will rank as the 29th-richest person on Earth, the story notes. With Facebook pricing its shares at $38 each, Zuckerberg's shares and options are valued at $19.1 billion.

Chief Executive Zuckerberg started the company as a 19-year-old at Harvard University from his dorm room. The company has 900 million monthly users and generated more than $3.7 billion in revenue last year.

In the offering, Zuckerberg sold 30.2 million shares for $1.15 billion, with most of the proceeds being earmarked for paying taxes for exercising 60 million stock options, the story says.

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Oxygen Renews Reality Competition Show

Oxygen is giving a second season to a reality competition series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series is the tattoo competition show "Best Ink."

"The tattoo industry was a previously unexplored space for Oxygen," says Rod Aissa, senior vice president of original programming and development at Oxygen Media. "But our audience immediately loved it, and with ‘Best Ink’ we've been able to capture the drama and culture of the tattoo scene while weaving compelling stories through the tapestry of ink.”

Airing at 10 p.m., the show has more than doubled the network's time period average for adults 18-49, the story says.

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Now You and Your Friends Can Be on TV When You Chat -- Comcast Enables Skype Video Calls on TV Sets

Comcast is adding a service that will allow subscribers to make Skype video calls over their television sets, reports Bloomberg.

The service, part of an effort to keep customers from canceling their cable plans, will let people make high-definition video calls, the piece says.

The service was set to launch this week in Boston and Seattle, and was expected to expand to other cities including Atlanta, Chicago and Miami by week's end, the story says. The cost will be $9.95 for Triple Play customers, who pay for Internet, TV and voice.

The piece reports: “Comcast, based in Philadelphia, is seeking ways to keep its cable customers loyal while adding features that can bring in additional revenue. Skype on Xfinity, which includes a video camera and a special remote control, lets users make video calls and send instant messages while watching TV. The service may be attractive to those for whom using Skype on a personal computer is unfamiliar or unappealing.”

Richard Doherty, an analyst with the consulting firm Envisioneering Group, said: “It’s really going for a PC-agnostic user: seniors, large families who don’t want to crowd around the PC.”

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Fox Buries the Competition Behind Resurgent 'Idol'; Three ABC Series Hit All-Time Lows; NBC Settles for Fifth Place

Wednesday night in the Nielsen overnights was a case of good news/bad news/mediocre news: good news for Fox, bad news for ABC and NBC and mediocre news for CBS.

The good news for Fox: Its two-hour “American Idol” was up, rising 7% from a week ago to a 4.8 average rating in the key 18-49 demo to give the network a huge win for the night, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

CBS had reason to cheer as well, with its two-hour season finale of “Criminal Minds” pulling a 3.5 average in viewers 18-49, a hefty six-tenths of a ratings point higher than last week’s episode and a 6% improvement on last year’s one-hour season finale. However, with the first hour of prime time in repeats, CBS had to settle for a distant second place behind Fox for prime time overall.

ABC’s top show of the night, by far, was “Modern Family” with a 3.9 average rating in 18-49, but that was off significantly from last week’s 4.4 and marked a low for the season. Still, “Modern Family” fared better than other ABC programming, with “Suburgatory,” “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” and “Revenge” all setting or equaling historic lows.

“Suburgatory’s” season finale managed only a 1.8 in viewers 18-49, falling off 14% from a week earlier and setting a series low; “Apt. 23” fell three-tenths of a ratings point from last week, equaling its series low with a 2.0; and “Revenge,” which also had a 2.0, also set a series low, slipping two-tenth’s from last week. “The Middle” held steady with a 1.9.

NBC had to settle for a non-competitive fifth place for the night behind Univision, with a fresh episode of “Law & Order: SVU” failing to resuscitate the network after a low-rated double-run of “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” and a repeat of “SVU.” The fresh “SVU” at 10 p.m. settled for a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo, down a tick from a 1.8 last week. Earlier in the night, the two “Off Their Rockers” installments mustered only a 1.4 and a 1.5.

When the dust settled it was Fox well ahead of the pack with a 4.8 average rating in 18-49 for prime time overall, followed by CBS (2.7 average), ABC (2.3), Univision (1.5) and NBC (1.3). Total viewers was another big win for Fox with 17.3 million to 10.4 million for CBS and 6.6 million for ABC. NBC managed to turn the tables on Univision, drawing 4.5 million total viewers to Univision’s 3.8 million.

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Video: ABC Unveils Preview Clips for Its New Shows

ABC, which broke out its prime-time schedule for 2012-13 at this week’s upfronts, has released preview clips for its new shows. Click here for the network’s full schedule for fall.

Here’s a look at the new series:

“The Family Tools”

“Nashville”


“666 Park Avenue”

“Last Resort”

“Malibu Country”


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Video: Fall and Midseason Clips for New Fox Programming

Here are the preview clips from Fox for new programs set to premiere in fall 2012 and midseason.

“Ben & Kate”

“The Mindy Project”

“The Following”

“The Mob Doctor”

“The Goodwin Games”


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Video: Trailers for NBC's New Fall Series

NBC, which took the wraps on its prime-time schedule for fall earlier this week (click here to see the full schedule) has circulated trailers for most of its new programs.

Here they are ...

“Revolution”

“Go On”

“The New Normal”

“Animal Practice”

“Guys With Kids”

“Chicago Fire”

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Video: CBS Releases Previews of Upcoming Series

CBS, which announced its fall schedule Wednesday, has released preview clips for its four new series. The full CBS prime-time schedule for 2012-13 can be found by clicking here.

Here are the official previews ...

"Elementary"

"Vegas"

"Made in Jersey"

"Partners"

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Video: Preview Clips for Upcoming CW Shows

The CW has released clips previewing some of its new shows slated for fall. The broadcast network unveiled its full 2012-13 lineup today, as reported earlier.

Here are clips for three upcoming series:

“Arrow”

“Emily Owens, M.D.”

“Beauty and the Beast”

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Tired of Low Ratings, CW Is Developing Its Own Measurement System

The CW has had enough of a Nielsen ratings system that the broadcast network has been complaining about for years, saying it undercount’s CW’s young viewers. TheWrap reports that the network has decided to do something about it by developing its own system of measurement.

The measurement system was just one of the news items to surface during today’s upfront presentation by the CW. Another one is CWD, an online initiative that will offer game shows, comedies and animation, along with other content.

“One of its features will allow viewers to choose the outcome of a situation, choose-your-own adventure style. Viewers might decide whether a character kisses someone or storms out of the room, for example,” TheWrap reports.

CW is keeping details about the new measurement system close to its vest, but CW President Mark Pedowitz said it will measure who’s watching online along with the real-time audience for the broadcast network.

Pedowitz reportedly said CW is working independently on the system, not with other networks. In contrast to the industry standard of targeting viewers 18-49, CW aims for the 18-34 demo.

The story adds: “Asked if he hoped the new system would become an industry standard, Pedowitz said, ‘I think everybody has to make their own choice. I have no idea. ... We may just be a very different network from everyone else.’"

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Four Big TV Gambles That Failed to Pay Off This Season

The TV season that is currently winding down saw more than its share of risky moves, and in many cases, those risks failed to pay off, TheWrap reports. That means networks may be in the mood to play it safe for the near future.

Among the high-profile experiments that blew up, Fox’s pricey time travel piece “Terra Nova” and NBC’s racy 1960s effort “The Playboy Club” stand out.

Fox’s “Alcatraz” and NBC’s “Awake” were also among the season’s more spectacular failures, the story notes.

At the other end of the spectrum, the biggest hits tended to be safe fare such as singing competitions and sitcoms, while fantasies such as ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and NBC’s “Grimm” also proved to have staying power.

The report notes: “The networks' most successful gambles this season were with existing shows, not new ones. CBS successfully revamped ‘Two and a Half Men’ with Ashton Kutcher in place of Charlie Sheen. NBC ran ‘The Voice’ in midseason against a CBS Monday night lineup, anchored by ‘Men,’ that had looked bulletproof in the fall. ‘The Voice’ ended up briefly surpassing Fox's ‘American Idol’ as the top-rated non-NFL programming on television, though ‘Idol’ eventually retook the lead. NBC also used a strong lead-in from ‘The Voice’ to successfully launch the ambitious musical drama ‘Smash,’ which scored decent ratings.”

The story notes that risk taking has paid off for the networks in the past, with “Seinfeld,” “Modern Family” and “Lost” among the examples. But the piece adds: “This was a season that seemed to depressingly reinforce stereotypes about the TV landscape: Networks remain the main home for mass-market reality shows, broad comedies and procedurals, while cable is the domain of novelistic period shows like ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and hit genre series like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Walking Dead.’"

Whether it has to do with playing it safe or not, the story notes that TV viewing was down in the fourth quarter of 2011, the period when the current season launched, after years of consistent growth.

What went wrong with the seasons four biggest flops? Some quotes from TheWrap:

“Terra Nova”: “It had a dozen executive producers, to go along with a massive budget, and tried to hedge by offering something for everyone. There was sci-fi. Family drama. Teenage romance. Action. A dystopian future. But in trying to please everyone -- you know how this one goes, right? -- it ended up pleasing very few.”

“The Playboy Club”: “Like ‘Terra Nova,’ didn't seem to have a soul. Like ‘Terra Nova,’ it was all over the place with subplots, none of them very original. You'll keep watching a good-looking but dumb show, the way you'll keep dating a dim bulb because of their physical attributes. But if they don't have a soul, you can't keep time with a person or a show.”

“Alcatraz”: "’Alcatraz’ had one big central mystery -- how did the former prisoners disappear in 1963, and why do they keep reappearing in modern times? ‘Alcatraz’ hedged its bets, doling out clues as it kept viewers occupied from episode to episode with an escaped criminal of the week. The half-and-half approach didn't engage enough of them.”

“Awake”: “It’s complicated. And attention spans are short. We really don't know what ‘Awake’ could have done differently. Its setup either fascinated or repelled viewers, and seems mostly to have repelled them. We'd like to wake up in a world where a show as strange as ‘Awake’ could survive on a major network.”

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Disco Queen Donna Summer Dead at 63

Disco music legend Donna Summer died today at 63. The singer, who released a string of hits during the 1970s and 1980s, died this morning in Florida following a battle with cancer, TMZ.com reports.

The story reports: “Sources close to Summer tell us ... the singer was trying to keep the extent of her illness under wraps. We spoke to someone who was with Summer a couple of weeks ago ... who says she didn't seem too bad.”

Summer, a five-time Grammy winner, was reportedly working recently to try to finish an album.

She was known for 1970s hits including "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls,” along with the 1980s smash "She Works Hard for the Money."

donna-summer.jpgDonna Summer

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Report: Walter Cronkite's Final CBS Contract Stipulated That He Had to Stop Bashing Another Well-Known CBS Newsman

Walter Cronkite's final contract with CBS stipulated that the legendary news anchor had to stop criticizing another CBS newsman, Dan Rather, in public, according to “Cronkite,” Douglas Brinkley's new biography, the New York Post reports.

Cronkite, who died in 2009 at the age of 92, initially endorsed Rather as his successor when he was forced to retire at 65, which was CBS's mandatory retirement age, the story says. But Cronkite became more and more bitter toward Rather, according to the book.

When Rather stormed off the set in 1987 after being told U.S. Open tennis coverage would eat into his evening newscast, Cronkite said he would have "fired" him immediately, the story says, citing the book.

“He wanted to destroy me. I didn’t know what to do. I kept wondering how to handle his venom. I decided I didn’t want to fight him. So I hunkered down in the fetal position and just took it," Rather says in "Cronkite," the article notes.

It's not clear whether the two anchors ever patched up their problems, but when Cronkite signed a final 10-year deal with CBS, the network demanded that the older anchor stop criticizing Rather in public, the story says.

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MTV Cancels Series

An MTV series has been canceled and is looking for a new network home, reports Deadline.com. The show is the freshman comedy program "I Just Want My Pants Back."

One reason the show wasn't renewed is MTV's large inventory, which includes returning shows such as "Teen Wolf" and new programs including "Inbetweeners," the story says.

"Pants" focuses on a 22-year-old man and his friends dealing with romance and becoming an adults. The show, which was critically well-received, is from Doug Liman and Dave Bartis' Hypnotic and Universal Cable Prods. It’s based on the book by David Rosen.

In a statement, MTV said: “We’re proud to have aired ‘I Just Want My Pants Back,’ with its impressive creative pedigree and talented group of actors. Many factors go in to determining renewals, however, and ultimately, we decided not to move forward with an additional season of ‘Pants.’”

The series opened to strong ratings but saw them erode during its run, the story points out.

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In 'Mutual Decision,' Lead Actress Exits Cable Dramedy

In what’s being described as a "mutual decision," the lead actress on a cable dramedy series won't be returning next season, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Tia Mowry will exit BET's "The Game," the story reports. Mowry has played Dr. Melanie Barnett-Davis on the show since it debuted in 2006 on the CW.

The series moved to BET when the network picked it up for a fourth season, which debuted in 2011 and drew 7.7 million viewers for its premiere. It remains one of BET's most-watched shows, and the network last month renewed it for a sixth season.

Mowry broke the news on Twitter, THR reports. Mowry tweeted: “Just wanted to let all my fans know that I will not be returning to The Game for season 6. It was an incredible run and I had lots of fun.”

Mowry has another show, the reality series “Tia & Tamera” on Style Network, where she co-stars with her sister, Tamera Mowry-Housley, the report notes.

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CW's Fall Schedule Bets on Classic Characters, Shifts Network Staples Into New Slots

The CW's fall schedule, unveiled today, has the broadcast channel looking to well-known characters and franchises including "Arrow," based on the DC Comics hero Green Arrow, and "The Carrie Diaries," following a teenage Carrie Bradshaw based on the character from HBO’s "Sex and the City," reports USA Today.

The 2011-12 season hasn't been favorable to the CW, which has seen a 15% decline in ratings. The network canceled freshman shows "The Secret Circle" and "Ringer," while its longtime hit "One Tree Hill" ended after nine seasons.

For the 2012-13 season, "Gossip Girl" will air its final season, which will consist of 10 episodes. In January, the show will be replaced by "Carrie," which is based on the Bradshaw character and comes from the creators of "Gossip Girl," the story notes.

The network is doing a lot of juggling to make everything fit, including putting “Supernatural” on Wednesdays, moving it out of its familiar Friday slot, shifting Wednesday staple “America's Next Top Model” to Friday, TV Guide reports.

The story notes: “’Top Model's’ move to Fridays is particularly interesting in light of the show's recent announcement that longtime judges Nigel Barker and J. Alexander, and mentor Jay Manuel, will be departing the show.”

"Hart of Dixie," starring Rachel Bilson as a surgeon working in the South, will return and will be paired with a new medical drama, "Emily Owens, M.D.," which features another young female doctor, played by Mamie Gummer. "Supernatural" is expected to move to Wednesday, where it will be paired with the network’s highest-profile new series, "Arrow."

The CW will make "The Vampire Diaries," its best-rated show, the lead-in on Thursdays for "Beauty and the Beast," described as a romance with police plots, the story says. "America's Next Top Model" will move to Fridays with "Nikita."

"Cult," about a TV show with rabid fans who commit copy-cat crimes, will appear midseason, the story adds.

Here's the CW's full schedule for 2012-13:

Monday

8/7c: 90210
9/8c: Gossip Girl

(In January) The Carrie Diaries

Tuesday

8/7c: Hart of Dixie
9/8c: Emily Owens, M.D. (New)

Wednesday

8/7c: Arrow (New)
9/8c: Supernatural

Thursday

8/7c: The Vampire Diaries
9/8c: Beauty and the Beast (New)

Friday

8/7c: America's Next Top Model
9/8c: Nikita

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Second 'John Doe' Drops Sexual Battery Case Against John Travolta

In a week of major developments involving sexual battery accusations against John Travolta, news broke today that the second “John Doe” dropped his case against the actor, CNN reports.

The news follows word earlier this week that John Doe No. 1 dropped out of his case against Travolta, which was quickly followed by word that Doe 1 had hired high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, as we reported yesterday. It was unclear whether the hiring of Allred meant the case against Travolta would be resurrected -- although Allred noted that John Doe No. 1’s case had been dismissed “without prejudice,” meaning it could be filed again.

But the case as originally brought by John Does No. 1 and 2 is now over, CNN reports. The original attorney for both plaintiffs, Okorie Okorocha, said he did not know why John Doe No. 2, identified as an Atlanta masseur, opted out of the case.

Neither Allred nor Travolta attorney Marty Singer had an immediate comment on the withdrawal of John Doe No. 2, the story reports.

CNN notes that the first John Doe pulled out of his lawsuit after news surfaced that Travolta was in New York, and not Los Angeles, on Jan. 16, 2012, the date of the alleged sexual assault during a massage.

The story reports: “Okorocha told CNN the date should have been January 15, 2012, but the mistake would have hampered the chances of John Doe #2 in court. He also said ‘personality conflicts’ with John Doe #1 contributed to the decision.”

CNN’s report adds: “The lawyer insisted in a CNN interview Tuesday that he would ‘mop up’ in the courtroom with the allegations made by John Doe #2. He said he received the call from his client firing him soon after that interview aired On HLN's ‘Showbiz Tonight’ on Wednesday.”

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Friends of Elizabeth Taylor Upset at Lindsay Lohan Casting -- So Who Else Was on the Producer's List?

Friends of the late movie icon Elizabeth Taylor are upset that troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan has been cast to play her in a Lifetime television film, reports The New York Times, citing producer Larry A. Thompson.

The casting of Lohan in Lifetime’s “Liz & Dick” was announced last month. Since then, Thompson said, he has been receiving emails about the casting, with the themes being "I'm an idiot" or "How dare you?," according to the story. The article doesn't identify which friends have contacted him.

Thompson, who said he believes he met Taylor twice for various business dealings, says he tried to get a number of actresses to play the part, including Megan Fox, Olivia Wilde, Kate Beckinsale and Jennifer Connelly, but none of them worked out, the story says.

Another theme of the emails, which Thompson says have been coming from people who claim to have known Taylor and from the general public, is “Why are you rewarding Lindsay Lohan?”

“His answer is simple: ‘I am a producer.’ It is a way of saying that Mr. Thompson knows when a whole lot of attention is worth a little risk, and that in a cluttered media world, attention may be the most valuable commodity of all,” the report notes.

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Adult Swim Spinoff Gets Straight-to-Series Order

Adult Swim has given a straight-to-series order to a spinoff of one of its shows, Deadline.com reports. The new program is "Newsreaders," a spinoff of "Childrens Hospital."

The show is a parody of the newsmagazine format based on material that aired as part of “Childrens Hospital” during seasons two and three, the story says. The show was created by "Childrens Hospital" executive producers Rob Corddry, Jonathan Stern and David Wain.

Mather Zickel, who played the “Newsreaders” anchor on “Childrens Hospital,” will return to play the role on the new series as well.

“Childrens Hospital” originated as a Web series in 2008, with Adult Swim airing it starting in 2010.

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CNN Sinks to Lowest Demo Rating in 15 Years Amid May Sweeps

CNN hit a low point Tuesday night: Its 9 p.m. hour recorded its lowest demo rating in 15 years, possibly hurt by broadcast programming for the May sweeps, reports TVNewser.com.

"Piers Morgan Tonight" drew only 39,000 viewers between 25 and 54 years old, the prime demographic for cable news, the story notes.

"To say those ratings are anomalous would be something of an understatement. That is the lowest 9 p.m. weekday demo rating for CNN since at least 1997," the piece points out. "While the ratings were an outlier, it was a fairly normal edition of 'PMT,' with Morgan hosting. Guests included Jane Lynch and ‘The man with the golden voice’ Ted Williams.”

The show drew 284,000 total viewers, which wasn't a record-breaking low. "Piers Morgan Tonight" was competing with the season finale of CBS’s “NCIS: LA,” “America’s Got Talent” on NBC and “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC. The three broadcast shows drew a combined 39 million viewers.

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Lawsuit Over 'Entourage' Character's Name Dismissed

A lawsuit filed last year against HBO's "Entourage" over the name of a character has been dismissed, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

The suit was filed by MTV reality show cast member John Devenanzio, alleging that "Entourage" damaged his name and personality. The lawsuit claimed "Entourage" caused him emotional distress by featuring a character called "Johnny Bananas," a name that Devenanzio, a cast member on "The Real World: Key West," said he was already known by.

New York Superior Court Judge Lucy Billings ruled that Devenanzio, who has also appeared on MTV’s “The Challenge,” filed his claims too late, the story says.

The Johnny Bananas character was played on “Entourage” by series regular Kevin Dillon on a show-within-the-show, the story notes.

HBO had responded to the lawsuit by saying Devenanzio had a "fundamental misunderstanding of the law governing publicity and privacy rights," according to the report.

The story adds: “The network asserted that nicknames are not protected under New York law, that the plaintiff had failed to establish a connection between his identity and what he saw on the show and that the plaintiff's lawsuit failed because the nickname wasn't used in advertising and thus didn't meet the ‘commercial’ bar for such a claim.”

But the case came down to a technicality. “The episodes in question started airing on Aug. 15, 2010, and Devenanzio didn't bring the claim until Oct. 3, 2011. The one-year statute of limitations window had closed,” the story reports.

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Viacom and Time Warner Cable Settle Their Dispute Over iPad TV Viewing

The dispute between Viacom and Time Warner Cable over allowing cable customers to watch Viacom shows over Apple's iPad and other devices has been settled, reports Bloomberg.

"All of Viacom’s programming will now be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers for in-home viewing via Internet protocol-enabled devices such as iPads,” the two companies announced in a joint statement.

Time Warner Cable won't pay more to stream shows on the devices, the story says.

Viacom sued Time Warner Cable last year, seeking to block the cable company from distributing its programming on handheld devices.

"The case underscored tensions between media companies and pay-television providers over how television content can be used in the iPad era. Consumers are increasingly watching TV on computers, tablets and other mobile devices, and cable companies are eager to accommodate them," the story points out.

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'Cougar Town' Showrunner to Step Down

“Cougar Town,” which is ending its run on ABC and moving to cable, will undergo changes behind the camera, New York Magazine's Vulture blog reports.

Show creator Bill Lawrence will step down from his role as day-to-day showrunner after the series moves to TBS, the story reports. “Cougar Town” is wrapping up its third season.

Lawrence and co-creator Kevin Biegel will remain actively involved in the show's creative direction, but they and star Courteney Cox are searching for a new showrunner to work on the first 10 episodes for TBS, the story says. It's not clear whether they'll hire someone from within the show's writing staff or outside the program.

"As a producer, I can't wait. This is a fresh start. It will feel like the same show, but we're going to have a new [showrunner], there will be new people, new changes," Cox said.

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Long-Running Game Show Hit With Lawsuit

A poplular CBS game show has been hit with a lawsuit, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. The suit, filed Friday, contends that the show, “Let’s Make a Deal,” makes it difficult for people with disabilities to get on the show as contestants.

Two wheelchair-bound fans of the show, Arnie Pike and Christie Rudder, filed the suit against the show’s producers, CBS Broadcasting and FremantleMedia claiming that they had to negotiate their way across busy streets and up slippery ramps in their attempt to appear on the show, suffering embarrassment and being treated unfairly, the piece reports.

Citing the Americans with Disabilities Act and California's civil rights laws, the plaintiffs contend that the show failed to provide full and equal access to facilities and services. In the court documents, the plaintiffs tell of not having a parking facility for their handicap van, no accessible place for them to buy food, no handicap toilet and wheelchair ramps that were dangerous to use.

Furthermore, inside the studio, they were separated from other audience members and shunted into an "extremely dark" area that offered obstructed views because of cameras and equipment. The pair have sought an injunction that orders the defendants to alter their facilities, an injunction to shut everything down until the producers comply, and monetary damages.

CBS had yet to comment for the story while a Fremantle representative wasn't available when the publication made inquiries.

Court documents reportedly show that Pike and Rudder have a history of filing similar lawsuits against fitness clubs, hotels, beaches, grocery stores and libraries -- and Pike filed a suit against ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."

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J-Lo Hinting Around About Leaving 'Idol'

Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is making noises like she's had enough of "American Idol," reports People magazine.

On Tuesday's "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," when asked whether she would be back next season as a judge on the Fox singing competition show, Lopez said, "I don't know. I enjoy it. I really do enjoy it. [But] I miss doing other things. It really does lock you down."

J-Lo wasn't just referring to her professional life. She was also speaking of her new beau, Casper Smart, and 4-year-old twins. "Now they're getting more mobile,” Lopez said. “They're about to go to school. I just don't know. I don't know."

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Brutal Ratings Night for One of the Big Four Networks

One network had an especially tough night in the ratings Tuesday, with two shows hitting all-time lows and the network’s average rating in the key demo placing it a distant fourth for prime time -- and for a change, it wasn’t NBC.

The struggling network was ABC, which saw “Cougar Town” and “Dancing with the Stars” both hit historic lows. “Cougar Town” aired back-to-back episodes during the 8 p.m. hour, and both episodes averaged only a 1.0 rating in the key 18-49 demo in Nielsen overnights, according to TVbytheNumbers.com. The 1.0 was off 33% from last week’s 1.5, and an all-time low for the series.

The “Dancing” results show followed, pulling a 2.2 -- down 8% from a week ago and an all-time series low for a results show.

The network’s night did finish on an up note, with the “Private Practice” season finale at 10 p.m. rising a hefty 29% from the series low set a week ago.

For prime time overall, CBS was the winner with a 3.2 average rating in viewers 18-49, topping NBC (2.8 average) and Fox (2.8). ABC barely held off Univision for fourth place, averaging a 1.7 to Univision’s 1.6.

Total viewers saw CBS well out front with 16.1 million to 8.6 million for NBC. ABC pulled ahead of Fox, drawing 7.8 million to Fox’s 6.0 million. Univision had 4.1 million.

CBS’s “NCIS” season finale was the top show of the night with a 3.5 average rating in 18-49, just ahead of the 3.4 for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” -- the best number of the season for NBC in the time period. Fox’s back-to-back installments of “Glee” had to settle for a 2.4 and a 2.5, down from last week’s 2.7.

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TNT, TBS Take Wraps Off Development Slates

TNT and TBS previewed their wide-reaching development slates today, with projects involving everyone from Steven Bochco to Norm MacDonald and Tom Clancy to Matthew McConaughey, Deadline.com reports.

TNT’s development lineup includes “two drama projects originally set up at the broadcast networks this past season, David Baldacci/Shane Brennan’s ‘King And Maxwell,’ which was at CBS, and Howard Gordon/Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s ‘Legends,’ which was at NBC,” the story reports. “It also features an competition reality project from Matthew McConaughey and ‘American Idol’ executive producer Nigel Lythgoe searching for the best unsigned bar band.”

TNT also has an untitled Steven Bochco murder mystery project in development, along with “Tom Clancy’s Homeland Security.”

TNT plans a network record nine original series for this summer, the story reports. Among them: the revival of “Dallas” and TNT’s first reality-competition series, “The Great Escape.” Two other unscripted shows, “Boston Blue” and “72 Hours,” have also received the go-ahead, along with the medical drama “Monday Mornings.”

The report adds: “TBS’s original series are being developed to be compatible with the cable network’s two marquee off-network acquisitions, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Family Guy.’ Coming down the pike from the first group are the upcoming comedy series ‘Men at Work,’ ‘Sullivan & Son,’ ‘Wedding Band’ and the recently picked up ‘Cougar Town.’”

Also in the works for TBS are the recently greenlighted “Deon Cole’s Black Box” and “Who Gets the Last Laugh?,” along with a competition show with the working title “King of the Nerds.” On the development slate are two comedies from Conan O’Brien’s production company and a talk show hosted by Norm MacDonald that will focus on pop culture and social media, the story reports.

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Two of Three Judges on ABC's 'Duets' Have Kind Words for 'X Factor's' Britney and Demi ... but Not John Legend!

John Legend, getting set for his role as a judge and duet partner on ABC’s upcoming singing competition “Duets,” was less kind than his castmates when asked about “The X Factor’s” new judges, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato.

E! Online reports that Legend essentially said Spears and Lovato can’t sing.

Asked about the addition of the two pop princesses to the Fox singing competition, Legend said: "You know it's interesting. It should be very interesting. I don't have much to say. It's interesting when people you know who are judging singing competitions when they aren't really singers. It's interesting."

Legend’s fellow “Duets” judges Kelly Clarkson and Robin Thicke were more generous.

Said Thicke: "Oh come on, everything Britney does, she excels at. Demi is a lovely young lady, and I'm sure they'll do nothing but make the show a lot more fun to watch."

Clarkson added: "I'm excited for both of them. I'm a big fan of both of them. Both of those girls are super sweet. I think it's fun for them too to just be more out in the public eye again. I think those two are two you really want to root for and you really want them to succeed, so I think that's exciting."

Clarkson noted that the addition of Spears and Lovato could help “X Factor,” which fell below ratings expectations in its first season. "Obviously they are both performers so ... I think that show really needs it. I don't think everybody latched onto that show like they thought they would."

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Who's the New Queen of All Media? TV and Music Fixture Surges to Top of Most Powerful Celebrities List

A familiar singer and actress has been named the most powerful celebrity, surging 49 places from her position on last year’s Forbes list, the New York Daily News reports.

Topping the just released list is Jennifer Lopez, who knocked Lady Gaga out of the No. 1 spot. Placing second on this year’s list was Oprah Winfrey, followed by Justin Bieber.

“Propelling Lopez’s meteoric rise was the $52 million she earned since last May and the high-profile platform she received as a judge of TV’s ‘American Idol,’” the story reports. “Just a few years after suffering album and film flops, Lopez scored lucrative endorsement deals with companies like L’Oreal and Gillette. She also has a line of clothing at Kohl’s and a top-selling fragrance.”

Forbes noted that Lopez, 42, is also a master of social media, with 6.6 million Twitter followers and 12 million Facebook fans.

Criteria for the annual Forbes power list include entertainment-related earnings, media visibility and popularity in social media.

Winfrey earned more than anyone else on the list, $165 million, but remained in the same spot she had a year ago, No. 2.

Bieber also held his same spot from last year, No. 3, earning $55 million.

Rihanna came in at No. 4, with $53 million in earnings, while Lady Gaga slipped to No. 5 with $52 million.

The rest of the top 10, followed by their earnings in the past year:

6. Britney Spears ($58 million)

7. Kim Kardashian ($18 million)

8. Katy Perry ($45 million)

9. Tom Cruise ($75 million)

10. Steven Spielberg ($130 million)

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Actor From 'Terminator 3' and HBO's 'Carnivale' Reported Missing

An actor known for a string of film and TV roles including “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” and the HBO series “Carnivale” has been reported missing, TMZ.com reports.

Nick Stahl, who took over the role of John Connor for “Terminator 3,” was reported missing Monday by his wife, the story reports. In a missing person report filed with the Los Angeles Police Department, Stahl’s wife, Rose, said she last saw Stahl, 32, on May 9.

The report notes: “Sources tell TMZ ... it is believed Stahl had been frequenting the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles recently ... and there are concerns he may have gotten himself involved in some bad stuff.

“Back in February, Nick's wife had filed court papers, expressing serious concerns that Nick may be using drugs ... and sources say she fears drugs may have something to do with his disappearance.”

People magazine reports that the LAPD confirmed today that Stahl is still missing.

People adds: “In February, Rose allegedly filed court papers saying the couple had been separated since January, and asked a judge to limit Stahl's visitations with their 2-year-old daughter, Marlo, to eight supervised hours per week.”

Stahl had a breakout role as a child actor in the 1993 movie “The Man Without a Face,” and has also appeared in “Sin City” and “In the Bedroom.”

nick-stahl.jpgNick Stahl

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CBS Unveils Fall Schedule, Adds Four New Series to Lineup

CBS announced its 2012-13 fall schedule today, including pickups of four new series, CBS News reports. CBS, which presents its upfront pitch later today, also announced that it will end the 2011-12 season as the most-watched TV network for the ninth time in 10 years.

CBS News reported: “The following shows will make their debut on the network in the fall: ‘Elementary,’ a contemporary take on detective Sherlock Holmes in New York City, starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu; ‘Vegas,’ a drama inspired by a real-life sheriff and his battle with a mobster in 1960s Las Vegas, starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis; ‘Made in Jersey,’ starring Janet Montgomery as a smart first-year lawyer with a working-class background practicing at a prestigious New York City firm; and ‘Partners,’ a comedy about two very different life-long best friends and business partners, starting David Krumholtz and Michael Urie.”

In a statement, Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, said: “These new series feature a great range of bold concepts, rich characters, big stars and fresh faces. From a new take on Sherlock Holmes to an epic battle for control of 1960s Las Vegas to a working-class point of view in a prestigious law firm, the dramas each have a unique style and sensibility. And, our new comedy ‘Partners’ fits perfectly with the CBS Monday night tradition of relationship comedies with a lot of heart and humor.”

The network tweaked its schedule to create a new Monday comedy night, with the new show “Partners” and “2 Broke Girls” fitting between "How I Met Your Mother" and "Mike & Molly."

CBS said its margin of victory for the season in total viewers is the widest by any network in 23 years.

Here’s the fall schedule released today by the network:


CBS TELEVISION NETWORK

2012-2013 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

(N=New, NT=New Time, all times ET/PT)

MONDAY

8:00-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

8:30-9:00 PM PARTNERS (N)

9:00-9:30 PM 2 BROKE GIRLS (NT)

9:30-10:00 PM MIKE & MOLLY

10:00-11:00 PM HAWAII FIVE-0

TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM NCIS

9:00-10:00 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES

10:00-11:00 PM VEGAS (N)

WEDNESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR

9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS

10:00-11:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION

THURSDAY

8:00-8:30 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY

8:30-9:00 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN (NT)

9:00-10:00 PM PERSON OF INTEREST

10:00-11:00 PM ELEMENTARY (N)

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM CSI: NY (NT)

9:00-10:00 PM MADE IN JERSEY (N)

10:00-11:00 PM BLUE BLOODS

SATURDAY

8:00-9:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY

9:00-10:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY

10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY

SUNDAY

7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES

8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE

9:00-10:00 PM THE GOOD WIFE

10:00-11:00 PM THE MENTALIST (NT)

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Which Series Tops the List of This Season's Highest-Rated Canceled Shows? It's a Short-Lived Comedy That You May or May Not Remember

As the broadcast networks unveil their fall schedules this week, it's becoming clear that ratings weren't the be-all and end-all this season, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Just take a look at Fox, which renewed "Fringe" with only 4.2 million viewers but canceled "Terra Nova," which drew more than 10 million viewers. In that case, one obvious issue was the expense of producing "Terra Nova." But other issues have come into play, including how passionate fans are about a series, a difficult time period and even if network executives like the show.

Among the top-rated canceled shows this season are:

"Rob." The CBS comedy drew 12 million viewers and a 3.7 rating among viewers 18-49 to earn the title of the season’s top-rated cancellation, managing to get only eight episodes on the air. "If NBC had a freshman comedy with a 3.7 average, it would run the show five nights a week this fall," the story says. "The issue here was Rob Schneider’s comedy was shedding too much of its massive 'Big Bang Theory' lead-in, and was trending the wrong direction."

"Terra Nova." The Fox drama drew 10.1 million viewers and had a demo rating of 3.6. EW reports: "Cost was a factor, but so was the network’s belief that midseason addition ‘Touch’ would be the network’s next big hit. (It wasn’t.)"

"Alcatraz." The show drew 9.6 million viewers and a 3.4 rating among 18-49. "The ratings on 'Alcatraz' keep sinking while the show, unlike other J.J. Abrams-produced dramas, wasn’t hugely engaging for viewers,” the story observes. “A second season would have likely seen a ratings drop into serious red-line territory."

"House" (Fox) and "Desperate Housewives" (ABC). They earned 8.7 million viewers (with a 3.3 rating in 18-49) and 10.4 million (3.5), respectively. The story notes: “Their conclusions were more like dignified retirements than cancellations. Both respected long-serving solid veterans of the broadcast game whose cost/benefit scale finally tipped."

"How to Be a Gentleman." This CBS show drew 8.7 million viewers and a 2.8 rating. "Short-lived. Critics didn’t like it, and it didn’t pull its weight."

Also noteworthy: CBS’s unmemorable “Unforgettable” matched “Rob’s” 12 million total viewers, but pulled only a 2.5 average rating in viewers 18-49, while CBS’s long-running “CSI: Miami” got the plug pulled despite 10.8 million viewers and a 2.5 demo average.

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Movie Widely Acclaimed as One of the Best of All Time Will Stream for Free on Facebook

A movie widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time will stream for free on Facebook later today in celebration of the film's 70th anniversary, reports The Washington Post.

That movie is "Casablanca."

The film will be streamed at Warner Bros.’ Official Casablanca Facebook Page, starting at 7 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time. Click here to be linked to the page.

Viewers can watch the movie once per Facebook account and must start their viewing before 9 p.m. Pacific time, the story says.

The movie, released in 1942, stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, and is considered one of the greatest love stories of all time.

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Travolta Accuser Resurfaces, Now Has Prominent Media Attorney

The original anonymous masseur who accused John Travolta of sexual assault has resurfaced one day after having his case against Travolta dismissed and parting ways with his attorney, E! Online reports.

“John Doe No. 1” has hired headline-grabbing attorney Gloria Allred, the story reports. What it means for his case against Travolta is unclear, but the case may not be going away.

Allred issued a statement today saying: "I represent John Doe No. 1. Mr. Doe's lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, which means that he is still legally entitled to file a lawsuit against John Travolta if he chooses."

Allred added: "We are in the process of conferring with him regarding the next steps, which he may wish to take. Our client and our firm has no further comment at this time."

John Doe No. 1 and his original attorney, Okorie Okorocha, dissolved their relationship as the original case was dismissed, as we reported Tuesday. Okorocha continues to represent another anonymous masseur, John Doe No. 2, in a case against Travolta.

Travolta attorney Marty Singer has called the claims of both accusers “absurd.”

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Dish Network Answers Critics of Ad-Skipping Device

Dish Network, responding to criticism from NBC and Fox about the company's motive for allowing viewers to automatically skip ads, said it has “respect for the networks and for the advertising model,” Bloomberg reports. The comment was part of an e-mailed statement by Dish Chief Executive Officer Joseph Clayton.

DIsh's new Auto Hop feature, which skips ads in programs that have been recorded for later viewing, was called "an insult to our joint programming" by NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert during the network's upfront this week. Harbert also called the service “an attack on our eco-system,” as we reported earlier this week.

“I really wasn’t thinking about what the network executives were going to say,” said Vivek Khemka, Dish president of product management. “I was thinking about getting a good response from consumers, and what we’ve seen so far is a pretty overwhelmingly positive response from customers, from comments online and on Facebook.”

Dish CEO Clayton wrote that the technology is a response to demand from customers. "In recent years, Dish has agreed to pay significant rate increases for broadcast content. Dish values its relationships with both local and national broadcasters. But, answering the consumer demand for choice and control is our primary mission," he said, according to the story.

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Univision Gloats About Beating NBC

Spanish-language broadcaster Univision took the opportunity during its upfront presentation Tuesday to do some gloating about its ratings gains against struggling NBC, The New York Times’ Media Decoder reports.

Network execs pointed out that the Spanish-language network has beaten NBC on 195 nights of prime time during the past year, the story notes. One slide presented during the event reportedly showed NBC's peacock symbol keeling over.

The network made the argument to advertisers that including Univision creates a well-balanced marketing plan, according to the piece.

“Latinos don’t just consume Univision content,” said David Lawenda, the network’s president for advertising sales and marketing. “We’re part of their lives.”

On the content side, the emphasis was squarely on Univision’s thriving telenovelas. “When it comes to prime time they are our secret sauce,” said Univision Networks President Cesar Conde.

Conde also unveiled new telenovelas, including “Amor Bravio” and “Por Ella Soy Eva.”

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Cable News Channel Ratchets Up Its Pitch to Advertisers, Declares Itself a New Primetime Destination

One cable news channel has been aggressively pitching its original primetime programming to advertisers, including marketing itself under the new tagline “Celebrate the American Dream” and declaring itself to be “the new primetime destination for intelligent entertainment,” TVNewser.com reports.

The channel is CNBC, which rebranded last fall as “CNBC Smart.” It has reportedly been pushing that brand to media buyers as programming that celebrates the American dream, backing the pitch with an ad campaign featuring an American flag motif, the story reports.

The report notes: “For years, CNBC’s primetime served as a place for reruns of shows from CNBC, NBC and elsewhere. In the last few years however, the network found substantial ratings success with its documentary features, which profiled businesses and businessmen, as well as industries that may be established -- like television -- or not, like marijuana growing.”

The marketing push has included some “outside the box” initiatives. “In the past few weeks the network ran a contest where it gave one media buyer a Smart Car, and held a party in midtown’s Aspen Social Club to drum up attention for CNBC Smart,” the story reports.

CNBC’s shift of focus with its primetime programming isn’t unique, the story points out. “Bloomberg TV has taken a similar route, programming primetime with documentaries and profiles that are more entertainment than financial advice,” the report says. “Bloomberg is not rated by Nielsen, so we have no way to gauge how successful that effort has been. Fox Business Network meanwhile has relied on the more traditional cable news format, featuring hosts in the studio talking business. With the exception of Lou Dobbs, that programming still has a long way to go in the ratings.”

CNBC-ad.jpg

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Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Ups Its Bet on Media Business

Viacom and the media industry received a bullish signal from renowned investor Warren Buffett, whose investment conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway added a new position in Viacom during the first quarter while also increasing other media investments, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Berkshire Hathaway almost doubled its stake in Liberty Media and added to its position in DirecTV, the story adds.

At $76 million, Berkshire Hathaway's position in Viacom is tiny in comparison with the company's stakes in Walmart, IBM and other companies, the piece notes. The investment company's portfolio was worth $75 billion at the end of the quarter, compared with $66 billion a year earlier.

The company also raised its stake in General Motors, while cutting back on Intel, Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble, the story notes.

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Fall Schedule Has PBS Becoming Even More British -- Punctuated by High-Profile Docs on U.S. History

PBS's fall schedule reflects an increased British influence -- hardly a surprise given the success of “Downton Abbey” and “Sherlock.”

The schedule includes the return of "Upstairs Downstairs" for a second season and the arrival of a new U.K. show, "Call the Midwife," reports the Associated Press.

"Call the Midwife," a six-part series set in 1950s London, will debut Sept. 30. "Midwife" will be followed by the second season of "Upstairs Downstairs" starting Oct. 7.

The schedule will also feature U.S.-focused shows, including "The Dust Bowl," a new documentary from Ken Burns that will air Nov. 18-19. The show details the environmental disaster that affected the Great Plains during the 1930s.

Ric Burns -- Ken’s documentary filmmaker little brother -- has an "American Experience" documentary airing Sept. 18, called "Death and the Civil War." Also airing will be "Broadway or Bust," a documentary about high school musical performers, the story says.

PBS hasn't yet announced an air date for the third season of "Downton Abbey," the most-watched "Masterpiece" miniseries ever, but it's expected to return in January 2013.

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Syfy Tweaks Summer Slate, Plans Finale for Long-Running Series

Syfy has rolled out a reconfigured summer schedule that includes a farewell to a veteran series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Also announced: launch dates for new series, returns for existing series and a new night for one series.

The channel will say goodbye to “Eureka,” which will end its five-season run with a finale on Monday, July 16 at 9 p.m. Meanwhile, on July 23 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively, "Warehouse 13" will debut its fourth season while "Alphas" will return for its sophomore season.

“Lost Girl” moves to a new night, Friday, where it will air in the 10 p.m. time slot starting July 20.

Syfy also announced the return of other shows this summer, including "Face Off," which will return Aug. 21 for its second season, and "Paranormal Witness," whose second season will start on Aug. 8.

New shows include "Paranormal Highway" with Jack Osbourne, which debuts June 10, and "School Spirits" from Mark Burnett, which premieres June 20.

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Steve Jobs Biopic on Fast Track After Landing Oscar and Emmy Winner to Write Script

A movie based on Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs is expected to come together quickly now that the project has landed "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin to write the screenplay, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The producing team for the Sony Pictures Entertainment project includes Mark Gordon, Guymon Casady of Management 360, and Scott Rudin, who also was a producer on "The Social Network," which featured Sorkin's Oscar-winning screenplay, the story adds.

Sorkin received a string of Emmy nominations for his writing on “The West Wing,” winning outstanding writing for a drama series in 2001. He also shared in four consecutive wins for outstanding drama series from 2000-2003 as a producer on “West Wing.”

He was also nominated earlier for an Emmy for his writing on “Sports Night.”

While he made his name as a television writer and creator, Sorkin has an impressive history of feature work as well, including “A Few Good Men,” “The American President” and “Moneyball,” which earned Sorkin an Oscar nomination.

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Howard Stern Debut Fails to Elevate NBC's 'Talent'

NBC came up short with its eagerly anticipated season premiere of “America’s Got Talent,” featuring the high-profile debut of Howard Stern on the show’s judging panel.

The two-hour program did come in as one of Monday night’s top shows with a 3.6 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights, but that number was down significantly from last year’s 4.3 for the season premiere, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. The rating also fell below the 3.8 turned in by the season finale of “The Voice” in the same time slot last week.

It’s worth noting that this year’s season premiere faced stiffer competition than did last year’s show, and did not have the benefit of being paired with “The Voice” as last year’s premiere was.

NBC’s season finale of “Smash” at 10 p.m. was even with the past two weeks, drawing a 1.8 average in 18-49.

CBS won the night, getting the usual strong numbers from its comedy lineup. The one-hour season finale of “How I Met Your Mother,” airing opposite the first hour of NBC’s “Talent,” matched that show’s 3.6 rating in viewers 18-49, rising three-tenths of a ratings point from its previous original. The season finale of “Two and a Half Men” was the night’s top show with a 3.8, steady with a week ago; and the season finale of “Mike & Molly” rose two-tenths to a 3.3.

CBS’s 10 p.m. drama “Hawaii Five-0” also aired its season finale, rising four-tenths from last week to a 2.7 in 18-49.

ABC’s all-reality lineup was good enough for third place, with a 90-minute “Dancing with the Stars” pulling a 2.4 average in 18-49 for the first hour and a 2.9 for the final half-hour, while the season premiere of “The Bachelorette” drew a 2.6 for the first half-hour and slipped to a 2.5 average for the 10 p.m. hour. “Bachelorette’s” numbers were down a bit from last year’s season premiere, while “Dancing” had averages roughly comparable to its two-hour edition last week.

Fox didn’t generate much interest in its “Bones” season finale, which was steady with last week, averaging a 1.9 in 18-49. “House” was up one-tenth to a 2.2.

For prime time overall, it was CBS on top with a 3.3 average rating in viewers 18-49, followed by NBC (3.0 average), ABC (2.5) and Fox (2.0). With ABC’s “Dancing” attracting an older audience, ABC won total viewers, averaging 11.9 million to 10.4 million for CBS, 8.9 million for NBC and 6.8 million for Fox.

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Three-Network Comedy Showdown Shaping Up for Fall

One time period is shaping up as a key battleground for the fall season, with three networks set to face off with important single-camera comedy hours, Deadline.com reports.

With the schedules announced this week for ABC, NBC and Fox, all three networks are putting up high-stakes sitcom programming on Tuesdays from 9-10 p.m. ABC wants to establish a comedy beachhead in the hour with “Happy Endings” and “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23,” but it will have to go head-to-head with one of Fox’s strongest newer shows, “New Girl,” along with Fox’s high-profile new series from Mindy Kaling, “The Mindy Project.”

Meanwhile, NBC also has its sights set on the hour, where it will put up its highest-profile new comedies: “Go On,” starring “Friends” alum Matthew Perry, and Ryan Murphy’s “The New Normal.” “At its upfront presentation yesterday, the network said the block is one of its two big priorities for next fall, meaning the two comedies will get a big marketing push,” the story reports.

ABC had its sights set on the hour a year ago, when it ended up abandoning plans to expand what was then an 8 p.m. comedy hour to two hours. At the time, ABC exec Paul Lee said the strength of Fox’s “New Girl” was reason enough to drop the plan, the story notes. Apparently ABC is feeling more confident about its comedy lineup now.

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Accuser Drops Out of Sex Assault Case Against John Travolta

The first of two “John Does” who have made claims of sexual assault against John Travolta has dropped out of the lawsuit, People magazine reports.

The move comes as evidence has mounted that appears to contradict his claims, the story reports.

His attorney, Okorie Okorocha, told the publication: "Let's just say we had differences in opinion of how to handle the case and decided to part ways.”

A second John Doe remains involved in the lawsuit, in which he is seeking $2 million from Travolta.

Okorocha indicated earlier this week that the case appeared to be headed to court, as we reported previously.

Marty Singer, an attorney for Travolta, has called the claims from both accusers “absurd.” Commenting on the accusations from the second accuser, he told the publication: "We'll disprove [Doe Number Two's claims], but we need specifics first. It's hard to disprove something when you don't have more specific allegations."

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ABC Working on 'Hulk' Series

While the network’s reboot of “The Incredible Hulk” didn’t make it into ABC’s fall 2012 lineup, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee says the project continues to go forward, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Said Lee: "Hulk is in development. It wasn't going to be ready this season but we hope it's going to be ready for next season."

The story reports: “Oscar nominee Guillermo del Toro (‘Pan's Labyrinth’) is developing the project for the Disney-owned network after ABC's parent company purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion in late 2009.”

Lee commented on corporate synergy, with Disney distributing the mega-hit feature film “The Avengers.” The movie includes a performance by Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk.

"We're immensely proud to be a company with ‘The Avengers,’" Lee said. "We're going to continue to develop aggressively."

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Adult Swim Orders Eight Pilots, Including One From 'Community' Creator and an Animated Take on 'Harold & Kumar'

Turner-owned Adult Swim, ahead of its Wednesday upfront, announced it has ordered a batch of pilots -- eight of them, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Among the projects is an animated spin on “Harold & Kumar,” with film series stars John Cho and Kal Penn voicing the two lead characters.

Another animated effort comes from “Community” creator Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland: “Rick & Morty” tracks the life journeys of a brilliant inventor and his grandson.

Also on tap: “Colonel Wallace” (working title), a 15-minute piece from Greg Cohen; “Coffin Dodgers,” from Dave Silverstein and Matt Jeser; “Green Bench: The American Day Dream,” from Internet sketch comedy operation Green Bench; “Freestyle Love Supreme,” a live-action half-hour comedy from Ars Nova; “King Star King,” an animated 15-minute effort from JJ Villard and Eric Kaplan; and “Rolling With Dad,” a half-hour animated project focusing on a disabled man and his family.

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Reality Personality Continues Move Into Acting, Lands Role on NBC Sitcom

Landing a role on an upcoming NBC sitcom is a TV personality who first surfaced in reality television and has been making the move to acting.

NeNe Leakes, who made her name as one of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Atlanta" and had a recurring role this past season on Fox's "Glee," will be a regular on NBC's new comedy "The New Normal," reports TheWrap.com.

Leakes will again be working with creative force Ryan Murphy, who also does "Glee." In the new show, NeNe appear with Andrew Rannells, Justin Bartha and Ellen Barkin.

nene-leakes.jpgNeNe Leakes

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Katie Couric Prime-Time Specials on Tap

Katie Couric has two prime-time specials lined up for ABC -- one for late this month and another to air in June, TVNewser.com reports.

Both specials focus on Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. A Couric-hosted special set for May 29 will feature what’s being billed as an exclusive interview with Princess Diana's sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, talking about Queen Elizabeth, their grandmother. The show will air from 9-11 p.m. ET.

ABC has also acquired the U.S. rights to “Concert for the Queen: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration,” which will air Tuesday, June 5. The special will be hosted by Couric and will include performances by Paul McCartney, Elton John and Tom Jones, among others.

Additionally, ABC’s “Good Morning America” will originate from London during the week of the jubilee celebration.

Is there a connection between the exclusive interviews with the princes and ABC’s having shelled out for the rights to the concert? ABC says the two are unrelated, but the report points out: “The Royal Family does seem to have a habit of giving exclusive interviews to U.S. TV news outlets whose parent companies pay up for entertainment programming associated with them. In 2010 Prince Charles gave an exclusive interview to NBC’s Brian Williams, an interview that NBC insists had nothing to do with the fact that it had just acquired the U.S. rights to ‘Harmony,’ a film documenting and celebrating Charles’ environmental activism.”

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Reality Show Personality Killed in Fall

One of the stars of a successful reality show died Monday after falling while loading items into his boat in Louisiana, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker. Mitchell Guist of “Swamp People” would have turned 48 later this week.

Guist appeared on "Swamp People" with his brother Glenn, with the two so close in appearance that some people believed them to be twins. The History series focuses on their activities as alligator hunters.

"Swamp People" drew a series-high 5.5 million total viewers to its second-season finale, and is part of History's programming shift to docu-series about people doing tough jobs, the piece adds.

mitchell-guist-right.jpgMitchell Guist, right, with brother Glenn

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NBC Says Viewers Are Being Undercounted, Calls for New Ratings System

A top executive of NBC, which has been struggling with diminishing ratings, said viewers are being undercounted as television viewing increasingly shifts to DVR playback, the New York Post reports.

Ted Harbert, chairman of NBC Broadcasting, urged the television industry to adopt a new ratings system that accounts for the shift, the story reports. Harbert made his comments during the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers Monday in New York.

The story reports: "Advertisers currently pay for airtime based on viewers who play back a show within three days of its initial broadcast. The metric is called ‘C3’ -- ‘C’ for commercials, because it measures how many people watch the ads as opposed to the show itself, and ‘3’ for the three-day window.”

Harbert urged advertising executives to start paying for playback for as long as seven days after the show's initial broadcast.

With NBC ranked last among the big four broadcast networks, the tweak would give the network a boost, the story notes.

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ABC's Fall Lineup Unveiled, as the Network Bets Heavily on Its Current Freshman Crop; Here's the Full Schedule

ABC, which is presenting its 2012-13 lineup today at its upfront in New York, is bringing back six freshman series for fall -- more than any other broadcast net, USA Today reports.

Returning are “Once Upon a Time,” “Revenge,” Suburgatory,” “Last Man Standing,” “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” and “Scandal.”

The channel is adding four new comedies to the lineup along with five new dramas. The story reports: “The new crop includes a mix of soapy, female-skewing dramas, more action fare and family comedies (one of which will inherit ABC's best time slot, after ‘Modern Family’). Scheduling details are unclear, but don't look for many major changes, with Wednesday's lineup mostly intact and ‘DWTS’ anchoring Monday and Tuesday. But ABC must rebuild Sunday as ‘Housewives’ and ‘GCB’ exit. ABC ranks third this season, with stable ratings, but its young-adult audience fell 4%, and it's now fourth in that measure behind a Super Bowl-fueled NBC.”

The Alphabet Network’s returning lineup includes “Private Practice,” “Happy Endings” and “Body of Proof” -- which has struggled with low ratings but might get help in the form of “CSI’s” Anthony Zuiker, who is talking with the show producer ABC Studios about possibly helming the series.

Two shows that won’t be back: “Cougar Town,” which is moving to TBS, and “Missing,” which has been canceled.

New shows for fall include the country music-focused soap “Nashville,” with Hayden Panettiere and Powers Boothe; supernatural series “666 Park Avenue,” with “Lost’s” Terry O’Quinn; nuclear drama “Last Resort,” with Andre Braugher; the Sarah Chalke comedy “How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life); Reba McEntire comedy vehicle “Malibu Country”; alien sitcom “The Neighbors”; and handyman show “The Family Tools,” with Kyle Bornheimer.

Here’s ABC’s schedule for the 2012-13 season:


MONDAY

8 PM “Dancing with the Stars”

10 PM “Castle”

In January:

8 PM “The Bachelor”

10 PM “Castle”


TUESDAY

8 PM “Dancing with the Stars -- the Results Show”

9 PM “Happy Endings”

9:30 PM “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23”

10 PM “Private Practice”

In January:

8 PM “How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)”

8:30 PM “The Family Tools”


WEDNESDAY

8 PM “The Middle”

8:30 p.m. “Suburgatory”

9 PM “Modern Family”

9:30 PM “The Neighbors”

10 PM “Nashville”


THURSDAY

8 PM “Last Resort”

9 PM “Grey’s Anatomy”

10 PM “Scandal”


FRIDAY

8 PM “Shark Tank”

9 PM “Primetime: What Would You Do?”

10 PM “20/20”

In November:

8 PM “Last Man Standing”

8:30 p.m. “Malibu Country”

9 PM “Shark Tank”

10 PM “Primetime: What Would You Do?”


SATURDAY

8 PM “Saturday Night College Football”


SUNDAY

7 PM “America’s Funniest Home Videos”

8 PM ”Once Upon a Time”

9 PM “Revenge”

10 PM “666 Park Avenue”

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CNN Trying to Lure Correspondent From ABC

CNN is trying to lure a key on-air personality from ABC News, reports FishbowlDC. CNN Worldwide Executive VP and Managing Editor Mark Whitaker and CNN Senior VP Amy Entelis have been trying to woo ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper, the story reports.

CNN has been struggling in the ratings against its cable news competitors and is trying to figure out a "game changer," the story says.

Tapper is currently under contract with ABC, and it's thought that he's waiting to become the host of "This Week," according to the article. CNN is also wooing ABC News correspondent John Berman to work on a morning show, the story says.

CNN’s Entelis previously worked at ABC for 30 years and was the vice president of talent and strategy. She left ABC earlier this year.

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Broadcast Networks Turn to a Familiar Strategy to Improve Ratings

As the upfront presentations roll out this week, along with networks' 2012-13 television schedules, it's becoming clear that broadcasters are turning to a familiar strategy in an effort to improve their ratings, reports The New York Times. The strategy is to add comedies to the prime-time schedule.

Fox and NBC both made their presentations Monday, and both networks are increasing their bet on comedy. NBC will add four comedies to its schedule for fall, bringing its total to 10, while Fox plans to add three sitcoms, making its comedy total nine, including animated series. NBC also has three sitcoms in reserve as possible midseason replacements, the story reports.

Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, introduced a monkey named Crystal as a co-star of its new sitcom "Animal Practice," about a veterinarian who dislikes humans, the story notes.

"Whether viewers will find humor in the antics of a medical monkey, or any of the other characters in the many sitcoms to be introduced in the coming months by broadcast networks, is a multibillion-dollar question. After the upfronts end, advertisers and agencies decide which shows to buy commercial time in, and which to avoid," the piece points out.

Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly -- who was NBC’s entertainment president until his dismissal in 2007 -- commented on NBC’s comedy-heavy lineup. “I think they announced like 200 this morning,” Reilly said, adding that marketers can expect pitches for “a lot of comedies” as the rest of the week plays out.

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'Everybody Loves Raymond' Veteran to Run New NBC Sitcom; Fox Comedy Also Lands Producers

A veteran of the long-running CBS hit “Everybody Loves Raymond” will be the showrunner on a new NBC sitcom, Deadline.com reports.

The show’s producer, 20th Century Fox TV, is putting the finishing touches on a deal with Mike Royce to oversee “1600 Penn,” a single-camera production NBC has slated for midseason.

Fox’s single-camera fall comedy “Ben and Kate,” meanwhile, also from 20th Century Fox TV, has landed “Community’s” Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman as executive producers, with final details being worked out.

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HBO Lines Up Star Power for New Comedy Project

HBO is developing a comedy project based on Wall Street in the 1980s, with a number of key Hollywood players behind the effort, Deadline.com reports.

Rob Riggle is slated to star and produce, the story reports. The project is based on an idea by Riggle and is written by Adam McKay and Chris Henchy.

"McKay and Henchy are executive producing with their Gary Sanchez Prods partner Will Ferrell as well as Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Peter Principato and Paul Young," the story says. "The project, which stems from Riggle’s development deal with HBO, reunites three of the stars of 'The Other Guys' -- Ferrell, Walhberg and Riggle -- with the film’s writers McKay and Henchy. It was on that movie that McKay, Wahlberg, Ferrell and Riggle formed a working relationship and set out to find a project on which to collaborate."

Riggle will star as a boss who lives a self-centered and unhealthy life, the piece notes.

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Investigative Series to Return for Sixth Season

A crime investigation series hosted by a popular former CNN anchor will be back for season six, TVNewser.com reports. Investigation Discovery will bring back "On the Case with Paula Zahn" with a 13-episode order, the story reports.

The new season premieres June 3. The show is one of the network's highest-rated series.

“’On the Case with Paula Zahn’ is a cornerstone franchise for Investigation Discovery and has significantly contributed to the network’s unprecedented explosive growth over the past three years,” said Henry Schleiff, president and GM of Investigation Discovery, in a statement.

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NBC, Affiliates Move Closer to Proxy Arrangement; Affils Chairman Backs Network Programming Strategy

NBC and its affiliates continue to move toward a deal that will enable the network to negotiate retransmission deals on behalf of affiliates, B&C reports, and both sides reported progress this week -- if only a little.

The story reports: “Brian Lawlor, who passed along his affiliates board chairman duties to Jordan Wertlieb at the May 14 meeting, made the landmark proxy arrangement a focus of his chairmanship. In the meeting, both parties agreed on an arrangement whereby NBC, when negotiating retrans terms for one of its owned stations with certain MVPDs, will ask the distributor to extend the same terms as those for the O&Os to affiliates whose deals are also coming due.”

Lawlor called the arrangement “a good first step,” the report says.

Wertlieb voiced support for the network’s programming strategy, the story reports. “Wertlieb, who spent much of his career at NBC affiliate WBAL Baltimore before being promoted to Hearst TV corporate, saluted the network's 2012-2013 gameplan, revealed at its upfront presentation earlier in the day, of stoking new hits on the backs of early-in-the-week ratings monsters ‘Sunday Night Football’ and ‘The Voice,’” B&C reports. “He called it a ‘very solid strategy,’ and voiced his enthusiasm for Comcast's support of over the air television. ‘Their investment speaks loudly to the affiliate body,’ Wertlieb said. ‘I think it's going to be a very exciting year.’"

NBC Broadcasting chief Ted Harbert touted the network’s affiliate relationship as a model for the industry, the story notes. Said Harbert: "The relationship is looked at as the best in the business. It matters a lot to me not to let that slip away."

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Report Cites Huge Disparity in Salaries of Two New 'X Factor' Judges

Demi Lovato is making a fraction of the salary being paid to “X Factor’s” other new judge, Britney Spears, TMZ.com reports.

Lovato will be paid slightly more than $1 million for her role on the show, the story reports -- impressive for a 19-year-old, but only 1/15th of the $15 million Spears will get for one season on the show.

The former Disney star will be structuring her upcoming concert tour around the "X Factor" tapings, the piece notes. The show's creator, Simon Cowell, praised Lovato's accomplishments and noted that she will connect with younger viewers, the story adds.

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Kanye West to Appear on His Girlfriend's Reality Show

Musician Kanye West has been taped accompanying girlfriend Kim Kardashian to events such as her sister's baby shower, and will appear in "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," reports E! News.

West will appear in a few episodes, even though Kardashian has been keeping mum about the relationship, the story says.

"If we are having dinner and he does show up, I'm sure we're not going to go, 'Stop the cameras!,’" Kardashian said, according to the story.

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Former News Corp. Exec Is First Person to Be Hit With Criminal Charges in Phone-Hacking Scandal

A former News Corp. executive will be charged with perverting the course of justice, becoming the first person to be charged in the company's phone-hacking scandal, reports the U.K. paper The Guardian.

Rebekah Brooks is the former head of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper operations. Brooks, who was arrested in March by Scotland Yard police officers, will face "three charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice including the alleged removal of seven cases of material from the archive of News International and the alleged concealment of documents and computers from officers investigating phone hacking," the story reports.

Her husband, Charlie Brooks, a friend of the U.K. prime minister and a racehorse trainer, will also be charged, the piece says. Several other people will also be facing charges, including Brooks' former personal assistant, according to the story.

Brooks and her husband issued a statement calling the decision "weak and unjust."

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NBC Confirms Plans to End Sitcom's Run

It has been evident for at least a few days now that the end was in sight for a veteran NBC comedy series, especially after the network revealed plans last week for a shortened 13-episode 2012-13 season of “30 Rock.” But now the network has confirmed that next season -- "30 Rock's" seventh -- will be the last for the Emmy-winning show, Deadline.com reports.

NBC chief Bob Greenblatt said today that “30 Rock” will end its run next season, capping things off with a one-hour final episode. The announcement came just one day after Greenblatt said the decision on when to end the show had not yet been made.

In annoucing the official end of the show, Greenblatt said today: “I know Tina [Fey], Alec [Baldwin] and the rest will deliver some of their best work. We think the world of Tina and hope she will be in the NBC family for years to come.”

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Veteran Reality Show Sinks to Historic Low

A long-running prime-time reality show aired its season finale Sunday night and wound up with the lowest ratings for a finale in the show’s history, according to Nielsen overnights.

TVbytheNumbers.com reports that CBS’s “Survivor” averaged a 2.8 rating in the key 18-49 demo for its two-hour finale. While that number was slightly better than the 2.7 for last week’s “Amazing Race” finale, it was down a whopping 30% from the “Survivor” finale last spring and the worst-ever finale in the show’s long run. The “Survivor” reunion show that followed it managed a 2.4, down 29% from the reunion show last spring and “Survivor’s” lowest-rated reunion ever.

Elsewhere on CBS Sunday night, the 7 p.m. broadcast of “60 Minutes” was down a hefty four-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago, pulling only a 1.2 in viewers 18-49.

ABC fared better with its two season finales Sunday: “Once Upon a Time” averaged a 3.2 rating in adults 18-49, rising 7% from a week earlier; and the two-hour series finale of “Desperate Housewives” also clocked in with a 3.2, rising 19% from a week ago and also beating the 3.1 average for last year’s season finale.

Fox’s animation lineup was generally down, leaving the network solidly in third place overall. NBC saw slight improvement for “Dateline” (up one-tenth from last week to a 0.8 average rating in 18-49) and the canceled “Harry’s Law” (up 25% to a 1.0), but “Celebrity Apprentice” tied its series low with a 1.8.

In the end ABC carried the night, finishing on top in the 18-49 demo with a 2.8 average rating for prime time, ahead of CBS (2.3 average), Fox (1.7) and NBC (1.3). ABC also prevailed in a close race in total viewers, averaging 9.49 million to 9.43 million for CBS, 5.51 million for NBC and 3.60 million for Fox.

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Young Sitcom Star Receives Kidney Transplant

One of the young stars of a popular network sitcom has received a kidney transplant, Seventeen Magazine reports. Undergoing the procedure was 21-year-old actress Sarah Hyland, who plays the one of the kids on ABC's hit comedy "Modern Family.”

Hyland, who has been living with kidney dysplasia, received a kidney donation from her father. The actress said the experience has been illuminating for her.

She told the publication, "You know that family is going to be there for you no matter what. My dad gave me a freakin' kidney! But it's also the families that you create outside of your family. And you really find out what kind of people you're friends with. It was just amazing, and it really opened my eyes to see who's there for me and who's not."

sarah-hyland.jpgSarah Hyland

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Soap Opera Actress Comes Out of the Closet

An actress on a long-running soap opera has revealed that she’s a lesbian, TVGuide.com reports. The revelation comes at the same time that her television character is also about to be revealed to be gay.

The actress is Joanna Johnson, who plays Karen on CBS's "The Bold and the Beautiful." Johnson was an original member of the “B&B” cast when it debuted in 1987; back then she played Caroline Spencer, who went on to marry Ridge Forrester. Johnson left the show when Caroline died of cancer, but later returned to play Karen, her twin sister.

Johnson told TV Guide: "When [executive producer-head writer] Brad Bell called and pitched the story I was kind of thrown. I just said, ‘Oh.’ And there was this very long pause. Then I said, ‘Where'd you get that idea?’ He laughed. I laughed. And I said, ‘Just make sure you get me a hot wife.’ And he did!"

In the weeks ahead on the soap, Karen will reveal that she is in a committed relationship with another woman, Dani, played by Crystal Chappell, who received an Emmy nomination for her role on "Days of Our Lives" last year.

joanna-johnson.jpgJoanna Johnson

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Why NBC Is Keeping Low-Rated 'Rock Center' on the Schedule

Despite "dismal" ratings, the Brian Williams-anchored newsmagazine "Rock Center" will remain on NBC's schedule, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

"Rock Center" averaged fewer than 4 million viewers this season, less than half the turnout for NBC's legal drama "Harry's Law," which was canceled, the story notes. Even worse, "Rock Center" drew only 1.2 million viewers in the desirable 18-49 demographic, well below "Harry's Law’s” 1.75 million younger viewers.

"The difference: NBC owns ‘Rock Center’ and its star is NBC News anchor Williams, while ‘Harry's Law’ comes from Warner Bros.," the story notes.

"Rock Center" will move to a new night, getting the more important Thursday 10 p.m. time slot, instead of its current Wednesday 9 p.m. time period, the story says.

"The move to 10 p.m. says as much about NBC's faith in its new and returning dramas as it does about 'Rock Center,’” the story reports. “Once home to critical and commercial smashes including 'ER,' 'L.A. Law' and 'Hill Street Blues,' the Thursday 10 p.m. slot has become a wasteland for NBC. Last season both 'Prime Suspect' and 'Awake' flopped in that time period."

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What's on Tap for Fox's 'Glee'? Guest Arcs for Two Prominent Actresses and a 'Show Within a Show' Story Line

Two prominent actresses will appear in substantial guest arcs on Fox’s “Glee” next season, Deadline.com reports. Signing on for a six-episode arc is Kate Hudson, who has built a reputation as box-office gold with a string of successful romantic comedies.

Sarah Jessica Parker of "Sex and the City" will also appear in a multiple-episode arc, the story reports.

Kevin Reilly, Fox entertainment president, made that announcement during a network conference call this morning. Reilly also said the new season will feature a "show within a show" story line, with some characters away from McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio, to attend a prestigious New York city drama school.

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Travolta Sex Assault Case Appears to Be Headed to Court After Second Claim Surfaces

The attorney for an anonymous masseur who is suing John Travolta says the sexual assault case against the actor is headed to court, E! News reports.

The comments by attorney Okorie Okorocha come after a second complaint surfaced last week, from another anonymous masseur accusing Travolta of sexual assault. Both accusers -- represented in the complaints as John Doe -- are represented by Okorocha.

The second complaint accuses Travolta of sexual harassment, assault, sexual battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, E! reports.

Travolta’s attorney, Marty Singer, responded to the second complaint, saying, "This second 'anonymous' claim is just as absurd and ridiculous as the first one," the publication reports. Singer reportedly wants to fight the claims aggressively, indicating it is unlikely they will wind up in mediation.

Said Okorocha: "Mediation means settlement. There will never be a settlement because Singer [is] asking for a trial and wants to sue me."

Okorocha added: "We know it will be a full trial with a private judge and court reporter. That's why I filed Doe complaints. I want privacy for sex-crime victims."

Okorocha has reportedly had talks with Singer and has asked for a full trial.

“Okorocha says Singer is ‘just listening at this point’ but hasn't indicated which way he will go, and that Singer is ready to ‘fight to the death’ against the suits,” the story reports.

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Unexpected Fallout From Cancellation of NBC Series

NBC’s cancellation of a series appears to have had an unexpected ripple effect, causing the stock price of an Internet company to fall, Deadline.com reports.

Stock prices for Ancestry.com suffered a 12% dip in pre-market trading this morning, following word that NBC had canceled "Who Do You Think You Are." The website is a prominent component of the program, helping its celebrity guests discover their families’ roots.

Ancestry.com enjoyed a 42.6% spike in online subscriptions during the two years in which it was involved with the show, the story notes.

Ancestry CEO Tim Sullivan issued a statement about the show being canceled, saying: "[We have had] a great relationship with the show’s producers, Is or Isn’t Entertainment and Shed Media, and we look forward to exploring other avenues of distribution.”

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CBS Cancels Long-Running Drama, Orders Seven New Shows

CBS has canceled a drama series that has become a fixture on the network during its long run, EW.com’s Inside TV reports.

The series is "CSI: Miami," which is being canceled after a 10-season run. "CSI: NY" is expected to remain on air for a ninth season, the story reports.

Even though "CSI: Miami" had stronger ratings than "CSI: NY," other issues such as time slot and a show's age can matter more than ratings, the story notes. "CSI: Miami" was struggling on Sundays, and an older show can be more expensive because of its cast and producer deals, the piece adds.

The show has already aired its final episode, with its last episode this season broadcast on April 8. The show won't resume production, meaning that there won't be a series finale for the show, according to a separate story on EW.com's Inside TV.

Separately, CBS ordered seven new shows, reports TheWrap.com. They include four new dramas, including the new take on Sherlock Holmes called "Elementary," two new comedies and a reality show from Mark Burnett.

"Elementary" stars Jonny Lee Miller as a modern Holmes, whose Watson is played by Lucy Liu. The network also ordered “Vegas,” which stars Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis in a drama about Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb

CBS ordered "Made in Jersey," about a working-class woman who works at a Manhattan law firm, and "Golden Boy," about a police officer's rise to police commissioner.

The new comedies are "Friend Me," about two young men from Indiana who move to Los Angeles to work at Groupon, and "Partners," which tracks two friends and business partners, the story says.

Mark Burnett's reality series is called "The Job," and is hosted by Lisa Ling. Contestants compete to try to win their dream jobs.

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NBC Releases Overhauled Fall Schedule -- Expands Role of 'The Voice' and Slates Comedies on Four Nights

NBC has released its reworked schedule for the 2012-13 season, announcing that the singing competition “The Voice” will be back for fall in addition to its regular midseason run and rolling out plans for an expanded comedy schedule.

The network, which holds its upfront presentation today in New York, revealed that it will air comedy blocks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Here’s the schedule, from NBC:

NBC FALL 2012-13 SCHEDULE

(*New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)

MONDAY

8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “REVOLUTION”


TUESDAY

8-9 p.m. –“The Voice”
9-9:30 p.m. – “GO ON”
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE NEW NORMAL”
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood”


WEDNESDAY

8-8:30 p.m. – “ANIMAL PRACTICE”
8:30-9 p.m. – “GUYS WITH KIDS”
9-10 p.m. – “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
10-11 p.m. – “CHICAGO FIRE”


THURSDAY

8-8:30 p.m. – “30 Rock”
8:30-9 p.m. – “Up All Night”
9-9:30 p.m. – “The Office”
9:30-10 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation”
10-11 p.m. – “Rock Center with Brian Williams”


FRIDAY

8-8:30 p.m. – “Whitney”
8:30-9 p.m. – “Community”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”


SATURDAY

Encore programming


SUNDAY (Fall 2012)

7- 8:15 p.m. -- "Football Night in America"
8:15-11:30 p.m. -- "NBC Sunday Night Football"


SUNDAY (Post-football/Winter 2013)

7-8 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
8-9 p.m. – “Fashion Star”
9-10 p.m. – “The Celebrity Apprentice”
10-11 p.m. – “DO NO HARM”

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Fox Unveils Prime-Time Lineup for 2012-13, Including New All-Comedy Night -- Here's the Full Schedule

With Fox Networks Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice and Fox Broadcasting President Kevin Reilly fronting the presentation today in New York, Fox took the wraps off its 2012-13 prime-time schedule today at its upfront event in New York.

The network touted its new Tuesday night comedy block, with two new sitcoms, “Ben & Kate” and Mindy Kaling’s “The Mindy Project,” joining existing series “Raising Hope” and “New Girl.” The Kaling comedy has been reported elsewhere with the title “It’s Messy,” as we reported earlier.

The new lineup also features the Josh Berman (“Bones,” “CSI”) and Rob Wright (“Crossing Jordan”) executive-produced drama “The Mob Doctor,” starring Jordana Spiro in a show that combines medical and crime elements. The thriller “The Following,” from Kevin Williamson (“Dawson’s Creek,” “Scream”), is set for midseason, with Kevin Bacon starring.

Also set for midseason is the comedy “The Goodwin Games,” from “How I Met Your Mother” executive producers Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Chris Harris.

"Glee" moves to Thursday nights in fall, leading out from "The X Factor."

In a statement, Rice said: “Television continues to be the most vibrant, emotionally rich platform in the world. Fox has been the No. 1 network for eight seasons by delivering groundbreaking, engaging and culturally relevant shows that connect with our audience, not only on-air, but wherever they are in the digital or social space.”

Added Reilly: “With first-year culture-driving hits like ‘New Girl’ and ‘The X Factor’ and strong returning tentpoles like ‘American Idol’ and ‘Glee,’ we were laser focused on our development and it has really paid off. I have no doubt that our two genre-defying new dramas, our new Fox Sports Saturdays, and our three new distinctive, sharp and upscale comedies -- all fronted by incredible talent -- can propel Fox to even greater success.”

Here’s the schedule from Fox:

FOX 2012-2013 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE

(All Times ET/PT)

MONDAY

8:00-9:00 PM BONES

9:00-10:00 PM THE MOB DOCTOR (new)

THE FOLLOWING (new) joins in midseason.

TUESDAY

8:00-8:30 PM RAISING HOPE

8:30-9:00 PM BEN AND KATE (new)

9:00-9:30 PM NEW GIRL

9:30-10:00 PM THE MINDY PROJECT (new)

THE GOODWIN GAMES (new) joins in midseason.

WEDNESDAY

8:00-10:00 PM THE X FACTOR (fall) / AMERICAN IDOL (midseason)

THURSDAY

8:00-9:00 PM THE X FACTOR Results (fall) / AMERICAN IDOL Results (midseason)

9:00-10:00 PM GLEE

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM TOUCH

9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE (fall)

HELL’S KITCHEN returns in midseason.

SATURDAY

7:00-10:30 PM FOX SPORTS SATURDAY (fall)

COPS returns in midseason.

ANIMATION DOMINATION HIGH-DEF (new) will join late-prime in 2013.

SUNDAY

7:00-7:30 PM NFL Game (fall) / ANIMATION DOMINATION (encores)

7:30-8:00 PM THE OT (fall) / THE CLEVELAND SHOW

8:00-8:30 PM THE SIMPSONS

8:30-9:00 PM BOB’S BURGERS

9:00-9:30 PM FAMILY GUY

9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

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Actress and Singer With History of Rehab Joins Britney Spears as 'X Factor' Judge

An actress and singer with a history of personal struggles including rehab has signed a deal to serve as a judge on the next season of "The X Factor," joining singer Britney Spears on the talent competition, reports TMZ.com.

The new judge is Demi Lovato. Lovato checked into rehab in 2010 to deal with emotional and physical issues, as previously reported.

A star of Disney's "Camp Rock" movies and the Disney Channel sitcom "Sonny with a Chance," Lovato has also released several albums, with "Don't Forget" going gold.

Lovato is expected to attend the Fox upfront to announce her decision to join the show, the piece adds. Spears is also expected to attend and announce her part in the program. As we reported last week, Spear will get $15 million to join the singing competition’s judging panel for one season.

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NBC Exec Blasts New Commercial-Skipping Device

A new device that automatically skips commercials in recorded prime-time programming from the big four broadcast networks came under fire from NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"I think this is an attack on our eco-system," Harbert said of Auto Hop, the new device from satellite provider Dish Network. “I’m not for it,” Harbert added, speaking during the network’s conference call to announce its prime-time schedule for the 2012-13 season.

The report adds: “Harbert declined to comment on whether NBC or its parent Comcast Corp. was preparing any sort of legal response to Dish Network Corp.'s new technology. He did say he would have an elaborate message to advertisers and Dish on Monday at Radio City Music Hall when the network presents its fall schedule to advertisers.”

Dish introduced Auto Hop last week as a component of its PrimeTime Anytime feature on its DVR service, which is called the Hopper, the story reports.

“The Anytime feature automatically records the prime-time programming of CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox and stores the content on a rolling basis for eight days,” the piece reports. “Viewers who use the PrimeTime feature can use the Auto Hop to literally black out commercials, provided the programs are watched the day after their original airing. The way it works is that the customer pushes a button and then when a commercial break appears, the screen goes black for a few seconds and then the program returns. The Auto Hop can't be used on live programming such as a sporting event that has been recorded.’

Dish is providing a heavy marketing push for the device to its 14 million-plus subscribers, the report notes.

The piece adds: “The broadcast networks have so far stayed mum about the Auto Hop but in the past have expressed great concern about any device that allows consumers to bypass commercials. While digital video recorders allow a viewer to fast-forward through spots, the commercial images still play on the screen, albeit faster. The Auto Hop gets rid of the advertisements altogether.”

Auto Hop is currently being offered only for broadcast programming, but the technology could be expanded to cable, the story notes.

The story reports: “A Dish spokesman said the reason it is limited to broadcast shows is because those are the shows most frequently recorded by consumers. Whether that decision to offer the device only for a handful of channels provides fodder for a lawsuit will no doubt be revealed in the weeks ahead.”

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A Third New NBC Series Will Recast Role

On the heels of recasting news for two new NBC series, another newly picked up NBC show is recasting a role, reports Deadline.com.

The drama "Infamous," which was formerly titled "Notorious," will recast the role of the womanizer Julian Lawson, the brother of an heiress who is murdered, the story notes. Neil Jackson played the role in the pilot. The show stars Meagan Good as a detective who goes undercover to solve the murder.

As previously reported, NBC sitcom "Animal Practice" is recasting its female lead, which had been played by Irish actress Amy Huberman.

Additionally, NBC is recasting a role on the sitcom “Guys with Kids” to replace Sara Rue, whose ABC pilot “Malibu Country” was picked up.

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TV Writer Dead at 85 -- His 200 Credits Included 'Bonanza,' 'Outer Limits' and Many Other Popular Series

A veteran television writer who earned more than 200 credits on shows such as "Bonanza" and "The Outer Limits" has died, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Stephen Lord was 85.

Lord wrote for classic Westerns such as "The Virginian,” crime dramas including "T.J. Hooker" and science fiction shows including "They Came From Outer Space." He also worked on films, including 1979's "The Fall of the House of Usher."

Lord died May 5 in Sherman Oaks, Calif. His 35-year writing career also included work on the TV shows “Fantasy Island,” “CHiPs,” “Daniel Boone,” “Death Valley Days” and “McCloud.”

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Liquor Ads Make Huge Breakthrough on Broadcast Networks

With broadcast networks loosening their rules and accepting hard liquor ads, liquor brands have been on a veritable stampede to get into TV advertising, reports Advertising Age.

"We felt that it was important to speak to our core consumer [21- to 29-year-old men], and in order to do so we needed to have a presence on television," said Amanda Blanco," brand manager for Jagermeister, which aired its first TV ad this month.

CBS has started accepting liquor ads during late-night programming, while ABC has been taking liquor ads during "Jimmy Kimmel Live" for several months. NBC started airing spirits ads after 11 p.m. this spring.

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With Network Orders Coming In, Which Studio Sold the Most Shows?

In a close race among the top studios, one studio has claimed the No. 1 spot in orders for the 2012-13 television season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. With orders to all five broadcast networks, Warner Bros. TV led the way by selling nine programs.

Eight of the Warner Bros. TV shows are dramas, with CBS's "Partners" being the studio’s only ordered comedy, the story notes. Among the dramas are two projects from Greg Berlanti -- the CW's "Arrow" and CBS's "Golden Boy" -- and two from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage -- the CW's "The Carrie Diaries" and "Cult."

Close behind in second place is Universal Television, which sold eight shows. The studio has tried to push beyond NBC, and sold Mindy Kaling's comedy to Fox. Among its other ordered shows are Matthew Perry's "Go On" and "Guys with Kids," both ordered by NBC.

CBS Television Studios ranked third, with seven ordered shows. The studio sold four projects to CBS and two to the CW. Its projects include "Elementary," ordered by CBS, and the CW's "Beauty and the Beast."

ABC Studios was fourth with six shows; 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures tied for fifth place with five ordered programs; and Lionsgate had two ordered shows.

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NBC Boss Explains Why 'Community' Is Moving, Comments (Sort Of) on Dan Harmon-Chevy Chase Hassle

With "Community” creator and showrunner Dan Harmon still unsigned for another season of the program, NBC chief Bob Greenblatt offered comments that could indirectly contain implications for Harmon and the show, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

As reported previously, Harmon has been mired in a public dispute with “Community” co-star Chevy Chase, including going public with a profanity-laced voicemail from the former “Saturday Night Live” star. Chase has made a series of comments giving the impression he’s unhappy with his role on the show and seemingly putting Harmon in the crosshairs.

Asked about the situation with “Community” and Harmon, Greenblatt indicated he’s aware that Harmon remains unsigned, but said he doesn’t know the details. He added: "Shows lose showrunners all the time and do well. We have to figure out what makes sense. I don't have a specific answer for that yet."

There haven't been any "intense" talks between Harmon and NBC yet, the story notes. Said Greenblatt: "I've been so busy looking at our new shows and putting together the schedule, that hasn't come to me yet.”

"Community" has been shifted to Fridays to support "Grimm," which has performed well on Fridays at 9 p.m., the piece notes. The idea, according to Greenblatt, is to help "Grimm," which Greenblatt says might get a bigger boost by having a scripted show as its lead-in.

"Both [‘Community’ and ‘Whitney’] have core audiences that seem to travel with them," Greenblatt added, according to the piece.

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Yahoo CEO Steps Down

Amid an inquiry into his credentials, Yahoo Chief Executive Scott Thompson stepped down Sunday, leaving the struggling Internet company just four months after joining, reports The New York Times.

Thompson will be replaced on an interim basis by Yahoo global head of media Ross Levinsohn. Fred Amoroso, a director who is leading the inquiry into Thompson's credentials, will serve as Yahoo's new chairman.

The story notes, "The decision is meant to move Yahoo past one of the most embarrassing episodes in the Web pioneer’s history as the company tries to revitalize itself."

The decision is a victory for activist hedge fund Third Point, which had been waging a proxy fight to get its nominees on Yahoo's board and had pointed out an inconsistency in Thompson's published biography.

Under a settlement between Yahoo and Third Point that was announced on Sunday, Third Point founder Daniel Loeb will gain a board seat, as will two of his designees, Michael J. Wolf and Harry Wilson, the piece notes.

Former NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker will withdraw his nomination, the piece adds.

"Five current Yahoo board members, who had already decided not to stand for re-election, will instead leave immediately. The board is considering adding one more person," according to the story.

As previously reported, Thompson listed a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College, although the institution didn't offer the degree until four years after he graduated.

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Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Says He Will Buy Facebook Shares No Matter What the Price

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told Bloomberg News he will buy shares in Facebook's initial stock offering no matter what the price.

“I don’t care what the opening price is," Wozniak said. He described founder Mark Zuckerberg as a "real acute" businessman.

Wozniak, who founded Apple with Steve Jobs, added, “I was thankful to have a partnership with Steve Jobs and I see Mark Zuckerberg closer to the combination of us,” according to the story.

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Fox Likely to Keep Changes to a Minimum, Debut an All-Comedy Tuesday

Fox isn't expected to overhaul its schedule, and will likely stick to a plan to create an all-comedy Tuesday night, reports Deadline.com.

The network, which will announce its fall schedule later today, will debut a Tuesday night schedule featuring the returning "Raising Hope," new program "Ben & Kate," returning "New Girl" and the debut of Mindy Kaling's "It's Messy," the story says.

"Glee" is thought to be moving to Thursday after "The X Factor," while "Touch" may join "Fringe" on Fridays for a sci-fi evening. The new medical show "The Mob Doc" may end up on Mondays, taking over the time slot from "House" and airing with "Bones," the story says.

Fox’s highest-profile new show, "The Following," which stars Kevin Bacon, may be held for midseason, along with the new comedy "The Goodwin Games."

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American Auto Legend--'I Love Horsepower'--Dead at 89. His Version of the Mustang Will Forever Be Fondly Remembered

Carroll Hall Shelby, best known now for his high-performance Shelby Cobras and Shelby Mustangs, has died at age 89, USA Today reports.

The Texan had been in a Dallas hospital suffering from pneumonia, the story says.

Recounting the Shelby's life, the article notes, "Representing the proletariat, his innovative, now-legendary Cobras with their 'crude' Ford push-rod V-8s gave the high-revving, overhead-camshaft Porsches and Ferraris a sour taste by winning the Grand Touring World Championship in 1965. It was a prelude to a bigger win: the famous 1-2-3 finish in 1966 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans by Ford GT40 Mark II's he engineered, breaking Ferrari's domination."

The article adds, "What Shelby wanted was, power for the people, automotively speaking. 'I love horsepower,' he said more than once."

"Soon after Lee A. Iacocca of Ford introduced the Mustang in 1964, he asked Shelby to help create a high-performance version for racing," notes The New York Times' obituary about Shelby. "In January 1965, the first Shelby Mustang, the GT350, made its debut. Shelby also developed the Ford GT40, and the Shelby GT500 and GT500KR (the KR stood for King of the Road).

Shelby's Cobra was forever immortalized in pop music in 1964 when the Rip Chords, a group sounding like The Beach Boys, released this hit,  "Hey Little Cobra":

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NBC, ABC and CW Announce More Cancellations, Renewals, Pickups

Several broadcast networks squeezed in programming announcements Friday afternoon ahead of the upfronts, including series pickups as well as series renewals and cancellations. This matieral has been culled from various articles posted by our friends at Deadline.com.

Among the headlines, NBC made a late announcement that it has canceled the Kathy Bates drama series “Harry’s Law” after two seasons on the air, Deadline.com reports. The news followed word from NBC that it is also canceling the comedies “Are You There, Chelsea,” “BFF” and “Bent,” along with the low-rated drama “Awake,” as Deadline reported separately.

ABC made its own headlines with the news that it is canceling the controversial freshman drama “GCB,” while it has decided to give a second season to the Shonda Rhimes drama “Scandal.” The network stopped short of announcing a decision on “Private Practice,” which is expected to be renewed, Deadline reports.

Meanwhile, ABC picked up five new series from ABC Studios: “Nashville,” “The Neighbors,” “Family Tools” (also known as “Red Man Van”), “Red Widow” (formerly “Penoza”) and “Zero Hour.” Still undecided is the fate of “Americana,” though Deadline reports that it’s not looking good.

The story reports that ABC also picked up pilots “666 Park Ave,” “How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life” and “Last Resort.”

The Reba McEntire comedy pilot “Malibu Country” remains alive, the story notes, with its fate still to be determined, while the rest of ABC’s pilots appear to be dead.

CW announced another go-round for “Gossip Girl,” which will be the show’s final season, Deadline reports. CW also ordered a third season of “Nikita” and a second season for “Hart of Dixie.” Earlier, CW announced last week that it is bringing back “Vampire Diaries,” “Supernatural” and “90210.”

On the negative side of the ledger at the CW, "As expected, low-rated freshmen 'Ringer' [starring Sarah Michelle Gellar]  and 'The Secret Circle' are not coming back," Deadline reports.

Also among today’s announcements, CW has picked up five new drama series, including the “Sex and the City” prequel “The Carrie Diaries,” Deadline reports. The network also picked up the Green Arrow series “Arrow,” a remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” the mystery series “Cult” and the medical drama “First Cut.”

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Jury Returns Verdict in Jennifer Hudson Family Murder Trial

A jury has come in with a verdict in the trial of William Balfour, 31, who had been accused of killing the mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew of Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.

"Balfour has been convicted on all seven counts against him, which include three counts of first-degree murder, one count of home invasion, one count aggravated kidnapping, one count residential burglary, and one count possession of a stolen motor vehicle," reports CBS News.

According to the article, "Balfour, the ex-husband of Hudson's sister, killed 57-year-old Darnell Hudson, 29-year-old Jason Hudson and 7-year-old Julian King. Prosecutors believe that Balfour shot the family in a jealous rage because ex-wife Julia Hudson was dating another man. Balfour now faces a life sentence in prison."

Jennifer Hudson first came to the public's attention as a contestant during the 2004 season of "American Idol."

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Report: Gay Marriage Question Expected to Reach Supreme Court This Year

"Two big cases addressing marriage rights for gays and lesbians are on track to reach the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this year, keeping the focus on an issue President Barack Obama reignited with his endorsement this week," reports David Ingram for Reuters.

The article says, "Lawyers for California same-sex couples are urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to end its involvement, which would clear the way for a request for the Supreme Court to settle the issue. Each day the government does not recognize the couples 'is a day that can never be returned to them,' lawyer Ted Olson wrote in a court filing in March."

The story adds, "The California case tests whether the state's same-sex marriage ban, which voters approved in 2008 after 18,000 same-sex couples had obtained marriage licenses, violates due-process and equal-protection rights. After a three-judge panel ruled for gay marriage in the 9th Circuit in February, backers of the ban asked that an 11-judge panel rehear the case. Should the court refuse, the backers are expected to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene."

The article says the other case working its way to the Supreme Court is from Massachusetts.

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NBC Announces Renewals for Several Series; ABC Show Also Gets Happy News

NBC has resolved much of the mystery surrounding the fates of a number of its shows, announcing renewals today for several series, E! News reports.

The network will bring back “Parks and Recreation,” “Whitney” and “Up All Night,” the story reports. NBC also has announced it is bringing back “The Office” for a ninth season.

The shows were among a number of NBC series that were awaiting word as of earlier today, as we reported this morning.

Elsewhere on the dial, ABC has renewed “Happy Endings” for a third season, giving it a full 22-episode order, as was expected, Deadline.com reports.

NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” which returns for season five, avoided the fate that befell “Community” and “30 Rock,” which received orders for shortened seasons -- 13 episodes for “Community” and 13 or 14 for “30 Rock.”

“E! News has confirmed that ‘Parks and Rec’ has been given a 22-episode order from NBC,” the story reports. “Yes, that's right: no shortened episode order for our favorite Pawnee residents! No need for Ron Swanson to give NBC execs his ‘I'm a true American’ stare after all! The mockumentary has struggled in the ratings, but it seems the fan devotion and critical love was enough to warrant 22 more episodes of pure awesomeness.”

“Whitney,” which stars Whitney Cummings, and “Up All Night,” which stars Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph, both received orders for second seasons.

ABC’s renewal of “Happy Endings” follows a mass announcement of series renewals Thursday night by ABC, as we reported previously.

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Family of Whitney Houston Lands Deal for Reality Series

The family of the late singer Whitney Houston has received an order for a reality show, the Los Angeles Times reports. The order comes from Lifetime, which will track Houston's family members in 10 one-hour episodes of “The Houston Family Chronicles.”

Taking the spotlight will be Whitney Houston’s brother Gary; Whitney’s manager, sister-in-law and confidant Pat Houston; and Rayah, the couple’s teenage daughter.

The story reports: “Houston’s only daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and her mother, Cissy Houston, will also appear on the show. Lifetime says the series will show Pat and Gary as they ‘take on their greatest challenge, supporting and guiding Bobbi Kristina as she faces the world alone, without the one person she relied on the most, her mother.’”

Lifetime’s description of the show continues: “A mother to her own teenage daughter, Rayah, Pat understands the difficulty of raising a young woman in a world where social media and peer pressure are the norm. As she tries to guide her own daughter into womanhood, Pat also has the responsibility of raising Bobbi Kristina, who, while trying to move forward with life and make decisions about her future, must also learn to cope with such a devastating loss.”

Whitney Houston died Feb. 11 at age 48 in a hotel bathtub in Beverly Hills, with her death determined to be caused by accidental drowning, as we reported previously. She had cocaine, marijuana and a variety of other drugs in her system at the time of her death.

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NBC Comedies' Season Finales Fall to Historic Lows

Two NBC comedy series had their lowest-rated finales ever Thursday night, as the trend on most of the broadcast networks was down, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

According to Nielsen overnights, NBC’s “The Office” scored a modest 2.2 average rating in the key 18-49 demo -- the show’s lowest-rated season finale ever. The number was also down one-tenth of a ratings point from last week’s 2.3.

NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” also had its lowest season finale, pulling a 1.7 in 18-49.

That was better than most of the NBC lineup, as the Peacock found itself in familiar territory with a distant fourth-place finish for prime time overall. “Community” managed a 1.4 in the 18-49 demo, “30 Rock” drew a 1.5 -- an improvement from last week’s 1.4 -- and the network’s 10 p.m. drama “Awake” managed a modest 0.9, up two-tenths from last week.

Programming on other broadcast networks also struggled. ABC’s “Missing” fell to a series-low 1.1 average rating in 18-49, while “Grey’s Anatomy” was up one-tenth to a 3.4 and “Scandal” climbed one-tenth to a 2.0. Fox’s “American Idol” fell off one-tenth from last week to a 3.9, while “Touch” held steady with a 2.0.

CBS had the distinction of the night’s top program, “The Big Bang Theory,” even though the show was off a whopping five-tenths of a ratings point from last week. “Bang” pulled a 4.2 in viewers 18-49, down from last week’s 4.7.

Elsewhere on CBS, “Rules of Engagement” held even with a 2.7 in 18-49, “Person of Interest” ticked up a tenth to a 2.6 and “The Mentalist” slipped one-tenth to a 2.4.

For prime time overall, Fox got the win in 18-49 by a narrow margin over CBS, while CBS edged ahead in total viewers. In adults 18-49, Fox led with a 2.9 average rating to CBS’s 2.8, ABC’s 2.2 and NBC’s 1.4. Total viewers saw CBS out front with 12.1 million to Fox’s 11.0 million, ABC’s 7.5 million and NBC’s 3.2 million.

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Reality TV Personality in Jail -- Again

A TV personality who’s a regular on reality television -- and who’s also a regular in the legal system -- is back behind bars, MSNBC reports.

Amber Portwood, a star of MTV’s “Teen Mom,” was arrested Thursday in Indiana for allegedly failing to report for a court appearance that’s part of a court-mandated drug rehabilitation program, the story says. Portwood could be looking at a few weeks in jail while she awaits a court review of her case, the story says -- and that would mean she will spend Monday, her 22nd birthday, in jail.

The story notes: “Portwood took a plea deal earlier this year and agreed to participate in the strict rehab program following a December 2011 arrest for drug and probation violation charges that landed her in jail for over two months.”

Portwood also got in trouble back in March, for apparently failing to provide a sample for drug testing. She avoided being returned to jail at that time, but received an extra 30 days of drug testing along with a requirement that she submit a 500-word report to the court, the story reports.

The report adds: “Portwood’s legal troubles began back in 2010 when she was arrested for assaulting her baby’s father, Gary Shirley, while MTV cameras rolled. Shirley, who currently has full custody of their daughter, Leah, found out about his ex-girlfriend’s most-recent arrest from fans on Twitter.”

Shirley tweeted this morning: “So just found out she is in jail, WTF I didn't even know. I was trying to help Leah get her something [for her birthday]. Postponed.”

Taping has wrapped on the fourth and final season of “Teen Mom,” which is set to premiere June 19.

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NBC Picks Up Comedy Pilot to Series -- Meaning Two Others Will Be Left Behind

NBC gave a last-minute series order to a comedy pilot centered on a popular comedian, Deadline.com reports. The project is “Next Caller,” which stars Dane Cook.

The show, a single-camera comedy, was picked up for six episodes, the story says.

Deadline calls the show a “gender comedy focusing on a brash alpha male DJ (Cook) and his new, plucky, feminist co-host (Collette Wolfe) set in the offices of a satellite radio station. There had been talk that NBC liked the premise but was considering redeveloping it. That is still a possibility given that fact that the order is for 6 episodes, likely for midseason.”

The word now is that NBC’s other comedy pilots will not be picked up, according to the story. “That includes the multi-camera Kari Lizer project starring Minnie Driver and Andrea Anders and ‘Daddy’s Girls’ starring Scott Bakula, which may be shopped elsewhere,” Deadline reports.

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Will 'Mad Men' Emmy Move Ruffle Feathers Among the Show's Actresses?

AMC's "Mad Men" may have an Emmys controversy on its hands now that actress Jessica Pare, who plays Megan, Don's (Jon Hamm) new wife, has decided to submit her work in the category of lead actress in a drama series, reports Goldderby.com.

That will put Pare in direct competition with Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy on the show. Moss was considered a contender in last year's race but lost to Julianna Margulies of "The Good Wife."

Pare leaps to the lead actress category from guest actress, where her work was submitted last year but failed to receive a nomination. It’s a big leap, and an unusual one -- bypassing the supporting category altogether.

Moss has gone back and forth between two categories, earning nominations a total of three times for her work on the show without a win. She competed in the lead actress category in 2009 and 2011, and in the supporting actress category in 2010.

“Mad Men” has had its share of Emmys success, including winning the Emmy for outstanding drama series for the past four years. But despite a string of nominations, the show has yet to win an Emmy in an acting category.

Among the show’s actresses, Christina Hendricks was nominated the past two years in the supporting actress category for her work on “Mad Men.” She and Moss went head to head for the trophy in 2010, but Archie Panjabi won it that year for “The Good Wife.” Hendricks lost out to “Justified’s” Margo Martindale in 2011.

A showdown between Hendricks and “Mad Men’s” January Jones appears to be shaping up in supporting actress. Jones was nominated as lead actress in 2010, when the trophy went to “The Closer’s” Kyra Sedgwick, but Jones will reportedly submit her work in the supporting actress category this year.

Among the show’s actors, Jon Hamm, in the lead actor category, and John Slattery, in supporting actor, are both perennial nominees but neither has won the Emmy. The show has also received a series of nominations in the guest-acting categories.

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CBS Makes Good on Threat, Files Lawsuit Against ABC

CBS has filed a lawsuit against ABC, making good on a threat it made earlier this week. CBS wants to put the brakes on a new reality show in the works at ABC that CBS thinks is too much like its own long-running reality show "Big Brother," reports The New York Times' Bill Carter.

CBS fired off a warning letter to ABC a few days ago, as we reported earlier this week.

As previously reported, ABC is readying "The Glass House" for a June 18 debut. the show features contestants trying to outlast each other while living under the same roof.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by CBS in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, with the network asking the court to block ABC from airing the series, the story notes.

"CBS argues that the ABC show represents copyright infringement and that the producers, most of whom previously worked on ‘Big Brother,’ are violating nondisclosure agreements they signed when they left that series," Carter writes.

ABC said the lawsuit has no merit. “The differences between ‘Glass House’ and ‘Big Brother’ are both fundamental and obvious, ranging from ‘Glass House’s’ interactive elements and audience participation to its deployment of cutting-edge technologies,” the network said in a statement.

Similar lawsuits haven't been successful in the past, Carter writes. "Suits trying to stop copycat reality shows from being produced have been consistently rejected by courts in the past, largely because even small variations in format can be defended as a different reality," the story says.

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ABC Announces Renewals for 10 Series

Ten series have been renewed by ABC for the 2012-13 broadcast season, including the hit comedy “Modern Family” and freshman shows "Once Upon a Time" and "Revenge," B&C reports.

Another first-year show earning a renewal is "Suburgatory," the story says. "The Middle" will return for a fourth season, along with "Modern Family," while "Castle" will be back for a fifth season and "Grey's Anatomy" will return for a ninth season.

The reality shows "Dancing with the Stars," "Shark Tank" and "The Bachelor" were also renewed, the piece adds.

ABC hasn't yet picked up any pilots to series. Its upfront presentation is scheduled for next Tuesday.

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Several NBC Shows Left Hanging as Renewals Roll In

With NBC starting its announcements of series orders and renewals Monday, several shows have been left hanging, including "Harry's Law," "Up All Night," Whitney" and "The Office," although the latter is expected to return, reports Deadline.com.

The future of "Harry's Law" is in the balance, although NBC may renew the drama for a 13-episode midseason order, the story notes. Bubble show "Whitney" isn't quite dead, since the new pickup "Guys With Kids" needs a companion show on the schedule, the piece adds.

While there's no official word yet on "Parks and Recreation," "The Office" and "Up All Night," they are all expected to return, and their renewals may be announced together.

As for pilots, NBC hasn't officially released the projects it is declining to pick up, although the network is thought to be almost finished with its orders, the article notes. The high-testing multicamera comedies "Daddy's Girls" and "Lady Friends" are thought to be dead, while none of the drama pilots are considered to be in contention, including "County" and "Midnight Sun," the story adds.

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Broadcasters Tell Court About Nightmare Scenario They Say Would Totally Disrupt the TV Business

Broadcasters have told a New York federal court that they are effectively facing a nightmare scenario that will totally disrupt the TV business as we know it today.

If the Barry Diller-backed Aereo service that streams TV programming from TV stations without their permission is not ruled illegal, the economic model that TV is currenly based upon will be changed, broadcasters have told a federal court in New York, reports The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq. blog.

According to the story, "broadcasters warn that the TV industry will be totally changed -- making it less likely that broadcasters would ever pay billions of dollars for the rights to live NFL games, that retransmission negotiations between stations and cable/satellite companies could get even more contentious and that Aereo's service would threaten advertising money and piracy protection and the growth of Internet-based video on demand market. In short, they say television would never look the same."

In a lawsuit filed in a federal court in New York, braodcasters are seeking a preliminary injunction against Aereo, the story says. "To succeed in attaining a preliminary injunction against Aereo, the plaintiffs have to show, among other things, a likelihood of success and the prospect of irreparable injury," the article notes.

The story also quotes a declaration filed by Matt Bond, executive VP of content distribution at NBCUniversal. Bond's prior job was  executive vice president of content acquisition at Comcast Cable Communications. 

According to the article, Bond says in his declaration to the court, "It makes little economic sense for cable systems and satellite broadcasters to continue to pay for NBCU content on a per-subscriber basis when, with a relatively modest investment, they can simply modify their operations to mirror Aereo's 'individual antenna' scheme and retransmit, for free, over-the-air local broadcast programming. I know for a fact that cable companies have already considered such a model."

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Report: Year's First Upfront Ad Deal Is Signed -- and It Says Plenty About the Direction Television Is Heading

The first publicly announced advertising deal of this year’s upfront marketplace has been signed, and it offers proof of the emerging power of Spanish-language television, Advertising Age reports.

The pact has Spanish-language broadcaster Univision leading the way in signing marketers, inking a deal with Starcom that brings a solid commitment of ad dollars from Burger King, Mars/Wrigley, Kellogg Co. and others.

“Starcom and Univision declined to specify terms of the deal, but executives said the volume involved was significant,” the story reports. “The three marketers spent about $54.1 million with Univision in 2011, according to data from Kantar.”

The timing of the deal, with Univision firing the first shot of the upfront, is a sign that things are changing on the broadcast landscape.

“That this particular deal broke the upfront market signals a shift in how the annual event, during which TV networks try to sell ad inventory for the coming fall season, normally proceeds,” Ad Age notes. “Advertisers typically scramble to do deals with broadcast networks, and sometimes cable, with Spanish-language outlets wrapping up business toward the very end.”

Mike Rosen, president-activation at Publicis Groupe's Starcom, addressed this shift, saying: "There's a certain routine and tradition and legacy to our business that may not really be based on anything more than just tradition. We think that the power of Spanish-language media that's been demonstrated by Univision content, its events, on all its platforms, is incredibly valuable to our clients as they try to win in the marketplace and win share gains and profitability."

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NBC Gives Short Season Orders to Sitcoms, Renews Comedy-Drama Series

NBC has given short season orders to two comedy series and has renewed a dramedy, Deadline.com reports.

The Peacock Network ordered a fourth season of "Community," consisting of 13 episodes, the website reports. A question has surfaced whether Dan Harmon will continue as showrunner. Because of the public feud between Harmon and co-star Chevy Chase, it's unclear whether they'll continue to work together or if one of them will leave the show, the story adds.

The comedy "30 Rock" also received a renewal for a shortened season, with the show picked up for its seventh and final season, which will consist of 13 to 14 episodes, according to a separate Deadline.com story.

The family comedy-drama "Parenthood" was also renewed. "Parenthood," which follows the lives of the fictional Braverman family, is NBC's second-highest-rated drama, behind "Smash," the story notes.

NBC's decision to order shortened seasons for its comedies comes as the network is seeking to free up money to pick up new comedies, Deadline.com notes.

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TV Shows Blur Controversial Time Magazine Breast-Feeding Cover

Some television shows have been blurring Time magazine's controversial cover, which shows a mother breast-feeding her 3-year-old son, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

The story is about Dr. Bill Sears and his advocacy of "attachment parenting."

"Time editors have made no apologies, arguing that the point of a magazine cover is to get attention. And attention it got across the TV dial on Thursday -- although the image proved a little too much for many," the story notes.

"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski said the cover bothered her, noting that while the story is about a male doctor, the image on the cover is a young, attractive woman. MSNBC blurred out the mother's breast and showed the image from a distance, the story notes.

"The View" also talked about the image, but covered up the mother's breast with a black circle, the piece adds.

time-magazine-052112.jpgTime magazine’s May 21, 2012, cover

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Apple's New $200 iPad? Latest Rumor Focuses on Device With Lower Price Tag, Less Storage and Smaller Screen

A new version of Apple’s iPad could come with a price tag between $200 and $250, according to the latest in a series of rumors about the device, CNET reports.

The device would have the same resolution as the top iPad model, but would offer less built-in storage, according to the report. It would come with 8GB of internal storage, breaking with the iPad’s three traditional storage configurations -- 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.

Furthermore, the size of the screen would be smaller, mostly likely between 7 and 8 inches instead of the iPad's current 9.5-inch height. It would likely be smaller in width as well.

A $200 price point would put the new iPad at half the price of the current entry-level iPad, and significantly below the 16GB second-generation model, which is still being offered.

The new unit is also rumored to match the latest iPad’s resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels. That detail, CNET reports, “is of particular interest given the notion that Apple would want to keep in step with what it calls ‘Retina Displays’ on its iOS devices. These are displays where the pixels are so closely packed together that you cannot pick them out from one another when viewing the screen.”

The report notes that the high resolution, combined with smaller storage, could cause problems. “8GB on an iPad would fill up mighty fast with HD content, and media-rich games,” CNET notes. “For instance, many 1,080p movies on iTunes go beyond 4GB a pop. There are also games, some of which have stretched in size in the jump to the new iPad. There could be workarounds for it though, particularly if Apple makes some adjustments to its iCloud infrastructure to add streaming instead of downloading.”

Here's a picture CNET ran with its story, saying this is a mock-up of what the iPad and rumored mini-iPad might look like from the back if placed side-by-side:

ipad-and-mini-ipad_270x221.jpg

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FX Selling a 'Safe' Charlie Sheen to Advertisers

FX is telling advertisers that it's safe to support Charlie Sheen's new show, "Anger Management," reports Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

The question in advertisers' minds is, "Who am I seeing? Am I seeing 'Two and A Half Men' comedy, or am I seeing the Charlie Sheen who is a little bit out there? We dealt with it head-on," notes Michael Brochstein, senior vice president of ad sales at FX Networks.

To convince advertisers, FX screened parts or all of the "Anger Management" pilot 60 times, with the general sentiment being that clients wanted to know whether it was a safe environment, the story says, citing Brochstein. Most executives were convinced, the piece adds.

Advertisers including movie studios such as 20th Century Fox and Sony have signed on, as has Fiat, which will be the show's season-long sponsor. "Anger Management" debuts June 28.

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Yahoo CEO Offers Explanation for Error in His Credentials

Yahoo Chief Executive Scott Thompson, who has come under fire for an error in his published credentials, told staff that he never provided a resume when he interviewed for the job, and blamed the error on an executive search firm, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

As previously reported, Thompson's biography said he had earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College, although the institution didn't offer the degree until four years after he graduated.

According to the Chronicle, Thompson is alleging the search firm drafted a bio for him in 2005 that inaccurately included a computer science degree, the story notes. He said he didn't tell the firm he had the degree, but didn't notice the error because he didn't review the document or bios that followed based on that document. The search firm is identified as Heidrick & Struggles, the story adds.

Thompson is reportedly suggesting that the person who interviewed him was a junior-level employee at the headhunting firm, the story says.

After he was hired by PayPal/eBay, an official biography was crafted based on the document, but Thompson says he didn't review that biography either. Thompson admits that it was mistake not to have reviewed the bios and documents, the piece says.

"So there you have it folks. That is Scott Thompson's explanation. Will it be enough to save his job?" the story asks.

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Donald Trump in Talks With NBC for More 'Celebrity Apprentice'

Donald Trump is negotiating with NBC to extend the network’s arrangement with "The Celebrity Apprentice," reports the New York Post's Page Six.

The network reportedly wants to get a deal in place for two more seasons of the show. NBC wants Trump to sign the contract before the show's current season ends on Sunday, May 20.

Up until now, Trump has preferred to sign renewals season by season, the piece adds.

The current season includes finalists Aubrey O’Day, Arsenio Hall and Clay Aiken.

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New Ashton Kutcher Show Gets Series Order, Along With Series From Conan O'Brien Camp

Two new alternative comedy series -- one from Ashton Kutcher and one from a key player on the Conan O’Brien team -- have received series orders from TBS, Deadline.com reports.

The cable net gave a nine-episode order to Kutcher's "Who Gets the Last Laugh?,” executive produced by Kutcher and Jason Goldberg, who together co-created "Punk'd," the story notes. The new show pits two comedians against each other in a prank challenge.

"Deon Cole's Black Box" was picked up for six episodes. The show, written by and starring "Conan" writer and performer Deon Cole, will feature Cole's take on video clips.

"In his commentary, he is expected to riff on racial and gender stereotypes, politics and more," the story says. The show is executive produced by O’Brien.

Both shows come from Warner Horizon Television and are set for 2013 premieres, the story notes.

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Superstar Singer Signs $15 Million Deal to Join 'X Factor'

“The X Factor” finally has the superstar judge that Simon Cowell has been maneuvering to land for the Fox show, E! News reports.

Britney Spears has signed a $15 million deal to join the show as a judge for one season, the story says. The deal has been rumored for weeks, as we reported last month.

The E! story reports that the show reached an agreement in principle with Spears weeks ago, and the past few days have been about working out the details.

The report cites a source close to Spears saying: "The contract is signed. There's been a lot of back and forth over the past few weeks as they negotiated the small details, but she's on. It's all completed and Britney is beyond excited."

The story adds: “Cowell blew up the show's cast at the end of its inaugural season, firing judges Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger and host Steve Jones. Since then, he's been searching for the perfect panel in hopes of boosting the show's second-season ratings.”

Spears will join Cowell and L.A. Reid on the judging panel, the report notes.

britney-spears.jpgBritney Spears

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A&E Unloads on Cable Rivals

A&E Networks used its upfront presentation Wednesday to lash out at its cable rivals and other programmers, blasting everyone from Discovery to YouTube for copying its ideas, Advertising Age reports.

Said Abbe Raven, A&E Networks president and CEO: "We are creating genres on TV; we don't copy others. We don't want the 25th generation of pawn or storage shows like TLC, Discovery or TruTV."

She added: "A&E is about blazing a trail, not following someone else's."

The story notes: “The success of reality fare like History's ‘Pawn Stars’ and ‘Swamp People’ has led to similar shows at other cable networks. But A&E relentlessly reminded advertisers and media buyers who started the trend in auctioning and other niche genres.”

Said Nancy Dubuc, president of A&E’s History and Lifetime networks: "Though often imitated, our originals need no introduction.” Dubuc then played a “sizzle reel” featuring reality programs, with the video calling "Ice Road Truckers" the one that started it all, "Swamp People" the first of its kind and "American Restoration" a show that defined a genre.

A&E Networks also tackled the recent NewFront presentations by online players including AOL and Hulu. Said Raven: "A&E will beat any content YouTube can dream up.”

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ABC Sitcom Moves to Cable

A comedy series that has been considered a bubble show for some time now on ABC will live on -- but it will be moving to cable. “Cougar Town,” which has aired on ABC for three seasons, will move to TBS.

TBS announced that it has ordered a fourth season of the show, due to bow in early 2013. The series stars “Friends” alum Courteney Cox.

We reported earlier this week that TBS was in negotiations to get the show, with the possibility of picking up two 15-episode seasons. But the latest announcement from TBS is for one new season.

In addition, TBS has obtained encore rights to the 61 episodes that originally ran on ABC.

Michael Wright, president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), said in a statement: "’Cougar Town’ is a smart, whimsical sitcom that draws its humor from likable, relatable characters. We are thrilled to have ‘Cougar Town’ moving to the TBS neighborhood as the network continues to expand its slate of original comedy series."

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Hit CBS Sitcoms Being Shopped for Syndication -- but Why So Soon?

Two successful CBS sitcoms are headed to the syndication market -- and for one of them, the move comes surprisingly early, B&C reports.

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution will offer “Mike & Molly” and “2 Broke Girls” to cable nets and TV stations next month, the story reports. The move comes right on schedule for “Mike & Molly,” which is approaching season three, but it’s unusually quick for “2 Broke Girls,” which recently wrapped its freshman season.

Why bring “2 Broke Girls” to market so early? Because the competition for off-network comedies is fierce.

“In the past couple of years, cable networks have begun trying to snap up popular sitcoms early to lock in their deals and get a jump on the competition,” the report notes. The piece cites the example of “The Big Bang Theory,” which -- like “Mike & Molly” -- is executive produced by Chuck Lorre. “When ‘Big Bang’ came to market two years ago, at least five cable networks turned in bids: NBCU's USA, News Corp.'s FX, Tribune's WGN, Viacom's Comedy Central and Turner's TBS, which ultimately won,” the B&C piece reports.

The competition for “2 Broke Girls,” which won’t be available for its syndie launch until 2015, is expected to bring early bids from TV stations.

“Mike & Molly” will be available for its off-network premiere in 2014.

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Report: Key Evidence Uncovered in John Travolta Sex Assault Case

New evidence has turned up that could play a key role in a lawsuit filed by a masseur who claims actor John Travolta sexually assaulted him, TMZ.com reports. The evidence reportedly shows that Travolta was not in L.A. at the time of the alleged incident, as the masseur claims, but had flown to New York the previous night.

The masseur, identified in the suit as John Doe, is seeking $2 million in damages, accusing Travolta of a variety of sexual overtures after Travolta hired him for a massage, as we reported earlier this week.

Photos reportedly show that Travolta was in Manhattan, having wardrobe tests shot at the Greenwich Hotel for an upcoming movie, on Jan. 16, the date of the alleged incident. Furthermore, he was reportedly seen at Mr. Chow's restaurant that evening as well, in Manhattan.

The website reports that it checked the flight records and learned that Travolta's private jet left L.A. a 8:21 p.m. on Jan. 15 and landed on Jan. 16 at 3:59 a.m. in Westchester County, N.Y. The masseur's lawyers contend the inappropriate incident between their client and Travolta happened Jan. 16 at the Beverly Hills Hotel at 10 a.m.

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Why TV Producer Norman Lear Reversed Decision on Donating to Presidential Campaign

Legendary television producer Norman Lear reversed his stance on contributing to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, making a donation because the president came out in support of same-sex marriage, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lear and his wife, Lyn Davis, had been holding back their financial support of Obama, expressing frustration with his lack of leadership on liberal issues.

In a phone interview with the publication, Lear said, "He came out in support of marriage equality. He didn't have to do it, but he did it. And it's what the country needs. So I said, 'Let's max out.'"

The Lears wrote a check for $80,000 -- $40,000 each -- which is the maximum amount allowable by law.

Lear is behind a string of successful 1970s sitcoms, including “All in the Family,” “Sanford and Son,” “One Day at a Time” and “The Jeffersons.”

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'Mad Men's' Jon Hamm to Star in Disney Movie

The star of AMC's "Mad Men," Jon Hamm, has been cast by Disney to star in a feature film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The project is a drama about a sports agent who discovers two phenom baseball pitchers through a reality TV show, the story reports.

"The Million Dollar Arm" is based on the true story of agent J.B. Bernstein, who found two Indian cricket players -- via a reality TV show called “The Million Dollar Arm” -- and brought them to America to turn them into major leaguers. The players, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, went on to sign contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Disney is behind the project, with Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray of Mayhem Pictures producing with Joe Roth and Palek Patel.

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'Glee' Actress Appears to Be Off the Show, Based on Her Tweets -- But Did She Leave the Door Open?

An actress on Fox’s “Glee” issued a series of tweets that, while open to interpretation, give the impression that her character will not be returning to the show, Access Hollywood reports.

The report says Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes, tweeted Wednesday: "That's a wrap on Amber Riley! Just closed a chapter in my life, the only thing I've known day in and day out for three years. I'm going to miss the whole Glee family, seeing them everyday. I have so many brothers and sisters now :)

"But I am looking forward to a much needed and deserved summer vacation! SCHOOL'S OUT Glee Kids! Let's play!"

While that sounded final, she later tweeted again, writing: "Stay tuned to see what's next for Mercedes."

In other "Glee" news, singer Gloria Estefan filmed her appearance on the show as Santana's (Naya Rivera) mother. Estefan tweeted about co-creator Brad Falchuk, saying, "Thank you @bfalchuk for the beautiful experience of working with you! I loved every minute. I have to say that working with @NayaRivera was an amazing experience."

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Fox Cancels Two Dramas, Renews Another

Fox has made its decision on three freshman dramas, canceling two of them and opting to bring back a third. The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reports that the network has canceled J.J. Abrams' "Alcatraz" along with “The Finder,” while giving Tim Kring's "Touch" a second season.

While "Alcatraz" debuted with an impressive 10 million total viewers, the show stumbled during its 10 weeks, ending with only 4.7 million viewers, the piece points out. The drama starred Sarah Jones and "Lost" star Jorge Garcia in a supernatural mystery about former Alcatraz inmates who reappeared after disappearing several decades ago.

"The Finder," which stars Geoff Stults, averaged about 6 million viewers while it aired on Thursdays at 9 p.m., but after it moved to Fridays at 8 p.m. the show hit a recent series low, the piece adds.

"Touch," starring Kiefer Sutherland, debuted with 12 million viewers, but has tumbled in recent weeks, the story says. Nevertheless, it remains a strong property for Fox and studio 20th Television on an international basis, the piece adds.

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Delta Pulls Ads From 'The Daily Show' Over Vagina Joke

Delta has dropped its advertising on Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show" over a joke featuring a "vagina manger," and the Catholic League is urging Kellogg's to also drop its support of the show, reports TheWrap.com.

Delta pulled its ads after complaints from the Catholic League over the April 16 routine, which featured host Jon Stewart suggesting the "War on Christmas" had created more outrage from conservatives than the recent focus on women's reproductive rights.

Stewart suggested women protect their reproductive rights by combining them with Christmas icons, such as a "vagina manger" and Advent calendars that dispense birth-control pills.

Here’s a clip from the show that includes the bit that sparked the controversy:

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High-Profile Casualty at Fox: Network Passes on Comedy Pilot

With Fox's latest round of series orders, the most high-profile casualty is the Steve Levitan-produced comedy pilot "Rebounding," which was passed over by the network, reports Deadline.com.

The "Modern Family" co-creator produced the project, which was written on spec by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, the story says. The 20th Television-produced "Rebounding" was about a man recovering from the death of his fiancee via his buddies on a pickup basketball team.

Networks were concerned that the subject wouldn't work as comedy, although Fox gave the project a pilot order, bringing Levitan back to the network. He had refused to return for several years after Fox canceled his comedy series "Back to You" after one season, according to the story.

Despite testing and screening well, the project slipped behind Mindy Kaling's project and "Ben & Kate," formerly called "Ben Fox Is My Manny."

"Fox’s Kevin Reilly ultimately didn’t believe enough in the show to pick it up," the story notes. 20th TV is trying to shop the pilot elsewhere, the piece adds.

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Former Sen. John Edwards Sought Advice on Scandal From Sean Penn, Other Well-Known Hollywood Figures

Former presidential candidate John Edwards consulted Hollywood pals including actor Sean Penn and "Revenge" star Madeleine Stowe as he sought advice about the Rielle Hunter scandal, reports People.com.

Edwards, who served as a senator from North Carolina before running for president in 2004 and 2008, made many revisions to a public statement about his illegitimate child with Hunter, sending them to his Hollywood supporters, according to testimony from his former speechwriter Wendy Button, the story says. Edwards also reportedly consulted with “Crash” director Paul Haggis.

Button said a reason wasn't provided for sending around the draft. The final statement was issued in January 2010.

Edwards could face up to 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if he's convicted of violating multiple federal campaign contribution laws to hide his affair with Hunter.

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AMC Renews Two Series

AMC has announced renewals for two series, The New York Times' Media Decoder reports. The cable network ordered 16 more episodes of "Talking Dead," a talk show about AMC's hit zombie drama "The Walking Dead," and 16 episodes of "Comic Book Men," the story reports.

"Comic Book Men" is set at a comic book store owned by filmmaker Kevin Smith.

"Talking Dead" features host Chris Hardwick, who will return for the second season. In a statement, he said, "I can’t wait for Season 3 of ‘Walking Dead,’ so that we can finally talk about Rick meeting [SPOILER] and [SPOILER]-ing him with a heavy-duty [SPOILER] at the [SPOILER].”

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NBC Gives Series Order to Jimmy Fallon Sitcom

NBC has picked up a Jimmy Fallon series, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed, giving the Fallon-produced sitcom "Guys with Kids" an order for 13 episodes.

The comedy tracks three thirtysomething men who become parents even though they still need to grow up, the story says. The project is NBC's first multicamera comedy ordered to series this season.

The series stars Jesse Bradford, Zach Cregger and Anthony Anderson as the three men, with the cast also including Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Tempestt Bledsoe and Sara Rue.

Fallon is among the show's executive producers.

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Stars Sign for Two More Seasons of 'Grey's Anatomy'

The original cast members of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" whose futures were undecided amidst contract talks have signed on for two more seasons, reports Deadline.com.

Those actors are Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr. and Chandra WIlson, the story notes.

The new contracts make it likely the show will be renewed for a ninth season, according to the piece.

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Will New A&E Show Do for Boston What 'Jersey Shore' Did for Seaside Heights, N.J.?

A&E has picked up a Boston-based reality show that could be the Boston equivalent of Seaside Heights, N.J.’s hit MTV series "Jersey Shore," the New York Post reports. The series, to be based in South Boston, will be called "Southie Rules," the story reports.

The show will track a close-knit family that's trying to resist the neighborhood's gentrification, the story says. Camille and Walter are divorced, but still share a bed, while their home also includes their son Matty, who is trying to decide whether to marry the mother of his 9-month-old child. They also have a daughter, her husband and their 2-year-old child living with them.

The report adds: “Earlier this year, TLC greenlit ‘Southie Pride’ -- from the producers of ‘Jersey Shore’ -- which follows the friendships and family ties of five South Boston women. It’s due to premiere this fall.”

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Fox Orders Serial Killer Drama Starring Kevin Bacon

Fox has given a series order to a serial killer drama starring Kevin Bacon, reports EW.com's Inside TV. The drama comes from "The Vampire Diaries" writer-producer Kevin Williamson and has been given an order for 15 episodes, the story says.

The show was originally called "The Mastermind," but the title was changed to "The Following."

Bacon will play a damaged FBI agent who is on the hunt for a killer and his followers, the story says. James Purefoy will play the serial killer.

Fox also picked up "Mob Doctor," which stars Jordano Spiro as a surgeon who juggles her career and a debt to the South Chicago mob.

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Famed Hairdresser Vidal Sassoon Dead at 84

Vidal Sassoon, a hairdresser who created a cultural sensation with Mia Farrow's short haircut for "Rosemary's Baby" in 1968, has died, The New York Times reports. He was 84.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said police were called to his home on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, where he died of natural causes, the story says. He was known to have suffered from leukemia.

"Mr. Sassoon brought a kind of architectural design to the haircut in the late 1950s and early 1960s, developing a look that eschewed the tradition of stiff, sprayed styles with the hair piled high and that dispensed with the need for women to wear hair curlers to bed and make weekly trips to the salon," the story says.

Sassoon was paid $5,000 by Roman Polanski to create the very short hairstyle for Farrow, and the film became an advertisement for his work, the story says.

He also became an entrepreneur, creating a line of hair products bearing his name and the tag line, "If you don't look good, we don't look good." He sold the company in 1983.

vidal-sassoon.jpgVidal Sassoon

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'Jersey Shore' Stars Will Look for Love on Fox Dating Show

The Fox dating show "The Choice" has tapped two of the stars of MTV’s "Jersey Shore" to take part in the show, TheWrap.com reports.

Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino and Paul "DJ Pauly D" DelVecchio will appear on the show, which features celebrities seeking mates. Other participating celebrities include "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" star Rob Kardashian, Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks, "Click" actress Sophie Monk and "Baywatch" star Carmen Electra, the story says.

As previously reported, "The Choice" will have a similar setup to NBC’s "The Voice," with celebrities sitting in rotating chairs. If a participant likes what he or she hears, the participant pulls a "love handle" and spins around to face the potential match.

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Shareholder Calls for Yahoo CEO's Dismissal

The activist Yahoo shareholder who uncovered an error in Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson's credentials is calling for the company to dismiss the CEO and appoint an interim leader, reports the New York Post.

Daniel Loeb, the CEO of investor Third Point, sent a letter to the Yahoo board suggesting that Chief Financial Officer Timothy Morse or Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo's head of global media, be considered as an interim replacement.

As previously reported, Thompson listed a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College, although the institution didn't offer the degree until four years after he graduated. Yahoo has formed a special three-person committee to investigate his academic credentials and why they were misrepresented in regulatory filings.

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NBC Firms Up Relationship With Legendary Producer, Brings Back Long-Running Drama for Another Season

Firming up its relationship with a veteran TV producer, NBC has made the decision to bring back a long-running drama series for another season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series is producer Dick Wolf's "Law & Order: SVU," which will be back for a 14th season.

NBC will also pick up Wolf's new series "Chicago Fire," the story reports.

Despite a drop in the ratings for “SVU” following Christopher Meloni's exit, the network chose to reaffirm its relationship with Wolf. Adding to the mix is that the star of "SVU," Mariska Hargitay, has a new deal in place with the network and studio Universal Television.

"Chicago Fire" is an action drama set, not surprisingly, in the world of the Chicago Fire Department. The show stars Taylor Kinney ("Vampire Diaries") and Jesse Spencer ("House").

Wolf has a long history of successful television series, including the hit 1980s show “Miami Vice.” NBC has been involved with his “Law & Order” franchise for more than two decades, going back to the original “Law & Order” in 1990 and including variants such as “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” The original “L&O” remained on the air for 20 seasons.

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Cable Channel Unveils New Logo and Tagline

A cable channel has rolled out its new logo along with a new tagline, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The design change for the TV Land logo is the first in the 16-year history of the channel.

tv_land_new_logo.jpg"Laugh More" is TV Land’s new tagline, the story reports.

Said TV Land President Larry W. Jones: “The logo feels more modern, but it’s not a complete abandonment of what our heritage is. This was opportunity to signal to the new 40-somethings that is the new TV Land.”

The new artwork and tagline were a year in the making. The idea was to reflect the 40-something target audience, which has gone from the baby boomer demo to the Generation X demo -- an audience that seeks the kind of multicamera sitcoms on which they were raised, the story notes.

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'The Voice' Carries NBC to Ratings Win -- but What Went Wrong With ABC's 'Private Practice'?

NBC was on top of the broadcast ratings world Tuesday night, with its two-hour season finale of “The Voice” topping all shows in the Nielsen overnights and leading the network to an overall win for prime time in the key 18-49 demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

But at the other end of the ratings spectrum, ABC’s 10 p.m. drama “Private Practice” took a startling fall, plunging six-tenths of a ratings point from last week’s 2.1 average to an all-time low for the series, a 1.5 rating. And ABC came in last overall among the big 4 broadcast nets.

“The Voice” pulled in a 4.3 average in 18-49, surging from last week’s 3.1 rating and up 16% from the show’s June 2011 season finale. NBC’s average for the night was dragged down by a 1.3 for “Fashion Star,” but the network still easily won the night with its 3.3 average for prime time.

Finishing second behind NBC for prime was CBS with a 2.7 average in 18-49, followed by Fox (2.4) and ABC (1.8).

The story in total viewers was different, as CBS’s “NCIS” franchise continued to show its strength among older viewers. CBS easily won total viewers for prime time with 14.4 million, ahead of NBC’s 9.2 million, ABC’s 8.4 million and Fox’s 5.5 million.

The main contributors to CBS’s big win in total viewers were “NCIS” with 17.8 million (3.0 average rating in 18-49) and “NCIS: Los Angeles” with 14.5 million (3.0 in 18-49).

At ABC, struggling “Private Practice” didn’t get much help from its lead-in, the “Dancing with the Stars” results show, which equaled last week’s season low with a 2.3 in adults 18-49. The network’s night opened with a bump for the season finale of “Last Man Standing” at 8 p.m., up two-tenths of a ratings point to a 1.7, while “Cougar Town” also rose two-tenths, to a 1.5.

Fox had an upbeat night, with “Glee” rising one-tenth to a 2.6 in 18-49 and the season finale of “New Girl” surging six-tenths to a 2.8.

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Report: NBC Readying New Pirate Drama Series

NBC is expected to unveil plans at its upfront presentation next week for a new drama series about pirates, targeted to launch in March 2013, Deadline.com reports.

The 10-episode series, “Republic of Pirates,” is reportedly being financed by Reliance, an Indian media firm that has traditionally been involved in feature films. Reliance, known as a backer of Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios, is looking to make a move into U.S. television, the story reports.

Deadline reports: “NBC is finalizing a deal for a straight-to-series order to the period drama, which will be produced by Georgeville Television, an independent TV studio formed recently by producer and former Heyday Films executive Marc Rosen (‘Harry Potter’), and Motion Picture Capital, the finance arm of Reliance Entertainment. GVTV, which has operated quietly for the past three months, has the capability to fully finance major network and cable scripted series, with ‘Republic Of Pirates’ being its first project.”

Neil Cross (“Luther”) is said to be close to a deal to write and executive produce with Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. The project is based on the Colin Woodard book “The Republic of Pirates.”

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ABC, Which Made Headlines by Canceling Daytime Dramas, Tops Daytime Emmy Nominations -- Including Multiple Nods for Its Canceled Soaps

ABC leads the way in the Daytime Emmy Award nominations, announced today by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The honor caps a year in which many of the headlines surrounding ABC's daytime programming have focused on the network's cancellation of two long-running soap operas.

One of those soaps, "All My Children," is among the four nominees in the Daytime Emmys' most glamorous category, outstanding drama series.

ABC’s 56 total nominations placed the Alphabet Network ahead of the pack, followed by PBS with 51 nominations. Syndicated programming earned 46 total nods, while the top cable network was Nickelodeon with 40.

Each of ABC's two canceled daytime dramas -- "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" -- received 11 nominations, placing the shows among the most-nominated daytime programs.

Among ABC’s broadcast rivals, CBS earned 33 nominations and NBC snagged 24.

The most-nominated program was the only ABC soap opera to avoid cancellation, the venerable “General Hospital,” which received 23 nods. Second on the list was PBS’s children’s staple “Sesame Street” with 16.

Other soaps receiving multiple nominations included “The Young and the Restless” with 16, “Days of Our Lives” with 15, and 11 apiece for “All My Children,” “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “One Life to Live.”

Among talk shows, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” led the way with 12 nods.

Four long-running soap operas will vie for the award in the outstanding drama series category: ABC’s “All My Children” and “General Hospital,” NBC’s “Days of Our Lives” and CBS’s “The Young and the Restless.” CBS’s “The Bold and the Beautiful,” which has won the award for the past three years, was not nominated.

Click here for the full list of nominees.

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'Jeopardy!' Unveils All-Star Lineup for Power Players Week

The syndicated game show “Jeopardy!” has lined up 15 influential media personalities for its Power Players Week, which kicks off Monday, May 14. The roster includes political figures, journalists and newsmakers, who will be playing for charity.

Here’s the lineup:

Monday, May 14:

Robert Gibbs, former White House secretary
Chris Matthews, MSNBC host
Lizzie O’Leary, CNN

Tuesday, May 15

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NBA legend
David Faber, CNBC host
Dana Perino, Fox News Channel

Wednesday, May 16

Katty Kay, “BBC World News America”
Dr. Mehmet Oz, “The Dr. Oz Show”
Chris Wallace, Fox News host

Thursday, May 17

Lewis Black, stand-up comedian
Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
Chuck Todd, NBC News

Friday, May 18

Anderson Cooper, CNN host
Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News

The special week of programming marks only the third time in “Jeopardy!’s” 28-year history that the show has held a Power Players Week.

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Streisand Slates Homecoming Concert, With TV Special Likely

Currently marking her 50th anniversary in show business, Barbra Streisand is making plans for a concert that will bring her all the way back to her roots.

The multiple Oscar-, Emmy-, Grammy- and Golden Globe-winning singer and actress, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., will perform Oct. 11, 2012, in that town’s new Barclays Center, Examiner.com reports. The 19,000-seat sports and entertainment venue is the new home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets -- known through the current season as the New Jersey Nets.

Streisand's camp announced the date today via a new website, Brooklyn.BarbraStreisand.com.

“It's likely that ‘Barbra: Back to Brooklyn’ will be recorded as a CD and quite probably a television special and DVD release,” the Examiner story reports. Tickets for the Brooklyn performance will go on sale to the public May 21 at 10 a.m. ET.

In a statement, Streisand said: “Brooklyn to me means the Loew’s Kings, Erasmus, the Yeshiva I went to, the Dodgers, Prospect Park, great Chinese food. I’m so glad I came from Brooklyn -- it’s down to earth. I guess you CAN come home again.”

Barclays Center majority owner and developer Bruce Ratner added: “It’s humbling and almost surreal to welcome arguably the greatest entertainer of all-time to Barclays Center. Barbra is Brooklyn and there’s nowhere more fitting for her to perform. This will be a night to remember.”

Streisand also has a new movie set to open just a few weeks after the concert, "The Guilt Trip," with Seth Rogen.

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NBC Comedy, After Being Picked Up to Series, Will Recast Female Lead

In the first recasting announcement of the current cycle for a network show picked up to series, an NBC sitcom is set to get a new female lead, Deadline.com reports. Irish actress Amy Huberman is out as the lead in the single-camera comedy “Animal Practice,” the story reports.

The show stars Justin Kirk as George, a veterinarian who loves animals but hates their owners. In the pilot, Huberman played his ex-girlfriend, who is assigned to run the clinic, the story says. The actress won the role in her first U.S. audition. Huberman’s replacement has not been announced.

Tyler Labine and Bobby Lee also star in the series, which is part of a batch of single-camera sitcoms in the works at NBC.

As we reported earlier this week, “Animal Practice” was added to NBC’s lineup for 2012-13 along with the White House comedy “1600 Penn.” The shows join "Save Me," starring Anne Heche; "The New Normal" from "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy; the comedy "Go On," with Matthew Perry; and the drama "Revolution," from J.J. Abrams, on NBC’s upcoming schedule.

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Cable News Anchor Signs New Contract -- 18 Months Early

In an arrangement that’s unusual because it comes 18 months before his current contract expires, Fox News Channel political news anchor Bret Baier has signed a new agreement with the cable news channel, TVNewser reports. The deal will keep Baier at the network through the 2016 elections.

The reason for the early renewal is that Fox wanted to secure Baier through the next election cycle, the story notes. Baier follows the network’s top on-air personality, Bill O'Reilly, in signing a new contract, as previously reported. Sean Hannity is also expected to receive a new deal that will take him through the 2016 elections, the piece adds.

Baier's "Special Report" ranks as the third-most-watched cable news show, with an average of 1.8 million viewers each evening. O'Reilly and Hannity host the most-watched and second-most-watched programs on cable news, respectively.

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'Saturday Night Live' Denies Political Motive for Killing Obama Skit

A debate is flaring over whether "Saturday Night Live" had political reasons for killing an opening skit parodying President Obama, reports the New York Post.

The sketch, which was performed in the dress rehearsal but cut for the live show last week, had Fred Armisen imitating Obama and making fun of his Osama bin Laden speech, the story says.

"This is a special time of year when we gather together with family and friends to commemorate the shooting of this terrorist, and the gutsy decision that made it possible," the Obama character said in the skit.

The conservative National Review speculated that the skit was killed because the show “feels a liberal taboo against mocking Obama in an election year," according to the story.

But "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels said that's not the case, according to the article.

“It wasn’t its politics,” Michaels said. “[W]e were 27 minutes long” and something had to go, he said. "The show’s many things, but partisan it is not.”

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Former 'Grace Under Fire' Star, Her Addictions Behind Her and Now a Part of Charlie Sheen's Comeback Story, Continues Her Own TV Comeback

Former "Grace Under Fire" star Brett Butler continues to line up gigs as she marks more than a decade of sobriety with a return to regular TV work, EW.com's Inside TV reports.

Butler hasn’t worked much since “Grace Under Fire” shut down after five seasons in 1998. But she recently wrapped production on season one of FX’s new Charlie Sheen sitcom “Anger Management,” and she has already booked a follow-up guest role on the CBS soap opera “The Young and the Restless,” the story reports.

As previously reported, Butler's ABC comedy was pulled from television as the actress struggled with addition to painkillers. Butler eventually moved to a farm in Georgia, and she has now been sober for 13 years.

Her story has some parallels to the path Sheen has been on, including their involvement with Chuck Lorre -- the creator of both “Grace Under Fire” and Sheen’s former show “Two and a Half Men.”

Butler will guest star as Beth the neighbor on "The Young and the Restless," the story says. Her episodes, taped this week, will air June 12 and 14.

In "Anger Management," Butler plays Brett, a bartender who’s a former stripper and a friend of Charlie Sheen's character. The show will debut June 28 as part of a new FX comedy block.

brett-butler.jpgBrett Butler

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Country Music Legend Turns Down Invitation to Be Roseanne Barr's Running Mate

Actress Roseanne Barr was turned down by a legendary country singer, who declined her invitation to be her running mate as she pursues the Green Party presidential nomination, reports TheWrap.com.

Willie Nelson wrote, "Thank you but no thank you. Good luck to you!" in response to Barr's repeated Twitter invitations to join her campaign, the story says.

Barr responded, "Is this an actual response? I sure appreciate it! Good luck to you too, Willie!"

Barr will learn by Sunday whether her new pilot, "Downwardly Mobile," is ordered to series by NBC.

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Female Serial Killer Project in Development at FX

A female serial killer project is in development at FX, with the network moving ahead with an adaptation of Chelsea Cain’s best-selling book series “HeartSick,” reports Deadline.com.

The thriller series track a beautiful therapist who becomes a killer, and her relationship with a Portland detective, the story says.

Mikko Alanne (“5 Days of War”) has been tapped to write the adaptation, with “Magic City’s” Geyer Kosinski executive producing, the story reports.

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ABC Family in Business With 'High School Musical' Actress on Detective Series

ABC Family has struck a development deal with an actress known for the “High School Musical” films to create a detective drama series, Deadline.com reports.

The series, “The Keys,” is from Ashley Tisdale's Blondie Girl Productions. The project tracks a young woman as she unravels mysteries at a resort off the coast of Florida, the story says.

Tisdale -- who became a familiar face playing Maddie Fitzpatrick in Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” -- and her partner Jessica Rhoades will executive produce the detective drama with RelativityREAL Chief Executive Tom Forman, the piece adds.

Tisdale also has had a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records, releasing the albums “Headstrong” in 2007 and “Guilty Pleasure” in 2009.

Ashley_tisdale.jpgAshley Tisdale

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Video Upstarts Are Challenging YouTube

A new generation of video upstarts are challenging YouTube, drawing users who are seeking nimbler alternatives such as Socialcam and Viddy, reports Reuters.

"YouTube is so inundated with singers and artists and people trying to become the next big star, it's really difficult to get noticed on there," said 24-year-old L.A. musician Felice Lazae, who previously promoted her songs on YouTube. She called her experience on Socialcam "amazing. It feels immediate."

Socialcam, which is less than one year old, is a video-sharing social network that allows people to upload from their iPhones.

Socialcam has drawn investors such as "Two and a Half Men" star Ashton Kutcher and Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the story notes.

Viddy, which has more than 26 million users, limits users to 15-second uploads, which can be crafted into sleek vignettes the story says. It has attracted users such as singer Shakira and actor Will Smith, the piece adds.

The report notes: “Lazae has no plans to abandon YouTube altogether. Instead, she spends hours every day maintaining her handful of social media accounts. But as YouTube matures as a repository for established artists and record labels, viewers may turn to sites like Socialcam for raw and viral content, she said.”

Lazae added: "YouTube is still the monster. ... But people are constantly wanting to get stuff no matter where they are. If Socialcam keeps going in the direction where it's easy and accessible on the go, it's definitely a possibility that it'll eat into YouTube."

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Report: KCET-TV's New Business Partner Behind on Bills

The new business partner of former Los Angeles public television flagship KCET-TV has been whittled down to a tiny operation that's behind on some of its bills, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Eyetronics Media & Studios, which joined in a partnership with KCET eight months ago, once employed more than 20 people, but now employs just four full-time people and a few part-time employees, the article says.

Four people who have worked for the company said they and others have gone without compensation for as long as six weeks, the story notes. Eyetronics is also reportedly several months late on the rent for its Encino offices, the story says, citing a representative for the landlord.

"Staffing became so thin that an Eyetronics worker created names -- a make-believe "sound mixer" and "music supervisor" on one episode -- to make the crew for the KCET show ‘Classic Cool Theater’ look more robust, said the sources, most of whom asked not to be named," the piece says.

Eyetronics is run by Dominique Bigle, a onetime Disney executive.

Bigle's attorney denied some of the claims, noting that "past and current employees have been fully compensated and the company is unaware of any ongoing disputes or claims." The late rent is due to the landlord's failure to provide security and maintain the building, the attorney said.

KCET board Chairman Channing D. Johnson said, "The financial status of Eyetronics is not relevant to KCET, period. As long as Dominique Bigle delivers the content he has indicated that he will, then we are fine," the story notes.

But it appears that Eyetronics isn't delivering the content punch that KCET had outlined when it announced the deal, in which Eyetronics was slated to invest $50 million in "original productions, acquisitions and distribution" of shows, the story notes.

KCET left the PBS network on Jan. 1, 2011, after a dispute over what it characterized as excessive dues, the story notes.

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Drama Pilot From Dr. Sanjay Gupta Ordered to Series

A drama pilot based on a novel by Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been ordered to series and set for a summer 2013 debut on TNT, reports TVNewser.com.

The series will now be called "Monday Mornings," the title of the novel, after originally being titled "Chelsea General," the story notes. Gupta, a CNN correspondent, will executive produce the series along with veteran TV producer David E. Kelley.

The show's cast includes Ving Rhames, Alfred Molina and Jamie Bamber as doctors working at a hospital in Portland, Ore. The show's title refers to the doctors' morbidity meetings, which are held on Monday mornings and during which they discuss what went wrong the previous week, the story says.

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NBCUniversal Will Invest $190 Million to Upgrade 30 Rock, Other NYC Facilities

NBCUniversal plans to invest $190 million in upgrading its 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters and other New York City facilities, reports B&C.

30 Rock will undergo extensive renovations, including upgrading its studio facilities with " best-in-class, state-of-the-art technology," the story says, citing the company. NBC will also upgrade 1221 Avenue of the Americas, where it will build a new studio control room and replace its underlying broadcast origination technology, the story says.

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Discovery's Earnings Suffer Amid OWN's Woes

Discovery Communications’ first-quarter earnings suffered amid the woes of Oprah Winfrey's cable network OWN, with the company reporting a lower-than-expected profit, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

The company said net income fell to $221 million, or 57 cents per share, down from $305 million, or 74 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter. Discovery had been forecast to report profit of 60 cents per share.

Discovery hasn't detailed how much OWN has lost, although some insight into recent losses was gained from the report. During the first quarter, the company started recording all of OWN's net losses in a separate category. That category showed a $50 million loss in the first three months, compared with $7 million a year earlier, the piece notes.

Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav said on a conference call that he expects the network to break even in the second half of 2013.

“We remain confident in the growth potential of this network,” Zaslav said.

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Emmy-Winning Composer and Conductor Dead at 89

A celebrated conductor, composer, arranger, musician and bandleader who worked with a string of music stars including Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli has died, the BBC reports. Mort Lindsey, 89, died Friday in Malibu, Calif., after a long illness.

Lindsey was perhaps best known as the bandleader on "The Merv Griffin Show." He won an Emmy for his work as the orchestra conductor for Barbra Streisand's 1968 TV special "A Happening In Central Park."

Lindsey was also the musical director for Judy Garland's legendary performance that produced the 1961 album "Judy at Carnegie Hall," a two-record live set that won four Grammy Awards, including album of the year. For Minnelli, he provided musical arrangement on her Emmy-winning TV special "Liza With a Z" in 1972.

For 25 years, Lindsey was Merv Griffin's musical director on his TV shows, from syndication to CBS and back.

mort-lindsey.jpgMort Lindsey

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Rapper Cast as Jimi Hendrix in Biopic

A new biopic on legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix has found its Jimi, CBC reports. The role of Hendrix in the movie, being made in Ireland, has gone to OutKast rapper and singer Andre 3000, the story reports.

The casting for the movie, “All Is By My Side,” was announced Monday by the Irish Film and Television Network, which revealed that the project is already in preproduction. The film is expected to star shooting in Dublin and elsewhere in about three weeks, the story notes.

The report adds: “Andre 3000, whose real name is Andre Benjamin, has appeared in Guy Ritchie's ‘Revolver,’ the 2006 OutKast movie musical ‘Idlewild’ and films like ‘Four Brothers,’ ‘Be Cool’ and ‘Semi-Pro.’ He also had a role on TV's ‘The Shield.’”

Andre will reportedly play Hendrix during the period leading up to his 1966 breakout and his seminal album “Are You Experienced.”

andre-3000.jpgAndre 3000

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NBC Takes Monday Night as Two CBS Series Slump to All-Time Lows

With the two-hour season performance finale of “The Voice” doing the heavy lifting, NBC won the night Monday in the key 18-49 demo in Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

CBS saw one of its best-performing new shows go out with a whimper, as the one-hour season finale of “2 Broke Girls,” up against stiff competition from “The Voice” and ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” managed only a 3.2 average rating in 18-49, down four-tenths of a ratings point from its previous original episode and a series low.

Also hitting a historic low on CBS was “Hawaii Five-0,” which fell two-tenths from last week to a series-low 2.3. “Mike & Molly” was also down, just one-tenth, to a 3.1, while “Two and a Half Men” was flat with a 3.7.

NBC’s “The Voice” pulled a 3.7 in the 18-49 demo, up from last week’s 3.5 but down substantially from last summer’s performance finale, which notched a 4.4. “Smash” bounced back slightly from last week’s series low, rising one-tenth to a 1.9.

“Dancing with the Stars” on ABC hit a series low for a performance episode with a 2.8 average in 18-49, while “Castle” rose two-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 2.5.

Fox’s “Bones” slipped one-tenth to a 1.9 average in 18-49, while “House” remained steady with a 2.1.

NBC won the night in the 18-49 demo with a 3.1 average rating for prime time overall, ahead of CBS (2.9 average), ABC (2.6) and Fox (2.0). Total viewers, however, was ABC’s territory, with 14.9 million viewers on average, to CBS’s 9.6 million, NBC’s 9.0 million and Fox’s 6.5 million.

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John Travolta, Hit With Sexual Battery Lawsuit, Calls Claim a 'Baseless Lie'

John Travolta’s camp has issued a statement in response to a lawsuit accusing the actor of assault and sexual battery, calling the claim a “baseless lie,” E! News reports.

A statement from Travolta’s representatives, quoted in the story, says: "This lawsuit is complete fiction and fabrication. None of the events claimed in the suit ever occurred. The plaintiff, who refuses to give their name, knows that the suit is a baseless lie. ... On that date when plaintiff claims John met him, John was not in California and it can be proved that he was on the East Coast. Plaintiff's attorney has filed this suit to try and get his 15 minutes of fame. John intends to get this case thrown out and then he will sue the attorney and Plaintiff for malicious prosecution."

The person filing the suit, identified in the case as John Doe, is a masseur who says the actor hired him for a massage and then made a series of sexual overtures. The suit seeks $2 million in damages and court costs, the story says.

The story reports: “The plaintiff ... claims, among other things, that Travolta touched his scrotum and penis after having stripped in front of the masseur.

“The suit claims Travolta apologized for his behavior, but continued to pursue the idea of sex with the man and later suggested that they have sex with a ‘Hollywood starlet in the building that wanted to have three-way sex and to be double penetrated.’"

The lawsuit also claims Travolta said he "got where he is now due to sexual favors he had performed when he was in his ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ days," the story reports.

John Doe has reportedly responded to the denials from Travolta's camp, saying he has proof that his claims are true. However, he declined to provide specifics.

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How Much Did AMC Pay for That Beatles Song on 'Mad Men' -- and Why?

On last Sunday's episode of AMC's "Mad Men," when Don Draper played a song from the 'new' Beatles album, "Revolver," it cost the show a cool quarter of a million dollars for the rights, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Revolver.jpgAbout 90 seconds of the song "Tomorrow Never Knows" was played as Draper listened for a while, and a montage showed other characters going on with their respective lives.

According to creator Matthew Weiner, he always wanted to get the Beatles’ music -- not a sound-alike -- into the show. "This music is so important to the 20th century and beyond. How could I pretend that my characters are not actually listening to it?” he said.

In order to get the song on the show, the surviving Beatles, along with Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, had to approve the usage. The $250,000 fee, which would be split between Sony ATV and the owner of the Beatles' recorded work, EMI, was determined based on how it was used in the plot of the show.

For Weiner, that song was chosen for a specific reason: It was atypical of the Beatles' music at the time of its release. “Revolver” came out in August 1966.

Indeed, Draper seemed to expect a song more like something from "A Hard Day's Night," which was referenced earlier in the episode. Instead, he heard the psychedelic sound of "Tomorrow Never Knows,” which is considered an indicator of the direction the Beatles would take with their next several albums as they departed from their familiar pop sound.

“This song and that album is so revolutionary and just paved the way for the idea that you’re in a very popular medium with a huge audience," said Weiner. "When you take a risk like that it’s really about the music and not about the audience. You lead them almost kicking and screaming into something new. I just admire that. And I think Don didn’t.”

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Indy 500 Tradition Will Continue Despite 'Gomer Pyle' Actor's Heart Surgery

Because of planned heart surgery, television actor and singer Jim Nabors -- best known as "Gomer Pyle, USMC" -- has had to come up with a new way to keep a tradition alive, USA Today reports.

Nabors first appeared live at the Indianapolis 500 to offer a rendition of "Back Home Again in Indiana" in 1972, and since 1987 he has performed it almost every year. But because of the surgery scheduled for later this month, Nabors will be in Hawaii and will be unable to travel to Indy.

So a video team associated with Indianapolis Motor Speedway will fly to Nabors' home in Hawaii this month, and will tape his performance. Doug Boles of IMS told the newspaper, "He offered that. You've got to remember that (the 500) is as much a highlight of his year as it is for the hundreds of thousands of fans who hear him sing."

Nabors, 81, has only missed the appearance once since 1987 -- skipping the event in 2007 because of health issues.

The race, scheduled for May 27, will be televised on ABC.

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NBC Closes In on a Plan to Wrap Up '30 Rock'

The drama over what NBC will do with “30 Rock” appears to be coming to a conclusion. Deadline.com reports that the network will probably bring the comedy back for a shortened seventh season -- and that season will be its last.

The Emmy-winning series is likely to return for 13 to 14 episodes, the story reports.

NBC has struck deals with several key "30 Rock" writers, as well as with co-executive producers Jack Burditt and Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, the story notes.

Other returning NBC comedies might also receive shortened season orders. "Community" and "Parks and Recreation" are both in the running for renewal, but it's likely they'll both get short orders, the piece reports. The shorter seasons will enable NBC to save some money, allowing it to order new comedies, the story adds.

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'That '70s Show' Beauty Becomes Real-Life Hero

An actress known for her role in the TV series “That ‘70s Show” and for her work in feature films became a real-life hero over the weekend, TMZ.com reports.

The website reports that Mila Kunis sprang into action after a 50-year-old man collapsed Saturday while doing some work in her house. “He suffered a violent seizure ... choking, coughing up blood and vomiting. He had bitten through his tongue,” the story reports.

Kunis took charge, ordering someone to call 911 while Kunis attended to the man. “We're told the 28-year-old actress grabbed the man's head ... turned it to the side so he wouldn't choke ... while another person stuffed a wallet in his mouth so he wouldn't swallow his tongue,” the report says.

The man was rushed to the hospital by paramedics and has reportedly made a full recovery. The story notes that the incident happened just one day after a man was taken away for allegedly stalking Kunis at her gym.

Following Fox’s “That ‘70s Show,” Kunis had her breakout feature role in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” in 2008.

Kunis’ heroics -- which the report describes as Kunis pulling “a Patrick Dempsey” -- are being compared to a recent incident involving the “Grey’s Anatomy” star. As we reported last month, Dempsey also encountered a life-or-death situation, pulling a teenager from a wreck near his Malibu home.

mila-kunis.jpgMila Kunis

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'30 Rock' Star Hospitalized

One of the stars of the NBC comedy "30 Rock" was rushed to the hospital in Denver over the weekend after suffering flu-like symptoms, reports TMZ.com.

Tracy Morgan was scheduled to perform at a comedy show Saturday night, but had to cancel due to the medical problem earlier in the day, the story says. He was treated at the hospital for several hours and released.

Morgan has fallen ill before at high altitude, being hospitalized in January after falling unconscious at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the piece notes.

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Author of Classic Children's Book Dies

A legendary children's book author, whose most famous book was made into a hit feature film in 2009, has died. Maurice Sendak, who wrote "Where the Wild Things Are" and other classics, died early today at the age of 83, reports USA Today.

Sendak had recently had a stroke and never fully recovered, the story reports. He died in a hospital in Danbury, Conn.

Sendak both wrote and illustrated his books, and also worked as an illustrator for other authors. "Where the Wild Things Are" won a prestigious Caldecott Medal for the best children's book of 1964.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded Sendak a National Medal of the Arts for his vast portfolio of work.

Sendak was born in 1928 and raised in Brooklyn. As the child of Jewish-Polish immigrant parents, he recalled hearing of the atrocities and the deaths of relatives and friends during World War II. "My childhood was about thinking about the kids over there (in Europe). My burden is living for those who didn't," he told the AP.

Among Sendak’s many well-known books are “Higglety Pigglety Pop!, Or: There Must Be More to Life” (1967), “In the Night Kitchen” (1970), “Seven Little Monsters” (1977) and “Outside Over There” (1981).

maurice-sendak.jpgMaurice Sendak

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'Mad Men' Creator Reveals Surprising Tidbit About Jon Hamm's Audition

"Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner tells Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio" that when the show was being cast it took a while to settle on Jon Hamm in part because his sex appeal was questioned, according to a preview of the episode that will air Monday at 7 p.m.

Asked by host James Lipton how many times he auditioned for the part, Hamm replied, "Six or seven." Then Weiner explained, "In one of those auditions ... someone said he wasn't sexy," earning audience laughter.

Hamm, who plays Don Draper on AMC's “Mad Men,” is apparently considered to be something of a sex symbol now, with Lipton bringing up his character’s reputation as a ladies’ man on the show. Here’s a clip ...

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Yahoo CEO Issues 'Non-Apology Apology' for Error in His Resume

Yahoo's chief executive officer, Scott Thompson, sent a memo to employees Monday apologizing for any problems his listing of a college degree he never earned have caused the company, but not apologizing -- nor explaining why the misinformation appeared in his resume in the first place, The Washington Post reports.

The memo from Thompson stopped short of saying he would step down, and focused instead on the company’s ongoing efforts to turn around its financial situation.

"We have all been working very hard to move the company forward, and this has had the opposite effect. For that, I take full responsibility, and I want to apologize to you," Thompson wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.

“Yahoo later confirmed that while Thompson had listed a degree in computer science in his biography, he had never been awarded that degree,” The Post reports. The company is investigating the situation.

"I am hopeful that this matter will be concluded promptly," Thompson's memo adds. "But, in the meantime, we have a lot of work to do. We need to continue to act as one team to fulfill the potential of this great company and keep moving forward.”

As we reported last week, the issue arose when an investor, Third Point LLC, said it found an inaccuracy in Thompson’s resume. Third Point is fighting for representation on the company’s board.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Yahoo's board has created a special three-person committee to investigate Thompson’s academic credentials and how they were misrepresented in regulatory filings. (Please note that the WSJ is a subscription site and not all readers may be able to access the original story.)

The committee will consist of newcomers to the board, with an outside law firm being tapped to help oversee it, the WSJ piece notes.

Yahoo's board is struggling with understanding how Thompson failed to notice incorrect information in his biography for so long, according to the article.

As previously reported, Thompson’s biography said he had earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College, although the institution didn't offer the degree until four years after he graduated.

Third Point LLC demanded Monday that Yahoo release records relating to Thompson's hiring in January, The Journal says.

Thompson said in his memo to employees: "I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you."

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'Lost' Star Arrested

One of the stars of the ABC drama “Lost” was arrested Friday in Oregon after he was stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, reports TMZ.com.

Matthew Fox was arrested at 3:23 a.m. on Friday, taken into custody and released later that day, the story says. It's not clear what the circumstances were, but Fox was reportedly on the way to a fast-food restaurant when he was arrested.

Authorities said in a statement that Fox was pulled over for allegedly veering out of his lane and failing to use a turn signal. Calls to representatives for Fox, who lives in Bend, Ore., weren't returned.

As previously reported, the driver of a party bus accused Fox of starting a fight with her last year, with the driver alleging that Fox was drunk.

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NBC Adds Single-Camera Comedies to Schedule

NBC has added two single-camera comedy series to its 2012-13 television schedule, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed. The network has ordered the White House comedy "1600 Penn" and the veterinarian comedy "Animal Practice," adding a fourth and fifth new sitcom to the lineup, the story reports.

"1600 Penn" is described as a "Modern Family"-type show set in the White House, with the president played by Bill Pullman. Cast members include Jenna Elfman and "The Book of Mormon" Broadway star Josh Gad, while the script is written by "Modern Family" director Jason Winer and former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett, the story notes.

"Animal Practice" stars "Weeds" actor Justin Kirk as a vet who loves animals but hates their owners.

The latest shows join "Save Me," starring Anne Heche; "The New Normal" from "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy; the comedy "Go On," with Matthew Perry; and the drama "Revolution," from J.J. Abrams.

The pickups show that NBC is focusing on single-camera comedies, the format that has dominated its schedule since its last big multi-camera series, "Will & Grace," went off the air in 2006, Deadline.com notes.

"NBC was very bullish on the multicamera format earlier this pilot season, with 30% of its pilot orders going to traditional sitcoms," according to Deadline.com. "Despite being shut out today, multicamera comedies will still likely have some presence on NBC’s schedule next year. There are three multicamera pilots that are still in contention, with NBC expected to make a decision shortly."

One of those is the Jimmy Fallon-produced "Guys with Kids." If "Whitney" doesn't get picked up, NBC might look to "Daddy's Girls" or "Lady Friends" as a replacement, the story says.

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Nevada Approves Google's License to Test Self-Driving Cars

Nevada has given the go-ahead for the nation’s first test of self-driving cars on public streets, issuing a license to Google for the tryout after demonstrations on the Las Vegas Strip and in Carson City reportedly showed that the project is safe, The Washington Post reports.

“Self-driving vehicle technology works like auto-pilot to guide a car -- in this case a modified Prius -- with little or no intervention from a human operator,” the story reports. “Laser radar mounted on the roof and in the grill detects pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles, creating a virtual buffer zone around the obstacles that the car then avoids.”

The technology is still a ways off from the point where a robotic car can drop off a passenger and then go look for a parking space, the story notes. During the test, two human occupants will be required in each test car -- one behind the wheel and one monitoring the car’s route on a computer screen. Tapping the brakes or grabbing the steering wheel overrides the automatic functions.

“Last summer, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval took the car for a spin in and around the state’s quiet capital city,” the report notes. “But Las Vegas Boulevard, where costumed superheroes routinely take the crosswalks and massive billboards angle for the attention of starry-eyed tourists, was perhaps best suited to test the car’s main purpose.”

Said Nevada DMV director Bruce Breslow: “They’re designed to avoid distracted driving. When you’re on the Strip and there’s a huge truck with a three scantily clad women on the side, the car only sees a box.”

Three vehicles have been approved for testing, and will carry red plates and an infinity symbol -- indicative of their status as vehicles of the future, the story reports. They’re not expected to go on the market for three to five years, the story adds.

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Showtime Picks Up Third Season of Reality Show

Showtime has picked up a third season of a reality series and will begin shooting this month, TVGuide.com reports. The series is "Gigolos" from Richard Grieco, best known for his acting in "21 Jump Street."

Grieco, who now produces the Las Vegas-based reality show, revealed that one of the cast members of "Gigolos" -- Jimmy -- will be dumped.

Grieco told the publication, "The show is called 'Gigolos,' not 'The Jimmy Show.' Jimmy got off on a tangent in his personal life, and we don't need that. If he makes amends, we'll see, but as far as I'm concerned, he's done."

Grieco also declared that the new season will include a homosexual element. "We have to. We're going to entertain all avenues next season," he said.

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Lifetime Renews Drama Series

Lifetime has renewed a drama series for a second season, Zap2It.com’s From Inside the Box reports. The cable channel tapped the Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle "The Client List" for 15 new episodes in 2013.

The show stars Hewitt as a single mom in Texas who takes a job in a massage parlor that offers more than back rubs.

Lifetime Networks President Nancy Dubuc said in a statement, "The Client List' represents everything we want to be -- fresh, exciting and original with attitude."

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Former WWE Star to Host CMT's 'Redneck Island'

A former WWE star has been tapped to host a new reality competition on CMT called "Redneck Island," reports Deadline.com.

The 10-episode reality series will be hosted by Steve Austin. The show will feature 12 blue-collar contestants as they compete for $100,000 in a tropical location, the story says. The show will premiere next month.

CMT has signed a development deal with Austin, who will develop other shows for CMT through his Broken Skull Ranch Productions, the piece adds.

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Legendary Game Show Creator Dies -- He Was Behind 'Price Is Right,' 'Password,' 'To Tell the Truth' and Others

A veteran game show creator and producer who was behind classic television games including “The Price Is Right," "To Tell the Truth" and "Password" has died. Bob Stewart died Friday at the age of 91, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He was in Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he succumbed to natural causes.

The native New Yorker was inducted into the Television Hall of Face in 2009. Stewart teamed with Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions on those shows, with all three men acting as producers.

In 1964, Stewart started his own production company, which created and produced the "Pyramid" game shows, as well as 15 other programs.

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Another NBC Series Sinks to a Historic Low

In a season of historic ratings lows for not just NBC but broadcast overall, the bar seems to find ways to continue moving lower. The latest series to hit an all-time low is NBC’s “Harry’s Law,” which sank to a 0.7 rating Sunday night in the key 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen overnights reported by TVbytheNumbers.com.

The number for “Harry’s Law,” combined with a 0.7 for the newsmagazine “Dateline” at 7 p.m., dragged down the prime-time average for NBC even on a night when a two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice” pulled in what is by comparison a blockbuster number -- a 1.9 in 18-49. NBC wound up finishing a distant fourth for prime time overall.

ABC won the night with a 2.4 in adults 18-49 for prime time overall, followed by CBS (2.0), Fox (1.9) and NBC (1.3). Total viewers went to CBS with 9.3 million, followed by ABC with 7.6 million, NBC with 5.8 million and Fox with 4.1 million.

CBS’s two-hour finale of “Amazing Race” pulled a 2.6 average rating in 18-49, up from last year’s finale and up four-tenths of a ratings point from a week ago. “NYC 22” rose one-tenth from last week to a 1.3 and “60 Minutes” was up four-tenths to a 1.6.

ABC was led by “Once Upon a Time” with a 3.0 average rating in viewers 18-49, even with a week ago. “Desperate Housewives” rose three-tenths of a ratings point to a 2.8, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” surged five-tenths to a 2.0 and the finale of “GCB” equaled last week’s installment with a 1.8.

Fox was mostly down: “Family Guy,” down one-tenth in 18-49 to a 2.7 average; “The Simpsons,” down two-tenths to a 2.1; “Bob’s Burgers,” down one-tenth to a 1.8; and “The Cleveland Show,” down one-tenth to a 1.4. “American Dad” broke the pattern, returning from a one-month hiatus to a 2.3, three-tenths higher than its previous original.

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'Avengers' Demolishes Record for Box Office Opening

The box office opening for Marvel’s “The Avengers” was expected to be big -- but not this big. The movie is on track for an opening weekend of $207.1 million, Deadline.com reports.

The final numbers are still being tallied, but the movie, directed by TV veteran Joss Whedon, has shattered the record of $169.2 million set by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part II” in July 2011.

The movie, which was released earlier globally, has taken in another $447.4 million in foreign box office receipts, placing its 12-day worldwide total at $654.5 million.

“Avengers” is racking up the records. Among them, it claimed the highest Saturday gross of all time with $69.7 million in one day, MTV.com reports.

"We are really in uncharted territory now with an opening like this," said Phil Contrino of BoxOffice.com. the MTV piece reports.

The movie has generally been received well by critics as well as fans. There have been exceptions, such as A.O. Scott of The New York Times, who incurred the wrath of one of the film’s stars with a bad review, as we reported last week.

Does that mean the blockbuster will have legs? Maybe, maybe not.

MTV quotes Box Office Guru editor Gitesh Pandya, who predicts a sizable drop in box office for the movie’s second weekend. "We won't see 'Titanic' or 'Avatar'-type legs here, but a final domestic gross of more than $450 million seems likely,” Pandya says.

His assessment of the movie’s international prospects is brighter: "I project it will become the fastest film in history to smash the $1 billion global box-office mark, doing it in about 20 days or so. 'Avengers' just might end up becoming the highest-grossing non-James Cameron film ever."

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ABC and Univision Join Forces to Create News Network

ABC News and Univision News have announced a joint venture to create a new 24/7 English-language news, information and lifestyle television network, reports B&C. The companies have reached a deal in principal for a network aimed at English-dominant and bilingual Hispanic consumers.

Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said in a statement: "This exciting joint venture represents the latest example of our long-term strategy to broaden the reach of ABC. Our powerful premier news brand, combined with the world's leading Hispanic media company, will create the nation's first news and lifestyle channel targeted to this quickly expanding and important community."

Also in the statement, Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks, said: "For more than five decades Univision has been the leader in serving Hispanics in the U.S. and this joint venture is an extension of our vision to deliver the most relevant news and information, regardless of language, to all Hispanics. This alliance combines the expertise and brand strength of Univision News with ABC News' leadership and is another example of Univision's commitment to serving and empowering Hispanic America while connecting all audiences to Latino issues."

In a letter to ABC staff, Ben Sherwood, ABC News president, wrote: "This new partnership delivers on our 2012 priorities -- increasing our reach, developing new growth businesses, creating new content, excelling in political coverage and strengthening our digital presence."

The deal has not been finalized, but assuming that it is, the unnamed channel will launch in the first half of 2013. Expected to debut this summer in connection with the venture are a website and mobile and social media content.

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Showtime Renews Drama Series

Showtime has made the decision to renew a drama series that is currently airing its second season, Deadline.com reports. The series is the Jeremy Irons historical drama "The Borgias."

Showtime has ordered a 10-episode third season, which will premiere in 2013.

In the show, Oscar winner Irons plays Pope Alexander VI, the clever, manipulative patriarch of the infamous Italian Renaissance family the Borgias, who builds an empire by bribing, buying and muscling his way into the papacy.

Also starring in the show are Joanne Whalley, Francois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, Lotte Verbeek, David Oakes and Colm Feore. Feature film director Neil Jordan will continue as the drama's creator and executive producer, and will be writer-director for some episodes.

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***NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT***: American Legion Announces Recipients of Its Fourth Estate Awards. They Include a TV Station, a Newspaper and an Online News Feature

***PLEASE NOTE--THIS ITEM IS A PAID TEXT ADVERTISEMENT***

One broadcast station, a newspaper and a war correspondent’s feature on an online news website will receive The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award during the organization’s 94th National Convention in Indianapolis on August 30.

The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by The American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Nominations were considered in three categories: print, broadcast, and new media (Internet).

Taking top honor in the print category for the second consecutive year was the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. A nine-month investigation and series of articles by reporter Carl Prine, an Army and Marine veteran who served in Iraq, revealed that warrior transition units were so overwhelmed that many soldiers suffering physically or mentally from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan got little or no help. They continued to suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, brain injuries, depression and other issues related to repeated combat deployments. The probe brought about congressional hearings, the resignation of a senior defense official and actions that led to significant improvements in the units. In 2011, the Trib won the Fourth Estate Award for exposing shoddy conditions in Pennsylvania’s state-run veterans homes.

KLRT-TV News Reporter Donna Terrell took the top honor in the broadcast category in Little Rock, Ark., with her reports, “Grieving a Child.” Having recently lost her 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.

In the Internet (new media) category, freelance war correspondent Alex Quade’s video documentary for The Daily Caller, “Horse Soldiers of 9/11,” revealed the special operations of
military and CIA operatives in Afghanistan who responded after the 9/11 attacks, using
horses in their behind-the- lines operations. Her report broke the story of a monument, capturing the essence of their bravery, to rise in testament to them near "Ground Zero" in New York. Vice President Joe Biden quoted Quade's story during the statue's official dedication ceremony.

“These outstanding journalists have gone above and beyond the works of their peers; Indeed, they have exhibited the highest commitment to excellence in the research, writing and production of masterful reports that have truly made a difference for the better in our world,” said Fang A. Wong, national commander of the 2.4 million member American Legion.

“Journalism doesn’t get any better than that,” he said. “I will be honored to present each of them with our highest recognition of journalistic distinction, The American Legion Fourth Estate Award.”
Previous winners of the award include Dateline NBC, C-SPAN, United Press International, USA TODAY, The Detroit News, Fortune Magazine, ABC News, and Life Magazine, among others.
The nation’s largest veterans organization, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs.

Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

Please visit our website at www.legion.org/presscenter/fourthesate to learn more about this award.
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CBS's Moonves Is Offered a Production Deal

CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves has been offered a four-year production deal, Deadline.com reports. The deal with CBS would be available to Moonves if he decides to step down as CEO when his contract expires in 2015, the story reports.

The agreement, outlined in an SEC filing, would give Moonves an opportunity to produce TV, film and digital media, with CBS investing up to $3 million per year for staff and infrastructure, the story says. Moonves would also receive $1.5 million a year to executive produce TV productions, the story says.

CBS would be required to order at least three series over four years, but Moonves would also be required to submit “a minimum number of projects per season," according to the filing.

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NBC Fast-Tracks Sitcom, Places Order for 13 Episodes

In anticipation of the NBC upfront next week, the network has placed a 13-episode order for a sitcom, Deadline.com reports. The comedy, “Save Me,” which stars Anne Heche, has been put on a fast track at the network and is targeted for an August launch.

The show, which was created and executive produced by John Scott Shepherd, revolves around a woman who undergoes a transformation from someone who has let herself go into a woman who is strong, empowered and "awakened."

Alexa Junge, a veteran from "Friends," is in talks to become "Save Me's" showrunner. "Save Me" joins "Go On," the Matthew Perry comedy, as the first two comedies NBC has picked up. The network is looking to have both shows premiere right after the Summer Olympics.

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Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn Feature Film Renamed Because of Trayvon Martin Case

To distance the film from any connection to the tragic Trayvon Martin case, the new Ben Stiller-Vince Vaughn summer comedy has changed its name from "Neighborhood Watch" to "The Watch," reports Moviefone.com, based on a report in Variety.

In a statement from 20th Century Fox, the studio releasing the film, a spokesperson said, "As the subject matter of this alien-invasion comedy bears no relation whatsoever to the recent tragic events in Florida, the studio altered the title to avoid any accidental or unintended misimpression that it might."

The possibility of a connection was based on the fact that George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin, was part of a neighborhood watch group. In March, Fox pulled the movie's posters and teasers from Florida theaters.

"The Watch," which also stars Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, will open nationwide in theaters on Friday, July 27.

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Iconic Game Show Host Considering Retirement After More Than 6,000 Episodes of the Show

The veteran host of a syndicated game show, who has become a television institution with his gig on the long-running show, said he’s starting to think about retirement.

"Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek told Fox News' Chris Wallace that he's considering retiring from the program, although he may remain on the job for another two years so that he can celebrate three decades with game show.

Trebek, 71, has served as the host of the syndicated show since it was rebooted in 1984. He has already hosted more than 6,000 episodes, the report notes.

"Yes, I have been thinking of retiring," Trebek told Wallace, who will compete in a "Power Players" week airing May 14-18. "But I'm torn because I enjoy doing the show so much. A lot of people have been telling me, 'Alex, you've got to go for at least 30. You've just done 28. Now at least do two more.' So that has a nice ring to it. Put in your 30. And go help people."

Here's the video report:

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Struggling ABC Show May Move to Cable

A show that has been struggling this season on ABC may get a new life on cable, Deadline.com reports. The bubble show "Cougar Town" is in talks to move to TBS, with negotiations focused on a possible two-season pickup of 15 episodes each, the story reports.

That would enable the show to be sold in syndication, the report notes.

The talks come as the show is weathering a tough third season after ABC moved it from its post-"Modern Family" time period, the piece points out.

"Because 'Cougar Town' is produced by ABC’s sister studio, one could assume that the network is aware of the talks with TBS and that the company as a whole might be exploring ways to continue the praised comedy series, which enjoys a devoted following by a core group of passionate fans and is a season away from a shot at syndication," the story notes.

If "Cougar Town" moves to TBS, the shift would mark the second time a Bill Lawrence comedy switched networks. Lawrence's "Scrubs" jumped to ABC after NBC canceled the program in 2008.

TBS parent Turner has previously picked up an existing broadcast series with the former NBC drama "Southland," which recently received a fifth-season renewal from TNT, the piece points out.

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Veteran TV Actor, Best Known for Character on 'The Andy Griffith Show,' Dead at 83

A veteran television actor who made a lasting impression with his character on “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s has died, The New York Times reports. George Lindsey, who played the good-natured but dimwitted Goober Pyle, was 83.

Goober, a country hick who was both annoying and sweet, was introduced on the classic television sitcom set in the fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. Lindsey joined the show as the cousin to Gomer Pyle, played by Jim Nabors, when Gomer got his own series in 1964, the story notes.

Although "The Andy Griffith Show" ended in 1968, Lindsey's Goober lived on in "Mayberry R.F.D.," which starred Ken Berry and included several of the characters from the original program.

When "Mayberry R.F.D." was canceled in 1971, Lindsey joined the cast of "Hee Haw," a syndicated variety show that mixed country music and comedy.

Lindsey remained with "Hee Haw" for 20 years, portraying a gas station attendant and wearing Goober's trademark beanie, although he was usually addressed as "George" by his castmates, the story says.

After graduating from Florence State Teachers College and spending three years in the Air Force, Lindsey moved to New York to perform as a comedian and study acting. His career took off when he moved to Los Angeles, where he was soon cast in TV shows such as "Gunsmoke" and "The Twilight Zone."

Lindsey, a native of Alabama, died in Nashville, the story notes. He had been in poor health after suffering a stroke in March, according to the story.

george-lindsey-goober-pyle.jpgGeorge Lindsey as Goober

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CBS Plays Hardball With ABC Over Upcoming Reality Show

CBS has sent off a warning letter to ABC over plans for a new reality show, warning execs at ABC that they “will be acting at their own peril if they continue to proceed" with a show that is too similar to “Big Brother,” reports EW.com's Inside TV.

As we reported last week, ABC plans to debut a "Big Brother"-like show next month, with contestants living under the same roof and trying to outlast each other. The show, set for a June 18 debut, is called "The Glass House."

CBS's letter reminded ABC that it CBS been the exclusive U.S. licensee of "Big Brother" since 2000.

CBS also released a statement objecting to ABC's effort to "recruit a large humber of former staff from the show.”

"We don’t see how ABC can produce this new series without infringing on our rights," CBS said in the statement.

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Oprah's OWN Called the Most 'Successful Failure in Television Today'

Discovery Communications may have lost as much as $330 million from the inception of Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable channel in 2008 through Dec. 31, 2011, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Although OWN is expected to make money in 2013, the costs are so high that Discovery may be forced to write off some of its current $420 million investment, the piece notes.

OWN is the most “successful failure in television today," according to RBC Capital Markets media analyst David Bank.

After reducing its staff by at least 30, down from a high of 150 employees last year, and canceling "The Rosie Show," the network is aiming to save as much as $50 million in 2012, the story notes. A new contract with Comcast will deliver 20 cents per month for each pay-TV subscriber, which should allow OWN to start recording profits in 2013, the piece adds.

The story reports: “Discovery has poured at least $585 million into OWN. It contributed the Discovery Health Channel (OWN took its slots on cable systems), which it valued at $273 million, as its equity stake and loans and interest of $312 million, according to the SEC filing. (OWN’s borrowings from Discovery have tripled since the venture was formed.) The lower $420 million investment value Discovery noted in its yearend filing suggests its share of the OWN loss is $165 million and growing.”

The channel still has time to find its footing, in part because marketers remain attracted to Winfrey, said Horizon Media’s Brad Adgate. “Advertisers still want to be a part of Oprah’s brand,” Adgate said. “It’s not a four-alarm fire yet as far as marketers go.”

But the clock is ticking. The report notes: “When starting a network, media companies typically lure advertisers after building an audience. OWN drew high-profile advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and Kohl’s first. ‘Now they’re trying to build an audience,’ Bank says. ‘Advertisers will only wait so long for that audience to come.’”

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Chevy Chase Airs More Gripes About 'Community' and His 'Moderately Funny' Character

Chevy Chase tells New York Magazine's Vulture blog that he's "not crazy about that character and I'm getting tired of playing him," referring to his role as Pierce Hawthorne on NBC's "Community."

"I don't think anyone has a sense of what to do with me, so I got to play some gray-haired, biased, bigoted guy," Chase said. "I've been too funny in my life to have to play a character who's ... moderately funny."

As we reported last month, Chase left a profanity-laced voicemail criticizing the comedy for show creator Dan Harmon, who then played the tape publicly at a comedy show. Harmon later apologized for playing Chase's comments in public.

Chase tells Vulture that he hasn't signed a deal yet to continue with the show, and that he doesn't know whether the program will get picked up for another season.

Asked whether the controversy between himself and Harmon would increase the show’s chances of getting picked up, Chase responded: "There is no controversy. I don't know what people have been told, but it's over. I spoke to the producer [Dan Harmon]. That's long gone."

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No More 'Mad Men' or 'Walking Dead'? Dish Tells Customers It Plans to Drop AMC and Other Cable Nets

Dish Network is telling customers it plans to drop AMC and several other cable networks amid a growing fight with AMC Networks, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder.

Dish said Friday that it has opted not to renew its contract with AMC, which would possibly result in AMC's networks being dropped from Dish's lineup, the story says. The current contract expires at the end of June.

AMC Networks operates IFC, the Sundance Channel, WE tv and its flagship AMC. Losing AMC alone would deprive viewers of the hit show “The Walking Dead” and the critically acclaimed “Mad Men,” among other series.

AMC and Dish are battling in court over a separate issue, with AMC's indirect subsidiary VOOM filing a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Dish relating to Dish's decision to stop carrying VOOM's networks in 2008, the story notes.

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Upfront Negotiations Likely to Be a 'Summer Slog'

The upfront advertising market is likely to be a "summer slog," writes Brian Steinberg in Advertising Age.

"Buyers are betting that economic factors crimping marketing budgets will force sellers to keep TV price hikes to a minimum. Dig below the rhetoric, and you're left with both sides acknowledging that dollar volume committed to the medium this year is likely to increase slightly -- but only after a lot of haggling," Steinberg writes.

This year's upfront may represent a cooling off, according to the story. The past two years have seen advertisers shoveling money into television, trying to lock in lower prices before the economy picks up, the story notes.

Scatter advertising has been slow, indicating a weaker upfront, Steinberg notes. "If the two sides can't find common ground, bargaining could drag on for weeks," the story says. "No one is predicting a wrap-up by early June."

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NBCUniversal Seeking to Sell Big Stake in A&E

Comcast's NBCUniversal unit has exercised an option to sell a "substantial portion of its stake in A&E Television Networks, reports The Wall Street Journal. (Please note that The WSJ is a subscription site and not all readers may be able to access the article.)

The sale, which would be to joint-venture partners Walt Disney and Hearst, could be worth about $2 billion, the story notes. Disney and Hearst declined to comment.

The parties are still negotiating how much of the stake will be sold. Comcast owns 15.8% of A&E, which consists of networks such as Lifetime and A&E, while Disney owns 42.1% and Hearst has a 42.2% stake.

Comcast had earlier said it had the right to require its partners to purchase part of the stake in the first quarter, according to the piece.

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CBS's '60 Minutes' Bucks the Age Trend -- Its Viewers Are Getting Younger

The veteran CBS newsmagazine "60 Minutes" is proving aging isn't inevitable on television, with its current season drawing more viewers 25 to 54 even as its total viewer rating remains the same, reports The New York Times.

“It’s hard in television to grow from year to year,” said "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager. "To do it this season with younger viewers, for a news broadcast, is particularly gratifying.”

In the key news demo of viewers 25 to 54, the show is up about 6% this season, boosting its rating to an average of 3.5, up from 3.3, the story notes.

The show is also trying out younger correspondents, such as Lara Logan, 41, who will become a full-time correspondent next season, the first addition to the show in seven years, the piece notes.

Asked about the show's growth in the 25 to 54 demographic, Fager cited the program’s websites and apps, which he said “reach an audience that might not make an appointment with us at 7 p.m.” Fager also noted the show’s story selection and its efforts to add subscribers through social sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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LIN TV Buys Station Group for $330 Million

LIN Television announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to buy a TV station group for $330.4 million, Deadline.com reports. The group, owned by New Vision Television, has 13 network affiliates -- including 10 affiliates of big 4 broadcast nets -- in eight domestic markets.

The purchase would include assuming $12 million in debt, the story notes.

LIN TV expects to close the deal late this year, pending approval from regulators.

“We have been evaluating the M&A landscape for quite some time and selectively pursued New Vision Television as it adds geographical diversity, particularly in the South and Western U.S.,” said Vincent L. Sadusky, LIN TV president and CEO, in a statement. “New Vision Television has a reputation for operating high-quality, well-run media properties. This is a terrific opportunity to strengthen our midsize market station portfolio in an accretive manner and will provide new markets to expand our digital businesses.”

The statement from LIN TV parent LIN Media notes: “The New Vision Television network affiliates are located in the following markets: Portland, OR (DMA 22); Birmingham, AL (DMA 39); Wichita, KS (DMA 67); Honolulu, HI (DMA 71); Savannah, GA (DMA 92); Youngstown, OH (DMA 110); Topeka, KS (DMA 136); and Mason City, IA (DMA 153).”

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How Low Can It Go? NBC's 'Awake' Hits a Number That's Rarely Seen on a Major Broadcast Network

NBC’s troubled first-year fantasy crime drama “Awake” continues to lower the bar in the prime-time ratings. The series set a new low Thursday night in the key demo, TVbytheNumbers.com reports, sinking from last week’s already problematic 0.8 average rating to a shocking 0.7 in adults 18-49, according to Nielsen overnights.

“Awake” isn’t the only NBC show to be struggling to find an audience -- and NBC isn’t the only major broadcast network experiencing difficulty in the Nielsens. Still, an 0.7 underscores that the problem is pretty serious -- especially with May sweeps under way, and especially on a Thursday night. It's still one of the most-viewed nights of the week, even if it's no longer the night of "Must-See TV" that NBC previously owned.

Even the CW, which typically has numbers well below the last-place network among the Big 4, averaged a better number for Thursday’s prime time -- a 0.8.

“Awake,” which aired at 10 p.m., wasn’t alone in running aground Thursday night. ABC’s “Missing” plunged 21% from last week to a series-low 1.1 average rating in 18-49. “Grey’s Anatomy” was down slightly -- 3% -- to a 3.2 average, while “Scandal” was up 8% to a 2.1.

CBS had the top show of the night, “Big Bang Theory,” which was up 12% from a week ago in 18-49 to a 4.6. the rest of the Tiffany Network’s lineup was also up: “Rules of Engagement,” up 8% to a 2.7; “Person of Interest,” up from a 2.4 last week to a 2.5; and “The Mentalist,” up 9% to a 2.4.

Fox’s “American Idol” was down one-tenth from last week to a 3.9 in the 18-49 demo, and “Touch” rose 11% to a 2.1.

Other than “Awake,” NBC had mixed results: “30 Rock” was down 13% from last week to a 1.4 in 18-49; “Community” was even with a 1.4; “The Office” was up 10% to a 2.3; and “Parks and Recreation” was up 6% to a 1.7.

For prime-time overall Thursday night, Fox was the winner by a slim margin in adults 18-49, averaging a 3.0 rating for the night to CBS’s 2.8, ABC’s 2.1 and NBC’s 1.4 -- which tied Univision’s 1.4. CBS had the edge in total viewers with 12.3 million to Fox’s 11.0 million, followed by ABC’s 7.4 million. Univision moved ahead of NBC, averaging 3.6 million to NBC’s 3.1 million.

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CBS Will Try Again With Show It Already Pulled Off the Air Once

CBS is hoping the second time will be the charm for a series it gave up on once already when the Nielsen numbers dipped too low for comfort.

After pulling the sitcom "How to Be A Gentleman" off the schedule back in October, the network is ready to try again, bringing it back on Saturday, May 26, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

CBS will air back-to-back episodes that night from 8-9 p.m. ET. Over a period of weeks during the summer, CBS will broadcast the remaining unaired episodes.

"Gentleman" stars David Hornsby and Kevin Dillon as two friends with significant differences. Also on the show is "24" veteran Mary Lynn Rajskub.

The comedy series debuted in late September and did OK when it had “Big Bang Theory” as a lead-in, but once it moved to its weekend slot it was down 33% in the key 18-49 demo from the numbers “$#*! My Dad Says” -- long since canceled -- did in the same slot last season, the report notes.

“Gentleman” was yanked after pulling a feeble 0.7 average in 18-49 on Oct. 15, when it followed a repeat of “Two and a Half Men,” the story adds.

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TNT Renews Drama Series

TNT has renewed a drama series for a fifth season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The network announced the renewal of “Southland,” which stars Regina King, Ben McKenzie, Michael Cudlitz and Shawn Hatosy.

The series will return for 10 new episodes starting in February.

In a statement, TNT, TBS and TCM President and head of programming Michael Wright said: "We are very proud of 'Southland' and grateful to everyone involved in the series, including executive producers John Wells, Chris Chulack and Jonathan Lisco; creator Ann Biderman; and our partners at Warner Bros. Television. We look forward to going deeper into the lives of Southland's extraordinary characters and the streets they struggle to keep safe next year."

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Samuel L. Jackson Lashes Out at Film Critic

As one of the stars of the new action flick "The Avengers," Samuel L. Jackson was so angry at New York Times critic A.O. Scott's negative review of the film that he called him out via Twitter, reports TheWrap.com.

Jackson plays Nick Fury in the movie and was incensed by Scott's "less-than-glowing review," the story reports. Jackson tweeted: "#Avengers fans, NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let's help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!"

In response, other journalists defended Scott's right to state his opinion, especially since it's his job. The website The Film Nest tweeted back at Jackson -- "Disappointed to hear @SamuelLJackson respond irrationally to negative review of #Avengers. People aren't entitled to their own opinion?" -- prompting the actor to respond.

Jackson tweeted: "That is My Opinion! @TheFilmNest & what's irrational about it? They aren't going to fire his jaundiced ass & You & I Know It!"

Ironically, the New York Times Magazine just ran a laudatory piece on the actor on April 29.

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'Million Dollar Listing New York' Gets Another Season on Bravo

Bravo has renewed "Million Dollar Listing New York" for a second season, reports B&C. The World of Wonder production has been a solid hit for the cable network, averaging 1.04 million total viewers.

The finale hit a season high of 1.1 million viewers.

"Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles" returns to Bravo for a fifth season June 6 at p.m. ET.

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Founding Member of Famed Musical Group Dead at 47; the Group Was Just Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame This Year

A founding member of a popular musical group that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year has died after a fight with cancer, TMZ.com reports.

Rapper Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who used the stage name MCA as a member of the group, was 47.

He announced in 2009 that he was being treated for a cancerous parotid gland and lymph node, the story notes. He had been undergoing surgery and radiation therapy as part of his treatment.

It was not immediately known whether MCA’s death was related to the cancer.

The story reports: “MCA co-founded Beastie Boys in 1979 with Mike D, and Ad Rock ... and went on to churn out some of the most iconic albums in hip-hop ... including ‘License to Ill,’ ‘Paul's Boutique,’ ‘Check Your Head’ and ‘Ill Communication.’”

The group has not performed live since summer 2009.

Here’s the Beastie Boys’ music video “Make Some Noise,” released last year and featuring celebrity guests including Amy Poehler, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, Zach Galifianakis, Orlando Bloom, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rashida Jones, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson and Jack Black:

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Another Casualty at NBC Over Trayvon Martin Segment

An NBC correspondent who was involved in a March segment about the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has left the network, reports The New York Times' Media Decoder. The segment, which aired on "Today," has been criticized for giving the impression that shooter George Zimmerman was guilty of racial profiling.

It's not clear whether Lilia Luciano was dismissed by NBC or resigned, the story says. Her departure appears to be the most recent fallout from an investigation into the editing of a 911 call by Zimmerman, which made it appear as if Zimmerman was volunteering that Martin was a "black male," when in reality the 911 dispatcher had asked him for the information, the story notes.

Luciano hasn't appeared on NBC news programs since the network started an investigation toward the end of March.

As previously reported, a seasoned editor was responsible for the editing of the "Today" segment. That producer was subsequently fired. A correspondent at a Miami station was also fired last month after a report included similar errors.

It's unclear what Luciano’s mistake was, as The Times writes she may have borrowed a script from the Miami station, or could have introduced the error into the "Today" show’s reporting for the first time.

Luciano, 28, was hired by NBC in 2010 to work on "NBC Nightly News," "Today” and other programs, and had previously worked for TeleFutura. She couldn't be reached for comment, the story notes.

She removed "NBC News Correspondent" from her Twitter biography on Thursday, the piece adds.

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Apple Quietly Rolls Out Hard-to-Find Juiced-Up Version of iPad 2

While Apple’s third-generation iPad was released to much fanfare earlier this year, another iPad release has been brought to the market with almost no notice, CNET reports.

It’s an internally modified variation on the older iPad 2, priced lower than the new iPad at $399. The modifications can, in some cases, improve on battery life, the story reports.

The piece reports: “Among those iPad 3 models is a variant, the ‘iPad 2,4,’ that sports a more advanced 32-nanometer version of the dual-core Apple A5 series chip, according to chip review site Anandtech. (The older iPad 2 uses an A5 based on a lagging-edge 45-nanometer manufacturing process.)

“And an A5 built on a more advanced manufacturing process yields improved battery life, according to tests done by the site.”

The Anandtech report is quoted as saying: "The iPad 2,4's gains in battery life ... are significant. We measured a 15% increase in our web browsing battery life, a nearly 30% increase in gaming battery life and an 18% increase in video playback battery life." The results compare the 2,4 with the iPad 2 with the older A5 chip.

The piece notes, however, that the iPad 2,4 is hard to find. The Anandtech report, written by Anand Lal Shimpi, concludes: "If you're in the market for an iPad 2, the 2,4 is clearly the one to get -- if you can find one that is."

CNET adds: “The only way to know for sure is to open up the box. The iPad 2 variant may have iOS 5.1 preloaded. The older iPad 2 models -- which Apple still has in inventory and continues to sell -- may have 5.0.1 or older, Shimpi said. But the most accurate way to find out is by using a utility like Geekbench that will indicate whether it's the iPad 2,4, Shimpi said.”

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Daytime Emmys Poised to Leave CBS for Cable News Channel

The Daytime Emmy Awards, which have been televised on CBS for the past two years, may move to cable news channel HLN this year, B&C reports.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is working out a deal with the channel, which is owned by Time Warner, the story reports.

The academy is also seeking to work with AOL as a social media partner, the piece adds.

The awards will take place Saturday, June 23, at the Beverly Hilton. The ceremony has been finding it hard to stay relevant in recent years given the rate at which soap operas are being canceled and replaced by talk shows, the story points out.

Nominations were originally scheduled to be announced today, but the announcement has been moved to Wednesday, May 9, to allow the organization to firm up the deals with media partners, the story says.

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The $200 Million Question: Will 'Avengers' Demolish Box Office Record?

Estimates vary widely on how much “The Avengers,” which opens today, will rake in at the box office, but everyone is in agreement on one thing: The movie will be huge.

Almost everyone thinks it will top $150 million for its opening weekend in North America, with some predicting it will beat the current record holder, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part II," which opened with a $169.2 million weekend in July 2011.

Then there are those who are talking about $200 million.

SNL Kagan reports: “Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co., is even more bullish, telling TheWrap.com that he believes it is possible ‘Avengers’ could hit the $200 million mark during its opening weekend. ‘It would take a perfect storm,’ Bock said, ‘but all the elements are there.’ Notably, ‘Avengers’ is the only new movie opening widely in theaters on May 4 and it is not likely to face much competition from holdovers such as ‘Think Like a Man’ or ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits,’ which took the No. 1 and 2 seats at the box office, respectively, during the weekend of April 27.”

BoxOffice.com forecasts a $170 million opening, and adds: "Anticipation for ‘The Avengers’ has been building since ‘Iron Man’ opened ... in May 2008," Kagan reports.

Box office expectations for the film are high -- especially after a strong international opening. But it has a good chance of living up to them, Kagan reports.

“First, the film has a firmly established film base that has been growing since 2008, when both ‘The Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Iron Man’ came out,” Kagan reports. “‘This is the culmination of years of planning on the part of Marvel,’ Dave Hollis, Disney's executive vice president of exhibition, told TheWrap.com.

“Second, the movie is hitting all four quadrants. It is appealing not only to men and boys, but also to girls and women. ‘You can't do $155 million with just guys,’ Keith Simanton, managing editor of movie website IMDb.com, told Reuters. ‘It's got to be a date night. It's got to be an event.’"

Critics have generally been upbeat about the movie. Kagan reports: “As of 9:30 a.m. ET on May 4, the movie had earned a 93% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.com. ‘With a script that never forgets its heroes' humanity and no shortage of superpowered set pieces, “The Avengers” lives up to its hype -- and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies,’ the site wrote.”

Disney, still reeling from the recent failure of “John Carter” at the box office, can use a hit, and it is leaving no stone unturned as it seeks to ensure the success of “Avengers.” Among the marketing efforts, it has made a point of courting female moviegoers.

“The studio made sure the stars of the film were featured in multiple women's magazines, with [Scarlett] Johansson appearing on the cover of Vogue and other cast members posing in InStyle, Elle and People,” Kagan reports. “As for TV appearances, [Chris] Evans and [Chris] Hemsworth are set to appear on ‘The View,’ and Disney's ABC Family Channel has shown advance clips from the film.”

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NBC Production Takes Viewers Inside the Killing of Osama bin Laden

NBC News marked the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden this week with a special episode of “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” titled “Inside the Situation Room.”

TVWeek Open Mic blogger Hillary Atkin takes a close look at the production and its retelling of the events surrounding the drama that unfolded one year ago -- particularly the behind-the-scenes drama at the White House.

Click here to read her thoughts on the bin Laden raid and the insights revealed by Williams and the NBC News team.

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How Does Current TV's Replacement for Keith Olbermann Stack Up in the Ratings? Not So Well

Keith Olbermann's time period on Current TV has seen a steep decline in viewers since the hot-button host exited the network, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The audience for the 8 p.m. slot was down 68% in total viewers (46,000, down from 145,000) for its four-week average, compared with Olbermann’s numbers for March, according to Nielsen figures. Olbermann’s replacement, Eliot Spitzer, reportedly pulled in a mere 47,000 viewers for the first airing of his show, "Viewpoint," including a minuscule 10,000 viewers in the key news demo of adults 25-54.

Since that inauspicious debut, the numbers have gone up -- and then back down, the story reports.

It was inevitable that Olbermann's departure would result in a ratings drop, given his abrupt exit from the network and the end of his "Countdown" show after less than a year on Current TV, the piece notes. Nonetheless, the declines have been drastic.

The four-week average for “Viewpoint” in the 25-54 demo, according to Nielsen, was 14,000, down from 38,000 for Olbermann -- a 62% decline.

A minor ray of sunshine for "Viewpoint" is that the show is pulling a higher percentage of viewers with incomes over $150,000 per year (25% vs. 19%), and viewers who have completed four or more years of college (61% vs. 49%), the story says.

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CW Gives Early Renewals to Three Series

The CW announced early renewals for three series, all of which have been performing well for the network, TheWrap.com reports.

The broadcast network picked up "The Vampire Diaries," "Supernatural" and "90210," the story reports.

"The Vampire Diaries," the CW's top-rated show, will return for a fourth season, while "Supernatural" will be back for its eighth season, the story notes. "90210" -- a reboot of the 1990s series “Beverly Hills, 90210” -- will be returning for a fifth season, the story says.

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Oscar-Winning Hitchcock Movie to Become Broadway Musical

An Alfred Hitchcock movie that was the director’s only film to win the Oscar for best picture is headed to Broadway as a musical, The Huffington Post reports.

The movie is the 1940 release “Rebecca,” which starred Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier. Hitchcock was nominated for best director for the film but didn’t win.

Based on the mystery novel by Daphne du Maurier, "Rebecca" is the story of the impressionable young wife of a mysterious, wealthy British gentleman and what happens to her when she moves into his family estate -- which seems to be haunted by the presence of his first wife, Rebecca.

On Thursday, producers announced that "Rebecca" will open for previews Oct. 30 at the Broadhurst Theatre with Howard McGillin in the Laurence Olivier role and Karen Mason in the Joan Fontaine role.

“Rebecca” was one of five Academy Award nominations for Hitchcock for best director without a win. The legendary director never won a competitive Oscar, but received the Academy’s Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968. Besides “Rebecca,” he was nominated for best director for “Lifeboat,” “Spellbound,” “Rear Window” and “Psycho.”

Hitchcock received three Emmy nominations in the 1950s for his TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” but never won the Emmy.

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Demi Moore Dumps '@MrsKutcher,' Adopts New Twitter Handle

Underscoring that she and former husband Ashton Kutcher are through, Demi Moore has adopted a new Twitter handle, retiring the @MrsKutcher handle in favor of @justdemi, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The actress formally ended her marriage to "Two and a Half Men" star Kutcher late last year.

Choosing a new name was difficult because of the number of handles now on Twitter, Moore said. “So hard finding a name that was fun somewhat playful and available,” the actress tweeted Thursday. Moore had said in December that changing her Twitter handle wasn't a top priority.

Moore has almost 5 million Twitter followers.

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Former 'Fox Mole' -- and Former 'O'Reilly Factor' Producer -- Signs Six-Figure Book Deal

The "O'Reilly Factor" producer who lost his job after blogging briefly as the anonymous "Fox Mole" for the gossip and media site Gawker has signed a six-figure book deal, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed.

Joe Muto will write a book for Dutton about his experiences at Fox News, with the book titled "An Atheist in the Foxhole," the story notes.

Dutton describes the book as being "in the vein of classics like 'Liar’s Poker' and 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,'" adding that it brings "readers inside the heart of a cultural institution that some love and some love to hate," according to the article.

Muto received an advance in the low six figures, according to Gawker.

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Syfy Drama Pilot to Feature Renowned Director in Acting Role

Syfy's drama pilot "Rewind" will feature a renowned horror director in an acting role, reports TVLine.com. The project will include a performance by David Cronenberg, who directed movies such as "The Fly" and "Videodrome."

Cronenberg will play a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who becomes unhinged after his wife's death and develops a plot to change the course of history, the story says.

The project has also tapped "Lost" actor Jeff Fahey, who will play an ex-NASA engineer who helps a time travel team as they seek to stop a devastating terrorist attack, the piece adds.

The pilot is directed by “Lost’s” Jack Bender, the story notes.

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Yahoo to Investigate CEO's Credentials

Yahoo said it will review the credentials of Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson after an investor said it found an alleged inaccuracy in his resume, reports Bloomberg.

The investor, Third Point LLC, is fighting for representation on the company's board, the story notes.

Thompson lists a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College, although the institution didn't offer the degree until four years after he graduated, according to a letter from Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb.

Yahoo said it will review the issue and will "make an appropriate disclosure to shareholders," according to the story. The company had earlier said the discrepancy was an "inadvertent error."

A spokesman for the college said Thompson received a bachelor of science in business administration, with a major in accounting, in 1979. He declined further comment.

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PETA Lodges Complaints Against HBO's 'Luck' Alleging Severe Mistreatment of Horses -- Including Drugging and Intentionally Underfeeding the Animals

The animal rights group PETA has filed new complaints with the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and the California Veterinary Medical Board against HBO's canceled horse racing drama "Luck," reports the New York Daily News.

The complaints against "Luck," which was canceled in March after the deaths of three horses, include allegations that animals on the show were underfed and drugged from the time of the pilot episode through the second season, the piece says.

The horses were allegedly underfed to save money, with one horse 300 pounds underweight, the story says. Some sick horses allegedly disappeared without explanation, while others were allegedly tranquilized to keep them docile, the piece says.

HBO said in a statement, "The safety and welfare of the horses was always of paramount concern. While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, working closely with American Humane Association to review and improve protocols on an ongoing basis, it was impossible to guarantee no further accidents would occur."

PETA reportedly obtained memos and emails from the American Humane Association that appear to provide evidence of violations of state anti-cruelty laws as well as Humane Association guidelines, the story says.

PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said: “These documents appear to reveal what ‘Luck’ executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann have repeatedly denied: that horses were mistreated and endangered on a daily basis. ... The authorities can take action now to send a message that cruelty to animals for the sake of entertainment or for any reason will not be tolerated.”

As previously reported, the cancellation of the critically acclaimed show cost HBO $35 million.

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AMC Orders Two Murder Mysteries

AMC has announced two pilot orders at once for the first time, opting to greenlight a pair of murder-mystery pilots, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

Both projects will be in contention to debut in 2013, the story says. One of the projects comes from "Water for Elephants" writer Richard LaGravenese and "Justified" producer Tony Goldwyn, while the other one is based on a 2006 British miniseries, the story notes.

The untitled LaGravenese-Goldwyn project is a legal thriller, tracking a district attorney who uncovers new evidence in a murder case, the story says. Goldwyn will direct the pilot.

The other project, called "Low Winter Sun," is a Detroit-based show that tracks the murder of a police officer, the story notes.

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Is 'Parks and Rec's' Rob Lowe Becoming Lifetime's Sordid Crime Drama Specialist?

A Lifetime movie about Casey Anthony has tapped "Parks and Recreation" star Rob Lowe, perhaps signaling that the network is looking to the actor as its "go-to guy for sordid crime trial docudramas," reports EW.com's Inside TV.

Lowe previously starred as Drew Peterson in Lifetime's "Drew Peterson: Untouchable."

In the movie "Prosecuting Casey Anthony," Lowe will portray Jeff Ashton, the prosecutor in the trial, which grabbed headlines in 2011 as Anthony was acquitted for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, the story says.

“We’re thrilled to have Rob returning to our network, after his amazing star turn as Drew Peterson,” Rob Sharenow, executive vice president of programming for Lifetime Networks, said in a statement. “He’s one of those rare stars who can do it all -- comedy, drama, heroes and villains. There are very few actors in the history of our business who have been able to have such success on such a broad range.”

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Rock 'n' Roll Icon to Host 'SNL' Season Finale

One of the iconic figures of rock ‘n’ roll will host the season finale of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” appearing on the show as guest host for the first time.

Deadline.com reports that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones will be the host for the May 19 installment of the show. He will also perform as the musical guest. Jagger has appeared on “SNL” a number of times in the past but has never hosted.

The runup to the finale includes two other high-profile guest appearances, with Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants set to host this Saturday’s show, followed by the return of “SNL” alum Will Ferrell to the show for the May 12 episode.

Musical guests for the next two shows are Rihanna, May 5; and Usher, May 12.

Jagger was first on “Saturday Night Live” in 1978, when the Rolling Stones appeared as the musical guest and band members participated in some of the skits. Later appearances included two performances as a solo artist -- in 1993 and 2001.

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Auction Brings Highest Price Ever Paid for a Work of Art

A pastel containing one of the most familiar images in the art world sold at auction this week for a record price, The Washington Post reports.

Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s on Wednesday night. The price broke the previous record of $106.5 million set in May 2010 by Pablo Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” the story reports.

The report adds: “The 1895 pastel-on-board Munch work was the most-talked-about lot of the current New York auctions, which run through May 11 and may tally $1.5 billion. ... The winner was a phone bidder who is a client of Charles Moffett, Sotheby’s vice chairman for Impressionist and modern art.”

The image seen in “The Scream” has become a part of popular culture, appearing on mugs and T-Shirts and inspiring scenes in the 1990 movie “Home Alone” and in the TV show “The Simpsons,” the story notes.

The piece reports: “The work, featuring a hairless androgynous creature with mouth agape and hands covering the ears, comes from the collection of Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father, Thomas, was a friend, neighbor and patron of the artist.

“Proceeds will go to establish a new museum in Hvitsten, Norway, where Munch and Thomas Olsen lived.”

The artwork is one of four versions of the image -- two oils and two pastels -- with the other three in museums in Norway.

The report notes: “Two versions have been stolen from museums in Oslo, one in 1994, another in 2004. Both were subsequently recovered.”

the-scream.jpg‘The Scream’

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Balance of Power Shifts Between Season's Two Top Shows

A shift took place in the broadcast television landscape Wednesday night, with the two top-rated shows of the season swapping places, James Hibberd reports on EW.com.

Fox’s “American Idol” had a good night, moving ahead of NBC’s “The Voice” to become the season’s top show -- just in time for the upcoming network upfront presentations to advertisers, the article says.

The story reports: “’Idol’ has reclaimed the No. 1 spot for the season (even if you include the special post-Super Bowl airing of ‘The Voice’). ‘Idol’ has averaged 6.2 on Wednesdays in the adult demo and ‘The Voice’ is at 6.1 We still have the rest of the month to go, and things could still change, but Fox will be relieved to face Madison Avenue and claim, as they have for many years in a row, TV’s top non-sports series.”

The shift happened even as Wednesday’s two-hour “Idol” slipped two-tenths of a ratings point from last week in the adults 18-49 demo, settling for a 4.6 average rating in the Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports. "The Voice" did not air Wednesday.

On the other networks Wednesday night, series lows and season lows continued, with both ABC and CBS taking multiple hits.

CBS’s “Survivor” slipped two-tenths of a point in 18-49 to a series-low 2.5 average, while “CSI” tied its series low with a 2.3, down one-tenth from its previous original episode. “Criminal Minds” was even with its previous original with a 3.0.

ABC returned to originals after airing mostly repeats a week ago, with “The Middle” slipping to a season-low 2.0, “Suburgatory” matching its season-low 2.0, “Modern Family” down one-tenth to a season-low 4.0 and “Revenge” equaling last week’s series low of 2.1. “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” broke the trend, rebounding by four-tenths from last week’s series low to a 2.4.

NBC saw a series low for “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” which earned a 1.3 in 18-49 for its 8 p.m. airing and improved slightly to a 1.4 at 8:30 p.m. “Rock Center” was up one-tenth to a 1.0 and “Law & Order: SVU” was up one-tenth to a 1.8.

Fox was an easy winner for the night overall, averaging a 4.6 rating in the 18-49 demo to outdistance CBS (2.6), ABC (2.4) and NBC (1.4). Total viewers was a similar story, with Fox way out front with 16.3 million to CBS’s 10.1 million, ABC’s 7.1 million and NBC’s 5.2 million.

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Autopsy in the Works for NFL Star Junior Seau

An autopsy was scheduled to be performed today on the body of Junior Seau, the NFL great who was found dead Wednesday in an apparent suicide, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Authorities confirmed that no foul play was suspected in the death of Seau, who was apparently the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. They also confirmed that his body was discovered by his girlfriend when she returned from the gym, the story reports.

The longtime San Diego Chargers linebacker’s death has rekindled the debate about concussions and brain damage among NFL players. The story reports: “Some observers saw similarities between the deaths of Seau and former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest last year. In a suicide note, Duerson had asked his family to donate his brain to the Boston University School of Medicine.

“Researchers from that school later determined that Duerson suffered from a neurodegenerative disease linked to concussions, and that the condition played a role in triggering his depression.”

There has been no indication of a suicide note in Seau’s case.

Seau’s mother, Luisa Seau, spoke Wednesday to onlookers and reporters gathered outside her son’s home in Oceanside, Calif. “I don’t understand, I don’t understand,” she said, crying as she grieved openly in front of cameras and microphones.

She said she was in church when she got the news of her son’s death, the Times reports. "I pray to God, 'Take me, take me, leave my son.' But it's too late,” she said.

"I appreciate everybody showing your love to my son,” Luisa Seau said. “Junior never do anything bad. I say to you: thank you and you guys for showing your love."

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Pepsi in Business With Michael Jackson Again

It's been years since Pepsi was in business with Michael Jackson, but the company has inked a deal with the estate of the late singer to use his image for Pepsi's new global marketing promotion, reports Entertainment Weekly.

The Jackson presence will be different from country to country, but will include commercials, download remixes of some of Jackson’s biggest hits and special-edition cans showing Michael's picture.

In the U.S. in the coming weeks, Pepsi will be selling collectible 16-ounce blue cans showing Jackson in a famous pose. By scanning the can's bar codes with their phones, consumers will be able to download remixed tracks from "Bad."

Pepsi first partnered with Jackson in 1983.

Next week the company will launch a TV ad with Nicki Minaj and will begin detailing its partnership with Twitter to stream concerts online.

Pepsi’s signature cola has lost ground in the past couple of years to market leader Coke, including being knocked out of the No. 2 spot by Diet Coke in U.S. sales.

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NBC Maps Out Multiplatform Kentucky Derby Strategy, Including 'Today' Show Tie-Ins

NBC has unveiled ambitious plans for its coverage of the 138th Kentucky Derby, including multiplatform programming, TVNewser reports.

The NBC Sports Group announced plans for 14 and a half hours of coverage, which started Wednesday afternoon on NBC Sports Network. The grand finale of the coverage will be the actual race on Saturday, May 5, starting at 4 p.m. ET on NBC.

Included in the coverage will be segments Friday on NBC News’ "Today" and Saturday on “Weekend Today,” with “Today’s” Jenna Wolfe reporting live from Churchill Downs. “Today’s” Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford helped kick off the coverage with a Kentucky Derby contest.

Bob Costas -- the host of the network’s Kentucky Derby broadcast -- will interview Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning on the day of the race, in advance of Manning’s appearance that night on "Saturday Night Live."

CNBC's Darren Rovell will file reports all day Friday from Churchill Downs, and other properties including Bravo, E!, Style, iVillage and DailyCandy.com will also be involved in the coverage, the story notes.

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Ashton Kutcher Ad Yanked Over Accusations of Racism

An advertisement featuring "Two and a Half Men" star Ashton Kutcher has been pulled off the Web after viewers called it racist, reports the New York Daily News.

The Popchips ad features Kutcher in brownface as a Bollywood producer called Raj who is "looking for love," while he also plays other characters such as a British stoner and a bearded Southerner.

A representative for Popchips said the ad, which was designed to parody dating site ads, was meant to "provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone."

A YouTube version of the ad, which TVWeek posted Wednesday on its Viral Video page, remains in place for now, and can be seen by clicking here.

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CNN Owner Time Warner Plans to Shake Things Up After Alarming Ratings Slide

Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes isn't happy about CNN's latest rating slide and is expecting his executives to make changes at the network, reports The New York Times.

That might translate into further programming changes at the cable network, which has been revamping its schedule since 2010, including adding Soledad O'Brien in the morning and Piers Morgan as its 9 p.m. host.

"Executives were hoping for an overall ratings lift, but have been disappointed," the story notes.

As previously reported, CNN's April ratings hit the network's lowest levels in more than a decade, with several shows including "Anderson Cooper 360" taking especially hard hits.

Jim Walton, who oversees all of CNN's networks, and his boss, Philip Kent, who runs Turner Broadcasting, have been under "intense pressure" to improve the network's ratings, The Times story notes.

In a statement quoted in the story, CNN responded to the latest ratings report by saying: “Despite the perennial ratings stories and quotes from anonymous sources, CNN continues to deliver quality journalism which is uniquely valuable to audiences, advertisers and distributors. In fact, CNN is on track to deliver its highest profits in its history and continues to reach more people on more platforms than any other TV network.”

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Amazon Moves Into Original TV Programming, Says It's Looking for Future 'Brandon Tartikoffs'

Amazon has taken the wraps off an initiative to move into original television programming to distribute over its streaming service, starting with comedy series and children's programming, reports Reuters.

The public will be able to submit ideas for TV series to Amazon Studios' website, the story says. The company plans to option one new project per month, adding each project to a development slate.

"People look for the next Brandon Tartikoff," said Amazon Studios director Roy Price, citing the famed NBC programming chief of the 1980s. "Our version of it is, we're not so much looking for the next Brandon Tartikoff but we're all Brandon Tartikoffs, not as individuals but collectively." Price's remarks were quoted in a version of the story in the Chicago Tribune, which originally appeared in Variety.

The push into TV is part of a bigger effort by Amazon to produce its own content, including e-books and video, the piece notes.

Amazon Studios debuted in 2010 and asks customers to review movie scripts and ideas online. It has 15 movie projects under development.

The television effort is led by Joe Lewis, who previously worked at 20th Century Fox and Comedy Central, and Tara Sorensen, who previously worked at National Geographic Kids.

If an idea gets distributed as a full-budget series, Amazon will give the creator $55,000 and up to 5% of Amazon's net receipts from toy and T-shirt licensing, as well as other royalties and bonuses, according to the story.

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Facebook Probe Finds Millions of Users Exposing Potentially Damaging Personal Information

A new investigation into Facebook privacy concerns reveals that millions of users are failing to use privacy controls and have exposed personal information that could be used against them, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The study by Consumer Reports “revealed that a projected 4.8 million people have posted about where they planned to go on a certain day, a potential tip-off to burglars, while 4.7 million have ‘liked’ a Facebook page about health conditions or treatments, details that insurers might use against them,” the story reports.

The study indicates almost 13 million Facebook users in the U.S. are unaware of or simply do not use the social network’s privacy controls, which means the information they post can be distributed beyond their network of Facebook friends. The report is being published in the June issue of Consumer Reports and on the publication’s website.

The WSJ story adds: “The Consumer Reports investigation focused on Facebook as it is the largest social network with just over 900 million users worldwide and more than 150 million users in the U.S. The service makes it easy for people to keep up with friends, family and colleagues, discover great content, and connect to causes. Consumer Reports notes that to deliver this service, Facebook and other social networks collect enormous amounts of often highly sensitive information and distribute it widely and quickly.”

Privacy issues appear to be on the rise, according to the study. WSJ reports: “A projected 7 million households using Facebook said they had trouble last year, ranging from someone using their log-in without permission to being harassed or threatened -- up 30% from the previous year, according to the Consumer Reports Annual State of the Net survey. And unless an individual has chosen their privacy settings meticulously, one of their friends who runs an app could grant it access to their information without their knowledge, including information that was set to ‘friends’ only view. Only 37% of users say they have used the site's privacy tools to customize how much information apps are allowed to see, according to the Consumer Reports survey.”

Consumer Reports Technology Editor Jeff Fox said: “Facebook really is changing the way the world socially communicates and has become a successful service in part by leveraging copious amounts of personal data that can be spread far wider than its users might realize. Our investigation revealed some fascinating, and some disquieting trends -- but ones always worth knowing for consumers who wish to keep their personal data under better control."

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TLC Orders Series Based on Controversial Special

TLC plans to launch a series later this month that is based on a special that drew complaints after it aired last summer, EW.com's Inside TV reports.

The controversial special "Tattoo School" tracked students in a two-week tattoo course, causing professionals in the tattoo industry to protest that it wasn't enough time to safely train tattoo artists, the story says.

The winner of the competition will receive a golden tattoo gun, the story says. The program is set to debut May 24 at 10 p.m.

One website commenting on the show had a post that said: “The industry should be in an uproar over this show because it jabs a knife right in the heart of the industry. [Two weeks of training] just isn’t safe or logical for anyone to pick up a machine,” the story reports.

The series is based at the World’s Only Tattoo School in Shreveport, La., with veteran tattoo teacher Bill Pogue instructing contestants. A press release on the show adds: “Each challenge will test a specific skill or technique that is required to become successful in the business. From sketching to inking human VIP clients, the students will be subjected to all aspects of tattoo artistry. Upon graduation, the student with the best final, original tattoo is gifted with a golden gun, which will last for their entire career.”

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Cable News Channel Will Move to New TV 'Neighborhood' After FCC Rules in Dispute; Will Decision Trigger a Mass Migration?

The Federal Communications Commission issued a ruling in a long-running dispute between two media companies that will change the channel lineup, TVNewser.com reports.

The panel ruled in favor of Bloomberg in its battle with Comcast, and as a result viewers should see Bloomberg TV move into a channel “neighborhood” that includes Fox News, CNN and CNBC in the next few weeks, the report says.

Bloomberg had argued that Comcast, as part of its deal to acquire NBC Universal, had promised to move "independent" news networks in the same "neighborhoods" as the major TV news channels.

The FCC ruled that Bloomberg TV must be placed near its financial news competitors such as CNBC, as well as general news channels, the story says.

Comcast said it "respectfully disagree(s)" with the decision and plans to file an immediate appeal.

The decision could unleash lawsuits from other independent programmers, which could argue that they also should be moved into neighborhoods with bigger networks, the story points out.

Still, the FCC's wording may limit the number of networks seeking similar treatment, since the agency defined "news channels" as those "whose programming during the hours from 6:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. is focused on reporting and analysis relating to public affairs or local affairs of general interest or relating to business," the piece says.

Bloomberg TV should become much easier for Comcast customers to find as a result of the decision, according to the story.

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'Buffy' Creator Joss Whedon -- Making the Rounds With His 'Avengers' Movie -- Reveals What Could Have Been If He Got the 'Batman' Movie Franchise Instead of Christopher Nolan

With the Joss Whedon-directed “The Avengers” setting up for Friday's high-profile rollout in U.S. theaters, the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator is getting a chance to spin his yarns from years in the business. During an interview with GQ, he revealed a good one about his swing at the “Batman” movie franchise, which eventually went instead to director Christopher Nolan.

Cinema Blend reports on the piece, saying: “Before Christopher Nolan completely transformed The Dark Knight's role in popular culture, Whedon had a meeting with Warner Bros. for his own take on the character -- and ... it wasn't just different from Nolan's story, but inherently Whedon-esque in the way it handled the character's motivation. In short, it made billionaire Bruce Wayne something of an outcast.”

According to the GQ piece: “There was a lot more, in Whedon's take, about the orphaned Bruce Wayne as a morbid, death-obsessed kid. There was a scene -- Whedon used to well up, just thinking about it -- where young Bruce tries to protect this girl from being bullied in an alley, an alley like the one his parents were murdered in.”

Says Whedon, in GQ: "And he's like this tiny 12-year-old who's about to get the shit kicked out of him. And then it cuts to Wayne Manor, and Alfred is running like something terrible has happened, and he finds Bruce, and he's back from the fight, and he's completely fine. And Bruce is like, 'I stopped them. I can stop them.' That was the moment for me. When he goes 'Oh, wait a minute; I can actually do something about this.' The moment he gets that purpose, instead of just sort of being overwhelmed by the grief of his parents' death."

Warner Bros. rejected Whedon’s version of the story, going instead with Nolan’s vision for Batman.

Cinema Blend reports: “Whedon was so invested in it that he was devastated -- and that was even before he got the call, the same day, telling him that ‘Firefly’ was canceled. One of the many reasons Whedon has developed such a devoted fanbase is because of his successes combined with his failures -- the notion that he was out there struggling just like we were, and even being a brilliant writer and the creator of something as successful as ‘Buffy’ didn't guarantee anything.”

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Departing 'Smash' Showrunner Taking a Break From Television

The departing "Smash" showrunner tells New York Magazine's Vulture blog that she's leaving the NBC show because she's "moving on" to projects outside of television.

Theresa Rebeck explained her departure by saying: "I have other things to do. I feel like it is what it is and I’m really proud of the work I did, and it was time to do some other stuff. I owe Random House a novel and I was really excited about finishing that for them, and I am also going to the O’Neil with a new play this summer. So I just have a lot of things on a plate."

She added that she would like to return to television at some point.

As previously reported, NBC renewed "Smash" for a second season, but brought on "Gossip Girl" executive producer Josh Safran to replace Rebeck as showrunner.

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Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner Raising $800 Million to Start Production Company

Former Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner is trying to raise $800 million for a new television and film production company, reports CNBC.com.

JP Morgan is leading the effort to raise $400 million in equity and $400 million in debt financing, the story notes.

Eisner's goal is to produce two to three scripted television shows per year, along with four to five films. Since leaving Disney in 2005, Eisner has been focused on digital content through Tornante, although he hasn't re-entered the TV or film business since his Disney career, the story says.

Eisner is expected to invest $20 million of his own funds in the new company.

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News Corp. Board Responds to U.K. Panel's Attack on Rupert Murdoch

News Corp.'s board responded to a British parliamentary panel’s criticism of Rupert Murdoch, the company’s CEO, by throwing its support behind Murdoch after the U.K. panel said Murdoch is unfit to run a global company, Bloomberg reports.

The board "announced its full confidence in Rupert Murdoch’s fitness and support for his continuing to lead,” News Corp. directors said in a statement. "The board based its vote of confidence on Rupert Murdoch’s vision and leadership in building News Corporation, his ongoing performance as chairman and CEO, and his demonstrated resolve to address the mistakes of the company identified in the Select Committee’s report.”

As previously reported, the British report was critical of Murdoch and his son James in News Corp.'s phone-hacking scandal, finding that Rupert Murdoch "did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking" and "turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications."

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'The Voice' Meets 'The Bachelor' in New Fox Series

Fox will debut a dating competition that includes elements of NBC's "The Voice" and ABC's "The Bachelor," reports TVLine.com.

“The Choice,” which debuts June 7, starts with a "blind round" in which four celebrity bachelors sit in rotating chairs, similar to "The Voice." If any of the celebrities likes what he hears, he pulls a "love handle" and spins around to face his potential match, the story says.

After that round, the teams enter the "speed choice" round, where each woman must convince her bachelor within a few seconds to sweep her off her feet, the story says. The final round will have host Cat Deeley pose a question to each of the team's final two, with the bachelors deciding between each of the two remaining eligible women, the story says.

The show’s initial run is set for six episodes.

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ABC Entertainment Boss Staying Put, Despite Speculation He's Headed to BBC

The president of the ABC Entertainment Group, who became the subject of speculation after a report out of London gave the impression he might jump to the BBC, is staying put, Deadline.com reports.

Paul Lee, who was born in the U.K., reportedly isn't interested in stepping in as director general of the BBC, a position that will soon become vacant, the story says, citing sources at ABC.

The overture to Lee was one-way from the BBC, and he's under contract to ABC and has no interest in leaving, the story says. Lee was approached because he's British, the piece adds. Nonetheless, the original report generated buzz about the possibility that Lee might be on the move.

Lee and his executives are deep in screening pilots, given that ABC's upfront presentation is just two weeks away. It would be poor timing for Lee to leave, especially considering that he has been in his current ABC role for less than two years and his first development season delivered more than its share of hits -- including shows such as "Once Upon a Time" and "Revenge," the piece points out.

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Former NFL Great Dead in Apparent Suicide

A former NFL standout who retired from pro football in 2010 has been found dead in an apparent suicide, the Los Angeles Times reports. Junior Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl selection and a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, was 43.

Seau was found dead today in the bedroom of his beachside home in Oceanside, Calif., the victim of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. Reports differed on who found him, with some indicating it was his girlfriend and others saying it was a housekeeper.

The star linebacker played the bulk of his NFL career -- 13 seasons -- with the San Diego Chargers after a collegiate career at the University of Southern California. He spent the later years of his pro career with the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.

The Times report notes: “In 2010, Seau was involved in a crash near his home when the sport-utility vehicle he was driving went over a beachside cliff. The accident occurred after he was arrested in Oceanside on suspicion of domestic violence.” Seau reportedly said he fell asleep at the wheel in that incident, although some observers suspected it was a suicide attempt.

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood said of Seau: "He was a local hero -- he certainly gave back to the community and to the youth through his Junior Seau Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Authorities did not immediately provide additional details about Seau’s death, as investigators remained on the scene at his residence.

junior-seau.jpgJunior Seau

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NBC's Tuesday Reality Lineup Fades -- But ABC Fares Even Worse

NBC’s reality lineup was mostly down as May sweeps continued Tuesday night, with the season finale of “The Biggest Loser” off 30% in Nielsen overnights from the season finale a year ago to a 2.1 average rating in the key 18-49 demo, the lowest-rated season finale in series history, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

NBC’s “The Voice” was the night’s highest-rated show in 18-49 even while plunging three-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 3.1 in adults 18-49, while the network’s low-rated 10 p.m. show “Fashion Star” was steady with a 1.5.

The combination was good enough to put NBC in second place overall for the night, while CBS came in at No. 1 on the strength of its “NCIS” franchise. “NCIS” was even with its previous original episode with a 3.0 in 18-49, while “NCIS: Los Angeles” surged 25% for an episode featuring a “Hawaii Five-0” crossover, also averaging a 3.0 rating. At 10 p.m., “Unforgettable” matched its series low with a 1.8.

The prime-time picture was bleak at ABC, where “Last Man Standing,” “Cougar Town” and “Dancing with the Stars” all equaled or surpassed their series lows. “Standing” sank two-tenths of a ratings point from its previous original to a series-low 1.4 in 18-49; “Cougar Town” dipped two-tenths from last week to a series-low 1.3; and “Dancing” matched its series-low 2.3. “Private Practice” was also down, slipping one-tenth from last week to a 2.1.

Fox joined the downtrend, with “Glee” off 11% and three-tenths of a ratings point from last week to a 2.4 in the 18-49 demo and “New Girl” falling a hefty five-tenths and 19% to a 2.1.

For prime time overall, CBS wound up on top with a 2.6 average in 18-49, followed by NBC (2.3), Fox (2.1) and ABC (1.9). In total viewers, CBS was well out front with an average of 14.3 million to ABC’s 8.9 million, NBC’s 6.7 million and Fox’s 4.8 million.

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'Glee' Star Passes Out on Red Carpet

One of the stars of Fox's "Glee" passed out on the red carpet at a TV Academy event in Hollywood last night, reports E! News.

Singer-actress Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes on the show, is fine now, and explained that after a full day of work and then walking into the event and being assaulted by the cameras, she was overcome.

She tweeted about the incident, saying, "Hey guys, I'm okay :) I got a little dizzy from all the photog flashes! You'd think I'd be used to it by now, still a red carpet amateur I guess. Gonna get checked out but I feel fine. Thank you for all the concern and well wishes."

At the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood, "Glee" cast members participated in a panel discussion for Emmy voters about the show. Riley recovered from the red carpet incident and took part in the discussion.

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Original 'CSI' Cast Member Will Stay Put

One of the mainstays of CBS's crime procedural "CSI" has signed a new one-year deal to remain on the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. George Eads, who has been on the show since its debut in 2000, will return for season 13.

Eads plays veteran crime scene investigator Nick Stokes. Paul Guilfoyle and Eric Szmanda are the other main cast members who have been on the show since the beginning.

CBS announced in March that "CSI" would be back for a 13th season, with Ted Danson now heading up the show. He took over for Laurence Fishburne, who had taken over for series original William Petersen.

Elisabeth Shue is also on board now, having taken the spot previously held down by Marg Helgenberger.

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Producers to Pull Plug on Drama Series -- Which Aired on CBS and ION -- After Upcoming Season

The producers of a drama series that has aired on CBS and ION have revealed plans to wrap up the series after the upcoming season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series is "Flashpoint," a Canadian import that CBS has used as a midseason replacement and summer series.

The show, in which CBS is a production partner, will wrap after the upcoming fifth season, with the final 13 episodes to conclude filming in Toronto in June.

In a statement, Anne Marie La Traverse and Bill Mustos of Pink Sky Entertainment and Avamar Entertainment said: “While the series is still at its creative apex, we’ve decided to end the series on a high note, and give those fans the satisfaction of a fitting series conclusion in our 75th episode.”

"Flashpoint" premiered July 11, 2008, simulcast on CBS and CTV, doing well in the ratings in both countries. In a syndication deal made after season three, all episodes of "Flashpoint" began airing on ION.

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New Corporate Name for Venue that Hosts the Oscars

The Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland -- the site of the annual Academy Awards ceremony -- has been officially renamed the Dolby Theater, reports Reuters.

The theater will continue to host the Academy Awards. Dolby Laboratories announced Tuesday that it had purchased the naming rights for the 3,400-seat theater. The deal will last through 2033.

In a statement, Academy President Tom Sherak said, "The Academy's Board of Governors believes that the home for our awards is in Hollywood."

The CIM group, which owns the theater and the rest of the complex, said it had signed a 20-year contract with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to keep the Oscars at the theater.

The annual Oscars telecast is the second-most-watched television broadcast each year, behind the Super Bowl, with this year’s Academy Awards being watched by 39 million viewers, the report notes.

Terms of the Dolby deal were not disclosed.

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HBO's Bad Bet on the Horses Proves Costly

Having had to cancel the horse-racing drama "Luck" because of issues with the animals is carrying a hefty price tag for HBO -- to the tune of $35 million, reports TheWrap.com.

The Dustin Hoffman-Nick Nolte gambling show was hailed by critics, but was plagued by issues involving the safety of horses involved in the show -- with three of the animals dying during production. HBO pulled the plug on the program in March in part to protect the network's reputation.

According to an earnings report issued today by Time Warner, the $35 million loss includes the costs of producing and promoting the series -- expenses that could not be recovered. Time Warner spokesman Keith Cocozza blamed the early cancellation of the show for the loss.

He told the website, "We shut down the show before we could make any money on what was spent."

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'Two and a Half Men' Co-Showrunner Steps Down After Getting Embroiled in Controversy

One of the co-showrunners of the hit CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men" is stepping down, Deadline.com reports.

Lee Aronsohn, who co-created the program with Chuck Lorre, will be replaced by comedy veterans Don Reo and Jim Patterson, who have worked as executive producers on the show this season, the story reports.

While Aronsohn stayed out of the Charlie Sheen headlines, he caused a controversy of his own earlier this year after he made some comments about the number of female-focused comedies on air. As previously reported, Aronsohn suggested there are too many of the shows, saying, "Enough, ladies. I get it. You have periods," among other comments.

Patterson, who has worked on "Men" since season 2, and Reo, who previously co-created and ran ABC's "My Wife and Kids," will serve as co-showrunners alongside Lorre, the story says.

Aronsohn, who has been co-running the series with Lorre for nine seasons, will stay on as an executive consultant, the story notes.

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News Anchor Famous for On-Air Expletive Has Another 'Didn't Know the Mike Was On' Moment

A news anchor who grabbed headlines in 2008 when she used the word "fuck" on live television had another “didn’t know the microphone was on” moment, the New York Post reports.

Sue Simmons, the legendary New York anchor for WNBC-TV, was caught by a hot mike just before Monday's 11 o'clock news, when viewers heard her say, "The ball took a bad hop and it hit me in my breast!," the story says.

Her co-anchor Chuck Scarborough was apparently shocked and asked, "Are we on?," the piece notes.

WNBC has said it won't pick up Simmons' contract when it expires this summer, with the anchor set to leave in June. In 2008, Simmons was also unaware that her mike was on when she asked Scarborough, "What the fuck are you doing?"

Here's a clip ...

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Why HBO Decided to Drop High-Profile Project With Stellar Cast Attached

Even with one of the strongest casts in recent memory to be assembled for a TV project, HBO has decided not to go ahead with an adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's novel "The Corrections," Deadline.com reports.

The project from Scott Rudin and Noah Baumbach had lined up a star-studded cast, including Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest, Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rhys Ifans.

But executives were concerned about adapting the novel's challenging narrative, the story says. The book's frequent time shifts work in the novel, but HBO execs reportedly thought the format would create problems for viewers trying to follow the action over he course of a series.

The project was the latest attempt to bring “The Corrections” to the screen, which has been the subject of failed film efforts for the past 10 years, the story notes.

The decision apparently isn’t about money, as the cancellation of “Luck” recently freed up resources, the story reports. The Dustin Hoffman horse racing series was plagued by problems, including the on-set deaths of a number of horses, as reported earlier.

The timing of the “Corrections” decision is interesting, coming just after HBO picked up the high-concept Woody Harrelson-Matthew McConaughey cop show “True Detective,” as we reported this week. But the story reports that the two decisions are unrelated.

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Entertainment Mag Renewed for Three Years -- Even as Layoffs, Pay Cuts and the Director's Impending Departure Cloud the Picture

Even as layoffs, pay cuts and the upcoming departure of the show’s director plague the production, the long-running syndicated entertainment magazine "Access Hollywood" has been renewed for at least three more seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The companion show "Access Hollywood Live" has been renewed for at least one more season.

Employees are upset, however, about pay cuts, which are affecting most of the show's staff, the story says.

Pay will be cut from 10% to 20% per employee, with the cuts following the layoffs of 14 full-time and part-time staffers, which we reported last month.

Director Kim Anastasia will be leaving the show after the May sweeps period, in what the article calls a voluntary decision.

Comcast's NBCUniversal, which owns the show, wouldn't comment on the pay cuts, the possibility of additional layoffs or other business issues, the story says. A spokesperson for the show said only: “’Access Hollywood’ made staffing adjustments that make sense for our business and position us well for the future.”

According to a source at the show, the pay cuts are not driven by orders from Comcast, but reflect a broader move toward cost-efficiency not only at “Access” but in the entertainment magazine segment as a whole. The segment has struggled to retain viewers in recent years, the story notes. “Access” has been on the air for 15 seasons.

Most of the recent layoffs at “Access Hollywood” reportedly were in the research department.

The story adds: “More adjustments could be ahead for some on-air talent, although it is unclear when that may happen. Sources say it is unlikely host Billy Bush will have his salary cut.”

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CNN Ratings Sink to Lowest Level in More Than 10 Years

CNN's April ratings hit the network's lowest levels in more than a decade, with the show "Anderson Cooper 360" especially hard-hit, reports the Los Angeles Times' Show Tracker.

Ratings for "360" slid 26% compared with the same period a year earlier, with only 522,000 total viewers tuning in on average, the story notes. CNN's total-day viewership slumped 21% to 357,000 viewers, the worst performance for CNN since August 2001.

The cable news leader continues to be Fox News, which was up 2% with a total-day average of 1.1 million, well ahead of second-place MSNBC, which was even with 425,000.

Asked for comment, a CNN representative said, "News ratings are cyclical," the story notes.

Other CNN shows were also hit, with "Starting Point" down 26%, "Erin Burnett Outfront" down 22% and "John King USA" down 24%.

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Tyler Perry's Studio Hit by Massive Fire

Tyler Perry's Atlanta studio was hit by a massive fire Tuesday night, CNN reports. Officials didn’t know yet what started the blaze, which caused one building to partially collapse.

No one was injured in the fire, the story says.

The 60-acre complex includes five sound stages, a five-acre pond, a theater, a chapel, an art department, wardrobe, hair and makeup facilities, and a post-production facility, among other structures, the story says.

The fire was extinguished within an hour, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Perry spoke with the fire chief but didn't talk with reporters, while employees were told they weren't to speak to reporters, the piece notes. The studio is known for tight security and strict confidentiality agreements.

Aside from his films, including “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and “Why Did I Get Married?,” Perry has created successful television shows including "Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns."

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'Walking Dead' Actors Head to Frank Darabont's 'L.A. Noir'

Two "Walking Dead" actors are joining the cast of Frank Darabont's new project, the crime drama "L.A. Noir," reports TVGuide.com.

The actors are Jeffrey DeMunn and Andrew Rothenberg, whose characters both died during the first two seasons of "Walking Dead," the story notes. DeMunn played Dale, who died at the end of the second season, while Rothenberg's character Jim died at the end of the first season.

In TNT's "L.A. Noir," DeMunn will play Hal Morrison, the detective who heads up the Los Angeles Police Department's mob squad, while Rothenberg will guest-star as a member of Hal's team, the story says.

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CBS Corp. Reports Strongest First-Quarter Gains Since Viacom Spinoff

CBS Corp. reported its strongest first-quarter gains since the company was spun off from Viacom six years ago, The New York Times reports.

CBS's first-quarter profit was $363 million, an increase of 80% from its year-earlier profit of $202 million, the story says. Per-share earnings were 54 cents, exceeding the 44 cents expected by Wall Street analysts, the piece adds.

The earnings foreshadow a "record 2012" for CBS, said Chief Executive Leslie Moonves. The company will present its 2012-13 television schedule to advertisers May 14 at its upfront presentation.

"We led the upfront last year, and we guarantee we will lead it again this year,” Moonves said on a conference call.

The gains reflect new revenue from syndication, online streaming and subscription fees, the story notes.

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'Community' Producer Signs Two-Year Pact With Universal TV

"Community" co-executive producer Chris McKenna has signed a two-year overall deal with Universal Television, reports Deadline.com.

Under the deal, he will develop and supervise new and existing projects for the studio, the story says. McKenna spent the past three seasons with "Community."

He started off as a staff writer on Fox's "American Dad," where he became supervising producer before moving to "Community."

Universal TV has been strengthening its talent roster, the story adds.

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'Parks and Recreation' to Supersize Final Episodes for Online Viewers

NBC's "Parks and Recreation" will supersize its last two episodes for online viewers, reports EW.com's Inside TV.

The show used the strategy last week for its episode "The Debate," which was written and directed by star Amy Poehler, adding five minutes to the program.

The supersized May 3 and May 10 episodes -- “Bus Tour” and “Win, Lose or Draw,” respectively -- will be available on NBC.com.

Also, Paul Rudd will return to play Leslie Knope's (Poehler) dim-witted opponent Bobby Newport.

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Fox Delays New Gordon Ramsay Show for Second Time, as Two Other Ramsay Series Get Shuffled

A new reality show from television chef Gordon Ramsay has been pushed back by Fox for a second time, reports Deadline.com.

"Hotel Hell" was originally scheduled to debut April 6, but that was pushed back to June 4, the story says. Now the reality show has been pushed back again.

The show is now set to debut in late summer, the story says, with the date still to be determined.

Meanwhile, two other Ramsay shows are also being juggled. “Hell’s Kitchen,” which was originally set for a May 29 premiere for its 10th season, will now premiere June 4. The show is being paired with “MasterChef,” which will also premiere June 4.

“Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef” will both air on Mondays and Tuesdays, the story reports.

Fox also airs Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares.”

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NBC Close to Order for Comedy Series From 'Glee' Creator

NBC is close to ordering to series a comedy project from one of the creators behind “Glee” and "American Horror Story,” reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine's Vulture blog.

NBC chief Bob Greenblatt has given the go-ahead for Ryan Murphy -- whose credits also include “Popular” and “Nip/Tuck” -- and co-creator Ali Adler to start hiring writers for the project, the story says.

"The New Normal" is about a gay couple who start a family with a surrogate. NBC reportedly won the project after a bidding war with Fox and ABC.

Greenblatt is reportedly considering debuting the project in August, after NBC's broadcast of the Summer Olympics, the piece says. Other shows that could get a jump on the fall are Matthew Perry's comedy "Go On" and the returning supernatural crime drama "Grimm."

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One of NBC's Strongest Shows Falls to Historic Low

A show that has been one of the few bright spots for NBC during a season of relentless ratings challenges suffered a setback Monday night.

The network’s singing competition “The Voice” slipped 8% from a week ago in the key 18-49 demo, hitting a new series low for a performance episode with a 3.5 average rating in Nielsen overnights, TVbytheNumbers.com reports.

The ratings dip for “The Voice,” combined with upticks by much of the CBS comedy lineup, gave CBS its first overall Monday night win since the season premiere of “The Voice,” the report notes.

CBS saw improvement over the previous original episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” (up one-tenth of a ratings point to a 3.2 in 18-49), “2 Broke Girls” (3.5 average, up one-tenth) and “Mike & Molly” (3.2, up one-tenth). “Two and a Half Men” slipped one-tenth but was still the night’s top-rated show, averaging a 3.7.

Echoing NBC’s problems in the song-and-dance arena, ABC’s reality stalwart “Dancing with the Stars” also had a rough night, dropping a hefty 16% to a 2.7 average rating in 18-49, a series low for a performance show.

Fox had its own challenges, with “Bones” down three-tenths from a week ago to a season-low 2.7 in 18-49 while “House” fell two-tenths to a 2.1.

When the dust settled, CBS had a 3.1 average rating for the night in adults 18-49, beating NBC (2.9 average), ABC (2.6) and Fox (2.0). In total viewers it was ABC winning the night with 14.4 million to 10.0 million for CBS, 8.1 million for NBC and 6.8 million for Fox.

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'Two and a Half Men' Close to Finalizing Deals to Bring Stars Back for Season 10 -- But What Happens After That?

The agreements are close to being worked out to bring Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones back for a 10th season of CBS's hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men," reports Deadline.com. It will be Kutcher's second season since taking over for Charlie Sheen.

The report says the salaries will remain the same for the three stars -- $700,000 per episode for Kutcher and $300,000 per episode for Jones, with Cryer somewhere in between, but closer to Kutcher. All three will also receive bonuses for re-signing.

CBS is also working out a new licensing deal with producer Warner Bros. TV, which is expected to be wrapped up in time for the May 16 CBS upfront. But even assuming all the deals get done, season 10 could be the show’s last.

Chuck Lorre -- the series co-creator and showrunner -- has indicated that he wants to end the series after 10 seasons.

While nothing has been decided beyond season 10 -- and technically, season 10 isn't firmed up yet either -- the series is a key component of a broader strategy by CBS to lock in solid comedy blocks on Monday and Thursday nights, the story notes.

The four anchors needed for the two blocks -- the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. shows -- would be “Men,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “2 Broke Girls.”

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TLC Renews Series for Third Season

TLC has announced the renewal of one of its series for a third season, Deadline.com reports. The cable channel ordered 16 new episodes of “Long Island Medium.”

The series chronicles the life of Theresa Caputo, a New York psychic. The show spotlights Caputo’s life on Long Island, where she balances her family life with her special gifts for contacting the dead.

"Long Island Medium" has performed well since its Sept. 25, 2011, debut. The second season, which bowed March 25, is averaging 1.9 million total viewers, the story notes.

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'Illya Kuryakin' Signs Up for More 'NCIS'

The actor who made his name in U.S. television playing Illya Kuryakin in the 1960s spy series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” has signed up to remain on “NCIS” for two more years. David McCallum will stay with the top-ranked CBS drama in his role as medical examiner Donald "Ducky" Mallard, Deadline.com reports.

The Scottish-born McCallum is one of the original four original “NCIS” cast members whose contracts were due to be up at the end of this season, along with Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette and Sean Murray, who joined “NCIS” during season one.

When the contracts for all four came up two years ago, McCallum was the first to sign, as he was again this year, the story notes. Last time around, negotiations with the other three actors dragged into June -- and there’s some sign it could happen again, the piece reports.

Since the iconic 1964-1968 NBC series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” where McCallum played Kuryakin opposite Robert Vaughn’s Napoleon Solo, McCallum has kept busy with series work including “Colditz” (1972-1974), “The Invisible Man” (1975-1976), “Sapphire & Steel” (1979-1982) and “The Replacements” (2006-2009). He has been a regular on “NCIS” since 2003.

“NCIS” was recently renewed for a 10th season.

Robert-Vaughn-David-McCallum-Man-from-UNCLE.jpgDavid McCallum, right, with Robert Vaughn in ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

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NBC the Big Winner at Sports Emmys

NBC Sports Group was the big winner at the 33rd Annual Sports Emmy Awards, presented Monday night by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

The group -- which includes NBC, Versus (now NBC Sports Network), Golf Channel and nbcsports.com -- took home a total of nine awards, including outstanding live sports series for “NBC Sunday Night Football,” outstanding playoff coverage for “NBC NFL Wildcard Saturday,” outstanding studio host for Bob Costas, outstanding sports event analyst for Cris Collinsworth and outstanding sports reporter for Michele Tafoya.

The ESPN and ABC Sports group racked up six awards, highlighted by a number of honors for “Outside the Lines,” which airs on both ESPN and ESPN2. The group was honored for outstanding edited sports special for ESPN2’s “Outside the Lines,” outstanding long feature for ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and outstanding short feature for both ESPN2’s “E: 60” and ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

The Turner Sports group, including TNT, TBS, NBA TV, NBA.com and truTV, brought home five awards, matching Fox Sports Media Group, which includes Fox and Speed. Close behind was CBS Sports (CBS, Showtime and CBSSports.com) with four trophies, followed by HBO Sports and MLB Network with three apiece, NFL Network with two and PGA.com with one award.

Among the other highlights: Fox won outstanding live sports special for the World Series; Speed won outstanding live event turnaround for “Inside the Headsets”; Showtime took home outstanding sports documentary for “A Game of Honor” and outstanding edited sports series/anthology for “The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants”; TNT snagged the award for outstanding weekly studio show for “Inside the NBA on TNT”; MLB Network won outstanding daily studio show for “MLB Tonight”; and HBO took the trophy for outstanding sports journalism for “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

Sports commentator and essayist Jack Whitaker was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Gershwin Productions, Irish Love Story Lead List of Tony Nominations

The nominations for the 2012 Tony Awards, announced today, find some familiar names in the elite group, with two productions based on the music of George and Ira Gershwin among the most nominated productions.

“The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and “Nice Work If You Can Get It” -- a revue built around Gershwins music -- each received 10 nominations to rank near the top. But the most nominated musical was “Once,” with 11 nods. "Once" is the Broadway version of the Oscar-winning film about two Irish singers who fall in love.

Other heavily nominated productions include “Peter and the Starcatcher” with nine nods and “Follies” and “Newsies” with eight each.

Alongside the stars of stage, familiar film and TV stars Stockard Channing, Linda Lavin and Cynthia Nixon were nominated in the race for Best Actress in a Play. Among the Best Actor in a Play nominees are Philip Seymour Hoffman, Frank Langella, James Earl Jones and John Lithgow.

Overlooked in the nominations were some other big stars, however, including Matthew Broderick, Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

Click here to see the full list of nominees.

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Woody Harrelson Lands His First Regular TV Role Since 'Cheers'

Woody Harrelson is set to return to series television in his first regular role since he left the NBC comedy stalwart “Cheers” way back in 1993.

HBO picked up Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey’s police show “True Detective,” Deadline.com reports. The pay-cable network reportedly won a bidding war over the project, landing the show with a straight-to-series order for eight episodes.

Harrelson and McConaughey will play two detectives who hunt for a Louisiana serial killer over a span of 17 years.

The closest Harrelson has come to a regular series role since the "Cheers" days was a seven-episode guest arc on "Will & Grace" in 2001. As for McConaughey, other than a brief guest turn on "Eastbound & Down," his career has been almost entirely in feature films -- including "Contact," "The Wedding Planner" and his breakout role in "Dazed and Confused."

HBO is finalizing its order for the show, which will feature multiple perspectives and time frames, the piece notes. The case is expected to play out during the span of one season, with subsequent seasons, if they’re ordered, presenting new cases in a similar structure.

Cary Fukunaga (“Jane Eyre”) is reportedly lined up to direct the entire run of the show.

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TV and Film Composer Dies -- His Work Included Music for 'Star Trek,' 'Stargate'

A composer with a long string of film and TV credits -- who was also the son of a legendary composer -- has died, Deadline.com reports.

"Stargate" and "Star Trek" composer Joel Goldsmith died from cancer at 54, the story reports.

Goldsmith composed music for more than 330 episodes of the "Stargate" franchise, earning three Emmy nominations -- for an episode of "Stargate SG-1," for the "Stargate Atlantis" theme and for an episode of that show, the story notes.

He was the son of composer Jerry Goldsmith, who earned an Academy Award in 1977 for his score of "The Omen." Jerry Goldsmith, who died in 2004, was one of the most nominated composers in the history of the awards, receiving 18 Oscar nominations.

Joel Goldsmith also wrote for films, including 1996's "Star Trek: First Contact," on which he worked with his father and contributed more than 20 minutes of his own compositions, the story notes.

Joel_Goldsmith.jpgJoel Goldsmith

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ABC Weighing Options for Next Season -- Including Bringing Back Veteran Drama for a 13-Episode Final Run

A veteran ABC drama may receive an order for a final sixth season, with the network contemplating ordering 13 episodes of the bubble show “Private Practice,” Deadline.com reports.

The "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff was helped by stronger ratings in its new time period on Tuesdays at 10 p.m., with a 29% jump among adults 18-49 compared with its season premiere, the story says.

The network is focusing on a 13-episode order, with star Kate Walsh committed to working on 13 additional episodes, the story says -- but an order for 18 or even 22 episodes hasn’t been ruled out.

If "Private Practice" is renewed, creator Shonda Rhimes might see four of her series on television next season, given the strength of her new drama "Scandal" and the period drama "Gilded Lilys," which is in consideration for a series pickup, the piece notes.

ABC, which is also weighing the fate of bubble shows “Body of Proof” and “GCB,” is said to be waiting until it screens all of its pilots before making the tough decisions. Pilot screenings start today.

The report notes: “Complicating renewal plans on bubble shows is the fact that going into the screenings ... virtually all pilots are still alive, giving the network a lot more options to consider for next season.”

As the network’s only straight procedural, “Body of Proof” may be in a precarious position, the story notes. “’Body Of Proof’ is a money maker as it sells well oversees but the question is whether ABC wants to keep a lone straight procedural on the schedule,” the report says. “The network’s slate of pilots for next season is dominated by soaps/serialized dramas and doesn’t include a single straight procedural.”

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Ryan Seacrest Assembling a Media Empire, Including New Deal With NBC -- His Rise Is Drawing Comparisons to a Legendary TV Personality

Ryan Seacrest has signed a new contract with NBCUniversal that locks in his role as part of NBC’s “Today” show, Olympics telecasts, election coverage and special events -- and that’s just a part of his media empire, The New York Times reports.

Seacrest’s most high-profile gig remains his position as host of “American Idol” for Fox, where he recently signed on for two more years. He also hosts Clear Channel radio shows and is on track to be the new Dick Clark on ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” specials.

The story finds other parallels between Seacrest and Clark. “Already Mr. Seacrest makes well more than $50 million a year from his current jobs, but his busy days are increasingly about businesses behind the scenes, as he tries to do what Mr. Clark did decades ago: build an entertainment empire,” the story reports. Clark died last month at 82, as previously reported.

The report adds: “The exact shape his holding company, Ryan Seacrest Media, will eventually take is unclear to many in the media industry and may even be unclear to Mr. Seacrest, 37, who declined an interview request for this article last week. But he appears to be placing several important bets -- a few on broadcasting, a couple on cable, a couple on the Web.”

Richard J. Bressler, a managing director of the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, which owns part of Clear Channel, said: “He wants to build a major worldwide lifestyle brand with TV production as just one part of that empire.”

Added Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman: “Ryan’s a rare breed: a great creative talent but also a very good business person.”

Seacrest’s company has been producing its own television shows for some time now. “The misses, like ‘Momma’s Boys’ on NBC, have been mostly forgotten, but the hits, like ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ on E!, have persuaded channels like Bravo and CMT to buy its shows,” the story reports. “On Monday E! announced it had ordered another, a reality show starring Kevin Jonas, of the Jonas Brothers, and his wife, Danielle Deleasa.”

The report notes: “In this way Mr. Seacrest may be modeling himself on Mr. Clark, who once said he made money from his ‘American Bandstand’ ‘horizontally, vertically, every which way you can think of.’”

Seacrest’s production company is also behind Bravo’s “Shahs of Sunset,” which premiered in March and has recently been renewed.

The article reports: “Clear Channel is expected to announce that Mr. Seacrest’s $20-million-a-year deal there has been extended two more years, through 2015, at a value of more than $25 million each year.”

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17-Year-Old Charged With Stealing TV Chef's $200,000 Lamborghini

A teenage boy has been charged with stealing a television chef’s $200,000 Lamborghini, reports the New York Post.

The name of the 17-year-old boy wasn't released because he's a minor, the story notes. The bright yellow sports car belonging to TV chef Guy Fieri was stolen in March 2011 from a luxury-car dealership, which was storing the vehicle. Fieri hosts Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

The car was found during a shooting when a motorcyclist fired two shots into a parked car, leading to a search for the motorcycle, the story says. Instead, the police found a storage locker where they found the stolen sports car.

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Judge Comes Down Hard on One Side in Dick Clark Productions' Golden Globes Lawsuit

A federal judge has issued his ruling in the Golden Globes lawsuit, coming down hard on one side in the dispute between Dick Clark Productions and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Dick Clark Productions will remain the producer of the annual Golden Globes telecast after prevailing in the case, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Hollywood, Esq.

Judge Howard Matz issued the decision Monday, and he had harsh words for the HFPA. Matz said the case shouldn't have come to trial because the HFPA had negotiated a deal long ago giving Dick Clark Productions broad rights to produce the program as long as it aired on NBC, the story says.

The deal gave Dick Clark Productions such broad rights because it was negotiated in the early 1980s, when the Golden Globes were in disarray, the story says. "HFPA suffered from the absence of sound, business-like practices," Matz wrote in his decision, the storys says.

The Golden Globes will continue to air on NBC, which has an agreement to carry the show through 2018, the story says. That deal was negotiated with Dick Clark Productions without the apparent knowledge of the HFPA, which led to the lawsuit, the piece notes.

The judge's decision portrays the HFPA as suffering from confused, dysfunctional business practices, while Dick Clark Productions was "represented by one experienced executive who was adept at dealing fairly and effectively with the often amateurish conduct of HFPA," according to the ruling.

The report notes: “The ruling points to testimony by Dick Clark executive Fran LaMania that is said to be compelling in that it proves the rights were handed over for as long as there was a network deal with NBC. ‘The sequence of events that everyone understands is you execute an amendment with us that says we extend Dick Clark for as long as necessary to fulfill the NBC deal,’ the ruling quotes LaMania as saying. ‘The minute that’s signed, I sign an NBC contract, and we’re finished.’”

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HBO Renews Comedy Series

HBO has made a quick decision to bring back two comedy series, The New York Times’ Bill Carter reports. The decision comes after "Girls" and "Veep" have aired only three and two episodes, respectively.

"Neither comedy has piled up big audiences in its first presentations on Sunday nights, which has led some competitors to question how popular the comedies are," Carter writes. "But for HBO what matters (besides the media chatter) is how many viewers accumulate over many plays on various HBO channels and on-demand orders."

Both shows have averaged about 3.7 million total viewers for their first episodes, compared with HBO's popular drama "Game of Thrones," which is averaging about 11 million viewers.

"Girls" has been widely praised for its depiction of single women in New York City, but has also caused backlash and criticism that the cast lacks racial diversity, the story notes.

"Seinfeld" alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus has received critical raves for her portrayal of the first female U.S. vice president in "Veep."

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ABC Readying Its Own Version of the 'Big Brother' Formula

ABC will debut a "Big Brother"-like show next month, with contestants living under the same roof and trying to outlast each other, reports TheWrap.com.

Set for a June 18 premiere, "The Glass House" will include a significant social network element, the story notes.

The show is executive produced by Kenny Rosen, who previously worked on "Big Brother" and "Hell's Kitchen," the story notes. Viewer interaction is emphasized in "The Glass House," with fans allowed to vote and track the 14 players online and through social networks.

Fans will also be able to dictate some of the action, such as voting to decide on what players should eat and what games they should play, the story says. The winner will receive what the article calls the relatively modest prize of $250,000.

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Khloe Kardashian in Talks With E! About Reality Spinoff Without Lamar Odom

Khloe Kardashian is in discussions with E! about creating a new spinoff that would feature her without her husband, Lamar Odom, reports TMZ.com.

As previously reported, the pair recently decided to pull the plug on their show "Khloe & Lamar" because Odom wants to focus on reviving his NBA career.

E! wants to keep her on television, however. A source at the network said, “We’re definitely in the Khloe Kardashian business,” according to the report.

The channel is talking with her about a spinoff show that would be similar to "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami," the story says.

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Strip Club Dumps Charlie Sheen 'Tribute' After Threat From Sheen's Lawyers

A New York strip club has dismantled a tribute of sorts to Charlie Sheen after being threatened with a lawsuit by lawyers for the actor, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

Attorneys issued the threat to Cheetahs in a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the club take down its "Charlie Sheen Room," where guests ate sushi off the bodies of scantily clad women, the story reports. The letter claimed that the VIP room could damage Sheen’s reputation, the report says.

The room, which was available for $250 per person, was plastered with smiling pictures of the former "Two and a Half Men" star, the piece notes. After receiving the letter, the club decided to remove the Sheen references from the room.

"We thought dedicating a room to dine in his honor would help repair and elevate his image. He should have called us up and thanked us," said Sam Zherka, president of the company that owns Cheetahs. "We figured it would be comical to name a room after him. It was a room where you could dine on sushi served on cellophane on the body of one of our entertainers, not where you do crack."

Zherka said Sheen’s lawyers threatened to sue the club for millions. “We have now removed his name,” he added. “He wasn’t doing big business for us anyway. We had a little ritual and threw his image in garbage -- a celebration of Charlie Sheen being dumped.”

Sheen's attorney said the issue was the lack of permission to use Sheen's name. "You can’t use any celebrity name to promote a business without permission. They had no right to use his name," attorney Marty Singer said, according to the story.

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Rupert Murdoch 'Not a Fit Person' to Run a Major Company, British Panel Decides

Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run a large international company, according to a report from a British parliamentary panel, the U.K.'s Guardian reports.

The report, which is critical of the roles of Murdoch and his son James in News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal, said Rupert Murdoch "did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking" and "turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications," according to the story.

James Murdoch showed "willful ignorance" of the extent of the use of phone hacking from 2009 to 2010, according to the report by a committee of members of Parliament. The committee also described James Murdoch as having a "lack of curiosity" when the company made a phone-hacking settlement in 2008 and into 2009 and 2010, the piece adds.

"[A]s the head of a journalistic enterprise, we are astonished that James Murdoch did not seek more information or ask to see the evidence," the report is quoted as saying.

News Corp. said in a statement that it is "carefully reviewing the select committee's report and will respond shortly. The company fully acknowledges significant wrongdoing at News of the World and apologises to everyone whose privacy was invaded," the piece notes.

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Bobby Brown Says He's Not Responsible for Whitney Houston's Death

Bobby Brown told "Today" co-host Matt Lauer that he's not the reason that Whitney Houston died, saying that he didn't get her hooked on drugs.

Asked by Lauer about the perception that he got her hooked on drugs, Brown said it is "not true."

"I didn't get high [on narcotics] before I met Whitney," Brown said, according to the story. "I smoked weed, I drank the beer, but no, I wasn't the one that got Whitney on drugs at all." Houston used drugs "way before" they met, he said.

"It's just ... it's just unexplainable how one could, you know, [say that I] got her addicted to drugs. I'm not the reason she's gone," Brown said.

As previously reported, Houston died in February, with a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol in her system. She was found submerged in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

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